Henry The Eighth's Book "of The Seven Sacraments"
( Originally Published Late 1800's )
Montaigne, in the journal of his voyage in Italy, under 'date the 6th of March, 1581, describes a visit to the library of the Vatican. Among other treasures which he saw there, he gives the following account of a manuscript of Henry VIII.'s book "Of the Seven Sacraments :"
" I saw the original of the book that the King of England composed against Luther, which he sent, about fifty years since, to Pope Leo X., subscribed of his proper hand, with this beautiful Latin distich, also of his hand :
" `Anglorum Rex Henricus, Leo decime, mittit
I read the prefaces—one to the Pope and the other to the Reader. He excuses himself upon his warlike occupations and want of sufficiency. The language is good Latin, for scholastic."
Has this volume been seen by any recent visitors of the Vatican Library, or described in any modern book of travels ?
The subjoined letter from Wolsey to Henry VIII., printed in Burnet ("Hist., of Reformation," vol. iii., ii., 8.), gives some account of the previous history of this very volume, and seems to show that, as regards the "beautiful distich " above given, subscribed, as it was, with the King's proper hand, Henry stood godfather to the prosody of his Chancellor :
" SIR,—These shall be onely to advertise your grace that at this presant tyme I -do send Mr. Tate vnto your hignes with the'booke bounden and dressed, which ye purpose to send to the pope's holynes, with a memoriall of such other as be allso to be sent by him with his authentique bulles to all other princes and universities. And albeit Sr. this booke is right honorable pleasant and fair, yet I assure your grace that which Hall hath written (which within 4 days wol be parfited) is farre more excellent and princely : and shall long contynue for your perpetuall memory, wheref your grace shall be more plenarly informed by the said Mr. Tate. I do send also unto your hignes the choyse of certyne versis to be written in the booke to be sent to the pope of your owne hande : with the subscription of your name to remain in archivis ecclesie ad perpetuam et immortalem vestre majestatis gloriam laudem et memoriam, by your
most humble chaplain,
T. Carus Ebor."
It would be curious to inquire whether any traces remain of any of the other copies which were intended to be sent with the recommendation of the Pope to other princes and universities.