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privy-councillors, 'amounts to 500,000 d●ucats, while that of all the nobility of ●England is only 380,000.[201] This disproporti■on is intolerable, and must

be put an en■d to. For the welfare of his subjects an●d of the Church, the King should incre●ase the number of bishoprics, parishes, and hos■pitals. He must augment the f●orces of the State, and prepare● to resist the Emperor, whose fleets and armie■s threaten us. Shall we ask the people for ■taxes, who have already so much trouble to ■get a living, while the monks contin■ue to consume their wealth in laziness a●nd debauchery? It would be monst■rous injustice. The treasures whic●h the convents derive from the natio●n ought

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no longer to be useless ●to the nation.' In February 1536, this serious ■matter was laid before Parliame■nt. It was Thomas Cromwell who●se heavy hand struck these re■ceptables of impurity, and whom ■men called 'the hammer of the monks●,'[202] who proposed this great reform. He laid● on the table of the Commons that f■amous Black Book, in which were inscribed the mi●sdeeds of the religious orders, and ●desired that it


should be read to th■e House. The book is no longer in exis●tence: it was destroyed, in the rei■gn of Queen Mary, by those who had an interes●t in its suppression. But it was then■ opened before the Parliament o■f Englan




d. There had never before been such■ a reading in any assembly. T■he facts were clearly record●ed—the most detestable enormit■ies w


ere not veiled: the horrible confessions o●f the monks, signed with their own han●ds were exhibited to the mem


bers ●of the Commons. The recital produced an extraord■inary effect. Men had had {■96} no idea of such abomina


ble sca■ndals.[203] The House was horror-st●ricken, and 'Down with them—down● with them!' was shouted on every side. The deb●ate commenced. Personally, the members were gene●rally interested in the preservatio●n of the


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