Henry, vexed with the disappointment, and enraged at the affront, vowed vengeance against his nephew; and he began, by permitting piracies at sea, and incursions at land, to put his threats in execution. But he received soon after, in his own family, an affront to which he was much more sensible, and which touched him in a point where he always shewed an extreme delicacy. He had thought himself very happy in his new marriage: The agreeable person and disposition of Catherine had entirely captivated his affections; and he made no secret of his devoted attachment to her. He had even publicly, in his chapel, returned solemn thanks to heaven for the felicity which the conjugal state afforded him; and he directed the bishop of Lincoln to compose a form of prayer for that purpose. But the queen's conduct very little merited this tenderness: One Lascelles brought intelligence of her dissolute life |to Cranmer; and told him, that his sister, formerly a servant in the family of the old dutchess of Norfolk, with whom Catherine was educated, had given him a particular account of her licentious manners. Derham and Mannoc, both of them servants to the dutchess, had been admitted to her bed; and she had even taken little care to conceal her shame from the other servants of the family. The primate, struck with this intelligence, which it was equally dangerous to conceal or to discover, communicated the matter to the earl of Hertford and to the chancellor. They agreed, that the matter should by no means be buried in silence; and the archbishop himself seemed the most proper person to disclose it to the king. Cranmer, unwilling to speak on so delicate a subject, wrote a narrative of the whole, and conveyed it to Henry, who was infinitely astonished at the intelligence. So confident was he of the fidelity of his consort, that at first he gave no credit to the information; and he said to the privy-seal, to Lord Russel, high admiral, Sir Anthony Brown, and Wriothesley, that he regarded the whole as a falsehood. Cranmer was now in a very perilous situation; and had not full proof been found, certain and inevitable destruction hung over him. The king's impatience, however, and jealousy prompted him to search the matter to the bottom: The privy-seal was ordered to examine Lascelles, who persisted in the information he had given; and still appealed to his sister's testimony. That nobleman next made a journey under pretence of hunting, and went to Sussex, where the woman at that time resided: He found her both constant in her former intelligence, and particular as to the facts; and the whole bore but too much the face of probability. Mannoc and Derham, who were arrested at the same time, and examined by the chancellor, made the queen's guilt entirely certain by their confession; and discovered other particulars, which redounded still more to her dishonour. Three maids of the family were admitted into her secrets, and some of them had even passed the night in bed with her and her lovers. All the examinations were laid before the king, who was so deeply affected, that he remained a long time speechless, and at last burst into tears. He found to his surprise, that his great skill in distinguishing a true maid, of which he boasted in the case of Anne of Cleves, had failed him in that of his present consort. The queen, being next questioned, denied her |guilt; but when informed, that a full discovery was made, she confessed, that she had been criminal before marriage; and only insisted, that she had never been false to the king's bed. But as there was evidence, that one Colepepper had passed the night with her alone since her marriage; and as it appeared, that she had taken Derham, her old paramour, into her service, she seemed to deserve little credit in this asseveration; and the king, besides, was not of a humour to make any difference between these degrees of guilt.