Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

unreasonable to judge of the measurés embraced during one period by the maxims which prevail in another.

Burton, in his book where he complained of innovations mentioned, among others, that a certain Wednesday had been appointed for a fast, and that the fast was ordered to be celebrated without any sermons.* The intention, as he pretended, of that novelty was, by the example of a fast without sermons, io suppress all the Wednesday's lectures in London. It is observable, that the church of Rome and that of England, being both of them lovers of form, and ceremony, and order, are more friends to prayer than preaching; while the Puritanical sectaries, who find that the latter method of address, being directed to a numerous audience present and visible, is more inflaming and animating, have always regarded it as the chief part of divine service. Such circumstances, though minute, it may not be improper to transmit to posterity; and those who are curious of tracing the history of the human mind, may remark how far its several singularities coincide in different Ages.

Certain zealots had erected themselves into a society for buying in of impropriations, and transferring them to the church; and great sums of money had been bequeathed to the society for these purposes. But it was soon observed, that the only use which they made of their funds was to establish lec. Curers in all the considerable churches'; men who, without deing subjected to Episcopal authority, employed themselves entirely in preaching and spreading the fire of Puritanism. Laud took care, by a decree which was passed in the court of exchequer, and which was much complained of, to abolish chis society, and to stop their progress. It was, however, still observed, that throughout England the lecturers were all of them Puritanically affected ; and from them the clergymen, who contented themselves with reading prayers and homilies to the people, commonly received the reproachful appellation of “dumb dogs."

The Puritans, restrained in England, shipped themselves off for America, and laid there the foundations of a government which possessed all the liberty, both civil and religious, of which they found themselves bereaved in their native country.

* State Trials, vol. v. p. 74. Franklyn, p. 839.

Rush. vol. ii. p. 150, 151. Whitlocke, p. 15. History of the Life and Sufferings of Laud, p. 211, 212.

But their enemies, unwilling that they should ar y where enjoy ease and contentment, and dreading, perhaps the dangerous consequences of so disaffected a colony, prevailed on the king to issue a proclamation, debarring these devotees access even into those inhospitable deserts.* Eight ships, lying in the Thames, and ready to sail, were detained by order of the council; and in these were embarked Sir Arthur Hazelrig, John Hambden, John Pym, and Oliver Cromwell,t who had resolved forever to abandon their native country, and fly to the other extremity of the globe; where they might enjoy lectures and discourses of any length or form which pleased them. The king had afterwards full leisure to repent this exercise of his authority.

The bishop of Norwich, by rigorously insisting on uniformity, had banished many industrious tradesmen from that city, and chased them into Holland. The Dutch began to be more intent on commerce than on orthodoxy; and thought that the knowledge of useful arts and obedience to the laws formed a good citizen ; though attended with errors in subjects where it is not allowable for human nature to expect any positive truth or certainty.

Complaints about this time were made, that the petition of right was in some instances violated; and that; upon a commitment by the king and council, bail or releasement had been refused to Jennings, Pargiter, and Danvers.s

Williams, bishop of Lincoln, a man of spirit and learning, a popular prelate, and who had been lord keeper, was fined ten thousand pounds by the star chamber, committed to the Tower during the king's pleasure, and suspended from his office. This severe sentence was founded on frivolous pretences, and was more ascribed to Laud's, vengeance, than to any guilt of the bishop. || Laud, however, had owed his first promotion to the good offices of that prelate with King James. But so implacable was the haughty primate, that he raised up

* Rush. vol. ü. p. 409, 418.

+ Mather's History of New England, book i. Dugdale. Bates. Hutchinson's. History of Massachusetts Bay, vol. i. p. 42. This last quoted author puts the fact beyond controversy. And it is a curious fact, as well with regard to the characters of the men, as of the times. Can any one doubt that the ensuing quarrel was almost entirely theological, not political? What might be expected of the populace, when such was the character of the most enlightened leaders ? May, p. 82.

§ Rush. vol. ii. p. 414. # Rush. vol. ii. p, 416, etc.

H

VOL. V.

a little

[ocr errors]

a new prosecution against Williams, on the strangest pretence imaginable. In order to levy the fine above mentioned, some officers had been sent to seize all the furniture and books of his episcopal palace of Lincoln; and in rummaging the house, they found in a corner some neglected letters, which had been thrown by as useless. These letters. were written by one Osbaldistone, à schoolmaster, and were directed to Williams. Mention was there made of "a little great man;" and in another passage, the same person was denominated “ urchin."* By inferences and constructions, these epithets were applied to Laud; and on no better foundation was Williams tried anew, as having received scandalous letters, and not discovering that private correspondence. For this offence, another fine of eight thousand pounds was levied on him: Osbaldistone was likewise brought to trial, and condemned to pay a fine of five thousand pounds, and to have his ears nailed to the pillory before his own school. He saved himself by flight ; and left à note in his study, wherein he said, “ that he was gone beyond Canterbury.

These prosecutions of Williams seem to have been the most iniquitous measure pursued by the court during the time that the use of parliaments was suspended. Williams had been indebted for all his fortune to the favor of James; but having quarrelled, first with Buckingham, then with Laud, he threw himself into the country party; and with great firmness and vigor opposed all the measures of the king. A creature of the court to become its obstinate enemy, a bishop to countenance Puritans; these circumstances excited indignation, and engaged the ministers in those severe measures. Not to mention, what some writers relate, that, before the sentence was pronounced against him, Williams was offered a pardon, upon his submission, which he refused to make; the court was apt to think, that so refractory a spirit must by any expedient be broken and subdued.

In å former trial which Williams underwent,† (for these were not the first, there was mentioned in court a story, which, as it discovers the genius of parties, may be worth relating Sir John Lambe urging him to prosecute the Puritans, the prelate asked what sort of people these same Puritans werë. Sir John replied, " that to the world they seemed to

[ocr errors]

* Rush, vol. ü. p. 803, etc. Whitlocke, p. 25.
+ Rush. vol. ii. p. 416

Two years

be such as would not swear, whore, or be drunk; but they would lie, cozen, and deceive ; that they would frequently hear two sermons: a day, and repeat them too, and that sometimes they would fast all day long.". This character must be conceived to be satirical; yet it may be allowed, that that sect. was more averse to such irregularities as proceed from the exgess of gayety and pleasure, than to those enormities which are the most destructive of society. The former were opposite to the very genius and spirit of their religion ; the latter were only a transgression of its precepts: and it was not difficult for a gloomy enthusiast to convince himself, that a strict observance of the one would atone for any violation of the other:

In 1632; the treasurer Portland had insisted with the vintners, that they should submit to a tax of a penny a quart upon all the wine which they retailed; but they rejected the demand. In order to punish them, a decree suddenly, without much inquiry or examination, passed in the star chamber, prohibiting them to sell or dress victuals in their houses. * after, they were questioned for the breach of this decree; and in order to avoid punishment, they agreed to lend the king six thousand poạnds. Being threatened, during the subsequent years, with fines and prosecutions, they at last compounded the matter, and submitted to pay half of that duty which was at first demanded of them. It required little foresight to perceive, that the king's right of issuing proclamations must, if prosecuted, draw on a power of taxation.

Lilburne was accused before the star chamber of publish-. ing and dispersing seditious pamphlets. He was ordered to be examined ; but refused to take the oath usual in that court that he would answer interrogatories, even though they might lead him to accuse himself. For this contempt, as it was interpreted, he was condemned to be whipped, pilloried, and imprisoned. While he was whipped at the cart, and stood on the pillory, he harangued the populace, and declaimed violently against the tyranny of bishops. From his pockets also he scattered pamphlets, said to be seditious, because they attacked the hierarchy. The star chamber, which was sitting at that very time, ordered him immediately to be gagged. Ile ceased not, however, though both gągged and pilloried, to stamp with his foot and gesticulate, in order to show the people that, if he

* Rush. vol. i. p. 197.

* Rush. vol. i. p. 451.

now, my lord ? "

had it in his power, he would still harangue them. This behavior gave fresh provocation to the star chamber; ana they condemned him to be imprisoned in a dungeon, and to be loaded with irons.*. Ii was found difficult to break the spirits of men who placed both their honor and their conscience in suffering

The jealousy of the church appeared in another instance less tragical. Archy, the king's fool, who by his office had the privilege of jesting on his master and the whole court, happened unluckily to try his wit upon Laud, who was too sacred a person to be played with. News having arrived' from Scotland of the first commotions excited by the liturgy, Archy, seeing the primate pass by, called to him, " Who's fool

For this offence Archy was ordered, by sentence of the council, to have his coat pulled over his head, and to be dismissed the king's service.t

Here is another instance of that rigorous subjection in which all men were held by Laud. Some young gentlemen of Lincoln's Inn, heated by their cups, having drunk confusion to the archbishop, were at his instigation cited before the star chamber. They applied to the earl of Dorset for protection. - Who bears witness against you ?” said Dorset.

66 One of the drawers,” they said. “Where did he stand when you were supposed to drink this health ? " subjoined the earl. “*He was at the door," they replied, “ going out of the room.” 66 Tush!” cried he, “ the drawer must be mistaken: you drank confusion to the archbishop of Canterbury's enemies; and the fellow was gone before you pronounced the last word.” This hint supplied the young gentlemen with a new method of defence: and being advised by Dorset to behave with great humility and great submission to the primate, the modesty of their carriage, the ingenuity of their apology, with the patronage of that noble lord, saved them from any severer punishment than a reproof and admonition, with which they were dismissed.

This year, John Hambden acquired, by his spirit and courage, universal popularity throughout the nation, and has merited great renown with posterity, for the bold stand which he made in defence of the laws and liberties of his country After the imposing of ship money, Charles, in order to

* Rush. vol. ii. p. 465, 466, 467.

Rush. vol. ii. p. 470. Welwood, p. 278.
I Rush, vol. üi. p. 180.

« ZurückWeiter »