ePub 版


opponents of

CHAP. the distribution of Brown's tract on the liberty of

The party thus persecuted were the most efficient

popery. “ The puritans,” said Burleigh, “ are over squeamish and nice, yet their careful catechising and diligent preaching, lessen and diminish the papistical numbers.?"2 But for the puritans, the old religion would have retained the affections of the multitude. If Elizabeth reformed the court, the ministers, whom she persecuted, reformed the commons. That the English people became protestant is due to the puritans. How, then, could the party be subdued ? The spirit of brave and conscientious men can not be broken. No part is left but to tolerate or destroy. Extermi

nation could alone produce conformity. In a few 1593. years, it was said in parliament, that there were in

England twenty thousand of those, who frequented conventicles. It was proposed to banish them, as the Moors had been banished from Spain; and as the Huguenots were afterwards driven from France. This measure was not adopted; but a law of savage ferocity, ordering those, who, for a month, should be absent from the English service, to be interrogated as to their belief, menaced the obstinate non-conformists with exile or with death.4

Holland offered an asylum against the bitter se



1 Strype's Annals, v. iii. p. 186; Whitgift, p. 417; Neal's Puritans, Fuller's Church History of Brit- v. i. p. 516. ain, b. ix. p. 169.

4 35 Eliz. c. i. Stat. v. iv. p. 841 2 Somer's Tracts, fourth collec- —843; Parl. Hist. p. 863; Neal's tion, v. i. p. 103.

Puritans, v. i. p. 513_515; Neal's 3 D'Ewes' Jour. p. 517; Strype's New-England, v. i. p. 60.





verity of this statute. A religious society, founded CHAP. by the independents at Amsterdam, continued to exist for a century, and served as a point of hope for the exiles. But, through the influence of Whitgift, Henry Barrow, a gentleman, and John Greenwood, a minister, though true hearted and loyal, as well as 1593

April pious, were selected as examples, and hanged at Tyburn.

The queen repented that she had sanctioned the execution. Her age and the prospect of favor to puritanism from her successor, conspired to check the spirit of persecution. The leaders of the church became more prudent; and by degrees bitterness subsided. The independents had, it is true, been nearly exterminated; but the number of the nonconforming clergy, after forty years of molestation, had increased; their popularity was more deeply rooted, and their enmity to the established order was irreconcileable. They now began to constitute a powerful political party; they inquired into the nature of government; in parliament they opposed monopolies, limited the royal prerogatives, and demanded a reform of ecclesiastical abuses. “The precious spark of liberty,” says an historian who was never accused of favoring the puritans, “ had been kindled and was preserved by the puritans alone.” Victorious over her foreign enemies, Elizabeth never could crush the religious sect, of which the increase seemed dangerous to the state. Her

1 Strype's Whitgift, p. 414, &c.; Roger Williams' Truth and Peace, Neal's Puritans, v. i. p. 526, 527 ; p. 237. VOL. I.





CHAP. career was full of glory abroad; it was unsuccessful

against the progress of opinion at home. In the latter years of her reign, her popularity declined; and her death was the occasion of little regret. “In four days,” says an early historian, “she was forgotten.” The multitude, fond of change, welcomed her successor with shouts; but when the character of that successor was better known, they persuaded themselves, that they had revered Elizabeth to the last, and that her death had been honored by inconsolable grief.

The accession of King James would, it was beApril

lieved, introduce a milder system; and the puritans might hope even for favor. But the personal character of the new monarch could not inspire confidence.

The pupil of Buchanan was not destitute of learning nor unskilled in rhetoric. Protected from profligate debauchery by the austerity of public morals in Scotland, and incapable of acting the part of a statesman, he had aimed at the reputation of a “ most learned clerk ;” and had been so successful, that Bacon,” with equivocal flattery, pronounced him incomparable for learning among kings, and Sully, who knew him well, esteemed him the wisest fool in Europe. — The man of letters, who possesses wealth without the capacity for active virtue, often learns to indulge in the vacancy of contemplative enjoyments, and, slumbering on his post, abandons himself to pleasant dreams. This is the euthanasia of his honor. The reputation of King James was lost


i Carte's England, v. iii. p. 707.

2 Bacon's Works, v. iv. p. 436.




more ignobly. At the mature age of thirty-six he CHAP. ascended the throne of England, and, for the first time acquiring the opportunity of displaying the 1603. worthlessness of his character, he exulted in the freedom of self-indulgence; in idleness and gluttony. The French ambassador despised him for his frivolous amusements;' gross licentiousness in his vicinity was unreproved; and the manners of the palace were so coarsely profligate, that even the women of his court appeared in his presence in a state of disgusting inebriety.

The life of James, as a monarch, was full of meannesses. Personal beauty became the qualification of a minister of state. The interests of England were sacrificed, that his son might marry the daughter of a powerful king. His passions were as feeble as his will. His egregious vanity desired perpetual flattery; and no hyperboles excited his distrust. He boasted, that England, even in the days of Elizabeth, had been governed by his influence; by proclamation, he forbad the people to talk of state affairs, and in reply to the complaints of his commons, he declared, that he was and would be the father of their country.4

Dissimulation is the vice of those, who have neither true judgment nor courage. King James, from his imbecility, was false; and sometimes vindicated his falsehood, as though deception and cunning had been worthy of a king. But he was an awkward

1 Lingard's Eng. v. ix. p. 107. 3 Rapin's England, v. ii. p. 202;

2 Harrington's Nugæ Antiquæ, Sully's Memoirs, l. xv. v. i. p. 348–350.

4 Čobbett's Parl. Hist. v.i.p. 1504.




CHAP. liar, rather than a crafty dissembler. He could,

before parliament, call God to witness his sincerity, 1603. when he was already resolved on being insincere.

His cowardice was such, that he feigned a fondness for Carr, whose arrest for murder he had secretly ordered. He was afraid of his wife; could be governed by being overawed; and was easily intimidated by the vulgar insolence of Buckingham. In Scotland, he solemnly declared his attachment to the puritan discipline and doctrines; but it was from his fear of open resistance. The pusillanimous man assents from cowardice, and recovers boldness with the assurance of impunity.

Demonology was a favorite topic with King James. He demonstrated with erudition the reality of witchcraft; through his solicitation it was made, by statute, a capital offence; he could tell “why the devil doth work more with auncient women than with others;"> and hardly a year of his reign went by, but some helpless crone perished on the gallows, to satisfy the vanity and confirm the dialectics of the royal author.

There was no room to doubt the sincere attachment of King James to protestantism. His mind had been early and deeply imbued with the doctrines of Calvin. He prided himself on his skill in theological learning, and challenged the praise of Europe as a subtle controversialist. With the whole force of English diplomacy, he suggested the propriety of

i Hallam's History of England, 3 Calderwood's Church of Scotv. i. p. 404.

land, p. 286. 2 Clarendon's Rebellion, v. i. p.

4 Bentivoglio, Relazione di Fi16; Hume's History of England, andra, parte ii. c. iii. Op. Storiche, c. xlix,

v. i. p. 206, 207.

« 上一頁繼續 »