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but especially the parliament ending so unhappily; the King was very hardly put to it, and sought all other means, as well as he could, to get supply against the Scots. But all that he could get, proved too little, or came too late for that service. For the averse party in the late parliament, or by and by after, before they parted, ordered things so, and filled mens' minds with such strange jealousies; that the King's good people were almost generally possest, that his Majesty had a purpose to alter the ancient laws and liberties of the kingdom, and to bring in slavery upon his people: a thing (which for ought I know) his Majesty never intended. But the parliament-men, which would not relieve the King, by their meeting in that assembly, came to understand and inform one another; and at their return, were able to possess their several counties with the apprehensions themselves had; and so they did. Upon this, some lords and others, who had by this time made an underhand solemn confederacy with a strong faction of the Scots, brought an army of them into the kingdom." p. 83.
The arbitrary proceedings of the court, and the reasonings by which they were supported, are not ill depicted in the following passages. We have no doubt, that Laud was prepared to vindicate all his tyrannical proceedings in the star-chamber and high-commission court, by pretexts equally specious. To appreciate the gross folly of his conduct, it should be remembered, that at the very time when the occurrences to which the following extracts refer took place, there existed in the nation a general belief, that the laws were administered in an arbitrary manner. Surely a wise minister would have been careful not to exasperate, at such a time, the already irritated jealousy of the nation; nor would he have thought that pretexts like those by which Laud vindicated his conduct, could possibly satisfy a sharp-sighted people, who must have seen that by reasonings precisely similar, any proceeding, however vindictive, might be justified.
"December 21.-Monday, I was fined £500. in the parliament house, and Sir John Lambe and Sir Henry Martin, £250 a piece, for keeping Sir Robert Howard close prisoner in the case of the escape of the Lady Viscountess Purbeck out of the Gate-house; which Lady he kept avowedly, and had children by her. In such a case, say the imprisonment were more than the law allow; what may be done for honour and religion sake? This was not a fine to the King, but damage to the party.” p. 60.
This story of Sir Robert Howard is told at greater length in the History: the Archbishop's defence of himself is also more elaborate; and we shall extract the passage, with a view of giving a fuller specimen of the court reasonings.
"Now, the case of Sir Robert Howard was this. He fell in league with the Lady Viscountess Purbeck. The Lord Viscount Pur
beck being in some weakness and distemper, the lady used him at her pleasure, and betook herself, in a manner, wholly to Sir Robert Howard, and had a son by him. She was delivered of this child in a clandestine way, under the name of Mistress Wright. These things came to be known, and she was brought into the high-commission; and there, after a legal proceeding, was found guilty of adultery, and sentenced to do penance; many of the great lords of the kingdom being present in court, and agreeing in the sentence. Upon this sentence she withdrew herself, to avoid the penance. This sentence passed at London house, in Bishop Mountain's time, November 19, A. D. 1627. I was then present, as Bishop of Bath and Wells. After this, when the storm was somewhat over, Sir Robert Howard conveyed her to his house at . . . . . in Shropshire, where she lived avowedly with him some years, and had by him ... children. At last, they grew to that open boldness, that he brought her up to London, and lodged her in Westminster. This was so near the court, and in so open view, that the king and the lords took notice of it, as a thing full of impudence, that they should so publicly adventure to outface the justice of the realm, in so foul a business. And one day, as I came of course to wait on his majesty, he took me aside and told me of it, being then Archbishop of Canterbury; and added, that it was a great reproach to the church and nation; and that I neglected my duty, in case I did not take order for it. I made answer, she was the wife of a peer of the realm; and that without his leave I could not attach her; but that now I knew his majesty's pleasure, I would do my best to have her taken, and brought to penance, according to the sentence against her. The next day I had the good hap to apprehend both her and Sir Robert; and by order of the high-commission court, imprisoned her in the Gate-house, and him in the Fleet.
"This was (as far as I remember) upon a Wednesday; and the Sunday sevennight after, was thought upon to bring her to penance. She was much troubled at it, and so was he. And therefore in the middle of the week following, Sir Robert dealt with some of his friends, and amongst the rest, with one Sir . . . . . . of Hampshire; who with money, corrupted the turnkey of the prison (so they call him) and conveyed the lady forth, and after that into France, in man's apparel, (as that knight himself hath since made his boast.) This was told me the morning after the escape; and you must think the good fellowship of the town was glad of it. In the mean time, I could not but know, though not perhaps prove as then, that Sir Robert Howard laboured and contrived this conveyance. And thereupon, in the next sitting of the high-commission, ordered him to be close prisoner, till he brought the lady forth. So he continued close prisoner about some two or three months. For this, the fine abovementioned, was imposed upon me, as being a most unjust and illegal imprisonment. Whereas the parliament (to the great honour of their justice be it spoken) have kept me in prison now, full thirteen months, and upward, and have not so much as brought up a particular charge against me; and how much longer they will keep me, God knows. Now, say that all forms of law were not observed by me; yet somewhat was to be indulged, in regard I did it to vindicate such a crying impiety.
But yet, I do here solemnly protest, I observed the order of the court in which I sat, and that court settled by an act of parliament, 1 Elizabeth. And I did not knowingly err in any particular. More I could say in these my sufferings, but I will blast no family of honour for one man's fault." p. 146-7.
Great, however, as we may think the folly of Laud's political measures, his absurdities upon the subject of church government appear to have been not one whit less gross and mischievous. It is well known that, during his whole administration, he was constantly at war with the religious notions of most Englishmen and all Scotchmen. His headstrong and impolitic opposition to the prejudices of the English puritans is deserving of censure; but it is quite impossible for language to express the gross folly and the rank injustice of (what he called) his reforms in the Scottish church. In spite of the indignant remonstrances of all Scotland-and never did a nation utter remonstrances so unanimous and unequivocal; in spite of all the difficulties with which the English government was encompassed at home, and which were fully commensurate with all its capacities; in spite of all the solemn warnings which history and observation afforded; it seemed to Laud, not unwise to attempt a thorough reformation of the Scottish faith. At the very time when the English throne was rocking nearly to its fall, the prime-minister engaged his master and himself in a crusade against kirk-worship; the task of conciliating an English parliament was laid aside for the purpose of squabbling with Scotch divines; and it became the grand object of government to fasten the abominated surplice upon refractory presbyterian shoulders.
We are pretty sure, that no reasonings, however strong, would have carried through the Archbishop's projects; but, we really must say, in vindication of the Scottish people, that more contemptible reasonings than those by which he attempted to subdue their prejudices, were never employed for any purpose whatever. Even afterwards, when he came, during his imprisonment in the Tower, to review his own conduct, and to devise the best answers he could to the charges preferred against him in parliament, his arguments were framed a good deal after the following fashion.
"As for the custom in Scotland, of fasting on the Lord's day; it is not only sometimes, as is here expressed, but continually, when they have any solemn fast, the Lord's day is the day for it. And if I did write, that that was opposite to Christianity itself; I doubt it is too true. For it is against the practice of the whole church of Christ, and that which is so, must oppose Christianity itself. And this I find; that as apostolical universal tradition settled the Lord's day for holy and public worship; so from the very Apostles' times, the same general
tradition hath at all times accounted it unlawful to fast upon that day, and if an ordinary fast were not lawful upon that day, much less was a solemn. Nor is there any thing more clear in all antiquity. For in the Canons of the Apostles, (which if they be not theirs, are very ancient,) if a priest did fast upon the Lord's day, he was to be deposed; and if a layman, he was to be excommunicated. And St. Ignatius tells us, if any man fast upon the Lord's day, he is Christ's interfector, a murderer of Christ: and that I am sure is against Christianity itself. Tertullian professes, it is altogether unlawful. The Council of Gangra, held An. 324. decreed against it, and set an anathema upon it; and that not only when it is done in contempt of the day, but also though it be done as a help to continency. And St. Hilary agrees with this, and calls it not a custom, but a constitution; such a constitution, as that if any man shall advisedly, and of set purpose, fast on the Lord's day, by the decree of the fourth Council of Carthage, he should not be accounted a Catholic; and they must needs do it advisedly, and of set purpose, who appoint a public solemn fast upon that day, and then keep it. And this was so strictly observed in St. Ambrose his time, that it was not held lawful to fast upon that day, no not in Lent. Nay, he goes farther, for he says expressly, if any man make a law, or give a command for fasting on the Lord's day, he believes not in the resurrection of Christ. And is not this opposite to Christianity itself? and is not that legem indicere, when they proclaim or command a public fast?" p. 92.
"Next I am charged; that concerning these whites, I brake my promise to the Bishop of Edinburgh. Truly, to the utmost of my memory, I cannot recall any such passage or promise, made to that reverend and learned prelate; and I must have been very ill advised, had I made any such promise, having no warrant from his majesty to engage for any such thing. As for that which follows, that he was moved against his will to put on those garments; truly he expressed nothing at that time to me, that might signify it was against his will. And his learning and judgement were too great to stumble at such external things; especially such having been the ancient habits of the most reverend bishops from descent of many hundred years, as may appear in the life of St. Cyprian. And therefore, the novation was in the church of Scotland, when her bishops left them off, not when they put them on." p. 89.
"As for the taking down of galleries in St. Andrews; to the utmost of my memory, I never gave either command or direction. Nor can it stand with any show of probability, that I should command the taking down of galleries in St. Andrews, where I had nothing to do, and let galleries stand in so many churches in London, and other parts of my province, where I had power. The truth is, I did never like galleries in any church; they utterly deface the grave beauty and decency of those sacred places, and make them look more like a theatre than a church. Nor in my judgement, do they make any great accommodation for the auditory; for in most places, they hinder as much room beneath, as they make above; rendering all, or most of those places useless, by the noise and trampling of them which stand above
in the galleries. And if I be mistaken in this, it is nothing to the business in hand; for be galleries what they will for the use, I commanded not the taking of them down at St. Andrews. At Edinburgh, the king's command took down the stone walls and galleries, which were there removed, and not mine. For his majesty having, in a Christian and princely way, erected and endowed a bishoprick in Edinburgh, he resolved to make the great church of St. Giles in that city, a cathedral; and to this end, gave order to have the galleries in the lesser church, and the stone wall which divided them, taken down. For of old, they were both one Church, and made two by a wall built up at the west-end of the chancel; so that that which was called the lesser church, was but the chancel of St. Giles, with galleries round about it, and was for all the world like a square theatre, without any show of a church; as is also the church at Brunt-Iland over against it. And I remember, when I passed over at the Frith, I took it, at first sight, for a large square Pigeon-house, so free was it from all suspicion of being so much as built like an ancient church." p. 96.
We have already stated our opinion, that Laud, in the whole of his public conduct, was perfectly sincere; and, that he really believed himself to be promoting the interests of the nation. How greatly he erred in that belief, must be evident to all; and it is not a little singular, that at no period of his life does he seem to have distrusted the prudence of his own measures, not even when time had developed their disastrous consequences. It might have been supposed that, during his long imprisonment in the Tower, when he was compelled, for the purpose of preparing a defence against the impending charges of the Commons, to review with accuracy the whole of his public life, he would have discovered certain passages calculated to excite strong doubts as to the wisdom of his conduct. If, however, such doubts presented themselves to his mind at all, be has carefully refrained from expressing them in the work before us. On the contrary, he keeps up, from beginning to end, a tone of astonishment at that blind malevolence of his enemies, which refused to acknowledge the propriety of his measures. This, we think, is a strong proof of the purity of his intentions, though it may perhaps tend to reduce still lower our opinion of his judgement. The sincerity of his religious principles, which was indeed never doubted upon any tolerable evidence, is also remarkably testified by the consolation he seems to have derived from them under his heaviest misfortunes. The following passage affords a specimen of his feelings when the storm of parliamentary indignation first broke over his head.
"December 18, 1640, being Friday. Upon this day Mr. Densell Hollis, second son to John, Earl of Clare, by order from the house of commons, came up to the lords, and accused me of high treason;