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Reign of Charles I. page 16

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As Laud, however, could not array himself in scarlet as a cardinal, he determined to make the Anglican church as popish and himself as much of a pope as possible. Before reaching the primacy he had gone a good way. The spoliation of the Church by Henry Till, and Edward VI., and their greedy nobility, had deprived it of the means of keeping the ecclesiastical buildings in repair. The catholic church in England had appropriated the property of the establishment to three objects: one, the maintenance of the clergy and religious orders; the second to the maintenance of the buildings of the churches and cathedrals: and the third to the support of the poor. Thus the patrimony of the poor was swallowed up by the aristocracy, and the maintenance of the poor thrown upon the country, and fixed there by the 43rd of Elizabeth. The patrimony of the public for the maintenance of the church buildings being equally divided by the Russells, Villierses, Seymours, Dudleys, and a thousand other court leeches, neither Charles nor Laud, with all their stickling for the church, dared to cal upon them to disgorge their prey; but a proclamation was issued to the bishops for the repairs of all the churches and chapels, and they were to levy the necessary rates on the parishioners at large, and to exert the powers of the ecclesiastical courts against all such as resisted. This excited a serious ferment amongst the people, which was greatly in creased by the general opinion that these repairs should be done out of the tithes which they paid either to lay or clerical personages, No regard was paid to these complaints; but Laud proceeded to consecrate such churches as were thus repaired, with all the splendid mummery of Catholicism, as if they had been desecrated by their neglect. The account of his consecration of the church of St. Catherine Creed, in London, will give the reader a fair idea of the rampant folly at which this ceremony-monger had arrived. The particulars of it will be found in Rushworth, Welwood, Franklyn, and others.

On the bishop's approach to the west door of the church, a loud voice cried, "Open, open, ye everlasting doors, that the king of glory may enter in!" Immediately the doors of the church flew open, and the bishop entered. Falling upon his knees, with eyes elevated and arms expanded, he uttered these words: - "This place is holy; the ground is holy: in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pronounce it holy."

Going towards the chancel, he several times took up from the floor some of the dust, and threw it into the air. When he approached with his attendants near the communion-table, he bowed frequently towards it; and on their return they went round the church, repeating as they marched along some of the psalms, and then said a form of prayer, which ended with these words: - "We consecrate this church, and separate it unto thee, as holy ground, not to be profaned any more to common uses."

After this, the bishop, standing near the communion-table, solemnly pronounced many imprecations upon such as should afterwards pollute that holy place by musters of soldiers, or keeping in it profane law courts, or carrying burthens through it. On the conclusion of every curse, he turned towards the east, and cried, "Let all the people say, Amen."

The imprecations being all so piously finished, there were poured out a number of blessings upon such as had any hand in framing and building that sacred edifice, and on such as had given, or should hereafter give to it, any chalices, plate, ornaments, or utensils. At every benediction, he in like manner bowed towards the east, and said, "Let all the people say, Amen."

The sermon followed, after which the bishop consecrated and administered the sacrament in the following manner: - As he approached the communion-table, he made many low reverences; and coming up to that part of the table where the bread and wine lay, he bowed seven times. After the reading of many prayers, he approached the sacramental elements, and gently lifted up the coiner of the napkin in which the bread was placed. When lie beheld the bread, he suddenly let fall the napkin, flew back a step or two, bowed three several times towards the bread, then drew nigh again, opened the napkin, and bowed as before. Next, he laid his hand on the cup, which had a cover upon it, and was filled with wine. He let go the cup, fell back, and bowed thrice towards it. He approached again, and lifting up the cover, peeped into the cup. Seeing the wine, he let fall the cover, started back, and bowed as before. Then he received the sacrament and gave it to others, and many prayers being said, the consecration was ended.

Such a display of popery in the church of England excited the greatest scandal and alarm 5 and as if to console the public, lady Eleanor Davies, the wife of the attorney-general, Sir John Davies, an excellent poet, but most time-serving lawyer, prophecied that Laud should only "a very few clays outlive the 5th of November." This lady, a daughter of the earl of Castlehaven, was a woman of a wonderful reputation for her prophecies at the time. The queen had consulted her to know whether she should have a son, and she informed her that she would, but that it would be born, christened, and die the same day, all of which took place. This had wonderfully raised her reputation, and the ladies of the court ran after her in crowds. The king, not so well pleased with the verification of her prediction, forbade the queen to consult her again. He sent a Mr. Kirke to Sir John, telling him to make his wife hold her tongue; but this was beyond the power of the learned attorney-general or of the king either, for the very messenger, having seen Sir John, contrived to see lady Eleanor too, and asked in the queen's name whether her majesty would have another son, to which she replied, "Yes, and a strong child, too." The messenger was so elated with his answer, that he told it to others besides the queen, and the people fully believing it, made bonfires on the occasion. But Laud was not to be touched with impunity. He summoned lady Eleanor into the star-chamber, for she had, moreover, predicted the death of Buckingham, and Laud was really terrified. She, nothing daunted, told the bishops and divines who interrogated her that she was inspired by the prophet Daniel, as might be seen by the anagram of her name. Eleanor Davies - Reveal, O Daniel! But Lambe, the dean of the arches, said that the anagram was not a true one; for there was an l too much and an s too little in it, and that the true anagram was, "Dame Eleanor Davies - Never so mad a lady!" The reading of this produced a general burst of laughter in the court; and so cast down the prophetess, that she was dismissed as harmless.

Laud having survived the fatal prediction of the 5th of November, went on with his grand scheme of the restoration of churches, both in stonework and ceremonial. He obtained a commission under the great seal for the repair of St. Paul's Cathedral. The judges of the prerogative courts, and their officials throughout England and Wales, were ordered to pay into the chamber in London all moneys derived from persons dying intestate, to be applied to the restoration of this church. The clergy were called on by the bishops in their several dioceses, to furnish an annual subsidy for this object. The king contributed at various times ten thousand pounds; Sir Paul Pindar four thousand pounds; and Laud, who was more free of other men's money than his own, gave one hundred pounds a year. He was bent on making St. Paul's a rival of St. Peter's; and as more money became necessary, he summoned wealthy people into the High Commission Court on all possible pleas, of immoral life, and fined them heavily; so that there was a plentiful crop of money, and of murmurs against the primate, who was said to be building the church out of the sins of the people.

He was vehemently accused of going headlong towards popery, Papers were dropped in the streets, or stuck upon the walls, or privately conveyed into his house, in which he was charged with his apostacy, and menaced with its punishment. To pacify such enemies, he was obliged to make a show of hatred to popery. It was talked abroad that he had assured the king of his determination to give a preference to all livings at his disposal to clergymen who lived in celibacy. This was a severe blow at him, for the clergy took it up with great heat, and he immediately got up a marriage betwixt one of his chaplains and a relative of secretary Windebank, a creature of his, and then gave the chaplain preferment, as a practical answer to the charge. He summoned before the council a schoolmaster and innkeeper at Winchester, for bringing up catholic scholars; and having licensed a catholic book, called "An Introduction to a Devout Life," in which the word mass was altered to divine service, he called it in and burnt it.

Yet the proofs of his anti-catholic zeal stopped short on an occasion when, if the work of art had been of real value, we should have commended his taste. A Mr. Sherfield, a barrister, and recorder of Salisbury, by order of a vestry, in accordance with the canons of the reformed church and of acts of parliaments, took down a painting from the window of the church of St. Edmunds, and broke it to pieces. Laud summoned him to the star-chamber for this offence, where Sherfield pleaded that the picture was derogatory to the character of the Almighty, and unfaithful to Scripture. The subject was creation, and the treatment, he contended, was false and impious. "God the Father was painted like an old man, with a blue coat and a pair of compasses, to signify his compassing the heavens and the earth. In the fourth day's work, there were fowls of the air flying up from God their maker, which should have been the fifth clay. In the fifth day's work a naked man is lying upon the earth asleep, with so much of a naked woman as from the knees upward growing out of his side, which should have been the sixth day: so that the history is false." Laud, however, contended that the destruction of such works kept moderate catholics from going to church; and though some of the court hinted a doubt whether Laud was not himself going fast to the catholic church, Sherfield was condemned to a fine of five hundred pounds, to the loss of his office of recorder, to make an acknowledgment of his error in the church of St. Edmunds, where he had broken the window, and in the cathedral also, and to give security against the commission, of any such action of the kind.

Laud had obtained for his devoted adherents Windebank the post of secretary of state, and Juxton, dean of Westminster, that of clerk of the king's closet; so that, as Heylin observes, the king was so well watched by his stanch friends that it was not easy for any one to insinuate anything to his disadvantage; and he went on most sweepingly in his own way. He put down all evening lecturing, evening meetings, and extemporary praying. He went on re-introducing in the churches painted glass, pictures, and surplices, lawn sleeves, and embroidered caps; had the communion-tables removed, and altars placed instead, and railed in; and he carried all this with such an arbitrary hand, that many who might have approved of them in themselves, were highly set against them. The more simple and strict reformers complained of the looseness with which the Sabbath was kept, and the lord chief justice Richardson and baron Denham issued an order in the western circuit to put an end to the disorders attending church-ales, bid-ales, clerk-ales, and the like. But no sooner did Laud hear of it, than he had the lord chief justice summoned before the council and severely reprimanded, as interfering with the commands of king James for the practice of such Sunday sports, as recommended in Ins Book of Sports, and since confirmed by Charles.

The country magistrates, who had seen the demoralisation consequent on these sports and Sunday gatherings at the ale - houses, petitioned the king to put them down; and the petition was signed by lord Paulet, Sir William Portman, Sir Ralph Hopeton, and many other gentlemen of distinction. But they were forestalled by the agility of Laud, who procured from the king a declaration sanctioning all the Sunday amusements to be found in the Book of Sports, and commanding all judges on circuit, and all justices of the peace to see that no man was molested on that account. This declaration was ordered to be read in all parish churches by the clergy. Many conscientious clergy, who had seen too much of the dissolute riot resulting from these rude gatherings of clowns on Sundays, refused to read the declaration, and were suspended from their duties, and prosecuted to such a degree that they had no alternative but to emigrate to America.

This dictation of Laud extended over the whole kingdom, into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, even stirring up Charles to issue proclamation after proclamation, interfering in things entirely beyond the range of his episcopal jurisdiction, such as regulating the price of poultry and the retailing of tobacco. In Ireland, Went worth, now made lord deputy, went hand in hand with all the whims of this universal dictator. That he might the better interfere in all kinds of matters, he was appointed in 1634 chief of the board of commissioners of the exchequer, and on the death of Weston, lord Portland, the lord high treasurer. He then got his friend and servant Juxton made bishop of London, and in about a year surrendered to him the treasurership, to the surprise and murmuring of many, for Juxton, till lie brought him forward, was a man of no mark whatever. Lord chancellor Cottington, who had been a fast friend of Laud's, and calculated on the white staff of the treasurer, now fell away from Laud, and many noblemen who had had an eye to it began to prophecy what the end of his career would be. But the University of Oxford, going the whole way with him in his advances towards popery, styled him "His Holiness Summits Pontifex, Spiritu Sancto effusissime plenus, Archangelus et nequid minus!" And Laud accepted all this base adulation, and declared that these most unprotestant and revolting titles were quite proper, because they had been applied to the popes and fathers of the Romish church. In fact, as we have observed, he desired to be the pope of England.

And in this great papal authority he was fain to stretch his coercing hand over the churches wherever they were. He procured an order in council to shut the English factories in Holland, and compel the troops serving there to conform to the liturgy of the church of England. Most of the merchants and many of these soldiers had gone thither expressly to enjoy their own forms of religion; but no matter, they must conform. And says Heylin, "The like course was prescribed for our factories in Hamburg, and those fort her off, that is to say in Turkey, in the Mogul's dominions, the Indian islands, the plantations in Virginia, the Barbadoes, and all other places where the English had any standing residence in the way of trade." This order was to be carried into the houses and establishments of all ambassadors and consuls abroad.

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Pictures for Reign of Charles I. page 16

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