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Reign of Charles I. page 16

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Charles and Laud erected Edinburgh into a bishopric, with a diocese extending even to Berwick, and richly endowed with old church lands, which were surrendered by nobles who held them for a consideration, A set of singing men were also appointed for Holyrood chapel; and Laud, who had been made a privy councillor, preached there in full pontificals, to the great scandal of all good presbyterians. Thence Charles and his apostle made a tour to St. Andrews, Dundee, Falkland, Dunblane, &c., the singular discomfort of the little churchman amongst the rough fastnesses of the Highlands.

Immediately after this, Charles posted to London in four days, leaving Laud to travel more at leisure. No doubt both master and man thought they had made a very fine piece of work of this forcing of the Scottish consciences: they were destined in a while to feel what it actually was, in rebellion and the sharp edge of the axe.

Scarcely had they reached London, when they heard the news of the death of archbishop Abbot, and Charles was thus enabled to reward Laud for all his services in building up despotism and superstition by making him primate, which he did on the 6th of August, 1633. It was a curious coincidence that about the same time Laud received a second offer of a cardinal's hat, and he seems to have been greatly tempted by it. He says that he acquainted his majesty with the offer, and that the king rescued him from the trouble and danger; for he adds there was something dwelling in him which would not suffer him to accept the offer till Rome was other than she was. To have accepted a cardinal's hat was to have gone over to the church of Rome, and the church of England was for him a much better thing now he was primate- The only wonder is, that as he had restored the high altars, tapers, confession, the crosier, and the crucifix, he did not introduce a race of Anglican cardinals.

There undoubtedly did at this precise time take place an active but private negotiation betwixt the courts of Rome and England on this topic. The queen was anxious to have the dignity of cardinal conferred on a British subject. Probably she thought that the residence of the English cardinal at London would be a stepping-stone to the full restoration of Catholicism. Towards the end of August, immediately after Laud's elevation to the primacy, Sir Robert Douglas was sent to Rome as envoy from the queen, with a letter of credence, signed by the earl of Stirling, secretary of state for Scotland. His mission was this proposal of an English cardinal, as a measure which would contribute greatly to the conversion of the king. To carry out this negotiation, Leander, an English Benedictine monk, was despatched to England, followed soon after by Panzani, an Italian priest.

From the despatches of Panzani, we find that there existed a strong party at the English court for the return to the allegiance of Rome, amongst whom were secretary Windebank, lord chancellor Cottington, Goodman, bishop of Gloucester, and Montague, bishop of Chichester, He was informed that none of the bishops except three - those of Durham, Salisbury, and Exeter, would object to a purely spiritual supremacy of the pope, and very few indeed of the clergy.

Douglas was followed to Rome by Sir William Hamilton, to prosecute this secret business, but it all came to nothing, or the king, who was seeking absolute power, was not likely to listen to any proposal for submitting again to the yoke of Rome; and the pope, on his part, would not comply with Charles's request to exert his influence with catholic Austria for the restoration of his sister and her son in the Palatinate so long as they continued protestants. Laud was therefore relieved from his temptation to receive the cardinal's hat by the resolve of the king to yield not one jot of his spiritual or political power, and a Scotch catholic being at Rome, named Conn, was mentioned as candidate for the purple instead. He came to England, and was graciously received not only by the queen, but the king too. He resided in England three years, but without the cardinal's hat, and was succeeded by count Rossetti, as the pope's envoy; and the rumours of the offers of the scarlet hat to Laud, and the residence of these papal envoys in London, exceedingly excited the jealousy of the people, and added immensely to Charles's unpopularity; for no one felt sure of his real faith.

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.

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