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Reign of Charles I. page 17

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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.

Thus did this arrant example of that worst species of tyrant, the ecclesiastical tyrant, stretch with a restless, domineering avidity, his busy, meddling hand over the whole extent of the British dominions, into the most distant regions and obscure nooks of the globe, and into the most private recesses of the ambassadorial home, to nip every bud of free conscience, to extinguish every free biblical sentiment, and to compress all souls, if possible, into his own shape of dry and tawdry formalism. But even there he was far from having reached the extremity of his interference. He turned his eyes on the foreign refugees who had fled from the fury of intolerance in their own countries. The Dutch protestants and French Huguenots, who had brought their trades and their religion hither, and under the sanction of Elizabeth, James, and Charles himself, were benefiting the nation by their quiet labours, were called on to conform to Laud's English popery. The weavers of Yorkshire, of Norwich, and other places, were called onto abandon their own rituals and adopt that of Laud. In vain they remonstrated and petitioned; in vain Soubise, who had been ruined by trusting to Charles and Buckingham in the affair of Rochelle, and now lived in England, reminded Charles of his most solemn promises. All he could obtain was, that in the province of Canterbury the refugees might retain their own church service, but their children must go to the English church. "When," says Roger Coke, "these injunctions were to be put in execution at Norwich, the Dutch and French congregations petitioned Dr. Matthew Wren, the bishop of the diocese, that these injunctions might not be imposed upon them; but finding no relief, appealed to the archbishop, who returned a sharp answer . . . . . . . As the Spanish trade was the most enriching trade to this nation, so the trade to Hamburg, and the countries and kingdoms within the Sound, with our woollen manufactures, was the best the English had for the employment of people, shipping, and navigation. The company which traded with the Sound was called the East Country Company, and queen Elizabeth, and after her king James, to honour them, called it the Royal Company. This trade the English enjoyed time out of mind; and the cloths which supplied it were principally made in Suffolk and Yorkshire; and Ipswich, as it was the finest town in England, and had the noblest harbour on the east, and most convenient for the trade of the northern and eastern parts of the world, so till this time it was in as flourishing a state as any other in England. The bishop of Norwich straining these injunctions to the utmost, frightened thousands of families out of Norfolk and Suffolk into New England; and about one hundred and forty families of the workers of these woollen manufacturers went into Holland, where the Dutch - as wise as queen Elizabeth was in entertaining the Walloons persecuted by the duke of Alva - established these English excise free, and house-rent free, for seven years; and from these the Dutch became instructed in working those manufactures, which before they knew not."

Such are always the blind works of bigotry. This, however, was not the last effort of Laud in his attempts at universal domination. He resolved to visit the two universities, and bring them up to his model. They resisted, declaring that his grace was only chancellor of Oxford, and the earl of Holland of Cambridge, and refused to admit him without a royal warrant. The matter was debated before the privy council, and it was shown that no archbishop of Canterbury had ever visited either university jure metropolitano; but nevertheless Laud had his way, and made them conform to his wishes,

These proceedings marked out Laud as one of those despots of the first rank who ever and anon astonish the world by the monstrous character of their intense egotism, to whom everything in the world is of less consequence than its gratification; but in his exercise of this diseased will on individuals, there is nothing related of demons which can exceed his elaborate cruelty.

William Prynne was a young graduate of Oxford, originally from Painswick, near Bath, but now an outer barrister of Lincoln's Inn. He was a thorough puritan, grave, stern in his ideas, and rigid in his morals, a man who was ready to sacrifice reputation, life, and everything, for his high ideal of religious truth. He was persuaded that much of the dissoluteness of the young men around him arose from the debasing effect of frequenting the theatres \ and in that he was probably correct, for the theatres were not in that age, nor long after, fitting schools for youth. He therefore wrote a huge volume of a thousand pages against the stage, called "Histriomastix." He stated that forty thousand copies of plays had been exposed for sale within two years, and were eagerly bought up. That the theatres were the chapels of Satan, the players his ministers, and their frequenters were rushing headlong into hell. Dancing was, in his opinion, an equally diabolical amusement, and every pace was a step nearer to Tophet. Dancing made the ladies of England frizzled madams, destroyed their modesty, and would destroy them as it had done Nero, and led three Romans to assassinate Gallienus. He went on to attack everything that Laud had been supporting - Maypoles, public festivals, church-ales, music, and Christmas carols; the cringings and duckings at the altar which Laud had so much fostered, and all the silk and satin divines, their pluralities, and their bellowing chants in the church.

Laud had made two vain attempts to lay hold on this pestilent satirist, but the lawyers had defeated him by injunctions from Westminster Hall. But the third time, by accusing him more exclusively of reflecting on the king and queen by his strictures on dancing, he obtained an order for the attorney-general Noye to indict him in the star-chamber. There he was condemned to be excluded from the bar and from Lincoln's Inn, to be deprived of his university degree, to pay a fine of five thousand pounds, to have his book burnt before his face by the hangman, to stand in the pillory at Westminster and in Cheapside, at each place to lose an ear, and afterwards to be imprisoned for life. This most detestable sentence was carried into effect in May, 1634, with brutal ferocity, although the queen interceded earnestly in his favour, and the nation denounced the barbarity in no equivocal language.

Prynne, undaunted, nay, exasperated to greater daring by this cruelty, resumed the subject in his prison, whence he issued a tract styled "News from Ipswich," in which he charged the prelates with being the bishops of Lucifer, devouring wolves, and execrable traitors, who had overthrown the pure simplicity of the Gospel to introduce afresh the superstitions of popery. He had found in prison a congenial soul, Dr. Bastwick, a physician, who had written a treatise against the bishops, called "Elenchus papismi et flagellum episcoporum Latialium" for which he had been condemned to pay a fine of one thousand pounds to the king, to bo imprisoned two years, and to make recantation. He now. that is in 1639, wrote a fresh tract: "Apologeticus ad prt&wks Anglicanos" and the "Litanie of John Bast-wick, doctor of physic, lying in Limbo partum" in which he attacked both the bishops' and Laud's service books.

A third person was Henry Burton, who had been chaplain to Charles when on his journey to Spain; but being now incumbent of St. Matthew, in London, he had preached against the bishops as "blind watchmen, dumb dogs, ravening wolves, anti-Christian mushrooms, robbers of souls, limbs of the beast, and factors of antichrist."

These zealous religionists, whom the cruelties and follies of Laud and his bishops had driven almost beside themselves, were condemned in the star-chamber to be each fined five thousand pounds, to stand two hours in the pillory, where they were to have their ears cut off, to be branded on both cheeks with the letters S.L., for seditious libeller, and then imprisoned for life.

This sentence, than which the Spanish inquisition had nothing worse to show, was fully executed in Old Palace Yard, on the 30th of June, 1637. Prynne from the pillory defied all Lambeth, with the pope at its back, to prove to him that such doings were according to the law of England; and if he failed to prove them violators of that law and the law of God, they were at liberty to hang him at the door of the Gate House prison. On hearing this the people gave a great shout; but the executioner, as if incited to more cruelty, cut off their ears as barbarously as possible, rather sawing than cutting them. Prynne, who is said to have had his ears on the former occasion sewed on again, had them now gouged out, as it were; yet as the hangman sawed at them he cried out, "Cut me, tear me, I fear thee not. I fear the fire of hell, but not thee!" Burton, too, harangued the people for a long time most eloquently; but the sun blazing hotly in their faces all the time, he was near fainting, when he was carried into a house in King Street, saying, "It is too hot! Too hot, indeed!"

This most disgraceful exhibition made a terrible impression on the spectators, of whom the king was informed that there were one hundred thousand; whilst the executioner sawed at the ears of the prisoners they assailed him with curses, hisses, and groans. Both Charles and Laud were unpleasantly surprised at the effect produced; and to remove the sufferers from public sympathy, they determined to send them to distant and solitary prisons, far separate from each other - to Launceston, Carnarvon, and Lancaster, But the king and his high priest were still more amazed and alarmed when they found on the removal of the prisoners the crowds were equally immense, and that they went along from place to place in a kind of triumph. To attend Burton from Smithfield to two miles beyond Highgate, there were again at least one hundred thousand people, who testified their deep sympathy, and threw money into the coach to his wife as she drove along. Money and presents were also offered to Prynne, but lie refused them. Gentlemen of wealth and station pressed to see and condole with the prisoners, whom they honoured and applauded as martyrs. When Prynne reached Chester, on his way to Carnarvon, one of the sheriffs, attended by a number of gentlemen, met him, invited him to a good dinner, discharged the cost, and gave him some hangings to furnish his dungeon with in Carnarvon Castle.

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