ART. V1.—The Theological Library. Vol. XIII.—The Life of Archbishop Laud. By Charles Webb Le Bas, M.A. Professor in the East India College, Herts, and late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. London: Rivingtons. 1836.

[British Critic, vol. 18, April 1836.]

{354} IN this volume Mr. Le Bas has added to those claims upon the gratitude of Churchmen, which he has successively made of late years, by stimulating at once and supplying the thirst for ecclesiastical history, ignorance of which may safely be accounted one of the most deplorable evils of this time. No one can judge of the exact measure of evil in a deficiency, who is not aware that there is any deficiency at all. Those, then, who know nothing whatever of the history of Christianity in past times, whose insight into the course of Providence for 1800 years is confined to some slight acquaintance with chronology, or with the names of such sects and parties as prevail de facto in this day, wilt remain contented with the present platform of things, and will take every event in the ecclesiastical world as it comes, without capacity or anxiety to form any definite judgment about it. To them one opinion about existing matters is as good as another, and none good for much, except it be to afford subject for conversation, or lead to this or that immediate secular result. Ecclesiastical changes or movements ate regarded merely as they affect local or personal interests or political parties. But let a man know ever so little of the history {355} of former times, and he will at once discern, if he has any portion of a serious and thoughtful mind, that he is under a course or dispensation of things, as truly though not as visibly divine, as the Jewish; that no event which happens to the Church stands by itself, but arises from the past, influences the future, and bears upon the eternal destinies of thousands upon thousands. Under these circumstances the real condition both of himself and of his generation is brought home to him; he and they are like travellers on a desert without sun or landmark, chart or compass; they do not know how they came there, or whither they are tending, so that every step is fearful lest it should be in the wrong direction. For instance, at present we are evidently working out principles and events of three centuries old, elements of good and evil, which have to be sifted, separated, repressed, fostered, as the case may be, and have employed in this very work our great Divines and Churchmen ever since. Popery and Puritanism are still alive and struggling for the ascendancy, and must be resisted by the same measures, or at least on the same principles, on which Whitgift or Hooker resisted them in their day; and, if we do not know their faces when we fall in with them, and are surprised and over-reached in consequence, it will assuredly not be for want of opportunities of information, if we would employ them.

A curious and almost incredible instance of this exceeding ignorance as regards facts, is afforded by certain strange and not unfrequent mistakes in our treatment of standard authors, viz. in citing, as their own, not their own text, but the positions which they have undertaken to refute, and building an argument thence as if on the vantage-ground of their authority. It has been confessed by the representatives of the late respected Mr. Scott, of Aston Sandford, that for years and years his "Force of Truth" contained as Hooker's a passage of Cartwright's which Hooker had undertaken to refute; and another modern writer might be named who is open to the charge of having, in all innocence, taken a similar liberty with the same great divine. Again, it is said that the popular duodecimo editions of Pascal's Thoughts contain passages which he had quoted, we believe from some French author, for the sake of refuting. Now it is no great crime to mistake Bull for Pearson, or Cave for Bingham, or Basil for Chrysostom, but to mistake Augustine for Pelagius, or Hooker for Cartwright, certainly does require an explanation, and total and self-satisfied ignorance is the kindest explanation we can suggest. Writers now-a-days open the volumes of our old divinity, not to know their contents or gain instruction from them, but to see if there be any thing there which will tell in favour of their own views. They turn over the pages, and, if any passage strike them as apposite, {356} down it goes in their note-book, and is forthwith published without any solicitude about its why or whereabout, its history, its parentage, its occasion, or its context.

Mistakes about the Middle Ages afford another pregnant evidence both of our ignorance of history and of our resignation under it. A Turkish Minister, on the news of a battle between Russians and Persians, is said to have asked his informant, "what it was to the Sublime Porte whether the dog beat the hog or the hog the dog?" And like his is the indolent superciliousness with which a pseudo-protestantism regards the dealings of God with his Church through a whole decade of centuries. Were it not that we cannot help dating our letters 1836, it might be suspected that we thought Christianity a few hundred years old, or that, like the Persian monarch, by dipping our head into water and lifting it out again, we had annihilated long periods which once had an existence. Or, as the other alternative, we seem to deny, that the Gospel had ever really a beginning, or Christianity founders; as if it had existed as an opinion, or rather as a hundred discordant opinions, from time immemorial, derived from a volume written in English, and set up in types, and sold in Earl Street, Blackfriars, from time immemorial. The fact that it has existed and been dispensed in divers times and places is above the reach of our present religionists. Certainly they would feel indignant at being confused with their ancestors of four centuries since, nay with the witch-finders and astrologists of a more recent date; yet they feel no conscience at throwing together in one the eras, persons, and exploits of more extended and not less eventful periods. The respective characteristics of this or that series of Popes, the varying relations of Church and State in this or that country, the differences of ecclesiastical policy between an Henry and an Edward, are subjects quite beyond the range of their sensibilities; and they are satisfied that Popery being one and the same in all times, what happened in one century may be fairly fastened in condemnation upon the character of the next.

Another serious indication and result of the same ignorance is the flippancy with which even religious writers speak of the established forms of orthodoxy, and the labours of the early Fathers to whom we owe their public adoption. Every word in the Creeds is the issue of a long history of controversy and trouble; and till we know that history, we cannot possibly know the value of such expressions, nor the expediency or lawfulness of altering or dispensing with them. Every error, now produced, is the same or all but the same as former errors; and though the fact that an opinion has been anticipated long since, is no argument to its present upholders that it is an error, yet it is a reason {357} why they should not be so very well pleased with themselves, and so very confident that they have wherewith to demolish received doctrines. Every rite and ceremony is expressive, with more or less accuracy, of one certain character of mind, in distinction to others. The times of which Mr. Le Bas treats in the present volume furnish abundant illustrations of this last remark. What could apparently be so futile as a contest about a vestment or a posture, on which continually the controversy turned with the Puritans? But in fact, as that contest when viewed in the history shows, such differences were but the external indications of ecclesiastical views radically distinct from one another.

But it is time to turn to the consideration of Mr. Le Bas' present volume. The author seems to feel the delicacy and difficulty of pourtraying a character which at this day labours under the odium and unpopularity attaching to Archbishop Laud; but we feel no apprehension, whatever anxiety the work has cost him, that it will be not repaid with a more than counterbalancing success. Not a step, indeed, can be taken in the account of this great Prelate's life, but some or other charge has to be refuted, or mistake rectified; and the difficulty of course is very considerable, to do what mere justice requires, and yet to avoid the appearance of being a mere partizan or panegyrist, instead of an historian. Yet we feel confident that Mr. Le Bas has so conducted his narrative as to secure its extensive popularity even in this anti-Laudian age, and that many will be the family and the solitary student whom he will disabuse of those prejudices which education has engendered.

However, the chief and truly characteristic point of view in which he represents the Archbishop is one of which perhaps he is hardly himself aware, viz. that of a Reformer. In good truth, Laud in all respects merited that now popular title, and seems to have had the virtues and defects which are commonly supposed to attach to it. We do not for an instant intend to limit his character to such a view of it; but we speak of its external development, and with reference to the active functions which he was specially allotted. Nor, again, must it be supposed that he was a Reformer on any principles or no principles, according to the fashion of this day, but upon definite and fixed principles, those ancient and Catholic lines of truth and sanctity which Apostles laid down once for all, and on which the Scriptures are based. Still, whatever his real inward qualities of mind, which were great, generous and bold, philosophical and devotional, and whatever the strength and truth of the principles on which he governed the Church whose interests were committed to him, after all he was, all through his life, and is conspicuous in history as being, a Reformer, {358} amid as unchristian abuses, and with as tough a struggle, and with as hard an issue, and as true claim to the praise of Martyrdom, as the worthies of the preceding century.

His early years at Oxford were devoted to a noble and almost chivalrous effort (as it appeared) to reclaim the University from Calvinism to the pure and primitive faith which was unjustly stigmatized at the time as Popery. And in thus resisting the "traditions of men," and appealing to "the Law and the Testimony," he incurred in full measure the enmity of those who, without having the grosser vices, had all the conceit and affectation, the formality, narrowness, and obstinacy of the Pharisees. Yet he threw himself into the contest with a high-minded spirit, and showed no signs of wincing, in spite of the false and cruel suspicions to which he was in consequence exposed. Mr. Le Bas' interesting and picturesque narrative will afford us some specimens of this contest.

"When Laud commenced his academic residence, Oxford bore a greater resemblance, in many respects, to a colony from Geneva, than to a seminary of Anglo-Catholic Divinity. The genius of Calvin presided in the schools. The dark theory of predestination was maintained as an essential ingredient in the faith of a Christian man. The Apostolic succession of Bishops was treated as little better than a fable. The authority of the Church was scornfully disregarded. The very existence of a visible Church during the long period of Papal predominance, was gravely questioned by some distinguished divines, while others maintained that it was to be sought for only in the scattered Conventicles of Berengarians, or among the Albigenses, or the mountaineers of Piedmont, or perhaps, among the Wiclifites of England, or the Hussites of Bohemia. In short, the whole life and virtue of religion appeared to be well-nigh concentrated into one thing,—an abrupt and impetuous departure from the Church of Rome.

"Now the theological studies of Laud had taught him a very different lesson. They had been prosecuted in the spirit of the Canon of 1571; which enjoined that the interpretation of Scripture should be regulated, not by a licentious exercise of private judgment, but by a strict regard to the doctrines which had been collected from Scripture, by the primitive fathers of the Church. It was remarked by Dr. Young, by whom Laud had been ordained, that his studies had not been confined to the narrow and partial systems of Geneva; but that his scheme of divinity had been raised 'upon the noble foundations of the Fathers, the Councils, and the Ecclesiastical Historians.' And, hence, he pronounced that, if the young man's life should be spared, he would become a fit instrument for the Church's deliverance from the trammels of every modern school, and for her restoration to the more free and comprehensive principles of the first and purest ages. The whole plan and elevation of doctrine which this course of inquiry had set before him, he found to be in strict conformity with the original scheme of the Anglican {359} Reformation; but, in many essential respects, at mortal variance with the theory and the practice which then had got possession of the schools. And he was seized with a vehement desire to bring the Church of England from this state of defection, back to her native principles.

"It was not long before an opportunity was afforded for the manifestation of his zeal, his forwardness, and his confidence, in the cause of pure and primitive Christianity. Such was the estimation in which he was held, as a scholar and a divine, that, in 1602, he was admitted to read the Lecture of Mrs. May's foundation, with the full consent and approbation of his College. And it was either in this, or some other academical exercise performed about the same time, that he resolved to stand forward in vindication of the Articles and Constitution of the Church. The adventure was one which, in times like those, demanded an intrepid resolution. But Laud had, doubtless, counted the cost of his warfare: and he, accordingly, maintained, in opposition to the predominant theology of the day, 'the constant and perpetual visibility of the Church of Christ, derived from the Apostles to the Church of Rome, and continued in that Church, as in others of the East and South, until the Reformation.' By this exploit he marked himself out as an object of hatred to the Puritans, and, more especially to their patron and champion Dr. George Abbot, Master of University College, Dean of Winchester; and, in 1603, Vice Chancellor of the University. This divine (who was afterwards elevated to the Primacy of all England) was the foremost man among those who affirmed that it was impossible to discern the visibility of the Church, otherwise than by tracing it, through a straggling series of sects, from the days of Berengarius to those of Luther and of Calvin. These opinions he did not embody in writing till the year 1624; but they were notoriously entertained, and urgently contended for by him, at the time when the contrary position was taken up by Laud. There is too much reason to believe that Abbot never forgave this act of open resistance to the authority of his name. And it is most certain that, from that moment to the end of his days, Laud was detested and pursued by the party of Abbot, as a confederate of Popery, and a sworn enemy to the Gospel of Christ."—pp. 5-8.

At the time of this first protest against the errors of his day, he was about 30 years old, an age which seems marked out by nature as that when the principles are at length finally settled, and the silent meditation and study of former years begin to display themselves for the good of the destined objects of their influence. Shortly after we find him engaged in a similar controversy.

"In July, 1604, be became Bachelor of Divinity. From the propositions which he undertook to defend, in his exercises for that degree, it is evident that his spirit was wholly undaunted by the resentment which his first theological essay had so recently called forth. He maintained, first, the necessity of Baptism; and, secondly, that there could be no true Church without Diocesan Bishops. Two subjects more distasteful to the Puritans could not easily have been selected. They did not suffer the occasion to pass without reminding Laud that their eye was constantly {360} upon him. His arguments for the necessity of Baptism were treated with contempt, on the ground that they were borrowed from the writings of Bellarmine; as if all reasoning must inevitably be vicious, which had been resorted to by a Papist. For his vindication of Episcopacy, he was severely assailed by Dr. Holland, Rector of Exeter College, who had succeeded Laurence Humphrey in the divinity chair. The mantle of his predecessor, as well as his office, appears to have fallen upon Holland; for he now complained loudly that the disputant was casting the torch of discord between the Church of England and the Reformed Churches beyond the seas. The result was a general conviction that Laud was becoming, every day, more thoroughly steeped in Romish superstition."—pp. 9, 10.

In consequence a violent effort was made by the ascendant party to preclude him from the headship of his College, (St. John's,) to which, on a vacancy in 1610, his merits justified his aspiring. Abbot, his inveterate enemy, being at this time Archbishop of Canterbury elect, addressed himself through Lord Ellesmere, the Chancellor, to the King, alleging the so-called Popery of Laud; and, when this attempt failed, recourse was had to a most unusual measure,—unusual, that is, in our own quiet times,—to hinder the election.

"It appears that among the competitors was one Rawlinson, formerly a fellow of St. John's, and at that time Principal of St. Edmund's Hall. When the scrutiny was completed, and the election on the point to be declared, one of Rawlinson's supporters, perceiving that the result would certainly be favourable to Laud, suddenly snatched the scrutiny-paper, and, in a moment, tore it to pieces. By this outrage, some doubt was thrown upon the regularity of his election, and the matter was referred, by appeal, to the decision of the King."—p. 19.

The King confirmed the election, and the dispute ended, though time of course was required to cool the heats which such dissentions involved. Mr. Le Bas here furnishes us with two remarkable facts. The first is, that, bigot and firebrand as Laud is represented, he succeeded, in the course of a few months, in restoring peace to his society, which was never afterwards interrupted. He was able to boast that, during the eleven years of his Presidentship, nothing happened to disturb it; and for the truth of this he publicly appealed in his adversity to the knowledge of individuals of consideration in the Church, who were in a condition to give evidence on the subject. The other instance shall be set before the reader in Mr. Le Bas' own words.

"There was one part of his conduct, more especially, which could scarcely fail to disarm the hatred even of those who had been most forward to injure him. For the sake of example, it was necessary that some punishment should be inflicted on Bayley, the individual who had torn the scrutiny-paper. Laud, however, perceiving him to be a young man {361} of promising talent, steady application, and intrepid temper, thought it wiser, as well as more charitable, to win him by kindness, than to confirm him in his alienation by severity. He accordingly released him from the censure inflicted upon him, as soon as was consistent with propriety; and, not content with this, he bestowed upon the man his favour and his confidence; and, at length, made him his Chaplain, advanced him in the Church, married him to his brother's daughter, and, eventually, obtained his promotion to that very Presidentship which he had endeavoured to snatch from Laud, and with it, to one of the best Deaneries in the kingdom."—pp. 20, 21.

His next dispute, and under more painful circumstances than any of the former, was with Robert Abbot, the Archbishop's brother.

"It chanced that, in the course of a sermon preached by him (Laud) before the University on Shrove Tuesday, 1614, he had ventured on some expressions bitterly offensive to the Presbyterians. On the Easter day which followed, he (Abbott) preached at St. Peter's in the afternoon, and his Sermon was so obviously directed against the Preacher of Shrove Tuesday, that it was impossible for any one of the congregation to mistake the individual at whom he aimed. At this exhibition, Laud himself was not present. His friends, however, thought it due to his reputation that he should boldly make his appearance at St. Mary's, on the following Sunday; on which day, conformably to the ancient custom of the University, the same Sermon would be repeated. Laud, though not without some reluctance, consented; and the consequence was that, according to his own account of the matter to Bishop Neile, 'he was fain to sit patiently, and hear himself abused, almost an hour together; being pointed at as he sat.'

This circumstance is well worthy of attention, not only because it illustrates the spirit which never ceased to persecute him, till it brought him to the scaffold, but, also, because it shows what were some of the opinions, then stigmatized as treasonable to the Protestant faith. The following is a specimen of the language of the assailant: —

'Some,' said the preacher, 'are partly Romish and partly English, as occasion serves them; that a man may say unto them, Noster es, an adversariorum? who, under pretence of truth, and preaching against the Puritan, strike at the heart and root of the Faith and Religion now established among us. They cannot plead that they are accounted Papists, because they speak against the Puritan; but, because, being indeed Papists, they speak nothing against them. If they do, at any time, speak any thing against the Papists, they do but beat a little about the bush, and that but softly, too, for fear of waking and disquieting the birds that are in it. They speak nothing but that, wherein one Papist will speak against another; as against Equivocation, and the Pope's temporal authority, and the like; and perhaps some of their blasphemous speeches. But, in the points of Free Will, Justification, concupiscence being a sin after Baptism, Inherent Righteousness, and certainty of Salvation, the Papists beyond the sea can say they are wholly theirs, and the Recusants {362} at home make their brags of them. And, in all things, they keep so near the brink, that, upon any occasion, they may step over to them. Now, for this speech, that the Presbyterians are as bad as the Papists, there is a sting in the speech which I wish had been left out; for there are many Churches beyond the seas which contend for the Religion established among us, and yet have approved and admitted the Presbytery.' Then, after some sentences in vindication of the Presbyterian Discipline, the preacher proceeded thus: 'Might not Christ say, what art thou? Romish or English? Papist or Protestant? Or what art thou? A mongrel, or compound of both? A Protestant by ordination? a Papist in point of Free Will, Inherent Righteousness, and the like? A Protestant in receiving the Sacrament? a Papist in the doctrine of the Sacrament? What, do you think there are two heavens? if there be, get you to the other, and place yourselves there. For into this, where I am, ye shall never come!'

This passage is extremely important and memorable. The invective of Abbott very plainly discloses to us certain of those ingredients which entered into the composition of what has been sometimes complained of by the vindicators of Puritanism, as the Semi-Protestant Divinity of those days. And this disclosure must be kept steadily in mind, if we would duly estimate the justice of the charge, that, among the theologians of James and Charles, several were guilty of a perfidious approximation to the Romish scheme of doctrine. To exalt the Eucharist above a mere act of commemoration, to maintain the freedom of the human will, to doubt whether or not the elect are favoured with a full and perfect assurance of salvation, all these were infallible symptoms of a relapse into superstition and corruption! Every step from Calvinism was held to be towards Popery. All who were not fixed and stationary at Geneva, were denounced as meditating a desertion to Rome. By artifices like these, it was that the character of Papist was made to adhere to Laud so closely, that he could no more shake it off, than he could escape from his own shadow. Let him say or do what he would, he was still, manifestly, no other than a servant of Anti-Christ!"—pp. 23-26.

These extracts afford a specimen of his "good warfare" at the University, and justify our giving him the title of Reformer. His promotions, which followed successively, introduced him into fresh spheres of usefulness, and of trouble thence resulting. His first dignity was the deanery of Gloucester, and here, while it was Laud's fate to impinge at once upon abuses, which required a remedy, it was not his character tamely to acquiesce in them.

"There was not a Church in the kingdom which exhibited in more ample measure the peculiarities of the Calvinistic discipline. Every thing was in a state of scandalous disorder. The cathedral was falling to decay: the worship was assimilated, as nearly as might be, to the service of a Conventicle. So notorious, in short, were the irregularities which had long prevailed, that they had excited the attention and the displeasure of the King: and Laud departed for Gloucester, armed, not only with his own zeal and resolution, but with the strongest injunctions {363} of his Majesty to effect a searching reformation. The first measure of Laud was to assemble the Chapter, to lay before them his Majesty's instructions, and to procure their consent to two acts,—the one, for a speedy reparation of the fabric; the other for removing the communion table to the east of the choir, and placing it against the wall, conformably to the usage of other Cathedral Churches. He further recommended to the Clergy, and to the subordinate officers of the Church, the practice of a reverent obeisance on entering the choir; a custom which, at that period, was generally observed, in the chapels of the King, and of many among the first nobility in the land."—pp. 27, 28.

However, he had to encounter the opposition, first of the Bishop, then of the populace, who at the cry of Popery created a tumult, and rendered it necessary for the Magistracy to interfere. Yet here, as in the case of his College, success attended his exertions. In the course of less than a twelvemonth the mob was quieted, and the disorders were reformed, at no price but that which the author of reformations must ever expect from the community, a loss of name and credit to himself, in proportion to his good deeds. Laud set right the Cathedral of Gloucester; and he gained once for all the indelible title of Papist.

This achievement was a specimen of one of the more prominent labours of Laud's life, the restoring sanctity and a permanent form to the externals of religion. He had directed his exertions this way from the first.

"Of the life and habits of Laud, as a parochial clergyman." says Mr. Le Bas, "scarcely any notice has been preserved, except, that as one of his first acts, after taking possession of a living, was to assign an annual pension to twelve poor persons, that he laid aside one fifth part of his income for charitable and pious uses; and that it was his invariable practice to put the Glebe-house into a state of substantial repair, and to see the Church supplied with becoming furniture."

The zeal which animated himself in private, and in matters of personal expense, in the first years of his ministry, showed itself on a noble scale and with most beneficial and enduring results, when he was Archbishop. Let us hear Mr. Le Bas' account of his proceedings in a later period of his life.

First as to the state of Parish Churches.

"The Archbishop resolved upon a Metropolitical Visitation of the whole province of Canterbury; in other words, upon a course of warfare against the manifold indecencies and abominations which, for a long period, had disfigured the Church. One of his first cares was, for the due position of the Sacramental Table, and for its protection from irreverence and desecration. It has already appeared, that, from the moment of his first promotion, this had always held a foremost place in his thoughts: and it has been conceived by many that it occupied a disproportionate share of his attention. In order to estimate his conduct rightly, it will be {364} proper to take into consideration the consequences which had resulted from a neglect of this department of ecclesiastical discipline. In the Cathedral Churches, then, and in the Chapels of the Nobility, that which we now scruple not to call the Altar, was usually placed, where we now uniformly see it, close to the Eastern wall of the Church; guarded by a decent railing from defilement and profanation. In many of the Parochial Churches the case was widely different. It was dragged, by Puritanical scruple or caprice, into the body of the Church, and treated as if no peculiar sanctity belonged to it. It often served the Churchwardens for a parish-table, the school-boys for a desk, and the carpenters for a working-board. In one place, we are told, a dog had run away with the bread set apart for the Holy Communion; and in many instances the wine had been brought to the table in pint-pots, and bottles, and so was distributed to the people. Such were the effects of an indiscriminate aversion for the practices of Rome! It can hardly be thought surprising that any man, whose mind was rich in the knowledge of Christian antiquity, and whose heart was warm with zeal for the glory of God, should look upon these base and slovenly usages with loathing and indignation; more especially when it was found that, by such practices, the Reformed profession was identified with positive impiety, in the estimation of the most sincere and sober-minded Romanists.

The Archbishop felt it to be his duty to attempt a reform of these unseemly abuses. And when he was finally called upon to answer for his proceedings, he solemnly averred that his motive was not a stupid attachment to Popish mummeries, but solely a desire for the restoration of external and visible Religion."—pp. 183-185.

In the above extract Mr. Le Bas exempts Cathedral Churches and private Chapels from the indignities which had been allowed in country places; however, from a subsequent passage of his work, it would appear that this is but a comparative approbation of them, and that the best that could be said of any class of sacred buildings is that they might have been worse.

"Another most important care which fell upon the Archbishop, was the restoration of the Cathedrals to a fit condition for the due and becoming celebration of Divine Worship. They were, most of them, in a state which indicated a long period of irreverent neglect. The Archbishop resolved to begin the work of reformation in his own glorious Cathedral. His first injunction was, that appropriate furniture should be provided for the solemnity of the Eucharist. And in order that this might be no transient regulation, he compiled a complete body of statutes for the government of the Church, with his own hand signed to every separate leaf, and despatched it to the Chapter under the authority of the Great Seal; and one of the enactments was, that every Prebendary, at his entrance into the Choir, and departure from it, should bow towards the Altar, and so make due reverence to Almighty God. A similar code was prepared by him for the Cathedrals of Winchester and Hereford. In various other Cathedrals, he found that the Chapters had been more careful of their own emoluments than of the repair and decoration of the {365} fabric. And, with the aid of Bishops Davenant and Morton, such effectual measures were taken for the correction of these abuses, that the Cathedral Churches began to recover something of their ancient dignity and splendour, and to serve for an example to the Churches connected with them. That many of the parochial edifices had long been in need of some such influence to preserve them from ruin, is undeniable. Of this, one instance may be mentioned, as illustrating the feelings with which such profanation was contemplated by Laud. At a visitation held by him, when he was Bishop of London, the preacher at St. Peter's, Cornhill, derived the word Diaconus from [konis] (dust); as if the title were significant of the dust and heat of a laborious life. 'I am sorry,' said the Bishop, afterwards, in his charge, 'to find here so true an etymology. Here is dust, and dirt too, enough for a Deacon, or a Priest, to work in; dust of the worst kind, from the ruins of this ancient House of God!' But of all the monuments of neglect which Abbott had left behind him, the Chapel of his own palace at Lambeth was, perhaps, the most disgraceful. When first Laud came to reside there, he could never enter it without disgust. It was a scene of filth, disorder, and decay. Among other deformities, the painted windows were in some places broken to pieces; and, in many, they were miserably patched with the most ordinary glass; so that, as Laud avers, they had the appearance of a beggar's coat. This state of things was not suffered by him to continue long. The whole Chapel was properly repaired. The windows were restored and beautified, as nearly as might be, according to the original design. The Communion-table was removed from the middle of the Chapel, fenced with a costly railing, and decorated with a suitable canopy. Plate and other furniture were provided for the Sacramental Service. Copes (which at that time were not wholly disused) were supplied for the use of the officiating Chaplains. The broken and tuneless organ was fitted up: till at length the whole place wore an aspect no longer dishonourable to the worship of God. The example of the Archbishop was not lost upon his own University; and the College chapels at Oxford gradually shook themselves from the dust.

In the principles which dictated these improvements there is surely nothing for intelligent and sober-minded men to reprove. In these days, it is difficult for us to imagine the perverseness which then revolted against the spectacle of decent solemnity—nay, of common cleanliness,—in the public services of Christian devotion. If Laud's proceedings, relative to such matters, were Popish, then are we, of the Reformed establishment of England, now living in the midst of an almost complete apparatus of Popery; for our Cathedrals and our Churches are, for the most part, in a condition which Laud himself might have looked upon with complacency. In those times, however, a reverence towards the Altar was often thought to indicate a firm belief that Christ was corporeally present in the Sacrament of the Altar: and, in every painted window, was read no less than a design to subvert the true religion, and to set up Romish, or even semi-pagan, idolatry in its stead."—pp. 205-207.

This frenzy of the day will account for the charge of superstition brought against Laud, in the well-known instance of his consecration {366} of St. Catherine's church. We should not have noticed here what we believe to be a mere exaggeration, as far as it is open to remark, except that silence might have looked as if we were ashamed of it. Mr. Hume's account of it is as follows:—

"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, &c. 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, along with his attendants, near to 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 concluded 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, &c. &c. ... On the conclusion of each curse he bowed towards the east, &c. ... The imprecations being all so piously finished, there were poured out a number of blessings on such as had any hand in forming and building that sacred and beautiful edifice, &c. ... At every, benediction he in like manner bowed towards the east, &c. … The sermon succeeded; after which the bishop consecrated and administered the Sacrament in the following manner. As he approached the communion table he made many lowly 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 corner of the napkin in which the bread was laid. When he beheld the bread, he suddenly let fall the napkin, flew back a step or two, bowed three several times toward the bread; then he drew near again, and opened the napkin, and bowed as before. Next he laid his hand on the cup, which had a cover upon it, and was full of 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 solemnity of the consecration ended. The walls, and floor, and roof of the fabric were then supposed to be sufficiently holy."

Here Mr. Hume leaves the matter, but we will add our present author's remarks.

"His answer to this despicable charge may be seen in his own history of his trial; and the statements of his enemies, when compared with his, are almost enough to make one ashamed of human nature. It turned out that the pompous retinue consisted only of the officials, who always attend at consecrations; that the throwing up of dust, and the {367} uttering of curses, were pure fictions; and that the Pontifical supplied no more to the consecration service, than the Missal is known to have done to our Liturgy. He confesses that he approached the church door with the words, Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in—a passage which had been used at consecrations from time immemorial. He further allows that he pronounced the ground to be holy, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And he contends that there is a derivative and relative holiness in places, as well as vessels, and other things, dedicated to the service and honour of God. He avers that he used no bowings (or cringings, as they were called,) but such as were demanded by the solemnity of the place and the occasion. And he added, 'are we, who have separated the chaff, to cast away the corn too? If it come to that, let us take heed that we fall not upon the devil's winnowing, who labours to beat down the corn. It is not the chaff that troubles him!'"—pp. 144, 145.

"But, even admitting for a moment, the representation of his enemies, respecting this fact, to be correct, the very worst which, in that case, could justly be urged against him, amounts to no more than this,—that he was betrayed into some transgression of the rigid letter of the ritual, partly by the fervour of his own devotional feelings, and partly by his disgust at that sordid slovenliness, which, of late years, had rendered the Protestant worship contemptible, and which, be it always remembered, was driving multitudes back within the attraction of Romanism. The fanatics swaggered into the church with their hats on, and frequently so remained during the whole of the divine service. Laud, in his anxiety to correct their almost brutal irreverence, was desirous that they who entered a church, should testify, by an obeisance directed towards its most hallowed spot, that they were conscious of treading within a precinct dedicated to the majesty of Heaven. The same feeling prompted him to give peculiar solemnity to the rite of consecration, the Puritans having maintained that the sanctity of the place walked in, and walked out again, together with the congregation! In short, like many other wise and holy men, he apprehended that 'religion would grow strangely wild, if it were left to the boisterous clowneries and unmannerly liberties' of those who, in the pride of their humility, trampled on the decorous appointments and ordinances of the Church."—pp. 146, 147.

In addition to these apposite observations, we would ask, is there any opportunity for exaggeration more ready than when testimony is to be given concerning manner, gesture, tone of voice, and the like; any circumstances which admit of so much unconscious colouring from the prejudices and feelings of the witnesses? The evidence given every day in police courts, of quarrels or riots, is sufficient to verify this remark. Whether this man or that spoke civilly or insolently,—what were the very words used by each,—who struck first,—whether the party struck, or shoved, or passively repelled, or submitted,—all such questions have two solutions, equally true and equally false, depending on {368} the side in the dispute taken by the deponents under examination. And in like manner, to a rude and scornful mind, to bow is to cringe; and to feel, and involuntarily show we feel, the presence of God, is either hypocrisy or superstition, as the case may be. Much more might this so appear on the occasion in question, were Laud flurried, or conscious he was making a protest, or that he was being looked at, or were he wanting in ease and dignity; nay, even his disadvantage of person might disparage what in another might have been accounted a seemly and reverential bearing. It should be added, too, that Mr. Hume's account is evidently from one who was unacquainted with the English ritual, and that the ordinary course of our Communion Service, as all clergymen perform it, might be made by the dexterous and profane, very much the same in kind as the ceremonial above attributed to Laud.

Laud is generally considered to have failed in his projects for the Church's welfare. His violent death, the immediate downfall of religion, and the unpopularity of his name and principles since, have created this impression. Yet, on a more accurate consideration, we may be led to a different conclusion. Two specimens have already been given of his exertions and his consequent successes. He made our churches decent, and restored their altars, and they remain so restored, so embellished, to this day. He encountered the Genevese spirit when ascendant both in Oxford and in the Church; and never since has it recovered its place, whether in the hierarchy or in the university. He has gained a number of hard names as an inheritance; but to him we owe the suppression of puritanical rationalism and profaneness for two hundred years. A third ever-enduring benefit has been his patronage of sacred learning. By far the greater number of our celebrated divines may be referred, directly or indirectly, to his influence or favour. Usher, Pococke, Hall, Bramhall, Sanderson and Taylor, owed their advancement to him. His principles in their main respects were adopted and propagated, in addition to some of the above, by Hammond, Pearson, Bull, Stillingfleet, and Beveridge. It is true there are two divines of his promoting from whom the Church has reaped no great benefit, able and accomplished as they were—Hales and Chillingworth; but when the circumstances are carefully considered, the censure which has thence attached to him will be found undeserved. These celebrated men were Arminians and Latitudinarians, and hence it is common to consider the archbishop as the follower of Arminius; and sometimes, too, his theological system as of ultra-Protestant tendency. Really, however, he had no more, rather much less, to do with the principles of the Arminians than {369} the Puritans themselves. Arminianism, or, as it soon became, Latitudinarianism, was the reaction from Calvinism in Holland. The public mind could not long remain contentedly in the trammels of a human system, and, not having the refuge of true Catholicism open to it, it recoiled into an apathetic liberaiism. The English Church, though tinctured with Calvinism, under Elizabeth, was saved from this melancholy reverse by the interposition of the more enlarged yet reverent principles of Christian antiquity,—by the rise of Laud's school, among whom there is but slight truce of Latitudinarian indifference. But our reunion with foreign Protestantism introduced that plague. Hales, who accompanied Sir Dudley Carleton to the Synod of Dordt, made acquaintance there with Episcopius, the disciple of Arminius, brought back his doctrines to England, and communicated them to Chillingworth. We have evidence in history of the great disquiet which this importation gave to Laud, who prevailed on one of these two divines to abandon or conceal his opinions. However, the contagion ran its course; in the next reign it gave rise to a school in Cambridge, under Tillotson and others, diffused itself through the nation in the writings of the celebrated Mr. Locke, which drew upon him the condemnation of Laud's own university, and evinced its inbred hatred to the Church, by co-operating in the separation of the Nonjurors, in the erection of the Presbyterian kirk, and in the ascendancy of Hoadly and his party.

But to return to Laud. Mr. Le Bas notices some specimens of his encouragement of letters in the following passages:—

"The distracting responsibilities which came upon him daily, could never, for a moment, divert him from his course of enlightened munificence. He continued to enrich the University which bred him with a profusion of literary treasure, chiefly manuscripts in various languages, ancient and modern, European and Oriental, which he spared no pains in seeking or cost in procuring. Equally admirable was his care for the cultivation of those Eastern tongues which were most eminently subservient to the study of Theology. It has already been noticed that, by his intercession, a Canonry of Christ Church was permanently annexed to the royal professorship of Hebrew. His good offices were now extended to the Arabic language; a lectureship in which, was established, and afterwards endowed by him, in perpetuity, with a revenue of 40 per annum, and of which the first occupant was the illustrious Pocock. He further obtained the annexation of another Canonry to the office of public orator; a benefit which, however, was subsequently lost to literature, during the period of successful rebellion and usurpation. By these and various other instances of noble and generous patronage, his ascendancy at Oxford became almost supreme."—pp. 213, 214. {370}

Again, three years later:—

"In the midst of all this care and toil, while his energies were tasked to the uttermost for the honour and stability of the Church, and his name was torn to pieces by ingratitude and calumny, the Archbishop was unwearied in devising liberal and glorious things for the cause of literature and charity. He erected, at his own cost, a stately pile at the west end of the Divinity School, at Oxford; the lower part for the assembling of Convocations, the upper as a repository for learned writings. 'And,' as Heylyn quaintly remarks, 'that he might not be said to have given them nothing but an empty box,' he furnished it with no less than 576 manuscripts, in addition to 700 which he had sent before; of which 100 were Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian. His munificence was, likewise, extended to his native town of Reading; upon which he bestowed a revenue of 200 per annum, to be employed in apprenticing young men, in assisting meritorious beginners in trade, in furnishing marriage-portions to deserving female servants, and, lastly, in augmenting the stipend of the minister of the parish church of St. Laurence. He also purchased the perpetual advowson of the same church, and annexed it to the patronage of St. John's College. Certain other noble designs, of a more public nature, were entertained by him; some of which were executed, and others interrupted by the calamitous vicissitudes which fell upon him. Among those which he was not spared to accomplish, may be mentioned, his projects for increasing the poorer vicarages, for the settlement of the London tithes, for the establishment of a Greek press at Oxford, and for obtaining a grant from his Majesty, for the purchase of impropriations. He, further, intended to procure, at his own charge, a copy, on vellum, of all the Records in the Tower, relating to the Clergy, from the 20th of Edward I. to the end of Henry VIII.: but the troubles of the time prevented the completion of this work to a later period than the 14th of Edward IV. In order that the learned men of Europe might be enabled to judge between that Church and the faction which assailed it, he caused the Liturgy which had been rejected by the Scots to be translated into Latin: but the publication of it was prevented by the same unhappy cause which stifled several of his other undertakings."—pp. 249-251.

At an earlier date he had prevailed on the Earl of Pembroke to purchase no less than 240 Greek manuscripts as a present to the University, and gained twenty-eight more for the same destination from Sir Thomas Roe, King James's ambassador to the Mogul. A benefit of a different and more important nature was his undertaking the task of forming the University Statutes, which had fallen into a state of almost inextricable confusion, into one intelligible digest, accommodated to existing circumstances. To this service was added the further benefaction of obtaining from the Crown the celebrated Caroline Charter, which contained not only a confirmation of all the ancient privileges of the University, but a grant of new ones, as ample and honourable as those enjoyed by the University of Cambridge. Here again Laud, occupies {371} the position which we have already ascribed to him, the author of great and permanent deeds. Under his constitution the University is still conducted.

Another strenuous act, of which posterity has reaped the fruits, was his resistance of the Puritan scheme of purchasing impropriations for the establishment of lectureships in towns. This took place in the year 1631, under the following circumstances. Some years before, one Dr. Preston, a person of great influence among the Puritans, had recommended to the Duke of Buckingham the destruction of the Cathedrals and Collegiate Churches. The reasons produced by him for this confiscation were, as Mr. Le Bas informs us, first, "the promotion of God's glory," next, as subsidiary, the payment of James's debts, and the creation of patronage for the favourite himself. The plan failed; but the projector, untired, exerted himself in the discovery of some other means of effecting his end, the weakening of the Church established, and this was the plan above-mentioned. A sort of corporation was formed for the purchase of impropriations, though without authority either from King or Parliament, and very considerable sums were subscribed. The impropriations therewith purchased, instead of being employed in benefiting the livings to which they originally belonged, were used in the hiring of stipendiary lecturers, altogether dependent on their employers, and notoriously disaffected to the discipline, if not the doctrine, of the Church. The support of schoolmasters, of students at the University, of silenced ministers, and of their widows and children, were additional objects to which the fund was applied. Such a project, introducing into the heart of the Church a body of ministers dependent solely on a self-constituted board, was plainly intolerable, and Laud succeeded in overthrowing it by means of the law.

After surveying for a while the above and similar instances of Laud's services to the Church, the question suddenly comes across the mind, "What it is after all that has made such a man so unpopular?" and no wonder, if for a moment it remains in doubt. But the question is of no difficult solution: he was a Reformer and Restorer; and the labours of such men, when most beneficial, really are least pleasant to the objects benefited. It is easy indeed to gain these popular titles by popular acts, by flattering the forwardness of the populace or the cupidity of kings; but when most is done, fewest understand it, though their praise is a sufficient return. Besides, as was above noticed, Laud had the faults which commonly belong to reformers, though they have been most indulgently regarded in the case of others. He was rough and hasty in manner, violent in temper, and inconsiderate, nay it may be said even cruel, in occasional words or deeds. We have evidence of {372} his own consciousness and distress at these failings; and of his deep and habitual humility. The more we inspect his character, the more we shall acquit him of spiritual pride and self-esteem; an enemy might indeed accuse him of a superstitious and slavish temper, (to speak the language of this day,) but scarcely of the haughty, self-exalting spirit of a Wolsey. Yet, lowly as might be his own thoughts about himself, he was undeniably intemperate in his words and manner. On the examination of Felton before the Council, he threatened him with the rack;—an excess which not even the atrocity of the assassin's crime and his own strong attachment to Buckingham can excuse. When Richardson, the Chief Justice, was brought before the Council for giving orders to the Clergy in disobedience to the Royal injunction, Laud took upon himself to administer the censure upon him. It is sad work noticing the failings of men to whom we are indebted, and it does good to no one. Who is surprised at reading of Knox's violence and extravagances, his exulting approval of Cardinal Beautoun's assassination, and his violence towards Mary? He was not simply betrayed into excesses, but committed them on principle; yet we are accustomed to take them as part of his whole character, we take him for what he is, as a fact in history, and we bear to mention his name without reviling it. We call him magnanimous, and so in charity veil his pride and insolence. In like manner we endure in Luther great liberties of language, because he was a great man; liberties which we should be shocked even in imagination to impute to Laud. Calvin, again, in burning Servetus, went very far beyond Laud; as did the mild and cautious Cranmer himself, when, not from warmth of temper, but actuated by the spirit of the age, he kindled the flames of Smithfield in behalf of the Anabaptists. Charges, then, of ill-temper, peevishness and the like, are unfair and invidious when urged against so considerable a man as Laud; they were failings certainly, and are not to be explained away; but we may fairly ask for such persons as are not, in some respect or other, as faulty as he was, to cast the stone at him, and may allow his infirmities to pass sub silentio till we find a ruler or reformer of these last degenerate times less open to serious charges in life or manners. The real difference between him and the Reformers who preceded him seems to be this, that he was intemperate against his age, and they with their age; and, as treason never prospers, so strong measures, when unsuccessful, pass for rashness and tyranny. It is not a question between them of truth, but of good policy.

The other chief ground of exception against him is his supposed inclinations towards Popery; but these will always be attributed to the most moderate of men who unhappily live in the {373} midst of Puritanism or Latitudinarianism. Bishop Butler has not escaped a whit more successfully than Laud; as if to show us that not the greatest sobriety of mind or philosophical abstraction from the excitements and struggles of life will suffice for the exculpation of those who scruple to run the full race of vulgarities and profanities miscalled Protestantism. Laud bowed to the altar, Butler put up a cross; this was enough in the eyes of the multitude to asperse the fame of the former as well as of the latter; and it cannot be more than aspersed in consequence of those opportunities which he had and used above Butler for diffusing his principles. Till, then, something more in point is brought than that he offended the Puritans of his day or of this day, we may be content to let him bear so far an ill fame, which, as it never can be removed, while Puritanism lasts, so it need inspire his admirers with little uneasiness, as if it led to the suspicion of some lurking defect in him who endured it.

The imperfections of true Christians are but as light clouds, and a warm charity will easily dissipate them; their excellences and works, their trials, sufferings and teaching, remain as substantial comforts for those who inherit their principles. For such readers, and we hope and believe that our readers are in the number of them, whatever judgment they may form about particular actions of the illustrious man under review, we will select from Mr. Le Bas's interesting narrative some account of the sufferings of his last years, and the final combat he underwent, as a good soldier of Christ, on the scaffold.

When he was in the Tower he received a message from Grotius, urgently beseeching him to seek safety in flight until the troubles should have abated, as the Lord-Keeper (Finch) and Secretary Windebank had already done.

"But Laud inflexibly refused this counsel. 'An escape,' he said, 'is feasible enough. Yea, it is, I believe, the very thing my enemies desire. For, every day, an opportunity for it is presented; a passage being left free, in all likelihood for this purpose, that I should endeavour to take advantage of it. But they shall not be gratified by me. I am almost seventy years old. Shall I now go about to prolong a miserable life, by the trouble and the shame of flying? Should I go to France, or any other Popish country, it would give some seeming grounds for that charge of Popery, which they have endeavoured, with so much industry, and so little reason, to fasten upon me. But if I should get into Holland, I should expose myself to the insults of those sectaries there, to whom my character is odious, and have every Anabaptist come and pluck me by the beard. No: I am resolved not to think of flight, but patiently to expect and bear what a good and wise Providence hath provided for me, of what kind soever it shall be."—p. 290.

After a time he was consigned to the keeping of Prynne, who {374} had suffered from the severities of the Star-Chamber, and, as he himself asserted, especially through the influence of the archbishop.

"That worthy minister of revolutionary vengeance repaired to the Tower on the 31st of May, armed with full powers to search and seize. That he should carry with him to the execution of this office, some feelings of bitterness against the man whom he regarded as the principal author of his mutilation, might, reasonably enough, have been expected. But, on this occasion, he demeaned himself, not only like an enemy, but like a shameless villain. He found the archbishop in his bed, and immediately began to ransack his pockets. He then laid hands on a mass of papers, which Laud had prepared for his defence; on two letters from the king, relative to Chartham and his other benefices; on his Scottish Service Book, with such directions as were attached to it; on his Diary, in which he had briefly noted all the occurrences of his life; and he did not even spare the archbishop's Book of Private Devotions. All the money that he discovered was about 40, and this he was graciously pleased to leave untouched; for revenge, and not gold, was his object: and speedily afterwards it was proclaimed from the pulpit, that great and fearful things had been discovered in this search, which would soon be brought to light."—p. 301.

Omitting the history of the vexations and indignities which Laud suffered, we come to Mr. Le Bas' account of his trial.

"The trial, which commenced on the 12th of March, continued, with some intervals of cessation, until the end of July. The archbishop vindicated himself against every charge with such consummate ability, such intrepid bearing, and such evident consciousness of innocence and high desert, as won for him the admiration of all; and extorted expressions of splenetic wonder, and bitter praise, even from William Prynne himself. 'To give him his due,' says that worthy, 'he made as full, as gallant, and as pithy a defence of so bad a cause, and spake so much for himself, as it was possible for the wit of man to invent, and that, with so much art, sophistry, vivacity, oratory, audacity and confidence, without the least blush or acknowledgment of guilt in anything, as argued him rather obstinate than innocent, impudent than penitent, a far better orator and sophister, than Protestant or Christian; yea, a truer son of the Church of Rome than of the Church of England.' We may fully rely on the truth of the reluctant commendation here pronounced. The value of the censure will be duly estimated, when we remember that it came from one who proclaimed Archbishop Laud to be the most execrable traitor and apostate that our English soil, or the whole Christian world, had ever bred! Once, and only once, in the course of this persecution, did the spirit of Laud break forth into open and vehement indignation. One of the managers, a foul-mouthed ruffian, by the name of Nicolas, among other disgusting abuse, repeatedly reviled him as a pander to the whore of Babylon. 'I was much moved,' says Laud, 'and humbly desired the Lords, that if my crimes were such that I might not be used like an archbishop, yet I might be used like a Christian; and {375} that, were it not for the duty I owed to God and my own innocence, I would desert my defence, before I would endure such language in such an honourable presence.' Their lordships were sufficiently touched by this appeal, to desire that the speaker would lay aside his slanderous rhetoric, and proceed with the evidence.

"The trial being finished, all appeared ripe for a sentence. But still there was more impediment than was anticipated. To use his own expression, 'he had been sifted to the bran.' Nevertheless, after all this sifting, whatever else was discovered, no residuum of treason could be found. On the 2d of September he was allowed to deliver a recapitulation of his impeachment and defence, before the Lords. The instant he came to the bar, he perceived that every peer in the House was provided with a thin folio, in a blue cover. This turned out to be the handywork of William Prynne, who had printed an infamously garbled Breviate of his Diary, embellished with his own commentaries, and had placed it in the hands of his judges, in order that the sight of that secret record might strike a damp upon his spirit, and chain up his tongue. His wickedness, however, was herein signally defeated. The archbishop 'gathered up himself, and looked to God,' and pronounced his recapitulation. His address produced such aggravated confusion among his enemies, that, two days afterwards, the Commons began to talk of having him sentenced by an ordinance. An impeachment of high treason, they found, would hardly reach him. But an attainder, by the 'barefaced power' of the two Houses, would be irresistible.

"After some further proceedings, and much clamour on the part of Nicolas, (who loudly demanded that the archbishop should be hanged,) on the 11th of October, his counsel were heard at the bar of the Lords, on two points; first, whether his imputed offences amounted to treason; secondly, whether there were sufficient legal certainty and particularity in the articles of impeachment. With regard to the former of these points, the archbishop had already appealed, unanswerably, to the Lords, in his recapitulation. 'If no particular,' he said, 'which is charged upon me, be treason, the result from them cannot. For the result must be of the same nature and species, as the particulars from which it rises; and this holds in nature, in morality, and in law. So, this imaginary result is a monster in nature, in morality, and in law; and if it be nourished, will devour all the safety of the subject, in England, which now stands so well fenced by the known law of the land.' Yet was it now contended, with shameless effrontery, by Sergeant Wilde, in answer to the archbishop's counsel, that, although no single crime of his amounted to treason, or to felony, yet did all his misdemeanors, when put together, form many grand treasons, by way of accumulation. But 'nature, morality and law,' were, by this time, set at nought by them that were assembled to administer justice. The appeal was now to a very different authority. The passions of a delirious populace were called in to quicken the tardy proceedings of the judges. Towards the end of October, petitions were got up by the most disgraceful and inhuman artifices, for the speedy punishment of all delinquents. And, on the 1st of November, the archbishop was summoned to appear at the bar of the House of {376} Commons, who, in utter contempt of law or right, were pleased to treat their prisoner as if he were already degraded from the dignity of a Lord of Parliament. Well knowing that resistance would be useless, he obeyed the order. He was then apprised by the Speaker, that the ordinance for his attainder was actually drawn up, but was suspended till he should hear, and answer, a summary of the charge. On the 11th of November he pronounced his last defence. He began by acknowledging the comparatively moderate and civil manner in which the proceedings against him had been recapitulated by Mr. Browne, the Clerk of the House. 'For this,' he said, 'I render him my humble thanks, having, from other hands, pledged my Saviour in gall and vinegar, and drunk the cup of the scornings of the people, to the very bottom. I shall follow everything in the same order he proceeded in; so far forth, at least, as an old slow hand could take them, a heavy heart observe them, and an old decayed memory retain them.' Having accomplished this, he reminded the House that they had before them, not the evidence itself, but merely a report of it, furnished by the individual who attended the House of Lords for that purpose; and, further, that this person was not always present, and was, consequently, able to supply them, as to some particulars, only with a statement of what had been reported to him by others. And he conjured them to pause before they delivered a verdict upon such grounds as these. He next desired them to consider his calling, his age, his former life, his long and rigorous imprisonment. And, lastly, he made a solemn protestation, that, whatever might have been his infirmities or errors, 'he never intended, much less endeavoured, the subversion of the laws of the kingdom, nor the bringing in of Popish superstition upon the true Protestant religion, established by law in this kingdom.' These words, however, might as well have been addressed to the bare walls as to the men who sat within them. The mystery of iniquity was now drawing towards its consummation. On the 16th, the ordinance for his attainder was passed, and instantly transmitted to the House of Lords; and there it found an impatient and most flagitious advocate, in the Chancellor of Oxford, the Earl of Pembroke. He disgraced himself and his order by the coarsest scurrility. He denounced the archbishop as a rascal and a villain. And he had even the insolence and the turpitude to warn the Lords against the rashness of delaying their consent, till the rabble should be collected at their doors to force it from them. He demanded of the Lords what they stuck at? and asked them whether they imagined that the Commons had no conscience when they framed and passed the ordinance? So outrageous was his demeanor, that it was remarked, that, if ever there should be a parliament in Bedlam, his lordship ought by all means to be chosen Speaker of it. In spite of this, the business lingered till the 17th of December. It was then voted that the archbishop was, in fact, guilty of three things; first, endeavouring to subvert the laws; secondly, of an attempt to overthrow the Protestant religion; and, thirdly, of being an enemy to parliaments. The question was then put to the Judges, whether, or not, all this amounted to treason. Their unanimous answer was, that nothing with which he was charged by the impeachment, even if fully proved, would amount to treason, by any known and established Law of the land. {377}

"The Lords had sufficiently degraded themselves by consenting to the attainder of Strafford. Nevertheless, the above response of the sages of the law arrested them, only for a moment, in their descent to still lower depths of infamy. At a conference, held on the 24th of December, they ventured to represent to their masters, the Commons, that, after the most diligent search, they were able to find no treason in the acts of which the archbishop was accused. Another conference, however, took place on the 2d of January, 1645, by which their consciences were so effectually enlightened, that, on the 4th of the same month, the ordinance of attainder was passed by the voice of six peers, the rest of that assembly having absented themselves, through fear or shame. On the 7th, a third conference was solemnized, at which the Lords informed the Commons, that the archbishop had pleaded a pardon from the king, in arrest of judgment. This pardon had been granted by his majesty at the suggestion of Hyde, then Chancellor of the Exchequer; and had been secretly conveyed to Laud before he was brought to trial. It was received by him with great joy, as a testimony of his sovereign's affection and esteem. But he never imagined, for a moment, that it would protect him against the fury of men, who were levying war against the king himself. In fact, he might almost as well have pleaded a pardon from the Pope! The royal act of grace was, of course, pronounced to be of none effect against a judgment of the Parliament. The only favour vouchsafed to the prisoner, was, that the gibbet should be exchanged for the axe; and even this boon was extorted with extreme difficulty. His first application for it was brutally rejected. A second petition to the Lords was more successful. It was felt, at last, that an Archbishop of Canterbury, a Privy Counsellor, and a member of their own House, could not be hanged up like a common felon, without indelible disgrace to all concerned in his destruction. And the Commons, after some debate, reluctantly consented to the commutation."—pp. 311-317.

Ample as have been our extracts from Mr. Le Bas' work, we should be wanting to the memorable narrative before us, if we omitted the concluding scene.

"We must hasten to the close of the tragedy. The intelligence of his doom was received by Laud, in the temper which became a Christian Bishop. It had long been manifest that he was neither ashamed to live, nor afraid to die. And, when death was once before him, be instantly broke off the history of his sufferings, and calmly prepared himself for his departure. On the evening of January the 9th, the day before his execution, he refreshed himself with a moderate meal, retired to rest, and slept so soundly, that his attendants had to wake him when the hour was come. He then continued in prayer, until the officers arrived to conduct him to the scaffold. He had requested that three of his own chaplains might be with him in the Tower, and at the place of execution. But even this comfort was inhumanly denied him. One chaplain, indeed, his persecutors allowed to attend him, at his death; but, with him, they sent two of their own incendiaries and fanatics. On his way, he was occasionally assailed by the revilings of the lowest of the populace, {378} who were unwilling that he should pass even to the grave in peace. But his composure was unruffled by these insults; and when he reached the spot, he ascended the platform 'with so brave a courage, and a countenance so cheerful, as if he mounted rather to behold a triumph, than to be made a sacrifice.' It was remarked, that four years of imprisonment and affliction had left the natural floridness of his complexion wholly unimpaired. Being permitted to speak to the people, he read to them a paper of considerable length, which he had drawn up for that purpose. In this address he acknowledged that, although he felt the infirmities of flesh and blood, and might have been glad that the cup which was given him should pass from him, yet he was now ready to drink it ... He then proceeded to speak of himself: 'I was born and baptized'—he says—'in the Church of England: in that profession I have ever since lived; and, in that, I come now to die. This is no time to dissemble with God; least of all in matters of religion. What clamours and slanders I have endured, for labouring to keep an uniformity in the external service of God, according to the doctrine and discipline of that Church, all men know, and I have abundantly felt. And now,' he added, 'I am accused of high treason; a crime which my soul abhors. I am charged with an endeavour to subvert the laws, and to overthrow the Protestant religion. In vain I protested my innocence of these crimes. The protestations of prisoners, it was said, could never be received at the bar of justice. I can bring no witness of my heart! I now, therefore, make my protest, in the presence of God, and his holy angels, that I never did attempt the subversion either of religion or of law. I, further, have been maligned, as an enemy to Parliaments. I know their uses too well to be their enemy. But I, likewise, know that parliaments have been sometimes guilty of misgovernment and abuse; and that no corruption is so bad, as the corruption of that which, in itself, is excellent. From the power of parliaments there is no appeal. If, therefore, they should be guilty of oppression, the subject is left, without all remedy. But I have done;' he said in conclusion, 'I forgive all the world; all and every of those bitter enemies which have persecuted me. And I humbly desire to be forgiven—of God first; and then, of every man, whether I have offended him or not; if he do but conceive that I have, Lord do thou forgive me, and I do beg forgiveness of him. And so, I heartily bid you join in prayer with me.' He then fell on his knees, and uttered the following memorable supplication, no word of which should be suffered to perish from the annals of martyrdom:

"'O eternal God and merciful Father! look down upon me in mercy, in the riches and fulness of all thy mercies, look down upon me; but not till Thou hast nailed my sins to the cross of Christ, not till Thou hast bathed me in the blood of Christ; not till I have hid myself in the wounds of Christ, that so the punishment due unto my sins may pass over me. And since Thou art pleased to try me to the utmost, I humbly beseech Thee, give me now in this great instant, full patience, proportionable comfort, and a heart ready to die for thine honour, the King's happiness, and the Church's preservation. And my zeal to this, (far from arrogancy be it spoken!) is all the sin, (human frailty excepted, and {379} all the incidents thereunto,) which is yet known to me in this particular, for which I now come to suffer; I say, in this particular of treason. But otherwise my sins are many and great; Lord, pardon them all; and those especially (whatever they are) which have drawn down this present judgment upon me! And when Thou hast given me strength to bear it, do with me as seems best in thine own eyes; and carry me through death, that I may look upon it, in what visage soever it shall appear to me. Amen! And that there may be a stop of this issue of blood in this more than miserable kingdom, (I shall desire that I may pray for the people too, as well as for myself;) O Lord, I beseech Thee, give grace of repentance to all blood-thirsty people. But if they will not repent, O Lord, confound all their devices, defeat and frustrate all their designs and endeavours, upon them, which are or shall be contrary to the glory of thy great name, the truth and sincerity of Religion, the establishment of the King and his posterity after him in their just rights and privileges, the honour and conservation of Parliaments in their just power, the preservation of this poor Church in her truth, peace, and patrimony, and the settlement of this distracted and distressed people under their ancient laws, and in their native liberty. And when Thou hast done all this in mere mercy to them, O Lord, fill their hearts with thankfulness, and with religious, dutiful obedience to Thee and thy commandments all their days. Amen, Lord Jesus, Amen. And receive my soul into thy bosom! Amen. Our Father which art in heaven, &c.'"

After narrating a number of painfully interesting details, which our space will not admit, Mr. Le Bas proceeds—

"Having put some money into the man's [the executioner's] hand, he said to him, with unruffled countenance, 'Honest friend, God forgive thee as I do. Do thine office upon me with mercy.' He then sunk, again, upon his knees, and prayed shortly in these words: 'I am coming, O Lord, as quickly as I can. I know I must pass through death, before I can come to see thee. But, it is only the mere shadow of death; a little darkness upon nature. Thou, by thy merits, hast broken through the jaws of death. The Lord receive my soul, and have mercy upon me; and bless this kingdom with peace arid plenty, and with brotherly love and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood among them; for Jesus Christ's sake, if it be thy will.' Having laid his head upon the block, after a few moments of silent supplication, he said aloud, Lord receive my soul. This was the death-signal agreed upon. The axe fell: and a single blow of it delivered the Archbishop, for ever; from his persecutors."

Here then we must close our account of Mr. Le Bas' volume. Were we reviewing the writing of any one else, it might be necessary to have employed ourselves more directly in a critique upon the work itself. But our author's name is too well known to need any officious panegyric from us. Praise is fitly bestowed on rising merit only, and we should be seriously pained at the necessity, were there one, of bestowing it on Mr. Le Bas. We believe that for honest and manly pursuit of truth, no living {380} writer has a greater claim on our reverence; and a writer thus endowed will not fail to draw readers after him on to the truth, and not merely to himself,—to the attainment of truth, not to the contemplation of his own talents;—and will gain a far higher reward than the mere popularity could be, in successfully forming their views and principles, and in giving them objects for their nobler feelings to rest on, and take comfort in, during evil times.

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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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