His humility and moderation were generally admired.
Then at length, when his labours were closing, and
the going down of his earthly sun was the earnest
of approaching repose, the good hope became beauti-
FOOTPKINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LONDON. 441
fully manifest as the crowning triumph of his
Christian life. In September, 1702, Collins lies
languishing upon his dying couch ; a friend steps to
his side, and, in reverential tones "befitting the
occasion, enquires, " Sir, I hope you are not afraid
to die ?" " I bless God," rejoins the pastor, " I have
not been afraid to die these forty years."
The " learned and judicious " Kehemiah Cox
assisted Collins at Petty France ; and, whether we
regard him as a shoemaker or as a doctor of divinity,
he is an interesting member of the Baptist galaxy
of Old London. One of his supposed ancestors a
bishop under Queen Elizabeth had been roughly
handled for promulgating unepiscopal views con-
cerning infant baptism. Nehemiah was born and
reared at Bedford, where his family went with the
Dissenters, and where young Cox, during his youth,
benefited by the counsel and friendship of Bunyan.
He was, doubtless, advised by the latter, when he
bravely volunteered, in the midst of prevailing per-
secution, to enter the lists as an evangelist, in 1671.
Like a sincere worker, who realised the importance
of his message, Cox persevered in a rough and
difficult path, wherein he encountered his share of
Government opposition. On one occasion and before
his brethren, he penitentially confessed to some mis-
carriages ; but probably these were nothing more
heinous than some unpalatable censures of Church
officers, which, on consideration, were manfully re-
tracted as uncharitable. Prior to removing to London,
442 ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
in 1675, Cox was settled at Cranfield a sphere
where he necessarily supplemented a scanty stipend
by working at the shoemaking craft. Eventually,
the doctor was arraigned before the judges at
Bedford assizes ; and, throughout his defence, which
he conducted himself and unassisted, he occasioned
the lawyers unusual and extreme inconvenience, by
arguing, as inclination prompted, or perhaps, as it
suited the subject, at one time in Greek, and at
another time in Hebrew. The presiding judge
listened in some amazement, while again inspecting
the indictment to get assured, if possible, that
neither eyes nor ears were playing deceit. The
prisoner legally claimed the right of pleading in
such tongues as. suited his humour, notwithstanding
that none were competent to reply to the strange
sounds he uttered. Mr. Justice promoted the popu-
lar merriment by remarking to his bewigged and
chagrined satellites, the counsel for the crown,
"Well, gentleman, the cordwainer has wound you all
up." Necessarily, the prisoner got sent about his
business; for in that era, a preaching shoemaker,
whose harangues in the dead languages were unin-
telligible to benchers and members of Inns of Court,
was similar to a more modern example, when one of
our magistrates lately released a prisoner because
"too contemptible for punishment." Dr. Cox died
in the same year as his preceptor, Bunyan that
year of liberty, 1688.
Mention is made of Thomas Harrison, another
FOOTPRINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LONDON. 443
assistant of William Collins, who ultimately re-
moved to Lorimers' Hall, to be cut off, while yet
young, in the midst of his usefulness. In 1701,
on 'the meeting-house in Petty France being forsaken
in favour of a chapel in Artillery-street, the people
retired from a spot closely associated with the heroic
period of their history. AVith the various phases
which that heroism assumed we can never be ac-
quainted. They had frequently been illtreated with
savage ferocity, and once had had their premises
taken from them. They could now afford volun-
tarily to resign, beneath the benign rule of William,
what, during the ascendancy of the perfidious Stuarts,
they had clung to with the tenacity of life.
In the days we are speaking of, the City attracted
crowds of Sabbath worshippers from neighbouring
districts, and in many instances the London societies
became the parents of suburban churches. A chapel
in Hart- street, Bow- street, was an example of this
outgrowth. Between 1691 and 1729 the General
Baptists were stationed in this vicinity. The sanc-
tuary long since removed stood, as usual, se-
cluded from the notice of casual passengers. Its
records have perished, what little we know having
descended through the parent Church in White's-
alley, Philpot-lane. The society in Hart-street was
formed for the convenience of those strict disciples
of western London, who refused to commune with
professors honouring a less rigorous regime. The
tenet they held in peculiar estimation was the Ini-
ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
position of Hands upon newly-received members.
Manifesting an excessive reverence for this custom,
the people walked long distances to worship, in pre-
ference to attending a ministry where the practice
, was dishonoured. The old General Baptists, how-
ever, who retained their purity of faith, were zealous
promoters of Christianity. They were animated by
the purest motives, and honestly endeavoured to ac-
complish their sacred mission, but this Hart-street
scion of so honourable a house grew weary of the
control of its City parent and early preceptors.
Disagreement and consequent disorder completed
the extinction of the society about forty years after
The Commonwealth days were remarkable for a
prolific harvest of controversial tracts, and many of
these, directed against the Baptists, are written in
strains of virulent contempt. Some were serious,
another class were satirical, and others, by reason of
their quaint and obsolete style, cannot fail to prove
to modern readers a well-spring of facetiae. One
set of authors showed strong predilections for ac-
cumulating offensive details connected with the
pranks and heresies of certain fanatics, who, arising
in Germany, were called Anabaptists, because to
their mad vagaries and practices, they added adult
baptism by immersion. To the satisfaction of large
numbers of readers, Baptists in general were proved
to be dangerous theologically, politically, and morally.
In the spring of 1649 there appeared a pamphlet
FOOTPRINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LONDON. 445
entitled, England's New Chains Discovered. In the
opinion of the House of Commons, the author had
committed a grave offence, and they ominously ex-
pressed their indignation. Some fanatical partisans
were looking on who sought to turn this irritation
of Parliament to their own advantage. Efforts were
made to throw upon the Baptist denomination the
odium of having produced this political squib a
manoeuvre partially successful, because the paper
had been publicly read by its zealous abettors in
several of the London chapels. Perceiving what
injury their principles were likely to sustain in the
estimation of spectators, Kiffen, supported by others,
prepared a petition for presentation to the Commons.
On Monday, April the 2nd, the petitioners appeared
at Westminster, and, among other things, complained
that, " Through the injustice of historians, or the /
headiness of some unruly men formerly in Germany,
called Anabaptists, our righteous profession hereto-
fore hath been, and now may be made odious, as if
it were the fountain source of all disobedience, pre-
sumption, self-will, contempt of rulers, dignities, and
civil government whatsoever." The deputation dis-
claimed having aided the circulation of the offensive
paper. "While the clerk read their loyal address/
Kiffen and his companions waited without the Par-
liamentary chamber. On being called to the bar
of the Commons, the Fisher' s-folly pastor, as the
mouth-piece of his brethren in London, made a
graceful oration, the exact words of which have
446 ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
descended to posterity.* The Speaker, in handsome
terms, acknowledged both speech and petition. The
Baptist galaxy were assured that Parliament accepted
their loyal sentiments as no less Christian than rea-
sonable. In return for the satisfaction their petition
had afforded, the petitioners were permitted to print
their paper, and they departed with the assurance
that their rights of conscience would be guaranteed.
The satire and opposition which Puritanism pro-
voked and encountered, mainly sprang from the
hatred of our fallen nature to the severe morality
which the Puritan discipline alone sanctioned. Doubt-
less the Puritans themselves too frequently erred
on the side of eccentricity : nevertheless, it is not
easy to understand why, what at the worst, was
only religious carefulness, in every way commend-
able, should have awakened contemptuous aversion
so widely spread. That this was the case, however,
is well-known. How Puritanism was misrepresented
and villified by licentious writers may be learned
* Kiffen spoke as follows: "Mr Speaker, we have not
troubled this honourable House with any petition, nor had
done it now, had we not been necessitated thereto by a late
paper called England's Second Chains, brought to our con-
gregations, and publiquely read in some of our publique
meetings, without our consent or approbation, being there
openly opposed by us ; and we could do no less, in conscience
of our duty to God and you, than discover it and disavow it."
Vide The Humble Petition and Representation of several
Churches of God in London, commonly (though falsely) called
Anabaptists. London, April 3, 1649.
FOOTPEINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LONDON. 447
from the multitude of tracts, composed by authors,
who supposed their thoughts on religious matters
to be of sufficient importance for bequeathment to
posterity. " Envy will merit as its shade pursue."
The aphorism is peculiarly applicable to the era of
Owen and Baxter.*
Ehyme was a favourite medium among all classes
for the conveyance of sentiment. Many whose
mental weakness prevented their concocting rhyth-
mical prose, found it comparatively easy to produce
any number of doggrel couplets, which the class for
whom they were written read with admiration. On
the breaking out of the civil wars this kind of
* In 1647 there appeared a satire on Puritanism called the
Brownist's Conventicle. This black-letter pamphlet is a
dish of delectables. Among other things, there are printed
specimens of graces before and after meat in the alleged
Puritan fashion. The modern reader will scarcely complete
the perusal of this squib without coming to the irresistible
conclusion that, after all, it was manifestly the luxuriant
parterre in which onr sturdy fathers thrived which excited
the envious spleen of their opponents. In witness we give
this extract and only an extract from the grace before
dinner, delivered, of course, with a nasal twang and turned -
up eyes: " I beseech thee good Father make us thankfull
for all these thy bountiful blessings upon our boord. Let
this dish of chickens put us in mind of our Saviour, who
would have gathered Hierusalem together as an hen gathereth
her chickens, but she would not ; but let us praise God for
these chickens being six in number. Let this leg of mutton
call us to remembrance that King David was once a shepherd.
. . . Here is an excellent loyne of veale, let it prompt us
448 ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
literature was dispersed among the troops. In <! A
Spiritual Song of Comfort or Incouragement to the
Souldiers that are gone forth in the Cause of
Christ," we read :
" Though some in horses put their trust,
And others in chariots take delight,
'Tis not their might, nor with their power,
But with His spirit we doe fight."
At or about the time of the assembling of the
Long Parliament, in 1640, a more pretentious
poetaster obliged the world with The Lofty Bishop,
The Lazie Brownist, and The Loyal Author. Each
to remember the parable of prodigall child, whom to welcome
home, the father caused the calfe to be killed, which I thinke
could not yeeld a better rump and kidney than is now before
our eyes. . . . By this cramm'd and well-fed capon, let
us be mindfull of the cock which crowed three times
What see I there ? A potato pye and a sallad of sparagus.
. . . When that Westphalia bacon comes to be cut up, let
us think of the herd of swine. . . . Make us thankfull
for thy bounty sent us from the sea ; and first for this jole
of sturgeon, and let it so far edifie us, as to think, how great
that whale's head was which swallowed up the prophet Jonas.
And, though those lobsters seeme to be in red coats like car-
dinals, having clawes like usurers, and more bones than the
Beast of Home. . . Yet, having taken off their papesticall
capes and cases, let us freely feed upon what is within. . . .
I conclude with the fruit. . . . These pippins may put
us in mind of the forbidden tree. .... Had she not,
wild wretch, eaten ye forbidden apple, all our crabs had been
very good pippins, and all our thistles very good harti-
FOOTPRINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LONDON. 449
member of the trio is supposed to sing his speech,
and the Churchman begins :
' ' What would yee lazie Brownists have ?
You rage and run away,
And cry us downe, our Church and eke,
And forme therein we pray.
Oh, monsters great ! abortive sonnes,
Your mothers to forsake.
To church you doe restrain to come
Your prayers there to make."
The bishop's song occupies thirty-two lines. The
Brownist sings an identical number in response :
" Your lofty Lordsbipp tearmes us lazie,
And runagadoes too ;
But I could wish you. bishops would
But labour as we do.
The apostles of our Saviour Christ
You plead you doe succeed,
And yet would starve those soules which they
Did labour for to feed.
Meanwhile, the author, in censorious mood, has
weighed the demerits of either side. At length he
also speaks, and in words which representatives of
choaks. . . Thus as briefly as I can I have gone through
every dish on the boord. Let us fall to and feed exceedingly,
that after a full repast we may the better prophesie." In the
grace after dinner mention is made of some distinguished
Puritan names. One is a button maker, and another a felt
worker ; but more important than all is Master How the
450 ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
his class of to-day would designate " withering
satire," exclaims :
" The Brownists' noses want a ring
(To draw them with a rope),
. The prelates' wings do cutting need,
(Lest they fly to the Pope)."
Such fantasies of the seventeenth century will
always retain their freshness of interest for historical
students. Any moderate acquaintance with the
literature of the Cromwellian era must tend to
heighten our contentment with these happier times.
It will do something besides. It will convince us
that the history of the age in question has yet to be
If we credit the City chroniclers, we shall believe
that the nomenclature of Houndsditch is derived
from an open sewer which formerly ran in that
direction. This ditch was one of the pestilence
breeders of ancient London. Its contents included
the miscellaneous refuse of the neighbourhood a
neighbourhood, it may be well to remember, cele-
brated for its dead dogs. The street, by its name,
even yet commemorates the fate of these unfortunate
hounds. In the sixteenth century the nuisance was
partially compensated for by some neighbouring re-
creation grounds, the pleasant area of which covered
several acres. Prior to Henry the Eighth's seizure
of it, this estate surrounded the monastery of the
Holy Trinity. After dispersing the brotherhood,
FOOTPEINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LOXDOX. 451
Henry bestowed their patrimony on Sir Thomas
Andley. At a former period, the beneficence of a
certain prior .found exercise in erecting several
cottages for invalids near at hand, and in laying
out their little gardens. Usually the inhabitants of
this hospitable refuge were persons hopelessly bed-
ridden. In keeping with the founder's wishes, the
custom was for these poor people to open their case-
ments on Friday mornings, not forgetting to exhibit
white napkins on their window-sills. Then it hap-
pened, that the charitable and pious who walked that
Avay remembered the poor by laying down their alms
as they passed.
In Houndsditeh or its immediate vicinity a con-
gregation of Baptists formerly assembled. At or
;il>out the era of the Restoration the pastor was the
distinguished Henry Danvers a political and theo-
logical celebrity whose character his contemporaries
extolled as belonging to an able divine and a dis-
cerning controvertist, whose private worth corres-
ponded with an unspotted public career. Modern
times have seen the old Baptist's character depre-
ciated. According to a great historian, Danvers was
a reckless but cowardly bravado, whose spirit sufficed
to carry him to the brink of action, but whose craven
heart always prompted a retreat. A man whose
cowardice made him forsake his friends when dangers
threatened, and whose want of courage only exempted
him from the scaffold upon which many of those
friends expired. "Danvers was .... hot-headed,
452 ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
but faint-hearted," we are told ; " constantly urged
to the brink of danger by enthusiasm, and constantly
stopped on that brink by cowardice In every
age the vilest specimens of human nature are to be
found among demagogues." Presently we will
examine the basis on which these aspersions rest.
Another historian our old friend Crosby calls
" Henry Danvers a worthy man, of an unspotted life
It is a matter for regret that Crosby has only left
us a very meagre and confused account of this sin-
gular person singular, if we merely consider him
as the author of some thousand pages in defence of
Believers' Baptism, thereby provoking the opposition
of a Psedobaptist galaxy, of which Baxter was the
leader. In the truest sense was Danvers a remark-
able man. His congregation was supposed by Wilson
to have been identical with the one in Crutched-
friars ; if so, he had a predecessor in the redoubtable
At one period during the unsettled times of the
civil wars Danvers was governor of Stafford. At
Stafford he appears to have embraced some of the
less harmless tenets of the Fifth Monarchists, although
he never sanctioned the fantasies of the extreme
fanatics. As a provincial governor, he enjoyed all
the advantages springing from the hereditary prestige
of a good family. The common people are no des-
picable judges of character in high places ; and by
the common people Danvers was esteemed as one
FOOTPRINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LONDON. 453
devoted to his duty, and a man not to be corrupted
by bribes. As it happened with so many of his
compeers, so fair a reputation availed him nothing
after the Eestoration. He belonged to a party of
too-enlightened politics, and professed a theology
too self-denying, to find favour with king or para-
site in that " golden age of the coward, the bigot,
and the slave." Danvers's religious sympathies and
his extraordinary zeal in defending a distinguishing
tenet of his denomination drew upon him consider-
able odium. Numbers of enthusiasts, because slightly
differing from him in belief, regarded the Baptist
with spiteful enmity. Time-serving cavaliers laughed
in derision. At length Danvers's enemies, by con-
spiring together, contrived to get him imprisoned in
the Tower ; but his wife, a lady of position, possessed
considerable influence at Court, and so obtained her
husband's liberation. This favourable turn of events
sadly disconcerted a host of opponents of various
parties, for Danvers's political patriotism was only
equalled by his evangelistic earnestness. He heartily
sympathised with Monmouth's ill-fated enterprise,
and in consequence of having shared that hazardous
business was compelled to take refuge in Holland.
In that asylum he died in 1686.
The meeting-house in London wherein Danvers
officiated was pointed at by Edwards in the third
part of Gangraena. That unamiable Presbyterian
called his readers' attention to the fanaticism of the
congregation. Hanserd Knollys and others had pre-
454 ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
sumed to anoint a blind woman's eyes, and to ac-
company the action with prayers for her restoration.
Danvers was a very industrious author. His
writings, which for the most part are controversial,
chiefly relate to that distinguishing tenet of his de-
nomination, Believers' Baptism. His pamphlets
awakened a vindictive opposition of more than
average violence, even in an age when polemics
of every school indulged in unseemly personalities.
Happily for this more enlightened era, the literary
freedoms of the seventeenth century have for ever
passed out of fashion. The opposition encountered
by Danvers, however, Crosby describes as " haughty,
bitter, wrathful, and provoking." The historian's
language is no exaggeration ; yet we shall not do well
if we allow such expressions to depreciate the abTe
men who entered the arena as the author's opponents.
All parties in those days adopted a rude address, as
though uiicouthness imparted argumentative strength.
It would be too much to expect that the pamphlets
of the indefatigable Danvers were free from the
common disfigurement. Nevertheless they were
partially successful, if success may be measured
by the able answers they provoked. One of tlie
combatants raised a cry of dishonesty. Danvers, he
declared, misquoted authorities and garbled extracts.
This charge of literary dishonesty was closely pressed,
till the denominational leaders in London testified in
a printed paper to the spotless character and valuable
writings of their uncompromising champion. Yet
FOOTPEINTS OF THE BAPTISTS IN OLD LONDON. 455
not only in such polemical fencing did Danvers exer-
cise his skill and prowess; he has left fruits of other
accomplishments than those belonging to the mere
disputant. For example, he arranged "Solomon's
Proverbs in English and Latin, alphabetically . . .
for the help of memory " a little performance well
deserving of a reprint in fac simile*
Englishmen in these days will scarcely allow that
a man's character is necessarily forfeited, because,
while opposing a government and family, whose
crimes provoked a revolution, he took some extra
precautions to preserve his life. That Danvers wa?
* This work was published in 1676, and its ingenious
editor intended it to serve as an educational text-book. The
English and Latin are upon opposite pages in each opening.
The metrical introduction is in the quaint Puritan style
e. g. many less instructive delineations of folly have been
drawn by more ambitious poets than these lines :
" Or what's a fool that is with riches graced ?
A swine in whose foul snout a gem is placed.
Or what's a fool on whom honour doth wait ?
A long- ear' d ass, sitting in a chair of state.
The miser's a fool, and so is he
That spends his wealth in prodigality :
Whom, if they went to wisdom, she would show
A fair and middle path wherein to go.
And art thou great ? be not a fool ;
For thou thou'lt make thy folly more conspicuous.
Acquaint thyself with wisdom, wait upon her,
And she will add true glory to thine honour.
13y her king's reign ; and princes do decree,
By her advice, justice and equity.
456 ANCIENT MEETING HOUSES.
a, political plotter none will venture on denying.
William Russell and Algernon Sydney were also
political plotters, and the heart of Danvers beat
with theirs when they sought to check the encroach-
ments of kingcraft. He was arraigned for an
alleged share in the Eye House Plot,* and, as we
learn from Spratt's True (?) Account, he was only
released on bail. At that conjuncture the English
seemed bent on spilling the best of English blood; and,
A fool, that is in honour, doth but show
Himself to be a fool in folio.
Justly might wisdom then preferred be
By Solomon, 'bove wealth and dignity.
A sacred flame it is which ne'er shall die,
But ev'n now burns for us to warm us by.
A flame that gives not only heat but light,
Not only warms the heart, but guides the sight."
* Danvers is several times mentioned in the account pre-
pared by Lord Grey for the use of James the Second ; and
his name occurs in a manner which shows him to have been
an important conspirator in Monmouth's insurrection.
Banvers, it appears, had to exert all his influence to prevent
a rising in the City on the occasion of James's coronation