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Some memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times online

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him for the overtures made by Weston. At the beginning of
this reign, Laud had been noted as a zealous champion of the
new forms and ceremonies. A wiser courtier than Williams,
and a more subtle and effective labourer for the claims of the
high church than Bancroft, or Neale, he had early recom-
mended himself by his success in advancing the power and
revenues of the Crown, jointly with the temporalities of the
clergy ; and now he had become no less distinguished for the

* May. Appendix.- -Rushworth. t Clarendon. Hist. Reb.


relentless severity with which he pursued those persons who
endeavoured a reformation of their excesses. Crafty in
pursuit of the means of his influence, Laud was bold and
sincere in the ends to which he applied them. Kash, cruel,
and tyrannical in the exercise of power, and vain and trifling
in his display of an ambition which aimed at the greatest
objects, his lofty courage and fervent piety threw a deep
interest round his latter days. He was a learned, and an
enterprising, but not a wise, man ; ever aspiring to eminence
in the state, and showing, when he had attained it, that his
nature had not qualified him to fill it with prudence or dignity.
He was not without generosity, although his inveterate hate
of AVilliams made him use unfairly the advantages which his
better fortune gave him over his rival in the conflict of
intrigue. Laud, for a space, prevailed. But for the superior
magnanimity of Williams (with all his faults), it must be
said, that, in after times, when he was in favour, and Laud in
danger, he laboured harder to save his fallen enemy's life than
he had ever done to check or destroy his power.

Under the masterly genius and authority of Wentworth, who
was preparing to graft for himself upon the great office of
President of the North the yet higher dignity of Lord Deputy
of Ireland, and under the implacable vigilance of Laud
(joined with Cottington and Coventry in the Treasury Commis-
sion, and only'detained from the Primacy by the spark of life
which still lingered in the good old Archbishop Abbott), the
united power of the court and clergy was now at its noon, and
prospered. Parliamentary privilege, no longer a barrier in its
path, had become its plaything and its scorn ; and ministers
of state, courtiers, and divines, each in their several office and
vocation, openly counselled the King against ever recalling
into activity the vexatious control of a Parliament.* The
personal liberty of such of the gentry of the country party as
had never been sufficiently forward in its ranks to ail'ord a
pretext for seizure and imprisonment, was next assailed. Many
were ordered home to their country-seats, and forbidden to
return to the capital ; and the Statute of Improvements was
occasionally used for the confiscation of large portions of their
land. Merchants were prohibited from landing cargoes at con-
venient ports, whenever the interests of favoured monopolists

* Clarendon Life.


chanced to require their unloading at others.* Families
were impoverished, some ruined, by excessive fines to the
Court of Wards for compounding wardships. But the power
of the court, the treasury, and the clergy, fell with its heaviest
visitation on the Puritans ; and this designation was accord-
ingly fixed on all such as it was intended to provoke to the
indiscretion of complaint, and then to dignify by a persecution,
which the enthusiasm of many inclined them rather to invite
than, by a prudent silence, to avoid. Among the various
means which have been at different times adopted for forcibly
extinguishing religious sects, none, short of extermination,
have ever, in the whole history of the world, been successful.
Mere persecution has always, on the contrary, been found to
unite sects by a closer bond, and warm them with a more
fervent zeal. Vanity, indignation, and piety, are impulses too
strong for its control ; it sometimes kindles, often illumines,
but never can consume, them.

Tyranny, however, in the selection of its early victims,
rarely fixes its choice upon persons whose discretion and mild-
ness of deportment are likely to leave the oppressor without
some show of justification. Passions heated by controversy,
and tempers soured by unjust obloquy, have been the ordinary
subjects of its most violent and cruel experiments. This was
the case with Leighton, who, moved by a litigious and not
very orderly zeal^ had, m a book called ' Siou's Plea/ lectured
the prelates, and railed against the Queen as a f Canaanitish
woman and idolatress.' He was also convicted, contrary to
the evidence of the book itself, in which no such passage is to
be found, of having, on the ground of Scripture precedent,
recommended to ' smite the bishops under the fifth rib/ In
like manner Prynne. He had devoted his industry and
learning to make manifest, in another book, ' God's wrath
against Stage-players ; ' and his misfortune it was, that a few
days after the publication, it pleased the Queen's highness to
act a part in a masque at court ; in consequence of which, by
a simple inversion of the order of dates, it was set forth, in
the proceedings against him, that the ill-mannm-d epithets
against actresses, with which his book abounded, were levelled

* Thfl monopolies were not limited to licenses for importation. The
excise paid its share liberally to the demands of the Court. Soap, oats,
wine, publicans' licenses, leather, glass, iron, tin, and lead, were succes-
sively charged with duty to great persons, for favour or for composition.


at her Majesty.* Of the same class of victims, also, were
Bastwick and Burton ; and the year afterwards, John Lilburne^ J A I
whose remarkaEIeTfate it was, (ever engaged in controversy,) 'JU7
to be ever the victim of some powerful and vindictive enemy,
and to be made the martyr of his zeal by the Parliament in
later times, as he now was by the court ; by Presbyterians in
the end, as he was by prelates at the beginning. Of him, and
of his polemical spirit, it was once sharply said, that, if John M
Lilburne were left alone on the earth, John would quarrel /
with Lilburne, and Lilburne with John. His honesty, how-
ever, is scarcely less clear than the courage which, as a contro-
versialist and as a soldier, he so eminently displayed ; and of
the eloquence and vigour of his speaking and writing some
splendid proofs are given among his defences, as well before
the Star Chamber in 1637, and before the Court of King's
Bench at Oxford, on his trial for treason in 1642, as before
the Parliament, on a charge of libel brought against him by
Prynne and the Presbyterians in 1645. He now began his
suH'erings in the pillory at the early age of nineteen, for
having undertaken the publication of the works of Burton and

The security of the prelates was taken, jointly with the
honour of the Queen and of 'the stage, under the powerful
protection of the Star Chamber ; and were jointly avenged upon
the persons of the victims, by a censure of fine and imprison-
ment, by the scourge indicted with extraordinary cruelty, and by
the pillory, with the loss of their ears. These inhuman penalties
were inflicted on all four in their entire and utmost severity.!
Upon Prynne, who had returned after his former mutilations
to prison only to launch forth from thence fresh thunders
against his proud tormentors, the punishment was renewed,^
the stumps of his ears being rooted out with the knife, and
his cheeks branded with a glowing iron. Lastly, to remove
him and his fellow-sufferers to a distance, at which the spectacle
and sound of their woes should be unmarked and forgotten,
the sentence against all was extended to the term of their
lives in fortresses beyond seas. The bloody cruelty of the

* ' Ungrateful author ! ' exclaims a Roman Catholick writer, (Mayolino
Bisaccioni, Guerre Civile d'Inghilterra,) ' did he not remember that it was
' a dance of a Queen (Anna Bulleii) which first introduced schism and
' heresy into England ) '

t Whitelocke. Kushworth. + State Trials.

The Eurl of Dorset, in declaring to Prynne the censure of the Star



lash and the shears, and the torment of the hot iron dwelling
on the flesh, failed to extort any expression of terror or of
pain. All suffered with a spirit of constancy and lofty cheer-
fulness deriveable only from their unmixed devotion to a cause
now rendered dearer and holier to them by the example of
courage which they vied with each other in giving.

This enthusiasm had not only mounted above all fear of
torture or of death, but had risen to an entire contempt of
mercy at the hands of men. Acting

' As ever in their great Task-master's eye,'

from Him only would they solicit, and from Him only accept,

either direction or pardon. This may be a disposition ill suited

to discipline men for the ordinary duties of subjects under a

good government ; but it makes them glorious foes to a bad

one. Nothing was there in the aspect of affairs to inspire a

hope of what a few years afterwards accomplished for them ;

that they should all return in triumph from their banishment,

restored and rewarded by a vote of Parliament. To Prynne,

| whose sufferings had not taught him moderation, was reserved

I a yet stranger fortune ; to be selected to conduct the impeach-

| ment which took away the life of the very prelate of whose

I relentless power he was now the victim.

Meanwhile nothing was spared to insult in their observances
the whole party nicknamed Puritans, and to further provoke
that captiousness of feeling on all religious jnatters which had
now extended itself over a large portion of the country. After
the example of his father, the king renewed the proclamation
for the encouragement of those sports and pastimes on the
Lord's day, which had been stigmatised by Parliament as
popish, lax, and ungodly ; and the practice of which, (innocent
under proper limitations, and important to promote the cheer-
fulness of the labouring classes,) became, at this time, a license for
irregularities most offensive to the sober and jealous feelings of
those whom it was the purpose of the Government to oppress.
Nor should it be overlooked that, in opposing the proclamation
for sports and pastimes, the Puritans were not actuated solely,
as it has often been most unfairly represented, by an intolerant
aversion from such harmless indulgences. A much more

Chamber, is merry upon the operation of cutting off his ears, as tending
to the use of ' these unlovely love-locks on both sides, which he hath
' inveighed against.' Rushworth.


reasonable motive is discoverable to readers who may be per-
suaded to look into the proclamation itself before judging of
the motives of its opposers.* By the words and by the effect
of that proclamation these sports were permitted only to such
persons as had attended at the service of the Church of
England : all being excepted who might, from disgust at the
courtly doctrines then preached by that church, have preferred
a discipline of their own ; and a vexatious and insulting line of
separation being thus drawn between the high-church con-
formists antj the followers of a simpler mode of worship. This
feature of the proclamation, and of the resistance made to it, is
kept entirely out of sight by Hume and others. On these
points, however, and in their general conduct in politics, the
established clergy themselves were not united; although,
undoubtedly, the great majority of that body, as has generally
been the case with the priesthood of every state religion, clove
to the Court, and therefore at this time favoured that ecclesi-
astical discipline n^rich was represented, and not unjustly, as
popish, with only the qualification of a domestic supremacy,
ft was described by Lord Falkland as being 'an English,
' though not a lloman, popery ; so it seemed/ says he, ' their
' work was to try how much of a papist might be brought in
' without popery, and to destroy as much as they could of the
' Gospel, withouFTmngliig themselves into danger of being
' destroyed by the law.' f

Chief among that small body of the clergy who, after the
death of Abbott, stood stoutly against the innovations of the
high-church faction, was Dr. Morley, Bishoj^jof _ Winchester
the intimate friend and companion of Hampden and of Arthur
Goodwyn. With him, inferior in rank, but not in abilities or
int( grity,was Dr. Hales, the Greek Professor of the University
of Oxford, well known by the appellation of the ' ever meinor-
' able / who has been singularly represented by a late biogra-
pher as having been reclaimed from some heterodox opinions
by Laud. Reclaimed he certainly seems to have been from
heterodox opinions at one time held by him ; but as certainly
not reclaimed by Laud, whose zeal, it is true, he respected, but
whose theological acquirements, on the contrary, he appears to
have rated extremely low ; and whose formalities, and violences,
and thirst of power, he held in extreme distaste. He^ with

* Rushworth. t Speech concerning Episcopacy. 1641.

G 2


Bishop Morley, was often found among that party of dis-
tinguished men who frequented Lord Falkland's house at
Tew, that ' college/ as Lord Clarendon terms it, ' situate in a
purer air/* He was a man of great piety, and a singular
simplicity of manners, and had refused from Laud and others
many otters of advancement in the Church. Nothing, we are
told by Lord Clarendon, troubled him more than religious
brawls; and his detestation of Romish tyranny arose more
from the bonds it imposed upon free conscience than from the
errors of its creed, f He would often say that ' he would
' renounce the Church of England to-morrow if it obliged him to
' believe that any other Christians should be damned ;' and
that nobody would conclude another man to be damned who did
' not wish him so/ No man was more severe to himself :
while to other men he was so charitable, that he thought those
who were otherwise to be more in fault for their severity, than
those whom they impugned were for their errors ; and that
pride and passion, more than conscience, were the cause
of all difference of communion ; no doctrinal points on which
men differed being fit to hold a place in any liturgy.

But far different in spirit was the more powerful party which
had arisen in the Church, and, for a time, prevailed ; which
not only lay under the much abhorred imputations of 'for-
'mality and popery/ but openly avowed a tendency to
Arminianism. It is clear that a mere speculative difference
concerning the tenet of Absolute Decrees could not have
influenced political principle or conduct. Indeed the proof,
if proof were wanting, is, that, in Holland, the Arminian sect,
which, opposing the Calvinists, rejected the doctrine of preor-
dination, was that from the bosom of which Barnevelt and
Grotius arose to resist the power of the House of Orange ; and
that the sect of the Gomarists, who professed those doctrines in
their most unqualified extent, was established and privileged
by the Court. In England they had in these respects changed
places, and the Afmiuians were the supporters of arbitrary
power, the Calvinists of liberty. A leaning to this or that
belief was then, according to a mode of conclusion too com-
mon in all times, held to be a test of political opinions. This
must always be the case where the principles of civil govern-
ment are so ill understood as to be made to interfere with free
conscience, and where religion has been so warped in its

* Clarendon Hist. Reb. t Clarendon Life.


character as to have become an engine of civil government. In
this fault undoubtedly a large party of the nonconformists
shared equally with their persecutors. All that can be said
for them is, that, in England at least, they were not the first
aggressors. Like many other persecuted sects of which there
are examples in history, their intolerance grew with that
under which they suffered. As the persecutors made con-
formity to a particular creed the passport to favour and
privilege, so the persecuted made the adoption of its opposite
the test of a love of liberty, and the condition of being
admitted to the honours of a fellowship in suffering. Such a
spirit of religious uncharitableness can live only by persecution ;
by inflicting, or by enduring, it.

To such an extent had the Arminian doctrines won their
way in Court favour, that Bishop Morley, being once asked by
a grave gentleman who was desirous to be informed of their
tenets and opinions, ' what the Arminians held ? ' pleasantly
answered that ' They held all the best bishoprics and
'deaneries in England/ 'Which/ says Lord Clarendon,*
' with other like harmless and jocular sayings, brought upon
' him the displeasure of Laud/

Of the class generally described as Arminians was Dr-Peter
Heylin, afterwards well known as the principal instrument by
whose means the King obtained, under the name of a benevo-
lence, a large vote of money from Convocation, which Parlia-
ment had refused. He was engaged, as one of the King's
chaplains, to answer Bishop Williams on the ' Discipline of the
' Church ; ' as also to publish an argument praying for punish-
ment upon Prynne, Burton, and Bastwick ; for which service
he obtained the treasurership of the Cathedral of Westminster,
and the living of Islip. He first recommended himself in
HW3, by attacking, in a bitter sermon, and in the name of the
whole church, the law of Feoffees for the purchase of impro-
priations. 'This sermon/ says his biographer, Vernon, ' he
'delivered to his endeared friend, Mr. Noye, (Attoruey-
' General,) who undertook their suppression in the King's
' name ; and they were accordingly suppressed, in a judicial
' w;iy of proceeding, in the Exchequer Chamber : ' a
ni'Msure which, contrary to law, threw nearly all presen-
tations at once into the hands of the bishops and the
council. t

* Clarendon Life. t Vernon's Life of Heylin.

86 JOHN HAMPDEN, I'^" T "'

In this conflict between the high and low Church of
England, Popery, which was not tolerated by law, yet throve
by connivance. Though its professors were not sheltered by a
legal indemnity, yet the privileges which were secured to the
Queen's household by treaty, and the countenance which, in
consequence, the English Roman Catholics did not fail to
share, inspired them with confidence to look for better times.
Meanwhile, they were abetted by the King himself, not, as
it appeared, so much from a spirit of favour towards
them, as from the wish to strengthen a party who, in
common with him, saw their interest in further discounten-
ancing the Puritans.

With the dissolution of Convocation (and, even before the
dissolution of it, on the defeat of its assumed power to
collect revenue), ceased the importance of Dr. Ileylin. In
later times, indeed, charges were preferred against him in the
Long Parliament, as a public delinquent. Such an intimation,
at such a crisis, did not pass unheeded by the approved
servant of Laud. Warned by the storm which was gathering
round his master, but uninspired by the example of his master's
courage, Heylin fled ; * and thenceforward throughout the
troubles, was only known as the conductor and publisher
of the 'Mercurius Aulicus/ at the head quarters of the
King's army. He died, after the Restoration, Sub-dean of

It was not, however, in the ambition and corruption of the
clergy alone that the pretensions of prerogative sought support.
The administration of civil justice was corrupted at its source,
by the removal of such judges and petty magistrates as
refused to decide, contrary to their oaths of office, against
persons disobeying the illegal requisitions of the se\rr,il
boards. Some country gentlemen who were the most
obnoxious to the Government (but in much greater numbers,
those who were the most devoted to it) were named to ^TU-
BS sheriffs ; f the former in order to disqualify them from
Parliament, or to harass them with ruinous fines ; the latter
to make them instruments of extortion against others who
were thus placed under their jurisdiction. Barristers
were checked, and solicitors threatened and sometimes
punished, for fidelity to their clients. Orders were issued
from the Council Board, interfering with the settlement of

* Evelyn's Memoirs. t May.


private property ; and, in all suits of the Crown, undue
practices prevailed for obtaining verdicts. * The grossest
venality was countenanced in all the departments of the law ;
promotion publicly sold, and the buyers repaid by authorised
extortion from suitors ; and above all other courts, those of
Star Chamber and High Commission were distinguished for
their power, and for the unscrupulous manner in which they
exercised it.

The situation and prospects of the country were now, there-
fore, becoming daily more portentous. t The distaste to Parlia-
ments in which the King had been so fatally encouraged by all
who had access to his person, was about this time expressed in
that often- quoted letter of his to the Lord Deputy Went worth. J
Luxury, impiety, and excess, prevailed amongst the higher
orders ; and the pompous ceremonial and fiery intolerance of
the clergy opposed but a feeble barrier, if any, to their
increase. The sober minded, and of these the far greater
proportion amongst the yeomanry and the country gentry, by
habit and example endeavoured to stem the torrent which
threatened alike the morals and the freedom of their country.
Even those among them who were indolent or unskilful to
watch the advances of prerogative still clove with reverence to
the reviled customs and scruples of their simple life, and sadly,
but irresolutely, saw all the ties loosening which bind a free
and reflecting people to a government of law. Nor did the
crisis they deprecated appear distant. Many foresaw that
slavery must either be fixed upon themselves and their pos-
terity, or shaken off by an effort such as no good man could
but dread and deplore. Deprived of all prospect of relief from
Parliament, forbidden by proclamation, forbidden from the
bench, the pulpit, and the throne, to speak of asserting
their ancient privileges in a parliamentary way, they looked
forward to the alternative with affliction and dismay ; whilst

* Appendix. Commons Remonstrance. Park Hist.

t May.

'For the first,' (the not continuing the Parliament of Ireland,) 'my
' reasons are grounded upon my experience of them here. They are of the
' nature of cats ; they ever Lrrow curst with age ; so that, if you will have
' good of them, put them oft' handsomely when they come to any age ; for
' young ones are ever more tractable. And, in earnest, you will find that
' nothing can more conduce to the beginning of the new than the well
' ending of the former Parliament. Wherefore, now. that we are well, let
' us content ourselves therewith.' Strafford's Letters.


the manners of a great part were so corrupt, that, unable to
bear patiently the pressure of mis-government, they were ill-
prepared to remonstrate with dignity.*

Although to Hampden's shrewd and cautious mind, deeply
pondering these melancholy signs, the time seemed distant at
which he might stir himself with effect, still he continued to
bend all his views, studies, and pursuits, to that end. The
passage in his favourite author, Davila, describing the retire-
ment to which for a while the virtuous Coligny withdrew him-
self in Chatillou, and from which he saw the approaches
of that civil war which he could not prevent, and in which his
duty to his religion and his country pointed out to him a for-
ward station, affords a striking parallel to the position of
Hampden at this juncture of his life.f

These painful prognostics of public calamity were
embittered by the severe wound which the death of his
first wife had inflicted on his domestic happiness. She lies
FurlelTin the chancel of Great Hampden Church, where an
epitaph on a plain black stone records her merits, and her

* Whitelock. Sir Philip Warwick. Mrs. Hutchinson. Clarendon.

t ' L' Ammiraglio, con la solita sagacita, quasi che volesse riserbarsi
' neutrale, per poter in ogni caso tanto maggiorniente giovare al suo parti to,
' retiratosi a casa sua nella terra di Ciatiglione, fingeva d' atteiidere al
commodo della vita privata, seuza pensiero alcuno delle cose publiche

Online LibraryGeorge Nugent Grenville NugentSome memorials of John Hampden : his party and his times → online text (page 15 of 45)