Edward Hyde Clarendon.

The life of Edward, earl of Clarendon, in which is included a continuation of his History of the grand rebellion (Volume 2) online

. (page 11 of 35)
Online LibraryEdward Hyde ClarendonThe life of Edward, earl of Clarendon, in which is included a continuation of his History of the grand rebellion (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 35)
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" for their subsistence."

There cannot be a better evidence of the general The act '"

general well

affection of the kingdom, than that this act of par- received,
liament had so concurrent an approbation of the
two houses of parliament, after a suppression of that
form of devotion for near twenty years, and the
highest discountenance and oppression of all those
who were known to be devoted or affected to it. And
from the time of the king's return, when it was law-
ful to use it, though it was not enjoined, persons of
all conditions flocked to those churches where it
was used. And it was by very many sober men be-
lieved, that if the presbyterians and the other fac-


1662. tions in religion had been only permitted to exercise

~ their own ways, without y any countenance from the

court, the heart of all the factions against the church

would have been broken, before the parliament did

so fully declare itself.

Reflections And there cannot be a greater manifestation of

on the be- D

of the distemper and license of the time, than the pre-
- sumption of those presbyterian ministers, in the
opposing and contradicting an act of parliament;
when there was scarce a man in that number, who
had not. been so great a promoter of the rebellion,
or contributed so much to it, that they had no
other title to their lives but by the king's mercy ;
and there z were very few amongst them, who had
not come into the possession of the churches they
now held, by the expulsion of the orthodox min-
isters who were lawfully possessed of them, and who
being by their imprisonment, poverty, and other
kinds of oppression and contempt during so many
years, departed this life, the usurpers remained un-
disturbed in their livings, and thought it now the
highest tyranny to be removed from them, though
for offending the law, and disobedience to the go-
vernment. That those men should give themselves
an act of oblivion of all their transgressions and
wickedness, and take upon them again to pretend a
liberty of conscience against the government, which
they had once overthrown upon their pretences ;
was such an impudence, as could not have fallen
into the hearts even of those men from the stock of
their own malice, without some great defect in the
government, and encouragement or countenance

v "without] with 7 there] that there


from the highest powers. The king's too gracious 1662.
disposition and easiness of access, as hath been said ~~
before, had from the beginning raised their hopes
and dispelled their fears ; whilst his majesty pro-
mised himself a great harvest in their conversion, by
his gentleness and affability. And they insinuated
themselves by a profession, " that it was more the
" regard of his service, than any obstinacy in them-
" selves, which kept them from conformity to what
" the law had enjoined ; that they might still pre-
" serve their credit with their parishioners, and by
" degrees bring them to a perfect obedience :" where-
as indeed all the corruption was in the clergy ; and
where a prudent and orthodox man was in the pul-
pit, the people very willingly heard the Common

Nor did this confidence leave them, after the pass- They have
ing and publishing this act of uniformity : but the access^
London ministers, who had the government of those th
in the country, prevailed with the general (who
without any violent inclinations of his own was al-
ways ready for his wife's sake) to bring them to the
king, who always received them with too much cle-
mency, and dismissed them with too much hope.
They lamented " the sadness of their condition,
" which (after having done so much service to his
" majesty, and been so graciously promised by him
" his protection) must now be exposed to all misery
" and famine." They told him " what a vast num-
" ber of churches" (five times more than was true)
" would become void by this act, which would not
" prove for his service ; and that they much feared,
" the people would not continue as quiet and peace-
" able as they had been under their oversight." They


1662. used all the arguments they thought might work
~~ upon him ; and he seemed to be the more moved,
because he knew that it was not in his power to
help them. He told them, " he had great compas-
" sion for them ; and was heartily sorry that the
" parliament had been so severe towards them,
" which he would remit, if it were in his power ;
" and therefore that they should advise with their
" friends, and that if they found that it would be in
" his power to give them any ease, they should find
" him inclined to gratify them in whatsoever they
" desired :" which gracious expressions raised their
spirits as high as ever ; and they reported to their
friends much more than in truth the king had said
to them, (which was no new artifice with them,)
and advised their friends in all parts " to be firm to
" their principles," and assured them, " that the ri-
" gour of the act of parliament should not be pressed
" against them."

It cannot be denied, that the king was too irre-
solute, and apt to be shaken in those counsels which
with the greatest .deliberation a he had concluded,
by too easily permitting, or at least not restraining,
any men who waited upon him, or were present
with him in his recesses, to examine and censure
what was resolved ; an infirmity that brought him
many troubles, and exposed his ministers to ruin :
though in his nature, judgment, and inclinations, he
did detest the presbyterians ; and by the experience
he had of their faculties, pride, and insolence in
Scotland, had brought from thence such an abhor-
rence of them, that for their sakes he thought

a deliberation] declaration


better of any of the other factions. Nor had he any ] 662.

kindness for any person whom he suspected to ad-

here to them : for the lord Lautherdale took all
pains to be thought no presby terian ; . and pleased
himself better with no humour, than laughing at
that people, and telling ridiculous stories of their
folly and fold corruptions. Yet the king, from the
opinion he had of their great power to do him good
or harm, which was oftentimes unskilfully insinuated
to him by men who he knew were not of their*
party, but were really deceived themselves by a
wrong computation and estimate of their interest,
was not willing to be thought an enemy to them.
And there were too many bold speakers about the
court, too often admitted into his presence, who be-
ing without any sense of religion, thought all rather
ought to be permitted, than to undergo any trouble
and disturbance on the behalf of any one.

The continued address and importunity of these
ministers, as St. Bartholomew's day approached
nearer, more disquieted the king. They enlarged
with many words " on the great joy that they and
" all their friends had received, from the compas-
" sion his majesty so graciously had expressed on
" their behalf, which they would never forget, or
" forfeit by any undutiful carriage." They confessed
" that they found, upon conference with their friends
" who wished them well, and upon perusal of the
" act of parliament, that it was not in his majesty's
" power to give them so much protection against
" the penalty of the act of parliament, as they had
" hoped, and as his great goodness was inclined to
" give them. But that it would be an unspeakable
" comfort to them, if his majesty's grace towards



1662. " them were so manifested, that the people might
" discern that this extreme rigour was not grateful
" to him, but that he could be well content if it
" were for some time suspended ; and therefore they
" were humble suitors to him, that he would by his
" letters to the bishops, or by a proclamation, or an
" act of council, or any other way his majesty should
" think fit, publish his desire that the execution of
" the act of uniformity, as to all but the reading of
" the Liturgy, which they would conform to, might
" be suspended for three months ; and that he would
" take it well from the bishops or any of the pa-
" trons, who would so far comply with his desire, as
" not to take any advantage of those clauses in the
" statute, which gave them authority to present as
" in a vacancy. They doubted not there would be
" many, who would willingly submit to his majesty's
" pleasure : but whatever the effect should be, they
" would pay the same humble acknowledgments to
" his majesty, as if it had produced all that they
" desired."

Whether his majesty thought it would do them
no good, and therefore that it was no matter if he
granted it; or that he thought it no prejudice to
the church, if the act were suspended for three
months ; or that he was willing to redeem himself
from the present importunity, (an infirmity he was
too often guilty of;) true it is, he did make them a
The king positive promise, " that he would do what they de-
" sired ;" with which they were abundantly satis-

d, and renewed their encouragement to their
friends " to persevere to the end." And this pro-
mise was solemnly given to them in the presence of
the general, who was to solicit the king's despatch,


that his pleasure might be known in due time. It 1662.
was now the long vacation, and few of the council
were then in town, or of the bishops, with whom
his majesty too late thought it necessary to confer,
that such an instrument might be prepared as was
fit for the affair. Hereupon the king told the chan-
cellor (who was not thought friend enough to the
presbyterians to be sooner communicated with) all
that had passed, what the ministers had desired,
and what he had promised ; and bade him " to
" think of the best way of doing it."

The chancellor was one of those, who would have
been glad that the act had not been clogged with
many of those clauses, which he foresaw might pro-
duce some inconveniences; but when it was passed, he
thought it absolutely necessary to see obedience paid
to it without any connivance : and therefore, as he
had always dissuaded the king from giving so much
countenance to those applications, which he always
knew published more to be said than in truth was
ever spoken, and was the more troubled for this
progress they had made with the king ; he told his
majesty, " that it was not in his power to preserve
" those men, who did not submit to do all that was
" to be done by the act, from deprivation." He
gave many reasons which occurred, why " such a
" declaration as was desired would prove ineffectual
" to the end for which it was desired,, and what
" inconveniences would result from attempting it."
His majesty alleged many reasons for the doing it,
which he had received from those who desired it,
and seemed sorry that they were no better ; how-
ever concluded, " that he had engaged his word, and
" that he would perform what he had promised ;"

L 2


1662. and required him not to oppose it. The chancellor
~~ had always been very tender of his honour ; and ad-
vised him " to be very wary in making any promise,
" but when he had made it, to perform it, though
" to his disadvantage :" and it was no new thing to
him, to be reproached for opposing the resolving to
do such or such a thing, and then to be reproached
again for pursuing the resolution.

The king was at Hampton-court, and sent for
the archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of London
and of Winchester, to attend him, with the chief
justice Bridgman, and the attorney general : there
were likewise the chancellor, the general, the duke
of Ormond, and the secretaries. His majesty ac-
quainteol them with " the importunities used by the
" London ministers, and the. reasons they had of-
" fered why a further time should be given to them
" to consider of what was so new to them ; and
" what answer he had given to them ; and how they
" had renewed their importunity with a desire of
" such a declaration from him as is mentioned be-
" fore, in which he thought there was no inconve-
HC endea- " nience, and therefore had promised to do it, and

vours to

fulfil his " called them now together to advise of the best
" way of doing it." The bishops were very much
troubled, that those fellows should still presume to
give his majesty so much vexation, and that they
should have such access to him. They gave such
arguments against the doing what was desired, as
could not be answered; and for themselves, they
desired " to be excused for not conniving in any
" degree at the breach of the act of parliament,
" either by .not presenting a clerk where themselves
" were patrons, or deferring to give institution upon


" the presentation of others b : and that his majesty's 1 662.
" giving such a declaration or recommendation would ~~
" be the greatest wound to the church, and to the
" government thereof, that it could receive."

The chancellor, who did really believe that the
king and his service would suffer more by the breach
of his word and promise, than either could do from
doing the thing desired, confessed " that he believed
" it would do them little good, which would not be
" imputed to his majesty, when he had done all he
" could do ; and that it would be a greater conform-
" ity, if the ministers generally performed what they
" offered to do, in reading all the service of the
" church, than had been these many years ; and that
" once having done what was known to be so con-
" trary to their inclinations, would be an engage-
" ment upon them in a short time to comply with
" the rest of their obligations : and therefore," he
said, " he should not dissuade his majesty from do-
" ing what he had promised ;" which indeed he had
good reason to think he was resolved to do, what-
ever he was advised to the contrary. The king de-
manded the judgment of the lawyers, " whether he
" could legally dispense with the observation of the
" act for three months;" who answered, " that not- But finds it
" withstanding any thing he could do in their fa-pwer.
" vour, the patrons might present their clerk as if
" the incumbents were dead, upon their not-perform-
" ance of what they were enjoined." Upon the
whole matter the king was converted; and with
great bitterness against that people in general, and
against the particular persons whom he had always

b of others] Not in MS.
L 3


1662. received too graciously, concluded that he would not
~" do what was desired, and that the connivance should
not be given to any of them.

The bishops departed full of satisfaction with the
king's resolution, and as unsatisfied with their friend
the chancellor's inclination to gratify that people,
not knowing the engagement that was upon him.
And this jealousy produced a greater coldness from
some of them towards him, and a greater resent-
ment from him, who thought he had deserved better
from their function and their persons, than was in
a long time, if ever, perfectly reconciled. Yet he
never declined in the least degree his zeal for the
government of the church, or the interest of those
The great persons ; nor thought they could be blamed for their
uuiTy ofthe sever *ty against those ministers, who were surely
presbyte- ^he proudest malefactors, and the most incapable of

nan mm- i

isters. being gently treated, of any men living. For if any
of the bishops used them kindly, and endeavoured
to persuade them to conformity, they reported " that
" they had been caressed and flattered by the bishops,
" and offered great preferments, which they had
" bravely refused to accept for the preservation of a
" good conscience :" and in reports of this kind, few
of them ever observed any rules of ingenuity or

They en- When they saw that they were to expect and
ndsedis- undergo the worst, they agreed upon a method to
the people! ^ observed by them in the leaving and parting with
their pulpits : and the last Sunday they were to
preach, they endeavoured to infuse murmur, jealousy,
and sedition, into the hearts of their several audito-
ries ; and to prepare them " to expect and bear with
" patience and courage all the persecutions which


** were like to follow, now the light of the gospel 1662.
" was so near being extinguished." And all those""
sermons they called their farewell sermons, and
caused to be printed together, with every one of the
preachers' pictures before their sermons ; which in
truth contained all the vanity and ostentation with
reference to themselves, and all the insinuations to
mutiny and rebellion, that could be warily couched
in words which could not be brought within penalty
of law, though their meaning was well understood.

When the time was expired, better men were put
into their churches, though with much murmuring
of some of their parishes for a time, increased by
their loud clamour, " that they had been betrayed
" by the king's promise that they should have three
" months longer time :" which drew the like clamour
upon them by those, who had hearkened to their
advice in continuing their obstinacy in confidence of
a dispensation ; whereas otherwise they would have
conformed, as very many of their party did. And
many of the other who were cozened by them, and
so lost the livings they had, made all the haste they
could to make themselves capable of getting others,
by as full subscriptions and conformity as the act of
uniformity required. And the greatest of them, At length
after some time, and after they found that the pri-JJ^ "on-
vate bounty and donatives, which at first flowed in form -
upon them in compassion of their sufferings and to .
keep up their courages, every day begun to slacken,
and would in the end expire, subscribed to those
very declarations, which they had urged as the
greatest motives to their nonconformity. And the
number was very small, and of very weak and in-
considerable men, that continued refractory, and

L 4


1662. received no charge in the church: though it may
""without breach of charity be believed, that many
who did subscribe had the same malignity to the
church, and to the government of it ; and it may be
did more harm, than if they had continued in their

Great ani- The long time spent in both houses upon the act
of uniformity had made the progress of all other
public business much the slower; or rather, the
multitude of private bills which depended there,
(and with which former parliaments had been very
rarely troubled,) and the bitterness and animosities
which arose from thence, exceedingly disquieted and
discomposed the house ; every man being so much
concerned for the interest of his friends or allies,
that he was more solicitous for the despatch of those,
than of any which related to the king and the pub-
lic, which he knew would by a general concurrence
be all passed before the session should be made;
whereas if the other should be deferred, the session
would quickly follow, (which the king by frequent
messages desired to hasten, having received news
already of the queen's having been at sea many
days,) and the benefit of those pretences would be
lost, and with greater difficulty be recovered in a
succeeding session. Then as those private bills were
for the particular benefit and advantage of some per-
sons, which engaged all their friends to be very so-
licitous for their despatch ; so for the most part they
were to the loss and damage of other persons, who
likewise called in aid of all their friends to prevent
the houses' consent: and by this means so many
factions were kindled in both houses, between those
who drove on the interest of their own or of their


relations, who mutually looked upon one another as 1662.
enemies, and against those who for justice and the""
dignity of parliament would have rejected all or most
of the addresses of that kind ; that in most debates
which related to neither, the custom of contradic-
tion, and the aversion to persons, very much dis-
turbed and prolonged all despatch.

It cannot be denied, that after a civil war of so
many years, prosecuted with that height of malice
and revenge ; so many houses plundered and so
many burned, in which the evidences of many estates
were totally destroyed, and as many by the unskil-
ful providence of others, who in order to preserve
them had buried their writings so unwarily under
ground, that they were taken up so defaced or rotted,
that they could not be pleaded in any court of jus-
tice ; many who had followed the king in the war,
and so made themselves liable to those penalties
which the parliament had prepared for them and
subjected them to, had made many feigned convey-
ances, with such limitations and so absolutely, (that
no trust might be discovered by those who had power
to avoid it,) that they were indeed too absolute to
be avoided by themselves, and their estates become
so much out of their own disposal, that they could
neither apply them to the payment of their just
debts, or to the provision for their children ; I say,
there were many such cases, which could be no other
way provided for but by an act of parliament, and
to which an act of parliament, without too much
severity and rigour, could not be denied. And
against any of those there appeared none or very
little opposition to be made.

But the example and precedent of such drew


1662. with them a world of unreasonable pretences ; and
"they, who were not in a condition to receive relief
in any court of justice, thought they had a ground
to appeal to parliament. They who had been com-
pelled, for raising the money they were forced to pay
for their delinquency, to sell land, and could not
sell it but at a very low value, (for it was one spe-
cies of the oppression of that time, that when a
powerful man had an aspect upon the land of any
man who was to compound, and so in view like to
sell it, no other man would offer any money for it,
so that he was sure at last to have it upon his own
price ;) now all that monstrous power was vanished,
they who had made those unthrifty bargains and
sales, though with all the formalities of law, by fines
and recoveries and the like, (which is all the secu-
rity that can be given upon a purchase,) especially
if the purchaser was of an ill name, came with all
imaginable confidence to the parliament, to have
their land restored to them c . Every man had
raised an equity in his own imagination, that he
thought ought to prevail against any descent, testa-
ment, or act of law ; and that whatever any man
had been brought to do, which common reason
would make manifest that he would never have
done if he could have chosen, was argument suf-
ficient of such a force, and ought to find relief in
parliament, from the unbounded equity they were
masters of and could dispense, whatever formalities
of law had preceded or accompanied the transaction.
And whoever opposed those extravagant notions,
which sometimes deprived men of the benefit of the

c them] him


act of oblivion, was thought to be without justice, 1662.
or which to them was worse, to be without any""
kindness to the king's party. And without ques-
tion, upon those motives, or others as unreasonable,
many acts were passed of very ill example, and
which many men were scandalized at in the pre-
sent, and posterity will more censure hereafter,
when infants who were then unborn shall find
themselves disinherited of those estates, which their
ancestors had carefully provided should descend to
them ; upon which irregularities the king made re-
flection when he made the session.

But notwithstanding all these incongruities, and The pariia-

, .,. .. -i i 111 i ment pro-

the indispositions which attended them, they per- ceeds with
formed all those respects towards the king, which
he did or could expect from them ; there being king
scarce a man, who opposed the granting any thing
that was proposed for the benefit of his majesty, or
the greatness of the crown : and though some of
the particulars mentioned before did sometimes in-
tervene, to hinder and defer the present resolutions
and conclusions in those counsels, the resolutions
and conclusions in a short time after succeeded ac-
cording to the king's wish. The militia and many
other regalities were declared and settled according

Online LibraryEdward Hyde ClarendonThe life of Edward, earl of Clarendon, in which is included a continuation of his History of the grand rebellion (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 35)