Isaac Disraeli.

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distinction between moral good and moral evil; and that
every man's actions were prompted by the Creator. Prosti-
tution was professed as a religious act; a glazier was de-
clared to be a prophet, and the woman he cohabited with was
said to be ready to lie in of the Messiah. A man married
his father's wife. Murders of the most extraordinary nature
were occurring ; one woman crucjified her mother ; another,
in imitation of Abraham, sacrificed her child ; we hear, too,
of parricides. Amidst the slaughters of civil wars, spoil
and blood had accustomed the people to contemplate the
most horrible scenes. One madman of the many, we find
diinking a health on his knees, in the midst of a town, " to

* There is a pamphlet which records a strange fact. "News from
Powles : or the new Reformation of the Army, with a true Relation of a Colt
that was foaled in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, in London, and how
it was publiquely baptized, and the name (because a bald Colt) was called
Baal-Rex! 1649." The water they sprinkled from the soldier's helmet on
this occasion is described. The same occurred elsewhere. See Foulis's
History of the Plots, &c. of our pretended Saints. These men, who bap-
tized horses and pigs in the name of the Trinity, sang psalms when they
marched. One cannot easily comprehend the nature of fanaticism, except
«rhen we learn that they reftised to pay rents !



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364 VIEW OF A PARTICULAR PERIOD OF THE

the devil ! that it might be said that his family should not
be extinct without doing some infamous act." A Scotchman,
one Alexander Agnew, commonly called "Jock of broad
Scotland," whom one cannot call an atheist, for he does not
seem to deny the existence of the Creator, nor a future state,
had a shrewdness of local humour in his strange notions.
Omitting some offensive things, others as strange may exhibit
the state to which the reaction of an hypocritical system of
religion had driven the common people. Jock of broad
Scotland said he was nothing in Grod's common, for God had
given him nothing ; he was no more obliged to God than to
the devil, for Grod was very greedy. Neither Grod nor the
devil gave the fruits of the ground ; the wives of the country
gave him his meat When asked wherein he believed, he
answered, "He believed in white meal, water, and salt
Christ was not God, for he came into the world after it was
made, and died as other men." He declared that " he did
not know whether God or the devil had the greatest power,
but he thought the devil was the greatest. "When I die, let
Grod and the devil strive for my soul, and let him that is
strongest take it." He no doubt had been taught by the
presbytery to mock religious rites ; and when desired to give
God thanks for his meat, he said, " Take a sackful of prayers
to the mill and grind them, and take your breakfast of them."
To others, he said, "I will give you a two-pence, to pray
until a boll of meal, and one stone of butter, fall from heaven
through the house rigging (roof) to you." When bread and
cheese were laid on the ground by him, he said, " If I leave
this, I will long cry to Gk)d before he give it me again." To
others he said, " Take a bannock, and break it in two, and
lay down one half thereof, and you will long pray to God
before he will put the other half to it again ! " He seems to
have been an anti-trinitarian. He said he received every
thing from nature, which had ever reigned and ever would.
He would not conform to any religious system, nor name the
three Persons, — " At all these things I have long shaken my



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STATE OF RELIGION IN OUR CIVIL WARS. 365

cap " he said. Jock of broad Scotland seems to have been
one of those who imagine that God should have furnished
them with bannocks ready baked.

The extravagant fervour then working in the minds of the
people is marked by the story told by Clement Walker of
the soldier who entered a church with a lantern and a candle
burning in it, and in the other hand four candles not lighted.
He said he came to deliver his message from God, and show it
by these types of candles. Driven into the churchyard, and
the wind blowing strong, he could not kindle his candles, and
the new prophet was awkwardly compelled to conclude his
five denouncements, abolishing the Sabbath, tithes, ministers,
magistrates, and, at last, the Bible itself, without putting out
each candle, as he could not kindle them ; observing, how-
ever, each time — " And here I should put out the first light,
but the wind is so high that I cannot kindle it."

A perfect scene of the effects which the state of irreligious
society produced among the lower orders, I am enabled to
give from the manuscript life of John Shaw, vicar of Rother-
ham, with a Ihtle tediousness, but with infinite naivete, what
happened to himself. This honest divine was puritanically
inclined, but there can be no exaggeration in these unvar-
nished facts. He tells a remarkable story of the state of
religious knowledge in Lancashire, at a place called Cartmel :
some of the people appeared desirous of religious instruction,
declaring that they were without any minister, and had en-
tirely neglected every religious rite, and therefore pressed
him to quit his situation at Lymm for a short period. He
may now tell his own story.

" I found a very large spacions church, scarce any seats in it; a people
very ignorant, and yet willing to learn ; so as I had frequently some thou-
sands of hearers. I catechized in season and out of season. The churches
were so thronged at nine in the morning, that I had much ado to get to the
pulpit. One day, an old man about sixty, sensible enough in other things,
and living in the parish of Cartmel, coming to me on some business, I told
him that he belonged to my care and charge, and I desired to be informed
In his knowledge of religion. I asked him how many Gods there were?



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366 STATE OF REUGION IN OUB CIVIL WARS.

He said he knew not. I informing him, asked again how he thouglit to he
saved? He answered he conld not tell. Yet thought that was a harder
question than the other. I told him that the way to salvation was by
Jesns Christ, Grod-man, who as he was man shed his blood for ns on the
cross, &c. Oh sir, said he, I think I heard of that man you speak of once
in a play at Kendall, called Corpus-Christ's play, where there was a man
on a tree and blood run down, &c. And afterwards he professed he could
not remember that he ever heard of salvation by Jesus, but in that play."

The scenes passing in the metropolis, as weU as in the
country, are opened to us in one of the chronicKng poems of
C^orge Withers. Our sensible rhymer wrote in November,
1652, "a Darke Lanthome" on the present subject.

After noticing that Gk)d, to mortify us, had sent preachers
from the " shop-board and the plough,"

— " Such as we seem justly to contenm.
As making truths abhorred, which come from them; **

he seems, however, inclined to think, that these self-taught
"Teachers and Prophets" in their darkness might hold a
certain Hght within them :

" Children, fools,

Women, and madmen, we do often meet
Preaching, and threatening judgments in the street,
Tea by strange actions, postures, tones, and cries,
Themselves they offer to our ears and eyes

As signs unto this nation.

They act as men in ecstacies have done

Striving their cloudy visions to declare.

Till they have lost the notions which they had.

And want but few degrees of being mad."

Such is the picture of the folly and of the wickedness,
which after having been preceded by the piety of a religious
age, were succeeded by a dominion of hypocritical sanctity,
and then closed in all the horrors of immorality and impiety.
The parliament at length issued one of their ordinances for
"punishing blasphemous and execrable opinions,** and this
was enforced with greater power than the slighted proclama-
tions of James and Charles ; but the curious wording is a
comment on our present subject The preamble notices that



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BUCKINGHAM'S POLITICAL COQUETRY, ETC. 367

" men and women had lately discovered monstrous opinions,
even such as tended to the dissolution of human society, and
have abused, and turned into licentiousness, the liberty given in
matters of religion." It punishes any person not distempered
in his brains, who shall maintain any mere creature to be
God ; or that all acts of unrighteousness are not forbidden in
the Scriptures ; or that God approves of them ; or that there
is no real diflPerence between moral good and evil," &c.

To this disordered state was the public mind reduced, for
this proclamation was only describing what was passing
among the people ! The view of this subject embraces more
than one point, which I leave for the meditation of the poli-
tician, as well as of the religionist.



BUCKINGHAM'S POLITICAL COQUETRY WITH THE
PURITANS.

Buckingham, observes Hume, " in order to fortify him-
self against the resentment of James" — on the conduct of
the duke in the Spanish match, when James was latterly
hearing every day Buckingham against Bristol, and Bristol
against Buckingham — " had affected popularity, and entered
into the cabals of the puritans ; but afterwards, being secure
of the confidence of Charles, he had since abandoned this
party ; and on that account was the more exposed to their
hatred and resentment"

The political coquetry of a minister coalescing with an
opposition party, when he was on the point of being dis-
graced, would doubtless open an involved scene of intrigue ;
and what one exacted, and the other was content to yield,
towards the mutual accommodation, might add one more ex-
ample to the large chapter of political infirmity. Both
workmen attempting to convert each other into tools, by first
trying their respective malleability on the anvil, are liable to



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368 BUCKINGHAM'S POLITICAL COQUETRY

be disconcerted by even a slight accident, whenever that
proves, to perfect conviction, how little they can depend on
each other, and that each party comes to cheat, and not to be
cheated !

This piece of secret history is in part recoverable from
good authority. The two great actors were the Duke of
Buckingham and Dr. Preston, the master of Emmanuel
College, and the head of the puritan party.

Dr. Preston was an eminent character, who from his
youth was not without ambition. His scholastic learning, the
subtilty of his genius, and his more elegant accomplishments,
had attracted the notice of James, at whose table he was
perhaps more than once honoured as a guest ; a suspicion of
his puritanic principles was perhaps the only obstacle to his
court preferment; yet Preston unquestionably designed to
play a political part He retained the favour of James by
the king's hope of withdrawing the doctor from the op-
position party, and commanded the favour of Buckingham
by the fears of that minister ; when, to employ the quaint
style of Racket, the duke foresaw that " he might come to be
tried in the furnace of the next sessions of parliament, and
he had need to make the refiners his friends : " most of these
"refiners" were the puritanic or opposition party. Ap-
pointed one of the chaplains of Prince Charles, Dr. Preston
had the advantage of being in frequent attendance ; and as
Hacket tells us, " this politic man felt the pulse of the court,
and wanted not the intelligence of all dark mysteries through
the Scotch in his highness's bed-chamber." A close com-
munication took place between the duke and Preston, who,
as Hacket describes, was " a good crow to smell carrion."
He obtained an easy admission to the duke's closet at least
thrice a week, and their notable conferences Buckingham
appears to have communicated to his confidential friends.
Preston, intent on carrying all his points, skilfully com-
menced with the smaller ones. He winded the duke circuit-
ously, — he worked at him subterraneously. This wary



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WITH THE PUEITANS. 369

politician was too sagacious to propose what he had at heart —
the extirpation of the hierarchy I The thunder of James's
voice, " No hishop ! no king ! " in the conference at Hampton-
court, still echoed in the ear of the puritan. He assured the
duke that the love of the people was his only anchor, which
could only be secured by the most popular measures. A
new sort of reformation was easy to execute. Cathedrals
and collegiate churches maintjiined by vast wealth, and the
lands of the chapter, only fed "fat, lazy, and unprofitable
drones." The dissolution of the foundations of deans and
chapters would open an ample source to pay the king's debts,
and scatter the streams of patronage. "You would then
become the darling of the commonwealth ; " I give the
words as I find them in Hacket, " If a crumb stick in the
throat of any considerable man that attempts an opposition,
it will be easy to wash it down with manors, woods, royalties,
tythes, &c." It would be furnishing the wants of a number
of gentlemen ; and he quoted a Greek proverb, " that when
a great oak falls, every neighbour may scuffle for a fagot."

Dr. Preston was willing to perform the part which Knox
had acted in Scotland ! He might have been certain of a
party to maintain this national violation of property ; for he
who calls out " Plunder ! " will ever find a gang. These acts
of national injustice, so much desired by revolutionists, are
never beneficial to the people ; they never partake of the
spoliation, and the whole terminates in the gratification of
private rapacity.

It was not, however, easy to obtain such perpetual access
to the minister, and at the same time escape from the watch-
ful. Archbishop Williams, the lord keeper, got sufficient
hints from the king ; and in a tedious conference with the
duke, he wished to convince him that Preston had only offered
him " flitten milk, out of which he should churn nothing ! "
The duke was, however, smitten by the new project, and
made a remarkable answer : " You lose yourself in general-
ities : make it out to me in particular, if you can, that the

VOL. IV. 24



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370 BUCKINGHAM'S POLITICAL COQUETRY, ETC.

motion jou pick at will find repulse, and be baffled in the
House of Commons. I know not how you bishops may
struggle, but I am much deluded if a great part of the
knights and burgesses would not be glad to see this altera-
tion." We are told on this, that Archbishop Williams took
out a list of the members of the House of Commons, and con-
vinced the minister that an overwhelming majority would
oppose this projected revolution, and that in consequence the
duke gave it up.

But this anterior decision of the duke may be doubtful,
since Preston still retained the high favour of the minister,
after the death of James. When James died at Theobalds,
where Dr. Preston happened to be in attendance, he had the
honour of returning to town in the new king's coach with the
Duke of Buckingham. The doctor's servile adulation of the
minister gave even great offence to the over-zealous puritans.
That he was at length discarded is certain ; but this was
owing not to any deficient subserviency on the side of our
politician, but to one of those unlucky circumstances which
have often put an end to temporary political connections, by
enabling one party to discover what the other thinks of him.

I draw this curious fact from a manuscript narrative in the
handwriting of the learned William Wotton. When the
puritanic party foolishly became jealous of the man who
seemed to be working at root and branch for their purposes,
they addressed a letter to Preston, remonstrating with him
for his servile attachment to the minister ; on which he con-
fidently returned an answer, assuring them that he was as
fully convinced of the vileness and profligacy of the Duke of
Buckingham's character as any man could be, but that there
was no way to come at him but by the lowest flattery, and
that it was necessary for the glory of God that such instru-
ments should be made use of as could be had ; and for that
reason, and that alone, he showed that respect to the reigning
favourite, and not for any real honour that he had for him.
This letter proved fatal ; some officious hand conveyed it to



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COKE AGAINST THE fflGH SHERIFF'S OATH. 371

the duke ! When Preston came, as usual, the duke t(X)k his
opportunity of asking him what he had ever done to disoblige
him, that he should describe him in such black characters to
his own party ? Preston, in amazement, denied the fact, and
poured forth professions of honour and gratitude. The duke
showed him his own letter. Dr. Preston instantaneously felt
a political apoplexy ; the labours of some years were lost in
a single morning. The baffled politician was turned out of
Wallingford House, never more to see the enraged minister !
And from that moment Buckingham wholly abandoned the
puritans, and cultivated the friendship of Laud. This hap-
pened soon after James the First's death. Wotton adds,
"This story I heard from one who was extremely well
versed in the secret history of the time." *



SIR EDWARD COKE'S EXCEPTIONS AGAINST THE
HIGH SHERIFF'S OATH.

A ouKious fact will show the revolutionary nature of
human events, and the necessity of correcting our ancient
statutes, which so frequently hold out punishments and penal-
ties for objects which have long ceased to be criminal ; as
well as for persons against whom it would be barbarous to
allow some unrepealed statute to operate.

When a political stratagem was practised by Charles the
First to keep certain members out of the House of Commons,
by pricking them down as sheriffs in their different counties,
among them was the celebrated Sir Edward Coke, whom the
government had made High Sheriff for Bucks. It was ne-
cessary, perhaps, to be a learned and practised lawyer to

* "VVotton delivered this memorandnm to the literary antiquary, Thomas
Baker; and Kennet transcribed it in his Manuscript Collections. Lans-
downe MSS. No. 932-88. The Life of Dr. Preston, in Chalmers's Bio-
graphical Dictionary, may be consulted with advantage.



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372 SECRET fflSTORY OF CHARLES THE FIRST

discover the means lie took, in the height of his resentment,
to elude the insult This great lawyer, who himself, perhaps,
had often administered the oath to the sheriffs, which had,
century after century, been usual for them to take, to the
surprise of all persons drew up Exceptions against the
SheriflPs Oath, declaring that no one could take it. Ccke
sent his Exceptions to the attorney-general, who, by an
immediate order in council, submitted them to " aU the judges
of England." Our legal luminary had condescended only to
some ingenious cavilling in three of his exceptions ; but the
fourth was of a nature which could not be overcome. All
the judges of England assented, and declared, that there was
one part of this ancient oath which was perfectly irreligious,
and must ever hereafter be left out ! This article was, " TKat
you shall do all your pain and diligence to destroy and make
to cease all manner of heresies, commonly called Lollaries,
within your bailiwick, &c." * The Lollards were the most
ancient of protestants, and had practised Luther's sentiments ;
it was, in fact, condemning the established' religion of the
country ! An order was issued from Hampton-Court, for the
abrogation of this part of the oath ; and at present aU high
sheriffs owe this obligation to the resentment of Sir Edward
Coke, for having been pricked down as Sheriff of Bucks, to
be kept out of Parliament ! The merit of having the oath
changed, instanter, he was allowed ; but he was not excused
taking it, after it was accommodated to the conscientious and
lynx-eyed detection of our enraged lawyer.



SECRET HISTORY OF CHARLES THE FIRST AND
HIS FIRST PARLIAMENTS.

The reign of Charles the First, succeeded by the Com-
monwealth of England, forms a period unparalleled by any
* Rushworth's Historical Collections, voL i. p. 199.



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AND fflS FIRST PARLIAMENTS, 373

preceding one in the annals of mankind. It was for the
English nation the great result of all former attempts to
ascertain and to secure the just freedom of the subject The
prerogative of the sovereign, and the rights of the people
were often imagined to be mutual encroachments ; and were
long involved in contradiction, in an age of unsettled opinions
and disputed principles. At length the conflicting parties of
monarchy and democracy, in the weakness of their passions,
discovered how much each required the other for its protector.
This age offers the finest speculations in human nature ; it
opens a protracted scene of glory and of infamy ; all that
elevates and all that humiliates our kind, wrestling together,
and expiring in a career of glorious deeds, of revolting
crimes, and even of ludicrous infirmities !

The French Revolution is the commentary of the English ;
and a commentary at times more important than the text
which it elucidates. It has thrown a freshness over the
antiquity of our own history; and, on returning to it, we
seem to possess the feelings, and to be agitated by the in-
terests, of contemporaries. The circumstances and the per-
sons which so many imagine had passed away, have been
reproduced under our own eyes. In other histories we
accept the knowledge of the characters and the incidents on
the evidence of the historian ; but here we may take them
from our own conviction, since to extinct names and to past
events, we can apply the reality which we ourselves have
witnessed.

Charles the First had scarcely ascended the throne ere he
discovered, that in his new parliament he was married to a
sullen bride : the youthful monai'ch, with the impatience of a
lover, warm with hope and glory, was ungraciously repulsed
even in the first favours I The prediction of his father re-
mained, like the handwriting on the wall ; but, seated on the
throne, Hope was more congenial to youth than Prophecy.

As soon as Charles the First could assemble a parliament,
He addressed them with an earnestness, in which the simplic-



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374 SECRET mSTOBY OF CHABLES THE FIRSl

ity of words and thoughts strongly contrasted with the orato-
rical harangues of the late monarch. It cannot be alleged
against Charles the First, that he preceded the parliament in
the war of words. He courted their affections ; and even in
this manner of reception, amidst the dignity of the regal
oflSce, studiously showed his exterior respect by the marked
solemnity of their first meeting. As yet uncrowned, on the
day on which he first addressed the Lords and Commons, he
wore his crown, and vailed it at the opening, and on the close
of his speech ; a circumstance to which the parliament had
not been accustomed. Another ceremony gave still greater
solemnity to the meeting ; the king would not enter into busi-
ness till they had united in prayer. He commanded the
doors to be closed, and a bishop to perform the office. The
suddenness of this unexpected command disconcerted the cath-
olic lords, of whom the less rigid knelt, and the moderate
stood: there was one startled papist who did nothing but
cross himself!*

The speech may be found in Rushworth ; the friendly tone
must be shown here.

" I hope that you do remember that you were pleased to employ me to
advise my father to break oflf the treaties (with Spain). I came into this
business willingly and freely, like a young man, and consequently rashly;
but it was by your interest — ^your engagement. I pray you to remember,
that this being ray first action, and begun by your addce and entreaty, what
a great dishonour it were to you and me that it should fail for that assist-
ance you are able to give me I "

This effusion excited no sympathy in the house. They
voted not a seventh part of the expenditure necessary to pro-
ceed with a war, into which, as a popular measure, they
themselves had forced the king.

At Oxford the king again reminded them that he was
engaged in a war " from their . desires and advice." He
expresses his disappointment at their insufficient grant, " far
short to set forth the navy now preparing." The speech pre-
serves the same simplicity.

* From manuscript letters of the times.



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AND fflS FIRST PARLIAMENTS. 375

Still no echo of kindness responded in the house. It was,
however, asserted, in a vague and quibbling manner, that



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