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Ecclesiastical history of England : from the opening of the long parliament to the death of Oliver Cromwell (Volume 3) online

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and destroyed boats to avoid pursuit, and then hastened
towards the Scotch capital, hoping to receive assistance
from the citizens. Disappointed in this respect, they
retreated to the Pentland Hills, where they were attacked
by the Eoyal Army, and completely routed, after leaving
500 of their comrades dead on the field. Horrid tortures
were inflicted on those who were taken prisoners; six-
teen of them were executed at Edinburgh, and four at
Glasgow — all with their dying breath denouncing Prelacy,
laying the shedding of their blood at the Bishops' doors,
praying for the King, and begging the Almighty to take
away the wicked from about the throne. The disgusting
details are related with still more disgusting barbarity by
correspondents in Scotland, who sent to London intel-
ligence upon the subject.^

The report in England of fanaticism on the one hand,
and cruelty on the other, exasperated both Churchmen
and Nonconformists. The former had their suspicions
strengthened as to the rebellious intentions attributed to
Presbyterians ; and the latter were indignant at the
vengeance wreaked upon men whom they believed to be
sufferers for conscience' sake.

Traces are left of contemporary gossip in letters written
at the time. There is, said one, a general gaping of the
Nonconformists as to the issue of the disturbances in
Scotland. There are, said another, reports of a stir in
Hereford, about hearth-money ; and an eminent Pres-
byterian wrote, that thousands of Scots were up and
declaring for King and Covenant, having Colonel Carr, an
old Kirk-man, amongst them. Other correspondents
affirmed they did not wish the Scots for guides, and then
they reported " high differences among great persons mur-

' S trite Papers, Cal. 1666-7, Pref. xix.-xxiii., and references.


muring, and fears of the oath."^ Churchmen protested that
they had forewarned their sober friends of the other
party, and described how the folly and insolence of Non-
conformist guides would provoke the authorities to check

Mormonism was then unknown. There were in exist-
ence no agents of that strangely-compounded system,
inviting emigrants to the Western world; but there were
people wandering about England who tried to persuade
the credulous and simple to repair to the Palatinate, say-
ing that there the kingdom of Christ was to be restored,
and that England, whose sins were so great, was on the
edge of destruction. These apostles framed a covenant, —
which they concealed from those who were not likely to
subscribe it, — to renounce such powers and rulers as were
contrary to Christ, and to His Government, to refuse
their money, and to separate themselves entirely from all
anti-Christian religions. They promised to obey God's
laws, especially those relating to the Sabbath, and never
to intermarry with strangers — to devote themselves wholly
to the service of the Almighty, and try to find a place
where they might become a distinct people. Explana-
tions were added to the effect, that the powers renounced
were persecuting powers, but that God's laws, if prac-
tised by them, were not to be renounced ; that no ruler
was to be allowed by them, who did not enter into com-
munion with themselves ; and that coins bearing images
or superscriptions contrary to God's Word should be cast

' Dom. Charles II. 1666, Dec. 3. ' State Pcqjers, Dom. Charles II.,

Ricliard Browne to "Williamson. 1666, Dec. 14. A further allusion

Same date, John Allen to Wil- is made to these strange people La a

liamson. letter by Sanderson to Williamson,

' Dr. Basire to Williamson, 1666, Feb. 5, 1667, ui which, also, refer-

Dec. 1 7. ence is made to Mr. Cocks, steward


The Dutch, who had alarmed the Government in 1666,
alarmed them again, and the whole nation besides, much
more, in 1667. One division of the enemy's fleet swept
up the Medway past Sheemess — the other, to divert
attention, sailed up the Thames. The former burst the
chain hung across the stream, fired at the batteries,
reduced to ashes three first-rate men-of-war, and then
returned unmolested to join the rest of their own vessels
at the Nore.

The influence produced by this unprecedented invasion
is vividly reflected in the following letter: — ''The
merchants are undone. Our great bankers of money
have shut up their shops. People are ready to tear their
hair off their heads. Great importunity hath been used
at Whitehall for a Parliament, and more particularly by
Sir George Saville, but nothing will prevail; there is
one great gownsman against it, and all the Bishops and
Papists, and all those who have cozened and cheated the
King. News came this day to the King, the French are
come from Brest, and appear before the Isle of Wight ;
some at Court give out that they are friends, and not
enemies. We expect the Dutch as far as Woolwich.
People are fled from Greenwich and Blackwall with
their families and children. We are betrayed, let it
light where it will."^ And a few days afterwards the
nation, froni end to end, was agitated by the intelligence
of the Dutch attack — many Dissenters idly attributing
the success of the daring manoeuvre to the teaching

to Lady Vane, at Raby Castle, as a quality as engaged in plots. " Tliey

very dangerous person. There is will try to get up Richard Cromwell

likewise a previous letter on the as the only one who has a right to

same subject (1666, Nov. 6.) In rule."

another paper, attached to that of ' State Papers. Letter by John

Feb. 5, allusions occur to persons of Rushworth, 1667, June 15.


of the Government and to Popish counsels at head-

An empty exchequer was the chronic disease of
Charles II. 's reign, and so low did the Royal revenue
sink this year that twenty-six footmen in His Majesty's
establishment were forced to petition for wages, which
had been due the previous Michaelmas. To meet the
exigences of the moment, letters were written to the Lord
Chancellor, as the head of the legal profession, to the
Lord-Lieutenants of Counties, as representing the landed
interest ; and to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to pro-
cure loans and voluntary contributions at that " time of
public danger." "We are the rather," it is observed in
the letter to His Grace, "induced to believe labour herein
will be successful, because you are to deal with a sort of
persons endued with discretion and ingenuity, who cannot
forget what tenderness we have for them, what care to
protect and support them, and how much their interest
and welfare is involved in ours ; but arguments and
motives of this nature we leave to your prudent manage-
ment. "^

The damage actually done by the Dutch fleet was
small; and nothing compared with the dangers threat-
ened by the audacity of its advance. The treaty of
peace, which speedily followed, relieved the nation

' " Chester, a stronghold of Non- " At Yarmouth the Presbyterian

conformity, was much perplexed. party raised the cry of treachery

Some said we were asleep, or should because there had been an attempt

have fortilied ourselves, knowing the to leave the place in charge of Major

enemy near. All concluded there Markham, who was disliked as being

was treachery in the business, and a Papist ; and because the trained

hoped the contrivers would receive bands had been sent for to New-

the reward due to those who betray market, and none others sent in

King and country." Sir Geofliy their room, and, therefore the town

Shakerley to Williamson, Chester, left defenceless." — June 2 1,1667.

June 19, 1667. — State Papers. * State Papers. Same date.


from alarm, but it by no means wiped out the disgrace
which the nation had to bear, and which its rulers had

Within three months after the booms had been broken
by the Dutch in the Medway, Clarendon's term of power
was at an end.

A bad haiTest is a bad thing for an English Ministry,
especially for the Chief of the Cabinet. The visitations
of Heaven are set down to his account, and all the weak
points of his administration, all the errors of his policy,
all the faults of his character, are brought out most
vividly in the light of adverse circumstances. So it was,
that after the Plague and the Fire of London — ^with which
Clarendon could have had nothing to do — the eyes of the
people were strangely opened to the defects of his govern-
ment ; and, when the English Lion was bearded by the
insolence of the Hollanders, there fell upon the great
statesman the anger of the whole people. To meet the
evil, which he had failed to prevent, he counselled the
King to dissolve Parliament, and maintain the defences of
the country by forced contributions. This private advice
was blown abroad, inspiring indignation in the people,
and bringing discomfiture to the Prime Minister. He did
not want courage, but it was now useless. What he
hoped would appear to the King the firmness of an upright
mind, was regarded by His Majesty as the obstinacy of a
stubborn will. In vain the Duke of York pleaded in his
behalf. The Chancellor was forced to resign the Great
Seal on the 30th of August.^

1 The peace -with Holland, which though their purses are empty. At

was proclaimed August 24th, 1667, Lynn the bells have hardly lain still

was very popular. At Weymouth since the news of peace." — State

" it, as it were, raised the dead to life, Papers, Cal., 1 667-8, pref. Iv.

and made them rich in thought, ' Of the disgrace of Lord Chan-

Chap.XVin.J CLARENDON. 369

Clarendon, in the impeachment which followed in the
month of November, was charged with unconstitutional
acts ; but, of all the seventeen heads under which the
charges were arranged, not more than three, seriously
affecting his character as a statesman, contained mat-
ters which could be clearly proved. The first allega-
tion — that he had encouraged the EJing to raise a standing
army, and to govern the country without Parliaments —
although an exaggerated statement, had some foundation.
Respecting the truth of the fourth article — that he had
procured the imprisonment of divers persons contrary to
law — there could be no doubt whatever. The eleventh
charge, touching the sale of Dunkirk to the French for
no greater amount than the worth of the ammunition and
stores, was false with regard to his being content with
the price, but it was true as it respects his promoting
the sale. Nor did the impeachment, so far as it could be
established, fix upon the Minister the guilt of high
treason ; but, short of that, it proved him to be a person
dangerous to the country, and unfitted to continue in the
office which he had filled. Virtuous and patriotic men
might fairly have insisted upon the degradation of the
Chancellor ; but it must be confessed that virtuous and
patriotic men were not the prime movers in his punish-
ment. The intrigues of women, anything but virtuous,
had most to do with it ; for Clarendon had unfortunately
excited the wrath of Charles' mistresses, who, by working
upon the Monarch's too easy temper, had implanted in
his bosom a dislike to his old friend. The object of
these ladies was promoted by the assistance of Cavalier
gentlemen who never forgave Clarendon for the Act of

cellor Clarendon, the notes in the " i^rovokingly few and unimport-
State Papers, as Mrs. Green says, are ant."



Indemnity, and who considered that he had, at the
Restoration, largely neglected the personal interests of
the Royalists. Three Bishops were numbered amongst
the Peers who protested against the refusal of the Upper
House to commit the Minister upon the charge of
treason.^ The Catholics owed him no gratitude, for they
knew his dislike to their religion — and with the nation
generally, he had become unpopular for many reasons,
particularly for the part which he had taken in the
sale of Dunkirk. It is a little surprising, that Presby-
terians, who, perhaps, had more reason than any class to
complain of his administration, were not amongst his
inveterate adversaries. Colonel Birch, who belonged to
that religious denomination, was, indeed, one of the
Tellers on the side of impeachment ; but Baxter notices,
as a providence of God, in reference to Clarendon, that
the man who had dealt so cruelly with the Noncon-
formists was cast out by his own friends, " while those
that he had persecuted were the most moderate in his
cause, and many for him."^

In writing a letter to his daughter, the Duchess of
York, just after her conversion to Popery, the necessities
of Clarendon's argument forced him to adopt a position,
which, if he had sincerely taken it up at an earlier period,
must have diverted him from that persecuting course,
which is one of the greatest blots on his history. " The

^ Hallams Constit. Hist., ii. 69. Life of James II. edited by Clarke,

^ Baxter, iii. 26. Holies the Pres- vol. i. 431, it is stated that the

byterian protested against the ban- Presbyterian party made overtures

ishment of Clarendon — Hallam, ii. to Clarendon, to stand by him, if he

69. The fall of Clarendon comes would stand by himself, and join

but incidentally within the range of with the Duke in opposing his ene-

tliis history. For a legal and consti- mies; hoping thereby to separate

tutional view of his impeachment, the Duke from his brother, and to

I must refer the reader to Mr. Hal- "bring low the regal authority."

lam, and Lord Campbell. In the This is a very improbable story.


common argument," he remarks, " that there is no
salvation out of the Church, and that the Church of
Kome is that only Church, is both irrational and untrue."
"There are many Churches in which salvation maybe
attained, as well as in any one of them ; and were many
even in the apostolic time ; otherwise they would not
have directed their Epistles to so many several Churches,
in which there were different opinions received and very
different doctrines taught. There is, indeed, but one
faith in which we can be saved — the steadfast belief of
the birth, passion, and resurrection of our Saviour.
And every Church that receives and embraces that faith is
in a state of salvation."^

The whole history of the Chancellor must be con-
sidered, if we would form a just estimate of his character.
That he was a man of great ability; that he possessed
those talents and accomplishments which contribute to
form distinguished statesmen; that he performed services
valuable to the nation, at a very critical period of its
history; that he had a sense of religion, and was heartily
attached to the Episcopal Church, there can be no doubt.
Those who glory in the constitution of that Church as
established upon the Act of Uniformity will praise him
for his wisdom ; those who form a different opinion of
that Church, and of its legal basis, must withhold such
laudation. But, apart from all ecclesiastical questions,
and also putting aside the motives by which Clarendon
was influenced throughout his career, with all its lights
and shadows — there are two aspects of his conduct, at
least, upon which the historian must pronounce a severe
censure. To say nothing of his pride and avarice —

' Clarendons State Papers, iii. Siij}. xxxviii. Lister's Life of Clarendon,
ii. 483.

B B 2


there remain, first, his persecution of the Nonconformists ;
and next, the dissimulation which he practised, in con-
nection with measures professedly intended for their
relief. His persecution of the Nonconformists is a fact
which speaks for itself. Whatever notions he might
have of what the Church should be it was a gratuitous
course, and it betrayed revenge and injustice, to treat
Dissenters in the manner which he did : revenge, for he
crushed them as conquered foes ; injustice, for he dealt
with them all as disaffected subjects, whilst the loyalty of
the vast majority of them was above suspicion. If his
clever diplomacy did not sink into downright dissimula-
tion in the business of the Worcester House Declaration,
the circumstances of which have been so fully described
— if there was not also much deceptiveness in the
promises from Breda, and in the plan of the Savoy
Conference, both of which Clarendon, as Charles' Minister,
must have advised, it is hard to prove that such qualities
have ever belonged to any human being. Many a Jesuit
has been a martyr — and I give the Chancellor credit for
such an attachment to the Episcopal Church as would
have led him to suffer on its behalf, but no man could be
more Jesuitical than he was in the course of policy
which he adopted for its establishment. So dark a fate
as covered the last days of Strafford, Laud, and Charles I.,
did not attend the final destiny of the great Minister of
Charles II. ; still, calamities overtook him after the
sunshine of his prosperity — his sun set in a cloud ; and
thus, like his predecessors in the defence of the Church,
he has secured from posterity, through sympathy with
him in his misfortunes, gentler treatment than the defects
of his character would otherwise have received.^

1 Historical Inquiries respecting of Clarendon, by the Hon. George
the character of Edward Hyde, Earl Agar Ellis, has just come in my way.

Chap. XVIir.l CLARENDON. 373

By an obvious association we are led to compare the
political founder of the Church of England in the seven-
teenth century with his predecessor in the same capacity
a hundred years before. Both Cecil, Lord Burleigh, and
Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, had great difficulties in securing
the stability of the civil government — in dealing with
political discontent and disaffection, in defending the
Throne against perils, and in providing revenues for the
Crown. Both statesmen, in laying the corner stones of
their ecclesiastical polity, had to build in troublous times,
and each, "with one of his hands wrought in the work,
and with the other hand held a weapon." Both of them,
blind to the principle of religious liberty, employed
persecuting laws in the service of what they deemed the
best form of Christianity ; and both also, together with
other crooked means of ruling, employed spies, where-
with to see what was done at a distance, and agents
wherewith to put in action secret and remote machinery.
The contrast between the two, however, is more striking
than the resemblance. If difficulties encompassed the
navigation of the vessel, the helm of which rested in the
hand of Clarendon, far greater difficulties of the same
and other kinds — political and ecclesiastical, Popish and
Puritan, — surrounded the course of Burleigh. Clarendon
was not as cautious, not as timid, as Burleigh. Perhaps
neither of them exhibited a lofty order of genius ; but
Clarendon appears inferior in originality of plan, and in
consistency of method. Cecil struck out ideas in com-
merce too wise for the age in wliich he lived ; and as the
fruit of careful meditation in retirement, he laid down a
comprehensive scheme of government on the accession of

He paints the Chancellor in very popular historians. I cannot adopt
dark colours indeed: but adds nothing all Mr. Ellis' condemnatory conclu-
to the facts of his liistory as given by sions.


Elizabeth, from the fundamental principles of which he
did not deviate in his long administration ; but Hyde
never showed himself to be more than an experimen-
talist, adopting expedients as circumstances arose. Cecil
was more intolerant towards Papists than towards
Puritans. Hyde seemed more averse to Protestant
Nonconformists than to Popish recusants. Cecil had
broad Protestant sympathies, which led him, as far as
possible, to promote the cause of the Keformation abroad;
Hyde manifested no zeal for the welfare of the Eeformed
Churches on the Continent. Burleigh did not enrich him-
self with the spoils of office, — praise which cannot be given
to Clarendon. Yet justice demands the admission that
Clarendon did suffer for his principles^ at least the incon-
venience of exile, which is more than can be said of
Burleigh. Finally, success attendant upon the policy of
the former lasted long enough to demonstrate the
sagacity of the author ; but the policy of the latter
failed so early as to show, that he did not anticipate
what was sure almost immediately to arise — that he did
not thoroughly understand the character of his fellow-

The illustration of this latter point is required by the
conditions of our Histor3^

The Chancellor's object had been not merely to esta-

' One great blot on Cecil's cliarac- stantial motives of conscience, liow

ter was the perjmy involved in his erroneous soever, but consist of many

signing the Device of Edward VI. glutinous materials, of will, and

To say he signed as a witness is a humoiu', and foUy, and knavery, and

subterfuge. ambition, and malice, which make

The following passage on Noncon- men inseparably cling together, till

formity fi-om Clarendon's pen is theyhave satisfaction in all their pre-

equally deficient in charity and wis- tences,or tiU thfy are absolutely broken

dom: — "Their faction is their re- and subdued, which may ahvays be

ligion: nor are those combinations more easily done than the other." —

ever entered into upon real and sub- Life of Clarendon by Lister, ii. 121.


blish the Episcopal Church, but to crush every form of
Dissent. Indeed, his notion of an estabhshment was
that it should have an exclusive existence in the country —
that Nonconformity should have no place vi^hatever under
its shadow. Yet, at the time of his fall, only five years
after the Act of Uniformity was passed, and within two years
of the passing of the Five Mile Act — not only did Popery
continue to lurk within these dominions, not only did it
make its way amongst the upper classes, but Presby-
terianism recovered itself from the blows which it had
received, and Independents, Baptists, and Quakers, secretly
or openly, promoted the spread of their opinions. Of this
fact, passages from contemporaries afford striking proofs.

On the 4th of August, 1666, a correspondent at
Chester, stated that the City swarmed with " cardinal
Nonconformists," and that they were so linked into the
Magistracy, by alliance, that it was very difficult to bring
them to punishment ; — only a few of them attended
Divine service, and even they were absent during the
prayers. Experience proved that these great pretenders
to piety and religion, who would not conform to the
Prince's ecclesiastical power, only submitted to the civil
until they could get power to refuse it.

On the 31st of August, 1667, ^'^^ ^^J ^^^^^ Clarendon
resigned the Great Seal, a letter reached Sir Joseph
Williamson complaining of "crowds of fanatics," about
Bath and Frome. The gentry, as well as the ignorant
and ill-affected classes, helped to beget a jealousy of
Popery, and were apparently fallen back to the spirit of
1642. Even some who looked big in Court, and in
Parliament, had sheltered the unlawful vessels of the
malcontented and the furious within their allotments,
and in their own families, more especially, since the late
exigencies had arisen.


On the loth of September the same year, another person
at Bath declared that the Nonconformists grew in numbers
and insolence, saying they should have liberty of con-
science, and that the Government, which could not stand
much longer, could do no otherwise than allow them their
freedom. They had reached such a degree of insolence
as to break open church doors, and to get into the
buildings to vent their sedition and rebellion. The
minister at Marshfield often returned from church for
want of a congregation, even of two or three, whereas,
at the same time, 500 met in a barn within the town.
They transformed such buildings into the likeness of
churches, with seats for the convenience of speaking and
hearing. The writer, who was a clergyman, declared
that he had taken all ways imaginable to keep his people
within the bounds of sobriety and obedience, and had
preached constantly twice a day to suit their humour in
all things lawful, descending to the plainest and most
practical speaking, and had never used a note, or so
much as wrote a word. Moreover, he had treated the
party with all civility and kindness, and been very

Online LibraryJohn StoughtonEcclesiastical history of England : from the opening of the long parliament to the death of Oliver Cromwell (Volume 3) → online text (page 29 of 41)