Illustrated edition of the select works of John Bunyan : with an original sketch of the author's life and times ; (Volume 2) online

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this place, if what has been stated were all that could be told. But when
it is added that this same Lilly was reputed by his predictions, to have kept
up the spirits of the parliament in their contest with the king's troops,
and that in the subsequent reign he was examined before a committee of
the house of commons, to tell what he knew on the subject of the fire of


London, which was supposed to have been indicated or predicted in one
of his hieroglyphics, and thus allowed to explain his types and signs ; and
that he was the friend of the learned Elias Ashmole, by whom he was
eventually buried in 1681 ; it will be seen that such a professor of such a
science, deserved to be noted among the features of that age in which
Bunyan's lot was cast.

From Lilly's own statement, it appears that he and his art were laughed
at by some of the bystanders at the abbey ; but it is also clear that the
Bishop of Lincoln and other persons in authority, did not consider his
pretensions ridiculous ; and one, at least, of the most eminent poets and
satirists of that age, John Dryden, had faith in astrology. While common
sense was thus affronted, the church party and the court pursued, in other
respects, a line of conduct most offensive to the Puritans — conduct, as the
latter beheved, most sinful in the eyes of the Almighty. For the Sabbath-
day the grandest pageants and the most mirthful entertainments were
reserved. The mask, the pastoral and the play were the delight of the
court ; and, among the lower ordei's, various pastimes were encouraged, and
especially for "the celebration of those numerous church or parochial
holidays, whose traces still linger among our northern counties ; and were
then held to commemorate the dedication of churches to their patron
saint, or to consecrate the memory of some munificent founder." These,
the Puritans now wished to abolish as profanations of the Sabbath.
Mr. Disraeli, in his Commentaries of the Life and Reign of Charles the
First, which we have just quoted, continues. — " From time immemorial
our rude and religious ancestors had preserved their country wakes —
festivals held through the night, and which, in fact, as theii- title
imports, were the ancient vigils. To strew rushes on the floors, and to
hang fresh garlands in the churches were offices pleasing to the maidens ;
the swains encountered each other in their athletic recreations of wresthng,
cudgelling and leaping, or melted the hearts of their mistresses by their
morris dances and May-games ; above all they feasted liberally, the rich
spared not their hospitality ; all doors were opened, all comers welcomed ;
all looked forward to their wake-days, and old friendships were renewed
and little enmities were reconciled at a joyous wake. Some of these
festivals were called church-ales. The people, after divine service oa
Sundays, resorted to the churchyard, and after partaking in the same
common enjoyments and copious potations of a subscription ale, brewed by


all the strength and care of the district, they left some token of their
honest piety for the service of their parish church, to cast a bell or to re-
pair a tower, and dropped their mite into the alms-box. There were clerk-
ales, where the parishioners sent in their provisions to the clerk's house,
and came to feast with him. The clerk was the vendor of his own
brewings, his profit and his reputation was at stake, and by the zealous
libations of his friends, a half-starved clerk eked out his lean quarter-
age by these merry perquisites. There was also a bid-ale, a feast of
charity, where a man decayed in his fortunes gathered the generous boun-
ties of his neighbours at this Sunday holiday. All these holy festivals
and public spectacles, well provided with good fare and balmy ale, con-
cluded with rural games in May, and a yule-block at Christmas. These
wakes and ales were long a singular mixture of piety, benevolence and

To serious Cliristians these reunions were extremely objectionable,
having probably degenerated, in many cases, into a riotous dissipation.
The Puritans protested against them ; and, at the request of certain magis-
trates, Lord Chief Justice Richardson issued an order for their total sup-
pression. Laud complained of his conduct as interfering with the juris-
diction of the church. The judge was summoned before the council board,
reprimanded by the prelate, and commanded to revoke the order at the
next assizes, in the same public way in which it had been given. " On
leaving the council board, the indignant judge, as much in rage as in
dejection, shed tears ; and when asked by Lord Dorset how he did ?
replied, ' Very ill, my lord, for I have been almost choked by a pair of
lawn sleeves.' "

Laud seems to have been as jealous as a Becket or a Wolsey could have
been, of any usurpation of the power which he held to be vested in the
church ; and was prepared to condemn every act, whether it was good or
bad, that tended to lower the importance of a bishop : and the influence
he had with the king assured him, that all who contravened his authority
would experience miserable defeat. Such was the case for a time. When
chief justice Richardson, in obedience to the command he had received,
revoked what he called "the good orders" he had formerly issued, the
magistrates in the country who belonged to the Puritans, prepared a peti-
tion on the subject ; but Laud contrived to meet it by a revival of The
Book of Sports, which had been sanctioned by his father. King James —


a revival which greatlj^ offended and distressed the sincere Puritans. It
gave rise to many angry debates ; and some of them withdrew to America,
moved thereto, in a great measure, by the prospect of finding, in the new
world, a resting-place, where their religious exercises w^ould not be inter-
fered with by the hand of power.

Tedious contests ensued, not only as to the manner in which the Sabbath
should be observed, but as to the day which was to be recognised as the
day of the Lord. The court, partly in justification of their Sunday revelry,
declared the Saviour had virtually put an end to the ceremonial observance
of the seventh day. It was remarked that he had justified his disciples
against the charges of the Pharisees, when they had plucked corn on the
Sabbath. He had declared himself to be the " Lord of the Sabbath," and
described it " to be made for man, not man for the Sabbath ;" and when he
himself was assailed for profaning it, by healing the sick, his answer was,
" My Father worketh hitherto, and I also work." Luther had declared
that on that day, it was fitting to seek instruction, that done, it was
lawful to indulge in any blameless pastime ; and Calvin, when visited
by Knox, is said to have been found enjoying a game at bowls on the
sacred day. In the time of Elizabeth, abstaining from labour on the Sun-
day, in reference to the solemn character of the day, had been characterised
as superstitious. If the church party treated it too lightly ; many readers
will incline to the belief that the Puritans, in some cases, were carried to
the opposite extreme, when we find in their code of laws, under severe
penalties, such injunctions as these : — " No one shall run on the Sabbath-
day, or walk in liis garden, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut
hair, or shave. No woman shall kiss her child." The common people
murmured at this, which at a later period, 1647, caused an ordinance to be
issued, concerning days of recreation allowed to scholars, apprentices, and
others, by which the second Tuesday in every month was set apart for their
refreshment, and " all windows of shops and warehouses" were ordered to
be kept shut on the said day of recreation.^

The memorable proceedings in the case of ship-money now occurred ;
but these, important as they were, are here passed over, as they less imme-
diately affect the religious history of the times than other matters which
demand attention. In the same year the public mind was fixed on the
trial of John Lilburn and John Wharton, for printing and publishing sedi-
8 Disraeli's Coramontaries.


tious books. Lilburn was young, about twenty years of age ; Wharton
was a very old man. Both stoutly refused to take the oath tendered to
them in the Star-chamber, which bound them to give true answers to all
questions which might be asked them. They objected to it, that it was
contrary to the law of God and the law of the land. They were, however,
willing to answer all questions touching the matter laid to their charge ;
and, than answer more, Wharton said he had rather be taken in a cart to
Tyburn, and hanged. Unable to subdue their resolution, the court pro-
ceeded to pass a sentence on them — a fine of £500 each. Wharton, in
consideration of his being eighty-five years old, was excused corporal pun-
ishment ; but Lilburn was ordered to be whipped from the prison to the
pillory, which was set up in Palace-yard, between the Star-chamber and
Whitehall-gate, which then stood at the end of King-street. The whipping
he underwent on the 18th of April, 1638; and when he was taken from
the cart where his surgeon and friends attended him, the tipstaff of the
chamber came to him, and inquired if he would confess his fault. His
answer was, that had he been content to do that, he needed not to have
come there. He added, he was not conscious of anything that deserved a
submission, but yet he willingly submitted to their lordships' pleasure.
He was told that confessing his fault might have saved him from the pil-
lory. Lilburn refused to give way, and to the pillory he was carried.
There, as he had done while under the whip, he proclaimed the hardship
of his case, and the tyranny of the bishops, who had instigated these pro-
ceedings. He was to stand in the pillory two hours ; and, suffering as he
was, he addressed the crowd in Palace-yard at great length, on the subject
of the bondage in which the people of England were held by the prelates.
His discourse was seasoned with many passages of Scripture, and his lan-
guage was very forcible. In one part of his harangue he said, " My
brethren, we are all at this present, in a very dangerous and fearful condition,
under the idolatrous and spiritual bondage of the prelates, in regard we
have turned traitors to our God, in seeing his almighty great name and
his heavenly truth ti'odden under foot, and so highly dishonoured by them j
and yet we not only let them alone, in holding our peace, but we most
slavishly and wickedly subject ourselves unto them, fearing the face of a
piece of dirt more than the Almighty great God of heaven and earth, who
is able to cast both body and soul into everlasting damnation. Oh, repent,
I beseech you ! Therefore, repent for that great dishonour you have


suffered to be done unto God by your Tearfulness and worldliness." He
called upon his auditory to gird on their spiritual armour ; and, speaking
of himself as a soldier' fighting under the Lord Jesus Christ, and looking
for a crown of immortaHty, he dared not hold his peace when, as he after-
wards wrote, " a fat lawyer came to him, and commanded him to hold his
peace ;" Lilburn replied, he would " speak his mind, though he should be
hanged at Tyburn for his pains." The fat lawyer withdrew, but presently
he returned, and caused the sufferer to be gagged. Thus he remained an
hour and a half, when he was taken back to prison ; but, as he reported,
" full of comfort and courage, not showing one sad countenance or discon-
tented heart."

Such were the scenes which preceded and prepared the way for those
mighty convulsions, which were soon to render the nation again familiar
with all the horrors of a civil war ; a contest which all parties in turn had
abundant reason to deplore. In the words of Clement Walker, " a
contest between the king's prerogative and the people's law and Hberties
begat a war. The divines on both sides out of their pulpits, sounding
alarum thereto ; and not only sermons, but declarations of pai'liament and
national covenant, holding forth to the people the defence of religion,
laws, liberties and properties, inflamed the people to the rage of battle, as
the elephant is enraged at the sight of red. This war occasioned extraor-
dinary taxes or levies of money, such as were never heard of by our
ancestors, and were, irritamenta malorum, the nurse of our corruptions."

The Scotch malcontents have been mentioned as disposed to act in
concert with the EngHsh Puritans. Their covenant consisted, "first of a
renunciation of popery, formerly signed by King James in his youth, and
composed of many invectives fitted to inflame the minds of men against
their fellow-creatures ; then followed a bond of union, by which the sub-
scribers bound themselves to resist religious innovations, and to defend
each other against all opposition, for the greater glory of God and the
greater honour and advantage of their king and country."'' All Scotland
was stirred up, and impatient to be included in this covenant. Gentle-
men, clergy, citizens, labourers^ women, children, all assembled in crowds
in the churches and in the streets, to swear fealty to this covenant.
Even the highlanders, seized with the national impulse, forgot for a
moment their passionate loyalty and fierce animosity, to join the low-
'' Hume.


landers and the insurgents. In less than six weeks from the time of its
being first promulgated, all Scotland was confederated " under the law of
the Covenant.'"

Noting this, King Charles caused a sort of counter-covenant to be
prepared. It embodied the, same violent renunciation of Popery, which,
though not approved by the king, he thought it politic to press into his
service on this occasion ; to remove the suspicion which had been ex-
cited about him as one disposed to favour the church of Rome. As the
Covenanters, in their bond of mutual defence against all opposition, had
been careful not to except the king, the royal bond annexed to this
renunciation a clause, which exprossod the duty and loyalty of the sub-
scribers to his majesty. The original Covenanters were at no loss to
discover the object with which this had been drawn up. They saw that
it was only intended to weaken and divide them, and treated it with the
utmost scorn. The result was an insurrectionary movement — which
Charles held to be of so much importance, that he determined to lead an
army against the malcontents in person. On the 29th of April, 1639, he
left York and arrived the same night at Raby Castle, in the county of
Durham, the seat of Sir Henr}' Vane, the treasurer of his majesty's house-
hold. Thence he went to Durham, where Bishop Morton entertained his
majesty. Charles remained at Durham while the horse and foot intended
to be levied there were raised, and began their march. He arrived at
Newcastle early in May and remained there till the 22nd, and was there
magnificently feasted by the mayor and magistrates. All the populace
there seemed eager to meet the Scots' army of invasion. On the 28th,
the king drawing near to Berwick with his army, the lord-general caused
it to be drawn up, when his majesty took a view of it, placed himself at
the head of his soldiers and marched to the river Tweed. At a place
called the Birks, two miles west of Berwick, he pitched his tent within a
large pavilion, and encamped there. The nobility and the king's house-
hold servants established their tents near the pavilion. On the 30th, the
king inspected the state of the garrison at Berwick. Other demonstra-
tions were made, which perhaps had the effect of overawing the Scots for
the time ; as we find, on the 18th of the following month, no battle having
taken place, a pacification was concluded, and the king having remained
at Berwick till July, returned to Whitehall on the 1st of August.
' Guiz^t.




^§^ ;i3;:=.j^>M::>^kll^ v^"



Th^ peace thus hastily concluded was not of long duration. In the
following year the Covenanters were in motion again, and they actually
entered England. " Never," says a chronicler of this period, " on earth,
perhaps, did so religious an army take the field as that of the Scots' Cove-
nanters, who invaded England, under General David Lesley, this year.
At every captain's tent-door the colours were flying with the Scots' arms
upon them, and this motto, in golden letters, "For Christ's crown and
covenant." Dally sermons from their ministers, prayers morning and
evening, under the canopy of heaven, to which they were called by beat of
drum, besides reading the Scriptures, praying, and psalm-singing, were to
be heard in every tent. On the 20th, Lesley crossed the Tweed, and
marched without opposition to Newburn, a village about four miles above
Newcastle ; where Lord Conway, who commanded the Royal forces in the
absence of the Earls of Northumberland and Stratford, had taken up a
position, and thrown up entrenchments to defend the ford over the Tyne.
On the 27th, the Scots pitched their tents on Heddon Law, above New-
burn, from whence there was a continued descent to the river ; and, in the
night, made great fires in and round their camps, on an open moorish
ground. That night the King's army, consisting of 3,000 foot, and 1,500
horse, were drawn out on Stella-haugh, a plain meadow-ground, nearly a
mile in length, on the south side of the Tyne ; and their position was
strengthened by two breast- works, thrown up opposite the fordable places
of the river, and defended by cannon and musketry. On the 28th, the
Scots, who had the advantage of the rising ground, brought down some
pieces of cannon, and planted them in the church-steeples of Newburn, and
lined all the lanes and hedges about the village with their musketry. In
this posture both parties remained, observing each other all the forenoon,
without firing a shot, till an accidental circumstance occasioned the begin-
ning of the engagement. A Scots' officer, well mounted, having a black
feather in his hat, came out of one of the thatched houses of Newburn and
watered his horse in the Tyn» : an English soldier, perceiving that he fixed
his eye on the south side of the river, fired his piece, and brought the officer
from his horse ; upon which the Scots immediately fired a volley of mus-
ketry at the English, and soon after began to play with their ordnance upon
the sconces or breast-works, which the English returned by cannonading
the Scots posted in the church and village. The advantage of position, as
well as of numbers and discipline, was decidedly with the Scots ; and, by


the time that the ebb-tide had rendered the river fordable, their cannon
had driven the English from their main work, and Lesley, perceiving the
men running from their guns, ordered a forlorn hope of twenty-six
horse, under a Major Ballantyne, to pass the x'iver, with orders merely to
reconnoitre, lire their pieces, and retreat. The Scots continued, meanwhile,
a heavy cannonade on the higher sconces or breast-work i and the forlorn
hope, finding that deserted by the English, established themselves also on
the south bank. The college of justice troop — that is, the troop composed
of gentlemen connected with the law courts of Edinburgh — then went across
the river, under their commander. Sir Thomas Hope, and were immediately
followed by more horse and by two foot regiments, under the command of
the Earls of Crawford and Loudon, who waded, breast-deep, through the
river. The English horse, who were drawn up on the flat ground, near
the Tyne, stood for some time exposed to the fire of nine pieces of ordnance
with which Lesley covered the passage of his men, but were at last broken
and disordered ; and, as more Scots necessarily passed the river, the rout
became intolerable, and the main body of the infantry retreated in disorder
towards Newcastle, by Ryton and Stella-haugh ; whilst Sir John Digby,
Commissary Wilmot, and O'Neal, an Irish officer, who endeavoured to
cover the retreat with the horse, were surrounded and made prisoners by
Lesley, who treated them and the whole of the prisoners with the greatest
honour, and soon after permitted them to rejoin the King's forces. The
panic inspired by the victory of the Scots was excessive, and seems to have
infected the English commander as well as the soldiers. In a council of
war, held at Newcastle at twelve o'clock, the night after the defeat, it was
determined that the place was untenable, and, next morning. Lord Conway
marched to Durham, and thence to Northallerton, to join the main body
of the army, which was advancing, under Lord Strafford ; leaving New-
castle, and all the royal stores and magazines collected there, open to the





To inflict such a defeat, on the Enghsh was agreeable and highly flattering
to Scottish pride. They were not strangers to that weakness which makes
the accidents which often decide a battle a subject of national exultation ;
but their success was so extraordinary, that they were alarmed for the con-
sequences. Messages were sent to Charles to make known the grief they
felt for having on this occasion been plunged into hostilities ; their ex-
pressions of loyalty were all a monarch could desire to hear from attached
and faithful subjects. They professed the utmost readiness to submit
themselves to his pleasure, and expressed deep contrition for having em-
ployed their arms against his forces. They occupied Newcastle the day
after the battle, while the people were panic stricken in all the country
adjacent. No further opposition was offered to the Scots. The towns-
folk were content to make the best terms they could with them. " At this
time" wrote a local chronicler, quoted in Richardson's Table Book, " New-
castle and the coal mines, that had wont to employ ten thousand people
all the year long, some working under ground, some above, and others
upon the water in keels and lighters ; now not a man to be seen, not a coal
wrought, all absconding, being possessed of a fear that the Scots would
give no quarter. Four hundred ships, using to be there often at a time
in the river, not a ship durst come in ; one hundred and odd coming to
the mouth of the haven the day after the fight, and hearing the Scots had
possessed Newcastle, returned all empty, and tradesmen in the town for
some days kept their shops shut ; many families gone, leaving their goods
to the mercy of the Scots, who possessed themselves of such corn, cheese,
beer, &c., as they found, giving the owners thereof, or some in their stead,
some money in hand and security in writing for the rest, to be paid at
four or six months' end, in money or corn ; ' and if they refuse,' said the
Scots, ' such is the necessity of their army, that they must take it without
security i-ather than starve.' As for the city of Durham, it became a most
depopulated place ; not one shop for four days after the tight open ; not


one house in ten that had one man, woman, or child in it ; not one bit of
bread to be got for money, for the king's army had eat and drank all, in
their march into Yorkshire ; the country people durst not come to market
which made that city in a sad condition for want of food."

The success of the Covenanters over the king's troops was not dis-
agreeable to some who had been in the habit of proclaiming themselves
his majesty's loyal subjects ; and many were disposed to look on the
reverse which he had to deplore as a judgment on him, for the encourage-
ment which he and the queen were believed to have given to the Roman
catholic religion, and those idolatrous usages which the Puritans held in
sincere abhorrence.

The enemies of episcopal tyranny gained strength. A new parliament
had been called ; and petitions presented to it in favour of Prynn and his
companions in suffering were favourably received, and resolutions passed
declaring the sentences passed on them in the Star-chamber, 1637,
"illegal, given without just cause, and to be reversed." It was further
declared, that when reversed, reparation ought to be made to the suf-

Online LibraryUnknownIllustrated edition of the select works of John Bunyan : with an original sketch of the author's life and times ; (Volume 2) → online text (page 68 of 78)