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The letters of Peter Lombard (Canon Benham) online

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religyon," and left England to practise physic on the


Continent. His jollity and buffoonery are said to
have got him the original name, which has ever since
become a synonym for such characters, of " Merry
Andrew." There seems reason to believe that his
jocosity, in and out of season, led outsiders to
generalise upon it, and to suppose that all Carthusians
were given to larking and mischievous jokes. He
attained some eminence as a doctor and settled at
Winchester, but late in life got into trouble for loose
living, and died soon after.

When the wicked king at length dissolved the
religious houses, the last prior was John Haughton,
a learned and good man, who had been a Carthusian
for twenty years before the troubles began. He is
described as " in manner most modest, in eloquence
most sweet, in chastity without stain " (Froude ii.,
239). But he and his brethren took Queen Katherine's
side on the divorce question, and in 1534 the storm
fell. An act of Parliament was passed cutting off
the Princess Mary from the succession, and requiring
of all subjects of the realm an oath of allegiance to
the Princess Elizabeth. Sir Thomas More and
Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, refused it, and were
sent to the Tower ; the Carthusians also refused
and four of them were at once executed for high


treason ; one after another refusing to submit, as they
saw their brethren mangled to death. Froude offers
what justification he can, pleads that the times were
critical and large numbers ready to rise in rebellion.
A dozen more subsequently perished, some on the
scaffold, some of gaol-fever ; the rest escaped abroad.
So fell the monks of the London Charterhouse.
When More saw Haughton and his companions set
off from the Tower to their death, he said to his
daughter, Margaret Roper, " Lo ! dost thou not see,
Meg, that these blessed fathers be now as cheerfully
going to their death as bridegrooms to their marriage ?
Wherefore thou mayest see, thereby, my good
daughter, what a great difference there is between
such as have in effect spent all their days in a straight,
hard, penitential, and painful life, religiously, and
such as have, like thy poor father, consumed all their
time in pleasure and ease." The King at first used
the despoiled monastery as a storehouse, then gave it
to Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor, who sold it
to Sir Thomas North. It passed through several
hands before it was bought by Thomas Sutton,
May 9, i6n,for ^"13,000. It is a curious fact that
two men who were successively possessed of it during
the interval perished for high treason, the Duke of
Northumberland under Queen Mary, and the Duke



of Norfolk under Elizabeth. The latter Queen took
up her residence here for five days on her accession
to the throne.

Sutton's purchase marks a new departure. He
was bent on undoing, as far as possible, the profana-
tion of Henry VIII. He was a very rich man, both
a brave soldier and a merchant. His natural
benevolence found a spur in the counsel of his friend,
Joseph Hall, afterwards Bishop of Norwich. Here is
an extract from a letter which he wrote to Sutton,
urging him on : —

The Christian, who must imitate the high pattern
of his Creator, knows his best riches to be bounty.
God, who hath all, gives all reserves nothing ; and
for himself he well considers that God hath not made
him an owner, but a servant ; and a servant of
servants, not of his goods but of the giver ; not a
treasurer, but a steward, whose praise is more to have
laid out well than to have received much. . . .
Blessed be God Who hath given you a heart to fore-
think this, and in this dry and dead age, a will to
honour Him with His own. ... I neither distrust
nor persuade you, whose resolutions are happily fixed
on purposes of good ; only give me leave to hasten
your pace a little, and to excite your Christian
forwardness to begin speedily what you have long
and constantly vowed. You would not but do good,
why not now ? I speak boldly. The more speed the


more comfort; neither are the times in our disposal
nor ourselves.

The exhortation was so successful that on the 22nd
of June following Sutton signed the endowment
calling it "the Hospital of King James," and providing
" a hospital, a chapel, and a schoolhouse," for which he
left £200,000. But in the following December he died,
therefore he never saw his work completed. He had
intended to become the first master of his new
foundation. He lies buried in the chapel under a
sumptuous monument. The will was disputed by his
son, but ten judges against one decided in its favour,
June, 161 3. In Bacon's collected works there is a
treatise on the subject. Bacon does not much like it,
and foretells abuses which are likely to spring from it.
As a matter of fact so they did, but they have of late
years been greatly remedied. He advised the King
to direct the executors of the will to make suitable
provision for young Sutton, which was done

The " hospital " thus founded was, and is, only a
hospital in the sense of providing a home for a number
of poor old men, " not rogues or common beggars, but
persons of good behaviour and sound religion — soldiers,
merchants, men fallen into decay through shipwreck,
casualty of fire, or the like." They are to be fifty

Q 2


years of age or upwards at their admission, unless they
have been maimed in the wars, in which case they
shall be admissible at forty. The " Poor Brethren,"
as they are called, are not to exceed eighty in number.
The arrangement remains unimpaired, though the
number is reduced, and a very liberal provision is made
for their comfort. They attend chapel daily in black
livery gown, and dine together in the great hall. I
have seen men who have deserved well for their literary
and other labours among the " poor brethren," one of
them, a great favourite with the late Master, died not
long ago, the author of the famous " Box and Cox."
One of the early brethren was Elkanah Settle,
Dryden's rival, and, therefore, object of his fierce hate.
Macbean, Johnson's assistant with his Dictionary.
Yeowell, the last of the Nonjurors, Timbs, author of
many laborious and readable volumes, are all good
names. And shall we exclude fiction ? What nobler
name in any of our books than that of Colonel
Newcome !

The school was originally for the maintenance and
education of forty boys not above fourteen nor under
ten. The master was also allowed to take sixty more
who paid fees. Since then the numberof foundation boys
has been increased to sixty, and there is provision for


three hundred others. In 1872 the school was
removed to the fine new building near Godalming,
and the site of the old school is now occupied by the
Merchant Taylors. Of the boys of this school a
goodly list lies before me. Crashaw, the author of
Steps to the Temple ; Isaac Barrow, prince among
English preachers (he is said to have been a tremendous
fighter as a boy) ; Blackstone, Addison, Steele, John
Wesley, Unwin (friend of Cowper) ; the first Lord
Ellenborough, who, at his own request, was buried
in the chapel because of his love to the place ; Day,
the author of Sandford and Merton, Archbishop
Manners Sutton, Archdeacon Hare, Bishop Monk of
Gloucester, and Thirwall of St. David's, Lord
Liverpool (Prime Minister), Baron Alderson, Sir C.
Eastlake, Thackeray, Leech, Sir H. Havelock,
George Grote. I trust it is not out of order to name
two living men whom I saw at Elwyn's funeral to-day,
the present Attorney General and Professor Jebb,
both pupils of the late Master, and both men of
whom England is proud, as they both are of their
Master. I have ventured to write this much, in order
to lay this humble wreath of love and respect on
Richard Elwyn's grave.


October 22nd.

I went down last week into Hertfordshire to a
Harvest Festival at the village of Flamstead, a place
well known, and very dear to me forty years ago, but
of which I have seen but little since. It is a place
well worth description. The Great North Road
(part of the Roman Watling Street from London to
York and Edinburgh — what stories it could tell if it
could speak, of royal progresses, of advancing armies,
of highwaymen, of the romances of the carrier's
wagons !) — passes from St. Albans through Markgate
Street to Dunstable. - Here let me pause to
explain Markgate Street is a long straggling hamlet
of which the name signifies that it is the " street " of
the " gate " or passage of the " mark " between the
two counties of Bedford and Herts. As a matter of
fact, the boundary between the two counties runs
down the street. But to return. Just before reach-
ing Markgate Street from St. Albans there is a
steep rising ground, at the foot of which a little
stream trickles along, the Ver. It goes away to the
town which in old times we called in consequence
Verulam, but took its present name from the British
proto-martyr, St. Alban, whose shrine is there. The
little river rises in the parish of which I am writing,


which was called in consequence, Verulamstede, ue. t
the Staithe or " bank " of the Verulam river. And
this has in the course of years been knocked into

It formerly belonged to St. Alban's Abbey, but
one of the Abbots in the days of Edward the
Confessor gave the Manor to three knights, on
condition of their protecting Watling Street from
robbers. William the Conqueror gave it to Roger de
Toni, who had been his standard-bearer at the battle
of Hastings. His great grandson, also named
Roger, founded a nunnery in the parish, which he
dedicated to St. Giles. It was in the midst of a
splendid wood of beeches, as the site is unto this day,
and was known as St. Giles-in-the-Wood. More about
it presently. His descendant in the 13th century,
Robert de Tony, died childless in 1297, and the
manor went to his sister, who married Guy de
Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and in the Warwick
family it remained, until after the death of the famous
Earl, " the King-maker," at the battle of Barnet. It
was restored to his daughters, for he had no sons.
Of these daughters, one married the Duke of Clarence
the other Richard III.


As they had no children it was given back to
Warwick's widow, and she left it to Henry VII.
Edward VI. gave it to George Ferrers, a writer of
some eminence in his day. He was the author
of some of the best pieces in the " Mirrour for
Magistrates." He died in 1578, and was buried in
Flamstead church, as the parish register testifies. Of
the subsequent history we need not trouble ourselves,
but let us turn to the church.

This church is well worth a visit ; but as it lies off
the high road, it is not easily accessible. It is de-
dicated to St. Leonard, has a nave, aisles, and chancel,
a square tower with a light lead-covered spire. The
nave has seven bays, the octagonal pillars of which
have very richly carved capitals of the age of
Edward I. It is in rather bad order. The tower has got
shaky, the squire of the parish was long non-resident,
the farmers were poor, and the result has been that
they have built up a couple of ugly brick buttresses,
one inside and one out, to keep all safe. But the
south aisle is very shaky, and needs that the rain shall
be tiled out, and the porch again be made practicable.
I have hope which I shall presently express.

The monuments are interesting. First there is an


altar tomb on which lie the figures of a man and his
wife. There are no names, but the costume shows
them to be of the date of Richard II. I assume that
it is some member of the Warwick family ; probably
a closer investigation than I have had the opportunity
of making would identify more exactly. There is a
beautiful brass on the chancel floor of a priest richly
habited (John Oudeby). He was rector of this parish,
a canon of the collegiate church of St. Mary,
Warwick, and chaplain to the Earl of Warwick, and
died in 1414. There are three shields. (1) A fess
between six cross crosslets. (2) Cheeky, a chevron.
(3) A chevron between three lapwings. On the
easternmost of the nave pillars is incised the
following : —

In the middle space at this seat's end
There lieth buried our neighbour friend
Old John Grigg of Cheverell's End. 1598.

CheverelFs End still exists. " End " is a favourite
name for localities in Hertfordshire. I want to say
more about the word in some future paper. On a
pillar opposite is another : —

Within this isle where bricks are laide,
There lieth buried a virgin mayde ;
Francys Cordell was her name,
She lived and died in godly fame. 1597-


And on another pillar : —

Of this seat's end in the middle allay

There lieth buried John Pace of this valley. 1590.

It is quite evident that Flamstead must have rejoiced
in a poet, native or imported, in the last decade of the
sixteenth century. In the chancel is the kneeling
figure of " Sir Bartholomew Fouke, Knt., who served
Kinge Edward, Queene Marye, and was Master of ye
Household to Queene Elizabeth for many yeares, and
to Kinge James that now is." He died, as the
epitaph goes on to say at some length, in 1604 at the
age of 69.


January 28.

With the Bishop of London as chairman, Sir Walter
Besant gave a very interesting lecture the other day
at the College of Preceptors on " the educational
aspect of the History of London," from the newspaper
report of which I shall quote a few sentences, as they
are suggestive of a good deal of thought : —

In exchange for its recognition of William the
Conqueror as king of England, the city obtained from
him its first charter, which was merely a confirmation
of all its former rights, and which contained simply
three points. First, that every man was to have the
rights of a freeman ; second, that every man should
inherit his father's estate ; and third, that the king
should suffer no man to do the citizens wrong. These
three simple demands were admirably suited to
become the foundation of the institutions of a free
country. From the first was derived the right of
trial by jury ; by the second the spirit of enterprise



and adventure which had made the nation great was
rendered possible ; and from the third proceeded the
right, ever since enjoyed by the citizens of London,
of direct audience with the sovereign.

The lecturer went on to say that the Londoners
made it part of their very religion, so to speak, to
hold to these liberties, and their resistance went even
to the overthrow of the throne.

But, provided that they were protected in their
rights, the citizens of London had always been most
loyal and obedient ; and the wisest kings recognised
that the prosperity of the city meant the prosperity
of the State.

He might have illustrated this (perhaps he did, for
the report is evidently much curtailed) by the fact
that, though in the unhappy struggle of Charles I.
with his Parliament, the citizens of London resisted
the King, and protected " the five members " from
being arrested by him, they were by no means
disposed to acquiesce in the Parliamentary tyranny,
which was harder than the King's, and during the
latter part of the great struggle, their sympathies
were with him rather than with Cromwell, and as
Mr. Gardiner has shown, they were anxious to restore


him ; Cromwell's iron hand had become too strong
because of their short-sightedness.

It had been said that the struggles of the city
represented one long fight for the money-bags. This
was by no means true, though the mere pursuit of
wealth would call forth enterprise and courage, and
result in increasing the importance and extent of the
country ; so that it need not be incompatible with
the purest patriotism. But trade could not be carried
on except by free men ; and this principle the citizens
of London fought for until they secured it, not only
for themselves, but for the whole country. The city
had taken a great part in the political history of the
country. To this there were many contributory
causes besides the wealth and population of the city.
The fact that the palace and the Houses of Parlia-
ment were both outside the city limits removed it
from Court influence and pressure. It was always in
touch with the rest of the country, and this fact
preserved it from becoming, like another Venice,
separate and selfish. The city was bound to every
town and village by innumerable bonds of kinship
and memory. In the making and unmaking of kings
London acted practically as one man, and conse-
quently the side which London espoused became the
winning side.

There is substantial truth in all this. The late
J. R. Green, some years before he published his


History, wrote an essay in which he pointed out how
the importance of London was unmistakably shewn
in the election of Stephen as king. It was the act
of the citizens of London, and they were discerning
here with remarkable instinct what were the needs
and what was the will of the English nation. This
point was further emphasised by the Bishop in
summing up. Paris, he said, had been the home
of the ideas that has regulated France, and in that
respect was the opposite of London. I think it is in
one of Sir James Stephens's essays that this aspect
of history is forcibly dwelt on. Nearly all the
burning events in French history have their scene in
Paris, comparatively few of the English are in London.
The Londoners were the exponents and agents of the
national will, not the dictators of it. It is hardly too
much to say that there is hardly a city in England
(to say nothing of Runnymede) which has not some
memorial of great events in our national history.
But it is hardly so in France. The imagination at
once flies to Paris.

But let us hear Sir Walter Bcsant once more: —

It was common to regard London as a mere trading
city. On the contrary, London had always been a
fighting city. The trade of London did not destroy


her fighting powers ; and the admiration of the
people was not bestowed on the rich and successful
merchants, but on the fighting men. The hero of the
London apprentice was the youth "who went forth
to fight and came home a knight," though history
related no particular instance of that ideal being
realised. It was characteristic of such a restless race
as ours to live in the present. But where did the
thirst for new markets arise ? In London. The
splendid courage of the Elizabethan freebooters
represented but a small part of the magnificent burst
of enterprise which seized our people in the sixteenth

While Drake was fighting and plundering the
Spaniard, London merchants were sending the ships
and cargoes in all directions. It was to London that
we owed our colonies, our foreign trade and our
Indian Empire, which would never have existed if
London merchants had been as lethargic as those of
Havre and Cadiz. All the so-called gifts of fortune
were taken, not given. They waited for the eye that
could realise them and the hand that could grasp
them ; and such an eye and hand were the source of
the real greatness of London. The close and constant
connexion of the city with the rest of the country was
shown by the history of its Lord Mayors, and of those
only forty-one were born in London.


The chairman's comments were such as might be
looked for from so thorough a master of historical
science. He quoted the dictum of his old teacher,
the Bishop of Oxford, that London had " always been
the purse, seldom the head, and never the heart of
England," and interpreted the third point as mean-
ing that London had "always been the seat of
English industry, but had not produced a large
number of persons intellectually distinguished.
Evidently the report is much curtailed, but as it lies
before me it certainly is not fair to London. The
Bishop seems to say in it that Milton is the sole
exception to the doctrine laid down. But only to
mention Chaucer, Spenser, Ben Jonson, Pope, Keats,
Byron is to claim for London a goodly contingent of
our greatest poets. I name these offhand, but could
find more if I searched the Biographical Dictionary.
I cannot remember the painters so well, but at any
rate Turner was born in the neighbourhood of
Covent Garden. The Bishop's comparison of Rome,
London, and Paris, was very acute and brilliant.

Sir Walter (he said) has pointed out how few of
those who ruled London were really Londoners. In
that way, as a capital, London can be compared to
only one other capital, Rome, for during the


Renaissance it was not Romans, but persons coming
from the rest of Italy who made Rome. There was
a sort of sterility attaching to capitals ; they had to
sacrifice themselves for the good of the whole
commonwealth. It was the unfortunate position of a
great man with so much to do that he could not be
himself, but must be the sort of thing that was
expected of him. He would suggest as a subject of
study the comparison of European capitals, not in
position and size, but in relation to their natural
history. It was interesting to consider how the
different capitals came into existence, and what
influence they had had on the destinies of their
countries. It was an insufferable burden to Italy to
have a capital like Rome. The city was not a
suitable capital for modern Italy, but it had, through
its history, a hold on the mind which it was im-
possible for the country ever to get rid of. Italy was
saddled with a sort of Old Man of the Sea. England,
on the other hand, had been remarkably fortunate in
her capital, the position of which marked her out
to be a great colonising and Imperial country.
Between these two extremes, Italy cursed with Rome,
and England blessed with London, there lay a great
many other contrasts. Paris suggested itself at once.
It came into existence owing to the fact that it was



situated just at a sufficient distance up the river to
make it a bulwark of resistance against the Normans ;
it then gradually became a real power, and extended
that power over the rest of France. During the
whole of its existence Paris had been the home of
the ideas which had regulated France, being in that
respect the antipodes of London. The strong point
of England had been that the popular character had
remained so exactly the same.

April \st.
" There was never such a place in the world as
London for coincidences," said the enthusiastic Mr.
Timothy Linkinwater. " I don't know about that,"
said the person addressed. Perhaps the same remark
will be addressed to me when I vary Mr. Linkinwater's
dictum and say, " There never was such a place as
London for the study of history." I have just read
Mr. Atkinson's recently published history of Aldgate
and find it quite fascinating. He tells how far back,
near upon a thousand years ago, thirteen Cnichten
(how badly our ancestors spelt, these thirteen men
were knights, i.e., servants of the king), seeing the
land east of London lying barren and unpeopled
besought it of the king with the liberty of a guild
and obtained it. And so they formed a " Cnichten


gild," and their boundary was from Aldgate to
Whitechapel. Mr. Loftie thinks that this was the
original governing body of London.

Matilda, wife of Henry I., who possessed a " soke "
(tract of freehold land) in this district, founded here
a religious house for canons regular of the order of
St. Augustine, and made her confessor, Norman, its
first head. It was named the Priory of Holy Trinity,
and is said to have been at one time the richest
conventual house in England. A small arch at the
back of a shop in Leadenhall-street is the only relic
of it at present known to exist. A part of the old
gateway was pulled down as late as 1816. It lay in
the parish of St. Catherine Cree, and had a frontage
300 feet long, and became so important that it was
made the parish church. The parishioners at St.
Catherine's resented this, and there were disputes.
But they were smoothed over. Then came a strange
step. The Union Guild made over their soke to that
which Queen Maud had given to Norman, on
condition of being admitted to the brotherhood.
They swore allegiance on the Holy Gospels, Prince
Norman administering the oath. And the amalgamated
society became the soke of the Port and is known
to this day as the Ward of Portsoken. And of this

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Online LibraryWilliam BenhamThe letters of Peter Lombard (Canon Benham) → online text (page 14 of 16)