Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hacket's Life of Archbishop Williams

Review of:
“Scrinia Reserata” (by John Hacket, 1693)

Of the books from which we derive our knowledge of the early part of the seventeenth century, perhaps hardly any is so characteristic as Hacket's Life of Archbishop Williams. It is the life of one remarkable man by another, of a somewhat similar turn of mind. Both the author and the subject of his biography were members of that most interesting class, the deeply learned divines of the second period of the history of the Church of England—the period which intervenes between its full legal establishment and its suspension at the civil war. No book can give us a better notion of the general character and position of that class, and of some features of the time to which it belonged. Before entering upon the subject of Williams, it may be worth while to give, in a very few words, a summary of the life of his biographer.

Hacket was born in 1592, and was educated at Westminster School, and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1618; was made chaplain to Williams, then Lord Keeper, in 1621, and received from him two livings and a stall at Lincoln Cathedral. In 1631 he was made Archdeacon of Bedford. In 1642 he was made a canon of St. Paul's, and after considerable troubles during the civil wars was made Bishop of Lichfield in 1661. He died there in 1670, having rebuilt the cathedral at an expense of £20,000 out of his own pocket. He was also the builder of Bishop's Hostel at Trinity College, Cambridge.

His Life of Archbishop Williams, his old patron, was written under Cromwell's government, though it was not published till thirty-six years afterwards, in the year 1693, when it must have appeared nearly as much out of date, and nearly as old-world a production, as it does to ourselves. It is a folio volume in two parts, containing altogether nearly 500 pages, each of which reflects, as in a glass, the character both of the author and of the subject of the biography.

The book probably affords the latest specimen of the ancient, quaint, and learned style which was popular in the early part of the seventeenth century. It is learned as Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (Burton was a contemporary of Hacket's) is learned. The author has nothing very profound to say, but for everything that he says he quotes some authority. The book, indeed, contains almost as much quotation as original matter, yet the quotations come in so naturally that the reader feels that they are not put in for display or out of affectation, but that they are the amusement of a man who had abundant leisure, enormous reading, a gigantic memory, and no considerable powers of original thought.

In a curious passage which fixes the date of the composition of the book, he says: 'That which my prayers and studies have long endeavoured, the dispatch of this labour, is come to pass by the good hand of God this 17th of February, 1657, which is some heartsease.' 'My scope is not so much to insist upon the memorable things of one man's life as to furnish them with reading out of my small store, that are well- wishers to learning in theological, political, and moral knowledge.' After which, in about a page, he proceeds to quote Plautus, Gregory Nazianzen, Cicero, Horace, Nazianzen again, Petrus Blesensis (a schoolman of the twelfth century), Valerius Maximus, Sidonius, Xenophon, and Manilius, of whom the Biographical Dictionary informs us that he was 'a Latin poet who lay buried in the German libraries, and never was heard of in the modern world till Poggius published him from some old MSS. found there about two centuries ago'—i.e. early in the seventeenth century.

 These authorities add surprisingly little to the matter in hand. Indeed, Manilius is evoked from his long obscurity for the sake of an observation which I do not very distinctly understand. 'When I remember him I cannot but praise him—" Se quisque ut vivit et effert;" Manil. lib. 2.' If Manilius had nothing more important to say, Poggius might as well have left him alone. Strange and occasionally tedious as this inordinate display of learning is, the book is very pleasant reading, and gives a lively picture of the rapid growth of the last clerical Chancellor to the very summit of his fortunes, of the strange vicissitudes of his career, of the Court of James I., of the oppressions which preceded the civil war, and of the view taken of the war by the High Church divines.

John Williams was born on the 25th of March 1582, at Aber Conway, and was educated at Ruthin School, and St. John's College, Cambridge. He remained at the University from 1598 till about 1609, when he was ordained priest. His industry during this period was almost miraculous. Indeed, the account which Hacket gives of it is rendered credible only by the extraordinary exhibition of learning which he makes himself, and which proves that, at some time or other, he too must have gone through a similar course. 'From his youth to his old age he asked but three hours' sleep in the twentyfour to keep him in good health. This we all knew that lived in his family. It would not quickly be believed, but that a cloud of witnesses will avouch it, that it was ordinary with him to begin his studies at six of the clock, and continue them till three in the morning, and be ready again by seven to walk in the circle of his indefatigable labours.'

He learnt Greek and Hebrew; and, having 'fetched a great compass about theology in less than two years, he began to climb up higher upon the mountain of God.' He read the fathers and the schoolmen, and, in particular, studied ecclesiastical history with intense ardour. 'They are not the Divines of Magdeburg nor Baronius Annals (though twice read over by him) which furnished him with the tithe of his skill.' He had read all the originals. He knew all the Greek and Latin Canons. 'He carried in his mind an universal idea of all synods and convocations that were ever held in our land, of all our cathedrals, their foundations, conditions of alteration, statutes, revenues, etc. As he had spared for no travel to purchase this skill, so, to fill his vessel brim-full, he received all that Sir Harry Spelman, Sir Robert Cotton, and Mr. Holden, his dear friends, could pour into him.'

He was equally well acquainted with foreign history. 'There was not a corner of our history, sacred or secular, in any kingdom or state in Europe, which he had not pried into, and wherein he could not suddenly enlarge himself, whether they were their wars or leagues of amity; whether their laws, inheritances of their crowns and dignities, their lineages, marriages, or what not.'

He was a great man for university disputations —the acts and opponencies which were then a real method of instruction, and of which the shadow lasted till our own time. Hacket gives some curious accounts of these performances, which put the old University strangely before our eyes. A certain Duke of Wittenberg passing through Cambridge was entertained with an act. Williams, then procter, was moderator, and by way of making himself all things to all men, 'to Dutchmen he became a Dutch philosopher, for all his conceptions he confirmed by quotations out of Julius Pacius, Goclenius, Keckerman, and others who had been professors within the districts of the German principalities.' This was 'unexpressibly acceptable ' to the Duke of Wittenberg and his retinue.

Another act took place before the Elector Palatine, in which Williams and another great light of the day were set to argue the question whether clergymen might be in the service of distinguished persons with a view to Church preferment. The opponent 'somewhat frowningly' argued,'Piscatores sumus hominum, non venatores munerum.' The respondent replied with a 'retorsion that had strength and sweetness like iron that is gilded. The end of theology is to gain souls. The end of the theologue subordinate to the first and architectonical end is for an honest maintenance and sustentation.' This, it is added, 'agrees with the mind of Seneca de Benef. lib. iii.,' and no doubt with the minds of many others.

Williams's accomplishments recommended him to the Chancellor, Lord Ellesmere, whose chaplain he was from 1610 to 1617, and through whose interest he obtained a fair share of ecclesiastical preferment and an introduction to King James I., who, shortly after the Chancellor's death, made him Dean of Salisbury.

He was a great favourite of King James's. 'He never met with any before, much less with any after, that loved him like King James at the full rate of his worth. His extraordinary learning enabled him to act as a sort of living commonplace book to the King, who delighted both in his reading and in his Toryism. He never would be pleased with anything new. 'His constant rule was, that old imperfections were safer than new experiments.' He could talk scholastic divinity every day, and all day long.

The King, however, was not everything. As Hacket observes, 'There was a pre-eminent pipe, through which all graces flowing from him were derived.' He was always 'clasping some one Gratioso in the embraces of his great love, who was unto him as a parelius.' The pre-eminent pipe in Williams's time was the Duke of Buckingham, on whom Williams contrived to confer a heavy obligation by converting Lady Catherine Manners from Popery, and smoothing various difficulties in the way of that lady's marriage with the Duke. For this service he was immediately rewarded by being translated from the Deanery of Salisbury to that of Westminster, and to the post of confidential adviser to the Duke. He seems to have advised him well, warning him of the danger of monopolies and other unconstitutional ways of raising money. 'Oh hearken not,' he says, 'to Rehoboam's earwigs.' 'An Englishman's tribute comes not from the King's exaction, but by the people's free oblation out of the mouth of their representatives.'

James and Buckingham gave way, and not only the monopolists but Lord Bacon fell before the anger of Parliament. After a good deal of doubt, Williams was made Lord Keeper, and at the same time was promoted to the Bishopric of Lincoln. By marvellous labour, and especially by the help of excellent advice, he managed not only to discharge the duties of his office creditably, but also to get through an immense multiplicity of business of other kinds.

He used to sit in the Court of Chancery from 6.30 to 8.30 A.M. He then went into the House of Lords till 12 or 1. He then dined and returned to the Court of Chancery, where he sat till 8 P.M. After this he went home, read papers, and prepared for the next day's business till late at night. He held his office till the beginning of the reign of King Charles; and Hacket gives many curious instances of his humour, his hot temper, and his wonderful quickness and industry. His occasional explosions were highly curious.

One of the oddest was as follows: He committed one Beeston for a contempt, who, 'loathing this captivity,' 'cries for mercy to the King, roars out that the Parliament might hear him, follows the Lord Buckingham with his clamours, who advised the Keeper to consider of it.' Williams gave the following characteristic reply: 'Decrees once made must be put in execution, else I will confess this Court to be the greatest imposture in the kingdom. The damned in hell do never cease repining at the justice of God; nor the prisoners in the Fleet at the decrees of Chancery. In the which hell of prisoners this one for antiquity and obstinacy may pass for a Lucifer I neither know him nor his cause, but as long as he stands in contempt he is not like to have any more liberty.' There is something eminently racy in this comparison, and it contrasts favourably with the strange harangues which Williams was accustomed to make on state occasions, which read almost like a caricature of pedantry.

 It should also be observed that Williams's bark was worse than his bite. Hacket claims for him, apparently with justice, the praise of mildness in the Star Chamber. 'Many . . . said he was a friend to publicans and sinners, to all delinquents, and rather their patron than their judge.' . . . 'He never condemned an offender to be hanged, to be scourged, to have his ears cut.' One of the Lords 'complained against him to the King, that delinquents by his abatements were so slightly punished in their purse that the fees which came to His Majesty's enrichment would not give the Lords a dinner once a week, as the custom had been, nay hardly once a term'—a curious glimpse into the old Court.

The great event of Williams's term of office as Chancellor was the negotiation about the Spanish marriage and about the extrication of Prince Charles and Buckingham from the difficulty into which their famous journey had thrown them. It is a terribly long and intricate history, and in Hacket's hands it becomes doubly wearisome. The result to Williams was that he gave mortal offence to Buckingham, who took occasion to revenge himself on the first opportunity.

Incidentally, the story brings out one or two curious points. The Spanish Court had made a great point of obtaining a repeal of the penal laws as a condition of the marriage, and a rumour got abroad that James meant to grant their wish. When the match was broken off, James called a Parliament, in opening which he treated this imputation as scandalous and wicked. 'It hath been talked of my remissness in maintenance of religion and suspicion of a toleration. But as God shall judge me I never thought or meant it, nor ever in word exprest anything that favoured of it.'

 The nation, as is well known, was vehemently anxious, on this and other grounds, for a war with Spain. James steadily refused, and his reasons for refusing are given with delightful simplicity by his Minister. He would have to ask for supplies, and this would make him dependent on his Parliament, who ''twas likely would ask the change of the Church, of the laws, of the Court Royal, the displacing of his officers, the cashiering of his servants.' This remark shows a vivid consciousness on the King's part of the degree to which his whole system of government was unpopular, and the correctness with which he appreciated the strength of the Parliament.

Though he offended Buckingham and Charles by his management of the Spanish affairs, Williams retained his power with James till his death. He obviously had a real affection for the kind old man whom Hacket represents in a pleasanter and more respectable light than that in which he is generally viewed. He had the great merit of clearly understanding the limits tacitly imposed on him by the Constitution, and though he certainly talked as big as a man well could, he acted soberly and indulgently, though beset by contending bigots.

Hacket's book is full of illustrations of the fierceness of feeling between the Protestants and Catholics, of the monstrous claims of the one and the eagerness to persecute of the others. The Roman Catholics actually went so far at one time as to 'put a paper into my Lord of Buckingham's hands, to assist them for the erection of titulary Popish prelates in this Kingdom.' The Protestants, on the other hand, appear to have looked on toleration as the great abomination of all abominations.

At the end of James's reign Williams had a long conference with the French ambassador about the policy of the English towards the Roman Catholics. He goes into the matter at great length, arguing in a manner which makes it clear that the penal laws were due entirely to political reasons and to the strength of the popular feeling. It seems very improbable that genuine fanaticism exercised much influence on the Government in the matter. He says, 'The Protestants receive a benefit of some toleration in your realm to stop the mischief of civil wars, and to settle a firm peace among yourselves. . . . But such a toleration in this Kingdom would not only destroy peace, but with great probability dissolve it.'

Hacket gives a definite notion of the nature of that learning for which James is still famous. He says, 'Take him for a scholar, and he had gathered knowledge to astonishment; and was so expert to use it, that had he been born in a private fortune he might have deserved to be a bishop of the highest promotion.' He gives proofs of this, one of which is very curious. He used to pass most of his time at Royston and Newmarket in study. 'I have stood by his table often when I was about the age of twentytwo years, and from thenceforward, and have heard learned pieces read before him at his dinners, which I thought strange; but a chaplain of James Montague, Bishop of Winton, told me that the bishop had read over unto him the four tomes of Cardinal Bellarmine's controversies at those respites when His Majesty took fresh air, and weighed the objections and answers to that subtle author; and sent often to the libraries at Cambridge for books to examine the quotations.'

James died on the 22d March 1624, and in the following October, after the dissolution of the first Parliament of Charles, Williams was dismissed from his place as Chancellor. He remained for many years entirely out of Court favour, and passed his timealmost exclusively in the discharge of his duties as Bishop of Lincoln.

Hacket's account of his way of life in that capacity is very interesting. He must have been a very splendid prelate. He had two palaces, one at Bugden in Huntingdonshire, and the other at Lincoln; and he laid out vast sums in improving and adorning them. At Bugden 'he turned a ruinous thing into a stately mansion. The out-houses . . . were the greatest eye-sore. These he plucked down to the ground and re-edified with convenient beauty. These were stables, barns, granaries, houses for doves, brewing and dairies, and the outward courts which were next to them he cast into fair allies and grass plats. Within doors the cloisters were the trimmest part of his reparations; the windows of the square beautified with stories of coloured glass, the pavement laid smooth and new, and the walls on every side hung with pieces of exquisite workmen in limning, collected and provided for long before. He planted woods. He fenced the park and stored it with deer. He provided for good husbandry and bought in the leases. . . . He loved stirring and walking, which he used two hours or more every day in the open air if the weather served.' ... 'It would amount to an error that he should bury so much money in gardens, arbours, orchards, pools for waterfowl, and for fish of all variety, with a walk raised three foot from the ground of about a mile in compass, shaded and covered on each side with trees and pales.' ... All the nurseries about London for fair flowers and choice fruits were ransacked to furnish him. Alcinous, if he had lived at Bugden, could not have lived better.' His palace at Lincoln was 'built for none but the ancient Bishops of the See that had four-and-thirty rich manors belonging to them' . . . 'besides a vast jurisdiction of great profit derived into other channels. This palace, fit for the pomp of the great potentates, was formidable to their poor successors that could not keep it warm with the rent that remained.' Still though 'workmen did ask so much, yet in three years he brought it on and up to as much strength and comeliness as when it was first inhabited.'

His way of life was as splendid as his houses. He spent from £1000 to £1200 a year in charity. Many of the sons of the nobility were educated in his house; 'the sons of Marquis Hartford, of the Earls of Pembroke, Salisbury and Leicester, with many others of the gentry of the same tender age to bear them company.' He looked diligently after their education, and upon some points instructed them himself.

He was blamed for two things each of which in these days may be regarded as merits. First, he was very tolerant about the theological disputes of his day, 'indulging his favours and preferment' impartially to Calvinists and Arminians. 'Many, that think the Bishop not the worse patron for this neutrality, blame him that he gave hospitality, showed equanimity, afforded kindness and sufferance to Puritans.' His other fault was that he 'admitted, in his public hall, a comedy once or twice to be presented before him exhibited by his own servants for an evening recreation.'

Though the account of Williams's behaviour in his see is rather long and sufficiently pedantic (it contains amongst other things a digression to prove that the Sibylline verses were not genuine), it gives a striking picture of the courtly, splendid, liberal-minded, and charitable bishop, which sets his character and that of the party in the Church and State which he represented in a very amiable light.

Williams was forbidden to attend the second Parliament of Charles (1626), and an attempt was made to prevent him from attending the Parliament of 1628, which passed the Petition of Right. He attended, nevertheless, and manfully supported the petition. He 'went on to show that the contents of the petition were suitable to the ancient laws ofthe realm ever claimed and pleaded, expedient for the subject, and no less honourable for the King, which made him a king of men and not of beasts, of brave-spirited freemen and not of broken-hearted peasants.'

On this occasion he was partially reconciled to the King; but after Buckingham's assassination Laud became vehemently jealous of him, and did his very utmost, with only too much success, to ruin him. He laboured at this task throughout the whole of the interval between the Parliament of 1629 and the Long Parliament. Hacket's account of Laud's malignity, extracted from Laud's own journals, is extremely humorous. 'The undoing of his brother and colleague in dignity did so run in his mind that it never was out of his dreams, to be seen in the notes drawn with his own hands in Mr. Prynne's breviate. He dreamt the Lord Keeper was dead, 23d Oct. 1623 —that is, being interpreted, in the Duke's affections. 14th June 1626, he dreamt the Bishop of Lincoln came he knew not with whom with iron chains, but returning freed from them, he leapt upon a horse and departed, neither could he overtake him. 17th Mar. 1627, Mr. George Wright whispered in his ear in his sleep that he was the cause that Lincoln was not admitted again into favour in the Court. 13th July 1633, he dreamt at Anderwick that this Bishop came and offered to sit above him at the Council Table (' Quae Deus in melius crudelia somnia vertat'); that the Earl of Holland came and placed him there.'

This summary of the dreams is grotesque enough, but Hacket's comment is still odder. He quotes upon the subject, Jeremiah xxix. 8, Eccl. v. 3, Salmasius Clymact, p. 789, Isaiah xxix. 7, Plutarch's Life of Dion, Acts ii. 17, Eph. iv. 22, Machiavelli's Prince, c. 26, Quintus Curtius, Book vii., and Cicero's Epistles, iii. 37.

Laud, however, did something more than dream. He instituted three prosecutions against Williams in the Star Chamber. The first was in 1628, and was so absurd that Noy, 'a man of cynical behaviour, but of honest heart to his friends and clients,' refused to go on with it after it had dragged on for two years. It was taken up by a miserable creature called Kilvert, a pettifogging attorney, whose insolence towards the judges, (he threatened to procure the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 'to be turned out of his place for his forwardness') and iniquity towards the accused, are related at length by Hacket, but seem scarcely credible in these days.

The suit went on till 1636, the Bishop having refused to compromise it by paying £8000 down to the King in 1635. The charge was, that in the former suit the Bishop had tampered with witnesses. He was convicted in July 1636, and sentenced to pay a fine of £10,000, to be imprisoned during pleasure in the Tower, and to be suspended during pleasure from his office as Bishop. Laud pressed 'for the degradation of his brother Bishop, and his deportation God knows where.' The Lord Keeper Finch said, 'That if it had liked others he would have laid some ignominy on the Bishop's person,' ... 'it was conceived he meant the cutting off his ears.' The Bishop was hereupon committed to the Tower, where he was confined for four years, whilst the wretched Kilvert plundered his property at his own discretion, under pretence of raising the fine. 'He killed up the deer of the Park; settles in Bugden house for three summers with a seraglio of qucedam, sells an organ that cost £120 for £10, pictures that cost £400 at £5, books he filched what he would,' etc. etc.

Even this, however, was not enough to satisfy Laud's inveterate malice. He got up a third prosecution for what he called a libel, the libel being supposed to be contained in some letters which the Bishop probably never received, written to him by Mr. Osbaldeston, Master of Westminster School. On this absurd charge he was fined £8000 more, and Charles I. offered to pardon him if he would resign his preferment, and take an Irish bishopric instead. A more disgraceful attempt at extortion and more brutal tyranny have seldom been displayed. Laud owed his original preferment to Williams, and Charles was under great obligations to him.

The Long Parliament restored the Bishop to liberty, the proceedings against him were soon afterwards cancelled, and when it became clear that he would be wanted, he was received into favour. His conduct in the Long Parliament was very characteristic. He was anxious to save Strafford. 'He would have gone through fire and water' to do so; still, 'this being now a thing beyond wit and power,' he joined with three other prelates, Usher, Morton, and Potter, 'to propound how the tenderness of the King's conscience might wade through this insuperable difficulty.' Nothing in the whole of that striking history is more characteristic than the necessity which Charles's conscience felt for a sop, the readiness which the Bishops showed to find one, and the entire efficacy for its purpose of the device which they invented.

Not very long after Strafford's execution, Williams became Archbishop of York, and within a year after his liberation from the Tower he was sent there again by the Parliament (in December 1641) for the famous protest which he, with eleven other bishops, drew up against all legislation which should take place in their enforced absence. He was again released in about a year, and joined the King at York. He afterwards held Conway Castle for the King, and though he joined with a Parliamentary officer to retake it, after a royal officer had dispossessed him, he was devotedly loyal throughout the civil war. Charles's execution broke his heart. He spent the last few years of his life in strict retirement in his native county, and died on his sixty-eighth birthday, 25th March 1650.

The latter part of Hacket's book is taken up with denunciations of the Parliament, and lamentations over Charles, which, to a reader fresh from his details of the cruelties of the Star Chamber, produce a singular effect. Utterly forgetting the twelve years between 1629 and 1641, he reproaches the Parliament bitterly for not trusting the King, and, as Clarendon did, claims for him perfect honesty. 'They would trust him with nothing. An affront of deep indignity! Dare not they trust him that never broke with them? And I have heard his nearest servants say that no man could ever challenge him of the least lie.' He admits that Charles was not popular —'The common people's love to him was cold and lazy.' He makes nothing of Ship-money and the Star Chamber. 'Wherefore so much outcry for Peccadilloes, and verily occasioned by the undutifulness of former Parliaments and subsequent necessities?'

As for the prominent persons in the popular party, Hacket cannot express his feelings about them. 'What a venomous spirit is in that serpent Milton, that black-mouthed Zoilus that blows his viper's breath upon' the Eikon Basilike—'a petty schoolboy scribbler'; 'Get thee behind me, Milton.' In fairness to Hacket it should be remembered that at this time Milton was known principally as a political writer. 'Cromwell, that imp of Satan, compounded of all vice and violence, and Titan-like courage, devoid of all pity and conscience.' . . . 'The Scotch at Newcastle . . . sold their master as Judas did his to the Jews, to the race of New England, the Independent Salvages: oh barbarous! perfidious! mammonish! sacrilegious! to make bargain and sale of him that sate in God's stead over them:—
‘Nomen erit pardus, tigris, leo, quicquid adhuc est
 Quod fremat in terris violentius.’—Juv. Sat. 8.
'I roar it out to all people and languages, are you not astonished at it?' and the good Bishop has to ease his mind by quoting Habakkuk i. 5, Valerius, Lib. vi., Floras, iv. 8, Manilius, ii. (He must obviously have just bought Manilius.) And at last, after raging and shrieking through many other authors, he concludes with this remarkable quotation about Cromwell: 'If I had ever met with a more odious passage than that in St. Basil, ep. 246, I would afford it him κατάβρωμα τού διαβόου —a morsel fit for the devil's stomach.'

We have done our best to give a notion of the contents of this curious book. It is of necessity a very imperfect notion, as the book contains much which our space will not permit us to notice; but we have said enough to give some sort of indication of its multifarious contents. Probably no book gives such a full-length portrait of a first-rate divine of the seventeenth century, learned in all the learning of his age and profession, and endowed with abilities, and above all with industry, which must have put him in the front rank in any age and any profession.

The general character of the portrait is surely an attractive one. There was no superstition (unless his passionate loyalty deserved that name) about Williams, and no fanaticism. His fault lay in his slyness, but he appears on the whole to have been a bold, magnanimous, high-bred man, with all the instincts of a scholar, a gentleman, and a statesman, and with none of the characteristic vices of a churchman. He was full of the contracted liberalism which marks the infancy of the reformed Church of England. His view of the Church appears to have been that it was a vast and ancient body, with a complex system of laws and maxims to be learnt by intense study of history and antiquity.

This explains the price which the divines of that day set upon learning, and the enormous mass of quasi-scientific apparatus with which they thought it necessary to be equipped. They were practically their own Popes, and their characters show much of the magnanimity of those who are engaged in the task of constructing a great scheme of ecclesiastical polity out of materials of almost infinite extent and variety. Their view of their opponents shows this feeling. To them the Papists are audacious impostors, supporting a system of priestcraft by misrepresenting history and Scripture. The Puritans are narrow-minded bigots, idolising the letter of Scripture, and afflicted with consciences in a state of chronic hysterical weakness. It has always appeared to us that there was much more contempt than fanaticism in their persecution; though, as against the Roman Catholics, the popular feeling forced them to be fanatical as well as contemptuous. Their loyalty was their romance. Williams and Hacket are striking instances of this. They could see no serious faults in Charles, they could sanction no real precautions against him, they could not even admit to their own minds the undoubted fact that he was thoroughly fraudulent and insincere.

On the whole, the position which they filled was, and still is, eminently characteristic of the Church of England. Its weakness and its strength always have lain, and always will lie, in the fact that it is a Church specially adapted to the rich, the powerful, the learned, and those who combine a strong tinge of scepticism with a genuine dash of devotional feeling.

Hacket's book is very interesting to students of language. It contains many words which have died out in the struggle for existence, and some which strike the eye as modern in the seventeenth century. Thus we read, 'Men that are sound in their morals are best reclaimed when they are mignarised and stroked gently.' 'The chief minerval which he bestowed was ... a library, the best in Cambridge.' 'Their platform' (in the American sense—the word is common also in Hooker) 'comes so near to the old Protestant Church of England,' etc. 'He put this dodgery strongly upon those at London.' 'He gave the Spaniard the dodge.' 'The dodges of the Prince of Parma.' 'The exequies of the dead'—the correct form of the absurd word 'obsequies.' 'As for the Duke, his domestic creatures'—for servants simply, with no unfavourable sense. Eliot calls himself Buckingham's 'creature.' 'Novelists' for innovators. 'It was heard of long ago in the middle ages,' occurs in a sermon of Williams about the year 1630. The most curious of all is, 'When they found he was not selfish (it is a word of their own'—i.e. the Puritans'—'new mint').

Saturday Review, June 17, 1865.

No comments:

Post a Comment