Page images
PDF
EPUB

The scruples of the two deans were respected, and Abbot was not allowed to take part in their consecration. The Archbishop's case was referred to a royal commission, and by its recommendation a special release

Pardon of the Archbishop.

from all irregularity was issued under the Great Seal.1

[ocr errors]

July 9. Cranfield raised to the peerage.

Whilst Williams was thus engaged, upon the whole, in assuaging enmities and in counselling moderation, Cranfield was rising no less rapidly into favour. It is not likely that he felt any great disappointment at the preference which had been shown to Williams. No one knew better than himself that the Court of Chancery was not the sphere in which he was best qualified to shine. It was as a financier that he had risen, and it was as a financier that he must retain his grasp upon power.

James took care to let him feel that it was not from ill-will that he had passed him by. On the day before the Great Seal was placed in the hands of Williams, the man who, not many years before, had been a mere city apprentice, was enrolled, by the title of Baron Cranfield, among the peers of England. It was not the first time that men of comparatively humble origin had won their way to that high place by sheer force of ability. But Cranfield was the first whose elevation can in any way be connected with success in obtaining the confidence of the House of Commons. In the earlier part of the session, he had placed himself at the head of the movement against the patents, and he had lost no opportunity of bringing the policy of the Crown into unison with that of the Lower House. In the last stormy debates before the adjournment he had done more than anyone to allay the existing irritation, by the readiness with which he assured the House that all their wishes with regard to trade would be carried out by the Government during the recess.

July 10,

Accordingly, on July 10, the long deliberations of the Council were followed by a proclamation which swept away at a blow no less than eighteen monoplies and grants of a similar nature. A list of seventeen was added, who felt aggrieved was at Other popular declarations

Proclama-
tion against
monopolies. against which anyone
liberty to appeal to a court of law.

1 Hacket, 68.

1621

MONOPOLIES Abolished.

141

followed. Informers were no longer to be tolerated. Excessive fees were not to be taken in the Courts. Certain restrictions placed upon trade by the merchant adventurers were to be abolished. On the other hand, the exportation of wool was to be prohibited, and that of the noted iron ordnance of England was to be fenced about with additional precautions. As far as trade and manufactures were concerned, James was content to walk in the track which had been marked out by Parliament.

4

142

CHAPTER XXXVI.

THE VOYAGE OF THE MAYFLOWER.'

It would have seemed strange to any of those who had taken part in the stirring events of this session, and whose heads were full of questions about the Palatinate, or Parliamentary privilege, to be told that there was not one of these points from which the Englishman of future times would not readily turn aside in order to contemplate the fortunes of a little band of exiles who had lately made their way, unknown and unheeded, across the stormy waves of the Atlantic.

It was religious zeal which had driven them from their native land. Though, in many respects, their doctrines were those of the stricter English Puritans, in one point The early Separatists. they were peculiarly their own. Whilst the Puritan was anxious to reform, as far as possible, the existing Church, these men had made up their minds to break away from it altogether. Within its pale, they declared, was an unholy alliance between good and evil, which was utterly abhorrent to their minds. Their doctrine, indeed, was only a natural reaction against the systems of Whitgift and Bancroft. In every age there are found men who are discontented with the ordinary religious standard of the day, and who demand a society of their own, in which they may interchange their ideas and aspirations. To such the Medieval Church offered the asylum of the cloister, or the active service of the mendicant orders. In the England of the nineteenth century, they would be at liberty to enter into any combination amongst themselves which the most un

1621

THE SEPARATISTS.

143

restrained fancy could dictate. Religious societies and religious sects would welcome their co-operation. But, in the first century of the Reformed Church of England, nothing of the kind was possible. The parish church, and nothing but the parish church, was open to all. There the Puritan, who mourned over the dulness or the entire absence of the sermon, and to whom the Book of Common Prayer was not long enough or flexible enough to give expression to the emotions with which his heart was bursting, was seated side by side with men who thought that the shortest service was already too long, and who were only driven to take part in it at all by the ever-present fear of a conviction for recusancy. If this had been all,—if, after having paid due obedience to the law, the Puritan had been left to himself,-if he had been permitted to meet with his fellows for prayer in the afternoon as freely as other men were permitted to dance on the green, or to shoot at the butts, he might perhaps have been, to some extent, satisfied with the arrangements provided for him. In his private intercourse with neighbours like-minded with himself he would have found that of which he was in search, and he might have come in time to regard with reverence the large-heartedness of a Church which refused to content herself with claiming as her children the pious and the devoted, but which announced, in the only way in which it was at that time possible to announce it, that the ignorant and the vicious, the publican and the harlot, were equally the object of her care with the wisest and best of her

sons.

This, however, was not to be. Whitgift and Bancroft, Elizabeth and James, had set their faces against private associations; and the consequence was that men were sition to the found to declare that private associations were the

Their oppo

Church. only congregations to which they were justified in giving the name of churches. Feelings which might have formed a support to the general piety, were left to grow up in fierce opposition to the existing system. The Church, it was said, was, by the confession of the Articles themselves, 'a congregation of faithful men.' Such, at least, the Church of England was not. Her bishops and archdeacons, her chan

cellors and ecclesiastical commissioners, existed mainly for the purpose of forcing the faithful and the unfaithful into an unnatural union. The time had come when all true Christians must separate themselves from this antichristian Babylon, and must unite in churches from which the unbelieving and the profane would be rigorously excluded.1

1593. Their un

Towards the end of Elizabeth's reign, it was calculated that there were in England some 20,000 persons who had thus renounced communion with the Church, and who were popularly known by the name of Brownists. Such popularity. men would find but little sympathy even amongst Puritans. To ordinary Englishmen they were the object of contempt mingled with abhorrence. It was all very well, it might be said, for those who cared for such matters to raise questions about rites and ceremonies. But what was to be said to men who asserted that none but those who came up to their own arbitrary standard were sufficiently holy to take part with themselves in the assemblies of the Church.

Persecution.

Everywhere, therefore, the Separatist congregations were suppressed. Their members were committed to prison, in days when imprisonment was too often equivalent to the tortures of a lingering death; and they rotted away amongst the fevers which were rife in those infected abodes of misery. A few, by a cruel perversion of the law, were sent to the gallows. Some, who could not endure to remain at home and to wait for better times, made their way across the sea to a land where no bishops were to be found,

1 "If Mr. Johnson confess . . . the Church of England a true Church, he must be able to prove it established by separation in a separated b dy in the constitution. He, with the rest, has formally defined 'a true visible Church, a company of people called and separated from the world by the Word of God,' &c. ; and proved the same by many Scriptures.

"And to conceive of a Church which is the body of Christ and household of God not separated from the profane world which lieth in wickedness, is to confound heaven and earth, and to agree Christ with Belial, and, in truth, the most profane and dangerous error, which, this day, prevails amongst them that fear God."—Robinson. Of Religious Communion, Works, iii. 129.

« PreviousContinue »