Изображения страниц




of the Protector, of whom he was a confidential servant. In that field the future great minister of Elizabeth "was like to have been slain; but was miraculously saved by one that, putting forth his arm, to thrust Mr. Cecil out of the level of the cannon, had his arm stricken off."*

Before the departure of Somerset for Scotland writs had been issued to summon a parliament. During the seven months which had elapsed of the reign of Edward the intentions of the government as to the reform of religion had been decidedly manifested; and there could be little doubt that a parliament would carry forward the principles of which the archbishop of Canterbury and the Protector were now the open and fearless advocates. Cranmer and his coadjutors in the church sought to prepare a broad and solid foundation for their reforms, in the enlightenment of the people. Vain ceremonies and superstitious observances might be attacked by statutes and proclamations. The ancient rubbish might be cleared away by the strong hand. But a fairer temple could not be built up except by the force of national opinion. The influence of the printing-press and the influence of the pulpit were to be exerted to lead the people to think, and in thinking, to reject the tyranny which had so long kept them in darkness. Cranmer had selected the Paraphrase of the New Testament, by Erasmus, as a fitting book to be translated into English, and set up in churches. It was the work of one of the most moderate of reformers, and contained little that could be offensive to the professors of the old faith." But any mode of enlightening the people was offensive to the anti-reforming party in the church; and Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, attacked this translation with clever bitterness which many a dignified ecclesiastic, even to this day, has been proud to imitate. One objection was made by Gardiner to the circulation of the Paraphrase, which may deserve a passing notice. He says that the injunctions. to set up the book " charge the realm for buying rather above 20,0007. than under; whereof I have made account by estimate of the number of buyers, and the price of the whole books." The Paraphrase is in two folio volumes. It was translated by several persons; and each portion of the book being separately paged, it was either issued in sections, as it came from the press, or was divided amongst many printers to secure a rapid completion. The cost of this book, thus objected to by Gardiner, was probably as injurious to its circulation as "the arrogant ignorance of the translator," which he unsparingly ridiculed. In the same spirit the bishop of Winchester attacked the Book of Homilies, "appointed by the king's majesty to be declared, and read by all parsons, vicars, or curates, every Sunday in their churches, where they have cure." With all his rancour and prejudice there is a boldness and honesty in Gardiner's remonstrances against the measures of this period, which were ill answered by committing him to the Fleet. His voice was thus silenced before the meeting of parliament. An ecclesiastical visitation, to which Gardiner and Bonner, the bishop of London, were strongly opposed, went forward during the Protector's absence in Scotland. The kingdom was divided into six circuits; and the commissioners in each had to inquire as to the removal of images, when they were abused by pilgrimages and offerings; whether the Scriptures were read, and the Litany sung, in English; whether

* Life of Lord Burghley by a Domestic; in Peck's "Desiderata Curiosa," p. 8.





the clergy declared to their parishioners the articles for the abolition of superfluous holidays; whether they diligently taught their parishioners, and especially the youth, the Pater Noster, the articles of our faith, and the Ten Commandments, in English; whether the Bible, of the largest volume in English, was provided in some convenient place in the church. These, and many other subjects of inquiry, furnished a clear assurance that the government was not disposed to slumber over the work of the Reformation. The commissioners appear to have been armed in some particulars not only with a power of inquiry, but of absolute authority to repress abuses. There was no open resistance to their proceedings. Burnet says, that when the Protector returned from Scotland, "he found the visitors had performed their visitation, and all had given obedience. And those who expounded the secret providences of God with an eye to their own opinions, took great notice of this, -that on the same day on which the visitors removed, and destroyed, most of the images in London, their armies were so successful in Scotland at Pinkiefield."*

The parliament which assembled on the 4th of November, 1547, sat only till the 24th of December; but in those fifty days it passed some measures of the highest importance. The "Act for the repeal of certain statutes concerning treasons, felonies, &c.,"swept away the manifold treasons which had been created, by statute after statute, in the reign of Henry VIII. In the reign of Richard II. the same process of making new treasons had been resorted to; and the statute of Henry IV. by which they are abrogated, says that "no man knew how he ought to behave himself, to do, speak, or say, for doubt of such pains of treason." So it was when Edward VI. came to the throne; and the remedy, as in the reign of Henry IV., was to go back to the Statute of Treasons of the 25th of Edward III., and entirely to repeal what Blackstone calls the "new-fangled treasons" of "the bloody reign of Henry VIII."+ By this act of the 1st of Edward VI., all "estatutes touching, mentioning, or in any wise concerning religion," the statutes of Richard II., of Henry V., and of Henry VIII., " concerning punishment and reformation of heretics and Lollards;" the recent statutes of the Six Articles, and against uttering certain books; and "all and every other act concerning doctrine and matter of religion," were repealed and utterly annulled. All new Felonies made by statute since the 1st of Henry VIII. were also repealed. The penalties for affirming that the king is not supreme head of the Church were, however, retained. In this comprehensive statute, the despotic law of the preceding reign, that the Proclamations of the King in Council should be as valid as acts of parliament, was, further, wholly repealed. Whatever might be the errors of the Protector's administration, this Statute alone furnishes a proof that the detestable spirit of unbridled tyranny which was the characteristic of the second half of the reign of Henry was not to be perpetuated. In the rebellion of 1549, when the insurgents were moved by the enemies of the Reformation to desire that the laws should be placed again on their tyrannous foundation, Somerset, writing in the name of the king, thus adverted to the circumstances

[ocr errors][merged small]



[1548. of their repeal: "The Six Articles, and the statutes that made words treason, and other such severe laws, ye seem to require again; the which all our whole parliament almost, on their knees, required us to abolish and put away; and when we condescended thereto, with a whole voice gave us most humble thanks, for they thought before that no man was sure of his life, lands, or goods. And would you have these laws again? Will you that we shall resume the scourge again, and hard snaffle for your mouths?"* In this short parliament an act was passed regarding "the Sacrament of the Altar." It imposed the penalties of fine and imprisonment upon such as by preaching, reading, arguments, talks, rhymes, songs, or plays, "call it by such vile and unseemly words as Christian ears do abhor to hear rehearsed." There can be no doubt that the abuse and ribaldry with which the doctrine of the real presence had been assailed, had seriously tended to bring all religion into contempt, and had nourished a spirit of irreverence wholly opposed to the principles of the Reformation. But coupled with this enactment was a clause that marked the distinction between the Romish and the Reformed Church, by prescribing that the Sacrament should be administered in both kinds—the bread and the wine-thus providing that the cup should not be refused to the laity. The people, according to the usage of the primitive church, were to receive the sacrament with the priest.+ By another Statute, bishops were to be elected by the king's letters patent, and process in the ecclesiastical courts was to be in the king's name.‡ Another Act, which indicates a good intention most unrighteously carried out, provides that all the revenues of chauntries, by which vain opinions of purgatory and masses were upheld, should be bestowed upon the crown; considering that "the alteration, change, and amendment of the same, and converting to good and godly uses, as in erecting of Grammar-Schools to the education of youth in virtue and godliness, the further augmenting of the universities, and better provision for the poor and needy," could not be effected in any other way than by committing their disposition to the king and his council. § Cranmer, who knew the avidity with which the rapacious courtiers seized upon the spoils of the Church, had the honesty to vote against this bill. The great Reformer was in a minority with Bonner, the most intolerant enemy of Reformation.

The parliament had been prorogued till April, 1548; but, the houses having met, it was alleged that the war betwixt England and Scotland had prevented the attendance of many members, and parliament was again prorogued, and did not finally meet till the 2nd of January, 1549. During this interval of legislation the country was in an unsettled state. The Statute against Vagabonds, passed in the first session,-that cruel enactment which Edward in his Journal calls "an extreme law"-had removed none of the evils of this period of transition.|| The Reformation kept on its steady course; offending the greater number of the people who clung to ancient habits, but gradually winning over the thoughtful and educated to an earnest reception of its principles. In February, 1548, a proclamation went forth to forbid the carrying of candles on Candlemas-day; taking ashes on Ash Wednesday;

* Tytler, "Original Letters," vol. i. p. 180. This is one of the many interesting documents which was first given in Mr. Tytler's collection from the State Paper Office. + Ibid., c. 2. § Ibid., c. 14.

+1 Edward VI. c. 1.

See ante, vol. ii. p. 469.





and bearing palms on Palm Sunday. The commemoration of Christ's entry into Jerusalem was, in some places, burlesqued in the ancient procession of the wooden ass, before which the people prostrated themselves, and strewed their palm-branches. Burnet has described the differences of opinion as to the abolition of these old ceremonies: "The country-people generally loved all these shows, processions, and assemblies, as things of diversion: and judged it a dull business only to come to church for divine worship and the

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

hearing of sermons: therefore they were much delighted with the gaiety and cheerfulness of these rites. But others, observing that they kept up all these things just as the heathens did their plays and festivities for their gods, judged them contrary to the gravity and simplicity of the Christian religion, and were earnest to have them removed." * But the Reformers gave the people something of far higher value than the shows and processions which they took away. They gave them an English Liturgy.

* "Reformation," Part II. book i.




The first measure of the Parliament of 1549 was "An Act for the Uniformity of Service," &c. The preamble states that the king having appointed "the archbishop of Canterbury, and certain of the most learned and discreet bishops and other learned men of this realm," that they should "draw and make one convenient and meet order of common and open prayer and administration of the sacraments," they had "by the aid of the Holy Ghost, with one uniform agreement concluded and set forth" the same, "in a book entitled the Book of Common Prayer, and administration of the Sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the Church, after the use of the Church of England." * This form of service was to be read by all ministers in cathedrals and parish churches, from the ensuing feast of Pentecost, under penalties for refusal; and the book of the said service was to be obtained at the cost of the parishioners, before that festival. The office of the Communion had been previously issued as a separate publication. Of the "Book of the Common Prayer" there were two authorised printers, Richard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch. They appear to have commenced the issue as fast as their presses could produce copies; some having the date of March, 1549; some of May, some of June. The price of a copy was limited, thus, by a notice on the last leaf of the folio volume: "The king's majesty, by the advice of his most dear uncle the Lord Protector, and other his highness' council, straitly chargeth and commandeth that no manner of person do sell this present book, unbound, above the price of two shillings and twopence the piece; and the same bound in paste or in boards, not above the price of three shillings and eightpence the piece." With some variations in a subsequent edition of 1552, which was called "the second book," this Liturgy is not essentially different from that of the present day. It was based upon the ancient catholic services, which had been handed down from the primitive ages of the Church; and which the English people had for generations heard sung or said, without comprehending their meaning. In the western insurrection of 1549, the rebels declared, We will have the mass in Latin, as was before." The answer of Cranmer to this point of their complaints is a logical appeal to the common sense of Englishmen : "The priest is your proctor and attorney, to plead your cause and to speak for you all; and had you rather not know than know what he saith for you? I have heard suitors murmur at the bar, because their attorneys have pleaded their cases in the French tongue, which they understood not. Why then be you offended that the priests, which plead your cause before God, should speak such language as you may understand ?" The resistance to the Act for the Uniformity of Service, to which the people in some places were stimulated by high counsels and examples, was of itself an indication of the fears of the antireformers, that the habitual use of a Common Prayer Book, so pure and simple, so earnest and elevated,-so adapted to the universal wants and feelings of mankind-so touching and solemn in its Offices-would establish the reformed worship upon a foundation which no storm of worldly policy could afterwards overthrow. The change in the habits of the people produced by this Book of Common Prayer must indeed have been great. When they

* 2 & 3 Edward VI. c. 1.

Herbert's Ames.

Strype, "Memorials of Cranmer," vol. ii. p. 518. Oxford, 1848.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »