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INFLUENCE OF THE PURITANS.
greater number of the richer and more educated classes, at once took their sides in this great argument. We know they did not. Many of the best gentlemen of England withdrew from the quarrel which promised to be fatal. either to order or to liberty. John Evelyn, whose inclinations were royalist, was one. "The Covenant being passed," he obtained a licence, signed by the king, to travel. He found it "impossible to evade the doing very unhandsome things." Sir Roger Twysden, one who had refused ship-money, dreaded on the one hand to take part with the parliament, for he "saw, if this war continued, it would prove the ruin of the Protestant religion and the laws of the land;" but, on the other hand, he "did not love to have a king armed with book-law against me for my life and estate." Mr. Kemble, the editor of Twysden's" Government of England," from which we quote, says "Sir Roger Twysden was not the only gentleman who, being unable to join either party, desired to leave England for a time." This learned student of our history adds, by way of accounting for the flight to other lands of some of the country gentlemen, that "they felt it was impossible to serve a king who never spoke a word of truth in his life; and yet could not arm against him, or remain neutral between the two parties." With every respect for conscientious halting between two opinions, we must nevertheless feel that it is nobler to be a little wrong in the adoption of one party or the other, than to stand aside in philosophical or interested indifference to either party. No cause can be wholly good or wholly bad. Whilst Englishmen were girding up their loins for battle in 1642, they presented a grander aspect than if the Roundheads had suffered Charles to come back in triumph to London, to be the absolute king which he claimed to be; or if the Cavaliers had suffered the Roundheads to trample the Monarchy and the Church in the dust, even in an honest desire to correct their abuses.
The state of opinion in the country generally is thus represented by Mrs. Hutchinson:"Some counties were in the beginning so wholly for the parliament, that the king's interest appeared not in them; some so wholly for the king, that the godly, for those generally were the parliament's friends, were found to forsake their habitations, and seek other shelters." But in London, after the attempt of the king to violate the sanctuary of the House of Commons, and his removal from the seat of government, the majority of the people became devoted to the parliament. That the influence of those distinguished as "the godly," was more effectual in the capital than in the country, would be manifest if there were no other evidence than the bitterness with which the Puritans, and especially their preachers, are spoken of by the royalist writers. The "Gospel Trumpeter, surrounded with longear'd rout," the "errant saints,"-the "gifted brethren, preaching by a carnal hour-glass," were the objects of Butler's ridicule. Cleaveland's coarser wit attacks the " new teacher of the town,"-" his shopboard breeding,”—his "cozening cough and hollow cheek,"-his "hands to thump, no knees to bow." The puritan clergy were more hated than the "preaching coblers, pulpit praters," whom some defended "in a merry way," saying that, when such men first began to "take up that duty which the prelates and great doctors had let fall," they each had invaded the other's calling,-" that chandlers, cutlers, weavers, and the like, preached, while the archbishop himself,
+ Introduction, p. lxx.
STATE OF THE CLERGY.
instead of preaching, was busied in projects about leather, salt, soap, and such commodities as belonged to those tradesmen." * In London, the influence of the popular preachers, who filled the churches and conventicles, was irresistible. Few of the clergy were bold enough to support episcopacy; and those who proclaimed high-church opinions had very incredulous auditors. This temper began in the hatred of popery, which the people saw lurking behind the most harmless ceremonials. The cause of the parliament became the cause of the more earnest religionists; whilst the party of the king, though supported by many of sincere piety, was also the rallying point of the indifferent, the pleasure-loving, and the licentious. In the king's court, during its season of prosperity, the splendours of the church were more regarded than the ministration of the working clergy. We have mentioned the performance of "The Scornful Lady" on the night of the eventful 5th of January. It is perhaps significant of the real want of respect for the ministerial office, in a court which was ready to risk a civil war in the cause of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, that at this time of alarm a play was acted, of which "the trivial, senseless, and unnatural representation of the chaplain," was, seventy years afterwards, denounced as an offence against good morals; with the just observation, that "it is so mean a thing to gratify a loose age with a scandalous representation of what is reputable among men, not to say what is sacred, that no beauty, no excellence in an author, ought to atone it." The "Spectator," in the reign of Anne, held that the character of the chaplain in "The Scornful Lady," "has done more towards the disparagement of holy orders, and consequently of virtue itself, than all the wit of that author, or any other, could make up for in the conduct of the longest life after it." The chaplain of "The Scornful Lady" is not represented as a puritan. We see only, to use the words of the essayist, "a wretch without any notion of the dignity of his function." This was the play selected by the master of the revels with an utter unconsciousness of its impropriety. How should he have been conscious that it was inconsistent with the boasted decorum of the court of Charles to ridicule the degraded condition of the clergy, when the curates who did the work were so scandalously paid, that in London they were to be found dining at "the threepenny ordinary," and in the country were glad to obtain from the churchwarden "a barley bag-pudding for the Sunday's dinner." The country curate is described as being "under a great prebend, and a double-beneficed rich man," with a salary inferior to his cook or his coachman. The London curates are represented as living upon citizens' trenchers; and were it not that they were pitiful and charitable to them, there was no possibility of subsistence." The Committee of the Commons in 1641 received many bitter complaints from parishes, that their rectors and vicars would not preach themselves nor allow others to preach; and they appointed "The Committee of Preaching Ministers," whose business was to remedy these neglects. We can easily understand how, out of this laxity in regard to the real interests of religion, whilst some ministers were disputing whether "the Lord's table" should stand in the body of the church or at the east end, railed or without rails, covered or uncovered; those who denounced a liturgy, or resisted all ecclesiastical
+ Spectator, No. 270,-1712.
See a curious tract, "The Curates' Conference," in "Harleian Miscellany," vol. i. 8vo.
SHUTTING-UP OF THE PLAYHOUSES.
government, grew stronger and stronger, and principally increased in London and other great towns. From this period we cannot understand the causes and the events of the Civil War, without steadily keeping in mind that the zeal of the Puritans, in whatever sectarian differences it exhibited itself, was as much the sustaining principle of the great conflict, as the passionate desire for civil liberty. These two great elements of resistance to the Crown produced impressions upon the national character,-for the most part salutary impressions, which two centuries have not obliterated.
The strength of the puritanical element in the parliament of 1642 led to bold interferences with popular habits. The parliamentary leaders knew that they would have the support of the most powerful of the community of London, and of many other great towns, if not of the majority of the nation, when they discouraged the ordinary amusements of the people,-the bear-baitings, the cock-fights, the horse-races, the May-poles; appointed a fast on Christmas-day; and shut up the theatres. Bitter must have been the heart-burnings amongst the actors when their vocation came to an end in London, in 1642. The five regular companies were dispersed. Their members became "vagabonds," under the old Statutes, hanging about the camps of the Cavaliers, or secretly performing in inns and private houses. Old John Lowin, who was a fellow-actor with Shakspere, went to keep "The Three Pigeons" at Brentford; and in that ancient hostelry, a few years ago, some scenes were discovered painted on a wall. The parliament would not have ventured upon depriving the people of their most cherished amusement, throwing so many persons into destitution, had not the suppression of plays been held by them as a matter of religious obligation. There is a solemnity in the words of "An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons concerning Stage Plays," dated September 2, 1642, which has no sound of hypocritical pretence :-" Whereas the distressed estate of Ireland, steeped in her own blood, and the distracted estate of England, threatened with a cloud of blood by a civil war, call for all possible means to appease and avert the wrath of God appearing in these judgments: amongst which fasting and prayer having been often tried to be very effectual, have been lately and are still enjoined: and whereas public sports do not well agree with public calamities, nor public stage-plays with the seasons of humiliation, this being an exercise of sad and pious solemnity, and the other being spectacles of pleasure, too commonly expressing lascivious mirth and levity: it is therefore thought fit and ordained by the Lords and Commons in this Parliament assembled, that while these sad causes and set times of humiliation do continue, public stage-plays shall cease and be forborne."
Milton has described two of the chief aspects of the London of this period in very eloquent words: "Behold now this vast city; a city of refuge, the mansion-house of liberty, encompassed and surrounded with His protection. The shop of war hath not there more anvils and hammers working, to fashion out the plates and instruments of armed justice in defence of beleaguered truth, than there be pens and heads there, sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new notions and ideas."* London is the shop of war; it is the home of thought. Let us look at the vast city under the first of these aspects. It has always had its Trained-bands. It
* "Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing."
VOLUNTEERS OF LONDON.
[1642. has now its Volunteers of every rank. Ludlow thus relates his first introduction to "the shop of war," when he thought it his duty, as a young man, to take part in the cause of parliament: "Soon after my engagement in this cause, I met with Mr. Richard Fynes, son to the lord Say, and Mr. Charles Fleetwood, son to sir Miles Fleetwood, then a member of the House of Commons; with whom consulting, it was resolved by us to assemble as many young gentlemen of the Inns of Court, of which we then were, and others, as should be found disposed to this service, in order to be instructed together in the use of arms."* They frequently met at the Artillery Ground, to receive this instruction from "a person experienced in military affairs." Many who had been in the Protestant armies of the continent, some who had fought under Gustavus Adolphus, were competent to become such instructors. Such a man was Skippon, who had been appointed major-general of the London Militia. Clarendon does justice to his character: "The man had served very long in Holland; and from a common soldier had raised himself to the degree of a captain, and to the reputation of a good officer: he was a man of order and sobriety, and untainted with any of those vices which the officers of that army are exercised in." The parliament considered this city force as a great arm of strength: "Ordered, that the House shall meet to-morrow at eight, and adjourn at ten, to the end that such as please may see the Militia of the city of London exercised." Eight thousand
men were mustered on this occasion. Tents were erected for the members of parliament, and there was a city feast, without which the review would have been maimed of its fair proportions. There were healths, mingled with prayers and thanksgivings, on that and other grand occasions. Skippon and his strict brethren were obliged to compromise with some of the profane customs which they held in abomination. When the parliamentary Ordinance for an army went forth, the zeal of the people was called out in a more remarkable manner than by the sights of Finsbury fields. There was a work to be done which would require heavy payments. Four thousand men had enlisted in one day, and they must have wages. The tables of Guildhall were instantly heaped up with money and plate. The wealthy brought their bags of silver and their parcel-gilt goblets; the poorer, their smallest article of value—" a thimble, bodkin, and a spoon." May says, " it was a common jeer of men disaffected to the cause to call it the thimble and bodkin army.''
"Women, that left no stone unturn'd
In which the Cause might be concern'd,
Women took part in this great question of the time with an ardour in which there is nothing really ridiculous. The cavaliers laughed at "the zealous sisterhood;" but, in a juster point of view, there is something as heroic as the royalist countess of Derby's defence of Latham House, in the demeanour of the puritan Ann Stagg, a brewer's wife, when she went to the door of the House of Commons, at the head of a great number of women of the middle class, and presented a petition, which said, "It may be thought strange and uzbecoming our sex to show ourselves here, bearing a petition to this
"Memoirs," p. 43. + "Journals," May 9, 1642.
"Hudibras," part ii. canto 2.
honourable assembly; but Christ purchased us at as dear a rate as he did men, and therefore requireth the same obedience, for the same mercy, as of men: we are sharers in the public calamities." Pym delivered a gracious message to Ann Stagg and her companions: "Repair," he said, "to your houses, we entreat, and turn your petitions into prayers at home for us." Milton, commending the courtesy of the parliament to their petition, says, "The meanest artisans and labourers, at other times also women, and often the younger sort of servants, attending with their complaints, and that sometimes in a less humble guise than for petitioners, have gone with confidence that neither their meanness would be rejected, nor their simplicity contemned." *
The London apprentices, so prominent in these unhappy times, and so really formidable in their organisation, require a brief notice. They were not a low-bred or illiterate class. The greater number were the sons of substantial citizens or yeomen; and even the esquire did not disdain that his boy should serve in the shop of the London trader. Stow says, "Because the apprentices of London were often children of gentlemen and persons of good quality, they did affect to go in costly apparel, and wear weapons, and frequent schools of dancing, fencing, and music." Their principle of confederation gave them their political strength. A writer of this period says, "There is a kind of supernatural sympathy, a general union, which knits their hearts in a bond of fraternal affection, under the common notion of a London 'prentice." The dress of the apprentice in the reign of Charles I. was, "the flat round cap, hair close cut, narrow falling band, close side-coat, close hose. cloth stockings,"-an antique habit which may still be seen in the streets of London, as worn by the youths of that noble school, Christ's Hospital. The violence of the apprentices against episcopacy, and their general adherence to the cause of the Parliament, were probably influenced by the opinions of their puritan masters. But amongst this body there were some differences of opinion. At the beginning of 1643, there was a petition for peace, presented by "divers" London apprentices, which was not very favourably received; and in their published vindication they say, "Though we for several considerations were not, or not suffered to be, of that number who have exposed their persons to the fury of war, yet, as they bleed outwardly, we bleed within for the distempers of this Church and State." They probably belonged to the households of the minority of citizens, or were sons of royalist families. Their assertion that when they went to present their petition, they desired "all the subscribers to meet at the Piazzas in Covent Garden, in complete civil habits,
"Apology for Smectymnus."
+"Honour of London Apprentices," 1647.