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ROWLAND TAYLOR IN PRISON.
[1555. The account which Fox has given of Rowland Taylor is held to be only inferior to the eloquence and dignity of the Phædon of Plato.* It is difficult to give the spirit of such a narrative without impairing its force; but we may select one or two of its more remarkable points. Taylor had been chaplain to archbishop Cranmer; but having been appointed rector of Hadleigh in Suffolk, he devoted himself most zealously to the duties of his parish. He was married, and had nine children. Soon after the accession of Mary some zealous papists took forcible possession of his church, and brought a priest to perform mass. Taylor remonstrated, with more wrath than worldly prudence, against what he called popish idolatry; and he was cited to appear in London before the chancellor. He was strongly urged to fly; and his faithful servant, John Hull, who rode with him to London, entreated him to shun the impending danger, and declared that he would follow him in all perils. He came before Gardiner, with whom his long conference ended by the overpowering argument," Carry him to prison." He remained in confinement for about a year and three quarters; when he was brought before the commissioners and condemned as a heretic. His degradation was performed by Bonner; the usual mode being to put the garments of a Roman Catholic priest on the clerk-convict, and then to strip them off. Taylor refused to put them on; and was forcibly robed by another. "And when he was thoroughly furnished therewith, he set his hands to his sides, and said, 'How say you, my lord, am I not a goodly fool? How say you, my masters, if I were in Cheap, should I not have boys enough to laugh at these apish toys ?"" The final ceremony was for the bishop to give the heretic a blow on his breast with his crosierstaff. "The bishop's chaplain said, 'My lord, strike him not, for he will sure strike again.' 'Yes, by St. Peter, will I,' quoth Dr. Taylor, the cause is Christ's, and I were no good Christian if I would not fight in my Master's quarrel.' So the bishop laid his curse on him, and struck him not." When he went back to his fellow-prisoner Bradford, he told him the chaplain had said he would strike again; "and by my troth," said he, rubbing his hands, "I made him believe I would do so indeed." We give the scene as we find it, as an exhibition of character and of manners. What Heber calls "the coarse vigour of his pleasantry," may justly appear to some as foolish irreverence. But, under this rough contempt of an authority which he despised, there was in this parish priest a tenderness and love most truly Christian. At two o'clock on a February morning one of the sheriffs of London led Taylor out of his prison, to deliver him to the sheriff of Essex, in Aldgate. "Now when the sheriff and his company came against St. Botolph church, Elizabeth, his daughter, cried, saying, 'O my dear father! Mother, mother, here is my father led away.' Then cried his wife, Rowland, Rowland, where art thou?' for it was a very dark morning, that the one could not see the other. Dr. Taylor answered, 'Dear wife, I am here,' and staid. The sheriff's men would have led him forth, but the sheriff said, 'Stay a little, masters, I pray you, and let him speak to his wife;' and so they staid. Then came she to him; and he took his daughter Mary in his arms, and he, his wife, and Elizabeth kneeled down and said the Lord's Prayer: at which sight the sheriff wept apace, and so did divers other of the company. After they had prayed, he
* Heber, "Life of Jeremy Taylor."
HIS MARTYRDOM AT HADLEIGH.
rose up and kissed his wife, and shook her by the hand, and said, Farewell, my dear wife, be of good comfort, for I am quiet in my conscience. God shall stir up a father for my children.' And then he kissed his daughter Mary, and said, 'God bless thee, and make thee his servant:' and kissing Elizabeth, he said, 'God bless thee, I pray you all stand strong and stedfast unto Christ, and his words, and keep you from idolatry.' Then said his wife, 'God be with thee, dear Rowland. I will with God's grace meet thee at Hadleigh.' And so he was led forth to the Woolsack [an inn], and at his coming out, John Hull before spoken of stood at the rails with Dr. Taylor's son. When Dr. Taylor saw them, he called them, saying, 'Come hither, my son Thomas;' and John Hull lifted up the child, and set him on the horse, before his father. Then lifted he up his eyes towards heaven, and prayed for his son; laid his hat on the child's head, and blessed him; and so delivered the child to John Hull, whom he took by the hand and said, 'Farewell, John Hull, the faithfullest servant that ever man had.' And so they rode forth; the sheriff of Essex, with four yeomen of the guard, and the sheriff's men leading him." The narrative of Fox conducts the condemned man by slow steps to his beloved Hadleigh. He is placid and even merry to the last. He jests upon his burly and corpulent frame; and holds that the worms in Hadleigh church-yard will be deceived, for the carcase that should have been theirs will be burnt to ashes. He asks to be taken through Hadleigh. The streets are lined with his old parishioners. He could see them, but they could not look upon his face, which had been covered through his journey with a hood, having holes for the eyes and mouth. In Hadleigh there still stand
some alms-houses, built by William Pykeham, the rector, at the end of the fifteenth century. Taylor, "stopping by the alms-houses, cast out of a glove to the inmates of them such money as remained of what charitable persons had given for his support in prison, his benefices being sequestrated; and missing two of them he asked, 'Is the blind man, and the blind woman that dwelt here alive?' He was answered, 'Yea, they are there within.' Then threw he glove and all into the window, and so rode forth." When he came to Aldham Common, where he was to suffer, he said, "Thanked be God, I am even at home;" and lighting from his horse, he tore the hood from his head. "When the people saw his reverend and ancient face, and long white beard, they burst out with weeping tears, and cried, saying, 'God save thee good Dr. Taylor.' He would have spoken to them; but a guard thrust a tip-staff into his mouth. As they were piling the fagots, a brutal man cast a fagot at him, which wounded him so that the blood ran down his face. "O friend," said he, "I have harm enough; what needed that ?" Let us draw a veil over his sufferings; and see only the poor woman who knelt at the stake to join in his prayers, and would not be driven away.
In the persecution of the Protestant divines, there was one distinct evidence of their secession from the principles of the Church of Rome, which marked them out as victims. The greater number of them were married. Rogers, when he requested that his wife might be with him after his condemnation, was told that she was not his wife; and Gardiner and Bonner refused him this consolation. As he went to the stake at Smithfield, the faithful woman met him on his way with her ten children. Laurence Saunders was allowed to see his infant, when his wife was denied admittance to him at the Mar
THE MARRIED CLERGY ESPECIALLY PERSECUTED.
[1555. shalsea. Taking the child in his arms, he exclaimed, "Yea, if there were no other cause for which a man of my estate should lose his life, yet who would not give it, to avouch this child to be legitimate, and his marriage to be lawful and holy!" He wrote to that wife to prepare him a shirt, "which you know whereunto it is consecrated. Let it be sewed down on both sides, and not open." When Hooper was brought before Gardiner, the crafty prelate asked him whether he was married? "Yea, my lord," was the answer;" and will not be unmarried till death unmarry me." Rowland Taylor, kneeling with his wife and daughters on the dark February morning in the porch of St. Botolph, is the crowning example of the holiness of the family affections. Of such men it has been touchingly said, that "during this persecution, the married clergy were observed to suffer with most alacrity. They were bearing testimony to the validity and sanctity of their marriage, against the foul and unchristian aspersions of the Romish persecutors. The honour of their wives and children was at stake. The desire of leaving them an unsullied name, and a virtuous example, combined with the sense of religious duty; and thus the heart derived strength from the very ties which, in other circumstances, might have weakened it." *
Gardiner, according to our Protestant historians, "having broken the ice of burning heretics, and taken off the heads and captains," left the work to be carried on by Bonner. On the day on which Taylor and Hooper suffered, six persons were arraigned and condemned before the bishop of London, the lord mayor and sheriffs, and members of the council. They were of various callings,— a butcher, a barber, a weaver, a gentleman, a priest, and an apprentice to a silk-weaver. On the 10th, being Sunday, Alfonso de Castro, a Spanish friar, the confessor of king Philip, preached before the king; "and in his sermon inveighed against the bishops for burning of men; saying, that they learned it not in Scripture, to put any to death for conscience, but on the contrary, rather to let them live and be converted." + It was the desire of Philip to make himself acceptable to the English; and, probably, at this time, the severe bigotry which led him four years later to be present at an auto-da-fé in Valladolid, might have been kept down by kindlier feelings. There was a suspension of these cruel exhibitions for about five weeks after this remarkable sermon. But on the 17th of March, Thomas Tomkins, the weaver, condemned on the 9th of February, was burnt at Smithfield; on the 26th, William Hunter, the silk-weaver's apprentice, was burnt at Braintree; on the 28th, William Pigot, the butcher, was also burnt at Braintree; and Stephen Knight, the barber, at Maldon. John Laurence, the priest, was burnt at Colchester, on the 29th. Thomas Hawkes, the gentleman, was reserved to suffer at Coggeshall, on the 10th of June.
The story of Thomas Hawkes, as told by himself, affords a very fair illustration of the mode in which the lay "heretics were dealt with in these times; and of the resolution with which they stood up for their opinions. It is held that this young man was "in his conduct and carriage very unlike a humble Christian ;" and that "within the rough exterior of the bishop [Bonner], there must have been something more or less resembling that
THOMAS HAWKES AND BISHOP BONNER.
charity which is not easily provoked, nay, even suffereth long, and is kind............. It is not that the bishop let a forward young man say his say out, once or even twice, and then despatched him; but that after such a beginning, he had him on his hands for near a twelvemonth." * The reason that the bishop had this "forward young man" so long on his hands is left to be inferred. The law by which Bonner could have effectually "despatched him," did not come into operation till nineteen days before its efficacy was tried on Thomas Hawkes and three other Essex Protestants. He was apprehended because he would not suffer his child to be baptised according to the Romish ceremonials; and was sent to Bonner, to be used according to his discretion. At their very first conference the bishop asked him if he knew Knight and Pigot, the barber and the butcher. He is also asked if he knew one Bagot; and Bagot is called. The man, "not easily provoked," wishes Bagot to give his opinion upon the refusal of Hawkes to have his child christened; upon which Bagot says that Hawkes is old enough to answer for himself. "Ah! sir knave," says the bishop, "are you at that point with me? Go call me the porter. Thou shalt sit in the stocks, and have nothing but bread and water." Having terrified Bagot into saying that baptism, as then practised in the church, was good, he sent Hawkes to dine at the steward's table. Conversation after conversation occur between the bishop and his prisoner; and the end of their contests is, that he who "suffereth long, and is kind," says, "Sir, it is time to begin with you. We will rid you away, and then we shall have one heretic less." On another occasion, the candid bishop says, "Ye think we are afraid to put one of you to death: yes, yes, there is a brotherhood of you, but I will break it, I warrant you." Bold enough, insolent enough, if you please, was this young Thomas Hawkes; but his "conduct and carriage were those arising out of a conscientious resistance to a power which he knew would destroy him. The "conduct and carriage" of the proud man in authority were those which exhibit the impotence of tyranny even in its most sanguinary resolves. Hawkes refused to sign the petition which Bonner had drawn up.
"Then the bishop thrust me on the breast with great anger; and said he would be even with me, and with all such proud knaves in Essex.
“Hawkes. 'Ye shall do no more than God shall give you leave.'
"Bonner. "This gear shall not be unpunished-trust to it.'
"Hawkes. As for your cursings, railings, and blasphemings, I care not for them; for I know the moths and worms shall eat you, as they eat cloth or wool.'
"Bonner. 'I will be even with you when time shall come. The time did come; for on the 9th of February, Bonner read the sentence of death upon Thomas Hawkes.
In looking back upon the awful transactions of this time of persecution, let us not form too severe a judgment of the evil deeds of our erring forefathers. It was not a time when the rights of conscience, looking beyond the opinions of the alternately dominant creeds, could be adequately acknowledged by Roman Catholic or Protestant. The broad foundation upon which to establish those rights was undoubtedly laid in the principles of the Reformation.
* Dr. Maitland, "Essays," p. 495.
PHILPOT TOLERATION NOT PRACTISED BY REFORMERS.
But it has required the struggles of three centuries to make these rights a living rule of charitable action, even in secular legislation. Other disturbing influences were to arise, out of which were to grow many a severe contest between the ruling powers in church and state, and the sacred claims of private judgment. At this worst period in England of triumphant persecution against those who were called heretics, the very heretics themselves were ready to become persecutors. Philpot, "the best-born gentleman" of Fuller, had declared that he would confound any six of his adversaries upon the question of transubstantiation, and if not, he said, "let me be burnt before the court gates with as many fagots as be in London." When examined before Bonner, he had told him, in the true spirit of toleration, using the words of St. Ambrose to Valentinian, "Take away the law, and I shall reason with you." There could be no equal reasoning, when the renewed statutes for punishing heretics with death were written over the judgment-seat of the examiner. But Philpot himself was ready to become a persecutor when the case lay between his own opinions, and those which Catholic and Protestant had agreed in condemning. Courageous, enthusiastic, in the assertion of his principles, the martyr Philpot had no respect for those who went further than he did in asserting what they held to be truth. He published a vindication of himself for an action which was scarcely compatible with the character even of the "best-born gentleman." He had spat upon an Arian. Does he apologise for an act of passion when his conscience was offended by what he considered the enunciation of a creed which he held was damnable and wicked? He says, with perfect honesty, but in a spirit which may induce us to judge not too harshly of those who asserted their convictions even with cruelty, "Should not the mouth declare the zeal for his Maker, by spittings on him that depraveth his Divine Majesty ? .... I tell thee plain that I am nothing ashamed of that fact, but give God thanks that I bear evil for well-doing." He denounces as heretics, all "such as break the unity of Christ's church, neither abide in the same, neither submit their judgment to be tried in the causes which they brabble for, by the godly learned pastors thereof." Surely this self-reliance is an apology for those who also relied upon "the unity of Christ's church," as maintained by their own doctrines and ceremonies. Such was the temper of Calvin, when, in 1546, he thus declares his hatred of what he calls "the delirious fancies" of Servetus: "He takes it upon him to come hither, if it be agreeable to me. But I am unwilling to pledge my word for his safety; for if he shall come, I shall never permit him to depart alive, provided my authority be of any avail." Let us bear in mind how long a time of probation is required, before individual fidelity to a strong religious conviction can be united with respect for adverse opinions; how long before love shall prevail over zeal, and the essential agreements of the spiritual life be more regarded than the doctrinal differences. Let us bear this in mind, even when we view the conduct of a Bonner," whom all generations shall call bloody," according to the judgment of an honest man in his generation; but who it would better become us in our day to pity than to vituperate, if we cannot forbear, as we
Strype, vol. iii. part ii. p. 372.
Fuller, "Church History," vol. ij. p. 243,
Letters of Calvin, by Bonnet, vol. ii.