Изображения страниц

boasts of victory were equally loud on both sides. The catholic prelates remarked on the unseemliness of placing Bacon, a layman, in the chair, to moderate a religious debate. It was very angrily conducted, and the bishops of Winchester and Lincoln were committed to the Tower for threatening to excommunicate the queen.*

Some documents purporting to be the speeches of the minority in parliament in these important debates are preserved. But they are considered as spurious or doubtful by the ecclesiastical historians of both parties.† Those ascribed to archbishop Heath, bishop Scott, and Feckenham, abbot of Westminster, are summaries of the controversy on the catholic side, and are not properly within the province of the civil historian. The speech of lord Montague is more ingenious and seasonable; objecting to the severe penalties, and urging the ordinary arguments from the antiquity and universality of the catholic church only as presumptions of the uncertainty of protestantism, and as aggravations of the injustice of severely punishing adherents to a faith maintained for so many ages by their fathers.

The true hinge of the dispute was not touched by either party. The question was, whether the legislature had a right to alter the established and endowed religion, on condition of respecting the estates for life vested by. law in certain ecclesiastics. The protestants as well as the catholics converted the debate into a theological discussion, because they justified their measures by the truth of their own religious opinions. No one then saw that the legislature could not, without usurping authority over conscience, consider religion otherwise than as it affected the outward interests of society; which alone were entrusted to their care, and submitted to their rule. Every other view of the subject, however arising from a wish to exalt religion, must in truth tend to degrade and enslave her.

Of the only two important deviations in the new Book of Common Prayer from the liturgy of Edward VI.,

*Collier, ii. 431. Strype, Ann. i. 133. + Strype, i. 107. Dod, ii. 4.

the first, consisting in the omission of a prayer to be delivered from the " tyranny of the bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities," manifested a conciliatory temper towards the Roman church; and the second, instead of the Zwinglian language, which spoke of the sacrament as being only a remembrance of the death of Christ, substituted words indicating some sort of real presence of a body, though not affirming the presence to be corporeal; coinciding with the phraseology of Calvin, which, if any meaning can be ascribed to the terms, might, it should seem, be used by catholics, not indeed as adequately conveying their doctrine, but as containing nothing inconsistent with it.*

The queen also scrupled about the abolition of the honours shown to the statues and pictures of holy men. She harboured prejudices favourable to the superior sanctity of a single life, which withheld her from approving the marriage of the clergy. She was indulgent to the affectionate practice of praying for the souls of the departed, which a simple piety seems very early to have suggested to the ancient Christians.

At midsummer, 1559, the protestant liturgy was introduced, and the oath of supremacy administered. Fifteen bishops refused the oath; being all the prelates then alive, except Kitchen of Llandaff, who did not shrink from the completion of that time-serving course, of which others of his brethren were at length ashamed. Their example was followed by seventy-seven dignitaries, and fifteen heads of colleges; but, out of the numerous body of parochial clergy, only by eighty rectors †; a singular proportion, clearly marking the great power of honour and shame in a case where conspicuous per* (At the delivery of the bread.)

King Edward's Prayer Book. "Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart with faith."

Queen Elizabeth's Prayer Book. "The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul."

Strype, Ann. i. 106. Dod only names about 150: if we deduct the abbots and monks, whose leaving their monasteries was not voluntary, and could not have been avoided by taking the oath, the difference will be trifling.— Dod, ii. 318.

sons remained faithful, while the obscure majority consulted their interest. The pliancy was by no means so considerable as under Henry and Edward; partly because the progress was then gradual, partly because the clergy were engaged in the first steps of it almost by surprise, and in no small degree from the terrors of Henry's sanguinary government. It is remarkable that so small a loss should have occasioned so great a deficiency in the means of religious instruction, as that which protestant writers deplore. The necessity of one minister serving several churches, however, is almost confined by Strype to London, where the conformity of known catholics was more disgraceful.* Laymen were appointed, he tells us, to read the service in the churches which were left destitute.

The university of Oxford (we have little information at that time concerning Cambridge) displayed a steadiness, venerable, if it proceeded from conscience; respectable, if it had no higher source than a regard to character; ;—on either supposition, natural in stations of eminence and influence; which was the first instance, and perhaps one of the fountains, of their zealous at tachment to ancient institutions. A small deduction from the number of fellows of colleges, on whom the education of the learned classes chiefly devolved, must have caused a great chasm in clerical and literary instruction. Bishop Jewel complained that there were not two in Oxford of the reformed opinions. + It is not to be forgotten, that many catholic priests at first conformed; that means were found to exempt others from the oath, and to convert their benefices into sinecures. The expulsions were not all enforced in the beginning§; and before the year 1564, we are told by

*Strype, i. 203.

+ Dod, ii 8. The complaint of archbishop Parker, that there were not two men in Cambridge able and willing to read theological lectures, is reduced in value by the fact that it occurred in 1568, and by the circumstance that it was written to obtain for the university pecuniary liberalities from the queen.-Collier, ii. 527.

Dod, ut suprà.

Tam anno isto (1560) quam proximo sequentibus exturbati sunt bene multi. Aut. Oxon.

Strype* that the chasm was almost filled up. If allowance be made for exaggeration in language, perhaps the protestant account of numbers, which is not opposed by any distinct enumeration on the side of the vanquished party, is not greatly defective, and may be nearly reconciled to the loud complaints of destitute churches, by the strong impression which the minds of men had received from the striking examples of the capital and the chief seminary of education. Even cardinal Allen, in his "Answer to the Defence of the Justice of Elizabeth," makes the whole number, exclusive of Ireland, to be only 229; an estimate which falls very short of the whole number of the parochial clergy who occupied the thousand parishes of England and Wales.

According to the standard of that age, the treatment of the deprived bishops was remarkable for mildness. The imprisonment of Bonner, whose odious character gave some colour to the reason alleged by a few partisans * of the government, that his confinement was necessary to shelter him from popular violence, can hardly be regarded as an exception. Elizabeth, who had received the other bishops at her first audience with due courtesy, turned from Bonner as from a man of blood; and on his death, in 1569, the bishop of London caused him to be interred by night, to protect his remains from the fury of the populace. The respectable Heath passed the remainder of his life at his own house in Surrey, where he was frequently visited by the queen. The venerable Tunstall, together with Thirlby, a statesman rather than a prelate, was placed in a state of lenient ward at Lambeth palace. Scott, Pate, and Goldwell retired beyond sea, not without the connivance of the ministers. White and Watson had threatened

to excommunicate the queen. The former was, however, released, after acknowledging his fault; and at his death, which occurred in 1559, he was publicly and solemnly interred in his late cathedral of Winchester. Watson, though unpopular as a sour and morose * Strype, i. 203.

+ Grindall's letter of September, 1569. Ellis. ii. 258.

man,” lived for twenty years with the bishops of Rochester and Ely; but was, in 1580, in consequence of a charge of conspiracy, confined in Wisbeach castle, where he died two years after. *

To fill the seats of the deceased and deprived bishops became one of the most serious cares of the new government. Cecil and Bacon, the principal ministers, turne their immediate attention to the vacant primacy, at that crisis the most important station in the kingdom. Their choice was, even before the coronation, fixed on Matthew Parker, a man of worth and learning, who, though a married clergyman, was endeared to Elizabeth by having been the chaplain of her mother, who with her dying breath commended to his pious care the religious nurture of her infant daughter. He was for some time confined to the country by a quartan ague, - a distemper then often fatal. A great part of the next year was employed in conquering the repugnance of this humble and disinterested man to the highest dignity in the reformed churches.

When Cecil and Bacon had finally succeeded in overcoming his scruples, the consecration was delayed for some time, in order to take such precautions as might best secure its validity from being impugned. † The church of England then adopted, and has not yet renounced, the inconsistent and absurd opinion, that the church of Rome, though idolatrous, is the only channel through which all lawful power of ordaining priests, of consecrating bishops, or validly performing any religious rite, flowed from Christ, through a succession of prelates, down to the latest age of the world. The ministers, therefore, first endeavoured to obtain the concurrence of the catholic bishops in the consecration; which those prelates, who must have considered such an act as a profanation, conscientiously refused.

f* Dod, i. 485. Strype, i. 214.

+ It is needless to discuss the ridiculous story of a consecration of the new prelates at the Nag's Head tavern; which has been judiciously abandoned by Dr. Lingard, the most eminent of our Roman catholic his torians.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »