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such other pending matters as ought to be left in that secrecy which their nature requires, and from which there is the less reason to drag them, because they cannot, in most cases, be carried into full effect without parliamentary grants, or without laws in which parliament must concur. Grave as the lord keeper was, he might have hinted that the observance of decorum towards the
crown, which was secondary principle of the constitution, almost forbade the exposure of the negotiation regarding the marriage of a female sovereign to the licence of public debate.
Throughout the transactions of these parliaments Elizabeth found herself more than once under the necessity of retiring from the exposed positions to which she had advanced; nor was it only in her abandonment of hazardous measures, but in the frequent lowering of her tone, and more especially in the unsubdued spirit of her opponents, that the progress of parliamentary power may be most clearly discovered. The greatest accession to the authority of parliament, however, arose from the policy necessarily adopted by her, as it had been by her father, of resting on that authority as the foundation of the throne. By the first act of the parliament of 1571, which was professedly founded on present danger, and to continue in force only during the queen's life, many acts were raised to the character of high treason, of which the greater part by judicial construction have since become permanently overt acts of the ancient treason of compassing (or conspiring) the death of the sovereign.
In the fourth section of that statute it was provided, "that any person who shall affirm or maintain that the queen's majesty, with and by the consent of the parliament, is not able to make laws of sufficient force to limit and bind the crown of this realm, and the descent, inheritance, and government thereof, every such person during the life of her majesty shall be adjudged a high traitor, and shall suffer and forfeit as in cases of high
treason."* By this provision the doctrine of inviolable succession was solemnly condemned, the power of altering it was affirmed, insomuch as to subject those who denied it to capital punishment, and that high power was declared to be not in the monarch alone, but in the monarch by the consent of parliament. It is wonderful, that after such a declaration of our constitutional law, a powerful party should have grown up in England on the avowed principle of an indefeasible and indeed divine right of succession.
After the deposing bull, and the audacity with which it was affixed on the bishop of London's palace, a severe measure against papal bulls was naturally to be expected; and if it had been limited within the bounds of reason, would doubtless have been justifiable. But the parliament made it "high treason to obtain or receive from the bishop of Rome any bull, writing, or instrument, containing any matter or thing whatsoever †: a persecuting enactment, which reduced catholics to the alternative of exposing themselves to death, or of foregoing many of those moral relations of life, which were in their opinion legitimatised only by the intervention of papal authority. This statute adopts a principle of cruel injustice, in order to preclude the possibility of some evasion, and outlaws the members of a great communion to avoid the risk of the introduction of a few criminal bulls, under cover of that multitude of them which were perfectly innocent. It might doubtless be said, and is indeed intimated in the preamble of this bill, that those who acknowledged the power of a pope who had issued the deposing bull lived in a permanent state of treason, and granted to the queen no more than a truce till they were better prepared for warfare. By such modes of reasoning, however, all tyranny might be justified, and peace might be for ever banished from human society. Greater discrimination in making laws, and a more assiduous vigilance in their execution, will always secure a government as much as that object can
+ 1 Eliz. c. ii.
*13 Eliz. c. i. s. 4.
be obtained with safety to the permanent well-being of mankind. It must, however, be allowed, that it would be unjust to impute the heaviest blame to an European government of the sixteenth century for not reaching that elevation of justice to which scarcely any state in the nineteenth seems to aspire.
Another cruel act was passed in the same session against emigrants who had left the realm without the queen's licence, subjecting their personal estate for ever, and their landed estates during their lives, to be confiscated, unless they returned within six months of proclamation made to that effect; on the alleged ground that "they carry with them great sums of money to be spent among strangers," besides employing it in the relief of traitors, and carrying on abroad their own treasonable projects.* Enactments of this sort, or of the like barbarity, not thought beneath the standard of the time when they were adopted, still dishonour most codes; and in the present case may be regarded as examples of that bungling tyranny which punishes the innocent to make sure of including all the guilty; as well as of that refined cruelty which, after rendering home odious, perhaps insupportable, pursues, with unrelenting rage, such of its victims as fly to foreign lands.
The puritans, hitherto only a powerful and zealous party within the pale of the church, now meditated a separation from the religious establishment. The disputes continued to hinge on the vestments, and on other usages supposed to be superstitious, which formed a part of the established worship. The eminent divines of this party, at the head of whom was Cartwright, professor of theology at Cambridge, seem to have been content with a connivance at their conscientious noncompliance with the directions of the liturgy; and though they considered a parity among pastors to be more purely apostolic than the rank and power of prelates, they were not unwilling to wait in peace for the
13 Eliz. c. iii.
progress of a more perfect reformation. They were more especially ready to subscribe all the doctrinal articles of the church; praying exemption from those only which related to discipline. Perhaps men so ardent and of so much conscious honesty as the puritans would not long have contained themselves within those boundaries of moderation which were likely in time to be looked on with an evil eye, as compromises of conscience with convenience. The experiment of lenity was, however, not made. Cartwright was deprived of his professorship.
An act* was passed, subjecting all clergymen, not having received orders according to the formularies of Edward or Elizabeth, to deprivation, unless they subscribed all the articles, and read publicly in their parish churches the certificate of a bishop, bearing testimony that they had fulfilled that condition; without regard to a possession of, perhaps, thirteen years, and with no small disrepect towards the protestant churches, from whom the greatest part of the incumbents thus expelled, by a law substantially retrospective, had received holy
From the beginning of 1567† puritan congregations had been dispersed, and their members apprehended, on the ground that they were unlawful assemblies. It appears to have been the immediate consequences of the laws of the session of 1571, and of the spirit in which they were now administered, that a formal separation from the episcopal church was deemed necessary to the puritans. The order or presbytery of Wandsworth, comprehending a small number of neighbouring ministers, were secretly assembled: shunning the animadversions of the law, and formed on the republican equality of the Calvinistic churches, in preference to the limited and impoverished episcopacy which many of them had seen among the Lutherans of Germany and Scandinavia.
13 Eliz. c. xii.
+ Strype, Life of Parker, i. 480. Nov. 20. 1572. Neale's History of Puritans, i. 243. Fuller, Church History, book ix. p. 103.
The zealous protestants, who in the beginning of the reformation were called gospellers, in derision of their throwing open the New Testament to the ignorant, were now variously called puritans, or precisians, in ridicule of their affectation of purity in belief and practice. The reformers every where diffused the practice of constant preaching,—one of the means of conversion which they had most successfully employed. Elizabeth was disposed to bring back the liberty of preaching within boundaries more near those to which it was confined in catholic times. She caused a book of homilies to be composed, in order that it might be substituted by the clergy for compositions of their own. She considered the clergy as divided into two classes. The one consisted of those who had been hastily admitted to orders in a moment of need, and whom the catholics contemptuously called the "ignorant mess Johns of Elizabeth." The other was composed of the learned zealots, many of whom were puritanically affected. Elizabeth thought that the indiscretion of the latter, and the ignorance of the former, rendered them equally unfit to be trusted with the formidable power of frequently addressing mixed multitudes from a place of authority on subjects calculated to stir up the strongest emotions, of which a multitude is susceptible. The expedients which were resorted to in order to supply the defects of inexperience and unskilfulness in the preachers, however they might answer their purpose, did not abate the jealousy with which a watchful government eyed the multiplication of opportunities of popular address.
It had become a practice for the ministers of a district to hold meetings in the church of a large town, which received the name of lectures, from being often expositions of passages of Scripture, of prophesyings, in the original sense of that word in which it denoted speaking in public; of exercises, because they gave the young preachers the habit of speaking with ease, clearness, and order. Hence, also, they were obliged to prepare themselves by adequate study for the discussion of the mean