Laud, William the celebrated archbishop under James I and Charles I, was born at Reading, the principal town of Berkshire, October 7, 1573, of humble but respectable parentage. In 1589 he entered St. John's College, Oxford, graduated with distinction in 1594, and proceeded A.M. in 1598, when he was appointed reader in grammar. In January 1600, he was ordained deacon, and priest in 1601. The Calvinistic and Puritan tendency was strong in Oxford at that time; but Laud's immediate instructors and friends had been on the other side; his natural instincts inclined him to High- Church views and high ritualistic observances; he saw, too, that the court was on that side, and that a powerful reaction against the Calvinistic ascendency was already in progress. Abbot (afterwards primate) and Prideaux had succeeded Drs. Holland and Reynolds as theological professors in the university; but Laud, being appointed in 1602 to read the Maye divinity lecture in St. John's College, did not hesitate to attack Abbot's doctrine in regard to the visibility of the Church. The latter had traced the visible Church down, in the Middle Ages, through the Berengarians, the Albigenses or Waldensians, the Wickliffites, and the Hussites, to Luther and the Reformation; Laud traced it boldly and exclusively through the Church of Rome. They did not see that exclulsiveness was the error of both parties. In 1603 James succeeded to the throne of England, and, greatly to the disappointment and disgust of the Puritans, but to the unbounded satisfaction of Laud and his friends, he openly took sides with the highest hierarchical party in the English Church, early adopting as his pet motto, "No bishop, no king." Then followed the "Millenary petition" and the famous conference at Hampton Court, which resulted in the king's proclamation of "uniformity in discipline and worship." This year Laud was chosen proctor for the University of Oxford, and in the same year he was appointed chaplain to the earl of Devonshire. In 1604 he took his degree of B.D., and in the thesis which he presented on the occasion he maintained the absolute necessity of baptism to salvation, and of diocesan bishops to the existence of a true Church. In the following year Laud committed one of the most unfortunate, though oft-repented faults of his life, in solemnizing the marriage of his patron, the earl of Devonshire, with lady Rich, who, as he and all the world knew, had been divorced from her former husband, lord Rich, on account of adultery already committed with the same earl of Devonshire himself, of whom Laud was meanwhile the chaplain. The consequence of this affair was that the earl was utterly disgraced at court, and soon after died, while Laud, sharing in the public odium, was severely censured by the highest dignitaries both in Church and state.
In 1606 Laud preached a sermon before the university for which he was vehemently attacked by the vicechancellor as a papist; and though he contrived to escape formal censure from the authorities, he acknowledged afterwards to Heylin that such was the repute in which he was generally held at the university that "it was reckoned a heresy to speak to him, and a suspicion of heresy to salute him as he walked the street." Still, Laud was not without powerful friends, who sympathized with him and his opinions, and especially active among them was Dr. Neile, then bishop of Rochester. In 1607 he was preferred to the vicarage of Stamford, received the advowsson of North Kilworth, and took his degree of D.D. In 1608 he was appointed chaplain of bishop Neile, exchanged North Kilworth for West Tilbury, and preached his first sermon before king James at Theobald's. The next year he was presented to the living of Cuckstone, whereupon he resigned his fellowship in St. John's and resided on his benefice. The climate of Cuckstone not agreeing with his health, he soon exchanged this benefice for that of Norton. In the mean time Neile, having been translated to the see of Lichfield, recommended Laud so powerfully to the king that he obtained for him a prebend's stall in the Cathedral of Westminster, the deanery of which Neile, as bishop of Rochester, had held in comnendanm. In 1611, after a violently contested canvass, Laud was elected president of St. John's College, owing his success chiefly to the strenuous efforts of bishop Neile and of Dr. Buckeridge. At the same time he became one of king James's chaplains, while, to his great chagrin, Abbot, upon the death of archbishop Bancroft, was raised to the primacy. Abbot is charged by Laud's friends as having been the inveterate enemy of the latter, and the great retarder of his ecclesiastical promotion. Of the "enmity," it may be said once for all that there seems to be no evidence beyond the constant repetition of the charge. The simple truth of the case seems to be that Laud became the "inveterate enemy" of Abbot because the latter, when he had the power, refused to promote him, and conscientiously discouraged the advancement of a man in whom he had no confidence. Bishop Neile now bestowed upon Laud the prebendary of Bugden, and in 1615 the archdeaconry of Huntingdon. In 1616 James himself bestowed upon him the deanery of Gloucester, and he thus obtained the prospect of reaching the higher prizes he had in view. A second time he got into hot water by a sermon preached before the university. For this he was taken to task by Dr. Robert Abbot, then vice-chancellor, and brother of the archbishop. Abbot now, like bishop Hall before, charged him with trying to keep on both sides at once. In his deanery of Gloucester he proceeded to "reform and set in order" according to his own ecclesiastical notions, ordering the communion-table to the east end of the choir, to stand as the "altar" formerly stood, and enjoining a becoming reverence, i.e., due bowings and genufiexions, upon the clergy and officers on entering the church or chancel, and proceeding withal in a most high-handed manner. Returning to court, Laud procured directions for the "better government" of the university, which contained the first official disapprobation of the tenets of the Calvinists, and which, being evidently leveled against the Puritans, are conceded by one of Laud's most ardent eulogists (Lawson) to have been "not altogether justifiable." inasmuch as they deprived the university of its independence, and subjected it completely to the control of the king. " But," he adds, with characteristic fallacy and one-sidedness, "the state of the times rendered such instructions necessary; and the consternation of the Puritan faction, when they were made known at Oxford, is a proof of the wisdom of the monarch and his advisers in thus placing a timely restraint on the progress of sectarian partisanship and enthusiasm." James had already (1610-12) re-established episcopacy in Scotland, and with a special view to effect a more perfect uniformity in the two churches, he set out in 1617 to visit his northern kingdom for the first time since his accession to the English throne, and ordered Laud to accompany him. The king's favorite object was to substitute in the Scottish Church the Episcopal liturgy instead of the Presbyterian form of worship; and, though the Presbyterians prayed that they might be preserved from the same, Laud and some of the royal chaplains encouraged James to persist in regarding the mass of the nation as a set of "factious enthusiasts," and to obstinately adhere to his purpose of imposing upon these people his own form of religion in the name of "the Church." James and Laud, with a little knot of archbishops and bishops who had been consecrated to their office, not in Scotland, but at Westminster, were " the Church," and the Scottish nation was "the faction" — a mistake big with sad and fearful consequences. James now propounded the famous Five Articles, which he subjected first to the assembly called together at St. Andrew's, and later to the assembly at Perth, where, through the indefatigable exertions of the bishops, and the shrewd and cunning management of the king, the Five Articles were confirmed. These articles were rigidly enforced, but without the desired effect. The Scottish "rabble" were too "factious" to submit to a religion manufactured for them and forcibly imposed upon them by others. It was left for James's successor to continue his father's design, but with still worse success; and it was reserved for Laud to take a more dominant part in the business, and from a higher position, at a subsequent period. On his return through Lincolnshire he was inducted into the rectory of Ibstock, which he had taken in exchange for Norton; and, arriving at Oxford, he learned with pleasure that his exertions had effectually restrained the "Puritan enthusiasm" at Gloucester.
In 1620 Laud was at length raised to the episcopate, being made bishop of St. David's, in spite of the strenuous opposition of archbishop Abbot, as his friends assert, and through the earnest solicitations of the duke of Buckingham and of the lord-keeper Williams, then bishop of Lincoln, as is commonly alleged. Before his consecration as bishop, Laud, much to his credit, resigned the presidency of St. John's College, because, though such things were often winked at, he could not hold it without a violation of the statute. In his primary visitation of his diocese, he set things "in order" according to his peculiar views of what constituted the essentials of "the Church's" religion. He also built a chapel for himself, which he proceeded to fit up to his own taste as a model, and consecrated it with sundry extraordinary ceremonies.
In 1622 Laud's dispute with the Jesuit Fisher took place, which was, perhaps. the most creditable performance of his life, evincing extensive learning and no mean ability. Yet, dealing with the controversy from the high Anglican point of view, it fails to cover the whole Protestant position, and is now almost forgotten, being a document of much less breadth and historical interest than some still older defenses of the English Church, as, for example, Jewell's Apology.
About this time Laud became chaplain to the duke of Buclingham, and between them there grew up an intimate and lasting friendship. While Buckingham was absent with prince Charles in Spain, Laud was in correspondence with him, and seems to have been charged with the care of his interests at court during his absence; for, observing or suspecting some movements of the lord-keeper Williams towards undermining the duke in the royal favor, he immediately informed his patron in Spain of the apprehended danger, who accordingly hastened home to protect himself. Hence arose a determined hostility of the duke towards Williams, and Williams accused Laud of ingratitude, while Laud, on the other hand, charged him with duplicity and selfishness. Evidently the duke's patronage was judged of more value than the bishop's, and the breach ripened into a rooted enmity between the two churchmen. Laud chose to consider himself insulted by Abbot and Williams because his name was not inserted in the High Commission. He complained to Buckingham, who forthwith procured his nomination. In 1624 James died, and Laud lamented him with demonstrations of the utmost sorrow. On the first day of March, the year after the death of James, Laud received his appointment to preach before Charles at Westminster at the opening of the first Parliament; and the king, upon the advice of bishops Laud and Andrews, prohibited, in the Convocation which met at the same time with Parliament, the discussion of the five predestinarian articles of the Synod of Dort, "on account of the number of Calvinists admitted under 'Abbot's auspices into the Lower House." On the Sunday after the marriage of Charles and Henrietta Maria, Lauld again preached before the king and the House of Lords. The king had summoned this Parliament to procure supplies for the prosecution of his wars; but they chose to look after the righting of their own grievances before attending to the king's wants, and proceeded to cite and condemn a certain Mr. Montague for preaching what they judged heretical and unconstitutional doctrine. Laud immediately flew to Montague's protection, and, at his remonstrance, the king revoked the proceedings of Parliament, and prorogued them to Oxford. Parliament was no more pliant at Oxford than it had been at Westminster, and in a pet Charles suddenly dissolved it.
Meanwhile Laud was continually rising in the king's esteem and confidence, while Williams was removed from his office of lord-keeper and banished the court. Laud was indefatigable in his labors in preaching and purging the Church, refusing to ordain any whom he found to be unqualified for the sacred office, according to his view of the proper qualifications. He was appointed by the king to supply the place of the now disgraced Williams, the dean of Westminster, at the ceremony of the coronation. He here had official charge of the regalia, and is accused of having placed a crucifix upon the "altar," and tampered with the coronation oath; but of this accusation not much was ever made. By the king's appointment Laud again preached the sermon at the opening of Parliament, which assembled immediately after the coronation. This Parliament likewise proceeded at once to appoint a committee on religion. They also impeached the duke of Buckingham, and refused to do any other business until his case was disposed of. The king, finding them resolved on the ruin of his minister — and it is to be observed it was the House of Lords and not the House of Commons before which he was to be tried — to save his favorite, was compelled to dissolve his second Parliament. Unquestionably Laud was deeply and anxiously interested in the cause of his patron, and he is charged, on some show of evidence, with having written the speech of Buckingham in his own defense, and the speech of the king in Buckingham's behalf.
In 1626 Laud was translated to the see of Bath and Wells — a richer bishopric than that of St. David's. Both of Charles's Parliaments had refused to vote the subsidies to supply his pecuniary wants, and he resolved to collect the money without parliamentary authority. With this view he resorted to the expedient of "tuning the pulpits," and Laud was his instrument for this purpose. He'was instructed to prepare letters to be issued to the two archbishops and their suffragans, through them to the inferior clergy, and by them to the people, persuading them to pay cheerfully the taxations necessarily imposed on them. "The instructions," as Laud informs us, "were partly political and partly ecclesiastical," and were to be published in every parish in the kingdom. Laud engaged in the duty with his wonted alacrity, and almost immediately upon receiving the royal commands he had the instructions prepared. His apologists admit that it is a difficult matter to justify these instructions, "because they afford a dangerous precedent, which, were it followed, would be attended with the worst consequences;" it was no less than undertaking to tax the people without the consent of their representatives. By Laud's prompt and efficient management of this affair he was still further advanced in the king's good opinion, and was rewarded with the appointment of dean of the chapel royal, and the promise of the primacy in the event of Abbot's decease. In enforcing Laud's "instructions," doctors Sibthorpe and Manwaring preached sermons in which they maintained the extreme doctrines of passive obedience, and which, after Laud's revision, were published. Abbot, too, had refused to license Sibthorpe's sermon, for which factious procedure a commission of sequestration was issued against him, and the administration of his metropolitan functions was put into the hands of Laud, in conjunction with four other bishops. In the same year Laud was made a privy counselor, and, by the redistribution of sundry bishops and bishoprics, arrangements were initiated to make a vacancy in the see of London, that Laud might at once be translated to that rich and powerful bishopric. Meanwhile Charles had been compelled by his necessities to call a third Parliament, although it was well understood that Laud as well as Buckingham would be thereby endangered. But, to propitiate the popular feeling, several commissions were made, and, among other things, Abbot was restored to his functions, and received at court. Again Laud preached the opening sermon, and the king concluded his speech by exhorting Parliament to follow the good advice which Laud had given them. But the Commons determined to proceed to business in their own way. They first drew up and passed the famous Petition of Right. They then presented a remonstrance of grievances against the duke of Buckingham, not omitting to mention Laud in their indictment. They cited Dr. Manwaring to their bar, ordered him to be severely punished, and his sermons to be burnt. The king prorogued Parliament, ignored the complaints against Buckingham and Laud, remitted Manwaring's fine, and, successively giving him various livings, at length promoted him to the deanery of Worcester, and then to the bishopric of St. David's, made Sibthorpe prebendary of Peterborough, and translated Laud to the see of London, July 15, 1629. On the death of Buckingham, which took place before the next meeting of Parliament, the king was pleased to assure Laud that he intended to entrust him with his confidence in Buckingham's room. At the examination of Felton, the assassin of Buckingham, before the privy council, the man admitted the deed, but denied the privity of any other parties. Laud, in his eagerness to improve this presumed opportunity for reaching and crushing his enemies, threatened him with the rack if he would not disclose his accomplices. But, upon the judges being asked whether Felton could be lawfully put to the rack, they returned for answer that by the laws of England he could not. It was in this interval, too, that Laud, "in order to put a stop to the disturbances which arose from the preaching of the abstruse and mystical doctrines of predestination," as his friends aver, "procured a royal declaration to be prefixed to the Articles," prohibiting such preaching. Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards earl of Strafford, was gained over from the popular party to the king's side by largesses of royal favor, and he and Laud immediately commenced a friendship which ever after remained inviolate.
When at length Parliament again assembled, the Commons opened with a remonstrance upon the alleged infractions of the Petition of Right, and then turned their attention to their religious grievances. Excited to great exasperation by the king's declaration which Laud had procured, they passed a solemn vote against it, claiming, protesting, and vowing that the current and general exposition of the articles, "which had been established by act of Parliament," had ever been the same as their own. In the debate, Sir John Eliot denounced some of the bishops as neither "orthodox nor sound in religion. Witness," said he, "the two bishops, Laud and Neile, who were complained of at the last meeting of Parliament. I apprehend much fear that, should we be in their power, we may be in danger to have our religion overthrown. Some of them are masters of ceremonies, and they labor to introduce new ceremonies into the Church." The House resumed the cases of Montague, Manwaring, and Sibthorpe, to all of whom the king had granted pardons and preferments. Laud and Neile were the grand objects of attack, being accused of having procured these pardons. "In Laud and Neile," declared Sir John Eliot, "is centred all the danger we fear," and he proposed to petition the king to leave those bishops to "the justice of the House." Oliver Cromwell, too, distinguished himself in this discussion; the preferment of Manwaring especially "excited his wrath." "If these be the steps to Church preferment," cried the future Protector, "what may we expect?" At length the king, exasperated, endeavored to adjourn the House by royal command. This led to a scene of great excitement and confusion, and finally the third Parliament of Charles's reign was abruptly dissolved. Parliaments were now to be abolished, and Laud was prime minister. He must be held to all the responsibility attaching to such a position at such a time. He presided especially over the affairs of England, the duke of Hamilton over those of Scotland, and Wentworth over those of Ireland. In his ecclesiastical administration, Laud's friends commonly claim for him the character of toleration and liberality, in the face of the fact that, having advised with Harsnet, archbishop of York, he drew up certain articles which, under the royal authority, were immediately dispatched to archbishop Abbot, requiring him and his suffragans (in brief) to suppress the preaching of the Puritans, to note all absentees from the prescribed public prayers, and to render an account in the premises on the 2d of January every year.
Early in 1630 Laud was chosen chancellor of the University of Oxford. In the same year he also enjoyed the honor of officiating at the baptism of the infant prince, afterwards Charles II, although this distinction belonged by usage to the archbishop of Canterbury. Laud was now in the full tide of prosperity, and nothing could stand in his way. Did the Puritans undertake to buy up the impropriations of Church livings, that they might have the disposal of them for their lecturers, Laud had them punished for their impertinence, and their purchases confiscated to the kisng. Did they presume to preach or publish their peculiar tenets at Oxford or in Ireland, Laud had them expelled or silenced. Were any bishoprics or deaneries vacant, Laud saw that they were filled with the right sort of churchmen. He enlarged St. John's College with a new quadrangle. He repaired St. Paul's Cathedral. He took cognizance of the chapels and chaplains of English congregations abroad, and of the congregations or churches of foreigners in England, and reduced them all to conformity, or placed the members of the latter under the strictest surveillance, taking away the children, and burdening the parents with all the disadvantages of alienage. He urged the Scottish bishops, if they made any change in their liturgy, to adopt that of the Church of England without any variation; and the new liturgy which was drawn up by those bishops was submitted to his final revision. On the king's visit to Scotland, Laud attended him, was made a member of the Scotch Privy Council, and preached before the king, in the chapel royal in Holyrood House, on "the utility of conformity." At length, on the 4th of August, 1633, archbishop Abbot died; on the 6th Laud was promoted by the king to the primacy, and on the 19th of September was formally translated to this, the long-desired goal of his ambition. At the same time he was offered a cardinal's hat by certain emissaries of the pope, which, without betraying either astonishment, or indignation, or disturbance of any kind, he respectfully declined "till Rome should be otherwise than it then was;" and before his enthronement he was elected chancellor of the University of Dublin.
In his metropolitan chair his first act was to issue more stringent rules for candidates for ordination, so as more effectually to shut out Puritan preachers and lecturers. The next was to revive and extend the king's declaration concerning lawful sports on Sundays. The archbishop now proceeded upon his metropolitan visitations, and he made thorough work of it; for all Puritanism he was a perfect "root and branch" man. But one great business and burden with him was to see that the communion-tables were placed altar-wise, railed in, and approached always with the prescribed bows and obeisances, it being assumed that thus, and thus only, could true devotion and godly reverence be preserved in the Church. His old patron, bishop Williams, he suspended for contumacy. He busied himself earnestly in improving the revenues of the poor clergy of London and the poorer clergy of Ireland. He procured a new charter and statutes for the University of Dublin, and the adoption of the Thirty-nine Articles, instead of those of Lambeth, by the Irish Church. Indeed, through his intimacy with Wentworth, the lord deputy, and his chancellorship of the Dublin University, he seems, as prime minister and archbishop of Canterbury, to have had much more control of the affairs of the Irish Church than her own primate, Usher, or any or all of her bishops and archbishops. Civil appointments, also, were accumulated upon Laud. He was not only prime minister, privy counselor in England and in Scotland, member of the courts of Star Chamber and High Commission, but he was also appointed a member of the committee of trade, and a commissioner of the Treasury, and placed on the foreign committee. He procured the new Caroline Charter for Oxford, and continued his munificent gifts. He took especial care of the restoration of the cathedrals and of the Cathedral service, with all the old accustomed appointments and ceremonies.
Laud, like Wolsey when in favor with Henry VIII, had reached the highest pinnacle of his greatness. All honor, power, and splendor seemed to converge towards him. All around was buoyant with success and glowing with promise. It was Laud here, it was Laud there, it was Laud everywhere. He had three kingdoms well in hand. Church and State lay submissive at his feet. But the scene was soon to change. He was disporting himself upon the bosom of a volcano, whose vent-holes he was hoping to keep stopped up with his puny engineering. The quakings and rumblings of the approaching eruption were already increasing. In the year 1637, "some factious and refractory men had determined to establish their enthusiasm on the shores of America, amid the forests of New England." These disorderly emigrations without a royal license it was thought expedient to restrain, "because of the many idle and obstinate humors whose only or principal end was to live without the reach of authority." Eight ships in the Thames were stopped by an order of Council, and no clergyman was allowed to leave the country without the approbation of the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London. Among those intended emigrants Oliver Cromwell is said to have been thus stopped. The symptoms of dissatisfaction and uneasiness were drawing towards a crisis, and some prosecutions of this same year accelerated the national calamities. The first case was the trial of Prynne, Bastvick, and Burton in the Star Chamber. Prynne was a graduate of Oxford, and a barrister of Lincoln's Inn; Bastwick left Cambridge before taking his degree, and, having traveled nine years on the Continent, took the degree of M.D. at Padua; Burton was A.M. and B.D. at Oxford, and had been clerk of the closet to the Prince of Wales, and rector of St. Matthew's, Friday Street, London. Prynne, for his Histrio-Mastyx, had already been condemned to pay a fine of £5000, to be expelled from Oxford and from Lincoln's Inn, to stand in the pillory at Westminster and at Cheapside, and at each place to have an ear cut off, to have his book burnt before his face, and to remain a prisoner for life. In the execution of the sentence it is said that Prynne had nearly been suffocated with the smoke of his book. From prison, however, the irrepressible Prynne, as soon as he could procure writing materials, continued audaciously, and with amazing industry, to send forth his pamphlets against his persecutors; and now the doctor Bastwick and the rector Burton had joined the lawyer in the fray. These pamphlets were no doubt intemperate and extravagant, coarse and violent in their language; they were naturally branded as scurrilous and seditious by the other side. But it is to be remembered their authors were persecuted fanatics; and it is a better excuse for them to say that the controversial language of the age was coarse, than it is for their enemies to say that the punishments of the age were barbarous. The use of epithets is largely a matter of taste and fashion; but humanity itself, wherever it exists, is shocked at the sight of torture, and cruelty, and blood. All three of the accused were condemned; Prynne to pay a fine of £5000, to lose the remainder of his ears in the pillory, to be branded eon both cheeks with the initials of slanderous libeler, and to be immured for life in Caernarvon Castle. Bastwick and Burton were to pay the same fine, were to lose their ears in the pillory, and to be imprisoned for life in separate castles. On this occasion, Laud, who was a member of the court, made a long speech. As he had everything under his own control, he had no temptation to use violent language. He assumed an air of studied coolness and dignity. Having descanted upon the merits of his own immaculate administration in Church and State, and set forth in strong colors the dangerous and abominable character of factious and seditious libeling, he added, "But because the business hath some reflection upon myself, I shall forbear to censure them, and leave them to God's mercy and the king's justice." That is to say, having fully given his views, he would not cast his formal vote in the case, but, knowing full well what the decision, yea, the "unanimous" decision of the judges would be, he concludes his speech thus. "I give all your lordships hearty thanks for your noble patience, and your just and honorable sentence upon these men, and your unanimous dislike of them and defense of the Church." Who can doubt that Prynne was right in afterwards declaring that Laud was "the cause and contriver of the sentence before it was given, and that he approved and thanked the lords for it when it was given?" The three victims underwent their "punishment" (as Laud's friends delight to call it)
with the most astonishing heroism. Such "punishment" of such men, however ignominious or degrading it was meant to be, could never elevate the dignity or strengthen the position of the party that inflicted it. The sufferers were no doubt supported by the sympathies of an immense mass of the people, as well as by their own courage or obstinacy, their religious principle or fanaticism. No wonder that libels against the archbishop were multiplied and intensified, and that his victims were honored with abundant and galling demonstrations of popular favor. It was found necessary, in order to remove them out of the reach of their friends, to transfer them from the prisons to which they had been condemned to other castles in the Channel Islands.
Having now seen the leaders of the "malignant faction" visited with condign "punishment" and put out of the way, Laud had the pleasure of having his early patron, bishop Williams — against whom he seems to have nursed a rancorous grudge, as though fearing that one day he might be a dangerous rival — arraigned before him in the Star Chamber, at first on the old charge of revealing the king's secrets, and afterwards in that of suborning a witness; and, having again delivered himself of a long and dignified speech, magnifying the enormity of the crime of subornation of perjury, especially in a clergyman and a bishop, and at the same time protesting his personal friendliness, he graciously and humbly leaves the accused to the tender mercies of a court thus "tuned," who sentenced him to pay a fine of £10,000, to be imprisoned during the king's pleasure, and to be suspended from all his offices, preferments, and functions.
Upon Laud's recommendation, a decree was passed by the Star Chamber in 1637 for restraining the freedom of the press. The provisions of the edict were sufficiently severe. It limited the number of master printers under penalty of whipping; it forbade the printing of books without a license from the archbishop or the bishop of London, or their chaplains, or from the chancellors or vice-chancellors of the universities. It prohibited the sale of imported books without a similar license; it authorized the Company of Stationers to seize on all such books as they found to be schismatical or offensive, and to lay them before the ecclesiastical authorities; it enacted that no one in England should cause to be printed any books in English beyond the seas, or to import them into the country; and finally it provided that offenses against the decree should be punished by the court of Star Chamber or High Commission. Such was the law enacted — not by the English Parliament, but by the Star Chamber — to protect, not the English Protestant Church, but the Laudian ecclesiastical system against the "Puritan faction." The "Short Parliament" of 1640 had been dissolved after a session of three weeks; but as the Convocation continued to sit a set of new canons was drawn up under the influence and presidency of Laud, which contained the famous election oath; and the first of which proclaimed that monarchy was of divine right, that the royal authority was independent, not only of the bishop of Rome, but of every other earthly power, and that it cannot be assailed on any pretense without resistance to the ordinance of God. Not only this canon, but the whole body of them, were of the most arbitrary character, especially enjoining, under severe penalties, the ceremonies to which the archbishop was notoriously attached; and all this at a time most unwisely chosen, when the whole condition of the empire was imminently critical; so that, as Clarendon remarks, "the season in which that synod continued to sit was in so ill a conjuncture of time that nothing could have been transacted there of a popular and prevailing influence." The archbishop prime minister had so completely established uniformity in England that he now had leisure to turn his particular attention to the reformation of Puritan abuses in the outlying islands of Jersey and Guernsey. He claims to have brought Chillingworth back from the Church of Rome. If he did, he certainly did not make that irrefragable defender of the religion of Protestants a disciple of his own system. He urged bishop Hall to write his treatise on Episcopacy; but Hall's claims were not put high enough to satisfy Laud, who was particularly offended because the pope was plainly called Antichrist. The plot now thickens. The Scottish troubles growing out of the attempted imposition of the new canons and liturgy upon the Scottish people, beginning with the "profane imprecation" of the dame Janet Geddes, in St. Giles's, at the first reading of the detested service: "Out, out, thou false thief; dost thou say mass at my lug?" had now swollen into an irresistible storm of violence and rebellion. The uproar of the " old woman" in a church, and the brickbats of the mob around it, had turned into a national conspiracy. Through all the business Laud had adroitly managed to incur no mesponsibility without the participation or authority of the king or the Scottish bishops; nevertheless, it is evident he was mixed up with it all, not only as accessory, but as prime minister. He corresponded constantly with the Scottish bishops as well as with the civil authorities in Scotland. To him they made their reports and their excuses, and his advice and direction were required and sought on all occasions.
The invasion of England by the army of the Covenanters at length compelled Charles once more to summon the English Legislature. The Long Parliament met. Then the bubble burst; then the flaunting splendors of a luxurious and insolent court were exchanged for humiliation and deepening gloom; then the vast machinery of ecclesiastical despotism, pushed to its utmost tension of pride and tyranny, suddenly gave way with a crash, and the accumulated usurpations of royal prerogative hastened to their final and irreversible doom. The odious courts of the Star Chamber and High Commission were abolished, and all judges were henceforth made independent of the crown; no taxes, of whatever description, were to be levied without authority of Parliament, and Parliaments were by law to be triennial. The earl of Strafford, lord deputy of Ireland, Laud's most intimate friend, the king's ablest political adviser, and the most skillful commander of the royal forces against the Scotch, was impeached for high treason. Laud's own impeachment soon followed, and he was forthwith committed to the Towser, where he was kept imprisoned three years (1641-5); his jurisdiction and all his offices and emoluments were sequestered by the House of Peers. Lambeth Palace was made a state prison, and Leighton, now almost a maniac, was put in charge of it; Prynne was made his warden in the Tower. The bishops were unseated from the House of Lords; episcopacy and the liturgy were abolished by act of Parliament; and Laud — having seen the complete triumph of the miserable " fanatical faction" over which he had wielded the rod of power and of punishment so long, the utter destruction and abolition of the hierarchy and the ceremonies to whose aggrandizement and magnificence he had devoted his life, and the annihilation of all his fond dreams of personal grandeur, and glory, and lordly munificence — was at length condemned by an ordinance of Parliament, and suffered decapitation on Tower Hill, meeting his doom with perfect composure and quiet dignity, on the 10th of January, 1645.
Thus fell the famous archbishop Laud, perhaps the best praised and most blamed man that ever lived. As to the formal legality of his sentence, it may be admitted that it cannot be constitutionally or technically justified. As to the specific charges against him, it may be granted that they could not, except constructively, amount to treason even if proved, and that few of any weight were proved with such evidence as would be satisfactory under the strict rules of an impartial court of justice. But it must be remembered that Laud was tried before a revolutionary tribunal; that, in such circumstances, moral, not legal evidence swayed his judges; and that the general, known truth of the case, not the detailed proof of specific articles, determined the conclusion.
It may be conceded that the arbitrary and tyranical acts of the administration of Charles and of Laud, whether in Church or State, did not go beyond the precedents which had been set from Henry VIII downwards; but it must be remembered that the spirit of the times had changed, and it was the bounden duty of wise men in high places to know it, and act accordingly. A people educated under Romish domination and superstition might submit to the imposition of taxes or of creeds by the sovereign and established authority, which a people educated under even an imperfect influx of Protestant light, and of its attendant maxims of personal liberty and freedom of thought, could no longer brook. Moreover, a tyrannical despotism once constitutionally established can never be abolished or got rid of unless the governors either yield to the popular demands or are illegally put down by revolutionary force and violence.
It may be conceded that Laud was honest and con scientious in defending the extreme doctrines of the divine right, of the royal prerogative, and of passive obedience, and in his endeavors to suppress the "Puritan faction" in Church and State; but, in a historical estimate of his career and character, this proves nothing. The constitution of successive Parliaments shows that this "faction" was an increasing majority of the nation; they, too, were conscientious; Prynne, Bastwick, and Burton were conscientious — fanatically, not by policy, conscientious; the parliamentary leaders, those noble defenders of English liberty, were conscientious; most despots, tyrants, and conservatives, as well as rebels, revolutionists, and reformers, are conscientious. Their conduct and character must be judged of by rules independent of their well informed or ill informed private consciences. There may be fault on both sides: one extreme begets another. So it was then; so it was afterwards.
It may be conceded that the charge of popery against Laud — a charge from which he suffered more severely than from any other, and which more than any other was the cause of his ruin — was not literally true. What was substantially true was thus put into the false and extravagant formula of the demagogue — it was a caricature. Laud was a loyal son of the Church of England, "as by law established," so long as the laws were in accordance with his notions, or as he had the interpretation and execution of them in his own hands. It was not Roman popery, but Anglican or Laudean popery which he would establish. No doubt he was more of a Papist than of a Protestant in the true sense of that word. His sympathies were more with Rome than with Augsburg or Geneva; and the people, who are instinctively sagacious in questions of this kind, did not fail to perceive it, and they expressed their judgment, as is their wont, in the most summary and positive terms.
As to ecclesiastical ceremonies, Laud's devotion to them and to their enforcement is certainly not among the marks of his greatness of mind. The opposition to them may have been as unreasonable as their imposition; yet the fact was they were generally unpopular and odious, and Laud, in his position, was bound to have the discretion to accommodate himself to that fact. It boots nothing to say that they were not illegal; it is enough that they were both unpopular and unnecessary. It boots nothing to talk of the irreverence and slovenliness of the Puritan worship; that is mostly exaggeration; but, at all events, decency and reverence could have been preserved without the precision and multiplied formalities of the Laudean ceremonial.
It may be conceded that Laud was a munificent patron of learning and of the universities, with whose dignities he was invested; but it might not be altogether amiss to inquire whence came all the funds of which he made all this lordly distribution; and perhaps we shall find that, in this matter, Laud deserves only this honor above many other men, that he honestly paid over at least a portion of the money to those to whom, after all, it rightfully belonged. He never stinted the splendor or sumptuousness of his own establishment, or the appointments of his personal retinue. Of his wealth and grandeur he enjoyed what he could. But let it remain to his credit that his vanity — if it were nothing better — took the form of magnificent public benefactions.
As to intellectual abilities, Laud's must have been considerable, or he could never have been the historical personage he was. In the personal habits of his private life he was irreproachable. As a clergyman he was indefatigable and punctilious in the discharge of his duties. He was always narrow and bigoted in his views, but he lived in narrow and bigoted times. How far his high political positions were compatible with his ecclesiastical character may well be doubted, and his example can never be repeated again in England. How far the corrupting influence of political place, and of the association of political persons and of political life, may have contributed to develop and exaggerate his worst faults — which, after all, were chiefly those of administration — it is impossible to say. It must be remembered that he was a courtier long before he was even a bishop, and continued a courtier till he became primate of all England, and thereafter till he was "translated" from the court to the Tower of London. If lawn sleeves could pass unsullied through the scenes of such a life, a naturally ambitious churchman could hardly grow in grace in such an atmosphere. Laud's devotional compositions, in the form of private prayers, are often admirable, and are thought to give a very favorable insight into his interior religious life. Let us hope that the prayers were sincere and acceptable.
Laud's character may be considered with reference to the rightness of his general purpose, or to the wisdom of his aiming at its accomplishment, or to the manner in which he endeavored to effect it. As to the right or wrong of his general purpose, his theory and aim, whether in Church or State, but particularly in the Church, it always has been, and perhaps always will be, a matter of dispute. It is useless to discuss it. Any judgment of his character based upon the assumption of this question is no better than a petitio principii. As to the wisdom or folly of undertaking to accomplish that purpose in those times and under those circumstances, it is more and more generally admitted that he made a mistake in the attempt. His friends regard it as a venial error, his enemies reckon the blunder a crime. As to the means he employed, and, in general, his whole manner and bearing in seeking his end, there is a very general verdict against him. He had great personal faults. Prominent among them were an overweening ambition, self-sufficiency, and insolence. An aristocratic estimate of the structure of society, and a sovereign contempt for the people and the popular will — very natural, but the more inexcusable in a man of his origin and profession — an utter destitution of the grand idea of humanity, underlie all the mistakes and all the misfortunes of his life.
We conclude our sketch with the following candid admissions from Le Bas, one of Laud's most earnest apologists and admirers. "That the administration of Laud was in some respects injurious to the Church can hardly be denied; but then it is most important to keep in mind that the injury was inflicted not so much by the measures which he adopted as by the manner in which he enforced them. There has seldom, perhaps, lived a man who contrived that his good should be so virulently evil spoken of. From all that we learn of him, his manner appears to have been singularly ungracious and unpopular, and his temper offensively irascible and hot. If we are to trust the representations of him left us either by friend or foe, he must have been one of the most disagreeable persons in the three kingdoms except to those who were intimately acquainted with his worth. There was nothing affable or engaging in his general behavior. His very integrity was often made odious by wearing an aspect of austerity and haughtiness. It would almost seem as if prudence had been struck out of his catalogue of the cardinal virtues. He was unable, as Warburton remarks, to comprehend one important truth, with which Richelieu was so familiar, when he said that if he had not spent as much time in civilities as in business he had undone his master. The consequence of this ignorance, or of this disdain, of the ways of the world was unspeakably hurtful to the cause which at all times was nearest his heart. In the minds of many who were ignorant of the essential excellence of the man, the interests of the Establishment were, by his demeanor, associated with almost everything that is harsh and repulsive. For a considerable portion of his life he was regarded not only as the leader, but the representative of the ecclesiastical body; and the impression which he communicated to the public was too often that of unfeeling arrogance and lofty impatience of control. Whether the Church could have been saved by any combination, in the person of its ruler, of those rare endowments which secure at once both reverence and attachment, no human sagacity can at this day be competent to pronounce; but it certainly is not altogether surprising that this unhappy defect should, even in the minds of judicious and impartial men, have connected his administration with the ruin of the Establishment. In such unquiet times, more especially, a man like Laud would not only be dreaded as a firm and conscientious disciplinarian, but as the rigorous and overbearing priest; and the Church would be sure to suffer most grievously for the unpopularity of her governor." In England, the parties with which Laud's life was implicated have not yet passed away, so that it is almost impossible even now to get an impartial estimate of the man from his own countrymen; but it can hardly be doubted that the ultimate verdict of history will be his final condemnation. The English monarchy has gloriously survived the political principles which he defended; his ecclesiastical principles will ultimately be found equally unnecessary, nay, hostile, to the true strength and glory of the English Church. (D.K.G.)
Laud's writings are few. Wharton published his Diary in 1694, and Parker his Works (Oxford, 1847-60), containing, among other things, his letters and miscellaneous papers, many of them then published for the first time, and, like his Diary, invaluable as contributions to the personal history of this noted archbishop and his associates. See Hume, Hist. of Engl. Chapter 52; Hallam, Constit. Hist. of Engl. (Lond. 1854), 2:38, 167; Macaulay, Essays (1854), 1:159 sq., 424 sq.; Short, Ch. Hist. (Lond. 1840), page 486 sq., 553 sq.; Tulloch, English Puritanism, page 45 sq.; Fletcher, History of Indepeendecy, volumes 2, 3, 4; Collier, Eccl. Hist. (see Index); Prynne, Heyin, Le Bas, Lawson, and Baines, on the Life of Laud; Westm. Rev. 17:478 sq.; 1870, page 294; London Month. Rev. 118:317 sq.; Lond. Retrop. Rev. 7 (1827), 49 sq.; Blackw. Mag. 25:619 sq.; 27:179; 29:523; 1, 806; Lond. Quart. Rev. 10:101 sq.; North. Amer. Review, 1864, 606 sq.