« PreviousContinue »
term in the canon law) by the fact of involuntary homicide?
2. Whether that act might tend to scandal in a churchman?
3. How his Grace should be restored, in case the commissioners should find him irregular?'
After full investigation it was unanimously agreed that, admitting the “ irregularity' (concerning which they were divided) he could not be restored but by the King alone; and respecting the mode of restitution they again varied. The Bishop of Winchester, the Chief Justice of the King's-Bench, and Dr. Stewart the civilian, were of opinion that it should be done personally by the King. The LordKeeper (Dr. Williams, Bishop of Lincoln) and the Bishops of London, Rochester, Exeter, and St. David's preferred a commission from the King directed to the Bishops. Judge Doddridge, and Sir Henry Martin, wished it might be done both ways, to serve as a precedent. In the end, the King passed a pardon and dispensation, by which he “assoiled' the Archbishop of all irregularity, scandal, or infa
Andrews and Sir Henry Martin stood stifly for him, that in regard it was no spontaneous act but a mere contingency, and that there is no degree of men but is subject to misfortunes and casualties, they declared positively that he was not to fall from his dignity or function, but should still remain regular and in statu quo prius. During this debate he petitioned the King, that he might be permitted to retire to his Alms-house at Guildford, where he was born, to pass the remainder of his life:? but he is now come to be again rectus in curiâ, absolutely quitted and restored to all things. But for the wife of him that was killed, it was no misfortune to her, for he hath endowed herself and her children with such an estate, that they say her husband could never have got." (9 Nov. 1622.)
mation, and declared him to be capable of the entire authority of a Primate.
After this however, though completely restored, in consequence of his increasing infirmities he seldom assisted at the council-board. Yet he occasionally, it appears, communicated his sentiments to the King on public measures with his usual integrity; for in a letter* preserved by Rushworth, after having condemned a design (then set on foot) of granting a toleration to Papists, he censures his Majesty for his imprudence in having permitted Prince Charles to go to Spain without the consent of the Council, or the approbation of the people : sensibly reminding him, that though he had an interest in that Prince as his son, the people had a still greater as the son of the kingdom; upon whom, next after himself, their eyes were fixed and their welfare depended. And with a prophetic spirit he foretells, that “ those who drew him into an action so dangerous to himself, so desperate to the nation, would not pass unquestioned or unpunished.' As these were his sentiments, it is no wonder that he had Buckingham | for his enemy: but that favourite in vain attempted his disgrace. The King so highly venerated his character, that in his last illness he requested his attendance, and
* Some doubts, it ought to be added, are entertained of it's genuineness.
+ This nobleman he had originally, through the Queen, assisted to introduce to the royal favour; and he had at first received from him in return the appellation of • Father,' and the most vehement professions of eternal gratitude. He had speedily, however, occasion to conclude with the Roman historian, that benefits surpassing requital become occasions of hatred.'
scarcely suffered him to stir from his chamber till he expired.
The infatuated Charles, however, was no sooner seated on his throne, than he countenanced Buck, ingham's unmanly resentment: and a convenient opportunity speedily offered itself for the execution of their paltry revenge.
One Dr. Sibthorpe having preached a sermon at the Lent Assizes at Northampton in 1627, in which he maintained that the King might levy taxes without consent of parliament, and that the people were bound in conscience to acquiesce;' his Majesty ordered the sermon to be printed, and sent his directions to the Archbishop to license it. This his Grace (having perused the discourse, and being now more enlightened than he had been in the early part of his life upon the subject of civil liberty) absolutely refused to do, at the same time assigning his
The Bishop of London was more compliant;* and the Secretary of State, Lord Conway, soon afterward personally signified to the Primate the royal pleasure, that he should retire to Canterbury. Having at that time, however, a law-suit depending against the corporation, he requested leave to withdraw to Ford, about five miles beyond Canterbury, which was granted: and in the month of October in the same year, the King issued a commission to the Bishops of London, Durham, Rochester, Oxford, and Bath and Wells, empowering them to execute the archiepiscopal office. But the policy of the court would not suffer the Arch
* Even by him, however, it was not licensed, till some eminently exceptionable passages had been erased.
bishop, beloved as he was by the country, to remain long in this state of sequestration. Charles being in want of money, and finding it necessary call a parliament, restored his Grace, on account of his interest with the representatives of the people, to the full possession of his authority. He returned to his post with the same notions of constitutional rights, and the same firmness in maintaining them. To the Petition of Right he gave his decided support: and when Dr. Mainwaring was brought to the bar of the House of Lords for having taken up Dr. Sibthorpe's doctrines, he officially reprimanded him, declaring that he abhorred his principles.' The influence of Laud however, then Bishop of Bath and Wells, had acquired such an ascendency at court, that the Primate totally withdrew from it, perceiving himself to be an unwelcome guest. His final contest with his rivals in royal-favour was upon the following occasion :
Laud had drawn up some high-church regulations, which were transmitted to the Archbishop under the pompous title of His Majesty's Instructions to the most Reverend Father in God, George Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, containing certain orders to be put in execution by the several Prelates in his province. These his Grace communicated to his suffragan Bishops, at the same time endeavouring in various respects to soften their rigour. He does not appear, however, in any instance to have neglected his clerical duty, or to have betrayed the interests of the church over which he presided. One of his last official actions was, his ordering the parishioners of Crayford in Kent to receive the sacrament kneeling at the steps of the Communion-Table. In consequence of his conduct with regard to the . Instructions,' his Majesty, on the birth of his son Charles, consigned the honour of baptizing him to Laud. After this we hear little more of the Primate till 1633, when worn out with cares and infirmities, he died at Croydon. His remains were buried in the church dedicated to the Holy Trinity at Guildford, where a stately monument was erected to his memory
In most of the circumstances of his life, he showed himself a man of great moderation toward all parties; desirous that the clergy should rather attract esteem by the sanctity of their manners, than claim it by the authority of their function. His principles and conduct, however, not suiting the dispositions of some writers, they have thought proper to make severe reflexions upon both. Fuller, in his ChurchHistory,' says, “ that he forsook the birds of his own feather to fly with others, generally favouring the laity more than the clergy, in causes that were brought before him.” Aubrey, having transcribed the inscription upon his monument, adds, “ Notwithstanding this most noble character transmitted to posterity, he was (though a benefactor to this place) no friend to the church of England whereof he was head, but scandalously permitted that poisonous spirit of Puritanism to spread over the whole nation by his indolence at least, if not connivance and encouragement, which some years after broke out, and laid a flourishing church and state in the most miserable ruins; and which gave birth to those, principles which, unless rooted out, will ever make this nation unhappy.” The Earl of Clarendon has drawn the following picture of him: “ Abbot considered the