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“which was despatched with the accustomed confusion : and so ended that night's sport with the end of our Christmas gambols.” The “accustomed confusion” with which, according to the Court chronicler, the banquet was despatched, was characteristic of the times. At a masque by Ben Jonson, acted by the Queen and her ladies at Whitehall soon after, the riot at supper was so great that, in the general scramble for food, “down went tables and trestles before one bit was touched.” “There was no small loss that night of chains and jewels, and many great ladies were made shorter by their skirts."
The gaieties that we have been describing were soon, however, to give way to more serious affairs. The religious question, which in the general excitement of the accession of the new King had fallen somewhat in the background, was now coming forward again for attention and settlement. The Puritans, who, relying on the fact of the King having been educated among Presbyterians, were looking forward to a policy of conciliation on his part, had framed, in the autumn of 1603, the famous “Millenary Petition": called from the number of those whose sentiments it expressed -stating their grievances and craving various reforms. Their demands, however, opened too many debatable points to be granted or refused without much consideration. James, therefore, consented that a conference should take place, in which all the questions at issue should be discussed between the representatives of the two parties—the Bishops and Deans on the part of the Church of England, and several divines deputed to speak the mind of the general Puritan body. The discussion was to take place in the presence of the King, and the 12th of January was appointed by royal proclamation as the date on which it was to open. The day, however, was afterwards deferred until Saturday the 14th; and in the meanwhile, on the evening of Friday the 13th, those who had been ordered to attend waited on the King, who sent for them “into an inner withdrawing chamber, where in a very private manner, and in as few words, but with most gracious countenance," imparted to them why they had been summoned.
Next day was held the first formal meeting of the Conference, in the King's Privy Chamber, one of the large
THE MILLENARY PETITION.
rooms of Henry VIII's suite of State Apartments on the east side of the Clock Court, which were altered in the reign of George II.
It seems that the Chapel had been first selected as the
place of meeting; but this arrangement was afterwards changed—which was fortunate, considering some of the incidents of the subsequent proceedings. On the first day the Puritans were not called in; but the matters to be discussed with them were virtually decided on in conference
between the King and the Episcopalian party, powerfully represented in the persons of the Lords of the Privy Council, the Bishops and five Deans, "who being called in, the door was close shut by my Lord Chamberlain. After a while his excellent Majesty came in, and having passed a few pleasant gratulations with some of the Lords, he sat down in his chair, removed forward from the cloth of state a pretty distance.” His seat was, of course, at the head of the board.
The King opened the proceedings by a speech of an hour's duration, in which he began by blessing “God's gracious goodness" ("at which words," says Barlow, "he was observed to put off his hat”), “who hath brought me into the promised land, where religion is purely professed, where I sit amongst grave, learned, and reverend men; not as before, elsewhere, a king without state, without honour, without order, where beardless boys would brave to the face !” He then went on to assure them that he was altogether opposed to any innovation, but that his purpose was, “like a good physician, to examine and try the complaints," and that “if anything should be found meet to be redressed, it might be done without any visible alteration,” and for that purpose he had called them together. Entering next into the points which he meant to take his stand upon, he expressed his own views on the principal topics with great emphasis and force. When he had concluded, Archbishop Whitgift made a few remarks, addressing the King on his knees. After that a general discussion followed, lasting three or four hours, "the King alone,” says Dean Montagu, who wrote an account of it to his mother a day or two after, "disputing with the Bishops so wisely, wittily and learnedly, with that pretty patience, as I think never man living heard the like." He also took the opportunity of propounding his panacea for England's standing political difficulty—the state of the Emerald Isle. “For Ireland the conclusion was (the King making a most lamentable description of the state thereof) that it should be reduced to civility, planted with schools and ministers, as many as could be gotten.”
So ended the first day's conference, from which it was pretty evident that the King and his advisers had resolved to
JAMES I. HOLDS FORTH ON THEOLOGY.
make very few, if any, concessions; and certainly none that would be substantial.
In the meanwhile the representatives of the Puritans remained outside the door, "sitting on a form.”
On the following Monday, between eleven and twelve in the morning, the King summoned the four Puritan divines before him into the Privy Chamber, to hear them state their case. The Bishops, except those of London and Winchester, did not attend on this occasion ; but the Deans and Doctors were admitted, as well as Patrick Galloway, sometime minister of Perth, who was allowed to be present as a spectator. When they were all assembled the King took his seat as on the day before, “the noble young Prince sitting by, upon a stool,” and his Majesty delivered himself of “a short, but a pithy and sweet speech to the same purpose which the first day he made. He ended by saying "he was now ready to hear at large what they could object or say; and so willed them to begin. Whereupon they four kneeling down, Dr. Reynolds the Foreman, after a short preamble gratulatory," proceeded to state four points on which they based their requests.
We need not follow in detail the tedious theological wrangle that ensued-how, when the learned and dignified Puritan was calmly and respectfully, but firmly propounding his view, the intolerant Bishop of London, burning with all the intensity of religious hate, rudely interrupted him, and told him that they should be thankful to the King for his great clemency in permitting them to speak against the liturgy and discipline of the Church, as by law established, and upbraiding them "for appearing before his Majesty in Turkey gowns and not in your scholastic habits, according to the orders of the University”; how the King, for whose especial edification this rancorous outburst of episcopal zeal was designed, felt bound, in his judicial character of Moderator, to reprove the Bishop for his “sudden interruption of Dr. Reynolds, whom you should have suffered to have taken his liberty, for there is no order, nor can there be effectual issue of disputation, if each party be not suffered, without chopping, to speak at large”; and how, when Dr. Reynolds dealt with other matters of doctrine and worship, which were vital to the Puritan conscience, but which naturally seemed, “both to the King and the Lords very idle and frivolous, occasion was taken in some by-talk to remember a certain description which Mr. Butler of Cambridge made of a Puritan, viz., A Puritan is a Protestant frayed out of his wits.” In such a fire of interruption and audibly whispered sneers had the Puritan divine to lay his case before the Head of the Church of England !
In the discussion that followed a great many topics were touched upon, among them the translation of the Scriptures; and it is interesting to note that it was a suggestion of the spokesman of the Puritan sect which led to the compilation of the famous English authorized version of the Bible. “May your Majesty be pleased," asked Dr. Reynolds, “that the Bible be new translated, such translations as are extant not answering the original ?” But here the Bishop of London broke in again: "If every man’s humour might be followed there would be no end of translating." Fortunately, however, James's instincts as a scholar made him look on this matter in a more liberal spirit. “I profess,” said he, “I could never see a Bible well translated in English ; but I think that of all, that of Geneva is the worst. I wish some special pains were taken for a uniform translation; which should be done by the best learned in both universities, then reviewed by the bishops, presented to the Privy Council, lastly ratified by royal authority to be read in the whole church, and no other.” “But it is fit that no marginal notes should be added thereto," interjected the irrepressible Bishop of London ; on which his Majesty observed, " That caveat is well put in, for in the Geneva translation some notes are partial, untrue, seditious, and savouring of traitorous conceits; as when from Exodus i. 19 disobedience to kings is allowed in a marginal note."
Shortly afterwards “the King arose from his chair, and withdrew himself into his inner chamber a little space. In the meantime a great questioning was among the Lords about that place of Ecclesiasticus xlviii. 10, with which, as if it had been rest and upshot, they began afresh, at his Majesty's return; who, seeing them so to urge it, and stand upon it, calling for a Bible, first shewed the author of that