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HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.
National discontent seldom originates in trivial matters, nor is it easy to excite a people against an established government, even in cases of flagrant misrule, unless their natural attachment have been previously alienated by continued oppression or neglect. Revolutions, however sudden in appearance, are not in common the effects of sudden impulse; the immediate visible agents may be trifling, the shock unexpected, instantaneous, and universal, but there must have been in silent operation, a number of unnoticed, unheeded causes, which in fact produce them. The revolution in Scotland, productive of such important consequences, first assumed form and shape from a very insignificant circumstance-the indignation of an old woman against the prayer book, but the causes were the tyranny and misrule of two reigns. To the same causes may be traced the troubles of England, and the commotions which for so many years shook the island, upon the narration of which, as far as Scotland was concerned, we are now to enter. The grievances of both nations were similar in many respects, but the point on which we shall find them most cordially united for a while, was aversion to prelacy. That this aversion in Scotland was well founded, is sufficiently evident from the details which have been given; that it was equally so in England, will appear from a very brief review of some of the processes in the court of high commission, and star chamber. In Scotland, the conduct of the court of high commission, was arbitrary and severe, but the enormities of which its model in the sister
kingdom was guilty, were more vexatious, terrible, and revolting. The following instances will suffice.
The church of St. Edmond's in Salisbury, which had been sequestrated by act of parliament, in the reign of Henry VIII. was sold to a private individual by James I., and after several transfers, was purchased by the parishioners, who restored it to its original use. The windows, painted after the old fashion, among other things, contained a history of the creation, in which the Almighty was drawn under the figure of an old man, with a pair of compasses, in the act of measuring the sun, as if to take its true proportion. Judging the representation too ludicrous and profane, the vestry desired it to be removed, and the vacancy replaced with plain glass. The recorder, in obedience to their commands, employed a glazier to effect this reformation, but unfortunately, in pointing out the panes, he carelessly, or maliciously struck some of them rather hard, and demolished part of the fair work of the creation. For this sacrilege, he was summoned before the star chamber, and charged with having, in opposition to the canons, which forbid any innovation or alteration in the beautifying of a church, without special license from the king, or the bishop of the diocess, combined with other enemies of the church of England, and her government by bishops, to break down the windows of the church of St. Edmond's, and deface the excellent pictures of the creation, painted thereon, of great antiquity, and highly ornamental, in contempt of his majesty and their diocesan, and to the encouragement of other wicked and schismatical persons, who, by the example of such profanity, would be, emboldened to commit similar outrages upon sacred places.
The recorder, in his defence, contended, that from the time it fell into the hands of the crown, the church was legally exempted from the jurisdiction of the bishop, and those who purchased it, had power to alter the windows, as they had done the steeple, pulpit, and other parts of the building; that he only had knocked out some squares of coloured glass, but the story of the creation was still com, plete, and so far from being fine, it was a coarse daub, which did not cost above forty shillings, and which impiously contradicted and profaned the Scripture account; for to express the fifth day's work, the similitude of a naked man was painted lying on the earth, as it were asleep, and so much of the similitude of a naked woman, as from the knees upward, seeming to grow out of his side, whereas, Adam was created on the sixth, and the woman, instead of growing out of his side, was formed of a rib; for the seventh, a little old man sitting, figured God's rest ;-besides, there were acts of parliament, authorizing the removal of pictures from churches. But his pleas were set aside, and he was sentenced to pay a fine of five hundred pounds, to be removed from the recordership of the city, make a public acknowledgment of his fault, and be bound to his good behaviour. Laud, who was present, and could find no alleviating circumstance in the case of the poor recorder, who was suspected of being a puritan, having apologized for the painter's mistake respecting God, by quoting a text, in which he is called the Ancient of days, the earl of Dorset begged leave to correct him, the passage meant God from eternity, and not God to be pictured as an old man, creating the world with a pair of compasses.
William Prynne, of Lincoln's Inn, barrister, a gentleman highly esteemed in the profession, of extensive property, and irreproachable loyalty, having on his first arrival in London, been induced, by the pressing importunity of his acquaintances, to attend the theatre occasionally, disgusted with the gross obscenity and ribaldry which then had possession of the stage, and observing the pernicious effects which such exhibitions had produced on several of his fellow students, who, from chaste, sober, modest youths, had become vicious, prodigal, and debauched, by the lessons they learned within, and the company who collected without, in the purlieus of the playhouse, resolved to denounce amusements he considered as so pernicious. He collected the most striking passages in the Christian fathers, and other writers' upon the subject, and published them with some observations of his own, in a large quarto volume, entitled, Histriomastix. In his own remarks, he had indulged an asperity of language, which was disagreeable at court, as the queen was a great patroness of the actors, and had herself performed in pastoral interludes at Somerset house, and the king was an admirer of scenic representations. His general reflections against attending plays, were, for these reasons, construed into treasonable libels against their majesties, and he was summoned to answer before the star chamber for the offence. The unfortunate author in vain protested upon oath, that he intended no sedition, that the general resort to plays was the first occasion, and the reformation of the abuse, his sole end in writing the book. He was adjudged to be for ever incapable of practising at the bar, to be expelled the society of Lincoln's Inn, to be degraded at Oxford, to stand in the pillory at two places, in Westminster and Cheapside, with a label on his head, stating his offence, to lose both his ears, one at each place, pay a fine of five thousand pounds to the king, and suffer perpetual imprisonment. The publisher was condemned to pay a fine of five hundred pounds, and to stand in the pillory. *
In pronouncing sentence, the lord chief justice, who had long known Prynne, and expressed his sorrow at being forced utterly to forsake him, thus pronounced his opinion of the work, and the punishment of his old acquaintance. “We are ere troubled with a book, or monster-monstrum, hor. rendum informe, ingens !-give me leave, I do not think Mr. Prynne is the only actor in this book, but that there were many heads and hands therein besides himself. I would to God in heaven, the devil, and all else that had their heads and hands therein besides Mr. Prynne, were &c. For the book, I do hold it a most scandalous, infamous libel to the king's majesty, a most pious and religious king, to the queen's majesty, a most excellent and gracious queen, such an one as this kingdom never enjoyed the like, and I think the earth never had a better. It is scandalous to all the honourable lords, and the kingdom itself, and to all sorts of people. I
say eye never saw, nor ear ever heard of such a scandalous and seditious thing as this mishapen monster is ; yet, give me leave to read a word or two, where he cometh
* It was at first proposed to erect the pillory in St. Paul's Church Yard, but the archbishop objected to it, as being consecrated ground! Rush. vol. v, p. 295.