4 SEPTEMBER 1869, Page 18


LANCASHIRE: ITS PURITANISM AND NON- CONFORMITY.* DR. HAII.EY makes in these volumes a valuable contribution to Church History. He will pardon us if we make the objection which so readily occurs to a critic, that they are over-long. It is not that we find fault with what he tells us ; for we are perfectly well aware that his work has something of the nature of a County History, and must therefore contain a mass of local details, of which, if it interest Lancashire men, the world without has no right to complain. But we do not want to be told the same things twice : and Dr. Halley might have economized some few pages if he had never done so. We may point for an example to what he says on pages 155 and 224 of vol. i., about the latter days of Dr. Dee the astrologer, who was for some years warden of Manchester. But this is but a slight blemish in a work of very considerable interest and literary value, a work which is evidently the result of a very careful industry, and which possesses the additional charm of show- ing throughout a most kindly, liberal, and candid spirit. Dr. Halley has his own convictions, and, very rightly, does not attempt to conceal them. Here and there we may even detect a prejudice. He is a little hard, we think, on the monks ; as, for instance, when he says that "their consumption of animal food was enormous," and mentions in proof that at the abbot's table in Whalley the annual consumption was "seventy-five oxen, eighty sheep, forty calves, twenty lambs, and four pigs ; while the refectory and other tables within the house were supplied with fifty-seven oxen, forty sheep, twenty calves, and ten lambs." The abbot's table, it must be remembered, was the guest-table, and therefore the greater part of the consumption must be credited to hospitality. Whalley, too, was a large monastery. The learned doctor himself, if he has the healthy appetite which we trust that he has, probably consumes an ox and a couple of sheep in the year. It jars upon us also when he remarks that "it is not easy to divine the motive of some good ministers who in these times make an ostentatious performance of their private prayers in their pulpits." The practice is universal in the Church of England, and, we make bold to say, has never offended a single worshipper. On this principle all signs of devotion in public, even the whole practice of public worship itself, might be set down as "ostentatious." But, as a rule, Dr. Halley is studiously just to men of all creeds and parties ; he is more than just, he is truly generous, and full of unaffected sympathy.

We find ourselves indeed very often, as our readers may sup- pose, on the same aide with our author. The great question of Church Establishments which would divide us from him does not

• Lancashire: its Puritanism and Nonconformity. By Robert Halley, D D. 2 vols. Manchester: Tubbs and Brook. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1562.

belong to the period to which his work is chiefly devoted. The prin- ciple of Voluntaryism never commended itself, we might almost say, never occurred either to the Puritans, who protested against " Papistical " ornaments and ceremonies under Elizabeth and her successors, to the Presbyterians or even the Independents of the Commonwealth, or to the men who were ejected from their livings by the Act of Uniformity in 1662. Scarcely one of them doubted that it was the duty of the civil power to sustain and protect the Church ; not many would have hesitated to add the corollary of a further duty of repressing all difference from its rule. Had the Puritans been supreme in the ordering of ecclesiastical affairs during the seventy years that followed the Reformation, they would doubtless have prohibited the use of the surplice (we never hear of any other vestment) as strenuously as Whitgift and Laud enjoined it ; had the position of parties been reversed in 1662, the Church of England would probably have had her thousands of martyrs to boast of, instead of a great folly and cruelty to deplore. In the matter of Church government the order which has now come to be regarded as a matter of principle grew at the first out of a dislike to bishops, as bishops behaved 'themselves in those days, than to Episcopacy in the abstract. And in theology a similar change in the ground of controversy has taken place. In the early days, at least, of the warfare between the dominant school of Churchmen and the Puritans, both parties were agreed in doctrinal matters. As Dr. Halley says, they were all " adherents of the Augustinian theology ;" of which, indeed, there could not be devised a more bald and repulsive exposition than is to be found in the " Lambeth articles "of Archbishop Whitgift, of which the first may serve as a specimen :—" God from eternity has predestinated some persons to life, and reprobated others to death." Dr. Halley, however, hardly gives sufficient weight to other influences in the Church. It may not be strictly true that the "articles of the Church were intended as a compromise between Calvinists and Arminians," but any one who will trace the growth of these articles to their present form, and who will compare them with formal expositions of Calvinistic theology, will see that a com- promise they practically are. And it is manifestly incorrect to say "that we must wait for Archbishop Laud before we find Arminianism allowed in the English Church." It would be an anachronism to call Hooker an Arminian, but he was scarcely a Calvinist. This was the chief point of controversy between him and his colleague and antagonist, at the Temple Church, Travers. The common saying that the one preached "Canterbury "in the morning, and the other " Geneva " in the afternoon, shows that Hooker represented the theology which was even then, as it has been since, characteristic of the English Church, a Church of which some one said that it had "a Popish liturgy, Calvinistic articles, and an Arminian clergy."

There is no more remarkable instance of the change that has taken place, though in this case it is a change of manners rather than of habits of thought, than the picture which Dr. Halley gives us of the personal life of the early Puritans. The name suggests the picture of a sober, solemn person, long-visaged, and sour of aspect, his enemies would say, and whom his friends would hardly describe as cheerful and gay, the enemy of all that was frivolous and even amusing. The real truth will be a novelty to most readers. They shall see what the historian of the Puritans says of them :—

" Many of the Lancashire Puritans, and even some of their preachers, as we shall hereafter see, were mighty hunters, keen anglers, fond of hawking, of shuffle-board, of bowls, of billiards, and what may surprise their descendants, of baiting the badge; of throwing at the cock, and

even occasionally of private theatricals The notion that the old Lancashire Puritans, many of whose preachers had their times and places for playing at billiards and shuffle-board, were gloomy, austere, misanthropical people is one of the popular errors of the day."

A notable illustration of these habits is to be found (i. 128), where we have an account of some festivities at Lathom, the seat of the Earls of Derby :—

" Sondaye, Jan. 4, Mr. Carter pretched, at wh. was dyvers strand- gers. On Tuesdays, at night, a play was had in the hall. On Wednesdaye Mr. Fleetwood pretched, and tbat night the plaiers played.' . . . . This was a merry Christmas at Lathom, and a puritanical one also. There were seven sermons 'pretched' in the fortnight, and the players played on the Sunday evening, after the favourite Puritan, Mr. Caldwell, had 'pretched' in the morning."

The same Lord Derby, together with the Bishop of Chester (Chadderton), who was one of the preachers at Lathom during this fortnight, had issued an "order and injunction against pipers and minstrels playing on the Sabbath days," and we read of another minister that he " once so effectually rebuked a clergyman for playing at bowies on a Saturday afternoon so near the

Sabbath' that he never forgot it." Bishops now give croquet- parties to their clergy on Saturday afternoon ; but what would be the general horror of the religious world, if one of their Lordships were to be seen himself playing, or even looking on, at croquet on a Sunday. Here, again, is a picture of a Puritan parson, Abdias Assheton, who, as his father and grandfather had been before him, was Rector of Middleton:—

" Abdias, or Abdie, as he was often called,was as good a Puritan as his pious father or any of his family in his aversion to the ceremonies, as also in his abhorrence of the Papists ; but he was a merry sort of parson, excessively fond of field sports and athletic exorcises. When Rector of Sladeburn, he was the frequent companion of that 'roystering, merry, jovial Puritan,' as Harrison Ainsworth calla Nicholas Assheton, 'in hunting, coursing, angling, and fishing with great nets.' Although the rector would on no account appear in a surplice, he was very will- ing to ride the country in his hunting-coat, and if he could not endure the music of an organ in church, very pleasant to him was the bark of the dogs with which he hunted the otters that infested his fishing stream and devoured his salmon."

Even more surprising will be the favour shown to such a sport as "throwing and shooting at cocks :"—

" The grand day for its practice, especially with schoolboys, was Shrove Tuesday. That such Puritans as Nicholas Assheton should enjoy the sport may not be surprising, but it does seem strange that so good and gentle a minister as Henry Newcome should allow his boys to 'shoot at the cock.' As regularly as Shrove Tuesday returned, he indulged them in this sport, and like a pious father prayed to God to protect them from the danger. 'I was much afraid of the children going to the shooting for the cock, lest they had any hurt, and prayed -that God would preserve them, and the Lord bath done it for me.'"

This Henry Newcome, indeed, is a beautiful example of the better known side of the Puritan character, though he was of a gentler temper than many of his brethren, and of a tolerance beyond his age. We specially commend Dr. Halley's account of him to the reader. Here is a picture of his conduct after St. Bartholomew's Day. He was one of the fellows of the College at Manchester, and he went to the church on Sunday, September 7 (the second Sunday after the fatal day) :—

" A great congregation had been brought together by the hope of hearing Newcome preach once more before his ejectment. The multitude fixed their eyes upon their favourite preacher, when, excluded from the pulpit, he quietly took his seat as an attentive auditor, dm. . . Of the service he wrote, 'I desired to apply myself to my God, and I found it a very sweet sacrament. We had a very sweet time of repetition in the evening.' What could be more beautiful than the spirit and demeanour of Henry Newoome on the day of his exclusion from his beloved pulpit ? Ejected, silenced, dishonoured, he forgave the injury, overlooked the surplice, united in the prayers, listened to the preacher, enjoyed the sacrament, catechized the children—which duty the clergyman neglected—and spent the evening with his family in sweet repetition' of the sermon preached by the surpliced intruder."

Dr. Halley adds, in connection with the history of the ejectment, some curious details as to the not unfrequent instances in which men who refused to conform still retained their places. Where the personal character of the minister was of peculiar sanctity, where he happened to be protected by some powerful neighbour, or, we feel ashamed to add, where his living was not good enough to be worth taking, he was sometimes permitted to remain in peace. A remarkable consequence of this was that more than one chapel which was really Church property fell into the hands of Dis- senters, and had to be given back when Dissenting worship was legalized.

The chapters which treat of the Parliamentary war as it was carried on in Lancashire are peculiarly interesting and spirited. Among the noteworthy characters who make themselves seen, stands out one whom Scott has represented to the life in his Dugald Dalgety, a German engineer of the name of Rosworm. Heyricke, warden of Manchester, engaged his services for six months at thirty pounds. Immediately afterwards the Royalists offered him one hundred and fifty. But the mercenary had his code of honour, and refused to change his service. For his niggardly employers he worked incessantly, and exposed his life most freely. H his own account is to be trusted, he saved them more than once. And all the time he spoke of them as "despic- able earthworms," "matchless in their treachery, and setting the Devil himself a copy of villainy." Even the crowning wrong did not shake his fidelity. He was required to sign the Covenant, and refusing to do so, signing covenants being, as he said, no part of a soldier's duty, was mulcted of half his pay. Still he went on serving the " earthworms " to the last.

We might linger long over Dr. Halley's volumes, which are full, indeed, of matter of great historical value, and of that human interest in which histories, Church histories especially, are often deficient. We take leave of him with a very hearty expression of gratitude and respect.