Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/21

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Abbot
Abbot
7

included an account of America, and was repeatedly reprinted, a fifth edition appearing in 1664. About the same time he concluded his lectures on Jonah, which received very general commendation, and he published them in London in 1600 with a dedication to Lord Buckhurst; in 1613 they reached a second edition. Their occasional digressions into topics of general interest, like the prospects of protestantism in France, explain much of their popularity. (A reprint of the work appeared in 1845, edited, with a life of the author, by Grace Webster.) Throughout the university Abbot at the same time kept strict order as vice-chancellor. He caused a number of religious pictures, which he regarded as incentives to idolatry, to be burnt in the market-place of the town, and on 27 April 1601 he reported to the chancellor how he had arrested one Abraham Colfe, B. A., of Christ Church, ‘for publicly in the hall making a very offensive declaration in the cause of the late Earl of Essex.’ But in his official capacity Abbot was also summoned to take part in the theological controversies raging outside the university. The citizens of London, who were mainly puritan in feeling, were in 1600 at feud with Richard Bancroft, their bishop, and Abbot with the vice-chancellor of Cambridge was called on to arbitrate in the dispute. Its origin was comparatively simple. A crucifix that had long stood in Cheapside had fallen down, and the bishop had ordered its re-erection. To this the citizens had demurred, and Abbot’s opinion on the matter was invited. He unhesitatingly condemned the renovation of the crucifix; ‘if,’ he said, ‘a monument was required in Cheapside, let an obelisk be set up there.’ But, with his characteristic hatred of unruliness, he discouraged the citizens from taking the law into their own hands (Letter to the Citizens of London, 1600). In the result Abbot’s advice was rejected, and a plain stone cross took the place of the crucifix. But his remarks, which threw him into disfavour with Bancroft, attracted much attention. ‘The cross in Cheap is going up,’ wrote Chamberlain to Carleton (3 Feb. 1600–1), ‘for all your vice-chancellor of Oxford and some other odd divines have set down their censure against it’ (Chamberlain’s Letters, Camd. Soc., p. 102). And in 1602, when Abbot preached in London at the Temple Church, one of his hearers testified to his assured reputation by entering notes of the sermon in his diary (Manningham’s Diary, Camd. Soc., pp. 126–7).

At Oxford, as in London, Abbot was not long able to maintain his cherished opinions unchallenged. Before the close of the sixteenth century there were signs of change in the religious atmosphere of the university, but Abbot’s conservative tone of mind did not enable him readily to grasp their significance. John Buckeridge, the chief tutor of St. John’s, had begun to brandish ‘the sword of Scripture’ against the puritans, and his pupil and later colleague, William Laud, eagerly followed in his footsteps. When Abbot was vice-chancellor in 1603, Laud was proctor, and a collision between the two theologians was inevitable. In a divinity lecture delivered at St. John’s College in the preceding year Laud had asserted the perpetual visibility of the ‘church of Christ derived from the apostles and the church of Rome, continued in that church (and in others of the east and south) to the Reformation.’ This was an admission of the beneficial influence of the papacy, against which Abbot rebelled. According to Heylin, Laud’s friend and biographer, Abbot from that time ‘conceived a strong grudge against [the preacher], which no tract of time could either abolish or diminish,’ and certain it is that in 1603 he at once sharply reproved him and drew up a summary of his own views on this subject. It was Abbot’s endeavour to show, by aid of much curious learning, how ‘the noble worthies of the christian world,’ among whom he only numbered opponents of the papacy like Waldo, Wycliffe, Huss, and Luther, ‘after they had finished their course, delivered the lamp of their doctrine from one to another.’ The pamphlet was widely circulated in manuscript, and was unfortunately published by an anonymous admirer in 1624, when Laud was in a position to use it to the injury of Abbot’s reputation with the king and the Duke of Buckingham (Laud’s Diary, in his Works, iii. 145). It appeared, however, without Abbot’s name, but with his arms — three pears impaled with the arms of the see of Canterbury — engraved on the title-page. This is probably the work of Abbot’s popularly called in error ‘Look beyond Luther’ (H. Savage, Balliofergus, p. 114). But the early quarrels with Laud did not cease here. In 1606, when Dr. Henry Airay, provost of Queen’s and a friend of Abbot’s, was vice-chancellor, Laud was openly reprimanded for a sermon preached at St. Mary’s, ‘as containing in it sundry scandalous and popish passages.’ And Abbot, according to Laud’s sympathisers, brought all his influence to bear to the injury of the offender. ‘He so violently persecuted the poor man, and so openly branded him for a papist, or at least very popishly inclined, that it was often made an heresy (as I have heard from his own mouth) for any one to be seen in his