Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/31
The death of James was not favourable to the archbishop. He was not present at his deathbed, nor did he preach the funeral sermon; the last offices were performed by Bishop Williams. The new king was in the hands of Buckingham, and was the friend of Laud. Abbot had, it is true, known him from his boyhood; he had confirmed or ‘bishopped’ him in 1617, when his ready answers to questions on religion had excited the archbishop’s admiration (Nichols, Progresses, ii. 626). He crowned Charles at Westminster, but it was soon apparent that the king would tolerate no independent criticism from him on public or ecclesiastical affairs. The House of Commons appealed to him, in 1625, to suppress Montagu’s second book, ‘Appello Cæsarem,’ but the king intervened; he dissolved parliament, and left Abbot powerless. In the second parliament of the reign, Abbot, in spite of ill-health which compelled him to be carried into the house and to speak sitting, would not remain silent. He was present at a conference with the commons as to the English relations with France, in which he, like the commons, showed decided sympathy for the French protestants; and his connection with Sir Dudley Digges, who was managing Buckingham’s impeachment, brought him into high displeasure at court. He was also suspected of close intimacy with Sir Thomas Wentworth, whose nephew, Savile, was his ward. And Abbot made no endeavour to conciliate his enemies. In the following year Charles was in great need of money. A forced loan had been proclaimed, and Dr. Sibthorpe, vicar of Brackley, had preached a sermon before the judges at the Northampton assizes, exalting the royal prerogative and its right of arbitrary taxation. Buckingham suggested that it should be printed, and it was forwarded to Abbot for his imprimatur. William Murray, of the king’s bedchamber, brought the sermon to Lambeth. Abbot, who was ill in bed, read it and raised objec-
his claim to the infanta’s hand. Abbot’s joy was unbounded; he met the prince on his arrival in London at Lambeth Stairs, and had him conveyed in his own barge to York House. On 2 March 1623–4 he took part in a conference between lords and commons as to the relations of England with Spain. A little later he proceeded to Theobalds to inform the king that the parliament was agreed that the honour and safety of England demanded a breach with Spain. His confident language, however, did not exactly meet with his majesty’s approval, and Abbot found himself far from exerting any effective influence with him. Buckingham was at the same time preparing a French alliance, which was little satisfactory to Abbot, and that policy was carried to completion before the close of the year. The duke’s growing pride was bearing all down before it. Abbot was at times so ‘dismayed’ by it that he fell sick, and had to absent himself from court (15 March 1623–4). In a letter to Carleton (18 Aug. 1624) he regrets the ‘rubs’ that all suffer alike ‘who do not stoop to that sail’ and adds that success cannot always be insured by subservience. ‘At the moment,’ Abbot concluded, ‘he [the duke] stands higher than ever, and I cannot tell what that presages.’ The church during the last few years had been comparatively peaceful. Abbot was, as of old, charitably aiding (19 Sept. 1621 and 31 Jan. 1623–4) French protestant refugees, ‘extra-ordinary sufferers in their country’s calamity,’ and was proceeding with his former vigour against seminary priests. In letters to the bishops (12 Aug. 1622) he urged, at the king’s desire, and in accordance with his old love of order, ‘the orderly preaching of Christ crucified, of obedience to the higher powers, and of a christian life, and not that every man should take exorbitant liberty to teach what he listeth to the disquiet of the king, church, and commonwealth.’ Count Mansfeld, on behalf of the elector palatine, was permitted in 1624 to raise an army in England, and the archbishop received him on his arrival in London. But just at the close of James’s reign disputes again threatened Abbot’s authority. In 1624 he refused to summon Laud, now bishop of St. David’s, to the high commission court. At the same time he was thrown into collision with one of the chief supporters of Laud’s theology. Richard Montagu, an Essex rector, in a pamphlet attacking Rome, entitled ‘A Gag for the New Gospel,’ had struck a severe blow at the doctrines of Geneva; the House of Commons denounced the work, and petitioned Abbot to punish the author. The archbishop approached the matter calmly, summoned Montagu to his presence, and, mildly reproving him, bade him make such alterations as would relieve him of all suspicion of Arminianism. But Montagu appealed against Abbot’s reproof to the king, and James I reversed the archbishop’s judgment. The writer, however, was not yet satisfied. He at once penned a fiercer vindication of his own views, entitled ‘Appello Cæsarem,’ and the king caused it to be licensed for the press by Dr. White, dean of Carlisle. Abbot was not informed of its publication; and before he could protest against this intrusion on the rights of his office James died, and Abbot had to defer any action in the matter.