Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/91

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75
Charles the First's Book-Fires.

more severe punishment than any other book in the English language. Our literature has had many a martyr, but Alexander Leighton is the foremost of the rank.

He was a Scotch divine; nor can it be denied that his Syon's Plea against the Prelacy (1628) contained, indeed, some bitter things against the bishops; he said they were of no use in God's house, and called them caterpillars, moths, and cankerworms. But our ancestors habitually indulged in such expressions; and even Tyndale, the martyr, called church functionaries horse-leeches, maggots, and caterpillars in a kingdom. Such terms were among the traditional amenities of all controversy, but especially of religious controversy. But since the Martin-Marprelate Tracts or Latimer's sermons the strong anti-Episcopalian feeling of the country had never expressed itself so vigorously as in this "decade of grievances" against the hierarchy, presented to Parliament by a man who was too sensitive of "the ruin of religion and the sinking of the State."

The Star Chamber fined him £10,000, and then the High Commission Court deprived him of his ministry, and sentenced him to be whipped, to be pilloried, to lose his ears, to have his nose slit, to