Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/29

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Abbot
Abbot
15

secretary: ‘I have never more desired to be present at any consultation. I am satisfied in my conjecture that the cause is just.’ Therefore he urged that England should join in the elector’s war, and ‘let it be really prosecuted,’ he said, ‘that it may appear to the world that we are awake when God in this sort calleth to us.’ He hoped that ‘our striking in’ would lead all the protestant powers of Europe to ‘run the same fortune.’ ‘For the means to support the war’ he concluded, ‘providebit Deus’ (Cabala, ed. 1654, i. 169). Generous enthusiasm, but little statesmanship, characterised this utterance, and Abbot suffered the humiliation of seeing his proposals flung on one side, and the Spanish marriage treaty proceeded with uninterruptedly.

On every side Abbot found the tide against him. In 1618 the king published, at the suggestion of Bishop Morton, ‘the declaration of sports’ sanctioning Sabbath amusements, which Abbot regarded as imperilling the religious faith of the people. His loyalty could not prevail upon him to obey the decree that authorised it to be read in churches. At Croydon, where he was at the time, he forbade its proclamation in the parish church; James I ignored his resistance, but Abbot’s position was not improved. Other misfortunes accompanied this episode: the death (2 March 1617–18) of his brother Robert, a theologian of his own school, whom he had consecrated to the bishopric of Salisbury, in December 1615, greatly grieved him, although the bishop’s second marriage had caused a temporary estrangement between the brothers. The queen, who had favoured Abbot in spite of her opposite religious views, died on the same date in the year following; and although the archbishop had the satisfaction of hearing from her own lips on her death-bed a confession of adherence to the protestant faith, he lost in her his last influential friend at court. Abbot preached the sermon at her funeral at Westminster on 13 March 1618–19.

Later in 1619 Abbot retired for a few days from public life with its wearing anxiety to confer a munificent gift upon his native town. On 5 April 1619 the first stone was laid in his presence of a hospital ‘for the maintenance of a master, twelve brethren, and eight sisters,’ to be erected at his expense opposite Trinity Church. He endowed the foundation with land to the value of three hundred pounds, which he obtained a license to purchase in mortmain. It was incorporated by charter 14 June 1622. Rooms for his private use and a chapel were attached to it, and he often retired to its seclusion when he was oppressed by the heavy weight of public office. The building is still standing, and has undergone few alterations. Abbot’s birthday, 29 Oct., is still commemorated there, and the archbishop for the time being is the visitor of the hospital. A brass in the chapel, set up by Abbot to the memory of his father and mother, who both died in 1606, is a testimony to his filial tenderness which was one of the few traits that his habitual moroseness of temper never overcast.

But outside Guildford the clouds still gathered about him. A complication of disorders was already breaking down his health. Bacon, with whom he had maintained friendly relations, was disgraced, and Abbot had himself moved for the attendance of the commons to hear his sentence in the House of Lords (2 May 1621). The pride of Villiers was still thwarting all his cherished schemes, and Arminianism, always to him a detestable heresy, was acquiring new force in England. The synod of Dort, 1618, at which one of his own chaplains represented him, had ended in a barren expression of approval of Calvinism, and little attention had been paid in England to Abbot’s injunctions to Carleton to use his influence against the spread of Arminianism in Holland, or to his suggestion that the hostility of the Dutch in the East Indies, which was causing his brother Maurice the utmost anxiety, was prompted by the Arminian followers of Barnaveldt [see Abbot, Sir Maurice]. But a curious accident in 1621 brought on Abbot fresh humiliations which cast a deep shadow over the remainder of his life. In the summer of that year Lord Zouch, with whom he had long been on friendly terms, invited him to a hunting party at Bramshill Park, Hampshire. Crossbows were used in the sport, and on 24 July Abbot, when shooting at a buck, had the misfortune to kill one Peter Hawkins, a gamekeeper. The man had already been warned to keep out of the huntsmen’s way, and the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of per infortunium suæ propriæ culpæ. News of the accident was sent to the king, who declared that none but a fool or a knave would think the worse of a man for such an occurrence, and that the like had often nearly happened to himself. The archbishop was greatly distressed; he prescribed for himself a monthly fast on Tuesday, the day of the misfortune, and settled 20l. a year on Hawkins’s widow, ‘which,’ in Oldys’s words, ‘soon procured her another husband’ (Biog. Brit.). But others would not allow the matter to be lightly passed over. At the moment four bishops-elect were awaiting consecration. John Williams had been nominated to the see of Lincoln, John Davenant to that of Salis-