Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 01.djvu/32

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Abbot
Abbot
18

tions to its arguments. It sanctioned a loan for which there was neither law nor custom in England; it praised the papists and showed little sympathy with the German protestants. Murray returned a day or two later with a statement on the part of the king that Abbot’s objections were groundless. Abbot asked the attendance of Laud, who, he believed, had prompted the king to befriend Sibthorpe, to discuss the matter with him. But, although Laud refused to come, he answered Abbot’s ‘exceptions’ in a paper which Murray read to the archbishop, but which he refused to leave with him. Finally (3 May 1627) Sibthorpe’s sermon was taken to the bishop of London, and published by his authority. But Abbot’s want of compliance with the court policy was not to go unpunished. Buckingham, about to start on his Rochelle expedition, could not leave Abbot to influence the council in his absence; and he it was apparently who insisted on the archbishop’s sequestration. On 5 July 1627 Lord Conway, secretary of state, went to Croydon, whither the archbishop had retired during his recent quarrel, and ordered him to withdraw to Canterbury. No cause was assigned, but Abbot was soon afterwards bidden to meddle no more with the high commission court, and, perceiving that he was to be stripped of all authority, he removed, towards the end of July, to a private house that he owned at Ford, near Canterbury. On 9 Oct. following, a commission was issued to five bishops, including Laud and other well-known enemies of Abbot, authorising them to exercise all archiepiscopal powers and jurisdiction in the place of Abbot (Rushworth, Collections, i. 431–3). That such an act on the part of Charles was signally unlawful admits of no question. Fuller attributes it to his ‘obnoxiousness for that casualty’ of 1621, but there is no ground for assigning to it other causes than Abbot’s opposition to Buckingham’s system of government, and Laud’s personal enmity.

At the end of the following year (11 Dec. 1628) Abbot was restored to favour. He was received at court by the Archbishop of York and the Earl of Dorset, the son of his old friend, and by them introduced to the king, who bade him attend the council twice a week. But his authority was practically at an end. Laud had become bishop of London, and was always at the king’s side. In parliament, to which the lords had demanded that he should be summoned even during his sequestration, he had endeavoured to maintain his independence. In April 1628 he declared himself opposed to the king’s claim of power to commit persons to prison without showing cause. Throughout the session he begged the lords to act as the commons desired, and he tried to bring about a compromise between the lords and commons in their disputes over the additional clause attached by the lords to the petition of right, ‘saving the king’s just prerogative.’

Abbot lived chiefly in retirement after his sequestration, and his public acts during the last four years of his life are few. On 24 August 1628 he consecrated Richard Montagu, with whom he had previously come into serious collision, bishop of Chichester, and Laud’s presence at the ceremony showed that all doubts as to his inability to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction had been removed. In 1631 he endeavoured to stay a controversy in which Prynne had fiercely attacked the practice of bowing at the name of Jesus; but Laud ignored Abbot’s authority, and caused a book in favour of the practice, by an Oxford writer named Page, to be licensed after Abbot had announced his intention of suppressing it. Nevertheless, Abbot was constantly in attendance in the high commission court, and tried to enforce conformity in the church with consistent love of order. Between October 1631 and June 1632 he refused to allow certain London parishes to place seats above the communion table; he struggled hard in matrimonial cases to maintain a high standard of morality, and he punished the separatists, with whom he never was in sympathy. ‘You do show yourselves,’ he said to a number of them brought before him in June 1632, ‘the most ungrateful to God, and to his majesty the king, and to us the fathers of the church.’ On 3 July 1633 Abbot again emphatically showed that the simple forms and ceremonies of religious worship were no matter of indifference to him, as they never had been throughout his life, and bade the parishioners of Crayford, Kent, receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on their knees at the steps ascending the altar.

Throughout these last years Abbot was also actively watching over the interests of All Souls College, of which he was visitor ex officio. The office had never been a sinecure for him. He had consistently endeavoured to enforce a strict discipline upon the students, although not always with success. In 1616 Dr. Mocket, the warden, a friend of Abbot’s, had published a book, entitled ‘Politia Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ,’ which claimed, as the king believed, undue authority for the primacy, and showed a want of respect for some of the thirty-nine articles. In spite of Abbot’s protest the book was burnt, and Mocket is said to have died from the shock of