Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 03.djvu/158

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Barbon
Barbon
152

but he held the allegiance of a large congregation. He combined his ‘trade’ of leather-seller with his preaching, and he must pretty early have joined to himself in his pastorate one Greene, a ‘felt-maker’—the two ‘trades’ exciting the sarcasms of adversaries of nonconformity. In a contemporary scurrilous pamphlet entitled ‘New Preachers, New,’ we have mention of ‘the last tumult in Fleet Street, raised by the disorderly preachment, pratings, and pratlings of Mr. Barebones, the leather-seller, and Mr. Greene, the felt-maker, on Sunday last, 19 Dec.’ [1641]. The ‘tumult’ is jocosely described, and ‘1,000 persons’ are alleged to have been present; but the ‘tumult,’ so far from originating in the ‘disorderly preachment,’ certainly originated in violent intrusion upon the worshippers. Another pamphlet on the same disturbance is entitled ‘The Discovery of a Swarme of Separatists, or a Leather Seller's Sermon. Being a most true and exact relation of the tumultuous combustion in Fleet Street last Sabbath day, being 29 of Decemb. [19 in text]; truly describing how Burboon, a leather seller, had a conventicle of Brownists met at his house that day, about the number of an hundred and fifty, who preached there himself about five hours in the afternoon. Showing likewise how they were discovered and by what means, as also how the constable scattered their nest, and of the great tumult in the street .... London: Printed for John Greensmith, 1641.’ In this publication we read concerning the persecutors' treatment of the worshippers: ‘At length they catcht one of them alone, but they kickt him so vehemently as if they meant to beate him into a jelly. It is ambiguous whether they have kil'd him or no, but for a certainty they did knock him as if they meant to pull him to pieces. I confesse it had been no matter if they had beaten the whole tribe in the like manner’ (A 3).

Barbon's position commercially was a stable one. In 1650 he was surety with Sir Fulk Greville, John Harvey, and Thomas Barnardiston, each in 500l., for Dr. Aaron Guerdon, master of the mint, ‘for the performance of his covenants and indents’ (Calendar of State Papers, 25 July, 1649–52, p. 249). On 6 June 1653 Oliver Cromwell summoned Barbon ‘to appear,’ as the writ runs, ‘at the council chamber, Whitehall, on 4 July, and take upon you the trust of member for the city of London’ (Calendar of State Papers, 1652–3, p. 386). The assembly, which met on 4 July, was christened by its enemies ‘Barebone's,’ or the ‘little’ parliament. In the house Barbon does not seem to have spoken at all. But we read that on Tuesday, 2 Aug., ‘the house being informed that there were divers petitioners at the door out of the city of London, Mr. Barbone and Captain Stone were sent forth. Mr. Barbone acquaints the house that the petition was in behalf of Lieutenant-colonel John Lilburne’ (Burton's Cromwellian Diary, ed. Rutt, i. p. v, Introduction).

The ‘little parliament’ had only five months' lease; and Barbon did not again accept the dignity of M.P. He continued to preach as the ‘leather-seller of Fleet Street.’ In 1659–60 he was again the object of assaults. Samuel Pepys writes: ‘February 12th .... So to my father's, where Charles Glascocke was overjoyed to see how things are now; who told me the boys had last night broke Barebone's windows’ (p. 45). ‘February 22nd, 1659–60—I observed this day how abominably Barebone's windows are broke again last night’ (Pepys's Diary, ed. Bright, i. p. 53).

Barbon did all in his power to hinder the restoration of Charles II. Marchmont Needham confided to Praisegod the manuscript of his book, ‘News from Brussels in a Letter from a near Attendant on his Majesty's Person to a Person of Honour here. Dated 10 March 1659[–60].’ The object of the work was to expose the evil life of Charles in Holland, and Barbon had it printed and circulated broadcast. Nor did he seek to conceal his responsibility (Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), iii. 1187). But Barbon did more in the cause of the Commonwealth. On Thursday, 9 Feb. 1659–60, he presented the famous ‘Petition of Mr. Praise-God Barebone and several others to the Parliament’ against any kind of reconciliation with the Stuarts or the monarchy. It proposed that all officials should solemnly abjure the Stuarts, and that any one publicly proposing a restoration should be deemed guilty of high treason.

The royalists republished the petition, and in one of their attacks on it—the ‘Picture of the Good Old Cause drawn to the Life. In the Effigies of Master Prais-God Barebone. With several examples of God's Judgment on some Eminent Engagers against Kingly Government’—introduced a vividly engraved portrait of its author. Another tract vituperating Barbon's latest act was entitled: ‘That wicked and blasphemous petition of Praisegod Barbone and his sectarian crew, presented to that so-called the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England, Feb. 9, 1659, for which they had the thanks of that House, anatomized. Worthily stiled by his Excellency the Lord Generall Monck, Bold, of dangerous consequences, and venemous. By a Lover of Christ and his Ordinances, Ministers and their Calling, Parliaments and their