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From Sharpe's Magazine.
WILLIAM PRYNNE AND MONT ORGUEIL CASTLE.
A PLEASANT place, in spring or summer | time, is the Island of Jersey. But in autumn more especially, when the lawyer breaks loose for the long vacation, and mingles with the herds of tourists who quit the pent-up city at that season, for a week or two's ramble "in parts beyond the sea," where can be found a pleasanter spot for a fortnight's sojourn? We write with a full recollection of its narrow, shady roads, overarched with foliage; its pleasant variety of hill and dale; its orchards of apple-trees laden with clustering fruit; its beautiful bays, where the transparent waves leap one after another on the sand, leaving behind them wreaths of foam, or playfully clasp the pointed rocks, like beautiful sea-nymphs disporting them selves in the joyous sunlight; and its pretty villas that rise on all sides, comfortable and substantial, but light and elegant-hemmed in with gay flower-gardens and luxuriant shrubberies.
Jersey has also historical sights of some interest to the thoughtful wayfarer. Among these is the old castle of Mont Orgueil, "proud mount," or "mount of pride," at the eastern extremity of the island; a fortress of great antiquity, erected it is said by the Normans, near the site of a Roman encampment, as early as the tenth century.* Its situation is striking and romantic. Like some of the Rhineland castles, it appears to have grown out of the solid rock; and despite of war, and wind, and weather, it stands firm and immovable as the rock itself-the beau ideal of a feudal stronghold. From the summit of the keep there is a fine view of the coast of France, six miles distant; and on clear days the triple towers of the Cathedral of Coutances are plainly visible. In the castle itself are discernible all the peculiarities of the Norman fortress, which we shall not here stay to describe. The tourist will do well, before he quits the place, to take a draught of water from the castle well.
* See Charles II. and the Channel Islands, by S. Elliott Hoskyns, M.D., vol. i., 1854.
VOL. XXXIV.—NO. IV.
It is as clear as crystal, and even in midsummer cold as ice. To those who have been used to the purest water-and London produces some of the best, particularly from its old pumps, in the Temple, Aldgate, and St. Paul's Churchyard-a draught from this spring will be esteemed a real luxury.
Mont Orgueil Castle has its cells-the dark, narrow prison-rooms with which a feudal fortress was always furnished; and one of these is celebrated as having been the place of captivity of the celebrated William Prynne, after he had been cruelly maimed and branded by order of the Star-Chamber. It is a low, dark hole, which the visitor cannot enter without stooping; lighted by a single embrasure in the massive wall, and cold and cheerless as a tomb. Here, for nearly three years, was imprisoned this brave and restless Puritan, whose spirit neither threats, nor sufferings, nor years could tame; and whose fate it was, in an age of civil commotion, to suffer persecution at the hands of all parties.
There are many interesting circumstances connected with Prynne's captivity in Jersey, which are honorable alike to the prisoner and to the jailer in whose custody he was placed. Sir Philip Carteret was at that time lieutenant-governor of the island, over which he exercised almost despotic authority. Sir Philip was a staunch royalist, of ancient name and lineage; but his heart softened towards the unfortunate captive who had been committed to his care, and he treated him-Puritan and Malignant as he was-with rare kindness and consideration. He allowed him every indulgence in his power; gave him permission to take the air when he chose on the platform surmounting the keep; and conversed at all times with him freely and on equal terms. The relationship of captive and jailer was soon converted into a tie of a very different kind. Above all, the ladies of Sir Philip's family were permitted to lavish their courtesies on the Puritan prisoner. Dame Carteret vied with her lord in gracious kindness; and these were afterwards acknowledged by
Prynne, in the dedication of a volume of very indifferent verses (for he was certainly no poet), "To the right worshipfull, his most highly honored, speciall kind friend, the truly vertuous and religious lady, Anne Carteret."
Christmas decorations, bonfires, and maypoles, were regarded by the enthusiast with the same holy horror as the comedies of Jonson, Fletcher, and Shakspeare. That the works of glorious Ben should be printed on better paper than many Bibles, appeared a sore grievance to Prynne ;-almost as bad, in fact, as dressing up a house with holly and ivy on the day on which Christians commemorate the Saviour's nativity. Dancing was, in his eyes, the devil's profession. "The woman that singeth in the dance," he said, "is the prioress of the devil, and those that answer are clerks, and the beholders are the parishioners, and the music are bells, and the fiddlers are the minstrels of the devil." Even hunting, hawking, and out-door amusements came in for a share of reprobation. The Histrio- Mastyx was, in fact, a faithful picture of the gloomy side of Puritanism, and a bold exposition of its most unpalatable doctrines. To give power to such principles, and to render such strange notions popular, it was only necessary to invest the author of the work with the honors of martyrdom.
In the persecution of Prynne, the advisers of King Charles I. displayed, as usual, little
discretion or moderation. On the 7th February, 1633, he was brought to the Star-Chamber, -that odious and much-dreaded tribunal,— and an information was exhibited against him by Mr. Attorney-General Noy, for the publication of libellous and seditious matter contained in the above-mentioned work. Archbishop Laud is said to have been the author and abettor of these proceedings. He had taken the book to the king, and pointed out some of the most offensive passages, upon which his majesty thought fit to direct a prosecution. The gravest charge against Prynne was that, in his condemnation of "all women actors," he reflected upon the queen herself, who had acted a part in a pastoral at Somerset-house. This circumstance was adverted to in the Information; but the answer to the charge was-and one would have thought that it should have proved satisfactory - that the book was published six weeks before the queen's acting. Nevertheless the fact was relied on, throughout the whole proceedings, as cogent evidence of the disloyalty and malignity of the accused. As for the attack on stage-plays and players in general, it required some ingenuity on the part of the crown lawyers to make this out an offence against the laws of England. It was urged by Prynne in his book, that stage-players were rogues by act of parliament. To this the Attorney-General replied, they were not rogues unless they wandered or went abroad
Thus indebted to his jailer for all that could soften captivity, Prynne was not behind hand in gratitude. His attachment to the Carterets survived the period of his captivity; and he even went so far, on his return to England, as to take Sir Philip's part against his Puritan opponents in the island. Few of the incidents of our civil commotions are more interesting than this firm alliance-commenced in compassion and cemented by gratitude--between the stern and uncompromising Puritan and the steadfast, resolute royalist. Such an alliance might, at the first blush, appear incongruous and improbable; but we shall be able to show that Prynne possessed accomplishments and qualities well calculated to render his society agreeable to any person of ordinary refinement. It is still too much the fashion to suppose that all the Puritans of the days of Charles I. and the Commonwealth were coarse and vulgar in their habits, and destitute entirely of taste, wit, and elegance. But such was by no means the fact. Prynne was emphatically a gentleman, by lineage, education, feeling, and conduct. He was born near Bath, of an ancient Somersetshire family, about the year 1600, and received the first rudiments of his education in the grammar-school of that city. Whilst a mere stripling, he was removed to Oriel College, Oxford; and, being intended for the legal profession, he from thence, at the proper time, repaired to Lincoln's Inn. As soon as the necessary period of probation had expired, he was called to the bar; and though his practice was small, he was in such repute for legal learning that he was made, at an early age, first Reader and then Bencher of his inn. At this time he became immersed in controversial divinity. For all abstruse investigations he had undoubtedly a natural inclination, and such studies were then the fashion of the age. Theological zeal, however, soon brought Prynne into difficulties; and it did so. in rather a novel and unexpected manner.
In the year 1632, he published his famous book, called Histrio-Mastyx; or, a Scourge for Stage-Players. This work, which was written in an exceedingly angry and vehement tone, comprised not merely a general censure of all theatrical representations, but also denunciations of every diversion then in vogue. It exhibited in every page the "cry-aloudand-spare-not" spirit of genuine Puritanism.
a species of argument which it requires the mind of a special pleader to appreciate True it was that the book contained references to many other matters than theatrical performances." He falleth upon those things," said Noy," that have no relation to stage-plays: music, music in the church, dancing, NewYear's gifts, whether witchery or not. Witchery, church ceremonies, &c., indistinctly he falleth upon them; then upon altars, images, hair of men and women, bishops and bonfires; cards and tables do offend him, and peruques do fall within the compass of his theme." But, however offensive these puritanical criticisms might be, it was difficult for the acute Attorney-General himself to torture them into so many seditious libels. With some justice, however, he complained of the violence of Prynne's language. "The terms which he "The terms which he useth," said Noy, "are such as he finds among the oyster-women in Billingsgate:" an observation which shows that the use of strong language, in the metropolitan fish-market, is sanctioned by the practice of more than two centuries.
On the part of Prynne it was contended that the prosecuted work was, for the most part, a justifiable censure of the licentiousness of the stage; and his counsel, Mr Atkyns, afterwards a judge of the Common Pleas, concluded an able appeal on his behalf with the following quaint remarks:
"I have long known him in a society of Inns of Court, where he has lived; and for his ordinary discourses (except the matters in this book), they have not been factious or seditious. But now he is before your lordships, truly, for my part, I compare him to the astronomer, who fixed his eyes so much upon the stars that he did not look to his feet, but fell into a ditch; for his eyes were so fixed upon this subject, upon the common resort to stage-plays, and the great abuse that comes by them, that he forgot to look down to his hand that guided his pen."*
As it was the invariable practice of the Court of Star Chamber that conviction should follow accusation, all arguments and appeals on Prynne's behalf were thrown away. On the fourth day of the inquiry, the lords proceeded severally to pronounce judgment and to pass sentence. The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Cottington) first spoke, and passed a sentence characterized by extreme severity, which was concurred in by the majority of the court. He, in the first place, adjudged the book to be burnt by the common hang
* State Trials, vol. iii., p. 571.
man-a proceeding hitherto unknown in England, and intended to throw peculiar odium on the author. As for Prynne himself, he was to be disbarred, and declared incapable of hereafter practicing in his profession; to be expelled from the society of Lincoln's Inn and from the University of Oxford (at which part of the sentence Laud, who was present, observed in a low tone, "I am sorry Oxford ever bred such an evil member"); to stand twice in the pillory, in two places, in Westminster and Cheapside, with a paper on his head declaring his offence; and to lose both his ears, one in each place; and, finally, to pay a fine of £5,000, and be imprisoned for life.
This sentence would seem to exhaust the degrading severities of the penal code; but one member of the court was for going even further in respect to personal torture. The Earl of Dorset, who was generally considered the most moderate of the Star Chamber council, recommended with great gusto a little further mutilation of the bold Puritan.
"Now, for corporal punishment, my lords," he broke in, "whether I should burn him in the forehead or slit him in the nose. . . . He that was guilty of murder was marked in a place where he might be seen, as Cain was. I should be loth he should escape with his ears; for he may get a periwig, which he now so much inveighs against, and so hide them; or force his conscience to make use of his unlovely love-locks on both sides: therefore I would have him branded in the forehead, slit in the nose, and his ears cropt too." The sentence was however ultimately executed, on the 7th and 10th May following, with our Lord Dorset's ingenious additions.
As far as the interests of the government were concerned, nothing could be more impolitic than these harsh proceedings. Such of the Puritan or Presbyterian party as had been hitherto inclined to moderation, began now to look upon resistance to the monarch and his advisers as a measure of self-defence. The persecution of Prynne was considered a direct attack upon liberty of conscience. Moreover, plain persons of all stations and opinions were puzzled by the apparently anomalous character of the prosecution-directed, as it was, against the assailant of notorious immorality. It was said that my Lord of Canterbury, in order the more effectually to exterminate godly Protestantism, had entered into an alliance with Belial, and had taken the stage-players under his protection. Was it consistent, in a serious divine, to champion the loose principles of the theatre? In what
other light could Prynne's trial be regarded, | than as part of a deep laid conspiracy against the sober and pious portion of the nation? Was it the duty of the King's AttorneyGeneral to screen profligacy and punish plainspeaking? Such were the questions asked on all sides by those who witnessed the Puritan's sufferings. Instead of being an object of contempt or derision, the author of Histrio-Mastyx was elevated into a martyr, and becanie the object of general sympathy.
After undergoing the most degrading part of his cruel sentence, Prynne was imprisoned in the Tower, where he appears to have been permitted the use of writing materials without let or hinderance. This proved to him, alas! a dangerous privilege. Instead of being deterred by his grievous sufferings from again engaging in political and polemical controversy, those sufferings only stimulated him to more daring efforts in what the Puritans called the "good cause." His was not a nature to be conquered or softened by severity. "The more I am beaten down, the more I am lift up," was his motto. Rather than refrain from the open expression of his opinions-captive as he was-he was ready to undergo fresh tortures and degradation nay, even death itself. Thus it happened that three years of his imprisonment had not passed away before he again fell under the censure of the Star-Chamber, for writing and publishing a pamphlet called News from Ips wich, reflecting severely on the Bishop of Norwich and Archbishop Laud.
This time he was not the sole culprit. Dr. John Bastwick, a physician, and Mr. Henry Burton, a learned divine, were joined with him in the same information; all three being charged with writing and publishing schismatical and libellous books against the hierarchy. To this information answers were prepared by the defendants; but these answers contained matter of such a character that no counsel could be found bold enough to sign them; and the consequence was that the charge was taken pro confesso. Against this injustice the defendants loudly exclaimed, when they were brought before the lords of the Star Chamber to receive sentence. Prynne's second appearance before this court is thus recorded in the State Trials:
the lords to take a stricter view of him, and for their better satisfaction the usher of the court was commanded to turn up his hair and shew his ears: upon the sight whereof the lords were displeased they had been formerly no more cut off, and cast out some disgraceful words of him. To which Mr. Prynne replied, My Lords, there is never a one of your honors but would be sorry to have your ears as mine are.'
"L. Keeper. In good faith, he is somewhat saucy.
"Jan. 14 (1637). The lords being set in their places in the Star-Chamber, and the three defendants brought to the bar to receive their sentences, the Lord Chief Justice Finch, looking earnestly on Mr. Prynne, said, had thought Mr. Prynne had no ears, but methinks he hath ears;' which caused many of
"Mr. Prynne. I hope your honors will not be offended. Pray God give you ears to hear."
All the prisoners displayed upon this occasion the same undaunted demeanor. Dr. Bastwick said, in concluding his address to the court, "But if all this will not prevail with your honors to peruse my books and hear my answer read, which here I tender upon the word and oath of a soldier, a gentleman, a scholar, and a physician, I will clothe them (as I said before) in Roman buff, and disperse them throughout the Christian world, that future generations may see the innocency of this cause, and your honors' unjust proceedings in it; all which I will do though it cost me my life." Mr. Burton exclaimed that rather than desert his cause he would desert his body, and deliver it up to their lordships, to do with it what they would. So stern and unsparing was the language of these intrepid men, that the court at length considered it expedient to command silence, and proceeded to pass sentence. They were then all three condemned to lose their ears in the palace yard at Westminster, to be fined £5,000 each, and to perpetual imprisonment in three remote places in the kingdom, namely, the castles of Carnarvon, Cornwall, and Lancaster. Prynne was in addition condemned to be branded in the cheek with the letters S. and L., as a seditious libeller. The proceedings ended with a long speech from Archbishop Laud, who forbore to take any part in the sentence, "because the business had some reflection on himself."
On the day fixed for the execution of their sentences, the bold Puritans were brought into the Palace yard, where they all made long speeches before delivering themselves into the hands of the hangman. Prynne was the first to suffer, and he endured without flinching the touch of the hot iron, and the deprivation of the portion of his ears which had escaped on the occasion of his former mutilation. An eye-witness thus describes his demeanor:
"Christian people,' he said, 'I beseech | you all stand firm and be zealous for the cause of God and his true religion, to the shedding of your dearest blood, otherwise you will bring yourselves and all your posterities into perpetual bondage and slavery.' Now the executioner being come to sear him and cut off his ears, Mr. Prynne spake these words to him: Come, friend, come burn me -cut me, I fear not. I have learned to fear the fire of hell, and not what man can do unto me: come, sear me, sear me, I shall bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus' which the executioner performed with extraordinary severity, heating the iron twice to burn one cheek; and cut one of his ears so close, that he cut off a piece of his cheek." It is said that Archbishop Laud, having been informed by his spies of Prynne's language in Palace-yard, moved the lords, then sitting in the Star-Chamber, that he might be gagged, and have some further censure presently executed upon him; but that motion did not succeed."*
Branded and mutilated, but not cast down in spirit, Prynne was conveyed to the Castle of Carnarvon, which had been designated as the place of his captivity. Here he was the object of general interest and compassion. Sympathizing friends flocked around the castle from all parts of the country, craving permission to see him, and speak to him words of comfort. When this was reported in London, it was determined to remove him, together with his fellow-sufferers, to some still remoter corner of the kingdom; and accordingly, by warrants which were afterwards declared illegal, Dr. Bastwick was removed to the Isle of Scilly, Mr. Burton to Guernsey, and Prynne to the Island of Jersey.
Upon his arrival in Jersey, "after fourteen weeks' voyage in the winter season, through dangerous and stormy seas, in a bruised, ship-wrecked vessel," and with papists for fellow-passengers (which he appears to have regarded as a great aggravation of his sufferings), Prynne was delivered into the custody of Sir P. Carteret. His appearance must at once have excited the compassion of his jailer. Pale and sick, and clothed in mean apparel, he still retained, in spite of suffering and mutilation, the dignified bearing of the scholar and the gentleman. If Sir Philip's heart was touched at the spectacle which his high-minded captive presented, that of his noble lady's was no less so.
State Trials, vol. iii., p. 749.
Dame Carteret did not neglect the first and noblest duty of her sex-that of administering consolation and assistance to the wounded, the desolate, and oppressed; remembering perchance those grand and gracious words, "I was in prison, and ye visited me, naked and ye clothed me;" and, "Forasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it unto Me."
During the three years that Prynne remained "shut up close prisoner in Mont Orgueil pile," he received, as we have already stated, every indulgence which Sir Philip Carteret could consistently with his duty bestow on him. He might have been left alone in his cold, dark, narrow cell, day after day, and week after week, with no other sound to break the stillness of his prison-room than the dull, monotonous roar of the ocean. Instead of this he received words of kindness and deeds of charity, the memory of which was most precious to him throughout the remainder of his life. It is most creditable to him that he took the earliest opportunity of acknowledging and of evincing his gratitude for the kindnesses for which he was so much a debtor. Times were about to change. The nation was on the eve of a great revolution. The oppressed were to become oppressors in their turn; haughty peers and prelates were to give place to the despised Puritan; and the branded and earless captive was, by a freak of fortune, to be turned into the protector of his former jailer.
At the beginning of the Long Parliament, in the year 1641, Dr. Bastwick, Burton, and Prynne forwarded their respective petitions to the legislature, in which were minutely set forth the circumstances attending their trial and conviction, their subsequent sufferings, and illegal imprisonment beyond sea. Prynne's memorial a grateful allusion was made to the kindness of the Carterets. After mentioning his arrival in Jersey, and his being conveyed close prisoner "in Mount Orgatile Castle there," and the strict orders that had been given for his rigorous treatment, the petitioner concluded his narrative with these words-"So that being deprived of his calling and estate, exiled, and shut up close prisoner among strangers, remote from all his friends, denied all addresses by person or letter, he had certainly perished in his almost three years' close imprisonment, had not the extraordinary providence and goodness of God, which he shall ever adore, and the noble charity of those under whose custody he did remain, furnished him with such diet and necessaries as preserved him both in