Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
 
Besieged in His Palace
By Joseph Hall (1574–1656)
 
From Bishop Hall’s Hard Measure

BUT after the covenant was appointed to be taken, and was generally swallowed of both clergy and laity, my power of ordination was, with some strange violence, restrained: for when I was going on in my wonted course, which no law or ordinance had inhibited, certain forward volunteers in the city, banding together, stir up the mayor and aldermen and sheriffs to call me to an account for an open violation of their covenant.
  1
  To this purpose, divers of them came to my gates at a very unseasonable time: and, knocking very vehemently, required to speak with the bishop. Messages were sent to them to know their business: nothing would satisfy them but the bishop’s presence. At last I came down to them, and demanded what the matter was: they would have the gate opened, and then they would tell me. I answered that I would know them better first: if they had anything to say to me I was ready to hear them. They told me they had a writing to me, from Mr. Mayor, and some other of their magistrates. The paper contained both a challenge of me for breaking covenant, in ordaining ministers; and, withal, required me to give in the names of those, which were ordained by me both then and formerly since the covenant. My answer was, that Mr. Mayor was much abused by those who had misinformed him, and drawn that paper from him; that I would the next day give a full answer to the writing. They moved that my answer might be my personal appearance at the Guildhall. I asked them when they ever heard of a bishop of Norwich appearing before a mayor. I knew mine own place; and would take that way of answer which I thought fit; and so dismissed them, who had given out that day, that had they known before of mine ordaining, they would have pulled me and those whom I ordained out of the chapel by the ears.  2
  While I received nothing, yet something was required of me. They were not ashamed, after they had taken away and sold all my goods and personal estate, to come to me for assessments and monthly payments for that estate which they had taken; and took distresses from me upon my most just denial; and vehemently required me to find the wonted arms of my predecessors, when they had left me nothing.  3
  Many insolencies and affronts were, in all this time, put upon us. One while a whole rabble of volunteers came to my gates late, when they were locked up, and called for the porter to give them entrance: which being not yielded, they threatened to make by force: and had not the said gates been very strong, they had done it. Others of them clambered over the walls and would come into my house; their errand they said, was to search for delinquents; what they would have done I know not, had not we by a secret way sent to raise the officers for our rescue. Another while, the Sheriff Toftes and Alderman Linsey, attended with many zealous followers, came into my chapel to look for superstitious pictures and relics of idolatry, and sent for me, to let me know they found those windows full of images, which were very offensive, and must be demolished. I told them they were the pictures of some ancient and worthy bishops, as St. Ambrose, Austin, etc. It was answered me, that they were so many popes; and one younger man amongst the rest (Townsend as I perceived afterwards) would take upon him to defend that every diocesan bishop was pope. I answered him with some scorn; and obtained leave that I might, with the least loss and defacing of the windows, give order for taking off that offence; which I did by causing the heads of those pictures to be taken off, since I knew the bodies could not offend.  4
  There was not that care and moderation used in reforming the cathedral church bordering upon my palace. It is no other than tragical to relate the carriage of that furious sacrilege, whereof our eyes and ears were the sad witnesses, under the authority and presence of Linsey, Toftes the sheriff, and Greenwood. Lord, what work was here! what clattering of glasses! what beating down of walls! what tearing up of monuments! what pulling down of seats! what wresting out of irons and brass from the windows and graves! what defacing of arms! what demolishing of curious stone-work, that had not any representation in the world, but only of the cost of the founder, and skill of the mason! what tooting and piping upon the destroyed organ-pipes! and what a hideous triumph on the market-day before all the country; when, in a kind of sacrilegious and profane procession, all the organ pipes, vestments, both copes and surplices, together with the leaden cross which had been newly sawn down from over the Green-yard pulpit, and the service-books and singing-books that could be had, were carried to the fire in the public market-place; a lewd wretch walking before the train, in his cope trailing in the dirt, with a service-book in his hand, imitating in an impious scorn the tune, and usurping the words of the litany used formerly in the church. Near the public cross, all these monuments of idolatry must be sacrificed to the fire: not without much ostentation of a zealous joy, in discharging ordinance, to the cost of some, who professed how much they had longed to see that day. Neither was it any news, upon this guild day, to have the cathedral, now open on all sides, to be filled with musketeers waiting for the major’s return; drinking and tobacconing as freely as if it had turned ale-house.  5
  Still yet I remained in my palace, though with but a poor retinue and means; but the house was held too good for me. Many messages were sent by Mr. Corbet to remove me thence. The first pretence was, that the committee, who now was at charge for a house to sit in, might make their daily session there; being a place both more public, roomy, and chargeless. The committee, after many consultations, resolved it convenient to remove thither; though many overtures and offers were made to the contrary. Mr. Corbet was impatient of my stay there; and procures and sends peremptory messages for my present dislodging; we desired to have some time allowed for providing some other mansion, if we must needs be cast out of this; which my wife was so willing to hold, that she offered, if the charge of the present committee-house were the thing stood upon, she would be content to defray the sum of the rent of that house of her fifth part: but that might not be yielded; out we must, and that in three weeks’ warning by Midsummer Day then approaching: so as we might have lain in the street for aught I know, had not the providence of God so ordered it, that a neighbour in the close, one Mr. Gostlin, a widower, was content to void his house for us.  6
  This hath been my measure; wherefore I know not: Lord, thou knowest, who only canst remedy, and end, and forgive or avenge this horrible oppression.  7
 
 
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