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variance with many of the established dogmas there taught and enforced as essentials of religion ; and growing restless under the restraints and bigotry of the place, he removed to Cambridge, thinking to live and study there under conditions of somewhat greater freedom. Thence he went to Gloucestershire, as tutor in some knightly family, and there hearing of Luther's doings, and expressing himself with tov warm an approval of_them to suit the conservatism of his patron, he fell into disgrace. From Gloucestershire he removed to London, where, preaching one day at St. Dunstan’s, he attracted the attention of a worthy London alderman, damed Humfrey Monmouth, who took him to his home, and kept him there for half-a-year; and where, as the alderman declared, 'the said Tyndal lived like a good priest, studying both night and day.' The half-year being past, Monmouth gave him ten pounds, with which provision the young man went off to Wittenberg ; and the alderman, for so assisting him, went shortly afterwards to the Tower-escaping, however, as one is glad to know, with no worse consequences than a brief confinement. Tyndal saw Luther, and under his immediate direction translated the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament at Wittenberg. Thence he returned to Antwerp, and settling there under the privileges of the city, he was joined by other young enthusiasts from England, who assisted him in translating the remainder of the Bible.
In Antwerp, under the care of these men, was established the printing press, by which books were supplied, to accomplish for the teaching of England what Luther and Melancthon were accomplishing for Germany. Tyndal's Testament was first printed, then translations of the best German books, reprints of Wicliffe's tracts and commentaries; such volumes as the people most required were here multiplied as fast as the press could produce them. And for the dissemination of these precious writings, the brave London protestants dared, at the hazard of their lives, to form themselves into an organized association.
'It is well to pause,' says an accomplished modern historian, and look for a moment at this small band of heroes;' for heroes they were, if ever men deserved the name. Unlike the first of the reformers who had followed Wycliffe, they had no earthly object, emphatically none; and equally unlike them, perhaps, because they had no earthly object they were all poor men—either students, like Tyndall, or artisans and labourers who worked for their own bread, and in tough contact with reality had learnt, better than the great and the educated, the difference between truth and lies. Wycliffe had royal dukes and noblemen for his supporters ; knights and divines among his disciples; a king and a house of commons looking upon him, not without favour. The first protestants of the sixteenth century had for their king the champion of Holy Church,
who had broken a lance with Luther; and a spiritual authority over them alike powerful and imbecile, whose highest conception of christian virtue was the destruction of those who disobeyed it. The masses of the people were indifferent to a cause which promised them no material advantage ; and the commons of parliament, while contending with the abuses of the spiritual authorities, were laboriously anxious to wash their hands of heterodoxy. “In the crime of heresy, thanked be God," said the bishops in 1529, " there hath no notable person fallen in our time; no chief priest, chief ruler, or learned pharisee—not one. Truth it is that certain apostate friars and monks, lewd priests, bankrupt merchants, vagabonds and lewd idle fellows of corrupt nature, have embraced the abominable and erroneous opinions lately sprung in Germany, and by them have been some seduced in simplicity and ignorance, Against these, if judgment have been exercised according to the laws of the realm, we be without blame. If we have been too remiss or slack, we shall gladly do our duty from henceforth.” Such were the first protestants in the eyes of their superiors. On one side was wealth, rank, dignity, the weight of authority, the majority of numbers, the prestige of centuries ; here, too, were the phantom legions of superstition and cowardice; and here were all the worthier influences so pre-eminently English, which led wise men to shrink from change, and to cling to things established, so long as one stone of them remains upon another. This was the arny of conservatism. Opposed to it were enthusiasts, armed only with truth and fearlessness; " weak things of the world,” about to do battle in God's name; and it was to be seen whether God or the world was the stronger. They were armed, I say, with the truth ; it was that alone which could have given them victory in so unequal a struggle. They had returned to the essential fountain of life; they re-asserted the principle which has lain at the root of all religions, whatever their name or outward form, which once burnt with divine lustre in that Catholicism which was now to pass away; the fundamental axiom of all real life, that the service which man owes to God is not the service of words or magic forms, or ceremonies or opinions; but the service of holiness, of purity, of obedience to the everlasting laws of duty.**
These early protestants found the service of God buried in a system where obedience was dissipated into superstition ; where sin was expiated by the vicarious virtues of other men ; where, instead of leading a holy life, men were taught that their souls might be saved through masses said for them, at a money rate, by priests, whose licentiousness disgraced the nation which endured it; a
* Froude's “ History of England," from the fall of Wolsey to the death of Elizabeth, chap. 6.
system in which, amidst all the trickery of the pardons, pilgrimages, indulgencies--doubled-faced as these inventions are-wearing one meaning in the apologies of theologians, and quite another to the multitnde who live and suffer under their influence-one plain fact, at least, is visible : the fact, namely, that all evils which could touch either their souls or their bodies, might be escaped by means which resolved themselves, scarcely disguised, into the payment of moneys.
• The superstition,' says the author already quoted, had lingered long; the time had come when it was to pass away. Those, in whom some craving lingered for a christian lite turned to the heart of the matter, to the book which told them who Christ was, and what he was. And finding there that holy example for which they longed, they Aung aside, in one noble burst of enthusiastic passion, the disguise which had concealed it from them. They believed in Christ, not in the bowing rood, or the pretended wood of the cross on which he suffered ; and when that saintly figure had once been seen—the object of all love, the pattern of all imitation —thenceforward neither form nor ceremony should stand between them and their God.'
Under much confusion of words and thoughts--confusion pardonable in the men concerned--this seems to have been practically the aim of these poor Christian Brothers;' a thirst for some fresh and noble enunciation of the everlasting Truth, the one essential thing for all meo to know and to believe. In this faith they were strong, and by means of it they conquered. Yet it required no common daring in those who would stand out at such a time in defence of such a cause. For the bishops might seize them on mere suspicion ; and the evidence of the most abandoned villains sufficed for their conviction. By an Act of Henry V. all persons discrediting the doctrines or not conforming to the ceremouials of the established creed, were regarded as punishable heretics; and every officer, from the lord chancellor to the parish constable, was sworn to seek them out and destroy them. Bishops and officials had hitherto shown no reluctance to execute their duty. 'Hunted like wild beasts from hiding-place to hiding-place, decimated by the stake, with the certainty that, however many years they might be reprieved, their own lives would close at last in the same fiery trial ; beset by informers, imprisoned, racked, and scourged; worst of all, haunted by their own infirmities, the flesh shrinking before the dread of a death of agony-thus it was that they struggled on, earning for themselves martyrdom, for us, the free England in which we live and breathe.'
Tyndal had not been long at work at Antwerp, nor the Society of Christian Brothers long engaged in the dispersion of his books, before the authorities took alarm at their proceedings. The isolated
discontent which had prevailed hitherto had been left to the ordinary tribunals; but this more formidable danger to the prosperous institution of priestcraft seemed to call for measures of a more systematic coercion. The duty of dealing with heretics devolved on Cardinal Wolsey, and the office of Grand Inquisitor, which he now assumed, could hardly have fallen into more competent hands.
Wolsey, we are assured, was not cruel. There is no proved instance in which he of his special motion sent a victim to the stake. His conduct differed in this respect from other bishops, that while they seemed eager to punish, he was contented to silence. The bishops usually in conducting trials made escape as difficult as possible ; he sought rather to make submission easy. Nevertheless, he was determined to repress, as far as outward measures could repress, the spread of the new doctrines, and in this attempt he could not help inflicting a great amount of cruelty and misery. Heresy being a penal crime, he who was charged with the task of suppressing it was bound by the necessity of his position to put to death all offenders who could not be prevailed on to recant. Wolsey prosecuted his work with his accustomed energy, and was backed in it by the whole secular and spiritual power of the kingdom. The country was covered with his secret police, arresting suspected persons, and searching for forbidden books. In London the scrutiny was so strict that at one time there was a general flight and panic of the Protestant inhabitants; poor butchers, tailors, and carpenters, hiding themselves in the holds of vessels in the river, and escaping across the channel. But in fight there was no safety. By a common consent of the European governments heretics were outlawed. Special offenders were hunted through France by the English emissaries with the permission and countenance of the Court. There was even an attempt to arrest Tyndal at Brussels—which, however, was not successful, as he contrived to make his escape.
The English universities, at the same time, fell under examination, in consequence of the appearance of heretical symptoms among the younger students. One of the persons of whom Wolsey received complaint was the famous Hugh Latimer, who, however, proved himself at present but a neophyte in heresy, whose trivial eccentricity might be pardoned. The Cardinal dismissed him with the expression of a hope that his accusers might prove as honest as he appeared to be, and gave him at the same time a general licence to preach. In the way of preaching and otherwise, Hugh Latimer had a great work awaiting him in the future, and the time for his incremation had not yet come.
Meanwhile, the police had collected vast quantities of Tyndal's publications—consisting apparently of translations from the Scrip
tures, and tracts containing seasonable expositions of Protestants' views and doctrines. The bishops also, like persons unwise in their generation, had subscribed among themselves to buy up the copies of the New Testament printed at Antwerp before they could get into circulation ; thinking by this method to bring the whole pestilent business, as they thought it, to a comforting and convenient conclusion. Any one can see now that such a proceeding was like attempting to extinguish fire by pouring oil upon it; but the bishops in their blindness fancied they were accomplishing a great feat. Certain it is, their zeal yielded them a large immediate harvest : a pyramid of offending volumes was built up, and a day and hour appointed in which it was to be solemnly consumed as a burnt offering in honour of the Holy Catholic Church, and as an admonishing symbol of the Church's dealings with the heretics ! Let us borrow Mr. Froude's description of this astonishing auto da fé, and see how the thing went on. In the morning of Shrove Sunday then 1527, we
are to picture to ourselves a procession moving along London streets from the Fleet prison to St. Paul's cathedral. “The warden of the Fleet was there, and the knight marshal, and the tipstaffs” and “all the company they could make," " with bills and glaives;” and in the midst of these armed officials, six men marching in penitential dresses, one carrying a lighted taper five pounds weight, the others with symbolic fagots, signifying to the lookers-on the fate which their crimes had earned for them, but which this time, in mercy, was remitted.
It was eight o'clock when they arrived at St. Paul's. The people had flocked in crowds before them. The public seats and benches were filled. All London which at that hour could be spared from work had hurried to the spectacle. A platform was erected in the centre of the nave, on the top of which, enthroned in pomp of purple, and gold, and splendour, sat the great cardinal, supported on each side with eighteen bishops, mitred abbots, and priors—six-and-thirty in all ; his chaplains and spiritual doctors' sitting also where they could find place, ‘in gowns of damask and satin.' Opposite the platform, over the north door of the cathedral, was a great crucifix-a famous image, in those days called the Rood of Northern; and at the foot of it, inside a rail, a fire was burning, with the sinful books, the Tracts and Testaments, ranged round it in baskets, waiting for the execution of sentence.
Such was the scene into the midst of which the six prisoners entered. A second platform stood in a conspicuous place in front of the cardinal's throne, where they could be seen and heard by the crowd; and there, upon their knees, with their fagots on their shoulders, they begged pardon of God and the Holy Catholic Churh for their high crimes and offences. When the confession was finished the Bishop of Rochester mounted the pulpit and preached
VOL. III.-NEW SERIES.