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UNPUBLISHED HUMOROUS AND SATIRICAL
PAPERS OF ARCHBISHOP LAUD.
Few people would look for humour in anything
said or written by Archbishop Laud. He, whose
"hasty sharp way of speaking" is commemorated
by Clarendon, who said of himself that he had
"no leisure for compliments," and whose voice
and manner in speaking were such that they who
heard and saw him always supposed that he was
angry-such a man seems very unlikely to have
been gifted with the slightest predisposition for
drollery. Yet I had occasion, some time ago, to
point out that, in his letters to his friends, there
existed traces of a heavy but kindly pleasantry, of
which I quoted several examples. I have now,
going a step farther in the same direction, to lay
before you evidence that there really was within
that cold harsh man-for such in his "full-blown
dignity" he exhibited himself to the world—a
power of appreciating and applying wit and wag-
gery for which, without this evidence, scarcely
anyone, I think, would give him credit.
But I must premise a few words of explanation.
In 1613 the future Archbishop was, in his fortieth
year, President of St. John's, Oxford, a Doctor
of Divinity, and a Royal Chaplain. In that same
year a most absurd "sedition," as it is termed
by Antony à Wood, was raised in the University.
Some of the youngsters, headed by one Henry
Wightwick of Gloucester Hall, deemed the dig-
nity of the Convocation House diminished by the
circumstance that the Vice-Chancellor and Doc-
tors were in the habit of sitting in their assemblies
bare-headed. There have been many foolish re-
bellions; but surely, if we know the truth about
this matter, no one was ever more silly than this.
Like many other hare-brained things, however,
it found patronage among men of higher standing
than those with whom it originated; and, thus
supported, what appears to have been a mere
childish outbreak divided and excited the whole
University. We must suppose that, somehow
or other, it linked itself to party differences
of a higher character. Dons as well as under-
graduates were, for several years, kept in hot-
water by this contemptible dispute. Some of the
leaders of the dissentients even went the length
of threatening to follow an example which had
occasioned considerable trouble once before-that
of secession from Oxford, and the erection of a
new college at Stamford.
Occupying an eminent station in the University,
Laud could scarcely have avoided taking some
share in the dispute; and we know that he was not
a man to do anything otherwise than energetically.
Whatever he did or said, we may be sure that on
such an occasion he took the side of authority;
but we have no information on the subject, until
the proposal was made to dismember the Univer-
sity. Aroused by a suggestion, which was either
absurd or of weighty moment, he determined to
crush it at once by overwhelming it with ridicule.
The stories of the folly of the Gothamites,
which were then familiar to everybody, gave
him a foundation to build upon. He conceived the
design of publishing a burlesque account of the
contemplated foundation at Stamford, under the
name of Gotham (or, as he spelt it, Gotam,) Col-
lege, introducing into its imaginary regulations
such Gothamite recollections as could be made
applicable, with such other strokes of humour as
could be brought to bear upon the contemplated
design, in the way of quizzing and contempt.
The subject has not been mentioned (so far as
I know) by the biographers of Laud, nor are there
any documents respecting it printed in the edi-
tion of his Works published in the Library of
Anglo-Catholic Theology; but there exist, among
the State Papers in the Public Record Office,
placed at the end of the year 1613, various papers,
mostly in Laud's handwriting, which clearly in
dicate the nature of his contemplated publication.
None of them are probably quite finished; but
all are, more or less, advanced towards comple-
tion. Why the intended pamphlet, or whatever
it was to have been, was laid aside, does not ap-
pear. The Gothamite scheme may have died
away, and it was not deemed advisable to stir its
decaying embers; or Laud's execution of his de-
sign, after much touching and retouching (of
which the papers before us present ample evi-
dence), may not have pleased him. These manu-
scripts remain -mere wrecks and ruins; but
there is enough in them to indicate clearly the history. Reader, it needs not.
author's purpose, and to demonstrate, unless I
very much mistake their character, that he pos-
sessed no mean power of making sport. He dealt
with the subject before him in his naturally sharp,
but also in a frolicsome and witty manner.
malice. Therefore he resolved to build it in no Univer-
Not in any, for
sity, but very near one famous one.
such a place cannot bear their folly; not far off, for no
other place so liable to discover and publish their worth.
I could tell you much more, but it is not good manners in
the Epistle to prevent the tract. If you will not take
the pains to walk about this College, you shall be ignor-
ant of their building. If not to read their orders and
statutes, you shall not know their privileges. If not to
stranger in all places, and not well acquainted in your
be acquainted with some of the students, you shall be a
own country. One counsel let me give you: whenever
you visit the place, stay not long in it; for the air is
bad, and all the students very rheumatic. I have heard
that Lady Prudence Wisdom went but once (then she
was masked and muffled, and yet she escaped not the
toothache.) to see it since it was built, and myself heard
her swear she would never come within the gates again.
You think the Author of this Work (who for the founder's
honour, and the students' virtues, hath taken on him to
map out this building) must depart from the truth of the
For there is more to be
said of these men, in truth and story, than any pen can
set out to the world. His pen is weak, and mine too;
but who cannot defend Innocents? Farewell. The founder
The first of these papers-an "Epistle to the Reader," designed as a preface to the intended work-seems to be all but complete. I shall give it you as it stands. It will be found to be quaint and old-fashioned, but not without touches of effective pleasantry.
"Come, Reader, let's be merry! I have a tale to tell : I would it were worth the hearing, but take it as it is. There's a great complaint made against this age, that no good works are done in it. Sure I hear Slander hath a tongue, and it is a woman's bird never born mute.* For not long since (besides many other things of worth) there was built in the air a very famous college, the SEMINARY OF INNOCENTS, commonly called in the mother tongue of that place, GOTAM COLLEGE. I do not think, in these latter freezing ages, there hath been a work done of greater either profit or magnificence. The founder got up into a tree (and borrowed a rook's nest for his cushion) to see the plot of the building, and the foundation laid. He resolved to build it in the air to save charges, because castles are built there of lighter materials. It is not to be spoken how much he saved in the very carriage of timber and stone by this politic device, which I do not doubt but founders in other places will imitate. Yet he would not have it raised too high in the air, lest his Collegians, which were to be heavy and earthy, should not get into it; and it is against all good building to need a ladder at the gate. The end of this building was as charitable, as the ordering of it prudent; for whereas there are many places in all commonwealths provided for the lame, and the sick, and the blind, and the poor of all sorts, there is none anywhere erected for innocents. This founder alone may glory that he is the first, and may prove the only patron of Fools. He was ever of opinion that, upon the first finishing of his College, it would have more company in it than any one College in any University in Europe. Such height would be waited upon by
laughed heartily when he built the College: if thou canst dwell a little too near the College that I am so skilful in laugh at nothing in it, borrow a spleen. You know I it, and have idle time to spend about it. But it's no matter. What if I were chosen Fellow of the house? As the world goes, I had rather be rich at Gotham than poor in a better place. You know where I dwell. Come the College hang not over me, and I will show you as to see me at any time when it is safe, that the Ears of
many Fellows of this Society highly preferred as of any other. I know you long to hear; but you shall come to my house for it, as near the College as it stands. There you shall find me at my devotion for Benefactors to this worthy foundation."
This " Epistle to the Reader" is followed by a variety of rough notes, scattered over seventeen leaves, many of which contain only a sentence or two. They were apparently intended to be worked up into the designed work.
We next have a Latin Charter of Liberties, supposed to have been granted to the College by the Emperor of Morea. There are among the papers two drafts of this charter. In one, the Emperor's name is given as Midas. They are both framed as if granted to the founder, who was at first designated as "Thomas White, miles," but the "White" was subsequently struck out. Why the name of Sir Thomas White, the founder of Reading School, where Laud was educated, and of his beloved College of St. John's, was thus introduced, I am unable to explain.
The draft of a Foundation Charter of the College then follows. It runs in the name of "Thomas à Cuniculis, miles auritus, patriæ Moreanus."
tions between them, of a paper entitled "The We next have two copies, but with many variFoundation of Gotam College." This was the author's principal effort. In his account of the †They are very long.
* Anima prudens in sicco.
rules and regulations of the college, he pours out his store of Gothamite recollections, with such fresh wit as he could make to tell against the chief members of the party to whom he was opposed. It is difficult occasionally to identify the persons alluded to, but many of them will be easily recognised. The two brothers, Dr. Sampson and Dr. Daniel Price, together with Dr. Thomas James, the author of Bellum Papale, were clearly leaders in the suggestion which excited Laud's dislike. Upon them the vials of his wrath were consequently poured. All three were strong anti-Romanists. Antony Wood tells us that Dr. Sampson Price was so distinguished in that respect, that he acquired the name of "The Mawl of Heretics,' meaning papists;" and that, both he and his brother, were regarded with especial dislike at Douay. Both brothers were royal chaplains and popular preachers, and of the same way of thinking,that way being in most respects nearly as far removed from Laud's way, as could co-exist within the pale of the Church of England. Dr. Thomas James, the well-known Bodley librarian, was a man of precisely the same anti-Romanist views as the Prices, but probably of far greater learning than either of them. All these had no doubt, like other men, their vanities and peculiarities; and it is upon these foibles that Laud seizes and applies them to the purposes of his ridicule. Thus, we learn that James was highly pleased with his dignity of Justice of Peace, whence Laud styles him Mr. Justice James, and appoints him library keeper of the new college. We learn also, that Dr. Sampson Price enjoyed his nap at the sermons in St. Mary's, and that Dr. Daniel was fond of an anchovy toast, and had a general liking (in which respect he was probably not singular, either at Oxford or elsewhere,) for a good dinner. All these points come out in the following paper; which I print, with one or two omissions, from one of the two manuscripts, adding here and there passages derived from the other.
"THE FOUNDATION OF GOTAM COLLEGE. "The founder (being the Duke of Morea *) made suit and obtained leave for this foundation, that it might be erected, anno 1613. The reasons of his suit were:
"1. Because, in the midst of so many good works as had been done for the bringing up of men in learning, there had been none taken in special for the Gotamists.
"2. Because every College in the University had some or other of them in it, which were fitter to be elected and chosen out to live together in this new foundation.
"3. Because it is unfit that, in a well-goverred commonwealth, such a great company of deserving men, or *This is not consistent with the foundation charter noticed before, and is an evidence that the author's design was still unsettled. In the margin is written, "Sir Thomas Cuninsby, con-founder." This is evidently the Thomas Cuniculis," mentioned in the
youth full of hope as those are (for stultorum plena sunt omnia), should want places of preferment or education. "Maintenance.-Their mortmain is to hold as much as will be given them, without any stint; which favour is granted them in regard of their number (being the greatest foundation in Christendom), and at the instant request of the honourable patroness the Lady Fortuna favet: provided always, that they hold no part of this their land, or aught else, in capite, but as much as they will in Knight's service, so they fit their cap and their coat thereafter.
"Sociorum numerus.-The number of Fellows may not be under 500, and 200 probationers (if so many may be found fit); which it shall be lawful to choose out of any College in Oxford: Provided that when, if ever, there is any eminent man found in the other University of Cambridge, or any other, it shall be lawful for them, which after the founder shall be put in trust with the election, to admit them in veros et perpetuos socios.
"The statutes are appointed to be penned in brief, for
the help of their memory, which yet is better than the wit of any of the Fellowships. [Memorandum. In making of a speech, they must not stop at any time, but when their breath fails.] There is leave granted they may remove Cuckoo-bush,' and set it in some part of the College garden: and that in remembrance of their famous predecessors they shall breed a Cuckoo every year, and keep him in a pound till he be hoarse; and then, in midsummer moon, deliver him to the bush and let him at liberty.
"Because few of these men have wit enough to grieve, they shall have 'Gaudyes'* every holyday and every Thursday through the year; and their Gaudyes' shall be served up in woodcocks, gulls, curs, pouts, geese, ganders, and all such other fowl, which shall be brought at a certain rate in ass-loads to furnish the College. But on other days which are not Gaudyes,' they shall have all their commons in calf's head and bacon, † and, therefore, to this purpose all the beef, mutton, and veal, shall be cut out by their butcher into calves' heads; and on
fish-days conger, cod's head, or drowned eel, with a piece
of cheese after it-of the same dairy with that cheese which their wise predecessors rolled down the hill, to go to market before them.
"Broths, caudles, pottage, and all such settle-brain, absolutely forbidden. All other meats to be eaten assa. "Fasts. They are to fast upon O Sapientia. The solemn day of their foundation, Innocent's day. [Another solemn feast day to be renewed, St. Dunstan's.] Benefices. Gotam annexed to the headship. The other benefices belonging to the Fellows are Bloxam, Duns-tu, Dunstable, St. Dunstan's (East, West), Totteridge, Aleton, Battlebridge, Gidding (Magna, Parva), the prebend of Layton Buzzard, Little Brainford, Little Witnam (Mr. Dunns being patron of Little Witnam, gave it to a good scholar), a petition being made by the College that Witnam, and all that Mr. Dunns had in his gift, should belong to the College. [Added in the margin:Cookeham (Magna, Parva), Steeple Bumstead, Üggly, St. Asaphs.]
"An Act of Parliament held for them.
"The College to be furnished with all munition save head-pieces. None of the generations of Wisemen, Wisedom, or Wise, eligible into the house, for the disgrace their predecessors have done to the College. The book of Wisdom to be left out of their Bibles. To abjure Pythagoras, Tacitus, Tranquillus, and Prudentius.
*Diet. "Nepenthe potus." A fool at second course. Mustard with everything to purge the head.
It being lawful for them, as well as the town's-bɔys, to eat bread and butter in the streets.