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forth, with eloquent boldness, in the presence of hereditary antipathy and aristocratical prejudice, as the defender of principles that found their fittest expression and most complete development in the character of Cromwell.
The persons and events belonging to the extraordinary period now referred to, are chiefly interesting in our own history, from the influence they have exerted on that broad, deep substratum of manners and opinion, from which, however unnoticed by the eye of the superficial observer, our popular life has unquestionably derived no small portion of its distinguishing independence and energy. To understand what England has been and what England is now, it is necessary to trace the great political and religious questions on which her fortunes have constantly revolved, and on which they are still suspended-to their original outburst in the struggles of the Puritans with the Crown and the hierarchy, and to pursue into the endless ramifications of their influence on the habitudes and feelings of private life, the working of those principles that were beat down from their temporary ascendancy, and reduced to dependence and degradation, by the Restoration. It has fortunately happened, that the very age respecting which it is so desirable to possess the fullest information, is singularly rich in the memorials of private life; so that it has been called "peculiarly the age of diaries.” *— From materials of this description, the works whose titles are prefixed to the present article have been chiefly drawn. They are valuable contributions to our knowledge of the moral and religious condition of England during the Commonwealth and the reigns of the two last Stuarts. To general readers, who have no traditional sympathies with Puritanism, and are satisfied with the superficial survey of the popular historian, they are not likely to prove very attractive; but they who wish to penetrate a little below the surface of things, and to know from its own disclosures what Puritanism actually was-still more, they who have inherited the cause and the principles of the men, whose sacrifices are here recorded, and who rejoice to number among their friends and associates to this day, not a few who claim direct descent from the race of martyrs—all these will find in the volumes before us matter of deep interest and rich instruction. For ourselves, we are free to confess, we deem it at once profitable and delightful to preserve bright and unbroken the links that connect existing generations with the wise and the just who are gone; and we think, it shows extraordinary ignorance of some of the worthiest influences that can
See Mr. Hunter's Preface, p. v.
act on the human mind, to profess an utter insensibility to the honour and advantage of being sprung from a high-minded and pious ancestry. Among the descendants of Mr. Meadows, says the late excellent Mr. Edgar Taylor, in a passage which well expresses the spirit of his own upright and consistent course in life
"There has always been, and still is, found some worthy exemplar of the character and office of a nonconformist minister of this denomination. The successive descendants of the worthy confessor whose history we have been mainly considering, have indeed widely differed, and continue to differ, in many of their characteristics (and particularly in opinion on speculative points in theology), from the doctrinal views of the parent stock to which the origin of the religious association in which they have been brought up has been traced; but under all such changes they have been always, and still are, found sympathising with, and holding as worthy of all imitation, the love of truth, the resistance to tyranny, and the conscientious integrity of principle, manifested by their venerable ancestor; and trusting that, in the varied forms which their profession as nonconformists has, at different times, assumed, they have maintained their own views in charity and goodwill to all men, impatient of nothing but sectarian exclusiveness, and of all attempts at domination over the independence of conscience; that, in looking to the example of those who went before them, they follow and carry out only what in their judgment was at the beginning, and in all stages has been, estimable and enduring in the example set them ;-and-that their attachment to the cause of which their forefather, and such as he, laid the foundation, is reasonably based on a conviction that the principles it involves are conducive to the cause of truth and scriptural knowledge, as well as to the practical advancement and extension of civil and religious liberty." *
In the same spirit, a century and a half earlier, but looking forward to the future, as well as back upon the past, Oliver Heywood entered this touching and solemn record of his thoughts :
"When I was sitting in mine own house on Lord's day night, Sept. 22, 1678, musing upon mine own death, and thinking on those thousands of blessed souls that have broken the ice, and gone before me into that celestial city, many of my godly relations that died in the Lord came afresh into my thoughts, and I at last resolved to make a catalogue of them that are within my cognizance or remembrance; partly to maintain the memory of the just, partly to comfort mine own heart, that any, yea so many, of my kindred in the flesh were gracious, are now glorified saints, whom I hope to meet in heaven; partly to recommend them to the observation and imitation of my sons and their seed, that they may see what a religious stock they are branches of,
* Memoir, &c., pp. 119, 120.
that they or theirs may never degenerate, but walk in the same steps that their ancestors found peace in, and rest in the end of; nor shall I go further than well-grounded charity according to the Scriptures will admit of, some of them having been more than ordinarily eminent in their generations, others very hopeful plants of renown and I more value my parentage for godliness than greatness, religion than riches." "'*
Mr. John Meadows, from whom the wide-spread and highly respectable families of Taylor and Martineau are lineally descended, (and we notice this Memoir, first because it was the earliest published,) sprang from a race that had for many generations been settled as substantial landowners in the county of Suffolk, and was destined by his father, Daniel Meadows, of Chatisham Hall, who possessed the advowson of a valuable living, for the church. In 1639, he was admitted into Emmanuel College, Cambridge, celebrated for the Puritanical predilections of its inmates, and afterwards removed to Corpus Christi, where in 1646 he took his Master's degree. His younger brother, Philip, who was ultimately knighted by Charles II., became, under the Protectorate, assistant to Milton as Secretary for the Latin Tongue; was employed by Cromwell on some missions of great importance at foreign Courts; and after the Revolution was associated with Locke at the Board of Trade and Plantations. The name of this collateral branch was at length lost through marriage with an heiress, in that of the noble family of Pierrepoint. Meanwhile the elder brother had taken a course which entailed very different fortunes on his descendants. Mr. John Meadows entered life when the principles of Puritanism were in the ascendant, and was inducted into the living of Ousden, according to the forms which at that time were held to constitute a valid and legal appointment. Although of a gentle and moderate spirit, he had decidedly attached himself to the party which desired a very extensive change, and, as they deemed it, reformation in the discipline and ritual of the Church of England, so that when the Act of Uniformity was passed, he relinquished his preferment and took his lot with the Nonconformists. It does not appear that, after his ejection, he ever became the settled pastor of a congregation; though he occasionally preached, when his services were required. Inheriting a handsome fortune, he was exempted from many of the hardships and trials which visited the ejected clergy generally, though, with his principles, exclusion from the national ministry must have been felt a grievous privation.
* Life of Oliver Heywood, Preface, p. ix.
With this exception, the remainder of his days passed away calmly and not unhappily. He almost wholly escaped the heavier operations of the penal laws against Dissenters; and his ample means were constantly and most generously employed in relieving the necessities of his less fortunate brethren. In this way his history is intimately connected with that of the principal "Suffolk Bartholomeans." Notices of some of these sufferers, from the light which they throw on the state of the times, add greatly to the value and interest of Mr. Taylor's Memoir of his ancestor. It was no small aggravation of the sufferings of Nonconformists at this period, that they had some difficulty in ascertaining what their exact position was, and how far they might safely follow the dictates of their consciences; as the application of the persecuting statutes enacted against them depended very much on the temper and discretion of the local magistracy. To what shameful abuses this might lead, when the execution of the laws fell into the hands of bigotted partizans, we may judge from the following extract: it relates to Mr. Scanderet, an ejected minister, who had ventured to preach a lecture which was a sinecure.
"In the midst of the sermon, Sir Edmund Bacon, Sir Gervase Elwes, Sir Algernoon May, and two other justices, came into the Church, and asked him what authority he had to preach, and forced him to come down and he was sent, with some other ministers, to Bury Goal.
'After a while, they at the sessions bound them all in a recognizance of £20 a man, to appear at the next assizes. Mr. Scanderet was there, but did not answer when he was called; and when he saw his brethren remanded to gaol, he withdrew. Afterwards, going home from Norwich, he met Sir Edmund on the road. He was very severe upon him for not appearing at the assizes, and would take him prisoner. He riding away," (one account states with his wife behind him,') "Sir Edmund's servant pursued and stopped him. When Sir Edmund came up to him, he first lashed him with his whip, and then snatching Mr. Scanderet's cane from him, laid on severely on his head and body with his own cane: he doing what he could to save his head with his arm, that was miserably black and blue from his elbow to his shoulder. He sent him prisoner to Ipswich rather than Bury, that, as he said, he might break the covey. From thence he sent for, and obtained, a Habeas Corpus for trial at the Common Pleas; where, having declared how he had been dealt with, he was discharged."-p. 76-9.
It is to be feared, this was not a singular instance of insolence and brutality in the Tory justices of those days. When traits like these make their appearance in popular literature, we may be sure they form a salient feature in the physiognomy of the time. The Tory Fox-hunter in Addison's Freeholder,
who valued his dog because " he had once like to have worried a dissenting teacher-which had made him a great favourite among all the honest gentlemen of the country"-must be taken as the representative of a class. Amongst the contemporaries of Mr. Meadows, and connected with him by marriage, was Mr. John Fairfax, sprung from a collateral branch of the family of Thomas Lord Fairfax, who, with his father, had been ejected under the Act of Uniformity. For eloquence as a preacher and for piety, as well as for the rare union of energy of character with practical wisdom, Mr. Fairfax appears to have been decidedly the most eminent among the Suffolk Bartholomeans. The letters written to his father from prison, which Mr. Taylor has inserted in his Appendix, exhibit a beautiful specimen of warm affection and of calm, dignified, resignation, without the least tincture of bitterness and fanaticism, and set the principles of persecuted Nonconformity in the most favourable light.* Of Mr. Meadows himself, the impression left on the mind by the faint outlines of his character, which the volume before us has attempted to restore-is that of a mild, good man, governed by a high and conscientious sense of religion, not fitted by nature to play a distinguished part on the public theatre of life-whose name but for the peculiar circumstances attending it, would have faded gradually and peacefully from the earth, cherished only in the affectionate remembrance of his immediate survivors. The conscientiousness for which he was remarkable, descended to his children. His eldest son, John, was brought up at the Grammar School of Bury St. Edmunds, under the tuition of Edward Leedes, well known as the author of a work on Greek Quantity, and afterwards studied at Caius College, Cambridge: but, though there was a valuable living in the family, when he had to choose his part in life, he followed his father's footsteps, and settled down in a sphere of humble usefulness, as the minister of a dissenting congregation at Barking or Market Needham, where he was still living in 1755, when Dr. Priestley became his colleague in the pastoral office. We are thus brought to a link which connects individuals still living with the original founders of the Nonconformist Churches.
The more elaborate work of Mr. Hunter differs both in its subject and in its execution from the Memoir of Mr. Taylor. It is something more than a tribute of traditional respect to the
* The calm energy of Mr. Fairfax's character is strikingly expressed in the portrait with which Mr. Taylor has embellished his volume, and which forms a pleasing contrast to the benignant sweetness of the youthful likeness of his friend Meadows, which faces the title-page.