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John Bale, Bishop of Ossory.
DIED A. D. 1563. This ecclesiastic, famous for his many and voluminous writings in support of the Reformation, was born at Covy in Suffolk. He was for some time a carmelite, and received his education first at Norwich, and afterwards at Cambridge. He early commenced his career as a reformer ; and was imprisoned for preaching against the doctrines of the church of Rome both by Leo, archbishop of York, and again by Stokesly, bishop of London : from the latter imprisonment he was freed by Cromwell. He was, however, remarkable for an uncompromising spirit, and went beyond the progress of his leaders in the English Reformation, and in consequence was compelled to retreat from the arbitrary temper of Henry, whose ideas of reformation went little further than an usurpation of the papal authority in his own person. Bale, who little understood the secrets of court divinity, went forward in his course, simply following the guidance of facts, authority, and reason. This was not a temper to prosper long in an atmosphere where the boldest was compelled to trim his conscience by the tyrant's dictum. Bale was compelled to take refuge in Germany, where he remained for eight years, and where, it may be conjectured, that his opinions lost nothing of their decision, or his zeal of its fire. The auspicious moment of Edward VII's accession brought him home, and by the favour of this king he was made bishop of Ossory in 1552. Again, however, the hapless event of Edward's death harshly interrupted his tenure ; and he was, in six months from his consecration, compelled to fly for the preservation of his life, leaving behind him a good library. On his way to Germany he was taken by pirates, but happily ransomed by his friends, and reached Germany, where he lived for five years more in the peaceful pursuits of literature, and in the society of learned men. Among these he formed a special intimacy with Conrad Gesner, “ as appears,” says Ware, “ by the epistles which passed between them.”* At the end of five years he returned into England, but wisely avoided plunging into the turbid billows of Irish politics and controversy. Instead of looking for his bishopric, he contented himself with a prebend in the cathedral of Canterbury, where he died in 1563, sixty-eight years of age.
His writings were numerous, and are remarked for their coarse and bitter humour. He was violent and satirical ; but his severity is fairly to be excused, both on account of the general tone of the polemics of his age, which was rude and coarse, and of the state of controversy when its currents were fierce and high. On these currents Bale had himself been roughly tossed through his whole life. And it was a time when a conscientious writer must have felt that no resource then thought available, should be feebly or sparingly used. Among the remains of Bale's writings, are several of those strange dramas rendered popular by the rudeness and ill-taste of the age ; in these the powers of burlesque were exhausted to turn popular scorn and ridicule on the tenets and ritual observances peculiar to the Roman Church. Ir these, ridicule was often carried too near the bounds of discretion and the reverence due to sacred things ; but not perhaps more than was in some measure warranted by the time. « What," asks Warton, “ shall we think of the state, I will not say of the stage, but of common sense, when these deplorable dramas could be endured? of an age, when the Bible was profaned and ridiculed from a principle of piety.” It seems evident to our plain apprehension, that so far as reverence was felt or piety meant, there could have existed no designed or conscious purpose of ridicule. And from this axiomatic assumption, it must be the inference that those combinations of thought by which the refinement of our times, rise in its sense of propriety, is offended or amended
* Ware's Bishops.
-conveyed nothing of the ludicrous to the rude simplicity of the days of Bale. The sense of burlesque, materially depends on the extent and precision of knowledge; for the uncouth representation, or the ill-sorted combination, can only be so by a comparison with some ascertained or imagined prototype. The prince of the air, who awes and terrifies our generation with the “horrors of his scaly tail,” is compelled to appear as a courtier or a travelling student, and to be fit company for the refined wits of posterity; and in a still later and more refined generation, he finds it necessary to content himself with his latent and viewless empire over human hearts. The dramas of Bale, were chiefly written before he became a reformer and a bishop, * though two or three were afterwards acted by the youths of Kilkenny, on a Sunday, at the Market cross. Many of them seem to have long been popular. Warton mentions that his “ Comedie of the Three Laws, of Nature, Moses and Christ, corrupted by the Sodomites, Pharisees, and Papists,” became so popular, that it was reprinted by Colwell in 1562.
George Dowdal, Archbishop of Armagh.
DIED A. D. 1551.
This prelate lived through a time, of which the ecclesiastical history demands some detail. This, however, we reserve for a memoir of George Browne, the reforming archbishop of Dublin. We shall here confine our notice of Dowdal to a brief outline. He was born in Louth, and became official to Cromer, whom by the interest of the lord-deputy St Leger, he succeeded. He was a staunch adherent to the Roman see, and in consequence of this and his elevated position in the Irish church, he was the constant adversary of Browne. During the short reign of Edward VI., his see was granted to Hugh Goodacre, and he lived in exile but was recalled and restored by queen Mary to the archbishopric and primacy, which latter title king Edward had given to the see of Dublin. Dowdal was together with other bishops commissioned to deprive married bishops and priests of their livings, and amongst others they deprived the archbishop of Dublin, who after the license of the primitive bishops, and the apostolic precept, had thought fit that a bishop should be “the husband of one wife.”
Dowdal went shortly after on ecclesiastical business to London, where he died 15th August, 1551.
To Ware's account of Dowdal he adds, “ It is not to be omitted, that during the life of George Dowdal, who was in possession of the see of Armagh by donation of king Henry VIII., pope Paul III. conferred the same on Robert Wancop or Venautius, a Scot, who though he was blind from a boy, had yet applied himself to learning with so much assiduity, that he proceeded doctor of divinity at Paris. He was present at the council of Trent from the first session in 1545, to the eleventh in 1547. He was sent legate a latine from the pope to Germany, from whence came the German proverb, “a blind legate to the sharp-sighted Germans. By his means the jesuits first came into Ireland. He died at Paris in a convent of jesuits, the 10th November, 1551."*
John Allen, Archbishop of Dublin.
DIED A. D. 1594.
Previous to his succession to the diocese of Dublin, Allen had been variously engaged, and held many preferments in England. Having graduated as bachelor of laws in Cambridge, he was appointed to the church of Sundrithe in Kent in 1507.7 Soon after he was collated to Aldington in the same diocese, and from thence was promoted to the deanery of Riseburgh in 1511. In 1515 he obtained the living of South Osenden in Essex. During this latter incumbency he was sent to Rome by Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, as his agent and envoy to the pope. There he continued nine years, during which. time he was incorporated doctor of laws in Oxford. On his return he became Wolsey's chaplain; but was soon removed to Ireland, as his rising character, and perhaps his ability and forward spirit, occasioned a jealousy between him and another chaplain of Wolsey's, the wellknown Gardiner, afterwards bishop of Winchester.
Allen was consecrated archbishop of Dublin on 13th March, 1528.|| His advancement was designed partly in opposition to the wishes of Gerald, earl of Kildare, between whom and Wolsey there was a violent enmity, and Allen was deemed by his patron a fit person to resist and embarrass the earl in Ireland. It was perhaps to give additional effect to this design that Allen was immediately after his appointment made chancellor of Ireland. He brought over with him as his secretary John Allen, who became after successively master of the rolls and chancellor.
In 1529 he received the confirmation of the pope, and in 1530 held
Ware.Cox, Ware, t.Dalton
9 Ware's An.
a consistory in Dublin, of which the acts are preserved in the Black
Book of Christ Church.* · In 1532, his enemy, the earl of Kildare, rising into favour, and being appointed lord-deputy, succeeded in displacing Allen from the chancery bench in favour of Cromer, the archbishop of Armagh, a creature of his own,—a circumstance which increased the enmity that already subsisted between Allen and earl Gerald. The indiscretion of the earl was not long in placing formidable advantages in the hand of his enemy, and from the moment of this injury a strenuous cabal was formed amongst the Irish administration to expose or misrepresent his conduct. It happened favourably to Allen's views, though not quite so fortunately for his safety—for the desires and true interests of men are often wide asunder—that Kildare's arrogant and ambitious conduct involved him in many suspicious proceedings, and gave offence to many. Allen's faction, in consequence, rapidly increased in numbers, and in the means of annoyance. In our life of the earl we have already had occasion to relate the particulars of this proceeding, and the State Paper correspondence affords full and detailed evidence both of its nature and means. The council itself became, in fact, what might well be termed a conspiracy, if the substantial justice of their complaints did not necessitate and excuse the course they adopted.
*In 1533 Allen entered into a dispute for precedence with Cromer, who had been made chancellor in his room. The controversy appears to have been decided in favour of Cromer. Subsequent events, as Mr Dalton observes, put an end to “ all controversies concerning bearing the cross.” An arrangement of a very different nature, also mentioned from the State Papers by the same author, affords the only probable inference on the subject of the contest. Among the provisions made for the defence of the country, it was appointed that “all lords, and persons of the spiritualty, shall send companies to hostings and journeys in the manner and form following:
“ The archbishop of Armagh, 16 able archers or gunners, appointed for the war. The archbishop of Dublin, 20, &c. &c. &c.”+
The consequences of the hostility of Allen's party now began to be rapidly and fatally developed. The earl of Kildare having continued for some time to plunge deeper and deeper in the embarrassments brought on by his own rashness and his enemies' contrivance, went, for the last time, to England, leaving the government to his son, lord Thomas Fitz-Gerald, in whose memoir we have fully related the event -the disgrace of the earl—the fatal course of infatuation which led his son to an early death and the most foul and inhuman murder of Allen. This last-mentioned event took place on the 28th July, 1534. On the preceding evening Allen, reasonably fearful of the enmity he had excited, and apprehending the siege of Dublin castle, resolved to save himself by a fight into England, and embarked with this intent. In the night his vessel was stranded near Clontarf-most probably by the treachery of the pilot, who was a follower of the Geraldines. Finding his danger, the archbishop took refuge in the “ mansion of Mr
† State Papers.
Hollywood of Artane, whose extensive hospitality he commemorates in his Repertorium Ovide.”* The hospitality of his friend could not, however, reprieve him from his cruel fate. His retreat was reported to lord Thomas, and the next morning his fell and blood-thirsty foes were at the door. In his shirt he was dragged out, and, during his prayers and entreaties for mercy, he was beaten to death. Neither his reputation for learning and talent, the sanctity of his profession, his helpless terror, nor his age, could arrest the hands of the wretches who committed the crime; and who all shortly after came to violent deaths on the field or by the halter.
George Browne, Archbishop of Dublin.
DIED A. D. 1556.
Among the most illustrious churchmen of the period in which we are engaged, none claims a higher place than George Browne. As the main agent of the Reformation in Ireland, he is justly entitled to that notice which belongs of right to the instruments of the Almighty in the working out of his plans, even when we are compelled to separate the character and motives of the agent from the tendency of the work effected by his instrumentality. Browne's life demands as little allowance of this nature as that of most men; but we make the remark, because his time and actions have placed his character in the arena of a great controversy, and the Roman Catholic historians, when writing with the greatest fairness of intention, have been led into the error of viewing his conduct through the medium of strong prejudices. There is one especial error against which it is indeed necessary to guard in all biographical notices which are to be found in the pages of controversial history—injustice done through the means of statements in themselves not untrue. Misstatements of fact can easily be coped with; but the tacit insinuation of a fallacious inference demands reflection and analysis, a labour disagreeable to the reader even when competent to the task. A few reflections on this fallacy will be here an appropriate preface.
It has been too much the custom of the popular adversaries of the reformation to make an uncandid attempt to throw discredit on it by the misrepresentations of individuar character—a resource not more unfair than injudicious, from the facility with which it can be retorted with fatal effect in most instances. If it were possible, without an absurdity too glaring for ordinary discretion, for any hostile writer to tell us,—your creed is a spurious compound of human inventions, traceable to no adequate authority, opposed to revealed religion, or contrived for evil ends, we must admit the fairness of the issue, and can prove the contrary. But when the human infirmities of human teachers—their fears, their passions, or the errors of their lives, and, above all, the weakness of which they have been guilty under trying circumstances, are brought forward, and the least worthy