Latimer, Hugh

, bishop of Worcester, one of the first reformers of the church of England, was descended of honest parents at Thurcaston in Leicestershire; where his father, though he had no land of his own, rented a small farm, and by frugality and industry, brought up a family of six daughters besides this son. In one of his court sermons, in Edward’s time, Latimer, inveighing against the nobility and gentry, and speaking of the moderation of landlords a few years before, and the plenty in which their tenants lived, tells his audience, in his familiar way, that, “upon a farm of four pounds a year, at the utmost, his father tilled as much ground as kept half a dozen men; that he had it stocked with a hundred sheep and thirty cows; that he found the king a man and horse, himself remembering to have buckled on his father’s harness when he went to Blackheath; that he gave his daughters five pounds a-piece at marriage; that he lived hospitably among his neighbours, and was not backward in | his alms to the poor.” He was born in the farm-house about 1470; and, being put to a grammar-school, he took learning so well, that it was determined to breed him to the church. With this view, he was sent to Cambridge. Fuller and others say to Christ’s college, which must be a tradition, as the records of that college do not reach his time. At the usual time, he took the degrees in arts; and, entering into priest’s orders, behaved with remarkaable zeal and warmth in defence of popery, the established religion. He read the schoolmen and the Scriptures with equal reverence, and held Thomas a Becket and the apostles in equal honour. He was consequently, a zealous opponent of the opinions which had lately discovered themselves in England; heard the teachers of them with Uipb indignation, and inveighed publicly and privately again* the reformers. If any read lectures in the schools, Latuner was sure to be there to drive out the scholars, and could nut endure Stafford, the divinity-lecturer, who, however, is said to have been partly an instrument of his conversion. When Latimer commenced bachelor of divinity, he gave an open testimony of ins dislike to their proceedings in an oration against Melancthon, whom he treated most severely i for his impious, as he called them, innovations in religion. His zeal was so much taken notice of in the univeriiity, that he was elected cross-bearer in all public processions; an employment which he accepted with reverence, and discharged with solemnity.

Among those in Cambridge who favoured the reformation, the most considerable was Thomas Bilncy, a clergyman of a most holy life, who began to see popery in a very disagreeable light, and made no scruple to own it. Biiney was an intimate, and conceived a very favourable opinion, of Latimer; and, as opportunities offered, used to suggest to him many things about corruptions in religion, till be gradually divested him of his prejudices, brought him to think with moderation, and even to distrust what he had so earnestly embraced. Latimer no sooner ceased from being a zealous papist, than he became (such was his constitutional warmth) a zealous protesiunt; active in supporting the reformed doctrine, and assiduous to make converts both in town and university. He preached in public, exhorted in private, and everywhere pressed the necessity of a holy life, in opposition to ritual observances. A behaviour of this kind was immediately taken notice of: | Cambridge, no less than the rest of the kingdom, was entirely popish, and every new opinion was watched with jealousy. Latimer soon perceived bow obnoxious he had made himself; and the first remarkable opposition he met with from the popish party, was occasioned by a course of sermons he preached, during the Christmas holidays, before the university; in which he spoke his sentiments with great freedom upon many opinions and usages maintained and practised in the Romish church, and particularly insisted upon the great abuse of locking up the Scriptures in an unknown tongue. Few of the tenets of popery were then questioned in England, but such as tended to a relaxation of morals; transubstantiation, and other points rather speculative, still held their dominion; Lattmer therefore chiefly dwelt upon those of immoral tendency. He shewed what true religion was, that it was seated in the heart; and that, in comparison with it, external appointments were of no value. Having a remarkable address in adapting himself to the capacities of the people, and being considered as a preacher of eminence, the orthodox clergy thought it high time to oppose him openly. This task was undertaken by Dr. Buckingham, prior of the Black-friars, who appeared in the pulpit a few Sundays after; and, with great pomp and prolixity, shewed the dangerous tendency of Latimer‘ s opinions; particularly inveighing against his heretical notions of having the Scriptures in English, laying open the bad effects of such an innovation. “If that heresy,” said he, “prevail, we should soon see an end of every thing useful among us. The ploughman, reading that if he put his hand to the plough, and should happen to look back, he was unfit for the kingdom of heaven, would soon lay aside his labour; the baker likewise reading, that a little leaven will corrupt his lump, would give us a very insipid bread; the simple man also finding himself commanded to pluck out his eyes, in a few years we should have the nation full of blind heg jars.” Latimer could not help listening with a secret pleasure to this ingenious reasoning; perhaps he had acted as prudently, if he had considered the prior’s arguments as unanswerable; but he could not resist the vivacity of his temper, which strongly inclined him to expose this solemn trirler. The whole university met together on MI ml ay, wnen it was known Mr. Latimer would preach. That vein of pleasantry and humour which run through all hiswords and | notions, would here, it was imagined, have its full scope j and, to say the truth, the preacher was not a little conscious of his own superiority: to complete the scene, just before the sermon began, prior Buckingham himself entered the church with his cowl about his shoulders, and seated himself, with an air of importance, before the pulpit. Latimer, with great gravity, recapitulated the learned doctor’s arguments, placed them in the strongest light, and then rallied them with such a flow of wit, and at the same timt with so much good humour, that, without the appearance of ill-nature, he made his adversary in the highest degree ridiculous. He then, with great address, appealed to the people; descanted upon the low esteem in which their guides had always held their understandings; expressed the utmost offence at their being treated with such contempt, and wished his honest countrymen might only have the use of the Scripture till they shewed themselves such absurd interpreters. He concluded his discourse with a few observations upon scripture metaphors. A figurative manner of speech, he said, was common in all languages: representations of this kind were in daily use, and generally understood. Thus, for instance, continued he (address* ing himself to that part of the audience where the prior was seated), when we see a fox painted preaching in a friar’s hood, nobody imagines that a fox is meant, but that craft aud hypocrisy are described, which are so often found disguised in that garb. But it is probable that Latimer thought this levity unbecoming; for when one Venetus, a foreigner, not long after, attacked him again upon the same subject, and in a manner the most scurrilous and provoking, we find him using a graver strain. Whether he ridiculed, however, or reasoned, with so much of the spirit of true oratory, considering the times, were his harangues animated, that they seldom failed of their intended effect; his raillery shut up the prior within his monastery; and his arguments drove Venctus from the university.

These advantages increased the credit of the protestant party in Cambridge, of which Bilney and Latimer were the leaders; and great was the alarm of the popish clergy, of which some were the heads of colleges, and senior part of the university. Frequent convocations were held, tutors were admonished to have a strict eye over their pupils, and academical censures of all kinds were inflicted. But academical censures were found insufficient. Latimer | continued to preach, and heresy to spread. The heads of the popish party applied to the bishop of Ely, Dr. West, as their diocesan; but that prelate was not a man for their purpose; he was a papist indeed, but moderate, tie, however, came to Cambridge, examined the state of religion, and, at their intreaty, preached against the heretics; but he would do nothing farther; only indeed he silenced Mr. Latimer, which, as he had preached himself, was an instance of his prudence. But this gave no check to the reformers; for there happened at this time to be a protestant prior in Cambridge, Dr. Barnes, of the Austinfriars, who, having a monastery exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, and being a great admirer of Latimer, boldly licensed him to preach there. Hither his party followed him; and, the late opposition having greatly excited the curiosity of the people, the friars’ chapel was soon incapable of containing the crowds that attended. Among others, it is remarkable, that the bishop of Ely was often one of his hearers, and had the ingenuousness to declare, that Latimer was one of the best preachers he had ever heard. The credit to his cause which Latimer had thus gained in the pulpit, he maintained by the piety of his life. Bilney and he did not satisfy themselves with acting unexceptionably, but were daily giving instances of goodness, which malice could not scandalize, nor envy misrepresent. They were always together concerting their schemes. The place where they used to walk, was long afterwards known by the name of the Heretics’ Hill. Cambridge at that time was full of their good actions; their charities to the poor, and friendly visits to the sick and unhappy, were then common topics. But these served only to increase the heat of persecution from their adversaries. Impotent themselves, and finding their diocesan either unable or unwilling to work their purposes, they determined upon an appeal to the higher powers; and heavy complaints were carried to court of the increase of heresy, not without formal depositions against the principal abettors of it.

The principal persons at this time concerned in ecclesiastical affairs were cardinal Wolsey, Warham archbishop of Canterbury, and Tunstal bishop of London; and as Henry VIII. was now in the expectation of having the business of his divorce ended in a regular way at Rome, he was careful to observe all forms of civility with the pope. The cardinal therefore erected a court, consisting of bishops, | divines, and canonists, to put the laws in execution against heresy: of this court Tunstal was made president; and Bilney, Latimer, and one or two more, were called before him. Bilney was considered as the heresiarch, and against him chiefly the rigour of the court was levelled; and they succeeded so far that he was prevailed upon to recant: accordingly he bore his faggot, and was dismissed. As for Latimer, and the rest, they had easier terms: Tunstal omitted no opportunities of shewing mercy; and the heretics, upon their dismission, returned to Cambridge, where they were received with open arms by tlicir friends. Amidst this mutual joy, Bilney alone seemed unaffected: he shunned the sight of hi* acquaintance, and received their congratulations with confusion and blushes. In short, he was struck with remorse for what he bad done, grew melancholy, and, after leading an ascetic life for three years, resolved to expiate his abjuration by death. In this resolution he went to Norfolk, the place of his nativity; and, preaching publicly against popery, he was apprehended by order of the bishop of Norwich, and, after lying a while in the county gaol, was executed in that city.

His sufferings, far from shocking the reformation at Cambridge, inspired the leaders of it with new courage. Latimer began now to exert himself more than he bad yet done; and succeeded to that credit with his party, which Bilney had so long supported. Among other iustances of his zeal and resolution in this cause, he gave one very remarkable: he had the courage to write to the king against a proclamation then just published, forbidding the use of the Bible in English, and other books on religious subjects. He had preached before his majesty once or twice at Windsor, and had been noticed by him in a more affable manner than that monarch usually indulged towards his subjects. But, whatever hopes of preferment his sovereign’s favour might have raised in him, he chose to put all to the hazard rather than omit what he thought his duty. He was generally considered as one of the most eminent who favoured protestantism, and therefore thought it became him to be one of the most forward in opposing aopery. His letter is the picture of an honest and sincere eart: t t was chiefly intended to point out to the king the d intention of the bishops in procuring the proclamation, I concludes in these terms: Accept, gracious oveeign, without displeasure, what I have written; I thought | it my duty to mention these things to your majesty. No personal quarrel, as God shall judge me, have I with any man; I wanted only to induce your majesty to consider well what kind of persons you have about you, and the ends for which they counsel. Indeed, great prince, many of them, or they are much slandered, nave very private ends. God grant your majesty may see through all the designs of evil men, and be in all things equal to the high office with which you are intrusted. Wherefore, gracious king, remember yourself, have pity upon your own soul, and think that the day is at hand, when you shall give account of your office, and of the blood that hath been shed by your sword: in the which day, that your grace may stand stedfastly, and not be ashamed, but be clear and ready in your reckoning, and have your pardon sealed with the blood of our Saviour Christ, which alone serveth at that day, is my daily prayer to him who suffered death for our sins. The spirit of God preserve you!"

Though the influence of the popish party then prevailed so far that this letter produced no effect, yet the king, no way displeased, received it, not only with temper, but with condescension, graciously thanking him for his wellintended advice. The king, capricious and tyrannical as he was, shewed, in many instances, that he loved sincerity and openness; and Larimer’s plain and simple manner had before made a favourable impression upon him, which this letter contributed not a little to strengthen; and the part he acted in promoting the establishment of the king’s supremacy, in 1535, riveted him in the royal favour. Dr. Butts, the king’s physician, being sent to Cambridge on that occasion, began immediately to pay his court to the protestant party, from whom the king expected most unanimity in his favour. Among the first, he made his application to Latimer, as a person most likely to serve him; begging that he would^collect the opinions of his friends in the case, and do his utmost to bring over those of most eminence, who were still inclined to the papacy. Latimer, being a thorough friend to the cause he was to solicit, undertook it with his usual zeal, and discharged himself so much to the satisfaction of the doctor, that, when that gentleman returned to court, he took Latimer along with him, with a design, no doubt, to procure him some favour suitable to his merit. | About this time a person was rising into power, who became his chief friend and patron: The lord Cromwell, who, being a friend to the Reformation, encouraged of course such churchmen as inclined towards it. Among these was Latimer, for whom his patron soon obtained West Kington, a benefice in Wiltshire, whither he resolved, as soon as possible, to repair, and keep a constant residence. His friend Dr. Butts, surprized at this resolution, did what he could to dissuade him from it: “You are deserting,” said he, “the fairest opportunities of making your fortune: the prime minister intends this only as an earnest of his future favours, and will certainly in time do great things for you: but it is the manner of courts to consider them as provided for, who seem to be satisfied; and, take my word for it, an absent claimant stands but a poor chance among rivals who have the advantage of being present.” Thus the old courtier advised. But these arguments had no weight. He wag heartily tired of the court, where he saw much debauchery and irreligion, without being able to oppose them; and, leaving the palace therefore, entered immediately upon the duties of his parish. Nor was he satisfied within those limits; he extended his labours throughout the county, where he observed the pastoral care most neglected, having for that purpose obtained a general licence from the university of Cambridge. As his manner of preaching was very popular in those times, the pulpits every where were gladly opened for him; and at Bristol, where he often preached, he was countenanced by the magistrates. But this reputation was too much for the popish clergy to sulVcr, and their opposition first broke out at Bristol. The mayor had appointed him to preach there on Easter-day. Public notice had been given, and all people were pleased; when, suddenly, came an order from the bishop, prohibiting any one to preach there without his licence. The clergy of the place waited upon Latimer, informed him of the bishop’s order; and, knowing he had no such licence, were extremely sorry that they were thus deprived of the pleasure of hearing him. Latimer received their compliment with a smile; for he had been apprized of the affair, and knew that these very persons had written to the bishop against him. Their opposition became afterwards more public and avowed; the pulpits were used to spread invectives against him; and such liberties were | taken with his character, that he thought it necessary to justify himself. Accordingly, he called upon his maligners to accuse him publicly before the mayor of Bristol; and, with all men of candour, he was justified; for, when the parties were convened, and the accusers produced, nothing appeared against him; but the whole accusation was left to rest upon the uncertain evidence of hearsay information.

His enemies, however, were not thus silenced. The party against him became daily stronger, and more inflamed. It consisted in general of the country priests in those parts, headed by some divines of more eminence. These persons, after mature deliberation, drew up articles against him, extracted chiefly from his sermons; in which he was charged with speaking lightly of the worship of saints; with saying there was no material fire in hell; and that he would rather be in purgatory than in Lollard’s tower. This charge being laid before Stokesley bishop of London, that prelate cited Latimer to appear before him; and, when he appealed to his own ordinary, a citation was obtained out of the archbishop’s court, where Stokesley and other bishops were commissioned to examine him. An archiepiscopal citation brought him at once to a compliance. His friends would have had him fly for it; but their persuasions were in vain. He set out for London in the depth of winter, and under a severe fit of the stone and cholic; but he was more distressed at the thoughts of leaving his parish exposed to the popish clergy, who would not fail to undo in his absence what he had hitherto done. On his arrival at London, he found a court of bishops and canonists ready to receive him; where, instead of being examined, as he expected, about his sermons, a paper was put into his hands, which he was ordered to subscribe, declaring his belief in the efficacy of masses for the souls in purgatory, of prayers to the dead saints, of pilgrimages to their sepulchres and reliques, the pope’s power to forgive sins, the doctrine of merit, the seven sacraments, and the worship of images; and, when he refused to sign it, the archbishop with a frown begged he would consider what he did. “We intend not,” says he, “Mr. Latimer, to be hard upon you; we dismiss you for the present; take a copy of the articles, examine them carefully; and God grant that, at our next meeting, we may find each other in a better temper!” At the next and several succeeding meet ings the same scene | was acted over again. He continued inflexible, and they continued to distress him. Three times every week they regularly sent for him, with a view either to draw something from him by captious questions, or to teaze him at length into compliance. Of one of these examinations he gives the following account: “1 was brought out,” says he, “to be examined in the same chamber as before; but at this time it was somewhat altered: for, whereas before there was a fire in the chimney, now the fire was taken away, and an arras hanged over the chimney, and the table stood near the chimney’s end. There was, among these bishops that examined me, one with whom I have been very familiar, and whom I took for my great friend, an aged man; and he sat next the table-end. Then, among other questions, he put forth one, a very subtle and crafty one; and when I should make answer, * I pray you, Mr. Latimer,‘ said he, * speak out, I am very thick of hearing, and there be many that sit far off.’ I marvelled at this, that I was bidden to speak out, and began to misdeem, and gave an ear to the chimney; and there I heard a pen plainly scratching behind the cloth. They had appointed one there to write all my answers, that I should not start from them. God was my good Lord, and gave me answers I could never else have escaped them.” At length he was tired out with such usage and when he was next summoned, instead of going himself, he sent a letter to the archbishop, in which, with great freedom, he tells him, that “the treatment he had of late met with, had fretted him into such a disorder as rendered him unfit to attend that day that, in the mean time, he could not help taking this opportunity to expostulate with his grace for detaining him so long from the discharge of his duty; that it seemed to him most unaccountable, that they, who never preached themselves, should hinder others; that, us for their examination of him, he really could not imagine what they aimed at; they pretended one thing in the beginning, and another in the progress; that, if his sermons were what gaveofTence, which he persuaded himself were neither contrary to the truth, nor to any canon of the church, he was ready to answer whatever might be thought exceptionable in them; that he wished a little more regard might be had to the judgment of the people; and that a distinction might be made between the ordinances of God and man; that if some abuses in religion did prevail, as was | then commonly supposed, he thought preaching was the best means to discountenance them; that he wished all pastors might be obliged to perform their duty: but that, however, liberty might be given to those who were willing; that, as for the articles proposed to him, he begged to be excused from subscribing them; while he lived, he never would abet superstition: and that, lastly, he hoped the archbishop would excuse what he had written; he knew his duty to his superiors, and would practise it: but, in that case, he thought a stronger obligation laid upon him.

What particular effect this letter produced, we are not informed. The bishops, however, continued their prosecution, till their schemes were frustrated by an unexpected hand; for the king, being informed, most probably by lord Cromwell’s means, of Latimer’s ill-usage, interposed in his behalf, and rescued him out of their hands. A figure of so much simplicity, and such an apostolic appearance as his at court, did not fail to strike Anne Boleyn, who mentioned him to her friends, as a person, in her opinion, well qualified to forward the Reformation, the principles of which she had imbibed from her youth. Cromwell raised our preacher still higher in her esteem; and they both joined in an earnest recommendation of him for a bishopric to the king, who did not want much solicitation in his favour. It happened, that the sees of Worcester and Salisbury were at that time vacant, by the deprivation of Ghinuccii and Campegio, two Italian bishops, who fell under the king’s displeasure, upon his rupture with Rome. The former of these was o He red to Latimer; and, as this promotion came unexpectedly to him, he looked upon it as the work of Providence, and accepted it without much persuasion. Indeed, he had met with such usage already, as a private clergyman, and saw before him so hazardous a prospect in his old station, that he thought it necessary, both for his own safety, and for the sake of being of more service to the world, to shroud himself under a little more temporal power. All historians mention him as a person remarkably zealous in the discharge of his new office; and tell us, that, in overlooking the clergy of his diocese, he was uncommonly active, warm, and resolute, and presided in his ecclesiastical court in the same spirit. In visiting he was frequent and observant: in ordaining strict and wary: in preaching indefatigable: in reproving and | exhorting severe and persuasive. Thus far he could act with authority; but in other things he found himself under difficulties. The popish ceremonies gave him great offence: yet he neither durst, in times so dangerous and unsettled, ay them entirely aside; nor, on the other hand, was he willing entirely to retain them. In this dilemma his address was admirable: he inquired into their origin; and when he found any of them derived from a good meaning, he inculcated their original, though itself a corruption, in the room of a more corrupt practice. Thus he put the people in mind, when holy bread and water were distributed, that these elements, which had long been thought endowed with a kind of magical influence, were nothing more than appendages to the two sacraments of the Lord’s-supper and baptism: the former, he said, reminded us of Christ’s death; and the latter was only a simple representation of being purified from sin. By thus reducing popery to its principles, he improved, in some measure, a bad stock, by lopping from it a few fruitless excrescences.

While his endeavours to reform were thus confined to his diocese, he was called upon to exert them in a more public ’manner, by a summons to parliament and convocation in 1536. This session was thought a crisis by the Protestant party, at the head of which stood the lord Cromwell, whose favour with the king was now in its meridian. Next to him in power was Cranmer archbishop of Canterbury, after whom the bishop of Worcester was the most considerable man of the party; to whom were added the bishops of Ely, Rochester, Hereford, Salisbury, and St. David’s. On the other hand, the popish party was headed by Lee archbishop of York, Gardiner, Stokesley, and Tunstal, bishops of Winchester, London, and Durham. The convocation was opened as usual by a sermon, or rather an oration, spoken, at the appointment of Cranmer, by the bishop of Worcester, whose eloquence was at this time everywhere famous. Many warm debates passed in this assembly; the result of which was, that four sacraments out of the seven were concluded to be insignificant: but, as the bishop of Worcester made no figure in them, for debating was not his talent, it is beside our purpose to enter into a detail of what was done in it. Many alterations were made in favour of the reformation; and, a few months after, the Bible was translated into English, and recommended to general perusal in October 1537. | In the mean time the bishop of Worcester, highly satisfied with the prospect of the times, repaired to his diocese, having made a longer stay in London than was absolutely necessary. He had no talents for state affairs, and therefore meddled not with them. It is upon that account that bishop Burnet speaks very slightingly of his public character at this time, but it is certain that Latimer never desired to appear in any public character at all. His whole ambition was to discharge the pastoral functions of a bishop, neither aiming to display the abilities of a statesman, nor those of a courtier. How very unqualified he was to support the latter of these characters, will sufficiently appear from the following story. It was the custom in those days for the bishops to make presents to the king on New-year’sday, and many of them would present very liberally, proportioning their gifts to their expectations. Among the rest, the bishop of Worcester, being at this time in town, waited upon the king with his offering; but instead of a purse of gold, which was the common oblation, he presented a New Testament, with a leaf doubled down, in a very conspicuous manner, to this passage, “Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Henry VIII. made so little use of his judgment, that his whole reign was one continued rotation of violent passions, which rendered him a mere machine in the hands of his ministers; and he among them who could make the most artful address to the passion of the day, carried his point. Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, was just returned from Germany, having successfully negotiated some commissions which the king had greatly at heart; and, in 1539, a parliament was called, to confirm the seizure and surrendry of the monasteries, when that subtle minister took his opportunity, and succeeded in prevailing upon his majesty to do something, towards restoring the old religion, as being most advantageous for his views in the present situation of Europe. In this state of affairs, Latimer received his summons to parliament, and, soon after his arrival in town, he was accused of preaching a seditious sermon. The sermon was preached at court, and the preacher, according to his custom, had been unquestionably severe enough against whatever he observed amiss. The king had called together several bishops, with a view to consult them upon some points of religion. When they had all given their opinions, and were about to be | dismissed, the bishop of Winchester (for it was most probably be) kneeled down and accused the bishop of Worcester as above-mentioned. The bishop being called upon by the king with some sternness, to vindicate himself, was so far from denying or even palliating what he said, that he boldly justified it; and turning to the king, with that noble unconcern which a good conscience inspires, made this answer: “I never thought myself worthy, nor I never sued to be a preacher before your grace; but I was called to it, and would be willing, if you mislike it, to give place to my betters; for I grant there may be a great many more worthy of the room than I am. And if it be your grace’s pleasure to allow them for preachers, I could be content to bear their books after them. But if your grace allow me for a preacher, I would desire you to give me leave to discharge my conscience, and to frame my doctrine according to my audience. I bad been a very dolt indeed, to have preached so at the borders of your realm, as I preach before your grace.” This answer baffled his accuser’s malice, the severity of the king’s conscience changed into a gracious smile, and the bishop was dismissed with that obliging freedom which this monarch never used but to those whom he esteemed. In this parliament passed the famous act, as it was called, of the six articles,*


These articles were, 1. In the sacrament of the altar, after the consecration there remains no substance of bread and wine, but the natural body and blood of Christ. 2. Vows of chastity ought to be observed. 3. The use of private masses ought to be continued. 4. Communion in both kinds is not necessary. 5. Priests must not marry. 6. Auricular confession is to be retained in the church.

which was no sooner published than it gave an universal alarm to all the favourers of the reformation; and, as the bishop of Worcester could not give his vote for the act, he thought it wrong to hold any office. He therefore resigned his bishopric ,

It is related of him, that when he came from the parliament-house to his lodgings, he threw off his robe; and, leaping up, declared to those about him, that he found himself lighter than ever he found himself before. The story is not unlikely, as it is much in character: a vein of pleasantry and good humour accompanying the most serious actions of his life.

and retired into the country; where he resided during the heat of that persecution which followed upon this act, and thought of nothing for the remainder of his days but a sequestered life. He knew the storm which was up could not soon be appeased, and he had no inclination to trust himself in it. But, in the midst of his security, an unhappy accident carried him again into the
| tempestuous weather that was abroad he received a bruise by the fall of a tree, and the contusion was so dangerous, that he was obliged to seek out for better assistance than the country afforded. With this view he repaired to London, where he had the misfortune to see the fall of his patron, the lord Cromwell; a loss of which he was soon made sensible. Gardiner’s emissaries quickly found him out; and something, that somebody had somewhere heard him say against the six articles, being alleged against him, he was sent tp the Tower, where, without any judicial examination, he suffered, through one pretence or another, a cruel imprisonment for the remaining six years of king Henry’s reign.

Immediately upon the accession of Edward VI. he and all others who were imprisoned in the same cause, were set at liberty; and Latimer, whose old friends were now in power, was received by them with every mark of affection. He would have found no difficulty in dispossessing Heath, in every respect an insignificant man, who had succeeded to his bishopric: but he had other sentiments, and would neither make suit himself, nor suffer his friends to make any, for his restoration. However, this was done by the parliament, who, after settling the national concerns, sent up an address to the protector to restore him: and the protector was very well inclined, and proposed the resumption to Latimer as a point which he had very much at heart; but LatinYer persevered in the negative, alleging his great age, and the claim he had from thence to a private life. Having thus rid himself of all incumbrance, he accepted an invitation from Cranmer, and took up his residence at Lambeth, where he led a very retired life, being chiefly employed in hearing the complaints and redressing the injuries, of the poor people. And, indeed, his character for services of this kind was so universally known, that strangers from every part of England would resort to him, so that he had as crowded a levee as a minister of state. In these employments he spent more than two years, interfering as little as possible in any public transaction; only he assisted the archbishop in composing the homilies, which were set forth by authority in the first year of king Edward; he was also appointed to preach the Lent sermons before his majesty, which office he performed during the first three years of his reign.*


We are informed by Dr. Heylin, that such crowds went to hear Latimer, that the pulpit was removed out of the Royal chapel into the Privy-garden.

As to his | sermons, which are still extant, they are, indeed, far enough from being exact pieces of composition: yet, his simplicity and familiarity, his humour and gibing drollery, were well adapted to the times; and his oratory, according to the mode of eloquence at that day, was exceedingly popular. His action and manner of preaching too were very affecting, for he spoke immediately from his heart His abilities, however, as an orator, made only the inferior part of his character as a preacher. What particularly recommends him is, that noble and apostolic zeal whi^h he exerts in the cause of truth.

But in the discharge of this duty a slander passed upon bim, which, being recorded by a low historian of those days, has found its way into ours. It is even recorded as credible by Milton, who suffered his zeal against episcopacy, in more instances than this, to bias his veracity, or at best to impose upon his understanding. It is said that after the lord high admiral’s attainder and execution, which happened about this time, he publicly defended his death in a sermon before the king; that he aspersed his character; and that he did it merely to pay a servile compliment to the protector. The first part of this charge is true; but the second and third are false. As to his aspersing the admiral’s character, his character was so bad, there was no room for aspersion; his treasonable practices too were notorious, and though the proceeding against him by a bill in parliament, according to the custom of these times, may be deemed inequitable, yet he paid no more than a due forfeit to the laxvs of his country. However, his death occasioned great clamour, and was made use of by the lords of the opposition (for he left a very dissatisfied party behind him), as an handle to raise a popular odium against the protector, for whom Latimer had always a high esteem. He was mortified therefore to see so invidious and base an opposition thwarting the schemes of so public-spirited a man; and endeavoured to lessen the odium, by shewing the admiral’s character in its true light, from some anecdotes not commonly known. This notice of lord Seymour, which was in Latimer‘ s fourth sermon before king Edward, is to be found only in the earlier editions.

Upon the revolution which happened at court after the death of the duke of Somerset, Latimer seems to have retired into the country, and made use of the king’s licence as a general preacher in those parts where he thought his labours | might be most serviceable. He was thus employed during the remainder of that reign, and continued in the same course, for a short time, in the beginning of the next; but, as soon as the introduction of popery was resolved on, the first step towards it was the prohibition of all preaching throughout the kingdom, and a licensing only of such as were known to be popishly inclined: accordingly, a strict inquiry was made after the more forward and popular preachers; and many of them were taken into custody. The bishop of Winchester, who was now prime minister, having proscribed Latimer from the first, sent a message to cite him before the council. He had notice of this design some hours before the messenger’s arrival, but made no use of the intelligence. The messenger found him equipped for his journey; at which expressing surprize, Latimer told him that he was as ready to attend him to London, thus called upon to answer for his faith, as he ever was to take any journey in his life and that he doubted not but God, who had en- ­abled him to stand before two princes, would enable him to stand before a third. The messenger, then acquainting him that he had no orders to seize his person, delivered a letter, and departed. Latimer, however, opening the letter, and finding it contain a citation from the council, resolved to obey it. He set out therefore immediately; and, as he passed through Smithfield, where heretics were usually burnt, he said cheerfully, “This place hath long groaned for me.” The next morning he waited upon the council, who, having loaded him with many severe reproaches, sent him to the Tower. This was his second visit to this prison, but now he met with harsher treatment, and had more frequent occasion to exercise his resignation, which virtue no man possessed in a larger measure; nor did the usual cheerfulness of his disposition forsake him. A servant leaving his apartment one day, Latimer called after him, and bid him tell his master, that unless he took better care of him, he would certainly escape him. Upon this message the lieutenant, with some discomposure of countenance, came to Latimer, and desired an explanation. “Why, you expect, I suppose, sir,” replied Latimerj “that I should be burnt; but if you do not allow me a little fire this frosty weather, I can tell you, I shall first be starved.” Cranmer and Ridley were also prisoners in the same cause with Latimer; and when it was resolved to have a public disputation at Oxford, between the most eminent of the popish | and protestant divines, these three were appointed to manage the dispute on the part of the protestants. Accordingly they were taken out of the Tower, and sent to Oxford, where they were closely confined in the common prison, and might easily imagine how free the disputation was likely to be, when they found themselves denied the use even of books, and pen and ink.

Fox has preserved a conference, afterwards put into writing, which was held at this time between Ridley and Latimer, and which sets our author’s temper in a strong light. The two bishops are represented sitting in their prison, ruminating upon the solemn preparations then making for their trial, of which, probably, they were now first informed. “The time,” said Ridley, “is now come; we are now called npon, either to deny our faith, or to suffer death in its defence. You, Mr. Latimer, are an old soldier of Christ, and have frequently withstood the fear of death; whereas I am raw in the service, and unexperienced.” With this preface he introduces a request that Latimer, whom he calls “his father,” would hear him propose such arguments as he thinks it most likely his adversaries would urge against him, and assist him in providing proper answers to them. To this Latimer, in his usual strain of good humour, replied that “he fancied the good bishop was treating him as he remembered Mr. Bilney used formerly to do; who, when he wanted to teach him, would always do it under colour of being taught himself. But in the present case,” said he, “my lord, I am determined to give them very little trouble: I shall just offer them a plain account of my faith, and shall say very little more; for I know any thing more will be to no purpose: they talk of a free disputation, but I am well assured their grand argument will be, as it once was their forefathers, * We have a law, and by our law ye ought to die.’ Bishop Ridley having afterwards desired his prayers, that he might trust wholly upon God” Of my prayers,“replied the old bishop,” you may be well assured nor do J doubt but I shall have yours in return, and indeed prayer and patience should he our great resources. For myself, had I the learning of St. Paul, I should think it ill laid out upon an elaborate defence; yet our case, my lord, admits of comfort. Our enemies can do no more than God permits; and God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength. Be at a point | with them; stand to that, and let them say and do what they please. To use many words would be vain; yet it is requisite to give a reasonable account of your faith, if they will quietly hear you. For other things, in a wicked judgment-hall, a man may keep silence after the example of Christ,“&c. Agreeably to this fortitude, Latimer conducted himself throughout the dispute, answering their questions as far as civility required; and in these answers it is observable he managed the argument much better than either Ridley or Cranmer; who, when they were pressed in defence of transubstantiation, with some passages from the fathers, instead of disavowing an insufficient authority, weakly defended a good cause by evasions and distinctions, after the manner of schoolmen. Whereas, when the same proofs were multiplied upon Latimer, he told them plainly that” such proofs had no weight with him; that the fathers, no doubt, were often deceived; and that he never depended upon them but when they depended upon Scripture.“” Then you are not of St. Chrysostom’s faith,“replied they,” nor of St. Austin’s?“I have told you,“says Latimer,I am not, except they bring Scripture for what they say.“The dispute being ended, sentence was passed upon him; and he and Ridley were burnt at Oxford, on Oct. 16, 1555. When they were brought to the fire, on a spot of ground on the north side of Baliolcollege, and, after a suitable sermon, were told by an officer that they might now make ready for the stake, they supported each other’s constancy by mutual exhortations. Latimer, when tied to the stake, called to his companion,” Be of good cheer, brother; we shall this day kindle such a torch in England, as I trust in God shall never be extinguished." The executioners had been so merciful (for that clemency may more naturally be ascribed to them than to the religious zealots) as to tie bags of gunpowder about these prelates, in order to put a speedy period to their tortures. The explosion killed Latimer immediately; but Ridley continued alive during some time, in the midst of the flames. Such was the life of Hugh Latimer, one of the leaders of that glorious army of martyrs, who introduced the reformation in England. He was not esteemed a very learned man, for he cultivated only useful learning; and that, he thought, lay in a very narrow compass. He never engaged in worldly affairs, thinking that a clergyman ought to employ himself in his profession only; and | his talents, temper, and disposition, were admirably adapted to render the most important services to the reformation.

Latimer’s “Sermons” appear to have been printed separately at first but a collection was published in 1549, 8vo, and a larger afterwards in 4to, has often been reprinted. They contain in a quaint and familiar style, more ample materials for a history of the manners and morals of the time, than any volume we are acquainted with of that period; and the number of anecdotes he brought forward to illustrate his subjects, must have contributed greatly to his popularity. 1


Life by Gilpin, and by Fox, in Wordsworth’s Eccl. Biography, to which we refer on account of the valuable notes.—Bumet’s Hist. of the Reformation.— Collier’s Ch. Hist.