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the course she would pursue. Long years of faithful service had converted her into the servant-friend of the family, and when any difficulty arose, it was impossible to decide it without consulting “Nurse Jane." Thus, when she said she would never leave them, Mrs. Lester knew they would have a true friend, who, although odd in some of her ways and speeches, was honest, plainspoken, and affectionate.

Ella leant over the bed to catch words intended for her ear alone; and while she listened, the mother's eye of love and tenderness beamed a meaning which language cannot express, but which was perfectly comprehended by the listener. But that look, and the thoughts it expressed, seemed to have exhausted her more than the previous speaking had done. Dr. Moule was of opinion that they exhaust themselves the most who never give utterance to their deeper thoughts; and that when the mind can call the physical organism into play to express its thoughts and emotions, the patient does not suffer such prostration as when utterance is denied.

A complete silence prevailed, during which, glancing at the objects hanging upon the walls, she seemed to be recalling, one by one, the stirring scenes in the life of her husband, exactly as he, by frequent recitals, had imprinted them upon her mind. Occasionally, yet faintly, she uttered words which indicated the course of her thoughts. Smiles passed over her face when many scenes were recalled, but a visible shudder shook her frame when her eye fell upon the fragment of a spar upon which Colonel Lester had floated two days, after being wrecked on the North American coast; and when she cried out, “ Saved ! he is saved !” there was so much of emotion, of frantic tenderness in her voice, that it sent the blood quicker through every heart in the room.

In one corner of the apartment there stood a chamber organ, which Colonel Lester had worked at until success had crowned his efforts in making it, through some clock-work mechanism, to play any tune, to which it was set, precisely at the time at which the hand upon the dial had been pointed. It was part of Jane's daily duty to wind it up, and although the accident had happened, she mechanically did so on the morning of this day; but without changing the hand, which pointed to One, or disconnecting the machinery. In its ordinary course the clock-work moved down, and as it was now one o'clock, the instrument began as usual to play its music, which happened to be the « Venite Adoramus.' All started when the sound broke


their ears, and each seemed to feel that it should be stopped; but the dying woman smiled her satisfaction, and they allowed it to play on. It was the Colonel's favourite piece; and whether it were the old associations, the religious nature of the piece, or that the tone of the instrument was really superior to all others of its class, it would be hard to determine ; but certainly the effect was overpoweringly solemn and almost sublime. When the music ceased, a silence prevailed which was so profound that it became an inarticulate voice to proclaim its own awful solemnity, and then Mrs. Lester, speaking quite strongly, said, Yes! yes ! his last words were, ' Ella, dear Ella, it is through the love of all things good and beautiful that the soul passes onward to its perfect peace and unity with God.' From that moment an unbroken calmness was spread over her countenance; her lips, frequently moistened, gave forth no more either voice or sound; her eyes were now upraised as in benediction, now closed as in slumber. Slowly the minutes passed away, while each listener hoped to hear another word. Not as living beings, but as statues stood they all, nor knew they that death had been there, until Doctor Moule rose saying, —"Come, my orphaned ones, let us go to the rooms below.”'

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THE AGE OF WYCLIFFE. In Chaucer's Monk we have a type of the wealthy prelates of the age of Wycliffe ; men whose only thought was the enjoyment of the wealth with which pious souls of old had endowed the various religious foundations. This monk was a great hunter, “full many a dainty horse had he in stable ;” he was, moreover, a

fast man

-to adopt an expressive modern phrase--and, as the poet says, “let old things pace, and held after the new world the

and eke an accomplished sensualist. With all, however, he was a respectable specimen of the priestly class. It was among the Mendicant Friars that had gathered all the vices of the time; those of whom the song says, no baron or squire or knight of the shire lives half so well as a holy “ friar." Hypocrites and sensualists, they traded on the superstition of the people, and under the garb of religious mendicancy, lived in idleness and luxury. Chaucer's picture is full of humour and full of truth.

“A Frere there was, a wanton and a merry,
A limitour, a full solempne man.
Full sweetely he heard confession,
And pleasant was his absolution.
He was an easy man to give penance

There, as he wist to have a good pittance."
That is to say, he laid a premium on sin for his own aggrandisement.
He was popular among the ignorant and the vicious, for he could sing a good
song and play on the rote (hurdy-gurdy), and drink hard. He

“Knew well the tavernes in every town,

every hosteler and gay tapstere.” Such was the ordinary mendicant of the 14th century; but about this time many of the mendicants added to their other qualifications that of

Pardoner," or Vender of Papal Indulgences. The selling of these was an abuse now becoming general throughout Christendom. These Indulgences were neither more nor less than licenses to sin, granted by the Pope for a consideration. We shall see hereafter how they became the proximate cause of the Lutheran Reformation. Even at this time there were good men who began to ask in reference to them, Can a shameful trade like this be Religion? Of course the result to the morals of the people was fearful. To this trade the Friars frequently added the sale of relics. They did, in fact, the dirty work of the Church. Chaucer's “Pardonere” is a striking picture of the time; although we recognise in the slights put upon him by the other pilgrims that there was a strong feeling against these agents of Rome. While in the scathing satire and the unsoftened exposure of all the vices of the clergy by Chaucer, we find plenty of evidence that a strong revulsion of feeling against the Church was among the undercurrents of society at this time; yet that a priesthood so thoroughly vicious could hold its own at all, betokens extensive ignorance and unbounded superstition.

Looking, then, at the pictures drawn by Chaucer, we cannot wonder that the feeling of the best men of the age was anti-sacerdotal; while on all hands the feeling against the Papacy, and on the part of the Crown and nobility also against the Hierarchy of the Church, had been growing strong and ever stronger ; though it must be borne in mind that this was a political not a religious feeling. It is necessary that this distinction be kept in view,

in order that the subsequent events may be understood. The people were led by a patriotic feeling, as also were some of the nobility, to feel a hatred of the Papacy on account of the claim which it made to be the Suzerain of England. The transactions with John were remembered and never forgiven; the tribute which he had agreed to pay had been ever grudgingly discharged ; it was a badge of servitude to which the free English spirit could but ill brook submission. Never regularly paid, it latterly was not paid at all, and

, the urgent demands of the Pope were never attended to. In

any opposition to the temporal power of the Papacy over England, any man might depend on the support of people, nobility, and king, even while the belief in the spiritual authority of the Holy Father remained most profound. But the king and some of the higher nobility carried their antagonism much further than this, they looked with an evil eye upon the immense possessions of the clergy in general, and their attempts to interfere in temporal concerns. In looking at the vicissitudes of Wycliffe's career, we shall see these principles illustrated. It was not until after he had established himself as a papal opponent that he won the support of any large number of the English people to his opposition to the hierarchy. Nor was this anti-papal feeling one in which many of the clergy themselves did not share. Again, this same thing is illustrated in the history of the Mendicant Monks in England. While they remained true to their constitution, and even after they sought their own aggrandisement, they were respected, but when they appeared as the emissaries of the Pope, then their influence was gone.

The success of the English arms at Crécy and at Poitiers had raised this patriotic feeling to a height it had never reached before. And when Pope Urban thought fit to make a claim for the payment of the arrears of the tribute agreed to be paid by John (the same not having then been discharged for upwards of thirty-three years), the English were in no temper to comply, the more especially that the Popes were now entirely under the influence of France, having changed their residence from Rome to Avignon. The demand would have been resented in any case, but this fact rendered it certain that it would be rejected by all classes of Englishmen. The king referred the matter to his Council in the first instance. The opinions delivered by seven of the barons present have been preserved for us by Wycliffe; in them may be perceived the strong feeling of which we have spoken. “Our ancestors

" won this realm and held it against all foes by the sword. Julius Cæsar “exacted tribute by force ; let the Pope do the like. I, for one, am ready to

stand and resist him.' So spoke the first. The second was more of a logician. “ The Pope is incapable of such feudal supremacy. He should “ follow the example of Christ, who refused all civil dominion; the foxes have

holes, and the birds of the air their nests, he had not where to lay his head. “Let us rigidly hold the Pope to his spiritual duties, boldly oppose all his o claims to civil power.” “ The Pope calls himself the Servant of the Servants “ of the Most High; his only claim to tribute from this realm is for some "service done;" so the third speaker stated his case, “but," asked he, "what “is his service to this realm ? * Not spiritual edification, but draining away

money to enrich himself and his Court, showing favour and counsel to our " enemies,” This latter remark had reference to the Pope's connexion with the French. “ The Pope claims,” said the fourth, “ to be the suzerain of all “estates held by the Church; the estates held in mortmain amount to one“third of the realm.”—The speaker would have been nearer the truth had he said one-half.-"There cannot be two suzerains; the Pope, therefore, for

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“these estates is the king's vassal; he has not done homage for them; he

may have incurred forfeiture.” This baron was evidently intended for a lawyer. The fifth took another view, a legal one too, but derived, not from the civil, but from the canon law. “ If the Pope demands this money, argued he, " as the price of King John's absolution, it is flagrant simony; " it is an irreligious act to say, I will absolve you on payment of a certain “annual tribute.' But the king pays not this tax," he indignantly adds,

it is wrung from the poor of the realm ; to exact it is an act of avarice " rather than salutary punishment.” He concluded his argument with the forcible reminder that, “ if the Pope be lord of the realm, he



time “ declare it forfeited, and grant away the forfeiture.” The sixth said: “ If “the realm be the Pope's, what right had he to alienate it ? He has frau

dulently sold it for not a fifth part of its value. Moreover, Christ alone is “the suzerain ; the Pope being fallible may be in mortal sin. It is better, as “ of old, to hold the realın immediately of Christ." The seventh : “ John “could not grant the realm away in his folly; the whole, the Royal Charter,

signature and seal, is an absolute nullity. As chaplain to the king, the opinion of Wycliffe was sought before the matter was referred to Parliament, and he was commanded to answer the arguments of those who supported the Papal claims. It is in his answer that we have preserved the above arguments of the barons.

At the time this claim was made, and thus indignantly rejected, Wycliffe had become a somewhat celebrated man. His talents as a schoolman had distinguished him at the University, and obtained for him the title of the Evangelic Doctor ; the fact of a distinctive title of this sort being given to him guarantees his scholastic eminence, while the form of such title was owing to his having restricted himself to lectures on the Scriptures, instead of on the Sentences, as they were called ; being a text-book, comprising extracts from the Fathers, compiled by the celebrated schoolman, Peter the Lombard. He had already, too, broken a lance with the Mendicants on behalf of his University, they having sought to thrust themselves into the Professorial chairs at Oxford as elsewhere. This, from the fact that, as worshippers of the Pope, they had attained a bad notoriety with the English public, and also, by persuading the students to become Mendicants, had injured the University, parents objecting to send their children, had earned from the people, and also from the University, a grateful recognition of Wycliffe's services. It was doubtless the anti-papal spirit displayed by him in this controversy, as well as the notoriety he had gained, that had caused the King to appoint him one of his chaplains. The holding of this office, as also his well-known and strongly-expressed opinions against the right of the Pope to interfere in the temporal concerns of England, explain the fact, that Wycliffe was called in as adviser of the King and Parliament with reference to the papal claim.

It must not, however, be supposed that Wycliffe went any further in his views, as yet, than did many of his contemporaries, even in the ranks of the clergy; it was purely from a political and not a religious point of view that this matter was dealt with by him; though doubtless his hatred of the corruption in the Church was as strong at this time as ever. There were then within the Anglo-Catholic Church, as there are now, two parties, an Ultramontane and a liberal party—a party who looked upon the Pope as supreme in all things, and another who recognised his spiritual supremacy only. Wycliffe was the most distinguished man among the liberal party, and as such was looked upon as a fit adviser. The advice of Wycliffe, as might be




expected, coincided with the views of the king and barons, and when the matter came before the Parliament, they decided, with one voice, that the surrender of the realm by John was null and void, as having been done without the consent of Parliament, and in contravention of his coronation oath ; thus they struck away the basis of the papal claim. The Ultramontane party among the clergy (so strong was the popular feeling) seem to have thought it well to acquiesce in this view, to say nothing of the fact that many even among them, in common with the other party, bore a grudge against the Pope for the frequent reservations of benefices made by him, to their detriment, and in favour of foreign ecclesiastics. Besides this question of tribute, there were other matters on which the English Kiug and Parliament were at variance with the Pope. This question of papal provisions, for instance; this was the right which the Pope claimed to reserve to himself the next nomination to any benefice, in defiance of all others having the legal right to nominate. This had led to the large numbers of foreigners being installed into English benefices, who never performed the duties, but, living on the Continent, drew the revenues and spent them abroad. The English hate of foreigners was stronger than ever, and to the fact of there being so many foreigners among the hierarchy must be attributed much of the anti-sacerdotal feeling called forth a few years later by the works and sermons of Wycliffe. This question, however, was one which it was thought well to settle at once.

Now it may occur to some, that with the strong feeling expressed by the barons and the Parliament, the simplest and shortest course would have been to treat Urban and his claim, together with his threats, with supreme indifference. But no one who knows that age will wonder that Edward should think it necessary to go gently to work; for however strong, as Englishmen and Patriots, the men of the fourteenth century felt and resented the attempt at establishing a temporal jurisdiction, as religionists they were profoundly submissive to the spiritual power of the Pope. If, therefore, an abrupt refusal had been sent, the Pope might have exercised that spiritual power, and launched his Interdict. There were some doubtless who would have laughed at this (and perhaps Wycliffe was among the number), but the great body of the people would have been rendered wretched by being under the papal curse. policy therefore, no less than kindness towards these superstitious ones, which led the government to open negotiations with the Pope, not with Urban now (he had died in the midst of the controversy), but with Gregory XI. An embassy was accordingly despatched, consisting of seven persons, of whom Wycliffe was one. The result was a compromise, arrived at after a negociation of two years' duration. Owing, doubtless, to the mixing in it of their own “selfish interests by one or two English bishops,” says Neander, “it so hap“pened that much less was accomplished than was intended at the outset."* Thus, as one of this embassy, Wycliffe was brought into close contact for two years and upwards with the Papal Court. Like Luther in a later age this did not tend to increase his respect for the Pope. He went a liberal Churchman, and came back a Reformer. He went respecting the spiritual papacy ; he came back to call the Pope “the most cursed of clippers and pursekervers,” and other equally hard names.

It was




* Church Hist. ix, p. 9.

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