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as much comfort as mere labour can be expected to afford. From these things would necessarily flow, with considerable rapidity, populous towns, thriving manufactures, wealth, intelligence, and refinement. While, however, the system of rural economy was under alteration, it is obvious that some inconvenience might be sustained by the peasantry, and it is certain, that a body, so impatient of innovation, would not fail to attribute all its evils to a departure from established habits. Such was now the general impression of those who formed the rustic population of England. They considered the enclosures, the extended farms, and the breeding of live stock which had become objects of desire with the gentry, merely as heartless devices to impoverish and degrade the humble cultivator'. This unkindly feeling towards their wealthier neighbours was exasperated by the sullen dissatisfaction with which the country-people had generally viewed the abolition of those superstitions, which are so dear to weak and ignorant minds. The new Liturgy completed
“ If the King's honour, as some men say, standeth in the great multitude of people; then these graziers, enclosers, and rent-rearers, are great hinderers of the King's honour. For whereas have been a great many of housholders and inhabitants, there is now but a shepherd and his dog." (Latimer's Sermons, 1. 92.) “ Thesé (enclosers) were great graziers and sheepmasters, that ceased tilling the ground, and sowing of corn: pulling down houses, and destroying whole towns, that so they might have the more land for grazing, and the less charge of poor tenants, who had dependance on them as their plowme and husbandmen.” Strype, Eccl. Mem. II. 260.
their disgust, and its appearance among
gave the signal for that explosion which had long been in preparation.
In Wiltshire, the popular discontent first decidedly vented itself in open outrage. The tumult, however, there was promptly suppressed by Sir William Herbert, subsequently earl of Pembroke. Soon afterwards, riotous assemblages disturbed the public peace in the counties of Sussex, Hants, Kent, Gloucester, Suffolk, Warwick, Essex, Hertford, Leicester, Worcester, and Rutland. It was, however, found possible to allay this mass of irritation by promising to the excited peasantry, that their demands should be fairly considered. Unfortunately, in holding out this understanding, Somerset assumed an appearance of siding with the mutinous populace. He admitted, that the poorer classes had been aggrieved, and in consequence, it was announced', that past disorders
• " What seeth your Grace over the King's subjects out of all discipline, out of obedience, caring neither for Protector nor King, and much less for any other mean officer. And what is the cause ? Your own lenity, your softness, your opinion to be good to the poor; the opinion of such as saith to your grace, Oh! Sir, there was never man had the hearts of the poor as you have. Oh! the commons pray for you, Sir, they say, God save your life.” Sir William Paget, to the Lord Protector. Strype, Eccl. Mem. Appendix, II. 430.
By a proclamation which he published, “ contrary to the mind of the whole council.” (Burnet, Hist. Ref. II. 184.) The improved modes of managing landed property attracted legislative notice so early as the fourth year of King Henry VII. This year, accordingly, is the point as to time, at which the commissioners of enclosures were to terminate their investigation.
should be forgiven, and, that commissioners should be sent down to examine the grounds upon which enclosures had recently been made, for the purpose of destroying such as were effected upon no sufficient authority. This concession was perfectly in unison with the Protector's habitual good nature, but it had a most pernicious effect upon the public tranquillity. The landed interest now felt itself attacked, and under an impression, that it was about to be sacrificed for the sake of Somerset's popularity, it rather rejoiced than otherwise in the prospect of commotions which might overthrow the existing administration. On the other hand, the populace were highly elated on seeing the Protector admit the justice of their complaints, and were thereby confirmed in their determination that no efforts of their opulent neighbours should prevent the accomplishment of their favourite objects. Hence in many places the people would not wait for the government commissioners, but assembling in a tumultuous manner with spades and other such implements, destroyed of their own heads the obnoxious enclosures". In the western counties, artful Papists of a condition above the lowest, industriously fanned the flame of popular discontent. As these parts of England were remote from London, the great seat of information and intelligence, gross
They were to enquire what lands had been enclosed since that date ; how many ploughs had been discontinued in consequence; and how many dwellings decayed. • Hayward, 292.
ignorance oppressed the minds of their inhabitants, and when they saw the Church purged from the base and antichristian superstitions cunningly patronised by Papal Rome, they stupidly conceited, that the Catholic faith itself was virtually destroyed. In the last year, this unhappy misconception had stimulated a priest to the commission of an atrocious crime. A rabble of deluded Cornishmen, deeply smitten by that proneness to idolatry which obstinately clings to minds unacquainted with religious truth, fiercely resisted the removal of their darling images. Regardless of this violence, however, one of the royal commissioners, named Body, resolutely proceeded in the needful task imposed upon him. His life paid the forfeit of his intrepidity. While in the act of removing one of those debasing idols which had turned aside the cheated neighbourhood from offering rational and acceptable worship to the living God, a priest stabbed him mortally with a knife. The wretched ecclesiastic was soon afterwards hanged, and quartered in Smithfield'. Some of his abettors in the murderous tumult were executed in different parts of the country'. This just severity, however, failed of intimidating the bigoted and unruly spirits which agitated the western extremity of England. Unhappily, many of the clergy, being unable to soar above the prejudices of their education, encouraged the misapprehensions of their neighbours". On Whit
» Ibid. Speed.
y July 7. Stow.
Monday, June 10, the parishioners of Sapmford Courtenay, in Devonshire, being assembled at their church for divine service, insisted, that their rector should use the Latin mass. On the preceding day, it must be presumed, these ignorant rustics heard a service, much resembling that for which they now clamoured, in their mother-tongue. It is obvious, that this last might have proved the happy means of enlightening their minds. The former never could. But they desired not to be awakened or enlightened. Their only wish was to be allowed, as their fathers had been before them, to hear at church certain undistinguishable words, to see there a long succession of trifling ceremonies, to kneel there on hearing the sacring bell before a wafer, to return home with a comfortable conviction that all these things had been greatly to their benefit; to make an annual confession of their sins, and then to receive absolution; to trust in some particular dead person as an especial patron, to believe implicitly any extravagant fictions to which this person's name might be appended, to kneel, light candles, and
• Their rector " is supposed to have invited them to that compulsion." (Heylin, Hist. Ref. 75.) This clergyman was said to be chaplain to the Lady Mary. This report, however, appears unfounded, for the Princess thus wrote in a letter which she despatched to the seat of government, upon being apprised by the council of the rumours to her disadvantage.
" As for Devonshire, no indifferent person can lay their doings to my charge, for I have neither land nor acquaintance in that country." Strype, Eccl. Mem. II. 277.