In and Out of London Or, the Half-holidays of a Town Clerk

Loftie, W. J.





PEOPLE pass along the crowded and busy Strand, some of them for years, without any acquaintance with the quiet little church, surrounded by green grass and trees, which hides itself behind the rows of dingy


houses. When the mob under Wat Tyler broke into the great and rich palace of John of Gaunt, they burnt the greater part of the buildings, if not the whole. They may have spared the chapel. But if they did, it has not been recorded; and but for the fact that during the hundred and twenty years in which the site lay desolate some burials took place here, we should have nothing to go upon in concluding that any part of the chapel, in which very probably Wycliffe may have ministered, still remained. When Henry VIII., in obedience to the dying commands of his father, rebuilt the Savoy as a hospital, he put it on record that he rebuilt it from the foundation; and there is nothing in the masonry or mouldings of the architecture to lead us to any conclusion but what this would indicate. The chapel was consecrated in or about , but its history as a London church, strictly speaking, does not begin until the following reign. The Protector Somerset has been often found fault with for pulling down the church of St. Mary-le-Strand; but as the congregation took refuge at the Savoy Chapel, and as this double employment, both as the chapel of a collegiate foundation and also as the church of a parish, led to its being connected with some remarkable men and some memorable events, and perhaps also saved it from utter ruin, those who are interested in it do not regret the connection. The parishioners of St. Mary's elected a chaplain for themselves, and, by the permission of the Master


of the hospital, he preached and ministered in this chapel. Some famous men held the office of Master, and some famous men that also of Chaplain, but of them all no name now stands out so prominently as that of , who held the latter officein the first year of the reign of Charles II.

There is nothing more remarkable than the way in which the long perspective of past time brings certain figures into prominence, while it suffers others to fall out of sight. When we are near a light-house, the waves seem to dash over it, and at times even to conceal it. But when we are further away the waves are no more seen, while the light shines out clearly and brightly. And so, when we read the life of a good man, when we note the events of his career, when we enumerate his friends, and, perhaps, examine the doings of his enemies; while we trace his steps as he surmounted difficulties, and avoided dangers, and fought through obstructions, till he reached the goal, we are often confused among the names and places, the people and scenes, the events and complications by which his course was marked. But when, after a time, we begin to forget his immediate surroundings, when he becomes more of a historical character to us, we are able to estimate his greatness by the way in which his deeds or his words are still like shining lights among us; and as the people among whom he lived and worked become hidden in the obscurity of ages, we are able to observe how his figure comes out from


those of its associates, and illustrates the same truth now which centuries ago he strove to point to his contemporaries. It is thus, in a remarkable decree, with the character of . As the quaint epitaph on his monument at Cranford states, he spent his life making others immortal, and thereby attained immortality himself; a sentence which is true of him in a double sense, for though the reference is there first to his great work, the "Worthies of England," it also holds good to the work he performed as a clergyman, and especially to that part of his work which was performed in the Savoy, and among the predecessors of the congregation who still assemble where he for the last time preached the gospel of peace.

Born in , was in the prime of life when the great troubles of the Civil War broke upon his country. He lived one year only after the Restoration, and died at the comparatively early age of 53. His career was thus passed among events and trials sufficient to make most men partisans, and to cloud over the most even temperaments. But it is 's greatest praise that, living in the midst of strife, he took no part in it; that nothing shook his faith; that no employment caused him to deviate from the strict path of duty; that the end of his labours was to spread abroad the knowledge of truth, to comfort the fatherless and the widow, to show the cheerfulness of an undaunted Christian spirit, and to make all men know the


possibility of moderation, when passion and prejudice were the ruling powers. What his faith was may be learnt from the quaint sentence he has put into one of his epigrams. It refers to his own name, and is a fair specimen of the solemn play on words in which he so much delighted. It is headed "A Prayer :

-My Soul is stained with a dusty colour,-

Let thy Son be the sope, I'll be the Fuller.

And elsewhere, speaking of his infirmities being known to God, he says, most devoutly,

As for other stains and spots upon my soul, I hope that He (be it spoken without the least verbal reflection), who is the


's sope, Mal. iii. 2, will scour them forth with His merit, that I may appear clean by God's mercy.

And when asked to make an epitaph for himself, it is said that he humbly replied,

Let it be, 'Here lies Fuller's earth.'

began his ministrations in the Savoy, according to his latest biographer, Mr. Bailey, in the year , and he remained here at first for three years. He was in London, therefore, in the most exciting times; and his preaching was thought so much of that it was said he had two congregations, one within the church, and the other consisting of those who could not get in, but crowded about the windows and doors to get within reach of his voice. It is possibly in reference to the hour-glass in the pulpit here that he says, speaking of another preacher, Dr. Holdsworth,



whereas the London people honour their pastors for a short hour, his was measured by a large glass:

a sentence which may well be applied to his own preaching. He used his influence, not in adding to the violence of party feeling, which then ran so high, but in endeavouring by all means in his power to make peace among the contending factions; and among the sermons of his which are still extant, there is one, preached here with this aim in December, , just as the terrible war broke out. He chose for his text the words,

Blessed are the peace-makers,

and said,

We used to end our sermons with a blessing: Christ begins his with the beatitudes; and of the eight my text is neither the last nor the least.

The best work, he says, is peace-making, and the best wages, that they who make peace are


. Advocating peace, then, he is careful to be moderate even in this, refusing to ask for peace at any price, but peace without any sacrifice of truth. Yet the sword, he says, is the worst way of finding truth, for

it cannot discern between truth, error, and falsehood; it may have two edges, but it hath never an eye.

In addition to this sermon, he has left us an essay on " Moderation," which is well worth reading at the present day. He defines moderation in a few admirable sentences: it

is not a halting between two opinions.

. . .

Neither is it a lukewarmness in those things wherein God's glory is concerned.

But it is a mixture of discretion and charity in one's judgment.

The lukewarm man,

he continues,

eyes only his own ends and particular profit; the moderate man aims at the good of others and the unity of the Church.

Toward the middle of , he was forced to fly from the Savoy. He did so with the utmost regret, following King Charles to Oxford. His last sermon preached in this church before his departure is also still extant, and prefixed to it is an epistle

to my dear parish, St. Mary, Savoy,

full of touching allusions to his sorrow at leaving them, and his hope that peace might at length return.

The longer,

he says,

I see this war, the less I like it, and the more I loath it. Not so much because it threatens temporal ruin to our kingdom, as because it will bring a general spiritual hardness of hearts. And if this war long continues, we may be affected for the departure of charity, as the Ephesians were at the going away of St. Paul, sorrowing most of all that we shall see the face thereof no more.

followed the King's army to the field, and endeavoured to do what he could to succour the wounded and comfort the dying. Another preacher took possession of his pulpit here, and he himself, like many of the clergy of his time, when the war was over, wandered from one place to another, patronised by moderate men, and loved by all. He says:

For the first five years during our actual civil wars, I had little list or leisure to write, fearing to

be made a history, and shifting daily for my safety. All that time I could not live to study, but did only study to live.

Yet during this time he projected and in part composed his works, the " Church History " and the "Worthies of England;" the latter, however, not being finished till just before his death. In , he came back to the Savoy for a time, but his own flock was dispersed by the troubles, and it was said of him, as of his Divine Master,

He came to his own, and his own received him not.

The few who remained were overawed by the factions which divided London, and were in daily fear between the Presbyterians and the Independents. Yet he preferred a London congregation to any other, for he said, some clergymen wished for a Lincolnshire church, as best built, and others for a Lancashire parish, as the largest, but he liked a London audience, as consisting of the most intelligent people. He did not stay here long, however. He would not give up the Liturgy, and the penalties for using it were fixed that very year at £5 for the first offence, £10 for the second, and a year's imprisonment for the third. He was, therefore, thrown on his own resources, and his means were very small, and wholly insufficient for the support of himself and the education of his son. Brighter days were in store, and he was allowed to remain unmolested as Vicar of Waltham, and afterwards as Rector of Cranford, until the Restoration, when we find him again at the Savoy.

But, in the meantime, its precincts had been further consecrated to him by a melancholy event. His friend, Lord Montagu of Boughton, being suspected by the party in power and arrested, was imprisoned, or rather kept in some kind of restraint, in the Savoy, although a person of

great reverence,

as we are told,

and above fourscore years of age ;

and, after about two years' confinement, he died here. In 's "Worthies" he is thus spoken of:-

To have no bands in their death is an outward favour many wicked have, many godly men want; amongst whom this good Lord, who died in restraint at the Savoy, on account of his loyalty to his Sovereign.

's return to the Savoy was marked by such a welcome as few preachers have ever been accorded. His sermons, in which he had formerly endeavoured to preserve peace, now that the war was over, were directed to the mitigation of the cruelties of the party in power. Their influence is mentioned by many of his contemporaries, and among others by , the diarist. Witty as all his utterances were they were always within bounds. As his biographer says, his wit is all but invariably allied to wisdom,

and very few would rise from the perusal of his pulpit utterances, with a feeling that they had been in the company of one who was irreverent or undevout.

Craik said of him, in his " History of English Literature," that

there is probably neither an ill-natured nor a profane witticism in all that


has written.

He was strongly of opinion that sermons should be short, and in his account of an ideal " Faithful Minister," he speaks of him as

one who makes not that wearisome which should ever be welcome;

adding, in his quaint way, an anecdote of a certain professor,

who, being to expound the prophet Esay to his auditors, read 21 years on the first chapter, and yet finished it not.

And now we come to the close. was made, without solicitation, a Royal Chaplain, and prepared a sermon to preach at court. But it was otherwise ordered. Before the day appointed for its delivery, the preacher had left the pulpit for ever. A greater King had summoned him. On the , being Sunday, he preached in the Savoy. It was for the last time. He felt unwell, and his friends would have kept him from making the exertion. But a member of the congregation was to be married on the following day, Monday, and lovingly undertook to wish the wedding couple well in a special sermon, a good custom which still obtains in the Savoy. He said he

had often gone into the pulpit sick, but always came down well, and he hoped he should do as well now by God's strengthening grace.

Before he began, he told his congregation he felt ill, but by a strong exertion he got through, and, as his biographer records,

he very pertinently concluded.

A christening was to have followed, and he would have made an effort to officiate; but the fever had now taken its hold.


He was carried from the church half fainting, and, being taken to his lodgings close by, he was put to his bed, and he never rose from it again. So Monday and Tuesday passed, and on Wednesday he was much worse. He had been insensible, but as his strength abated his senses returned. Many friends stood round him. He begged them to pray for him, and joined fervently with them,

recommending himself, with all humble thankfulness and submission, to God's welcome Providence.

He would not, as the last scene drew near, allow anyone to weep. He begged them to restrain themselves, to refrain from tears, and spoke of his departure as a translation to a happy eternity. Though he had before counselled men to make their wills early in life, that so, when they came to die, they might

have nothing to do but to die,

he had made no will himself, having probably little to leave. And now he refused to be disturbed by any thought of worldly affairs. Even the book by which his name has chiefly lived, and which was still unpublished, he did not speak of at all. His thoughts were all engaged on the world to which he was hastening. No regret for the career which had so lately been re-opened to him-no sorrow for the loss of the Bishopric to which he was already designated-nothing but love to those around him, and hope of the heaven before him. One more night he lived, and on the morning of Thursday, the 18th, passed away in peace; and so, as his


biographer says,

The last view of the faithful minister represents him as assuming, in place of the lawn of the Prelate, the shining raiment, exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white it: a whiteness mixed with no shadow; a light dimmed with no darkness.