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ly about to shake forth the crumbs of comfortable doctrine."
“ Give place, thou man of Satan," said the priest, waxing wroth, “ respect mine order-my cloth.”.
“I see no more to respect in the cut of thy cloak, or in the cloth of which it is fashioned,” said the other, “ than thou didst in the Bishop's rocket—they were black and white, thou art blue and brown. Sleeping dogs every one of you, lying down, loving to slumber-shepherds that starve the flock, but will not watch it, each looking to his own gain--hum.”
Scenes of this indecent kind were so common at the time, that no one thought of interfering ; the congregation looked on in silence, the better class scandalized, and the lower orders, some laughing, and others backing the soldier or minister as their fancy dictated. Meantime the struggle waxed fiercer; Mr. Holdenough clamoured for assistance.
“Mr. Mayor of Woodstock,” he exclaimed, “ wilt thou be among those wicked magistrates who bear the sword in vain ?-Citizens, will you not help your pastor ?-Worthy Aldermen, will you see me strangled on the pulpit stairs by this man of buff and Belial ?-But lo, I will overcome him, and cast his cords from me." ;
As Holdenough spoke, he struggled to ascend the pulpit stairs, holding hard on the bannisters. His tormentor held fast by the skirts of the cloak, which went nigh to the choking of the wearer, until, as he spoke the words last mentioned, in a half-strangled voice, Mr. Holdenough dexterously slipped the string which tied it round his neck, so that the garment suddenly gave way; the soldier fell backwards down the steps, and the liberated divine skipped into his pulpit, and began to give forth a psalm of triumph over his prostrate adversary. But a great hubbub in the church marred his triumph, and although he and his faithful clerk continued to sing the hymn of vic
tory, their notes were only heard by fits, like the whistle of a curlew during a gale of wind.
The cause of the tumult was as follows :--The Mayor was a zealous Presbyterian, and witnessed the intrusion of the soldier with great indignation from the very beginning, though he hesitated to interfere with an armed man while on his legs and capable of resistance. But no sooner did he behold the champion of independency sprawling on his back, with the divine's Geneva cloak fluttering in his hands, than the magistrate rushed forward, exclaiming that such insolence was not to be endured, and ordered his constables to seize the prostrate champion, proclaiming, in the magnanimity of wrath, “ I will commit every red-coat of them all I will commit him were he Noll Cromwell himself.”
The worthy Mayor's indigoation had overmastered his reason when he made this mistimed vaunt ; for three soldiers, who had hitherto stood motionless like statues, made each a stride in advance, which placed them betwixt the municipal officers and the soldier who was in the act of arising; then making at once the movement of resting arms according to the manual as then practised, their musket-butts rang on the church pavement, within an inch of the gouty toes of Master Mayor. The energetic magistrate, whose efforts in favour of order were thus checked, cast one glance on his supporters, but that was enough to show him that force was not on his side. All had shrunk back on hearing that ominous clatter of stone and iron. He was obliged to descend to expostulation.
" What do you mean, my masters ?” said he ; “is it like a decent and God-fearing soldiery, who have wrought such things for the land as have never before been heard of, to brawl and riot in the church, or to aid, abet, and comfort a profane fellow, who
hath, upon a solemn thanksgiving, excluded the minister from his own pulpit ?”
“ We have nought to do with thy church, as thou call'st it,” said he who by a small feather in front of his morion appeared to be the corporal of the party ; " we see not why men of gifts should not be heard within these citadels of superstition, as well as the voice of the men of crape of old, and the men of cloak now. Wherefore we will pluck yon Jack Presbyter out of his wooden sentinel-box, and our own watchman shall relieve the guard, and mount thereon and cry aloud and spare not."
" Nay, gentlemen," said the Mayor, “ if such be your purpose, we have not the means to withstand you, being, as you see, peaceful and quiet men-But let me first speak with this worthy minister, Nehemiah Holdenough, to persuade him to yield up his . place for the time without farther scandal.”
The peace-making Mayor then interrupted the quavering of Holdenough and the clerk, and prayed both to retire, else there would, he said, be certainly strife.
“ Strife?” replied the Presbyterian divine, with scorn; " no fear of strife, among men that dare not testify against this open profanation of the church, and daring display of heresy. Would your neighbours of Banbury have brooked such an insult?”.
“ Come, come, Mr. Holdenough,” said the Mayor, " put us not to mutiny and cry Clubs. I tell you once more, we are not men of war or blood.”
“Not more than may be drawn by the point of a needle," said the preacher, scornfully." Ye tailors of Woodstock,--for what is a glover but a tailor working on kidskin ?-I forsake you, in scorn of your faint hearts and feeble hands, and will seek me else. where a flock which will not fly from their shepherd at the braying of the first wild ass which cometh from out the great desert.”
So saying, the aggrieved divine departed from his pulpit, and shaking the dust from his shoes, left the church as hastily as he had entered it, though for a different reason. The citizens saw his retreat with sorrow, and not without a compunctious feeling as if they were not playing the most courageous part in the world. The Mayor himself and several others left the church, to follow and appease him.
. The Independent orator, late prostrate, was now triumphant, and inducting himself into the pulpit without farther ceremony, he pulled a Bible from his pocket, and selected his text from the forty-fifth psalm, --- Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty : and in thy majesty ride prosperously.”—Upon this theme he commenced one of those wild declamations common at the period, in which men were accustomed to wrest and pervert the language of scripture, by adapting it to modern events. The language which, in its literal sense, was applied to King David, and typically referred to the coming of the Messiah, was, in the opinion of the military orator, most properly to be interpreted of Oliver Cromwell, the victorious general of the infant Commonwealth, which was never des. tined to come of age. “Gird on thy sword !” exclaimed the preacher emphatically ; " and was not that a pretty bit of steel as ever dangled from a corslet, or rung against a steel saddle ? Ay, ye prick up your ears now, ye cutlers of Woodstock, as if ye should know something of a good fox broad-swordDid you forge it, I trow ?-was the steel quenched with water from Rosamond's well, or the blade blessed by the old cuckoldly-priest of Godstow ? You would have us think, I warrant me, that you wrought it and welded it, grinded and polished it, and all the while it never came on a Woodstock stithy. You were all too busy making whittles for the lazy crapemen of Oxford, bouncing priests, whose eyes were
so closed up with fat, that they could not see Destruction till she had them by the throat. But I can tell you where the sword was forged, and tempered, and welded, and grinded, and polished. When you were, as I said before, making whittles for false priests, and daggers for dissolute G-dd-n-me cavaliers, to cut the people of England's throat with it was forged at Long Marston Moor, where blows went faster than ever rung hammer on anvil-and it was tèmpered at Naseby, in the best blood of the cavaliers-and it was welded in Ireland against the walls of Drogheda--and it was grinded on Scottish lives at Dunbar-and now of late it was polished in Worcester, till it shines as bright as the sun in the middle heaven, and there is no light in England that shall come nigh unto it.”
Here the military part of the congregation raised a hum of approbation, which being a sound like the “hear, hear,” of the British House of Commons, was calculated to heighten the enthusiasm of the ora. tor, by intimating the sympathy of the audience. " And then,” resumed the preacher, rising in energy as he found that his audience partook in these feel. ings, " what sayeth the text ?- Řide on prosperously -do not stop-do not call a halt-do not quit the saddle-pursue the scattered fliers-sound the trumpet-not a levant or a flourish, but a point of warsound, boot and saddle--to horse and away-a charge !—follow after the young man what part have we in him !-Slay, take, destroy, divide the spoil! Blessed art thou, Oliver, on account of thine honour-thy cause is clear, thy call is undoubted-never has defeat come near thy leading staff, nor disaster attended thy banner. Ride on, flower of England's soldiers ! ride on, chosen leader of God's champions! gird up the loins of thy resolution, and be steadfast to the mark of thy high calling!”.
Another deep and stern hum, echoed by the ancient