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unmolested, sowing broadcast among the people what King James in later years called his "popple," but what at that time, for some reason, seems not to have been particularly offensive to the king or the Scottish court.
Browne's stay in Scotland was short, his restless spirit not allowing him to continue long in any place; and early in the autumn of 1585 we find him again in England, arraigned before Archbishop Whitgift to answer for his treatises on church order, which had been pretty freely dispersed in England. But, either for want of evidence that he had been privy to their dispersion, or because of an apparent yielding on Browne's part to the bishop's arguments, or through the interposition of his friendly kinsman, Lord Burleigh, he escaped punishment, as usual.
After this he was induced by the lord treasurer to leave London and retire to his father's house in Tolethorpe, Rutlandshire, carrying with him as an introduction to his father's favor, the following
*Hanbury (1. 23) assigns the lack of evidence against Browne, and Brook (11. 367) the interposition of Burleigh, as the reason of his escape. Collier says that Whitgift, "by the dexterity of his management and the force of his reasoning, brought him to a tolerable compliance with the church of England," though he adds that Browne afterwards relapsed to his former condition. - Vol. VII. p. 3; Fuller, bk. Ix. sect. 6. Masters says that Browne " confessed himself to be the author, but denied being concerned in the publication of it. The archbishop, however, having brought him to some sort of compliance, dismissed him, and the lord treasurer sent him into the country to his father." - P. 253.
kindly letter from Burleigh, dated October 8th, 1585:
"After my very hearty recommendations: Understanding that your son, Robert Brown, had been sent for up by my lord bishop of Canterbury to answer to such matters as he was to be charged withal, contained in a book made by him and published in print (as it was thought) by his means, I thought good, considering he was your son and of my blood, to send unto my lord of Canterbury in his behalf, that he might find what reasonable favor he could show him; before whom I perceive he hath answered in some good sort; and although I think he will not deny the making of the book, yet by no means will he confess to be acquainted with the printing of it. He hath beside yielded unto his lordship such further contentment as he is contented (the rather at my motion) to discharge him; and therefore, for that he purposeth to repair to you, I have thought good to accompany him with these my letters, and to pray you for this cause, or any his former dealings, not to withdraw from him your fatherly love and affection, not doubting but with time he will be fully recovered and withdraw from the reliques of some fond opinions of his, which will be the better done if he be dealt withal in some kind and temperate manner."
Browne remained with his father but a few
*Fuller, bk. IX. sect. 6.
Probably their tempers were too much alike to allow them to live together. Certainly, if we may believe Fuller, their religious views were sufficiently unlike to provoke contention, the fa ther being a high churchman, who declared "that he would not own him for a son who would not own the church of England for his mother," while the son was a bold, defiant Separatist, who held that the church of England was no true church, and that Christian men ought to come out from her, and cease to be partakers of her abominations. For about four months this forced and unnatural association continued, when the elder Browne wrote to Burleigh, begging to be excused from any further care of his wayward son. To this request Burleigh replied, under date of February 17th, 1585-6, as follows:
"After my very hearty commendations: I perceive by your letter that you have little or no hopes of your son's conformity, as you had when you received him into your house; and therefore you seem desirous that you may have liberty to remove him farther off from you, as either to Stamford or some other place, which I know no cause but you may very well and lawfully do, when I wish he might better be persuaded to conform himself, for his own good and yours and his friends' comfort."*
From Tolethorpe Browne seems first to have gone to Stamford, or Stanford. We next hear of
*Fuller, bk. IX. sect. 6.
him "travelling up and down the country, preaching against the laws and ceremonies of the church," and against the bishops, and "enduring great hardships." This course he pursued probably for a year or more, † after which he went to reside in Northampton. Here his preaching attracted the attention of Lindsell, bishop of Peterborough, who cited "the heretic" before him, probably some time in 1588, and on his refusal to appear, excommunicated him for contempt. It is said that "the solemnity of this censure made such an impression on Browne, that he renounced his principles of separation." Any one may believe this who will; but there is nothing in Browne's life and character to justify such a belief. He was about the last man in England likely to be "impressed" by a bishop's sentence; for, having been for twenty years at war with them, facing them in their courts and fighting them everywhere, he had no such exaggerated notions of their sanctity or authority as would be apt to trouble him, let them say or do to him what they might. It is altogether more probable that Browne, weary of his wandering, perse
*Brook, art. Browne; Biog. Brit. art. Browne. Masters, p. 258, † He probably went to Stamford, or Stanford, soon after Feb. 17th, 1585-6. On June 20th, 1589, Burleigh wrote to Lindsell that Browne had "now a good time forsaken" "his strange manner of writing and opinions held by him." Supposing this "good time" to mean a year, it leaves two years and about four months' time to be divided between his stay at Stanford, his travels up and down the country, and his residence at Northampton.
Brook; Biog. Brit.; Collier, vII. 3; Strype's Parker, 11. 69; Whitgift, 1. 619; Masters, ut supra,
cuted life, and possibly having done all the work that his wily kinsman had marked out for him, took measures to reconcile himself to the mother church simply to secure a comfortable support for the remainder of his life. The first intimation of his defection is found in a letter addressed to the bishop of Peterborough by Lord Burleigh, dated the 20th of June, 1589, as follows:
"To the Rev. Father in God, my very good Lord the Bishop of Peterborough. After my hearty commendations to your lordship: Although it might seem somewhat strange that I should write to your lordship in the favour of this bearer, Robert Browne, who hath been so notably disliked in the world for his strange manner of writing and opinions held by him; yet, seeing he hath now a good time forsaken the same, and submitted himself to the order and government established in the church, I have been the rather moved to recommend him to your lordship's favour, and to pray you if haply any conceit may be in you that there should remain any relics in him of his former erroneous opinions, your lordship would confer with him, and, finding him dutiful and conformable, as I hope you shall, to receive him again into the ministry, and to give him your best means and help for some ecclesiastical preferment; wherein I am the more willing to do him good, and am not a little glad at the reclaiming of him, being of kindred unto me, as your lordship, I think, knows."
* Hanbury, 1. 24, note; Strype's Whitgift, 1. 629.