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nakedly discovered their profession, and are prisoners. Browne cunningly counterfeiteth conformity, and dissembleth with his own soul for liberty." Strype says: "Mr. Browne could not leave his opinions, but he still remained conceited and very fanciful." † And Baylie says: "The course of his life, to his deep old age, was so extremely scandalous, that more than ordinary charity is needful to persuade, that ever he was led by a good spirit." +

Without calling in question the general accuracy of these representations by his contemporaries, of Browne's character and conduct in his latter days, it is obvious to remark, that they all relate to him after his apostasy from his early faith and while he was in full fellowship with the church of England. His history is that of many other apostates. Men who violate their consciences for filthy lucre's sake are very apt to become reckless and abandoned Judas Iscariot, for example. While a leader among the Brownists, no irregularity of life is charged against Robert Browne. Yet he was hunted like a wild beast, from city to city, and shut up in half the prisons of England. But when he consented to conform outwardly to the church of England, he was honored with a comfortable vicarage, from which he drew his support to the day of his death, though openly and notori


*Hanbury, 1. 23, note b.

Life of Whitgift, 1. 620. ↑ Dissuasive from the Errours of the Time, p. 14. Lond. 1645.

ously an evil liver. The miserable end of Browne is therefore no more discreditable to the principles which he early professed and vigorously maintained, than was the apostasy and miserable end of Judas to the principles from which he apostatized. And if any body has special reason to be ashamed of Robert Browne, it is the church of England, in whose fellowship he spent half of his natural life, and with which he was in full communion at the time of his wretched death.

In addition to Browne's works already noticed, Masters mentions "A Treatise upon the twentythird chapter of St. Matthew, both for an order of studying and handling the Scriptures, and also for avoiding the popish disorders and ungodly communion of all false Christians, and especially of wicked Preachers and Hirelings;" and "Certaine Fables in Latin." In the Treatise, which he is said to have much valued himself for, he attempts to prove that the word of God doth expressly set down all necessary and general rules of all arts and learning. Masters adds, that Browne was undoubtedly a man of good parts and some learning." *


There is a mystery about Robert Browne's career, which has often been noticed, but never fully explained. Though confessedly the most active and unscrupulous heresiarch of his day, who con

*Hist. C. C. C. 254.

demned the hierarchies of England and of Scotland as anti-Christian, and their ministry as unscriptural, and for his bold denunciations was arrested, and even imprisoned more than a score and a half of times; yet after all, he escaped any very severe or long-continued punishment, and was able to reckon among his friends some of the gentry of England, and was protected and patronized by the Scottish court, and enjoyed to the last the special favor of Elizabeth's most distinguished official, Lord High Treasurer Burleigh. There is a mystery about all this, which never has been satisfactorily explained, and perhaps never can be now. Fuller says: "One may justly wonder, when many meaner accessories in this schism [Brownism] were arraigned, condemned, and executed, how this Browne, the principal, made so fair an escape; yea, enjoyed such preferment." Bishop Freke, in his second letter to Lord Burleigh about Browne's return to Norwich, complains of " gentlemen winking at, if not of policy procuring the disordered sort to go forwards in their evil attempts." And Calderwood and McCrie both charge the Scottish court with befriending and encouraging Browne in his denunciations of the established church and


ministry of Scotland. The "Biographia Britannica," in noticing Browne's repeated escapes from prison and severe punishment, ascribes them en

* Ch. Hist. bk. 1x. sect. 6; see also Collier's Ecc. Hist. vII. p. 3; Heylyn, 257.

tirely to Lord Burleigh's kindness, and says: "The lenity in the Lord Treasurer Burleigh's conduct towards his relation reflects honor on that excellent statesman." And it is by reference to the relationship of the great statesman to the great heretic that most writers account for Browne's escapes from the bishops' prisons. But this relationship was, in point of fact, quite too remote to account for Burleigh's great interest in his kinsman's affairs, for, at the best, it was but a shadowy thing. Burleigh's half-aunt marrying a half-brother of Browne's grandfather could not have made a very strong bond of union and affection between the parties. And besides, the lord treasurer was not a man, with all his excellencies of character, likely to allow his sympathies to run away with his judgment; or to do, as a friend, what he could not as a statesman approve. It might have been conven

ient for him to call Robert Browne's father his dear cousin; and to profess much affection for "his kinsman," the wayward son; and he might have been entirely sincere in his professions; but the whole history of Burleigh proves that State policy, and not private affection controlled his public actions. He befriended Browne, probably, because he deemed it good policy so to do. He thought to advance the interests of the State in some way, by keeping Browne out of prison. And, considering Burleigh's leaning towards puritanism, and his

* Biog. Brit., art. Browne; Hanbury, 1. 24, note.



avowed dislike of the violent measures of the bishops, it is quite likely that he was willing to have their unchristian doings held up to the scorn of the people by the fluent and caustic tongue of his young kinsman, who had great influence with the populace.

If it be asked, why the same protection and encouragement was not afforded to others; it may be a sufficient answer, that Burleigh could conceal his policy in Browne's case, by reference to their relationship, as he could not in any other case. He did, however, interfere in other cases, as this history shows; and probably more frequently than is fully recorded: for, when he complained of Archbishop Aylmer, "for urging so much some ceremonious points as not of the substance of religion," and "as more papal" than protestant; Aylmer retorted, that he was the man who did most discourage him. Burleigh also complained of Archbishop Whitgift's violent proceedings against the puritans, as "too much savoring of the Romish Inquisition ;" and he and Knollys, both, disavowed Bishop Bancroft's doctrine of the divine right of bishops, saying: "It was lawful by the positive law; but to say that it was lawful by the law of God, that was another question." Other influential persons in Elizabeth's court are known to have been ill-affected towards the high-church bishops. Leicester was openly at war with them. Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper of the great seal; and Sir Francis Walsingham and Lord North, mem

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