« PreviousContinue »
so perplexed, that his friend stepped in to the controversy to his assistance, but, as he is a gentle
he had hardly spoken three sentences without falling into a most furious passion. Much and vehemently did he abuse us; we were “canting roundheads,” “ shrivelled up with sin," "sneaking Puritans," and I know not what besides. Having gone on in this strain for about five minutes, not without an occasional oath, the Dean stopped him, and brought the interview to a close, -"Gentlemen, you know the discipline of the college; the statutes require you both to wear the surplice and to take part in the declamations in chapel, and to communicate on the stated days: there is no instance of any relaxation in this discipline, in the two first points at least, though perhaps we are now less strict in the third than the statute enjoins: I can, therefore, do nothing for you ; I have no power to give you a dispensation, you must conform or take the consequences.” We then quitted the Dean's chambers, having first left with him a written protestation, signed with all our names, and in this protestation we had briefly inserted our arguments for non-conformity with the college worship. From the Dean's chambers we went to the Master's lodge; he was at dinner with the Heads of the Houses, whom he was that day entertaining with a sumptuous feast in honour of one of the PrayerBook Saints (St. George, the Arian Bishop of Alexandria, as well as I remember): it was a very great day with these dignitaries, and it was no easy matter to procure an interview even with the Butler; having stood in the hall a full quarter of an hour, at last the great gentleman came : we put our document into his hands, begged him to deliver it to the Master, and retired.
We agreed to keep away from a surplice-worship till Sunday ; but on Sunday morning, having first met together in my rooms to join in social prayer, we all went to chapel in a body together, and marched into the choir without our surplices, in spite of the chapel-clerk, who stood at the entrance of the choir with his wand, and in vain cried out, “Gentlemen! your surplices ! Gentlemen! this is a surplice-morning !” Not a word did we say in reply, but walked up the aisle and took our seats at the upper end. The chapel-clerk followed us, and singling me out, he said with great vehemence, “Mr. Emerson, you must put on your surplice; you cannot sit here without your surplice.” I replied, “ Don't trouble yourself, I do not intend to put it on, or to go from my seat till the service is over." The chapel-clerk said that I must, and long did he stand expostulating and arguing the point with me as a matter of necessity; but as I answered nothing, he then went to John Calvin, but could make no impression there. This scene of course drew the attention of the whole chapel, every one was staring at
us; those who were at the lower end, and could not see us where they stood, got upon the benches —there was a general commotion—and the Dean and tutors put their heads together to take wise counsel in such an emergency. After numerous messages from the Dean to our party, the Dean himself at last descended into the arena from his stall, and walking up to John Calvin bade him go out of the chapel immediately. Calvin refused, and so did we all. The Dean at last returned to his seat, chafing, and his wrath was not a little increased by the very audible laugh amongst the white-robed multitude of under-graduates.
When service was at last over we walked out with the rest, though not without many an idle question from our acquaintances, who were anxious to understand that which to them was a mystery. The under-graduates formed in groups on the grass plot, and had they understood our motives, I have no doubt we should have been most roughly handled by them; for there is just now amongst these poor misguided* creatures a rancorous hatred against what they call “ the Puritans.” For the present, they thought it was a mere prank of disobedience, and were rather amused at it: had they known that our conscience was concerned in this day's trial—and a very severe trial it was—there is no saying to what extremities they would not have proceeded. But all passed off very quietly. About an hour afterwards the Master sent us a positive order to stay away from chapel in the evening, and to attend a meeting of the Seniority the next forenoon at eleven o'clock. We obeyed both orders, and next day at the hour appointed went to the Master's lodge.
* Alluding, also, to the animosity exhibited against the Dissenters at the installation of the Duke of Wellington in the office of Chancellor in the University of Oxford. The under-graduates on that occasion gave a godly groan against the Puritans” in the theatre.—Ed.
The Master and the eight Seniors were all seated in the Council Chamber in their caps and gowns; and it was easy to see by their countenances that they felt little disposed to take a favourable view of Non-conformity that day. The senior Dean, tutors, and chapel-clerk made their complaint, and, when the accusation was ended, the Master said, “Gentlemen, what have you to say for yourselves?”
J. C. Thompson.—“ Our reasons, Master, for declining to wear the surplice in the worship of God have already been stated in a paper which we left at the lodge on St. George's day; but we have no objections to repeat our reasons here or elsewhere. We decline wearing the surplice because it is a Popish habit, called in the Roman Catholic ritual superpelliceum' because, according to the vicious system of the Church of Rome, it pretends, by an outward type, to set forth a grace of God, the righteousness of the Saints-because we are not authorized in the New Testament to wor
ship in Gospel light with symbols and types-because our Lord never instituted habits of ceremony for his people, nor desired them to dress in a prescribed fashion when they said their prayers--because it is certain that the Apostles, and the Churches mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, did not wear surplices--because the wearing of ceremonious garments in prayer is giving up the great principle on which the Reformation is based, namely, the yielding or not yielding to the inventions and traditions of men-because, if this be allowed, all the trumpery of Popish superstitions may be lawful also, such as lawn sleeves, rochets, hoods, square caps, pluvials, dalmaticas, chasibules, maniples, and other gear of that sortand, finally, because we read in the Scriptures that God is a Spirit, and all they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth, not in beggarly elements of types and visible representations."
Master.-“Don't you know that every student in the University must conform to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England ?”
J. C. Thompson.—“We are not commanded by the Prayer Book to wear surplices, the order is only to be found in the Canons, which are not law even with ecclesiastics : if the Canons were pressed on the clergy as you press them upon us, then would the Master and Seniors, and every Priest, be obliged to wear a skull-cap all day long, to ride