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A New Discovery of the Prelates Tyranny in Their Late Prosecutions of Mr. William Pryn, an Eminent Lawyer, Dr. Iohn Bastwick, a Learned Physitian and Mr. Henry Burton, a Reverent Divine : Wherein the Separate and Joynt Proceedings Against Them
Printed at London : For M.S, 1641-01-01. Hardcover. Very Good. Octavo. [2], 48, 226 pages. Bound in early 20th century 3/4 leather. Gilt letterig on spine. 5 raised bands. Cloth boards. Page ends washed red. Good binding and cover. Wear to extremities. Owners leather bookplate on inside board of Laurence Roberts Carton. Lacks the 4 portraits. Errata leaf present at end of text, but well-worn, showing only a quarter of original text. Clean, unmarked pages with tanning. R13582. Wing P4018. Like many Puritans abhorring decadent celebrations, Prynne was strongly opposed to religious feast days, including Christmas, and revelry such as stage plays, He included in his Histriomastix (1632) a denunciation of actresses which was widely felt to be an attack of Queen Henrietta Maria. This book led to the most famous incidents in his life, but the timing was accidental. About 1624 Prynne had begun a book against stage-plays; on 31 May 1630 he obtained a license to print it, and about November 1632 it was published. Histriomastix is a volume of over a thousand pages, showing that plays were unlawful, incentives to immorality, and condemned by the scriptures, Church Fathers, modern Christian writers, and pagan philosophers. By chance, the queen and her ladies, in January 1633, took part in the performance of Walter Montagu's The Shepherd's Paradise: this was an innovation at court. A passage reflecting on the character of female actors in general was construed as an aspersion on the queen; passages which attacked the spectators of plays and magistrates who failed to suppress them, pointed by references to Nero and other tyrants, were taken as attacks on the king, Charles I. William Noy, as attorney-general, instituted proceedings against Prynne in the Star-chamber. After a year's imprisonment in the Tower of London, he was sentenced (17 February 1634) to be imprisoned during life, to be fined £5,000, to be expelled from Lincoln's Inn, to be deprived of his degree by the university of Oxford, and to lose both his ears in the pillory. Prynne was pilloried on 7 May and 10 May. On 11 June he addressed to Archbishop Laud, whom he regarded as his chief persecutor, a letter charging him with illegality and injustice. Laud handed the letter to the attorney-general as material for a new prosecution, but when Prynne was required to own his handwriting, he contrived to get hold of the letter and tore it to pieces. In the Tower Prynne wrote and published anonymous tracts against episcopacy and against the Book of Sports. In one he introduced Noy's recent death as a warning. Elsewhere he attacked prelates in general (1635). An anonymous attack on Matthew Wren, bishop of Norwich brought him again before the Star-chamber. On 14 June 1637 Prynne was sentenced once more to a fine of £5,000, to imprisonment for life, and to lose the rest of his ears. At the proposal of Chief-justice John Finch he was also to be branded on the cheeks with the letters S. L., signifying 'seditious libeller'. Prynne was pilloried on 30 June in company with Henry Burton and John Bastwick, and Prynne was handled barbarously by the executioner. He made, as he returned to his prison, a couple of Latin verses explaining the 'S. L.' with which he was branded to mean 'stigmata laudis' (“sign of praise”, or “sign of Laud”). He was released by the Long Parliament in 1640. The House of Commons declared the two sentences against him illegal, restored him to his degree and to his membership of Lincoln's Inn, and voted him pecuniary reparation (as late as October 1648 he was still trying to collect it). He supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War, particularly in the press, and in many pamphlets, while still pursuing the bishops.
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