Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Caroline Divines > John Gauden
  Lesser Laudians Eikon Basilike  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

VI. Caroline Divines.

§ 22. John Gauden.


With not a few affinities in character to men such as these, but strikingly unlike them in nature of his literary work, there stands a writer whose powers have not even yet been fully appreciated. John Gauden is one of the most remarkable figures in the literary history of his time. A singularly adroit ecclesiastic, who was of the parliament’s party and yet not wholly repugnant to Laud, he was well abused as any clergyman of his day—which is saying a great deal—but no man had a better skill in retort. His little known Anti-Baal-Berith or The Binding of the Covenant and all Convenanters to their good behaviour (1661) is as clever and amusing a piece of controversial writing as the seventeenth century produced. Its sledge-hammer blows recall Martin Marprelate, and yet it never descends to mere scurrility. One feels that Gauden knew extraordinarily well how far he might go and carry people with him. And this is true, in as striking a way, of his Sermon preached in St. Paul’s Church London before the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor, Lord General, Aldermen etc. on February 28, 1659 (1660), the day when there was public thanksgiving for the return of the Rump. It is a most verbose and skilful—the verbosity itself is skill—expression of what everybody at the moment was feeling, and what the great persons of his audience particularly wished to hear, as to way of “healing the hurts of the kingdom.” Not a word that men could have him by the heels for is there in it: no indiscreet references to the late king, or the late protector, or the young man Charles Stewart; but just those hints which go far enough to lead the hearers a little further, because they show which way popular feeling is turning. No man ever expressed with more fidelity the thoughts of his generation than John Gauden.   35

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  Lesser Laudians Eikon Basilike  
 
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