Britannia Biographies: William Laud Part 12
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Biography of William Laud (1573-1645), Archbishop of Canterbury

W I L L I A M
L A U D
Part 12: Reflections

Thus fell Laud and, as Heylin observes, the church fell with him. "Of stature," writes that sympathizing, but not indiscriminatingly admiring biographer, towards the close of his narrative, "he was low, but of a strong composition. So short a trunk contained so much excellent treasure....His countenance cheerful and well bloodied: more fleshy, as I have often heard him say, than any other part of his body; which cheerfulness and vivacity he carried with him to the very block, notwithstanding the afflictions of four years' imprisonment and the infelicity of the times....A gallant spirit being for the most part like the Sun, which shows the greater at his setting....Of apprehension he was quick and sudden, of a very sociable wit and a pleasant humour, and one that knew as well how to put off the gravity of his place and person when he saw occasion, as any living man whatsoever. Accessible enough at all times, but when he was tired out with multiplicity and vexation of business, which some who did not understand him ascribed unto the natural ruggedness of his disposition." He was a munificent benefactor to the University of Oxford in various ways. And, in his native town of Reading, he gave lands to the town corporation and left money for the apprenticeship of poor boys and the endowment of St. Laurence's Church and Reading School. Heylin mentions that these good works exhausted all the fortune he had made himself master of "in so long a time of power and greatness, wherein he had the principal managing of affairs both in Church and State."

Archbishop Laud's literary works, besides his account of the conference with Fisher, already mentioned, are: Seven Sermons, originally published separately and then collected and printed together in one volume, at London, in 1651; his Diary and History of his Troubles and Trial, together with some other pieces, published by Wharton in 1695; and his History of his Chancellorship of Oxford, forming the second volume of that work, published in 1700.

Edited from Lord Brougham's 'Old England's Worthies' (1857).


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