The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America

The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America

The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America

The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America

Excerpt

The author of The Simple Cobler of Aggawam, whose pseudonym, Theodore de la Guard, easily reveals itself as standing for Nathaniel Ward, was born at Haverhill, England, c. 1578, the son of a Church of England clergyman of that place. Nathaniel matriculated at Cambridge in 1596, and took his Bachelor's degree there at Emmanuel College in 1599 and his Master's degree in 1603. He chose the law as his profession, and for a period of at least ten years engaged in its practice. It is said that it was the influence of the German theologian, David Pareus, whom he met in the course of a stay at Heidelberg in 1618, which turned this mature and presumably successful barrister from the Law to the Church. After taking orders and serving until 1624 as chaplain to the company of British merchants at Elbing, Prussia, Ward returned to London and the beginnings of a more dramatic existence. Remembering this residence of five or six years in a foreign land, one is amused to find him later declaring that "Forrainers dwelling in my Countrey" was one of the four things he hated most in life. Back in England he held, successively, the curacy of the Church of St. James, Piccadilly (1626-28), and the rectorship of Stondon Massey, Essex (1628-33). In both these places his Puritan teaching brought him adversely to the notice of Archbishop Laud, who attempted in many private conferences to dissuade him from his non-conformity but came finally to the end of his patience with the amiable rector of Stondon Massey, and in 1633 deprived him of his living, and "left him under sentence for excommunication.'

Though amiable, as here suggested upon good evidence, Ward was not weak. His Puritanism arose from a reasoned conviction; and if it lacked passion, violence, and hatred for opponents, it was strong in its quiet determination. He was not a separatist, but like John Cotton and Thomas Hooker, he was of that group whose effort to remain within the Church and to reform it according to their own conceptions of ritual and policy met, head-on, the conviction of Laud that reformation of the sort proposed was deformation. The natural refuge for one who so encoun-

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