WILLIAM LAUD, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, WOULD HAVE BEEN acting quite in character if he had concerned himself with the case of Robert Herrick even in this time of threatening catastrophe. No detail had even seemed trivial in Laud's eyes if it involved the welfare of the Church of England or the behavior of any of its ministers. For he was driven by a dream of perfection, and no change in outward circumstances could keep him from trying to do his duty.
Laud began his career with a single lapse from this high ideal, and the memory of it tormented him ever afterwards. When he was chaplain to Lord Mountjoy he performed the ceremony that united his patron to a divorced woman, and he marked the day by an annual fast in which he prayed to be forgiven for this one sin of expediency. "Behold I am become a reproach to Thy holy name, by serving my ambition and the sins of others. . . . Much more happy had I been if . . . I had suffered martyrdom, as did St. Stephen, the first of martyrs."
Laud's unrelenting determination to do right found very little scope under King James, who once remarked of him: "I keep Laud back from all place of rule and authority because I find he hath a restless spirit, and cannot see when matters are well, but loves . . . to bring things to a pitch of reformation floating in his own brain." When Laud was Dean of Gloucester, for instance, his restless spirit sent him to see what was wrong with the Cathedral and he found that the communion table was being moved about in the usual Protestant fashion instead of remaining fixed at the east end of the chancel. Laud believed ardently that the Church of England should be "kept up in uniformity and decency, and in some beauty of holiness," and he had the