316). Though the story told by prejudiced witnesses at his trial may be rejected as incredible (see Gardiner, Hist. of Engl. 1603–1642, vii. 244, notes 1 and 2), there can be no doubt that his appearance outside the gate of the church in full canonicals, and his bowing towards the altar, gave offence to the puritans who swarmed in the city. The question of bowing in church was at that time a burning one. A certain Giles Widdowes, having written in defence of the practice, was attacked by Prynne in a book entitled 'Lame Giles, his Haltings.' One Page prepared to answer Prynne, but was checked by Abbot on the ground that controversy was to be avoided. Laud, however, at once intervened. The university of Oxford, now under Laud's dictation, licensed Page's book, Laud having declared that the king was unwilling that Prynne's ignorant writings should remain unanswered. Both the king and the Bishop of London seem to have drawn a distinction between a controversy about the ceremonies of the church which were to be regulated by law and a controversy about predestination which was a matter of opinion. An attempt having been made at Oxford to reopen the latter dispute in the pulpit, Charles, on 23 Aug. 1631, summoned the offenders before himself, and ordered the expulsion of the erring preachers and the deprivation of the proctors who had failed to call them to account (Heylyn, p. 203).
Scarcely any one of Laud's actions brings out more clearly the legal character of his mind than his treatment of the question of bowing in church. His own habit was to bow whenever the name of Jesus was pronounced, and also towards the east end on entering a church; but he recognised that while the former practice was enforced by the canons the latter was not, and while he required observance of the one he only pressed the other by the force of his example, excepting where it was legalised by the statutes of particular churches. In other respects he required conformity to the law, patiently, indeed, when there was any prospect of winning over those who had hitherto refused obedience, but without the slightest regard for conscientious objections to conformity. In the court of high commission he was exceedingly active, especially in cases of immorality. He was determined that no offender should escape punishment on account of wealth or position, and in May 1632 he took part in successfully resisting a prohibition issued by the judges of the court of common pleas at the instance of Sir Giles Alington, who had married his own niece. In his action in repressing antinomians and separatists he had the co-operation of Abbot.
Laud's dislike of disorder showed itself in the hard sentence which in February 1633 he urged in the Star-chamber in the case of Henry Sherfield, the breaker of a window in which God the Father was depicted, and in the same month he approved highly of the verdict in the exchequer chamber dissolving the feoffment for the acquisition of impropriations, and directing that the patronage of the feoffees, who had intended to make use of it to present puritans to benefices, should be transferred to the king. In his own college at Oxford Laud's liberality had shown itself in the new buildings. In London he was dissatisfied with the slackness of the citizens in contributing to the repairs of the dilapidated cathedral, and induced the privy council to urge the justices of the peace to gather money for the purpose from the whole country.
Hitherto, except in the courts of Star-chamber and high commission, and in the rare instances in which he could set in motion the direct authority of the king, Laud's action had been confined to the diocese of London and the university of Oxford. On 6 Aug. 1633, after his return from Scotland, whither he had gone with the king, he was greeted by Charles, who had just heard of Abbot's death, with the words: 'My Lord's Grace of Canterbury, you are very welcome' (Heylyn, p. 250). Two days before Laud recorded in his 'Diary' that 'there came one to me, seriously, and that avowed ability to perform it, and offered me to be a cardinal.' Another entry on 17 Aug. states that the offer was repeated. 'But,' adds Laud, 'my answer again was that somewhat dwelt within me which would not suffer that till Rome were other than it is.' Laud's intellectual position would be necessarily unintelligible to a Roman catholic in those days, and would be no better appreciated by a puritan.
As archbishop of Canterbury Laud had at his disposal not only whatever ecclesiastical authority was inherent in his office, but also whatever authority the king was able to supply in virtue of the royal supremacy. The combination of the two powers made him irresistible for the time. On 19 Sept. 1633 the king wrote to the bishops, evidently at Laud's instigation, directing them to restrict ordination, except in certain specified cases, to those who intended to undertake the cure of souls (ib. p. 240). The direction was intended to stop the supply of the puritan lecturers, who were maintained by congregations or others to lecture or preach, without