Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mr Haddock in deep waters

My little find this week is in Thomas Bayly’s Witty apophthegms delivered at several times, and upon several occasions by King James, King Charls, the Marquess of Worcester, Francis Lord Bacon, and Sir Thomas Moor; collected and revised (1669). This book goes a long way to convince any reader that the Stuart Kings simply did not deliver ‘witty apothegms’ at all. Most of the book was clearly compiled during a visit by King Charles to Ragland (Rutland) Castle, and to bulk out the collection Bayly plagiarised Ben Agar’s King James, his apopthegmes, or table-talke as they were by him delivered occasionally and by the publisher (his quondam servant) carefully received, and now humbly offered to publique view, as not impertinent to the present times by B.A. gent (1643).

I opt for the later version of the text, as Bayly’s prose is rather easier to follow than Agar’s, but will add back in some of the extra details which Agar had included, which Bayly edited out when lifting the text.

So, to our story:

King James produced the apothegm that: “That there were many ways to find out truth besides evidence of real witness”.

“whereupon Master Hugh May replied and mentioned Master Haddocks good report and opinion conceived of him in Oxford, and yet was found at last a great offender”. I take it that Mr May tried to steer the remark towards a recent triumph for the King’s capacity to find out truths. The flattery doesn’t quite take: “whereupon his Majesty replied, the case in him was not after his meaning, and thereupon insisted further to exemplify his offence, confessing [the sense is ‘confess’ verb 1 ‘to declare’] the same to be high & capital in respect of God and man, meaning Mr. Haddock, who preached in his sleep…”

This is worth pausing over: it rather looks as though Mr Haddock was found such a great offender that he was in the end executed for his pains. The King continues in what must have been a familiar vein of self-congratulation:

“that his Majesty [1] did God and the Country good service, in discovering that man. 2. That his practice was diabolical & a new way to sin, that his Majesty never heard of before. 3. That he did therein practice against God himself, in that he did endeavour to make his own inventions as the oracle of God, and by that means to bind men’s consciences thereto to believe.”

So far, this is just James reiterating his opinion; that he came to the conclusion that the practice was ‘diabolical’ does not bode well for Mr Haddock. But the third royal point is astute: by feigning to be delivering a sermon while asleep, Mr Haddock would indeed lead credulous hearers to believe that he was ‘channeling’ the word of God.

But forwards to the way the King proved Mr Haddock to be a fraud:

“4. That his Majesty discovered him by his own papers and notes which were brought unto the King, the which Mr. Haddock confessed to be his own handwriting, and the notes of his Sermon which men say he preached in his sleep, but for answer thereunto, said he only noted his Sermons first in writing, and so in the night dreamed thereof, and of the same thing that he had penned before, but by his answer his Majesty convinced him upon his own experience [This is OED sense ‘convince’ , verb, II 4, ‘To prove (a person) to be guilty, or in the wrong, esp. by judicial procedure’] concerning dreams and visions in the night, that things studied or mentioned in the day time may be dreamed of in the night, but always irregularly, without order, but not as his Sermons were, both good and learned…”

The King simply produced the undeniable authority of his own royal experience: dreams are jumbles, while Mr Haddock’s discourse was simply too orderly. It then emerges that the remarkable (and suspect) Mr Haddock had been hauled in and had the folly to perform his act in front of the king himself:

“as in particular in that very Sermon which he preached before his Majesty in his sleep, concerning David’s waters, Psalm 69. where in he treated. 1. physically, then theologically, which is not usual in dreams so to do.”

It has to be admired here that Mr Haddock appositely chose as his text Psalm 69: 1Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.

How fishy can you get?

It seems that Mr Haddock was hung up shortly after this, and James justifies this as heading off legal chaos:

“5. That Mr. Haddocks sin being granted for liberty, and good, then would all sins be protected and allowed, as blasphemy against God, Treason against the King, slander against any man; and at last all defended under colour of being asleep.”

This is of course ludicrous: a heavy-handed punishment of a silly man pretending to give a sermon in his sleep is hardly justified by the thought that crimes that can hardly be committed while asleep might have found legal precedent for mercy by the perpetrators claiming they were asleep at the time. But the quality of King James’ legal thinking is aptly caught in another of these precious royal aphorisms: “That it were better twenty innocents did suffer, then to have all dishonest men go free”. Or, best to hang people, just to be on the safe side.

Rather surprisingly for 1669, Bayly omitted another royal observation preserved in the 1643 version of the anecdote, which reveals at Mr Bayly’s politics and religious stance: “Sixthly, that in all his Sermons, he had always some sayings in defense, or in excuse of the Puritans. After the discourse ended concerning Master Haddock, as aforesaid; his Maiesty proceeded to mention his great trouble with that sect in Scotland”.

But Bayly, from somewhere, produces two further pieces of royal acumen, which are all too typical of James: for they show that the King did have some human understanding of the person he is about to have executed:

“and further his Majesty declared his opinion, that the reason that moved the aforesaid Mr. Haddock to put in practice his preaching in his sleep did proceed from two natural infirmities, to which he was subject, the one was stammering in speech, so finding himself more ready to speak being quiet in his bed, and his eyes shut from any object to trouble his mind, he could utter himself more perfectly. The second reason was his practice to talk in his sleep…”

These are reasonable deductions about how Haddock ended up performing his dangerous act – but neither stops the King from leaping to a third opinion: “these two as the King conceived, put him on to that foul practice and illusion of Satan’s”. Satan enters the picture, and Mr Haddock is doomed.

So, here is King James once again investigating a fraud, as he did in the case of demoniacs up and down his kingdom. Usually, he discovers the demoniac to be fraudulent, and the case ends there, but Mr Haddock is simultaneously discovered to be a fraud (via the discovery of his notes for his somniloquous sermon) and a tool of Satanic illusion. The King convicted Mr Haddock on the grounds that his sermon was too orderly, “both good and learned”, but also inferred that this good sermon was coming direct from Satan.

I have not been able to find more than one other reference to Mr Haddock, in Thomas Pierce’s Heautontimoroumenos, or, The self-revenger exemplified in Mr. William Barlee. (1658): “In how many more places he did asperse me as a Socinian, I must needs be forgetful, as well as he. He hints my erring about the very Trinity, but holds forth nothing; only dreams of a Manuscript, and talks as impertinently out of it, nay a great deal more, then Mr. Haddock did in his sleep.

My image is Durer’s ‘The Dream of the Doctor’.


arnold said...

Mr Haddock is better known as Richard Haydock (1569/70-1642), fellow of New College, Oxford, translator of Lomazzo's Tracte Containing the Arte of Curious Paintinge, Carvinge and Buildinge (1598) and subject of an article by K.J. Holtgen, 'Richard Haydocke: translator, engraver, physician', The Library, 5th ser., 33 (1978). 'Haddocke of New Colledge the sleeping preacher, so much followed and admired in Oxford and every where, being sent for to the court and there playing his prises, was discovered and confessed himself an impostor' (John Chamberlain to Dudley Carleton, 30 April 1605).

DrRoy said...

So, he got away with it? As my post indicates, the two compilations gave me the impression that he was hanged for his pains. But they were probably vague about what had happened so many years before. I might have to alter my post, at some future date, giving due credit (of course) to you. But for the moment it seems better to let my misinterpretation and your correction stand as they are. I thought I might have this one wrong, and that someone might have more information; I had even got as far as noticing 'Haddock' and 'Haydock' could be substituted. But I didn't get your man.

John Cowan said...

A later Mr. Haddock was warned by one of His Majesty's Judges that he could still be hanged for setting fire to a ship in the Port of London. So far as we are told, however, he never actually did so.