Where changes are about to take place of great and enduring moment, a kind of prologue, on a small scale, sometimes anticipates the true opening of the drama; like the first drops which give notice of the coming storm, or as if the shadows of the reality were projected forwards into the future, and imitated in dumb show the movements of the real actors in the story.Such a rehearsal of the English Reformation was witnessed at the close of the fourteenth century, confused, imperfect, disproportioned, to outward appearance barren of results; yet containing a representative of each one of the mixed forces by which that great change was ultimately effected, and foreshadowing even something of the course which it was to run.
sure set divers heavy, unwonted heavy and importable tallages, payments, and impositions upon every of the said monasteries and houses subject unto them, in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, without the privity of the king and his nobility, contrary to the laws and customs of the said realm; and thereby the number of religious persons being oppressed by such tallages, payments, and impositions, the service of God is diminished, alms are not given to the poor, the sick, and the feeble; the healths of the living and the souls of the dead be miserably defrauded; hospitality, almsgiving, and other godly deeds do cease; and so that which in times past was charitably given to godly uses and to the service of God, is now converted to an evil end, by permission whereof there groweth great scandal to the people." To provide against a continuance of these abuses, it was enacted that no "religious" persons should, under any pretence or form, send out of the kingdom any kind of rent, tax, or tallage; and that "prior
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