In the late summer of 1637, Thomas Wentworth, Charles I’s Lord Deputy in Ireland, tried to calm the frayed nerves of his ally William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. Laud had been upset by a series of ‘libels’ posted around London that had bitterly attacked him for his role in the recent pillorying and mutilation of three Puritan critics of his regime. Wentworth drew on his own experience to offer Laud some comforting advice. ‘Those infamous and hellish libels’, he wrote, ‘are the diseases of a loose and remiss government’, and ‘all great ministers are commonly made the objects of them’. Ignoring them, he suggested, might actually be the best tactic.
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