Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

It may also be the case that the patrists’ new anal pre-occupations help to account for their special sensitiveness to words. Psychologists have noted certain parallels between excretion and speech: words may be used to defile and smear, that is, to express an aggression which is fundamentally excremental. Too little is known to push these speculations further, but the field is one which would richly repay research.

In England, of course, the patrist revolt did not lead to schism and, except for a short time during the Common- wealth, patrist codes were not enforced. Even when small groups abandoned the struggle and emigrated to Holland or America they still continued to regard themselves as members of the English Church. In Scotland, however, Knox succeeded in imposing the Calvinist system, and the Genevan pattern was reproduced almost exactly.

English Puritanism, as it came to be called, thus had a frustrated character. Nevertheless, it displays the main characteristics which we have already noted: the extreme generalizing of the sense of guilt to cover the mildest forms of spontaneity, and the immense pre-occupation with symbols. Throughout the sixteenth century, the Puritans dissipated much of their energy in doctrinal discussions, such as whether wooden tables should replace stone altars and whether they should be placed in the centre of the church or at the east end. The great issue upon which Elizabeth and the Puritans fought or so long was the question of how the clergy should be dressed. Elizabeth, who had conceded every major demand raised by the Injunctions which were designed to strip English churches of matrist influences, yet insisted upon one thing — that the clergy should continue to wear cap and vestments as in Edward’s time — and stood obstinately upon this decision despite every pressure. (26) The clergy were equally obstinate in refusing, and scores sacrificed their livings rather than conform.

There is no need to detail all these tedious bickerings, but occasionally we can see in them the battle between matrism and patrism demonstrated with beautiful clarity. For instance, at the conference which James I summoned to discuss the clergy’s great petition for reforms (again, symbolic ones — the abandonment of the sign of the cross in baptism and of the ring in the wedding ceremony), Dr. Reynolds took exception to the inclusion in the marriage service of the words,

“With my body I thee worship”. The King, a matrist, replied smiling: “If you had a good wife yourself, you would think all worship and all honour you could do her were well bestowed upon her.” (248)