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The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 by David Masson

Part 2 out of 13

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mischances of marriage, heard of by the world, and the rather if
published by the sufferers or one of them, should be received only as
excellent amusement for people round about. It is as if the one thing
intrinsically and unceasingly comic in the world, for most people, were
the fact that it consists of man and woman, as if the institution on
which human society is built and by which the succession of earth's
generations is maintained, were the one only subject, with most people,
for nothing else than laughter. Even now perhaps our disposition to
jocosity on this subject, not sufficiently entertained by incidents of
our own day, will range back to that case of Milton and Mary Powell two
hundred and twenty-eight years ago, and join in the gossip which it then
began to circulate through the town. In the lobby of the House of Commons
it must have been heard of: it may have given a relish to the street-talk
of reverend Presbyterian gentlemen talking home together from the
Assembly "Only a month or two married; his wife gone home again; and now,
instead of proper reticence about what can't he helped, all this
hullaballoo of a new doctrine about Divorce! Just like him!" This and
such-like is what we seem to overhear; this and such-like is what Milton
did overhear; not much more than this and such-like are most of us
prepared to say even now when we read the story. And yet the story is
surely worth more. One fails to see, after all, that it yields only
matter for jest and the repetition of commonplaces. What are the facts?
Two human beings, long dead and gone, but then alive and with the,
expectation of many years of life before them, had hardly been banded
together in church when they found, or thought they found, that their
union was for their mutual misery. The one was a poor country-girl in her
teens, ruing the fate to which she had committed herself, but with no
weapons for her relief but her tears, her terror, and the mitigation of
refuge in her father's house. _Her_ case is to be pitied; shame if
it is _not_! The other was a man extraordinary--so extraordinary
that even now we try to follow him in fancy in his walks through the
London streets, and any bit of old wall his arm may have touched is a
sacred antiquity, and we regard the series of thoughts that was in his
mind through any month, or series of months, as something of prime
interest in the spirit of the past, a prize that we would give gold to
recover. Well, here was one series of thoughts that was in this man's
mind for months and months, and that left effects, indeed, to his life's
end. He was moody in his house; he walked moodily in the streets; we can
hear him muttering to himself, we can see his teeth clenched. Morning and
evening, day after day, he is in a great despair. And why? Because he has
made the most fatal mistake a man can make, and is gazing on, morning and
evening, day after day, into the consequences. Lo! into that life which
he had hoped to make worthy of the God who gave it, a pattern life, a
great poem within hose azure fitness other poems should arise to spin
their gleaming courses--into this life what had he imported? Not the
solace and bliss of a kindred soul's society, which had been his intent
and dream; but a darkness, a disturbance, a marring melancholy, a daily
and hourly debasement, a coinhabiting mischief! It was enough, he says,
to drive a man "at last, through murmuring and despair, to thoughts of
Atheism." But was there no remedy? Ah! in the very power of putting this
question lay the advantage of the strong man over the weak Oxfordshire
girl. He could reason, he could delve into the subject, he could revolve
it intellectually. What if the plight in which he found himself were no
necessary and irremediable evil? What if the permanence of marriage once
contracted between two persons utterly unsuitable for each other were no
decree of God, no real requirement of religion or of social well-being,
but a mere superstitious and fallacious tradition, a stupid and
pernicious convention among men? Once on this track, there was light for
Milton. Out of his own private mishap there came the suggestion of a
great enterprise. He would thunder, if not the mishap itself, at least
its public significance, out upon the world. He would rouse his
countrymen on the whole subject of the Law of Marriage. Who knew but his
voice might be heard? Who knew but that, were it loud enough, there would
be a response of assent from the whole land, and his new idea of Divorce,
albeit the proclamation of only one man, might be carried, with other
things, in the current Reformation? There ran a touch of this sanguine
temper, this faith that any ideal might easily be made actual, through
all Milton's life; and it appeared now most conspicuously. His idea, he
was aware, was new; but only let his demonstration be sufficiently
thorough, only let him succeed in disturbing the existing apathy and
setting the thoughts of the nation astir on the subject, "and then,"
what?--"then I doubt not but with one gentle stroking to wipe away ten
thousand tears out of the life of men." [Footnote: This phrase is in one
of the inserted passages in the second edition.] Alas! after the
hurricane of two hundred years the tear-drops still hang, multitudinous
as ever, amid the leaves of that poor forest!

"Just like him" I have imagined to have been a comment on this new
appearance of Milton by some gossip of the day who may have known a
little of him personally. Really, though not as intended, the comment
would have been just. This whole action of Milton, consequent on his
unhappy marriage, was deeply characteristic. And yet there was perhaps no
one then living from whom such a course of action could less have been
expected. From all that we know of the youth and early manhood of Milton,
we should certainly have predicted of him, with whatever heterodoxy in
other matters, yet a life-long orthodoxy on the subject of marriage.
Think of him as we have seen him heretofore, the glorious youth,
cherishing every high ethical idealism, walking as in an ether of moral
violet, disdaining customary vice, building up his character consciously
on the principle that he who would be strong or great had best be
immaculate. Think of him as the author of _Comus_; or think of him
as he had described himself some years later in one of his Italian

"Young, gentle-natured, and a simple wooer,
Since from myself I stand in doubt to fly,
Lady, to thee my heart's poor gift would I
Offer devoutly: and, by tokens sure,
I know it faithful, fearless, constant, pure,
In its conceptions graceful, good, and high.
When the world roars, and flames the startled sky,
In its own adamant it rests secure,
As free from chance and malice ever found,
And fears and hopes that vulgar minds confuse,
As it is loyal to each manly thing
And to the sounding lyre and to the Muse.
Only in that part is it not so sound
Where Love hath set in it his cureless sting."

When he wrote thus, to what did he look forward, and to what might others
have looked forward for him? A career, it was probable, of speculative
dissent from his contemporaries in many things, and of undaunted courage
in the vindication of such dissent, but hardly of dissent from the
established moralities of the marriage-institution. Had he been happily
married, had he found himself united at last to one such as his dreams
had figured, who so likely to have persevered fondly in the traditional
doctrine of marriage, to have maintained the mystic sanctity and the
necessary permanence of the marriage-bond, and to have launched
denunciations against all who dared to tamper with this article of the
established ethics? But, as it had chanced otherwise, it was not the less
characteristic that he himself had been the audacious questioner, the
champion of a heresy. Driven by his own experience to investigate, his
speculative boldness had brought him at once to a conclusion the novelty
of which would have made others hesitate, but had no terrors for him. For
(and here was his difference from most men, here was what may be called a
Miltonic peculiarity) he would take no benefit from such private
dispensation as a man might pass for his own relief in such a case, his
neighbours winking at it so long as he did not disturb the forum. He
_would_ disturb the forum! What "Milton" did should be done openly,
should be avowed, should be lawful! Others, circumstanced as he now was,
might, if they liked--and there were examples all round, and especially
in that Bohemian world of wits and men of letters with which he might be
classed, though he abjured the brotherhood--others might, if they liked,
adopt a policy of silence and acquiescence, hypocritically bowing to
their fate, but taking out their protest in secret consolations! No such
policy for him! The word "illicit" and his name should never be brought
into conjunction! Whatever _he_ did should be according to a rule of
right, clear to his own conscience, and held aloft in his hand under the
whole roof of Heaven! And, if such a rule, ratified between himself and
Heaven, should chance to conflict with one of the moralities of the
existing code of men, there was but one course for him. He would assail
the so-called "morality"; he would blast it out of the beliefs of men; he
would perform for his fellows the service of their liberation, along with
himself, from a useless and irrational thraldom! Or, if that work should
prove too hard and toilsome, at least he should have published his own
rule in opposition to the general superstition, and should walk on, as he
had resolved always to walk, unabashed in the daylight.

It was in August 1643, as we have seen, that Milton put forth anonymously
his _Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce_. From that time, on through
the rest of the autumn of 1643 and the winter of 1643-4, we are to fancy
him in his house in Aldersgate Street, with his father and his pupils for
his companions, and his thoughts much occupied, like those of other
Englishmen, with the course of public events. On the whole, the
Parliament had no greater admirer than Milton; and there were particular
men in the Parliament that were after his own heart. From the Westminster
Assembly, too, he seems to have expected good. So far as he had formed
views as to the desirable form of Church-government for England, these
views, as we have seen (Vol. II. pp. 376-382), might be described as an
expectant Presbyterianism, not positively fixed and determined at all
points, but kept conveniently fluid. Accordingly, his sympathies, at
first, may well have been with the Presbyterians of the Assembly; among
whom he could reckon, at any rate, his old tutor Young, and his other
friends and fellow-labourers in the Smectymnuan controversy. Or, if some
things among the tenets of the small Independent minority had begun to
gain upon him, he seems still, through the winter of 1643-4, to have
looked forward to some compromise that should be acceptable to England
and yet tend to that conformity between the two kingdoms which the Scots
desired, and to the furtherance of which they had pledged England by
Henderson's international League and Covenant. At all events, Milton did,
some time after September 1643, subscribe to this League and Covenant
with the rest of his Parliamentarian countrymen. There are words of his
own which vouch the fact. [Footnote: In the dedication to Parliament of
his _Tetrachordon_, published March 1644-5, he uses these words,
"That which I saw and was partaker of, your vows and solemn covenants."]

A moody time though the autumn of 1643 and the winter of 1643-4 must have
been for Milton, there was some relaxation for him in society more
general than that of his wife-deserted household. "Our author," says
Phillips, "now as it were a single man again, made it his chief diversion
now and then in an evening to visit the Lady Margaret Ley, daughter to
the--Ley, Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer of England, and
President of the Privy Council to King James the First. This lady, being
a woman of great wit and ingenuity, had a particular honour for him, and
took much delight in his company; as likewise her husband, Captain
Hobson, a very accomplished gentleman." Phillips seems to be sufficiently
accurate in this account, but a few details may be added:--

A man still well-remembered in England, though he had been dead fifteen
years, was James Ley, first Earl of Marlborough, he had attained to that
dignity only in his old age, having advanced to it through a long
previous career. Born about 1552, the younger son of a Wiltshire squire,
he had passed from Oxford to the study of law at Lincoln's Inn, and had
attained to high eminence in his profession before the death of
Elizabeth. Emerging from her reign, aged about fifty, he had been
appointed by James to an Irish Chief Judgeship (1604); then brought back
to England, knighted (1609), baroneted (1620), and made Chief Justice of
the Court of King's Bench (1621); and finally raised by the same King to
the great office of Lord High Treasurer of England, and to a peerage with
the title of Baron Ley of Ley in Devonshire (1624). In recognition of his
long services, Charles, in the first year of his reign (Feb. 5, 1626-7),
had created for him, when he was almost seventy-four years of age, the
Earldom of Marlborough in his native Wiltshire. While thus promoting him,
however, Charles appears not to have found him a minister such as he and
Buckingham wanted. He had accordingly removed him from the High
Treasurership in 1628, on the ground of his old age, but in reality to
make way for the more compliant Lord Weston, and had shelved him into the
less important office of Lord President of the Council. He had died at
Lincoln's Inn, March 14, 1628-9, exactly four days after that ominous
dissolution of Charles's third Parliament which announced his
determination to have done with Parliaments and begin the reign of
"Thorough." The death of the old peer at such a juncture had apparently
the less been forgotten by reason of a tradition that the political
anxieties of the juncture had had something to do with it. Now, at all
events, in the days of the Long Parliament and the Civil War, there was
still some respectful recollection of the old Earl of Marlborough as one
of the best-liked ministers of James's reign and of the first years of
Charles's. "He was a person of great gravity, ability, and integrity;
and, as the Caspian Sea is observed neither to ebb nor flow, so his mind
did not rise or fall, but continued the same constancy in all
conditions." The words are Fuller's, and they probably express the
character of the Earl that had come down among his countrymen. [Footnote:
Dugdale's Baronage (1676), Vol. II. pp. 451, 452; Wood's Athenæ, II. 441,
443; Clar. Hist. (one vol. ed. 1843), p. 20; Fuller's Worthies,
_Wiltshire_ (ed. 1840), III. 328-9.]

The Earl had been three times married; but he had left a family only by
his first wife--Mary, daughter of John Petty, of Stoke-Talmage, co.
Oxon., Esq. Eleven children had been the issue of this marriage:--to wit
(according to Dugdale), "three sons--_Henry, James_, and _William_; and
eight daughters--_Elizabeth_, married to Morice Carant, of Looner, in
com. Somers., Esq.; _Anne_, to Sir Walter Long, of Draycot-Cerne, in com.
Wilts., Knight; _Mary_, to Richard Erisy, of Erisy, in com. Cornw., Esq.;
_Dionysia_, to John Harington, of Kelneyton, in com. Somers., Esq.;
_Margaret_, to ... Hobson, of ... in the Isle of Wight, Esq.; _Hesther_,
to Arthur Fuller, of Bradfield, in com. Hertf., Esq.; _Martha_, died
unmarried; and _Phoebe_, to ... Biggs, of Hurst, in com. Berks., Esq."
[Footnote: Dugdale, _vt. supra_.] All these children, it would appear,
had been born, and most of them married and settled in life, before their
father's promotion to the peerage, and while he was yet only James Ley,
or Sir James Ley, the eminent lawyer. Indeed, his promotion to the
Earldom in his old age had been, in part, a compliment to his third wife-
-Jane, daughter of Lord Butler of Bramfield, whose mother was a sister of
the Duke of Buckingham; and it had been specially provided, in the patent
of the Earldom, that it should descend, by preference, to his heirs by
that lady. That lady having failed, however, to produce heirs, the
benefits of the Earldom had reverted to the Earl's family by his first
wife, Mary Petty. His eldest son by that wife, Henry Ley, had,
accordingly, succeeded him in the title. But this Henry, second Earl of
Marlborough, had died in 1638; and the actual Earl at the time with which
we are now concerned (1643) was _his_ son, James, a youth of only some
three-and-twenty years, but already serving as a general officer of
artillery in the army of the King. He seems, indeed, to have been one of
the finest young fellows on that side; and he had a career before him
which was to entitle him, at his death in 1665, to this notice in a
summary of his character by Clarendon: "He was a man of wonderful parts
in all kinds of learning, which he took more delight in than his title."
[Footnote: Clar. Life, ed. 184 p. 1141.] For the present, however, it is
with the good ladies his aunts, the surviving daughters of the first
Earl, that we have to do; or rather only with the fifth of them--the Lady
Margaret Ley, the friend of Milton. The husbands of at least two of her
sisters (Long of Wilts., and Erisy of Cornwall) being among the
Parliamentarians of the Long Parliament, it can hardly be doubted that
this lady's husband--Dugdale's "... Hobson of ... in the Isle of Wight,
Esq.," and Phillips's "Captain Hobson, a very accomplished gentleman"--
was also a Parliamentarian, though of less wealth and note, and not in
Parliament. Otherwise, Lady Margaret's house in London could hardly have
been one of Milton's evening resorts. What kind of "Captaincy" her
husband held, compatible with his being domiciled in London in 1643-4, it
might be difficult now to ascertain. Suffice it that he _was_ so
domiciled, and that his wife could receive guests not merely as Mrs.
Hobson, "a woman of great wit and ingenuity," but as Lady Margaret Ley,
the daughter of a well-remembered Earl.

It is not from Phillips alone that we hear of Milton's friendship with
the Lady Margaret. Milton has himself commemorated it in one of his


Daughter to that good Earl, once President
Of England's Council and her Treasury,
Who lived in both unstained by gold or fee,
And left them both, more in himself content,
Till the sad breaking of that Parliament
Broke him, as that dishonest victory
At Chæronea, fatal to liberty,
Killed with report that old man eloquent:
Though later born than to have known the days
Wherein your father flourished, yet by you,
Madam, methinks I see him living yet;
So well your words his noble virtues praise
That all both judge you to relate them true
And to possess them, honoured Margaret."

The "old man eloquent" is Isocrates, the Athenian orator, whose
patriotism made him refuse to survive the defeat of the Athenians and
Thebans by Philip of Macedon at Chæroncia, This comparison of the lady's
father to the famous Greek is perhaps the most poetical turn in the
Sonnet. For the rest, it tells us something about the lady herself. She
must have been somewhat, if not considerably, older than Milton; for,
though Milton had been twenty years old at the time of the good Earl's
death, and might therefore well remember his Treasurership and Presidency
of the Council, he speaks of knowing the days wherein the old peer had
flourished chiefly through the Lady Margaret's talk about him and them.
Her conversation, it would therefore seem, ran much upon her father and
his private and political virtues; and Milton listened respectfully,
seeing much in the lady herself of what she praised in her sire. Perhaps
Milton would talk to her freely in return of his own concerns. The Lady
Margaret Ley, and her husband, Captain Hobson, were probably in his
confidence on the subject of his marriage misfortune. The Sonnet was
unquestionably written in 1643 or 1644. [Footnote: It was printed in the
first or 1645 edition of Milton's Poems, and it is placed last in the
series of Sonnets there contained. The draft of it in the Cambridge Book
of Milton's MSS. is in Milton's own hand--the title "To the Lady Margaret
Ley" being likewise his hand.]

A younger and unmarried lady must then also have been among Milton's
acquaintances. How else can we account for this other Sonnet?

"Lady, that in the prime of earliest youth
Wisely hast shunned the broad way and the green,
And with those few art eminently seen
That labour up the hill of heavenly truth,
The better part, with Mary and with Ruth,
Chosen thou hast; and they that overween,
And at thy glowing virtues fret their spleen,
No anger find in thee, but pity and ruth.
Thy care is fixed, and zealously attends
To fill thy odorous lamp with deeds of light,
And hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure
Thou, when the Bridegroom with his feastful friends
Passes to bliss at the mid hour of night,
Hast gained thy entrance, Virgin wise and pure."

This Sonnet, to which the heading "_To a Virtuous Young Lady_" is
now prefixed in the editions of Milton, had no such heading prefixed in
his own copy. [Footnote: In the Cambridge MSS. there is a draft in
Milton's own hand immediately before the draft of the Sonnet to Lady
Margaret Ley. In the edition of 1645 the Sonnet was printed in the same
order and without a heading. In the MS. draft there are several erasures
and corrections. Thus Milton had originally written "_blooming
virtue_" in as if with reference to the personal appearance of the
young lady; but in the margin he substitutes the present reading,
"_growing virtues_."] Who the young lady was that so won upon Milton
at this critical time, and seemed to him so superior to the more
commonplace of her sex, we are left uninformed. There is a conjecture on
the subject, which may afterwards appear. It is clear, meanwhile, that
the poor absent Mary Powell may have suffered not only from her own
defects, but also from the opportunity of some such contrast.

The Divorce subject continued to occupy Milton. His tract had been
rapidly bought, and had caused a sensation. Through the cold winter of
1643-4, while the Parliament and the Assembly were busy, and the
auxiliary Scottish army was expected, a good many people had leisure to
read the strange production, or at least to look into it, and be properly
shocked. It seems to have been about this time, for example, that James
Howell, the letter-writer, came, upon a copy. Or rather the copy must
have come upon him; for the poor man, now past fifty years of age, and
ousted from his clerkship to the Privy Council, was in the Fleet Prison
for debt, and dependent for his subsistence there on translations,
dedications and poems to friends, and all sorts of literary odds and
ends. [Footnote: Wood's Ath. III. 745, and Cunningham's London Article
_Fleet Prison_.] In one of his rambling pieces, afterwards published
in the form of Letters, mostly without dates, and addressed to friends
from feigned places, he thus gives what I take to be his impression of
Milton's tract when it first reached him in the Fleet: "But that opinion
of a poor shallow-brained puppy, who, upon any cause of dissatisfaction,
would have men to have a privilege to change their wives, or to repudiate
them, deserves to be hissed at rather than confuted; for nothing can tend
more to usher in all confusion and beggary throughout the world:
therefore that wiseacre deserves," &c. [Footnote: Howell's Familiar
Letters Book IV, Letter 7, addressed "To Sir Edward Spencer, knight," (pp
453-457 of edit. 1754.) The letter is dated "Lond. 24 Jan.," no year
given; but the dates are worthless, being afterthoughts, when the Letters
were published in successive batches.] As Mr. Howell's own notions about
marriage and its moralities were of the lightest and easiest, his severe
virtuousness here is peculiarly representative. More interesting on its
own account is the opinion of another contemporary--no other than
Milton's late antagonist Bishop Hall. In Hall's _Cases of Conscience_
(not published till 1649) he thus describes the impression which Milton's
Divorce pamphlet had made upon him when he first read it in its anonymous
form: "I have heard too much of, and once saw, a licentious pamphlet,
thrown abroad in these lawless times in the defence and encouragement of
Divorces (not to be sued out; that solemnity needed not; but) to be
arbitrarily given by the disliking husband to the displeasing and unquiet
wife, upon this ground principally, That marriage was instituted for the
help and comfort of man: where, therefore, the match proves such as that
the wife doth but pull down aside, and, by her innate peevishness and
either sullen or pettish and froward disposition, bring rather discontent
to her husband, the end of marriage being hereby frustrate, why should it
not, saith he, be in the husband's power, after some unprevailing means
of reclamation attempted, to procure his own peace by casting off this
clog, and to provide for his own peace and contentment in a fitter match?
Woe is me! to what a pass is the world conic that a Christian, pretending
to Information, should dare to tender so loose a project to the public! I
must seriously profess that, when I first did cast my eyes upon the front
of the book, I supposed some great wit meant to try his skill in the
maintenance of this so wild and improbable a paradox; but, ere I could
run over some of those too well-penned pages, I found the author was in
earnest, and meant seriously to contribute this piece of good counsel, in
way of reformation, to the wise and seasonable care of superiors. I
cannot but blush for our age wherein so bold a motion hath been, amongst
others, admitted to the light. What will all the Christian Churches
through the world, to whose notice these lines shall come, think of our
woeful degeneration, &c."? [Footnote: Hall's Works (edit. 1837), VII.
467.] Hall, it will be seen, had noted the literary ability of the
pamphlet, while amazed by its doctrine.

Neither Howell's nor Bishop Hall's opinion can have reached the author of
the pamphlet till long after the date now in view. But other opinions to
the same effect had been reaching him. Especially, it seems, the pamphlet
had caused a fluttering among the London clergy. The consequence had best
be told by himself. "God, it seems, intended to prove me, whether I
durst alone take up a rightful cause against a world of disesteem, and
found I durst. My name I did not publish, as not willing it should sway
the reader either for me or against me. But, when I was told that the
style (which what it ails to be so soon distinguishable I cannot tell)
was known by most men, and that some of the clergy began to inveigh and
exclaim on what I was credibly informed they had not read, I look it then
for my proper season both to show a name that could easily contemn such
an indiscreet kind of censure, and to reinforce the question with a more
accurate diligence, that, if any of them would be so good as to leave
railing, and to let us hear so much of his learning and Christian wisdom
as will be strictly demanded of him in his answering to this problem,
care was had he should not spend his preparations against a nameless
pamphlet." [Footnote: This passage, fitting in here with chronological
exactness, occurs in Milton's _Judgment of Martin Bucer concerning
Divorce_, published in July 1644.] In other words, he resolved to abandon
the anonymous. His pamphlet, easily traced to him from the first by its
Miltonic style, had been sold out, or nearly so; people generally, but
clergymen especially, were saying harsh things about it, and about him as
its author; but some of these critics, he authentically knew, had never
read the pamphlet, and others were making a point of the fact that it had
appeared without its author's name. Well, there should be an end of
that! He would put forth a second edition of the pamphlet, and avow the
authorship! And this he would do rather because, since the publication of
the first edition, he had been looking farther into the literature of the
question, and could now fortify his own reasoned opinion with authorities
he had been but dimly aware of, or had altogether overlooked.

Accordingly, on the 2nd of February, 1643-4, there did come forth a
second edition of Milton's first Divorce Tract, with this new title:
"_The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. Restor'd to the good of both
Sexes, from the bondage of Canon Law, and other mistakes, to the true
meaning of Scripture in the Law and Gospel compar'd. Wherein are set down
the bad consequences of abolishing or condemning of Sin, that which the
Law of God allowes, and Christ abolisht not. Now the second time revis'd
and much augmented. In Two Books: to the Parliament of England with the
Assembly. The Author J.M._" Underneath this title, the text Matth
xiii. 52 is repeated from the title-page of the first edition; with this
new text added, Prov. xviii. 13: "He that answereth a matter before he
heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." Then follows the imprint,
"_London, Imprinted in the yeare_ 1644." In the copy in the British
Museum which is my authority, the collector Thomason has put his pen
through the final figure 4, and has annexed, in ink, the date "Feb. 2,
1643." [Footnote: Brit, Mus. Press-mark, 12. E.e. 5/141.] This fixes the
exact date of publication as above, Feb. 2, 1643-4.

This second edition is a great enlargement and improvement of the first.
The 48 small quarto pages of the first swell into 88 pages; the text is
divided into Two Books, each of which is subdivided into Chapters, with
carefully-worded headings; and, on the whole, the treatise is made more
inviting in appearance. The bold Introductory Letter, addressed "_To
the Parliament of England, with the Assembly_," consists of six pages,
and is signed not with the mere initials "J.M." which appear on the
title-page, but fully "John Milton." The additions in the text consist
sometimes of a few words inserted, sometimes of expansions of mere
passages of the first edition into two or three pages: in the Second Book
they attain to still larger dimensions, so that much of that Book is
totally new matter. Thus Chapters I., II., and III., of this Book,
forming ten pages, come in lieu of a single paragraph of two pages in the
first edition; Chapters IV., V., VI., and VII., forming together six
pages, are substituted for about a single page of the first edition; and
Chapter XXI., consisting of nearly five pages, is an expansion of about a
page and a half in the first edition. The additions and expansions appear
to have been made on various principles. Sometimes one can see that a
passage has been added for the mere poetic enrichment of the text, and to
prove that the hand that was writing was not that of a musty polemic, but
of an artist, at home in splendours. There is a striking instance in
point in Chap. VI. of Book I., where there is interpolated a gratuitously
gorgeous myth or fable, which may be entitled _Eros and Anteros,_ or
_Love and Its Reciprocation_. The passage is characteristic and may
be quoted:--

Marriage is a covenant the very being whereof consists, not in a forced
cohabitation, and counterfeit performance of duties, but in unfeigned
love and peace. And of matrimonial love no doubt but that was chiefly
meant which by the ancient sages was thus parabled: That Love, if he be
not twin-born, yet hath a brother wondrous like him, called Anteros; whom
while he seeks all about, his chance is to meet with many false and
feigning desires that wander singly up and down in his likeness. By them
in their borrowed garb Love, though not wholly blind as poets wrong him,
yet having but one eye, as being born an archer aiming, and that eye not
the quickest in this dark region here below, which is not Love's proper
sphere, partly out of the simplicity and credulity which is native to
him, often deceived, embraces and consorts him with these obvious and
suborned striplings, as if they were his Mother's own sons, for so he
thinks them while they subtly keep themselves most on his blind side.
But, after a while, as his manner is, when, soaring up into the high
tower of his Apogæum, above the shadows of the Earth, he darts out the
direct rays of his then most piercing eyesight upon the impostures and
trim disguises that were used with him, and discerns that this is not his
genuine brother, as he imagined, he has no longer the power to hold
fellowship with such a personated mate. For straight his arrows loose
their golden heads and shed their purple feathers; his silken braids
untwine and slip their knots; and that original and fiery virtue given
him by Fate all on a sudden goes out and leaves him undeified and
despoiled of all his force; till, finding Anteros at last, he kindles and
repairs the almost faded ammunition of his Deity by the reflection of a
coequal and homogeneal fire. Thus mine author sung it to me; and, by the
leave of those who would be counted the only grave ones, this is no mere
amatorious novel (though to be wise and skilful in these matters men
heretofore of greatest name in virtue have esteemed it one of the highest
arcs that human contemplation circling upwards can make from the glassy
sea whereon she stands); but this is a serious and deep verity, showing
us that Love in Marriage cannot live nor subsist unless it be mutual.

Unless more is meant than meets the eye by _Anteros_ here in
Milton's own case, this interpolation [Footnote: The manner of the
interpolation is so curious that it deserves a note. Milton, perceiving
that such a poetic Fable might be objected to as fitter for a "mere
amatorious novel" than for a controversial treatise, insinuates an
apology for its introduction. The apology is that some of the wisest and
greatest men had allowed the use on occasion of those "highest arcs that
human contemplation, circling upwards, can make from the glassy sea
whereon she stands." In this phrase Milton furnished his critics with a
weapon which they might have used against himself. Even now the most
general objection to his prose writings would be that they contain too
many of those gratuitous grandeurs, those upward arcs and circlings from
the glassy sea. But, in fact, he had his own theory of prose-writing as
of other things, and it was not Addison's, nor any other that has been
common since.] was for literary effect only. Very frequently, however,
the additions are of new reasonings, or farther interpretations of
Scripture. Above all, we have in the second edition the results of
Milton's ranging in the literature of the question since he had published
the first. In that first edition he had been able to make some reference
to Hugo Grotius, having fortunately at the last moment come upon some
notes of Grotius on Matth. v. which he thought reasonable. But since then
he had lighted on a more thorough-going authority on his side in one of
the German theologians of the Reformation period--Paul Fagius (1504-
1550). "I had learnt," he says, "that Paulus Fagius, one of the chief
divines in Germany, sent for by Frederic the Palatine to reform his
dominion, and after that invited hither in King Edward's days to be
Professor of Divinity in Cambridge, was of the same opinion touching
Divorce which these men so lavishly traduced in me. What I found I
inserted where fittest place was, thinking sure they would respect so
grave an author, at least to the moderating of their odious inferences."
[Footnote: This explanation, referring to the second edition of the
_Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce_, does not occur in that
treatise itself, but in the _Judgment of Martin Bucer_, published
some months afterwards.] Accordingly, in the second edition,
considerable use is made of Fagius, as well as of Grotius, while, as
before, other theologians of historical note--Calvin, Beza, Pareus (1548-
1622), Perkins (1558-1602), Rivetus (1572-1651)--are respectfully cited,
sometimes as furnishing a favourable hint, but sometimes as requiring
reply and correction. Not the least interesting perhaps of the added
passages is this in the last chapter: "That all this is true [_i.e._
that Divorce is not to be restricted by Law] whoso desires to know at
large with least pains, and expects not here overlong rehearsals of that
which is by others already judiciously gathered, let him hasten to be
acquainted with that noble volume written by our learned Selden, '_Of
the Law of Nature and of Nations_;' a work more useful and more worthy
to be perused, whosoever studies to be a great man in wisdom, equity and
justice, than all those Decretals and sumless Sums which the Pontifical
clerks have doted on." The particular work of Selden's here referred to
is his folio, _De Jure Naturali et Gentium juxta Disciplinam
Hebræorum_, published in 1640. His work more expressly on Divorce,
entitled _Uxor Hebraica, sive De Nuptiis ac Divortiis_, did not
appear till 1646--_i.e._ it _followed_ Milton's publications on
the subject, and in the main backed the opinion they had propounded. It
seems to me not improbable that in 1643-4, when Milton paid Selden the
compliment we have quoted, he had just made Selden's personal
acquaintance. Selden was then in his sixtieth year; Milton in his thirty-

After the description given of the second edition of the _Doctrine and
Discipline of Divorce_ and its differences from the first, it seems
necessary to quote only some passages from Milton's opening address in it
to the Parliament and the Westminster Assembly:--

... Error supports Custom, Custom countenances Error; and these two
between them would persecute and chase away all truth and solid wisdom
out of human life, were it not that God, rather than man, once in many
ages, calls together the prudent and religious counsels of men deputed to
repress the encroachments, and to work off the inveterate blots and
obscurities wrought upon our minds by the subtle insinuating of Error and
Custom: who, with the numerous and vulgar train of their followers, make
it their chief design to envy and cry down the industry of free
reasoning, under the terms of "humour" and "innovation"; as if the womb
of teeming Truth were to be closed up if she presume to bring forth aught
that sorts not with their unchewed notions and suppositions. Against
which notorious injury and abuse of man's free soul to testify, and
oppose the utmost that study and true labour can attain, heretofore the
incitement of men reputed grave hath led me among others; and now the
duty and the right of an instructed Christian calls me through the chance
of good or evil report to be the sole advocate of a discountenanced
truth: a high enterprise, Lords and Commons, a high enterprise and a
hard, and such as every seventh son of a seventh son does not venture
on.... You it concerns chiefly, worthies in Parliament, on whom, as on
our deliverers, all our grievances and cares, by the merit of your
eminence and fortitude, are devolved: me it concerns next, having with
much labour and diligence first found out, or at least with a fearless
and communicative candour first published to the manifest good of
Christendom, that which, calling to witness everything mortal and
immortal, I believe unfeignedly to be true.... Mark then, Judges and
Lawgivers, and ye whose office it is to be our teachers, for I will now
utter a doctrine, if ever any other, though neglected or not understood,
yet of great and powerful importance to the governing of mankind. He who
wisely would restrain the reasonable soul of man within due bounds must
first himself know perfectly how far the territory and dominion extends
of just and honest liberty. As little must he offer to bind that which
God hath loosened as to loosen that which He hath bound. The ignorance
and mistake of this high point hath heaped up one huge half of all the
misery that hath been since Adam. In the Gospel we shall read a
supercilious crew of Masters, whose holiness, or rather whose evil eye,
grieving that God should be so facile to man, was to set straiter limits
to obedience than God had set, to enslave the dignity of Man, to put a
garrison upon his neck of empty and over-dignified precepts: and we shall
read our Saviour never more grieved and troubled than to meet with such a
peevish madness among men against their own freedom. How can we expect
him to be less offended with us, when much of the same folly shall be
found yet remaining where it least ought, to the perishing of thousands?
The greatest burden in the world is Superstition, not only of ceremonies
in the Church, but of imaginary and scarecrow sins at home. What greater
weakening, what more subtle stratagem against our Christian warfare,
when, besides the gross body of real transgressions to encounter, we
shall be terrified by a vain and shadowy menacing of faults that are not!
When things indifferent shall be set to overfront us, under the banners
of Sin, what wonder if we be routed, and, by this art of our Adversary,
fall into the subjection of worst and deadliest offences! The
superstition of the Papist is "Touch not, taste not!" when God bids both;
and ours is "Part not, separate not!" when God and Charity both permits
and commands. "Let all your things be done with charity," saith St. Paul;
and his Master saith "She is the fulfilling of the Law." Yet now a civil,
an indifferent, a sometime dissuaded Law of Marriage must be forced upon
us to fulfil, not only without Charity, but against her. No place in
Heaven or Earth, except Hell, where Charity may not enter; yet Marriage,
the ordinance of our solace and contentment, the remedy of our
loneliness, will not admit now either of Charity or Mercy to come in and
mediate or pacify the fierceness of this gentle ordinance, the unremedied
loneliness of this remedy. Advise ye well, Supreme Senate, if charity be
thus excluded and expulsed, how ye will defend the untainted honour of
your own actions and proceedings. He who marries intends as little to
conspire his own ruin as he that swears allegiance; and, as a whole
people is in proportion to an ill Government, so is one man to an ill
marriage.... Whatever else ye can enact will scarce concern a third part
of the British name; but the benefit and good of this your magnanimous
example [should they restore liberty of Divorce] will easily spread far
beyond the banks of Tweed and the Norman Isles. It would not be the first
nor the second time, since our ancient Druids, by whom this Island as the
cathedral of philosophy to France, left off their Pagan rites, that
England hath had this honour vouchsafed from Heaven--to give out
reformation to the world. Who was it but our English Constantine that
baptized the Roman Empire? Who but the Northumbrian Willibrod and
Winifrid of Devon, with their followers, were the first Apostles of
Germany? Who but Alcuin and Wicklif, our countrymen, opened the eyes of
Europe, the one in Arts, the other in Religion? Let not England forget
her precedence of teaching nations how to live....

Milton's idea of the greatness of his enterprise, it will be seen from
these passages, had grown and grown the more he had brooded on it. What
if in this Doctrine of Divorce he were to be the discoverer or restorer
of a new liberty, not for England alone, but actually for all
Christendom? Meanwhile what opposition he would have to face, what storms
of scurrilous jest and severer calumny! Might it not have been better to
have written his treatise in Latin? This thought had occurred to him. "It
might perhaps more fitly have been written in another tongue; and I had
done so, but that the esteem I have for my country's judgment, and the
love I bear to my native language, to seive it first with what I
endeavour, made me speak it thus ere I assay the verdict of outlandish
readers." Yet there might have been a propriety, he feels, in addressing
such an argument in the first place only to the learned.

And what, after all, and in precise practical form, _was_ this
tremendous proposition of Milton respecting Divorce? Reduced out of large
and cloudy terms, it was simply this,--that marriage, as it respected the
continued union of the two married persons, was a thing with which Law
had nothing whatever to do; that the two persons who had contracted a
marriage were the sole judges of its convenience, and, if they did not
suit each other, might part by their own act, and be free again; at all
events, that for husbands the Mosaic Law on the subject was still in
force: viz. (Deut. xxiv. 1) "When a man hath taken a wife and married
her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he
hath found some uncleanness in her [interpreted as including any moral or
intellectual incompatibility, any unfitness whatever], then let him write
her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of
his house." Milton avoids as much as possible such reductions of his
proposition to harsh practical form, and would have disowned such brief
popular summaries of his doctrine as _Divorce at pleasure_, or
_Divorce at the Husband's pleasure_; but, in reality, it came to
this. The husband, in modern times, had still, he maintained, the old
Mosaic right of giving his wife a "bill of divorcement," if she did not
satisfy him, and sending her back to her father's house. The right was a
purely personal one. Friends, indeed, might interfere with their good
offices; nay it would be fitting, and perhaps necessary, that there
should be a solemn formality "in presence of the minister and other grave
selected elders," who should admonish the man of the seriousness of the
step he was about to take. But, if he persisted in taking it--if "he
shall have protested, on the faith of the eternal Gospel and the hope he
has of a happy resurrection, that otherwise than thus he cannot do, and
thinks himself and this his case not contained in that prohibition of
divorce which Christ pronounced (Matth. v. 31-32), the matter not being
of malice, but of nature, and so not capable of reconciling"--then the
Church had done her part to the full, and the man was to be left to his
own liberty. This passage, proposing a kind of public oath on the man's
part, as a formality to be required in every case of dissolution of
marriage, occurs near the end of the treatise in both editions; and it
indicates, I think, Milton's recoil from any rough or free and easy
version of his doctrine, and his desire to temper it as much as he could.
Essentially, however, the proposal mattered little. The husband was still
left sole judge of his wife's fitness or unfitness for him, and whether
he should exercise his right of putting her away was a matter finally for
his private conscience.

With reference to Milton's own case, it is worth observing that the
causes of divorce on which he still rings the changes throughout the
second edition of his treatise, as throughout the first, are the
unmatchableness of dispositions, the unfitness of the wife for rational
conversation, her intellectual and moral insufficiency or perverseness.
There is no word of _desertion_. I cannot but think that this
confirms the view that it was not the absence of Milton's wife that
caused his dissatisfaction with his marriage, but that the
dissatisfaction preceded the absence and had helped to occasion it.

Narration, rather than criticism, is my business in this work; and we
have not yet done with Milton's Divorce speculation. At this point,
however, I may venture on three remarks:--

(1.) What is most noticeable in Milton, underneath his whole conduct
here, as in so many other matters, is his intellectual courage. Among men
of thought there are, I should say, two grades of honesty. There is
passive honesty, or the honesty of never saying, or appearing to say,
what one does _not_ think; and it is a rare and high merit to have
attained to this. But there is the greater honesty of always saying, or
indeed asserting and proclaiming, whatever one _does_ think. The
proportion of those who have disciplined themselves to this positive or
aggressive honesty, and are at the same time socially sufferable by
reason of the importance of what they have to say, has always been
wonderfully small in the world. Now, Milton was one of this band of
intellectual Ironsides. Even within the band itself he belonged to the
extremest section. For he dared to question not only the speculative
dogmas and political traditions of his time, which others round him were
questioning, but even some of the established "moralities," which few of
them were questioning. It is not at all uncommon for men the most free-
thinking in matters of religious belief to be immoveably and even
fanatically orthodox in their allegiance to all customary moralities.
They abide by tradition, and think with the multitude, in ethical
questions, if in nothing, else. But on Milton, it appears from his
Address to the Parliament and the Assembly, there had dawned the idea
that, as there had come down in the bosom of society misbeliefs in
science, imperfect views of theology, and conventions of political
tyranny, so there had come down things even worse, in the form of
cobwebbed sacramentalisms and sanctities for private life, factitious
restrictions of individual liberty pretending themselves to be Christian
rules of holiness. Among the greatest burdens and impediments in man's
life, he says, were such pseudo-moralities, such "imaginary and scarecrow
sins," vaunting themselves as suckers and corollaries from the Ten
Commandments. This was a daring track to be upon, but Milton was upon it.
He did not believe that the world had arrived at a final and perfect
system of morals, any more than at a perfect system of science. He
believed the established ethical customs of men to be subject to revision
by enlarged and progressive reason, and modifiable from age to age,
equally with their theories of cosmology, their philosophical creeds, or
anything else. There was no terror for him in that old and ever-repeated
outcry about "sapping the foundations of society." He believed that the
foundations of society had taken, and would still take, a great deal of
"sapping," without detriment to the superstructure. He believed that, as
we may read in Herodotus of ancient communities established on all sorts
of principles, or even whim-principles, and yet managing to get on, and
as these crude polities had been succeeded by other and better ones, to
the latest known in the world, so these last need not look to be
permanent. Of a tendency to this state of feeling Milton had given
evidences from early youth; but I do not think I am wrong in fixing on
the year 1643 as the time when it became chronic, nor in tracing the
sudden enlargement of it then beyond its former bounds to the wrench in
his life caused by his unhappy marriage. At all events, henceforward
throughout his career we shall see the continuous action of this now
avowed Miltonism among others. We shall see him henceforward continually
acting on the principle that, in addition to the real sins forbidden to
man by an eternal law of right and wrong, revealed in his own conscience
and authenticated by the Bible (for Milton did believe in such an eternal
law, and, however it is to be reconciled with what we have just been
saying, was a transcendental or _a priori_ moralist at his heart's
core), the field of human endeavour was overstrewn by a multiplicity of
mere "scarecrow sins," one's duty in respect of which was simply to march
up to them, one after another, and pluck them up, every stick of them
individually, with its stuck-on old hat and all its waving tatters.

(2.) One notes in Milton's first Divorce Tract, as in much else of his
controversial writing, a preference for the theoretical over what may be
called the practical style of argument. The neglect of practical details
in his reasoning throughout this particular Tract amounts to what might
be called greenness or innocence. What are the questions with which an
opponent of the "practical" type would have immediately tried to pose
Milton, or which such an one would now object to his doctrine? No one can
miss them. In a case where divorce is desired by the man only, what is to
become of the divorced wife? Is not the damage of her prospects by the
fact that she has once been married, if but for a month, something to be
taken into account? It is not in marriage as it may be in other
partnerships. The poor girl that has been once married returns to her
father or her friends an article of suddenly diminished value in the
general estimation. What provision is to be made for this? Then, should
there be children, what are to be the arrangements? Or again, suppose the
case, under the new Divorce Law, of a man who has a weakness for a
succession of wives--a private Henry the Eighth. He marries No. 1, and,
after a while, on the plea that he does not find that she suits him, he
gives her a bill of divorcement; No. 2 comes and is treated in like
manner; and so on, till the brutal rascal, undeniably free from all legal
censure, may be living in the centre of a perfect solar system of his
discarded wives, moving in nearer or farther orbits round him, according
to the times when they were thrown off, and each with her one or two
satellites of little darlings! To be sure, there is the public oath
which, it is supposed, might have to be taken in every case of divorce;
but what would such a blackguard care for any number of such oaths?
Besides, you put it to him by his oath to declare that in his conscience
he believes the incompatibility between himself and his wife to be
radical and irremediable, and that he does not find that he comes within
Christ's meaning in that famous passage of the Sermon on the Mount in
which he Christianized the Mosaic Law of Divorce. What does such a fellow
know of Christ's meaning? He will swear, and according to your new Law he
need only swear, according to his own standard of fitness; which may be
that variety is a _sine quâ non_ for him, or that No. 2 is intolerable
when No. 3 is on the horizon. How, in the terms of the new Law, is such
licence to sheer libertinism to be avoided? These and other such
questions are suggested here not as necessarily fatal to Milton's
doctrine: in fact, in certain countries, since Milton's time, the most
thorough practical consideration of them has not impeded modifications of
the Marriage Law in the direction heralded by Milton. They are suggested
as indicating Milton's rapidity, his impatience, or, if we choose so to
call it, his dauntless faith in ideas and first principles. It is
remarkable how little, in his first Divorce Tract, he troubles himself
with the anticipation of such-like objections of the practical kind. The
reason may partly be that, in his own case, some of them, if not all,
were irrelevant. There were no children in his case to complicate the
affair; Mary Powell was probably as willing to part from him as he to
part from Mary Powell; and, if she were to relapse into Mary Powell again
and he to be free as before, the social expense of their two or three
months' mismatch would hardly be appreciable! Doubtless, however, Milton
foresaw many of the practical objections. He foresaw cases, that would be
sure to arise under the new law, much more complicated than that of
himself and Mary Powell. That he did not discuss such cases may have,
therefore, been partly the policy of a controversialist, resolved to
establish his main principle in the first place, and leaving the details
of practical adjustment for a future time or for other heads. On the
whole, however, the inattention to those practical details which would
have formed so much of the matter of most men's reasonings on the same
subject was very characteristic.

(3.) My last remark is that Milton, in his tract, writes wholly from the
man's point of view, and in the man's interest, with a strange oblivion
of the woman's. The Tract is wholly a plea for the right of a man to give
his wife a bill of divorcement and send her home to her father. There is
no distinct word about any counterpart right for a woman who has married
an unsuitable husband to give him a bill of divorcement and send him back
to his mother. On the whole subject of the woman's interests in the
affair Milton is suspiciously silent. There is, indeed, one passage, in
Chap. XV. of the Tract, bearing on the question; and it is very curious.
Beza and Paræus, it seems, had argued that the Mosaic right of
divorcement given to the man had been intended rather as a merciful
release for afflicted wives than as a privilege for the man himself. On
this opinion Milton thinks it necessary to comment. He partly maintains
that, if true, it would strengthen his argument for the restoration of
the right of divorce to husbands; but partly he protests against its
truth. "If divorce wore granted," he says, "not for men, but to release
afflicted wives, certainly it is not only a dispensation, but a most
merciful law; and why it should not yet be in force, being wholly as
needful, I know not what can be in cause but senseless cruelty. But yet
to say divorce was granted for relief of wives, rather than for husbands,
is but weakly conjectured, and is manifest the extreme shift of a huddled
exposition ... Palpably uxorious! Who can be ignorant that woman was
created for man, and not man for woman, and that a husband may be injured
as insufferably in marriage as a wife. What an injury is it after wedlock
not to be beloved, what to be slighted, what to be contended with in
point of house-rule who shall be the head, not for any parity of wisdom
(for that were something reasonable), but out of a female pride! 'I
suffer not,' saith Saint Paul, 'the woman to usurp authority over the
man.' If the Apostle could not suffer it, into what mould is he mortified
that can? Solomon saith that 'a bad wife is to her husband as rottenness
to his bones, a continual dropping: better dwell in a corner of the
house-top, or in the wilderness, than with such a one: whoso hideth her
hideth the wind, and one of the four mischiefs that the earth cannot
bear.' If the Spirit of God wrote such aggravations as these, and, as it
may be guessed by these similitudes, counsels the man rather to divorce
than to live with such a colleague, and yet, on the other side, expresses
nothing of the wife's suffering with a bad husband, is it not most likely
that God in his Law had more pity towards man thus wedlocked than towards
the woman that was created for another?" [Footnote: This passage occurs
in the second edition. There is but the germ of it in the first sentence,
"If Divorce were granted ... senseless cruelty." The inference is that
Milton, when he wrote the first edition, was rather pleased with the idea
of Beza and Paræus that divorce had been given for the relief of the
wife, and that his dissatisfaction with the idea, as promoting the woman
too much at the man's expense, came afterwards.] Here was doctrine with a
vengeance. Man being the superior being, and therefore with the greater
capacity of being pained or injured, God had pitied him, if unhappily
married, more than the woman similarly situated. For him, therefore, and
not for the woman, there had been provided the right of divorce! This is
not positively asserted, but it seems to be implied. The woman's relief,
in the case of a marriage unhappy for her, consisted apparently,
according to Milton, not in her power to cut the knot, but in the
likelihood that her husband, finding the marriage unhappy also for him,
would desire for his own sake to cut the knot, or might be driven by her
management to that extremity. In short, we have here, as another
consequence of Milton's unfortunate marriage, the beginning of that
peculiarly stern form of the notion of woman's natural and essential
inferiority to man which ran with visible effects through his whole
subsequent life. If not his ideal of woman, at least his estimate of what
was to be expected from actual women, and what was on the average to be
accorded to them, had been permanently lowered by a bad first experience.

All this while, what of the poor girl whose hard fate it was to occasion
this experience in the life of a man too grandly and sternly her
superior? One is bound to think also of her, and to remember, in so
thinking, how young she was at the time when her offended husband first
theorized his feeling of her defects, and published his theorizings, with
her image and memory, though not with her name, involved in them, to the
talkative world. She had not been seventeen years and a half old when she
had married Milton; she was of exactly that age when she left him, and
the first edition of his Divorce Treatise was ready; she was just
eighteen when the second and fuller edition appeared. Surely, but for
that fatal visit back to Forest Hill, contrived by her or her relatives,
matters would have righted themselves. As it was, things could not be
worse. Restored to her father's house at Forest Hill, amid her unmarried
brothers and sisters, and all the familiar objects from which she had
parted so recently on going to London, the young bride had, doubtless,
_her_ little pamphlets to publish in that narrow but sympathising
circle. In particular, her grievances would be poured into the confiding
ears of her mother. That lady, as we can see, at once takes the lead in
the case. Never with her will shall her daughter go back to that dreadful
man in Aldersgate Street! Mr. Powell acquiesces; brothers and sisters
acquiesce; Oxford Royalism near at hand acquiesces, so far as it is
consulted; the bride herself acquiesces, happy enough again in the
routine of home, or perhaps beginning to join bashfully again in such
gaieties of officers' balls, and the like, as the proximity of the King's
quarters to Forest Hill made inevitable. And is not the King's cause on
the whole prospering, and is not that in itself another reason for being
at least in no hurry to make it up with Milton? What if it never be made
up with him? It is some time since his letters to Forest Hill by the
carrier ceased entirely, and since the foot-messenger he sent down
expressly all the way from London with his final letter was met at the
gate by Mrs. Powell and told her mind in terms which were doubtless duly
reported. And now, they hear, he is going about London as usual, and
visiting at Lady Margaret Ley's, and giving his own version of his
marriage story, and even printing Tracts in favour of Divorce! People
generally, they say, are not agreeing with him on that subject; but there
is at least one respectable English family that _is_ tempted to
agree with him and to wish him all success!


MARCH 1644-MARCH 1645.





The English Parliamentarians hoped great things from the Scottish
auxiliary army. The Royalists, on the other hand, were both angry and
alarmed. In anticipation, indeed, of the coming-in of the Scots, the King
had ventured on a very questionable step. He had summoned what may be
called an ANTI-PARLIAMENT to meet him at Oxford on the 22nd of January
1643-4, to consist of all members who had been expelled from the two
Houses in Westminster, and all that might be willing, in the new crisis,
to withdraw from those rebellious Houses. On the appointed day,
accordingly, there had rallied round the King at Oxford 49 Peers and 141
Commoners; which was not a bad show against the 22 Peers and 280
Commoners who met on the same day in the two Houses at Westminster. But
little else resulted from the convocation of the ANTI-PARLIAMENT. In
fact, many who had gone to it had done so with a view to negotiations for
peace. Such negotiations were at least talked of. In addition to vehement
denunciations of the doings of the Parliament, there were some abortive
attempts at friendly intercourse. All which having failed, the ANTI-
PARLIAMENT was prorogued April 16, 1644, after having sat nearly three
months. Parliaments, even when they were loyalist Parliaments, were not
the agencies that Charles found pleasantest. He trusted rather to the
arbitrament of the field.


No sudden blow was struck by the Scots. They had fastened themselves, in
proper military fashion, on the north of England, and their presence
there was useful; but that was all. It was a great disappointment to
Baillie. He had expected that the appearance of his dear countrymen in
England would put an end to the mere military "tig-tagging," as he had
called it, of Essex and Waller, and quicken immediately the tramp of
affairs. His belief all along had been that what was needed in England
was an importation of Scottish impetuousness to animate the heavy
English, and teach them the northern trick of carrying all things at the
double with a hurrah and a yell. It was a sore affliction, therefore, to
the good man that, from January 1643-4, on through February, March,
April, May, and even June, the 21,000 Scots under Leslie should be in
England, and yet be stirring so little. Instead of fighting their way
southwards into the heart of the country, they were still squatting in
the Northumbrian coal-region, and sticking there, not without some bad
behaviour and disorder. Doubtless, it was all right in strategy, and
Leslie knew what he was about; but oh, that it could have been otherwise!
For of what use a great Scottish victory would have been at that time to
the cause of Presbyterianism? Faster, more massively, more resistlessly
than all the argumentations of Henderson, Gillespie, and Rutherford,
aided by those of the Smectymnuans, with Vines, Palmer, Burges, and the
rest of the English Presbyterians, such a victory would have crushed down
the contentiousness of the Five Dissenting Brethren, and swept the
propositions of complete Scottish Presbytery through the Westminster
Assembly. Parliament, receiving these propositions, would have passed
them with alacrity; and what could the English nation have done but
acquiesce? But, alas! as things were! The Five Dissenting Brethren and
the other "thraward wits" in the Assembly could still persevere in their
struggle with the Presbyterian majority, debating every proposition that
implied a surrender of Congregationalism, and conscious that in so
impeding a Presbyterian settlement they were pleasing a growing body of
their fellow-countrymen. What, though London was staunchly and all but
universally Presbyterian? Throughout the country, and, above all, in the
Army, the case was different. The inactivity of the Scots was affording
time for the spirit of Independency to spread, and was giving rise to
awkward questions. It began actually to be said of the Westminster
Assembly, that it "did cry down the truth with votes, and was an Anti-
Christian meeting which would erect a Presbytery worse than Bishops." In
the Army especially such Anti-Presbyterian sentiments, and questionings
of the infallibility of the Scots, had become rife. "The Independents
have so managed matters," writes Baillie, April 26, "that of the officers
and sojers in Manchester's army, certainly also in the General's
(Essex's), and, as I hear, in Waller's likewise, more than two parts are
for them, and these of the far most resolute and confident men for the
Parliament party." As regarded Essex's army and Waller's, Baillie
afterwards found reason to think that this was a great exaggeration; but
it appears to have been true enough respecting Manchester's. By that time
there was no doubt either who was at the head of these Army Independents.
It was Cromwell--now no longer mere "Colonel Cromwell," but "Lieutenant-
general Cromwell," second in command in the Associated Counties under
Manchester. As early as April 2 Baillie speaks of him as "the great
Independent." With such a man to look up to, and with patrons also in the
two Houses of Parliament, little wonder that the Independents in the Army
began to feel themselves strong, and to regard the drift of the
Westminster Assembly and the Londoners towards an absolute
Presbyterianism as a movement innocent enough while it consisted in talk
only, but to be watched carefully and disowned in due time.

All might be retrieved, however! What hope there might yet be in a great
Scottish success! With this idea Baillie still hugged himself. "We are
exceeding sad and ashamed," he had written, April 19, "that our army, so
much talked of, has done as yet nothing at all." But again, May 9, "We
trust God will arise, and do something by our Scots army. We are
afflicted that, after so long time, we have gotten no hit of our enemy;
we hope God will put away that shame. Waller, Manchester, Fairfax, and
all, gets victories; but Leslie, from whom all was expected, as yet has
had his hands bound. God, we hope, will loose them, and send us matter of
praise also." The victories of Waller, Manchester, and Fairfax, here
referred to by Baillie, had been nothing very considerable--mere fights
in their several districts, heard of at the time, but counting for little
now in the history of the war; but they contrasted favourably with what
could be told of the Scots. What was that? It was that they had summoned
Newcastle to surrender, but had advanced beyond that town, leaving it
untaken. When Baillie wrote the last-quoted passage, however, they were
more hopefully astir. Fairfax, with his northern-English force, had
joined them at Tadcaster in Yorkshire; the Earl of Manchester had been
summoned northwards to add what strength he could bring from the
Associated Counties; and the enterprise on which the three conjoined
forces were to be engaged--the Scots, Fairfax's men, and Manchester's--
was the siege of York. It was a great business on all grounds; and on
this amongst others, that the Marquis of Newcastle was shut up in the
city. Might not the Scots retrieve their character in this business? It
was Baillie's fervent prayer. But a dreadful doubt had occurred to him.
What if the Scots, mixed as they now were with the English
Parliamentarian soldiers before York, and in contact with the
Independents among them under Manchester and Cromwell, should themselves
catch the prevailing distemper? Writing, May 19, to his friend Mr. Blair,
a chaplain in the Scottish army, Baillie gives him a warning hint on the
subject. "We hear," he says, "that their horse and yours are conjoined,
and that occasions may fall out wherein more of them may join to you. We
all conceive that our silly simple lads are in great danger of being
infected by their company; and, if that pest enter in our army, we fear
it may spread." [Footnote: Baillie, Vol. II. from p. 128 to p. 197.]

Here there must come in an explanation:--The Army-Independency which was
alarming the Presbyterians, and of which they regarded Cromwell as the
head, was a thing of much larger dimensions, and much more composite
nature, than the mild Independency of Messrs. Goodwin, Burroughs, Nye,
Simpson, and Bridge, within the Westminster Assembly. The Independency of
these five Divines consisted simply in their courageous assertion of the
Congregationalist principle of church-organization in the midst of the
overwhelming Presbyterianism around them, and in their claim that, should
their reasonings for Congregationalism prove in vain, and should the
Presbyterian system be established in England, there should be at all
events "an indulgence" under that system, for themselves and their
adherents, "in some lesser differences." The "lesser differences" for
which they thus prospectively craved an indulgence had not been
specifically stated; but it is pretty clear that they were not, to any
great extent, differences of theological belief, but were rather those
differences which would arise from the conscientious perseverance of a
minority in Congregationalist practices after a Presbyterian rule had
been established nationally. "You know that we do not differ from you in
theological doctrines" is what the Five Dissenting Brethren virtually
said to the Presbyterians; "your teaching is our teaching, and what you
call errors we call errors: our difference lies wholly, or all but
wholly, in the fact that _we_ hold every particular congregation of
Christians to be a church within itself, whereas _you_ maintain the
interconnectedness of congregations, and the right of courts of office-
bearers from many congregations to review and control what passes within
each: now, as you, being undoubtedly in the majority, are about to
establish Presbytery in England, but as we cannot in conscience abandon
our Congregationalism, could you not manage at least to allow in the new
national system such a toleration of Congregationalist practices as would
satisfy us, the minority, and prevent us from going again into exile?"
Such was the Independency of the Dissenting Five in the Westminster
Assembly. But, as we know, from our previous survey of the history of
Independency in England, in Holland, and in America, the word
"Independency" had come to have a much larger meaning than that in which
it had originated. It had come to mean not merely the principle of
Congregationalism, or the Independency of Congregations, but also all
that had in fact arisen from the action of that principle, in England,
Holland, or America, in the shape of miscellaneous dissent and
heterodoxy. It had come to mean the Congregationalist principle
_plus_ all its known or conceivable consequences. From policy it was
in this wide sense that the Presbyterians had begun to use the term
Independency. "You are certainly Independents," the Presbyterians of the
Assembly virtually said to Messrs Goodwin, Burroughs, and the rest of the
Five; "but you are the best specimens of a class of which the varieties
are legion: were all Independency such as yours, and were Independency to
end with you, we might see our way to such a toleration as you demand--
which, on personal grounds, we should like to do: but the principle of
Congregationalism has already generated on the earth--in England, in
Holland, and in America--opinions beyond yours, and some heresies at
which even you stand aghast; and it is of these, as well as of you, that
we are bound to think when we are asked to tolerate Independency." Now it
was of this larger and more terrible Independency that the Presbyterians
had begun to see signs in the Parliamentary Army and through England
generally. In other words, sects and sectaries of all sorts and sizes had
begun to be heard of--some only transmissions or re-manifestations of
oddities of old English Puritanism, others importations from Holland and
New England, and others products of the new ferment of the English mind
caused by the Civil War itself. In especial, it was believed,
_Anabaptists_ and _Antinomians_ had begun to abound. Now, though, in
politeness, the Presbyterians were willing occasionally to distinguish
between the orthodox Independents and the miscellaneous Sectaries, yet,
as the Congregationalist principle, which was the essence of
Independency, was credited with the mischief of having generated all the
sects, and as it was for this Congregationalist principle that toleration
was demanded, it was quite as common to huddle all the Sects and the
orthodox Congregationalists together under the one name of Independents.
Nor could the Congregationalists of the Assembly very well object to
this. True, they might disown the errors and extravagancies of the sects,
and declare that they themselves were as little in sympathy with them as
the Presbyterians. They might also argue, as indeed they anxiously did,
that due uniformity in the essentials of Christian belief and practice
would be as easily maintained in a community organized ecclesiastically
on the Congregationalist principle as in one organized in the
Presbyterian mariner. Still, in arguing so, they must have had some
latitude of view as to the amount of uniformity desirable. If every
congregation were to be independent within itself, and if moreover
congregations might be formed on the principle of elective affinities, or
the concourse of like-minded atoms, it was difficult to see why
Congregationalism should not be expected to evolve sects, and why
therefore this progressive evolution of sects should not be accepted as a
law of religious life. Had not the Five Independents of the Assembly
avowed it as one of their principles that they would not be too sure that
the opinions they now held would remain always unchanged? Reserving this
liberty of going farther for themselves, how could they refuse toleration
for those who had already gone farther? Claiming for themselves a
toleration in all such differences as did not affect their character as
good subjects, they could not but extend the benefit of the same plea to
at least a proportion of the Sectaries. But to what proportion? Where was
toleration to stop? At what point, in the course of religious dissent,
did a man become a "bad subject?" To these questions no definite answers
were given by the Five Dissentients of the Assembly; but they could not
but entertain the questions. Hence their Independency, though mild and
moderate so far as they were themselves concerned, was really in organic
connexion with the larger Independency that had begun to manifest itself
in the Army and elsewhere. "The Congregationalist principle and Liberty
of Religious Difference to a certain extent," said the Independents of
the Assembly. "Yes, Liberty of Religious Difference!" said the Army
Independents, simplifying the formula.

Throughout the first half of 1644, therefore, we are to think of the
Presbyterian majority in the Westminster Assembly as not only fighting
against the Independency or Congregationalism proper which was
represented within the walls of the Assembly by men whom they could not
but respect, though complaining of their obstinacy, but also bent on
saving England from that more lax or general Independency, nameable as
Army-Independency, which they saw rife through the land, and which
included toleration not merely of Congregationalism, but also of
Anabaptism, Antinomianism, and other nondescript heresies. Baillie's
groanings in spirit over the multiplication of the sectaries, and the
growth of the Toleration notion, are positively affecting. "Sundry
officers and soldiers in the army," he writes, April 2, "has fallen from
their way [_i.e._ from Independency proper] to Antinomianism and
Anabaptism." Again, later in the same month, "The number and evil humour
of the Antinomians and Anabaptists doth increase;" and more fully, on the
19th, "They [the Independents] over all the land are making up a faction
to their own way, the far most part whereof is fallen off to Anabaptism
and Antinomianism: sundry also to worse, if worse needs be--the mortality
of the soul, the denial of angels and devils; and cast off all
sacraments; and many blasphemous things. All these are from New England."
By May 9 he had begun to despair of the English altogether: "The humour
of this people is very various and inclinable to singularities, to differ
from all the world, and one from another, and shortly from themselves: no
people had so much need of a Presbytery." According to Baillie, it was
precisely owing to the absence of a well-organized Presbyterian system in
England that all those wild growths of opinion had been possible; and,
while they increased the difficulty of establishing Presbyterianism in
England, they were the best demonstration of its necessity. Therefore, he
would not despair. There was yet a faint hope that the Independent
Divines in the Assembly might be made ashamed of the tag-rag of
Anabaptists, Antinomians, and what not, that hung to their skirts, and so
might be brought to an accommodation with the Presbyterians. But, failing
that, the Presbyterians must stand firm, must face Independency and all
its belongings both in Parliament and in the Army, and try at length to
beat them down.--Of course, Baillie and his Scottish brethren were doing
their best to assist the English Presbyterians in this labour. Anti-
Toleration pamphlets had appeared, and more were in preparation. But help
was particularly desired from the Reformed Churches abroad, and most
particularly from Holland. Had not Holland nursed this very Independency
which was troubling England, and was not the example of Holland the
greatest argument with the Independents and others for a toleration of
sects? Representing all this to his correspondent, William Spang,
Scottish preacher at Campvere, Baillie urges him again and again to do
what he can to get any eminent Dutch divines of his acquaintance to write
treatises against Independency, Heresy, and Toleration. He names several
such, as likely to do this great service if duly importuned. There could
be no more helpful service to England--except one! Oh if there could yet
be a great Scottish victory on English soil! _That_ would be worth
all the pamphlets in the world! [Footnote: Baillie, II. 146, 157, 168,
177, 179, 181, 183-4, 191-2, 197, &c.--Several manifestoes against
Independency, such as Baillie wanted, did come, in due time, from Divines
in Holland and elsewhere on the Continent, and were much made of by the
Presbyterians of the Assembly, and put in circulation through England.]


Notwithstanding all this anarchy of ecclesiastical opinion, the practical
or political mastery of affairs remained in the hands of Parliament, and
was firmly exercised by Parliament in a direction satisfactory to the
Westminster Assembly as a whole. For, whatever might be the ultimate
settlement between Independency and Presbyterianism, there was a certain
general course of "Reformation" to which meanwhile all were pledged,
Independents and Sectaries no less than Presbyterians; and on this course
all could advance unanimously, even while battling with each other on the
ecclesiastical questions which the Independents desired to keep open. For
example, during those very months of 1644 in which Independency had been
taking such increased dimensions, there had been fully executed that
great Visitation and purgation of the University of Cambridge which had
been entrusted to the Earl of Manchester by Parliamentary Ordinance in

The Earl, going to Cambridge in person in February 1643-4, with his two
chaplains, Messrs. Ashe and Good, had been engaged in the work through
the months of March and April, summoning refractory Heads of Colleges and
Fellows before him, examining complaints against them, and putting them
in most cases to the test of the Covenant. The result, when complete
(which it was not till 1645), was the ejection, on one ground or another,
of about one half of the _Fellows_ of the various Colleges of
Cambridge collectively, and of eleven out of the sixteen _Heads of
Houses_, and the appointment of persons of Parliamentarian principles
to the places thus made vacant.--Of the crowd of those who were turned
out of Cambridge _Fellowships_, and the crowd of those who were put
in to succeed them, we can take no account in this History. Yet a process
which presents us with the vision of about 150 rueful outgoers from
comfortable livelihoods in one University, met at the doors by as many
radiant comers-in, can have been no unimportant incident, even in a
national revolution. What became of all the rueful outgoers is a question
that might interest us yet. It interested Fuller ten years after the
event. Even then he could give no other answer, he said, than that
proverbial one which the survivors of Nicias's unfortunate expedition
against the Sicilians used to give at Athens when they were asked about
the fate of such or such a comrade who had never returned, [Greek: "E
tethnæken hæ didaskei grammata"] "He is either dead or teaching a school
somewhere." Schoolmastering, according to Fuller, was the refuge of most
of the ejected Cambridge Fellows of 1644-5.--More conspicuous persons,
and with resources that probably exempted them from the prospect of so
painful a fate, were the ejected _Heads of Houses_. Most of these
were ejected at once in March and April 1644; and, apart from our
acquired interest in Cambridge University, there are reasons for
remembering them individually, and noting those who came in their
places:--Of the sixteen Heads of Houses, it is to be premised, one--Dr.
Richard Love, of Bennet or Corpus Christi--was a member of the Assembly,
and therefore all right; while four others managed, by taking the
Covenant, or by other "wary compliance" during the Visitation, to stay
in. Among these four, it does not surprise us to learn, was Dr. Thomas
Bainbrigge of Christ's, Milton's old _durus magister_, with whom he
had had that never-forgotten tiff in his under-graduateship (Vol. I. pp.
135-141); the others were Dr. Eden of Trinity Hall, Dr. Rainbow of
Magdalen, and Dr. Batchcroft of Caius. The ejections were as follows:--

TRINITY COLLEGE:--Master ejected, Dr. THOMAS CUMBER (_ob._ 1654);
Master put in, Mr. THOMAS HILL, one of the Assembly Divines.

ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE:--Master ejected, Dr. WILLIAM BEALE (died at Madrid,
1651); Master put in, Mr. JOHN ARROWSMITH, one of the Assembly Divines.

1649); Master put in, Dr. ANTHONY TUCKNEY, one of the Assembly Divines.

QUEEN'S COLLEGE:--There was a complete sweep of this College, not a
Fellow or Foundationer of any kind being left. President ejected, Dr.
EDWARD MARTIN (survived the Restoration and was made Dean of Ely);
President put in, Mr. HERBERT PALMER, one of the Assembly Divines.

CLARE HALL:--Master ejected, Dr. THOMAS PASKE (survived the Restoration
and had his reward); Master put in, RALPH CUDWORTH, B.D., afterwards the
celebrated author of the "Intellectual System." He was of Somersetshire
birth, and, though now only 27 years of age, had acquired a high
Cambridge reputation, as Fellow and Tutor of Emanuel College, where he
had been educated.

PETERHOUSE:--Master ejected, Dr. JOHN COSINS (already under the ban of
Parliament and a refugee in France: he survived the Restoration and
became Bishop of Durham); Master put in, Mr. LAZARUS SEAMAN, one of the
Assembly Divines.

PEMBROKE COLLEGE;--Master ejected, Dr. BENJAMIN LANEY (survived the
Restoration and held several Bishoprics in succession); Master put in,
Mr. RICHARD VINES, one of the Assembly Divines.

KING'S COLLEGE;--Provost ejected, Dr. SAMUEL COLLINS (see Vol. I. pp. 92,
93); Provost put in, Mr. BENJAMIN WHICHCOT, _ætat._ 34. He had been
a Fellow of Emanuel College, and was a friend of Cudworth's. A
peculiarity in his case was that he was dispensed from taking the
Covenant on his appointment, and succeeded, by his interest with the
ruling powers, in obtaining a like dispensation for most of the Fellows
of the College. He survived the Restoration, conformed then, and is still
remembered as one of the chiefs of the English Latitudinarians.

SIDNEY-SUSSEX COLLEGE:--Master ejected, Dr. SAMUEL WARD (see Vol. I. p.
95); Master put in, Mr. RICHARD MINSHULL, a Fellow of the College,
regularly elected to the Mastership by the other Fellows. He survived the
Restoration, conformed then, and retained the Mastership till his death.

JESUS COLLEGE:--Master ejected, Dr. RICHARD STERNE (great-grandfather of
Laurence Sterne, the novelist). He was a strong Laudian and Royalist, and
had already been in prison on that account. He lived in retirement till
the Restoration; after which he was made successively Bishop of Chester,
and (1664) Archbishop of York. Master put in, Mr. THOMAS YOUNG, one of
the Assembly Divines, Milton's old preceptor, and the chief of the
"Smectymnuans." It was a special compliment to Young that he, not an
English University man at all, but a naturalized Scot, had been chosen
for a Cambridge Mastership.

CATHERINE HALL:--Master ejected (not till 1645, however, and then on a
fresh occasion), Dr. RALPH BROWNRIGGE, nominal Bishop of Exeter since
1642 (_ob._ 1659); Master put in, Mr. WILLIAM SPURSTOW, one of the
Assembly Divines, and one of the "Smectymnuans." [Footnote: Authorities
for this account of Manchester's Visitation of Cambridge and its results
are Fuller's History of the University of Cambridge (edit 1340), pp. 233-
239, and Neal's Puritans, III. 107-119.]

Thus began, in 1644, a new era in the history of Cambridge University,
which extended to the Restoration. Episcopalian principles were
discharged out of the government of the University; and, under the five
retained Masters and the eleven new ones, there was inaugurated a system
of rule and teaching in accordance, more or less in the different
Colleges, with the ascendant State-policy of the Puritans. With the
exception of Cudworth, Whichcot, and Minshull, it will have been noted,
all the newly-appointed Masters were members of the Westminster Assembly,
and leading men among the Presbyterian majority of that body. They do not
appear to have ceased attendance on the Assembly in consequence of their
appointments, but only to have divided their time thenceforward as well
as they could between the Assembly and Cambridge. It is also to be noted
that some of them, including Thomas Young, retained their former livings
along with their new Masterships. [Footnote: The following is a note
furnished to Mr. David Laing by the Rev. John Struthers of Prestonpans,
one of an acting Committee recently appointed by the Church of Scotland
for transcribing and editing the original Minutes of the Westminster
Assembly, preserved in Dr. William's Library, London:--"1643-4, March
15.--A letter read from the Earl of Manchester, stating that he cast out
Drs. Beale, Cosins, Sterne, Martin, Laney, masters, from their
Masterships in Cambridge University, and, subject to the Assembly's
approval, nominated Mr. Palmer, Mr. Arrowsmith, Mr. Vines, Mr. Seaman,
and Mr. Young in their places. The Assembly offered their
congratulations, but desired that their brethren should meanwhile not be
withdrawn from the Assembly." Mr. Struthers adds that, though Dr.
Lightfoot, in his Notes of the Assembly, states that Mr. Vines and Mr.
Young desired to be excused from the new appointments, there is no notice
of any such declinature in the MS. minutes.--See _Biographical Notices
of Thomas Young, S.T.D., Vicar of Stowmarket, Suffolk_, by Mr. David
Laing (Edin. 1870), p. 39.--These accurate and valuable "Notices" of a
man who figures so interestingly in Milton's Biography had not appeared
till Vol. II. of this work was quite printed, or they might have saved me
some research for that volume as well as for its predecessor. Prefixed to
them Mr. Laing gives a portrait of Young, after a photograph taken from
the original picture long preserved in the Vicarage of Stowmarket, but
now in the possession of H. C. Mathew, Esq. of Felixstow, near Ipswich.
The portrait represents Young with hair not at all of the short Puritan
cut, but long, and flowing fully on both sides to his shoulders; and the
face is really fine, with handsome features, and a rich and mild look.
Another interesting insertion in Mr. Laing's little volume is a facsimile
of Young's handwriting, from a Latin inscription in a presentation copy
of his _Dies Dominica_, still extant. The hand is neat and careful;
and, what is rather curious, it has a resemblance to Milton's.] There
were similar instances of retention of livings among those appointed to
Fellowships, and to other offices throughout the country under the
patronage of the Parliament. The excuse was the dearth for the time of
fully qualified ministers of the right Parliamentarian strain; but the
fact did not escape comment. Was Plurality one of the very few
institutions of Prelacy which Presbyterian godliness was willing to

Fresh from his energetic Visitation of Cambridge, the Earl of Manchester
was away, as we have seen, in May 1644, with his Lieutenant-general,
Cromwell, to add the force of the Associated Eastern Counties to the
forces of the Scots and Fairfax, then about to besiege the Marquis of
Newcastle in York. The joint forces, numbering some 25,000 men in all,
were hopefully conducting the siege when the approach of Prince Rupert
out of Lancashire, with a Royalist army of over 20,000, compelled them to
raise it, in order to oppose him (June 30). He avoided them, relieved
York, and then, having added the Marquis's garrison to his own force,
risked all for a great victory. The result was the BATTLE OF MARSTON
MOOR, about seven miles to the west of York, fought on the evening of
July 2, 1644. It was "the bloodiest battle of the whole war," the number
actually slain on the field on both sides in three hours being no fewer
than 4,150. But of these by far the most were on the King's side, and the
battle was a disastrous rout for that side, and a victory for the
Parliamentarians incalculably greater than any they had yet had. Rupert,
with a shred of his army, escaped southwards; the Marquis of Newcastle,
making his way to the sea-coast, embarked for the Continent, with his two
sons, his brother Sir Charles Cavendish, General King, Lord Fauconberg,
the Earl of Carnwath, Bishop Bramhall, and about eighty other Royalists
of distinction, and was no more seen in England till the Restoration.
York surrendered to the victors, July 5; and, save that Newcastle and
some other towns remained to be taken, the whole North of England was
lost to the King and brought within the sway of Parliament. Seldom had
there been such consequences from a battle of three hours. [Footnote:
Clar. Hist. 490-492; Parl. Hist. III. 277, 278; Carlyle's Cromwell, I.
151-154; Markham's Fairfax, 151-178, for a detailed modern account.]

When the news of the battle reached London (July 5), there was nothing
but joy. Within a few days, however, the joy passed into a question
between the Independents and the Presbyterians, or at least the Scots
among them. Which part of the conjoint army had behaved best in the
battle, and to which general did the chief honours of the day belong?
Glad would Baillie have been to welcome Marston Moor as at last that
great success of the Scots for which he had been longing and praying. No
such pleasure could he have. More and more, as detailed accounts of the
battle arrived, it became clear that the Scots could claim only a little
of the merit of the victory--that the mass of them had behaved rather
ill; that the luck or the generalship of Field-marshal Leven had deserted
him, and he had been carried far away in a ruck of fugitives; and that,
in fact, with the exception of David Leslie, the Scottish Major-general,
who really did good service, no Scot in command had shown much head, or
been of any considerable use, at Marston Moor. But, worse and worse for
Baillie's feelings, not only did it appear that the victory had been
gained by the English of the joint army rather than by the Scottish
contingent, but gradually the rumour was confirmed, which had been first
borne to London on the wings of the wind, that the Englishman by whose
conduct, if by that of any one man, the fate of the battle had been
decided, was Lieutenant-general Cromwell. "The left wing, which I
commanded, being our own horse, saving a few Scots in our rear, beat all
the Prince's horse. God gave them as stubble to our swords. We charged
their regiments of foot with our horse, and routed all we charged." These
sentences of Cromwell's own, written on the third day after the battle in
a letter to his brother-in-law, Colonel Valentine Walton, are his private
statement of the truth which became public. In vain it was represented in
London that Cromwell's paramount prowess in the battle was a fiction of
himself and the Independents; in vain did the Presbyterians try to
distribute the merit among Fairfax, David Leslie, and Major-general
Crawford--another Scot, not in the Scottish contingent, but serving in
Manchester's army as next in command under Cromwell, and already known as
representing Presbyterianism in that army in opposition to Cromwell's
Independency; in vain did this Crawford, when he came to London,
asseverate that Cromwell, having been slightly wounded in the neck, had
retired before the crisis, and that the real work in Cromwell's part of
the battle had devolved on David Leslie and himself. It was a comfort to
Baillie to believe all this; but London was persuaded otherwise. For
London and for all England Cromwell stood forth as the hero of Marston
Moor. The victory to which Baillie had looked forward as a triumph for
Presbyterianism had been gained mainly by the "great Independent" of the
English army, and went to the credit of Independency. [Footnote: Baillie,
II. 201, 203-4, 209, and 211; Carlyle's Cromwell, I. 152-3 and 146-150;
Fuller's Worthies, _Yorkshire_; Holles's Memoirs (1699), 15-17.]

Three weeks after the battle of Marston Moor (July 23, 1644) the
Westminster Assembly, with permission of Parliament, adjourned for a
fortnight's vacation. We will share this vacation, and make it the
opportunity for some farther inquiry, on our own account, into the two
subjects which were of paramount interest at that moment. They were the
subjects, if I may so say, that had for some time past been chalked up on
the black board for the consideration of all England, and to the
discussion of which the Assembly and the Parliament were to address
themselves with fresh fervour when the Assembly came together again after
their vacation. These were:--

I. The Principle of Toleration.

II. The English Sects and Sectaries.


The history of the modern idea of TOLERATION could be written completely
only after a larger amount of minute and special research than I am able
here to bestow on the subject. Who shall say in the heads of what stray
and solitary men, scattered through Europe in the sixteenth century,
_nantes rari in gurgite vasto_, some form of the idea, as a purely
speculative conception, may have been lodged? Hallam finds it in the
"Utopia" of Sir Thomas More (1480-1535), and in the harangues of the
Chancellor l'Hospital of France (1505-1573); [Footnote: Hallam's Const.
Hist. (10th edit.), T. 122, Note.] and there may have been others. But
the history of the idea, as a practical or political notion, lies within
a more precise range. Out of what within Europe in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries was the practical form of the idea bred? Out of
pain, out of suffering, out of persecution: not pain inflicted constantly
on one and the same section of men, or on any two opposed sections
alternately; but pain revolving, pain circulated, pain distributed till
the whole round of the compass of sects had felt it in turn, and the only
principle of its prevention gradually dawned on the common consciousness!
In every persecuted cause, honestly conducted, there was a throe towards
the birth of this great principle. Every persecuted cause claimed at
least a toleration for itself from the established power; and so, by a
kind of accumulation, the cause that had been last persecuted had more of
a tendency to toleration in it, and became practically more tolerant,
than the others. This, I think, might be proved. The Church of England
was more tolerant than the Church of Rome, and Scottish Presbyterianism
or Scottish Puritanism was more tolerant (though the reverse is usually
asserted) than the Church of England prior to 1640. Not to the Church of
England, however, nor to Scottish Presbyterianism, nor to English
Puritanism at large, does the honour of the first perception of the full
principle of Liberty of Conscience, and its first assertion in English
speech, belong. That honour has to be assigned, I believe, to the
Independents generally, and to the Baptists in particular.

The principle of religious liberty is almost logically bound up with the
theory of the Independency of particular churches. Every particular
church being a voluntary concourse of like-minded atoms, able to declare
themselves converts or true Christians, it follows that the world, or
civil society, whether called heathen or professedly Christian, is only
the otherwise regulated medium or material in which these voluntary
concourses or whirls take place. It follows that there must be large
expanses or interspaces of the general material always unabsorbed into
the voluntary concourses, and that for the secular power, which governs
the general medium, to try to stimulate the concourses, or to bring all
into them, or to control any part of the procedure of each or any of
them, would be a mingling of elements that are incompatible, of necessary
worldly order with the spiritual kingdom of Christ. And so it was
maintained, against the Roman Catholics, and against the Confessions of
all the various established Protestant Churches, that there could be, and
ought to be, no Imperial or National Church. This being the principle of
some of the early Protestant movements that went beyond Luther,
Zuinglius, or Calvin, and perplexed these Reformers, little wonder that
flashes of the fullest doctrine of Liberty of Conscience should be found
among the records of those movements, whether on the Continent or in
England.[Footnote: See notices of such flashes, among English Baptists of
the reign of Henry VIII., and among the continental Anabaptists, in Mr.
Edward Bean Underhill's "Historical Introduction" to the Reprint of Old
Tracts on _Liberty of Conscience_ by the "Hanserd Knollys Society"
(1846). Mr. Underhill writes as a zealous Baptist, but with judgment and
research.] Little wonder, either, that the principle of Toleration should
be discernible in the writings of Robert Brown, the father of the crude
English Independency of Elizabeth's reign. [Footnote: Baillie
(_Dissuasive_, Part I. 31) expressly makes it a reproach against
Brown that he held the Toleration doctrine.]

But it is one thing to hold a principle vaguely or latently as implicated
in a principle already avowed, and another thing to extricate the implied
principle and kindle it, as on the top of a lighthouse, on its own
account. It is found, accordingly, that the early English Separatists
collectively were much slower in this matter than Brown himself had been.
They wanted toleration for themselves, and perhaps a general mildness in
the administration of religious affairs; but they could not rid
themselves of the notion, held alike by all the established churches,
whether Prelatic or Presbyterian, that it is the duty of the prince, or
the civil power, in every state to promote true religion and suppress
false. Passages which we have already had occasion to quote (Vol. II.
569, 570) from the writings of Barrowe, Greenwood, and even of the
liberal Robinson, the father of Congregationalism proper, prove beyond
all dispute that these chiefs of the Separatists and Semi-Separatists who
followed Brown in the latter part of Elizabeth's reign and in the reign
of James had not worked out Toleration into a perfect or definite tenet.
They did want something that they called a Toleration; but it was a
limited and ill-defined Toleration.--There was, however, _one_ body
or band of Separatists in James's reign who had pushed farther ahead, and
grasped the idea of Liberty of Conscience at its very utmost. Strangely
enough, as it may seem at first sight, they were the Separatists of the
most intense and schismatic type then known, the least conciliatory in
their relations to other churches and communions. They were the poor and
despised Anglo-Dutch Anabaptists who called John Smyth (Vol. II. 539,540)
their leader. In a Confession, or Declaration of Faith, put forth in 1611
by the English Baptists in Amsterdam, just after the death of Smyth, this
article occurs: "The magistrate is not to meddle with religion, or
matters of conscience, nor compel men to this or that form of religion;
because Christ is the King and Lawgiver of the Church and Conscience." It
is believed that this is the first expression of the absolute principle
of Liberty of Conscience in the public articles of any body of
Christians. Contact with the Dutch Arminians may have helped Smyth's
people to a perception of it; and it certainly did not please the English
Pædobaptist Independents of Holland when it appeared among them.
Robinson, for example, objected to it, as he was bound to do by the views
of the civil magistrate's power which he maintained. He attributed the
invention of such an article to the common inability of ignorant men to
distinguish between the use of an ordinance and its abuse. In other
words, he thought the remnant of Smyth's Baptists had been rather silly
in leaping to the conclusion that, because there had been much abuse of
the interference of the civil power in matters of religion, and it had
led to all sorts of horrors, there was nothing left but to set up the
principle of absolute non-interference.

The principle of the Anglo-Dutch Baptists, with the same exact difference
between the Baptists and the rest of the Independents on the Toleration
point, was imported into England. It is supposed that the person who had
the chief hand in drawing up the Confession of the English Baptists of
Amsterdam, after Smyth's death, was Smyth's successor in the Baptist
ministry there, Thomas Helwisse (Vol. II. 540-544). Now, this Helwisse,
returning to England shortly after 1611, drew round him, as we saw, the
first congregation of General or Arminian Baptists in London; and this
obscure Baptist congregation seems to have become the depositary for all
England of the absolute principle of Liberty of Conscience expressed in
the Amsterdam Confession, as distinct from the more stinted principle
advocated by the general body of the Independents. Not only did
Helwisse's folk differ from the Independents generally on the subject of
Infant Baptism and Dipping; they differed also on the power of the
magistrate in matters of belief and conscience. It was, in short, from
their little dingy meeting-house, somewhere in Old London, that there
flashed out, first in England, the absolute doctrine of Religious
Liberty. "_Religious Peace: or, A Plea for Liberty of Conscience_"
is the title of a little tract first printed in 1614, and presented to
King James and the English Parliament, by "Leonard Busher, citizen of
London." This Leonard Busher, there is reason to believe, was a member of
Helwisse's congregation; and we learn from the tract itself that he was a
poor man, labouring for his subsistence, who had had his share of
persecution. He had probably been one of Smyth's Amsterdam flock who had
returned with Helwisse. The tract is, certainly, the earliest known
English publication in which full liberty of conscience is openly
advocated. It cannot be read now without a throb. The style is simple and
rather helpless; but one comes on some touching passages. Thus:--

"May it please your Majesty and Parliament to understand that by fire and
sword to constrain princes and peoples to receive that one true religion
of the Gospel is wholly against the mind and merciful law of Christ."
"Persecution is a work well pleasing to all false prophets and bishops,
but it is contrary to the mind of Christ, who came not to judge and
destroy men's lives, but to save them. And, though some men and women
believe not at the first hour, yet may they at the eleventh hour, if they
be not persecuted to death before. And no king nor bishop can or is able
to command faith. That is the gift of God, who worketh in us both the
will and the deed of his own good pleasure. Set him not a day, therefore,
in which, if his creature hear not and believe not, you will imprison and
burn him.... As kings and bishops cannot command the wind, so they
cannot command faith; and, as the wind bloweth where it listeth, so is
every man that is born of the Spirit. You may force men to church against
their consciences, but they will believe as they did before when they
come there."

"Kings and magistrates are to rule temporal affairs by the swords of
their temporal kingdoms, and bishops and ministers are to rule spiritual
affairs by the word and Spirit of God, the sword of Christ's temporal
kingdom, and not to intermeddle one with another's authority, office, and

"I read that Jews, Christians, and Turks are tolerated in Constantinople,
and yet are peaceable, though so contrary the one to the other. If this
be so, how much more ought Christians not to force one another to
religion! And how much more ought Christians to tolerate Christians,
whenas the Turks do tolerate them! Shall we be less merciful than the
Turks? or shall we learn the Turks to persecute Christians? It is not
only unmerciful, but unnatural and abominable, yea monstrous, for one
Christian to vex and destroy another for difference and questions of

Busher's tract of 1614 was not the only utterance in the same strain that
came from Helwisse's conventicle of London Baptists. In 1615 there
appeared in print "_Objections answered by way of Dialogue, wherein is
proved, by the Law of God, by the Law of our Land, and by His Majesty's
many testimonies, that no man ought to be persecuted for his Religion, so
he testifie his allegeance by the oath appointed by Law._" The
author, or one of the authors, of this Dialogue, which is even more
explicit in some respects than Busher's tract, is pretty clearly
ascertained to have been John Murton, Helwisse's assistant (Vol. II.
544,581). Helwisse himself is not heard of after 1614, and appears to
have died about that time. But his Baptist congregation maintained itself
in London side by side with Jacob's congregation of Independents,
established in 1616 (Vol. II. 544). As if to signalize still farther the
discrepancy of the two sets of Sectaries on the Toleration point, there
was put forth, as we saw, in that very year, by Jacob and the
Independents, a Confession of Faith, containing this article: "We believe
that we, and all true visible churches, ought to be overseen and kept in
good order and peace, and ought to be governed, under Christ, both
supremely and also subordinately, by the civil magistrate; yea, in causes
of religion, when need is."

The year 1616 was the year of Shakespeare's death. Who that has read his
Sonnet LXVI. can doubt that he had carried in his mind while alive some
profound and peculiar form of the idea of Toleration? In Bacon's brain,
too, one may detect some smothered tenet of the kind; and even in the
talk of the shambling King James himself there had been such occasional
spurts about Liberty of Conscience that, though he had burnt two of his
subjects for Arianism, Helwisse's poor people were fain, as we have just
seen, to cite "His Majesty's many testimonies" for the Toleration they
craved. And yet not to any such celebrity as the king, the philosopher,
or the poet, had the task of vindicating for England the idea of Liberty
of Conscience been practically appointed. To all intents and purposes
that honour had fallen to two of the most extreme and despised sects of
the Puritans. The despised Independents, or semi-Separatists of the
school of Robinson and Jacob, and the still more despised Baptists, or
thorough Separatists of the school of Smyth and Helwisse, were groping
for the pearl between them; and, what is strangest at first sight, it was
the more intensely Separatist of these two sects that was groping with
most success. How is this to be explained? Partly it may have been that
the Baptists were the sect that had been most persecuted--that they were
the ultimate sect, in the English world, in respect of the necessary
qualification of pain and suffering accumulated in their own experience,
while the Hobinsonian Independents might rank as only the penultimate
sect in this respect. But there is a deeper reason. Paradoxical as the
statement may seem, there was a logical connexion between the extreme
Separatism of the Baptists, the tightness and exclusiveness of their own
terms of communion, and their passion for religious freedom, This
requires elucidation:--It was on the subject of the Baptism of Infants
that the ordinary Congregationalists and the Baptist Congregationalists
most evidently stood aloof from each other. There had been vehement
controversies between them on the subject. Independent congregations had
ejected and excommunicated such of their members as had taken to the
doctrine of Antipædobaptism; and Smyth's rigid Baptists, in turn, would
not hold communion with Pædobaptist Independents. We are apt now to dwell
on the narrow-mindedness, the unseemliness, of those bickerings of the
two sects over the one doctrine on which they differed. It is to be
observed, however, that even here they illustrated their faith in the
principle which was the essence of their common Congregationalism: to
wit, that the true security for sound faith and good government in the
Church of Christ lay in the power lodged in every particular congregation
of judging who were fit to belong to it, and of constant spiritual
supervision of each of the members of it by all, so that the erring might
be admonished, and the unfit ejected. It was the supreme virtue, the all-
sufficient efficacy, of this power of merely spiritual censure, as it
might be exercised by congregations or particular churches, each within
itself, that both sects were continually trying to demonstrate to
Prelatists and Presbyterians. Their very argument was that truth and
piety would prosper best in a system of Church-government which trusted
all to the vigilance of the members of every particular congregation over
each other, their reasonings among themselves, their practice of mutual
admonition, and, in last resort, their power of excommunicating the
unworthy. Hence perhaps even the excess of the controversial activity of
the two sects against each other, and the frequency of their mutual
excommunications, are not without a favourable significance. Here,
however, it was the Baptists, rather than the Independents collectively,
that had pushed their theory of the all-sufficiency of congregational
censure to its finest issue. To both sects the world or civil society
presented itself as a medium in which there might be Christian vortices,
concourses of true Christian souls, that should constitute, when numbered
together and catalogued unerringly in the books of heaven, the Church or
Kingdom of Jesus. To both sects it seemed a thing to be striven for that
as much of civil society as possible should be brought into these
vortices or concourses; nay, the aspiration of both was that the whole
world should be Christianized. But, looking about them, they knew, in
fact, that the vortices or concourses did and could involve but a small
proportion of the society in which they occurred. They knew that there
must be large tracts of unbelief, profanity, and false worship in every
so-called Christian nation, left utterly unaffected by any of the true
associations of Christ's real people; besides the huge wilderness of
heathenism and idolatry lying all round in the dark lands of the world.
It was on the platform of this contemplation that the Independents
generally and the Baptist section of them had parted company. The
Independents generally held that it was the duty of the civil power in a
State to promote the formation of churches in that State, and to see, in
some general way, that the churches formed were not wrong in doctrine or
in practice. They held that the civil authority might lawfully compel all
its subjects to some sort of hearing of the Gospel with a view to their
belonging to churches or congregations, and might even assist the
preacher by some whip of penalties on those who remained obstinate after
a due amount of hearing. They held, in fact, that every State is bound to
use its power towards Christianizing all its subjects, and may also
institute missions for the propagation of true Christianity in idolatrous
or heathen lands. To all this the Baptists, or some of their leaders, had
learnt to oppose an emphatic "No." They held that the world, or civil
society, and the Church of Christ, were distinct and immiscible. They
held that the sword of the Temporal Power must never, under any
circumstances, aid the sword of the Spirit. They held that the formation
of churches in any State must be a process of the purest spontaneity.
They held that, while every person in a civilized State is a subject of
that State in all matters of civil order, it ought to be at the option of
that person, and of those with whom he or she might voluntarily consort,
to determine whether he or she should superadd to this general character
of subject the farther character of being a Christian and a member of
some particular church. The churches formed spontaneously in any State
were to be self-subsisting associations of like-minded units, believing
and worshiping, arid inflicting spiritual censures among themselves,
without State-interference; and Christianity was to propagate itself
throughout the world by its own spiritual might and the missionary zeal
of apostolic individuals. [Footnote: Among my authorities for this sketch
of the history of the idea of Toleration as far as 1616, I ought to
mention Hanbury's _Historical Memorials relating to the
Independents_, Vol. I., and more particularly Chapters XIII,--XV.;
Fletcher's _History of Independency in England_ (1848), Vol. III.,
Chapters I. and II.; and the Reprint of Old Tracts on _Liberty of
Conscience_ by the Hanserd Knollys (Baptist) Society, with the
Introductory Notices there prefixed to Busher's tract and Murton's by Mr.
Edward Bean Underhill.]

From 1616 onwards this Baptist form of the idea of Liberty of Conscience
had been slumbering somewhere in the English heart. Even through the
dreadful time of the Laudian terrorism it might be possible for research
to discover half-stifled expressions of it. Other and less extreme forms
of the Toleration idea, however, were making themselves heard. Holland
had worked out the speculation, or was working it out, through the
struggle of her own Arminians for equal rights with the prevailing
Calvinists; and it was the singular honour of that country to have, at
all events, been the first in Europe to exhibit something like a
practical solution of the problem, by the refuge and freedom of worship
it afforded to the religious outcasts of other nations. Then among the
so-called Latitudinarian Divines of the Church of England--Hales,
Chillingworth, and their associates--there is evidence of the growth,
even while their friend Laud was in power, of an idea or sentiment of
Toleration which might have made that Prelate pause and wonder. Not, of
course, the Baptist idea; but one which might have had a greater chance
practically in the then existing conditions of English life. Might there
not be a Toleration _with_ an Established or State Church? While it
might be the duty of the civil magistrate, or at least a State-
convenience, to set up one Church as the Church of the nation, and so to
afford to all the subjects the means of instruction in that theology and
of participation in that worship which the State thought the best, might
not State-interference with religion stop there, and might not those who
refused to conform be permitted to hold their conventicles freely outside
the Established Church, and to believe and worship in their own way? Some
such idea of Toleration, but still with perplexing limitations as to the
_amount_ of deviation that should be tolerated, was, I believe, the
idea that had dawned on the minds of men like the loveable Hales and the
hardy Chillingworth. It is much the sort of Toleration that accredits
itself to the average British mind yet. But how greatly the history of
the Church of England might have been altered had such a Toleration been
then adopted by the Church itself! As it was, it remained the half-
uttered _irenicon_ of a few speculative spirits. Nowhere on earth
prior to 1640, unless it were in Holland, was Toleration in any effective
form whatsoever anything more than the dream of a few poor persecuted
sectaries or deep private thinkers. Less even than in the Church of
England is there a trace of the idea in the Scottish Presbyterianism that
had then re-established itself, or in the English Presbyterianism that
longed to establish itself. Scottish Presbyterianism might indeed plead,
and it did plead, that it was so satisfactory a system, kept the souls of
its subjects in such a strong grip, and yet without needing to resort,
except in extreme cases, to any very penal procedure, that wherever
_it_ existed Toleration would be unnecessary, inasmuch as there
would be preciously little error to tolerate. Personally, I believe,
Henderson was as moderate and tolerant a man as any British ecclesiastic
of his time. In no Church where he bore rule could there, by possibility,
have been any approach to the tetchy repressiveness, or the callous
indifference to suffering for the sake of conscience, that characterized
the English Church-rule of Laud. But Henderson, though the best of the
Presbyterians, was still, _par excellence,_ a Presbyterian; and
therefore the Toleration that lay in his disposition had not translated
itself into a theoretical principle. As for the English Presbyterians,
what _they_ wanted was toleration for themselves, or the liberty of
being in the English Church, or in England out of the Church, without
conforming; or, if some of them went farther, what _they_ wanted was
the substitution of Presbytery for Prelacy as the system established with
the right to be intolerant. Finally, even in the New England colonies,
where Congregationalism was the rule, there were not only spiritual
censures and excommunications of heretics, but whippings, banishments,
and other punishments of them, by the civil power. [Footnote: Hallam's
account of the rise and progress of the Toleration idea in England (Hist,
of Europe, 6th ed. II. 442, &c.) is very unsatisfactory. He actually
makes Jeremy Taylor's "Liberty of Prophesying" (1647), the first
substantial assertion of Liberty of Conscience in England--an injustice
to a score or two of preceding champions of it, and to one or two entire
corporate denominations.]

And so we arrive at 1640. Then, immediately after the meeting of the Long
Parliament, Toleration rushed into the air. Everywhere the word
"Toleration" was heard, and with all varieties of meanings. A certain
boom of the general principle runs through Milton's Anti-Episcopal
pamphlets, and through other pamphlets on the same side. But this is not
all. The principle was expressly argued in certain pamphlets set forth in
the interest of the Independents and the Sectaries generally, and it was
argued so well that the Presbyterians caught the alarm, foresaw the
coming battle between them and the Independents on this subject of
Toleration, and declared themselves Anti-Tolerationists by anticipation.
It was in May 1641, for example, that Henry Burton published his
anonymous pamphlet called _The Protestation Protested_ (Vol. II.
591-2). The main purpose of the pamphlet was to propound Independency in
its extreme Brownist form, as refusing any National or State Church
whatever; but, on the supposition that this theory was too much in
advance of the opinion of the time, and that some National Church must
inevitably be set up, a toleration of dissent from that Church was prayed
for. "The Parliament now being about a Reformation," wrote Burton, "what
government shall be set up in this National Church, the Lord strengthen
and direct the Parliament in so great and glorious a work. But let it be
what it will, so as still a due respect be paid to those congregations
and churches which desire an exemption, and liberty of enjoying Christ's
ordinances in such purity as a National Church is not capable of." This
is the Toleration principle as it had been transmitted among the
Independents generally, or perhaps it is an advance on that. Such as it
was, however, Burton's plea for Toleration roused vehement opposition. It
was attacked ferociously, as we saw, by an anonymous Episcopal
antagonist, believed to be Bishop Hall (Vol. II. p. 593). It was attacked
also by Presbyterians, and notably by their champion, Mr. Thomas Edwards,
in his maiden pamphlet called "_Reasons against the Independent
Government of particular Congregations_" (Vol. II. p. 594). But
Edwards did not go unpunished. His pamphlet drew upon him that thrashing
from the lady-Brownist, Katharine Chidley, which the reader may remember
(Vol. II. p. 595). This brave old lady's idea of Toleration outwent even
Burton's, and corresponded more with that absolute idea of Toleration
which had been worked out among the Baptists. For example, Edwards having
upbraided the Independents with the fact that their Toleration principle
had broken down even in their own Paradise of New England, what is Mrs.
Chidley's answer? "If they have banished any out of their Patents that
were neither disturbers of the peace of the land, nor the worship
practised in the land, I am persuaded it was their weakness, and I hope
they will never attempt to do the like." Clearly, from whomsoever in 1641
the Parliament and the people of England heard a stinted doctrine of
Toleration, they heard the full doctrine from Mrs. Chidley. The
Parliament, however, was very slow to be convinced. Petitions of
Independent congregations for toleration to themselves were coolly
received and neglected; the Presbyterians more and more saw the
importance of making Anti-Toleration their rallying dogma; more and more
the call to be wary against this insidious notion of Toleration rang
through the pulpits of England and Scotland. [Footnote: Hanbury's
_Historical Memorials relating to the Independents_, Vol. II. pp.
68-ll7; where ample extracts from the pamphlets mentioned in this
paragraph are given. Fletcher gives a good selection of them in his
_History of Independency_, Vol. III. Chap. VI.]

The debates in 1643 and 1644 between the five Independent or Dissenting
Brethren of the Westminster Assembly and the Presbyterian majority of the
Assembly brought on a new stage of the Toleration controversy. A notion
which might be scorned or ridiculed while it was lurking in Anabaptist
conventicles, or ventilated by a she-Brownist like Mrs. Chidley, or by
poor old Mr. Burton of Friday Street, could compel a hearing when
maintained by men so respectable as Messrs. Goodwin, Burroughs, Bridge,
Simpson, and Nye, whom the Parliament itself had sent into the Assembly.
The demand for Toleration which these men addressed to the Parliament in
their famous _Apologetical Narration_ of January 1643-4 gave sudden
dignity and precision to what till then had been vulgar and vague. It put
the question in this form, "What amount of Nonconformity is to be allowed
in the new Presbyterian Church which is to be the National Church of
England?"; and it distinctly intimated that on the answer to this
question it would depend whether the Apologists and their adherents could
remain in England or should be driven again into exile. Care must be
taken, however, not to credit the Apologists at this period with any
notion of absolute or universal Toleration. They were far behind Mrs.
Chidley or the old Baptists in their views. They were as yet but learners
in the school of Toleration. Indulgence for _themselves_ "in some
lesser differences," and perhaps also for some of the more reputable of
the other sects in _their_ different "lesser differences," was the
sum of their published demand. They too, no less than the Presbyterians,
professed disgust at the extravagances of the Sectaries. It was not so
much, therefore, the Toleration expressly claimed by the Five Dissenting
Brethren for themselves, as the larger Toleration to which it would
inevitably lead, that the Presbyterians continued to oppose and denounce.
As far as the Five Brethren and other such respectable Dissentients were
concerned, the Presbyterians would have stretched a point. They would
have made arrangements. They would have patted the Five Dissenting
Brethren on the back, and said, "It shall be made easy for _you_; we
will yield all the accommodation _you_ can possibly need; only don't
call it Toleration." The Dissenting Brethren were honest enough and
clear-headed enough not to be content with this personal compliment. Nor,
in fact, could the policy have been successful. For there were now
champions of the larger Toleration with voices that resounded through the
land and were heard over those of the Five Apologists. Precisely that
middle of the year 1644 at which we have stopped in our narrative was the
time when the principle of absolute Liberty of Conscience was proclaimed,
for the benefit of all opinions whatsoever, in tones that could never
more be silenced.

About the middle of 1644 there appeared in London at least three
pamphlets or books in the same strain. One of these, "_The Compassionate
Samaritan unbinding the Conscience_," need be remembered by its name
only; but the other two must be associated with their authors. One bore
the striking title "_The Bloudy Tenent_ [i. e. _Bloody Tenet] of
Persecution for cause of Conscience, discussed in a Conference between
Truth and Peace_," (pp. 247); the other bore, in its first edition, the
simple title, "_M. S. to A.S._," and, in its second edition, in the same
year, this fuller title "_A Reply of Two of the Brethren to A.S., &c.;
with a Plea for Liberty of Conscience for the Apologists' Church-way,
against the Cavils of the said A. S_." Though both were anonymous, the
authors were known at the time. The author of the first was that
Americanized Welshman, ROGER WILLIAMS, whose strange previous career,
from his first arrival in New England in 1631, on to his settlement among
the Narraganset Bay Indians in 1638, and his subsequent vagaries of
opinion and of action, has already been sketched (Vol. II. 560-563, and
600-602). He had been over in England, it will be remembered, since June
1643, in the capacity of envoy or commissioner from the Rhode Island
people, to obtain a charter for erecting Rhode Island and the adjacent
Providence Plantation into a distinct and independent colony. He had been
going about England a good deal, but had been mostly in London, in the
society of the younger Vane, and in frequent contact with other leading
men in Parliament and in the Westminster Assembly. The _Bloody Tenent_
was an expression, in printed form, of opinions he had been ventilating
frankly enough in conversation, and was intended as a parting-gift to

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