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

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VOL. III. 1643-1649.




JULY 1643--MARCH 1643-4.




I. The Westminster Assembly in Session--The Solemn League and Covenant:
Scottish Commissioners in the Assembly--Debates on Church-Government:
_Apologetical Narration_ of the Independents--Parliamentary
Proceedings--Scottish Auxiliary Army in England

II. Milton unhappy in his Marriage: His First Divorce Tract: Two Editions
of it


MARCH 1644-MARCH 1645.




I. Inactivity of the Scottish Auxiliaries--Spread of Independency and
Multiplication of Sects--Visitation of the University of Cambridge--
Battle of Marston Moor--Fortnight's Vacation of the Westminster Assembly
(July 23-August 7, 1644),--Principle of Toleration and State of the
Toleration Controversy: Synopsis of English Sects and Sectaries in 1644.-
-Resumption of Assembly's Proceedings: Denunciation of Picked Sectaries
and Heretics--Cromwell's Interference for Independency: Accommodation
Order of Parliament--Presbyterian Settlement voted--Essex beaten and the
War flagging: Self-denying Ordinance and New Model of the Army--
Parliamentary Vengeances: Death of Laud

II. Milton among the Sectaries, and in a "World of Disesteem": Story of
Mrs. Attaway--Samuel Hantlib, John Durie, and John Amos Comenius: Schemes
of a Reformed Education, and Project of a London University--Milton's
_Tract on Education_, and Method with his Pupils--His Second Divorce
Tract, or Compilation from Bucer--Mr. Herbert Palmer's Attack on Milton
from the Pulpit--Milton and the Stationers' Company: Their Accusation of
him in a Petition to the Commons--His _Areopagitica_, or Speech for
the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing--Anger of the Stationers, and their
Complaint against Milton to the Lords: Consequence of the Complaint--The
Divorce Question continued: Publication of Mr. Herbert Palmer's Sermon,
and farther Attacks on Milton by Prynne, Dr. Featley, and an Anonymous
Pamphleteer--_Tetrachordon_ and _Colasterion_: Their Replies to
the Assailants.


APRIL 1645-AUGUST 1646.




I. Composition of the New Model, and View of the Work lying before it--
First Actions of the New Model--Cromwell retained in Command: Battle of
Naseby: Other Successes of the New Model--Poor Performance of the
Scottish Auxiliary Army--Episode of Montrose in Scotland--Fag-end of the
War in England, and Flight of the King to the Scots--Fallen and Risen

II. Work in Parliament and the Westminster Assembly during the Sixteen
Months of the New Model--The two continued Church Controversies--
Independency and Sectarianism in the New Model: Toleration Controversy
continued: Cromwell's part in it: Lilburne and other Pamphleteers: Sion
College and the Corporation of London: Success of the Presbyterians in
Parliament--Presbyterian Frame of Church Government completed: Details of
the Arrangement--The Recruiting of the Commons: Eminent Recruiters--
Effects of the Recruiting: Alliance of Independency and Erastianism:
Check given to the Presbyterians: Westminster Assembly rebuked and
curbed--Negotiations round the King at Newcastle--Threatened Rupture
between the Scots and the English: Argyle's Visit to London: The Nineteen
Propositions--Parliament and the Assembly reconciled: Presbyterianizing
of London and Lancashire: Death of Alexander Henderson.

III. Effects of Milton's _Areopagitica_--His Intention of another
Marriage: His Wife's Return and Reconciliation with him--Removal from
Aldersgate Street to Barbican--First Edition of Milton's Collected Poems:
Humphrey Moseley the Bookseller--Two Divorce Sonnets and Sonnet to Henry
Lawes--Continued Presbyterian Attacks on Milton: His Anti-Presbyterian
Sonnet of Reply--Surrender of Oxford: Condition of the Powell Family--The
Powells in London: More Family Perplexities: Birth of Milton's first


AUGUST 1646--JANUARY 1648-9.









I. Charles in his Captivity First Stage of the Captivity: Still with the
Scots at Newcastle: Aug. 1646--Jan. 1646-7.--Balancings of Charles
between the Presbyterians and the Independents--His Negotiations in the
Presbyterian direction: The Hamiltons his Agents among the Scots--His
Attempt to negotiate with the Independents: Will Murray in London--
Interferences of the Queen from France: Davenant's Mission to Newcastle--
The Nineteen Propositions unanswered: A Personal Treaty offered--
Difficulties between the Scots and the English Parliament--Their
Adjustment: Departure of the Scots from England, and Cession of Charles
to the English--Westminster Assembly Business, and Progress of the
Presbyterian Settlement

Second Stage of the Captivity: At Holmby House: Feb. 1646-7--June 1647.--
The King's Manner of Life at Holmby--New Omens in his favour from the
Relations of Parliament to its own Army--Proposals to disband the Army
and reconstruct part of it for service in Ireland--Summary of Irish
Affairs since 1641--Army's Anger at the Proposal to disband it--View of
the State of the Army: Medley of Religious Opinions in it. Passion for
Toleration: Prevalence of Democratic Tendencies: The Levellers--
Determination of the Presbyterians for the Policy of Disbandment, and
Votes in Parliament to that effect--Resistance of the Army: Petitions and
Remonstrances from the Officers and Men: Regimental Agitators--Cromwell's
Efforts at Accommodation: Fairfax's Order for a General Rendezvous--
Cromwell's Adhesion to the Army--The Rendezvous at Newmarket, and Joyce's
Abduction of the King from Holmby--Westminster Assembly Business: First
Provincial Synod of London: Proceedings for the Purgation of Oxford

Third Stage of the Captivity: The King with the Army: June-Nov. 1647.--
Effects of Joyce's Abduction of the King--Movements of the Army: their
Denunciation of Eleven of the Presbyterian Leaders: Parliamentary Alarms
and Concessions--Presbyterian Phrenzy of the London Populace: Parliament
mobbed, and Presbyterian Votes carried by Mob-law: Flight of the two
Speakers and their Adherents: Restoration of the Eleven--March of the
Army upon London: Military Occupation of the City: The Mob quelled,
Parliament reinstated, and the Eleven expelled--Generous Treatment of the
King by the Army: His Conferences with Fairfax, Cromwell, and Ireton--The
Army's _Heads of Proposals_, and Comparison of the same with the
_Nineteen Propositions_ of the Parliament--The King at Hampton Court,
still demurring privately over the _Heads of Proposals_, but playing them
off publicly against the _Nineteen Propositions:_ Army at Putney--
Cromwell's Motion for a Recast of the _Nineteen Propositions_ and Re-
application to the King on that Basis: Consequences of the Compromise--
Intrigues at Hampton Court: Influence of the Scottish Commissioners
there: King immoveable--Impatience of the Army at Putney: Cromwell under
Suspicion: New Activity of the Agitatorships: Growth of Levelling
Doctrines among the Soldiers: _Agreement of the People_--Cromwell breaks
utterly with the King: Meetings of the Army Officers at Putney: Proposed
Concordat between the Army and Parliament--The King's Escape to the Isle
of Wight

Fourth Stage of the Captivity: In the Isle of Wight: Nov. 1647-Nov.
1648.--Carisbrooke Castle, and the King's Letters thence--Parliament's
New Method of the _Four Bills_--Indignation of the Scots: their
Complaints of Breach of the Covenant--Army Rendezvous at Ware:
Suppression of a Mutiny of Levellers by Cromwell, and Establishment of
the Concordat with Parliament--Parliamentary Commissioners in the Isle of
Wight: Scottish Commissioners also there: the King's Rejection of the
Four Bills--Firmness of Parliament: their Resolutions of No Farther
Addresses to the King: Severance of the Scottish Alliance--_The
Engagement_, or Secret Treaty between Charles and the Scots in the Isle
of Wight--Stricter guard of the King in Carisbrooke Castle: His Habits in
his Imprisonment--First Rumours of _The Scottish Engagement_: Royalist
Programme of a SECOND CIVIL WAR--Beginnings of THE SECOND CIVIL WAR:
Royalist Risings: Cromwell in Wales: Fairfax in the Southeast: Siege of
Colchester--Revolt of the Fleet: Commotion among the Royalist Exiles
abroad: Holland's attempted Rising in Surrey--Invasion of England by
Hamilton's Scottish Army: Arrival of the Prince of Wales off the
Southeast Coast: Blockade of the Thames--Consternation of the Londoners:
Faintheartedness of Parliament: New Hopes of the Presbyterians: their
Ordinance against Heresies and Blasphemies: their Leanings to the King:
Independents in a struggling minority: Charge of Treason against Cromwell
in his absence--The Three Days' Battle of Preston and utter Defeat of the
Scots by Cromwell: Surrender of Colchester to Fairfax: Return of the
Prince of Wales to Holland: Virtual End of THE SECOND CIVIL WAR--
Parliamentary Treaty with the King at Newport: Unsatisfactory Results--
Protests against the Treaty by the Independents--Disgust of the Army with
the Treaty: Revocation of their Concordat with Parliament, and Resolution
to seize the Political Mastery: Formation of a Republican Party--
Petitions for Justice on the King: The _Grand Army Remonstrance_--
Cromwell in Scotland: Restoration of the Argyle Government there:
Cromwell at Pontefract: His Letter to Hammond--The King removed from the
Isle of Wight to Hurst Castle--The Army again in possession of London

II. Troubles in the Barbican Household: Christopher Milton's Composition
Suit: Mr. Powell's Composition Suit: Death of Mr. Powell: His Will: Death
of Milton's Father--Sonnet XIV. and Ode to John Rous--Italian
Reminiscences: Lost Letters from Carlo Dati of Florence: Milton's Reply
to the last of them--Pedagogy in the Barbican: List of Milton's known
Pupils: Lady Ranelagh--Educational Reform still a Question: Hartlib
again: The Invisible College: Young Robert Boyle and William Petty--
Removal from Barbican to High Holborn--Meditations and Occupations in the
House in High Holborn: Milton's Sympathies with the Army Chiefs and the
Expectant Republicans--Still under the Ban of the Presbyterians:
Testimony of the London Ministers against Heresies and Blasphemies:
Milton in the Black List--Another Letter from Carlo Dati: Translation of
Nine Psalms from the Hebrew--Milton through the Second Civil War: His
personal Interest in it, and Delight in the Army's Triumph: His Sonnet to
Fairfax--Birth of Milton's Second Child: Another Letter from Carlo Dati

III. The Two Houses in the Grasp of the Army: Final Efforts for the King:
Pride's Purge and its Consequences--The King brought from Hurst Castle to
Windsor: Ordinance for his Trial passed by the Commons alone:
Constitution of the Court--The Trial in Westminster Hall: Incidents of
the Seven successive Days: The Sentence--Last Three Days of Charles's
Life: His Execution and Burial


JULY 1643--MARCH 1643-4.





The Westminster Assembly held its first formal meeting in Henry the
Seventh's Chapel on Saturday, July 1, 1643, after the impressive opening
ceremonial of a sermon preached before a great congregation in the Abbey
Church by the appointed Prolocutor, Dr. Twisse, on the text John xiv. 18,
"_I will not leave you comfortless_!" About 69 of the members were
present at that first meeting, many who attended afterwards not having
yet come up from the country. Among the 69 were the few of "the Episcopal
persuasion" who afterwards dropped off; and these were conspicuous by
their canonical dresses among the bulk of the members in all sorts of
plain Puritan suits. The average attendance subsequently seems to have
been from 60 to 80. The place of meeting for some time continued to be
King Henry the Seventh's Chapel; but this was changed, when the weather
grew colder, for the celebrated Jerusalem Chamber, also in the close
vicinity of the Houses of Parliament. [Footnote: The Ordinance of
Parliament authorizing the change of the place of meeting to the
Jerusalem Chamber is dated Sept. 23, 1643 see Lords Journals for that
day] None but members of the Assembly were allowed to be present, and
there was no deviation from this rule except on the very rarest occasions
and by special authority from Parliament. The Assembly sat commonly from
nine in the morning till one or two P.M. The Prolocutor sat at one end of
the room on a raised chair; his two Assessors were near him; and a table
ran through the whole length of the room, at one end of which sat the
Scribes, close to the Prolocutor, while the members were seated in tiers
at the sides and other end. The forms of debate and voting were very much
those of the House of Commons. Besides the meetings of the Assembly as
such, there were afternoon meetings of Committees for the preparation of
business for the Assembly. There were three such chief Standing
Committees, to one or other of which every member belonged. [Footnote:
Lightfoot's Notes of Assembly Works (ed. 1824), Vol. XIII, pp. 4, 5; and
Baillie, II. 107-109]


Not till Thursday, July 6, or indeed Saturday, July 8, was the Assembly
constituted for actual business. On the first of these days the
Regulations which had been drawn up by the two Houses of Parliament for
the procedure of the Assembly were duly received; and on the second all
the members of Assembly present took the solemn Protestation which had
been settled for them by the Commons with the concurrence of the Lords.
It was in these terms: "I, A. B., do seriously and solemnly protest, in
the presence of Almighty God, that in this Assembly, wherein I am a
member, I will not maintain anything in matters of Doctrine but what I
think in my conscience to be truth, or in point of Discipline but what I
shall conceive to conduce most to the glory of God and the good and peace
of His Church." So sworn, the members were ready for their first work.
That also had been rigidly prescribed for them by Parliament. On July 5
the Commons had ruled and the Lords had agreed "that the Assembly, in
their beginning, in the first place shall take the ten first Articles of
the Church of England into their consideration, to vindicate them from
all false doctrine and heresy." In other words, it was the pleasure of
Parliament that the first business of the Assembly should consist in a
revision and amendment of the Thirty-nine Articles, and that, by way of a
commencement in this business, or specimen to Parliament of the manner in
which it might be done, they were to confine themselves at first to the
first Ten of the Articles. Accordingly, the Assembly at once addressed
themselves to this business. It was with a view to it that they first
adopted that machinery of Committees which was to be employed
subsequently, with so much effect, in all the deliberations. The Divines
of the Assembly were distributed, in the order in which their names stood
in the Ordinance calling the Assembly, into three Committees for
preparatory revision of the said Articles in such a manner that the whole
Assembly might more clearly exercise its final judgment on them; while a
fourth Committee, in which the lay-members were included, was to assist
the others by procuring the most correct copies of the text of the
Articles. To the first revising Committee, of which Dr. Burges was
appointed chairman, were entrusted the first four Articles; to the
second, of which Dr. Stanton was chairman, the fifth, sixth, and seventh
Articles; and to the third, which had Mr. Gibbon for chairman, the
eighth, ninth, and tenth.

Imagine the Assembly collectively in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, and its
Committees distributively there or in other places of meeting, busy day
after day, through the rest of the hot month of July, and then into
August, over its appointed revision of the Articles. "_I. Of Faith in
the Holy Trinity; II. Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very
Man; III. Of the going down of Christ into Hell; IV. Of the Resurrection
of Christ; V. Of the Holy Ghost; VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy
Scriptures for Salvation; VII. Of the Old Testament; VIII. Of the Three
Creeds; IX. Of Original or Birth Sin; X. Of Free Will_;" imagine the
Articles under these headings discussed successively, sentence by
sentence and clause by clause, most of the sentences and clauses allowed
to pass without change as perfectly satisfactory, but here and there at
intervals a phrase modified or omitted, or a slight addition made, so as
to bring the meaning more sharply into accord with the letter of
Scripture or the Calvinistic system of doctrine. Such mere imagination of
the general process will suffice, and it is unnecessary to take account
of the actual changes proposed in the phraseology of particular Articles.
For, in fact, these first weeks of the Assembly's pains over the Articles
of the Church were to be labour wasted. Before the end of August, and
while they were still probing through the first Ten Articles, events had
taken such a course that the Assembly was called upon to co-operate with
the Parliament in matters of greater urgency.


The war, which had been on the whole in the King's favour hitherto, was
going more and more against Parliament. In the north, Lord Fairfax had
been beaten at Atherston Moor by the Earl of Newcastle (June 30); Sir
William Waller, the hitherto unconquered, had been beaten twice in the
south-west (at Lansdowne, July 5, and at Roundway Down, July 13); the
Queen, coming from the north, had joined the King in his quarters, amid
great rejoicing, after their seventeen months of separation; and Bristol,
inefficiently defended by Nathaniel Fiennes, was on the point of yielding
to Prince Rupert. It was time, in short, to do what it had long been in
the mind of Parliament to do--call in once more the aid of the Scots.

On this the Parliament had already resolved. As it was judged likely,
however, that the Scots would listen more readily to the application for
armed aid if it were accompanied with some distinct proof of a desire for
"uniformity of religion" between the two kingdoms, the Assembly was
required to assist Parliament in pleading with the Scots. The Scottish
Convention of Estates was then sitting (it had met, by express call, June
22); and the Scottish General Assembly was to meet on the 2nd of August.
Let there be Commissioners from both the English Parliament and the
Westminster Assembly to these two bodies; let the Assembly write letters
to the Scottish Assembly, backing the political application with
religious arguments; let every exertion be made to secure a new alliance
with the Scottish nation! Accordingly, while the Assembly was pursuing
its revision of the Articles, or occupying itself with such incidental
matters as the appointment of ministers to preach before the two Houses,
and the recommendation of a Fast Day extraordinary in London, their
thoughts, like those of Parliament, were chiefly fixed on the issue of
their joint embassy to Edinburgh. [Footnote: Lightfoot's Notes for July
1643; and my MS. chronology of events]

The Scots had foreseen the application. Three courses were before them.
They might remain neutral; they might interfere as "redders," or
mediators between the King and the English Parliament; or they might
openly side with the Parliament and help it in the war. Great efforts had
been made by the King to induce the Scots to the first course. [Footnote:
Burnet's Dukes of Hamilton (ed. 52), pp. 279-298] Five or six of the
Scottish noblemen who were with the King at Oxford had been sent back
among their countrymen to labour for this end. All in vain. It had become
clear to Argyle, Loudoun, Warriston, and the other Scottish leaders, that
neutrality would be ruinous. Things were in this state when the
Commissioners from the English Parliament and the Westminster Assembly
arrived in Edinburgh (Aug. 7). The Scottish Convention of Estates was
then still sitting; and the General Assembly of the Scottish Kirk, with
Alexander Henderson again its Moderator (the third time he had been
raised to this Presidency), was in the middle of its annual fortnight or
so of Scottish ecclesiastical business--one item of the business this
time being, I find, "the late extraordinar multiplying of witches,"
especially in Fifeshire. Both the Convention and the Assembly had been
anxiously waiting for the English Commissioners, and were delighted when
they arrived. They were six in all--Sir William Armyn, Sir Harry Vane the
younger, Mr. Hatcher, and Mr. Darley, from the Parliament; and Stephen
Marshall and Philip Nye from the Westminster Divines. And what moving
letters they brought with them--official letters from the Parliament and
the Westminster Assembly to the Scottish Convention of Estates and
General Assembly, and also a more private letter signed by about seventy
English Divines! And how the Scots were impressed by the letters! The
private letter of the seventy Divines in especial was "so lamentable"
that, when it was read in the General Assembly, "it drew tears from
many." And how all were struck by the ability and gravity of young Sir
Harry Vane, and liked him and Stephen Marshall, but did not take so much
to Mr. Nye, because of his known Independency! In short, in conferences
between the English Commissioners and Commissioners appointed by the
Scottish Convention and General Assembly to meet them, it was all
arranged. There was, indeed, still some lingering question at first among
the Scottish leaders whether it might not do to "go as redders or friends
to both, without siding altogether with the Parliament;" but Warriston
alone "did show the vanity of that notion and the impossibility of it."
And so Vane and the other Commissioners could write to England that their
mission had been successful, and that the armed aid of the Scottish
nation might be expected.

Ay, but there was a special condition. The Commissioners had come to
treat about "Scottish assistance to Parliament and a uniformity of
religion," and it was the prospect held out in the second phrase that
most reconciled the Scots to all that was involved in the first. The
extension of Scottish Presbyterianism over all England and Ireland, or,
at all events, the union of the two kingdoms in some common form of
Church-government not essentially differing from Scottish
Presbyterianism--for that object the Scots _would_ strike in; for
that object they _would_ shed their blood, as fellow-soldiers with
Englishmen, in the fields of England! Now the English Commissioners, like
wary men, and probably in accordance with their instructions, would fain
have avoided any too definite a pledging of England to a particular
ecclesiastical future. Nye, in especial, as an Independent, must have
desired to avoid this; and Vane, as a man who did not know how far from
his present opinions continued reasoning might carry him, may have felt
with Nye. Hence, on the religious question, they tried to get off with
generalities. If there were a league between the two kingdoms for their
civil liberties, would not a uniformity in Church matters naturally
follow? But this was not quite satisfactory to the Scottish
Commissioners. "The English were for a civil league, we for a religious
covenant," says Baillie; and the event has made the sentence memorable
historically. Let England and Scotland unite first in subscribing one and
the same document, swearing one and the same oath, which should base
their alliance on a certain amount of mutual engagement in the matter of
Religion! To such oaths of mutual allegiance the Scots, among themselves,
had long been accustomed. They called them "Covenants." This agency of
"Covenanting" had been a grand agency in Scottish History. Was not the
present liberation of Scotland, the destruction of Episcopacy root and
branch within its borders, the result of the "National Covenant" sworn to
only five years and a half ago--that Covenant being but the renewal, with
slight additions, of a document which had done not unimportant work in a
former age? Why not have another Covenant for the present emergency--not
that National or purely Scottish Covenant, but a Covenant expressly
framed for the new purpose, and fit to be a religious pact between the
two kingdoms? So argued the Scots with the English Commissioners; and,
that the English Commissioners might see what was meant, Alexander
Henderson, who was probably the author of the idea, and to whom, at any
rate, the preparation of any extremely important document was always
entrusted, produced a draft of the proposed Covenant. The English
Commissioners did not altogether like this draft; but, after a good deal
of discussion, and apparently some suggestions from Vane tending to
vagueness in the religious part and greater prominence of the civil, the
draft was modified into a shape in which it was agreed to unanimously. On
the 17th of August it was reported by Henderson to the General Assembly,
and passed there not only unanimously and with applause, but with a most
unusual show of emotion among old and young; and on the same day it
passed the Scottish Convention. "This seems to be a new period and crise
of the most great affair," writes Baillie, recording these facts.
[Footnote: Acts of Scottish General Assembly of 1644; Baillie's Letters,
II. 81-90; Burnet's Hamiltons, 298-307.]

Baillie was right. THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT, as Henderson's amended
document of August 1643 was called (not the same thing at all, it is to
be remembered, as the SCOTTISH NATIONAL COVENANT of 1638, though
generally confounded therewith), became a most potent instrument in
England. This, however, could not be foreseen at first. It remained to be
seen whether the English Parliament would adopt the document which had
been agreed to by their Commissioners in Edinburgh. In the faith that
they would, or that they might be induced to do so, the Scottish General
Assembly, before its rising (Aug. 19), not only sent cordial and
sympathetic answers to the letters received from the Parliament and the
Westminster Divines, but also complied with that request of the
Parliament which desired the nomination of some Scottish ministers to be
members of the Westminster Assembly. The ministers nominated were
Henderson, Mr. Robert Douglas, Baillie, Mr. Samuel Rutherford, and Mr.
George Gillespie; but it was thought right, if only to accustom the
English to the principle of lay-eldership, to associate with these
ministers the Earl of Cassilis, Lord Maitland, and Johnstone of
Warriston. Of the eight Commissioners so appointed three were to be a
quorum. Accordingly, Henderson, Gillespie, and Lord Maitland sailed for
London at once (Aug. 30), leaving the others to follow more at leisure.
[Footnote: Acts of Scottish Assembly of 1643; and Baillie's Letters, II.

When Henderson reached London, he found his "Covenant" the universal
topic. The Parliament had lost no time in referring the document to the
Westminster Divines for their consideration; and there had been three or
four days of debate over it in that Assembly (Aug. 28 and onwards). Some
members, especially Dr. Cornelius Burges, took exceptions. On the whole,
however, the feeling of the Assembly decidedly was that the Covenant was
a splendid invention, might be adopted with a few verbal changes, and
might lead to fine results. This was reported to Parliament Aug. 31; and
Dr. Burges, continuing in his captiousness against this judgment of the
Assembly, found himself in disgrace. The two Houses then proceeded to
examine the Covenant for themselves. They also proposed some
modifications of the document, and referred it back, with these, to the
Assembly (Sept. 14). The arrival of Henderson and his two colleagues at
this nick of time accelerated the conclusion. On the 15th of September,
when they first appeared among the Westminster Divines, and Henderson
first opened his mouth in the Assembly and expounded the whole subject of
the relations between the two kingdoms, all opposition came to an end.
The document passed, with only the modifications that had already seemed
reasonable, and to which the Scots Commissioners had assented; and,
"after all was done, "Mr. Prolocutor, at the desire of the Assembly, gave
thanks "to God for the sweet concurrence of us in the Covenant." The
words are Lightfoot's; who adds that, to make the joy complete, Dr.
Burges came in radiant and repentant, expressing his complete
satisfaction now with the Covenant, and begging to be forgiven.
[Footnote: Burges had actually been suspended by Parliament from being a
member of the Assembly for his contumacy in this affair, Sept. 2, 1643;
but he was restored on his own humble petition, Sept. 15, the very day of
his repentant reappearance in the Assembly. He had already on that day
been called in before the Commons and had explained "that it was very
true he had unhappily taken exception to some things in the Covenant,"
but that "he hears there had been a review of this Covenant," and such an
alteration "as will give him satisfaction." See Commons Journals of the
two dates named.] The Covenant having thus been finally adjusted, the two
Houses of Parliament were swift in enacting it. On the 21st of September,
they ordered that it should be printed and published, and subscribed and
sworn to by the whole English realm; and, on Monday the 25th, to set the
example, there was a solemn meeting of the members of the two Houses and
of the Divines of the Assembly in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, at
which 220 of the Commons and all the Divines then present swore to the
new pact, and signed it with their names.--This was but the beginning.
The Covenant was thenceforth the Shibboleth of Parliamentarianism. In
London first, and then gradually through England, in towns, parishes, and
parish churches, wherever Parliament prevailed, all had to sign it or
swear to it if they would be considered friends to the cause of
Parliament and allowed action and standing-room as true Englishmen.
Oliver Cromwell, as a member of the House of Commons, signed it--if not
among the 220 of the Commons who signed it originally on the 25th of
September (at which time there is proof that he was absent from London),
at least in due course; and Milton must have signed it, as a London
householder. But, in fact, the signing went on for months and months, the
Royal Proclamation from Oxford forbidding the Covenant (Oct. 9) only
increasing the zeal for it. From Sept. 1643, onwards for some years, the
test of being a Parliamentarian in England was "Have you signed the
Covenant?" and the test of willingness to _become_ a Parliamentarian, and
of fitness to be forgiven for past malignancy or lukewarmness, was "Will
you _now_ sign the Covenant?" Such was the strange fortune of the hurried
paper drawn up by Henderson's pen in some room in the High Street of
Edinburgh.--In Scotland, it need hardly be said, the Covenant was sworn
to with alacrity. As the document was, in its very nature, a pact between
the two kingdoms, proposed by the Scots, it was useless for them to swear
until they had seen whether the English would accept the pact. But, as
soon as it was known in Scotland that the Covenant had been adopted by
the English and that the swearing in England had begun, the Scots did
their part. There was some little grumbling at first over the verbal
changes that had been made by the English in the text of the Covenant;
but this ceased, and it was even agreed that the changes were for the
better. Accordingly, on the 13th of October, 1643, most of the Scottish
nobles in Edinburgh, including 18 of the Privy Council, swore solemnly to
the Covenant in one of the city churches; and from that day on, for weeks
and months, there was a general swearing to the Covenant by the whole
people of Scotland, as by the Parliamentarians in England, district by
district, and parish by parish. Thus the Scots came now to have two
Covenants. There was their own _National Scottish Covenant_, peculiar to
themselves; and there was the _Solemn League and Covenant_, in which they
were joined with the English Parliamentarians. [Footnote: Lightfoot,
XIII. 10-16; Baillie, II. 98, 99, and 102; Neal, III. 65-70; Stevenson,
515, 516; Parl. Hist. III. 172-174; Carlyle's Cromwell (ed. 1857), I.
137, 138.]

And what was this _Solemn League and Covenant_, the device of
Henderson and the Scots for linking the Scottish and English nations in a
permanent civil and religious alliance? The document is not nearly
Henderson at his best, and it has not the deep ring, the fervour and
fierceness, of the old Scottish Covenant. For its purpose, however, it
was efficient enough, and not so very illiberal either, the necessity of
such a league being allowed, and the time and other things considered.
Here are the essential parts:--

We, Noblemen, Barons, Knights, Gentlemen, Citizens, Burgesses, Ministers
of the Gospel, arid Commons of all sorts, in the Kingdoms of England,
Scotland, and Ireland ... with our hands lifted up to the most high God,
do swear:--

I. That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of
God, endeavour, in our several places and callings, the preservation of
the Reformed Religion in the Church of Scotland, in Doctrine, Worship,
Discipline and Government, against our common enemies; [also] the
Information of Religion in the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, in
Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government, according to the Word of
God and the example of the best Reformed Churches: and we shall endeavour
to bring the Churches of God in the three Kingdoms to the nearest
conjunction and uniformity in Religion, Confession of Faith, Form of
Church-Government, Directory for Worship and Catechising, that we and our
posterity after us may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord
may delight to dwell in the midst of us.

II. That we shall in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour
the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy (_i.e._ Church-government by
Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors and Commissaries, Deans, Deans
and Chapters, Archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical Officers
depending on that Hierarchy), Superstition, Heresy, Schism, Profaneness,
and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine and the
power of godliness; lest we partake in other men's sins, and thereby be
in danger to receive of their plagues, and that the Lord may be one and
his Name one in the three Kingdoms.

III. We shall with the same sincerity, reality, and constancy, in our
several vocations, endeavour with our estates and lives mutually to
preserve the rights and privileges of the Parliaments, and the liberties
of the Kingdoms, and to preserve and defend the King's Majesty's person
and authority, in the preservation and defence of the true Religion and
Liberties of the Kingdoms; that the world may bear witness with our
consciences of our loyalty, and that we have no thoughts or intentions to
diminish his Majesty's just power and greatness.

IV. We shall also with all faithfulness endeavour the discovery of all
such as have been or shall be Incendiaries, Malignants, or evil
Instruments, by hindering the Information of Religion, dividing the King
from his People, or one of the Kingdoms from another, or making any
faction or parties among the People contrary to the League and Covenant;
that they may be brought to public trial, and receive condign punishment
as the degree of their offences shall require or deserve, or the supreme
judicatories of both Kingdoms respectively, or others having power from
them for that effect, shall judge convenient.

V. And, whereas the happiness of a blessed Peace between these Kingdoms,
denied in former times to our progenitors, is by the good Providence of
God granted unto us, and hath been lately concluded and settled by both
Parliaments, we shall, each one of us, according to our places and
interest, endeavour that they may remain conjoined in a firm Peace and
Union to all posterity, and that justice may be done upon the wilful
opposers thereof in manner expressed in the precedent Article.

VI. We shall also, according to our places and callings, in this common
cause of Religion, Liberty, and Peace of the Kingdoms, assist and defend
all those that enter into this League and Covenant in the maintaining and
pursuing thereof, and shall not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly,
by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided and
withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction, whether to make
defection to the contrary part, or give ourselves to a detestable
indifferency and neutrality in this cause, which so much concerneth the
glory of God, the good of the Kingdoms, and the honour of the King; but
shall all the days of our lives zealously and constantly continue therein
against all opposition, and promote the same according to our power
against all lets and impediments whatsoever; and what we are not able
ourselves to suppress or overcome we shall reveal and make known, that it
may be timely prevented or removed: all which we shall do as in the sight
of God... [Footnote: Rushworth, V. 478-9, and Lords Journals, Sept. 18,
1643.--"Not so very illiberal either," I have said of the League and
Covenant in the text; and reader of the Second Article, pledging to
"endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, Superstition, Heresy,
Schism, Profaneness," will naturally demur. This Article, however, was
but a repetition of what all, of both nations, who might sign the
Covenant, including the English Parliament, were, by past actions and
resolutions, already pledged to, neck-deep or more. The illiberality is
to be charged not upon this particular League and Covenant, but upon the
entire British mind of the time, with individual theorists excepted. It
belonged to the Royalists equally with the Parliamentarians; the only
difference being that the objects for "extirpation" in _their_
policy were and had been the Calvinisms and Presbyterianisms that were
now exulting in the power of counter-extirpation.--The most important
Article of the six is the First, pledging to a recognition and defence of
the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and to an endeavour after a
Reformation of Religion in England and Ireland "according to the Word of
God," with a view to uniformity in the three Kingdoms. The insertion of
the caution "according to the word of God" is said to have been owing to
Vane, who did not want to pre-commit the English too much to exact
Scottish Presbytery. The few other changes made by the English Parliament
and Westminster Assembly in Henderson's original Edinburgh draft of the
Covenant may be traced by a diligent reader in the proceedings of the
Lords and Commons on this subject as recorded in their Journals between
Aug. 31 and Sept. 15. The parenthetical definition of Prelacy in Art. II.
was a suggestion of the Assembly's; the bringing in of Ireland into the
Covenant seems to have been a notion of the Commons.]

Ono effect of the Solemn League and Covenant was to clear away from the
Westminster Assembly the few Anglicans who had till then tried to hang on
to it. Dr. Featley alone, of this party, persisted in keeping his place
for some time longer; but, on the discovery that he was acting as a spy
in the King's interest and corresponding with Usher, he was expelled by
the Parliament, sequestrated from his livings, and committed to prison
(Sept. 30). On the other hand, the Assembly had now an accession of
strength in the Commissioners deputed to it from the Kirk of Scotland.
Two of these, Mr. Douglas and the Earl of Cassilis, never made their
appearance; but the other six duly took their places, though not all at
once. They were admitted by warrant of the Parliament, entitling them "to
be present and to debate upon occasion"; but, as Commissioners from the
Church of another nation, they declined being considered "members" in the
ordinary sense. Practically, however, this was a mere formality; and the
reader has now therefore to add to the list of the Assembly the following


ALEXANDER HENDERSON: since 1639 one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and
since 1640 Rector of the University of Edinburgh (annually re-elected).
_�tat._ 60.--As Henderson has appeared again and again in this
History, I have only to add here that my researches have more and more
convinced me that he was, all in all, one of the ablest and best men of
his age in Britain, and the greatest, the wisest, and most liberal, of
the Scottish Presbyterians. They had all to consult him; in every strait
and conflict he had to be appealed to, and came in at the last as the man
of supereminent composure, comprehensiveness, and breadth of brow.
Although the Scottish Presbyterian rule was that no churchman should have
authority in State affair's, it had to be practically waived in his case:
he was a Cabinet Minister without office. The tradition in Scotland is
perfectly just which recollects him as the second founder of the Reformed
Church in that part of the island, its greatest man after Knox. Such is
the tradition; and yet you may look in Encyclop�dias and such-like works
of reference published of late years in Scotland, and not find
Henderson's name. The less wonder that he has never received justice in
general British History! I undertake, however, that any free-minded
English historian, investigating the course of even specially English
History from 1638 to 1646, will dig up the Scottish Henderson for himself
and see reason to admire him.--Henderson, it will be remembered, had been
in London, on the Anglo-Scottish business, before. But his stay then had
been for but seven months (Nov. 1640-June 1641). Now, as Scottish
Commissioner to the Westminster Assembly, he was to remain in England for
the best part of three years (Aug. 1643--Aug. 1646). It was the easier
for him to give this service to English Parliamentarianism because he was
an unmarried man. His Edinburgh congregation and Edinburgh University had
to endure his absence as well as they could. Letters between Edinburgh
and London could go and come by sea in ten or twelve days.

GEORGE GILLESPIE: one of the ministers of Edinburgh (formerly minister of
the parish of Wemyss in Fifeshire): _�tat._ 3l.--He had flashed into
notice in Scotland in 1637, when he was only four-and-twenty years of
ago. He was then but tutor in the household of the Earl of Cassilis; but
he had written "_A Dispute against the English--Popish Ceremonies
obtruded upon the Church of Scotland_;" and the publication of this
treatise, happening opportunely in the crisis of the Scottish revolt
against Laud's novelties, attracted immediate attention to him, and
caused him to be regarded as one of the young hopes of Scottish
Presbyterianism. Hence his appointment to the parish of Wemyss (1638);
and hence his previous mission to London, in company with Henderson,
Baillie, and Blair (1640-41). Returning from that mission, he had been
translated from Wemyss to Edinburgh; but hardly had he settled in
Edinburgh when he was again sent off to London on this new business. His
wife and family joined him in London. He took a very active part in the
business of the Assembly. He died in 1648, soon after his return to
Scotland, aged only 35, leaving various writings besides his first one.
Among these were Notes of the Proceedings of the Assembly, chiefly during
1644. They were first published from the MSS. in 1846.

ROBERT BAILLIE: Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow
(formerly minister of Kilwinning in Ayrshire): _�tat._ 4l.--Baillie
also had been on the former Scottish Commission to London; and it way
sorely against his will that he was appointed on this second one. He
followed Henderson and Gillespie in November 1643, leaving his wife and
family in Glasgow. He also remained fully three years in London,
attending the Assembly punctually, but not speaking much. Fortunately,
however, he kept up his habit of jotting down in his note-books and his
correspondence all he saw and heard, Baillie's _Letters and Journals_
(first properly edited by Mr. David Laing in 1842) are among the most
graphic books of contemporary memoir to be found in any language. His
faculty of narration in his pithy native Scotch is nothing short of
genius. Whenever we have an account from Baillie of anything he saw or
was present at, it is worth all other accounts put together for accuracy
and vividness. So in his account of Stratford's trial; and so in his
account of his first impressions of the Westminster Assembly.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: one of the ministers of St. Andrews, and also
Professor of Divinity in the University there (formerly minister of
Anwoth, Kirkcudbright): _�tat_. 43.--Of him, as of the others, we
have had to take note before. Much of his celebrity in Scottish
ecclesiastical history and in the history of Scottish theology had yet to
be acquired; but for sixteen years he had been known as one of the most
fervid spirits and most popular preachers in all Scotland. In what mood
he accepted his commission to the Westminster Assembly may be judged from
a private letter of his from St. Andrews, Oct. 20, 1643. "My heart
beareth me witness," he there says, "and the Lord who is greater knoweth,
my faith was never prouder than to be a common rough barrowman in Anwoth,
and that I could not look at the honour of being ane mason to lay the
foundations for many generations, and to build the waste places of Sion
in another kingdom, or to have ane hand in the carved work in the cedar
and almug trees in that new Temple." He went to London along with Baillie
in November 1643, his wife and family either accompanying him or
following him. He also remained in London three years or more, burying
two of his children there. He was a much more frequent speaker in the
Assembly than Baillie.


JOHN, LORD MAITLAND (eldest son of the Earl of Lauderdale), _�tat_.
27.--This young nobleman, who had a long and strange career before him,
was now one of the most zealous of the Scottish Covenanters, and was
selected by the Scottish Kirk, as one of the lay-elders to be sent to the
Westminster Assembly, on account of his great ability and learning. He
accompanied Henderson and Gillespie, and took his place in the Assembly
in August 1645; and, from his first arrival in London, he was much
courted by the Parliamentary leaders. Baillie and the rest were proud of
their young noble. This was hardly, however, on account of his personal
appearance; for he was a large-bodied young fellow, red-haired, of
boisterous demeanour, and with a tongue too big for his mouth, so that he
spluttered and frothed when he spoke. Ah! could the Scots but have
foreseen, could the young fellow himself but have foreseen, what years
would bring about!

SIR ARCHIBALD JOHNSTONE OF WARRISTON, Knt.: one of the Judges of the
Scottish Court of Session (hence by courtesy "Lord Warriston"'): _�tat.
circ_. 35.--He had been, as we know, a leader among the Scottish
Covenanters since 1637, and his knighthood and judgeship, conferred on
him by the King in Edinburgh in 1641, had been the reluctant recognition
of his activity during the four preceding years.--Beside Henderson and
Argyle there is no man of the Scottish Presbyterians of that time more
worthy of mark than Warriston. He had prodigious powers of work,
requiring but three hours of sleep out of the twenty-four: and he was
mutually crafty and long-headed, always ready with lawyer-like
expedients. Bishop Burnet, who was his nephew, adds, "He went into very
high notions of lengthened devotions, in which he continued many hours a
day: he would often pray in his family two hours at a time, and had an
unexhausted copiousness that way. What thought soever struck his fancy
during these effusions, he looked on it as an answer of prayer, and was
wholly determined by it." Such descriptions, and even parts of his own
correspondence, might picture him as a kind of fanatical Machiavelli; but
he seems to have been much liked and trusted by all who knew him.
Baillie, for instance, addresses him familiarly and heartily as
"Archibald" in his more private letters. He had much of his career still
before him.--His judgeship and other business in Edinburgh prevented him
from going to London along with the other Commissioners; but he took his
place in the Westminster Assembly Feb. 1, 1643-4, and was for some time
afterwards in England.

[Besides Lord Maitland and Lord Warriston, there were admitted into the
Westminster Assembly from time to time other Scottish lay-commissioners,
either to make up for the absence of the Earl of Cassilis originally
appointed, or for other reasons. Thus in September 1643, when Henderson,
Gillespie, and Lord Maitland took their places, ROBERT MALDRUM, a
confidential agent of the Scots in London, was admitted along with them;
and the EARL OF LOUDOUN, LORD BALMERINO and even ARGYLE himself, sat in
the Assembly at various times subsequently.]

Every respect was paid to the Scottish Commissioners in London. They had
Worcester House in the City assigned, or rather re-assigned, them for a
residence, with St. Antholin's church again made over to them for their
preachings; [Footnote: Memoir of Baillie, by David Laing, in Baillie's
Letters and Journals, p. li. In Cunningham's "London," and else where,
Worcester House in the Strand, on the site of the present Beaufort
Buildings, afterwards Lord Clarendon's house is mad the residence of the
Scottish Commissioners; but Mr. Laing points out that it was Worcester
House or Worcester Place in the City, which had been the mansion of John
Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester.] and they had a special bench of honour in
the Assembly. And from that bench, day after day, week after week, month
after month, they laboured to direct the Assembly, and, to a great
extent, did direct it. For, as the mainly Presbyterian character and
composition of the Assembly at its first meeting had been the result of
the influence of Scottish example and of continued Scottish action in
England for a year or two, so it was to Henderson's Covenant, and to the
presence of the Scottish Commissioners in London, that the Assembly,
while yet in its infancy, was indebted (if it was a debt) for a new
impulse or twist in the strict Presbyterian direction. English
Presbyterianism might be willing, but it was vague and uninformed;
whereas here, in the Scottish Commissioners, were men who knew all about
Presbyterianism, had every detail of it at their fingers' ends, had
studied it nearly all their lives, and had worked it practically for five
years. What a boon to England to be able to borrow for a year or two such
a group of Scottish instructors! It was as if a crowd of Volunteers,
right-minded and willing to learn, had secured a few highly-recommended
regulars to be their drill-sergeants.


It was not till October 12, 1643, that the real debating in the Assembly
began. Till then they had been occupied with matters in which they could
be pretty nearly of one mind, including their revision of the Thirty-nine
Articles. In that business, where we left them at the Tenth Article
(_ant�_, p. 6), they had crawled on through five Articles more: viz.-
"_XI. Of Justification by Faith_"; "_XII. Of Good Works_"; "_XIII. Of
Works before Justification_"; "_XIV. Of Works of Supererogation_"; "_XV.
Of Christ alone without Sin_"; and on the 12th of October they were busy
over Article XVI. "_Of Sin after Baptism._" But on that day they received
an order from the two Houses (and Scottish influence is here visible) to
leave for the present their revision of the Thirty-nine Articles, and
proceed at once to the stiffer questions of the new form of Church-
government and the new Directory of Worship for England. [Footnote:
Lightfoot's Notes, p. 17.] Of these questions the Assembly chose the
first to begin with. On what a sea of troubles they were then launched!

(1) CHURCH OFFICERS AND OFFICES.--Under this heading alone they had
debates extending over nearly three months (Oct. 1643--Jan. 1643-4), and
labouring successively through such topics as these--Christ's Priesthood,
Prophetship, and Kingship, with the nature of his Headship over the
Church; the Church officers under Christ mentioned in Scripture
(Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Doctors or Teachers, Bishops or Overseers,
Presbyters or Elders, Deacons, and Widows), with the nature of their
functions respectively, and the proper discrimination between those of
them that were extraordinary and temporary and those that were to be
ordinary and permanent in the Church; the settling therefrom of the
officers properly belonging to each modern Christian congregation, and
especially whether there should be ruling lay-elders along with the
pastor or minister, and, if so, what should be their exact duties.
Gradually, in the course of this long discussion, carried on day after
day in the slowest syllogistic way, the differences of the Independents
and the Erastians from the Presbyterian majority of the Assembly came
out. On the question of lay-eldership, indeed, there was a more extensive
contest. Such English Presbyterians as Mr. Vines, Mr. Palmer, and Mr.
Gataker, joined with the Erastian Divines, Lightfoot and Coleman, and
with the Independents, in wholly or partially opposing lay-eldership,
against the advocacy of their brethren, Marshall, Calamy, Newcomen, Young
(four of the Smectymnuans), Seaman, Herle, Walker, Whitaker and others,
hacked by the Scottish Commissioners. On the whole, however, the votes
were decidedly in favour of the Scottish Presbyterian arrangement of
church offices. Henderson occasionally waived a point for the sake of

(2) ORDINATION:--This subject and its adjuncts occupied the Assembly
during some fourteen sittings in January 1643-4. Ordination having been
defined to be "the solemn setting apart of a person to some public church
office," it was voted, not without opposition, that such ordination is
always to be continued in the church, and consequently that there should
not be promiscuous preaching by all and sundry, but only preaching by
authorized persons. But then who were to ordain? What were to be the
qualifications for being ordained to the pastoral office? How far were
the congregations or parishioners to have a voice in the election of
their pastors? What was to be the ceremonial of ordination? On these
points, or on some of them, the Independents fought stoutly, being
carefully on their guard against anything that might endanger their main
principle of the completeness of every congregation of believers within
itself. Selden also interposed with perturbing Erastian arguments. On the
whole, however, in this matter also the drift of the Assembly was as the
Presbyterians wished. While it was agreed that "in extraordinary cases
something extraordinary may be done until a settled order can be had," it
was voted that even in such cases there should be a "keeping as near as
possibly may be to the rule;" which rule was indicated, so far at least,
by the resolution that "preaching Presbyters may ordain," or that Bishops
are not required for the act. But, before this subject of Ordination
could be carried farther, it melted into a larger one.

which had been underlying the whole course of the previous debating,
emerged in express terms before the end of January 1643-4. Then began the
real tug of the verbal war. It is unnecessary to enumerate all the items
of the controversy. The battle was essentially between two principles of
church-organization. Was every individual assembly, or association of
Christians (it might be of hundreds of persons, or it might be of as few
as seven persons, voluntarily drawn together), to be an independent
ecclesiastical organism, entitled to elect its own pastor and other
officers, and to exercise the powers of admonition and excommunication
within itself--any action of surrounding congregations upon it being an
action of mere observation and criticism, and not of power or
jurisdiction; and no authority to belong to meetings of the office-
bearers of congregations of the same city or neighbourhood, or to general
synods of office-bearers, however useful for various purposes such
occasional meetings and synods might be? This was what the Independents
maintained; and to this the Presbyterians vehemently said Nay. It was not
desirable, they said in the first place, that congregations themselves
should be mere gatherings of Christians drawn together by chance
affinities. That would be to put an end to the parochial system, with all
the advantages of orderliness and effective administration that belonged
to it. Let every congregation consist, as heretofore, mainly of the
inhabitants of one parish or definitely marked ecclesiastical territory.
Then let there be a strict inter-connectedness of all these parochial
congregations over the whole land by means of an ascending series of
church-judicatories. Let the congregations of the same town or district
be connected by a Presbyterial Court, consisting of the assembled
ministers and the ruling lay-elders of all the congregations,
periodically reviewing the proceedings of the said congregations
individually, or hearing appeals from them; and let these Presbyteries or
Presbyterial Courts be in like manner under the authority and review of
Synods, embracing many Presbyteries within their bounds, and, finally, of
National Assemblies of the whole Church. Fierce and hot waxed the war
between the two systems. Much turned on the practice of the apostolic
churches or primitive Christian communities of Jerusalem Ephesus,
Antioch, Corinth, &c., as it could be gathered from various passages of
Scripture: and great was the display of learning, Hebraic and
Hellenistic, over these passages on both sides. Goodwin as the chief
speaker for the Independents; but he was aided by Nye, Burroughs, Bridge,
and Simpson; and Selden struck in, if not directly for Congregationalism,
at least so as to perplex the Presbyterians. On the other side Marshall
and the other Smectymnuans were conspicuous, with Vines, Seaman, Burges,
Palmer, Herle, and Whitaker. Henderson looked on and assisted when
required. But no one on this side was more energetic than Henderson's
young colleague, Gillespie. His countryman Baillie was in raptures with
him, and in writing to Scotland and to Holland could not praise him
enough. "Of a truth" he says in one letter, "there is no man whose parts
in a public debate I do so admire. He has studied so accurately all the
points that ever yet came to our Assembly, he has got so ready, so
assured, so solid a way of public debating, that, however there be in the
Assembly divers very excellent men, yet, in my poor judgment, there is
not one who speaks more rationally and to the point than that brave youth
has done ever." On one occasion Gillespie, on a question of sheer
learning, dared to grapple even with the great Selden, and with such
effect, according to tradition (Scottish!), that even Selden reeled. And
so on and on, from January 1643-4, through February, March, and April,
the debate proceeded, and there seemed to be no likely end to it. For,
though Congregationalism was maintained but by a small knot of men in the
Assembly, they fought man fully, inch by inch, and there were various
reasons why the majority, instead of overwhelming them by a conclusive
vote or two, allowed them to struggle on. For one thing, though Baillie
thought there was a "woful longsomeness" in the slow English forms of
debating at such a time, it was felt by the English members that, in so
important a business as the settling of a new constitution for the
National Church, hurry would be unbecoming. But, besides this, the
Assembly was not a body legislating in its own right. It had been called
only to advise the Parliament; and, though its deliberations were with
closed doors, was not all that it did from day to day pretty well known,
not only in Parliament, but in London and throughout the country? Might
not the little knot of Independents fighting within the Assembly
represent an amount of opinion out of doors too large to be trifled with?
[Footnote: In Lightfoot's Notes of the Assembly and Gillespie's similar
Notes, the proceedings which I have endeavoured to summarize in this
paragraph and the two preceding may be traced in detail--Lightfoot's
Notes traversing, with great minuteness, the whole of the time under
notice; and Gillespie's beginning at Feb. 2, 1643-4. Prefixed to
Gillespie's Notes, as edited by Meek in 1846, there is, however, a very
useful set of official minutes of the proceedings from Oct. 17, 1643,
onwards, by the Scribes of the Assembly; which may be compared with
Lightfoot's more extensive jottings. There are excellent and luminous
notices of the Assembly's proceedings during most of the time indicated
in Baillie, II. 106-174. Neal is very confused in his account of the
Assembly, and does not seem to have studied its proceedings well. In
Hetherington's _History of the Westminster Assembly_ there is a
fairish popular account, compiled from Lightfoot and Gillespie, but
charged with the author's strong personal Presbyterianism. The
traditional part of the story of Gillespie's fight with Selden (which had
come down, I believe, through the careful Scottish Church antiquary,
Wodrow) is given by Mr. Hetherington in his History of the Assembly, but
more fully and interestingly in his Memoir of Gillespie, prefixed to
Meek's Edition of Gillespie's Notes.]

None knew this better than the little knot of Independents in the
Assembly itself. They had already acted on the knowledge. Foreseeing that
the determination of the great question in the Assembly would inevitably
be against them, they had taken the precaution, before the question came
on in its final form, to record an appeal from the Assembly to Parliament
and public opinion. This they had done in a so-called _Apologetical
Narration_, presented to Parliament, and published and put in
circulation not later than the beginning of January 1643-4. [Footnote: I
find it registered at Stationers' Hall, Dec. 30, 1643.] It is a tract of
some thirty quarto pages, signed openly by the five writers--Thomas
Goodwin, Sidrach Simpson, Philip Nye, Jeremiah Burroughs, and William
Bridge. Having explained first that they had been in no haste to press
their peculiar opinions, and would have preferred to disclose them
gradually, but that recent experience had left them no option but to
appeal to Parliament as "the supreme judicatory of this kingdom," and
"the most sacred refuge and asylum for mistaken and misjudged innocence,"
they proceed to a historical sketch of their doings while they had been
in Holland, and an exposition of their differences from their
Presbyterian brethren. Three principles of practical conduct, they say,
had taken firm hold of them--_first_, that their supreme rule in
church-matters, out of themselves, should be the pattern of the primitive
or apostolic churches; _secondly_, that they would not bind themselves
by their present judgment in any matter against a possible future change
of judgment; and, _thirdly_, that they would study accommodation, as
far as they could, to the judgments of others. Acting on these
principles, but foreseeing the condemnation of their Congregationalism by
the Assembly, they hoped at least that the issue would be so regulated
finally by Parliament that they might not be driven into exile again, but
might be permitted "to continue in their native country, with the
enjoyment of the ordinances of Christ, and an indulgence in some lesser
differences," so long as they continued peaceable subjects. [Footnote:
Neal, III. 131-133, _Narration_ itself, also Hanbury's _Historical
Memorials relating to the Independents_, Vol. II. (1841), pp. 221-

This appeal to C�sar by the five leading Independents had by no means
pleased the rest of the Assembly. Though they acknowledged the great
ability and even the moderation of the dissentients, they thought it an
unfriendly stroke of policy on their part to have thus sheltered
themselves by anticipation under the power outside. But, indeed, it was
more than a stroke of personal policy. The five knew that they were
speaking not for themselves only, but for all that might adhere to them.
Their act reminded the Assembly of what was otherwise becoming apparent--
to wit, that the Assembly was after all but an imperfect representation
of contemporary English opinion. It was an ark floating on a troubled
sea, with its doors and windows well pitched, and perhaps with Noah on
board, but not all Noah's family, and certainly not specimens of all the
living creatures, even of non-episcopal kinds, that were to survive into
the new order of things. What if, on the subsidence of the waters, the
survivors in this ark should find themselves confronted with another
population, which, having survived somehow on chance spars and rafts,
must be included in the new community, and yet would insist that
questions should be kept open in that community that had been settled by
votes passed within the ark? That such was likely to be the case the
Presbyterians already had proof.

What, then, were they to do? In the first place, as they believed Noah to
be within _their_ ark, they were to trust to his power, and the
veneration that would be accorded to him, when he should re-emerge. In
other words, they were to press on the Presbyterian theory in the
Assembly, allowing "the Five Dissenting Brethren," as they were now
called, the most prolix liberty of speech and reasoning, but always
beating them in the final vote so as to secure a thoroughly Presbyterian
report to Parliament at the last. But, in the second place, as the
Independents had appealed to public opinion against such a contingency,
it was necessary not only to carry Presbyterianism within the Assembly,
but also to argue for it out of doors. Hence, through the year 1644,
among the shoals of pamphlets that came from the London press (including
Fast-day Sermons, Sermons before the Lords and Commons, &c., by the most
eminent members of Assembly) there were not a few pleas for Presbytery,
intended to counteract the effects of the _Apologetical Narration_
and other pleas for Congregationalism. Rutherford's _Temperate Plea for
Paul's Presbytery in Scotland, or Modest Dispute touching Independency of
particular Congregations_, and the same author's _Peaceable Plea for the
Government of the Church of Scotland_, had preceded the _Apologetical
Narration_; but the express answers to the _Narration_ were numerous. One
of the most celebrated of these was a pamphlet entitled _Some
Observations and Annotations upon the Apologetical Narration,_ addressed
to the Parliament and the Assembly by a writer who signs himself merely
"A. S.," but is known to have been a certain Dr. Adam Steuart, a Scot
residing in London, but who soon afterwards received a call to Leyden. To
this pamphlet there were replies on the part of the Independents,
especially one entitled _M. S. to A. S._ (a title changed in a second
edition into "_A Reply of Two of the Brethren to A.S._"); again "A.S."
responded; and so the controversy went on, pamphlets thickening on
pamphlets. [Footnote: Lowndes's Bibl. Manual, by Bohn, Article "Steuart,
Adam;" Baillie, II. 216; and Hanbury's _Hist. Memorials relating to the
Independents_, II. 251 _et seq._, and 341 _et seq._, where there are full
accounts of the pamphlets, with extracts.]


Meanwhile, notwithstanding this ominous difference in the Assembly on the
great question of Church-government, all parties in the Assembly were co-
operating harmoniously with each other and with Parliament in other
important items of the general "Reformation" which was in progress. The
chief of these items may be grouped under headings:--

_Simplification of Church Service, and Suppression of unpopular Rites
and Symbols_.--This process, which had been going on naturally from
the beginning of the Parliament, and more violently and riotously in some
places since the beginning of the war, had been accelerated by recent
Parliamentary enactments. Thus, in May 1643, just when Milton was
preparing to leave London on his marriage holiday, there had been a
tearing down, by authority, with the sound of trumpets and amid the
huzzas of the citizens, of Cheapside Cross, Charing Cross, and other such
street-monuments of too Popish make. At the same time the anti-
Sabbatarian "Book of Sports" had been publicly burnt. Then followed (Aug.
27) an ordinance for removing out of churches all "superstitious images,
crucifixes, altars," &c.; the effect of which for the next few months was
a more or less rough visitation of pickaxing, chipping, and chiselling in
all the parish-churches within the Parliament's bounds that had not
already been Puritanized by private effort. Then, again, on the 20th of
November, the House of Commons recommended to the consideration of the
Assembly a new English Version of the Psalms, which had been recently
executed, and put into print, by the much-respected member for Truro, Mr.
Francis Rous. Ought not Sternhold and Hopkins's Version to be disused
among other lumber; and, if so, might not Rous's Version be adopted
instead, for use in churches? It would be a merited compliment and also a
source of private profit to the veteran Puritan--whom the Parliament, at
any rate, were about to appoint to the Provostship of Eton College (worth
800_l_ a year and more), instead of the Malignant, Dr. Stewart, then
with his Majesty. The Assembly did actually take up Rous's Psalter, his
friends pressing it on the old gentleman's account, but others not
thinking it good enough; and we find Baillie regretting, Scot-like, when
the subject was first brought up, that he had not with him a copy of
another version of the Psalms then in MS., by his friend and countryman,
Sir William Mure of Rowallan. This version he liked best of any he had
seen, and thought decidedly better than Rous's; and; if he had had a
copy, he might have been able to do his friend a good turn! [Footnote:
Common Journals, Nov. 20, 1643; Baillie, II. 101 (and note), and 120-121.
Baillie, at the very time he was privately wishing he had his friend
Rowallan's Psalms to pit against Rous's, was becoming acquainted with
Rous; to whom in a month or two he dedicated a sermon of his preached
before the Commons. He there calls Rous his "much honoured friend."
Rowallan's Psalms remain in MS. to this day; but specimens of them have
been published. See Baillie's Letters, pp. 535-6 of Appendix, Vol. III.;
where there is an interesting and curious history of English Versions of
the Psalms, by the editor, Mr. David Laing.] The adoption of Rous's
Psalter was not immediately voted by the Assembly, but lay over along
with the general business of the new Directory for Worship. In this
business too they were making some private progress in Committee, though
retarded by the debates on Church-government; and there was every
likelihood of substantial agreement here. Independents and Erastians were
pretty sure to agree with Presbyterians on the subjects of the Liturgy,
Sabbath-observance, abolition of Festival-days, and the recommendation of
a plain and Puritan church-service generally. There were significant
proofs of this. Actually on Christmas-day 1643 (who would have thought
it?) the Lords and Commons met for business as usual, thus showing the
example of contempt of the great holiday--all the more to the delight of
the Scottish Commissioners, and of the zealous Puritans of the Assembly
and the City, because the Assembly was still weak-hearted enough as a
whole to adjourn for that day. It was the Scottish Commissioners, indeed,
that had contrived this rebuke to the weaker spirits. And within a week
or two thereafter there was this farther Puritan triumph--also the
contrivance of the Scottish Commissioners through their friends in
Parliament,--that the use of the Liturgy was discontinued in the two
Houses, in favour of extempore prayers by Divines appointed for the duty
by the Assembly. [Footnote: Baillie, II. 120 and 130.]

_Ejection of Scandalous and Malignant Ministers_.--A somewhat
wholesale process, described in such terms by the winning side, had been
going on, everywhere within the sway of Parliament, for several months.
It was part, indeed, of a more general process, for the sequestration to
the use of Parliament of the estates of notorious Delinquents of all
kinds, which had been the subject of various Parliamentary ordinances.
[Footnote: Commons Journals from March 1612-3 onwards. For sequence of
proceedings and dates, see Index to Journals, Vol III. _sub cocc._
"Delinquents." See also the main sequestrating ordinances (March 31 and
Aug. 19, 1643) in Scobell's collection.] By these ordinances a machinery
for the work of sequestration had been established, consisting of a
central committee in London, and of committees in all the accessible
counties. The special application of this machinery to clerical
delinquents had come about gradually. From the very beginning of the
Parliament (Nov. 1640) there had been a grand Committee of the Commons,
of which Mr. White, member for Southwark, was chairman, for inquiring
into the scandalous immoralities of the clergy, and an acting Sub-
committee, of which Mr. White also was chairman, for considering how
scandalous ministers might be removed, and real preaching ministers put
in their places. By the action of these committees month after month--
receiving and duly investigating complaints brought against clergymen,
either of scandalous lives or of notoriously Laudian opinions and
practices--a very large number of clergymen had been placed on the black
books, and some actually ejected, before the commencement of the war.
But, after the war began, sharper action became necessary. For now the
Parliament had to provide for what were called "the plundered ministers"
--_i.e._ for those Puritan ministers who, driven from their parsonages
in various parts of the country by the King's soldiers, had to flock into
London, with their families, for refuge and subsistence. A special
Committee of the Commons had been appointed (Dec. 1642) to devise ways
and means for the relief of these "godly and well-affected ministers;"
and, as was natural, the proceedings of this Committee had become inter-
wound with those of the Committee for the ejection of scandalous
ministers--Mr. White at the head of the whole agency. And so, in the
Commons, we hear ultimately of such determinations as these respecting
"scandalous ministers:"--July 3,1643: "Ordinance to be prepared to enable
the Committees (for sequestration) in the several counties to sequester
their livings;"--July 27: "the Committee for plundered Ministers to
consider of informations against them and to put them to the proof;"--
Sept. 6: "Deputy Lieutenants and Committees in the counties empowered to
examine witnesses against them." The result was the beginning of that
"great and general purgation of the clergy in the Parliament's quarters"
about which there was such an outcry among the Royalists at the time, and
which, after having been a rankling memory in the High Church heart for
seventy years, became the main text of Walker's famous folio of 1714 on
"The Sufferings of the Clergy of the Church of England in the Grand
Rebellion." According to that book, and to Royalist tradition, it was a
ruthless persecution and spoliation of all the best, the most venerable,
and the most learned of the clergy of England. Fuller, however, writing
at the time, and corroborated by Baxter, represents the facts more
fairly. Not a few of the clergy first ejected, he admits, were really men
of scandalous private character, and were turned out expressly on that
account; others, who were turned out for what was called their "false
doctrine," or obstinate adherence to that Arminian theology and
ceremonial of worship which the nation had condemned, might regard
themselves as simply suffering in their turn what Puritan ministers had
suffered abundantly enough under the rule of Laud; and, if gradually the
sequestration extended itself beyond these two categories of "scandalous
ministers" and "ministers of unsound faith," and swept in among
"malignants" generally, or those whose only fault was that they were
prominent adherents to the King, what was that but one of the harsh
natural vengeances of a civil war? At the beginning of the purgation, at
all events, Parliament professed carefulness and even leniency in its
choice of victims. A fifth of the income of every ejected minister was
reserved to his wife and family; and, in order that the public, and even
the Royalists, might judge of the equity with which Parliament had
proceeded in so odious a business, Mr. White, the chairman of the
committees on clerical delinquency, put forth in print (Nov. 19, 1643)
his "First Century of Scandalous Malignant Priests," or statement of the
cases of one hundred of the sequestered clergy, chiefly in London and the
adjacent counties, with the reasons of their ejection. At the time when
Mr. White (thenceforward known as "Century White") put forth this
pamphlet, the number of the ejected must have already considerably
exceeded one hundred, or perhaps even three hundred; and, as the war went
on, and sequestration became more and more co-extensive with
"malignancy," the number swelled till, as is calculated, some 1,500 or
1,600 clergymen in all, or about a sixth part of the total clergy of
England, were thrown out of their livings. [Footnote: Commons Journals of
dates July 3, July 27, and Sept. 6, 1643; White's _First Century_,
Fuller's Church History (ed. 1842), III. 458, 460; Neal's Puritans, III.
23-34. Sec also Hallam's Const. Hist. (10th ed.), II. 164-166.]

_Filling up of Vacant Livings by the appointment of New
Ministers_.--For the sequestered livings there were, of course,
numerous candidates. Not only were there the "plundered" Puritan
ministers, most of them congregated in London, to be provided for; but
there were the young Divinity scholars growing up, for whom, even in a
state of war, or at least for such of them as took the side of
Parliament, it was necessary to find employment. Obviously, however, some
order or method had to be adopted in the exercise of the large patronage
of vacant livings which had thus come suddenly into the hands of
Parliament. The plundered ministers could not be thrust promiscuously, or
by mere lottery, into such livings as were vacant. They had all,
certainly, the qualification of being already ordained; but there were
different sorts of persons among them, and some with very little to
recommend them except their distress. It was essential that there should
be some examination or re-examination of all such petitioners for new
livings, in order that the unfit should not be appointed, and that the
others might be provided for according to their degrees of fitness.
Accordingly, at the request of the two Houses, the Westminster Assembly
(Oct. 1643) appointed two-and-twenty of its Divines to be a committee for
examining and reporting on the qualifications of all such petitioners for
livings as might be referred to it by Parliament. About the same time a
provisional arrangement was made for the more difficult matter of
ordaining new candidates for the Ministry. The whole question of
Ordination having yet to be argued and settled in the Assembly (see
_ant�_, p. 20), it was felt on all hands that some temporary
arrangement was imperative. Accordingly, by the advice of the Assembly,
the whole business of deciding who were fit to be ordained, and of duly
ordaining such, was entrusted by Parliament to certain committees or
associations of godly ministers, themselves already ordained, appointed
for certain centres and districts. The chief Ordaining Committee was, of
course, that for London and the country round. This committee, to which
was assigned not only the ordination of new ministers for its important
district, but also the ordination of all chaplains for the army and navy,
consisted of twenty-three associated Presbyters (ten Divines of the
Assembly and thirteen parish-ministers of London not in the Assembly), of
whom seven were to be a quorum. Whosoever, not already ordained, should
presume to preach publicly or otherwise exercise the ministerial office
without having been ordained by this association, or one of the others,
or at least without a certificate of having been approved by the
Examining Committee of the Assembly, was to be reported to Parliament for
censure and punishment. The London Divines were enjoined to be careful
whom they admitted into their pulpits. In short, it was the object of
both the Parliament and the Assembly to proclaim their determination
that, while the question of Church-government was being considered, some
decent rule of practical order should be carefully observed, and England
should not be allowed to lapse, as the loyalists were giving out, into a
mere anarchy of ranters, preaching cobblers, and every fool his own
parson. [Footnote: Neal, III. 88-90, and 138-141.]

_Visitation of the University of Cambridge_.--While the scandalous
and malignant among the parish clergy were being sequestered and ejected,
it was not to be expected that Parliament would spare the Universities.
Oxford, for the present, was beyond reach; but Cambridge was within
reach. Was it to be endured that, while the town of Cambridge was the
very centre of the Associated Eastern Counties, the most zealously
Parliamentarian region in all England, the University should be a
fortress of malignancy, with many of its Heads of Houses and Fellows
notoriously disaffected to Parliament, and showing their disaffection by
sermons, publications from the University press, continuance of the
forbidden usages and symbolisms in the College chapels, and such other
acts of contumacy? For a long time Parliament had been asking itself this
question. As early as June 10, 1643, the subject of "some effectual means
of reforming" the University of Cambridge, "purging it from all abuses,
innovations, and superstitions," and dealing with conspicuous malignants
in it, had been under discussion in the Commons. There had been a
reluctance, however, to proceed too rapidly, or so as to incur the
Royalist reproaches of "invasion of University rights" and "ruin of a
great seat of learning." Hence, whatever dealings with the University had
been necessary had been left very much to the discretion of the ordinary
agencies representing Parliament in the Associated Counties, at the head
of which, since Aug. 1643, had been the Earl of Manchester. There was
even a Parliamentary ordinance (Jan. 6, 1643-4) explaining that, whatever
sequestration there might be of the revenues of individual delinquents in
the University, every regard was to be paid to the property of the
University as such, and not an atom of _it_ should be alienated. By
this time, however, it was felt that the malignancy of the University
must be dealt with more expressly. Accordingly, on the 22nd of January
there was passed "an Ordinance for regulating the University of Cambridge
and for removing of scandalous Ministers in the several Associate
Counties." By this ordinance it was provided that, "whereas many
complaints are made by the well-affected inhabitants of the associated
counties of Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertford, Cambridge, Huntingdon, and
Lincoln, that the service of the Parliament is retarded, the enemy
strengthened, the people's souls starved, and their minds diverted from
any care of God's cause, by their idle, ill-affected and scandalous
clergy of the University of Cambridge and the Associated Counties" and
whereas "many that would give evidence against such scandalous ministers
are not able to travel to London," therefore the Earl of Manchester
should be commissioned to take the necessary steps in the University and
the Counties themselves. He was to appoint Committees who were to have
"power to call before them all Provosts, Masters, and Fellows of
Colleges, all students and members of the University, and all ministers
in any county of the Association, and all schoolmasters;" and, after due
inquiry by these Committees, he was to have power "to eject such as he
shall judge unfit from their places, and to sequester their estates,
means and revenues, and to place other fitting persons in their room,
such as shall be approved of by the Assembly of Divines." A very
important ordinance, as we shall see in due time. [Footnote: Commons
Journals, June 10, 1643, and Jan. 20, 1643-4; Lords Journals, Jan. 6 and
Jan. 22, 1643-4; and Neal, III. 105-107.]

The reader need hardly be reminded by what authority all these acts and
changes in the system of England were decreed and carried into effect.
Since the beginning of the war the government of England, except where
the King's troops were in possession, had been in the two Houses of
Parliament sitting at Westminster; but since July 1643 it may be said
rather to have been in these two Houses of Parliament _with_ the
Assembly of Divines. What the reader requires, however, to be reminded of
is the smallness numerically of this governing body. The House of Lords,
in particular, though still retaining all its nominal dignity and keeping
up all its stately forms, was a mere shred of its former self. About 29
or 30 persons, out of the total Peerage of England, as we reckoned (Vol.
II. pp. 430-31), had avowed themselves Parliamentarians; so that, had all
these been present, the House of Lords would have been but a very small
gathering. But, as a certain number even of these were always absent on
military duty or on other occasions, it was seldom that more than 14 or
15 Peers were present in the House around Lord Grey of Wark on the
woolsack as elected Speaker. Sometimes, when the business was merely
formal, the number sank to 4 or 5; and I do not think the Lords Journals
register, during the whole time with which we are now concerned, a larger
attendance than 22. That was the number present on the 22nd of January,
1643-4, when the ordinance for visiting Cambridge University was passed.
[Footnote: As the Lords Journals give the names of the Peers present each
day, very accurate information on this subject is obtainable from them.]
In the Commons, of course, the attendance was much larger. When a "whip"
was necessary, between 200 and 300 could be got together. Thus on the
25th of September, 1643, which was the day of inaugurating the Covenant,
220 were present; and on the above-mentioned 22nd of January, 1643-4--an
important day for various reasons--as many as 280 made their appearance,
while it was calculated that 100 were absent in the Parliamentary
service. [Footnote: Parl. Hist. III. 199.] Usually, however, the
attendance was much less numerous. On a vote taken Nov. 26, 1643, the
division showed 59 against 58, or 117 present; and this appears to be
rather above the mark of the attendance in general.--On the whole, one
may say that the business of the nation in the interest of Parliament was
carried on habitually during those important months by some 12 or 15
Parliamentarian Peers, and some 100 Commoners, keeping up the forms of
the two Houses, and having for their assessors, and in part for their
spurs and tutors, the 60 or 80 Puritan Divines who sat close at hand in
the Jerusalem Chamber.

Was all this to last? Whether it was to last or not depended not a little
on the conduct of the Parliament itself, but greatly more on the conduct
of the generals and armies that held up its banners in various parts of
England. And how, since our last glimpses of the state of the war in the
dark month of Hampden's death and the month following that (June and July
1643), had the war been going on? Much as before. What do we see? A siege
here and a siege there, a skirmish here and a skirmish there, ending
sometimes for the Parliament, but as often for the King; amid all these
sieges and skirmishes no battle of any magnitude, save the first Battle
of Newbery (Sept. 20, 1643), where Lord Falkland, weary of his life, was
slain, and also the Royalist Earls of Carnarvon and Sunderland, but
otherwise the damage to the King was inconsiderable; Essex still heavy
and solemn, an excellent man, but a woful commander-in-chief; little Sir
William Waller still the favourite and set up against Essex, but
confidence in him somewhat shaken by his recent defeats; the Fairfaxes in
the north, and others in other parts, doing at best but respectably;
Cromwell, it is true, a marked man and always successful wherever he
appeared, but appearing yet only as Colonel Cromwell! "For the present
the Parliament side is running down the brae," wrote the sagacious
Baillie, Sept. 22, 1643; and again, more pithily, Dec. 7, "They may tig-
tag on this way this twelvemonth." The only remedy, Baillie thought--the
only thing that would change the sluggish "tig-tagging" of Essex and the
English into something like what a war should be--was the expected
coming-in of the Scots. For this event the English Parliamentarians also
longed vehemently. "All things are expected from God and the Scots" is
Baillie's description of the feeling in London in the winter of 1643-4.
For, though the bringing in of a Scottish force auxiliary to the English
army had been arranged for in the autumn--though it was for that end that
the English Parliament had sent Commissioners to Edinburgh, had accepted
Henderson's "Solemn League and Covenant," and had admitted Scottish
Commissioners into the Westminster Assembly--yet the completing of the
negotiations, and the getting together and equipping of the Scottish army
for its southward march, had been a work of time. About Christmas 1643 it
was understood that the Scots were in readiness to march; but the precise
time when they might be expected to cross the border was yet in anxious
conjecture. [Footnote: Baillie, II. 83, 99, 104-5, and 114-15.]

It was an unusually severe winter, cold and snowy. The Londoners, in
especial, deprived of their coal from Newcastle, felt it severely.
Baillie particularly mentions the comfortable hangings of the Jerusalem
Chamber, and the good fire kept burning in it, as "some dainties in
London" at that date, and duly appreciated by the members of the
Assembly. [Footnote: Ibid. II. 106.] Among the printed broad-sheets of
the time that were hawked about London, I have seen one entitled
"_Artificial Fire; or, Coal for Rich and Poor: this being the offer of
an excellent new Invention_." The invention consists of a proposal to
the Londoners of a cheap substitute for coal, devised by a "Mr. Richard
Gesling, Ingineer, late deceased." Mr. Gesling's idea was that, if you
take brickdust, mortar, sawdust, or the like, and make up pasteballs
thereof mingled with the dust of sea-coal or Scotch coal, and with
stable-litter, you will have a fuel much more economical than coal
itself. But, though this is the practical proposal of the fly-sheet, its
main interest lies in its lamentation over the lack of the normal fuel.
"Some fine-nosed city dames," it says, "used to tell their husbands, 'O
husband! we shall never be well, we nor our children, whilst we live in
the smell of this city's sea-coal smoke! Pray, a country-house for our
health, that we may get out of this sea-coal smell!' But how many of
these fine-nosed dames now cry, 'Would to God we had sea-coal! Oh! the
want of fire undoes us! O the sweet sea-coal fires we used to have! how
we want them now: no fire to your sea-coal!'... This for the rich: a
word for the poor! The great want of fuel for fire makes many a poor
creature cast about how to pass over this cold winter to come; but,
finding small redress for so cruel an enemy as the cold makes, some turn
thieves that never stole before--steal posts, seats, benches from doors,
rails, nay, the very stocks that should punish them; and all to keep the
cold winter away." [Footnote: Folio sheet dated 1644 (_i.e._ winter
of 1643-4), in British Museum Library: Press-mark, 669, f.]--If on no
other account than the prospect of a re-opening of the coal-traffic
between Newcastle and London, what joy among the Londoners when the news
came that, on Friday the 19th of January, 1643-4, the expected Scottish
army had entered England by Berwick! They had entered it, toiling through
deep snow, 21,500 strong, and were already--God be praised!--spreading
themselves over the winter-white fields of the very region where the coal
lay black underground. At their head who but old Field-marshall Leslie,
now Earl of Leven, Scottish commander-in-chief for the third time, and
tolerably well acquainted already with the North of England? Second in
command to him, as Lieutenant-general of the Foot, was William Baillie,
of Letham, in this post for the second time; and the Major-general, with
command of the horse was David Leslie, a third Gustavus-Adolphus man,
and, though a namesake of the commander-in-chief, only distantly related
to him. The marquis of Argyle accompanied the invaders, nominally as
Colonel of a troop of horse; and among the other colonels of foot or
horse were the Earls of Cassilis, Lindsay, Loudoun, Buccleugh,
Dunfermline, Lothian, Marischal, Eglinton, and Dalhousie. The expenses of
the army, averaging 1,000_l._ per diem (6_d._ a day for each
common foot-soldier, 8_d._ for a horse-soldier, and so on upwards)
were, by agreement, to be charged to England. [Footnote: Rushw. V. 604-7;
Parl. Hist. III. 200, 201; Baillie, II. 100 and 137.]

The condition on which the Scots had consented thus to aid the English
Parliament must not be forgotten. It was the agreement of the two nations
in one and the same religious Covenant. In all the negotiations that had
been going on between London and Edinburgh, the Scots had always assumed
the fulfilment of this condition on the part of the English. And, so far,
we have seen, it had already been fulfilled. Since September 1643, when
Henderson's Covenant had first been proposed to the English Parliament
and the Westminster Assembly, and the Commons and the Westminster Divines
had set the example by swearing to it collectively in one of the London
churches, "the Covenant" had been a phrase familiar to the English mouth.
In all the miscellaneous activity of the Parliament for the detection and
disabling of "Malignants," there had been no instrument more effective or
more commonly used. There were other tests and oaths by which the
"malignants" might be distinguished from the "well-affected"; but the
taking or not taking of the Solemn League and Covenant was the test
paramount. Wherever the Parliament had power it had been in operation.
Since December 20, for example, it had been the law that no one could be
a Common Councilman of the City of London who had not subscribed to the
Covenant. Still, in this matter of subscription to the Covenant, the
English, both as the larger nation and as the less accustomed to
Covenants, had remained considerably in arrear of the Scots; and, when
the Scots actually did make their appearance in England, there was a
sudden refreshing of the memory of the English Parliament on the subject,
and a sudden exertion to make up the arrears. "The Scots are among us on
the supposition that we have all taken the Covenant; and lo! we have not
yet all taken it," was virtually the exclamation of the Parliament.
Accordingly, that all might be brought in, that there might be no escape,
and that there might remain to all time coming a vast register of the
names of the Englishmen then living who had entered into this solemn
league with their Scottish neighbours, there was passed, on the 5th of
February, 1643-4, a new and conclusive ordinance on the subject. By this
ordinance it was enacted that true copies of the Covenant should be sent
to the Earl of Essex and other commanders of the army, and to all
governors of towns, &c., to the intent that it might be sworn to by every
man in the army; also that copies should be sent into all the counties,
so that they should punctually reach every parish and every parish-
minister--the instructions being that every minister should, the next
Lord's day after the certified copy of the Covenant reached him, read it
aloud to his congregation, discourse and exhort upon it, and then tender
it to all present, who should swear to it with uplifted hands, and
afterwards sign it with their names or marks. All men over eighteen years
of age, whether householders or lodgers, were to take it in the parishes
in which they were resident; and the names of all refusing, whether
ministers or laymen, were to be reported. [Footnote: See Ordinance in
Lords Journals, Feb. 5, 1643-4.] Nay, by an arrangement about the same
time, the action of the Covenant was made to extend to English subjects
abroad. Notwithstanding all this stringency, there is reason to believe
that not a few soldiers in the army, and not a few ministers and others,
contrived, in one way or another, to avoid the Covenant, without being
called to account for the neglect. Where a minister otherwise
unexceptionable, or an officer or soldier of known zeal and efficiency,
had scruples of conscience against signing, the authorities, both civil
and military, appear in many places to have exercised a discretion and
winked at disobedience or procrastination.--The case of the Earl of
Bridgewater may here be of some interest, on its own account, and as
illustrating what went on generally. The Earl, known to us so long as
"the Earl of Milton's _Comus_" had been living in retirement as an
invalid during the war, his wishes on the whole being doubtless with the
King, but his circumstances obliging him to keep on fair terms with the
Parliament. The test of the Covenant seems to have sorely perplexed the
poor Peer. "He says some things in the Covenant his heart goes along with
them, and other things are doubtful to him; and therefore desires some
time to consider of it." Such was the report to the Lords, Wednesday Feb.
7, 1643-4, by the Earls of Rutland and Bolingbroke, who had been
appointed to deal with him and other absent Peers in the matter. "He
shall have time till Friday morning next," was the entry ordered to be
made. On the Friday named there is no mention of the subject in the Lords
Journals; but on Saturday the 10th Lords Rutland and Bolingbroke were
able to report that it was all right. Two days had convinced the Earl
that signing would be best for him. [Footnote: Lords Journals of dates

Besides this universal imposition of the Covenant by Parliamentary
ordinance upon all who had hitherto neglected to take it, there was
another immediate effect of the presence of the Scots in England. The two
nations being now in arms for the same cause, the fortunes of each nation
depending largely on the conduct of the other, and the two national
armies indeed having to co-operate strategically, there required to be
some common directing power, intermediate between the English Parliament
in Westminster and the Scottish Estates in Edinburgh, representing both,
and acting for both in all matters of military concern. The Scots, on
their part, had made provision accordingly. Besides appointing a
stationary Committee of the Estates to manage matters from Edinburgh, and
another Committee to be with the Scottish army as a kind of Council to
the Earl of Leven, they had nominated (Jan. 9, 1643-4) a Special
Commission of four persons to go to London with full powers to represent
the views and interests of Scotland in the enterprise in which it was now
conjoined with England. These were--the EARL OF LOUDOUN, High Chancellor
of Scotland; LORD MAITLAND (already in London as Scottish Commissioner to
the Westminster Assembly); SIR ARCHIBALD JOHNSTONE OF WARRISTON (due in
London at any rate as a Commissioner to the Assembly); and MR. ROBERT
BARCLAY, Provost of Irvine in Ayrshire. These Commissioners having
presented their Commission to the English Parliament, Feb. 5, the
Parliament were moved to appoint some of its trustiest men from the two
Houses to be an English Committee of Consultation with the Scottish
Commissioners, and in fact to form, along with them, a joint "Committee
of the Two Kingdoms." Such an institution was not at all to the taste of
Lord General Essex, inasmuch as it trenched on his powers as commander-
in-chief. Some opposition was therefore offered. On the whole, however,
the argument that the two kingdoms ought to be "joined in their counsels
as well as in their forces" proved overpowering; and on the 16th of
February an ordinance was passed appointing the following persons (7
Peers and 14 Commoners) to be a Committee for the purpose named--the EARL
BROWNE, JOHN GLYNN, and OLIVER CROMWELL. Six were to be a quorum, always
in the proportion of one Lord to two Commoners, and of the Scottish
Commissioners meeting with them two were to be a quorum. There can be no
doubt that the object was that the management of the war should be less
in Essex's hands that it had been. [Footnote: Lords Journals of dates
Feb. 5 and 16, 1643-4; and Baillie, II. 141, 142]

The name of JOHN PYM may have been looked for in the Committee. Alas! no
longer need his name be looked for among the living in this History. He
had died on the 8th of December, 1643, when the Scots were expected in
England, but had not yet arrived. He was buried magnificently in
Westminster Abbey, all the Lords and Commons attending, and Stephen
Marshall preaching the funeral sermon. England had lost "King Pym," her
greatest Parliamentary man. No one precisely like him was left. But,
indeed, he had done his work to the full; and, had he lived longer, he
might have been loved the less! [Footnote: Rushworth V. 376; Parl. Hist.
III. 186-7; and Baillie, II. 118.]



We left Milton in his house in Aldersgate Street in or about 1643,
waiting for the promised return of his recently-wedded wife at
Michaelmas, and meanwhile comfortable enough, with his books, his pupils,
and the quiet companionship of his old father. We are now seven or eight
months beyond that point in our general History. What had happened in the
Aldersgate household in the interval? A tremendous thing had happened.
Milton had come to desire a divorce from his wife, and had written and
published a Tract on Divorce, partly in the interest of his own private
case, but really also with a view to suggest to the mind of England, then
likely to be receptive of new ideas, certain thoughts on the whole
subject of the English law of Marriage which had resulted from reflection
on his own experience. Here is the story:--

"Michaelmas [Sept. 29, 1643] being come," says Phillips, "and no news of
his wife's return, he sent for her by letter, and, receiving no answer,
sent several other letters, which were also unanswered; so that at last
he despatched down a foot-messenger [to Forest Hill] with a letter,
desiring her return. But the messenger came back not only without an
answer, at least a satisfactory one, but, to the best of my remembrance,
reported that he was dismissed with some sort of contempt. This
proceeding, in all probability, was grounded upon no other cause but
this--viz.: that, the family being generally addicted to the Cavalier
party, as they called it, and some of them possibly engaged in the King's
service, who by this time had his head-quarters at Oxford and was in some
prospect of success, they began to repent them of having matched the
eldest daughter of the family to a person so contrary to them in opinion,
and thought it would be a blot on their escutcheon whenever that Court
should come to flourish again. However, it so incensed our author that he
thought it would be dishonourable ever to receive her again, after such a
repulse; so that he forthwith prepared to fortify himself with arguments
for such a resolution, and accordingly wrote," &c. Here Phillips goes on
to enumerate Milton's various Divorce Tracts, the first of which in order
of time was his _Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce_. Aubrey
corroborates Phillips, but has little on the subject but what he may have
picked up from gossip. "She was a ... Royalist, and went to her mother
near Oxford: he sent for her after some time, and I think his servant was
evilly entreated,"--such are Aubrey's brief notes of the facts; after
which come his own reflections on the rupture: "Two opinions do not well
on the same bolster;" and "What man, especially contemplative, would like
to have a young wife environed and stormed by the sons of Mars, and those
of the enemy party?" Finally Wood, in his _Fasti_, does little more
than repeat Aubrey: "Though he sent divers pressing invitations, yet he
could not prevail upon her to come back;" whereupon "he, being not able
to bear this abuse, did therefore, upon consideration, after he had
consulted many eminent authors, write the said book of Divorce, with
intentions to be separated from her." [Footnote: Phillips's Memoir;
Aubrey's Lives; and Wood's Fasti Oxon. I. 482-3.]

On all grounds Phillips's authority is the best. And yet there are
difficulties in his account. According to that account, it was the non-
return of Milton's wife at or about Michaelmas (Sept. 29) 1643, and not
only her non-return then, but her obstinate and repeated refusal to
return after that date, and the insulting conduct of her family to the
messenger he finally sent to urge her return, that roused Milton's
indignation, put the thought of divorce into his mind, and induced him to
write his first Divorce Tract. If so, the tract could hardly have been
ready till some weeks after Michaelmas 1643--say, till about Christmas of
the same year. There is proof, however (and I do not think it has been
observed before), that Milton's first Divorce Tract was already published
and in circulation two months _before_ the Michaelmas in question.
The proof is not, where we might expect it, in the books of the
Stationers' Company; for the Tract, like all Milton's previous pamphlets,
was published by him, rather defiantly, without the required legal
formalities of licence and registration. But there is a precious copy of
it in Thomason's great collection of pamphlets, called "the King's
Pamphlets," in the British Museum. The title in that copy is as follows:
"_The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Restor'd, to the good of both
Sexes, from the Bondage of Canon Law and other mistakes, to Christian
Freedom, guided by the Rule of Charity; wherein also many places of
Scripture have recovered their long-lost meaning: seasonable to be now
thought on in the Reformation intended._" Underneath this title there
follows on the title-page the quotation "Matth. xiii. 52. Every Scribe
instructed to the Kingdome of Heav'n is like the Maister of a house which
bringeth out of his treasurie things old and new;" and at the foot of the
title-page is the legend "_London, Printed by T. P. and M. S. in
Goldsmiths' Alley_: 1643." [Footnote: Copy in British Museum Library
Press mark, 12. G.F. 17 119.] This printed legend alone would all but
determine the publication to have been prior to Christmas 1643; but the
question is set at rest by a manuscript note on the title-page, "_Aug.
1st_." The note was put there by, or by the direction of, the
collector, Thomason, to indicate the day on which the copy came into his
hands, and is to be relied on implicitly. The Tract, it will be observed,
was anonymous; but the words "_Written by J. Milton_," penned on the
title-page by the same hand that penned the date "_Aug. 1st_," show
that the authorship was no secret from the all-prying Thomason. In short,
on evidence absolutely conclusive, Milton's first Divorce Tract was in
print and on sale in London on the 1st of August, 1643, or two months
before Phillips's fatal Michaelmas. [Footnote: This may be the place for
a word or two about the collector of those Pamphlets in the British
Museum among which I have had so frequently to range for the purposes of
this work, and to which, like other inquiries into English History from
1610 to 1660, I owe more items of information than I can count.--George
Thomason was a London bookseller of the Civil War time; his place of
business being the "Rose and Crown" in St. Paul's Churchyard. He was of
Royalist sympathies; but his hobby was to collect impartially all the
pamphlets, broad-sheets, &c., that teemed from the press on both sides,
and not only those that teemed from the English press, but also all
published abroad that bore on current English questions. He began this
labour in 1641, and pursued it indefatigably till after the Restoration;
so that, at his death in or about 1666, he left a collection of about
33,000 pamphlets, &c. on English affairs, published between 1638 and
1662. The making of this collection had been the delight of his life; it
had been his anxiety that no single tract, or printed scrap of any
interest, should escape him. When he began to collect in 1641, he had
taken pains to obtain copies of publications of the immediately preceding
years; and after that his work had been facilitated by the notoriety of
his passion for collecting. Booksellers and authors (Milton for one) seem
occasionally to have sent copies of their pamphlets to Thomason. "Exact
care hath been taken," he himself tells us in the Introduction to a MS.
catalogue of his treasures, "that the very day is written upon most of
them that they came out;" and this care of his has fixed the dates of
many publications that would else have been unknown or but vaguely
known.--For farther particulars of this interesting person, an account of
the shifts to which he was put to save his collection from the chances of
Parliamentarian pillage, and a history of the fortunes of his collection
till it came to be part of the Library of King George III., and so of the
British Museum, see Edwards's _Memoirs of Libraries_ (1859), Vol. I
pp, 456-460.--I may add that I have seen a pencil jotting in Thomason's
hand on one of the fly-leaves of his collection as fresh and legible,
after 220 years, as if it had been written yesterday.]

One of two suppositions therefore:--(1.) If Phillips is right in his
statement that Milton's first Divorce Tract was caused by the obstinate
refusal of his wife to return to him, and the insulting conduct of her
family in detaining her and laughing at his letters and messages, then
Phillips's dates in the whole matter of the marriage must be a little
wrong. "About Whitsuntide it was (May 21, 1643) that my uncle left us in
Aldersgate Street, on what turned out to be his marriage journey; in
about a month's time he returned, bringing his wife, and some of her
relations, with him (June 1643); the relations stayed about a week,
during which there was much feasting and merriment; for about a month
after they were gone the newly-married wife remained with my uncle; but
then (late in July or early in August 1643), tired of a philosophical
life, and pining for the society of home, she contrived a request from
her family to have her with them during the rest of the summer--to which
my uncle consented, on the understanding that she was to come hack about
Michaelmas (Sept. 29, 1643)." Such, re-expressed in words for the nonce,
is Phillips's account as we have already given it. But, as the Divorce
Tract was published August 1, 1643, it is clear that, if the cause of
that Tract was the persistent, protracted, and contemptuous absence of
his wife, then Phillips's memory must have been at fault, and he must
have somewhat post-dated the marriage itself. The marriage in that case
must have been before Whitsuntide 1643; and the return of the wife to her
relations, her refusal to come hack, and Milton's chagrin and anger so
occasioned, must have been matters not of after Michaelmas 1643, but of
at least a month or two before the August of that year. This is quite a
tenable supposition; for there are other inaccuracies in Phillips, and
the register of the place and date of Milton's marriage with Mary Powell
has not been found. (2) On the whole, however, Phillips's recollections
about the marriage are so circumstantial, and there is such a likelihood
of their being true, that, until contradictory records shall be produced,
it seems right to accept his dating. But then his explanation of the
cause of his uncle's speculations about divorce must be wrong. The cause
in that case cannot have been the obstinate refusal of his wife to
return; for the Divorce Tract must have been written and ready for the
press while she was still with him in the Aldersgate Street house (July
1643), and it was actually out (Aug. 1) before she can have reached her
father's house at Forest Hill on her granted two months of leave till
Michaelmas. What are we to make of this discrepancy? One is puzzled. That
a man should have occupied himself on a Tract on Divorce ere his
honeymoon was well over--should have written it perseveringly day after
day within sound of his newly-wedded wife's footsteps and the very rustle
of her dress on the stairs or in the neighbouring room--is a notion all
but dreadful. And yet to some such notion, if Phillips's dating is
correct, we seem to be shut up. But, if so, more is involved than
Phillips knew. The cause of Milton's thoughts about divorce, in that
case, must have been the agony of a deadly discovery of his wife's utter
unfitness for him when as yet she had not been two months his wife. It
must have been the unutterable pain of the dis-illusioned bridegroom, the
gnawing sense of his irretrievable mistake, The vision must then pass
before our minds of scenes in the Aldersgate Street house, the reverse of
the happily connubial, _before_ that sudden departure of the bride
back to her father's home, and leading to that incident perhaps rather
violently. One seems to hear the sound of differences, of conflicting
opinions about this and that, of weeping girlish wilfulness opposed to
steady and perhaps too austere prohibitions. "Well, then, I will go back
to my mother: I am sure I wish I had never----": "Go": And so the parting
may have come about, not wholly by her arrangement, but harshly and with
some quarrel on his part. There are not wanting subsequent facts that
might lend a plausibility to this version of the story. [Footnote:
Milton's mother-in-law, having occasion, seven years afterwards (1651),
to advert to her daughter's return home so soon after her marriage,
distinctly attributed it to Milton himself. The words are, "He having
turned away his wife heretofore for a long space upon some other
occasion." I do not think Mrs. Powell was a very accurate lady, and she
had no fondness for Milton; but the words seem to imply more than a mere
passive consent of Milton to his wife's proposal to revisit her family.]
Yet it is the other that one would wish to be true, and that would fit in
most naturally with the facts as a whole. That version is that Milton,
good-naturedly and perhaps taken by surprise, allowed his wife to go home
for two months at her own request, or the request of her relatives,
before he had been three months married, and that it was the insult of
her nonreturn that revealed to him his mistake in her, and drove him into
his speculations about divorce. Only, then, we repeat, Phillips's dating
of the marriage and its incidents requires amendment.

In any case the first edition of Milton's _Doctrine and Discipline of
Divorce_ was out in London on the 1st of August, 1643. [Footnote: The
supposition is always open that, by some oversight, Thomason misdated his
copy, putting "Aug." for a much later month. But this is the unlikeliest
thing of all.] It was a pamphlet of forty-eight small quarto pages, with
an extra page supplying two omitted passages. The text was printed
continuously, without division into chapters; at the end.

Both in matter and in manner the Tract was one of the boldest that had
ever been submitted to the reading of England. Its thesis is laid down
near the beginning in these terms: "_That indisposition, unfitness, or
contrarity of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangeable,
hindering and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugal
society, which are solace and peace, is a greater reason of divorce than
natural frigidity, especially if there be no children, and that there be
mutual consent._" This thesis Milton sets himself to argue in all
sorts of ways--from natural reason and expediency; from the Scripture
doctrine of marriage as it might be gathered from the Mosaic Law and the
right interpretation of texts in the Old and New Testaments,
notwithstanding one or two individual texts (like that of Matth. v. 31,
32) that had been hackneyed and misunderstood by mere literalists; and
from opinions or indications of opinion on the subject that might be
found in the works of some of the Protestant Reformers, and other eminent
writers. His conclusion was that the notion of the indissolubility of
marriage, or even the modified law of England and of other countries,
authorizing divorce only for certain gross reasons, were mere relics of
superstitious tradition, the concoction of the Canonists and
Sacramentalists in the ages of sacerdotal tyranny, unworthy of more
enlarged views of justice and liberty, and a canker and cause of
incalculable misery in the heart of modern society. Again and again he
indicates his consciousness that in announcing this conclusion, and
trying to rouse his fellow-countrymen to the necessity of at once
including a revision of the Marriage Law in the general Reformation then
in progress, he is performing a great public service. Thus, at the very
opening: "By which [the precedent of certain liberal hints on the subject
by Hugo Grotius], and mine own apprehension of what public duty each man
owes, I conceive myself exhorted among the rest to communicate such
thoughts as I have, and offer them now, in this general labour of
Reformation, to the candid view both of Church and Magistrate; especially
because I see it the hope of good men that those irregular and
unspiritual courts have spun their utmost date in this land, and some
better course must now be constituted. He, therefore, that by adventuring
shall be so happy as with success to ease and set free the minds of
ingenuous and apprehensive men from this needless thraldom; he that can
prove it lawful and just to claim the performance of a fit and matchable
conversation no less essential to the prime scope of marriage than the
gift of bodily conjunction, or else to have an equal plea of divorce as
well as for that corporal deficiency; he that can but lend us the clue
that winds out this labyrinth of servitude to such a reasonable and
expedient liberty as this--deserves to be reckoned among the public
benefactors of civil and human life, above the inventors of wine and
oil." [Footnote: This passage is from the first edition; it is not nearly
so full in the second.] As such a benefactor, such a champion of a
neglected truth and a suppressed human liberty, the anonymous writer
offers himself. He knows that he stands alone at present, but he trusts
to the power of demonstration addressed to the mind of England, then
newly awakened and examining all institutions to their roots.

There is not a word of avowed reference to his own case throughout; and
yet from first to last we are aware of young Mary Powell in the
background. Inability for "fit and matchable conversation": this is that
supreme fault in a wife on which the descant is from first to last, and
from which, when it is plainly ingrained and unamendable, the right of
divorce is maintained to be, by the law of God and all civil reason, the
due deliverance. Hopeless intellectual and spiritual incompatibility
between husband and wife: it is on this, though not in these exact words,
that Milton harps again and again as in his view the clearest
invalidation of marriage, the frustration of the noblest and most divine
ends of the institution; an essentially worse frustration, he dares to
say in one place, than even that conjugal infidelity which "a gross and
boorish opinion, how common soever," would alone resent or recognise. It
is marvellous with what richness of varying language he paints to the
reader the horrible condition of a man tied for life to a woman with whom
he can hold no rational or worthy conversation. "A familiar and co-
inhabiting mischief"; "spite of antipathy to fudge together and combine
as they may, to their unspeakable weariness and despair of all sociable
delight"; "a luckless and helpless matrimony"; "the unfitness and
effectiveness of an unconjugal mind"; "a worse condition than the
loneliest single life"; "unconversing inability of mind"; "a mute and
spiritless mate"; "that melancholy despair which we see in many wedded
persons"; "a polluting sadness and perpetual distemper"; "ill-twisted
wedlock"; "the disturbance of her unhelpful and unfit society"; "one that
must be hated with a most operative hatred"; "forsaken and yet
continually dwelt with and accompanied"; "a powerful reluctance and
recoil of nature on either side, blasting all the content of their mutual
society"; "a violence to the reverend secret of nature"; "to force a
mixture of minds that cannot unite"; "two incoherent and uncombining
dispositions"; "the undoing or the disheartening of his life"; "the
superstitious and impossible performance of an ill-driven bargain";
"bound fast to an uncomplying discord of nature, or, as it oft happens,
to an image of earth and phlegm"; "shut up together, the one with a
mischosen mate, the other in a mistaken calling"; "committing two
ensnared souls inevitably to kindle one another, not with the fire of
love, but with a hatred irreconcilable, who, were they severed, would be
straight friends in any other relation"; "two carcases chained
unnaturally together, or, as it may happen, a living soul bound to a dead
corpse"; "enough to abase the mettle of a generous spirit and sink him to
a low and vulgar pitch of endeavour in all his actions": such are a few
specimens of the phrases with which the tract abounds. [Footnote: Some of
the phrases quoted occur in passages added in the second edition; but it
is not worth while to distinguish those. Most of the phrases, and those
of the same, occur in the third edition.] But one passage may be quoted

"But some are ready to object that the disposition ought seriously to be
considered before. But let them know again that, for all the wariness can
be used, it may yet befall a discreet man to be mistaken in his choice,
and we have plenty of examples. The soberest and best-governed men are
least practised in these affairs; and who knows not that the bashful
muteness of a virgin may oft-times hide all the unliveliness and natural
sloth which is really unfit for conversation? Nor is there that freedom
of access granted or presumed as may suffice to a perfect discerning till
too late; and, where any indisposition is suspected, what more usual than
the persuasion of friends that acquaintance, as it increases, will amend
all? And, lastly, it is not strange though many who have spent their
youth chastely are in some things not so quick-sighted while they haste
too eagerly to light the nuptial torch: nor is it therefore that for a
modest error a man should forfeit so great a happiness, and no charitable
means to release him; since they who have lived most loosely, by reason
of their bold accustoming, prove most successful in their matches,
because their wild affections, unsettling at will, have been as so many
divorces to teach them experience; whenas the sober man, honouring the
appearance of modesty, and hoping well of every social virtue under that
veil, may easily chance to meet ... often with a mind to all other due
conversation inaccessible, and to all the more estimable and superior
purposes of matrimony useless and almost lifeless; and what a solace,
what a fit help, such a consort would be through the whole life of a man
is less pain to conjecture than to have experience."

Oh! and is it come to this? Then, as now, nothing so common as that such

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