The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649
by David Masson
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Environed by such a sea of Presbyterian excitement, what could the Parliament do? They did what was expected. They shook off Toleration as if it had been a snake. Not only did they assure the Aldermen and Common Council that there would be due vigilance against the sects and heretics; but on the 29th of January, or within a fortnight after they had received the City Petition, they took occasion to prove that their assurance was sincere. The two Baptist preachers Cox and Richardson, it seems, had been standing at the door of the House of Commons, distributing to members printed copies of the Confession of Faith of the Seven Baptist Congregations in London (see ante, p. 148). It was as if they had said, "Be pleased to look for yourselves, gentlemen, at the real tenets of those poor Anabaptists who are described as such monsters." But the Commons were in a Presbyterian panic; Cox and Richardson were taken into custody; and orders were issued for seizing and suppressing all copies of the Baptist Confession that could be found. This alone would prove that as late as the end of January, 1645-6, the Presbyterians, in their character of Anti-Tolerationists, were still masters of the field. [Footnote: Commons Journals, Jan. 29, 1645-6.]


Hardly less successful had the Presbyterians been in their more proper task of perfecting their Frame of Church-government. Here, indeed, they had encountered little or no opposition from the Independents. The essentials of the Presbyterian scheme having been voted by Parliament, the Independents had quietly accepted that fact; and, though they tended, as was natural, more and more to doubts whether there ought to be any National Church at all, they had left Parliament and the Presbyterians of the Assembly to construct the detailed machine of the future English Presbytery very much as they pleased. [Footnote: Absolute Voluntaryism, as we know, was already represented in Roger Williams. The Seekers, his followers, were bound to the same conclusion; and accordingly, I find a little tract of six pages, in 1645, by John Saltmarsh, the Seeker and Antinomian (ante, p. 151-3), entitled "A New Quere, at this time seasonably to be considered, &c.. viz. Whether it be fit, according to the principles of true Religion and State to settle any Church-government over the Kingdom hastily or not." Burton was already in the same mood of hypothetical Voluntaryism (ante, p. 109), and I think it was spreading now among the Independents. Certainly, however, the perception of the necessary identity of the principle of Independency with absolute Voluntaryism, or the doctrine of No State Church, was not universal among them.] It was the Erastians rather than the Independents that were here the clogs upon the thorough-going Presbyterians. Selden especially was their torment. He was quite willing, O yes! that the Church of England should be thenceforward Presbyterian; but then what about the rights of the individual subject and the relations of the Church to the State? The State or central Power in every community must be, in the last resort, the guardian of all the rights and liberties of the individual subjects; there had been but one Sanhedrim in the Jewish Commonwealth, supreme in causes ecclesiastical as well as in causes civil; but the Presbyterian Divines of the Assembly, with the Scots for their advisers, wanted the Church in England to be a separate Sanhedrim, supreme in ecclesiastical causes, and irresponsible to the State! Plying his learning in this fashion, and assisted by Whitlocke, St. John, and the other lawyers in the Assembly and in Parliament, Selden had, throughout 1645, kept up an Erastian obstruction to the Presbyterians. Now, as Prynne out of doors, with all his Presbyterianism, was also lawyer-like, and therefore staunchly Erastian, and as the Independents in Parliament made common cause with the Erastians wherever they could, the obstruction had been very formidable. "The Erastian party in the Parliament is stronger than the Independent, and is like to work us much woe," wrote Baillie in May 1645; "Mr. Prynne and the Erastian lawyers are now our remora" he wrote in September; and he kept repeating the complaint throughout the year. [Footnote: Baillie, II. 277, 315, and also in intermediate and following pages.]

Nevertheless great progress had been made in devising and settling the details of the Presbyterian system. What it was will be best exhibited in a dated series of paragraphs, digesting the proceedings of the Assembly and the Parliament:—

May 1645: Presbyterian Arrangements for all England prospectively, and for London to begin with:—That every English Congregation or Parish have its lay-elders along with its minister, just after the Scottish fashion; That the meetings of the Presbyterians be once a month; That the ecclesiastical provinces of England be about sixty in number (about co- numerous with the shires, and, in most cases, identical with them), and that the Synods of these provinces be held twice a-year, and consist of delegates from the Presbyteries; That the National Assembly be held once a year, and consist of delegates from the sixty Synods, at the rate of three ministers and two ruling elders from each, so as to form a House of about 300 members.—That London, reckoned by a radius of ten miles from its centre, be one of the Synodical Provinces, and that the number of Classes or Presbyteries in the Synod of London be fourteen.— Baillie, II. 271, 272.

Aug. 23: Ordinance of Parliament, calling in all copies of the old Liturgy, enforcing the use of the new Westminster Directory of Worship, and forbidding any use of the Liturgy, even in private houses, under penalties.—Commons Journals.

July-Sept. 1645; Directions for the Election of Ruling Elders in Congregations, and for the Division of the English Counties into Presbyteries. July 23, the Commons resolved that Ruling Elders in congregations should be chosen by the ministers and all members duly qualified by having taken the Covenant and being of full age, save that servants without families were not to have votes: no man to be a ruling elder in more than one congregation, and that in the place of his usual residence. July 25, they appointed a committee of forty-seven of their own body to find out the fittest persons to be a committee for superintending the elections of Elders for the Congregations and Presbyteries of London, and at the same time to prepare a letter to be sent down into the counties by the Speaker, giving instructions for the formation of County-Committees to consider the best division of the counties respectively into Presbyteries. The letter was ready Sept. 17, when it was ordered to be sent down into the counties, with a copy of the Votes and Ordinances on the subject of the election of Elders that had then passed and been concurred in by the Lords.—Commons Journals.

Sept.-Dec. 1645: Special Presbyterian Arrangements for London. It having been resolved by the Commons (Sept. 23) that there should be a choice of Elders forthwith in London, the aforesaid Committee of forty- seven reported to the House (Sept. 26) the names of the persons judged most suitable to be TRIERS of the ability and integrity of the Elders that should be elected, and of the validity of their election according to the Parliamentary regulations. In each of the twelve London Classes or Presbyteries (there were only twelve as yet) there were to be nine of these Triers—three ministers and six lay citizens; and they were to decide all questions by a majority of votes. Thus there were to be 108 Triers in all in London. Their names are all registered. The machinery being thus ready, the Lord Mayor was requested, Oct. 8, to intimate to all the London ministers the desire of Parliament that Congregations should at once proceed to the election of their Elders.—Dec. 5, it was ordered that the whole world of the lawyers—i.e. the Chapel of the Rolls, the two Serjeants' Inns, and the four Inns of Court—should be constituted into a Presbytery by itself, but divided into two Classes. Triers were also appointed for the Elders in this peculiar Presbytery, one of them being William Prynne.—Commons Journals of dates cited.

Nov. 8, 1645: New Ordinance for the Ordination of Ministers. In this long Ordinance the original identity of Bishop and Presbyter is asserted, and consequently the right of Presbyters, without any so-called Bishop among them, to ordain; nevertheless the ordinations by the late Bishops are recognised as valid. Directions are then given to Presbyters for the examination of candidates for the ministry in future, and for the formalities to be observed in their ordination. Every candidate must be twenty-four years of age at least, and must be tried not only in respect of piety, character, preaching ability, and knowledge of divinity, but also in respect of skill in the tongues and in Logic and Philosophy; and congregations were to have full opportunity of stating exceptions against ministers offered them. From a clause in the Ordinance it appears that certified ordination in Scotland was to be accepted in England.—Lords Journals.

Powers of the Congregational Elderships in suspending from Church- membership, and excluding from the Communion. This was perhaps the most important subject of all, for it involved the mode of the action of the new Presbyterian system at the heart of social life and its interferences with the liberties of the individual. Parliament was naturally slow and jealous on this subject, so that the discussion of it, part by part, extended over the whole year 1645. The briefest sketch of results must suffice here:—The Assembly having sent in to Parliament a Paper concerning the exclusion of ignorant and scandalous persons from the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Parliament had desired a more particular definition by the Assembly of what they included in the terms ignorant and scandalous. The Assembly having then sent in an explanation, in which, under the head of the ignorance that should exclude from the Lord's Table, they mentioned "the not having a competent understanding concerning the Trinity," the Commons (March 27, 1645) had desired to know what the Assembly considered to be a competent understanding concerning the Trinity, The Assembly having farther declared, under the same head of ignorance, that no persons ought to be admitted to the Lord's Table who had not a "competent understanding" of the Deity, of the state of Man by Creation and by his Fall, of Redemption by Jesus Christ and the means to apply Christ and his benefits, of the necessity of Faith, Repentance and a Godly life, of the Nature and Use of Sacraments, and of the Condition of Man after this Life, the Commons had still demurred about the "competent understanding," and had begged the Assembly to be more precise and business-like (April 1). At length, some resolutions having been come to about the "competent understanding," and there being less difficulty in deciding who should come under the category of the scandalous, the Commons had before them a pretty extensive index of the kinds of persons, whether ignorant or scandalous, whom the Congregational Elderships were to be empowered to suspend or debar from the Communion. The index was not complete, I think, till January 1645-6; by which time, after numerous discussions, it included, in addition to the grossly ignorant in the elementary articles of Christianity, and to murderers, notorious drunkards, swearers, et hoc genus omne, a considerable list of such varieties of offenders as these— makers of images of the Trinity, worshippers of saints, persons sending or accepting challenges, persons playing at games selling wares or unnecessarily travelling on Sunday, persons consulting witches, persons assaulting magistrates or their own parents, persons legally convicted of perjury or bribery, persons consenting to the marriage of their children with Papists, and, finally, the maintainers of errors that subvert the prime Articles of Religion. To provide, moreover, for cases not positively enumerated, there were to be commissioners in every ecclesiastical province authorized to decide on such cases, when represented to them by ministers and the elderships. All this, with much more of the same kind, was partly agreed upon, partly still under Parliamentary consideration, in the beginning of 1646.—Commons Journals, with references there to the Lords Journals.


January 1645-6, I think, was the month in which Presbyterianism was in fullest tide. After that month, and through the spring and early summer of 1646, there was a visible ebb. The cause may have been partly that continued triumph everywhere of the New Model Army which had brought the War obviously to its fag-end, and now, perhaps, suggested to Parliament and the Londoners the uncomfortable idea that the marching mass of Independency, relieved from its military labours, would soon be re- approaching the capital, and at leisure to review the proceedings of its masters. There was, however, a more obvious cause. This was the increase of the Independent Vote in the House of Commons by the gradual coming in of the RECRUITERS.

By the outbreak of the Civil War in August 1642, and the consequent desertion of the House of Commons by two-thirds of its members, most of whom were then or afterwards formally disabled, the House, as we know, had been reduced to a mere stump of what it ought to have been constitutionally. There had been complaints about this outside, and regrets within the House itself; but it was felt that a time of Civil War could not be a time for Parliamentary elections. How could there be such elections while the King's forces were in possession of large regions of England, and these the very regions where most seats were vacant? For three years, therefore, the House had allowed the vacant seats in it to remain vacant, and had persisted in the public business in the state to which it had been reduced, i.e., with a nominal strength at the utmost of about 280, and a constant working attendance of only 100 or thereabouts. Not till after Naseby, and the recovery of more and more of English ground for Parliament by the successes of the New Model, was it deemed prudent to begin the issue of new writs; and even then the process was careful and gradual.

The first new writs issued were in Aug. 1645, and were for Southwark, St. Edmundsbury, and Hythe; in September there followed 95 additional new writs for boroughs or counties; in October there were 27 more; and so on by smaller batches in succeeding months, until, by the end of the year, 146 new members in all had been elected. This did not complete the process; for 89 new members more remained to be elected in the course of 1646, bringing the total number of the Recruiters up to about 235. Now, among these Recruiters, all of them Parliamentarians in the main sense, there were both Presbyterians and Independents. As Presbyterians, more or less, may be reckoned, among those elected before January 1645-6, Major- general RICHARD BROWNE (Wycombe), Major-general EDWARD MASSEY (Wootton Bassett), WALTER LONG, Esq. (Ludgershall, Wilts), and CLEMENT WALKER, Esq. (Wells): this last a very peculiar-tempered person from Somersetshire, a friend of Prynne's, and described by himself as an "elderly gentleman, of low stature, in a grey suit, with a little stick in his hand." Decidedly more numerous among the Recruiters, however, were men who might be called Independents, or were at least Tolerationists. Among such, all elected before January 1645-6, or not later than that month, may be named Colonel ROBERT BLAKE (Taunton), Sir JOHN DANVERS, brother of the late Earl of Danby (Malmesbury), the Hon. JOHN FIENNES, third son of Viscount Saye and Sele (Morpeth), GEORGE FLEETWOOD, Esq. (Bucks), Colonel CHARLES FLEETWOOD (Marlborough), Sir JAMES HARRINGTON (Rutland), the Hon. JAMES HERBERT, second son of the Earl of Pembroke (Wilts), Colonel JOHN HUTCHINSON (Notts), Commissary-general HENRY IRETON (Appleby), HENRY LAWRENCE, Esq., a gentleman of property and some taste for learning and speculation (Westmoreland), Sir MICHAEL LIVESEY (Queenborough), Colonel EDMUND LUDLOW (Wilts), SIMON MAYNE, Esq. (Aylesbury), young Colonel EDWARD MONTAGUE (Hants), Colonel RICHARD NORTON (Hants), Colonel CHARLES RICH (Sandwich), Colonel EDWARD ROSSITER (Great Grimsby), THOMAS SCOTT (Aylesbury), young Colonel ALGERNON SIDNEY (Cardiff), Colonel WILLIAM SYDENHAM (Melcombe Regis), and PETER TEMPLE, Esq. (Leicester). Of this list, nearly half, it may be noted, were or had been officers in the New Model. The fact was very significant. It was still more significant that among these New Model officers elected among the first Recruiters there was a knot of men who were already recognised as in a special sense Cromwellians. Almost all the New Model officers were devoted to Cromwell; but Ireton was his alter ego, and young Fleetwood, young Montague, young Sidney, and young Sydenham, belonged to a group known in the Army as Cromwell's passionate admirers and disciples. [Footnote: The statistics of the Recruiting in this paragraph are from my own counting of the New Writs from Aug. 1645 onwards in the Commons Journals, checked by Godwin's previous counting or calculation (Hist. of Commonwealth, II. 38, 39), and by the noting of new writs in the list of members of the Long Parliament given in the Parl. Hist. (II. 599-629). Among the individual Recruiters named I have tried not to include any whose election was later than Jan. 1645-6, and have trusted, in that particular, to the notices of new writs in the Commons Journals and the Parl. Hist.; but one cannot be perfectly sure that in each case an election immediately followed the new writ. My often-cited fly-sheet authority, Leach's Great Champions of England, has been of use. It distinguishes 131 Recruiters as of Parliamentary note before the end of July, 1646; but its list of Recruiters up to that date is neither complete nor accurate.—The description of Clement Walker is from his own Hist. of Independency (edit. 1660), Part I. p. 53.—The county in which there had to be most Recruiting, which there were most vacant seats, was Somersetshire. Nearly all the seats were vacant there. A large proportion of the seats was vacant in Notts, Yorkshire, Sussex, Westmoreland, and Wales.—The Recruiting went on not only through 1646, but also in stray cases through subsequent years; and FAIRFAX, SKIPPON, HARRISON, INGOLDSBY, among military men, and PRYNNE himself among civilians, came at length into the House.]

Not called Recruiters, but practically such for the Independents, were two original members who, after having been out of the House for a long while, were now restored to their places. These were Nathaniel Fiennes, alias "Young Subtlety," and the witty and freethinking Henry Marten. Fiennes, having been tried by court-martial and sentenced to death in December 1643, for his surrender of Bristol (ante, p. 6), had been forgiven and allowed to go abroad; but opinion of his conduct in that affair had meanwhile become more favourable, and before the end of 1645 he returned and resumed his seat. Marten (Vol. II. p. 166) had been expelled from the House by vote, Aug. 16, 1643, for words too daringly disrespectful of Royalty—in fact, for premature Republicanism; but, the House having become less fastidious in that matter, and his presence being greatly missed, the vote was rescinded January 6, 1645-6, and the record of it expunged from the Journals. [Footnote: Godwin's Commonwealth, II. 77, 78; Wood's Ath. III. 878 and 1238; and Commons Journals of dates given.]

Although as many as 146 Recruiters had been elected before the end of the year, they appear to have taken their places but slowly. Not till January 26, 1645-6, does one perceive any considerable effect on the numbers of the House. On that day there was a House of at least 183, the largest there had been for many a day—larger by 13 than the House that had made Fairfax commander-in-chief twelve months before. And thenceforward the numbers keep well up. On two occasions early in February there were Houses of 203 and 202 respectively; and before the summer of 1646 there were members enough at hand to form on great field-days Houses of from 250 to 270. By that time some of the military men among the Recruiters were able to be present. [Footnote: My notes of Divisions, from the Commons Journals.]


As soon as the Recruiting had begun to tell upon the numbers of the House, an effect on the policy of the House is also perceptible. Thus on Feb. 3, the very day when the Commons mustered a House of 203, a division took place involving Toleration in a subtle form. The question was whether in a Declaration setting forth the true intentions of the House in Church-matters this clause should be inserted: "A fitting care shall be taken of tender consciences, so far as may stand with the Word of God and the Peace of the Kingdom." This, though mild enough, displeased the Presbyterians, and was proposed from their side that the words "Church and" should be inserted before the word "Kingdom." On a division the Yeas (for adding the words and so making the pledge of a toleration weaker) were 105, and had for their tellers the Presbyterian party-chiefs, Denzil Holles and Sir Philip Stapleton; but 98 Noes rallied round Sir Arthur Haselrig and Sir Henry Mildmay, the tellers for the Opposition. [Footnote: Commons Journals of date.] A wavering of the balance towards Independency and Toleration was indicated by this vote; but it was not till the following month that the balance was decisively turned, and then not directly on the Toleration question, but on that great related question of the "Power of the Keys" which the Presbyterians of the Assembly wanted to see settled in their favour before they could consider the Presbyterian establishment perfect. If the phrase "Power of the Keys" should seem a mystic one to English readers now, it will perhaps be cleared up by the following story of what happened in March 1645-6.

On the 5th of that month the Commons passed and sent up to the Lords one all-comprehensive Ordinance, recapitulating in twenty-three Propositions the substance of their various Presbyterian enactments up to that date. [Footnote: See the Ordinance in the Commons Journals of the date. It is a clear and excellent summary of what had been done and what was intended in the matter of Presbyterian Establishment.] What these were we have just seen (ante, pp. 397-400). They amounted, as one might now think, to a sufficiently strict Presbyterianizing of all England, with London first by way of example. The Presbyterian Divines were not ill satisfied on the whole; but they had not succeeded to the full extent of their wishes, and there were various matters in the Recapitulating Ordinance that they hoped yet to see amended. In particular, notwithstanding all their efforts for months past to indoctrinate the Parliament with the right Presbyterian theory of the independent spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, the natural Erastianism of the lay mind had been so strong in the Commons that the 14th Proposition of the Recapitulating Ordinance stood as follows:—

"XIV. That, in every Province, persons shall be chosen by the Houses of Parliament that shall be Commissioners to judge of scandalous offences (not enumerated in any Ordinance of Parliament) to them presented: And that the Eldership of that Congregation where the said offence was committed shall, upon examination and proof of such scandalous offence (in like manner as is to be done in the offences enumerated), certify the same to the Commissioners, together with the proof taken before them: And before the said certificate the party accused shall have liberty to make such defence as he shall think fit before the said Eldership, and also before the Commissioners before any certificate shall be made to the Parliament: And, if the said Commissioners, after examination of all parties, shall determine the offence, so presented and proved, to be scandalous, and the same shall certify to the Congregation, the Eldership thereof may suspend such person from the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in like manner as in cases enumerated in any Ordinance of Parliament."

Here was wormwood for the Presbyterians; and over this 14th Article, and one or two subsequent articles, settling farther details of the superiority of the proposed Parliamentary Commissioners over the Church Courts, and also reserving the appeal of ecclesiastical questions to Parliament, they prepared to fight a most strenuous battle. The Assembly, the City Corporation, the City ministers in their Sion College conclave, and the Scottish Commissioners, all flew to arms. Their first hope was with the Lords; and them they nearly conquered. On the 13th of March there was a long debate in that House on the whole Ordinance, and especially its 14th Article; and, out of twenty-one Peers present, nine were so opposed to that Article that, before the vote was taken, they begged leave to be allowed to register their protest if the vote went against them. These Peers were the Earls of Essex, Manchester, Warwick, Bolingbroke, and Suffolk, and Lords Willoughby, Roberts, Dacres, and Bruce. There were, however, twelve Peers in favour of the Erastian Article: viz. the Earls of Northumberland, Kent, Pembroke, Salisbury, Denbigh, Nottingham, Stamford, and Middlesex, and Lords North, Howard of Escrick, Wharton, and Grey of Wark. Pour of the minority, viz. Essex, Manchester, Bolingbroke, and Bruce, did then protest, on the ground that they considered the institution of Parliamentary Commissioners apart from the Church Courts inconsistent with the Solemn League and Covenant. The entire Ordinance, with insignificant amendments, thus passed the Lords; and, the Commons having accepted the amendments, it became law on the 14th of March. [Footnote: Commons Journals, Feb. 27, and March 3, 5, and 14, 1645-6; and Lords Journals, March 13 and 14.]

Was it, then, such a mongrel Presbytery as this, an Erastian Presbytery, a Presbytery controlled and policed by Parliamentary Commissioners, that was to be set up in England? Not if the Presbyterian clergy of England, with all Scotland to aid them, could prevent it! "We, for our part [the Scottish Commissioners]," writes Baillie, March 17, "mind to give in a remonstrance against it; the Assembly will do the like; the City ministers will give the third; but that which, by God's help, may prove most effectual is the zeal of the City itself. Before the Ordinance came out, they petitioned against some materials of it. This both the Houses voted to be a breach of their privilege, to offer a petition against anything that is in debate before them, till once it be concluded and come abroad. This vote the City takes very evil: it's likely to go high betwixt them. Our prayers and endeavours are for wisdom and courage to the City." [Footnote: Baillie, II. 361.] Within a fortnight, however (March 31), Baillie writes, in a postscript to the same letter, in a much more downcast mood. "The leaders of the people," he says, "seem to be inclined to have no shadow of a King, to have liberty for all Religions, to have but a lame Erastian Presbytery, to be so injurious to us [the Scots] as to chase us home with the sword. ... Our great hope on earth, the City of London, has played nipshot [i.e. miss-fire or burnt priming]: they are speaking of dissolving the Assembly." [Footnote: Ibid. II. 362.]—To understand this wail of Baillie's we have again to turn to the Journals of the Commons.

Having passed the all-conclusive Ordinance for Presbytery, the two Houses had resolved to stand on their dignity, and resent the attempted dictation of the City, the Sion College conclave, the Assembly, and the Scottish Commissioners. They had already, as Baillie informs us, made a beginning, while the Ordinance was yet in progress, by voting a petition of the City against some parts of it to be a breach of privilege. At this, as late as March 17, the City was in proper dudgeon, and vowed that Parliament should hear from it again on the subject. Before a fortnight had elapsed, however, there was a wonderful change. News had come to London of Hopton's final surrender to the New Model in Cornwall, of the defeat of Astley in Gloucestershire with the last shred of the King's field-force, and in fact of the absolute ending of the war, except for the few Royalist towns and garrisons that had yet to make terms. In the midst of the universal joy, why dwell on a difference between the City and Parliament as to the details of the Presbyterian mechanism? Accordingly, on Friday, March 27, divers Aldermen and others were at the door of the House of Commons, not to remonstrate farther this little difference, but to beg that the House would "so far honour" the City as to dine with the Corporation at Grocers' Hall on the following Thursday, being Thanksgiving Day, after the two usual sermons! The House was most gracious, and accepted the invitation; and this restoration of good feeling between Parliament and the City was probably the "nipshot" or miss-fire which Baillie lamented on the 3lst.—The City being out of the business for the time, it was easier for the Parliament to deal with the other parties. To the Scottish Commissioners hints were conveyed, as politely as possible, that Parliament would prefer having less of their valuable assistance in the governing of England. With the Westminster Assembly and the London Divines there was less ceremony. The Assembly had drawn up a Petition or Remonstrance against the Articles of the conclusive Ordinance of March 14, providing for an agency of Parliamentary Commissioners to aid and supervise the Church judicatories. "The provision of Commissioners," they said, "to judge of scandals not enumerated appears to our consciences to be contrary to that way of government which Christ hath appointed in his Church, in that it giveth a power to judge of the fitness of persons to come to the Sacrament unto such as our Lord Jesus Christ hath not given that power unto;" and they added that the provision was contrary to the Solemn League and Covenant, and besought Parliament to cancel it and put due power into the hands of the Elderships. This Petition, signed by the Prolocutor, one of the Assessors, and the to Scribes of the Assembly, was presented to the two Houses, most imposingly, March 23, When Baillie wrote his lamentation he did not know the precise result, but he guessed what it was to be.

It was worse than Baillie could have guessed. After much inquiry and consultation about the Assembly's Petition, the Commons, on the 11th of April 1646, came to two sharp votes. The first was on the question "Whether the House shall first debate the point concerning the Breach of Privilege in this Petition;" and it was carried in the affirmative by 106 Yeas, told by Evelyn of Wilts and Haselrig, against 85 Noes, told by Holles and Stapleton. The question was then put "Whether this Petition, thus presented by the Assembly of the Divines, is a Breach of Privilege of Parliament;" and on this question, the tellers on both sides being the same, 88 voted Yea and 76 No: i.e. it was carried by a majority of 12 that the Assembly, in their Petition, had been guilty of a grave political offence, for which they might be punished individually, by fine or imprisonment or both. No such punishment, of course, was intended. It was enough to shake the rod over the Assembly. A Committee, including Haselrig, Henry Marten, the younger Vane, and Selden, was appointed to prepare a Narrative on the whole subject, with a statement of the particulars; and this Narrative, ready April 21, was discussed clause by clause, and adopted. It is a striking document, quiet and tight in style, but most pungent in matter. It begins with an assertion of the supremacy of Parliament in all matters whatsoever; it recites the specific purposes for which the Assembly had been called by Parliament, and the limitations imposed upon it by the Ordinance to which it owed its being; and it proceeds to this rebuke: "The Assembly are not authorized, as an Assembly, by any Ordinance or Order of Parliament, to interpret the Covenant, especially in relation to any law made or to be made; nor, since the Law passed both Houses concerning the Commissioners, have [the Assembly] been required by both or either of the Houses of Parliament, or had any authority before from Parliament, to deliver their opinions to the Houses on matters already judged and determined by them. Neither have they the power to debate or vote whether what is passed as a Law by both Houses be agreeing or disagreeing to the Word of God, unless they be thereunto required." On the day on which the Narrative containing this passage of rebuke was adopted (April 21) a Committee was appointed to communicate it, with the appertaining Vote of the Commons, "in a fair manner," to the Assembly. Actually, on the 27th of April the communication was made most ceremoniously, and from that day the Assembly knew itself to be under curb. [Footnote: For the facts of this and the preceding paragraph the authorities are Commons and Lords Journals, March 23, 1645-6, and Commons Journals of April 1, 3, 8, 11, 16, 18, 21, and 24, 1646. The Lords Journals give the Assembly's Petition; the Narrative of the Commons is in their Journals for April 21.—It is strange, in modern times, to note the frequency with which the Parliament, and even the popular party in it, resorted to the fiction of Breach of Privilege in order to quash opposition to their proceedings. Sometimes, as in the Vote about the City Petition recently mentioned, it was the Breach of Privilege to assume to know what was going on in Parliament or petition against any measure while it was pending; at other times, as now, it was a Breach of Privilege to question by petition a measure already determined. In the present case, however, the Commons seem to have founded on the fact that the Assembly, "as an Assembly," had transgressed its powers. Individually, they seem to say, the Divines might have petitioned, but not as an Assembly, the creature of the Parliament whose acts they censured.]

Not only under curb, but thrown to the ground, and baited with sarcasms and interrogatories! Thus, on the 17th of April, six days after the Vote of Breach of Privilege, but four days before the Vote and the accompanying Narrative had been communicated officially to the Assembly, there was finally agreed upon by the Commons that Declaration as to their true intentions on the Church question which had been in preparation since February 3, and in this Declaration there was a double-knotted lash at the prostrate Assembly. Parliament, it was explained, had adopted most of the Assembly's recommendations as to the Frame of Church-government to be set up, with no exception of moment but that of the Commissioners; in which exception Parliament had only performed its bounden duty, seeing it could not "consent to the granting of an arbitrary and unlimited power and jurisdiction to near 10,000 judicatories to be erected in this kingdom." Farther it was announced that Parliament reserved the question of the amount of toleration to be granted under the new Presbyterial rule to "tender consciences that differ not in fundamentals of Religion." But there was more to come. Selden and the Erastians, and Haselrig, Vane, Marten, with the Independents and Free Opinionists, had been nettled by those parts of the Assembly's Petition which assumed that the whole frame of the Presbyterian Government scheme by the Assembly was jure divino. They resolved to put the Assembly through an examination about this jus divinum. On the 22nd of April, therefore, there was presented to the House, by the same Committee that had prepared the Narrative of the Breach of Privilege, a series of nine questions which it would be well to send to the Assembly. "Whether the Parochial and Congregational Elderships appointed by Ordinance of Parliament, or any other Congregational or Presbyterial Elderships, are jure divino, and by the will and appointment of Jesus Christ; and whether any particular Church- government be jure divino, and what that government is?"—such is the first of the nine queries; and the other eight are no less incisive. They were duly communicated to the Assembly; it was requested that the Answers should be precise, with the Scripture proofs for each, in the express words of the texts; every Divine present at a debate on any of the Queries was to subscribe his name to the particular resolution he might vote for; and the dissentients from any vote were to send to Parliament their own positive opinions on the point of that vote, with the Scripture proofs. Selden's hand is distinctly visible in this ingenious insult to the Assembly. [Footnote: Commons Journals, April 17 and April 22, 1646; Baillie, II. 344.] It was a more stinging punishment than adjournment or dissolution would have been, though that also had been thought of, and Viscount Saye and Sele had recommended it in the Lords.

In the midst of these firm dealings of the Parliament with the Assembly, Cromwell was back in London. He was in the House on the 23rd of April 1646, and received its thanks, through the Speaker, for his great services. He probably brought a train of his young Cromwellians with him (Ireton, Fleetwood, Montague, &c.) to swell the number of Recruiters that had already taken their seats. In the course of May, at all events, there were Houses of 269, 241, 261, 259, and 248, and the Recruiters had so increased the strength of the Independents and Erastians that a relapse into the policy of ultra-Presbyterianism and No Toleration appeared impossible. [Footnote: Baillie, II. 369, and Commons Journals for several days in May 1646.]


Suddenly, by the King's flight to the Scottish Army at Newark (May 5), and by the retreat of that army, with the King in their possession, to the safer position of Newcastle (May 13), the whole condition of things was changed. The question between Independency and Presbyterianism, and the included question of Toleration or No Toleration, were thrown, with all other questions, into the crucible of the negotiations, between the English and the Scots, round the King at Newcastle.

It was known that the strife between the Independents and the Presbyterians had long been a solace to Charles, and a fact of great importance in his calculations. Should he fail to rout both parties and reimpose both Kingship and Episcopacy on England by force of arms, did there not remain for him, at the very worst, the option of allying himself with that one of the parties with which he could make the best bargain? Now that he had been driven to the detested alternative, he had, it appeared, though not without hesitation, and indeed partly by accident, given the Presbyterians the first chance. He had done so, it was true, in a circuitous way, but perhaps in the only way open to him. To have surrendered himself to the English Presbyterians was hardly possible; for, had he gone to London with that view, how could the Presbyterians of the Parliament and the City have protected him, or kept him to themselves, when the English Army that would then instantly have closed round London was an Army of Independents? By placing himself in the hands of the Scottish Army, had he not cleverly avoided this difficulty, receiving temporary protection, and yet intimating that it was with the Presbyterians that he preferred to treat? So, in fact, the King's flight to the Scots was construed by the English Presbyterians. They were even glad that it had fallen to the Scots to represent for the moment English Presbyterianism as well as Scottish, advising Charles in his new circumstances, and ascertaining his intentions. And the Scots, on their part, it appeared, had accepted the duty.

Hardly was the King at Newcastle when there were round him not only General Leven, Major-general Leslie, and the Earls of Lothian, Balcarres, and Dunfermline, all of whom had chanced to be at Newark on his reception there, but also other Scots of mark, expressly sent from Edinburgh and from London. The Earl of Lanark was among the first of these. Argyle himself, who had been excessively busy in Scotland and in Ireland since the defeat of Montrose, thought his presence now essential in England, and hastened to be with his Majesty. The Chancellor Loudoun made no delay, but was off from London to Newcastle on the 16th of May. Above all, however, it was thought desirable that Alexander Henderson should be near his Majesty at such a crisis. Accordingly, some days before Loudoun's departure, Henderson had taken leave of his brother-divines, Baillie, Rutherford, and Gillespie, with Lauderdale and Johnstone of Warriston, in their London quarters at Worcester House, and, though in such a state of ill-health as to be hardly fit to travel, had gone bravely and modestly northwards to the scene of duty. How much was expected of him may be inferred from a jotting in one of Baillie's letters just after he had gone. "Our great perplexity is for the King's disposition," wrote Baillie on the 15th of May: "how far he will be persuaded to yield we do not know: I hope Mr. Henderson is with him this night at Newcastle." [Footnote: Baillie, II. 370 et seq.]

The immediate object of the Scots round Charles was to induce him to take the Covenant. That done, they had little doubt that they would be able to bring him and the English Parliament amicably together.—Charles, however, at once showed by his conduct that the current interpretation of the meaning of his flight to the Scots had been too hasty. It was not because he wanted to bargain with the Presbyterians as against the Independents that he had come to the Scots; it was because he had the more subtle idea that he might be able to bargain with the Scots as such against the English as such. He hoped to wrap himself up in the nationality of the Scots; he hoped to appeal to them as peculiarly their sovereign, born forty-six years before in their own Dunfermline, once or twice their visitor since, always remembering them with affection, and now back among them in his distress. [Footnote: On the verge of a wooded dell or glen close to the burgh of Dunfermline, in Fife, there still stands one fine length of ruined and ivy-clad wall, the remains of the palace in which, on the 19th of November 1600, Charles I. was born. The dell, with the adjacent Abbey, is sacred with legends and stony memorials of the Scottish royal race, from the days of Malcom Canmore and his Queen Margaret.] Of course, in such a character, concessions to their Presbyterianism would have to be made; but these concessions had all, in fact, been made already, and involved no new humiliation. It was about Episcopacy in England, his English coronation oath, his English sovereignty, that he was mainly anxious; and what if, from his refuge among the Scots, and even with the Scots as his instruments, he could recommence, in some way or other, his struggle with the English? Charles did labour under this delusion. When he had come among the Scots it was actually with some absurd notion that Montrose, who still lurked in the Highlands, might be forgiven all the past and brought back, as one of his Majesty's most honoured servants, though recently erratic, into the society of Argyle, Loudoun, Lanark, and the rest of the faithful. [Footnote: See in Rushworth (VI. 266-7) a Letter of the King's to the Marquis of Ormond in Ireland, dated from Oxford, April 13, 1646, and explaining his reasons for his then meditated flight to the Scots. "We are resolved to use our best endeavours, with their assistance," says Charles, speaking of the Scottish Army, "and with the conjunction of the forces under the Marquis of Montrose and such of our well-affected subjects as shall rise for us, to procure, if it may be, an honourable and speedy peace." At the same time (April 18) Charles had written to Montrose himself to the same effect. The infatuation that could believe in the possibility of such a combination was monstrous.]—A day or two among the Scots had undeceived him. They repudiated at once any supposed arrangement with him arising out of the negotiations of Montreuil; they repudiated expressly the notion that they could by possibility have been so false to the English Parliament as to have pledged themselves to a separate treaty. Charles, they maintained, had come among them voluntarily and without any prior compact. Most willingly, however, would they do their best for him in the circumstances. If he would declare his renunciation of Episcopacy and acceptance of Presbyterianism for England, and especially if he would do this in the best mode of all, by personally taking the Covenant, then they did not doubt but a way would be opened for a final treaty with England in which they could assist.

Perforce Charles had now to disguise the real motive of his coming among the Scots, and let the interpretation at first put upon it continue current. Not, of course, that he would take the Covenant, or in any way commit himself even now to Presbytery. But, while he stood firm against the proposal that he should himself take the Covenant (which would have been to abjure Episcopacy personally), and while he refrained from committing himself to an acceptance of Presbytery for his English realm, he does not appear to have objected to the impression that on this second matter he might yield to time and reason. And so, while writing in cipher to Queen Henrietta Maria, complaining of the "juggling" of the Scots, because they would not break with the English Parliament in his behalf, and while urging the Queen in the same letters to press upon Cardinal Mazarin, and through him on the Pope, the scheme of a restitution of Episcopacy in England by Roman Catholic force, on condition of "free liberty of conscience" for the Catholics in England and "convenient places for their devotions," he was patiently polite to the Presbyterians around him, and employed part of his leisure in penning, from the midst of them, letters of a temporizing kind to the two Houses of Parliament, and the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of London. The letter to the City (May 19) was short and general, but cordial. That to the Parliament (May 18) was a proposal of terms. A speedy settlement of the Religious Question by the wisdom of Parliament with the advice of the Assembly (no word of Episcopacy or Presbytery, but some compromise with Presbytery implied); the Militia to be as proposed in the Treaty of Uxbridge— i.e. to be for seven years in the hands of Parliament, and after that a fresh agreement to be made; Ireland to be managed as far as possible as Parliament might wish: such were his Majesty's present propositions. [Footnote: Letters of Charles numbered XXV. XXVI. and XXVII. (pp. 39-43) in Mr. Bruce's Charles I. in 1646; Parl. Hist. III. 471 et seq.] He would be glad, however, to receive those of Parliament.

There was a Presbyterian ecstasy in London on the receipt of these letters. The Corporation, which had, to Baillie's grief, so inopportunely played "nipshot" in the end of March, and left the Assembly and Sion College to bear the brunt, now hastened to make amends. Headed by Alderman Foot, a famous City orator, they presented, May 26, a Remonstrance to both Houses of Parliament, couched in terms of the most unflinching Presbyterianism, Anti-Toleration, and confidence in the Scots. "When we remember," they said, "that it hath been long since declared to be far from any purpose or desire to let loose the golden reins of discipline and government in the Church, or to leave private persons or particular congregations to take up what form of divine service they please; when we look upon what both Houses have resolved against Brownism and Anabaptism, properly so called; when we meditate upon our Protestation and Covenant; and, lastly, when we peruse the Directory and other Ordinances for Presbyterial government; and yet find private and separate congregations daily erected in divers parts of the city and elsewhere, and commonly frequented, and Anabaptism, Brownism, and almost all manner of schisms, heresies, and blasphemies, boldly vented and maintained by such as, to the point of Church-government, profess themselves to be Independents: we cannot but be astonished." After more complaints, they end with petitions for Presbyterian Uniformity, the suppression of Independent congregations, the punishment of Anabaptists and other sectaries, strict union with the Scots, &c., all to be combined with immediate "Propositions to his Majesty for settling a safe and well-grounded Peace." There was but one meaning in this. The City was the mouthpiece; but in reality it was the united ultra- Presbyterianism of the City, the Assembly, Sion College, and some of the Presbyterian leaders in Parliament, trying to turn the King's presence with the Scots into an occasion for any practicable kind of peace whatsoever that would involve the overthrow of Independency, the Sects, and Toleration. The House of Lords bowed before the blast, and returned a gracious answer. The Commons, after two divisions, of 148 to 113, and 151 to 108, in favour of returning some kind of answer, returned one which was curt and general. The divisions indicate the gravity of the crisis. The Independents, thinned perhaps in numbers by the action of the Newcastle peace-chances upon weaker spirits, but with Cromwell, Haselrig, and Vane as their leaders, formed now what was avowedly the Anti-Scottish party, profoundly suspicious of the doings at Newcastle, and taking precautions against a treaty that should be merely Presbyterian. The Presbyterians, on the other hand, with Holles, Stapleton, and Clotworthy as their chiefs, were as avowedly the Pro-Scottish party, anxious for a peace on such terms as the King might be brought to by the help of the Scots. [Footnote: Parl. Hist. III. 474-480; Lords Journals, May 26, 1646; Commons Journals of same date; Whitlocke's Memorials (ed. 1853), II. 27.]

Through June the struggle of the parties was continued in this new form. At Newcastle the Scottish Commissioners, with Henderson among them, were still plying the King with their arguments for his acceptance of the Covenant and Presbytery. To these, in their presence, he opposed only the most stately politeness and desire for delay; but in his letters to the Queen he characterized them as "rude pressures on his conscience." The phrase is perfectly just in so far as there was pressure upon him to accept Presbytery and the Assembly's Directory of Worship for himself and his family, and it might win our modern sympathies even beyond that range but for the evidences of incurable Stuartism which accompanied it. He amuses the Queen in the same letters with an analysis he had made of the Scots from his Newcastle experience of their various humours. He had analysed them into the four factions of the "Montroses" or thorough Royalists, the "Neutrals," the "Hamiltons," and the "Campbells" or thorough Presbyterians of the Argyle following. He estimates the relative strengths of the factions, and has no doubt that the real management of Scotland lies between the Hamiltons, leading most of the nobility, and the Campbells, commanding the votes of the gentry, the ministers, and the burghs; he refers individual Scots about him to the classes to which he thinks, from their private talk, they belong respectively; he tells how they are all "courting" him, and how he is behaving himself "as evenly to all as he can;" and his "opinion upon this whole business" is that they will all have to join him in the end, or, which would be quite as satisfactory to himself and the Queen, go to perdition together. What could be done with such a man? Quite unaware of what he was writing about them, the Scots were toiling their best in his service. There were letters from Edinburgh (where the General Assembly of the Kirk had met Jun. 3) to Newcastle and London; there were letters from Newcastle to Edinburgh and London; there were letters from London back to Newcastle and Edinburgh. And still, in the English Parliament, the Pro-Scottish party laboured for the result they desired, and the Anti-Scottish or Independent party maintained their jealous watch. Pamphlets and papers came forth, violently abusive of the Scottish nation; and more than once there were discussions in the Commons in which Haselrig and the more reckless Independents pushed for conclusions that would have been offensive to the Scots to the point of open quarrel. It did not seem impossible that there might be a new and most horrible form of the Civil War, in which the English Army and the Independents should be fighting the Scottish Army and the Presbyterians. [Footnote: King's Letters, xxix.-xxxiv. in Bruce's Charles I. in 1646; Baillie, II. 374-5; Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 1646. Parl. Hist. III. 482-488; and Commons Journals of various days in May and June, when there were divisions.]

What mainly averted such a calamity was the prudent behaviour of the much-abused Scots. Anxious as they naturally were to save their Scottish Charles from too severe a reckoning from his English subjects, and very desirous, as was also natural, that the issue of the present dealings with him should be one favourable to Presbytery and Religious Conformity, they do not seem to have permitted these feelings to disturb their sense of obligation to the English Parliament, and of a general British responsibility. That this was the case arose, I believe, from the fact that Argyle had come to England to take the direction, and that he imparted a deep touch or two of his own to their purely Presbyterian policy. It is interesting, at all events, to have a glimpse of the great Marquis at this point, not as a fugitive from Montrose, not in the military character which suited him so ill, but in his more proper character as a British politician. He had been at Newcastle for some time, "very civil and cunning," as the King wrote to the Queen; but on the 15th of June he went to London. He was received there with the greatest respect by the English Parliament. A Committee of 20 of the Lords and 40 of the Commons, composed indifferently of Presbyterians and Independents, was appointed to meet him in the Painted Chamber to hear the communication which, it was understood, he desired to make. Accordingly, to this Committee, on the 25th of June, the Marquis addressed a speech, which was immediately printed for general perusal. Here are portions of the first half of it, with one or two passages Italicised which seem peculiarly pregnant, or peculiarly characteristic of Argyle himself:—

"MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,—Though I have had the honour to be named by the Kingdom of Scotland in all the Commissions which had relation to this Kingdom since the beginning of the war, yet I had never the happiness to be with your lordships till now; wherein I reverence God's providence, that He hath brought me hither at such an opportunity, when I may boldly say it is in the power of the two Kingdoms, yea I may say in your lordships' power, to make us both happy, if you make good use of this occasion, by settling of Religion and the Peace and Union of these Kingdoms. .. .As the dangers [in the way of the first enterprise, 'Reformation' or the 'settling of Religion'] are great, we must look the better to our duties; and the best way to perform these is to keep us by the Rules which are to be found in our National Covenant,—principally the Word of God, and, in its own place, the Example of the best Reformed Churches; and in our way we must beware of some rocks, which are temptations both upon the right and left hand, so that we must hold the middle path. Upon the one part we should take heed not to settle lawless liberty in Religion, whereby, instead of uniformity, we should set up a thousand heresies and schisms; which is directly contrary and destructive to our Covenant. Upon the other part, we are to look that we persecute not piety and peaceable men who cannot, through scruple of conscience, come up in all things to the common Rule; but that they may have such a forbearance as may be according to the Word of God, may consist with the Covenant, and not be destructive to the Rule itself, nor to the peace of the Church and Kingdom.—As to the other point, the Peace and Union of these Kingdoms [here the mutual good services of the two Kingdoms since 1640 are recited]: let us hold fast that union which is so happily established betwixt us; and let nothing make us again two who are so many ways one; all of one language, in one island, all under one King, one in Religion, yea one in Covenant; so that, in effect, we differ in nothing but in name (as brethren do): which I wish were also removed, that we might be altogether one, if the two Kingdoms think fit.... I will forbear at this time to speak of the many jealousies I hear are suggested; for, as I do not love them, so I delight not to mention them: only one I cannot forbear to speak of,—as if the Kingdom of Scotland were too much affected with the King's interest. I will not deny but the Kingdom of Scotland, by reason of the reigns of many kings, his progenitors, over them, hath a natural affection to his Majesty, whereby they wish he may be rather reformed than ruined: yet experience may tell that their personal regard to him hath never made them forget that common rule, 'The Safety of the People is the Supreme Law.'"

Altogether Argyle's speech in the Painted Chamber, June 25, 1646, produced a great impression in London; and, as he remained in town till the 15th of July, he was able to deepen it, see all sorts of people, and make observations. He may not have met Cromwell at this time, who was away all June looking after the siege and surrender of Oxford, and the marriage, in that neighbourhood, of his eldest daughter Bridget to General Ireton; but be must have renewed acquaintance with Vane. He renewed acquaintance, at all events, with an older friend—no other than the Duke of Hamilton, recently released from his captivity in Cornwall, and now again busy with affairs. He also took his place in the Westminster Assembly for a few days by leave of the parliament. [Footnote: King's Letter xxii. in Bruce's Charles I, in 1646; Baillie, II. 374-378; Lords Journals, June 23 and July 7, and Commons Journals, June 25; and Parl. Hist. III. 488-491, where Argyle's Speech is reprinted from the original edition, published by authority, at London, by Laurence Chapman, June 27, 1646.]

Part of Argyle's purpose in coming to London had been to co-operate with the resident Scottish Commissioners there in moderating as much as possible, or at least delaying, the ultimatum which the English Parliament were preparing to send to the King. For, though the Parliament had taken small notice hitherto of the King's letters from Newcastle, they had been anxiously constructing such an ultimatum. in the form of a series of Propositions exhibiting in one viev, all the terms which they required Charles to accept at once and completely if he would retain the sovereignty of England. Without being much influenced, apparently, by the appeals of Scottish Commissioners for moderation and clemency to the King in the purely English portions of this document, and having the perfect concurrence of these Commissioners in the other portions, Parliament did at length complete it, and, on the 14th of July, send it to Charles. The document is remembered by the famous name of "The Nineteen Propositions," and was altogether most comprehensive and stringent. All the late Royal Acts and Ordinances were to be annulled; the King was to take the Covenant and consent to an Act enjoining it afresh on all the subjects of the three kingdoms; he was to consent to the abolition of Episcopacy, root and branch, in England, Wales, and Ireland; he was to approve of the proceedings of the Westminster Assembly, and of the establishment of Presbytery as Parliament had ordained or might yet ordain; he was to surrender to Parliament the entire control of the Militia for 20 years, sea-forces as well as land- forces; he was to let Parliament have its own way in Ireland; and he was to submit to various other requirements, including the outlawing and disqualification of about 120 persons of both nations named as Delinquents—the Marquis of Newcastle, the Earls of Derby and Bristol, Lords Cottington, Digby, Hopton, Colepepper and Jermyn, with Hyde, Secretary Nicholas, and Bishops Wren and Bramhall, in the English list, and the Marquises of Huntly and Montrose, the Earls of Traquair, Nithsdale, Crawford, Carnwath, Forth, and Airlie, Bishop Maxwell, and MacDonald MacColkittoch, in the Scottish list. As bearers of these fell Propositions to the King the Lords appointed the Earls of Pembroke and Suffolk, and the Commons appointed four of their number. These six persons were at Newcastle on Thursday the 23rd of July; and the next day they had their first interview with the King, Argyle and Loudoun being also present. The rough Pembroke took the lead and produced the Propositions. Before letting them be read, Charles, who had had a copy in his possession privately for some time, asked Pembroke and the rest whether they had powers to treat with him on the Propositions or in any way discuss them. On their answering that they had no such powers, and had only to request his Majesty's Ay or No to the Propositions as they stood, "Then, but for the honour of the business," said the King testily, "an honest trumpeter might have done as much." Recovering himself, he listened to the Propositions duly read out, and then said he was sure they could not expect an immediate answer in so large a business. They told him that their instructions were not to remain in Newcastle more than ten days, and so the interview ended. Charles, in fact, in anticipation of their coming, had been planning how to act. "All my endeavours," he had written to the Queen, "must be the delaying of my answer till there be considerable parties visibly formed; to which end I think my proposing to go to London, if I may be there with safety, will be the best put-off, if (which I believe to be better) I cannot find a way to come to thee." And so, day after day, though it was the effort of all who had access to him, and especially of Argyle and Loudoun, to persuade him to accept the inevitable, he remained stubborn. When the Commissioners at length told him they must return to London, all the answer they could obtain from him was a letter, dated Aug. 1, and addressed to the Speaker of the House of Peers pro tempore, in which he said a positive and immediate answer was impossible, but offered to come to London or its neighbourhood to treat personally, if his freedom and safety were guaranteed, and also to send for the Prince of Wales from France. With this answer the Commoners left Newcastle on Sunday, Aug. 2, and they reported their success to the two Houses on Wednesday, Aug. 12. And here, so far as the King is concerned, we shall for the present stop. [Footnote: King's Letters, xxxiv.-xl. (June 24—July 3) in Bruce's Charles I. in 1646; Baillie, II. 379; Lords Journals, July 11, and Commons Journals, July 6; Rushworth, VI. 309-321; and Parl. Hist. III. 499-516. Both Rushworth and the Parl Hist. give the text of the nineteen Propositions.]


Not the less, while the two Houses had thus been watching the King at Newcastle and corresponding with him, had they been acting as the real Government of England without him.

The King's flight to the Scots having, as we have seen, turned the balance once more in favour of Presbyterianism, the combined Erastians and Independents had not been able to keep Parliament steady to that mood of sharp mastership over the Assembly and the London Divines in which we left it in the months of March and April (ante, pp. 407-411). It had been necessary to make a compromise in that question of "The Power of the Keys" on which the Parliament and the Assembly had been so angrily at variance. The compromise was complete in June. On the 3rd of that month the two Houses agreed on an Ordinance modifying, in a somewhat complicated fashion, their previous device of Parliamentary Commissioners to assist and control the Congregational Elderships. Instead of the contemplated sets of Commissioners in each ecclesiastical Province, there was now to be one vast general Commission for all England, consisting of about 180 Lords and Commoners named (Cromwell, Vane, and everybody else of any note among them); which Commissioners, or any nine of them, should be a Court for judging of non-specified offences, after and in conjunction with the Congregational Elderships, with right of reference in certain cases to Justices of the Peace, and with the reserve of a final appeal from excommunicated persons to Parliament itself. It does not very well appear why this arrangement, as Erastian in principle as that which it superseded, should have pleased the London Presbyterians better. Perhaps it was made palatable by an accompanying increase of the list of scandalous offences for which the Elderships were to be entitled to suspend or excommunicate without interference by the Commissioners. At all events, when Parliament again required the London ministers and congregations by a new Ordinance (June 9) to proceed in the work which had been interrupted, and elect Elders in all the parishes of the province of London, there was no reluctance. At a meeting at Sion College, June 19, the London ministers, the Assembly Presbyterians in their counsels, agreed to proceed. They contented themselves with a paper of Considerations and Cautions, explaining that the Parliamentary Rule for Presbyterianism was not yet in all points satisfactory to their consciences. [Footnote: Commons Journals, June 3 and 9, 1646; Baillie, II. 377; Neal's Puritans (ed. 1795) III. 106.]

Nothing now hindered the establishment of Presbytery in London; and, actually, through the months of July and August 1646, while the King was making his solitary personal stand for Episcopacy at Newcastle, the Presbyterian machinery was coming into operation in the capital. "Matters here," writes Baillie, July 14, "look better upon it, blessed be God, than sometimes they have. On Sunday, in all congregations of the city, the Elders are to be chosen. So the next week church-sessions in every paroch; and twelve Presbyteries within the City, and a Provincial Synod, are to be set up, and quickly, without any impediment that we apprehend. The like is to be done over all the land." On the 13th of August Baillie was able to report that the Elders had been elected in almost all the parishes, and approved by the Triers; and he adds, "We expect classical meetings speedily." These "classical meetings," or meetings of the twelve London Presbyteries and the two Presbyteries of the Inns of Court, were somewhat later affairs, and the crowning exultation of the first meeting of the Provincial Synod of London did not come for some months; but from August 1646 the city of London was ecclesiastically a Scotland condensed.—Though there was, and continued to be, a general Presbyterian stir throughout England, only in Lancashire was the example of London followed in effective practice. The division of that shire into classes or Presbyteries was already under consideration, with the names of the persons fit to be lay-elders in each Presbytery. There were to be nine Presbyteries. Manchester parish, Oldham parish, and four other parishes, were to form the first; Rochdale parish came into the second; Preston parish into the seventh; Liverpool did not figure by name as a distinct Lancashire parish at all, but it had one minister, Mr. John Fogg, and he was put into the fifth Presbytery. The names of all the Lancashire ministers thus classified, and of the Lancashire gentlemen, yeomen, and tradesmen, to the number of some hundreds, thought fit to be lay-elders in the different Presbyterial districts, may be read yet in the Commons Journals. [Footnote: Baillie, II. 378 and 388; Neal, III. 307-310 (List of classes or Presbyteries of London). The division of Lancashire into Presbyteries is given in the Commons Journals, Sept. 15,1646. See also Halley's "Lancashire: its Puritanism and Nonconformity" (1869), Vol. I. pp. 432 et seq., where there are many details concerning the first introduction of the Presbyterial system into Lancashire. According to Dr. Halley, the system was set up more rigidly in Lancashire than in London itself, chiefly in consequence of the activity and energy of Richard Heyricke, or Herrick, M.A., warden of the Collegiate Church, Manchester. He was one of the Divines of the Westminster Assembly (see Vol. II. p. 510); but he had returned to Lancashire, prefering Presbyterian leadership in that county to second rank in London.]

The compromise in the matter of "The Power of the Keys" having been accepted, with such practical consequences, the Assembly might consider the long and laborious business of The Frame of Church Government out of its hands, and laid on the shelf of finished work beside the New Directory of Worship concluded and passed eighteen months before. It was free, therefore, to turn to the other great pieces of business for which it had been originally called: viz. The Confession of Faith and The Catechisms. Notwithstanding interruptions, good progress had already been made in both. Incidentally, too, the Assembly had concluded a work which might be regarded as an appendage to their Directory. They had discussed, revised, and finally approved Mr. Rous's Metrical Version of the Psalms, referred to them by Parliament for criticism as long ago as Nov. 1643. Their revised copy of the Version for the purposes of public worship had been in the hands of the Commons since Nov. 1645; the Commons had ratified the same, with a few amendments, April 15, 1646; and it only wanted the concurrence of the Lords to add this "Revised Rous's Psalter" (which Rous meanwhile had printed) to the credit of the Assembly, as a third piece of their finished work. The Lords were too busy, or had hesitations in favour of a rival Version by a Mr. William Barton, so that their concurrence was withheld; but that was not the fault of the Assembly. Rous's Psalter, therefore, as well as the Directory and the Frame of Government being done with, what was to hinder them longer from the Confession and Catechisms? Only one impediment— those dreadful jus divinum interrogatories which the Parliament, by Selden's mischief, had hung round their necks! Here also a little management sufficed. "I have put some of my good friends, leading men in the House of Commons," says Baillie, July 14, "to move the Assembly to lay aside our Questions for a time, and labour that which is most necessar and all are crying for, the perfecting of the Confession of Faith and Catechise." The order thus meritoriously procured by Baillie passed the Commons July 22. The Assembly, in terms of this order, were to lay aside other business, and apply themselves to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms. And so at this point the Assembly had come to an end of one period of its history and entered on a second. As if to mark this epoch in its duration, the Prolocutor, Dr. Twisse, had just died. He died July 19, 1646, and there is a record of the fact in the Commons Journals for that same July 22 on which the Assembly was ordered to change the nature of its labours. Mr. Herle was appointed his successor. [Footnote: Baillie, II. 378-9; Commons Journals, July 22, 1646; and Mr. David Laing's Notices of Metrical Versions of the Psalms in Appendix to Baillie, Vol. III. pp. 537-540.]


There was a death about this time more important than that of Dr. Twisse:—The health of Henderson had for some time been causing anxiety to his friends in London; and, when he left them, early in May, on his difficult mission to Newcastle, they had followed him in their thoughts with some foreboding. Actually, from the middle of May to the end of July, these two strangely-contrasted persons—the wise, modest, and massive Henderson, the chief of the Scottish Presbyterian clergy, and the sombre, narrow, and punctilious Charles I., the beaten sovereign of three Kingdoms—were much together at Newcastle, engaged in an encounter of wits and courtesies. Charles had seen a good deal of Henderson before (at Berwick in 1639, in Edinburgh during the royal visit to Scotland in 1641, and more recently during the Uxbridge Treaty of Feb. 1644-5), and had always singled him out as not only the most able, but also the most likeable, man of his perverse tribe. He had therefore received him graciously on his coming to Newcastle; and, though there arrived subsequently from Scotland three other Presbyterian ministers, Mr. Robert Blair, Mr. Robert Douglas, and Mr. Andrew Cant, all commissioned by the General Assembly to work upon his Majesty's conscience, it was still with Henderson that he preferred to converse. The main subject of their conversations was, of course, the question between Presbytery and Episcopacy. Could the King lawfully do what was required of him? Could he lawfully now, on any mere plea of State-necessity, give up that Church of England in the principles of which he had been educated, which he had sworn at his coronation to maintain, and which he still believed in his conscience to be the true and divinely-appointed form of a Church? If Mr. Henderson could prove to his Majesty even now that Episcopacy was not of divine appointment, then the plea of State-necessity might avail, and his Majesty might see his way more clearly! It was on this point that the repeated conversations of the King and Henderson at Newcastle did undoubtedly turn. Nay, there was more than mere conversation: there was an elaborate discussion in writing. The King, it is said, would fain have had a little council of Anglican Divines called to assist him; but, as that could not be, he was willing to adopt Henderson's suggestion of a paper debate between themselves. Accordingly, there is yet extant, in the Reliquiae Sacrae Carolinae or Printed Works of Charles I., what purports to be the actual series of Letters exchanged between the King and Henderson. The King opens the correspondence on the 29th of May; Henderson answers June 3; the King's second letter is dated June 6; Henderson's reply does not come till June 17; the King's third letter is dated June 22; Henderson replies July 2; and two short letters of the King, being the fourth and fifth on his side, are both dated July 16. There the correspondence ends, Henderson having, it is believed, thought it fit that his Majesty should have the last word. In the King's letters, as they are printed, one observes a stately politeness to Henderson throughout, with very considerable reasoning power, and sometimes a really smart phrase; in Henderson's what strikes one is the studied respectfulness and delicacy of the manner, combined with grave decision in the matter.—The controversy, whether in speech or in writing, was unreal on the King's part, and for the purpose of procrastination only; and Henderson, while painfully engaging in it, had known this but too well. His heart was already heavy with approaching death. He had been ill when he came to Newcastle; and in July, when he is said to have let the King have the last word in the written correspondence, he was hardly able to go about. His friends in London, hearing this, were greatly concerned. "It is part of my prayer to God." Baillie writes to him affectionately on the 4th of August, "to restore you to health, and continue your service a time: we never had so much need of you as now." In the same letter, referring to the King's obstinacy, and to the grief on that account which he believes to be preying on Henderson, he implores him to take courage, shake off "melancholious thoughts," and "digest what cannot be gotten amended." But Baillie knew what was coming. "Mr. Henderson is dying, most of heartbreak, at Newcastle," he wrote, three days later, to Spang in Holland. No! it was not to be at Newcastle. "Give me back one hour of Scotland: let me see it ere I die." Some such wish was in Henderson's mind, and they managed to convey him by sea to Edinburgh. He arrived there on the 1lth of August, and was taken either to his own house, in which he had not been for three years, or to some other that was more convenient. He rallied a little, so as to be able to dine with one friend and talk cheerfully, but never again left his room. There his brother- ministers of the city, and such others as were privileged, gathered round him, and took his hands; and the rest of the city lay around, making inquiries; and prayers went up for him in all the churches. On the 19th of August, eight days after his return, he died, aged sixty-three years, and there began a mourning in the Scottish Israel over the loss of their greatest man. They buried him in the old churchyard of Greyfriars, where his grave and tombstone are yet to be seen. [Footnote: Baillie, II. 381- 387; Burnet's Memoirs of the Hamiltons (ed. 1852), 356-7; Wodrow's Correspondence (Wodrow Society), III. 33, 34; Life of Mr. Robert Blair, by Row (Wodrow Society), 185-188; and "Reliquiae Sacrae Carolinae: or, The works of that great Monarch and glorious Martyr King Charles the I." (Hague edition of 1651), where the Letters are given in full. There is a fair abstract of them in Neal's Puritans (ed. 1795), III. 311-324. The death of Henderson at so critical a moment, and so closely after his conferences with the King at Newcastle, made a deep impression at the time, and became an incident of even mythical value to the Royalists. Hardly was the breath out of his body when there began to run about a lying rumour to the effect that he had died of remorse, acknowledging that the King had convinced him, and confessing his repentance of all he had said or done against that wisest and best of monarchs. Baillie, in London, was indignant. "The false reports which went here of Mr. Henderson," he wrote to Spang in Holland, Oct. 2, 1646, or less than six weeks after Henderson's death, "are, I see, come also to your hand. Believe me (for I have it under his own hand a little before his death) that he was utterly displeased with the King's ways, and over the longer the more; and whoever say otherwise, I know they speak false. That man died as he lived, in great modesty, piety, and faith." But the lie could not be extinguished; it circulated among the Royalists; and within two years it was turned into cash or credit by some scoundrel Scot in England, who forged and published a document entitled The Declaration of Mr. Alexander Henderson, principall Minister of the Word of God at Edinburgh, and chief Commissioner from the Kirk of Scotland to the Parliament and Synod of England, made upon his death-bed. This forgery was immediately denounced by the General Assembly of the Scottish Church in a solemn Declaration set forth by them Aug. 7, 1648, stating particulars of Henderson's last days, and vindicating his memory. Nevertheless the fiction was too convenient to be given up: it lasted; was embalmed by Clarendon in his History (605); and still leaves its odour in wretched compilations.—The genuineness of the series of Letters on Episcopacy between the King and Henderson, first printed in 1649, immediately after Charles's death, and included since then in all editions of Charles's works, does not seem to have been questioned by contemporaries on either side, or by subsequent Presbyterian critics. In the year 1826, however, the eminent and acute Godwin, in an elaborate note in his History of the Commonwealth (II. 179-185), did challenge the genuineness of the correspondence. He was inclined to the opinion that there had been no interchange of written Papers between the King and Henderson at all, but only "discourses and conferences," and that the whole thing was a Royalist forgery of 1649, contemporary with the Eikon Basilike, and for the same purpose. In venturing on so bold an opinion, Godwin, besides undervaluing other evidence to the contrary, seems to have dismissed too easily Burnet's information, in his Lives of the Hamiltons in 1673, as to the manner in which the Letters were written and kept. No less eminent a man than Sir Robert Moray, one of the founders of the Royal Society, and its first President, and of whom Burnet elsewhere says, "He was the wisest and worthiest man of his age, and was as another father to me," had told Burnet, "a few days before his much-lamented death" (June 1673), that he had been the amanuensis employed in the correspondence. Being with the King at Newcastle in 1646, then only as Mr. Robert Moray, it had fallen to him, as a person much in his Majesty's confidence, to receive each letter of the King's as it was written in his own royal hand, and make the copy of it which was to be given to Henderson, and also, Henderson's hand being none of the most legible, to transcribe Henderson's replies for the King's easier perusal; and with his Majesty's permission he had "kept Mr. Henderson's papers and the copies of the King's." After all, however, Godwin's sceptical inquiry leaves a shrewd somewhat behind it. For, granted that a written correspondence did take place, "the question remains," as Godwin asserts, "whether the papers now to be found in King Charles's works are the very papers that were so exchanged at Newcastle. The suspicion here suggested tells, in my mind, more against the King's letters as we now have them than against Henderson's. The King's letters, we may be sure, would be pretty carefully edited in 1649; and what may have been the amount and kind of editing thought allowable?"]

The last of Baillie's letters to Henderson, dated Aug. 13, 1646, contains a curious passage, "Ormond's Pacification with the Irish," writes Baillie, "is very unseasonable; the placing of Hopes (a professed Atheist, as they speak) about the Prince as his teacher is ill taken." The Hopes here mentioned is no other than THOMAS HOBBES, then just appointed tutor to the Prince of Wales in Paris. As the letter must have reached Edinburgh after Henderson was dead, he was not troubled with this additional piece of bad news before he left the world. Doubtless, however, he had heard of Hobbes, and formed some imagination of that dreadful person and his opinions. Hobbes indeed was now in his fifty- eighth year, or not much younger than the dying Henderson himself. But he was of slower constitution, and had begun his real work late in life, as if with a presentiment that he had plenty of time before him, and did not need to be in a hurry. He was to outlive Henderson thirty-three years.



The effect of Milton's Areopagitica, immediately after its publication in November 1644, and throughout the year 1645, seems to have been very considerable. Parliament, indeed, took no formal notice of the eloquent pleading for a repeal of their Licensing Ordinance of June 1643. As a body, they were not ripe for the discussion of the question of a Free Press, and the Ordinance remained in force, at least as an instrument which might be applied in cases of flagrant transgression. But public opinion was affected, and the general agitation for Toleration took more and more the precise and practical form into which Milton's treatise had directed it: viz. an impatience of the censorship, and a demand for the liberty of free philosophising and free printing. "Such was the effect of our author's Areopagitica," says Toland, in his sketch of Milton's life, "that the following year Mabol, a licenser, offered reasons against licensing, and, at his own request, was discharged that office." [Footnote: Toland's Memoir of Milton prefixed to the Amsterdam (1698) edition of Milton's Prose Works, p. 23.] Toland is in a slight mistake here, at least in his dating. The person whom he means—Gilbert Mabbott, not 'Mabol'—was Rushworth's deputy in the office of Clerk to the House of Commons, doing duty for him while he was away with the New Model as Secretary to Fairfax: and not only did this Mabbott occasionally license pamphlets and newspapers, as it would have been Rushworth's part to do, through the year 1645, but he was expressly recommended to be licenser of "weekly pamphlets" or newspapers, Sept. 30, 1647, and he continued to act in this capacity till May 22, 1649, at which time it was, and not in 1645, that he was released from the business at his own request.[Footnote: My notes from the Stationers' Registers of 1645 and subsequent years; Lords Journals, Sept. 30, 1647; and Commons Journals, May 22, 1649. There is some evidence, however, that, before this last date, Mabbott had found the duty irksome (see Commons Journals, Aug. 31, 1648).] The effect of Milton's argument on Mabbott in particular, therefore, was not so immediate as Toland represents. There can be no doubt, however, that as Milton, in his Areopagitica, had tried to make the official licensers of books, and especially those of them who were ministers, ashamed of their office, so his reasons and sarcasms, conjoined with the irksomeness of the office itself, did produce an immediate effect among those gentlemen, and modify their official conduct. Several of them, among whom appears to have been Mr. John Downham, who had licensed Milton's own Bucer Tract (ante, p. 255, note), became more lax in their censorship than the Presbyterians thought right; and there was at least one of them, Mr. John Bachiler, who became so very lax, from personal proclivity to Independency, that he was denounced by the Presbyterians as "the licenser-general not only of Books of Independent Doctrine, but of Books for a general Toleration of all Sects, and against Paedo-Baptism." [Footnote: Gangraena: Part I. (ed. 1646), pp. 38, 39. In Part III. Edwards devotes three pages (102— 105) to a castigation of Mr. Bachiler for his offences as a licenser. Bachiler, he says, "hath been a man-midwife to bring forth more monsters begotten by the Devil and born of the Sectaries within the last three years than ever were brought into the light in England by all the former licensers, the Bishops and their Chaplains, for fourscore years." He was in the habit, Edwards adds, of not only licensing sectarian books, but also recommending them; and among the Toleration pamphlets he had licensed was the reprint of Leonard Busher's tract of 1614 called Religious Peace (see ante, p. 102). "I am afraid," says Edwards, "that, if the Devil himself should make a book and give it the title A Plea for Liberty of Conscience, with certain Reasons against Persecution for Religion, and bring it to Mr. Bachiler, he would license it, and not only with a bare imprimatur, but set before it the commendations of 'a useful treatise' or 'a sweet and excellent book.'"] The Areopagitica, in fact, found out, even among the official licensers of books, men who sympathised with its views; and it established prominently, as one of the practical questions between the Independents and the Presbyterians, the question of the liberty of Unlicensed Printing. It was Milton that had taught the Independents, and the Anti-Presbyterians generally, to bring to the front, for present purposes, this form of the Toleration tenet. For example, one finds that John Lilburne had been a reader of the Areopagitica, and had imbibed its lesson, and even its phraseology. "If you had not been men that had been afraid of your cause," is one of Lilburne's addresses to the Presbyterians and the Westminster Assembly Divines, "you would have been willing to have fought with us upon even ground and equal terms—namely, that the Press might be as open for us as for you, and as it was at the beginning of this Parliament; which I conceive the Parliament did of purpose, that so the free-born English subjects might enjoy their Liberty and Privilege, which the Bishops had learnt of the Spanish Inquisition to rob them of, by locking it up under the key of an Imprimatur." [Footnote: Lilburne, as quoted by Prynne in his Fresh Discovery of Blazing Stars, p. 8.] There is proof, in the writings of other Independents and Sectaries, that Milton's jocular specimens of the imprimaturs in old books had taken hold of the popular fancy. It became a common form of jest, indeed, in putting forth an unlicensed pamphlet, to prefix to it a mock licence. Thus, at the beginning of the anonymous Arraignment of Persecution, the author of which was a Henry Robinson (ante, p. 387), there is a mock order by the Westminster Assembly, with the names of the two Scribes appended, to the effect that the author, "Young Martin Mar-Priest," be thanked for his excellent treatise, and authorized to publish it, and that no one except "Martin Claw-Clergy," appointed by the author to print the same, presume to do so. [Footnote: Quoted by Prynne in his Fresh Discovery, p. 8.] Prynne quotes this as an example of the contempt into which the Ordinance for Licensing had fallen with the Sectaries, and of their supreme effrontery, Robinson, he says, was one of the chief publishers of scandalous libels, having brought printers from Amsterdam, and set up a private printing press for the purpose. [Footnote: I may take this opportunity of announcing a rather curious fact, of which I have ample and incontestable proof, thought the proper place for stating it in detail is yet to come. It is that Milton, the denouncer of the Licensing System, and the satirist of the official licensers of 1644, was himself afterwards an official censor of the Press. He was one of the licensers of newspapers through 1651 and a portion of 1652, doing the very work from which Mabbott had begged to be excused. The fact, however, is susceptible of an easy explanation, which will save Milton's consistency.]

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