The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649
by David Masson
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What cannot be done in one way, however, may sometimes be done in another. Not only was London the central stronghold of English Presbyterianism; the power of Presbyterianism there centralized was a kind of Proteus. One of its forms was the Westminster Assembly, a large nucleus of which consisted of ministers from London and the suburbs; another, since May 1647, was the London Provincial Synod. But, in aid of these two bodies, and including many that belonged to both, there was a third, of vaguer character, in that Sion College conclave which the London clergy had instituted of their own accord for the concoction of notions that might take shape in the Assembly or the Synod (ante, p. 394). Now, in December 1647, this Sion College conclave, "since they could do no more," sent forth a Presbyterian manifesto of some magnitude. It was "A Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ, and to our Solemn League and Covenant; as also against the Errors, Heresies, and Blasphemies of these times, and the Toleration of them: wherein is inserted a Catalogue of the said Errors, &c.: subscribed by the Ministers of Christ within the Province of London, Dec. 14, 1647."

This Testimony, which was immediately published, [Footnote: London: Printed by A. M. for Tho. Underhill at the Bible in Wood Street: 1648.] bore the signatures of 58 London ministers in all, of whom 41 signed to the whole document, while 17, being members of Assembly, abstained from signing to those parts that related particularly to the Confession of Faith and the Directory of Worship, not because they did not thoroughly approve of those parts, but because they thought themselves precluded, by constitutional etiquette, from publicly affirming portions of the Assembly's work which still waited full Parliamentary sanction. All the 58, however, subscribed to that main portion of the Testimony which consisted in an enumeration, and condemnation of certain "abominable errors, damnable heresies, and horrid blasphemies." Among the seventeen members of Assembly so subscribing were Dr. Lazarus Seaman of Allhallows, Bread Street (Milton's native parish), then Prolocutor of the London Provincial Synod; Dr. Gouge of Blackfriars, ex-Prolocutor of the same; Dr. Hoyle of Stepney, Dr. Tuckney, and Messrs. Gataker, Calamy, Ashe and Case; and among the forty-one others were Samuel Clarke of Benetfink, Christopher Love of Anne's, Aldersgate, John Downam of Allhallows, Thames Street, Henry Roborough, one of the scribes of the Assembly and minister of Leonard's, Eastcheap, and John Wallis, sub-clerk of the Assembly, now uniting as well as he could the duties of that office and the parish-cure of Gabriel's, Fenchurch Street, with his mathematical proclivities and his association with the "physicists" of the Invisible College. And what were the errors, heresies, and blasphemies, thus publicly certified against by these London divines and the rest? They were classified with great punctuality under nineteen heads, each head being subdivided into specific varieties of error, and the chief heretics under each openly named. First came Anti-Scripturism, or "Errors against the divine authority of Holy Scriptures," associated with the names of John Goodwill and Laurence Clarkson; then, in four heads and their subdivisions, came Anti-Trinitarianism, or "Errors against the nature and essence of God, against the Trinity, against the Deity of the Son of God, and against the Deity and divine worship of the Holy Ghost," the culprits named for chief condemnation in this department being Biddle and Paul Best; and so on the catalogue proceeds through various forms of Arminianism, Antinomianism, Seekerism, Anti-Sabbatarianism, Antipaedobaptism, Anabaptism, Materialism or Mortalism, ending in Tolerationism. Among the Arminians denounced as notorious are Paul Best again, Paul Hobson, but especially John Goodwin again, and the Episcopalian and Royalist Dr. Henry Hammond, whose Practical Catechism, published in 1644, is cited as full of Arminian error. Among the Antinomians are denounced Randall, Simson, Eaton, Crisp, and Erbury; among the Seekers, Saltmarsh and Jos. Salmon; among the Anti- Sabbatarians, Saltmarsh again; among the Antipaedobaptists and Anabaptists, Saltmarsh again, Tombes, and Webb. In a special group, as opposing magistracy and lawful oaths, are mentioned Roger Williams, Samuel Gorton, and Dr. Henry Hammond again; the chief representative of the tremendous doctrine of Materialism or the Denial of the Immortality of the Soul is R. O., the anonymous author of the tract on Man's Mortality; and among the leading Tolerationists or representatives of the grand error of Liberty of Conscience, "patronizing and promoting all other errors, heresies, and blasphemies whatsoever," are named Roger Williams again and Paul Best again.—One head or department in this long black list we have reserved. It is the 17th in order, including "Errors touching Marriage and Divorce." Here the anonymous author of a pamphlet called Little Nonsuch, published in 1646, bears the brunt of the obloquy, on account of the opinion that, as "that marriage is most just which is made without any ambitious or covetous end," so, "if this liking and mutual correspondency happen betwixt the nearest of kindred, then it is also the most natural, the most lawful, and according to the primitive (Patriarchal) purity and practice." But Milton comes in company with this Little Nonsuch, as hardly less worthy of execration on account of his Divorce Doctrine. The main proposition of his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce is extracted textually from page 6 of the Second or 1644 Edition of that treatise, to show what a dreadful doctrine had been there maintained; but, in case this should not seem enough, the Testifying Divines, in the marginal note where they give the reference, add the words, "Peruse the whole book." They do not name Milton fully, but only by his initials "J. M.," as on the title-page of his Treatise. [Footnote: There is a general account of this Testimony of the London ministers in Dec. 1647 in Neal's Puritans, III. 359-363; but the account in the text is from the published copy of the Testimony itself.]

Sold at the shop of that very Underhill in Wood Street who had been the publisher of three of Milton's own pamphlets in the Smectymnuan Controversy in 1641 (ante, p. 450), this Testimony of the London ministers had an extensive circulation. It was adopted, in fact, as the authorized manifesto of all the English Presbyterianism then most militant for that full right of ecclesiastical and civil control over heresy and its dissemination which Parliament hitherto had refused to recognise. In a short time, accordingly, it received the adhesion of 64 ministers in Gloucestershire, 84 in Lancashire, 83 in Devonshire, and 71 in Somersetshire. Nor was this subscription of the same printed document by 360 of the most active Presbyterian ministers throughout England a mere appeal to public opinion. It was intended as an aid to Presbyterianism in its anxious endeavour to obtain even yet all it wanted from Parliament. One observes, for example, that, within a month after the manifesto of the London ministers had gone forth from Sion College, i.e. on the 12th of January, 1647-8, a petition was presented to Parliament by the London Provincial Synod itself, praying for various extensions and amendments of the Presbyterian system in the City, among which was the better establishment of Church censures for notorious and scandalous offenders. [Footnote: Neal's Puritans, III. 359-363; and Lords Journals, Jan. 12, 1647-8; but see also Halley's Lancashire and its Puritanism (1869), I. 467 et seq.]

At least two of the heretics denounced in the Sion College manifesto published replies. The Royalist Dr. Henry Hammond thought it worth while to defend his Practical Catechism in a tract called Views of some Exceptions, &c. [Footnote: Wood's Ath. III. 494-5.] John Goodwin of Coleman Street, who had been more largely attacked, and who indeed had reason to believe that the manifesto was mainly directed against himself, replied with his usual cool stoutness in a pamphlet called Sion College Visited. He there rebukes his accusers for their uncharitableness, unfairness, and malice in seeking to "exasperate the sword of the civil magistrate" against pious and peaceable citizens who had done them no injury. [Footnote: Jackson's Life of Goodwin. 172-175.] In effect, this reply of Goodwin's answered for the others as well as for himself. Milton, at all events, let the thing pass unnoticed. Entering his house in High Holborn, it may have been enough for him to repeat to himself, by way of comment, the lines he had already written—

"I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs By the known rules of ancient liberty, When straight a barbarous noise environs me Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, arid dogs;"

or perhaps, by way of more determinate conclusion, his other and ever famous line,

"New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large."


Exactly at this time, when the repeated attentions of New Presbyter in England must have been annoying Milton, he had a friendly gleam from the land of the Old Priest. Carlo Dati had duly received his Latin Epistle of the previous April, and had acknowledged it in a long Italian letter, dated Nov. 1, 1647, but which may not have reached Milton till Jan. 1647- 8, or even later. The letter still exists in Dati's own hand, and the following is a translation of as much of it as can interest us here:—

All Illmo. Sig. Gio. Miltoni, Londra [meaning literally "To the most illustrious Signor John Milton, London;" but this is merely the polite Italian form of correspondence, and implies no more than "To Mr. John Milton, London."]

When all hope of receiving letters from you was dead in me, most keen as was my desire for such, lo! there arrives one to delight me more than I can express with this most grateful pen. O what feelings of boundless joy that little paper raise in my heart—a paper written by a friend so admirable and so dear; bringing to me, after so long a time and from so distant a land, news of the welfare of one about whom I was as anxious as I was uncertain, and assuring me that there remains so fresh and so kind a remembrance of myself in the noble soul of Signor John Milton! Already I knew what regard he had for my country; which reckons herself fortunate in having in great England (separated, as the Poet said, from our world) one who magnifies her glories, loves her citizens, celebrates her writers, and can himself write and discourse with such propriety and grace in her beautiful idiom. And precisely this it is that moves me to reply in Italian to the exquisite Latin letter of my honoured friend, who has such a very singular faculty of reviving dead tongues and making foreign ones his own; hoping that there may be something agreeable to him in the sound of a language which he speaks and knows so well. I will take the same opportunity of earnestly begging you to be please to honour with your verses the glorious memory of Signor Francesco Rovai, a distinguished Florentine poet prematurely dead, and, to the best of my belief, well known to you: this having already been done at my request by the very eminent Nicolas Heinsius and Isaac Vossius of Holland, peculiarly intimate and valued friends of mine, and famous scholars of our age. [Footnote: About Nicolas Heinsius (1620-1681) and his intimacy with Dati and the other Florentine wits, see Vol. I. 721 2. Both he and Isaac Vossius (1618-1688) will reappear in closer connexion with Milton himself.] Signor Francesco was noble by birth, endowed by nature with a genius of the highest kind, which was enriched by culture and by unwearied study of the finest sciences. He understood Greek excellently, spoke French, and wrote Latin and Italian wonderfully. He composed Tragedies, and excelled also in lyrical Canzoni, in which he praised heroes and discountenanced all vice, particularly in one set of seven made against the seven capital sins. He was well-bred, courteous, a favourite with our Princes, or uncorrupted manners, and most religious. He died young, without having published his works: a splendid obituary ceremonial is being prepared for him by his friends, faulty only in the fact that the charge of the funeral oration has been imposed upon me. Should you be pleased to send me, as I hope, some fruit of your charming genius for such a purpose, you will oblige me not only, but all my country; and, when the Poems of Signor Francesco are published, with the eulogisms upon him, I will see that copies are sent you.—But, since I have begin to speak of our language and our poets, let me communicate to you one of the observations which, in the leisure-hours left me from my mercantile business, I occasionally amuse myself with making on our writers. The other day, while I was reflecting on that passage in Petrarch's Triomf' d'Amor, C. 3:

"Dura legge d'Amor! ma benche obliqua, Servar conviensi, pero ch' ella aggiunge Di cielo in terra, universale, antiqua," [Footnote: "Hard law of Love! but, however unjust, it must be kept, because it reaches from heaven to earth, universal, eternal."]

I perceived that already the gifted Castelvetro had noted in it some resemblance to the lines in Horace, Ode I. 33:

"Sic visum Veneri; cui placet impares Formas atque animos sub juga ahenea Saevo mittere cum joco,"— [Footnote: "So it seemed good to Venus; whose pleasure it is, in savage jest, to bind unlike forms and minds in a brazen yoke of union."]

excellently imitated by the reviver of Pindaric and Anacreontic poesy, Gabriello Chiubrera, in Canzonetta 18:

"Ah! che vien cenere Penando un amator benche fedele! Cosi vuol Venere, Nata nell' ocean, nume crudele." [Footnote: "Ah that there should be ashes from the torture of a lover, though faithful! So Venus wills it, the ocean-born, a cruel deity."]

To me these verses look like a little bit taken from Horace, as the remainder is taken from Tibullus, not without a notable improvement; for in Tibullus, Eleg. I. 2, one reads this threat against the revealers of Love's secrets:—

"Nam, fuerit quicumque loquax, is sanguine natam, Is Venerem e rapido sentiet esse mari." [Footnote: "For whosoever is indiscreet with his tongue, he shall feel that Venus was born of blood and came from the rapid sea."]

[Dati then suggests the reading of rabido in the last line and discusses the subject in six folio pages, with passages from Catullus, Ovid, Virgil, Horace, Seneca, Claudian, Homer, Tasso, &c.; and then proceeds as follows]:

I communicate to you these considerations of mine, sure of being excused, and kindly advised by your exquisite learning in such matters as I submit, urgently begging you to pardon me if excess of affection, the sense of being so long without you, and our great intimacy, have made me exceed the limits proper for a letter.—It is an extreme grief to me that the convulsions of the kingdom have disturbed your studies; and I anxiously await your Poems, in which I believe I shall have large room for admiring the delicacy of your genius, even if I except those which are in depreciation of my Religion, and which, as coming from a friendly mouth, may well be excused, though not praised. This will not hinder me from receiving the others, conscious as I am of my own zeal for freedom. Meanwhile I beg Heaven to make and keep you happy, and to keep me in your remembrance, giving me proofs thereof by your generous commands. All friends about me send you salutations and very affectionate respects.

Your most devoted,

Florence, 1st Nov. 1647. CARLO DATI [Footnote: The original of this letter is in the possession of Mr. J. Fitchett Marsh of Warrington, who has printed facsimiles of the opening and closing words ("All' Illmo. Sig. Gio. Miltoni, Londra," and "Ser. Devotino. Carlo Dati") in his Milton Papers. To Mr. Marsh's kindness I owe the transcript from which I have made the translation; and the words within brackets, describing the omitted portion in the middle, are Mr. Marsh's own.]

Circumstanced as Milton was when he received this letter, he can hardly have been in a mood to respond sufficiently to its minute and overflowing dilettantismo. The amiability and polite affectionateness, perceptible even yet through the dilettantism, may have been pleasant to him; and he may have noted the subtle and delicate expression of sympathy with his domestic unhappiness which seems to be conveyed in the passages quoted, as if by accident, from Petrarch, Horace, Chiabrera, and Tibullus. Dati may have been there replying to that portion of Milton's letter in which he had vaguely intimated his private melancholy in being doomed to unfit companionship; or he may have heard more particular rumours in Florence of Milton's marriage-mishap and its consequences. At all events, there is no trace of any answer by Milton to this long epistle from Dati, or of any poetical contribution sent by him, as Dati had requested, to the exequies of the interesting Rovai.

About the time when Milton should have been answering Dati's epistle, enclosing the requested tribute to the memory of Rovai, and also the exquisite comments which Dati expected on his quotations from Petrarch, Horace, Chiabrera, and Tibullus, his occupation, we find, was very different. "April, 1648, J. M. Nine of the Psalms done into Metre, wherein all but what is in a different character are the very words of the Text translated from the Original;" such is the heading prefixed by Milton himself to the Translations of Psalms LXXX.-LXXXVIII. which are now included among his Poetical Works. [Footnote: The heading stands so in the Second Edition of Milton's Miscellaneous Poems, published by himself in 1678.] Through some mornings and evenings of that month, therefore, we can see him, in his house in High Holborn, with the Hebrew Bible before him, making it his effort to translate, as literally as possible, these nine Psalms into English verse. On looking at the result, as it now stands among his Poems, with Hebrew words printed occasionally in the margin, and every phrase for which there is not a voucher in the original printed carefully in italics, one has little difficulty in perceiving one of the motives of Milton in this metrical experiment. It was his knowledge of the interest then felt in the chance of some English metrical version of the Psalms that should supersede, for popular purposes and in public worship, the old version of Sternhold and Hopkins. Rous's version, with amendments, had been recommended by the Westminster Assembly, and approved by the Commons (ante, 425); the Lords were still standing out for Barton's competing version (ante, 512); other versions were in the background, but had been heard of. In these circumstances, might not a true poet, attending to all the essential conditions, and especially to the prime one of exactness to the Hebrew original, exhibit at least a specimen of a better version than any yet offered?

Unfortunately, if this was Milton's intention, it cannot be said that he succeeded. By all the critics it is admitted that his version of those Nine Psalms is inferior to what we should have expected from him; nor is it, I think, the mere prejudice of habit that leads those that have been accustomed to one particular revision of Rous's version—that which has been the Scottish authorized Psalter since 1650—to prefer Psalms LXXX.- LXXXVIII. as there given, rude though the versification is, to the Translations of the same Psalms proposed even by Milton. Something of this impression may have prevailed even in 1648, if, as is likely enough, Milton took the trouble of showing his translations to some who were interested in the question of the new Psalter, and wavering between Rous's and Barton's. On the faith of dates, however, there is another interest to us now in these careful translations by Milton of Psalms LXXX.-LXXXVIII. in April 1648. Why did he choose those particular Psalms? Not for metrical experiment only, but also because their mood fitted him. He needed the strong Hebrew of those Psalms himself, and he drank it in afresh from the text that he might reproduce it for himself and others. Petrarch, Tibullus, Horace, Chiabrera! silence all such for the time, and let the Hebrew Psalmist speak! Thus (Psalm LXXX.):—

"Turn us again; thy grace divine To us, O God, vouchsafe; Cause thou thy face on us to shine, And then we shall be safe."

Or again, with reference to the dangers then gathering round Parliamentary England (Psalm LXXXIII.):—

"For they consult with all their might, And all as one in mind Themselves against thee they unite, And in firm union bind. The tents of Edom, and the brood Of scornful Ishmael, Moab, with them of Hagar's blood That in the desert dwell, Gebal and Ammon, there conspire, And hateful Amalec, The Philistims, and they of Tyre, Whose bounds the sea doth check. With them great Asshur also bands And doth confirm the knot All these have lent their armed hands To aid the sons of Lot. Do to them as to Midian bold That wasted all the coast, To Sisera, and, as is told Thou didst do to Jabin's host, When at the brook of Kishon old They were repulsed and slain, At Endor quite cut off, and rolled As dung upon the plain."

Or perhaps, with closer personal reference, such lines as these (Psalm LXXXVII.):—

"The Lord shall write it in a scroll That ne'er shall be outworn, When He the nations doth enroll, That this man there was born: Both they who sing and they who dance With sacred songs are there; In thee fresh brooks and soft streams glance, And all my fountains clear."


While these translations were being written, there was the ominous rumour of the Engagement between the Scots and the King in the Isle of Wight, terrifying all men's minds with the prospect of a Second Civil War. We have seen what effects this prospect had on the English Parliament—how the resolute mood of the winter of 1647-8 was changed into a mood of timidity; how negotiations with the King were again talked of; how the Presbyterians recovered from their temporary submission to the Independents, and began to turn on them rather than on the King; how, in order to repudiate the Republican sentiments appearing in the Army and elsewhere, the Commons pledged themselves to a continuance of Royalty and the House of Lords, and, in order to please the English Presbyterians and the Scots, the two Houses passed at length the tremendous Ordinance against Heresies and Blasphemies, making the least of them punishable with imprisonment and the graver punishable with death. This last Ordinance, passed May 2, 1648, the very day before the meeting of the Third Provincial Synod of London in Sion College, must have given great satisfaction to that body, but may well have spread alarm through general society. Beyond a doubt, most of those persons who had been denounced as notorious heretics and blasphemers in the Sion College manifesto of the preceding December were, by this Ordinance, liable to death if they did not recant. With due zeal on the part of the prosecution, nothing could have saved from the scaffold such of Milton's co-heretics as Biddle, Paul Best, the anonymous Mortalist R. 0. (Richard Overton, or Clement Wrighter?), or even perhaps John Goodwin. Milton's particular heresy not being specifically named in the Ordinance, it would have been more difficult to apply it to him; but, if the terrible Presbyterian discipline which the Ordinance favoured were once imposed upon London, there would have been ingenuity enough to include Milton somehow among those worthy of minor punishment.

The comfort was that, before the Ordinance could come into real effect, before the terrible Presbyterian discipline it promised could be set up, the SECOND CIVIL WAR had to be fought through. How would that war end? Would it end in a triumph of Presbyterianism in hypocritical reconciliation with Royalty; or, despite the ugly mustering of forces in all parts of England to aid Duke Hamilton and his Scottish invasion, would it end, after all, in the triumph of that little English Army of Independents and Sectaries which had always beaten before, and might now, though distrusted and discountenanced by its own masters, prove once more its matchless mettle? With what anxiety, through May, June, July, and August 1648, must Milton, with myriads of other Englishmen, have revolved these questions! With what anxiety must he have watched Fairfax's movements round London, his preliminary smashings of the Royalist Insurrection in Kent and Essex, and then the concentration of his efforts (June 12) on the siege of Colchester! With what anxiety must he have followed Cromwell into Wales, heard of his doings against the insurgents there, and then of his rapid march into the north (Aug. 3—10), to meet the invading Scottish Army under Duke Hamilton! But O the relief at last! O the news upon news of that glorious month of August 1648! Hamilton and the Scots utterly routed by Cromwell in the three days' battle of Preston (Aug. 17-19); Colchester at last surrendered to Fairfax (Aug 28); the Prince of Wales a fugitive back to Holland with his useless fleet (Aug. 28); the little English Army of Independents and Sectaries were more everywhere the victor, and the Parliament and the Presbytery-besotted Londoners ruefully accepting the victory when they would have been nearly as glad of a defeat! No fear now of any very violent execution of the Ordinance against Heresies and Blasphemies, or of a Presbyterian discipline of absolutely intolerable stringency! The Army and the Independents were once more supreme.

The sole piece of Milton's verse that has come down to us from the time of the Second Civil War is an expression of his joy at its happy conclusion. It is in the form of a Sonnet to Fairfax. The Sonnet is generally printed with the mere heading "To the Lord General Fairfax;" but in the original in Milton's own hand among the Cambridge MSS. one reads this heading through a line of erasure; "On ye Lord Gen. Fairfax at ye seige of Colchester." This assigns the Sonnet to the end of August, or to September, 10-48.

"Fairfax, whose name in arms through Europe rings, And fills all mouths with envy or with praise, And all her jealous monarchs with amaze, And rumours loud that daunt remotest kings, Thy firm unshaken virtue ever brings Victory home, though new rebellions raise Their Hydra-heads, and the false North displays Her broken League to imp their serpent wings: O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand, For what can War but endless war still breed, Till Truth and Right from Violence be freed, And public Faith cleared from the shameful brand Of public Fraud! In vain doth Valour bleed, While Avarice and Rapine share the land." [Footnote: For obvious reason, Milton could not print this Sonnet in the Second or 1673 Edition of his Minor Poems. It was first printed by Phillips at the end of his Memoir of Milton prefixed to the English translation of Milton's State Letters in 1688; and Toland inserted it in his Life of Milton in 1698.]

Through the later months of 1648 Milton's heart must have been wholly with Fairfax and the other Army-chiefs, as he saw them driving things, cautiously at first, but more and more boldly by degrees, into the exact course marked out by this Sonnet. Their very professions were that, having finished the war and crushed the Hydra-heads of the new rebellions, they must and would proceed to the yet nobler task of preventing future wars, by freeing Truth and Right once for all from Violence, and clearing the public Faith of England from the brand of public Fraud. Hence, from September to December, the adoption by the Army of that peculiarly intrepid policy which has been described in our last chapter. Though the Parliament began their new Treaty with the King in the Isle of Wight, there were significant signs from the first that the Army regarded the Treaty with utter disdain; as the Treaty proceeded, regiment after regiment spoke out, each with its manifesto calling for justice on the King, and otherwise more or less democratic; and so till the Army rose at last collectively, issued its great Remonstrance and programme of a Democratic Constitution (Nov. 16), dragged the King from his unfinished Treaty at Newport to safer keeping in Hurst Castle (Dec. 1), and itself marched into London to superintend the sequel (Dec. 2). Nominally in the centre of all this was the Lord General Fairfax, with Ireton as his chief adviser. Cromwell had not yet returned from his work in the north.


In the very midst of these thrilling public events there inserts itself a little domestic incident of Milton's life in Holborn. Oct. 25, 1648, his second child was born, two years and three months after the first. This also was a daughter, and they called her Mary after her mother. From that date on to our limit of time in the present volume we have no distinct incident of the Holborn household to record, unless it be the receipt of another letter from Carlo Dati. Although the amiable young Italian had received no answer to his last, of Nov. 1647, there had meantime readied him, by some slow conveyance, those copies of the Latin portion of Milton's published volume of Poems which had been promised him as long ago as April of the same year. This occasioned the following letter:—

Illmo. Sig. e Pron Osso [literally, "Most Illustrious Sir and Most Honoured Master," but the phrase is merely one of custom].

As far back as the end of last year I replied to your very courteous and elegant letter, thanking you affectionately for the kind remembrance you are pleased to entertain of me. I wrote, as I do now, in Italian, knowing my language to be so dear and familiar to you that in your mouth it scarcely appears like a foreign tongue. Since then I have received two copies of your most erudite Poems, and there could not have reached me a more welcome gift; for, though small, it is of infinite value, as being a gem from the treasure of Signor John Milton. And, in the words of Theocritus:—

[Greek: hae megala chariz eoro xiyn holigo, panta de gimanta ta par' philon.]

"Great grace may be In a slight gift: all from a friend is precious."

I return you therefore my very best thanks, and pray Heaven to put it in my power to show my devoted appreciation of your merit. There are some pieces of news which I will not keep from you, because I am sure, from your kindness, they will be agreeable to you. The most Serene Grand Duke my master has been pleased to appoint me to the Chair and Lectureship of Humanity in the Florentine Academy, vacant by the death of the very learned Signor Giovanni Doni of Florence. This is a most honourable office, and has always been held by gentlemen and scholars of this country, as by Poliziano, the two Vettori, and the two Adriani, luminaries in the world of letters. Last week, on the death of the Most Serene Prince Lorenzo of Tuscany, uncle of the reigning Grand Duke, I made the funeral oration; when it is published, it shall be my care to send you a copy. I have on hand several works, such as, please God, may lead to a better opinion of me among my learned and kind friends. Signor Valerio Chimentelli has been appointed by his Highness to be Professor of Greek Literature in Pisa, and there are great expectations from him. Signors Frescobaldi, Coltellini, Francini, Galilei, and many others unite in sending you affectionate salutations; and I, as under more obligation to you than any of the others, remain ever yours to command. [No signature, but addressed on the outside, All Illmo. Signor e Pron Osso, Il Signor Giovanni Miltoni, Londra.] [Footnote: The Italian of this letter is printed in the Appendix to Mr. Mitford's Life of Milton prefixed to Pickering's edition of Milton's Works, and was communicated, I believe, by the late Mr. Watts of the British Museum from the original in that collection. It is doubtless the copy which Milton received. Of the Doni mentioned in the letter, as Dati's predecessor in the chair of Belles Lettres at Florence, we had a glimpse Vol. I. p. 746. He died, Mr. Watts says, in Dec. 1647, and left to Dati the charge of publishing his works. Frescobaldi, Coltellini, and Francini are already known (Vol. I. 725-9); the Galilei mentioned is not the great Galileo, who had died in 1642, but his natural son Vincenzo Galilei, also a man of talent.—As we take leave of Dati at this point, for some time at least, I may quote an interesting sentence, respecting one of his intentions in later life, from the notices of him in Salvini's Fasti Consolari dell' Accademia Fiorentina (1717): "He had particularly in view the publication of the letters which he had received from various literary men, such as John Milton, Isaac Vossius, Paganino Gaudenzio, Giovanni Rodio, Valerio Chimentelli, and Nicolas Heinsius: from the last he had a very large number." When he died, Jan. 11, 1675, a few months after Milton, he had not fulfilled this intention; but it is likely, as we have seen (ante, p.655), that there has survived from among his papers only the one letter of Milton to him which Milton himself published. ] Florence, Dec. 4, 1648.

While this letter was on its way to Milton, and possibly before it could have reached him, there had enacted itself, close within his view in High Holborn, that final catastrophe of a great political drama the boom of which was not to stop within the British Islands, but was to be heard in Italy itself and all the foreign world.



In taking the King out of the Isle of Wight, and lodging him for a time in the solitary keep of Hurst Castle on the Hampshire coast, the Army had proclaimed their intention of bringing him to public justice, and it was that they might compel this result that they had marched into London with Fairfax at their head. As they desired that the proceedings should be regular, they had resolved that the two Houses of Parliament, or at least one of them, should conduct the business.


Here was their difficulty. On Dec. 2, 1648, when the Army took possession of London, there were nineteen Peers present in their places in the House of Lords: viz. the Earl of Manchester, as Speaker; the Earls of Pembroke, Rutland, Salisbury, Suffolk, Lincoln, Mulgrave, Middlesex, Stamford, Northumberland, and Nottingham; Viscount Save and Sele; and Lords Howard, Maynard, Dacres, Montague, North, Hunsdon, and Berkeley. From such a body the Army could not hope much. Three or four of them might be reckoned on as thorough-going; but to most a crisis had come which was too terrible. Ah! had they foreseen it six years before, had they then foreseen that their own order and all the pleasantness of their aristocratic lives would go down in the contest to which they were lending themselves, would their choice between the two sides have been the same? To have sat on through those six years, a mere residuary rag of the English Peerage, at variance with the King and the vast majority of their own order; to have figured through the struggle as nominally the superior House, but really the mere ciphers of the Commons; to have had to throw all their aristocratic dignity and all their permissible conservatism at last into the miserable form of partisanship with a despotic Presbyterianism and zeal for the suppression of Sects, Heresies, and Independency:—here was a retrospect for men of rank, men of ambition, men of pride in their pedigrees! And now to have an Army of these Independents, Sectaries, and Heretics, holding them by the throat, and prepared to dictate to them the alternative of their own annihilation or their assent to a deed of horror!—Such being the position of the Lords, how was it with the Commons? In that House about 260 members were still giving attendance, or were at hand to attend when wanted. On the 2nd of December there were 232 in the House. A staunch minority of these were Independents in league with the Army; but the decided majority were men of the Presbyterian party, full of regrets at the failure of the Treaty of Newport, but ready to resume negotiations with the King on the basis of the terms offered him in that Treaty, or indeed now on any other basis on which there could be agreement. Detestation of the Army was, therefore, the ruling feeling in this House too: but the detestation was mingled with dread. With regiments at their doors, with regiments posted here and there on the skirts of the City, all alert against any symptom of a rising of the Presbyterian Londoners, they could not hope now for any chance of seeing the Army overmastered for them by the only means left-popular tumult and a carnage in the streets. All that the Commons could do, therefore, was to be sullen, and offer a passive resistance. [Footnote: Lords and Commons Journals of Dec. 2, 1648; and Records of Divisions in Commons Journals through the previous month. There were thirteen divisions in that month, showing an attendance ranging from 80 to 261.]

It was on Monday the 4th and Tuesday the 5th of December that the attitude which the two Houses meant to take towards the Army was definitely ascertained. On the first of these days, the news of the King's removal to Hurst Castle having meanwhile arrived, there was a fierce debate in the Commons over that act of the Army, the Presbyterians protesting against its "insolency," and at length carrying, by a majority of 136 votes to 102, a Resolution that it had been done "without the knowledge or consent" of the House. On the same day the House proceeded to a debate, continued all through the night, and till nine o'clock next morning, on the results of the Treaty of Newport. The Presbyterian speakers, such as Sir Robert Harley, Sir Benjamin Rudyard, Harbottle Grimstone, Sir Simonds D'Ewes, and Clement Walker, contended that the King's concessions were satisfactory; the negative was maintained by a succession of speakers, among whom were the two Vanes. The Presbyterians, having originally put the question in this form, "Whether the King's Answers to the Propositions of both Houses be satisfactory," did not risk a division on so wide an issue, but thought it more prudent to divide on the previous question, "Whether this question shall now be put." Having carried this in the negative by 144 to 93, they were enabled to shape the question in this likelier form, "That the Answers of the King to the Propositions of both Houses are a ground for the House to proceed upon for the Settlement of the Peace of the Kingdom;" and it was on the question in this form that the debate was protracted through the night of the 4th and into the 5th. The most extraordinary incident of the debate on the 5th was the appearance made by Prynne. He had been a member of the House only a month, having taken his seat for Newport in Cornwall on the 7th of November; and he now came forward, the poor indomitable man, with a speech of vast length and most elaborate composition, in favour of that sovereign whose reign had been to him of all men ruinous and horrible. With his face muffled to hide the scars of his old mutilations by the hangman's knife, he stood up, and, after a touching recitation of all that he had suffered, denounced the Army and its outrages on Parliamentary freedom, expounded his views of Presbyterianism and right constitutional government, and pleaded earnestly for a reconciliation with Charles. His speech, if it was actually delivered as it is printed, must have occupied four or five hours in the delivery; but one must suppose he gave only part of it and reserved the rest for the press. He was heard, he says, with great attention, and had the satisfaction not only of pleasing his own party, but also of making converts. At one time or another during the debate there had been, he says, as many as 340 members present; but many of these had been wearied out by the long night-sitting. Accordingly in the final vote on Tuesday morning there were 129 for the affirmative in the question, and only 83 for the negative: i.e. in a House of 212 there were three-fifths for a reconciliation with the King, and two-fifths for complying with the Army and bringing the King to justice. The concurrence of the Lords with the majority in the Commons was a matter of course. It was given the same day, nem. con., Manchester being in the chair, and only fourteen other Peers present. By way of tempering the whole result as much as possible, a Committee was appointed by the Commons to wait on Fairfax and his officers that afternoon, with a view to "the keeping and preserving a good correspondence" between Parliament and the Army. [Footnote: Commons and Lords Journals of the days named; Clement Walker's Hist, of Indep. Part. II. pp. 28, 29; and Parl. Hist. III. 1147-1239. Of these 92 closely printed columns of the Parl. Hist. 86 are taken up with a reprint of Prynne's speech, as published by himself in the end of Jan. 1648-9. The editor remarks on the fact that, with the exception of Clement Walker, none of the contemporary writers mention Prynne's speech at all. This confirms the supposition that it cannot have been so large in delivery as it is in print. Yet that it must have been very large appears not only from Prynne's own account, but also from who says: "This he held on the affirmative with so many strong and solid reasons, arguments, and precedents both out of Divinity, Law, History, and policy, and with so clear a confutation of the opposite argument, that no man took up the bucklers against him."]

The Army had their own plan for bringing about a "good correspondence," and they put it in operation on the two following days, Dec. 6 and 7. Not troubling themselves with the Lords—who met for mere form on each of these days (only seven present on the first and eight on the other)—they applied their plan to the Commons. It consisted in what was called PRIDE'S PURGE, the style of which was as follows:—On the morning of the 6th, when the members were going into the House, they found all the entrances blocked by two or three regiments of soldiers, under the command of Colonels Pride, Hewson, and Sir Hardress Waller. Every member, as he came up, was scrutinized by these armed critics, and especially by Colonel Pride, who had a list of names in his hand, and some people about him to point out members he did not know. If a member passed this scrutiny, they let him in; if not, they begged him not to think of taking his place in the House, and, if he persisted, hauled him back, and locked him up in one of the empty law-courts conveniently near. Mr. Prynne, who made a conspicuous resistance, was locked up in this way; Sir Robert Harley, Sir William Waller, Sir Samuel Luke, Sir Robert Pye, General Massey, Clement Walker, Sir Simonds D'Ewes, Sir Benjamin Rudyard, and others and others, including even Nathaniel Fiennes, who had shown momentary weakness, were similarly disposed of; till at length the members who had presented themselves were sifted into two divisions—a goodly band regularly within the House, and forty-one fuming outside as prisoners in the law-courts. Messages passed and repassed between the two divisions, and the House made some faint show of protest and of anxiety for the release of the arrested. Any decided motion to this effect, however, was prevented by a communication to the House from Fairfax and his General Council of Officers. Colonel Axtell and some other officers, being admitted, announced the message verbally, and it was subsequently presented in writing by Colonel Whalley. Under the name of "Humble Proposals and Desires," this paper reminded the House of their former votes for expelling and disabling Denzil Holles, General Massey, and the rest of the Presbyterian Eleven impeached by the Army in 1647, and demanded that these members, irregularly and scandalously re-admitted to their places, should be again excluded and held to trial. It farther demanded that about 90 members, alleged to have been more or less in complicity with the Scots in their late invasion of England, should be disabled; it prayed for an immediate repeal of the Votes on which the Treaty of Newport had proceeded, and of the Vote of the previous day for reliance on that Treaty; and it begged all truly patriotic members to form themselves visibly into a phalanx, apart from the others, that they might be counted and known. In fact, the message not only adopted Pride's rough measure of that day as authorized by the whole Army, but represented it as only a friendly interposition, doing for the House in part what the House must be anxious to do more fully for itself. So the afternoon passed, the forty-one, still remaining in durance, visited by various persons who had Fairfax's or Pride's permission, and especially by Hugh Peters. He took a list of their names, discoursed with them, released Rudyard and Fiennes, and promised the rest that they should be removed to fit quarters for the night in Wallingford House. As night came on, however, and Wallingford House was not available, they were taken, under guard, to a common victualling-house near, jocularly called Hell; and here, some of them walking about, and others stretched on benches and chairs, or on the floor, in two upper rooms, they spent the night "reading and singing psalms to God." Next day there were again requests from the House to Fairfax for their release. It could not be granted; but they were marched through the streets to better accommodation in two inns in the Strand, called the Swan and the King's Head. Meanwhile Pride's watch at the doors of the House had been effectively continued. There were several new arrests on the 7th; many members, not arrested, were forcibly turned back; and many more, among whom was Denzil Holies, kept prudently out of the way. Altogether, the number of the arrested was 47, and that of the excluded 96. It was a purgation quite sufficient for the Army's purpose. This was proved by a vote actually taken in the House on the 7th, after the purgation was complete. "The question being propounded, That the House proceed with the Proposals of the Army," it was carried by 50 to 28 that the question should be put and the Proposals proceeded with. As most of the minority in this division withdrew in consequence, the House was reduced from that moment to just such a tight little Parliamentary body as the Army desired. [Footnote: Lords and Commons Journals of days named; Rushw. VII. 1353-1356; Parl. Hist. III. 1240-1249 (a careful compilation of contemporary accounts).]

Cromwell was again among them. He had returned to town on the evening of the 6th, and he was in his place in the Commons on the 7th, receiving the thanks of the House, through the Speaker, for his "very great and eminently faithful services" in Wales, Scotland, and the North of England. He had not been concerned in the design of Pride's Purge, and the business was half over before his arrival in town; but he quite approved of what had been done, and said he would maintain it. The younger Vane, on the other hand, had been so staggered by the proceeding that he had withdrawn from the scene, to avoid further responsibility. [Footnote: Commons Journals, Dec. 7; Parl. Hist. III. 1246; and Godwin, III. 31.]

For a fortnight after Pride's Purge, the two Houses, reduced now to such dimensions as might suit the Army's purpose, went on transacting various business. The attendance in the Lords had dwindled to five, four, and even to three, raised on one occasion to seven. In the Commons the attendance does not seem to have ever exceeded 50 or 60. It is in the proceedings of this House, of course, that one sees the steady direction of affairs towards the end prescribed by the Army. There were all kinds of items of employment during the fortnight, including orders about the Navy, orders in mercantile matters, discharges of some of the secluded and imprisoned members, votes condemning those who continued contumacious and had ventured on protests in print, receptions of petitions and addresses of confidence from various public bodies, and attendance by such as chose on a special Fast-day Sermon preached by Hugh Peters. But through these miscellaneous proceedings one notes the main track in such votes as these:—Dec. 12, Vote for repealing all former votes and acts condoning the faults of Denzil Holles and the rest of the impeached Presbyterian leaders, and on the same day a Vote declaring the re-opening of a Treaty with the King in the Isle of Wight to have been dishonourable and apparently destructive to the good of the kingdom; Dec. 13, A farther Vote, in compliance with the Army's Proposals, disowning entirely the Treaty in the Isle of Wight, and repealing the Vote of the previous week for proceeding to a settlement on the grounds supplied by the King's Answers in that Treaty; Dec. 23, Resolution, "That it be referred to a Committee to consider how to proceed in a way of justice against the King and other capital offenders, and that the said Committee do present their opinions thereupon to the House with all convenient speed." The Committee so appointed consisted of 38 members of the House, among whom were St. John, Whitlocke, Skippon, Lord Grey, Lord Lisle, Sir Henry Mildmay, Pennington, and Henry Marten. [Footnote: Lords and Commons Journals from Dec. 8 to Dec. 23; Parl. Hist. III. 1247-1253; Whitlocke, Dec. 23.] Cromwell was not of the Committee, and some of those put upon it were not likely to attend. Indeed, though the Resolution passed without a division, the reluctance of some who were present had appeared in the course of the debate. They argued that there was no precedent in History for the judicial trial of a King, and that, if the Army were determined that Charles should be punished capitally, the business should be left to the Army itself as an exceptional and irregular power.


Some days before the Resolution of Dec. 23 was adopted by the Commons, the Army had taken steps for bringing the King nearer to London, to abide the issue. He had been in Hurst Castle for about a fortnight, rather poorly lodged in the old apartments of the keep, and complaining of the fogs that rose from the salt-water marshes around, with their beds of ooze and sea-kelp. His amusement had been in the sight of the passing ships, in his daily walk along the narrow neck of shingle connecting the castle with the mainland, and in the companionship of his select attendants in the evenings, when the drawbridge was up, the guard set, the woodfires blazing indoors, and the candles lit. He had brought with him from Newport fourteen personal attendants in all, including his two gentlemen of the bedchamber, Mr. James Harrington (afterwards known as the author of Oceana) and Mr. Thomas Herbert. Both these gentlemen, though their principles and connexions were originally Parliamentarian, had, in the course of their long attendance on the royal captive, contracted a respectful affection for him. Harrington, indeed, had been speaking out so openly in praise of his Majesty's conduct in the Newport Treaty, and of the talent he had shown in his debates with the Presbyterian divines, that those who were in charge had thought it unsafe to let him remain in the service. He had therefore been dismissed, and the duty of immediate waiting on the King had been left entirely to Mr. Herbert.

It was at midnight on the 16th or 17th of December that this gentleman, asleep in the little room he occupied next to the King's chamber, was roused by hearing the drawbridge outside let down, and some horsemen enter the Castle. Next morning he found that the King had heard the noise too, and was curious to know the cause. Mr. Herbert went out to inquire, and came back with the information that Major Harrison had arrived in the night. Nothing more was said at the moment, and the King went to prayers; but later in the day the King seemed very much discomposed, and told Herbert that Harrison was the very man against whom he had most frequently received private warnings. He had never, to his knowledge, seen the Major, but he had heard much of the wild enthusiasm of his character; and, if assassination were intended, and this man were to be the agent, what likelier place than the lonely sea-keep where they then were? To relieve his Majesty's mind if possible, Mr. Herbert went out to make farther inquiries. He soon returned with the intelligence that the purpose of Harrison's visit was to arrange for his Majesty's removal to Windsor Castle. Nothing could be more agreeable to the King than the prospect of "leaving the worst to enjoy the best Castle in England;" and all fear vanished.

After two nights, Major Harrison left the Castle mysteriously as he had come, and without having seen the King or spoken to any of his attendants. He had made the necessary arrangements, and the actual removal of the King was to be superintended by the same Colonel Cobbet who had managed his abduction from the Isle of Wight. This officer, arriving two days afterwards, formally announced his business; and, his Majesty being very willing, there was no delay. Passing along the spit of land from Hurst Castle to Milford, they found a body of horse there waiting; and, under this convoy, they rode inland through Hampshire, gradually leaving the sea behind. By a route through the New Forest and past Romsey, they reached Winchester, where they made some stay, the Mayor, Aldermen, and Clergymen of the City, and many of the gentry round, coming in dutifully to pay their respects. Thence to New Alresford, and so to Farnham in Surrey. It was on the road between these two towns that they passed another troop of horse drawn up in good order, which immediately closed up in the rear and went on with them. The King was particularly struck with the appearance of the commander of this troop, a man gallantly mounted, with a velvet montero on his head, a new buff- coat, and a crimson silk scarf round his waist, who, as the King passed at an easy pace, saluted him splendidly "alia soldado" and received a gracious bow in return. Inquiring of Mr. Herbert who he was, the King was greatly surprised to learn he was the dreadful Major Harrison. He looked a real soldier, the King said, and, if there might be trust in men's faces, was not the man to be an assassin. On arriving at Farnham, where they spent the night in a private house, the King took care to pay considerable attention to Harrison. Standing by the fire before supper, in a large wainscoted room full of people, he singled out Harrison at the other end, beckoned him to come up, took him by the arm, and led him to a window-recess, where they conversed for half an hour. Apparently Harrison's words were not so satisfactory as his looks. He disowned indignantly any such design against the King as had been imputed to him, but added something to the effect that great and small alike must be subject to Law, and that Justice could pay no respect to persons. The King, who had never yet brought himself to imagine the possibility of his public trial in any form, saw no particular significance in Harrison's words, but thought them "affectedly spoken," and broke off the conversation. He was very cheerful at supper, greatly to the delight of his suite. Next day, taking Bagshot on the way and dining at Lord Newburgh's house there, they arrived at Windsor, and were received by Colonel Whichcot, the officer in command. It was the very day, Saturday Dec. 23, on which the Commons had appointed their Committee for considering the means of bringing the King to justice, and the Committee were holding their first meeting in Westminster that afternoon. The news had probably not yet reached Windsor, or it remained unknown to the King. He took up his abode in his royal apartments in the Castle; and the next day, as he paused in his Sunday walk round the exterior, he looked with no especial anxiety Londonwards, but rejoiced once more in the view of the Thames flowing by Eton, and the far expanse of lull and valley, villages and fair houses, noble even in its wintry leaflessness and the dull gloom of the December air. [Footnote: Herbert's Memoirs, 126-145; Rushworth VII. 1371; Parl. Hist. III. l26.]

Christmas-week having passed, and the Committee for justice on the King having had several meetings, the Commons, on the 1st of January 1648-9, passed a Resolution and an Ordinance. The Resolution was "That, by the fundamental laws of this kingdom, it is Treason in the King of England for the time being to levy war against the Parliament and Kingdom of England;" the Ordinance was one beginning "Whereas it is notorious that Charles Stuart, the now King of England," and ending with the appointment of a High Court of Justice for the Trial of the King, to consist of about 150 persons named as Commissioners and Judges expressly for the purpose. Five Peers were named first on this Commission; then Chief Justices Rolle and St. John and Chief Baron Wylde; then Fairfax, Cromwell, Ireton, and many more members of the Commons and Army Officers; but a considerable proportion of those named were Lawyers, Aldermen, and Citizens, not members of the House. Any twenty of the Commissioners were to be a quorum.—On the following day (Jan. 2), the Resolution and Ordinance having been sent up to the Lords for their concurrence, there was a scene of agony in that House. As many as twelve Peers had mustered for the occasion, including four of the five whom the Commons had named first in the dreadful Commission. Unanimously and passionately all the Peers present rejected both Resolution and Ordinance, the Earl of Denbigh declaring he "would be torn in pieces rather than have any share in so infamous a business," and the Earl of Pembroke, who came nearest to neutrality, saying he "loved not businesses of life and death." Having hurled this defiance at the Commons, the Lords were powerless for more, and adjourned for a week.

It was a week of rapid action and counter-defiance by the Commons. Not a few of the feebler spirits, indeed, had taken leave of absence. Whitlocke, for one, had gone into the country. The Clerk of the House, Mr. Elsyng, had feigned ill-health and resigned. Nevertheless, with a temporary substitute to do Mr. Elsyng's duty, the House pushed on. Jan. 3, they sent two of their number to inspect the Journals of the Lords and ascertain formally the proceedings of that House on the preceding day. When these were reported, some were for impeaching the twelve Peers as co-Delinquents with the King. To the majority, however, such a course appeared quite unnecessary; it was enough to declare that, as the Lords would not concur, the Commons would act without their concurrence. Jan. 4, after a debate with locked doors, this momentous Resolution was passed: "That the Commons of England in Parliament assembled do declare, That the People are, under God, the original of all just power; and do also declare, That the Commons of England in Parliament assembled, being chosen by and representing the People, have the supreme power in this nation; and do also declare, That whatsoever is enacted, or declared for law, by the Commons in Parliament assembled hath the force of a law, and all the People of this nation are concluded thereby, although the consent and concurrence of the King, or House of Peers, be not had thereunto." The Ordinance for a High Court of Justice for the King's trial had meanwhile been re-introduced, with the omission of the five Peers, the three Judges, and some other reluctant persons named in the original Ordinance, and with the addition of two eminent lawyers not there named; so that Fairfax, Cromwell, and Treton now stood at the top of a total list of 135 judicial Commissioners. Hurried through the proper three stages, this Bill became law by the authority of the Commons alone, Jan. 6,—On the 9th of January, when the Peers re-assembled after their adjournment, seven being present, they made a faint attempt to recover influence. They sketched out an Ordinance to the effect that whatsoever King of England should in future levy war against the Parliament and the Kingdom should be guilty of High Treason, and they appointed a Committee to prepare such an Ordinance. At the same time, ignoring the virtual abolition of their House by the Commons, they endeavoured to renew communications between the two Houses in the usual manner, by sending a message about various matters of mere ordinary business that had been pending between the two. This led to a curious proof that even in the thoroughgoing body that now constituted the Commons there was still a difference between most thoroughgoing and moderately thoroughgoing. There was first a division on the question whether the messengers from the Lords should he received at all; and, while 31 voted for admitting them, a minority of 18, with Henry Marten and Ludlow for their tellers, voted No. Then, after the messengers had been received and had delivered their message, it was debated whether they should be dismissed with the customary answer that the House would reply in due course by messengers of their own. Out of 52 present, 19 voted No (Ireton one of the tellers), and 33 voted for keeping up the usual courtesy. But, though a majority were thus for treating the Lords as still extant, practically the whole House was in the same ultra- democratic temper. That very day, for example, on the report of a Committee, orders were given for the engraving of a new Great Seal, with instructions that on one side there should be a map of England and Ireland, with the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, also the English and Irish arms, and the words "The Great Seal of England: 1648," and on the reverse a representation of the House of Commons sitting, and the motto "In the First Year of Freedom by God's blessing restored: 1648." The deviser of these emblems was the Republican Henry Marten. [Footnote: Lords and Commons Journals of days named; Rushworth, VII. 1379 et seq.; Parl. Hist. III. 1253-1258; Whitlocke under dates given.]

Not even yet did Charles realize the extent of his danger. Well-treated at Windsor, and allowed the liberty of walking on the terrace and in the grounds, he had kept up his spirits wonderfully, and had been heard to say he "doubted not but within six months to see peace in England, and, in case of not restoring, to be righted from Ireland, Denmark, and other places." Even after information of the proceedings of the Commons and their rupture with the Lords had reached him, he scouted the idea of the public trial which was threatened. They dared not do such a thing! At the utmost, he expected that the Commons might venture to depose him, confine him in the Tower or elsewhere, and call upon the Prince of Wales, or perhaps the Duke of York or the Duke of Gloucester, to assume the succession! [Footnote: Herbert's Memoirs, 145-156; Whitlocke, II. 488.]

Meanwhile the Court appointed to try the King had met to constitute itself. Formal proclamation of its authority and of its business had been made in various public places in London; and, in a series of meeting held in the Painted Chamber in Westminster, preliminaries had been arranged. Not so many as half of the Commissioners appointed by the Ordinance seem to have attended at any of these meetings. Fairfax, who was present at the first (Jan. 8), recoiled then and there, and never went back. [Footnote: In Notes and Queries for July 6, 1872, Mr. William J. Thorns gave a carefully prepared list of the 135 persons named King's Judges by the Second Ordinance for the Trial, so printed as to show which of them really took part in the business thus assigned them, and to what extent, and which of them abstained wholly or withdrew before the close of the proceedings.] For President of the Court, with the title "Lord High President," there was chosen John Bradshaw, one of the lawyers added in the second form of the Ordinance, to make up for the omission there of the three Judges from the regular Law-Courts who had been appointed in the first Ordinance, but had been excused. He was over sixty years of age; had been eminent for some time in his profession; and had recently been one of a group of lawyers raised to the serjeantcy, with a view to their promotion to the Bench. As counsel for the prosecution, four lawyers, not on the Commission, were appointed, one of them John Cook, and another the learned Dutchman Dr. Dorislaus. Although these arrangements had been made before the 12th of January, another week elapsed before the Court was quite ready. The vaults under the Painted Chamber, which was to be the ordinary place of meeting of the Court, when not sitting in Westminster Hall for the open trial, had to be searched and secured against any attempt of the Guy Fawkes kind; a bullet-proof hat, it is said, had to be made for Bradshaw: the Mace and Sword of State had to be brought from their usual repositories; &c. The two Houses of Parliament meanwhile met from day to day, four or five Peers still keeping up the pretence of their corporate existence, and about 50 Commoners transacting this or that business as it happened, without the least reference to the Peers. Prynne, from his confinement in the King's Head Tavern in the Strand, had issued a defence of the King in the form of A Brief Memento to the Present Unparliamentary Juncto; and a good deal of the time of the Commons was taken up with notices of this pamphlet and votes for the prosecution of its author. [Footnote: Rushworth, VII, 1389-1394; Lords and Commons Journals; and Godwin's Hist. of the Commonwealth, II. 621 and 664-668.]


On Friday, Jan. 19, Charles was brought from Windsor in a coach, guarded by a body of horse under Harrison's command, and conveyed through Brentford and Hammersmith to St. James's Palace. That same night he was removed to Whitehall; and, on the afternoon of Saturday the 20th, he was taken thence to Cotton House, adjoining Westminster Hall. This great hall, used for Strafford's trial, had now been fitted up for the King's, and the High Court of Justice were already assembled in it, waiting their prisoner. Bradshaw was in the chair, and sixty-six more of the Commissioners were present. Among them were Cromwell, Ireton, Henry Marten, Edmund Ludlow, General Hammond, Lord Grey of Groby, several Baronets and Knights, Colonels Ewer, Hawson, Robert Lilburne, Okey, Pride, Hutchinson, Purefoy, Sir Hardress Waller, and Whalley, with Major Harrison, Alderman Pennington of London, and three barristers. The hall was crowded with spectators, both on the floor and in the galleries; and order was kept by a guard of red-coats under Colonel Axtell. As the Court was forming itself, there had been a rather startling interruption by a woman's voice from one of the galleries. It was that of Lady Fairfax, who had gone in indignant curiosity, and, on hearing her husband's name read in the Commission, called out loudly to this effect, "He is not here, and will never be; you do him wrong to name him." This interruption was over, and the Court composed, when Charles was brought in by Colonel Hacker, and a select guard of officers armed with halberts. The Serjeant-at-Arms receiving him, and preceding him with the mace, he was conducted to the bar, where a chair of crimson velvet had been set for him. Some of his own servants followed him and stood round him. He looked sternly at the Court and at the people in the galleries; then sat down, keeping on his hat; then stood up, and turned round to look at the soldiers and the multitude; then sat down again, still with his hat on. He was now face to face with his judges. He looked at them carefully, and recognised about eight as personally known to him. [Footnote: Rushworth, VII. 1394-1399, and Herbert, 150-161. It is strange to find some points of contradiction between these two trustworthy accounts. Herbert, after apparently implying that the King had been brought from Windsor to St James's before the 19th, makes his removal from St. James's to Whitehall occur on that day. Rushworth brings him to St. James's exactly on the 19th, and removes him to Whitehall next morning. Again, Herbert makes the King conveyed from Whitehall to Cotton House "in a sedan or close chair," and describes the walk through the posted guards, along King Street and Palace Yard, adding that only he himself was allowed to go with the King that way; whereas Rushworth says that the King was brought to Cotton House from Whitehall by water, "guarded by musketeers in boats." Rushworth's accounts, written at the moment, ought to be more accurate in such particulars, and especially in dates, than Herbert's, written from recollection; but Herbert can hardly have been wrong in the matter of the sedan chair. Perhaps, while the King went in such a chair, Herbert accompanying him, most of the King's servants went by water. For the names of all the sixty-seven King's Judges present on the first day of the Trial see Mr. Thomb's list in Notes and Queries, July 6, 1872. The figure 20 there appended to a name intimates presence that day.— Among those of the 135 appointed Judges who did not attend on that day or on any subsequent one, and therefore must be supposed to have agreed with Fairfax in disowning the entire business, we may note Skippon, Sir Arthur Haselrig, Sir William Brereton, Desborough, Lambert, Overton, Lord Lisle, and Algernon Sidney.]

The proceedings of the Trial will be best exhibited in the following condensed account of the particulars of each day:—

Saturday, Jan. 20:—The President, in a brief address to the King, informed him of the business on which the Court had met, and called on him to hear the Charge against him. Solicitor Cook, standing within the bar, on the King's right, then began to state the Charge, but was interrupted by the King, who held out a stick which he had in his hand, and laid it softly twice or thrice on the Solicitor's shoulder, bidding him stop. Bradshaw having interfered, the Solicitor continued his statement, and delivered in his Charge in writing, which Bradshaw called on the Clerk of the Court to read. Charles again interrupted, and continued to interrupt; but, Bradshaw telling him that he would be heard afterwards if he had anything to say, the document was at length read. It accused Charles Stuart, King of England, of having "traitorously and maliciously levied war against the present Parliament and the People therein represented;" and it supported the Charge by a recitation of specific acts of the King done in the First Civil War from June 1642 to 1646, and again more generally of acts done in 1648 before and during the Second Civil War. Charles had smiled often as the Charge was read; and, when the President at the close asked what answer he had to give, begged to know by what authority he had been brought thither. He had been in treaty with Parliament in the Isle of Wight; he had been forcibly taken thence; he saw no Lords present; the crown of England was hereditary and not elective; in whose name was this Court held? "In that of the Commons of England," Bradshaw replied; and there ensued a skirmish between him and the King on the question of authority, which Bradshaw ended by adjourning the Court till Monday at ten o'clock.

Monday, Jan. 22:-After a consultation in the Painted Chamber, the Court met in Westminster Hall, seventy members present, and answering to their names. The skirmish between Bradshaw and the King was renewed: Bradshaw requiring the King's Answer to the Charge "either by confessing or denying," and the King refusing the Court's jurisdiction, not for his own sake alone, he said, but "for the freedom and liberty of the people of England," imperilled by the assumption of the Court's legality. "Sir, I must interrupt you," said Bradshaw; "which I would not do, but that what you do is not agreeable to the proceedings of any Court of Justice." No Court, he said, could permit its own authority to be questioned; the King must not go out into such wide discourses; he must give a punctual and direct answer. No such answer would the King give; he would have law and reason for his being in that place at all. "Sir, you are not to dispute our authority," again interrupted Bradshaw; "you are told it again by the Court: Sir, it will be taken notice of you that you stand in contempt of the Court, and your contempt will be recorded accordingly." The King "did not know how a King might be a delinquent by any law he ever heard of;" but any Delinquent might put in a demurrer. And so on and on for a considerable time, the Clerk of the Court reading out the Resolution of the Court that the King should give his answer, and the King still insisting on giving reasons why he would not. "Serjeant, take away the prisoner," said the Lord President at last; and the King, still talking, was removed to Cotton House.——He left in writing, for subsequent publication, the reasons he wanted to state to the Court that day. The chief of them was that no earthly power could justly call a King to account. He quoted, as Scripture authority, Eccles. viii. 4: "Where the word of a King is, there is power; and who may say unto him, What dost thou?" But he appealed also to the Law and Custom of England.

Tuesday, Jan. 23:-The Court again met in Westminster Hall, 63 Commissioners present. Solicitor Cook moved that, the King having refused to plead either Guilty or Not Guilty, the rule for such cases of contumacy should be applied to him, his refusal taken pro confesso, and judgment pronounced. The Lord President, calling the King's attention to this motion, offered him another opportunity of pleading, which he used only to return to the discourses of the two previous days. "Clerk, do your duty!" said Bradshaw at last. "Duty, Sir!" exclaimed the King; and, the Clerk having again read out a paper requiring the King's positive answer to the Charge, and the King still refusing, "Clerk, record "the default," said Bradshaw, "and, gentlemen, you that took "charge of the prisoner, take him back again." That night, like the preceding, was spent in Cotton House.

Wednesday, Jan. 24, and Thursday, Jan. 25:—No public meetings of the Court in Westminster Hall on these days; but more private sessions in the Painted Chamber for the purpose of receiving the depositions of witnesses,—the Court having determined that, though not obliged to that course, they would adopt it for their own satisfaction. Accordingly there were examined more than thirty witnesses from various parts of England— "W. C., of Patrington in Holderness, in the county of York, gentleman, aged 42;" "W. B., of Wixhall, in the county of Salop, gentleman;" "H. H., of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire;" "R. L., of Cotton in Nottinghamshire, tiler;" "J. W., of Ross in Herefordshire, shoemaker;" "S. L., of Nottingham, maltster, aged 30 years;" "A. Y., citizen and barber-surgeon of London, aged 29;" "H. G., of Gray's Inn, in the county of Middlesex, gentleman;" &c. &c. They deposed to various acts of the King seen by themselves, from the setting up of his standard at Nottingham onwards. Papers in the King's own hand, or by his authority, were also produced and read. Finally, the Court, "taking into consideration the whole matter," resolved to proceed to sentence on the King as "a tyrant, traitor, and murderer," and as "a public enemy to the Commonwealth of England."

Friday, Jan. 26:—A private sitting of the Court in the Painted Chamber, in which the Sentence was drafted, agreed to, and ordered to be engrossed.

Saturday, Jan. 27:—First another private meeting in the Painted Chamber to settle the procedure of the Court for the day, and give President Bradshaw instructions for his behaviour in any contingency that might arise, one of them being that he "should hear the King say what he would before the sentence, and not after." Then, about one o'clock, an adjournment to full state in Westminster Hall. The Lord President was now robed in scarlet, and there were 67 Commissioners present. The Court having been opened, Charles, whose presence had not been required on the three preceding days, was brought in. As he went to his place, the soldiers in the Hall called out "Justice," "Justice," and "Execution!" till the Court commanded silence. The King, in his usual posture, with his hat on, immediately began to speak. The President told him he would have liberty to do so, but must hear the Court first. After some farther attempts to speak then, the King submitted; and Bradshaw, reminding him of what had passed in the first three meetings of the Court, related the subsequent action of the Court, and their conclusion on the whole matter, and called upon him to say anything he pleased in bar of judgment, provided it were in his own defence, and not in renewed challenge of the Court's jurisdiction. With difficulty keeping off the forbidden topic, Charles dwelt on the dangers of a hasty sentence, and urged a special request which he had reserved for the occasion. It was that, before sentence was read, he should be permitted to have a conference with the Lords and Commons in the Painted Chamber. Bradshaw, though he gave it as his opinion that the request only tended to delay, and was in fact a farther declining of the jurisdiction of the Court, yet announced that the Court would withdraw to consider it. There was therefore a private consultation for half an hour in the Court of Wards, the King meanwhile being removed from the Great Hall. When the Court had returned thither, and the King had been brought back, Bradshaw intimated that the consultation had been pro forma only, that the request could not be granted, that the Court must proceed to sentence. There was another painful altercation, the King pressing his request for delay, and seeming to hint he had some important proposal to make to the Lords and Commons (abdication in favour of the Prince of Wales, it was afterwards guessed); and Bradshaw trying to stop him. At length, the King ceasing to interrupt, Bradshaw's words took continuous form for a minute or two in that kind of address which a Judge makes to a capital criminal before passing sentence. "Make an O yes," he said in conclusion to the officers, "and command silence while the Sentence is read." The Clerk then read out the sentence as it had been engressed on parchment, as follows:—"Whereas the Commons of England in Parliament, &c. [a statement of the purpose of the Court, an insertion of the Charge against Charles, and a record of his refusal to plead and the consequent proceedings of the Court], this Court doth adjudge that the said Charles Stuart, as a Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a Public Enemy, shall be put to death by the severing of his head from his body. "The President then said, "The sentence now read and published is the act, sentence, judgement, and resolution of the whole Court;" whereupon all the Commissioners stood up to express their assent. "His Majesty then said, Will you hear me a word, Sir? President: Sir, you are not to be heard after the sentence. King: No, Sir? President: No, Sir, by your favour. Sir. Guard, withdraw your prisoner. King: I may speak after sentence, by your favour, Sir; I may speak after sentence, ever. By your favour, hold [the guard, one must suppose, now hustling around Charles]. The sentence, Sir—I say Sir, I do—I am not suffered to speak; Expect what justice other people will have." As he passed out with the guard, there were again cries from the soldiers of "Justice," "Justice," and some brutes among them puffed their tobacco-smoke in front of him, and threw their pipes in his way. He was taken to Whitehall and thence to St. James's. [Footnote: Abridged mainly from Rushworth's collection of accounts in 30 folio pages (VII. 1395-1425). The sixty-seven of the King's judges who were present in Westminster Hall on the 27th, when the sentence was pronounced, are to be regarded as the men most resolute in the business, the committed Regicides. Two of these (George Fleetwood and Thomas Wayte) came in at the last moment, not having attended any of the previous meetings of the Court from the beginning of the Trial on the 20th. On the other hand, some nine or ten who had been present on one, two, or even all of the three previous public days of the Trial (the 20th, 22nd, and 23rd), had dropped off before the sentence; among them whome I note Alderman Isaac Pennington. He had been present all the three previous days; but could not reconcile himself to the conclusion. Of the sixty-seven who did reconcile themselves to it, fifty-one, as I reckon, are conspicuous for their unswerving steadiness throughout the proceedings, never having missed a day in their attendance from the 20th to the 27th inclusively. Among these are Bradshaw, Cromwell, Ireton, Marten, General Hammond, Ludlow, Lord Grey of Groby, Sir John Danvers, Pride, Purefoy, Hewson, Hutchinson, Robert Lilburne, Okey, Sir Hardress Waller, Whalley, Harrison, Sir M. Livesy, and Thomas Scott. Several of those, however, who had missed one or even two of the days of the Trial had done so accidentally, or for some reason of business, and not from flinching. Finally, of the sixty-seven who were present at the sentence, and stood up when it was pronounced to signify their concurrence, several were either reluctant at the time, or at all events afterwards wished people to believe that they were.]


The last two days and three nights of Charles's life were spent by him in the utmost possible privacy. From the first day of his trial, by an order of the Commons, procured by the intercession of Hugh Peters, he had been allowed to have Dr. Juxon, ex-Bishop of London, constantly in attendance upon him; and there was a fresh order continuing this favour after the sentence. Except Juxon and the faithful gentleman of the bedchamber, Thomas Herbert, the King did not desire company; and it was a relief to him when, on the remonstrances of these two with Hacker, that officer desisted from his intention of placing two musketeers on guard in his chamber. [Footnote: Commons Journals of the 20th and the 27th, and Herbert, 182-3.]

On the evening of the 27th, the day of the sentence, the King's nephew, the Prince Elector, who had special permission to see him, came for the purpose, accompanied by the Duke of Richmond, the Marquis of Hertford, the Earls of Southampton and Lindsey, and some other noblemen. They had to be content with a message of thanks through Herbert, and went sorrowfully away. The same evening there also arrived Mr. Henry Seymour, with a letter from the Prince of Wales, dated from the Hague a few days before. This messenger, having been admitted by Colonel Hacker, did see the King, and knelt passionately at his feet, while he read the letter, and returned some verbal answer. There then remained only Herbert and Juxon with the King; but, as the night came on, Herbert was sent out on a message. He was to take a ring which the King gave him, an emerald between two diamonds, and deliver it to a lady living in Channel Row, who would know what it meant. The night was very dark; but Herbert, having got the pass-word from Colonel Tomlinson, who was in command outside, made his way through the sentries to the house indicated. He saw the lady, and, on delivering the ring, received from her a sealed cabinet. It was a box of diamonds and other jewels, chiefly broken Georges and Garters, which had been deposited with the lady, who was the King's laundress and wife of Sir William Wheeler. Returning with it to St. James's, Herbert found Juxon just gone to his lodging near, and the King alone. Herbert slept that night in the King's chamber, as he had done since the beginning of the trial, a pallet-bed having been brought in for the purpose by the King's order, and placed near his own bed. As always, the wax-light in the silver basin was kept faintly burning. [Footnote: Herbert, 170-178; and Wood's Ath. IV. 28-31. Wood's account was derived from Herbert himself, and substantially is the same as Herbert's own in his published Memoirs, but with additional particulars, of which some are peculiarly interesting.]

Of the next day, Sunday the 28th, there is nothing to record, save that in the morning the King opened the cabinet of jewels, and that the rest of the day was passed in hearing a sermon from Juxon on Romans ii. 16, and in private readings and devotions. Clement Walker, indeed, foists into this day a myth he had heard about a certain "paper-book" tendered to the King by "some of the grandees of the Army and Parliament," offering him his "life and some shadow of regality" on conditions of such a portentous character, so "destructive to the fundamental Government, Religion, Laws, Liberties, and Properties of the People," that his Majesty firmly refused them. The air was full of such myths. [Footnote: Clement Walker's Hist. of Independency, Part II, 109, 110.]

On Monday, the 29th, the two royal children then in England, the Princess Elizabeth, thirteen years old, and the Duke of Gloucester, a boy of eight, came to St. James's to bid their father farewell. The Princess, as the elder, and the more sensible of her father's condition, was weeping excessively; the younger boy, seeing his sister weep, took the like impression, and sobbed in sympathy and fright. He sat with them for some time at a window, taking them on his knees and kissing them, and talking with them of their duty to their mother, and to their eldest brother the Prince of Wales, who should be rightful King of England in long future years, when they would hardly remember their dead father. He distributed to them most of the jewels from the recovered casket; and at last, when the time allotted for the interview was over, and the door was opened from without, he rose hastily, again kissed them and blessed them, and then turned about to hide his own tears, while they departed crying miserably. [Footnote: Herbert, 178-180. In one particular there is a discrepancy between Herbert's account of the two days immediately succeeding Charles's sentence and the account found in Rushworth and others. Herbert says that on Saturday, after the sentence, Charles was taken from Westminster Hall back to Whitehall, "whence after two hours' space he was removed to St. James's." Accordingly it is at St. James's, as in the text, that Herbert represents Charles as passing the Saturday night and the Sunday and Monday. In Rushworth, on the other hand, the King remains at Whitehall through Saturday night and Sunday; and it is not till Monday that he is removed to St. James's, where he sees his children. Herbert's surely is the better authority in this matter.]

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