The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649
by David Masson
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With reference to Milton's own case, it is worth observing that the causes of divorce on which he still rings the changes throughout the second edition of his treatise, as throughout the first, are the unmatchableness of dispositions, the unfitness of the wife for rational conversation, her intellectual and moral insufficiency or perverseness. There is no word of desertion. I cannot but think that this confirms the view that it was not the absence of Milton's wife that caused his dissatisfaction with his marriage, but that the dissatisfaction preceded the absence and had helped to occasion it.

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

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

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

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

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


MARCH 1644-MARCH 1645.





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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

EMANUEL COLLEGE:—Master ejected, Dr. RICHARD HOLDSWORTH (ob. 1649); Master put in, Dr. ANTHONY TUCKNEY, one of the Assembly Divines.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. The Principle of Toleration.

II. The English Sects and Sectaries.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the middle of 1644 there appeared in London at least three pamphlets or books in the same strain. One of these, "The Compassionate Samaritan unbinding the Conscience," need be remembered by its name only; but the other two must be associated with their authors. One bore the striking title "The Bloudy Tenent [i. e. Bloody Tenet] of Persecution for cause of Conscience, discussed in a Conference between Truth and Peace," (pp. 247); the other bore, in its first edition, the simple title, "M. S. to A.S.," and, in its second edition, in the same year, this fuller title "A Reply of Two of the Brethren to A.S., &c.; with a Plea for Liberty of Conscience for the Apologists' Church-way, against the Cavils of the said A. S." Though both were anonymous, the authors were known at the time. The author of the first was that Americanized Welshman, ROGER WILLIAMS, whose strange previous career, from his first arrival in New England in 1631, on to his settlement among the Narraganset Bay Indians in 1638, and his subsequent vagaries of opinion and of action, has already been sketched (Vol. II. 560-563, and 600-602). He had been over in England, it will be remembered, since June 1643, in the capacity of envoy or commissioner from the Rhode Island people, to obtain a charter for erecting Rhode Island and the adjacent Providence Plantation into a distinct and independent colony. He had been going about England a good deal, but had been mostly in London, in the society of the younger Vane, and in frequent contact with other leading men in Parliament and in the Westminster Assembly. The Bloody Tenent was an expression, in printed form, of opinions he had been ventilating frankly enough in conversation, and was intended as a parting-gift to England before his return to America. The title must have at once attracted attention to it and given it an advantage over the other tract. The author of that other tract was our other well-known friend Mr. JOHN GOODWIN, Vicar of St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, whom the Presbyterians had put in their black books as an Arminian, Socinian, and what not (Vol. II. 582-584). Goodwill's piece may have been out first, for it is heard of as in circulation in May 1644, while Williams's book is not heard of, I think, till June or July. But, on all grounds, Williams deserves the priority. [Footnote: For statements in this paragraph authorities are— Apologetic Narration (1644); Hanbury's Historical Memorials, II. 341 et seq.; Reprint of The Bloody Tenent by the Hanserd Knollys Society (1848), with Mr. Underhill's "Biographical Introduction," pp. xxiii.-iv.; Jackson's Life of John Goodwin, p. 114 et seq.; Baillie's Letters, II. 180,181, and 211, 212, and Commons Journals, Aug. 9, 1644.]

Well may the Americans be proud of Roger Williams. His Bloody Tenent is of a piece with all his previous career. It is a rapid, hurried book, written, as it tells us, during the author's stay in England, "in change of rooms and corners, yea sometimes in variety of strange houses, sometimes in the fields in the midst of travel." One particularly notes the frequent "&c." in its sentences, as if much crowded on the writer's mind from moment to moment which he could indicate only by a contraction. But there is dash in the book, the keenest earnestness and evidence of a mind made up, and every now and then a mystic softness and richness of pity, yearning towards a voluptuous imagery like that of the Song of Solomon. The plan is straggling. First there is a list of twelve positions which the book proves, or heads under which its contents may be distributed. Then there is an address or dedication to "the Right Honourable Both Houses of the High Court of Parliament," followed by a separate address "To every Courteous Reader." Then there comes a copy of" Scriptures and Reasons written long since by a Witness of Jesus Christ, close prisoner in Newgate, against Persecution in cause of Conscience"—in fact, an extract from a tract on Liberty of Conscience by Murton, or some other London Baptist, in 1620. A copy of those Scriptures and Reasons against Persecution had, it seems, been submitted in 1635 to Mr. Cotton of Boston for his consideration; and Mr. Cotton had drawn up a Reply, defending from Scripture, past universal practice, and the authority of Calvin, Beza, and others of the Reformers, the right of the civil magistrate to prosecute and punish religious error. This Reply of Cotton's in favour of persecution is printed at length by Williams; and the first part of the real body of his own book consists of a Dialogue between Truth and Peace over the doctrine which so respectable a New England minister had thus espoused. When this Dialogue is over; there ensues a second Dialogue of Truth and Peace over another New England document in which the same "bloody tenet" of persecution had been defended-to wit a certain "Model of Church and Civil Power" drawn up by some New England ministers in concert, and in which Mr. Cotton had had a hand, though Mr. Richard Mather appears to have been the chief author. [Footnote: Some particulars in this description of the treatise are from Mr. Underhill's Introduction to the Hanserd Knolly's Society's Reprint of it, but the description in the main is from the Bloody Treatment itself.]

The texture of Williams's treatise, it will be thus seen, is loose and composite. But a singular unity of purpose and spirit runs through it. Here is the opening of the first Dialogue:—

Truth. In what dark corner of the world, sweet Peace, are we two met? How hath this present evil world banished me from all the coasts and corners of it! And how hath the righteous God in judgment taken thee from the earth: Rev. vi. 4.

Peace. It is lamentably true, blessed Truth: the foundations of the world have long been out of course; the gates of Earth and Hell have conspired together to intercept our joyful meeting and our holy kisses. With what a wearied, tired wing have I flown over nations, kingdoms, cities, towns, to find out precious Truth!

Truth. The like inquiries in my flights and travels have I made for Peace, and still am told she hath left the Earth and fled to Heaven.

Peace. Dear Truth, what is the Earth but a dungeon of darkness, where Truth is not?

Truth. And what is the Peace thereof but a fleeting dream, thine ape and counterfeit?

Peace. Oh! where is the promise of the God of Heaven, that Righteousness and Peace shall kiss each other?

Truth. Patience, sweet Peace! These Heavens and Earth are growing old, and shall be changed like a garment: Psalm cii. They shall melt away, and be burnt up with all the works that are therein; and the Most High Eternal Creator shall gloriously create new Heavens and new Earth, wherein dwells righteousness: 2 Pet. iii. Our kisses then shall have their endless date of pure and sweetest joys. Till then both thou and I must hope, and wait, and bear the fury of the Dragon's wrath, whose monstrous lies and furies shall with himself be cast into the lake of fire, the second death: Rev. xx.

Peace. Most precious Truth, thou knowest we are both pursued and laid for. Mine heart is full of sighs, mine eyes with tears. Where can I better vent my full oppressed bosom than into thine, whose faithful lips may for these few hours revive my drooping, wandering spirits, and here begin to wipe tears from mine eyes, and the eyes of my dearest children.

Truth. Sweet daughter of the God of peace, begin.

And so Truth and Peace hold their long discourse, evolving very much that doctrine of the absolute Liberty of Conscience, as derivable from, or radically identical with, the idea of the utter distinctness of the Church of Christ from the world or civil society, which had been propounded first by the Brownists and Baptists, and had come down as a tradition from them. But it is evolved by Williams more boldly and passionately than by any before him. There is a fine union throughout of warmth of personal Christian feeling with intellectual resoluteness in accepting every possible consequence of his main principle. Here are a few phrases from the marginal summaries which give the substance of the Dialogue, page after page:—"The Church and civil State confusedly made all one"; "The civil magistrates bound to preserve the bodies of their subjects, and not to destroy them for conscience sake"; "The civil sword may make a nation of hypocrites and anti-Christians, but not one Christian"; "Evil is always evil, yet permission of it may in case be good"; "Christ Jesus the deepest politician that ever was, and yet he commands a toleration of anti-Christians"; "Seducing teachers, either Pagan, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-Christian, may yet be obedient subjects to the civil laws"; "Christ's lilies may flourish in his Church, notwithstanding the abundance of weeds in the world permitted"; "The absolute sufficiency of the sword of the Spirit"; "A National Church not instituted by Christ Jesus"; "The civil commonweal and the spiritual commonweal, the Church, not inconsistent, though independent the one on the other"; "Forcing of men to godliness or God's worship the greatest cause of breach of civil peace"; "Master of a family under the Gospel not charged to force all under him from their consciences to his"; "Few magistrates, few men, spiritually and Christianly good: yet divers sorts of goodness, natural, artificial, civil, &c."; "Persons may with less sin be forced to marry whom they cannot love than to worship where they cannot believe"; "Christ Jesus never appointed a maintenance of ministers from the unconverted and unbelieving: [but] they that compel men to hear compel men also to pay for their hearing and conversion"; "The civil power owes three things to the true Church of Christ—(l) Approbation, (2) Submission [i.e. interpreted in the text to be personal submission of the civil magistrate to church-membership, if he himself believes], (3) Protection"; "The civil magistrate owes two things to false worshippers—(1) Permission, (2) Protection."—Whoever has read this string of phrases possesses the marrow of Williams's treatise. At the end of it there is an interesting discussion of the question whether only church-members, or "godly persons in a particular church-estate," ought to be eligible to be magistrates. To Williams, who was a pure democrat in politics, and was founding the new State of Rhode Island on the basis of the equal suffrages of all the colonists, this was an important practical question. He decides it with great good sense, and clearly in the negative. Without denying that the appointment of godly persons to civil offices was a thing to be prayed for, and, wherever possible, peaceably endeavoured, he points out that the principle that only Christian persons should be entrusted with civil rule is practically preposterous. Five-sixths of the world had never heard of Christ, and yet there were lawful enough civil states in those parts of the world. Then, in a Christian monarchy, what a convulsion, what a throwing away of the benefits of hereditary succession, if it had to be inquired, whenever the throne became vacant, whether the next heir was of the right sort religiously. Finally, in any Christian colony or town, would it not be a turning of everything upside down, and a premium upon hypocrisy, to make church-membership a necessary qualification for magistracy, and so, when a magistrate lapsed into what was thought religious error, and had to be excommunicated by his church, to have to turn him out of his civil office also?

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