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5: Three Foreigners: The Philosophers of the Puritan Revolution - Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century 
The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century: Religion, the Reformation and Social Change (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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Three Foreigners: The Philosophers of the Puritan Revolution
In November 1640 the Long Parliament met in London. The members who gathered at Westminster were angry, determined men. They had been kept out of Parliament for eleven years, and during those years they had suffered public and private grievances and humiliations. They disapproved of the government’s foreign policy which had been one of peace with ignominy while the cause of Protestantism was going down abroad and profitable opportunities of privateering lay neglected in the West Indies. They disapproved of its home policy, which had consisted in a frontal war on the gentry, the laity of England, in order to sustain, at their expense, a swollen, parasitic court and a reinforced, reactionary clerical estate. They disapproved of the government itself, which was unsympathetic to all their views, and of its means of sustaining itself, which had been by imprisoning its critics, even to death, without legal trial or just cause. And they were particularly enraged by its last desperate venture: for six months earlier it had summoned Parliament only to dissolve it again in an arrogant, humiliating fashion, and to plunge in a desperate military gamble whose success (all agreed) would have meant the end of Parliament altogether. Fortunately it had failed; and because of that failure the leaders of the opposition had been able to force upon the government a new Parliament: a Parliament of angry men who were determined to make an end of this system of government, hold an inquest on its misdeeds, and punish the great gambler, Strafford.
All this is well known. It is also well known how Strafford resolved, even now, to break the Parliament; how the leaders of Parliament struck first against him; how for months all other business was interrupted by the trial of Strafford; how the judicial murder of Strafford poisoned relations between the king and Parliament and led to civil war between them; and how that civil war turned ultimately to revolution, regicide, republic, military despotism, anarchy and, at last, restoration. And yet we also know that none of these consequences was intended by the Parliament. However angry men had been in November 1640, they had not wished for anything like this. They were all of them deeply conservative men. Most of them—especially those who opposed the Court—were elderly men. They were all of them royalists: even three years later, after a year of civil war, they would unanimously send to the Tower a member who only hinted at republicanism. What then, we may ask, did they really want? What would have been their course if the great rock of Strafford’s case had not thrust itself up, at the very beginning of their journey, and diverted them from the smooth waters in which they had intended to sail into the headlong torrent and foaming cataracts which carried them to disaster? It is easy to see what they did not want. They did not want wardship and purveyance, ship-money and monopolies, prerogative taxes and prerogative courts, clericalism and Star Chamber. But what were their positive aims? What sort of a brave new world did they envisage, and confidently envisage, in that brief period, those few days, between the meeting of Parliament on 3 November and the sudden, irremediable diversion of their course by the menace of Strafford on the eleventh?
At first sight it seems easy enough to answer this question, for did not the English gentry themselves express their aims? We look at their professed demands, the demands of their leaders: of the great patrons who had brought them into Parliament, of the common lawyers who had long formulated their demands, of the “Calvinian” clergy who preached to them and for them; and looking at these demands, we say that what the English gentry wanted was regular parliaments, constitutional guarantees, a “Presbyterian” Church. But at second glance—when we observe what they did to Parliament, the constitution, “Presbyterianism”—we find that this answer will not do. No doubt they wanted these things, but they did not want them as ends: they wanted them as means to other things, and when they did not lead to those other things, then they were rejected. So were the leaders who advocated them. Already in 1641 Oliver Cromwell, in Parliament, was attacking the patronage of the peers: in 1644 he would sigh for the day when there would be never a nobleman in England; in 1649 he would abolish the House of Lords. At the same time the cry of the Puritan gentry would swell against those “insatiable cannibals” the common lawyers, whose robes Colonel Pride, after the battle of Dunbar, would have hung up, with the captured Scots flags, as spoils of victory in Westminster Hall. And as for the “Presbyterian” clergy, we know how they fared. “Old priests writ large,” they were used and thrown aside; they never, at any moment, controlled the Puritan Revolution.
Therefore, if we are to discover the positive aims of the English gentry—not merely the Puritan gentry, but the “country party” which in 1640 was united against the Court (though not against the king)—we must not listen to their leaders only: we must listen to themselves. We must place our ear not in the corridors of Westminster, nor in aristocratic palaces, nor in law courts and churches, but to the ground of rural England and Wales, in the counties from which these gentry came. We must discover, if we can, the voices not of metropolitan officials, but of dim squires, men who, more often than not, never raised their voices to speak publicly across the centuries, who did not publish theories, or make set speeches in Parliament, but who were nevertheless the angry men in Parliament and behind Parliament, the men who, from behind, struck down their lukewarm, politic, legalistic, aristocratic and clerical leaders and pushed on, over their bodies, to destruction.
Can we ever discover the aims of such men, men who, by definition, are inarticulate? Well, we can try. Enough of them left some record—whether in diaries or commonplace-books, casually recorded ejaculations or pious, ungrammatical devotions—for us to risk some generalization. In this essay I intend to take this risk. I intend to isolate, if possible, the positive, constructive aims not of the politicians, the front-benchers, but of the unpolitical back-benchers who at first followed those leaders and then, by going on when they had stopped, made the revolution.
Of course this is not easy. The language these men used is not always the language of politics or even of sense. Sometimes their demands seem absurdly parochial: they are using the nation’s Parliament, and demanding a national revolution, in order to change their village parson or village schoolmaster. Sometimes they seem absurdly metaphysical: they will mobilize the train-bands or sit in committee to halt the course of Antichrist or discover the number of the Beast. Nevertheless, by reducing these demands to some common content, by generalizing the parochial and condensing the metaphysical, I believe we can come to some conclusions. No doubt many of their conclusions were negative, but with those negative conclusions I am not here concerned. I am concerned only with positive, constructive aims. These I propose to state; and having stated them I hope to show that they were not entirely forgotten even in the anarchy which overtook them. Through twenty years of what Cromwell called “blood and confusion,” the gentry of England lurched and stumbled; but in the brief intervals between bloody noses and confused noises they still saw, and were led on by, a vision of society which they hoped somehow, at the end of it, to attain: a vision, moreover, made vivid to them by three philosophers, none of whom was English, but who together may perhaps be called, both in their limited, practical aims and their wild, bloodshot mysticism, the real philosophers, the only philosophers, of the English Revolution.
The social programme of the country party, as it was formed in the 1630s, in the years of Strafford and Laud, and as it emerges indistinctly from these records, can be easily summarized. Beneath the continued rule of a royal and episcopal government, which they took for granted (only demanding that it govern in harmony with the people, as under “queen Elizabeth of glorious memory”), they demanded two things: decentralization and laicization. For throughout the last century the English people had seen a constant process of centralization. There had been centralization of the State—what else was Tudor government, the “new monarchy” with its bureaucratic organization? There had been centralization—or rather, recentralization—of the Church: the Reformation had been a protest against Roman centralization; but that protest had only half succeeded, and now central power was being built up again by Canterbury and the country parishes remained neglected and starved. There had been centralization of economy: London had constantly drained business, wealth, population from the old provincial towns. And the country gentry—the best of them, those who did not merely mope at home or clamour to be in on the racket—wished to see this process reversed. They wished to see their counties, their local towns, their parishes raised out of the squalor and neglect and indignity into which they had been allowed to slide, thereby becoming mere backwaters, areas of emigration to the City and the Court. In wanting this, the “country” wanted also a continuation, or rather a resumption, of the Protestant Reformation: that Reformation which had originally meant not a centralized state Church, “a patriarch at Canterbury instead of a pope at Rome,” but the dissolution of parasitic corporations, the redistribution of locked-up resources, the settlement of adequately paid, useful, preaching ministers in the parishes, the foundation of municipal institutions, local almshouses, local schools.
We can see this policy in numerous details, if we look for it. We can see it in the law. Many of the demands for reform of the law which became so loud during the Puritan Revolution were essentially for decentralization. Why, men asked, should all the law courts be in London? Why should “a mass of money” be thus “drawn from the veins into the ulcers of the kingdom”? Why should there not be local courts, giving speedier justice, not in “brackish French,” but in the plain English tongue? And since lawsuits were generally about land, why should the titles to land be discoverable only in London? Why should there not be registries, one in each county; and all land, of course, held by simple tenure, in free socage, free from the control of another central, abusive court, the Court of Wards?1
Then there was education. Higher education for the gentry was the essential road to employment: why should it be centralized in the (to many of them) distant and costly towns of Oxford and Cambridge? The gentry demanded universities or colleges in York, Bristol, Exeter, Norwich, Manchester, Shrewsbury, Durham, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, wherever they themselves happened to live. And not only universities. Grammar schools were no doubt many, but their location was arbitrary, according to the residence or whim of their founders. There were demands for “an Eton college in every county.” And, at a humbler level, there was a great demand for uniform, decentralized primary education. If the “country” was to raise itself up out of its seedy, neglected state, it must be, men said, on the base of an educated, industrious artisanate. The Elizabethan gentry and middle class, says Dr. Rowse, “believed in education for their children,” and took steps to ensure it; but “they thought education less important for the people, and they were right.” But were they right? The best of them, by the seventeenth century, thought that they were not: that the educational system of the country, like its government and Church, was top-heavy and that the balance must be restored.2
It must be restored also in the Church. Nothing was so obvious to the conscientious country gentry of the 1630s as the unbalance in the Church. The Reformers had dissolved monasteries, abolished costly superstitions, redistributed wealth; but how disappointing the result now seemed! Had the tithes of the monasteries been returned to the parish clergy from whom they had originally been filched? Had the gospel, liberated from its former constriction, been carried into the neglected north and west of England? Had the wealth of the Church been redistributed within the Church? The answer was, no, or not enough. All men realized that, not least Archbishop Laud. Unfortunately Laud sought to repair the base of the Church by repairing the summit first. He would first re-create clerical power, clerical wealth at the top, and then use that power and that wealth to enforce changes at the bottom. And his method of change was to be not co-operation with the laity, and lay piety—that great new force which lay behind the whole Reformation—but frontal war on it. Naturally the laity did not co-operate. They were eager to help—their achievement in augmenting the value of livings was in fact far greater than Laud’s—but not in that way.3
For the programme of the country party was not merely one of decentralization. It was also one of laicization. For in spite of the Reformation it now seemed to them that religion, education, the law had all become professionalized. They had fallen, or fallen back, into the hands of complacent corporations which were converting them, more and more, into private monopolies with mysterious, private rules, the means of perpetuation. But by now “the country” had begun to suspect the validity of these rules and the motives behind them. The lawyers’ “brackish French,” the “paramount” Aristoteleanism of the universities, the new “superstition” of the Anglican Church now seemed to be merely the mumbo-jumbo of social conservatism, the meaningless argument against useful change. But the country did not despair of change, and if the professionals were imprisoned in their own categories, the laity were prepared to reject those categories. Society would be changed, they said, by lay energy, using lay science: a simple, rational approach to law—the law of Selden or Hale; a simple, rational approach to learning—the learning of Bacon; a simple, rational approach to religion—the religion not of Puritanism, which could so easily become a new clericalism, but of latitudinarianism, whether Anglican or Puritan: the “layman’s” religion of Chillingworth or Hales.
Such, in general, was the philosophy of the country party. Of course I have simplified it, and idealized it. In practice it ran into many difficulties, as the opposition of vested interests was discovered; and naturally it had many less reputable supporters, whose interests tainted its simplicity. It was also carried to unexpected lengths. In the course of the revolution the demands for decentralization—decentralization of Parliament, decentralization of trade—became sometimes ruinous, sometimes ridiculous; and extreme laicization sometimes led merely to anarchy. Still, if we are to see the practical philosophy of the country party at its best, this, I believe, is it. And once we have seen it in this form, we can see it also in another. This philosophy of the country, of the enemies of the Court, of the austere, religious, parochial men who would become Puritans, rebels, republicans, was, in almost every respect, the philosophy of that greatest of courtiers, that extravagant, metropolitan sceptic, that “peremptory royalist” (as he called himself), Francis Bacon.
It is a paradox, and yet how can we deny it? Look at Bacon’s works, look at his addresses to the lawyers, his memorials to the king, his memoranda on education, his speeches in Parliament, his declarations on science. It is all there. The country party, or at least their leaders in Parliament, did not listen to Bacon in his day. They lined up behind his great rival, the crabbed, pedantic, unimaginative idolator of the existing common law with all its obscurities and abuses, the greatest profiteer of its centralization, Sir Edward Coke. And yet, if we look closely, or look later, how wrong they were! All the reforms of the law which would be loudly and angrily demanded by a rebellious people in the 1640s had been lucidly and loyally demanded, a generation before, not by Coke, never by Coke, but always by Bacon. It was the same in education. Bacon, the greatest advocate of lay reason and lay religion, would have reformed the universities, dethroned Aristotle, introduced natural science; he would have stopped the growth of grammar schools and built up elementary education; he would have decentralized charitable foundations, whether schools or hospitals, for “I hold some number of hospitals with competent endowments will do far more good than one hospital of exorbitant greatness”; he would have decentralized religion, planting and watering it in the forgotten “corners of the realm”; and he would have decentralized industry, trade, wealth, for “money is like muck, not good except it be spread.” When we read this evidence—evidence which is obvious, inescapable, constant throughout his writings—we can easily agree with the greatest of English seventeenth-century historians, S. R. Gardiner, that if only Bacon’s programme had been carried out, England might have escaped the Great Rebellion.4
But how could the country gentry of England know this? How could Francis Bacon speak intelligibly to them? A double gulf separated them from him. First, there was a social gulf, the gulf between the great intellectual courtier of an outrageous, spendthrift Court and the serious-minded, parsimonious, provincial country squires to whom, in fact, he had seldom addressed himself: for as a conservative reformer he had preached privately to the king, not publicly to them. Secondly, and perhaps even more significantly, there was a gulf in time: a very narrow gulf, it is true, but also a very deep gulf; for it was the gulf between 1620 and 1630 in which a whole world, a whole philosophy of life, had irretrievably foundered and sunk.
For if we are to understand changes in human history, human philosophy, we must always remember the importance of single generations. One generation of men may be bound together by common experiences from which its fathers and sons are exempt; and if those experiences have been signal, terrible, inspiring, they will give to that generation a character distinctive to itself, incommunicable to other men. How can we who lived through the 1930s, whose minds and attitudes were formed by the terrible events of those days, understand or be understood by men to whom those events are mere history, reduced to the anodyne prose of textbooks? Of course not every generation has common experiences sufficient to mark it out in this way; the experiences, if they are to have this effect, must be powerful, formidable, inspiring. But if they are inspiring, then there are such generations. Spaniards, in their history, talk of “the generation of ’98” as an enormous, significant fact which alone gives meaning to a part of its course. In Europe the generation of the 1930s may well prove similar. And in seventeenth-century Europe, and particularly Protestant Europe, the generation of the 1620s was the same.
The 1620s had been a terrible decade. For most of Europe it had been a decade of economic depression leading into new absolute power and European war. For Protestant Europe it had also been a decade of total defeat on all fronts: by 1629 the complete extinction of the whole European Reformation seemed in sight, and its intellectual leaders envisaged flight into uninhabitable wastes or imaginary islands. And in England, if the suffering was less, the shame was greater. To Englishmen the 1620s was a decade of irresponsible government and economic crisis at home and the betrayal, the fatal betrayal, of a great tradition abroad. When they looked back on history, Englishmen saw Queen Elizabeth giving leadership, strength, victory to European Protestantism. Now, when they looked out, they saw only feeble English intervention and then withdrawal into timid neutrality. And what was the result of this weakness? As English fleets and armies returned in defeat and disgrace from ill-managed expeditions, the whole Protestant cause collapsed. From Gibraltar to Danzig, from the Channel ports to Hungary, the ideological enemy struck down every citadel of Protestantism in turn; and from Bohemia, Poland, the Palatinate of the Rhine, La Rochelle, a stream of refugees arrived on these still safe but ignominious shores. Amid such a series of catastrophes the whole climate of opinion in Protestant Europe was convulsed. It was the end of an era, the end perhaps of an illusion. The age of the Renaissance, that age of unbounded optimism, olympian speculation, carefree douceur de vivre was over. Armageddon had arrived. How, in these last convulsions of the world, could men breathe the atmosphere or think the thoughts of the past, even the immediate past? Was it not rather a time to count the few remaining days of the world, to expect the conversion of the Jews, to listen for the last, or at least the penultimate Trump, to calculate the abstruse and fugitive number of the Beast?
In the 1630s the serious-minded gentry of England indulged in a great deal of such calculation, and their home-grown scholars were assisted by many a crack-brained European refugee. In many an English manor-house, in many a vicarage or college cell, old computations were revised and new elaborated. There was the old work of Thomas Brightman, a Puritan clergyman who had lived in the household of the Osborne family. His application of the Apocalypse to current affairs had been sent to the bonfire by the obedient bishops of Queen Elizabeth, but had been taken up eagerly abroad. There was the later work of the German encyclopaedist Johann Heinrich Alsted, “the standard-bearer of millenaries in our age,” written in Herborn in 1627, shortly before its author fled from the calamities of Germany to Protestant Transylvania. But most important of all were the researches of the Cambridge scholar Joseph Mede, the tutor of John Milton. Mede had worked out his “synchronisms,” as he called them, by rigorous intellectual method, uninfluenced by external events. But when applied to external events, they fitted (as it seemed at the time) marvellously. His Clavis Apocalyptica, also published in 1627, became the handbook of all who wished to interpret current affairs by biblical prophecy. During his lifetime (he died in 1639) numerous well-known clergymen consulted him as an oracle on these abstruse matters, and after his death “learned Mr. Mede” remained for a generation the undisputed authority on them: in thirty years, wrote one of them, there had been no apocalyptic work of significance “but what hath been lighted at his flame.” The laity were no less impressed. Sir Nathaniel Rich, cousin and political agent of the Earl of Warwick, was one of Mede’s admirers; a Shropshire country gentleman and Member of Parliament, Richard More, would translate his work into English; and in 1639, from the depths of Herefordshire, a gentlewoman would write to her son at Oxford solemnly reminding him that this was the year in which “many are of opinion that Antichrist must begin to fall.”
This new climate of opinion, generated by the disasters of the 1620s, necessarily affected the context of men’s thought, and the context, in turn, affected its character. Even Baconianism was transmuted by it. The English country gentry had accepted “Baconian” ideas as the formulation of their mundane hopes and interest. But in such a climate they could not accept the pure Baconianism of Francis Bacon. Baconianism must be changed to meet them. It must put off its courtly Jacobean clothes, its patrician elegance, its metropolitan urbanity and scepticism, its traces of the galleries and aviaries of York House, the gardens and fishponds of Gorhambury, and become instead a “country Baconianism,” acceptable in the new world of the 1630s. It must be serious, Puritan, dull, only with its dullness lit up here and there by lunatic flashes: millenary calculations, messianic hopes, mystical philo-semitism.5
The need produced the men. Just at this moment the essential agents of this metabolism appeared. And they appeared, appropriately, out of the maelstrom of central Europe. Just as the first Protestant Reformation in England, the Reformation of Edward VI, though an English movement, had been animated by foreign thinkers, seeking a new asylum and new base, so its seventeenth-century continuation, though also a purely English movement, was to seek inspiration from three displaced foreigners: foreigners who would inject into the “Baconian” empiricism of England the high-flown metaphysics of the Thirty Years War. These three foreigners were Samuel Hartlib, John Dury and Jan Amos Komenský, the famous Comenius.6
Samuel Hartlib was a Prussian, from Polish Prussia. His father had been “merchant royal” to the King of Poland, and his home was in Elbing, on the Baltic sea. He seems to have studied when young in Cambridge and there to have been captivated by Baconian ideas; but he returned to Elbing, and it was only in 1628, with the Catholic conquest of Elbing, that he came, with other refugees, permanently to England. There he threw himself into works of charity, collected money for Protestant refugees from Poland, Bohemia and the Palatinate, set up a short-lived school on Baconian principles at Chichester, and finally, in 1630, moved to London and lived permanently in Duke’s Place, Holborn. The rest of his life and fortune was spent in a “super-abundant charity to his neighbours and to God, in a faithful adventure much tending to his glory”: in other words in relieving his fellow-refugees, encouraging practical, lay piety and, more particularly, in disseminating useful knowledge interfused with messianic speculations.
For essentially Hartlib believed in “useful knowledge.” As a Baconian, he was convinced that a whole world of such knowledge was at hand, if only men would seek it, and that it could be applied, if only they would distribute it. And how profitably it could be applied, even by governments! “The public aims,” he once wrote, “of those that are over the affairs of state, to reform and direct them towards the good of all, may be infinitely improved,” if only such leaders will learn how to make use of the statistical, economic and other information which could so easily be supplied to them. And he himself was ready to supply it. All he required was co-operation. To ensure co-operation he advocated a union of all good men, bound together in an “invisible college” by religious pacts and devoting themselves to collective undertakings. They should improve husbandry, teach languages, forward inventions, compile statistics, educate the Red Indians, the Irish, the poor, recommend domestic servants, welcome—perhaps convert—the Jews, interpret the Apocalypse. They should put at the service of the State an “engine” for “the settlement of the felicity thereof.” Such a union, he believed, could easily be achieved in a tolerant Protestant society. Once the ideological enemy had been destroyed and Protestantism had been established, or re-established, throughout Europe, it would be possible, by such means, to regenerate the whole world.7
That general victory of Protestantism would no doubt come. Meanwhile, while waiting and working for it, one could plan. One could begin with a “model”: a practical experiment in a limited field. The idea of such a model had been put forward in the early seventeenth century by a German thinker whom Hartlib much admired, Johann Valentin Andreae, the founder of the Rosicrucians. Ever since 1620—the year of disaster in Bohemia, the year in which Andreae published his most influential work—Hartlib and his friends had dreamed of establishing such a “model.” They called it “Antilia” or “Macaria” (the former name came from Andreae’s work,8 the latter from More’s Utopia); and they imagined it in distant islands or peaceful enclaves, shut off from the hostile world. At one time it was to be in Virginia; at another in Lithuania, on the estates of the Protestant Prince Radziwill; or again in Livonia, on an island belonging to Count Jacob de la Gardie; or in Prussia, on the land of Freiherr von Stein. But gradually, as the Counter-Reformation triumphed in Europe, it was in England that Hartlib saw his opportunity. So it was in England that he set up his headquarters and offered himself as universal secretary of the union of good men. There he would advertise, solicit, publish, co-ordinate, lubricate. In fact it was to his “great and unwearied zeal for learning” that England owed Milton’s essay on education, Pell’s Idea of Mathematics, Evelyn’s Sylva, the work of Weston on husbandry, of Petty on “political arithmetic,” and a dozen other manuals of general improvement. He was “the great intelligencer of Europe,” himself unoriginal, but the friend of every thinker in his adopted country, the means of contact and correspondence with the Protestant Dispersion; and the basis of all his friendships was his zeal for Baconian science, Baconian methods, combined with that inevitable addition of the 1620s: Protestant unity, apocalyptic prophecy and “the final overthrow of Antichrist in Europe.”
With Hartlib we must always associate John Dury. Dury also came from Elbing. The son of an exiled Scottish minister, he had studied in Holland, taught in a Huguenot household in France and then become a minister in Elbing, where he had met Hartlib and discovered that he also was a Baconian. Then, when the Jesuit reconquest squeezed him too out of Elbing, he had become a wandering missionary, preaching Protestant union as a means of political survival, Baconian methods as the hope of social regeneration. He presented himself to Gustavus Adolphus, the sudden saviour of the Protestant cause. He was taken up by Sir Thomas Roe, the advocate of English intervention in the Thirty Years War. To the English Court he argued that Protestant union was the only effective means of reinstating the king’s nephew in his hereditary dominions: “Protestant unity,” he wrote, “will be more worth to the Prince Palatine than the strongest army that His Majesty can raise him.”9 He even pressed his cause on Archbishop Laud, who treated him very shabbily, sending him on fool’s errands first to Devonshire, then to Germany, to be rid of him. But no one could get rid of Dury. He was indefatigable, an idealist, a crusader. “Methinks I see you,” wrote one of his English patrons,
clambering up that laborious and rugged way after St. Paul, in journeyings often, in perils of water, of robbers, of false brethren, in perils both in city and in country, in weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in want and necessities, and besides all these conflictations, labouring under the daily care of the churches.
Whenever we catch a glimpse of him he is in one of these postures: he is in Germany, in Holland, in Denmark, in Sweden, beset with poverty, selling his father’s books to buy bread, waiting in the ante-rooms of warring princes and generals, indifferent bishops, querulous theologians; he is writing on education; collecting Bacon’s works for German princes or the young Queen of Sweden; interpreting the Apocalypse; counting the number of the Beast. And all the time, as he travels incessantly over Europe, his rear is protected by the “agitation and co-operating industry” of his constant friend in London, Samuel Hartlib, “the boss of the wheel,” as Dury called him, “supporting the axle-tree of the chariot of Israel.”10
The third member of this remarkable triumvirate was a much more famous, and even stranger man. Comenius was a Bohemian, a minister of the pietist Church of the Bohemian Brethren. He too had fled from place to place as the Habsburgs and the Jesuits reconquered his native land. In 1628, after many displacements, he had arrived, with his community, on the estate of a Polish devotee, Count Raphael Lescyński, at Leszno in Poland. There he too had discovered the works of Bacon and had at once become an enthusiast. Bacon and Campanella, he once wrote, were the two heroes who had conquered the giant Aristotle. But like Hartlib, Comenius also accepted Bacon with a difference. At the Academy of Herborn, he had been a pupil of the millenarian J. H. Alsted. He had also, like Hartlib, been deeply influenced by Andreae. It was to Andreae’s “golden book,” he afterwards wrote, that he owed “almost the very elements” of the ideas which he was to make famous from his place of refuge at Leszno. These ideas he summarized under the name “Pansophia.”
Like Hartlib, like Bacon, Comenius believed in the unity of knowledge. He was an encyclopaedist. He believed that all knowledge could be mastered and shared, and being so mastered and so shared could change the world. But in order to make knowledge common, he believed that universal peace must be secured: that new, simplifying techniques of learning must be devised and generalized; and that new truths must be extracted from Scripture. To him, as to Hartlib and Dury, universal peace meant peace among non-Catholics—unity of Protestants, reception of Jews—and the means of pursuing it was by “models.” Learning was to be simplified by “didactic” processes and generalized by means of a new educational system. The new truths of Scripture were to be extracted by applying mathematical and astronomical science to the prophetic books of the Bible. So Comenius too subjected his fragmented Baconian science to a fashionable non-Baconian purpose: to the expectation of the Millennium, the calculation of the number of the Beast, the elucidation of the Apocalypse.
In the 1630s, in Leszno, Comenius was busy preaching Pansophia. He wrote books on the reform of teaching-methods and the creation of new schools. He was already an enthusiast for the Millennium, the Messiah and the Jews. In Leszno he wrote his first works on education. At once they were pirated in England.11 But before long the pirates were overtaken by a disinterested admirer, who wrote to him from England offering to send him some of Bacon’s manuscripts, to collect money for his work, to look after his disciples in England, to procure him an amanuensis. This disinterested admirer was, of course, that universal agent, Samuel Hartlib.
Comenius was charmed by Hartlib’s advances. How could he fail to respond to such unexpected “Christian charity towards me, albeit unknown, and towards us, whom the world had cast off”? He sent his works to England, where Hartlib published them. Soon afterwards Hartlib put him in touch with Dury, and Dury, now in Sweden, saw to it that his books and ideas were distributed there. Dury also put him in touch with new patrons. For in Sweden at this moment there were two great men who seemed natural patrons alike of the Protestant reunionist and the educational reformer. One was the king, Gustavus Adolphus, the leader and saviour of European Protestantism, who was also the founder of Uppsala University and the educator of Sweden. The other was his indispensable financier, the greatest, most enlightened Protestant merchant, banker and industrialist of his day, the founder of the Swedish copper and iron industries, the patron of scholars, the Liégeois immigrant, Louis de Geer.
When Gustavus and Louis de Geer beckoned Dury and Comenius to settle under their patronage in Sweden, it seemed inevitable that they should yield. Sweden was then the leader of European Protestantism. Its armies were reconquering Europe after the disasters of the 1620s. Its Court was at once the motor of social reform at home and the magnet which attracted the messianic prophets displaced from the fallen citadels of Prague and Heidelberg. Dury, for his Protestant reunion, Comenius for his educational programme, both for their mystical aspirations, looked naturally to the power of Gustavus Adolphus and to his chancellor, Axel Oxenstjerna, who continued that power after the king’s death at Lützen. And Louis de Geer, as no one else, could finance their operations. But in fact they did not yield. For Hartlib, in England, had already built up for them a rival group of patrons. That group consisted of their natural disciples, the inarticulate, intellectually leaderless country party of England.
Perhaps it sounds extravagant to represent these three foreigners as the intellectual cement of the English country party. That party, it can be said, had other, non-intellectual bonds: it was held together by patronage, by kinship, by the great Puritan “cousinage” of which we read so much. And yet was this really so? The bonds of patronage were soon snapped; kinship united men across party divisions as well as within them; and the lines of “cousinage” were far less clear or exclusive than historians pretend. No doubt Oliver Cromwell was related to John Hampden and Hampden to Sir Thomas Barrington and Barrington to the Earl of Warwick, and all these were Puritan leaders; but what of Sir Oliver Cromwell and Alexander Hampden and Warwick’s brother the Earl of Holland, who were also in the “cousinage” and were all royalists? No, within the cousinage, within the patronage-group, there is another, more exclusive bond: the bond of common ideas. And if we make a list of all those men who were acknowledged leaders of the country party in 1640, clergy and lay, and then ask what common intellectual influence they acknowledged, the answer is clear. Whatever other interests may have divided them, they were all united in the patronage of our three philosophers, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius.
Let us glance at that list. First there are the clergy. Their most important clerical patron was John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln and Dean of Westminster, formerly Lord Keeper of England, now the leader of clerical opposition to Archbishop Laud. Williams had been the friend, the successor in office, the executor of Francis Bacon; he held Baconian views and lived (much to the irritation of Laud) with Baconian magnificence. He founded libraries, patronized schools, enriched colleges, encouraged teachers of the new learning. Already in 1630 Hartlib and Dury were in touch with him, and he was liberal to them both. In 1632—it seems—he put Hartlib in charge of his “academy” of young noblemen at his palace of Buckden.12 Other bishops soon followed his example: Archbishop Ussher of Armagh, bishops Davenant of Salisbury, Hall of Exeter, Morton of Durham. These were notoriously the “anti-Laudian” bishops, the men whom the country party praised as the type of “moderate” bishop required in a reformed Church. Not a single “Laudian” bishop appears among the patrons of Hartlib, Dury and Comenius: such patronage was a badge of the country party in the Church.
It is a badge also in the State. For who are the lay patrons of these three foreigners? At the head of the list is Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, the king’s sister, the royal figurehead of opposition, the pensioner of the Parliament throughout the Civil Wars. With her are her diplomatic supporters, Sir William Boswell, another executor of Francis Bacon, now ambassador at The Hague, where the exiled queen kept her Court, and Sir Thomas Roe, former ambassador to Gustavus Adolphus. Then we find the great peers, who would force the king to summon the Parliament of 1640, and their clients, who would fill it: the Earl of Pembroke with his followers, John Selden and Sir Benjamin Rudyerd; the Earl of Bedford, with John Pym and Oliver St. John; the Earl of Warwick with Lord Brooke and Lord Mandeville, Sir Nathaniel Rich, Sir Thomas Barrington and Sir John Clotworthy. All these would be famous in Parliament, and every one of them on the “Puritan” side. Only when we go out of politics, below the level of politics, do we discover an occasional “royalist” among the patrons of these three men, and even then they are “country” royalists, not courtiers: Sir Justinian Isham of Lamport, Sir Christopher Hatton of Holmby; men hardly distinguishable from their unpolitical supporters on the other side, Sir Cheney Culpeper of Leeds Castle, Kent, or Nicholas Stoughton of Stoughton, Surrey.13 These men were interested not in politics but in practical improvements and their estates—or in the Apocalypse and Armageddon. They planted trees or were concerned about village schools, and they clutched at the three philosophers as possible re-creators of rural society. “Truly,” as Culpeper wrote, “I shall value myself by nothing more than in that it may please God to give me a heart and the honour of contributing my mite towards them.”
To us perhaps the most interesting of all is the link with John Pym. We know so little about Pym, he is so pure a politician, so elusive a personality, and yet so decisive a figure in our history, that any light on his private views is welcome. And here is a little, oblique and yet illuminating shaft. For Pym, that uncommunicative, unintellectual, friendless man, was not only an admirer of Bacon,14 he was also deeply interested in education—he endowed a free school at Brill15 —and he was one of the earliest and most constant supporters of Hartlib, Dury and Comenius. He had “intimate and familiar acquaintance” with Hartlib, with whom he often corresponded, subscribed money to Dury’s ventures, offered support to Comenius and maintained one of his disciples at Cambridge.16 He was so affected, he wrote, to the undertakings of Dury and Comenius that if he were able he would support them alone; as it was, he prayed that richer men than he would swell that support. We shall soon see the practical way in which Pym sought to achieve the object of his prayers.
Thus we may fairly describe Hartlib, Dury and Comenius as the philosophers of the English country party in the 1630s. Peers and bishops, Parliament-men and country gentry, all who were bound together by opposition to the rule of Strafford and Laud, were also bound together in support of these three men. They recognized them as the prophets and articulators of Baconian reform. It was Baconian reform with a difference, of course, Baconianism for new times, and brought down to a lower level. We may call it “vulgar Baconianism,” for it lacked the range and power of the true Baconian message. Bacon’s great philosophical synthesis had been fragmented: his “experiments of light” had been transformed into inflamed apocalyptic speculations, his “experiments of fruit” into the uncontrolled elaboration of gadgets. Still, it was Baconianism of a kind, and the men of the country party took it seriously. As the rule of Laud and Strafford came to an end they listened more attentively than ever to the prophets of the new divine revelation and the new social reform.
The first publication of the new gospel came in 1639. One of the supporters who had been won over by Hartlib was John Stoughton, minister of St. Mary’s, Aldermanbury, in London. Stoughton was one of the many clerical clients of the Earl of Warwick, the greatest noble patron of the opposition to Charles I. In 1639 Stoughton, dying, bequeathed to Hartlib a strange, rhapsodical pamphlet which he had written for a Hungarian Protestant about to return to Transylvania, and Hartlib published it, with a dedication to George Rakóci, Prince of Transylvania. Rakóci, at this time, was the white hope of the scattered Protestants of south-eastern Europe, their only champion now that Bohemia had been reconquered and the Swedes had drawn back to the Baltic coast, and Stoughton’s pamphlet preached to this distant champion the messianic gospel of international Protestantism at bay. Europe was in ruins, he admitted, the faithful were scattered, the disaster seemed universal; nevertheless the tide was about to turn, the Princes of the World would rise up in arms against the popish Babylon and her protector, the House of Austria, and she would fall. And who, he asked, would be the agents of this change? Suddenly, in the midst of a jumble of learned gibberish, the talismanic names appear: the sacred efforts of our Dury, the lofty achievements of your neighbour Comenius, the heaven-blest message, the documenta lucifera, experimenta fructifera, of that universal hero Lord Verulam. These were to be the means whereby the popish Babylon was to be overthrown and the last golden age before the Millennium settled in felicity. Bacon, Dury and Comenius were represented by Stoughton—or perhaps by his editor Hartlib—as the founding fathers of the new Church, about to be established: Comenius the Polycarp, Dury the Irenaeus, Bacon the golden-mouthed Chrysostom.17
Stoughton’s turgid metaphysics were published in the days of opposition. More interesting are the efforts of our philosophers and their patrons once the Long Parliament had met and the chance had come for more constructive action. With practical opportunity came practical responsibility and from November 1640 onwards we look for evidence of practical policy. We turn from diffuse exhibitions of somewhat lurid light to more limited experiments of fruit.
Where shall we look for evidence of such policy? At first sight it is not obvious. Throughout the period of the Puritan Revolution, immediate politics take precedence and long-term policy is submerged or pushed aside. Nevertheless there are moments when it is revealed. One such moment, I have suggested, is at the very beginning of the Long Parliament, before the danger of violent dissolution and the trial of Strafford absorbed all energy. Another is in the summer of 1641, between the execution of Strafford, which men thought had liberated them from that danger, and the Irish rebellion, which brought it formidably and permanently back again. There were also later moments—brief interludes of apparent “settlement” in the long, painful history of “blood and confusion”—when it seemed possible, with whatever differences of circumstance or temper, to return to the original programme. But first of all let us look at the first moment, when circumstances were still happy and tempers relatively sweet. Is there any evidence, in those early November days of 1640, of the ultimate social intentions which the Lords and Commons had hoped to realize if immediate political danger had not intervened?
I believe there is. In general, in the Great Rebellion, it is difficult to know the real purpose of politicians. Events quickly took control, and men’s statements of policy are too often immediate responses to those events. Sometimes they are tactical; sometimes over-passionate; seldom can we be sure that they represent deliberate, long-term aspirations. But there is one source which has not been much used and which, I believe, does give us, on certain occasions, the agreed “party line.” I refer to the fast sermons preached before the Parliament, and particularly before the House of Commons.
At first on special occasions only, but later at monthly intervals, the two Houses of Parliament held a “solemn fast” at which they listened to two sermons, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. The preachers were specially appointed in advance, on the nomination of some member, and afterwards they were officially thanked and generally invited to have their sermons printed and published. From the names of the members of the House of Commons who proposed the preachers, or who conveyed the thanks of the House, or from other evidence, we can generally deduce which preachers were put forward by the leaders of Parliament, and on such occasions we can be reasonably sure that the preachers were briefed. Pym, like his great heroine Queen Elizabeth, did not neglect the art of “tuning the pulpits.” Frequently, in the course of the Parliament, we can see this happening. The opening of the iconoclastic campaign, the revival of the impeachment of Laud, the attack on the queen—all these changes of policy were first foreshadowed in fast sermons. Such sermons, therefore, when we have them and know their sponsors, can be valuable pointers to general policy; and we naturally ask whether such a pointer exists for the early days of November 1640.18
The answer is, yes. At the very beginning of the Parliament, before any other business was undertaken, two fast days were arranged and preachers chosen. One of the days was to be “Queen Elizabeth’s day,” 17 November, upon which the clergy would seasonably remind members of their duty to resume the great queen’s interrupted work.19 The other day, a day made more solemn by a collective taking of the sacrament, was to be a few days later, and the preachers chosen for it were George Morley, afterwards Bishop of Winchester, and John Gauden, afterwards famous as the author of Eikon Basiliké. For our purposes Morley is unimportant: he was most probably proposed by Hyde and Falkland, and his sermon was so little liked by the leaders of the House that he alone was not invited to print it. We therefore can (indeed must) ignore him.20 But Gauden is different. He was one of the protégés of the Earl of Warwick, and the thanks of the House were conveyed to him by Warwick’s kinsman, Pym’s ally Sir Thomas Barrington. We can be reasonably certain that Gauden was proposed and briefed, in our crucial period, by Pym and his friends. His sermon may therefore supply the evidence we seek of Pym’s long-term policy.
Gauden’s sermon was entitled The Love of Truth and Peace. In general it was an invitation to peaceful reformation. But for our purpose the interesting part of it is the end. For the preacher concluded by commending to the favour of the House
the noble endeavours of two great and public spirits who have laboured much for truth and peace: I mean, Comenius and Duraeus, both famous for their learning, piety and integrity and not unknown, I am sure, by the fame of their works, to many of this honourable, learned and pious assembly.
Who, asked Gauden, had done more for truth than Comenius? Or for peace than Dury? “But alas,” he added, “both these noble plants are like to wither to a barrenness for want of public encouragement”; and therefore he urged his hearers
to consider whether it were not worthy the name and honour of this state and church to invite these men to you, to see and weigh their noble and excellent designs, to give them all public aid and encouragement to go on and perfect so happy works, which tend so much to the advancing of truth and peace.
It seems improbable that Gauden himself was familiar with Dury, Comenius and their work.21 What he said was simply what he had been told to say. And it seems that the proposal which he made excited some questions, for when he came to publish his sermon he added, as a necessary answer to such questions, a fact which had evidently not been known to him at the time. It might not seem easy, he now wrote, to fetch Comenius and Dury to England, “the one being in Poland, the other in Denmark.” However, it was easier than it seemed, for “there is a fair, easy and safe way of addresses to them both, opened by the industry and fidelity of Mr. Hartlib, whose house is in Duke’s Place, London . . .”
The hint was taken. Hartlib was approached. He was told to invite both Dury and Comenius in the name of “the Parliament of England.” And he duly set to work. He was not more eager to fetch them than they were to come. In Denmark Dury lost no time in preparing for the journey. In Poland Comenius was filled with enthusiasm. Far away in England he saw the dawn breaking, and he longed to be there. If only he could free himself from his duties in Poland . . . But he would free himself. Somehow or other he would come and play his part in the new reformation.
Unfortunately, by the time Dury and Comenius received their invitations, the English Parliament was preoccupied with other things. From mid-November 1640 to May 1641 all long-term plans were in temporary suspense. To the leaders of Parliament, for the time being, there was only one business. Public attention was concentrated upon that cause célèbre, that struggle upon which the fate of Parliament itself seemed to depend: the trial of Strafford. Only when that was over, only (cried the majority) when Strafford was dead, could the constructive aims of Parliament be once again pursued. Meanwhile they were suspended.
On 12 May 1641 Strafford was executed. At last the long struggle was over, the unbearable tension was suddenly released, and throughout England there was a new mood of exhilaration. To us, who know the consequences, who look back and see, from 1641 to 1660, nothing but anarchy and bloodshed, useless victories and doomed experiments, this may well seem paradoxical, and we easily overlook it. Prudent politicians, even at the time, foresaw these consequences: they realized that Strafford’s death might well ruin the prospect of bloodless reformation. But at the time the prudent politicians were in eclipse. To the enthusiasts, the excited, the angry, the apprehensive men, the execution of Strafford was like the execution, half a century before, of Mary Queen of Scots. The great bogyman, whose life was a standing threat to liberty, religion, Parliament, had been destroyed; the nightmare of the past had been dissolved; and from now on, it seemed, the great task of reformation was easy, almost automatic.
While plans were made for reform in Church and State, Pym prepared to disband, as no longer needed, the forces he had mobilized to achieve his power. In September he made peace with the Scots. The armies of “our brethren of Scotland” had done their work; they were sent home, and the church bells pealed through all England as they had done on the defeat of the great Armada and on the return of Prince Charles, uncommitted, from his Spanish journey. And Pym’s Irish allies had done their work too: they had helped to kill Strafford; now they too could be dropped. With supreme tactical skill Pym double-crossed both Scots Presbyterians and Irish Catholics. He had made them work for him, but had not paid their price. In the new England there would be neither a Presbyterian Church nor a toleration for Catholics, but a purely English reformation. Who could then suppose that to pursue that reformation Pym would find himself, before long, imprisoned in the alliance of the planter-gentry of Ireland, buying back (and this time paying the price of the English Church) the alliance of “our brethren of Scotland”?
It is essential to remember the mood of exhilaration which possessed the spirits of Englishmen in the summer of 1641: it illustrated many of the purposes of the revolution, and it explains much of the depression and bitterness which followed in the years of failure afterwards. It was like the exhilaration which men felt in the early days of the French Revolution. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,” wrote Wordsworth of those days; and in the summer of 1641 the greatest poet of Caroline England felt the same. For these were the months of Milton’s great pamphlets, those marvellous works, so buoyant, so intoxicated, so rich in imagery, in which he saw England as a young man glorying in his strength, waking and shaking off his past torpor and bondage, and himself, its poet, singing, among “the hymns and hallelujahs of the saints,” “the jubilee and resurrection of the state.” And that same phrase, “jubilee and resurrection of church and state,” was echoed again, from the pulpit of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, by Pym’s favourite preacher, Stephen Marshall, when Parliament, by another solemn fast, celebrated the peace with Scotland. For had not civil war been avoided? Was not the basis of reformation now truly laid? Stephen Marshall, on that morning, invited his congregation to look back on “the wonders (I had almost said the miracles), of the last year,” so different from the fate of neighbour nations “when Germany remains a field of blood.” Sixteen forty-one was “this year, this wonderful year, wherein God hath done more for us, in some kinds, than in fourscore years before”; and in the afternoon Jeremiah Burroughes assured the Commons that the great day, prophesied in Scripture, had now come, when swords should be beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning-hooks: 1641 was a more wonderful year even than 1588: “Babylon is fallen, it is fallen, so fallen that it shall never rise again in power.”22
Such was the emotional background of politics in the summer of 1641, after Strafford’s death. And who were the men who hoped to profit by this victory, to harness this emotion? The greatest, most constructive politician of 1641, the Earl of Bedford, was dead. He had died suddenly, prematurely, of smallpox, a few days before Strafford, whose life he had vainly tried to save. But he had his successors. In the House of Commons, of course, there was his client, his man of affairs, whom he had placed, with his own son, in his own pocket-borough of Tavistock, John Pym. In the House of Lords, which still at that time kept its ascendancy, there was another man who, like Bedford and Pym, would also ultimately fail in politics, but who, at that time, had an incontestable superiority: John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln.
History has dealt hardly with Bishop Williams. He is remembered as the aristocratic frondeur of the Church under Laud, the clerical Kerensky of the revolution, a critic who could never construct, a reformer who was swept aside. And yet, when we look closely at that year of hope, that “wonderful year” 1641, we cannot avoid seeing something of his greatness. For now he had come into his own. He was the undoubted leader of the House of Lords. He was the only man, among the leaders of the country party, who had held high political office: for he had been the greatest officer of state under King James. He was indefatigable in public business: in this year, 1641, he sat on more committees of the Lords than any other peer. And one of these committees was the most important of all committees at that time. It was “Bishop Williams’ committee” on religion, a committee of moderate, still undivided clergymen which was devising a constructive plan of ecclesiastical decentralization and institutional reform agreeable to all parties.23 To lower religious passions, to create a basis for such reform, the indefatigable bishop was spending the summer recess visiting his diocese, ladling cold water (as his chaplain put it) over clerical heat. Never did his position seem so strong as in those confident summer months of 1641. Obviously, if reformation was to be achieved, now was the time, and Bishop Williams and John Pym (if only they would keep in step) were the men. And Bishop Williams and John Pym were certainly in step in some matters. Both (unlike the Earl of Bedford) had demanded the death of Strafford. Both were patrons, convinced and generous patrons, of Hartlib, Dury and Comenius.
Therefore, in this summer of 1641, we should not be surprised to learn that the plan to bring Dury and Comenius to England was revived. By the end of June Dury had arrived in London and had been given an honorary post as chaplain to Strafford’s successor, the Parliament’s nominee as Lord Deputy of Ireland, the Earl of Leicester. Next month Comenius, who was still in Poland, received three different letters from Hartlib. All three had been sent by different routes; all three conveyed the same message; all three breathed the excitement, the urgency, the exaltation of those summer days. “It is for the glory of God,” Hartlib ended his appeal: “deliberate not with flesh and blood. Come! come! come!”
Comenius consulted his colleagues, the elders of the Bohemian and Polish Churches then in session at Leszno. No one knew why or for how long he had been summoned, but it was agreed that he should go. He himself thought he knew the reason: he was to realize Bacon’s New Atlantis in England. So, full of enthusiasm, he set out from Danzig. He had a dramatic journey. Off the coast of Norway his ship ran into a tempest and was driven back “over the whole Baltic sea for nearly a hundred miles by the force of gales.” Comenius never forgot this first experience of the sea: long afterwards he would incorporate an account of it in his most popular religious work, his Labyrinth of the World, the Czech Pilgrim’s Progress, which he had written seventeen years before when a refugee on the estate of a Protestant lord in Bohemia.24 His ship returned battered to Danzig, and for a time Comenius doubted whether to persevere in his strange, unsought mission. But in the end his friends and his conscience both urged him on and he put to sea again. This time he had a smooth journey, and on 21 September he arrived in London. It was an appropriate moment. All England was rejoicing in the Scottish peace; with Parliament in recess and the king in Scotland, the acrimony of public argument was stilled; and there, in London, were Hartlib and Dury, who, with other admirers, English and foreign, had come to meet him. Thus, in London, in an atmosphere of universal euphoria, all three philosophers met together, for the first time, to launch the new reformation.
Their first public entertainment was appropriate too. Comenius was taken to lodge with Hartlib in Duke’s Place; he was told that he was summoned by Parliament and was to spend the whole winter in England, planning the new golden age; and a tailor was fetched to make him a suit of English clothes. “Scarcely was the suit ready,” says Comenius, in his own account of his visit, “when we were told that we were all invited to dinner by a mighty patron of the Pansophic Society.” This mighty patron was the great Baconian, the heir of Bacon himself, the aristocratic politician of the hour, Bishop Williams; and the dinner, no doubt, was in his London house, the Deanery of Westminster.
It was an impressive dinner. Bishop Williams liked to impress. Like Bacon, he piqued himself on his magnificence: his houses, his hospitality, his gestures, his gratuities were always on the grand scale, even when he was in political eclipse. Four years earlier, when Laud had at last (it seemed) ruined him, he had distributed £2500—a truly Baconian gesture—to the servants he was forced to abandon, before setting off for imprisonment in the Tower.25 And now, at the height of his power, he showed the same liberality, charming and dazzling his guests. Why, he asked, had Comenius not brought his wife and family with him? They should be fetched. Did someone refer to the expense? Before anything was publicly voted, the Bishop guaranteed £120 a year, and others, he said, would add more. Hartlib and Dury urged Comenius to accept. Comenius protested that in his Church there was community of goods: he must consider, must consult his friends. But the bishop would not be put off: “after dinner,” says Comenius, “proffering me his right hand, he placed ten Jacobus pieces into mine, a bounty so large that I greatly marvelled at it.”
With such a patron Comenius had good reason to be delighted. Williams, he wrote, was “the most learned, the most cultured, and politically the most sagacious of all the bishops.” Moreover, the king himself recognized the fact. Shortly after the dinner party at Westminster, he made Williams Archbishop of York. Since the Archbishop of Canterbury was discredited, under impeachment, in the Tower, this meant that Williams was not only one of the two greatest politicians in the State but also effective primate of the whole English Church.
The other great politician, of course, was Pym: the leader of the Commons as Williams was of the Lords. But happily Pym too was a devoted supporter of Comenius and his friends. In the midst of business he took time to see Comenius, to discuss his plans of universal elementary education. So did the other leaders of the country party.
No wonder Comenius, always an enthusiast, even a fantast, walked as in a trance through the streets of London. Everywhere he admired the signs of literacy and educational zeal. He watched the London congregation taking shorthand notes of sermons, and admired the vast output of books. Even the fair at Frankfurt, he thought, had fewer bookstalls than London. He noted a new edition of Bacon’s Advancement of Learning. And he, Hartlib and Dury all set to work, in these favourable circumstances, to prepare their blueprints for the new society.
Hartlib’s work, which was published in October 1641, was a dialogue, A Description of the Famous Kingdom of Macaria.26 It is very brief, but important. For it was the ultimate realization—as he thought—of that utopia, that ideal model of a Christian society, which he had inherited from Andreae, which he had long sought to plant, and which, to the end of his days, he would see as the first step to “the reformation of the whole world.”27 In the summer of 1641, the high point of his enthusiasm, he saw Macaria about to be established in the greatest of European islands. More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis—his avowed models—would be realized at last, in England.
Basically, Macaria is a welfare-state, in which the wealth of society, instead of being concentrated in the capital and consumed in extravagance or irresponsible policy, is carefully husbanded at its source and then distributed productively over the whole country. The key to this process is the rational utilization of all resources. Landed estates are no larger than can be well cultivated, fisheries are encouraged, and trade is increased by mercantilist methods. Taxation is also designed to further the same end. In particular there is a 5 per cent inheritance tax on all fortunes. Finally, at the base of society, there is a system of popular education, local public works, repair of highways and bridges, and a local health service in every parish, run by a clergy educated in modern science. How easy it would be, thought Hartlib, to create such a rational society, if only rulers would understand the mechanics of it! Thanks to a little “engine”—what he would afterwards call an “Office of Public Addresses” and his disciple, William Petty, would name “political arithmetic”—the whole kingdom of England could be made “like a fruitful garden.”
While Hartlib was working on his Macaria, Dury and Comenius were also plying their pens. Dury’s work, written like Macaria in September 1641, was in effect a supplement to it, and it was written for Hartlib to present to Parliament as soon as the recess should be over. In it Dury, like so many other men in that season of exaltation, looked back to the peace with Scotland as the end of England’s troubles, and forward to a new age of complete reformation. With the happy conclusion of the Scottish war, he said, the fears of the past had been converted into hope for the future. What wonderful new opportunities lay ahead! Vast resources, material and human, lay ready to be mobilized. Learning and education could be reformed, and their reformation would lead to that “advancement of sciences which my Lord of St. Albans hath wished and saluted far off.” On this basis a new Protestant unity could be created which would turn the tide in Europe, confound the Pope, regenerate Europe, restore the king’s nephew to his Electorate on the Rhine. Nor was it only the divisions of Protestants that would be healed. A still older division could also be repaired. Now was the time, wrote Dury, for Protestants to advance God’s kingdom by winning back that disregarded but important nation, the Jews.
That the time was ripe for all these projects was clear to Dury by several signs. Providence had now brought to England the essential agents of the new reformation. There was Dury himself, impatient to be at work. There was Comenius, fetched by the earnest persuasion of his friends and his love of England. And thirdly, there was a hitherto unknown scholar who, like them, had come from the eastern shores of the Baltic sea. This was Johann Stefan Rittangel, professor of Oriental languages at Königsberg. That it was Providence which had brought Rittangel to England was clear for, like Comenius, he had come reluctantly and through perils and adventures at sea: he had been on his way to Amsterdam when he had been captured, robbed and diverted by Dunkirk pirates. His value lay in his long and deep experience of the Jews of Europe, Asia and Africa, among whom he had lived for twenty years and of whose conversion he could surely now be the instrument. Dury ended, as he had begun, on a messianic note. God’s purpose, he wrote, is now clearly “to bring forth a new birth of states in Europe”—what else could be the meaning of “these sudden, great and mighty changes” among the nations? To think that, in these great changes, the Church would remain the same is to ignore “the experience of all ages.” God is now at work, Christ’s kingdom is coming, Babylon is falling, and “the Church also is travailing in her pangs to bring forth the man-child who should rule over the nations when they shall be quieted.” Of these changes the English Parliament was to be the midwife. “The eyes of all the other churches, and chiefly those of Germany, are upon you.”28
Such was Hartlib’s, such Dury’s concept of the new reformation. That of Comenius was at once more detailed and more metaphysical. Soon after his arrival in England he wrote, but did not publish, three drafts for the reform of English education, filled with mystical, millenary language.29 “I presume we all agree,” he wrote, “that the last age of the world is drawing near, in which Christ and his Church shall triumph”; and this age was to be “an age of Enlightenment, in which the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea.” But let us not suppose, he added, that this great cosmic revolution entails any political revolution. Scripture warrants no such assumption. Tyrants will disappear, but just kings will remain, and under them the new reformation, the reign of Light, will be brought about. Universal education will be set up, on the Comenian plan, with a central “Pansophical” college, Bacon’s “House of Solomon,” and a system of schools reaching down, by new methods, to the humblest levels and the outermost fringes of society. And where could this “Pansophical” college more appropriately be set up than in England? From England Drake had sailed round the world; in England Lord Chancellor Bacon had laid the foundations of universal reform; surely it was in England that “the plan of the great Verulam” should now be realized: England should be the centre from which the new age of Enlightenment should transform the whole world.
Such was the mood, such the projects, of September and October 1641. All through that time his parliamentary friends had kept Hartlib informed of their political plans and activity,30 and in mid-October, when Parliament reassembled, hope was high. Hartlib and Comenius were told to hold themselves in readiness: a committee of Parliament would be appointed to consult with them. Meanwhile a site for the “Pansophical” college was being sought. The Savoy Hospital was considered; so was the Hospital of St. Cross at Winchester; so was the college of anti-papal controversy which King James had founded at Chelsea and which now stood, bleak and deserted, “like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers.” Comenius studied the revenues of Chelsea College in anticipation. Everything seemed to be going smoothly. Then suddenly came ill news from Ireland. The Irish Catholics, double-crossed by Pym, had broken out in revolt. The king, in Scotland, hailed the news with satisfaction. Here was his chance. The Parliament, in London, was filled with gloom. The tide had turned: the period of euphoria was over:
Of course it was not really as sudden as all that. All through the summer rifts had been opening up as it became clear that Charles I was not serious in his acceptance of the new order. There were rifts in the country, in the Church, in the Parliament. In particular there was the rift between Lords and Commons, between Williams and Pym.
Even Comenius had noticed this. The bishop, he had observed, was beginning to be criticized, and had himself spoken “most reservedly” to him about the future. But Comenius would not be discouraged: “I hope and believe,” he had written home to his friends in Poland, “in better things for the good bishop.” Given goodwill, given political skill, surely these little rifts in the party of reform could be repaired.
But now the Irish rebellion and its consequences burst them all wide open. In November, while the king returned from Scotland, Pym, feeling his power crumbling, moved to the Left and, with the Grand Remonstrance, launched a public, frontal attack on the Crown. It was a fatal act and one which, incidentally, gave the king what he had previously lacked: a party. Thus encouraged, the king struck back, even more fatally. From now on constructive reform was impossible. Such reform depended on an agreed, effective political structure, and such a structure, if there was to be no revolution, could only be a “mixed monarchy” of king and Parliament. “All reformations,” Bacon himself had told King James, “are best brought to perfection by a good correspondence between the king and his parliament.” By destroying Strafford, the great divider, the leaders of the country party thought they had achieved such a “good correspondence.” Now it was clear that they had not. From now on men would fight about the constitution, destroy the constitution: the social reformation, which depended on a working constitution, must wait. As Comenius wrote long afterwards, “one unhappy day, bringing tidings of massacre in Ireland and of outbreak of war there” had ruined all.
Comenius spent the winter of 1641–42 in England, still hoping against hope. He circulated his blueprint in manuscript. His friends commissioned his portrait, which was engraved by a well-known English artist and exhibited for sale, with commendatory verses by Francis Quarles, the emblematist.31 But soon hope faded. The country party was split, hopelessly split. So were Comenius’ own patrons. In December Pym, the leader of the Commons, launched an open attack on Archbishop Williams, leader of the Lords. Williams then made a tactical error, which was fatal. Isolated, circumvented, ruined, he was sent back to the Tower from which Pym, only a year before, had rescued him. In his attempt to reform and save Church and monarchy he had failed utterly, and the last years of this former Lord Keeper and archbishop would be spent as a discredited soldier of fortune in his native Wales. By the new year Pym was preparing not now for social reformation but for military rebellion, and by the spring both sides were openly preparing for civil war. In May Dury left England to serve as chaplain to the king’s daughter Mary, Princess of Orange, at The Hague. Why then should Comenius tarry longer in this disappointing island? He had come reluctantly; he was getting nowhere; and meanwhile other, less distracted patrons were beckoning him away: Cardinal Richelieu to France, John Winthrop to New England, Louis de Geer to Sweden. In particular he was pressed to go to Sweden. Louis de Geer, said his foreign friends, would do more for him, give him greater opportunities, than the whole, chaotic Parliament of England.
On 21 June 1642 Comenius sailed from England. “It was decided,” he wrote, “that I should go to Sweden, assent being given even by my greater friends—for so St. Augustine was wont to call his patrons—the Archbishop of York, Lord Brooke, Master Pym and others; but only on this condition, that when affairs in England were more tranquil, I should return.” The last message to be sent to him from England was from John Pym. On 20 June, the day before Comenius left, Pym, who was even now mobilizing for civil war, wrote hastily to Hartlib. He had been approached by an aged scientist, a follower of Copernicus, who wished to create a new model of the universe for use in schools and thereby to teach astronomy “without all those chimaeras of epicycles and eccentrics by which the minds of young students are terrified rather than taught.” In the midst of political and military distractions Pym did not hesitate to seize this opportunity. “If you think the matter of importance,” he wrote to Hartlib, “I pray you come to me as speedily as you can, and consult with Mr. Comenius if he be not gone, as I hope he is not; and to you both I present the affectionate respects of your very affectionate friend, John Pym.”
Soon afterwards the Orientalist Rittangel also left England. “Our island,” lamented one of the gentry patrons of the group, “is not yet worthy of that famous oriental professor.” Dury himself was less charitable. Rittangel, he afterwards told Hartlib, was a learned Hebraist, but of such a disposition that there was no dealing with him. It was not through him, after all, that God would convert the Jews.
Thus the “wonderful year” 1641 ended in disillusion and despair. Instead of reformation and a new society, instead of a welfare-state and an age of enlightenment, came civil war and revolution and long years of “blood and confusion.” The social reforms of the country party slipped ever further into the background: their mere interests, their destructive passions found expression. They destroyed their enemies: they never constructed more than a ramshackle skeleton of their new Macaria, their ideal state.
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to stop here, as if all hope was finally given up. We should not forget the condition on which Comenius was released from England, that when its affairs were “more tranquil,” he should return. All through the following years, as men fought and fumbled, they looked forward to such a period of tranquillity or “settlement”; at intervals they seemed to catch a glimpse of it; and at each glimpse of it—in 1646, when the civil war was over; in 1649, when the republic was set up; in 1653, when the oligarchy of the Rump Parliament was overthrown—we see them harking back to that old programme and its prophets: the programme and the prophets whose triumph had seemed so near in 1641.
Consider the cries which break through the din of battle and revolution all through the next twelve years. Decentralization of government, a “more equal representative of the people”: such was the object of all proposals of parliamentary reform. “Reform of the law”—how often that demand is reiterated, after each apparently final battle: after Naseby, after Preston, after Dunbar, after Worcester. Decentralization of law—it was the infinite obstruction by the lawyers of the bill to set up county registers that would make Cromwell despair of the Rump and appeal instead to a new Parliament.32 Decentralization, laicization of religion—what else was Independency? Decentralization, laicization of education—in 1649 the gentry of the north would petition for a local university and George Snell would dedicate to Hartlib and Dury his plan of general educational reform with rural colleges teaching lay subjects in every county town. In 1653 would come the concerted attack on the Aristoteleanism of the universities and William Dell’s proposals for local colleges, while the Act for the settlement of Ireland would provide for local schools and manufactures. In 1656 Pym’s kinsman Sir John Clotworthy would plan to establish a free school in Antrim.33 To the very end these would be the positive ideals of the Puritans. In 1659, when the revived republic was foundering in anarchy, there would be a new spate of pamphlets proposing law reform, educational change, new models of government. Lady Ranelagh, the sister of Lord Broghill and Robert Boyle, would devote her mind to the reformation of law and lawyers.34 Harrington’s “Rota” would be in full spin. Milton would propose “to erect . . . all over the land schools, and competent libraries to those schools”; and in 1660, on the very eve of the royal restoration, he would still insist that “the civil rights and advancement of every person according to his merit” could be best secured by a general policy of decentralization, making “every county in the land a little commonwealth.”35 Behind all the changing forms of the revolution, its social programme remained constant.
So did the articulators of that programme. All through those years of change Hartlib and Dury were kept in reserve, to be brought out and heeded whenever “settlement” should have come. Pym’s death, in December 1643, did not affect them. In his last days, when the parliamentary cause was at its nadir, Pym appointed Dury as a member of the Westminster Assembly, which was to remodel the Church after victory, and after Pym’s death his successor, Oliver St. John, wrote to Hartlib to assure him that he would not suffer by “the death of some persons who loved you.” He did not. Thanks to St. John’s constant favour, Hartlib was a regular pensioner of the Parliament. He also received private support from Pym’s step-brother, Francis Rous, and from other “noble and worthy instruments” whom St. John had “quickened.”36 And eighteen months later, when the battle of Naseby had made final victory certain, we are not surprised to see our old friends stepping again on to the public stage.
It was “about the time of the battle of Naseby” that Dury returned to England, and having returned, he was invited to preach to the House of Commons. So once again, “this unnatural war being at an end,” he urged the victors to resume the task which it had interrupted. His message was unchanged. Parliament must settle and purge the universities so that the clergy learn “the true language of Canaan” instead of “the gibberidge of scholastical divinity”; it must reform the law and the law courts throughout the land; and it must embrace all native and foreign Protestants in a comprehensive Church.
At the same time Hartlib also was eager to show that a new day had dawned. He enlisted a team of translators. At Cambridge the poet John Hall was set to translate the utopias of Hartlib’s master, Andreae. Another agent was instructed to translate the utopia of Campanella “the City of the Sun”—that Campanella whom Comenius venerated next to Bacon. And of course Comenius’ own works were not forgotten. In 1645 Comenius had written a wild and windy tract “on the reformation of human affairs.” It too was translated by Hall on the orders of Hartlib. Next year Comenius wrote to Hartlib to ask whether, now that peace was restored, the time had come to establish in England “the College of Light.”37
Hartlib was already seeking to establish it. He was busy devising particular reforms, and pressing his advice on the “Presbyterian” Parliament. Parliament, he now declared, was God’s trustee, charged with the greatest power given to any Protestant State. As such it must now organize Macaria in England. It should set up a “Committee for Rules of Reformation” to seek out the general rules and maxims of policy. At its disposal there should be “offices of temporal addresses” compiling statistics in London, and an “office of spiritual addresses” lodged in an Oxford college, near “the great library” and endowed with confiscated Church property. And as “the main foundation of a reformed Commonwealth” there should be a four-tier educational system, complete with school-inspectors. On this basis the Parliament would be able to perform its social function: to resolve religious differences, to stir up piety and charity, to advance the sciences according to “Lord Verulam’s designations,” and “to help to perfect Mr. Comenius’ undertakings.” All this could be done, Hartlib insisted, within the framework of the new “Presbyterian” system which Parliament was making the new basis of Church-government: the local organizers could be the country gentry or “the presbyters in every classis throughout the kingdom.”38
In fact the “Presbyterian” settlement of 1646–48 was no more lasting than the Anglican settlement of 1640–41. Once again “blood and confusion” intervened. But when all was over, Hartlib and Dury were still there, Hartlib as the pensioner of Parliament, Dury maintained by various offices—keeper of the royal library, tutor of the king’s children—both eager to reformulate their programme in yet a third interlude of settlement, the Independent republic. And reformulate it they did. Pamphlets poured from their pens, on husbandry, workhouses, foreign intelligence, bee-keeping, land-settlement, university reform, the Apocalypse. Some parts of the programme were even, however fragmentarily, realized. Measures of decentralization were discussed in Parliament. A series of legal reforms was carried out.39 Detailed plans for a university college at Durham were made.40 Scores of new elementary schools were founded, as occasion allowed.41 “Propagators of the Gospel” set to work in the north and in Wales. And in 1650 something very close to Hartlib’s “Office of Addresses” was set up by his friend Henry Robinson.42 However, in the end even this republican experiment failed. The Independent Commonwealth too foundered through lack of a solid political base. Its reforms were abortive; the energy of its leaders was diverted into foreign war or internal faction; and it was not till 1654 that a period of relative and precarious stability was achieved under yet another political experiment: the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.
The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell was at best a rickety settlement. Cromwell himself did not like it. It was forced upon him and he accepted it reluctantly. Still, from his point of view, it was something. “Forms of government,” constitutions, to him were always of secondary importance, “indifferent things,” “dung and dross compared with Christ.” To him, as to most of the real Independents, the essential thing was policy, and any government—monarchy, aristocracy, Parliament, usurpation—was legitimate provided it was accepted and enabled a sound policy to be carried out. The English monarchy, the English aristocracy, the English Parliament had all in turn been overthrown, not because they were wrong in themselves but “because they had betrayed their trust.” Therefore the English people had “accepted” (as he maintained) his usurpation. And this usurpation would justify itself by doing what its more legitimate predecessors had not done: it would, at last, after all these “windings and turnings,” this generation in the wilderness, achieve what had seemed so near to achievement in that distant “wonderful year” 1641, only to founder in long anarchy thereafter: the new reformation, the social reformation of the country party.
It is important to remember this if we are to understand Cromwell’s impatience with his first Protectorate Parliament in 1654–55. All through the first nine months of his Protectorate, Cromwell had sought, by ordinance, to lay the basis of that reformation. He had reformed the law and the Church. And now that Parliament had met, he expected it to vote money and approve and continue his work. Instead it disputed the terms of his rule. To Cromwell such constitutionalism was exasperating, unintelligible. It was putting the cart before the horse. For what had been the purpose of the revolution? To change the constitution? Certainly not. The old constitution of King, Lords and Commons, the “mixed monarchy” of Queen Elizabeth, was far the best constitution—if only the Stuarts had been willing to work it—and ultimately Cromwell would try to return to it, with himself instead of a Stuart as king. The purpose of the revolution had been to find a constitution—any constitution—under which the social reformation of England could take place. At the moment they had the Protectorate. Perhaps it was not ideal, but what of that? Why could they not accept it, try to make it work and, instead of pulling it to pieces, disputing about “circumstantials,” use it, such as it was, to achieve “fundamentals,” the aims of the revolution? Unfortunately the leaders of Parliament did not see it thus. They insisted on “pulling the instrument to pieces” and thereby, in effect, on obstructing the reformation.
So Cromwell disposed of his parliaments, those tiresome interruptions of his work, and sought, in the intervals—whether by ordinance or through major-generals or otherwise—to realize the programme of that unpolitical country party which he still so perfectly represented. Ignoring the great London lawyers with their obstructive legalities, he fetched a country lawyer from Gloucestershire to advise him in reforming the law. Together they devised “provincial courts throughout the whole nation and a register in every county”; they “startled the lawyers and the City” by “courts of justice and equity at York,” and sought to insist “that all actions be laid in their proper county wherein the cause did arise.”43 Cromwell also encouraged the movement for endowing and planting resident preachers throughout the country, gave public grants—more than had ever been given before—to repair the long-neglected fabric of old churches, or build new, in remote or backward areas.44 He sent commissioners to inquire into educational needs, took care for the founding or refounding of elementary schools, set up the new college at Durham. His son Henry would do the same in Ireland.45 And as a logical corollary of this policy Cromwell turned again to the early philosophers of the reformation, the philosophers of the 1630s whom his predecessors had patronized, the architects of Macaria, of Protestant unity, and of the Way of Light: Hartlib, Dury and Comenius.
For the intellectual world which surrounded Cromwell was very largely the world of these three men, the “invisible college” of which they were the centre. His practical ideals were their ideals; and so, it must be added, were his illusions. He, like them, was essentially a man of the 1620s, that disastrous decade in which the whole Protestant cause in Europe seemed to be foundering, and foundering because—in so far as the cause was human—the Protestants of Europe would not unite, and there was no English Queen Elizabeth to give them the old leadership. From the fearful experiences of that decade, he, like them, had also drawn messianic conclusions: he had believed that a new heaven and a new earth were coming; that the Jews—that other persecuted race who were also expecting the Messiah—would be received into the Christian fold; and that Christian men had a duty, while reforming the society around them, and gathering up their strength to beat back the temporarily triumphant Antichrist, to seek the key to the Scriptures, which were now being fulfilled: the vials that were being poured out, the trumps that were being sounded, and the inscrutable number of the Beast.
Such had been the philosophy of the 1620s; and now, in the 1650s, though all these experiences were long past, it was the same. Protestantism, thanks to its glorious saviour Gustavus Adolphus and the armies of his daughter, the virgin queen, the new Elizabeth, Queen Christina, might now be secure. A number of grave miscalculations about the trumps and the vials, the Ancient of Days and the Beast, might have been exposed. But Cromwell could not change his mind. It had been moulded, fixed, and perhaps slightly cracked, in the grim and lurid furnace of the past. So now, as Lord Protector, he adopted a foreign policy that was thirty years out of date: the policy which (in his opinion, and the opinion of most of the country party) King James and King Charles should have adopted in the 1620s: Protestant reunion in Europe, Elizabethan war in the West Indies, and a top-dressing of ideological mysticism which included the reception of the Jews.
Who could be the agents of such a policy? Not everyone, by now, believed in it. Professional diplomatists, practical men, younger men, men who understood present politics or national interest, were aghast at such anachronisms. But Cromwell did not care. He listened not to such men, but to his own contemporaries, the émigrés of the 1620s, the men whose voice, first heard thirty years before, still echoed imperatively in his ears. His policy was their policy, and now that he had power, that was the policy which he would realize, whatever the new circumstances. Out of its scattered fragments he would re-create the Protestant interest in Europe. He would offer his alliance to Sweden, wind up the fratricidal, economic war which the wicked Rump had declared on the Dutch, offer his protection to the demoralized German princes, the Swiss cantons, the persecuted saints of Savoy. And for the organization of such a crusade, for the employment of suitable agents and emissaries in it, whom should he more naturally employ than the great crusader himself, the old apostle of Protestant reunion, the Doctor Resolutus of the 1630s, John Dury?
So in 1654, as soon as Cromwell’s rule was settled, Dury set out again on his travels, as the Protector’s special envoy to the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany. With him, as a regular ambassador to the Swiss cantons, Cromwell sent another envoy from the same circle. This was the mathematician John Pell, Hartlib’s earliest disciple, who had begun his career as a school-master at Hartlib’s school at Chichester. Both Pell and Dury, in their travels, used Hartlib as their post-box at home, their source of information and their channel to Cromwell’s Secretary of State, John Thurloe. Two years later, when Cromwell wanted to send a regular ambassador to the German princes, he again consulted the same circle. He applied to its organizing secretary, Hartlib, and Hartlib proposed Sir Cheney Culpeper—that unpolitical Kentish squire whose only fame (besides his interest in growing cherries) consists in his constant patronage of Hartlib, Dury and Comenius. It was an odd choice, but no odder than Pell; and anyway it was to implement an odd policy. But in fact Culpeper did not go: Cromwell’s secretary took the precaution of seeking a second opinion—from Dury; and Dury, though personally favourable, doubted Culpeper’s diplomatic gifts.46
Meanwhile Dury had put the Protector in contact with another strange figure. In Amsterdam he had run into his old friend, the Jewish philosopher and enthusiast Menasseh ben Israel. Both Hartlib and Dury were active philo-semites, and Dury had long acted as London agent for Menasseh, distributing his works and fostering his millenary views. Now, from Amsterdam, he wrote to England to warn Cromwell of Menasseh’s impending visit: the famous visit which, if it did not secure, at least blessed and publicized the return, after four centuries, of the Jews to England.
Hartlib too was active in those years of the Protectorate. He was pensioned by Cromwell as he had been by Pym and St. John. As always, he was corresponding, proselytizing, publishing. He was the animating spirit behind every “Baconian” project. He hunted out lost manuscripts of Bacon’s works. He encouraged Bacon’s eccentric disciple, Thomas Bushell, to realize “my Lord Verulam’s New Atlantis” in Lambeth Marsh. He planned schools in Ireland and a “standing council of universal learning” to be set up in Lord Newport’s disestablished collegiate church at Fotheringhay. He was consulted in the setting up of Cromwell’s new college at Durham. He was appointed to draft its statutes, and most of its original Fellows and professors were his friends: Ezerell Tonge, its most active projector, who would afterwards be the main inventor of the Popish Plot; Robert Wood, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, who had suggested to Hartlib a decimal coinage; and the German J. S. Küffeler, whom Hartlib had fetched from Holland in order that England might acquire his secret weapon—an engine which would sink any ship at one blow and enable its fortunate possessor “to give the law to other nations.” Hartlib also designed a public-health service at Durham—“a charitable physician or laboratory for the poor”; and on the eve of the Restoration he was drafting petitions to augment the revenues of Cromwell’s college at Durham.47
Hartlib was no less active on the ideological front. With his disciple Robert Boyle he encouraged the propagation of the Gospel by means of translations: Chylinski’s Lithuanian Bible; Pococke’s Arabic version of that “excellent book,” Grotius’ de Veritate Christianae Religionis. He supplied Secretary Thurloe with a Bohemian chaplain. And he too urged the admission and conversion of the Jews, before which, he believed, “the world may not expect any happiness”—or if not all the Jews, at least the austere Jewish sect of the Caraites. Above all he pressed for the establishment in England of his welfare-state, Macaria, that model by which the whole world should be reformed. That permanent aim of his life, “the building of Christian societies in small models,” never seemed so urgent to him as when the Puritan experiment in England was dissolving in anarchy. “It is scarce one day, or hour in the day or night,” he wrote to Boyle, in November 1659, “being brim-full with all manner of objects of that public and most universal nature, but my soul is crying out
Even in January 1660 he believed that Macaria would “have a more visible being” within three months.48
Meanwhile, what of Comenius? He had left England thirteen years before, pledged to return “when affairs were more tranquil.” At first he had worked in Elbing, safe again for Protestants under Swedish occupation; then—with an interval of travel in Hungary and Transylvania—he had returned to his community at Leszno in Poland. When the Protectorate had been set up, Hartlib had suggested that he return to England: were not affairs now “more tranquil”? But after so many false dawns Comenius could reasonably be sceptical about the English enlightenment. He was now an old man; his enthusiasm had cooled;49 he had his duties to his own community; his “greater friends” in England—Williams, Pym, Brooke, Selden—were now dead; his reputation there had sunk in his absence—why, men asked, had he produced “so many prodromuses,” instead of getting on to a concrete project?—and anyway in Louis de Geer he had found a patron more useful than Archbishop Williams or John Pym. Why then should he risk again that terrible sea-journey in order to receive a less enthusiastic welcome? After thirteen years of absence he saw no reason to leave the peace of Leszno for what might well prove an illusory calm in storm-tossed England. Besides, by 1655, the opportunities of reforming the world seemed greater in Poland than in England.
For in 1655 Charles X of Sweden suddenly invaded Poland and the Polish State collapsed, as it seemed, in ruin before him. To the Protestants of eastern Europe a new deliverer, a new Gustavus, seemed to have arisen and they turned to worship him. The Bohemian Brethren were, by profession, non-political; but Comenius had long since given up any pretence of political neutrality. In recent years he had become dottier than ever and had taken to publishing messianic prophecies about the imminent fall of Antichrist, whose champions he had imprudently identified too exactly. Now, in the triumph of Charles X, he saw the fulfilment of those prophecies. A vast new Swedish empire seemed to him suddenly to offer a new theatre for his universal reformation, and he prostrated himself, with vulgar servility, before the conqueror. In a Panegyric (which Hartlib promptly published in London) he hailed the King of Sweden as the Moses, the Joshua, the Gideon, the David of his times, the hero who would mobilize the Lord of Hosts, free the persecuted saints from Egyptian bondage, bring them back into the Promised Land, smite the Midianites and slaughter the Philistines. Charles X, declared Comenius, should conquer and colonize the rich lands of the Ukraine, richer and nearer than the Indies, and establish there a New Order in all Europe. Pansophia, it seemed, was about to be established—by the sword.50
Unhappily the golden moment lasted no longer in 1655 than it had done in 1641. Within a year the Swedes had been driven out and the Poles were back at Leszno. Naturally they took their revenge, and the unfortunate Bohemian Brethren paid the price of their bishop’s indiscretion. Their township was razed to the ground; the school and library which Comenius had made famous were totally destroyed; and he himself lost all his possessions, books and manuscripts, including his magisterial refutation of the errors of Copernicus. So once again the Bohemian Brethren were homeless, and the piteous lamentations of Comenius were published in England by Samuel Hartlib.
The disaster of Leszno was Cromwell’s opportunity: for it stirred again all the old emotions of the 1630s—the Protestant cult of the King of Sweden, the Elizabethan championship of the European Reformation. Cromwell, like Comenius, idolized Charles X, “a man that hath adventured his all against the popish interest in Poland,” and he had already set himself up as the defender of oppressed Protestants throughout Europe: the Huguenots of France, the Vaudois of Piedmont, the scattered colonies in eastern Europe. So he now responded at once to Hartlib’s agitation. He ordered a public collection for the relief of the poor Bohemians, contributing £50 himself; and once again Comenius received a personal invitation to England.
Admittedly it was not quite the same as in 1641. The old enthusiasm had gone. No one now expected the jubilee and resurrection of the State from him or from anyone else. Milton by now was soured, Cromwell was disillusioned, and Comenius himself was devalued.51 Still, there was a certain, somewhat paradoxical link with the old days. In 1641 the immediate cause of Comenius’ failure in England had been, as he had recognized, “the massacre in Ireland and the outbreak of war there.” But by now all that was over. The Irish rebellion had been crushed by Cromwell himself; yet another of Hartlib’s early disciples, William Petty, had been appointed by Cromwell to survey the conquered country; and settlers were being invited to people the land. Already in 1652 Hartlib had proposed to Cromwell the replanting of the conquered country “not only with adventurers but haply by the calling in of exiled Bohemians and other Protestants.”52 Now occasion and need coincided. Cromwell proposed that Comenius bring his whole community to Ireland.
Hartlib conveyed the invitation to him; but it was not accepted. The Bohemians, Comenius replied, still hoped that one day they would return to their native land. Besides (though it was not he who made this obvious point), how would he ever find in Ireland a patron as munificent as Louis de Geer had been, or as his son Lawrence de Geer now was? “Truly,” a friend remarked when he observed Lawrence de Geer’s generosity, “I do daily admire God’s singular providence in bringing Comenius to this new jewel. There is no prince or state in the world who would have assisted him so really and furthered all these things as he doth.” Others expressed the same facts more dryly. Comenius, they said, had become “a bourgeois of Amsterdam,” bamboozling rich patrons with messianic gibberish. Thus seduced, Comenius could afford to ignore English offers. In Lawrence de Geer’s house in Amsterdam he had found a last refuge far more comfortable than the bogs of Munster.53
But if Comenius himself never returned to England, that did not mean that his work there was forgotten. Far from it. His early educational reforms, which in the exaltation of 1641 he had hoped to impose wholesale, were applied piecemeal. “Comenius societies” were founded in London. And if his universal “Pansophical” college was not set up in splendour in Winchester or Chelsea or the Savoy, nevertheless, from a more modest beginning, it had in the end a greater future.
When Comenius had arrived in London in 1641, one of those who had turned out to meet him had been another émigré scholar, Theodore Haak.54 Haak was a refugee from the Palatinate, the agent and treasurer of the other refugees, and as such a familiar figure in the Protestant Dispersion. Parliament would afterwards employ him as translator and send him as its envoy to Denmark. After the departure of Comenius, Haak became, in London, the continuator of his influence. Around him there collected those “Baconian” thinkers and scientists, the friends of Hartlib and Dury and of their patrons in the country party. There was Pell; there was Petty; there was Christopher Wren, whose earliest piece of architecture was a transparent three-storied beehive for Hartlib; there was Cromwell’s personal physician, Jonathan Goddard; and there was Cromwell’s brother-in-law, John Wilkins. Wilkins was himself the grandson of a famous Puritan preacher and had been brought up in Pym’s circle at Fawsley in Northamptonshire. He had been chaplain to the Elector Palatine; the Long Parliament made him warden of Wadham College; and under Cromwell he became effective ruler of Oxford University. Under his direction the “vulgar Baconianism” of Hartlib and his friends was quietly transformed, elevated again into the pure Baconianism of Bacon. Wilkins’ house in Oxford became the centre of a new Baconian experimental society. And in the 1660s, when the new society had become famous under royal protection, Comenius himself, ignoring the intermediate transformation, would confidently claim that he was its founder. “Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours,” he would declare; and to prove his claim he would publish the Via Lucis which he had written in England in 1641 and would dedicate it to his supposed continuators, “the Torchbearers of this Englightened Age,” the Royal Society of London.55
The Royal Society—the title might seem ironical for the result of an anti-royal revolution; but in fact it would not have been disdained by the consistent members of the country party. After all, these men were not republicans, they were Baconians. In 1641, though they held forms of government to be ultimately indifferent, they had been royalists and Anglicans. Hartlib had attended the Anglican church in Duke’s Place; so had Comenius when in England; and Dury had held an Anglican living. Pym, to his dying day, had been an outspoken monarchist. Cromwell had been unable to conceive of government without “something monarchical in it.” It was only the impossibility of King Charles that had driven such men, in their despair, to look for another political system under which to pursue their unpolitical aims. Now they had found that no other system could sustain itself. Only a monarchy, complete with House of Lords and established Church, could provide that “tranquillity” which they needed for their work. And so, when the new half-monarchy of the House of Cromwell had failed, there was nothing for it but to go back to the old full monarchy of the House of Stuart, from the Baconianism of the country, of the Puritans, to the Baconianism of the Court, of Bacon himself. It was without any real inconsistency that the Pansophic Society, first blessed by Pym, would be gradually transformed into the Royal Society, blessed by Charles II; that Chelsea College, first earmarked by the Parliament for Comenius, should be given by the king to Wilkins;56 that Petty would become, like Bacon, a courtier, and Wilkins, like Williams, a bishop.
But if the Stuart monarchy, in the end, provided the basis for a Baconian academy, how far did it sustain (as in theory it could) a Baconian society? Did the Merry Monarch realize the reformers’ plans for a decentralized, laicized, reconstructed society?
Institutionally, we can only say that he did not. When a revolution is defeated, its achievements and aspirations, good and bad, go down together. In 1660 Durham College was dissolved. The new college for Dublin was forgotten. The decentralized Cromwellian parliamentary franchise was scrapped. The Cromwellian law reforms were abandoned. It was not till the nineteenth century that these various projects were resumed.57 Similarly the new elementary schools in Wales disappeared. Elementary education after 1660 was fostered best in the Dissenters’ schools, cut off from the Establishment. County registers were no more heard of.58 The parish clergy, if resident, remained largely ignorant and poor. Perhaps this was not mere reaction. Perhaps society had not yet the productive capacity to bear so ambitious a welfare-state as was suggested by these “utopian” reformers. At all events, the attempt, as a systematic attempt, was abandoned. On the other hand the means of change had been created, or at least the obstacles had been removed. The top-heavy administration, the prerogative courts, the swollen bureaucratic superstructure of the State and the Church had been shed. If the new wealth of England was not planted in the country by planned decentralization, at least it was allowed to flow thither, even (thanks to the triumph of the mercantilists, who saw that a prosperous commerce depends on a robust industry) to grow there. For the rational part of their programme Hartlib and his friends had plenty of disciples whom government, from now on, seldom obstructed. But to build up the English country they had to rely on state liberalism, not state control. This perhaps was true of “laicization.”
The one universal casualty was the irrational, crusading, mystical part of the “country” philosophy. By 1660 that had gone, gone for ever with the generation out of which it had been born. In the new Europe there was no place, no need, for utopianism. In 1660 Hartlib would still sigh for Macaria, but Bermuda, not England, would now seem “the fittest receptacle for it.” In England it had “proved a great nothing”: “name and thing have as good as vanished.”59 Dury would admit that his Protestant reunionism was no longer wanted and would settle down in Germany, under the protection of the Landgräfin of Hesse-Cassel, to reinterpret the Apocalypse without reference to the external world.60 Comenius in Amsterdam, grown comfortable and snappish in his bourgeois old age, would begin to doubt his own millennial vaticinations. The Jews would be welcomed in the London of Charles II, but as Court financiers, not as elder brethren of the Christians. Hartlib and Comenius might claim the Royal Society as their work, but even they would deplore its ideological betrayal. Instead of a spiritual union for the overthrow of Antichrist, the new society would be so deliberately neutral in religion that it could even be accused of a plan to “reduce England unto popery.”61
It was not that Christian irenism had been rejected. Rather it had been transformed. Freed from the special circumstances of the Thirty Years War, it had recovered its original universality. Antichrist, who had assumed so visible and terrifying an aspect in the 1620s, had now evaporated again. He was out of date; and his rhapsodical, millenarian enemies were out of date with him. This would be recognized by Dury whose last works—works of undenominational piety which caused some to regard him as a Quaker—hinted that Rome too might become part of Christian unity.62 It would be recognized, in the next generation, by Comenius’ grandson, Daniel Ernst Jablonski, who, as Court-preacher in Berlin, would work with Leibniz and Archbishop Wake for general reunion.63 But the life work of Comenius himself, as of Hartlib and Dury, and all those enthusiastic prophets of the Protestant Millennium, would seem, after 1660, irrecoverably dated.
For by 1660 the generation of the 1620s, of the Protestant débâcle, was dead or dying, at least in high places, and its ideological world was dying with it. With the death of Cromwell, whose power had artificially prolonged it, that world was found to have quietly dissolved. There is continuity in history, but there is also discontinuity: each generation profits by the acquisitions of its predecessors, but sheds its mood, the mere deposit of incommunicable experience. And so Wilkins and Petty, Boyle and Wren might continue the scientific or social philosophy of Hartlib, Dury and Comenius; but never having experienced the disasters of the 1620s, they were exempt from its peculiar metaphysics: they would not waste their time on the Millennium, the Messiah or the number of the Beast.
[1. ]The quotation is from Milton, Of Reformation touching Church Discipline (1641). The swelling demand for “county registers” can be traced in the voluminous pamphlets on law reform. It was raised in the reign of James I by one Henry Miles (who brought it up again in 1647; see G. H. Turnbull, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, Liverpool, 1947, p. 85), and again in 1641 by Richard Lloyd of Esclus (see A. H. Dodd, Studies in Stuart Wales, Cardiff, 1952, p. 67). In the 1640s and 1650s it is a regular part of the “country” programme. See, for instance, Certain Proposals for Regulating the Law (n.d.; Somers Tracts, 1811, v, 534); William Sheppard, England’s Balm (1656); William Cole, A Rod for the Lawyers (1659).
[2. ]Proposals for local universities and colleges are to be found in The Fairfax Correspondence, Memoirs of the Reign of Charles I, ed. G. W. Johnson (1848), ii, 275; John Brinsley, A Consolation for our Grammar Schools (1622); Samuel Harmar, Vox Populi (1642); John Milton, Of Education (1643); Stanley Papers,iii, iii (Chetham Society, 1867), pp. 14–15; Benjamin Nicholson, The Lawyer’s Bane (1647); George Snell, The Right Teaching of Useful Knowledge (1649); Hugh Peter, Good Work for a Good Magistrate (1651); John Lewis, Contemplations upon these Times (1646) and εὐαγγελιόγραφα . . . (1656); William Dell, The Right Reformation of Learning, Schools and Universities (1653). The demand for an Eton College in every county is in William Vaughan, The Golden Grove (1600), pt. iii, ch. 37. Dr. Rowse’s remark is in his The England of Elizabeth (1950), p. 494.
[3. ]For evidence of this paragraph, need I do more than mention Mr. Christopher Hill’s excellent book, Economic Problems of the Church (Oxford, 1956)?
[4. ]For Bacon’s views on the Church, see, for instance, his Works, ed. Spedding et al. (1857–74), iii, 49, 124, 103 ff.; on education, iv, 249–55; on law reform, v, 84; vi, 59–70, 182–93; and vii, 181 ff., 358–64. But such instances could be multiplied. Gardiner’s verdict is in his article on Bacon in the Dictionary of National Biography.
[5. ]Brightman’s work was Apocalypsis Apocalypseos (Frankfurt, 1609). An English translation was printed at Leiden in 1616 and in London in 1644. That Brightman was maintained by the Osborne family is stated by Francis Osborne, Traditional Memoirs on the Reign of King James (1658), p. 34. Alsted’s apocalyptic work was Diatribe de Mille Annis Apocalypticis (1627), which was translated into English by William Burton and published as The Beloved City (1643). For Mede, see his Works, ed. John Worthington (1664); John Worthington, Diary and Correspondence, ed. J. Crossley, ii (Chetham Society, 1855), p. 69; The Letters of Lady Brilliana Harley (Camden Society, 1854), p. 41. The English translation by More appeared in 1643, entitled The Key of the Revelation Searched and Demonstrated, with a preface by Dr. Twisse, one of Mede’s friends and correspondents. For messianism and philo-semitism in Europe during the Thirty Years War, see also Michael Roberts, Gustavus Adolphus,i (1953), 521–27; H. J. Schoeps, Philosemitismus im Barock (Tübingen, 1952), especially pp. 18–45.
[6. ]For biographies of these three men, see G. H. Turnbull, Samuel Hartlib (Oxford, 1920); J. M. Batten, John Dury, Advocate of Christian Reunion (Chicago, 1944); J. Kvačala, J. A. Comenius, sein Leben u. seine Schriften (Leipzig, 1892); R. F. Young, Comenius in England (Oxford, 1932). On all three men and their work, new light has been shed by the rediscovery, in 1945, of Hartlib’s papers, which had been lost since 1667 and are now in the possession of Lord Delamere. From their rediscovery until his death in 1961, they were worked upon by the late Professor G. H. Turnbull, whose book Hartlib, Dury and Comenius is largely an account of their contents. Turnbull also published a series of articles based on them, which I shall cite where relevant. I would here like to express my appreciation of the generous help which I received from Mr. Turnbull when working on this subject.
[7. ]S. Hartlib, A Further Discovery of the Office for Public Address for Accommodation (1648), in Harleian Miscellany (1745), vi, 13.
[8. ]For the concept of “Antilia,” see Margery Purver, The Royal Society, Concept and Creation (1967), pp. 219–27. For Andreae, see Felix Emil Held, Christianopolis, an Ideal State of the Seventeenth Century (New York, 1916).
[9. ]G. H. Turnbull, “Letters written by John Dury in Sweden 1636–8,” in Kyrko-historisk Årsskrift (Stockholm), 1949.
[10. ]For Dury’s reunionist activity in the 1630s, see especially Gunnar Westin, Negotiations about Church Unity, 1628–1634 (Uppsala Universitets Årsskrift, 1932), and the same writer’s Brev fran John Durie dren 1636–1638 (Uppsala, 1933).
[11. ]Comenius’ Janua Linguarum was published in England in 1631 by John Anchoran and was at once welcomed in several schools. Another unauthorized edition, Wye Saltonstall’s Clavis ad Portam, was published at Oxford in 1634.
[12. ]Comenius, whose Great Didactic (quoted in Young, Comenius in England, p. 84) is our source for this episode, does not name the great patron who gave Hartlib a “castle” as his academy. Young himself suggests that it was either Williams or the Earl of Warwick. Turnbull (Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, p. 20) suggests that it may have been Lord Brooke, who certainly placed Hartlib for a time at his house at Hackney. But the remarkable agreement of Comenius’ account with the account, by his chaplain, of Bishop Williams’ academy for young noblemen at Buckden (see J. Hacket, Scrinia Reserata, 1693, ii, 38) suggests to me that Williams was the patron and Buckden the “castle.”
[13. ]Nicholas Stoughton (whom Young, and others following him, wrongly calls Sir Nicholas) had been a Member of Parliament in the 1620s, and was a member again in 1645–48; but I can find no evidence that he ever spoke there, and so feel safe in calling him unpolitical.
[14. ]In his Ephemerides, under the year 1634, Hartlib wrote: “Mr. P[im] judged it [Bacon’s Novum Organum] if one read it and consider all, else not be able to judge of the excellency.”
[15. ]W. K. Jordan, The Rural Charities of England (1960), p. 57.
[16. ]It was Daniel Erastus whom, according to Dury, “Mr. Pym maintained at Cambridge” (see Turnbull, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, p. 371). Erastus was one of Comenius’ community, and was sent by him, together with Samuel Benedictus, to England in 1632, where Hartlib took charge of them. Benedictus went to Sidney Sussex College, Erastus to St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge (see Young, Comenius in England, p. 33).
[17. ]John Stoughton, Felicitas Ultimi Saeculi (1640). That Stoughton was a protégé of the Earl of Warwick is apparent from the dedication (by his widow) of his posthumously published sermon, The Christian’s Prayer for the Church’s Peace (1640).
[18. ]For a fuller treatment of this subject see my essay “The Fast Sermons of the Long Parliament,” below, pp. 273–316.
[19. ]This was the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession, and became, after her death, a day of Protestant rejoicing. See J. E. Neale, Essays in Elizabethan History (1958), pp. 9–20.
[20. ]Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, ed. P. Bliss (1813–21), iv, 149–50. Wood’s account has led later writers (including William Hunt in the Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. Morley) to suppose that Morley’s suppressed sermon was in 1642; but this is an error. See below, p. 278, n 9.
[21. ]In Gauden’s numerous writings there is no other reference to Hartlib, Dury or Comenius, and when all three were in England, in answer to his recommendation, he appears to have paid no attention to them or they to him. Hartlib told Comenius that he had been summoned by Parliament. He clearly regarded Gauden as a mere mouthpiece.
[22. ]For the exaltation of Milton in 1641, see E. M. W. Tillyard, Milton (1934), pp. 116–26. The phrase “jubilee and resurrection of the state” is in Milton’s Animadversions upon the Remonstrant’s Defence (July 1641), and in Stephen Marshall, A Peace Offering to God . . . (7 Sept. 1641); cf. J. Burroughes, Sion’s Joy (7 Sept. 1641).
[23. ]On Bishop Williams’ committee and its proposed reforms, see W. A. Shaw, A History of the English Church . . . 1640–1660 (1900), i, 65–74.
[24. ]The Labyrinth of the World, written by Comenius in 1623, was first published in 1631, probably in Leszno. The description of the storm at sea first appears in the second edition (Amsterdam, 1663).
[25. ]The Fairfax Correspondence, Memoirs of the Reign of Charles I,i, 338.
[26. ]For an analysis of Hartlib’s Macaria, see J. K. Fuz, Welfare Economics in English Utopias (The Hague, 1952), pp. 18–33.
[27. ]Hartlib to Boyle, 15 Nov. 1659, in The Works of the Hon. Robert Boyle (1744), v, 293.
[28. ]Dury’s treatise is England’s Thankfulness or an Humble Remembrance presented to the Committee for Religion in the High Court of Parliament . . . by a faithful well-wisher to this Church and Nation. It was published by Hartlib in 1642. For an account of it, and for the reasons for ascribing it to Dury, see G. H. Turnbull, “The Visit of Comenius to England,” in Notes and Queries, 31 March 1951.
[29. ]These three works are Via Lucis, which he published in 1668, and two briefer works, which have been printed from the manuscripts by G. H. Turnbull, “Plans of Comenius for his stay in England,” Acta Comeniana,xvii, i (Prague, 1958).
[30. ]These day-by-day accounts, which cover the period from 1 Sept. to 1 Nov. 1641, and end with the news of the Irish rebellion, are now in the British Museum, Sloane MS. 3317, pp. 24–54.
[31. ]See p. 224. This portrait, by George Glover, was the basis of a later portrait, executed ten years later by Wenceslaus Hollar, another Bohemian émigré, whom Comenius had also met in London in 1642.
[32. ]County registers had been proposed by the parliamentary committee on law reform on 20–21 Jan. 1653. For the obstruction, see Edmund Ludlow, Memoirs, ed. C. H. Firth (1894), i, 333–34. That such an act was expected from the Barebones Parliament is clear from the objections to it printed in August 1653 (Reasons against the Bill entitled an Act for County Registries).
[33. ]For references, see p. 226, n. 2, above. For the demand of the northern gentry, see Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, ed. W. C. Abbott (Cambridge, Mass., 1945), ii. For the concerted attack on the universities, see also John Webster, Examen Academiarum (1653); William Dell, The Trial of Spirits . . . (1653); Seth Ward, Vindiciae Academiarum (1653); R. B[oreman], Παιδείας Θρίαμβος (1653), etc. For schools in Ireland, see C. H. Firth and R. S. Rait, Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum (1911), ii, 730. For Clotworthy’s proposed school in Antrim, see Letters and Journals of Robert Baillie (Edinburgh, 1841–42), iii, 312.
[34. ]Hartlib to Boyle, 31 May 1659, in Boyle, Works,v, 290.
[35. ]John Milton, The Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings out of the Church (1659); the Ready and Easy Way to establish a Free Commonwealth (1660).
[36. ]The public moneys voted to Hartlib are recorded in Commons’ Journals. For private benefactions see Turnbull, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, pp. 25–29. That St. John was Hartlib’s principal patron is explicitly stated by Hartlib in his epistle dedicatory to St. John, prefixed to his edition of [Abraham von Frankenberg], Clavis Apocalyptica (1651).
[37. ]G. H. Turnbull, “John Hall’s letters to Samuel Hartlib,” Review of English Studies, 1953. Hall’s translation of Andreae’s two works was printed as A Modell of a Christian Society and The Right Hand of Christian Love Offered (1647), with a Preface by Hall to Hartlib. Comenius’ work is de Rerum Humanarum Emendatione Consultatio Catholica. It was first printed, in part, for private readers only, at Amsterdam in 1657 (see Jaromir Červenka, “Die bisherigen Ausgaben des Originaltextes der comenianischen Panergesie und Panaugie,” Acta Comeniana,xx, i, Prague, 1961). For Comenius’ letter to Hartlib, see Turnbull, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, pp. 371–72.
[38. ]John Dury, Israel’s Call to March out of Babylon into Jerusalem (26 Nov. 1645); [S. Hartlib], Considerations Tending to the Happy Accomplishment of England’s Reformation in Church and State (1646); S. H[artlib], The Parliament’s Reformation (1646).
[39. ]For the legal reforms of the republic, see F. A. Inderwick, The Interregnum (1891), especially pp. 227–33.
[40. ]Commons’ Journals,vi, 589–90.
[41. ]W. A. L. Vincent, The State and School Education, 1640–1660 (1950) gives details of these foundations.
[42. ]See W. K. Jordan, Men of Substance (Chicago, 1942), p. 250. Turnbull, Hartlib, Dury and Comenius, pp. 84–86. Robinson was also a friend of Dury (ibid. pp. 244, 255).
[43. ]Cromwell’s country lawyer was William Sheppard, who, in the preface to his England’s Balm, describes how he was “called by his Highness from my county to wait upon him to the end he might advise with me and some others about some things tending to the regulation of the law.” For the plans for legal decentralization which followed, see Clarke Papers,iii (Camden Society, 1899), 61, 76, 80; and cf. T. Burton, Parliamentary Diary (1828), i, 8, 17.
[44. ]For church restoration, see W. K. Jordan, Philanthropy in England (1959), p. 320.
[45. ]As shown in the Hartlib MSS. (kindly communicated by Mr. C. Webster).
[46. ]For Dury’s diplomatic activity under the Protectorate, see Karl Brauer, Die Unionstätigkeit John Duries unter dem Protektorat Cromwells (Marburg, 1907). Pell’s activities are shown by his papers published in R. Vaughan, The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell (1838).
[47. ]Thurloe State Papers (1742), vi, 593, and vii, 481 (bis); Worthington, Diary and Correspondence,i (1847), 68, 151, 196; Boyle, Works,v, 262–63, 281–82; C. E. Whiting, The University of Durham 1832–1932 (1932), pp. 19–29; G. H. Turnbull, “Oliver Cromwell’s College at Durham,” in Research Review (Research Publication of the Institute of Education, University of Durham), no. 3 (Sept. 1952), pp. 1–7.
[48. ]Worthington, Diary and Correspondence,i, 156, 163, 169, 180, 250, etc.; Boyle, Works,v, 292, 293, 295; Stanisław Kot, “Chylinski’s Lithuanian Bible, Origin and Historical Background,” in Chylinski’s Lithuanian Bible,ii (Poznan, 1958).
[49. ]Already in 1643 Comenius had affronted Hartlib by advising him to abandon his high aims and take a job, and in 1647 he received another rebuff for suggesting that Hartlib drop his plans “von einer Correspondenz-Cantzlei”—i.e., an Office of Addresses. See G. H. Turnbull, Samuel Hartlib, p. 60.
[50. ]Comenius allowed himself to believe in the opaque, rhapsodical prophecies of Christopher Kotter, Nicolas Drabik and Christina Poniatova: three Central European crackpots. Undeterred by the obstinate nonconformity of events he published their prophecies in 1657 under the somewhat misleading title Lux in Tenebris. His Panegyricus Carolo Gustavo, Magno Suecorum Regi was written in 1655 and published in London by Hartlib before 11 Feb. 1655/6.
[51. ]Even the natural allies of Comenius were so disgusted by his Panegyric that they abated their sympathy for him in his misfortunes. See, for instance, the remarks of Worthington in Diary and Correspondence,ii, 87–89.
[52. ]The proposal is made in Hartlib’s epistle dedicatory to Ireland’s Natural History. This work had been written in 1645 by Gerard Boate, a Dutchman resident in London. After Boate’s death Hartlib obtained the manuscript from his brother Arnold Boate and published it with a dedication to Cromwell and Major-General Fleetwood, then commanding in Ireland.
[53. ]See C. H. Firth, The Last Years of the Protectorate (1909), ii, 244. Vaughan, The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell,ii, 430, 447–53. Turnbull, Samuel Hartlib, pp. 374–75. The sardonic views of Comenius’ later life with Lawrence de Geer are quoted from Bayle, Dictionnaire, s.v. Coménius, Drabiclus, etc.
[54. ]For Haak, see Pamela R. Barnett, Theodore Haak F.R.S. (The Hague, 1962).
[55. ]The relationship (if any) between “the Pansophical college” of Comenius, the “invisible college” of Hartlib and the Royal Society, as indeed the origin of the Royal Society itself, is a matter of controversy. F. E. Held, in his Christianopolis, an Ideal State of the seventeenth century, and R. H. Syfret, “The Origins of the Royal Society” (Notes and Records of the Royal Society,v, 1948) have argued that there was such a connection; but G. H. Turnbull, “Samuel Hartlib’s Influence on the Early History of the Royal Society” (ibid. x, 1953), has convinced me that there was no direct connection. Neither Hartlib nor Comenius was a scientist, and, as I have suggested, there is a great difference between their “vulgar Baconianism” and the true Baconianism from which the Royal Society drew its philosophy. But it remains true (a) that the founders of the Royal Society shared many interests and ideals with Hartlib and Comenius and used similar language with them, and (b) that, in consequence of this, Comenius himself believed that the Royal Society was the realization of his “Pansophic” project.
[56. ]Charles II at first gave Chelsea College to the Royal Society as its headquarters, but it proved unsuitable and was afterwards returned.
[57. ]Durham University was founded in 1832, University College, Dublin, in 1851. The disfranchisement of rotten boroughs and the enfranchisement of industrial towns—both features of the Cromwellian parliamentary system—were re-enacted by the Reform Bill of 1832. Some of the Cromwellian law reforms were re-enacted in the mid-nineteenth century (see Inderwick, The Interregnum).
[58. ]In Harleian Miscellany,iii, 320, there is one later proposal, viz.: “Reasons and Proposals for a Registry . . . to be had in every County” (1671), with a reply by William Pierrepoint.
[59. ]Hartlib to Worthington, Oct. 1660, in Worthington, Diary and Correspondence,i, 211–12. Same to same 10 Dec. 1660, ibid. p. 239.
[60. ]In 1674 Dury published, evidently at Cassel, a work Touchant l’intelligence de l’Apocalypse par l’Apocalypse même. This work is extremely rare and I have been unable to find a copy of it; but its content is described by Pierre Bayle (Dictionnaire, s.v. Duraeus), by C. J. Benzelius (Dissertatio Historico-Theologica de Johanne Duraeo . . . Helmstedt, 1744, pp. 68–71) and apparently by Hans Leube (Kalvinismus und Luthertum im Zeitalter der Orthodoxie, Leipzig, 1928, i, 236–37, as cited in Batten, John Dury, p. 196). In it, Dury insisted that all Scripture must be interpreted by certain rules which, he believed, would eliminate controversy; and he chose to illustrate these rules by interpreting the Apocalypse, that being the most obscure work of the whole Bible. One of his rules was “d’éviter en méditant toute recherche des choses qui n’appartiennent point à la matière de laquelle il s’agit ou qui sont curieuses et n’ont point un exprès fondement à l’Écriture Sainte . . .” Such an interpretation is equivalent to a renunciation of the whole tradition by which the language of the Apocalypse had been applied to the events of the Thirty Years War: a tradition which Dury had himself previously supported, e.g., in his “Epistolical Discourse” prefixed to Hartlib’s edition of [Abraham von Frankenberg’s] Clavis Apocalyptica.
[61. ]This was the argument of Henry Stubbe in his works, Legends No Histories (1670) and Campanella Revived (1670).
[62. ]Dury, Touchant l’intelligence de l’Apocalypse, as quoted in Bayle and Benzelius. Dury’s last work was Le Vrai Chrestien (1676), which even Bayle and Benzelius had not seen. But it was known to the German Pietist P. J. Spener, “qui aliquoties eius non sine laude meminit,” and, evidently, to Elizabeth, Princess Palatine (Benzelius, Dissertatio, p. 71).
[63. ]D. E. Jablonski was the son of Peter Jablonski, alias Figuius, the secretary and son-in-law of Comenius, who had also served Dury as secretary in Sweden.