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- The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 2/128 -

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

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

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


JULY 1643--MARCH 1643-4.





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


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

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


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

On this the Parliament had already resolved. As it was judged likely, however, that the Scots would listen more readily to the application for armed aid if it were accompanied with some distinct proof of a desire for "uniformity of religion" between the two kingdoms, the Assembly was required to assist Parliament in pleading with the Scots. The Scottish Convention of Estates was then sitting (it had met, by express call, June 22); and the Scottish General Assembly was to meet on the 2nd of August. Let there be Commissioners from both the English Parliament and the Westminster Assembly to these two bodies; let the Assembly write letters to the Scottish Assembly, backing the political application with religious arguments; let every exertion be made to secure a new alliance

The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 2/128

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