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- The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 40/128 -


"Your Honour's most obliged and most assured Servant,

SAM. HARTLIB. [Footnote: Copied by me from the original in the S.P.O.]

London: the 10 of Aug. 1640."

Three months after the date of this letter the Long Parliament had met, and there was a changed world, with changed opportunities, for Hartlib, as well as for other people. The following digest of particulars in his life for the years 1641 and 1642 will show what he was about:--

"A Briefe Relation of that which hath been lately attempted to procure Ecclesiasticall Peace amongst Protestants. Published by Samuel Hartlib. London, Printed by J. R. for Andrew Crooke, and are to be sold at his shop in Paul's Churchyard at the sign of the Green Dragon. 1641."--This little tract is an exposition of Durie's idea, and a narrative sketch of his exertions in its behalf from 1628 onwards.

"A Description of the famous Kingdom of MACARIA, shewing its excellent Government, wherein the Inhabitants live in great prosperity, health, and happiness; the King obeyed, the Nobles honoured, and all good men respected; Vice punished, and Virtue rewarded: An example to other nations. In a Dialogue between a Scholar and a Traveller. London 1641" (4to. pp. 15).--There is a Dedication to Parliament, dated "25th October 1641," in which it is said that "Honourable Court will lay the cornerstone of the world's happiness." The tract is an attempt at a fiction, after the manner of "More's Utopia" and Bacon's "New Atlantis," shadowing forth the essentials of good government in the constitution of the imaginary Kingdom of MACARIA (Happy-land, from the Greek makarios, happy). The gist of the thing lies in the rather prosaic statement that MACARIA has Five Councils or Departments of State: to wit, _Husbandry_, _Fishery_, _Land-trade_, _Sea-trade_, and _New Plantations_.--Although there is no author's name to the scrap, it is known to be Hartlib's; who, indeed, continued to use the word MACARIA, half-seriously, half- playfully, till the Restoration and beyond, as a pet name for his Ideal Commonwealth of perfect institutions. [Footnote: See Worthington's Diary edited by Crossley (L 163). Hartlib's original _Macaria_ is reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany, Vol. I.]

In 1641 Hartlib was in correspondence with Alexander Henderson. The reader already knows how "the Scottish business," or the King's difficulty with the Scots, led to the calling of the Long Parliament, and how for six or seven months (Nov. 1640-June 1641) that business intertwined itself with the other proceedings of the Parliament, and Henderson and the other Scottish Commissioners, lay and clerical, were in London all that time, nominally looking after that business, but really co-operating with Pym and the other Parliamentary leaders for the Reform of both kingdoms, and much lionized by the Londoners accordingly (Vol. II. pp. 189-192). Well, Hartlib, who found his way to everybody, found his way to Henderson. lie probably saw a good deal of him, if not of the other Scottish Commissioners; for, after Henderson had returned to Scotland, at least three letters from Hartlib followed him thither. Here is the beginning of the third: "Reverend and Loving Brother in Christ: I hope my two former letters were safely delivered, wherein I gave you notice of a purpose taken in hand here to make Notes upon the Bible. What concurrence you think fit to give in such a work I leave to your own piety to determine. Now I have some other thoughts to impart to you, which lie as a burthen on my heart." The thoughts communicated to Henderson are about the wretched state of the Palatinate, with its Protestantism and its University of Heidelberg ruined by the Thirty Years' War, and the "sweet-natured Prince Elector" in exile; but Hartlib slips into Durie's idea, and urges theological correspondence of all Protestant divines, in order to put an end to divisions. The letter, which is signed "Your faithful friend and servant in Christ," is dated "London, Octob. 1641." All this we know because Hartlib kept a copy of the letter and printed it in 1643. "The copy of a Letter written to Mr. Alexander Henderson: London, Printed in the yeare 1643," is the title of the scrap, as I have seen it in the British Museum. Even so we should not have known it to be Hartlib's, had not the invaluable Thomason written "_By Mr. Hartlib_" on the title-page, appending "_Feb._ 6, 1642" (_i.e._ 1642-3) as the date of the publication.

"A Reformation of Schooles, designed in two excellent Treatises: the first whereof summarily sheweth the great necessity of a generall Reformation of Common Learning, what grounds of hope there are for such a Reformation, how it may be brought to passe. The second answers certaine objections ordinarily made against such undertakings, arid describes the severall parts and titles of workes which are shortly to follow. Written many yeares agoe in Latine by that reverend, godly, learned, and famous Divine, Mr. John Amos Comenius, one of the Seniours of the exiled Church of Moravia; and now, upon the request of many, translated into English and published by Samuel Hartlib for the general good of the Nation. London: Printed for Michael Sparke, Senior, at the Blue Bible in Greene Arbour: 1642" (small ito. pp. 94).--This is, in fact, a reproduction in English of the views of Comenius in his Didactica Magna, &c. As I find it registered in the books of the Stationers' Company "Jan. 12, 1641" (_i.e._ 1641-2), it must have been out early in 1642.

These traces of Hartlib in the years 1641 and 1642 are significant, and admit of some comment:--In the _Description_ _of the Kingdom of Macaria_, I should say, Hartlib broke out for himself. He had all sorts of ideas as to social and economic improvements, and he would communicate a little specimen of these, respecting Husbandry, Fishery, and Commerce, to the reforming Parliament. But he was still faithful to Durie and Comenius, and three of his recovered utterances of 1641-2 are in behalf of them. His _Brief Relation_ and his _Letter to Henderson_ refer to Durie and his scheme of Protestant union. It is not impossible that Hartlib was moved to these new utterances in the old subject by Durie's own presence in London; for, as we have mentioned (Vol. II. p. 367), there is some evidence that Durie, who had not been in London since 1633, came over on a flying visit after the opening of the Long Parliament. It is a coincidence, at least, that the publisher of Hartlib's _Brief Relation_ about Durie brought out, at the very same time, a book of Durie's own tending in the same direction. [Footnote: "Mr. Dureus his Eleven Treatises touching Ecclesiastical Peace amongst Protestants" is the title of an entry by Mr. Crooke in the Stationers' Registers, of date Feb. 15, 1640.] Quite possibly, however, Durie may have still been abroad, and Hartlib may have acted for him. In the other case there is no such doubt. When, in Jan. 1641-2, Hartlib sent to the press his new compilation of the views of Comenius under the title of _A Reformation of Schools_, there was good reason for it. Comenius himself was at his elbow. The great man had come to London.

Education, and especially University Education, was one of the subjects that Parliament was anxious to take up. In the intellectual world of England, quite apart from politics, there had for some time been a tradition of dissatisfaction with the existing state of the Universities and the great Public Schools. In especial, Bacon's complaints and suggestions on this subject in the Second Book of his _De Augmentis_ had sunk into thoughtful minds. That the Universities, by persistence in old and outworn methods, were not in full accord with the demands and needs of the age; that their aims were too professional and particular, and not sufficiently scientific and general; that the order of studies in them was bad, and some of the studies barren; that there ought to be a bold direction of their endowments and apparatus in the line of experimental knowledge, so as to extract from Nature new secrets, and sciences for which Humanity was panting; that, moreover, there ought to be more of fraternity and correspondence among the Universities of Europe, and some organization of their labours with a view to mutual illumination and collective advance: [Footnote: "De Augmentis:" Bacon's Works, I. 487 _et seq._, and Translation of same, III. 323 _et seq._ (Spedding's edition).] all these Verulamian speculations, first submitted to King James, were lying hid here and there in English intellects, in watch for an opportunity. Then, in a different way, the political crisis had brought Oxford and Cambridge, but especially Oxford, under severe revision. Had they not been the nurseries of Episcopacy, and of other things and principles of which England was now declaring herself impatient? All this, which was to be more felt after the Civil War had begun and Oxford became the King's headquarters, was felt already in very considerable degree during the two-and-twenty months of preliminary struggle between the King and the Parliament (Nov. 1640-Aug. 1642). Why not have a University in London? There was Gresham College in the city, in existence since 1597, and doing not ill on its limited basis; there was Chelsea College, founded by Dean Sutcliffe of Exeter in 1610, "to the intent that learned men might there have maintenance to answer all the adversaries of religion" but which, after a rickety infancy, and laughed at by Laud as "Controversy College," had been lost in lawsuits: why not, with inclusion or exclusion of these and other foundations, set up in London a great University on the best modern principles, abolishing the monopoly of Oxford and Cambridge?

Of these rumours, plans, or possibilities, due notice had been sent by the zealous Hartlib to Comenius at Leszno. Ought not Comenius to be on the spot? What had he been hoping for and praying for but a "Collegial Society" somewhere in some European state to prepare the necessary "Apparatus of Pammethodic Books" and so initiate his new system of Universal Didactics, or again (to take the other and larger form of his aspiration), a visible co-operation of kindred spirits throughout Europe towards founding and building the great "Temple of Pansophia" or "Universal Real Knowledge"? What if these Austro-Slavic dreams of his should be realized on the banks of the Thames? People were very willing thereabouts; circumstances were favourable; what was mainly wanted was direction and the grasp of a master-spirit! Decidedly, Comenius ought to come over.--All this we learn from Comenius himself, whose account of the matter and of what followed had better now be quoted. "The _Pansophię Prodromus_," he says, "having been published, and copies dispersed through the various kingdoms of Europe, but many learned men who approved of the sketch despairing of the full accomplishment of the work by one man, and therefore advising the erection of a College of learned men for this express business, in these circumstances the very person who had been the means of giving the _Prodromus_ to the world, a man strenuous in practically prosecuting things as far as he can, Mr. S. H. [_strenuus rerum quā datur [Greek: ergodioktęs], D. S. H._], devoted himself laboriously to that scheme, so as to bring as many of the more forward spirits into it as possible. And so it happened at length that, having won over one and another, he, in the year 1641, prevailed on me also by great entreaties to go to him. My people having consented to the journey, I came to London on the very day of the autumnal equinox [Sept. 22, 1641], and there at last learnt that I had been invited by the order of the Parliament. But, as the Parliament, the King having then gone to Scotland [Aug. 10], was dismissed for a three months' recess [not quite three months, but from Sept. 9 to Oct. 20], I was detained there through the winter, my friends mustering what Pansophic apparatus they could, though it was but slender. On which occasion there grew on my hands a tractate with this title, _Via Lucis: Hoc Est, &c._. [The Way of Light]: That is, A Reasonable Disquisition how the Intellectual Light of Souls, namely Wisdom, may now at length, in this Evening of the World, be happily diffused through all Minds and Peoples. This for the better understanding of these words of the oracle in _Zachariah XIV._ 7, _It shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light._ The Parliament meanwhile having reassembled, and our presence being known, I had orders to wait until they should have sufficient leisure from other business to appoint a commission of learned and wise men from their body for hearing us and considering the grounds of our design. They communicate also beforehand their thoughts of assigning to us some College with its revenues, whereby a certain number of learned and illustrious men, called from all nations, might he honourably maintained, either for a term of years or in perpetuity. There was even named for the purpose _the Savoy_ in London; _Winchester College_ out of London was named; and again, nearer the city, _Chelsea College_, inventories of


The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 - 40/128

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