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England] but that his Majesty his heirs and successors may from time to
time and at all times hereafter exercise and enjoy all such powers and
authorities aforesaid as fully and amply as himself or any of his
predecessors have or might have done the same anything in this Act (or
any other law statute or usage to the contrary) notwithstanding." The
words in brackets were rejected by the Commons. See _Parliamentary
History_, iv. 446-7.

[150:1] Madame's business is now well known. The secret Treaty of Dover
was the result of this visit.




CHAPTER V

"THE REHEARSAL TRANSPROSED"


It is never easy for ecclesiastical controversy to force its way into
literature. The importance of the theme will be questioned by few. The
ability displayed in its illumination can be denied by none. It is the
temper that usually spoils all. A collection in any way approaching
completeness, of the pamphlets this contention has produced in England,
would contain tens of thousands of volumes; full of curious learning and
anecdotes, of wide reading and conjecture, of shrewdness and wit; yet
these books are certainly the last we would seek to save from fire or
water. Could they be piled into scales of moral measurement a single
copy of the _Imitatio_, of the _Holy Dying_, of the _Saint's Rest_,
would outweigh them all. Man may not be a religious animal, but he
recognises and venerates the spirit of religion whenever he perceives
it, and it is a spirit which is apt to evaporate amidst the strife of
rival wits. Who can doubt the sincerity of Milton, when he exclaimed
with the sad prophet Jeremy, "Woe is me my Mother that thou hast borne
me a man of strife and contention."

Marvell's chief prose work, the two parts of _The Rehearsal
Transprosed_, is a very long pamphlet indeed, composed by way of reply
to certain publications of Samuel Parker, afterwards Bishop of Oxford.
Controversially Marvell's book was a great success.[152:1] It amused the
king, delighted the wits, was welcomed, if not read, by the pious folk
whose side it espoused, whilst its literary excellence was sufficient to
win, in after years, the critical approval of Swift, whose style, though
emphatically his own, bears traces of its master having given, I will
not say his days and nights, but certainly some profitable hours, to the
study of Marvell's prose.

Biographers of controversialists seldom do justice to the other side.
Possibly they do not read it, and Parker has been severely handled by my
predecessors. He was not an honour to his profession, being, perhaps, as
good or as bad a representative of the seamy side of State Churchism as
there is to be found. He was the son of a Puritan father, and whilst at
Wadham lived by rule, fasting and praying. He took his degree in the
early part of 1659, and migrating to Trinity came under the influence of
Dr. Bathurst, then Senior Fellow, to whom, so he says in one of his
dedications, "I owe my first rescue from the chains and fetters of an
unhappy education."[152:2] Anything Parker did he did completely, and
we next hear of him in London in 1665, a nobleman's chaplain, setting
the table in a roar by making fun of his former friends, "a mimical way
of drolling upon the puritans." "He followed the town-life, haunted the
best companies and, to polish himself from any pedantic roughness, he
read and saw the plays with much care and more preparing than most of
the auditory." In 1667 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Sheldon, a very
mundane person indeed, made Parker his chaplain, and three years later
Archdeacon of Canterbury. He reached many preferments, so that, says
Marvell, "his head swell'd like any bladder with wind and vapour." He
had an active pen and a considerable range of subject. In 1670 he
produced "A Discourse of Ecclesiastical Politie wherein the Authority of
the Civil Magistrate over the Consciences of Subjects in Matters of
External Religion is Asserted; The Mischiefs and Inconveniences of
Toleration are represented and all Pretenses pleaded in behalf of
_Liberty of Conscience_ are fully answered." Some one instantly took up
the cudgels in a pamphlet entitled _Insolence and Impudence Triumphant_,
and the famous Dr. Owen also protested in _Truth and Innocence
Vindicated_. Parker replied to Owen in _A Defence and Continuation of
Ecclesiastical Politie_, and in the following year, 1672, reprinted a
treatise of Bishop Bramholl's with a preface "shewing what grounds there
are of Fears and Jealousies of Popery."

This was the state of the controversy when Marvell entered upon it with
his _Rehearsal Transprosed_, a fantastic title he borrowed for no very
good reasons from the farce of the hour, and a very good farce too, the
Duke of Buckingham's _Rehearsal_, which was performed for the first time
at the Theatre Royal on the 7th of November 1671, and printed early in
1672. Most of us have read Sheridan's _Critic_ before we read
Buckingham's _Rehearsal_, which is not the way to do justice to the
earlier piece. It is a matter of literary tradition that the duke had
much help in the composition of a farce it took ten years to make.
Butler, Sprat, and Clifford, the Master of Charterhouse, are said to be
co-authors. However this may be, the piece was a great success, and both
Marvell and Parker, I have no doubt, greatly enjoyed it, but I cannot
think the former was wise to stuff his plea for Liberty of Conscience so
full as he did with the details of a farce. His doing so should, at all
events, acquit him of the charge of being a sour Puritan. In the
_Rehearsal_ Bayes (Dryden), who is turned by Sheridan in his adaptation
of the piece into Mr. Puff, is made to produce out of his pocket his
book of _Drama Commonplaces_, and the play proceeds (_Johnson_ and
_Smith_ being _Sheridan's_ Dangle and Sneer):

"_Johnson._ _Drama Commonplaces_! pray what's that?

_Bayes._ Why, Sir, some certain helps, that we men of Art have found
it convenient to make use of.

_Johnson._ How, Sir, help for Wit?

_Bayes._ I, Sir, that's my position. And I do here averr, that no man
yet the Sun e'er shone upon, has parts sufficient to furnish out a
Stage, except it be with the help of these my rules.

_Johnson._ What are those Rules, I pray?

_Bayes._ Why, Sir, my first Rule is the Rule of Transversion, or
_Regula Duplex_, changing Verse into Prose, or Prose into Verse,
_alternative_ as you please.

_Smith._ How's that, Sir, by a Rule, I pray?

_Bayes._ Why, thus, Sir; nothing more easy when understood: I take a
Book in my hand, either at home, or elsewhere, for that's all one,
if there be any Wit in 't, as there is no Book but has some, I
Transverse it; that is, if it be Prose, put it into Verse (but
that takes up some time), if it be Verse, put it into Prose.

_Johnson._ Methinks, Mr. _Bayes_, that putting Verse into Prose
should be called Transprosing.

_Bayes_. By my troth, a very good Notion, and hereafter it shall be
so."

Marvell must be taken to have meant by his title that he saw some
resemblance between Parker and Bayes, and, indeed, he says he does, and
gives that as one of his excuses for calling Parker Bayes all through: -

"But before I commit myself to the dangerous depths of his Discourse
which I am now upon the brink of, I would with his leave, make a
motion; that instead of Author I may henceforth indifferently well
call him Mr. Bayes as oft as I shall see occasion. And that first
because he has no name, or at least will not own it, though he
himself writes under the greatest security, and gives us the first
letters of other men's names before he be asked them. Secondly,
because he is, I perceive, a lover of elegancy of style and can
endure no man's tautologies but his own; and therefore I would not
distaste him with too frequent repetition of one word. But chiefly
because Mr. Bayes and he do very much symbolise, in their
understandings, in their expressions, in their humour, in their
contempt and quarrelling of all others, though of their own
profession."

But justice must be done even to Parker before handing him over to the
Tormentor. What were his positions? He was a coarse-fibred, essentially
irreligious fellow, the accredited author of the reply to the question
"What is the best body of Divinity?" "That which would help a man to
keep a Coach and six horses," but he is a lucid and vigorous writer,
knowing very well that he had to steer his ship through a narrow and
dangerous channel, avoiding Hobbism on the one side and tender
consciences on the other. Each generation of State Churchmen has the
same task. The channel remains to-day just as it ever did, with Scylla
and Charybdis presiding over their rocks as of old. Hobbes's _Leviathan_
appeared in 1651, and in 1670 both his philosophy and his statecraft
were fashionable doctrine. All really pious people called Hobbes an
Atheist. Technically he was nothing of the sort, but it matters little
what he was technically, since no plain man who can read can doubt that
Hobbes's enthronement of the State was the dethronement of God: -

"Seeing then that in every Christian commonwealth the civil sovereign
is the supreme factor to whose charge the whole flock of his subjects
is commuted, and consequently that it is by his authority that all
other pastors are made and have power to teach and perform all other
pastoral offices, it followeth also that it is from the civil
sovereign that all other pastors derive their right of teaching,
preaching and other functions pertaining to that office, and that
they are but his ministers in the same way as the magistrates of
towns, judges in Court of Justice and commanders of assizes are all
but ministers of him that is the magistrate of the whole
commonwealth, judge of all causes and commander of the whole militia,
which is always the Civil Sovereign. And the reason hereof is not
because they that teach, but because they that are to learn, are his
subjects." - (_The Leviathan_, Hobbes's _English Works_ (Molesworth's
Edition), vol. iii. p. 539.)

Hobbes shirks nothing, and asks himself the question, What if a king, or
a senate or other sovereign person forbid us to believe in Christ? The
answer given is, "such forbidding is of no effect; because belief and
unbelief never follow men's commands." But suppose "we be commanded by
our lawful prince to say with our tongue we believe not, must we obey
such command?" Here Hobbes a little hesitates to say outright "Yes, you
must"; but he does say "whatsoever a subject is compelled to do in
obedience to his own Sovereign, and doth it not in order to his own
mind, but in order to the laws of his country, that action is not his,
but his Sovereign's - nor is it that he in this case denieth Christ
before men, but his Governor and the law of his country." Hobbes then
puts the case of a Mahomedan subject of a Christian Commonwealth who is
required under pain of death to be present at the Divine Service of the
Christian Church - what is he to do? If, says Hobbes, you say he ought
to die, then you authorise all private men to disobey their princes in
maintenance of their religion, true or false, and if you say the
Mahomedan ought to obey, you admit Hobbes's proposition and ought to
consent to be yourself bound by it. (See Hobbes's _English Works_, iii.
493.)

The Church of England, though anxious both to support the king and
suppress the Dissenters, could not stomach Hobbes; but if it could not,
how was it to deal with Hobbes's question, "if it is _ever_ right to
disobey your lawful prince, who is to determine _when_ it is right?"

Parker seeks to grapple with this difficulty. He disowns Hobbes.

"When men have once swallowed this principle, that Mankind is free
from all obligations antecedent to the laws of the Commonwealth, and
that the Will of the Sovereign Power is the only measure of Good and
Evil, they proceed suitably to its consequences to believe that no
Religion can obtain the force of law till it is established as such
by supreme authority, that the Holy Scriptures were not laws to any
man till they were enjoyn'd by the Christian Magistrate, and that if
the Sovereign Power would declare the Alcoran to be Canonical
Scripture, it would be as much the Word of God as the Four Gospels.
(See _Hobbes_, vol. iii. p. 366.) So that all Religions are in
reality nothing but Cheats and impostures to awe the common people to
obedience. And therefore although Princes may wisely make use of the
foibles of Religion to serve their own turns upon the silly
multitude, yet 'tis below their wisdom to be seriously concerned
themselves for such fooleries." (Parker's _Ecc. Politie_, p. 137.)

As against this fashionable Hobbism, Parker pleads Conscience.

"When anything that is apparently and intrinsically evil is the
Matter of a Human Law, whether it be of a Civil or Ecclesiastical
concern, here God is to be obeyed rather than Man."

He forcibly adds: -

"Those who would take off from the Consciences of Men all obligations
antecedent to those of Human Laws, instead of making the power of
Princes Supreme, Absolute and Uncontrollable, they utterly enervate
all their authority, and set their subjects at perfect liberty from
all their commands. For if we once remove all the antecedent
obligations of Conscience and Religion, Men will no further be bound
to submit to their laws than only as themselves shall see convenient,
and if they are under no other restraint it will be their wisdom to
rebel as oft as it is their interest." (_Ecc. Politie_, pp. 112-113.)

But though when dealing with Hobbes, Parker thinks fit to assert the
claims of conscience so strongly, when he has to grapple with those who,
like the immortal author of _The Pilgrim's Progress_, "devilishly and
perniciously abstained from coming to Church," and upheld "unlawful
Meetings and Conventicles," his tone alters, and it is hard to
distinguish his position from that of the philosopher of Malmesbury.

Parker's argument briefly stated, and as much as possible in his own
vigorous language, comes to this:

There is and always must be a competition between the prerogative of
the Prince or State and that of Conscience, which on this occasion is
defined as "every private man's own judgment and persuasion of things."
"Do subjects rebel against their Sovereign? 'Tis Conscience that takes
up arms. Do they murder Kings? 'Tis under the conduct of Conscience. Do
they separate from the communion of the Church? 'Tis Conscience that is
the Schismatick. Everything that a man has a mind to is his Conscience."
(_Ecc. Politie_, p. 6.)

How is this competition to be resolved? Parker answers in exact language
which would have met with John Austin's warm approval.

"The Supreme Government of every Commonwealth, wherever it is lodged,
must of necessity be universal, absolute and uncontrollable. For if
it be limited, it may be controlled, but 'tis a thick and palpable
contradiction to call such a power supreme in that whatever controls
it must as to that case be its Superior. And therefore affairs of
Religion being so strongly influential upon affairs of State, they
must be as uncontrollably subject to the Supreme Power as all other
Civil concerns." (_Ecc. Politie_, p. 27.)

If the magistrate may make penal laws against swearing and blasphemy,
why not as to rites and ceremonies of public worship? (39.) Devotion
towards God is a virtue akin to gratitude to man; religion is a branch
of morality. The Puritans' talk about grace is a mere imposture, (76)
which extracts from Parker vehement language. What is there to make such
a fuss about? he cries. Why cannot you come to Church? You are left free
to _think_ what you like. Your secret thoughts are your own, but living
as you do in society, and knowing as you must how, unless the law
interferes, "every opinion must make a sect, and every sect a faction,
and every faction when it is able, a war, and every war is the cause of
God, and the cause of God can never be prosecuted with too much
violence" (16), why cannot you conform to a form of worship which,
though it does not profess to be prescribed in all particulars, contains
nothing actually forbidden in the Scriptures? What authority have
Dissenters for singing psalms in metre? "Where has our Saviour or his
Apostles enjoined a directory for public worship? What Scripture command
is there for the _three_ significant ceremonies of the Solemn League and
Covenant, viz. that the whole congregation should take it (1) uncovered,
(2) standing, (3) with their right hand lift up bare" (184), and so on.

In answer to the objection that the civil magistrate might establish a
worship in its own nature sinful and sensual, Parker replies it is not
in the least likely, and the risk must be run. "Our enquiry is to find
out the best way of settling the world that the state of things admit
of - if indeed mankind were infallible, this controversy were at an end,
but seeing that all men are liable to errors and mistakes, and seeing
that there is an absolute necessity of a supreme power in all public
affairs, our question (I say) is, What is the most prudent and expedient
way of settling them, not that possibly might be, but that really is.
And this (as I have already sufficiently proved) is to devolve their
management on the supreme civil power which, though it may be imperfect
and liable to errors and mistakes, yet 'tis the least so, and is a much
better way to attain public peace and tranquillity than if they were
left to the ignorance and folly of every private man" (212).

I now feel that at least I have done Parker full justice, but as so far
I have hardly given an example of his familiar style, I must find room
for two or three final quotations. The thing Parker hated most in the
world was a _Tender Conscience_. He protests against the weakness which
is content with passing penal laws, but does not see them carried out
for fear of wounding these trumpery tender consciences. "Most men's
minds or consciences are weak, silly and ignorant things, acted by fond
and absurd principles and imposed upon by their vices and their
passions." (7.) "However, if the obligation of laws must yield to that
of a tender conscience, how impregnably is every man that has a mind to
disobey armed against all the commands of his superiors. No authority
shall be able to govern him farther than he himself pleases, and if he
dislike the law he is sufficiently excused (268). A weak conscience is
the product of a weak understanding, and he is a very subtil man that
can find the difference between a tender head and a tender conscience
(269). It is a glorious thing to suffer for a tender conscience, and
therefore it is easy and natural for some people to affect some little
scruples against the commands of authority, thereby to make themselves
obnoxious to some little penalties, and then what godly men are they
that are so ready to be punished for a good conscience" (278). "The
voice of the publick law cannot but drown the uncertain whispers of a
tender conscience; all its scruples are hushed and silenced by the
commands of authority. It dares not whimper when that forbids, and the
nod of a prince awes it into silence and submission. But if they dare to
murmur, and their proud stomachs will swell against the rebukes of their
superiors, then there is no remedy but the rod and correction. They must
be chastised out of their peevishness and lashed into obedience (305).
The doctor concludes his treatise with the words always dear to men of
fluctuating opinions, 'What I have written, I have written'" (326).

Whilst Parker was writing this book in his snug quarters in the
Archbishop's palace at Lambeth, Bunyan was in prison in Bedford for
refusing to take the communion on his knees in his parish church; and
Dr. Manton, who had been offered the Deanery of Rochester, was in the
Gate House Prison under the Five Mile Act.

The first part of _The Rehearsal Transprosed_, though its sub-title is
"Animadversions upon a late book intituled a Preface shewing what
grounds there are of Fears and Jealousies of Popery," deals after
Marvell's own fashion with all three of Parker's books, the
_Ecclesiastical Politie_, the _Bramhall Preface_, and the _Defence of
the Ecclesiastical Politie_. It is by no means so easy to give a fair
notion of the _Rehearsal Transprosed_ in a short compass, as it was of
Parker's line of argument. The parson wrote more closely than the Member
of Parliament. I cannot give a better description of Marvell's method
than in Parker's own words in his preface to his _Reproof to the
Rehearsal Transprosed_, which appeared in 1673 and gave rise to
Marvell's second part: -

"When," writes Parker, "I first condemned myself to the drudgery of
this Reply, I intended nothing but a serious prosecution of my
Argument, and to let the World see that it is not reading Histories
or Plays or Gazettes, nor going on pilgrimage to Geneva, nor learning
French and Italian, nor passing the Alps, nor being a cunning
Gamester that can qualify a man to discourse of Conscience and
Ecclesiastical Policy; in that it is not capping our Argument with a
story that will answer it, nor clapping an apothegm upon an assertion
that will prove it, nor stringing up Proverbs and Similitudes upon
one another that will make up a Coherent Discourse."

Allowing for bias this is no unfair account of Marvell's method, and it
was just because this was Marvell's method that he succeeded so well in
amusing the king and in pleasing the town, and that he may still be read
by those who love reading with a fair measure of interest and enjoyment.

Witty and humorous men are always at a disadvantage except on the stage.
The hum-drum is the style for Englishmen. Bishop Burnet calls Marvell "a
droll," Parker, who was to be a bishop, calls him "a buffoon." Marvell
is occasionally humorous and not infrequently carries a jest beyond the
limits of becoming mirth; but he is more often grave. Yet when he is,
his gravity was treated either as one of his feebler jokes or as an
impertinence. But as it is his wit alone that has kept him alive he need
not be pitied overmuch.

The substance of Marvell's reply to Parker, apart altogether from its
by-play, is to be found in passages like the following: -

"Here it is that after so great an excess of wit, he thinks fit to
take a julep and re-settle his brain and the government. He grows as
serious as 'tis possible for a madman, and pretends to sum-up the
whole state of the controversy with the Nonconformists. And to be
sure he will make the story as plausible for himself as he may; but
therefore it was that I have before so particularly quoted and bound
him up with his own words as fast as such a Proteus could be
pinion'd. For he is as waxen as the first matter, and no form comes
amiss to him. Every change of posture does either alter his opinion
or vary the expression by which we should judge of it; and sitting he
is of one mind, and standing of another. Therefore I take myself the
less concern'd to fight with a windmill like Quixote; or to whip a
gig as boyes do; or with the lacqueys at Charing-Cross or
Lincoln's-Inn-Fields to play at the Wheel of Fortune; lest I should
fall into the hands of my Lord Chief-Justice, or Sir Edmond Godfrey.
The truth is, in short, and let Bayes make more or less of it if he
can, Bayes had at first built-up such a stupendous magistrate as
never was of God's making. He had put all princes upon the rack to
stretch them to his dimension. And as a straight line continued grows
a circle, he had given them so infinite a power, that it was extended
unto impotency. For though he found it not till it was too late in
the cause, yet he felt it all along (which is the understanding of
brutes) in the effect. For hence it is that he so often complains
that princes know not aright that supremacy over consciences, to
which they were so lately, since their deserting the Church of Rome,
restored; that in most Nations government was not rightly understood,
and many expressions of that nature: whereas indeed the matter is,
that princes have always found that uncontroulable government over
_conscience_ to be both unsafe and impracticable. He had run himself
here to a stand, and perceived that there was a God, there was


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