Andrew Marvell's The Rehearsal Transpros'd


Material Information

Andrew Marvell's The Rehearsal Transpros'd strategies of controversial prose
Strategies of controversial prose
Physical Description:
vii, 166 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Gilliland, Charles Herbert, 1942-
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Church and state -- Great Britain   ( lcsh )
English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography in "Notes" at end of each chapter.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Charles Herbert Gilliland, Jr.
General Note:
General Note:

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 000180758
oclc - 03192641
notis - AAU7292
System ID:

Full Text









Charles Herbert Gilliland, Jr.




Acknowledgments iii

Abstract v

Chapter I: Introduction 1

Notes to Chapter I 13

Chapter II: The Generic Tradition of Animadversion 15

Notes to Chapter II 39

Chapter III: Politics and Pamphleteers: Marvell's
Call to Action 43

Notes to Chapter III 73

Chapter IV: Decorum Established 77

Notes to Chapter IV 102

Chapter V: Jest and Earnest 103

Notes to Chapter V 118

Chapter VI: Indecorum Incomplete 119

Notes to Chapter VI 134

Chapter VII: Disease, Disproportion, and Disjunction 135

Notes to Chapter VII 152

Chapter VIII: Conclusions 153

Notes to Chapter VIII 163

Appendix A 164

Appendix B 165


It seems much more an honor and a pleasure than a duty to thank

all those who have made it possible for me to complete this study. My

director, Ira Clark, has from the beginning taken a very close and

lively interest, and has made countless suggestions, major and minor,

at every step of the way, making the result much better, as well as

more easily arrived at, than would otherwise have been the case. His

consistently positive support was of no small value. To Aubrey

Williams, T. Walter Herbert, and Sidney R. Homan, thanks are owed for

making valuable suggestions as early as my preliminary examination, and

for being expeditious but very careful readers. John Sommerville gave

invaluable help on the political and social background, and was instru-

mental on the question of publishing practices and the size of seven-

teenth-century editions. While Jack M. Perlette was not an official

member of my committee, he in fact took an enthusiastic interest in my

work, offered many helpful suggestions, answered many questions, and

served as a sounding-board for some of my trial balloons. The personnel

of the Interlibrary Loan Department and the Rare Book Room of the

University of Florida performed invaluable services; I am also very

grateful for the cheerful efficiency of the staff of the Folger

Shakespeare Library. Finally, much is owed to my parents, whose

unwavering support did not falter, even in this endeavor, and who made

it considerably easier to devote to it the final, crucial year, suppor-

ted by a "Gilliland Fellowship."

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Charles Herbert Gilliland, Jr.

August, 1976

Chairman: Ira G. Clark
Major Department: English

This study is devoted solely to Marvell's first published and

perhaps most important prose work, his first attack against anglican

conformity and its spokesman, Samuel Parker. Particular stress is

laid upon the autonomous integrity of this work, which, although

often called "the first part," is in fact a complete work not orig-

inally intended to be supplemented by The Rehearsal Transpros'd:

The Second Part.

After the introductory chapter are two chapters placing The

Rehearsal Transpros'd in its literary and political contexts. The

first gives an extended definition of the animadversion genre, with

special attention to elements prominent in Marvell's work. Besides

the close point-by-point refutation of the opponent's argument

which is essential to the genre, these include (1) the use of the

opponent's own words, often quite unfairly, against him; (2) the

accusation that the opponent's argument is disorganized and devoid

of meaning; (3) nitpicking, especially at fine points of style,

grammar, or etymology; (4) a personal attack on the opponent, often

using a real or fictitious biography, and often including the charge

that the opponent is deranged.

The next chapter describes the political context, including

ramifications of the Third Dutch War, the struggle over conformity,

and the interaction of King Charles II and his parliament, and gives

an account of the ecclesiastical-political pamphlet controversy

that had already been raging for years when Marvell joined it.

The rest of the study is essentially devoted to a reading of

The Rehearsal Transpros'd, presenting the thesis that Marvell mounts

against Parker a comprehensive attack based in large measure upon

an all-pervasive, largely implicit, concept of cosmic decorum, like

that described by Thomas Kranidas in The Fierce Equation: A Study

of Milton's Decorum (The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1965). Kranidas

calls it "a concept of harmonious, resonant, joyous unity .

[it] includes other "decorums," the "rules," of genre, style, and

characterization, but it is characterized by a flexibility without

relativism (p. 104). This grand decorum in varying facets, and

a variety of lesser decorums encompassed by it, become manifest as

the reader sees Parker violate them. Marvell, making use of many

devices besides the well-known "Bayes" persona, portrays Parker as

not only a priest who acts like a stage-buffoon, but a creature of

appalling disproportion and malformity, excessive of ambition, spleen,

girth, and sexual appetite, who is perverted and perverse. Parker


is shown to flout the proprieties not only of station but of

time, place, and magnitude. Because Parker's stand was one of

"order and decency" against the supposed excesses of the noncon-

formists, Marvell's book is the grandest kind of exercise in ironic


Along with this all-encompassing attack on Parker himself,

Marvell carries out against Parker's position a refutation which

is rather better structured than some readers have credited.




Although Andrew Marvell was for many years after his death thought

of as a great defender of individual liberty, and as an important author

of controversial prose, the twentieth century has seen him as a major

poet. Pierre Legouis suggests that most copies of the posthumous first

edition of Marvell's poems were probably bought for the sake of the

engraved portrait frontispiece of the premier puritan polemicist; today

the typical student of literature will express surprise at being told

that the great metaphysical poet also wrote prose. Because nearly all

Marvell scholarship has been done in the twentieth century, the focus

has been almost exclusively on the poems. Nevertheless, there has been

a very small but persistent current of concern for his prose, primarily

as a lever to pry open his poems, but also, on still-too-rare occasions,

as a subject of merit unto itself.2

The present study will be the first of any length to focus exclu-

sively upon Marvell's first and most important prose publication, The

Rehearsal Transpros'd. There is a frequent and understandable tendency

among scholars to treat The Rehearsal Transpros'd and its sequel, The

Rehearsal Transpros'd: The Second Part, as a single work published in

two halves. While this may be not only valid but almost necessary if

one is interested in The Second Part, it tends to obscure the undisputed

fact that The Rehearsal Transpros'd was conceived and published as a

single work, complete in itself; although it is now often referred to

for the sake of convenience as "the first part," there is no indication

that Marvell thought of it that way when he wrote it. Tn the present

study, I propose to emphasize the integrity of The Rehearsal Transpros'd

by deliberately stressing what went before its publication and ignoring

what came after. If, as one of Parker's friends threatened, Marvell had

been murdered in late 1673, we would have been perforce untrammelled by

knowledge of his future works, and might have had a reading experience

of The Rehearsal Transpros'd closer to that of Marvell's first audience.

That audience would have known that Marvell was fifty-one, had

served in Cromwell's government, had written panegyrics in honor of the

Lord Protector and satiric verse at the expense of other people, and was

in his twelfth year as Member of Parliament from Hull when his first

published prose, The Rehearsal Transpros'd, appeared in late 1672. They

would not know that this great success would be followed by other con-

troversial works: The Rehearsal Transpros'd: The Second Part (1673);

Mr. Smirke; Or, The Divine in Mode (1676); A Short Historical Essay

(appended to Mr. Smirke, 1676); An Account of the Growth of Popery (1677);

and Remarks Upon a Late Disingenuous Discourse (published posthumously,

1678). Of them all, the most significant was surely The Rehearsal Trans-

pros'd, a best-seller of its day, which quickly established the author

as, in Bishop Burnet's oft-quoted words, "the liveliest droll of the age.

The Rehearsal Transpros'd went through five editions (one pirated)

within two years of its first appearance, and a half-century later Swift,

while borrowing from it for A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books,

commented that, "we still read Marvel's Answer to Parker with Pleasure,

tho' the Book it answers be sunk long ago," but after Swift's day it

was little noted. In the last two centuries there have been but three

editions: Captain Thompson's (1776), Grosart's (1872), and Smith's
(1971). We may expect the next edition about a century from now; in

the meantime, none of the editions to date contains any significant

analysis of The Rehearsal Transpros'd as literature or as argumentation.

Those aspects of Marvell's prose are also avowedly neglected by

Dean Morgan Schmitter in his dissertation, in favor of making a careful

and valuable study of the ecclesiastical and political issues involved.6

John Wallace has similar interests, making an effort in Destiny His

Choice: The Loyalism of Andrew Marvell (Cambridge, 1968) to show that

Marvell was politically consistent throughout his life, and l. -i

"Trimmer" before that term came into use. Wallace makes serious mis-

readings in places, but his section on The Rehearsal Transpros'd seems

sound. However, Wallace too is primarily interested in Marvell's

politics, and gives only cursory attention to his writing technique.

In his rather good biography of Marvell, Augustine Birrell devotes

a fairly long section to The Rehearsal Transpros'd, which is, however,

almost exclusively composed of lengthy quotations, with little analysis.

Birrell falls into the same trap as many later readers, treating The

Rehearsal Transpros'd and The Rehearsal Transpros'd: The Second Part

as a single work: "Marvell's chief prose work, the two parts of The

Rehearsal Transpros'd, is a very long pamphlet indeed."7 He also comments

that Marvell's title was "borrowed for no very good reason from the farce

of the hour."8 Finally, he notes Marvell's influence on Swift.

In the standard critical biography of Marvell, published first in

French (1928) and then in a revised, streamlined English version (1965;

second edition 1968), Pierre Legouis gives a brief summary of the

Marvell-Parker controversy.9 Turning to The Rehearsal Transpros'd, he

says it is even worse than the usual animadversion for "lack of method"

and "desultoriness and wayward course."10 It cannot be epitomized, he

says, but he attempts to "give some idea of its uncertain progress."

The best way for the modern reader to enjoy it is not to take it seri-

ourly, for no one cares any more about the sober concerns of the con-

troversy; what we can still enjoy is the Punchinello slapstick of

Marvell cudgelling the hapless Parker. Legouis is well aware of the

immense contemporary success of the work, but aside from noting; its

comic power and warning that biographers ought to be wary of taking at

face value statements Marvell has made for tactical reasons, he does not

deal with the question of why Marvell's book was so successful.

One might say that literary criticism of The Rehearsal Transpros'd

began as early as Parker's reply, the Reproof, wherein Parker noted that

Marvell was exactly like Martin Marprelate, the pseudonymous pamphleteer

of the 1570's, in his claim that decorum made it proper to jest even

while dealing with serious matters, because buffoonery was appropriate

to the allegedly buffoonish character of his opponent. M. C. Bradbrook

and M. G. Lloyd Thomas stress this notion, saying that:

Pamphlet-wars had been common throughout the century, and some of
the best prose, notably Milton's, had appeared in this way. Marvell's
technique, however, was new. By his popular style, his free use of
secular weapons, including the latest play, he pointed the way
towards a more Augustan method of handling disputation. To treat
a grave subject lightly, yet with the serious intention of rein-
forcing the argument, was an art neglected since the Marprelate
with whom Marvell is so often compared.11


They also link his poetry with his prose by commenting that:

In the flexibility of his attack, Marvell produced what might
roughly be taken as the prose version of the 'metaphysical'
style. There is the same synchronization of the important with
the trivial, the same free combination of colloquialism and
learning, the same variety in the points of view.12

Their treatment of The Rehearsal Transpros'd is not extensive, but they

do make use of lengthy quotations, giving their readers some idea of its

quality. They also note that Marvell is replying to three of Parker's

books, although they rather inaccurately suggest that The Rehearsal

Transpros'd attacks his Discourse on Ecclesiastical Polity for the first

seventy pages (in Grosart's edition), then Parker's Defence for twenty-

nine pages, and finally his Preface for the remainder. More importantly,

while they give some indication of the connection between Marvell's

pamphlets and the succeeding literary age, they give no real indication

of the continuous literary traditions that existed during the period

between Marprelate and Marvell, traditions to which Marvell was enormously

more indebted than he was to Marprelate.

In a dissertation and later an article, John S. Coolidge too follows

Parker's lead with regard to Marprelate and the special use of decorum.

Coolidge links this variety of decorum to the concept of decorum personae,

which is the principle, for which Coolidge indentifies the locus classics

in Horace's Ars Poetica, "that every person who appears in a play or a

narrative should speak and act in a manner appropriate to his type."13

Coolidge also suggests that Marvell's borrowing from Buckingham's play,

The Rehearsal, and his other allusions to the stage, turn his quarrel

with Parker into a sort of stage-show in which such an argument of decorum

is appropriate, while at the same time reducing the entire affair to the

status of a mere "peek between players." Coolidge, however, is so

absorbed in Marprelate as not to be sufficiently aware of the rather

considerable use of the theme of theatricality all through the works on

both sides of the controversy Marvell joined. Coolidge further suggests

that Marvell chose the play as the basis for his pamphlet in order to

ingratiate himself with its author Buckingham and the circle of court

wits, while at the same time he expected the nonconformists to recognize

his use of Marprelate's device and therefore feel that Marvell was one

of their own. This may be so, but if, as seems the case, Marvell's main

target was Parliament, then Buckingham's opinion was not that important;

Marvell also takes particular care to dissociate himself from the non-

conformists even while espousing their cause, and does not actually

mention Marprelate by name anywhere in The Rehearsal Transpros'd. In

The Second Part he takes notice of Parker's suggestion about Marprelate

only long enough to brush it off. Coolidge's classical concept of

decorum, while correct, is extremely narrow, although he does note a

connection with society at large, saying that decorum personae "asserts

that personality is a function of social conditions .It reflects,

therefore, a hierarchical social order, and in this it corresponds to

the church polity which John Bridges [or Samuel Parker] defends."14

Coolidge is followed by Raymond A. Anselment, who in a dissertation

and two articles derived therefrom, further examines the derogatory

persona Marvell has thrust upon his victim Parker. His concurrence in

the view that Marvell's technique is derived from Marprelate's is in-

dicated by the title of his dissertation, "Andrew Marvell's The Rehearsal

Transpros'd: A Study in Renaissance Satire," (University of Rochester,

1965). Anselment notes that Marvell differs from Marprelate in his use

of learned allusions and in his urbanity, in the latter anticipating

the style of the Restoration.15 He neglects to consider the usually

learned and sometimes urbane controversialists between Marprelate and

Marvell. Anselment's real contribution is to offer two new sources for

the "Bayes" persona of The Rehearsal Transpros'd. Buckingham's play

was obvious, and the Marprelate buffoon had been suggested by Parker,

followed by Coolidge and others; to these Anselment first adds the

character of the "political enthusiast" in Henry More's Enthusiasmus

Triumphatus; Or, a Brief Discourse of the Nature, Causes, Kinds, and

Cure of Enthusiasm (London, 1656).16 More importantly, Anselment points

out that Parker himself paints a portrait of the typical nonconformist

as a deranged, inflamed, enthusiastic "fanatick." This portrait Marvell

ironically reverses, depicting Parker himself as a person with exactly

those qualities. Thus Marvell "makes [Parker] the object of his own

satire."17 Anselment reasserts Coolidge's position that the concept of

decorum is vital to Marvell's attack, but he too has a very circumscribed

meaning for the term. Finally, while both Coolidge and Anselment are of

course quite aware that The Rehearsal Transpros'd and The Rehearsal

Transpros'd: The Second Part are two distinct books, they nevertheless

tend to conflate the two, mingling evidence from both as though they

were the two volumes of a single work.

Robert Leo King is able to be undistracted by Marprelate, approaching

Marvell's entire prose corpus in terms of classical rhetoric. He devotes

the most attention to The Rehearsal Transpros'd, recognizing and stressing

that Marvell's argument therein is primarily rhetorical rather than

logical. According to King,

[Marvell's] attack on Parker involves its audience in many of
the traditional ways such as through flattery and the ethical
proof, but Marvell's great contribution to the development of
English satire lies in his letting a literate, sophisticated
reader not only share in his attack but help to create it.
Even if Parker did see the point of this rhetoric, it would
have done him little good to try to explain it away because no
term exists to cover it and because the only refutation for
such literate and literary rhetoric is something superior in
return. .. Marvell's use of classical rhetoric is the means
toward achieving this satiric and rhetorical force. It will
not do simply to point out devices and label them because that
would suggest that Marvell followed his rhetoric text-book as
a school boy would. My contention is that Marvell did not turn
his back on classical rhetoric so much as he built on it or
transcended it.18

According to King, Marvell's allusive, insinuative style requires that

the reader participate by filling out allusions and completing suggested

lines of thought.

With the evidence of Parker's membership in the Royal Society, as

well as various clear pronouncements by him on the necessity for language

logical and free from superfluities, with each word meaning exactly one

thing, King sees that the controversy includes a battle over old versus

new in use of language, with Marvell's agile and innovative use of

classical rhetoric being sufficient to defeat his modern opponent. King

discovers that "all of the longer passages in both parts of The

Rehearsal Transpros'd are rhetorical units" and that "each book defends

its satiric attack with a unified ethical proof."19 He concludes that

the books are not unified wholes but do possess some unity; each contains

well-organized blocks loosely tied to each other. It would be appropri-

ate, he says, to call the books, not animadversionss," but "anthologies."

The "rhetorical units" are mostly long sections organized as classical

orations, generally following the rules of the Rhetorica ad Herrenium;

Marvell's discourse on "Debauchery Tolerated" is one such. King also

points-out the importance to the techniques of both Parker and Marvell

of their academic training and practice in formal disputation.

Attacking an earlier approach to Marvell's work, King notes that

one need not seek as far afield as Marprelate to find precedent for

Marvell's special use of decorum, for it is in Milton's Second Defence,

a book Marvell promised to "get by heart." Anselment's approach, says

King, is "almost useless." Furthermore, while even Milton's attack

remained Elizabethan in its direct, Juvenalian manner, Marvell's use of

implication, insinuation, and irony, anticipated Augustan satire.

While King is well aware of the importance of decorum personae and

the ad personal argument ("the ethical proof"), he does not give a view

of what I believe to be Marvell's all-pervasive, comprehensive attack

based on principles of cosmic decorum.

Such a concept of decorum is described by Thomas Kranidas in his

study of Milton; that it was a concept more implicit than explicit prior

to Kranidas' writing does not make it less valid. Kranidas traces the

classical and Renaissance notions of decorum, which include quite limited

definitions, but also statements like Cinthio's that "decorum is nothing

other than the grace and fitness of things," and what Kranidas calls

"the major Elizabethan statement on decorum," by George Puttenham:

In all things to use decencie, is it only that giveth every thing
his good grace & without which nothing in mans speech could seeme
good or gracious, in so much as many times it makes a bewtifull
figure fall into a deformities, and on th' other side a vicious

speech seeme pleasant and bewtifull: this decencie is therefore
the line & level for al good makers to do their business by.
But herein resteth the difficulties, to know what this good
grace is, & wherein it consisteth, for peradventure it be
easier to conceave then to express .the mynde for the
things that be his mental objects hath his good graces and
his bad, whereof th' one contents him wondrous well, th' other
displeaseth him continually, no more nor no lesse then ye see
the discordes of musicke do to a well tuned eare. The Greekes
call this good grace of every thing in his kinde To wpEfrov,
the Latines decorum; we in our vulgar call it by a scholasticall
terme decencie; our owne Saxon English terme is seemelinesse,
that is to say, for his good shape and utter appearance well
pleasing the eye; we call it also comelynesse This lovely
conformitie, or proportion, or convenience, between the sence
and the sensible hath nature her selfe first most carefully
observed in all her owne workers, then also by kinde graft it
in the appetites of every creature working by intelligence to
covet and desire, and in their actions to imitate & perform;
and of man chiefly before any other creature as well in his
speeches as in every other part of his behaviour.20

Kranidas notes that Puttenham's examples do not live up to the grand

promise of this statement. On the other hand, while Milton nowhere

makes a statement similarly linking decorum and cosmic comeliness,

Kranidas' reading of Milton's prose enables him to derive from his prac-

tice a similar notion of decorum, a notion with amplitude appropriate to

a mind of Milton's calibre:

My definition of Milton's concept of decorum, arrived at after read-
ing the prose, is this: Decorum is a concept of harmonious,
resonant, joyous unity, with consistency of inner and outer and
enormous variety and range extending from a base of certainty
about the ends of discourse and indeed of all human "conversation."
Decorum is an idea of unity which inspires and governs the opera-
tions of life and writing. Decorum includes other "decorums," the
"rules," of genre, style, and characterization, but it is character-
ized by a flexibility without relativism, by intricate and dynamic
relationships between parts, indeed opposites, the very tensions
of which give luminosity.21

This is a cosmic decorum, rooted in a world vision; while encompassing

those lesser "decorums" that would be violated by a venal priest or kept

by jesting with a fool, it opens the curtains on a grand world stage of

radiant order, where there is scope to display enormous crimes, and

scale to set off the true pettiness of peccadillos. Upon this concept

of decorum Kranidas bases his study of Milton's poetry, and upon it I

propose to base my own reading of The Rehearsal Transpros'd. Marvell's

weapon against Parker was protean: at times a Punchinello slapstick,

and at times the Archimedes' lever that could move the world.

In the present study, this introductory chapter will be followed

by two chapters placing The Rehearsal Transpros'd into its context, a

vital thing not only because Marvell's book is so topical and presently

so little known, but also because only thus can the roots of certain

important thematic elements be indicated. The "fit" of these elements

into the work as a whole will not be evident without some information

about their genesis. One of these preliminary chapters will be a

generic history of the animadversion. As in his poetry Marvell worked

from the traditions he received but did them one better, so too with

The Rehearsal Transpros'd, which employs all the forms and devices of

the animadversion, and does more besides--Marvell might well have

borrowed the motto of his contemporary, King Philip of Spain: plus

ultra. The other contextual chapter will examine the specific contro-

versy of which The Rehearsal Transpros'd was a part, a controversy years

old when Marvell joined it, which had developed certain demands and

"traditions" of its own.

Following the introductory chapters will be four chapters devoted

to a reading (following Marvell, in good animadversion fashion, almost

page by page) of The Rehearsal Transpros'd, in which I hope to show that


Marvell's attack on Parker was more unified than most readers have

thought, and was based upon an implicit concept of decorum virtually

identical with that Kranidas claims for Milton. Marvell shows Parker

to be, in multitudinous ways and on every possible level, a violator

of decorum.

Finally, the last chapter will present conclusions and speculations.


Pierre Legouis, Andrew Marvell: Poet, Puritan, Patriot (Oxford:
The Claredon Press, 1968), p. 226.

Isabel G. MacCaffrey, "Some Notes on Marvell's Poetry, Suggested
by a Reading of his Prose," MP, 61 (1964), 261-9; and Kitty Datta,
"Marvell's Prose and Poetry: More Notes," MP, 63 (1966), 319-21.
Gilbert Burnet, Bishop Burnet's History of His Own Time (London:
William Smith, 1838), p. 176.

Legouis, p. 208; see n. 1.

Capt. Edward Thompson, The Works of Andrew Marvell, Esq. 3 vols.
(London: Thompson, 1776); Rev. Alexander B. Grosart, The Complete
Works in Verse and Prose of Andrew Marvell M.P. 4 vols. (London: The
Fuller Worthies' Library, 1872-5; D. I. B. Smith, The Rehearsal Trans-
pros'd and The Rehearsal Transpros'd: The Second Part (Oxford: The
Claredon Press, 1971).

Dean Morgan Schmitter, "Andrew Marvell: Member from Hull; A
Study in the Ecclesiastical and Political Thought of the Restoration,"
Diss. Columbia University, 1955.

Augustine Birrell, Andrew Marvell (New York: The Macmillan Com-
pany, 1905),p. 151.

Birrell, p. 153.
9Legouis, p. 193 f.
10Legouis, p. 194.
Legouis, p. 194.

11Muriel C. Bradbrook and M. G. Lloyd Thomas, Andrew Marvell (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1940), pp. 93-4.
1Bradbrook and Thomas, p. 109.
13John S. Coolidge, "Martin Marprelate, Marvell, and Decorum Personae
as a Satirical Theme," PMLA, 74 (1959), p. 526; Coolidge's dissertation
is "Satirical Devices and Themes in Andrew Marvell's Rehearsal Trans-
pros'd," Diss. Harvard University, 1968.

1Coolidge, p. 526.

1Raymond A. Anselment, "Andrew Marvell's The Rehearsal Transpros'd:
A Study in Renaissance Satire," Diss. The University of Rochester, 1965,
p. 310 and 301-2.


6Raymond A. Anselment, "Satiric Strategy in Andrew Marvell's
The Rehearsal Transpros'd," MP, 68 (1970), 137-50.

7Raymond A. Anselment, "Betwixt Jest and Earnest': Ironic
Reversal in Andrew Marvell's The Rehearsal Transpros'd," MLR, 66
(1971), 285.
1Robert Leo King, "The Rhetoric of Andrew Marvell's Prose,"
Diss. Boston University, 1968, pp. 90-1.

1King, p. 231.
2Thomas Kranidas, The Fierce Equation: A Study of Milton's
Decorum (The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1965), pp. 41-2.

21Kranidas, p. 104.



It seems reasonable to assume that, when Andrew Marvell subtitled

his attack on Sanuel Parker "Animadversions Upon a late Book," and

included within it such comments as, "I do not intend to be longer than

the nature of animadversions requires," he felt himself to be working

in a recognized genre. That today recognition of the genre itself, not

to mention nearly all of the individual works, is scant, is probably

because the animadversions of the seventeenth century, generated in the

warmth of controversies long cold, swarmed not only as thickly and

energetically as mayflies, but as ephemerally. The issues have long

been settled, the destinations arrived at, leaving us multitudes of spent

volumes, blobs on the windshield of history. Dryden's Defence of An

Essay on Dramatic Poesy yet lives, because its subject is still of great

interest; probably most readers are unaware (as I was when studying

Dryden) of the generic tradition of which it is a part. Milton's animad-

versions are now read, I suspect, because they were written by the author

of Paradise Lost; and Marvell's, once the cornerstone of his reputation,

are now pried into only by an occasional historian or a scholar seeking

clues to an understanding of the great metaphysical poet. Surely it is

also pertinent that in Marvell's day the printed periodical, eventually

to become an ideal forum for controversy, and much later to be augmented

by the other "mass media," was still in the early stages of development.

For the time being the most effective platform for public persuasion

was the individual printed work: the pamphlet. Of these a great

quantity, devoted to attacking previous pamphlets, were animadversions.

Although of course students of the seventeenth century know what

an animadversion is, this knowledge is apparently transmitted by osmosis,

as no extended historical definition or introductory essay is readily

available to aid the novice.1 A good portion then of the present dis-

cussion will be devoted to saying what is already known, but seems not

to have been written down. I shall first treat the term animadversionn"

itself, with its attachment to a genre. Then I shall give a survey of

characteristics that tended to appear in animadversions by 1672, the

year of The Rehearsal Transpros'd. Many of the examples will be drawn

from works Marvell certainly knew, probably knew, or may well have known.

This includes works by Milton, Dryden, Flecknoe, Owen, Parker, and

L'Estrange. I am not attempting, however, to show distinct "influence"

of a particular work upon Marvell, but rather to depict the generic

milieu in which he worked.

The central, absolutely necessary, feature of an animadversion is

that it attack a previous work in such a way that it follows that work's

order of argument point by point. This often takes the form of matching

the opponent's preface with a preface, and then each of his chapters with

a counter-chapter. Usually each step is made by first quoting or para-

phrasing the opponent's argument, then rebutting it. Works of this form

considerably predate the use of the term animadversionn." Tyndale's

Answere unto sir Thomas More's Dialogue (1530) is an early example of

English protestantism expressed in such a form.2 Among the tracts of

the Admonition Controversy of the early 1570's, in which John Whitgift

championed the established church against the puritan spokesman Thomas

Cartwright, can be found other examples.3 This controversy was the

first campaign in the struggle still raging a century later when

Marvell joined the fray with The Rehearsal Transpros'd; and during its

course were developed many of the same arguments which were to recur

again and again, and appear in but the latest of many refashionings in

the works of Parker and Marvell.

Although not all of the products of the Marprelate controversy of

the 1580's are animadversions in the sense of being point-by-point

rebuttals, Martin's Oh read over D. John Bridges for it is worthy work,

published in two separate but coordinated parts, the Epistle and the

Epitome, is a clear example.4 Martin focuses on part of Bridges' first

book, and follows that pretty closely. Bridges' own volume, A Defence

of the Government Established in the Church of Englande for Ecclesiasti-

cal Matters (1587), was a prodigious 1041 pages in answer to Walter

Travers' Learned Discourse of Ecclesiastical Government, in which Bridges

matches Travers' preface with his own preface, then attacks each of

Travers' chapters with a chapter of his own, for a total of nineteen.

His procedure is to print a direct quotation of some length from the

Learned Discourse, in Roman type, with the marginal note, "The Discourse,"

and then to reply in a paragraph of italics, marginally labeled "Bridges."

His stance, resembling that taken by participants in the Admonition

Controversy, lacks the vitriol of the Marprelate and subsequent animad-

versions. He speaks of his opponents as "mistaken brethren," and says

that his quarrel with them is minor compared to the real struggle

against the Antichrist and the "purple harlot" of Catholicism.

The term animadversionn" is not recorded in English until 1598,

when Francis Thynne uses it with a neutral meaning virtually identical

with the Latin from which it was composed, "to turn the mind toward,"

with no connotation of an adversary relationship. Similarly, Thomas

Wise's Animadversions upon Lillies grammar (London, 1625) contains no

unkind word about Lilly. Rather, Wise is merely digesting, correcting,

and augmenting Lilly's book. Robert Ward, in Animadvesions of Warre:

or, A Militarie Magazine of the Truest rules and ablest instructions,

for the Managing of Warre (London, 1639), is not even reacting to any

prior publication, but merely turning the reader's mind toward a con-

sideration of the effective conduct of war.

At the same time, however, other authors were applying the term

animadversionn" to books clearly belonging to the genre now recognized

by that name. Among the earliest of these is Henry Ainsworth's An

Animadversion to Mr. Richard Clyfton's Advertisement, published in

Amsterdam in 1613. In it, Ainsworth soberly attacks Clifton's book

point by point, carefully citing the pages. He does not, however,

follow his opponent in strict order, but reorders the arguments somewhat.

Nor does Ainsworth employ the assaults on the opponent's style, choice

of words, or person, later to become common features of the genre.

Richard Tillesley's Animadversions upon M. Seldon's History of Tythes

(1619), is the earliest example I have found-of a work labeled "animad-

versions" which also displays the form and the adversary relationship

considered typical of the genre. Tillesley begins with a dedication to

King James and a preface to the reader, then "Animadversions upon the

Preface" of Selden's book. Then except for Selden's first two chapters,

which are "purposely pretermitted" and counterattacked by a catalog of

authorities, Tillesley matches his opponent chapter for chapter. He is

relatively less vitriolic than later animadvertors, but takes care that

we know how difficult this is, explaining in his "Animadversion upon

the Preface,"

If ever any Preface deserved the impatience of the greatest
moderation, and in scorne and self-love did prejudice the
Learning and Religion of an incomparable Nation: what then
may this Preface expect, but Satyricall and furious contra-
diction? There being no part, but fraught with supercilious
contempt and full of the Rhetoricke of a censorious over-
weener. But wee have not so learned Christ lesus, that being
reviled, we revile not again, through good report, and evill
report in the conscience of Gods blessings, we endeavor to
please him who hath called us to a profession of peace:
Without passion, therefore, I will select some passages out
of his Preface, and there against oppose such Adversaries, or
Animadversions, whereby it may appeared, Si verum nos sapimus;
quod veritas ei contradicat, non nos; that if my words be
true, he is more opposed by trueth then by me. 7

Here Tillesley expresses the belief that his opponent's own words will

serve as a display of his error. Elsewhere he speaks of "the several

of his incoherent arguments," and calls Selden's book "the work wherein,

such falsities, injurious censures of writers, contradictions, and many

other impertinences are too frequent. So that no ingenuous and learned

Reader, but will be backward to allow this for trueth, which is only a

compacture out of the abuses and disobedience of religion and lawfull
government."8 He does not ever attack Selden's person, but always his

arguments, his style, his book; however, his attacks on these are suf-

ficiently strong that Selden is unlikely to have taken it dispassion-


The outpouring of pamphlets by puritans and prelaticals, becoming

a flood by the late 1630's, included many animadversions. Foremost among

the authors was Milton, whose efforts included Animadversions upon the

Remonstrants Defence Against Smectymnuus (1641), a reply to a book by

Bishop Joseph Hall. According to Rudolf Kirk, Milton "adopted the

method of quotation and reply, which he had seen effectively employed in

the Admonition Controversy. By citing a passage out of its context,

he was able to satirize and ridicule without the necessity of carrying

an elaborate argument."

By this time, then, the form was well established and was recognized

as "animadversions."10 Primarily denoting an attack upon a previous

publication which was followed step by step, animadversionss" also came

to imply: (1) the liberal use of the opponent's own words; (2) the sug-

gestion that the opponent's statements are deranged and/or meaningless;

(3) an occasional preoccupation with seemingly minor points, especially

points of philology or grammar; (4) an attack on the opponent's style;

(5) the ad personal attack, often involving a biography or "character"

of the opponent. All of these are features readily apparent in The

Rehearsal Transpros'd. In mydiscussion to follow, I shall illustrate

each characteristic with examples from various animadversions published

prior to 1672. However much or little Marvell was directly influenced

by any one or more of these works, they do demonstrate a tradition of

which he and his audience were certainly quite conscious.

Practically de rigeur in an animadversion was the use of the oppo-

nent's words against him, a not unnatural result of the necessity to state

the position being attacked, but also a practice encouraged by two

mutually supportive notions. The first was the ancient and eminently

sound idea that for a man to be defeated with his own weapon is the

most ignominious and devastating defeat of all, and the second was an

often apparently quite sincere belief (enunciated above by Tillesley)

that the opponent's words are so patently wrong that the reader need

only see them and perhaps be slightly nudged in the right way, and

he will realize the falsity of the position they represent. An

extreme example of this may be found in Daniel Featley's Virtumnus

Romanus, or, a discourse penned by a Romish Priest, wherein he endevours

to prove that it is lawful for a Papist in England to goe to a Protestant

Church to receive the Communion, and to take the Oathes both of Allegiance

and Supremacie. To which are adjoyned Animadversions in the margin by

way of Antidote against those places where the rankest poyson is couched

(London, 1642). In this book, Featley writes a virulent introduction,

then merely reprints, for 156 pages, the original text. The "animad-

versions" are in the form of marginal notes. Another variety of total

recapitulation is provided by Richard Flecknoe, the Catholic poetaster

who, though now famous chiefly for inspiring Marvell's poem about visit-

ing him in Rome and Dryden's "MacFlecknoe," was an active, well-known

controversialist. His Animadversions on a Petition (1653), begins by

reprinting the offending petition in its entirety, seven pages, then

follows with thirty pages of animadversions upon it. The usual practice

with the opponent's work, however, was to interstice varying amounts

of quotation or paraphrase with refuting commentary, as is done in The

Rehearsal Transpros'd, although often with more formality than that

work provides. Typically the paraphrasing or direct quotation would be

printed in italics, or, if the main body of the book were in italics,

then in Roman.

As Kirk noted with regard to Milton's Animadversions and the

participants in the Admonition Controversy (especially applying to

Cartwright, I think), the quotations might be used out of context,

sometimes with gleeful unfairness. A wonderful example of this is the

way, in a passage I shall cite later at length, the Modest Confuter

twists Milton's words in order to derive evidence about his life. No

one is more inclined to this sort of thing than Marvell. His most ex-

tended treatment of this sort (to be presented in detail in a later

chapter) is the "flowers" sequence, where he seizes on various casual

comments by Parker, reversing their value while at the same time swell-

ing their significance to vast proportion. The effect of re-using the

opponent's phrases in such a way was to confront him with a species of

Frankenstein's monster, cobbled together from the dismembered fragments

of his own children, sewn with the sinews of antithetical ideas, so

that it lurched toward him by a shove from a grinning animadvertor.

Of course such treatment was not improper if, as animadvertors

often claimed, the opponent's statements were essentially meaningless

or beside the point. Dryden, for example, in A Defence of an Essay of

Dramaticke Poesie (1667), says that "the world will suspect what Gentle-

man that was, who was allowed to speak thrice in Parliament, because he

had not yet spoken to the Question."12 The italics quote Dryden's

opponent Howard, who was speaking about a third party, but Dryden has

made them apply to Howard himself (also an M.P.) and suggested that

Howard's essay against Dryden has no relevance. In a similar vein,

Tillesley said of Selden:

And concerning his Booke, in it more paines then trueth, more
strange reading then strong reasoning; more quotations, then
proofes; more will (God be thanked) then power; good to use, but
dangerous to believe; a Historie of Tythes, but not true, not
only, but even the Authors sirname backward, NEDLES; or in
summe, Sacrilega curiositas, Arguta malvia.13

He also warns Selden that obscure words and little-known authorities

will not serve to hide his mistakes: "He must not looke to lurke in

the darkness of unknown language, or private Chartularies, or unusual

by-named Bookes. There are that can trace his footsteps, and adde light

to his Errours."14 The implication here is that even Selden suspects

that his own arguments are false, and he seeks to conceal this by making

them obscure.

The Modest Confuter, attacking Milton's Animadversions, speaks of

"that fault of your whole discourse, which in the easiest Censurers mouth

is but Levity and Digression."15 This is merely to say that Milton's

entire book is silly and pointless; elsewhere he is accused of being down-

right wrong. Another of Milton's anonymous foes, in An Answer to .

the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, claims that his "frothie dis-

course, were it not sugred over with a little neat language, would appear

so immeritorious and undeserving, so contrary to all humane learning, yea,

truth and common experience it self, that all that reade it must needs

count it worthie to be burnt by the Hangman."16 Speaking of Milton's

discussion of the mixing of the souls of a married couple, the Answerer

says, "this language is too sublime and Angelicall for mortall creatures

to comprehend it.'17 This may not have dismayed the future author of

Paradise Lost, but what it amounts to is a charge of unintelligibility.

Nor was Milton himself averse to charging his opponents with producing

nonsense: in Brief Notes Upon a Late Sermon, he says of the minister

in question, "the rest of his preachment is meer groundless chat, save

heer and there a few granes of corn scattered to entice the silly fowl

into his net, interlac't heer and there with some human reading; though

slight, and not without Geographical and Historical mistakes."18 Samuel

Parker, attacking John Owen in A Defence and Continuation of Ecclesias-

tical Polity, claims, "But this man is not at leisure to write Sense,

nor takes time to weigh whether what he dictates be pertinent to his

own or to my purpose. His whole book is nothing but Cavil and vulgar

talk."'9 Joseph Glanville, for the second time attacking Henry Stubbe

(who a year later would attack Marvell with Rosemary & Bayes), says to

him, "I admonish you, when you write again, endeavour to write Sence;

For both your Letters abound with palpable Non-sence, and false English."20

Here Glanville includes the question of style, as well as sense. When

Marvell set to work on The Rehearsal Transpros'd a few months later, he

did not neglect to include multitudinous suggestions that Parker's writ-

ings were devoid of meaning and form.

Animadvertors often went to such lengths to prove their opponents

wrong in the smallest things, as to cause one student to describe the

genre as "comprised essentially of minute and often quibbling scrutiny."21

Thus Martin Marprelate makes much of John Bridges' mistaken citation of

I.Cor.12 when he meant to cite Rom.12, and his misnaming of the translator

of the Syriac Testament, neither point being material to the argu-

ment.22 Again, in Hay any work for Cooper (1589), Martin corrects

one of Bridges' statements and gives him a rather gratuitous lesson

in Greek:

Whereas that was far from my meaning/ and could by no means be
gathered out of my words/ but only by him that pronounced Eulogin
for Enlogeni in the pulpit: and by him whom a papist made to
believe/ that the greek word Enlogeni, that is to give thanks/
signifieth to make a crosse in the forhead: py hy hy hy. I
cannot but laugh/ py hy hy hy. I cannot but laugh to think that
an olde soaking student in this learned age/ is not ashamed to
be so impudent as to presume to deale with a papist/ when he
hath no grue in his pocked. But I promise you Sir/ it is no
shame to be a L. bishop if a man could/ though he were as un-
lerned as John of Glocester or William of Liechfeld.23

This seems to be partly an inside joke, which has lost some of its punch

in the last four centuries. But it appears clear that besides linking

Bridges with the papists, Martin's main objective is to show Bridges as

an unlearned fool, and he does not mind going far afield to do it.

In the Smectymnuus--Hall--Milton controversy, there was constant

skirmishing over the word form "Areopagi" versus "Areopagitae." The

Smectymnuuans had used "Areopagi," and Hall had twitted them for it in

his Defence, pointing out that it was incorrect. Milton, trailing clouds

of erudition, springs to their defense in Animadversions; he cites the

ancients and Chaucer, and claims the Smectymnuuan form better fits the

English mouth because it does not have "a harsh forreigne termination."24

Next, Hall's ally, the Modest Confuter, enters the fray with considerable

indignation over Milton's position. Outdoing Milton in scholastic zeal,

he provides a compendious history of modified word-endings, with examples

from Polybius and Suetonius, from Italian and English, and arrives at

Chaucer's modifications of proper names (cited by Milton), such as Pegace,

or Ceys (for Ceyx). But Chaucer's example, he says, is no excuse for

Milton, for Chaucer

hath not metamorphosed the name of a place into the name of a man:
or if he had, it were one of those faults which ought to be forgiven
(not imitated) in so reverend antiquity. (Sir Ph. Sidney Defense
of Poesie) .. either you are as dis-ingenuous in matters of
Grammar as of Religion; in both, purposing therefore to maintain
a thing, because you have said it; or else perhaps you have a de-
signe to innovate as well upon our language as upon our Church-

The Modest Confuter has taken a word-ending as an emblem of Milton's

character and ecclesiastical politics. This battle over "Areopagi" is

surely one of the most extended examples of nitpicking in seventeenth

century literature, but the animadversions abound with myriad examples

no less trivial.

That some of the finest minds of their time would devote such large

efforts to seemingly miniscule points of contention, that they would

"beat a bush all day to start a butterfly," might seem incredible to a

reader today. I think it was partly what at first glance it seems:

callow one-upmanship, a relic of schooldays and scholastic debates. Per-

haps more important however is that it was a variety of ad personal argu-

ment, and clearly one that, because everyone thought it was effective,

was effective.26 One's pretence to authority would be seriously damaged

by any demonstrable error; if a person's grammar, vocabulary, or history

were faulty, mightn't he be wrong on larger issues? The education of

the seventeenth century was very heavily oriented to the proper and effec-

tive use of language, so that language was to no small extent a touch-

stone of authority; the greater a man's command of language (and languages)

the better he could understand God's word, and the better qualified he

was to speak to other men.27 Thus an incorrectly cited name or other

datum was damaging; a display of poor command of language was doubly

so. This is why Martin stretches so far to show Bishop Bridges with

no grammatical "grue in his pocked," why the Modest Confuter suggests

that Milton's treatment of language and his treatment of church govern-

ment are linked. This surely is what motivates the Answerer to the

Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce to say to Milton, "Only first we

shall speak to your phrase and manner of speaking, and then to the
matter of it."28 The Answerer's attack on Milton's phrase and manner

proves to be rather desperate; he is not really equal to taking on the

man who, when not defending "Areopagi," was surely one of England's

most awesomely learned and careful wielders of words. It is signifi-

cant, though, that the Answerer felt it necessary to make an attack on

style an important feature of his pamphlet. So it is that Flecknoe,

attacking the Petitioners, says,

And first, to say nothing of their Preface, nor their Goodly
stile, all stuff'd and interlarded with Scripture phrase, so
senselessly alleged, as I will not say their reading of the
Scripture seems to make them mad, but certainly this I dare
affirm, that those who read it lesse, write far better, and
more sense than they, and would never have said the paths
to dwell in, (as they do) but rather the paths to walk in,
according to the more proper metaphore2

Flecknoe is saying that the Puritan penchant for personal study and

interpretation of the Bible has not only caused them to fill their prose

with Biblical superfluities, but has damaged their ability to think and

communicate correctly. Dryden, too, seeking minute flaws in Howard's

writing, says archly that it is "abundantly interlac'd with variety of

Fancies, Tropes, and Figures, which the Criticks have enviously branded

with the name of obscurity and false Grammar."30 Parker similarly

attacks Owen's style. Citing Owen's claim to make an "examination

of the principal parts and seeming Pillars," of Parker's case, Parker

says, "I shall not mind him of the uncouthness of his Language. (though

if it were considered, it will be found that to examine a Pillar, is

scarce more proper English than to explicate a Post."31 For these men,

style is power; further, they recognize that words and phrases are the

bricks of which arguments are built; bad bricks indicate a shaky struc-


Often the animadvertor would direct his efforts at finding fault

not only with the manner and the matter, but the man; the ad personal

attack is a common feature of animadversion literature. Thus the

Marprelate tracts (both Martinist and anti-Martinist) contain energetic

depictions of the opponent as a knave and fool, at times to the virtual

neglect of the real controversy. For example, the author of The lust

Censure and Reproofe of Martin Iunior includes as part of his reasoning

against the conformists the following:

Item particularly, concerning Iohn Canturburie himself, I doe
affirme, but yet no further then quatenus probabile, that is,
by great likelihoodes, that he is so finally hardened in his
hainous sinnes against God and his church, that as hee cannot
be reclaimed, for his mouth is full of cursing against God and
his Saintes, his feete are swift to shed the blood of the holie
ones, hee teareth in peeces the churches which he ought to foster,
wilfully pulling the shepheards from their sheepe, and so scat-
tering them in a most lamentable sorte, making much of wicked
men that mainteine his popedome, and smiting the righteous for
gainesaying his wayes, bringing in daily into the church, either
by himself or his hangsons newe errors not heard of before.
Blaspheming the way of trueth. And being rooted in mallice
against that truth of Christ lesus (who is blessed for eurer)
which he may see, if he did not hood-wincke himself, hee with
all his power contrarieth and striveth against the going forward

of the Gospell, least by the light thereof his sinnes should be
reprooued. Finally, he hath in him too too many likely testimonies
of an heire of the kingdom of darkness, where, without his true
turning unto the Lorde, he shall liue in hell for euer.32

The Archbishop's portrait is so broadly black we can scarcely see the

man; there are accusations of venality and evil, but no real specifics.

Nevertheless one assumes the reader is not likely to trust the state-

ments of a man who blasphemes the way of truth, who brings in daily new

errors, and who is "rooted in mallice against that truth of Christ

lesus." Indeed, the mouth full of curses against God, the swift feet

shedding the blood of holy ones, the self-deception, all add up to a

picture of the heir of the kingdom of darkness: Satan. Surely not an

attractive picture for a reader who desires a church that will praise

God and save the sinner.

The vicious nature of Sir Roger L'Estrange's treatment of Milton

is indicated by the mere title of his pamphlet, No Blinde Guides (1660).

He then introduces his adversary in a blaze of sulphur squibs:

Mr. Milton, although in your Life, and Doctrine, you have Resolved
one great Question; by evidencing that Devils may indue Humane
shapes; and proving your self, even to your own Wife, an incubus:
you have yet started Another; and that is, whether you are not of
that Regiment, which carried the Heard of Swine headlong into the
Sea: and moved the People to beseech Jesus to depart out of their

Like Martin, L'Estrange portrays his adversary as a would-be leader who

should not be followed; he is not only a blind guide, but--by virtue of

his demonic quality--a false one. By mentioning Milton's domestic pro-

blems, L'Estrange links the satanic theme with the topic of the con-

troversy: divorce, and connubial relations in general.

As no Christian would follow the devil, so no rational man (which

all readers assume themselves to be) would take the advice of a mad-

man except with great caution. Thus animadvertors would at times

suggest that their opponents were insane. The Answerer, for example,

says of Milton's Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, "this is wilde,

mad, and frantic divinitie." Milton, in reply, claims that the

Answerer is "suddenly taken with a lunacy of Law." Previously,

attacking the Modest Confutation, Milton had alleged that "this .

is plaine bedlam stuffe."6 Joseph Glanville expressed distaste at

even having to reply to Stubbe, because, "I think a Man may with as

much Reputation write against the Wits of Bedlam, as against this crackt

Fop of Warwick."37

Scarcely more reputable than a lunatic was his competitor in enter-

tainment, the actor. The notion of the opponent as a stage-figure goes

at least as far back as the very first of the Martinist pamphlets, the

Epistle, in which Martin cites the concept of decorum personae to treat

his opponent Bridges as a comic stage figure. That he becomes one him-

self does not disturb him, for his main goal is not so much to be a

propounder of positions as to be a burner of Bridges. As John S.

Coolidge puts it, "he reduces the Dean to a roister on a wooden stage,

but he also diminishes the whole discussion, momentarily, from one

concerning the means of salvation to one concerning the bienseance of

a theatrical entertainment. This is the distinctive feature of Martin's

method generally: the deliberate interpenetration of religious and

theatrical associations.38 Of course if the entire question of

conformity.comes to be viewed as trivial, then the nonconformists will

have won their case. Conformists, too, could use the concept of

theatricality, with the objective of showing that their opponents (but

only they) were mere buffoons and, while having some entertainment

value, could hardly be taken seriously. Serious matters (such as

ecclesiastical polity) should be left to serious men. In an anti-

Martinist pamphlet, A Whip for an Ape: Or Martin displayed, we find

the following:

Since reason (Martin) cannot stay thy pen,
We'il see what rime will doo: haue at thee then.

A Vizard late skipt out upon our Stage;
But in a sacke, that no man might him see:
And though we knowe not yet the paltrie page,
Himself hath Martin made his name to bee.
A proper name, and for his feates most fit;
The only thing wherein he hath shew'd wit.

Who knoweth not, that Apes men Martins call;
Which beast this baggage seems as t'were himself:
So as both nature, nurture, name and all,
Of that's expressed in this apish elfe.
Which Ile make good to Martin Marr-als face
In three plaine points, and will not bate an ace.

For first the Ape delights with moppes and mowes,
And mocketh Prince and peasants all alike:
This jesting Jacke that no good manner knows,
With his Asse heeles presumes all States to strike.
Whose scoffes so stinking in each nose doth smell,
As all mouthes saie of dolts he beares the bell.39

The point of the line, "Who knoweth not, that Apes men Martins call,"

I take to be this: the poet posits the fiction that men call apes

"Martins;" thus Martin has chosen an exactly suitable name for himself,

for he actually is an ape. Though somewhat amusing, he is rude and

does not know his proper place--he "no good manner knowss" and "presumes

all states to strike," in violation of decorum. The only thing he does

right, he does through ignorance, by choosing the name Martin. The

anonymous poet seems to forget himself in the fourth stanza when he

makes Martin a jackass instead of an ape. But the picture is amusing,

the verse lively; he has succeeded in creating a persona for his ad-

versary, which he amplifies in the remainder of the pamphlet and which

leads the reader to think of Martin as a performing ape--hardly a

serious authority on religious matters.

The Modest Confuter seeks a similar effect when he introduces Milton

to the reader:

Reader thou art acquainted with the late and hot bickerings
between the Prelates and Smectymnuus: To make up the breaches of
whose solemn Scenes, (it were too ominous to say Tragicall) there
is thrust forth upon the Stage, as also to take the eare of the
lesse intelligent, a scurrilous Mime, a personated, and (as him-
self thinks) a grim, lowering, bitter fool.40

The Modest Confuter is here referring to Milton's statement that, though

jest may seem out of place in the discussion of serious matters, yet in

the "serious uncasing of a grand imposture," which Prelatry is, there is

a place for "grim laughter."41 The Modest Confuter's position seems to

be that, grim or not, a jester is a jester; Milton has proclaimed himself

such, and should expect to be laughed at. In his turn, Milton, writing

An Apology against the Modest Confutation, is thorough incensed.

For one thing, says Milton, falling back to a fortress of philology, the

Modest Confuter has not stated what a mime is, "whereof we have no pat-

tern from ancient writers except some fragments," which Milton then

provides, with commentary. In the process of this learned essay, Milton

of course suggests that it is the Modest Confuter himself who is "the

loosest and most extravagant Mime, that hath been heard of."42 Milton

has amplified the importance and pejorative power of the term, and

reversed its effect to apply it to his opponent. That he chose to do

so is indicative of the negative value of association with the stage,

a value hardly lessened three decades later when Marvell settled the

extravagant mantle of Bayes upon the shoulders of Samuel Parker.

What better way to display the flaws of a wretched adversary than

to recite his biography, especially when fiction may serve better than

fact? Surely one of the most extended examples of this stratagem

occurs in Haue with you to Saffron-walden, or, Gabriell Harueys Hunt

is vE (1596), which is Thomas Nash's reply to Harvey's Piers His

Supererogation. Nash devotes forty-eight pages to a biography of his

adversary, mixing fact (that Harvey's father was only a harness-maker)

with fiction (he describes a dream Harvey's mother supposedly had when

carrying him, to the effect that her womb was a "Solomon's brazen bowl"

that when broken--i. e. when Harvey was born--let loose thousands of

devils). Nash casts Harvey's horoscope, which proves to be a bad one,

describes his unfortunate career at school, and so on.4 Milton per-

formed a similar service, though less copiously, for Salmasius in The

Defence of the English People (1651). Peter du Moulin, concealed be-

hind the editorship of Alexander More, employed an essentially factual

but belittling biography of Milton in Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Coelum

(1652). Milton retaliated with one of the most vitriolic pseudo-bio-

graphical attacks in English literature, against More, in The Second

Defence (1654):

There is one More, part Frenchman and part Scot, so that one
country or one people cannot be quite overwhelmed with the whole
infamy of his extraction; an unprincipled miscreant and proved
not only by the general testimony of his enemies, but even by
that of his dearest friends whom he has alienated by his in-
sincerity, to be a monster of perfidy, falsehood, ingratitude,
and malevolence, the perpetual slanderer, not only of men, but
of women, whose chastity he is no more accustomed to regard than
their reputation. To pass over the more obscure transactions
of his youth, he first made his appearance as a teacher of the
Greek language at Geneva, where he could not divest himself
either of the knave or fool; but where, even while secretly
conscious, though perhaps not yet publicly convicted, of so
many enormities, he had the audacity to solicit the office of
pastor in the church and to profane the character by his crimes.
But his debaucheries, his pride, and the general profligacies of
his conduct could not long escape the censure of the presbyters.
After being condemned for many heresies, which he basely re-
canted, and to which he still as impiously adhered, he was at
last openly found guilty of adultery.44

There is a great deal more in a similar vein, much of it quite clever,

including witticisms and puns on More's name.

That many of the pamphleteers were anonymous created for their

animadvertors a special problem--and opportunity--in terms of ad

personal attack. How does one denigrate the character of someone

whose identity is concealed? One solution often readily available was

that frequently the author's identity was an open secret. Then the

animadvertor need only make clear his knowledge of the fact (sometimes

by using the man's name or initials) and proceed normally. The author

of A Whip for an Ape, though, seems to have had no idea of Martin

Marprelate's real identity, so he solved the problem by creating a

character for him. The Modest Confuter devised another tactic. Faced

by the absence of Milton's name from the title page of the Animadversions,

he remarks:

I have no further notice of him, than he hath been pleased, in
his immodest and injurious Libell, to give of himself: and
therefore, as our industrious Criticks for want of clearer
evidence concerning the life and manners of some revived
Authors, must fetch his character from some scattered passages
in his own writings. It seems he hath been initiated in the
Arts by Jacke Seaton, and by Bishop Downam confirmed a Logician:
and as he says his companions did, it is like hee spent his
youth, in loytering, bezelling, and harlotting. Thus being
grown to an Impostume in the brest of the University, he was
at length vomited out thence into a Suburbe sinke about London;-
which, since his coming up, hath groaned under two ills, Him,
and the Plague. Where his morning haunts are I wist not; but
he that would finde him after dinner, must search the Play-
Houses, or the Bordelli, for there I have traced him; [among old
Cloakes, false Beards, Tyres, Cases, Periwigs, Modona Vizzards,
night-walking Cudgellers, and Salt Lotion.]45

The first part of this statement is based on Milton's assertion that

the clergy "spend their youth in loitering, bezzling, and harlotting,

their studies in unprofitable questions, and barbarous sophistry,

their middle age in ambition and idlenesse, their old age in avarice,

dotage, and diseases."46 The Modest Confuter, as Rudolf Kirk notes,

deduced that Milton "must have known evil ways from having lived them

at the university." The second part is based on a passage in which

Milton defends the value of freedom of the press. In the past, says

Milton, princes could only find out the genuine thoughts of their

people by sneaking about in disguise, eavesdropping. With a free

press, though, they receive "such an Anatomie of the shiest, and tender-

est truths as that they shall not need heerafter in old Cloaks,

and false Beards, to stand to the courtesy of a night-walking cudgeller

for eaves dropping, not to accept quietly as a perfume, the over-head

emptying of some salt lotion."48 Although James I seems on occasion

actually to have gone about in disguise like this, still, one cannot

help smiling at the thought of him or Charles I, in old cloak and

false beard, being either cudgelled or quietly accepting the "perfume"

from a chamber-pot; this the alternative to a free press. Milton's

dry humor did not, however, charm the Modest Confuter from dismembering

and reassembling his words to the point of virtual unrecognizability.

The princely spy-gear has become (with considerable augmentation from

the Modest Confuter) the trappings of the theatre or even the bordello.

It is outrageously unfair, but also rather effective. Indeed, the

tactic was sufficiently admirable for Milton to immediately borrow it

for his reply:

And because he pretends to be a great conjector at other men by
their writings, I will not faile to give ye, Readers, a present
taste of him from his own title; hung out like a toling [enticing]
signe-post to call passengers, not simply a confutation but a
-modest confutation with a laudatory of it selfe obtruded in the
very first word. Whereas a modest title should only informed the
buyer what the book contains without furder insinuation, this
officious epithet so hastily assuming the modesty wch others
are to judge of by reading, not the author to anticipate to him-
selfe by forestalling, is a strong presumption that his modesty
set there for sale in the frontispice, is not much addicted to
blush. A surer signe of his lost shame he could not have given,
then seeking thus unseasonably to prepossesse men of his modesty.49

Having spun all this and more, out of a single word, Milton goes on to

say that the phrase "slanderous and scurrilous" (which in the Modest

Confuter's title is applied to Milton's Animadversions) sounds like

his former adversary Hall, who must, says Milton, have been a consultant

to the Modest Confuter, if he did not actually write the pamphlet him-

self.50 It is Hall's sort of presumption to tell the reader something

is slanderous and scurrilous when the reader is perfectly capable of

judging such matters for himself. My impression from the complete

pamphlet is that Milton is uncomfortable not knowing who his

opponent is; he makes hints that it might be Hall, other hints that it

is a younger man, and seems to be seeking a focus for his vituperation.

However, Milton learned from the experience, and was well prepared

to face the anonymous author of the Answer against the Doctrine and

Discipline of Divorce. Indeed, the sub-title of his reply, Colaster.ion

(1645), indicated that it was a work "wherein the trivial Author of

that Answer is discovered." Milton discovers the Answerer's identity

by the following process of deduction:

His very first page bewraies him as an illiterate, and arrogant
presumer in that which hee understands not .. Nor did I
finde this his want of the pretended Languages alone, but
accompanied with such a low and home-spun expression of his
Mother English all along, without joynt or frame, as made mee,
ere I knew furder of him, often stop, and conclude, that this
Author could for certain bee no other than som mechanic.51

From this, and the Answerer's penchant for legal terminology, Milton

concludes he is a servingman with pretensions of being a lawyer. Through-

out Colasterion, Milton faithfully maintains the image of his opponent

as a lawyerly servant. This creation and consistent elaboration of his

opponent's character as a servant is, I think, the most striking and

successful device in the Colasterion.

When Marvell came to write The Rehearsal Transpros'd, he would have

his cake and eat it too; knowing who his adversary was, he would be able

to write a burlesque biography containing enough truth to make it one

of the sources for Parker's entry in the Dictionary of National Bio-

graphy, yet distorted and embellished enough to make Parker seem the

most bizarre monstrosity ever to pretend to sapience. At the same time,

Marvell would claim that the absence of Parker's name from the title-

page of his book was grounds for applying a suitable sobriquet--Bayes--

and he would deduce the justification for that name from Parker's own


The seventeenth century literature of ecclesiastical and political

animadversion was like a mulligan stew, simmering for a century on the

stove of unresolved controversy, with the potatoes and turnips of

thesis and antithesis constantly stirred and ladeled about, sometimes

augmented, sometimes diminished, spiced by the varying style and

strategy of each passing author. As I hope to show in subsequent

chapters, one could scarcely find a tastier portion than that served

up by Andrew Marvell. His use of the opponent's words, his extraor-

dinary exfoliation of minor points, his attention to the weaknesses of

his opponent's style and logic, his many-pronged attack (including

the fictionalized biography) on Parker's character: in all of these and

more, The Rehearsal Transpros'd was the culminating manifestation of a

rich generic heritage. It was, as Charles II might have said, a dish

fit for a king.52


For example, James Sutherland, English Literature of the Late
Seventeenth Century (The Oxford History of English Literature VI),
(Oxford, The Clarendon Press: 1969) neither mentions the term nor
gives any description of the genre, although he briefly discusses the
works of Marvell, Parker, and others. For an entire volume about
animadversionss" which never defines the term, see James Wise Nial,
"Some Seventeenth Century Animadversions on Sir Thomas Browne's
Religio Medici," Diss., The University of Florida, 1964.

William Tyndale, An Answere unto sir Thomas More's Dialog (London:
1531), in Tyndale's Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue, &c. ed. Henry
Walter for the Parker Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1850). Written in 1530.

For a full treatment of this controversy, see Donald Joseph McGinn,
The Admonition Controversy (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press,

Martin Marprelate, Oh read over D. Iohn Bridges for it is a worthy
work. Printed ouer-sea in Europe [East Molesley (?): R. Waldegrave,
1588], [The Epistle]. and Martin Marprelate, Oh read over D. Iohn
Bridges for it is a worthy work: An Epitome of the fyrste Booke of
that right worshipful volume [1588].

John Bridges, A Defence of the Government Established in the
Church of Englande for Ecclesiastical Matters (London: By John Windet
for Thomas Chard, 1587).

Francis Thynne, Animadversions upon the annotations and corrections
of some imperfections of impressions of Chaucers workers (sett down
before tyme, and nowe) reprinted in the yere of oure lorde 1598 sett
down by Francis Thynne, Ed. E. J. Furnivall from the MS. in the Bridge-
water Library (London: The Chaucer Society, 1876). Thynne is essentially
friendly to Speght and offers his comments not as a slap in the face, but
as a helping hand. Indeed, Speght made use of Thynne's work, which cir-
culated only in manuscript, in his subsequent edition.

Richard Tillesley, Animadversions upon M. Seldens History of tythes,
and his review thereof: before which (in lieu of the two first chapters
purposely pretermitted) is premised a catalogue of 72 authors, before the
year 1215 (London: Printed by N. Okes for A. Iohnson, 1621), sig. c.

Richard Tillesley, Animadversions upon M. Selden's Historyof tithes,
and his review thereof: Before which (in lieu of the two first Chapters
purposely pretermitted) is premised a Catalogue of Seventy two Authors,
before the yeere 1215. Maintaining the lus diminus of Tythes of more,
to be payed to the Priesthood under the Gospell (London: Printed by
John Bill, 1619, p. 236.


Don M. Wolfe et al., ed., Complete Prose Works of John Milton
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953 et seq.), I. 654. Cited
hereafter as Yale Milton.

0The word used in the titles of seventeenth century books is
almost invariably animadversionss," not "an animadversion," although
we speak today of animadversionn literature," and a single book as an

1Richard Flecknoe, Animadversions on a Petition Delivered to the
Honourable House of Parliament [No printer or publisher] (1653). For
another example of marginal animadversion, see the anonymous Annota-
tions upon certain Quaeries of (As they call it) tender conscience
Christians concerning the late Protestation (London: For Axel Roper,
John Dryden, "A Defence of an Essay of Dramaticke Poesie, being
an Answer to the Preface of The Great Favourite, or the Duke of Lerma,"
in The Works of John Dryden, ed. John Loftis and Vinton A. Dearing
(Berkeley: University of California, 1966), IX, 5.

1Tillesley, 1619, p. 236.

1Tillesley, 1619, sig. b3v-b4r.

1A Modest Confutation of a Slanderous and Scurrilous Libell entitled
Animadversions upon the Remonstrants defense against Smectymnuus (1642),
p. 24.
An Answer to a Book, Intituled the Doctrine and Discipline of
Divorce (London: Printed by G. M., for William Lee, 1644), p. 41.

1An Answer, p. 41.
18John Milton, Brief Notes Upon a Late Sermon, Titl'd, the Fear of
God and the King, &c., in The Works of John Milton, ed. Frank Allen
Patterson et. al., (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1932), VI, 157.
1Samuel Parker, A Defence and Continuation of the Ecclesiastical
Politie: By way of a Letter to a Friend in London. Together With a
Letter from the Author of the Friendly Debate (London: John Martyn,
1671), sig. A3r.
2[Joseph Glanville], A Further Discovery of M. Stubbe, in a Brief
Reply to his last pamphlet, against Jos. Glanvill (London: Printed
for H. Eversden, 1671),p. 2.
2Raymond A. Anselment, "Satiric Strategy in Andrew Marvell's The
Rehearsal Transpros'd," MP, 68 (1970), p. 137.

22Martin Marprelate, Oh read over D. Iohn Bridges for it is
worthy work: An Epitome, sig. 4r.

23[Martin Marprelate], Hay any work for Cooper. Printed in Europe
not farre from some of the Bouncing Priestes [1589; actually printed
in England], sig. 3r-3v.

24Yale Milton, pp. 666-667, and 666 n. 8.
2A Modest Confutation, p. 13.

By ad personal, I mean what is often commonly referred to as ad
hominem, that is, an attack upon the person of one's opponent, aimed
at disqualifying him. On the other hand, ad hominem would indicate
an argument tailored to the assumptions of one's audience, which
assumptions might not be shared by all men, or by the speaker. The
grammatical nitpicking of the seventeenth century controversialists
would seem to be both, as it was an ad personal based upon a notion
to which nearly any seventeenth century reader was likely to subscribe,
although the same notion might have little weight at another time
and place. For the distinction between the two terms, see Chaim
Perelman and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on
Argumentation (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1971),
p. 110-112.
Compare, too, the end of The Dunciad, where because of the
"uncreating word," we see that "Universal Darkness buries All."

2An Answer, p. 17.
29Flecknoe, p. 6-7.

3Dryden, p. 10.
31Parker, A Defence and Continuation, p. 102.
3The lust Censure and Reproofe of Martin junior [1588], sig. Clr.
3[Sir Roger L'Estrange], No Blinde Guides, in Answer To a seditious
Pamphlet of J. Milton's, INTITULED Brief Notes upon a late Sermon
Titl'd, the fear of God and the King; (London: 1660), p. 1.

3An Answer, p. 36.

35John Milton, Colasterion,in The Works of John Milton, ed. Frank
Allen Patterson et. al., (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1932), IV,

36Yale Milton, I, 895.

A Further Discovery, sig. A2r.
38John S. Coolidge, "Martin Marprelate, Marvell, and Decorum
Personae as a Satirical Theme," PMLA, 74 (1959), p. 527.
A Whip for an Ape: Or Martin displayed [London(?): 1589],
sig. A2r.
A Modest Confutation, sig. A3r.

41Yale Milton, I, 663.

42Yale Milton, I, 881-882.
4Thomas Nashe, Haue with you to Saffron-walden, or, Gabriell
Harueys Hunt is vp. Containing a full Answere to the eldest sonne of
the Halter-maker, or, Nashe his Confutation of the sinfull Doctor
(London: 1596), in The Works of Thomas Nashe, ed. R. B. Mckerrow
(London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1910), III; the biography is pp. 55-102.

44John Milton, The Second Defense of the People of England (1654),
trans. Robert Fellowes, excerpted in John Milton: Complete Poems and
Major Prose, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (Philadelphia: Bobbs-Merrill,
1957), p. 822.
A Modest Confutation, sig. A3r-A3v.
46Yale Milton, I, 677.

47Yale Milton, I, 677 n. 54.
48Yale Milton, I, 670.

49Yale Milton, 875-876.

50Yale Milton, I, 876.

5Colasterion, p. 235.
52Of course the Lnglish animadversion literature did not exist in
a vacuum. There were controversial works written, for continental
distribution, in Latin and in other languages with which Marvell and
other controversialists were familiar. However, there is ample material
in the tracts in English to derive and illustrate the extended definition
I seek here. Also, as King points out, there was a relationship between
the scholastic debate and the animadversion literature. (Robert Leo
King, "The Rhetoric of Andrew Marvell's Prose," Diss. Boston University,
1958, p. 71) Though I shall allude to this, it seemed best to let the
problems involved in a close study of the question remain outside the
scope of my investigation; indeed King may have done nearly all that
can usefully be done without more information then is presently avail-
able about the debates during the seventeenth century.



Although The Rehearsal Transpros'd was part of a pamphlet war

already a century old, the specific battle that was to match Marvell

against Parker began in 1665. In my summary I shall not devote more

than passing attention to the details of the arguments in any given

book. Most of the ammunition had been used many times before. To

put things simply, one side, representing the church establishment,

desired conformity: ideally, everyone in England would be a loyal

member of the Church of England, subscribing to and obeying the

episcopal precepts. In opposition were the nonconformists, especially

the Presbyterians and Independents, and their sympathizers, including

Andrew Marvell, who as a member of Parliament was a sworn member of the

established church. Each book in the debate can be really summed up in

two words, either for conformity or against conformity. But, at least

as important as what was said was who was saying it, and how: it was

to be a combat of personalities and intellects as much as of ideas.

The debate in print was but part of the great political struggle

between the conformists and the nonconformists. With the restoration

of the crown in 1660 had come the restoration of the Church of England:

bishops returned to their palaces, and parishes were again in the care

of dutiful (if sometimes absent) divines. The Convention Parliament,

which existed primarily to effect the Restoration, was dissolved

December 29, 1660. The new election resulted in what was to become

known as the Cavalier Parliament, which was to sit, with recesses and

prorogations, until 1678. As its name implies, the Cavalier Parlia-

ment was largely imbued with royalish sentiment, further enhanced by

a longing for the political stability which many thought a crown could

provide. Also, as was made certain by the Act of Uniformity of 1662,

Commons was composed entirely of men who could give at least lip-

service allegiance to the Anglican church, and it leaned consistently

in favor of uniformity.

On the other hand, Charles, titular head of the Church of England,

pursued an equally persistent although usually unsuccessful policy in

favor of toleration. His reasons for this are subject to debate today,

but whatever the various motives involved, one of the major tensions in

the politics of Charles' reign was between those who favored toleration,

especially the King and the leading nonconformists, and those who favored

conformity, especially the bishops and a working majority of Commons.

Although soon after his accession, Charles had received from Parlia-

ment what everyone thought would be a fairly adequate grant of permanent

revenue, he soon found himself chronically short of funds. Graft, mis-

management, unforeeen events, and the King's lavish expenditures on

favorites and mistresses can all be adduced, but the simplest explanation

seems to be that the tools for managing the finances of a modern govern-

ment were still undeveloped. The net effect was that the King was re-

peatedly obliged to abandon his efforts for toleration in order to get

more money from Parliament. The King wanted to keep his head and his

throne, and was as pragmatic and plastic as necessary; a policy in

favor of conformity again and again proved to be, as Marvell put it,

"the price of money."

In the Declaration of Breda, promulgated just prior to the Restora-

tion, Charles had promised (subject to the desires of Parliament)

"liberty to tender consciences." The Savoy Conference, required by

Charles' Declaration of Ecclesiastical Affairs of October 25, 1660,

failed to result in agreement between conformists and nonconformists,

and the bishops, now safely reestablished, saw little need to yield

toomuch for the comfort of their opponents. Because many members of

Parliament had similar sentiments, a series of anti-nonconformist laws

were enacted. The Act of Uniformity of 1662, requiring among other

things unfeigned assent of all ministers to the new Book of Common

Prayer in its entirety, resulted in the immediate ejection of about

2,000 nonconforming clergy from their livings. Soon after came that

group of laws which, although Clarendon was neither their originator

nor their sole promoter, became known as the Clarendon Code. Among

these laws was the Five-Mile Act of 1665, which

reaffimed the obligation of all in holy orders to take the pre-
scribed oaths, and forbade all preachers and teachers refusing
the oaths to come within five miles of a corporate town, or of
the parish where they had taught or preached. All such persons,
as well as those who failed to attend the parish church, were
forbidden, under a penalty of C40, to teach, whether as school-
master of private tutors; and thus the legislature did its best
to deprive the educated dissenter or ejected minister of one of
his most natural means of livelihood.2

Naturally, the perpetual outpouring of nonconformist literature

soon included reaction against the Five Mile Act. This provoked a

defense of the Act by one of the Church of England's most respected

priests and prolific writers, Simon Patrick. Patrick, eventually to

be Bishop of Ely, had taken presbyterian orders upon graduation from

Cambridge in 1647, but became a convinced episcopalian and was ordained

in 1654 by Dr. Joseph Hall, Milton's old adversary, in that then-

ejected Bishop's parlor. Patrick's energy and ability is attested

by the one hundred and thirty entries that follow his name in Wing's

catalog, including a number of multiple editions. In 1665 he was

rector of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, where he would remain for

another quarter century. Patrick describes his opening shot in our


In the latter end of the year 1668 [actually the first edition
of A Friendly Debate is dated 1666], the insolence of many of
the dissenters grew so great, that it provoked me to write a
little book, which I called "A Friendly Debate between a Con-
formist and a Nonconformist." My intention in it was sincere,
to persuade them in a kind manner to join with us; at least
not to have us in contempt, as if they were the only godly people,
and we at the best but moral men, (as they called us,) who had
not the grace of God in us. This book proved very acceptable,
and had many editions; but was only guessed to be mine; for I
told nobody of it but my brother, and one that carried it to
the press. At last, one of my lord of Canterbury's chaplains
wheedled Mr. Royston the bookseller to confess he had it from
me. Whereupon his Grace, who had long been angry with me upon
the account of Queen's college business, ordered one to bring
me over to him, assuring me of a very kind welcome. Which indeed
I had from him ever after upon many occasions.3

It is worth noting that Samuel Parker was at this time one of the

Archbishop's chaplains; whether or not he was the one who made the

inquiry, he is likely to have seen Patrick as a useful ally; at any rate

he quickly became Patrick's close literary comrade, and in 1672 was in-

strumental in securing for him a prebendary at Westminster.4

A Friendly Debate is a dialogue in which a conformist argues rings

around his neighbor the nonconformist. Patrick's mouthpiece defends the

Five-Mile Act by saying the nonconformists really ought to see their

error and conform, but if they are so stubborn as not to then they

should suffer in silence:

N.C. Would you not think it hard to be so abridg'd of your liberty?
C. Yes, without doubt. But, if we must never submit to such
things, as we count harsh and rigorous, then farewell all the
Doctrine of Christ concerning taking up our Cross, and suffering
patiently, &c. Which Doctrines, if you had studied, you would not
have uttered such a word as implies the King to be a Tyrant.
N.C. Pray pardon me that rashness.
C. I do most readily, and hope you ask God pardon for this, and
all other your rash words and actions.5

In other words, the nonconformists should be grateful for the splendid

opportunity the Five-Mile Act affords them to exercise their Christian

submission and patience.

A Friendly Debate was reprinted in 1668, then became a bestseller

with four editions in 1669. The nonconformist reaction may be typified

by Richard Baxter's comment that "this book was so dis-ingenuous and

virulent as caused most Religious People to abhor it for the strain and

tendency, and probable Effects." He notes that Patrick, having chosen

some of the worst examples of argumentation from the nonconformist side,

has committed a deliberate fallacy, which Baxter corrects: a cause

which includes fools among its adherents is not necessarily foolish.

Next, according to Baxter,

Some moderate worthy men did excellently well answer this Book
of Dr. Patrick's; so as would have stated matters rightly; but
the danger of the Times made them suppress them, and so they
were never printed; But Mr. Bowles late Minister at Thistleworth
printed an Answer, which sufficiently opened the faultiness of
what he wrote against; but wanting the Masculine strength, and

cautelousness which was necessary to deal with such an Adversary,
he was quickly answered (by fastening on the weakest parts) with
new reproach and triumph; And the Author was double exposed to
suffering; For whereas he was so neer Conformity as that he had
taken the Oxford Oath, and read some Common prayer, and therefore
by connivance was permitted to preach in South-Wark to an Hos-
pital, where he had 40 1. per Ann. and was now in expectation of
Liberty at a better place in Bridewell, he was now deprived of
that; And yet had little relief from the Nonconformists, because
he Conformed so far as he did: And having a numerous family was
in great want.7

This was Samuel Rolle; his book (under the pseudonym "Philagathus")

A Sober Answer to the Friendly Debate (London, 1669). Patrick had

published A Continuation to the Friendly Debate in April, 1669; Rolle's

book came out in August, and Patrick's A Further Continuation, with

appendix, which included the hatchet job on Rolle, was completed in

October.8 Having discovered the perils of the fence-straddler, Rolle

eventually conformed, recanting all he had said against the established

church, and lived comfortably from then on.

Shortly after Rolle's defeat the nonconformists received a new and

weighty attack, in Samuel Parker's Discourse of Ecclesiastical Polity,

which Baxter calls "a far more virulent book" than Patrick's; a book

in which the author "in a fluent fervent ingenious style of Natural

Rhetorick, poureth out floods of Odious reproaches, and (with incaute-

lous Extremities) saith as much to make them [the nonconformists]

hated, and to stir up the Parliament to destroy them as he could well

speak." Parker, eventually to become Bishop of Oxford, was then

thirty, an obese, opportunistic, and intelligent young cleric. In

later days, when asked what was the best form of religion, he is said

to have replied, "that which would keep a man in a coach-and-six." In

his schooldays a member of an ascetic group called "the Grewellers,"

he saw his error after the Restoration and became a diligent member

of the Church of England. In The Discourse of Ecclesiastical Policy,

his third book, he argued for strict conformity, on the grounds that

the magistrate had the God-given authority to control the outward

actions of his subjects, regardless of what their thoughts might be..

The magistrate could be expected to require conformity because it

was his duty and because of the many obvious benefits--domestic tran-

quillity, a united front against the Catholic menace, and a decent

adherence to tradition being among them. As Schmitter says, "Parker's

concern with religion was administrative, not spiritual. Religious

spirituality was outside his interest and his own experience, and one

feels that he would have been embarrassed had he been present when

the saintly Anglican, George Herbert, cast himself prone before the

altar of the little church at Bemerton."10

Parker devotes six pages of his preface to A Discourse of

Ecclesiastical Policy to a defense of A Friendly Debate, apparently

not against any printed attacks, but against the assaults of sermons

and coffee-house commentaries. He places himself firmly under Patrick's

standard, saying,

When I first resolved upon this Undertaking the Main Design in
my Thoughts, was to represent to the World the lamentable Folly
and Silliness of those mens Religion, and to shew what pitiful
and incompetent Guides of their Actions their own Consciences
are But in this design I found my self, happily prevented
by a late Learned and ingenious Discourse, The Friendly Debate,
that has unravel'd all their affected Phrases with so much
Perspicuity of Wit, discovered the Feebleness of their beloved
Notions with so much Clearness of Reason, demonstrated the Wild-
ness of their Practices by so many pregnant and undeniable

Testimonies, exposed the palpable unwarrantableness of their
Schism, the shameful Prevarication of their Pretences, and
utter inconsistency of their Principles with Publick Peace
and Settlement; and in brief, so evidently convicted the
Leaders in the Fraction of such inexcusable Knavery, and their
followers of such a dull and stubborn simplicity, that 'tis
impossible any thing should hold out against so much force of
Reason and Demonstration, but invincible Impudence and Obstinacy.11

Patrick's original efforts may well have been, as he claimed, "friendly"

and "kind," but it is clear that his stout new ally had no interest in

that sort of approach. Parker says his intention in A Discourse of

Ecclesiastical Policy is to prove

enough to satisfied any man of ordinary understanding, That
Indulgence and Toleration is the most absolute sort of Anarchy,
and that Princes may with less hazard give Liberty to mens
Vices and Debaucheries, than to their Consciences.12

This last phrase was to be a major area of contention later; those

who attacked the Discourse would seize upon it, Marvell making it one

of Parker's six "Aphorisms" or "plays," under the title "Debauchery

Tolerated." Parker of course is taking the usual position of the

established hierarchy, that the individual person cannot be trusted

to know what is best for himself, and needs someone to tell him.

Again, Parker says,

the main Notion I have pursued has been to make out, how Dangerous
a thing Liberty of Conscience is, considering the Tempers, and Ten-
dencies of Humane Nature, to the most necessary ends and designs
of Government: A vein of which Reasoning I have been careful to
run through all Parts and Branches of my Discourse, it being vastly
the most considerable if not the only thing to be attended in this

However unsuccessful his efforts, Patrick seems to have had (at least

in the beginning) some genuine hope in some small way to win over the

nonconformists to a better accommodation with the Church of England.

Parker, on the other hand, sees them as adversaries, a threat that must

be revealed and attacked.

Parker was answered by two minor pamphlets. One was the twenty-

page Insolence and Impudence Triumphant (London, 1669), of which the

author remains anonymous. This "lively Portraiture of Mr. S. P. Limn'd

and drawn by his own hand," consists largely of quotations from

Parker's book, which the compiler believes show Parker to be savage and

intemperate and even to be voicing opinions contrary to the doctrine

of the Church of England.14 The other was John Humfrey's anonymously

published A Case of Conscience, an attack on A Friendly Debate, and

and through it on the Five-Mile Act. In this Humfrey included "Animad-

versions on a new Book, entitled, Ecclesiastical Polity." These pub-

lications, virtually ignored by the other controversialists, were

popguns lost in the roar of the major artillery.

John Owen, a grave and reverend leader of the Independents, feeling

the need of a major reply to Parker's book, approached that other great

nonconformist eminence, Richard Baxter, with the request that Baxter

take on the job, saying he was "the fittest man in England for that

work." Baxter refused because, he says,

I have above all men been oft enough searched in the malignant
fire, and contended with them with so little thanks from the
Independents (tho they could say little against it) that I
resolved not to meddle with them any more, without a clearer
call than this: and besides Patrick and that Party by except-
ing me from those whom they reproached (in respect of Doctrine,
disposition and practice) made me the unfittest person to rise
up against them: Which if I had done, they that applauded me
before would soon have made me seem as odious almost as the rest;
For they had some at hand, that, in evil speaking, were such
Masters of Language, that they never wanted Matter, nor Words,
but could say what they listed as voluminously as they desired.

Owen then saw no alternative but to thrust his own thumb into

the dike, which he did by writing Truth and Innocence Vindicated, In

a Survey of a Discourse Concerning Ecclesiastical Polity; and the

Authority of the Civil Magistrate over the Consciences of Subjects

in Matters of Religion (London, 1669/70). This is a 340-page animad-

version on Parker's book, with a preface rebutting Parker's preface

and a chapter devoted to each of Parker's first six chapters. Owen

claimed that after reaching Parker's sixth chapter, he was "now

utterly wearied with the frequent occurrence of the same things in

various dresses," and Parker's repetition made it superfluous to pro-

ceed further. In this he anticipates the "six plays" Marvell would

speak of in The Rehearsal Transpros'd.

Owen took note of Parker's alliance with Patrick, prophetically


But in this main design he [Parker] professeth himself prevented
by the late Learned and Ingenious Discourse, The Friendly Debate;
which to manifest, it may be, that his Rhetorical faculty is not
confined to Invectives, he spendeth some pages in the splendid
Encomium of. There is no doubt, I suppose but that the Author of
that Discourse, will on the next occasion requite his Panegyrick,
and r 9urn his Commendations for his own Achievements with Advan-

Patrick would soon do exactly that.

Owen also included a leisurely discourse on Patrick's choice of

technique, the dialogue. He first suggests that it is especially suited

to give unfair advantage to those whose unsound position does not permit

them to meet their adversaries head-on. Then he compares Patrick's

treatment of the nonconformists in A Friendly Debate with Aristophanes'

treatment of Socrates; that is, use of the dramatic device to put into

his opponent's mouth words he never said and to show him doing things

he would not have done. Patrick, Owen says, has been blatantly biased

and fictitious in his depiction of the character "Nonconformist."1

Baxter reports that Owen's book was very well received and his

"esteem was much advanced with the Nonconformists," who thought Parker
would be unable to reply.8 Parker thought otherwise, and must have gone

to work almost immediately. While he toiled over what was to be the

longest book in the controversy, a year elapsed, but a friend kept the

fires stoked: George Vernon, rector of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucester-

shire, who had attended Oxford when Parker was there, anonymously pro-

duced A Letter to A Friend Concerning some of Dr. Owen's Principles and

Practices: With a Postscript To The Author of the late Ecclesiastical

Polity, and an Independent Catechism (London, 1670). It was a violent

attack on Owen's person, especially concerned with his alleged activities

in various official capacities under Cromwell, including that of Vice-

Chancellor of Oxford (while Vernon and Parker were students there).

Addressing "the Author of the late Ecclesiastical Polity,".he tells

Parker, "All that have appeared against any of you, have been such

thick-scull'd Scriblers, and the very Fanaticks themselves ought to

thrust them out of their Synagogues, because of those crazy, lame and

diseased answers, which they have returned to your arguments."8 Speak-

ing especially of Owen, Vernon says,

I never read any one of reputed Learning, who did more mangle and
mistake Arguments, pervert sence and overlook the whole state of
the Controversy, as your Antagonist does in his whole Treatise.
But you know it is the property of some ill-natur'd Animals, not
only to lick up their own Vomit, but to bark and be angry with
the light.19

The device of a "letter to a friend" was an old one, but Vernon

showed a spark of genius in his use of it; he claimed that his friend

was a great admirer of Owen's, who continually sent Vernon copies of

Owen's books, accompanied by laudatory comments. After reading Truth

and Innocence with, he claims, the highest expectations, and being

terribly dismayed, Vernon finds it necessary to write to his friend

to try to correct his friend's error. This gives Vernon a very

effective image of leaning over backwards only to find Owen such a

hopeless case that nothing good can be said of him. Vernon's attack

is avowedly quite ad personal, and was published in coordination with

Parker's coming book: "How he [Owen] contradicts himself and over-

throws his own principles in his Truth and Innocence vindicated, I

shall leave to be examined by the care of your pen."20

We are told that Parker made an effort to get his book out in time

for the next meeting of Parliament, in October 1670, and "shortly after
it came out."21 Similar efforts had been made by other pamphleteers,

and Vernon states that Owen had distributed free copies of Truth and

Innocence to the lodgings of members. Arithmetic shows the significance

of this: there were 509 members of Commons and 170 Lords, while the

probable printing of an important controversial book was 1000 copies.22

Although the total membership of Parliament was never in town at one time,

still, Owen's giveaway must have taken about one-half of his total edi-

tion, and Parker must have hoped that a similar number of parliamentarians

or men of parliamentary influence would part with three and six to read

his own book. The main target of our pampleteers, then, their intended

audience, was Parliament, and especially the House of Commons, because

it had the preponderance of power. The Restoration controversialists

clearly hoped to influence Parliament not merely by swaying the senti-

ment of their constituencies, but by direct communication with the

individual members.

However foregone the conclusion may seem today, the struggle was

real at the time. While the King consistently favored toleration, his

most frequent calisthenic was the bow to necessity. The House of Lords

tended to be tolerant too, despite the presence of Lords Bishop in

their midst, and often delayed or modified the more extreme conformist

efforts of Commons. But in the Commons resided not only the most sub-

stantial conformist sentiments but the power to express those sentiments

in law. However, Commons was far from monolithic, as Marvell's member-

ship would indicate. In 1668 Sir Richard Temple noted that the Commons

could be divided into four main groups:

'the Clarendonians,' diehard anglicans; 'the anti-Claredonians,'
among whom he would presumably have numbered Seymour, Howard,
Osborne, Littleton, and himself; 'the Presbyterians,' men like
Holland and Birch; and the central mass of country gentlemen.23

D. T. Witcombe comments that Temple "believed rightly" that the votes

of the country gentlemen were the "key to parliamentary success."24

This analysis of Parliament seems to remain essentially valid through

the period of the Marvell-Parker controversy.2

To know your audience is one thing; to move them to action is

another. Though the flames of pamphleteering fervor leaped high, and

in the streets and courts of London politics might bring ruin, disfig-

urement, or death to hapless individuals, the passions of the times were

not sufficient to rivet parliamentarians to their benches. On any

given date, many members might be absent from London; as for those

who were in the capital, we are told that on at least one occasion

Charles, needing votes on a crucial bill, "sent out the lord chamber-

lain to bring in the loyalists from the places where they were presumed

7 26
to be engaged--namely the theatres and houses of ill fame."26 Many.

a bill was passed or defeated with the participation of a half, a

third, or a fifth of the membership of Commons. Such truancy might

well suggest a need to exhort even the members of one's own party.

Those who aimed their books at Parliament, then, might have at

least three goals in mind: to discredit their opponents, to sway the

opinion of the "central mass," and to motivate lukewarm sympathizers

to take action. Often the first of these seems to have been paramount,

but this may have been not purely from spite, but rather out of belief

that it was an effective way to accomplish the other goals.

In the Defence and Continuation, Parker does two things. First

is a reiteration of his stand in the Discourse, and a counterattack

against Owen's attack on the various parts of his argument, accompanied

by suitable charges that Owen is a deranged spouter of nothings:

Had it been my Fate to have faln into the hands of an Adversary,
that had either Ability or Patience to write Reason, it might have
afforded good Occasions for useful and material Remarks, and I
should not have blusht either at his or my own Victory. But this
man is not at leisure to write Sense, nor take time to weight
whether what he dictates be pertinent either to his own or to my
purpose. His whole Book is nothing but Cavil and vulgar talk.27

Second, Parker searches through Owen's voluminous prior publications,

including many sermons delivered under the aegis of the Commonwealth;

this is too copious and diffuse for quotation here, but Baxter describes

the result:

But the second part of the Matter of his book, was managed with
more advantage; because of all the Men in England Dr. Owen was
the Chief that had Headed the Independents in the Army with the
greatest height, and Confidence, and Applause, and afterward had
been the greater persuader of Fleetwood, Desborough and the rest
of the Officers of the Army who were his Gathered Church, to
Compel Rich. Cromwell to dissolve his Parliament; which being
done, he fell with it, and the King was brought in: So that
Parker had so many of his Parliament and Army Sermons to cite,
in which he urgeth them to Justice, and prophesyeth of the
ruine of the Western Kings, and telleth them that their work
was to take down Civil and Ecclesiastical Tyranny, with such
like, that the Dr. being neither able to repent (hitherto) or
to justify all this must be silent, or only plead the Act of
Oblivion: And so I fear his unfitness for this Work was a
general injury to the Nonconformists.28

Appended to Parker's Defence was a lengthy "letter from the Author

of the Friendly Debate," which is an animadversion against those pages

of Truth and Innocence wherein Owen attacks The Friendly Debate. Patrick

is especially upset at Owen's charge that the dialogue format is theatri-

cal and used to slant the argument:

The most of his Declamation every body sees is spent against the
manner and way of my Writing; which he would have his easie
Disciples believe (notwithstanding all that hath been said) is
peculiarly accommodated to render the sentiments and expressions
of our Adversaries ridiculous, and expose their persons to contempt
and scorn. Insomuch that in points of Faith, Opinion and Judgment,
this way of dealing hath been hitherto esteemed fitter for the stage,
then a serious disquisition after Truth, or confutation of Errour.:2

Patrick devotes virtually the entire twenty-five pages of his "Letter"

to a justification of dialogue as a mode of argumentative discourse,

citing numerous classical and ecclesiastical examples, even mentioning

the Song of Songs, which one authority had called "a kind of Divine

Pastoral, or Marriage-Play, consisting of divers Acts and Scenes; or a

sacred Dialogue with many interlocutory passages." Patrick also goes

to some length to defend Aristophanes, even to proving that the play

was not so vicious as Owen would have it, because Socrates lived for

some years subsequent to the performance. He also calls Truth and

Innocence "that indigested heap of stuff which [Owen] hath hudled

together," and accuses Owen of "sliding over those arguments which

are hard, and taking no notice of them." Finally he joins Parker and

Vernon in chorusing about Owen's Achilles' heel--his Cromwellian past:

[such men] are not so much for the Good Old Way, which calls men
to Repentance, as for the Good Old Cause, which could justifie
all things, and hallow the blackest Crime. These they must by
no measure hear of, because they will not condemn, and dare not
defend them. It is an unpardonable fault, if we do but make
mention of their evil deeds.30

While Owen examined his wounds, the machinery of domestic and foreign

politics, intimately bound with the question of toleration, ground on.

In the London area, nonconformists met openly in large gatherings; they

were persecuted by the Trained Bands and soldiers, who wounded many and

"killed some Quakers, especially while they took all patiently."31

Rumors abounded, and the Lord Mayor, fearing insurrection, arrested a

number of leading dissenters in order to require from them bonds for

good behavior. Two of these, Hayes and Jekyll, refused and sued for

false arrest. The case came before Parliament, which after due process

canceled the entire matter and declared it closed.

Meanwhile, in the spring of 1670 Charles had made the secret

Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV, in which he promised to join Louis in

a war on the Dutch, to declare his own Catholicism, and to restore

England (with French help if need be) to the Catholic fold. In return

Charles was to receive certain parts of the expected Dutch conquests

and--the important item--two million livres in cash almost immediately,

plus three million a year for the duration of the war. For the benefit

of Buckingham and Charles's other protestant ministers, a false treaty

was executed in December 1670, after a lengthy charade of negotiations.

This treaty was identical with the first except for the omission of the

references to Catholicism. The French money was payable promptly, but

Charles' announcement was to be made at his own discretion; the French

monarch eventually discovered this would mean "never." Not wishing

Louis to get too impatient, however, Charles began planning the Third

Anglo-Dutch War. He hoped to profit in the war not only from the

French subsidy, but also from the capture of Dutch prizes, in addition

to an enlarged national military (especially naval) budget. ii the

meantime, however, he needed ready cash.

Soon after Parliament convened in November, 1670, Charles had

found himself in need of an immediate ,60,000; as was often the case,

he could not wait for the normal processes of revenue. In a letter to

Popple, Marvell describes what happened:

The King had Occasion for sixty thousand Pounds. Sent to borrow
it of the City. Sterlin [the Lord Mayor], Robinson, and all the
rest of that Faction, were at it many a Week, and could not get
above ten thousand. The Fanatics, under Persecution, served his
Majesty. The other Party, both in Court and City, would have
prevented it. But the King protested Mony would be acceptable.
So the City patched up, out of the Chamber, and other Ways,
twenty thousand Pounds. The Fanatics, of all Sorts, forty

The "fanatics" (dissenters) could at times be useful to their king.

On December 10, 1670, Charles told the House he needed t800,000

(above the basic ;1,300,000 for paying his debts he had summoned

them for in the first place) to make England's military might sufficient

in the face of the French threat. Bills were soon underway to provide

this, but the process was not completed until March. At that time

Parliament became alarmed at the great numbers of priests and Jesuits

in the London area, and at the laxity with which they were persecuted.

Before presenting the revenue bills to the King, they sent him a joint

petition against the growth of popery. His money within sight, the

King sacrificed the Catholics, issuing a proclamation calling for the

departure of all priests and Jesuits from England and for the vigorous

prosecution of laws against recusants. Parliament had also passed but

not yet sent to the King a bill against Catholics and a new Conven-

ticle Act against the dissenters. His money secure, Charles thanked

Parliament and prorogued them. With the prorogation these bills,

among others, were as Marvell wrote to the Mayor of Hull, "fall'n to

the ground."33 The Conventicle Act had passed Commons by the slim

vote of 74 to 53, but this was on April 5, when prorogation was ex-

pected and many Members had no doubt packed their bags.

At about this time or shortly thereafter Owen, with the assistance

(and he claims at the urging) of a friend, vigorously spiked Vernon's

guns. The anonymous author of An Expostulatory Letter to the Author of

the Late Slanderous Libel Against Dr. O. With some short Reflections

thereon (London, 1671) claims that Vernon has done nothing but tell the


what few before but knew, That in the late unhappy differences
amongst us, Dr. 0, sided with the wrong Party; So did many more,
whose endeavours to support it far exceeded his; who are not
therefore the less faithful and Loyal Subjects now: But to what
degree of partiality will not envy and malice carry a man?34

He asserts that the Act of Oblivion makes mention of unfortunate acts

committed prior to the Restoration impertinent, and claims that if

Vernon insists on making a case he must produce witnesses. What fol-

lows is a parody of The Friendly Debate; a series of supposedly hostile

witnesses are questioned in turn about charges against Owen, with re-

sults that make the conformist camp look like simpletons. For example:

[Expostulator.] Here's a great deal indeed: But are you well
assur'd of the truth of all this?
Witness. Well assured; Sure am I, as a man can be of any thing
he dream't off, but last night.
[Expostulator.] That's well: But we must not here admit of
dreams for evidence. Call therefore, I pray, the next.35

Appended to the Expostulatory Letter is an essay by Owen, addressed

to the Expostulator, which begins thus:

Sir, It is upon your desire, and not in any compliance with my
own judgement or inclination, that I have taken a little con-
sideration of a late slanderous Libel published against me. I
have learned, I bless God, to bear and pass by such Reproaches,
without much trouble to my self, or giving the least unto others.
My mind and conscience are not at all concerned in them, and so
far as my Reputation seems to be so, I am very willing to let
it go. For I cannot entertain a valuation of their good opinion,
whose minds are capable of an impression from such virulent

In context it is difficult to read this without a vision of Owen,

firmly clenching his pen and his teeth, trying with all his might to

smile with sweet gentleness. Owen says that even after being told

the name of his enemy, he still has no idea who he is, and that all of

Vernon's accusations about Owen's behavior at Oxford and under Cromwell

are scandalous lies. Owen's rhetoric is hardly gentle:

But for this Author, one wholly unknown to me, without the com-
pass of any pretence of the least provocation from me, to
accommodate the lusts and revenges of others, with that unruly
evil, a mercenary tongue full of deadly poison, without the
management of any difference, real or pretended, meerly to
calumniate and load me with false aspersions, as in the issue
they will prove, is an instance of such a depraved disposition
of mind, such a worthless baseness of soul, such a neglect of
all Rules of Morality, and Principles of humane Conversation,
such a contempt of Scripture Precepts innumerable, as it may be
can scarcely be parallel'd in an Age, amongst the vilest of Men-.
Something I confess of this nature is directed unto in the
Casuistical Divinity, or Modern Policy of the Jesuits.37

It was fairly standard procedure for a controversialist to link his

opponents with the Catholics, but the recent evidence of Parliamentary

concern made it perhaps more effective this time than usual. The

Owen-Vernon skirmish involves few subtleties; Vernon's attack is dir-

ect and virtually unadulterated assault on Owen's character, and Owen's

reply is equally direct and forceful--"Mentitur impudentissime," he

thunders again and again. One of the two must have been a blatant

liar, but which it was, who today can tell? The specific charges

Owen denies were not brought up again, although Parker was to have

the opportunity to do so later, if he had wished.

While the pamphleteers fought their paper war, Charles and his

advisors were preparing for a real one with the Dutch. They needed

a pretext, which, as the Dutch were not interested in a war, proved


In the summer of 1671 Temple was recalled from The Hague, and as the
yacht Merlin conveying lady Temple passed through the Dutch fleet,
the English captain fired because he was not saluted. Here was
the required pretext. In December Downing 'le plus grand querelleur
de la diplomatic britannique' was sent to The Hague with orders to
insist that the Dutch should lower their flag in the Presence of
even a single English warship. The reply of the Dutch was concilia-
tory they were willing to discuss some regulation for avoid-
ing confusion.38

In January 1671/2 a new method of debt management combined with simple

scarcity of funds forced Charles to announce the Stoppage of the Ex-

chequer, which by indefinitely postponing payment on debts so far

incurred, immediately ruined a number of his creditors. In early

March, an English fleet attacked the Dutch Smyrna fleet of the Isle

of Wight, and got the worst of it. This example of Dutch belligerence

seemed sufficient reason for war; it was declared on March 17.

From the signing of the secret Treaty of Dover, on through 1671

and 1672, Charles' Catholic advisors, especially the Duke of York and

Clifford, had urged the King to avow publicly his Catholicism and

begin covering England into a Catholic state. As Ogg puts it, "A

revolution [in favor of Catholicism] might well have taken place in

the years 1671-2 Had James been King, the revolution would

have taken place."39 Charles was wiser than his brother, but on March

15, 1672, he issued a Declaration of Indulgence. This served as a

gesture to the French king, relieving the persecution of English

Catholics by permitting them to worship unmolested in their own houses.

It also presumably drew the King the support of dissenters, who could

now worship in public provided they obtained a license.40 Of course

it did not please the episcopal party, and their position would be

demonstrated at the next meeting of Parliament.

The nonconformists quickly took advantage of the Declaration; more

than 1,500 received licenses to preach. Still, they could not feel

wholly secure. First, the King had issued the Declaration of Indulgence

on the strength of a prerogative that many (almost certainly including

Marvell) felt he could not legitimately claim. Second, the votes of

Parliament had consistently run against toleration, and although Parlia-

ment had been prorogued for nearly a year, they could be expected to

meet again reasonably soon. With the latter in mind, neither the

conformists nor their opponents were likely to relax their efforts at


If it seems likely that Vernon's charges were sufficiently exagger-

ated or false that Owen felt confident in denying them, Parker's insinua-

tions in the Defence and Continuation were another matter. Much that

Owen had said and done as a leading Cromwellian was a matter of printed

record and public memory that the Act of Oblivion could not erase.

Owen found himself unable to reply directly. His next book was the

Discourse Concerning Evangelical Love, Church-Peace, and Unity (London,

1672). Schmitter describes Owen's position:

It would have been the height of futility to repeat the same
old arguments with the same old antagonist. The problem that
engaged Owen's attention was not Parker, but the integrity of
his own religious conscience, so he took a fresh start
without mention of his opponents. But in a real way it picked
up the glove again The work explains the impossibility
of visible communion with the establishment.41

Owen may well have spread the word that his "mind and conscience were

not at all concerned" with Parker's attack; there is a manuscript note

on the title-page of the British Museum copy of A Discourse Concerning

Evangelical Love, to the effect that it was "Written by Dr. Owen

presently after Parker's reply to Owen's Survey of Ecclesi policy

Writen by S Parker wch Owen rejoyn not to as scurilous."42 That

Evangelical Love was, whatever else its value, in no small way a reply

to Parker disguised as a non-reply, may be seen by reading it in

the context of the controversy. Owen never names Parker or his other

opponents, or any of their books. Rather, he makes statements like


Neither will that Plea, which is by some insisted on in this
case, yield any solid or universal relief. It is said, that
some may warrantably and duly observe in the Worship of God,
what is unduly and Unwarrantably imposed on them by others.
And indeed all Controversies about church Constitution, Dis-
cipline, and external Worship, are by some reduced unto these
two Heads; that the Magistrate may appoint what he pleaseth,
and the People may observe whatever he appoints: For as there
is no Government of the Church determined in the Scripture,
it is meet it should be erected and disposed by the supreme
Magistrate, who, no doubt, upon that supposition, is only fit
and qualified so to do: And for outward worship, and the
Rites thereof, both it and they are so far indifferent, as
that we may comply with whatever is imposed on us; whether they
be good, or useful, or evil, lies at the doors of others to
answer about.43

It is difficult to imagine that, as Parker and others read this, they

did not substitute "Parker" for the word "some." Elsewhere Owen

attempts a Janus-like performance, smiling at his fellows and snarling

at the conformists:

Our only aim is to declare those Principles concerning mutual
Love and Unity among Christians, and Practices in the Worship
of God, wherein our own Consciences do find Rest and Peace,
and others have so much misjudged us about. This therefore we
shall briefly do; and that without such Reflexions or Recrimina-
tions, as may any way exasperate the Spirits of others, or in
the least impede that Reintroduction of Love and Concord, which
it is the Duty of us all to labour in. Wherefore we shall herein
have no regard unto the Revilings, Reproaches, and threatnings
of them, who seem to have had no regard to Truth, or Modesty,
or Sobriety, indeed to God or Man, in the management of them.
With such it is our Duty not to strive, but to commit our cause
to him that Judgeth Righteously, especially with respect unto
those impure outrages which goe before unto Judgement. Furious
persons, animated by their secular Interests, or desire of
Revenge, unacquainted with the Spirit of the Gospel, and the

true nature of the Religion revealed by Jesus Christ, incom-
passionate towards the Infirmities of the minds of Men, whereof
yet none in the world give greater Instances than themselves,
who have no thoughts but to trample under foot and destroy
all that differ from them, we shall rather pitty and pray for,
then either contend withal, or hope to convince.44

To the modern reader this is likely to seem like a furious, extended

oxymoron; although Owen may not be trying to convince Parker and the

other prelatists, he is clearly contending with them, with considerable

vehemence. Elsewhere, among his numerous "uncontentious" statements,

Owen says that anyone who does not think the church needs reformation

shares in the "sinful Degeneracy," and that "to think to preserve a

Church by Outward Order, when its internal principles of Faith and

Holiness are decayed, is but to do like him who endeavouring to set

a Dead Body upright, but failing in his Attempt, concluded, that there

was somewhat wanting within."45 Upon reading such things, Parker was

indeed likely to become a "furious person." But, in formal terms,

how could he retaliate? By speaking in so general a fashion, Owen

had broken the chain of controversy, had confronted Parker not with

a phalanx but a large pillow. As he had apparently spread the word

that he had not replied to Parker's attack because it was "scurrilous,"

any further direct attack by Parker, not overtly provoked, would appear

as further evidence of gratuitous spleen. Since Baxter was later to

admit that Owen seemed at this point to have lost hopelessly, and does

mention Evangelical Love as a resurgent effort, it seems that Parker

might have still been ahead if he had ignored Owen's strategem, admit-

tedly clever but probably inadequate to overcome the handicap of

Owen's ast record.46 But Parker too was clever, and was, it seems,
Owen's past record. But Parker too was clever, and was, it seems,

stung. Now it was, as Schmitter puts it, that "Parker's real genius

for attack was demonstrated. 47

Parker somehow acquired an unpublished manuscript in which the

late John Bramhall, Archbiship of Armagh, set forth the "Vindication

of himself and the Episcopal Clergy, from the Presbyterian Charge

of Popery, As it is managed by Mr. Baxter in his Treatise of the

Grotian Religion." Publishing it in June or July of 1672, Parker

appended to it his Preface, which he claimed the bookseller desired,

"to recommend it to the the present Genius of the Age, and reconcile

it to the present Juncture of Affairs.48 Bramhall's eighty-page essay

seems scarcely to have been heeded by anyone; it was primarily the

vehicle for Parker's equally long Preface. After a lavish but brief

encomium on Bramhall, and some comments on his essay, Parker devotes

forty pages to an attack on Owen (referred to as "J. O.") and

Evangelical Love. The rest of the Preface, in consonance with Bram-

hall's defense of the episcopal establishment against the charge of

popery, is given over to a consideration of "what likelihood, or how

much Danger there is of the Return of Popery into this Nation."

According to Parker there is no such danger, except from the "Fanaticks,"

the nonconformists, who will in various ways so undermine and weaken

the establishment as to make England an easy prey for papists. Parker

seems to be aware that Baxter had earlier refused to attack the Dis-

course of Ecclesiastical Polity:

But the main Reason that put me upon the Publication of it
[Bramhall's work], was thereby to give some check to their
[the dissenters'] disingenuity, for though Mr. B. have learnt
more modesty than to be so prodigal as formerly in sending
abroad his hard censures and positive Decrees against every
Body and upon every Occasion; yet others that pretend to as

great an Interest and Authority with the holy Brotherhood
still persevere in the same rudeness and incivility towards
Church of England; and upon every slight accident are beating
up the Drums against the Pope and Popish plots.49

The major elements of Parker's arguments will be dealt with in a later

chapter, but it is appropriate to speak here of his personal reaction

to Owen. It is unfortunate, says Parker, that not every nonconformist

takes example from Baxter's shyness; instead, their "Rat-Divines" are

"perpetually nibling and gnawing at other mens writings."50 Such men,

of which Owen is the chief, need chastisement and correction. Owen

is especially perverse to continue after Parker has already, in the

Defence, shown him the error of his ways.

Parker goes on to say that it is all right for Owen to "amuse

his own gazing and admiring drove" of nonconformists with his "wonder-

ful Non-sense," as long as he does not disturb his neighbors; unfortu-

nately, in attacking "the establish Laws and Constitution of the

Commonwealth," he has made a nuisance of himself.51 Indeed, Owen is

"the greatest Pest and most dangerous enemy of the Commonwealth," a

schismatic, a mutineer, a person of "gangren'd Temper and malignant

Spirit," a rank blasphemer against the Divine Spirit.52 As such, he

will be dealt with properly:

And therefore I would advise J. O. for the future, to forbear
all Publick Attempts against the Church; and if he will not,
he will find all the Rebuke he has hitherto suffered, to be
but the beginnings of his sorrows, and will be brought to the
Sledge oftner than he is aware of: for if he be not taken down
with open and continual Disgraces, his Pride will quickly grow
raging and insupportable. I know he will complain of this as
the most intemperate Language that was ever poured upon him by
any Adversary; but 'tis no matter for that, as long as I know
them, and have proved them to be Words of Truth and Sobriety:

they proceed not from Passion or Revenge, but from an upright
and composed Mind, that upon mature Judgment chuses this way
of procedure as most proper and rational against such an
enormous and irreclaimable Offendor. I have not skill enough
in the Tricks of Hypocrisie, to protest my Friendship and
Charity to my Enemies in the coarsest Expressions of Rancour
and Bitterness; as this meek-spirited Man always does, with
heaping up all the Recriminations that (he tells us) he might,
but will not retort; and so in one breath vents his Malice,
and boasts his Charity: and were it not for this demure way of
darting his Revenge, it is manifest from the Genius of his
Mind and Writings, that Death it self would scarce be more
disgustful, than an hearty forgiveness, otherwise he would
not always issue out his Pardons with such spiteful and
stabbing Intimations.53

Here Parker makes a charge to which Owen is quite vulnerable; Owen's

efforts to be sweetly wrathful could easily appear to the objective

reader to be what Parker says they are: hypocrisy. At the same time

Parker makes an attempt, the success of which the reader may judge for

himself, to use this very same technique against its originator.

Parker's own vituperation is not at all bitter, he assures us, but

is the appropriate expression of "an upright and composed Mind."

Nor did Parker neglect to employ his most powerful and well-

proven weapon against Owen; various allusions to Owen's past associa-

tion with the "Good Old Cause" remind the informed reader that because

of his past activities under Cromwell, Owen was not the most credible

witness for gentleness and toleration.

Parker closes what he himself calls a "Rhapsody of hasty and

huddled thoughts" with the plea that for England's safety and well-

being a strong national church is necessary, and none is so suitable

as the Church of England, "for when that is gone, it will be very hard

to find out another, with which, if thou are either honest or wise,

thou wilt be over-forward to join Communion.54 Parker's Preface

was first attacked by John Humfrey, who seems to have been a peren-

nially unsolicited footsoldier in this verbal warfare. The Authority

of the Magistrate, about Religion, discussed in a rebuke to the

prefacer of a late book of Bishop Bramhall's (London, 1672), linked

Parker with Patrick and reproached them both. Of Parker, Humfrey

exclaims, Alas, that the Talents of our Lord, and excellent parts

which he hath given this man, should become to him such a temptation!"55

He is unhappy at "this filthy pride" displayed by both Parker and

Patrick, although Patrick is "more cankered and sly."56 Not long

after, Humfrey seems to have republished this in a single volume

with two previous tracts against Parker and Patrick, as Two Points

of Great Moment (London, 1672). This tract carried a brief end-note

by Richard Baxter, who by this time was at least willing to root from

the sidelines. Although (or perhaps because) Humfrey seems to have

had trouble from the authorities, his efforts went largely unnoticed.5

If Owen was even aware of Humfrey's efforts (and very possibly he was,

through Baxter) he rightly considered them inadequate. Yet Owen's

lance was broken and Baxter had refused to saddle; a new champion

was needed.

Previous studies of Marvell seem to indicate that Marvell leaped

to the defense of the dissenters of his own volition; nothing in The

Rehearsal Transpros'd indicates otherwise. But although Marvell

clearly attacked Parker with real enthusiasm, there is good evidence

that it was not entirely his own idea. The man who anonymously

published The Rehearsal Transpros'd was Nathaniel Ponder, whose

success up to that time was almost entirely based on the printing of
John Owen's books. At an inquiry years later, Ponder was to testify

that only one man had read the proofs of The Rehearsal Transpros'd,

and that man was John Owen. Marvell takes pains in The Rehearsal

Transpros'd to distance himself from Owen, saying for example, "I

do not much trouble my self, nor interest my self in the least in

J. O.'s Quarrel: no other wise than if he were John a Nokes and

I heard him rail'd at by John a Stiles."59 Clearly this was not

so, but Marvell had good rhetorical reasons for saying so--Owen's

ship was sunk, and anyway one always more readily believes an appar-

ently nonpartisan commentator. We know from Baxter's account that

Owen was ready to ask for help, so it seems not at all unlikely that

a man whose book against Owen's enemy was printed under Owen's scru-

tiny by Owen's printer, might have been asked by Owen to write the

book in the first place. Certainly Owen at least encouraged him.

At this point, while in the background the Dutch war went on--

badly for the English--the dissenters had enjoyed the King's Indulgence

for some months, during which time Parliament had been prorogued.

Everyone knew that Parliament would meet again, and that when it did,

one of the first items of business would be the Declaration of Indul-

gence and the whole question of toleration. Thus it seems reasonable

to assume that even though Parliament was not in session, its members

were for Marvell, as they had been for Owen and Parktz the primary

audience. Marvell must have seen his task as something like this:

(1) to torpedo Parker, who was scoring too many propaganda points

for the conformists; (2) to bolster the cause for toleration, in-

spiring its lukewarm supporters and swaying the central mass of

country gentlemen in Parliament, so that when Parliament met again

it would let toleration stand; (3) en passant, to encourage the

King in maintaining his tolerant stance. There was no need to devote

much effort to defending Owen, whose personal cause, already lost on

this front, was beside the main point. Nor would it be very useful,

as Legouis seems to think, to lean too much on the Declaration of

Indulgence; for that instrument was, as past events suggested and

future events would prove, a thing itself in need of support.60

Although Marvell had heretofore done no pamphleteering, his

Cromwellian poems showed a powerful mind; and his old poem on Holland,

revived for the present war, as well as his other political verse,

showed a very sharp wit. Now was the time, and Marvell was the man.

In September 1672 The Rehearsal Transpros'd appeared.


An examination at some length of the theological ins and outs
of the major books in this controversy may be found in Dean M. Schmitter's
"Andrew Marvell: Member for Hull," Diss. University of Michigan, 1955,
pp. 56-123.

David Ogg, England in the Reign of Charles II (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1963), I, 207.

Simon Patrick, The Autobiography of Symon Patrick, Bishop of Ely
(Oxford: J. H. Parker, 1839), pp. 59-60. The publisher J. H. Parker
is a descendant of Samuel Parker; his publishing firm yet flourishes.

Patrick, Autobiography, p. 68.

Simon Patrick, A Friendly Debate Between a Conformist and a Non-
Conformist, 4th ed. (London: 1669), p. 2.

Reliquae Baxterianae (London, 1696), III, 39.

Reliquae Baxterianae, III, 41.

Patrick, Autobiography, p. 59.

9Reliquae Baxterianae, III, 41. The only extant copies of Parker's
Discourse are dated 1670, but Owen, when citing Parker, uses a different
pagination than that edition, and Humfrey's Case of Conscience, replying
to the Discourse, is dated 1669.

1Schmitter, p. 18.

Samuel Parker, Discourse of Ecclesiastical Polity (London: John
Martyn, 1670), pp. x-xi.
12arker, Discourse, p. xv.
13Parker, Discourse, p. xlvi.
Parker, Discourse, p. xlvi.

1Richard L. King, in "The Rhetoric of Andrew Marvell's Prose," Diss.
Boston University, 1965, pp. 396-399, suggests that Marvell wrote or at
least had read this pamphlet. I feel reasonably sure that he did not
write it and that he need not have read it. To my mind, Marvell's book
more closely resembles Owen's Truth and Innocence.

15Reliquae Baxterianae, III, 42.

16John Owen, Truth and Innocence Vindicated (London, 1669/70), p. 45.

O7wen, Truth and Innocence, p. 45 ff.
1George Vernon, A Letter to a Friend (London, 1670), p. 65.
Vernon, p. 65.
Vernon, p. 73.

1Reliquae Baxterianae, III, 42.

2Vernon, p. 66. For information about the size of printings, I-
am indebted to John Sommerville, who notes that 500 copies was the
standard edition for learned books in the late seventeenth century
[John Johnson and Strickland Gibson, Print and Privilege at Oxford to
the Year 1700, Oxford Bibliographical Society Publications, No. 7
(1941-2), p. 123;] that 500 was the minimum edition for most other
works during the seventeenth centre [Johnson and Gibson, p. 147];
that in the mid-eighteenth century, the most common run was still
500 copies, with 1,000 being the next most common, and 750 next
[Patricia Hernlund, "William Strahan's Ledgers: Standard Charges
for Printing, 1738-1785," Studies in Bibliography, XX (1967), 104-
110.]; and that circa 1700 sermons usually had first editions of 500,
although 750 to 1000 was not unusual [D. F. McKenzie, The Cambridge
University Press 1696-1712: A Bibliographical Study (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1966), I, 99-101.] From all this it seems
reasonable to assume a printing for Owen's and Parker's books of not
more than 1,000.

D. T. Witcombe, Charles II and the Cavalier House of Commons
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1966), p. 78.
2Witcombe, p. 78.
2Things had shifted significantly by 1674; see Witcombe, p. 150 ff.
Ogg, II, 483, citing Pepys, Dec. 8, 1666.
Samuel Parker, A Defence and Continuation of the Ecclesiastical
Politie: By Way of a Letter to a Friend in London. Together With a
Letter from the Author of the Friendly Debate (London: John Martyn,
1671), sig. A3r.

28Reliquae Baxterianae, III, 42.
29Parker, Defence, p. 725.
30arker, Defence, p. 724, p. 745, and p. 747-8.
Parker, Defence, p. 724, p. 745, and p. 747-8.

31H. M. Margoliouth, ed., The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell,
third edition, rev. by Pierre Legouis with E. E. Duncan-Jones (Oxford:
The Clarendon Press, 1971), II, 317-318. Volume II, containing
Marvell's letters, will be cited hereafter as Letters.

3Letters, p. 318.
Letters, p. 140
34Expostulatory Letter, p. 2.

3Expostulatory Letter, p. 6

36Expostulatory Letter, p. 13.
3Expostulatory Letter, p. 15.

38Ogg, I, 355.

39gg, 352.

Ogg, I, 355.
4Schmitter, pp. 53-4; Schmitter suggests that the "general injury
to the Nonconformists" Baxter says Owen caused by his "unfitness for
such work" is the second Conventicle Act; however, as this act evapo-
rated in the prorogation, it really caused no injury. I think Baxter
simply means "general injury."
4Later Marvell would employ this same strategy, telling Sir Edward
Harley, as he prepared to write his reply to Parker's Reproof, "But
I desire that all the discourse of my friends may run as if no answer
ought to be expected to so scurrilous a book;" Letters, p. 328.
43John Owen, A Discourse Concerning Evangelical Love, Church-Peace,
and Unity (London: 1672), p. 179.

4Evangelical Love, p. 8.
4Evangelical Love, p. 127, p. 128
4Reliquae Baxterianae, III, 42.
4Schmitter, p. 54.

48Parker, Preface to Bishop Bramhall's Vindication (London: 1672),
sig. A2r.
49reface, sig. A8v.
Preface, sig. A8v.

50Preface, sig. A8r.

51Preface, sig. a3v.
52reface, sig. Clv-C2v.
53Preface, sig. C3r-C2v.
Preface, sig. C3r-C3v.
54Preface, sig. e8v.

55J[ohn] H[umfrey], The Authority of the Magistrate, about Relig-ion,
discussed in a rebuke to the prefacer of a late book of Bishop Bramhall's
(London: 1672), p. 4.

56Humfrey, p. 47.
In a preface to his Two Points of Great Moment (London: 1672),
Humfrey notes that his sheet The Case had been seized, and says that he
has printed The Authority of the Magistrate himself because none of the
booksellers dare do it, its target Parker being (as chaplain to the
Archbishop) one of the licensers for ecclesiastical books. Humfrey
corrected the proofs with his own hand, and notes that Two Points is
upon issue a rare book, as after he has distributed copies to his friends,
there will be but sixty or seventy left to sell.
See F. M. Harrison, "Nathaniel Ponder: the Publisher of Pilgrim's
Progress," The Library, 15 (1934), pp. 257-294, for a complete account
of Ponder's career. Bunyan's extraordinarily popular book, which
Ponder would publish a few years after the Marvell-Parker controversy,
has been compared to the earlier and modestly popular book, The Pilgrim,
by Simon Patrick.
5The Rehearsal Transpros'd, p. 75.

60Pierre Legouis, Andrew Marvell: Poet, Puritan, Patriot, 2nd ed.
(Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 195-6.



No one familiar with Marvell's poetry is likely to be surprised

to learn that his volume of animadversions upon Parker's Preface was

rather complex and subtle. Marvell chose to attack not merely Parker's

last book, but his last three books: the Discourse of Ecclesiastical

Polity, the Defence, and his Preface to Bramhall's essay. There was

good reason for this: Parker's Discourse was an intelligent and im-

pressive statement in support of conformity; subsequent pamphlets on

both sides were charge and counter-charge about the citadel of Parker's

basic position, which he had repeated, with minor alterations and

additions, in the Defence and the Preface. To attack the complete

Parkerian creature, Marvell had to consider not merely the Preface,

which was primarily an attack on Owen, but the two prior books, where

Parker most fully set forth his position. To defend Owen was not im-

portant; to defeat Parker was. At the same time Marvell gained certain

tactical advantages. First, he was on the attack instead of the defen-

sive; this meant he was not required, by the dynamics of debate, to

repair the damage to Owen's case or to expound a position of his own,

but needed merely to shoot holes in Parker's argument in order to appear

successful. Second, because Parker had made certain real or apparent

changes in position from book to book, Marvell could compare his

statements from different places and show Parker arguing against him-


Today's reader, not well-imbued in the lore of the controversy, is

likely to find The Rehearsal Transpros'd a kaleidoscopic tangle of

arguments, a disconcertingly disorganized mass of commentary. Although

Marvell's attack is, as Legouis suggests, scarcely outlinable, still

there is a certain structure to it.

The first third (pp. 1-43 in Smith's edition) is an introduction

consisting largely of a broad ad personal attack on Parker, in which

he is given the name "Bayes" and the reader is given a sketch of his

biography and character. The next section defines and attacks

Parker's basic position on conformity, considering first the Discourse

(pp. 45-60) and then the Defence (pp. 61-72). Then comes the attack

on the Preface itself: the first part (pp. 73-114) includes some de-

fusing of Parker's assault on Owen and a further consideration of

Parker's ideas on ecclesiastical polity, as set forth specifically in

the Preface; and the second part (pp. 117-145) attacks the titular

concern of the Preface, i. e. "grounds for fear of Popery," a very

real concern in England at the time. Marvell demonstrates, of course,

that there is no reason to fear popery from the nonconformists, but

great reason to fear it from people like Parker. This outline is far

simpler than the actual experience of reading The Rehearsal Transpros'd:

Marvell usually has several balls in the air at any given moment.

Because much of Marvell's political and ecclesiastical argumenta-

tion was old material, going as far back as the Elizabethan age, it was

not sufficient to ensure even the interest of his readers, much less

victory over Parker. Along with the more formal argumentation, there-

fore, Marvell included persuasion, much of it implicit, against Parker


Most rhetoric texts today teach that the ad personal argument

(now usually called ad hominem) is a fallacy, that the validity of an

argument has no connection with the character of the person presenting

it. This may be true in a Euclidean or Cartesian world, but disputants

of the seventeenth century recognized that the theatre of human en-

deavor was not such a world, and it was felt that the person and his

arguments were very closely identified. Thus in An Apology Against A

Pamphlet, Milton says, "For doubtlesse that indeed according to art

is most eloquent, which returns and approaches neerest to nature from

whence it came; and they express nature best, who in their lives least

wander from her safe leading, which may be called regenerate reason.

So that how he should be truly eloquent who is not withall a good man,

I see not." Milton devotes a large portion of this same pamphlet to

a defense of his own character against the charges of the Modest Confuter.

The gold mine of autobiographical information in Milton's polemical

prose results from the view Milton shared with his contemporaries, that

the argument and the advocate were no more separate than, for Yeats,

the dancer and the dance.

Marvell's persuasion against Parker was based on the broad and

varied hierarchy of values that may be called "decorum." At the

lower end of the continuum of decorum is what Kranidas calls the

"limited" or "rhetorical concept of decorum," which is "a concept

which demands from the parts of a work of art consistency with

established traditional forms: this [includes] decorum personae,

decorum of the three styles, and decorum of the 'kinds.' 2 This is

what Richard Evans has in mind in the Prologue to his Damon and

Pithias (1675):

The old man is sober; the young man rash; the lover triumphing
in joys; The matron grave; the harlot wild, and full of wanton
toys: Which all in one course they no wise do agree,
So correspondent to their kind their speeches ought to be.
Which speeches, well-pronounc'd, with action lovely framed--
If this offend the lookers on, let Horace then be blamed,
Which hath our author taught at school, from whom he doth
not swerve, In all such kind of exercise decorum to observe.

So too Ben Jonson in Volpone (1605):

And so presents quick comedy refined,
As best critics have designed;
The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,
From no needful rule he swerveth.4

This is what critical tradition has generally meant by decorum, or by

decorum personae. I shall at times refer to this as decorum of the

stage, because, although Marvell is clearly very conscious of this

kind of decorum when writing The Rehearsal Transpros'd, he applies the

term decorum personae with deliberate irony to yet another variety of


Akin to decorum of the stage, in which each character must be

portrayed within limits thought appropriate to him, is a parallel de-

corum in the world of real people, in which each person is expected to

act in a manner appropriate to his station in life: a servant should

act servile, a lord lordly, and a priest as the most upright and

generous of Christians. This is what Shakespeare's Cleopatra means

when she tells Octavian, "Majesty to keep decorum, must/No less beg

than a kingdom." This decorum, which might be denoted decorum of

station, or propriety, obviously can both generate and be generated

by the decorum of the stage; the world is a stage no less than the

stage is a world, and the idea of "playing a role" or "part" is applied

to both. As John S. Coolidge puts it (without labeling the term he

defines), this decorum of station is

an idea which asserts that personality is a function of
social condition. It denies that personality might spontaneously
escape its social definition. In practice it does not necessarily
prevent a dramatist of genius from somehow sensing and rendering
manifest the inner experience of the individual life, but in
theory it considers the essential thing about a person to be,
not that inner experience, but his social "kind." It reflects,
therefore, a hierarchical social order.5

There are two assumptions here: first, that a person should play his

assigned role, and not attempt one belonging to someone else; second,

that he is expected to play his assigned role well. A priest (for

example) should be a priest, not a clown or a king; and he should be

a good priest.

Coolidge points out that Marvell makes unusual use of the word

"decorum" for which he believes Marvell is indebted to Martin Marprelate.

Just as Martin claims, when attacking a book by Dean John Bridges, that

he must have "leave to play the dunce for the nonce, as well as.he,

otherwise dealing with Master Doctor's book, I cannot keep decorum

personae," so Marvell will say, "as I am obliged to ask pardon if I

speak of serious things ridiculously, so I must beg excuse if I should

hap to speak of ridiculous things seriously. But I shall, so far as

possible, observe decorum, and whatever I talk of, not commit such an

absurdity as to be grave with a buffoon."6 The special interpretation

of decorum here is that one's address to and treatment of another must

accord, not with one's own condition, but with the condition of the.

person being dealt with. This is akin to the doctrine of accommodation,

which holds that one must take care to speak in a way that will contain

meaning for one's intended audience. As Origen, in perhaps the first

formal Christian statement of this doctrine, puts it,

When divine Providence intervenes in human affairs, it uses human
ways of speaking snd thinking. If we have to talk to a two-year
old, we use the sort of language that children can understand, for
they cannot possibly understand what we say to them unless we put
aside our grown-up dignity and condescend to their way of speaking.
We must suppose that God does the same when he deals with mankind
and that he did so particularly when mankind was still in its

St. Augustine also spoke of it, and it may also be seen if one reads

at the simplest level that famous passage in Paradise Lost where

Raphael, preparing to tell Adam the story of Satan's fall, explains,

High matter thou injoin'st me, 0 prime of men,
Sad task and hard, for how shall I relate
To human sense th'invisible exploits
Of warring Spirits;

what surmounts the reach
Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By lik'ning spiritual to corporal forms,
As may express them best.8

The difference between Raphael and Marvell is, I suppose, that Raphael's

accommodation springs from a benign attitude and a desire to communicate

with his hearer, while Marvell's decorum personae indicates a need to

signify, to Parker and the world at large, his estimation of Parker's


Marvell might also be thinking of the notion that genres should

not be mixed, a concept much adhered to in France and espoused by some

Englishmen in the seventeenth century. It is asserted, for example, by

Lisideius in Dryden's Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668). If Marvell's-

reader remembers--and Marvell takes care to remind him at times, by

mentioning his "book" or "reader"--that Marvell is not merely engaging

Parker in conversation, but is creating a piece of literature in which

Parker has a part, then Marvell's decorum personae is not that unusual

after all; he is merely saying that the author of a work in which the

leading character is a buffoon should write in a comic mode rather than

a serious one.

While none of this need detract from the laurels Coolidge claims

for Martin's originality in his ironic use of decorum personae, it

should be noted that the concept did not, as Coolidge seems to indicate,

lie rusty during the decades between Martin and Marvell. In his

Second Defence of the English People (1654), Milton writes,

If any one should think our refutation deficient in gravity,
he should consider that we have not to do with a grave adversary,
but with a heard of players; to which, while it was necessary
to accommodate the nature of the refutation, we thought it
proper to have in view not always what would be most suitable
to decorum [here meaning propriety ] but what would most suit

Marvell's statement of his policy of decorum does not come until

the ground has been laid by devoting one third of The Rehearsal Trans-

pros'd to an introduction in which he attaches the name "Bayes" to

Parker; gives unflattering descriptions of Parker, including a

burlesque biography; and depicts his praise of Bramhall and his

attacks on Calvin and John Owen as clownishly absurd and awkward.

First, Marvell takes advantage of the anonymity (however trans-

parent it actually was) under which Parker published his Preface, to

paste upon him a nom de plume. He moves that

Instead of Author, I may henceforth indifferently call him
Mr. Bayes as oft as I shall see occasion. And that, first,
because he hath 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 Mens Names before he be asked them.
Secondly, because he is I perceive a lover of Elegancy of
stile, and can endure no mans Tautologies but his own, and
therefore I would not distaste him with too frequent repeti-
tion of one word. But chiefly, because Mr. Bayes and he do
very much Symbolize; in their understandings, in their ex-
pressions, in their humour, in their contempt and quarreling
of all others, though of their own Profession. Because, our
Divine, the Author, manages his contest with the same prudence
and civility, which the Players and Poets have practised of
late in their several Divisions. And, lastly, because both
their Talents do peculiarly lie in exposing and personating
the Nonconformists.(pp. 9-10).

In this Marvell capitalized on the recent popularity of the play The

Rehearsal, by The Duke of Buckingham and some of his associates. The

ramifications of this device--one of the most brilliant and original

in Marvell's work--have been commented on elsewhere.11 Briefly, it

affixes to Parker, will-he, nill-he, a comic mask, rich with recent

associations of foolishness; it ingratiates the work to Buckingham

and the court wits; it offers an oblique jab at Dryden, who seems for

reasons unknown to have had a quarrel with Marvell; and, very impor-

tantly in terms of decorum, it coverts Parker into a stage figure,

and one inspiring not awe but laughter: a buffoon.

Since a mere label, however cleverly pasted on, will not sustain

a very lengthy or elaborate attack, Marvell follows up immediately

with a series of notions about Parker's character deduced from his

writings in a delightfully absurd fashion, blending this into an

equally outrageous fictitious biography. Ludicrous (and indecorous)

as a stage figure, Parker is no less so as a person and a priest;

whatever role he plays, he does badly but amusingly. Marvell quotes

Parker's explanation that he wrote the preface to Bramhall's work

because the book seller was "very sollicitous to have it set off with

some Preface that might recommend it to the Genius of the Age, and

reconcile it to the present juncture of Affairs (p.4) although

Parker was reluctant to do it because he was not only "none of the

most zealous Patrons of the Press (p.4), but also concerned "in

matters of a closer and more comfortable importance to himself and

his own Affairs (p. 5). By amusing use of a false-premised syllogism,

Marvell concludes that the "more comfortable importance" must be a

mistress, and, taking off from Parker's statement that his preface

was rushed into print, comments,

Thus it must be, and no better, when a man's Phancy is up, and
his Breeches are down; when the Mind and the Body make contrary
Assignation, and he hath both a Bookseller at once and a Mistress
to satisfied: Like Archimedes, into the Street he runs out naked
with his Invention. And truly, if at any time, we might now
pardon this Extravagance of our Author; when he was pearch'd
upon the highest Pinnacle of Ecclesiastical Felicity, being ready
at once to asswage his Concupiscience, and wreck his Malice. (p. 7)

Marvell describes Parker as deranged from being "too early acquainted

with Don Quixote, and reading the Bible too late," but nonetheless a

diligent and successful scholar. Upon graduation from the University,

however, "coming out of the confinement of the Square-cap and the

Quadrangle into the open Air, the World began to turn round with him:

which he imagined, though it were his own giddiness, to be nothing less

than the Quadrature of the Circle." He became a man about town and

an avid playgoer, but then obtained a position of chaplain for a noble-

man. Having "wrought himself dextrously into his Patrons favour, by

short Graces and Sermons, and a mimical way of drolling upon the

Puritans," he also became popular with the domestics:

and they allowed him by common consent, to have not only all the
Divinity, but more wit too, than all the rest of the family put
together. This thing alone elevated him exceedingly in his own
conceit, and raised his Hypochondria into the Region of the Brain;
that his head swell'd like any Bladder with wind and vapour. But
after he was stretch'd to such an height in his own fancy, that he
could not look down from top to toe but his Eyes dazled at the
Precipice of his Stature; there fell out, or in, another natural
chance which push'd him headlong. (p. 30)

Parker, Marvell tells us, found a particular sympathy with the gentle-

women, and

he directed his Reverence toward the Gentlewomens Pew. Till,
having before had enough of the Libertine, and undertaken his
Calling only for Preferment; he was transported now with the
Sanctity of his Office, even to extasy: and like the Bishop
over Maudlin Colledge Altar, or like Maudlin de la Croix, he
was seen in his Prayers to be lifted up sometimes in the Air,
and once particularly so high that he crack'd his Scul against
the Chappel Ceiling. I do not hear for all this that he had
ever practised upon the Honour of the Ladies, but that he pre-
served always the Civility of a Platonick Knight-Errant. For
all this Courtship had no other operation than to make him
still more in love with himself: and if he frequented their
company, it was only to speculate his own Baby in their Eyes.
But being thus, without Competitor or Rival, the Darling of
both Sexes in the Family and his own Minion; he grew beyond
measure elated, and that crack of his Scull, as in broken
Looking-Glasses, multipli'd him in self-conceit and imagination.
(pp. 30-31)


Then, with the "Vain-Glory" of seeing the title page of his new

book, Ecclesiastical Polity, pasted up under the playbills, "He lost

all the little remains of his understanding and his Cerebellum was so

dryed-up that there was more brains in a Walnut and both their Shells

were alike thin and brittle (p. 32). Yet this was not all:

This Gentleman, in the Dog-dayes, stragling by Temple-bar,
in a massy Cassock and Surcingle,.and taking the opportunity
at once to piss and admire the Title-page of his Book; a tall
Servant of his, one J. 0. that was not so careful as he should
be, or whether he did it of purpose, lets another Book of four
hundred leaves fall upon his head; which meeting with the former
fracture in his Cranium, and all the concurrent Accidents already
mentioned, has utterly undone him. And so in conclusion his
Madness hath formed itself into a perfect Lycanthropy. He
doth so verily believe himself to be a Wolf, that his speech
is all turn'd into howling, yelling, and barking: and if there
were any Sheep here, you should see him pull out their throats
and suck the blood. Alas, that a sweet Gentleman, and so
hopeful, should miscarry! For want of Cattel here, you find him
raving now against all the Calvinists of England, and worrying the
whole Flock of them. (p. 32)

Here, like Milton with the Prelates in "Lycidas," Marvell may be

glancing at the parable of the sheepfold in John XI. 1-2, an image of

priesthood gone wrong. Even as a werewolf, Parker is a bit ludicrous

("Alas, that a sweet Gentleman, and so hopeful, should miscarry!");

when he should properly slaughter cattle, he "worries" Calvinists in-


One way to play one's part badly is to overact: Marvell devotes

considerable space to showing that, as we might expect of a man with

such a history, Parker is in his Preface ridiculously generous and

overfulsome in praising Bishop Bramhall, and far too unkind to Calvin.

Marvell invokes them and asks:

Poor Mr. Calvin and Bishop Bramhall, what crime did you dye
guilty of, that you cannot lye quiet in your Graves, but must
be conjured up on the Stage as oft as Mr. Bayes will ferret you?
And which of you two are most unfortunate I cannot determine;
whether the Bishop in being always courted or the Presbyter in
being always rail'd at. But in good earnest I think Mr. Calvin
hath the better of it. For, though an ill man cannot by praising
confer honour, nor by reproaching fix an ignominy, and so they
May seem on equal terms; yet their is more in it: for at the
same time that we may imagine what is said by such an Author to
be false, we conceive the contrary to be true. (pp. 23-24)

In his attack on Owen, Parker made use of a convention of the time

by referring to his opponent only by initials, "J. 0." Marvell lampoons

this by imagining that Parker is at war with the letters themselves:

I began to repent of my Undertaking, being afraid that the Quarrel
was with the whole Criss-cross-row, and that we must fight it
out through all the Squadrons of the Vowels, the Mutes, the Semi-
vowels, and the Liquids. I foresaw a sore and endless labour, and
a battel the longest that ever was read of; being probable to con-
tinue as long as one Letter was left alive, or there were any use of
Reading. Therefore, to spare mine own pains, and prevent Ink-shed,
I was advising the Letters to go before Mr. Bales, or any other
his Majesties Justices of Peace, to swear that they were in danger
of their Lives, and desire that Mr. Bayes might be bound to the
Good-behaviour. (p. 37)

Eventually Marvell "Plainly at last perceived that J. O. is a very

Man as any of us are," and "concluded that necessarily there must be some

extraordinary Accident and Occasion that could alter so good a Nature"

as Parker's, and cause him to be so vindictive toward J. 0. Observing

that Parker's pique resembles that of a schoolboy against his master,

Marvell speculates that it may be the result of Parker having at one

time been under Owen's tutelage. Indeed, as Marvell (and the better-

informed of his readers) knew quite well, this was in a manner of speak-

ing actually the case. When Owen was Vice-Chancellor of Oxford in the

1650's, Parker was an undergraduate there. This allusion serves not only

to remind the readers of Owen's very long and illustrious career, but also

to reduce Parker to a schoolboy, an image Marvell will repeat like a

leitmotif. Nor is Parker even successful as a schoolboy; rather than

being a proper, decorous one, he is a pipsqueak posturer who, having

overstepped his bound, is likely to be, Marvell suggests, hoisted up

and "whipt like a baggage (p.42)

In the first section of The Rehearsal Transpros'd, then, Marvell

has established the fundamental theme of Parker's indecorousness--his

impropriety, his out-of-placeness, his failure to fit. One of the

recurrent patterns is that first, Parker is playing the wrong role; and

second, that he is unable to play even that role properly. As a con-

troversialist he is a schoolboy, and as a schoolboy he deserves whipping.

With the theorem of indecorum as a base, Marvell will construct further

arguments against Parker.

One of the most important elements is Marvell's special inter-

pretation of decorum personae. Having depicted Parker as multifariously

a buffoon, and having actually applied the term to him ("Buffoon-General

to the Church of England," p. 22), and having established his identity

with the recognized laughing-stock Mr. Bayes, Marvell has laid the

ground for the use of a special sort of decorum. He has demonstrated

that Parker is a buffoon; therefore, treatment appropriate to a buffoon

is appropriate to Parker. After outlining with lengthy quotations and

paraphrases what he takes to be the basic points of Parker's position in

his first book, The Discourse of Ecclesiastical Polity, he prepares to

launch his attack upon it, with a caveat:

and now though I intend not to be longer than the nature of
Animadversions requires, (this also being but collateral to my
work of examining the Preface, and having been so abundantly
performed already) yet neither can I proceed well without some
Preface. For, as I am obliged to ask pardon if I speak of serious
things ridiculously; so I must now beg excuse if I should hap
to discourse of ridiculous things seriously. But I shall, so
far as possible, observe decorum, and, whatever I talk of, not
commit such an Absurdity as to be grave with a Buffoon. (p. 49)

According to Coolidge, "In effect he is saying that any lapses from.his

character of courtly wit that his subject matter may require from him

are to be disregarded. At the same time, he sets up a standing answer

to the opposite objection that such subject matter should not be

handled in a witty manner."l2 Indeed, in the matter of jest versus

earnest, as I intend to show later, he is setting up a good deal more.

Further, he has not only established his unconventional variety of

decorum, he has by implication (aided by suitable comments in the

introductory pages) raised the question of decorum on all levels. As

Marvell's attack continues, Parker's clarion of conformity will be over-

whelmed by Marvell's orchestra of decorum.

Marvell has prepared his reader for his approach to Ecclesiastical

Polity and the succeeding books by saying, somewhat ingenuously, that

I. O. being of age and parts sufficient either to manage or to
to neglect this Quarrel, I shall as far as possible decline
the mentioning of him, seeing I have too upon further intelligence
and consideration found that he was not the person whom Mr. Bayes
principally intended. For the truth of it is, the King was the
Person concerned from the beginning. (p. 43)

Marvell will stress decorum of station, ultimately suggesting that

Parker's violation of that decorum amounts to 16se majesty and more.

Marvell not unfairly claims that in Ecclesiastical Polity:

The grand Thesis upon which he stakes not only his own Divinity
and Policy, his Reputation, Preferment and Conscience (of most
of which he hath no reason to be prodigal) but even the Crowns
and Fate of Princes, and the Liberties, Lives, and Estates, and,
which is more, the Consciences of their Subjects, (which are too
valuable to be trusted in his disposal,) is this, pag. 10. That
it is absolutely necessary to the peace and government of the
World, that the supream Magistrate of every Commonwealth should
be vested with a Power to govern and conduct the Consciences of
Subjects in affairs of Religion. (p. 45)

Associated with this Grand Thesis, which he calls that of the

Unlimited Magistrate, are five other "Aphorisms or Hypotheses" which

sum up Parker's position:

First, The Unlimited Magistrate.
Secondly, The Publick Conscience.
Thirdly, Moral Grace.
Fourthly, Debauchery Tolerated.
Fifthly, Persecution recommended.
and lastly, Pushpin-Divinity. (p. 48)

Parker holds that the Magistrate possesses and should exercise

the power to bind all of his subjects to the single religious practice

most advantageous for the peace and tranquillity of the realm, and

that to that end nonconformists should be repressed and compelled to

conform. Also (Push-Pin Divinity) the Magistrate must recognize that

his own best interest requires his total support of the national

church, preferably in the style to which it would like to be accustomed.

Marvell of course takes issue with all of this, and bases his argument

largely upon decorum.

After his summary of Parker's position, Marvell makes the explicit

statement on decorum quoted above, which continues as follows:

But I shall, so far as possible, observe decorum, and, whatever
I talk of, not commit such a Absurdity as to be grave with a
Buffoon. But the principal cause of my Apology is, because I
see I am drawn in to mention Kings and Princes, and even our

own; whom, as I think of with all duty and reverence, so I
avoid speaking of either in jest or earnest, lest by reason of
my private condition & breeding, I should, though most unwill-
ingly, trip in a word, or fail in the mannerliness of an express-
ion. But Mr. Bayes, because Princes sometimes hear men of his
quality play their Part, or preach a Sermon, grows so insolent
that he thinks himself fit to be their Governour. So dangerous
is it to let such creatures be too familiar. They know not their
distance, and like the Ass in the Fable, because they see the
Spaniel play with their Masters Leggs, they think themselves
priviledged to paw and ramp upon his Shoulders. Yet though I
must follow his track now I am in, I hope I shall not write
after his Copy. (p. 49)

Multiple interlocking levels of decorum are involved here. What is

implied is that as a priest, Parker is an actor (to preach a sermon is

to "play the part"); as such he is an ass, and as an ass he is a

failure. Contrasted with Parker's crass transgression of all proper

bounds is, first, Marvell's own expressed delicacy in speaking of

the King at all, not to mention speaking of him, or to him, improperly;

and second, the eminently refined and sensible restraint practised by

King Charles, who, though advised by Parker that he has total power

over the minds and lives of his subjects, and though "the gravest

Divines should be his Flatterers," is prudent in his puissance, for

He knows it's all but that you [Parker and company] may get into
the Saddle again; and that the Priest may ride him, though it be
to a Precipice. He therefore contents Himself with the Power that
He hath inherited from his Royal Progenitors Kings and Queens of
England, and as it is declared by Parliament: and is not to be
trepann'd into another kind of Tenure of Dominion to be held at
Mr. Bayes his pleasure, and depend upon the strength only of his
Arguments. But .. he considers that by not assuming a Deity
himself, he becomes secure and worthy of his.Government. (p. 51)

The King keeps decorum, though Parker does not. Marvell includes an

amusing picture of how the King might appear were he to forget his sense

of propriety and proportion and assume the religious authority Parker

would give him in the Discourse: