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PREFACE TO VOL. II.
WHEN I first undertook this Work, it was my deliberate purpose to make it not only a complete Biography of Milton, but also, in a certain studied connexion therewith, the channel of which might widen or narrow itself on occasion, a continuous Political, Ecclesiastical, and Literary History of England through Milton's whole Time. This I announced in the title of the Work, and in my Preface to the First Volume; but I am not sure that the announcement made way fast enough to adjust that Volume at once to preconceived ideas of literary form. Now, while it is the right of the public to say what they want in the shape of a book, it is equally the right of an author to say what he means to offer; and, accordingly, I repeat that this Work is not a Biography only, but a Biography together with a History. As regards the extent and minuteness of the included Biography, I do not anticipate that there will be much complaint. Of brief Lives of Milton the number is already past counting; I have been guilty of more than one such myself: if anything more is wanted, it certainly seems to be some such larger and more particular Biography as that which I am now prosecuting. What may be less according to precedent and expectation is the combination of such a Biography with a contemporary History. The reason for the combination, however, lies deeper than my own mere pleasure in the toil of a complex enterprise. Whatever may be thought by a hasty person looking in on the subject from
the outside, no one can study the Life of Milton as it ought to be studied without being obliged to study, extensively and intimately, the contemporary History of England, and even, incidentally, of Scotland and Ireland too. Experience has confirmed my previous conviction that it must be so. Again and again, in order to understand Milton, his position, his motives, his thoughts by himself, his public words to his countrymen, and the probable effects of those words, I have had to stop in the mere Biography, and range round, largely and windingly, in the History of his Time, not only as it is presented in well-known books, but as it had to be rediscovered by express and laborious investigation in original and forgotten records. Thus, on the very compulsion, or at least by the suasion, of the Biography, a History grew on my hands. It was not in human nature to confine the historical inquiries, once they were in progress, within the precise limits of their demonstrable bearing on the Biography, even had it been possible to determine these limits beforehand; and so the History assumed a co-ordinate importance with me, was pursued often for its own sake, and became, though always with a sense of organic relation to the Biography, continuous in itself. I venture to think that this incessant connexion of the History and the Biography in my own thoughts through many years, the History always sending me back more fully informed for the Biography, and the Biography again suggesting new tracks for the History, is a sufficient warrant for the form of the publication. In the present volume, however, I have adopted an arrangement which may suit most readers. A glance at the Table of Contents will show what the reader is to expect throughout, and will enable him to select or to omit. Only I should wish it to be distinctly understood that the History is not offered as a mere popular compilation, to serve as stuffing or setting for the Biography, but as a work of independent search and method from first to last, which has
cost more labour by far than the Biography, and for which I accept equal responsibility.
It was my wish to publish Volumes II. and III. together; and, though Volume II. now appears by itself, Volume III. is ready for the press, and will follow speedily. Even so, in recognition of much friendliness towards Volume I., the interval between that Volume and this continuation may seem to need an apology. Well, I will not say but that, if there had been any extraordinary or universal avidity for the continuation, it might have been forthcoming somewhat sooner. Frankly, however, I can aver that I have always been faithful in secret to my undertaking, and have devoted to it as much time as other indispensable duties would permit, and more than is likely ever to be recompensed by anything added to the pure love of the labour. Of the multiplicity and extent of the researches that were required any general account would be tedious here. There are indications of my authorities, at the proper points, in the foot-notes; where also I have made various acknowledgments of private help and kindness. Perhaps, however, I may advert specially to my obligations to the State Paper Office in London. Where there are printed calendars of the State Papers, the task of consulting them is easy; one knows from the calendar what each paper is about, and asks for the original of any particular paper one wants to see. Unfortunately, when I began my readings in the great national Repository, the Domestic Papers for the period of most interest to me were utterly uncalendared. They had, therefore, to be brought to me in bundles (sometimes several thick bundles for one month), and inspected carefully paper by paper, each on chance, lest anything useful should be skipped. In this way I had to persevere at a slow rate in my readings and note-takings; but I believe I can now say that, for much the greater part of the time embraced in the present Volume, there is not a single domestic document extant of those that used
to be in the State Paper Office which I have not passed through my hands and scrutinized. Apart from the information derived for my immediate purposes, it was a valuable education. It is rather long ago now; and, as I write, the memory rises of old summer-days passed in a room in the State Paper Office, then located in St. James's Park, and of the faces of a few others I used then to see constantly in the same room, quietly busy, like myself, among the handwritings of the dead. Alas! and of the kindly officials who were then so ready with their aid, there was one, among the kindliest of all and the fullest of knowledge, whom I shall never more see, to interrogate or to thank. How much of learning in English History through the reigns of James and Charles and the Time of the Commonwealth died with the gentle and accurate Mr. John Bruce! With his name, if with any, I may appropriately connect one closing remark, addressed especially to those few readers who may bring to these pages something of his practice in records and strict eye for truth. Accuracy in History is everything; without accuracy, all else is but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. This I have tried to make my canon throughout; and yet I will here confess that I never can pass a sheet of the historical kind for the press without a dread lest, from inadvertence or from sheer ignorance, some error, some blunder even, may have escaped me. That there are errors in this Volume, some of which will be detected soon, and others never, I have no doubt. Let me hope that those who agree with me most strongly in the main canon will be the readiest to admit also that, when the range of inquiry is widened, when the beaten tracks are left and one explores the thickets on both sides for facts worthy of resuscitation, the risk of error is necessarily increased.
EDINBURGH, March 1871.
I. The Scottish Covenanters-The Marquis of Hamilton's Mission
-The Glasgow Assembly of 1638-The First Bellum Epis-
II. Milton back in England-Old Friends-Epitaphium Damonis-
Lodgings in St. Bride's Churchyard-Literary Projects-
III. Episcopal Alarms in England-Bishop Hall's Episcopacy by
Divine Right-The Short Parliament-The Second "Bishops'
I. Meeting of the Long Parliament-Its Composition and Chiefs-
Nine Months of General Parliamentary Action (Nov. 1640–
HISTORY:-FIRST TWO-AND-TWENTY MONTHS OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT.
BIOGRAPHY:-MILTON IN ALDERSGATE STREET: HIS ANTI-EPISCOPAL
II. The House in Aldersgate Street . .
The Church Question in and out of Parliament-Bishop Hall
and Smectymnuus-Bishops' Exclusion Bill-Schemes of
Limited Episcopacy-A Root-and-Branch Bill