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Discussion - Paradise Lost > Politics and Paradise Lost

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Okay, it may seem strange to some people to have the words Politics and Paradise in the same sentence. But Milton was a very political figure, and Madge asked for a thread to discuss the political aspects of the poem in a thread that is separate from the religious content and issues.


message 2: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK LOL. Do you want to transfer my political/historical posts to this thread Everyman? - it is OK by me if so.


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments MadgeUK wrote: "LOL. Do you want to transfer my political/historical posts to this thread Everyman? - it is OK by me if so."

Ones which relate directly to the text are fine in the text threads. More general ones are probably better here.


message 4: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 10, 2010 04:06AM) (new)

MadgeUK Okeydoke - here is a general one of the timeline.

Potted chronology of the English Civil war and the establishment/dismissal of the various Parliaments - key dates. (A very complicated period of English history!)

1629 - Charles dismisses Parliament and does not call it again until 1640, thus commencing his 'Personal Rule' (viz: tyranny).

1640 13 April, first meeting of the Short Parliament.
5 May, Charles dissolves the Short Parliament and convenes the Long Parliament to raise more taxes.
11 December, the Root and Branch Petition which sought to exclude bishops (who favoured the King) from the House of Lords was submitted to the Long Parliament - defeated by Royalist faction.
1642 4 January, Charles unsuccessfully attempts to personally arrest five Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Resisted by Puritan faction who, led by Oliver Cromwell, issue a call to arms.
22 August, Charles I raises his standard at Nottingham and the Civil War commences
1643 25 September, the Long Parliament ratifies the Solemn League and Covenant, uniting the Scottish Presbyterians with the English Parliamentarians.
1644 The Scots marched South and joined the Parliament's army.
1646 5 May Charles I surrendered to a Scottish army at Southwell, Notts. (After 4 years of bitter internecine war).
1647 October, "An Agreement of the People for a firm and present peace upon grounds of common right", presented to the New Model Army Council who formed the new Parliament.
1648 7 December, troops under Colonel Thomas Pride removed opponents of Oliver Cromwell from Parliament by force of arms resulting in a Rump Parliament (remnants of original parliament) which convened to try the king for high treason.
1649 , Charles I is executed by beheading.
The Rump Parliament passes 'An Act prohibiting the proclaiming any person to be King of England or Ireland, or the Dominions thereof'.
9 February , publication of Eikon Basilike, allegedly by Charles I (defending the Divine Right of Kings)
October, first publication of Eikonoklastes by John Milton, which is a rebuttal of Eikon Basilike and a defence of regicide.
1649-1653, The first period of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.
20 April 1653, The Rump Parliament disbanded by Cromwell because he feared it was becoming anti-Commonwealth.
1653-1658, The Protectorate was formed under Oliver Cromwell, when he was made Lord Protector for Life.
13 April 1657, Oliver Cromwell declines the crown of England.
3 September 1658, Death of Oliver Cromwell
1658-1659, The Protectorate continues under Richard Cromwell who is an unpopular and weak leader. The second period of the Commonwealth - a very unstable period.

7 May 1659, Rump Parliament restored by Richard Cromwell
13 October 1659, Rump Parliament disbanded again
1660, The Restoratian and the return of King Charles II to England from France.
30 January 1660, Charles II proclaimed King of England.

February 1660 John Milton writes the tract The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, warning against the dangers inherent in a monarchy. He is imprisoned briefly and his books are burned.
March 1660 The tract is republished with further warnings against a monarchy and, with warrants out for his arrest, Milton goes into hiding and recommences dictating Paradise Lost to his daughters.
1667 First publication of Paradise Lost.
1674 8 November, Milton dies and second edition of Paradise Lost is published.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Madge: A quick question. How do we get from the Jacobin monarchy to the Stuarts?

I could google that, but my underlying question concerns your view of what the principal conflicts of this unstable period. Are they economic, theological, regional (Scotland vs England for example) or something else?


message 6: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 10, 2010 10:32AM) (new)

MadgeUK The Jacobins were the radical leftwingers who started the French Revolution in 1791. It could be said that this was a religious revolution because the catholic church underpinned the monarchy and became very corrupt, although it was famine and the poverty of the peasants which triggered it. The Stuart monarchy predated this by a century so I am not sure what you are getting at here, except that the Stuarts were subsequently brought up at a the French court and were catholics?

Potted Stuarts: The reigns of the Stuarts were mainly devoted to wars uniting England, Scotland and Ireland in a Union of the Three Kingdoms. Although the first Stuart, James I & VI was a firm Protestant, subsequent Stuart monarchs were catholic in a nation which had by then become largely Protestant and anti-Pope. The reign of Mary Stuart, 'Bloody Mary', which followed James I, signed the death knell for catholicism in England. By the time of Milton, the people, after various tyrannies and heavy taxation to fund wars, were querying the idea of absolute monarchy and looking towards parliamentary systems which supported Protestantism, not Catholicism. After the Civil War and the beheading of the catholic Charles I, catholic conspirators were blamed for the Plague and the Great Fire of London, which rebounded on Charles II, who had started to favour catholicism, forcing Protestant Parliamentarians to open negotiations with Prince William of Orange (a Protestant) to overthrow him but Charles died. James II, his brother, was seen as too pro-French and too pro-catholic so William of Orange was invited to take the throne and James was forced to abdicate - the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the end of the Divine Right of Kings. No English King/Queen since that time has ruled without a strong parliament which upheld the Protestant Church of England. The Act of Settlement drawn up for William of Orange precludes a catholic from taking the throne of the United Kingdom. This is still a source of contention today.

The Bishop's Wars 1639-40 between Scotland and England predated the Civil War and were about King Charles I imposing an Anglican episcopalian system of government (ie: with bishops) upon the Church of Scotland, which favoured a presbyterian one (ie: without bishops). The Civil War 1642-1646 was a conflict between the mainly Catholic Royalists and the mainly Protestant Yeomen and their labourers, and was about the 'divine' power of the king over parliament.

I think it can be seen that after the dynastic wars between the Plantagenets and Tudors, the subsequent conflicts were mainly religious although, of course, economics came into the equation as after the Black Death and the Great Fire of London, and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms were territorial.

Phew! I hope this helps:):).


message 7: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1736 comments "Bloody Mary" was Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII. She was succeeded by her sister, Elizabeth I. Elizabeth had no children or surviving legitimate siblings and was succeeded by a distant cousin, James VI of Scotland who thus became James I of England. His son was the King Charles I who was beheaded.

I think "Jacobins" should have been "Jacobites," adherents of James VII and II (nephew of Charles I) and of his son James the Old Pretender. King James was forced out for favoring Catholicism.


message 8: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 15, 2010 11:27PM) (new)

MadgeUK Thanks Roger - yes, sorry, Bloody Mary was Mary Tudor - Mary Stuart was James I's Mother, Mary Queen of Scots. And yes, I went to bed and then realised that Zeke meant the Jacobites - supporters of the Stuart succession who take their name from Jacobus, the Latin form of James. This Website explains that 'cause' which was mainly fought in Scotland and is still an issue there amongst some Scottish nationalists, who wish to cede from the UK and have their own kingdom:-

http://www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/c...

The Duke of Bavaria is considered by the Jacobites to be heir to the throne of Scotland today, although there are other claimants. Some Jacobites lay claim to the throne of England too:-

http://www.electricscotland.com/histo...


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

What's the proper term for the period under James? Is it Jacobean? I know the theater is called something other than Jacobite.


message 10: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 11, 2010 08:44AM) (new)

MadgeUK Jacobean refers to the period of history under James I of England, 1603-1625, which succeeded the Elizabethan period. And yes, the theatre and many other artistic endeavours during that period are now referred to as Jacobean. (It is not linked to the Jacobites.)

http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsi...


message 11: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 15, 2010 11:39PM) (new)

MadgeUK As we approach Book II, I wonder if readers here would like to consider the aspects of the poem which are thought to refer to the famous Putney Debates of 1647, at the end of the Civil War, when Cromwell, Colonel Ireton, Agents of the New Model Army, The Levellers and others met to agree the terms of the new Parliament and what part the King would play under the new Constitution. Do readers now see the allegories referring to the political events of the time, as well as the biblical allegories?

http://www.putneydebates.com/The%20De...

As you can see Book II THE ARGUMENT commences with a Consultation about whether there should be another 'Battel' or whether there were other ways of solving the problems the 'fallen angels' now faced. This is thought to be a parody of the Putney Debates. Some Puritans were in favour of giving up on the Commonwealth and going to the New World and we know that between 1639 and 1640 (the dates of the Bishop's Wars) 80,000 Puritans fled England because of religious persecution. It is interesting to note that in 1639, a group of New England Puritans in Connecticut drafted a constitution affirming their faith in God and their intention to organize a Christian Nation. It made clear that their government rested on divine authority and pursued godly purposes. Moreover, the aim of the government so instituted was religious: "to mayntayne and presearue the liberty and purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus which we now professe, as also the disciplyne of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said gospell is now practised amongst vs."

Like Cromwell, the New Model Army and Milton less than ten years later, (though the idea was longer in the making) the Connecticut Puritans determined to create a 'Christian Commonwealth, what John Winthrop hoped would become a 'City upon a Hill'. (In our time I think all of them might be described as 'fundamentalists'.)

http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/...

These experiments were not any more successful in the long run than Cromwell's:(. Cromwell's negotiations with the King were eventually unsuccessful and led to the King's execution, and the warring factions in the New Model Army, the Diggers and the Levellers, eventually brought down both the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, despite the Putney Debates where 'Well have ye judged, well ended long debate,/Synod of Gods, and, like to what ye are,/Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep/Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate..' [II:390-93] Even after beheading the treacherous King and trying to 'Live to ourselves, though in this vast recess,/Free and to none accountable, preferring/Hard liberty before the easy yoke/Of servile pomp,...' [II:254-57], the Second Commonwealth under Richard Cromwell also failed. 'Whom shall we find Sufficient?' indeed:(. [II:404]. I find the following a very sad part of Book II, reading Satan to be the defeated and elderly Oliver Cromwell and perhaps Milton too:

'Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old [988:]
With faultring speech and visage incompos'd
Answer'd. I know thee, stranger, who thou art,
That mighty leading Angel, who of late
Made head against Heav'ns King, though overthrown.
I saw and heard, for such a numerous Host
Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded; and Heav'n Gates
Pourd out by millions her victorious Bands
Pursuing. I upon my Frontieres here
Keep residence; if all I can will serve,
That little which is left so to defend,...'

I lament that although a Republic was formed in the New World of America, we still do not have one in the UK! And I lament with Milton that though devils keep 'concord', only the human race shows hypocrisy and 'levie[s:] cruel warres':-

O shame to men! Devil with Devil damn'dv [496:]
Firm concord holds, men onely disagree
Of Creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly Grace; and God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levie cruel warres,
Wasting the Earth, each other to destroy:
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes anow besides,
That day and night for his destruction waite.

I hope all this makes sense! On Monday (14th) I am going to the Houses of Parliament to participate in a debate myself - that between members of the Fabian Society and the candidates for the Leadership of the Labour Party, who will be vying for our votes. I hope there will be less Pandemonium than at Putney or in Paradise Lost!


message 12: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4543 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Do readers now see the allegories referring to the political events of the time, as well as the biblical allegories? "

Yes, at least this reader does, with your help! I hope you will bear with those of us who have to catch up on English history. New Model Army? Levellers? I thought those were 80's rock bands. (Most of what I know about this period is from my Irish grandfather, who thought one thing and one thing only about Cromwell, and the history lesson ended there.)

But I noticed something in Book II that I at first found amusing: the demons vote. Hell is a democracy! But in the historical context, it's not so much amusing as meaningful. I'll be thinking about this as I reread Book II for next week. (As well as finding out what Levellers are!)


message 13: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 13, 2010 12:51PM) (new)

MadgeUK Yes, Cromwell has a very bad name in N Ireland:(.

The Levellers and Diggers were early communists/socialists - Utopians, Thomas but amongst the Puritans some became very 'fundamentalist'. The American Founding Fathers took some of their ideas about liberty and equality from these groups. These early political activists repay study because much of our democracy is founded upon their beliefs if you put their extremist religious views to one side. IMO we owe them a debt. Milton was about passionate liberty and equality and it informed all his writing. He too was a 'fundamenttalist', stern and not given to compromise.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/...

http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/g...


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Some time back, I saw a pretty good movie about the Diggers called "Winstanley". Those with interest may wish to look it up at IMDB or Netflix.

Have you seen it Madge?


message 15: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 13, 2010 12:54PM) (new)

MadgeUK Yes,some time ago. It is now available on DVD:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winstanley-DV...


message 16: by Everyman (last edited Jun 13, 2010 02:21PM) (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Thomas wrote: "But I noticed something in Book II that I at first found amusing: ... "

We're close to starting Book 2, and I realize that Madge jumped the gun a bit and you were partly responding to that, but let's try to keep the discussion on schedule. We're being a bit relaxed about spoilers that are well known events (such as the Satan and Eve interaction), but specifics of the text should wait for their proper week.

Thanks.


message 17: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4543 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Yes, Cromwell has a very bad name in N Ireland:(.

The Levellers and Diggers were early communists/socialists - Utopians, Thomas but amongst the Puritans some became very 'fundamentalist'. The Amer..."


Very interesting -- thanks for these.

Is it fair, then, to understand Satan as Cromwell? (At least for the purpose of political allegory.) I can see how Cromwell could be taken as a false savior, a tempter, a figure who offers a promise that he can't keep. (Whether Cromwell knew he could not keep it, I don't know. His death would be a worthy excuse, I suppose.)

If this is a reasonable supposition, it puts Milton in the somewhat disturbing position of being a supporter of Satan, politically. As a rebel himself Milton must have recognized this, and empathized with Satan (in this context, of course.) It explains well why Satan is depicted in such sympathetic fashion.

This really stuck a chord with me (from a page Madge cited in the other thread -- no spoilers, I swear!):

William Blake voiced a thought that had been troubling readers almost since the poem's publication, and has dogged it ever since. Noticing that Books I and II are rather more absorbing than Book III, Blake concluded: 'The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it'. Whatever Milton's intention - and Blake here concedes that the effect was not deliberate - the power of the poetry glamorizes the figure of Satan at God's expense.

(LINK)

(Maybe we can talk more about the Putney debates later next week.)


message 18: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 15, 2010 11:15AM) (new)

MadgeUK Yes, Milton was indeed sympathetic to Satan as Cromwell and this has been much commented upon. He also worked for Cromwell as a political propangandist. It is important to remember that not all Cromwell and the New Model Army did was bad. They did improve the lot of the people and above all they introduced a fledgling democracy (votes for angels!) and a general philosophy about liberty and equality which was freely debated. If they had not also been Puritans and very rigid in their beliefs and practices (rather as fundamentalist Muslims are today) they may have had more success. It is interesting to note that when th American Founding Fathers were setting up their Republic therewas much talk about religion then and they firmly decided to separate church from state as had the French Republic formed earlier. They had undoubtedly learned from the English experience - so they kept the philosophy but dropped the dogma.


message 19: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1736 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Yes, Milton was indeed sympathetic to Satan as Cromwell and this has been much commented upon. He also worked for Cromwell as a political propangandist. It is important to remember that not all Cro..."

The US Constitution was written in 1787, before the French Revolution. The 1st Amendment (which prohibited establishment of a national church) was ratified in 1791, while Louis XVI was still nominally King of the French. Some of the Founding Fathers wanted to disestablish religion, but others did not, and all realized that there was great diversity of religion among the colonies and wanted to rule out any attempt to make one church supreme. In fact Congregationalism continued to be supported at the state level in New England until 1833. "Separation of Church and State" did not become law until after the 14th Amendment. This is quite different from the anticlericalism and state atheism of the French First Republic.


message 20: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 15, 2010 11:43PM) (new)

MadgeUK Roger wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Yes, Milton was indeed sympathetic to Satan as Cromwell and this has been much commented upon. He also worked for Cromwell as a political propangandist. It is important to remember ..."

I was thinking more about about the dates of ideas which formed the French Revolution(1789-1799) Roger. Franklin went to Paris in 1776 to persuade the French to aid the American Revolution and Jefferson was very much influenced by what was going on in France. The US did not go the way of anti-clericalism but then it did not have the same experience as the French with the church. Some of the Founding Fathers were quite 'anti-clerical' and somewhat atheistic (or perhaps deistic):-

http://www.theology.edu/journal/volum...

I think both revolutions were very indebted to each other and were the result of the ideas about 'liberty, equality and fraternity' which had again surfaced during the Enlightenment, following their virtual suppression in England after the Civil War (history having been written by the victors who supported constitutional monarchy). And of course Milton's ideas about liberty and equality (and those of the Levellers et al) predated all of them.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

I am posting this here even though it is not strictly speaking a political question. It also isn't directly related to the plot of any particular book, and it concerns the context of the times.

As I was reading the description of Satan's followers, they are clearly a mixture of spirit and flesh. And we already know that he is planning to unleash them on this "Earth" he has previously heard rumors about in Heaven.

Now my question. Fairies and spirits of Shakespeare's time were the relatively benign type of Robin Goodfellow. They caused mischief and were used to frighten children into good behavior. By Milton's time they had "evolved" into witches and agents of the Devil. How did this happen? What led to the change?


message 22: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK Shakespeare used both fairies and witches Zeke - the 3 witches in Macbeth, for instance. King James I was, in fact, very interested in witches and sorcery and wrote a treatise about them - a frightening Daemonologie. Many were burnt at the stake during his reign, in Shakespeare's time. So they were seen as agents of the devil both in Milton's and in Shakespeare's time and right up until the Enlightenment. Indeed they are seen as such in our own times - witness the protests about Halloween or the sorcery portrayed in the Harry Potter stories.

A powerful witch myth existed after James I which may have been known to Milton - The Bloody Mary Myth:-

http://www.the-tudors.org.uk/bloody-m...


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Good point Madge. I guess I had MSND on my mind when I wrote that note in my book.

It is kind of interesting how each age projects its anxieties onto its fairies and witches.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Madge: The article about the Quakers and PL was fascinating. Thanks.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I went back today and reread the article about the Quakers and Milton. Still fascinating. I'm not in a position to judge on the Milton stuff. It sounds like a big change between PL and PRG. I wonder why the former is so much more highly regarded (I think) than the later poem.

What really struck me this time through was the influence of the Puritans on the conduct of warfare. Introducing discipline into their "saintly" followers (and NO masturbation)created advantages over the "chivalric" opposition.

It was also news to me that the peace testimony of Quakers was not "inspired" but, rather, evolved.


message 26: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK Yes, the Quakers' influence on attitudes towards war was very marked at this time and, as the article points out (and something else I posted) Milton, though not a pacifist was influence by Quaker thought on this. I wonder if Everyman knows more about it - I believe he has Quaker folk in his background?


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Zeke wrote: "It was also news to me that the peace testimony of Quakers was not "inspired" but, rather, evolved.
"


I'm not sure you would get much support from that point of view from Fox, Barclay, or the early Quaker writers, or from Quaker historians such as Braithwaite, Cadbury, or Trueblood. Fox certainly seems to suggest in some of his statements that the peace testimony was received and not developed.


message 28: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4543 comments Moved from the Book 2 thread:

MadgeUK wrote: "And of course it is the first two books which are thought to be an allegory of the Putney Debates and certain events of the Civil War, with Cromwell, whom he admired, as Satan. Could the aloofness of God be interpreted as Milton saying 'Where were you when Cromwell/The Commonwealth needed you?' "

The reference to Cromwell seems almost unmistakable -- "a safe unenvied throne yielded with full consent." (line 23). On the other hand, Satan is referred to more than once in this book as "monarch." My understanding is that as Lord Protector Cromwell more or less had the power of a King, but was his rejection of the crown merely a political ploy? Or was it an honest rejection of the monarchy?


message 29: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 18, 2010 01:31AM) (new)

MadgeUK Thomas:> It was an honest rejection of the monarchy I think but he did have the same powers as a king, the difference being that he did not claim to rule by divine right. Here are some comments as to why he behaved with regal pomp and ceremony:-

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-ent...

Everyman: In the Wikipedia piece on the Peace Testimony below, George Fox is quoted as saying 'I told [the Commonwealth Commissioners:] I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars and I knew from whence all wars did arise, from the lust, according to Jame's doctrine...I told them I was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strifes were.' The first full Peace Declaration by the Quakers, in 1661, was:-

'Our principle is, and our practices have always been to seek peace and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to the peace of all. We know that wars and fightings proceed from the lusts of men, (as James Chapter 4. v1-3), out of which lusts the Lord has redeemed us, and so out of the occasion of war. The occasion of war and war itself, arises from the lust, (wherein envious men, who are lovers of themselves more than lovers of God, lust, kill, and desire to have men's lives or estates). All bloody principles and practices we, as to our own basics, do utterly deny, with all outward wars, strife, and fighting with outward weapons for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever: this is our testimony to the whole world.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Te...

http://lightandsilence.org/2006/06/mi...

Do you think this ties up in any way with Milton's attitude towards Satan and lust, incest etc, given that we know he was influenced by the Quakers?


message 30: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK Thomas: There are some interesting chapters about the various political and religious sects in this online book Cromwell and Communism: Socialism and Democracy in the great English Revolutionby Eduard Bernstein, published in 1895:-

http://www2.cddc.vt.edu/marxists/refe...


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

@E-man: I can't find the link to the article about the Quakers to cite it, but my feeling on reading it was that initially Fox was conflicted because he supported the aims of the revolution. If Cromwell offered him a Colonel's rank, he couldn't have been an outspoken pacifist at that point. (He turned it down and, when he later refused to be pressed into service was jailed.)

So it left me wondering if perhaps some of the later descriptions of how the peace testimony came about might not involve a bit of selective revisionism.


message 32: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 20, 2010 10:51AM) (new)

MadgeUK There are some interesting snippets about Fox and other Quakers in Christopher Hill's The experience of Defeat : Milton and Some ContemporariesChapter Five, Quakers 1651-1661:-

Fox urged Parliament in 1654 'not to follow the laws and customs of kings and queens against the light' and in 1660, like Milton , he published a passionately anti-monarchial tract saying that 'true Christians will have no king but Christ'. He advised Oliver Cromwell to reject the crown offered to him in 1657.

On Fox and the New Model Army, Hill writes:

'Fox admits in his Journal that Quakers had been invited "to take up arms and great places and commands were offered to some of us." He himself, it was said, was offered a colonelcy. [Memoirs of James Gough 1782:]. 'Like Burrough, Fox long continued to have hopes of the Army. He too certainly had no objections to the soldier's trade in the 1650s and wrote: "see that ye be soldiers qualified,...and that ye be content with your wages." In 1661 a soldier remarked "the Quakers give out forsooth that they will not rebel nor fight, when indeed the last year and all along the war the Army was full of them." On many occasions Fox, again like Burrough, urged Cromwell and the Army to undertake a military crusade in Europe and told Cromwell to "let thy soldiers go forth...that thou may rock nations as a cradle....If he had minded the work of the Lord as he began with thee at first,...the Hollander had been thy subject and tributary, Germany had given up to have done thy will, and the Spaniard had quivered like a dry leaf...The King of France should have bowed his neck under thee, the Pope should have withered as in winter, the Turk in all his fatness should have smoked."' !!

Hill writes that 'there can be no doubt that Fox had not committed himself to pacifism before the Restoratian' but after the Restoratian some leading Quakers revised their position following the introduction of the 'peace principle' in 1661 and documents which advocated joining the Army or endorsing war were destroyed or subsequently edited. 'Isaac Penington continued to think that the sword might be usefully used in defence of one's country but Penington's Quaker editors omitted from his collected works everything that he wrote before he joined them, including the Divine Essays of 1654 and some of his pamphlets of 1659-60 were left out....Penington was closer personally to Milton than anyone studied the book, with the exception of Marvell. Rewriting the history meant demoting James Naylor, once regarded as at least Fox's equal.....The whole question of the principles on which Quaker self-censorship operated calls for further investigation.....Even before methods of controlling the contents of Quaker books were standardised in 1672, Fox appears to have exercised a de facto...censorship. It would be nice to know more about the editing of Burrough's works after his death. Some clauses were deleted from A Declaration from the People called Quakers (1659), To The Whole English Army and To the Parliament of the Common-Wealth of England were also omitted because their rejection of violence seemed ambiguous by later Quaker standards.'

'After 1660 many well known Quakers withdrew or emigrated...But it was the same sort of separation as all the other nonconformist sects had to adopt in order to survive in the hostile post-restoration world...Those who could not stand the pressure of persecution in the 1660s and 1670s fell off: ...The Quakers survived, prospered and rewrote their history...the transition to the Society of Friends was assisted by the extraordinary mortality among leaders in the early 1660s - great tribute to the efficacy of the English goals in removing undesirables, and justification of Quaker complaints of their appalling state' [the Quakers became great prison reformers:].

'Professor John Cole [ in The Quakers and Politics:] observed that collected editions of the writings of other Quakers as well as Burrough [including the 1925 edition of Fox's Short Journal:] 'show marked variations from the original so that it is imperative to consult the first editions...some pages of manuscript letters preserved at Friends' House [London:] have either been lost or removed, especially for the year 1659'. Hill concludes this chapter by saying 'More work is needed here.'


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks Madge. Granted the writer says "More work is needed," but this was the paragraph I was referencing E-man.


Hill writes that 'there can be no doubt that Fox had not committed himself to pacifism before the Restoratian' but after the Restoratian some leading Quakers revised their position following the introduction of the 'peace principle' in 1661 and documents which advocated joining the Army or endorsing war were destroyed or subsequently edited. 'Isaac Penington continued to think that the sword might be usefully used in defence of one's country but Penington's Quaker editors omitted from his collected works everything that he wrote before he joined them, including the Divine Essays of 1654 and some of his pamphlets of 1659-60 were left out....Penington was closer personally to Milton than anyone studied the book, with the exception of Marvell.' Rewriting the history meant demoting James Naylor, once regarded as at least Fox's equal.....The whole question of the principles on which Quaker self-censorship operated calls for further investigation.....Even before methods of controlling the contents of Quaker books were standardised in 1672, Fox appears to have exercised a de facto...censorship. It would be nice to know more about the editing of Burrough's works after his death. Some clauses were deleted from A Declaration from the People called Quakers (1659), To The Whole English Army and To the Parliament of the Common-Wealth of England were also omitted because their rejection of violence seemed ambiguous by later Quaker standards.'


message 34: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 20, 2010 01:01PM) (new)

MadgeUK Good:). The late Christopher Hill is the foremost English historian on the subject of the Civil War and its ramifications and, unlike many historians, he writes very lucidly. He is also sympathetic towards the Puritan revolution and their aims.

Hill seems to think that Fox, during his 'time of darkness' and period of abdication, came to the conclusion that the restoration of the Stuarts was inevitable and seems to have decided that political action must be renounced: 'Nothing but hypocrisy and falsehood and fair pretences were seen amongst you' he told those who had formerly been in authority. Hill says 'There were plenty of reasons why Fox should not have wished to commit himself publicly to the Army or to Cromwell in the early 1650s, as there were again in 1659.'

'Such manifestations [as the 'peace principle':] were the product of growing disillusionment. But this was checked in 1659, when for a few months a revival of God's Cause seemed possible. Fox seems to have been exceptional in his scepticism....But as the cause of the Commonwealth crumbled Fox's new-found pacifism won rapid acceptance. Margaret Fell, in June 1660, drafted a paper which was given to the King, subscribed by Fox, Hubberthorne, Fisher and ten others. This stated that Friends 'do deny and bear our testimony against all strife and wars and contests...Our weapons are not carnal but spiritual.'...Whatever may have been the case with Fox himself, the peace principle was certainly new to Friends as a whole, and some time was needed to impose it upon them. Edward Byllynge was one who was unhappy about it and refused to give an undertaking not to take up arms or plot against the King. It was alleged that he and his supporters wanted to call in the paper asserting the peace principle, and that he threatened to oppose it publicly if Quakers referred to themselves as the King's "loyal subjects". That particular phrase was withdrawn.'

What brave folks they all were in those days - facing persecution and imprisonment for their principles! They put us all to shame!


Here is something about James Nayler who was apparently 'written out' of a lot of later Quaker history:-

http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/b...


message 35: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 22, 2010 03:13AM) (new)

MadgeUK Response to Kate in Book 2 discussion:-

It is generally agreed amongst British historians that the English Revolution was a socialistic endeavour. Their original aims were socialistic, especially amongst many in the New Model Army who were Levellers and believed that property should be held in common: 'Have all things in common or else the plague of God will rot and consume all that you have...All our bondage and death comes by appropriating things to ourselves and for ourselves'. Tawney mentions, either in RRC or The Radical Tradition, that the Calvinists sects believed that wages were sinful because they encouraged weekly debauchery, so they recommended being paid in kind, although Calvin did not believe that the acquisition of wealth was a sin but that ostentatious display and waste was - which was one of the things that the Puritans who came after Calvin were reacting against.

http://libcom.org/history/articles/di...

Tawney and Weber were writing about the effects of Protestantism and the economic conditions which arose out of the Reformation in the 16C when the CofE virtually became an arm of the state. (Weber's thesis on Puritanism has been much criticised.) Large numbers of people, especially the better off yeomen and artisans, increasingly resented the Church's attempts to interfere with economic and social matters, especially through the role of the ecclesiastical courts. This gave rise to new forms of thinking about the organisation and distribution of economic wealth.

The idealistic Puritan revolution of course failed (which is what so upset Milton and those who fought for it) and a more capitalistic ethos came into being with Charles II and the Restoration. Modern day capitalists also see themselves somewhat idealistically and not as supporters of Mammon, perhaps because they took on some 'socialistic' ideas after the Restoration. What Tawney and others essentially found was that what we call the 'puritan work ethic' (which started with the Reformation) of hard work, discipline and moral behaviour, produces wealth. The Puritans of Milton's day tried to find ways of distributing that wealth more fairly and in an ethical way, according to the scriptures. They failed and we have been trying to find ways of doing this ever since - in communist Russia and socialist Europe (including post WWII Britain) a la Marx: 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'.

The Tawney quote you cite illustrates the Puritan attitude towards charity. Since they believed that God would reward hard work and a moral life, they believed that those who failed and thus needed charity, were immoral. This was one of the harsh beliefs which brought them into disrepute but I would not call it capitalistic, more moralistic. As Tawney wrote: 'A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things'. (Modern writers have compared Puritanism with the Taliban!)


message 36: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 22, 2010 12:47PM) (new)

Re Madge above:

Well I was going to write something claiming that the rise of individualism with its twinned aspects of Protestantism and Capitalism is inherently anti-socialistic in both a political and economic sense which is pretty defensible. This is basically Tawney's position.

But then I was going to claim that the medieval feudal network of mutual obligations and overarching authority of the church and its annointed kings, which Milton and the Reformation replaced with individual self determination, provided a social fabric that limited individual accumulation of wealth and therefore social inequality,i.e. something close to economic socialism. But that is, of course, pure bunk.

The truth is that power and wealth concentrate in the hands of a priveleged elite and always have. The Puritans and other early proto-capitalists just diverted the stream into other pockets than the Church and the aristocracy. Idealists like Milton and Marx are historically poignant characters to me. They can so clearly see the problems they want to fix, but their solutions keep hoping people's behavior will somehow auto-correct.

"Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."
— John Maynard Keynes


message 37: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 22, 2010 01:59PM) (new)

MadgeUK Thanks Kate, I appreciate what you are saying here. However, Tawney wasn't analysing Milton's times and what happened during the Civil War, he was looking at the Reformation and Protestantism overall from a socialist p.o.v. I am trying to look at the Civil War and the effect that Puritan/New Model Army ideas (however misguided they were) had on Milton and PL.

The fact that 'power and wealth [are concentrated:] in the hands of a privileged elite' has never stopped people like Milton, Marx and dozens of others trying to change that concentration - I suppose some might also put Jesus into this category. Christian Socialists over here certainly do. Milton and Cromwell's Puritans tried and failed but I do not think we should castigate them for trying because quite a lot of good by the way of changed ideas resulted from their trying, just as some good has come out of Marxist ideology. Redistribution of wealth has happened; we do now routinely tax the rich to help the poor, there is more equality, liberty and religious tolerance etc etc. Untrammelled, 'wicked', capitalism has been tamed by socialistic thinking which, in England at least, stemmed from some of the ideas which came out of the Putney Debates.Even the American Constitution's ideas about equality and liberty can be seen to reflect those same ideas, brought over by the Puritan Fathers, Winthrop et al. Moreover, Obama is being called a 'Bolshevik' for redistributing wealth by way of Health Care:):). Nil desperandum:)


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

I understand your distinction, but this got detoured off into socio-economics by that Mammon thread in the discussion of book 2. Sorry about that.


message 39: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Zeke wrote: "@E-man: I can't find the link to the article about the Quakers to cite it, but my feeling on reading it was that initially Fox was conflicted because he supported the aims of the revolution. If Cro..."

I'm not sure whether going into this in more detail would be of much interest to the rest of the group, or even whether you've moved past it while I was away. I would have to go back to some of the original sources (Fox's Journal, Barbour's Early Quaker Writings, maybe Barclay's Apology) to see; normally I would go to Braithwaite's The Beginnings of Quakerism on a question such as the origin and development of the peace testimony, but if as you suggest there was some revisionism going on, Braithwaite might have been part of, or succumbed to, it.


message 40: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Zeke wrote: "Hill writes that 'there can be no doubt that Fox had not committed himself to pacifism before the Restoratian' but after the Restoratian some leading Quakers revised their position following the introduction of the 'peace principle' in 1661 and documents which advocated joining the Army or endorsing war were destroyed or subsequently edited. "

I'm not sure about document revisions, but I assume that by the introduction of the peace principle I assume he means the Declaration to Charles II, dated either 1660 or 1661 depending on which source you use, in which Fox and other prominent Quakers wrote "in behalf of the whole body of the Elect People of God who are called Quakers," "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world."

But long before that Fox was already articulating the basic principles of the peace testimony. In 1651, for example, he wrote in his journal "I told (the Commonwealth Commissioners) I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars and I knew from whence all wars did rise, from the lust, according to James's doctrine... I told them I was come into the covenant of peace which was before wars and strifes were."

Now, we have to realize that Quakerism didn't (and doesn't) have formal creeds or statements of belief that must be accepted. Individual Quakers are free to follow their own understanding of God's leading. Some Friends have fought in war (my own uncle fought in World War II, believing that the obligation to protect the innocent overrode the obligation to protect his own beliefs). In a famous, perhaps but I suspect not apocryphal, anecdote Fox told William Penn to "wear thy sword as long as thou canst." So there was never, and never has been, a requirement that to be or remain a Quaker one must necessarily be an absolute pacifist.

Still, I do think that the underlying principles were well in place considerably before the declaration of 1660/1 which articulated the testimony which had been developed within the Society.


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Everyman: In a famous, perhaps but I suspect not apocryphal, anecdote Fox told William Penn to "wear thy sword as long as thou canst." So there was never, and never has been, a requirement that to be or remain a Quaker one must necessarily be an absolute pacifist.

Great citation of a famous, if ambiguous, injunction.


message 42: by MadgeUK (last edited Jun 30, 2010 02:20AM) (new)

MadgeUK Hill was writing of the 'peace principle' letter to King Charles II, drafted by Margaret Fell in April 1660 which contains the words 'do deny and bear our testimony against all strife and wars etc., and which was signed by other prominent Quakers, including Fox:

http://www.qhpress.org/quakerpages/qw...-

It was then reiterated in another letter presented to King Charles by Fox in November 1660, which became the official Quaker position at the time:-

http://www.qhpress.org/quakerpages/qw...

This testimony has been subsequently condensed to the one quoted here and I think it now varies a little according to the Quaker group to which you belong:-

http://www.folsoms.net/peace.shtml

As Everyman says, there has always been opposition to the pacifism implied by these letters, from the time they were written to the present day, as can be seen from the 'peace arguments' in the above link.

This is an interesting article on the history of the peace principle:-

http://www.quaker.org/quest/issue-12-...

One of the benefits of the 'peace principle' is that many Quakers have since made themselves available to act as doctors and nurses to the military in times of war.


message 43: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 02, 2010 01:15AM) (new)

MadgeUK Response to Everyman in 'through Book 2' thread:

The English experience was very different to the American one. Those, including Quakers, who served under Cromwell in the New Model Army and in his Parliament were called Puritans - it defined the 'godly' way of life they believed in, not just the earlier religion.If you supported Cromwell and the revolution you were called a Puritan because he and the majority who supported him were, or had been, Puritans. The Society of Friends was formed by such people in the 1640s, during this religious turmoil.

After the Restoration in 1660 it became illegal to be a Puritan or anything other than a Protestant and this was when a great many Quakers and former Puritans emigrated. BTW King Charles II ordered an end to Quaker hangings in 1661 after hearing about Mary Dyer: 'Having been informed that several of our Subjects among you, called Quakers, have been and are imprisoned by you, whereof some have been executed...you are to forbear to proceed any farther, but that you forthwith send the said Persons over to this our Kingdom.' Both hanging and imprisonment of Quakers then ceased in Mass.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_U...


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I joined the group too late to make any meaningful contribution to the excellent debates you are all having, however as I was searching my various bookshelves and other diverse piles of books looking for my father's copy of Paradise Lost, I came across a book entitled simply "Dryden" edited by W D Christie and revised in 1901 by C H Firth. In it we have Dryden's "Heroic Stanzas consecrated to the memory of His Highness Oliver, late Lord Protector of this Commonwealth, &c - written after the celebration of his funeral".

Christie points out that: "When the Heroic Stanzas appeared, Richard Cromwell seemed to be firmly established as his father's successor, and Dryden celebrated the peaceful security which the able and vigorous government of the Protector had bequeathed to his country... This tranquillity was of short duration. on the meeting of the Parliament in January 1659 it is evident that Richard Cromwell was unable to rule, and in less than eighteen months after the publication of the 'Heroic Stanzas' Charles the Second was restored."

The very next poem in this volume is Astraea Redux, a poem on the happy restoration and return of His Sacred Majesty Charles the Second. In another telling comment Christie points out that: "Milton, born eight years before Shakespeare's death, was Dryden's senior by twenty-three years, and 'Paradise Lost' was published in 1669, the year before that in which Dryden received the appointment of poet laureate, succeeding Davenant, the author of 'Gondibert', and Dryden's co-operator in the versified abridgement and debasement of 'Paradise Lost'.

Christie goes on: "Milton died in 1674, unhonoured by the multitude, when Dryden was at the height of his dramatic popularity,... A quarter of a century later Dryden had a splendid public funeral. Cowley, who was Dryden's superior in the imaginative faculty, and who, like Dryden after him, had a fame unjustly superior to Milton's during his life had died in 1667".

I draw your attention to this work simply to point out two things: Firstly, that as we look back, we regard Milton rightly as one of the giants on English literature, perhaps not appreciating that he was not universally regarded as such during his lifetime. Secondly, perhaps we should not condemn Dryden for his rather blatant hypocrisy, as ever practical politics is a matter of pragmatism rather than high ideals. Rather, perhaps we should be sceptical about the office of Poet Laureate and whether its propagandist role in support of the monarchy continues to be appropriate in modern Britain.


message 45: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 14, 2010 09:53AM) (new)

MadgeUK Nice to have you aboard David, late or not:).

Your last sentence says a lot but Everyman won't let me comment:):):).

I think Milton was more highly regarded than this author allows for. One of the things which contributed to his lack of success at the time of publishing PL was that, following the Fire of London in 1666, there was a huge shortage of paper and he had difficulty finding a printer. The incidence of the plague also meant that there were fewer buyers. It follows that Dryden, a monarchist, publishing at the time of the Restoration would find more favour (and paper!) than a renowned anti-monarchist publishing at that time. His catholic leanings had lost him the Poet Laureateship under Oliver Cromwell so he was probably anxious to please the new Protector and secure an income thereby. Milton had royalties from other publications under his belt.

Milton entered into a publishing agreement with a little known publisher, Samuel Simmons, in 1680 and the maximum number of copies allowed under English law then, 1500 per impression, were printed and three impressions were made. Second and third editions followed in 1674 and 1678. Considering that Milton was in disrepute with the new King at this time, this isn't a bad record of sales.

Paradise Lost really took off in 1690 when Dryden's publisher, Tonson, secured the copyright and publicised the book widely. He also serialised it and brought out smaller, less expensive editions. By 1709, following Tonson's exertions on Milton's daughter's behalf, it was a bestseller and there were editions of every size, with and without illustrations. Paradise Lost has remained a bestseller from that day to this, which cannot be said of Dryden's Heroic Stanzas:).

Also, although Milton was not well known as a poet in his lifetime, he was extremely well known and well regarded as a political pamphleteer and Secretary of Foreign Tongues, having given up temporarily on his ambition to be a poet in order to help the Revolution. His political book Eikonoklastes (1649), a defence of regicide, was a runaway bestseller and his later Defence of the English People (1652), written in pure Latin after the regicide, secured his reputation throughout Europe. Dryden's real success came much later and to his lasting fame, his work established the heroic couplet as a feature of English poetry.


message 46: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 14, 2010 01:03PM) (new)

David: Rather, perhaps we should be sceptical about the office of Poet Laureate and whether its propagandist role in support of the monarchy continues to be appropriate in modern Britain.

I join Madge in welcoming you David. I visited your website about the festival and enjoyed looking at it.

Madge may be too demure to comment on your last sentence ;) , but I am not.

I think that by the time anyone is recognized by any official government body, their usefulness as innovators or original thinkers/artists is probably finished.

I've always respected artists who turn down White House invitations to avoid being coopted by an administration whose policies they disapprove of.


message 47: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments hehe...What about Stephen Colbert. He went to the Bush White House dinner:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSE_sa...


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

Absolutely Dianna! But it wasn't the White House and they weren't honoring him. On the contrary, it was the White House Correspondents Dinner (W.H. being used as an adjective there for our foreign friends). This is one of the most venal events in our contemporary political-media culture where gaining and maintaining access is more important than rooting out the truth.

I would say more, but I don't want to turn this into a political debate with those who might disagree with my particular politics. I think what I wrote above is appropriate because the blurring of lines between power and words is the theme we are discussing here, and, to my mind, it is a persistent one through out history.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Zeke, I don't think it's a political debate to say that power and access to power corrupts both politicians and their sycophants. And that ties in directly to Milton and his activities during his lifetime, so you're good ;)


message 50: by Dianna (last edited Jul 14, 2010 12:05PM) (new)

Dianna | 393 comments I think my point is that Stephen Colbert was allowed in because of his poetic ability to transcend the politicians and/or those in power. This is what I tend to see Milton doing. That's why I compare Milton to Colbert. I think poets sometimes do go where angels fear to tread.


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