ńňđ. 6
(âńĺăî 14)



counterweight to martial integrity, but of these Iago is so difficult to play
because there seems such flimsy psychological grounding for his system-
atic abuse of the aspects of office through which others see him. Cassio
expects the soldierly loyalty of a fellow in arms and is undone: Othello
requires the obedience of a subordinate and the plain speaking of a trusted
advisor and receives only their beguiling simulacra. In Iago we have a clear

S. R., trans., The Life of M. Descartes (1693), pp. 251–2.
Edward Young, Conjectures on Original Composition (1759), in Jones, English Critical
Essays, pp. 270–311; quotation, Porter Enlightenment Britain, p. 281.
Shakespeare, 3Henry VI 5.6; Richard III 4.4.
For a contemporary discussion of these aspects of the persona, see Raleigh, Cabinet
Council, chs. 22–3, 25, pp. 68–7, 132–4.
Soul and conscience 145
case of the early modern fear of the protean power of the rhetor freed of
the restraints of office; Iago fashions his own image and the social world
according to self-interest, even to the extent of re-describing the human
world as the bestial, inverting what was seen as a natural order, so
displacing his own monstrousness.
As true villainy was the absence of office, it extended from kings and
generals to the offices of the mind. Marlowe’s Dr Faustus is the intellect’s
Iago. He is ‘swollen with cunning of a self-conceit,/ His waxen wings did
mount above his reach.’111 It is the limitation of every art he masters that
makes it inadequate for one fretting to eat of the tree of a knowledge that
promises unbridled power. He dismisses, in turn, the philosophy and logic
of Aristotle, its ‘chiefest end’ being in effective dispute, Galenic medicine,
law and divinity. Magic alone gives ‘omnipotence’. ‘A sound magician is a
mighty god’, whereas ‘Emperors and kings/ Are but obeyed in their several
provinces’. Marlowe makes complementary play with understanding the
interrelationships between the spheres of the firmament, but Faustus’s
burning desire is to have the power to disrupt them, have ‘the moon drop
from her sphere’ and be unhindered by any sphere himself.112 Such ambi-
tion was more than optimistic; it was tyrannous and sacrilegious. And a
legacy of this feared restive excess, against which, as I have suggested, we
find defences of rhetoric and poetry both fighting, is still evident in
accusations of philosophical over-reaching well into the seventeenth cen-
tury. Hobbes argued against Thomas White that he went beyond the
sphere of philosophy by entangling it with matters of theology; Bramhall
accused Hobbes of subjecting everything to causative analysis, so leaving
no sphere for God’s works beyond philosophy.113 This critique was not
unrelated to the belief that Hobbes was an atheist, erasing divine mystery
and impervious to the mind’s, or soul’s, dependence on God. To be sure,
there is nothing as luridly dramatic as Marlowe’s Faustus as an imagina-
tive personification of intellectual pleonexia, but there is a shared pre-
sumption about the tyranny of intellectual over-extension. These were
failings at the heart of Faustian ambition and what was at stake in
Faustus’s case was nothing less than the fate of his soul, a prize distinct
from the good doctor’s individualistic disdain for the constraints of office.

Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, Chorus, lines 20–1.
Ibid., lines 35–9, 83, 91, 86–7, 665ff, 278.
Hobbes, Critique du De mundo de Thomas White (1643?), ed. J. Jacquot and H. W. Jones
(Paris, 1973), pp. 367–72; John Bramhall, A Defence of True Liberty (1655); see
Vere Chappell, ed., Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity (Cambridge, 1999),
pp. 43–68, 1–14.
146 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England

The obvious exception to the arguments presented here would seem to be
found in Hobbes’s descriptions of a natural condition comprised of un-
socialised individuals. These clashing Calibans hardly appear as souls
before God and their state is plausibly taken as presenting a post-Grotian
vision of a world of persons armed with rights. Here at least, adaptive
translations do not seem necessary to discover a thorough-going auton-
omy, the rampant individualism Burckhardt feared as bursting from the
Renaissance. Coming from an office-driven environment, Hobbes’s nat-
ural condition is indeed a remarkably imaginative conceptual achieve-
ment, an example of what he would call an act of privation, imagining
the empirical world away in order to fashion a cogent explanation for it.114
There are, however, two crucial qualifications to this appearance of
modern individuality. First, all variations of a natural condition were
intended to explain the necessity of offices: the horrors of that condition
are threatened by our not accepting the reciprocities entailed by there
being a ruling office. Second, there still remains a trace of office in the
ghost of a soul-like relationship to God. Natural law is subsumed by
divine and the capacity of humans to reason is God-given and is sufficient
to recognise His requirement to seek peace.115 Depending on how ser-
iously commentators take the divine injunction, the laws of nature remain
echoes of an empty sense of office, or a set of commands from a lawgiver.
The rights and wrongs of such debates are not the issue here. Rather, the
point is to suggest that this most rebarbative image of modern individu-
ality was not formulated by Hobbes without a touch of circularity in the
residue of office it was put forward to help rescue. For Hobbes, everything
hung on understanding aright office and the language appropriate to it.
This was what moral and political theory amounted to, a point to be
illustrated over the next four chapters.

Hobbes, De corpore (1655), in Opera latine, ed. Sir William Molesworth (1845), vol. I,
Hobbes, De cive, ch. 4.
Part II

The authority and insolence of office
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _The__________ _ _ _cases_____________ _ _ _ of_____ _ _ _ patriot____________________ _ _ and__________ _ _ _ counsellor_____________________________ ______________________________

Who is here so vile, that will not love his country?
But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
He says he does, being then most flattered.
(Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 3.2; 2.1)

The interplay between the positive and negative registers of the vocabulary
of office was persistent in the disputes concerning the offices of counsellor
and patriot. Although plausibly combined, one office was universally ac-
cepted and largely institutionalised, the other was not. Discussion of each
can help explore the range of contention over the duties of political perso-
nae and the dynamics of the resources employed. Brief comment on
republican theory in the context of patriotism, and sovereignty
theory in that of counsel, will illustrate the importance of not confusing
the vocabulary of office with specific theoretical development.
The direction of argument can be indicated by preliminary reference to
the words patriot and patriotism. Conventionally they have been studied
as markers for a doctrine in relative counterpoint to the ideology of
nationalism.1 In exploring their use as responses to offices asserted or
denied, however, it will become apparent that there may be no single
doctrinal history to be written. The English ‘patriot’ dates from the early
sixteenth century and is closely related to ‘nation’, a term sometimes
referring to the people of a given country. Thus the patriot could serve

Cf. Mary Dietz, ‘Patriotism’, in Terence Ball, James Farr and Russell Hanson, eds.,
Political Innovation and Conceptual Change (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 189–90; Johann
Huizinga, ‘Patriotism and Nationalism in European History’, in Men and Ideas, trans.
James S. Holmes and Hans van Marle (New York, 1965 edn); for timely scepticism, see
Alisdair MacLachlan, ‘Patriotic Scripture: The Making and Unmaking of English
National Identity’, Parergon, new series, 14, 1 (1996), pp. 1–5.

150 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
nation, or country.2 It is difficult to find a necessary opposition between
nationalism and patriotism, especially as the abstract neologisms had yet
to be invented and so have histories partially distinct from their linguistic
roots. Throughout the early modern world the location of the patriot was
debatable; his, and occasionally her, allegiances were all variable. England
was a powerful locus of patriotic commitment, subsuming or obliterating
Wales and war-like Scotland, swelling to the sceptred Isle girt by a silver
sea.3 Yet England’s counties could also be objects of patriotic loyalty, a
point most evident during the civil wars when bands of ‘Clubmen’ tried
to keep the contesting armies out of their respective counties.4 John
Stow proclaimed himself a patriot of London with a duty to defend and
celebrate it.5 Also variable were the evils exciting patriotic commitment,
corruption, tyranny, foreign incursion, factional, private and party inter-
est, and Rome. It is relevant that the first recorded use of the neologism
‘patriotism’ referred not to any doctrine, but to the disputed registers of
office-talk. According to Pope and Arbuthnot, by the golden law of
rhetorical transformation vices could be changed into virtues, corruption
metamorphosised into ‘patriotism’.6
What appears common to patriot and its cognates is an attempt to craft
a distinctive persona through them because other more institutionalised
offices needed augmenting, or were insufficiently tractable. Without their
protective mantle comment could look impertinent or rebellious, so it
was helpful to be able to shape criticism as a form of loyalty, an alterna-
tive subordination to some worthy end.7 There is, then, a frequent air of
defensiveness about the patriot’s proclaimed official duties. My impres-
sion is that by the mid-eighteenth century claims and counter-claims about
the patriot had this almost habitual function, the principal disputes
about the patriot being matters of tactical redescription and disassocia-
tional predication. What was at issue was the difference between true and

Ponet, Shorte Treatise, pp. 54–5, 60, 61, 147ff (for country); 7, 175, 176, for ‘nacion’.
Shakespeare, Richard II 2.1; also Richard III 3.1; Anon., Sir Thomas Overbury’s Vision
(1616), p. 55; Anon., A Pindarick Poem to His Grace Christopher Duke of Albermarle
(1682), p. 2.
John B. Morrill, The Revolt of the Provinces: Conservatives and Radicals in the English
Civil War, 1630–1650 (London, 1976), on the ‘Clubmen’ in general and occasional
synonymity of country and county, p. 14.
Stow, Survay, A3; Anon., Urbis Londiniensis (c. 1666).
Alexander Pope, Peri Bathous, or The Art of Sinking in Poetry (1727), ed. E. L. Steeves
(New York, 1952), ch. 14, pp. 79–80. The argument for co-authorship is in Conal Condren,
Satire, Lies and Politics: The Case of Dr Arbuthnot (London, 1996), Appendix B.
It would not be until the nineteenth century that opposition in parliament was claimed
to be an office in its own right, a ritualised service to the monarch. His Majesty’s Loyal
Opposition was a long way from Overton’s ‘just and necessary defensive Opposition’.
Overton, An Appeale (1647), in The Leveller Manifestoes, p. 177.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 151
false patriotism, between a spurious and an authentic public voice. The
word patriot proved to be a wild card of office.
But, from early evidence, the insistence on patriotic responsibility was
greatly elevated if combined with piety. Cicero had presented love of
country as an expression of citizenly pietas. Augustine had dramatically
re-worked Ciceronian objects of love into a theological vision of society,
and on the basis of such groundwork, the crusades were promoted by
Louis VI of France as marrying love of country to love of God. On the
eve of the Reformation, Machiavelli remarked forcefully to Vettori
that he loved his patria (Florence) more than his soul; such intensity of
expression could itself be worn as a badge of pious commitment.8
There was, therefore, precedent for what became a potent Reformation
topos, the combined duty to God and country, useful in emergency,
because arguably overriding other obligations. The rhetorics of the patria
can appear first, not as an emotion or a rarified concept, but as an idiom
of largely modal casuistry. The Marian exile John Ponet relied heavily on
this double appeal to responsibility in his attacks on Queen Mary, a
betrayer of England and true religion by her adherence to Rome. The
patriot’s duty was to stand against Antichrist.9 A beleaguered Elizabeth
proved noticeably effective in collocating the rhetorics of piety and
patriotic loyalty and they were common in parliaments of the period.10
In undated notes for a speech, Sir Ralph Sadler claimed to be speaking
at once for his country and for the queen, the ‘patronesse and protectrix’
of Protestants. He concluded a later speech in 1563 as ‘a naturall and
good Englishman’ giving no less ‘honour and suretie to my prynce, then
aperteyneth to thoffice [sic] and duetie of a trew subject’.11 The most
obvious expression of this unity was that Bond of Association of 1584,
through which Elizabeth’s most vocally loyal subjects affirmed armed
defence of her person, religion and country. Love of country and Pro-
testantism would continue to be precariously linked to more formal ex-
pressions of office. James VI&I was fond of the homology between
father and king, and so attached the Ciceronian tag pater patriae to him-
self.12 In defending as patriotic his proposed reforms to the office of the
philosopher, Francis Bacon ironically listed selfless love of country among
the faults of the ancient sages Plato, Cato, Cicero and Demosthenes.13

8 9
Dietz, ‘Patriotism’, p. 181. Ponet, Shorte Treatise, pp. 98–126, 147–83.
Mack, Elizabethan Rhetoric, pp. 236–7.
Sadler, ‘Notes of Speeches’, in State Papers, vol. I, pp. 549, 561.
James VI&I, The Trew Law of Free Monarchies (1598), in Workes, p. 204.
Bacon, Advancement, pp. 27–8.
152 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
Despite the roster of authorities, such rhetoric was not securely posses-
sed by the monarch or those who would buttress his office with new
learning. James’s desire to unify Scotland and England as Great Britain
foundered on semi-submerged rocks of patriotic opposition. He may
have styled himself emperor of Britain on his coinage, but local iden-
tities were not eclipsed given the love of mutual suspicion shared by
Englishmen and Scots.14
During the Civil War and Commonwealth period, the country, or
nation, could easily house office-based opposition to any in authority.
The Leveller tracts overflow with references to the nation, or people of
England, sometimes using it to isolate a patriotic identity tangential to
expected obligations: thus the imperative ‘make this Nation a State, free
from the Oppression of Kings’.15 At the Savoy Conference debate in
1660, Richard Baxter was directly accused by the Bishop of Carlisle of
using the word nation in order to avoid recognition that he was once
again subject to a king.16
In 1681, the Elizabethan Bond of Association became a template for
urging the exclusion of the Duke of York from the succession in the names
of patriotic duty and the defence of the Elizabethan Settlement. Such
display of the accoutrements of tradition hardly escaped the Earl of
Shaftesbury’s enemies, who, holding him responsible for the new Associ-
ation, considered his paraded piety and love of country a hypocritical
mask for rebellion. He calls himself a patriot who has lost all respec-
tability; the word is an empty vainglorious name.17 He had ‘Usurp’d a
Patriot’s All-atoning Name./ So easie still it proves in Factious Times,/
With publick Zeal to cancel private Crimes.’18 The true patriot, according
to The Parallel, is a man of peace and quietness, steering a course between
Catholicism and fanaticism. He was not a ‘Factious Associator’ but a
loyal member of the Church of England.19 Sir Roger L’Estrange alias
‘The Observator’ was equally determined to co-opt the term and did so

See Sybil M. Jack, ‘National Identities within Britain and the Proposed Union in 1603–
1607’, Parergon, new series, 18, 2 (2001), pp. 75–102; Judith Richards, ‘English
Allegiance in a British Context: Political Problems and Legal Resolutions’, Parergon,
new series, 18, 2 (2001), pp. 103–121; Christopher J. Wortham, ‘Shakespeare, James I
and the Matter of Britain’, English, 97, 45 (1996), pp. 97–122.
John Lilbourne, A Remonstrance of Many Thousand Citizens and other Free-born People
of England (1646), in Leveller Manifestoes, p. 125.
Burnet, History, vol. I, p. 312.
Anon., The Two Associations (1681); Anon., The Parallel, pp. 4, 30; Anon., The
Character of a Disbanded Courtier, p. 3.
John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681), Pt. 1.
Anon., The Parallel, p. 4.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 153
in the hallowed ovine imagery of office. ‘Observator’ was a patriot, the
stout mastiff keeping whiggish wolves from worrying the flock.20
Unlike Shaftesbury, Halifax proved a survivor, but not without suffer-
ing similarly serious accusations of being an unprincipled courtly
creature, ‘a state Hermaphrodite’, ‘a church Spread-Eagle’. Another anti-
Shaftesbury tirade referred to ‘The Trimmers office, as some term it well,/
Because it squints both toward Heav’n and Hell.’21 In his own Character of
a Trimmer (c. 1684), Halifax deftly inverted the accusation by drawing on
the latent potential of the metaphor. Only by trimming sails can a
good sailor keep the little boat afloat, but always within the principled
bounds of love of religion and country; because of them, the trimmer is no
cypher-like and protean courtier. Halifax declaimed that he would not
tolerate the damage done to one ‘spire’ of English grass by an invading
boot.22 In the spire he brought together the four patterns of associa-
tion: religion, fixed points of navigation, the down-to-earth specifics of
patriotic love, and the grass on which a flock might safely graze.
Pasi Ihalainen has shown how the word patriot could displace and
re-describe accusations of party interest, and in this rhetorical context,
perhaps increasingly, it attracted qualifying predicates such as ‘worthy’
and ‘true’. The ‘abandoned faction’ of Whigs and Dissenters, according
to the clarion voice of Dr Sacheverell, had no right to the term patriot.23
During the early eighteenth century there seems to have been an inten-
sification of attempts to co-opt the word patriot to a range of causes.
‘Patriot’ becomes a pseudonym in print. Richard Steele produced a
thrice-weekly paper as the Englishman, but gave it up in 1714, tired of
the alternative ‘mushroom’ patriots around him.24 Standing firm in a
world of party affiliations, the patriot assumed an aura of the alienated
prophet which itself was an implicit accusation of corruption and carried
a concomitant expectation of martyrdom. The Catholic Roger Palmer,
Lord Castlemaine, called himself a known patriot walking incognito.25
The patriot’s ‘soul by Nature is design’d/ to rescue Nations, and to save
mankind’. His lot is to warn ‘the state of coming Storm’, and is called to

Sir Roger L’Estrange, A Vindication of the Observator (1685), at length.
Anon., The Character of a Trimmer (1683), p. 2; Charles Argall (?), The King of Poland’s
Ghost (1683), p. 2.
George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, The Character of a Trimmer (c. 1684), in Complete
Works, ed. Walter Raleigh (Oxford, 1912), p. 97.
Pasi Ihalainen, The Discourse on Political Pluralism in Early Eighteenth-Century England
(Helsinki, 1999) p. 226.
Richard Steele, The Englishman, Being the Close of the Paper So-Called (1714), pp. 3, 10.
Roger Palmer, Lord Castlemain, whose name only appears on a MS version of The
Englishman’s Allegiance (c. 1690), bound in with Samuel Butler Hudibras (1674), pp.
203–19, 413–21. The MS is held by the Caltech Archives, California.
154 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
bear ‘The weight of Nations and the Public Care’.26 Bolingbroke’s Patriot
King and The Craftsman took this attempted co-option to an extreme.
His averred belief in the wholesale corruption of tradition since the civil
wars that spawned party, left him with little in the way of offices in
which he could place faith. His response was an appeal to the ruler,
supported by a truly patriotic party, which consequently was no party.
Elizabeth, not surprisingly, was the English ideal.27 Effectively, patriotism
was opposition to that man of party Walpole.
Given the ethos of defensiveness in the name of duties to God and
Country, there was an industry in redescription into the odious. The
patriot could be ‘rough and boistrous’,28 ‘so called’, pretended, hypocrit-
ical, a rebel, a knave, a factious disputant, a man of private or party
interest. There was little that could not, as Ihalainen has shown, be
negatively transformed by connecting ‘party’ to something else with a
hyphen.29 But because it was self-assumed, lacking institutional protec-
tion and the formalities of initiation, the posited office of the patriot was
particularly vulnerable. Any few can pretend to being the sounder part
of the polity, wrote George Hickes, by claiming an interest for their
country.30 As Bishop Berkeley put it, only by consulting his heart can a
man tell if he is really a patriot; bystanders find it harder. The true patriot
nevertheless is a sort of guardian, a man of religion aiming at the public
good, treating his countrymen as God’s creatures.31 Because any man
might consult his heart to his own satisfaction, patriotism became, in
Dr Johnson’s expression, the last refuge of the scoundrel. This pseudo-
definition did not stop Johnson seeking sanctuary in the rhetorics of
last resort. In attacking the ‘American usurpation’, he accepted that
patriotism often originates in opposition to those in office.32 Yet its
quality is ‘to be jealous and watchful . . . to see public dangers at a

George Sewell, The Patriot, A Poem (1712), pp. 1, 5, 6.
Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, The Idea of a Patriot King (1749), ed. Stanley W.
Jackman (New York, 1965 edn), p. 80; many of the same points could be made with
reference to J. Trenchard and T. Gordon, Cato’s Letters: or Essays on Liberty, Civil and
Religious, and Other Important Subjects (1720–3), ed. Ronald Hamowy, 2 vols.
(Indianapolis, 1995).
Edward Hyde, The Lord Chancellor’s Speech to the Two Houses at their Prorogation, 9
May 1662, p. 16.
Ihalainen, Discourse on Political Pluralism, pp. 363–7. Not all usage was prejudicial,
however; see Hutchinson, Memoirs, pp. 65–6, 313.
George Hickes, An Apology for the New Separation (1691), p. 3; also Burnet, History,
vol. V, p. 196.
George Berkeley, Maxims Concerning Patriotism (Dublin, 1750), in The Works of
George Berkeley, ed. A. A. Luce and T. E. Jessop (London, 1953), vol. VI, pp. 253–4.
Samuel Johnson, The Patriot (1774), in The Political Works of Samuel Johnson, ed. J. P.
Hardy (London, 1968), p. 96.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 155
distance’. The patriot does not peddle false opinions, or adhere to parties,
he acts in the public interest as a lover of his people and of justice. He
is, in short, a counsellor for the public good. Much the same pious
platitudes issued from Johnson’s usurpers across the Atlantic, where, as
Mary Dietz notes, selected seventeenth-century patriots were being
elevated to the status of martyrs.33

The lack of a specific institutional focus and limit for the assumed res-
ponsibilities of the patriot made the surrounding polemics inconclusive;
but, as a corollary, patriotic rhetoric was invaluable in extending the
range of people given official identity within the commonwealth. This
did not mean that patriotism was simply an adjunct to arguments about
citizenship, or an idiom of republican or democratic commitment. In
offering an ad hoc casuistry of inclusion, it was a lubricant for official
flexibility, a common denominator for monarch and aristocracy, above
mere citizenship and for the disfranchised below it.
During the continental Reformation, it may have been that the impetus
to such a rectoral expansion of office was more closely tied to citizenship,
as the early Protestant reformers tried to gather forces to defend their
princes and their independent cities. Gradually the imperatives of patriotic
defence were extended to citizens and to the household.34 Similar moves
were made in England, but with the appeal to country-love being spread
as a cloak of office to cover the excluded and to smother other forms
of duty.35 The notion of a general calling to Christianity potentially added
a theological reason for inclusion and it provides a further impetus
behind the redescriptive energies devoted to words in the ambit of patria.
In the mid-sixteenth century the Marian exiles embraced all English
Protestant souls in their anti-Catholic polemics. Cardinal Allen returned
the compliment: true religion and love of country sanctioned decisive
action against Elizabeth even by the most humble. The spread of literacy,
relatively cheap print and the circulation of stories of England, above all
Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (1563), probably did much to inculcate a
popular sense of Englishness to which patriotic appeal could be made.
To advance the honour of ‘our Countrie’, wrote Richard Hakluyt, ought

Ibid., pp. 93–4; Dietz, ‘Patriotism’, pp. 186–7.
Von Friedeburg, Self-Defence, ch. 2.
Before Agincourt, Henry V’s soldiers were his band of brothers, even the meanest
gentled by loyalty to king and country; Shakespeare, Henry V 4.3.
156 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
to be the aim of ‘every good man’.36 After the shock of the gunpowder
discovery, James VI&I responded with a similarly open-ended appeal.
When king, country and religion are at ‘hazard no good countryman
ought to withhold his tongue or his hand according to his calling and
In the following reign, Sir John Eliot, whose opposition to the king
had by 1630 deposited him in prison, sat translating Arnisaeus, De Iure
majestatis (1610), but in doing so, the patriotic and protective duty of
the prince was extended to the Englishman cherishing his country. It
was a sign of things to come.38 The Protestation was drawn up in more
elaborate but familiar terms, to the same inclusive ends. When religion,
law, the liberties of subjects, the power and privilege of parliament and
the monarch’s person and estate are at risk, piety and country-love im-
pose duties of defence. In 1641 it was presented to those in institutional
office for subscription, but then promoted across the country. All who
embraced its terms, citizens or not, men or women, were effectively made
officers for the defence of all that was good and holy about England.39
Doctrinal content was another matter.40 Some would subscribe only if
they could determine meaning, others refused because of its equivocal
language. The Protestation was, indeed, variously understood: bishops
subscribed, altar rails were broken.41 What it shows is how the appeals
to piety and country had become part of the positive register of office and
could be used to galvanise a participatory sense of responsibility.
Later, Burnet recalled that after the disaster of the Battle of Dunbar,
in 1650, the Scots debated whether those who had not served the Kirk
should ‘be received into public trust, and admitted to serve in the defence
of their country’. One argument was that it was a law of nature and
nations that whosoever a government defends has a duty to come to its
aid. Here country is collapsed into meaning state, with the duties of office
extending far beyond citizenly privilege. To allude again to William Ames’

William Allen, An Admonition to the Nobility and People of England and Ireland (1588);
Greenberg, The Radical Face, pp. 81, 94–8; Richard Hakluyt, Divers Voyages, cited in
Fitzmaurice, Humanism and America, p. 47.
James VI&I, A Discourse of the Manner of the Discovery of the Powder Treason, in
Workes, p. 223.
Von Friedeburg, Self-Defence, pp. 194–5.
David Cressy, ‘The Protestation Protested, 1641 and 1642’, Historical Journal, 52, 2
(2002), esp. pp. 254, 259, 252; Crawford, ‘The Poorest She’.
The Protestation, 3 May 1641, in Samuel Rawson Gardiner, ed., The Constitutional
Documents of the Puritan Revolution, 1625–1660 (Oxford, 1979 edn), p. 155; on the
importance of recognising inclusive generality in seventeenth-century argument, Glenn
Burgess, The Politics of the Ancient Constitution (London, 1992), chs. 5–6.
Cressy, ‘The Protestation’, pp. 256–79.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 157
casuistry, emergency makes a public officer of any private man.42
Deeming him a patriot could be sufficient. The imperative could as easily
be directed to protect the country’s church. If godly, every man and
woman might be called upon to carry out this duty.43 Ponet, James
VI&I, Ames and the debaters after Dunbar were all making much the
same sort of casuistic moves, extending the responsibility of office by
reference to country, its people, the government, or the nation. As I shall
eventually suggest, it is in this idiom that we may best see Locke’s inclu-
sive appeal to the people to respond to tyranny (below, chapter 15).
The difficulty, especially given a veritable tradition of such patriotic
casuistries of inclusion, lay in controlling the spirits so conjured from the
vasty depths.
By the mid-seventeenth century, the word patriot was sufficiently well
established for it also to be used beyond polemic and special pleading,
in the processes of conceptual refinement. Lawson associates patriotic
commitment with communal loyalty, and so it helps shape his concept
of real majesty, the universal dimension of sovereignty founding and
authenticating political order. A patriotic Englishman is more than just
a subject.44 Adam Smith would develop a similar point more fully. In
the furore over the French Revolution, Dr Richard Price had argued
that although patriotism was usually just self-serving parochialism, true
patriotism was support for the new France.45 For Smith, however, the
vexed issue of patriotism was never reducible to a simple commitment,
it resided in the question of when the duties of citizenship took prece-
dence over the law to which there was also an obligation.46 Patriotism
is used to abridge a pervasive feature of moral responsibility in any polity,
but appeal to it is not necessarily decisive; as for Lawson, the patriot is
precisely one who recognises the imperatives of considered judgement.47
This comment on the pragmatics of patriotism may help us move on
from the rather sterile ontology of patriotism and nationalism, preoccu-
pied with when it, or they (as doctrines, theories, ideologies or forces,
‘isms’), really began, of whether one was the unhealthy off-shoot of the

Burnet, History, vol. I, p. 95; Ames, Conscience, p. 179.
Stephen Marshall, Meroz Curs’d (1641), p. 2; a transgression of the duty of the priest to
be a minister of peace, according to Anon., A Letter of Spiritual Advice (1643), p. 4.
Lawson, Politica, e.g. pp. 111–12.
Dr Richard Price, A Discourse on the Love of our Country (1790) in Ellis Sandoz, ed.,
Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730–1805 (Indianapolis, 1991), pp.
1010–25; Adam Smith, A Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759, 1790), ed. D. D. Raphael
and A. L. Macfie (Indianapolis, 1984), editorial note, p. 231.
Smith, Moral Sentiments, VI.ii.2, pp. 10–18.
Ibid., VI.ii.2.11, pp. 231–2.
158 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
other. Overall, the broad awareness of office enabled an appeal to the
patria to be used to mobilise and justify extraordinary or questionable
actions, and such rhetorical practices played a role in changing and
inventing parental lands and nations. That the patria rather than the
nation was the prime focus may also be explained without recourse to
some prior logic of doctrinal development, or by taking the reality of
the ‘ism’ for granted. Because ‘nation’ referred to nativities, and not
necessarily to units of affiliation, it was altogether less flexible. So
although there was no contradiction in a patriot’s being committed to
the English nation, as there might well be if we are dealing with differing
ideologies, the words nationalistic and nationalist were not developed
as were the terms patriotic and patriot, and there is no ‘nationalism’ until
the nineteenth century. The considerably earlier ‘patriotism’ was to a large
extent the consequence of the interested arguments over office.

In chapter 3, I suggested that the organisational character of early modern
society has created the impression of a ubiquitous republican practice
and that a participatory ethos needs distinguishing from a doctrinal
commitment to constitutional republicanism. It is on this that the rheto-
rics of love of country cast light. Discussion of the best form of govern-
ment became familiar in early modern England and in often being about
England, it helped create a site of patriotic commitment. Non-monarchical
societies were known from antiquity and contemporary Europe, and so
intellectually there was no reason why rule without a monarch could not
be considered the best form of English government. Charles Merbury
offered a patriotic vision of the Elizabethan monarchy that came close
to seeing its main virtue as proximity to somewhere like Venice. At the
death of Elizabeth, Walter Raleigh thought that England might dispense
with kingship, to avoid subjection to the ‘beggarly nation’ of Scotland.
During the Civil Wars Nathaniel Bacon attributed a republican form of
rule to Anglo-Saxon England before its clergy-driven degeneration.48 The
Levellers occasionally gave voice to the sentiment that kings were inimical
to good government in England. Despite such patriotic salvoes, it is
difficult to find unambiguous adherents to any constitutional republican
cause much before the execution of Charles I.49 This is perhaps most

Charles Merbury, A briefe discourse of royall monarchie (1581); Aubrey, ‘Sir Walter
Raleigh’, in Brief Lives, p. 319; Nathaniel Bacon, cited in Richard Tuck, Philosophy and
Government, 1572–1651 (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 238–40.
Raia Prokhovnik, Spinoza and Republicanism (London, 2004), pp. 117–53, for a helpful
The cases of patriot and counsellor 159
obviously because the difference between a monarchical and non-monar-
chical form of government was rarely clear-cut.50 Monarchs might be
elected or hereditary, and be variably bounded by law. But once armed
with the potent if rather indiscriminate abstraction republicanism, it is
easy now to misrepresent the character of argument and the nature of
political commitments.
Three points of reference in recent historiography will help re-orientate
the issue. John Pocock, recognising how minimal constitutional republic-
anism actually was in England, famously referred to it as a language not a
programme, his paradigmatic republican being James Harrington,
the authentic legatee of Machiavellian republicanism.51 Partially with
Pocock’s image of Harrington in mind, Jonathan Scott has argued that
the model republicans are rather Sidney and Milton (Harrington was really
a Hobbesian and no friend of liberty), and that republicanism was above
all a set of moral principles.52 Both recognise an aura of indeterminacy
around the phenomenon and are helpful in pointing towards the vocabu-
lary of office. The crucial question, however, is how some employment of it
gets isolated as being properly republican. Justin Champion has identified
one simple mechanism: men like Milton, Sidney and Harrington all had
idealised visions of society as a church under one king in Heaven, and
nothing more easily fabricates a modern republicanism than discounting
the religious dimensions of their selected texts.53
The imagination of an ideal heavenly commonwealth under the most
absolute of monarchs was commonplace and it rather muddies the waters
of English constitutional republicanism.54 It nevertheless alerts us to the
fact that through appeals to office such figures needed to be self-proclaim-
ing pious patriots to justify arguments that looked disruptive of order.55
Indeed, much of what has been accepted as republicanism was a particular

For discussion see Robert von Friedeburg, ‘Introduction’, in Robert von Friedeburg,
ed., Murder and Monarchy: Regicide in European History, 1300–1800 (Basingstoke,
2004), pp. 5–28; for exceptions see, Bacon, Advancement, pp. 64 and 83; Raleigh, Cabinet
Council, ch. 26, pp. 162–3, 172; The King’s Answer to the Nineteen Propositions (1643), in
Malcom, The Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I, pp. 154–78, and The Solemn League and
Covenant (September 1643), in Gardiner, Constitutional Documents.
The Political Works of James Harrington, ed. J. G. A. Pocock (Cambridge, 1977), at
length, ‘Introduction’; J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment (Princeton, 1975),
pp. 384–6.
Jonthan Scott, England’s Troubles: Seventeenth-Century English Political Instability in
European Context (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 317–18.
Champion, Pillars of Priestcraft, pp. 170–8, 264; a point endorsed by Scott, in England’s
See, for example, Scheibler, Metaphysica, bk. 2, punctum 2; George Lawson, Magna
charta ecclesiae universalis (1665), p. 144; for the ultimately Augustinian imagery.
Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment, pp. 371–2.
160 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
exploitation of the positive register of office, a point obscured by setting
up any figure as paradigmatic.56 Playing favourites in this way is apt to
confuse use of language with rightful ownership embedded in exclusive
doctrine, creating a general phenomenon in the image and likeness of
the favoured text. To repeat, the notions of ruling for the good of the
commonwealth, in the public interest of England, of proper, or just
participation in rule, of liberty and the protection of rights were terms
used by all when they argued over offices of ruling. It would be hard to
find anyone not embracing the virtues of justice, courage and constancy,
the republican principles Scott associates so strongly with Milton and
Sidney; such language could be used by any self-respecting nun. Con-
versely, protested commitments to good rule were sharpened in opposi-
tion to the salient terms of office-abuse. Republicans were implacably
against tyranny, oppression, ruling in a private, party, foreign or factional
interest (Catholic priests were particularly practised in this). Slavery or
arbitrary rule and backsliding towards Rome were all feared as threats
to England.57
This commitment made it imperative that Charles I, or his ghost writer
in Eikon Basilike, co-opt the appropriate registers. The reader is assured
that Charles acted in the people’s interest, and for the good of the com-
monweal. He, being a man of reason, law, and loving the proper partici-
pation of his parliament and the ‘true liberty’ of the people, had found
himself confounded by faction which, dominating parliament, tried to
dictate and command his duty.58 And so sensitive is he to tyranny that
he warns his son to use his prerogative to soften the rigours of the law
rather than relentlessly following the letter, which is but a legal tyranny.
There is more of the same, but one gets the drift; the issue is between good
government and its subversion. The explosive Eikonoklastes, heavily
freighted with the rhetorics of commonwealth and nation, country-love
and Reformation, retorted (I abbreviate) that the tyrant had no right to
use such language.59
But, like it or not, he had done so and in taking sides as to who is
the true republican, we obscure the processes by which a constitutional
republicanism did develop. After 1649, people violently opposed over the
abolition of the monarchy were in agreement that good government and

Tuck, Philosophy and Government, pp. 221–59; Scott, England’s Troubles, pp. 317ff.
It is apparently common dislike of tyranny that helped synthesise liberalism and
republicanism by the early eighteenth century; such a salve would glue everyone
together; see Sullivan, Machiavelli, Hobbes, pp. 15, 237, 267.
Charles I, Eikon Basilike, pp. 2, 79–80, 239, 284, 286, 79.
Ibid., pp. 239; Milton, Eikonoklastes, pp. 344, 348, 456–69, 580–1.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 161
religion were the main issues, and that the words commonwealthsman and
republican should designate the same constitutional situation – the ab-
sence of a king – but the agreement on a label was for diametrically
opposed reasons. For some there was a contradiction between good
English government and monarchy; for others good rule demanded a
monarch, and commonwealthsman could be consigned to a lexicon of
abuse, becoming roughly synonymous with rebel, traitor, regicide, etc.
Ironically, then, there was something of a semantic marriage of conveni-
ence between those at loggerheads over the execution of Charles. Brought
together by grasping for the vocabulary of good rule and country-love,
they gradually entrenched an opposition between monarchy and
republic.60 Certainly by the end of the century predominant usage has
changed. In the 1630s William Cavendish had styled himself a good
commonwealthsman, one who served the commonwealth (res publica).
In the 1680s, Richard More needed vehemently to deny that he had been
a republican in order to stand for office.61
The issue of good rule, however, could still complicate the question of
republican identity. Republicanism versus monarchy becomes, quite liter-
ally, a cosmic false dichotomy when taken to Paradise Lost, that most self-
consciously patriotic and ambitious of epics. The question of where the
poet really stands has generated a substantially misconceived literature,
divided over whether Milton was true to his republicanism, or abandoned
the Cause.62 Satan stands for abuse of office (fair enough), so naturally he
is manifested as a bad king; not surprisingly a composite of Cromwellian
apostacy and bad thing Charles of Eikonoklastes, with Hell sounding like
a parody of a parliament, or a participatory assembly in its chaos, self-
interest and corruption of rhetoric. In contrast, God is office in its just
execution, so although a heavenly king, his relationship with the angelic
hosts can seem ‘republican’, hardly a novel or eccentric use of the vocabu-
lary of office; and Lucifer needs to misuse ‘republican’ arguments in
attempting to corrupt the heavenly throng. Of course: good angels actu-
ally like good government, so how is poor Lucifer going to corrupt them,

See, for example, Peltonen, Classical Humanism, for true republicanism, quasi-
republicanism, aristocratic republicanism, etc., all inferred from the positive register
of office; Prokhovnik, Spinoza and Republicanism, p. 149.
William Cavendish, later Duke of Newcastle, Harleian MS 6988, art. 62 in Margaret
Cavendish, The Life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince, William Cavendish,
appendix, pp. 326–30; Richard More, ‘The Defence of Richard More against the Rev.
Mr. Billingsley’s Charges’ (c. 1681), MS in private hands.
For discussion, see William Walker, ‘Paradise Lost and the Forms of Government’,
History of Political Thought, 22, 2 (2001), pp. 270–300.
162 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
other than by misappropriating its vocabulary?63 What is unhelpfully
styled ‘republicanism’ of Heaven under a king is the perfection of ruling
activity, described as such through the conventional positive register of
office. Having God as a king was hardly Milton’s problem; it neither needs
explaining nor explaining away.64 We do not ask why he makes Satan so
bad, though some have worried about why he is so interesting.
Decoding a poem that pivots upon office and its abuse as if it were, or
should be, about a specific ideology is part of heavier baggage commonly
carried back to the early modern world. As I have argued before, we
can hardly expect to be well attuned to distant disputes if we read modern
uses and dichotomies back into them. The point here is that, generally,
more attention is needed to the capital of seventeenth-century debate
before we can understand the development of distinct doctrines within
it; and, specifically, that a good deal is bound to be mythologised if we
take the mutually delineating registers of office necessarily as markers for
opposing theories – consider the careless and word-blind assertions that
people defended rights to rebellion and revolt, developed ideologies of
the same, or conversely justified arbitrary rule. During the final troubled
stages of Charles II’s reign good and bad rule continued to be heatedly
contested, but as the registers of each were common currency, they were
not exclusive to doctrinal difference. Those like Sidney, Marvell and
Locke were sure that the monarchy was leading to slavery and tyranny,
while others fearing the boisterousness of un-English republicans were
as insistent that alteration in the succession would mean slavery. It had
been the Commonwealth that had been arbitrary, a proof that all rebels
were tyrants in the making. The true patriots were on all sides.

I want now to turn to the office of counsel. Throughout medieval and
early modern Christendom counsel was a multidimensional phenomenon,
disputed in its workings yet accepted as central to the fabric of govern-
ment. The institutionalisation of counsel, through committees, parlia-
ments, chapters, consistories and assemblies, provided the principles
around which constitutions and arguments were organised. The questions
of who could call a council, what authority it might have and why,

Norbrook, Writing the English Republic, pp. 445–6; ‘Devils soonest tempt, resembling
spirits of light’: Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost 4.3.
As Paul Rahe points out, a monarchy might be acceptable to Milton if the ruler properly
fitted the office: see ‘The Classical Republicanism of John Milton’, History of Political
Thought, 25, 2 (2004), pp. 256–8.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 163
generated a mighty literature in ecclesiology alone of which the conciliar
movement provided an impressive monument. It is, however, symptom-
atic of wider issues that there was no agreement as to what, for example,
the Council of Constance (1414–18) actually proved. It could be argued
that by deposing alternative popes it exemplified the authority of rational
advice formulated in concert, or that the Council affirmed the proper
authority of a genuine pope whose position was hardly weakened by its
advisory deliberations.
At one extreme, a council could be, as with the Italian Republics, the
ruling persona of the polity.65 At the other, it might be little more than a
courtly accessory, an assurance of the integrity of rule.66 The medieval
English barony may be seen as moving between these extremes. Some-
times docile, cowed or on display, just occasionally toppling monarchs, it
was armed as a self-styled council. The rhetorics of the office might be
enriched by the literature from wider Christendom, but their force would
have been familiar enough.67
Just as councils were central to the governance of Christendom, so was
the office of counsel, ambiguously tied as it was to social institutions.68
For Sir Thomas Smith, all those with an interest in the health of the
commonwealth may speak to counsel those who rule it.69 Society itself
was thus implicitly conciliar, and like some appeals to the dutiful love
of country, Smith’s argument gave a touch of office to all. Commonly,
however, counsel carried an aura of exclusivity and in the advice to princes
literature counsel had almost a genre to itself. The ruling God was also
counsellor (Isaiah 9: 6; Psalms, 73: 24) and so good counsel stood in the
divine shadow.70 It was, however, as dangerous as it was important.
Lucifer, Achitophel and Judas were the archetypal figures of evil counsel
and Dante had consigned all such to the ninth circle in Hell.
But counsel, even without being evil, was a responsibility that might be
at odds with others, a central theme of Utopia. The counsellor might do
good in the world but was always potentially morally vulnerable or

David Wilcox, The Development of Florentine Humanist Historiography in the Fifteenth
Century (Cambridge, Mass., 1969), Appendix C, pp. 211–12.
Gosson, The Ephemerides of Philo Divided into Three Bookes, bk. 2.
John Guy, ‘The Rhetoric of Counsel in Early Modern England’, in Dale Hoak, ed.,
Tudor Political Culture (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 293–302.
Ibid., p. 293.
Sir Thomas Smith, De republica Anglorum (1583), ed. L. Alston (Cambridge, 1906), pp.
Wing, The Crown Conjugal, p. 79; Francis Bacon, ‘Of Counsel’, in Essays (1625), in
Works, vol. I, p. 68; Guazzo, trans. Pettie, Ciuile conuersation, fol. 15v; Willett,
Harmonie on the Second Booke of Samuel, p. 1; Baldwin, Treatise, unpaginated, but p. 85
(1610 edn), p. 62v (attributed to Aristotle).
164 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
useless. Whether the greater danger lay in being listened to or ignored was
an unsettled issue. In either case, the office was distinct enough to stand
in tension with other offices of human identity, above all that of the
dispassionate scholar. Counsel was a principal humanist topos in the
early years of the sixteenth century, and More’s discussion was itself part
of a dialogue among friends.71 In a time of new rulers Henry VIII’s early
reign promised much. Inexperienced and talented, Henry must have
seemed to be one of those rulers precious to Machiavelli, who needed
and would respond to good counsel; and when More wrote Utopia, he had
already decided to enter the king’s service. But many besides More might
be confronted by the problems he had considered. Counsel could be
presented as the cure for the sickness in any office, and so wife, child,
servant, priest, lawyer, jester might all assume the potentially disruptive
liberties of a counsellor.72
Overall the liberty of giving honest advice was a necessity of the office.
Surviving notes for speeches before the Privy Council might allude to such
responsibilities in prolegomena, or by way of conclusion; thus the patrio-
tic Sir Ralph Sadler, c. 1561, who craved to speak directly ‘without fayning
or dissimulation’ and though only speaking like a fool, meaning ‘well
to your majestie and my countrey’.73 The uncertainties of the office are
well illustrated by the unusually detailed oath for privy counsellors. The
specifications alone suggest the need to tie down every possibility, and
enfolded in the verbal straightening of an inherently ductile position is
the crux upon which so much swings. The counsellor, as Bacon summar-
ised, is a servant acting always and exclusively in the interests of the
counselled, but with this unwavering loyalty and subordination must
come the duty of fearless advice.74 The freedom of tongue was an expres-
sion of duty, the troublesome nub of liberty of office. Omit no opportunity
to forewarn, instructed Goslicius. Yet both the end and the means must
be good, wrote Willett with the wicked Ionadab in mind.75 This sentiment
was to the fore when John Pym later attacked the counsels of the Earl
of Strafford: ‘There is a liberty belongs to Counsellors, and nothing cor-
rupts Counsels more than fear.’ The liberty may be central to the office
but is a hardly controllable means to an end. It can justify the otherwise
inexcusable, hence the formal imperative also emphasised by Pym, that

Curtis, ‘Richard Pace’, ch. 1.
William Cavendish, ‘On Self Will, Horae subsecivae’, pp. 27–30.
Sadler, ‘Notes’, in State Papers, vol. I, pp. 562, 563.
Anon., Booke of Oathes (1649); Bacon, ‘Of Counsel’, p. 71.
Goslicius, The Counsellor, pp. 93, 88; Willett, Harmonie on the Second Booke of Samuel,
p. 80.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 165
counsel keep within ‘just bounds’, furthering a good beyond itself, specif-
ically what is beneficial to ‘King or common-wealth’.76 Exercising the
persona easily excluded others and might press uncomfortably upon the
ear of the counselled. There could be but a hair-line between fearless
counsel and attempted control, between liberty of office and the licentious
abuse of attempted tyranny.
So, to claim a right or duty to counsel was to lay hold on a potent but
dangerously interstitial office, for ignoring good counsel was itself an
abuse of the office of rule. Just how invasive of ruling counsel could seem
can be gleaned from Goslicius’ definition. Counsel’s office is to punish
wicked citizens and defend the good for the love of justice alone.77 Simi-
larly, Sir Walter Raleigh maintained that counsel has no authority and
should be given exclusively on request, only to reflect that it is where
counsel rules that commonwealths prosper.78 Goslicius’ adaptive transla-
tor resorted to a curiously destabilising metaphor to capture counsel’s
ambivalent position: it is the fingers that allow the hand to grasp.79 As
such, the office was vulnerable to complementary accusations and a choice
of redescriptive options. If the advice became too vehement the office
might readily be perceived as a tyrannous encroachment on rule. The
whole force of Hobbes’s chapter on the office of counsel was to separate
it absolutely from that of the sovereign.80 The existence of counsellors
was a mark of ruling, and what Henry Parker had called the ‘vast busi-
nesse of Government’ required good counsel,81 but the office of ruling was
distilled precisely by its capacity to set counsel aside. How a fingerless
hand could do this was another matter.
But from those insufficiently noticed in the process of counselling, the
problem might be less the overreaching than the negligent persona: the
disliked counsellor became a mere flatterer, or the negatively portrayed
courtier. It is not incidental that in counselling the young Lorenzo de’

Pym, The Speech or Declaration (1641) in Malcolm, The Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I,
p. 140.
Goslicius, De optimo senatore, p. 93; see also Willett, Harmonie on the Second Booke of
Samuel, p. 10.
Raleigh, Cabinet Council, cf. ch. 7, pp. 14–17; ch. 14, p. 35; see also Elizabeth I, ‘The
Queen’s Last Speech’, 19 December 1601, where she commends her reign as always
council bound and driven, in Collected Works, p. 347; Stephen Alford offers an excellent
case study of this understanding of counsel as integral to rule: see The Early Elizabethan
Polity: William Cecil and the British Succession Crisis, 1558–1569 (Cambridge, 1998),
esp. pp. 32–3, 98–105.
Anon., Sage Counsellor, 1660, pp. 11, 162.
Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 25.
Henry Parker, The Oath of Pacification (1643), sig. B4, see Mendle, Henry Parker,
p. 122; Bacon, ‘Of Counsel’, pp. 68–9; Goslicius, The Counsellor, pp. 30–1; Willett,
Harmonie on the Second Booke of Samuel, p. 104.
166 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
Medici, Machiavelli had included a protective chapter on the recognition
of flattery. It was a common enough theme in England, and Andrew
Willett would distinguish two types of flatterer, the ‘palpable and gross’,
who ‘say and unsay’ to please, and those (by implication far worse) who
pretend to a ‘kinde of liberty’, simulating the counsellor’s liberty of
Unwelcome advice was correspondingly disassociated from the office
of counsel by being called new, ill, evil or ‘preposterous’. The malignancy
of evil counsel, as it was called in the 1640s, often provoked a rhetoric of
motives which, as it condemned evil counsellors, affirmed the office of
counsel itself. Evil counsel typically arose from motivations such as
greed, pride and ambition, and was above all advice given to serve a
private not a public interest. It might also arise from ineptitude. According
to Parker, Charles I was surrounded by a council of ‘green headed
Statists’.83 Naturally a ruler’s position was enhanced if such counsels
and counsellors were rejected. Similarly, although good counsel added
lustre to rule, the office was as valuable as a pen for scapegoats as it was
for surrogate attacks on a ruler. Insofar as rulers could do no wrong, the
rhetoric of counsel was a corrective necessity.84 There were, then, multiple
patterns of usage sustaining the uncertainties of relationships defining
the office; redescription was never hard.

Above all, the institutional centrality of that uncertain office meant that
any sustained attempt to negotiate its scope could be seen to threaten
revolution, a problem central to the Civil Wars. What have been isolated
as issues of sovereignty were explicitly posed as problems of counsel, but
at the same time the imposition of counsel could seem like a claim to the
sovereign office under another name. Agonies of counsel became acute in
Charles’s reign from 1629. The parliament was characterised by increasing
distrust of royal policy, balanced by royal resentment of advice deemed
impertinent. Charles held that factions in parliament were attempting
to interfere with his office and to dictate in his council’s stead. For their
part, the concerned parliamentary voices expressed alarm at the misdir-
ected counsel that was leading policy astray. Taken to the very brink,

Elyot, The Governor, 2, 14, pp. 154–5; Gosson, Ephemerides, bk. 2, 40r–43v.Willet,
Harmonie on the First Booke of Samuel, p. 332.
Parker, Oath, sig. B3, 4; Mendle, Henry Parker, p. 122.
Smith, Constitutional Royalism and the Search for a Settlement, p. 189.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 167
neither offices of counselling nor of ruling, nor of parliament understood
as a counselling body were challenged.85
The eleven years of personal rule that followed would provide a
sharpened focus on counsel, on the Privy Council in particular, and when
in 1640 Charles was obliged to call first one parliament then another, the
vocabulary of counsel would convey the predominant mode of hostility.86
All the ambiguities of the necessity of counsel for sovereign office were
exploited, jurisdiction and counselling persistently blurred. Those hostile
to the king’s policies presented themselves as counsellors by virtue of
being in the realm’s great council.87 In due order they would displace
evil and new counsel, of which the king was an innocent victim;88 they
would veto his choice of counsellors; they would subordinate the Privy
Council; their advice would be close to obligatory.89 Penultimately, they
would save him from himself. Ultimately both his bodies would be lost
and they would replace his sovereign power. When William Prynne re-
ferred to parliament as housing the king’s ‘companions’ with a duty to
restrain and bridle him, one can see how easily the office of counsel
could slide into a doctrine of co-ordinate sovereignty.90 But there was
nothing new in the language of this companionable pressure; Prynne used
the terms traditionally associated with the burdens of counsel not sover-
eignty. His readers would have picked up the allusion to the authoritative
For his part, the king saw his choice of counsellor as a necessary
condition for the maintenance of his own office: a factional noise, under
the guise of counsel, was rebellious.91 The asserted liberty of office was
thus converted into licence and tyrannous intent. With such clear deploy-
ment of the registers of office, the mutually accepted responsibilities of
counsel provided the means of a surrogate attack on Charles, whose

L. J. Reeve, Charles I and the Road to Personal Rule (Cambridge, 1989), ch. 3.
See, for example, Henry Parker, Some Few Observations Upon His Majesties Late
Answer (1642); Parker, Oath.
Mendle, Henry Parker, p. 76; Smith, Constitutional Royalism, pp. 189–93; this itself had
been contentious, as Guy shows in noting Elizabeth’s objection to free speech as
necessary for parliament’s office, in ‘The Rhetoric of Counsel’, p. 302. The confusions
and ambiguities concerning parliament’s status are noted by Cromartie, The
Constitutionalist Revolution, ch. 8.
Pym, The Speech or Declaration, pp. 140–4; The Grand Remonstrance (1641), in
Gardiner, Constitutional Documents, pp. 203–6.
The Nineteen Propositions made by both Houses of Parliament (1642), in Malcolm, The
Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I, pp. 148–54.
William Prynne, The Treachery and Disloyalty of Papists to their Soveraignes: The
Soveraigne power of Parliaments and Kingdoms (1643), p. 3; see Greenberg, The Radical
Face, p. 77.
Smith, Constitutional Royalism, e.g. pp. 189–98.
168 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
understanding had been overtaken by bad counsel, and in turn allowed
him the privilege of finding scapegoats, albeit with unusual reluctance.
Strafford was sacrificed by sophistical reliance on the two bodies doctrine
of Charles’s own office; but sacrificed he was.92 Nevertheless, counsel
allowed a certain diplomatic latitude. It delayed outright attack on the
king and the reliance on egregious and isolating theories of sovereignty.
It offered an orchestrated idiom of litotes, a hope of peace and settlement;
up until the Newport negotiations, it was less of a sticking point than
the specifics of militia control, reformation and the extirpation of malig-
nants.93 As so often with the shared language of office, the devil was in the
details because these afforded less room to move, whereas the problem of
counsel was by its nature negotiable at the edges: the importance of the
office to the polity was common ground. To generalise from this with a
synoptic extremity, the identification of doctrinal difference depends far
less on the most abstract theoretical propositions in which it is usually
sought, than on differing patterns of application. Regardless of this, if
any issue ceased to allow a latitude of judgement, it became unrecognis-
able as an issue of counsel. On the basis of Smith’s astute analysis, it
becomes one of the ironies of Charles’s rule that, although he and his
supporters were aware of what was at stake in matters of advice, trust in
him broke down because he was unable to negotiate the imponderables of
judgement at the heart of the office itself and its relationship with ruling.
He died of a surfeit of counsel.

Analysis of two proof texts of an ideology of sovereignty can flesh out
these points. They do appear in a context of argument that was partially
about the location and limits of sovereignty, but neither the Nineteen
Propositions of June 1642, nor The King’s Answer, formulate matters as
we might, or as Milton would, only to project a simple (loaded) issue back
into that debate.94 Modern analyses have replicated this pattern of over-
simplification, prematurely consolidating the centrality of sovereignty by
ignoring the ambiloquies of counsel.95

Sharpe, Re-Mapping Early-Modern England, pp. 188–9.
Smith, Constitutional Royalism, pp. 189–218.
Milton, Eikonoklastes, pp. 456–9.
See, for example, C. C. Weston and Janelle Greenberg, Subjects and Sovereigns: The
Grand Controversy over Legal Sovereignty in Stuart England (Cambridge, 1981), ch. 3.
Counsel is not indexed: Malcolm, The Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I, pp. 146–7
notes that the tone of the Answer is misread, but the issue is still sovereignty. The best
full study is Mendle, Dangerous Positions. He is most severe on Professor Weston,
The cases of patriot and counsellor 169
The Nineteen Propositions was confrontational and there was little
precedent for the concessions demanded.96 Comparison with the Apology
of 1604 is instructive. The Apology is more fulsome on the matter of due
obedience to the monarch. Neither document blames the monarch directly
for the problems addressed, but only at the end of the Apology does
‘misinformation’ to the new monarch about parliament become ‘sinister
informations or counsel’. The Apology’s insistence on conscientious free
speech is to remind James of parliament’s office as a court and subordin-
ate conciliar helpmate. There is nothing that approaches a claim on
sovereignty.97 The Nineteen Propositions, however, may more plausibly
be taken in just this way, but this still involves discounting what the
document insists upon: that the king’s dutiful subjects wish to reform
his council.98 Evil counsels have damaged ‘your Majesties Honour and
Safetie . . . Publicke Peace and Prosperitie’. It is proposed therefore that
the king’s counsellors be approved by parliament, swearing an oath de-
vised by both houses; that only such sworn counsellors give advice; that
(as listed) the principal officers of state be chosen ‘with the approbation
of both houses’.99 The voice of the dutiful subjects sounds disingenuous.
The propositions following these ground rules deal with the specifics of
policy, concerning the education of royal children, marriages, reform of
the liturgy, role of clergy, control of the militia, the treatment of Catholics,
and foreign policy towards co-religionists.100
To the accusation that the king had been subject to new counsels, The
Answer retorted that The Propositions fabricated a ‘new Doctrine’, a ‘new
Utopia of Religion and Government’. The main objection is to the king’s
actually choosing his own counsellors.101 To accept the Propositions

remarking (p. 191, note to p. 17) that concerns over counsel have been much
under-estimated; the corrective move was made by Guy, ‘The Rhetoric of Counsel’,
pp. 308–10.
Smith, Constitutional Royalism, pp. 190–3; Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon, The History
of the Great Rebellion, ed. W. Dunn Macray, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1958), bk. 5, vol. II, pp.
171–2, states that initially the king considered that the people could judge the enormity
of the Propositions without his needing to reply; but cf. Cromartie, The Constitutionalist
Revolution, for whom it is far less extreme.
Tanner, Constitutional Documents of the Reign of James I, p. 230; cf. Goslicius, The
Counsellor, pp. 30–1, 88, 92, 93, 121.
A propos of this, we may have some explanation for why The Protestation did not
formally require an oath; such a demand might have looked like an alienating claim on
sovereign power. See below, chapter 10.
Nineteen Propositions, in Malcolm, The Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I, pp. 148, 149.
The asserted role in the education of children unduly distracts Mendle as the most
outrageous of demands, Dangerous Positions, but royal education was no private matter
and was also vital to religious continuity.
Answer, in Malcolm, The Struggle for Sovereignty, vol. I, pp. 155, 160.
170 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
would be to undermine the ‘care of Our Service’, would be to ‘depose both
Ourself and Our Posteritie’, reduce us to only ‘the signe of a King’.
Sovereignty, therefore, becomes an explicit issue, not as a claim, but an
accusation that parliament misunderstands the limits of its office. The
choice of counsel is vital to kingship and this entails that advice cannot be
given as ‘Commands or Impositions’. Yet, it is lavishly conceded, the king
will reject bad counsels and counsellors as the Houses of Parliament also
desire. On this understanding of counsel, nothing is conceded by referring
to parliament as ‘Our Great Counsel’.102 It does, however, sound accom-
modating and prepares the verbal common ground for describing the
whole polity as composed of complementary estates. Thus it capitalises
upon the accepted reciprocity of offices, locking monarch and parliament
in a relationship of rule; how much it accepted, how much it sought to
stymie parliamentary independence is unclear.103 This is reminiscent of the
earlier Apology in positing king and a counselling court of parliament as
comprising the polity.104 Moreover, the Answer assigns to the estate of
aristocracy the specific role of counselling. ‘The good of Aristocracie is the
conjunction of Counsell in the ablest Persons of a State for the Publike
benefit.’105 Uncertainty of official relationships was crucial, but whether
disputed sovereignty was an underlying cause, or a consequence of argu-
ments over counsel, is not evident. The emphasis on counsel helps explain
what Mendle has called the equivocal nature of the Answer.106 Much
depends on whether we accept the redescriptive accusation levelled at
The Nineteen Propositions – what had been presented as counsel was really
grasping at sovereignty. On either side, supporting pamphlets sustained
this tussle over issue saliency; for those supporting Charles the issue was
sovereignty, for those defending parliament it was counsel.107 But natur-
ally, if first we inadvertently take sides, by assuming sovereignty to be

Ibid., pp. 162, 164; cf. Charles I, Eikon Basilike, pp. 79, 130 (misnumbered p. 230).
Mendle, Dangerous Positions, pp. 10–12; Cromartie, The Constitutionalist Revolution,
ch. 8.
Apology, in Gardiner, Constitutional Documents, p. 224.
Answer, pp. 167–8; cf. Goslicius, De optimo, an assumption more than an argument.
Mendle, Dangerous Positions, pp. 9–10.
For Anon, The Contra-Replicant, His Complaint to his Majestie (1642), the issue is really
about counsel and a proper reason of state, pp. 18–22. Conversely, for Anon., A
Discourse upon the Questions in Debate between the King and Parliament (1642), p. 9, it is
about sovereignty, but in the peroration (p. 19) it is about replacing private counsel with
good counsel. For Henry Parker, Observations upon Some of his Majesties Late Answers
and Expresses (1642), pp. 7–13 the issues are counsel (p. 13) and legislation. In the
slightly earlier and previously cited Some Few Observations, the argument shifts from
around halfway through from counsel and the King’s council to sovereign power: see for
example, p. 35; cf. William Ball, A Caveat to Subjects (1642), in which the issue is
sovereignty because the king is a free monarch, p. 6.
The cases of patriot and counsellor 171
fundamental to politics, the matter is settled; whatever is said, somewhere
there has to be the ideological commitment to sovereignty; selection and
appropriate redescription will make it clear.
Yet even where sovereignty was an agreed issue, there was no wholesale
move from the rhetorics of counsel. Accusations of evil counsel would
shortly be thrown back in the face of the parliament as the effective ruler
of the nation.108 Parliament continued to be a counsel, still on the frontiers
of advising and sharing in rule. In 1682, A Plea for the Succession remarks
darkly that the late rebellion began with the attempts to get rid of evil
counsellors, but the unease is more immediate.109 Veiled threats about evil
counsel marked the increasing suspicion of Charles II’s religious policies.
Marvell’s explosive Growth of Popery is ostensibly an appeal to Charles to
save the kingdom from evil counsel and in this he explicitly recalled
Charles’s determination, in a speech to his parliament, not to become
the mere sign of a king, an almost precise quotation from the Answer.
On the eve of his trial for treason, the Earl of Shaftesbury maintained what
was surely a justificatory myth of a fallen counsellor, to be construed as
martyr or fallen angel, depending. His has been the voice of honest
counsel, of one standing between and desiring to reconcile king to people,
and in doing his duty has risked being too plain.110 He was, of course, also
a patriot. A hand-written note on one copy simply remarks ‘Burnt by the

Overton, Appeale, p. 176.
Anon., A Plea for the Succession (1682), p. 5.
Cooper, Anthony Ashley, Lord Shaftesbury, A Speech made lately by A Noble Peer of
the Realm (1680), p. 7. The handwritten note is on the copy in the Verney Tracts,
Cambridge University Library.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _Casuistry__________________________ _ _ _as_____ _ _ _the________ _ _ _mediation____________________________ _ _ _of_____ _ _ _office____________________________________________

And not rather, (as we have been slanderously reported, and as some
affirm that we say,) Let us do evil that good may come? Whose
damnation is just.
(Romans 3: 8)

Like the proverbial Jesuit in a black cloak, casuistry has for long enough
been hovering at the edge of this study. It now warrants elaboration. And,
a little like the shape-shifting Jesuit of myth, casuistry was, and remains,
too complex a phenomenon to be seen as any single school, or doctrine of
moral reasoning. It was, rather, a constellation of propensities sharing the
recognition that principles under-determine conduct.1 Even if the con-
science was furnished with perfect knowledge of the principles of proper
conduct, they still needed applying in situations that might qualify their
authority.2 Of dress codes and sumptuary laws, wrote Donne, what may
approach sin under some circumstances, is ‘not alwais, nor everywhere’.3
He was bolder about the prohibition on suicide. ‘No law is so primary and
simple, but it fore-imagines a Reason upon which it was founded: And
scarce any Reason is so constant, but that Circumstances alter it.’4 Such a
casuistic insistence on the ethical necessity of a principle of specific judge-
ment had long been prop to the priestly office regardless of Reformation
divisions, but was vital as a moral move well beyond pastoral care and the
In law the recognition of the limitations of rules had institutional expres-
sion in the court of equity which was seen as a court of casuistry; and from
the Aristotelian concept of the equitable (to epieikes), seventeenth-century

Toulmin and Jonsen, The Abuse of Casuistry, pp. 6–11; Ames, Conscience, p. 2.
Jones, Conscience and Allegiance, p. 77; Ames, Conscience, p. 4.
Quoted in Meg Lota Brown, Donne and the Politics of Conscience in Early Modern England
(Leiden, 1995), p. 23; cf. for example, ‘Of Excess in Aparel’, in Certain Sermons, p. 193.
John Donne, Biathanatos (1624, 1700), p. 22.

Casuistry as the mediation of office 173
lawyers explored both the limits of rules and the protocols of deciding who
could ignore them and when.5 On Aristotle’s authority, it was commonly
held that the equitable was a just correction to a legal rule.6 In government
an acceptance of rule inadequacy was entailed in the authority, beyond
custom, claimed by medieval kings.7 This became the prerogative powers
that strained mercy to the condemned. Pufendorf and his translator,
Andrew Tooke, drew a distinction between the necessary prerogatives of
dispensing with a law, and equity as a recognition that no law in nature
is adequate to all cases.8 Michael Hunter has shown that a preoccupa-
tion with the cases of casuistry informed Robert Boyle’s scientific research
as it did his spiritual reflection.9
As I shall illustrate in the next chapter, much of what we inadvertently
reclassify as political theory was pervasively casuistical. Sometimes the
casuistic turn is signalled by reference to what lay beyond normal cases,
where the extraordinary is allowed, or is necessary. In Henry Parker’s not
untypical case it is signalled by reference to the ends or scope of law rather
than the law itself, to the supreme law of the people’s safety and to
developing what Michael Mendle has a little misleadingly called a political
theory of permanent emergency.10 Sometimes it is signalled by reference to
the virtue of prudence and discretion, ‘the Gouernesse of vertue, the rule
of our behauiour’. Rules are important but as assessment is required,
experience becomes the soul of wisdom.11 In short, casuistry shadowed
the whole of social behaviour, and philosophically it remains a necessary
dimension of ethical reasoning. There was, however, a fragile line between
extenuation and a kind of antinomianism, between arguing that a dubious
act is not really sinful and a seeming denial of sin. ‘Evil is not in the nature
of a thing’, wrote Donne, ‘nor in the Nature of the whole Harmony of the
World’. Everything depends on what is commanded.12 In so saying, he
placed a foot, as it were, on a road that led to Hume, Nietzsche and

Brown, Donne, p. 22; Cromartie, The Constitutionalist Revolution, chs. 2 and 7.
The crucial locus is Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea, 1137a–b, trans. Sir David Ross
(Oxford, 1915, 1966), bk. 5, 9–10.
Jolliffe, Angevin Kingship, p. 18.
Pufendorf, De officio, trans. Tooke, The Whole Duty of Man, ch. 2, sects. 9–10, pp. 47–8;
see also the formulation in Rogers, Philosophicall Discourse, ch. 8, 106v: equity is
judgement as to the good and honest.
Hunter, Robert Boyle, pp. 68–71.
Mendle, Henry Parker, p. 93; Mendle, Dangerous Positions, p. 179.
Robert Johnson, ‘Of Discretion’, in Essaies, or Rather Imperfect Offers (1601), fols. 37,
55, 16; Taylor, Ductor dubitantium, pp. 10–11.
Donne, Biathanatos, p. 12.
174 Argument and Authority in Early Modern England
In its Catholic manifestation, casuistry led to the reliance on church
authority; in its Protestant form, to the abstracted, if similarly accommo-
dating, seal of conscience, with biblical citation replacing canon law.13
Despite interested polemics which typically saw casuistry deplored in
name and deployed in spirit, the denominational divide was deceptively
negotiable.14 A Jesuit authority might be an isolated church voice, author-
ities in concert might only be probably correct. A volume of Protestant
cases could carry the weight of gathered precedents, none of which could
be presumed automatically as adequate to the matter at hand. The educa-
tion of conscience was a continuing battle. For Catholic and Protestant,
the rules and criteria, the meta-language used to appraise ordinary and
extraordinary cases, were likely to lead only to probably right or wrong
courses of action, hence to the notorious Jesuit doctrine of moral ‘prob-
probabilism’. This was first enunciated in 1577 by Bartolomeo Medina,
arguing that a probable opinion might be followed even if less probable
than another. It was then developed by Suarez who became its byword.
Protestant case theologians similarly recognised that moral reasoning
afforded only what Aristotle had regarded as probable certainty.15 ‘Prob-
able arguments’, wrote Jeremy Taylor, ‘are like little starres’, which when
seen together ‘make a constellation . . . to guide . . . our way . . . This heap
of probable inducements, is not . . . Mathematical and physical demon-
stration which is in discourse as is the Sun in heaven, but it makes a Milky
and a white path visible enough to walk securely.’16 He barely stops short
of the Jesuit argument that a less probable argument may be preferred to
a more probable one.17 The little stars of casuistry lit the way down to
the waters of scepticism which seemed to threaten so many certainties in
the early modern world.
If casuistry was a reaction to the delusions of rationalistic reductionism,
it easily led to a world of perplexing uncertainty: seeing trees without
clear vision of the wood. When a high churchman like Donne could seem
so decidedly relaxed about suicide, it is little wonder that casuistry was
taken to erode principle.18 Moreover, both Catholic and Protestant forms
of casuistry were open to the same forms of condemnation. Jansenists
traduced the Jesuits for evaporating sin; High Churchmen tarred case

Ames, Conscience, p. 11; Toulmin and Jonsen, The Abuse of Casuistry, p. 161.
Toulmin and Jonsen, The Abuse of Casuistry, p. 161.
Ibid., pp. 160–5.
Ibid., p. 162; Taylor, Ductor dubitantium, p. 122.
Taylor, Ductor dubitantium, pp. 121–3.
Donne, Biathanatos, pp. 1–8.
Casuistry as the mediation of office 175
divines with the Jesuitical brush.19 The vital anti-casuistical injunction
came from Romans 3: 8: do not evil that good may come of it. It is
remarkable just how many cite this in the process of developing casuistic
argument.20 Hostile eyes could see the inherent danger in all casuistry as
a form of sophistry developed to relieve people of their obligations.21 Yet,
as Bishop Burnet reflected, those most suspicious of arguments from
necessity (like Burnet) would plead it in their own extremity (like
Burnet).22 So a necessary impulse in ethical reasoning became conta-
minated with immorality. It is easy to see the unfairness in this but it did
arise, as it were, from the underside of casuistic intellectual virtue.
The difficulties were not lost on those drawn to casuistic reasoning. The
emphasis on cases, persons, circumstances, to test a rule, the authority of
a commanding office and the general ends that rules and offices served,
all required some awareness of the criteria that might be used in judge-
ment. ‘Let the end try the man’, remarks Hal in full awareness of being
seen as hypocritical and unfeeling.23 In this context can be placed many
appeals, to the virtue of prudence and to natural, or fundamental law.
These presented deviance in the guise of another set of laws, so counter-
ing the accusation of arguing merely casuistically. Samuel Rutherford
identified a court of necessity as of no less importance than a court of
justice, and in it ‘the fundamental laws must then speak, and it is with
the people in this extremity as if they had no ruler’.24 Paradoxically, a


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