It has been assumed at least since William Godwin'sLives of Edward and John Phillips (1815) that Milton's nephews were a disappointment to him. Having resided in Milton's household as his pupils and sometime assistants throughout the 1640s, Edward (1630-96?) and John Phillips (1631-1706?), so the story goes, then “slipped the Miltonic restraints” (Masson5: 384). The main evidence for this rebellion against their uncle's principles is the publication by both brothers in the later 1650s of works “in the vein of Cavalier licentiousness” (Lewalski 336). Such comments echo the judgement of Godwin, who did not hold back in his condemnation of the “impure and lascivious ideas” and “gross provocations to libertinism and vice” in the writings of both brothers. According to Godwin's narrative, Edward and John threw off Milton's republican lessons and wrote in a Cavalier mode because of “the weakness and unmanliness of their tempers, that corrupted their hearts, and obscured their judgement” (52, 55, 319).2 Recently, John T. Shawcross has challenged at length this narrative of the psychological and ideological revolt of the brothers against the dominating authority-figure of their uncle/tutor. Shawcross argues that John Phillips in particular held views on matters of politics and religion which are virtually indistinguishable from those of his uncle. Surveying John's prolific post-Restoration literary career, Shawcross concludes that far from being a hack who wrote whatever and for whoever paid the most, as Godwin and subsequent Milton biographers would have it, John's “constant subject is anti-Catholicism but liberty of conscience otherwise” (Arms 167). I seek here to continue but also to complicate the process of revision begun by Shawcross by focusing on the literary, political and personal contexts of John Phillips's long verse satire A Satyr against Hypocrites, which first appeared in print in 1655. For Godwin, the descent of John Phillips into cavalier libertinism was signaled by this satire; David Masson agreed that A Satyr against Hypocrites was an emphatically “anti-Miltonic production” (5: 383). Shawcross, however, argues for elements of moral seriousness, echoing Christopher Hill's judgment that the conclusion of the poem, at least, “strikes a serious Miltonic note” (Arms 119-23; Hill487). Indeed, Edward Phillips insisted in Theatrum Poetarum (1675) that, while it was his brother's “natural Ingenuity” in the “Vein of Burlesque and facetious Poetry, which produc't the Satyr Against Hypocrites,” John received his “judicious command of style” from their uncle (115); the poem was even published in 1710 as “Mr. John Milton's Satyre [. . .] Written while he was Latin secretary to Oliver Cromwell.”
Certainly, there had been a close working relationship between John Phillips and his uncle prior to the publication of A Satyr. Milton had been sufficiently satisfied with John's progress to give him the task in 1651, at the age of twenty, of answering the first major attack on the Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio (1651). Joannis Phillipi Angli ad Apologiam Anonymi Cujusdam Tenebrionis pro Rege et Populo Anglicano Infantissimam—“the Response of John Phillips Englishman to the Most Puerile ‘Apology for the King and England’ by some Anonymous Sneak”—was published on 24 December 1651 (but dated 1652) by the Commonwealth's official printer, William Dugard.3 Speculation that Milton wrote the piece is probably unfounded; more likely, given that John was living with his uncle when the Responsio was composed, is Edward's account, in which his brother brought installments of the manuscript to Milton “for his examination and polishment” (Darbishire 71). Milton would have wanted to make sure that a text published in defense of his name satisfied his own standards of classical Latinity. There is some evidence that Phillips's performance in the Responsio, combined with Milton's influence, secured him official work as a translator and intelligencer. Edward Phillips recounts in his life of Milton an episode in which a “kinsman who was then with” Milton translated from Latin a diplomatic document in June 1652 and refers to “our author's kinsman” who delivered an expulsion order to a French spy the following month (Darbishire 79). The German diplomat Herman Mylius records in his diary that on 17 February 1652, Milton sent him a message “by his relative.”Gordon Campbell, in his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry, agrees with Leo Miller's conclusion that these references must be to John Phillips (Miller, John Milton's Writings 43-44; Oldenburg 191). The younger Phillips brother thus seems to have been in the employment of the Commonwealth in 1652, although there is no official record of payment; or at least he was assisting Milton in his role as Secretary for Foreign Tongues, presumably at least until he attained his majority in 1652 and finally left the Milton household.
It has also long been thought that John acted as Milton's amanuensis in the early years of his blindness, especially in the period 1651-52. We lack a definitive sample of John's handwriting but the signed dedication of a manuscript version of A Satyr against Hypocrites in the Bodleian, along with corrections and marginal notes in the text of the poem, is “very probably” in his hand (Beal 84). The Anonymous Life of John Milton, which provided much of the material for Anthony Wood's biographical sketch of Milton in Fasti Oxonienses (1691), was attributed to John Phillips by Helen Darbishire on the grounds of similarities between the hand of the Life and that of the dedication, marginal glosses and corrections of this Bodleian manuscript. Darbishire also thought entries in the Trinity Manuscript, including transcripts of Sonnets 21 and 22, were the work of John Phillips. Her attributions have not been generally accepted and the Life is now confidently ascribed to Cyriack Skinner (Kelley 24-25; Beal84). However, Shawcross maintains in 2004, as he did in 1959, that Phillips is responsible for copying, among other things, several items in the Trinity Manuscript, including Sonnets 16, 17, and “On the New Forcers of Conscience Under the Long Parliament” (“Notes”; Arms 101-04).4 Certainly, a note on the title-page of a copy of the Responsio in the British Library refers to John as “Miltoni Amanuensis” (French 3: 291).
The problem posed by A Satyr, then, is whether it represents a continuation of the Miltonic influence on John or whether it signals a split, or the beginning of a split, with his uncle's principles, after a close personal, educational, and literary relationship. A Satyr against Hypocrites has attracted little extended critical attention, although it was an extremely popular work. The poem was registered for publication on 14 March 1655 but first published, anonymously and without the name of the printer, in August 1655. The first edition was reprinted in the same year and a second edition, which is four quarto pages longer (one bawdy passage is omitted but several others are added), also appeared in 1655. It was reprinted a further six times by 1689. Internal references suggest, however, that the poem was actually written sometime in 1654: we are told of iconoclastic work performed on a church “in the yeare Fifty three,” suggesting a date of composition after 1653, and in a parody of an apocalyptic sermon, we are told “'Tis fifty and four” (4, 13).5 The manuscript copy in the Bodleian is undated but differs from, and is probably earlier than, both printed editions: it is closer, as Fredrick L. Beaty showed some years ago, to the first edition. Scribal publication evidently resulted in variant copies of the poem, which could have been circulating for up to eighteen months before it was published. The signed dedication in the Bodleian manuscript, a transcription of which is appended to this paper, is addressed “To the Right Worshipfull John Churchill, Esq.” Churchill (d. 1685) enrolled at Lincoln's Inn in 1639. During the Civil War, he assumed the lucrative office of Deputy Registrar of Chancery before being called to the bar in 1652. He was connected to the Protectorate's hierarchy after his marriage in 1654 to Susan, daughter of Edmund Prideaux, Attorney-General between 1649 and 1659. In his dedication, John hopes for Churchill's approbation and “Protection” because he is “expecting for my attempt to be saluted with ye names of Atheist and Prophane.”6 The judgment scribbled on the title-page of a copy of the 1655 second edition of the poem in the Bodleian indicates that John was right to anticipate this reaction: A Satyr is condemned by this reader as “an invective against God [. . .] against religion, and all goodnes, against preachers, & preaching & whatsoever is sacred, and holy.”7 In the manuscript dedication, John insists that his subject is not “religion for it self” but rather “the worst sort of Hypocrites, who taking on them to be Rabbys and Instructors of others, who pretending to know the Laws of the Almighty, and dissembling their mission from him, yet neither keep those laws themselves, nor teach them aright to others” (fol. 2r).
Although the term “Presbyterian” is never used in the poem, there is no doubt that the Presbyterian clergy are a central target of the satire. The 1661 reprint was retitled to make its subject explicit and appeal directly to the Restoration mood: The Religion of the Hypocritical Presbyterians. The narrator of the poem describes the progress of a Sunday at a Puritan church in London, beginning with the arrival of the congregation:
There sits a Lady fine, painted by Art,
And there sits curious Mistris Fiddle-cum-fart:
There sits a Chamber-maid upon a Hassock,
Whom the Chaplain oft instructs without his Cassock:
One more accustom'd unto Curtain-sins,
Than to her thimble, or to handle pins.
These lines are characteristic. Phillips ironically employs the heroic couplet to detail the hypocrisy, deceitfulness and fleshy appetites of the self-proclaimed godly. A Satyr invokes Jacobean theatrical stereotypes of Puritans as, in the words of Patrick Collinson, “covetous, seditious, randy [and] as thick as two short planks” (167-68). The description in the second edition of drunken, foul-mouthed, vomiting, and urinating Puritan women at a baptism, for instance, is indebted to the christening scene in the third act of Thomas Middleton's city comedy A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1611).8 Phillips's immediate poetic model is Abraham Cowley'sA Satire against Separatists, which first appeared in print in 1642 but previously circulated in manuscript as “The Puritan's Lecture.”Cowley's narrator attends a Puritan sermon and records its violent rhetoric and the crazed behavior of the preacher: he then mocks the extreme emotional reaction of the congregation while they listen to a “Shee-zealot” rage against the bishops and observes with disgust their appetite when “the meat” is brought out after the sermon (Cowley 1: 94-101).9
Phillips similarly treats the congregation with amused disgust and focuses on the disjunction between their claims to religious purity and the reality of their lewd and vulgar behavior. In the section which is excised from the second edition, a chamber-maid worn out after love-making the night before, falls asleep in church and when a flea lands “upon her groyn,” she “Pulls up her coats with both hands, smock and all, / And with both hands to scratch and rub doth fall” (4). Amidst this generalized sexual and misogynistic humor, the polemical force of the poem lies in its representation of Presbyterian and radical preachers. The increasingly frenzied preaching in the church suggests that the violent, apocalyptic rhetoric of Puritan clerics has spawned the more extreme doctrines of antinomianism and enthusiasm, as the hellfire Presbyterian preacher is followed by a Ranter and a Fifth Monarchist:
Up stept another then, how sowre his face is!
How grim he looks, for he was one of the Classis,
And here he cries, Blood, blood, blood, destroy, O Lord!
The Covenant-breaker, with a two-edg'd sword,
Now comes another, of another strain,
And he of law and bondage doth complain:
The shewing his broad teeth, and grinning wide,
Aloud, Free grace, free grace, free grace, he cry'd.
[. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .]
Then with count'nance sad,
Up steps a man, stark revelation-mad,
And he, Cause us thy Saints, for thy dear sake,
That we a bustle in the world may make,
Thy enemies now rage, and by and by
He tears his throat for the fift Monarchy.
Another mounts his chin, East, West, North, South,
Gaping to catch a blessing in his mouth,
And saying, Lord! We dare not ope our eyes
Before thee, winks for fear of telling lies.
The behavior of the preachers and congregation becomes more frantic and physical but also more absurd, culminating in the effort of one convert to share in the divine inspiration of the preacher by “gaping” to inhale his breath. This detail anticipates Swift's comic description of the enthusiastic Æolist sect in A Tale of a Tub (1704), in which the disciples run “greedily gaping after the sanctified Breath” of the Æolist priests (74-75). Phillips must have derived the image from the story of the Baptist preacher Samuel Oats in Thomas Edwards's notorious heresiography Gangraena, published in three parts in 1646 (as, probably, did Swift, who owned all three parts):
There was another woman also whom he baptized, as a godly Minister that came out of those parts, and had been at Braintree related to me from good hand, whom after [Oats] baptized, he bid her gape, and she gaped, and he did blow three times into her mouth, saying words to this purpose, either receive the holy Ghost, or now thou hast received the holy Ghost.
The fervently Presbyterian Edwards had included Milton's divorce tracts in his list in Gangraena of heretical publications that threatened the religious and moral fabric of the nation; Milton responded by mocking him as “shallow Edwards” in the satirical sonnet “On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament,” usually dated to the latter half of 1646. Phillips has his revenge on his uncle's critic by ironically employing Edwards's tales of bizarre sectarian behavior to discredit Presbyterianism itself as the root of enthusiasm.10
Edwards had repeatedly associated sectarian lay preachers with the sexual exploitation of impressionable young women.11 Phillips extends this polemical strategy to encompass the very people whom Edwards sought to contrast with the blasphemous sectarians, the “godly orthodox Presbyterians,” as Edwards liked to call them. Hence, the women in the congregation become overwhelmed by the emotional power of the Presbyterian's sermon, one vowing to give the minister an embroidered cushion, in case “When the fierce Priest his Doctrine hard unbuckles / That in the passion he should hurt his knuckles” (9). The power of the preacher over his congregation is bathetically revealed to be sexual rather than spiritual. Zeal is further exposed as concealed lust and greed when several female members of his congregation provide dinner for the preacher. In episodes that are evidently indebted to Cowley, the Presbyterian serves his belly rather than the Calvinist God:
Then a Sur-loyne came in, as hot as fire,
Yet not so hot as the Priests desire.
Next came a shoulder of Mutton cooked raw,
To be as utterly abolisht as the Law.
[. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .]
Then down he powres the Claret, and down again,
And would the French King were a Puritan
He cryes: swills up the Sack and I'le be sworn
Quoth he, Spaine'sKing is not the Popes tenth horne.
The humor comes closest to the irreligious scoffing of which Phillips expected he would be accused in the parody of a preacher who offers an allegorical interpretation of Daniel. At first, the language is recognizably that of the Fifth Monarchists, the loose collection of Baptists and radical Independents who sought to establish a theocratic republic in England in the 1650s in preparation for Christ's millennial kingdom on earth:
By Lyons are meant Monarchs, Kings of Nations,
Those worse than heathenish abominations:
Truly dear friends, these Kings and Governours,
These Byshops too, nay all superiour powers,
Why they are Lyons, Locusts, Whales, Whales beloved,
Off goes our ears if once their wrath be moved;
But woe unto you Kings! Woe to you Princes!
'Tis fifty and four, now Antichrist, so saies
My book, must reign three daies, and three half daies,
Why now the time's almost expir'd, time staies
For no man; friends then Antichrist shall fall.
But the apocalyptic fervor dissolves into bathos when the preacher turns to a discussion of Habakkuk:
And so his name is called Habacuck:
But in th' Originall it ends in Ock
For that deare sisters calls him have-a-Cock.
And truly I suppose I need not feare
But that there are many have a cocks here:
The Laud increase the number of have a coks[.]
The rhyme of “Habakkuk” and “have-a-cock” is a bawdy comment on the simplistic literalism of the Fifth Monarchists' reading of the prophetic books, while gesturing once again at the sexual impulses behind religious enthusiasm; but the outrageousness of the pun seems designed to provoke a scandalized reaction from more than merely godly readers. In the margin beside the preacher's request for an increase in “the number of have a coks,”Phillips archly comments: “The Doctrine of Generation.”12 In his introduction to a 1953 reprint of the poem, Leon Howard cites such jokes as evidence that A Satyr is the “irresponsible outburst of a young man of twenty-three who was tired of discipline, disappointed in his expectations of political preferment, and angry at the sort of people who had taken over the country but who seem incapable of appreciating his particular merits” (iv). As we shall see, Howard is wrong to see the poem as the frustrated reaction of an intellectual alienated from Protectoral England; but he may (unwittingly) be on the right track when he connects it to the issue of “political preferment.”
The “sort of people who had taken over the country” included, of course, the uncle in whose house Phillips had lived throughout his teenage years, who had taught him everything he knew and under whose tutelage he had composed a Latin apology for the regicide. Phillips would unquestionably have been familiar with the anti-Presbyterian rhetoric of Milton's prose, which is especially virulent in the vernacular tracts written in defense of the regicide and the digression on the Long Parliament that was published in the History of Britain (1670) but probably written in 1648-49. The central focus of attack in The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649), in particular the second edition of 1650, is the Presbyterian clergy for their backsliding support for the king after the first Civil War and continued efforts to impose a national church government. Milton emphasizes the Scottish foreignness of Presbyterian church government by alluding to the sorcery of the witches in Macbeth. The Presbyterians have “juggl'd and palter'd with the world,” speaking with “a double contradictory sense” and manipulating Scripture to promote their own profit: “Nor let any man be deluded by either the ignorance or the notorious hypocrisie and self-repugnance of our dancing Divines, who have the conscience and the boldness, to come with Scripture in their mouthes, gloss'd and fitted for their turnes.” The Presbyterian clergy are “Ministers of Mammon instead of Christ, and scandalize his Church with the filthy love of gaine”; their aim is “belley-cheare” and they “abuse and gull the simple laity [. . .] for the maintenance of thir pride and avarice” (Milton, Political 6-7, 36). In his manuscript dedication to Churchill, Phillips insists that the poem satirizes those who, “to vaile thir Ignorance, urge all they can, an outward formality & strictnes, by which they domineer over the consciences of deluded People, with a tyrannous and gloss'd religion” (fol. 2v). In Eikonoklastes (1649), Milton attributes the “dejection and debasement of mind in the people” to the Circean spell cast both by monarchical display and by the “Pulpit-stuff” of the Presbyterians, whose sermons are condemned for their “perpetual infusion of servility and wretchedness to all thir hearers” (Complete Prose 3: 326, 601, 344). Phillips picks up on the Circe allusion in his manuscript dedication, representing the Presbyterians as “pouring th' invenomed Potion of Cebes vain Woman down ye throats of thir credulous slaves.” Phillips follows Milton in connecting the dominance of Presbyterian clerical religion with an unmanly and slavish submission to tyranny.13
Phillips sounds similarly Miltonic in the conclusion of the poem, where he moves from visual satire to direct denunciation:
Are these the men that would the age reform,
That “Down with superstition” cry, and swarm
This painted glass, that sculpture, to deface
But worship pride and avarice in their place?
Religion they bawl out, yet know not what
Religion is, unless it be to prate.
Meekness they preach, but study to control;
Money they'd have, when they cry out “Your Soul!”
Phillips follows Cowley'sSatire against Separatists in concluding his verse satire with a Juvenalian apostrophe to the times. But Phillips also looks to his uncle's example. While there is a clear echo in “But worship pride and avarice in their place” of Milton's charge in The Tenure that the Presbyterian clergy “abuse and gull the simple laity [. . .] for the maintenance of thir pride and avarice,” this attack on false claims of religious sanctity is also indebted to Milton's1646 Sonnet 12, lamenting the reception of his ideas on divorce: “On the Detractions which Followed upon My Writing Certain Treatises”:
But this is got by casting pearl to hogs;
That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
And still revolt when truth would set them free.
Licence they mean when they cry liberty;
For who loves that, must first be wise and good;
But from that mark how far they rove we see
For all this waste of wealth, and loss of blood.
(Milton, Complete Shorter 293 [lines 8-14])
Aside from the recollection of Milton's “bawl for freedom” in “Religion they bawl,” Phillips repeats the rhythms of his uncle's sonnet: compare “Licence they mean when they cry liberty; / For who loves that, must first be wise and good” with “Meekness they preach, but study to control; / Money they'd have, when they cry out ‘Your Soul!’ ” The allusion in Phillips's manuscript dedication to the Circe episode in The Odyssey, in which Odysseus's men are turned into slavish pigs when they drink Circe's wine, may thus also be a recollection of the bestial images and transformations of Milton's sonnet, in particular the lament that he has cast “pearl to hogs.”
Some fifty years ago, Nathaniel H. Henry influentially argued that Milton's target here was not so much the Presbyterians as the sectarian lay preachers such as the notorious Mrs. Attaway, reported in Gangraena to have used Milton's divorce tracts to justify sexual freedom (Edwards 1: 120-24). Subsequently, scholars have tended to regard Milton's attack as double-edged, encompassing both Presbyterian enemies and false sectarian friends; as I have shown elsewhere, the images of bestial, Ovidian transformation in the sonnet were used by heresiographers who sought to stigmatize the presumed social and educational lowliness of the sectarians (McDowell 47-49). But John Leonard has persuasively argued that Milton really takes aim at the Presbyterians, on the grounds that the verb “revolt” in “And still revolt when truth would set them free” is used by Milton elsewhere to mean “back-slide” rather than rebel. Leonard's central example is from the opening of The Tenure and Milton's attack on the Presbyterians:
[The Presbyterian who] bandied and borne arms against the King, devested him, disannointed him, nay curs'd him all over in thir Pulpits and thir Pamphlets, to the ingaging of sincere and real men beyond what is possible or honest to retreat from, not only turne revolters from these principles, which only could at first move them, but lay the staine of disloyaltie, and worse, on those proceedings, which are the necessary consequence of thir own former actions.
(Milton, Political 4)
As Leonard points out, the argument that it is the Presbyterians who revolt or backslide from truth and freedom in the sonnet fits with the pun on “licence” in the next line, in which the charge of licentiousness aimed at Milton's divorce tracts is sent back at the Presbyterian clergy—accused in Areopagitica (1644) of having hypocritically and tyrannously set themselves up as moral arbiters through their insistence that all books must have a pre-publication licence from an ecclesiastical committee.14 In the opening lines of The Tenure, just before charging the Presbyterians as “revolters,” Milton also rehearses the classical republican distinction between license and liberty, found in Cicero and Livy, to which the sonnet alludes: “For none indeed can love freedom heartilie, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but licence” (Milton, Political 3). Yet the recollection of Sonnet 12 in the conclusion to A Satyr suggests that Phillips understood Milton's satiric vitriol to be aimed at both sectarian lay preachers and Presbyterian clerics; as we have seen, the depiction of the Presbyterian preacher who gives way to the antinomian Ranter, who then gives way to the Fifth Monarchist, exemplifies Phillips's satirical strategy of eliding Presbyterian authoritarianism with sectarian anarchy. Consequently, he denounces the clerical drive for religious control at one point and at the next mocks the notion that “Every Mechanick either wanting stock / Or wit to keep his trade must have a flock” (20-21). Phillips may be misreading Milton's satiric intention in Sonnet 12; on the other hand, Phillips was living with his uncle when the sonnet was composed and might be expected to be as aware as anyone of its intended target(s). In the Defensio Secunda (1654), Milton did, after all, express regret that he had published The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643) in the vernacular and so exposed his ideas to abuse by the vulgar (Complete Prose 4: 610).
There is no doubt about the target of Milton's other satirical sonnet of 1646, “On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament.” Milton accuses Presbyterian clerics such as Adam Stewart, Samuel Rutherford, and Thomas Edwards of having “envied, not abhorred” the wealth and status of the bishops and of seeking to enforce religious conformity to promote their own lust for money and power:
Dare ye for this adjure the civil sword
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
And ride us with a classic hierarchy
Taught ye by mere A. S. and Rutherford?
(Milton, Complete Shorter 294 [lines 5-8])
Milton concludes with the devastating assertion: “New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large” (line 20). This sonneto caudato, the transcription of which in the Trinity Manuscript is one of those which Shawcross attributes to John Phillips's hand, also seems to be recollected in the conclusion of A Satyr. Phillips extends Milton's image of the skimmington ride, the popular shaming ritual in which a dominated husband is ridden like a donkey by his wife, to describe the abuses suffered by the English people under the Presbyterian “Priests”:
Vain foolish people, how are ye deceiv'd?
How many sorts have ye receiv'd
Of things call'd truths, upon your backs lay'd on
Like saddles for themselves to ride upon?
They rid amaine, and hell and Satan drove,
While every Priest for his own profit strove.
The skimmington symbolized the disruption of conventional order and hierarchy. The shared use of the image by Milton and Phillips is a further ironic comment on Presbyterian hypocrisy, for it was this kind of local popular festivity that the Puritans sought to eradicate in the name of godly morality (Underdown 102-03). Phillips follows his uncle in suggesting rather that the Presbyterians have hypocritically indulged their own festive appetites at the expense of the dominated and humiliated English people.
Phillips assumes, then, a Miltonic mode at the conclusion of A Satyr against Hypocrites to the extent of repeating the language, imagery, and rhythms of Milton's own satirical verse. The sonnets were not published until 1673, so Phillips had obviously been closely studying his uncle's unpublished poetry, whether or not he was one of the scribes of the Trinity Manuscript. This familiarity is also apparent in the dedication of the Bodleian manuscript of A Satyr. Phillips defends “the harshnes of [his poem's] Expressions” on the grounds that it is a “Satyr” and therefore “a kind of Cromatick Descant upon the badd actions of men” (fol. 2r). According to the OED, “chromatic,” the name given to one of the three kinds of tetrachords in ancient Greek music, was first used adjectivally to signify disordered, disjunctive noise in the two heavily corrected preliminary drafts in the Trinity Manuscript of “At a Solemn Music” (1633?). In the first draft, the poet looks forward to a time when men can answer the “melodious noise” of the angelic choirs: “By leaving out those harsh chromatic jars / Of sin that all our music mars / And in our lives and in our song” (Milton, Complete Shorter164 [line 19n]). These lines are extensively rewritten in the version printed in the 1645 Poems:
As once we did, till disproportioned sin
Jarred against nature's chime, and with harsh din
Broke the fair music that creatures made
To their great Lord[.]
(Milton, Complete Shorter 169-70 [lines 19-22])
Phillips recalls the original text of “At a Solemn Music” and his uncle's novel identification of “chromatic” music with the sin that scrambles the proper, God-given order of nature to defend the rough style of A Satyr as a reflection of the hypocrisy of those clerics and preachers who pervert true religion.
The echoes in both the manuscript dedication and poetic text of A Satyr against Hypocrites of Milton's anti-Presbyterian rhetoric in the vernacular prose and the satirical sonnets suggest that Phillips thought he was writing in a manner that would appeal to, or sound like, his uncle. We should hardly presume that Milton would have disapproved of his nephew's more scatological satire. In Phillips's Responsio, supervised by Milton, we are presented with the image of Salmasius, on reading Milton'sDefensio, running “to the privy for relief. There, diarrhetically, he wrote the following to his friends: ‘I will shit and piss all over that man Milton.’ You must carry a big ballista in your butt, Salmasius, if you think you can sling or shoot shit that far” (CPW 4.2: 911). In deploying such forms of insult in Latin, Phillips is showing off his mastery of different forms of humanist rhetoric. Citing the example of Aristophanes's sou kataperdomai, “I fart you downwards,”John K. Hale points out that for the humanist “the power and joy of insulting [. . .] lay in saying universal and everyday things with a finesse derived straight from antiquity” (161-62). The acclaim that the Defensio won Milton in the European republic of letters seems to have derived in no small part from the effectiveness of its ad hominem vituperation, as Phillips emphasizes in his comic image of Salmasius on the toilet. It seems too that anti-clerical ridicule was not only a feature of Milton's published prose and unpublished verse, but of life in the Milton household. In his life of Milton (1734), Jonathan Richardson exemplifies Milton's “Aversion to, and Contempt of These Pretended Divines” by recounting the story of one of Milton's servants who was
a Zealous and Constant Follower of these Teachers; when he came from the Meeting, his Master would frequently Ask him What he had heard, and Divert Himself with Ridiculing Their Fooleries, or (it may be) the Poor Fellow's Understanding; both One and t'other Probably.
However, “[t]his was so Grievous to the Good Creature, that he left his Service upon it” (Darbishire 238).
Yet it feels like a misrepresentation of Phillips's poem as a whole to characterize it as consistently Miltonic. It seems unlikely that the man who pictured the sectaries of London as “wise and faithful labourers” tilling “a towardly and pregnant soile” would have accepted the blanket condemnation of lay preachers as “the men that plague and over-run / Like Goths and Vandalls all Religion”—although Areopagitica was certainly the high-point of Milton's respect for the capacities of the common man (A Satyr 21; CPW 2: 492). If the bestial representation of his enemies in “On the Detraction which followed upon my Writing Certain Treatises” does, as Phillips seems to have thought, encompass both Presbyterian clerics and sectarian preachers, it apparently represents an anomaly in Milton's attitudes. Milton is usually careful to distinguish between Presbyterian clericalism and sectarian heterodoxy, whereas A Satyr deliberately elides them and indeed presents the former as the source of the latter. The 1652 sonnet “To the Lord General Cromwell” suggests that during the early 1650s Milton thought the clerical imposition of uniformity a much greater threat to Christian liberty than the proliferation of lay heresy. He warns Cromwell of the dangers to spiritual freedom posed by the strongly Calvinist Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel, from which Milton had recently received censure for licensing the publication of the infamous Socinian treatise, the Racovian Catechism:
new foes arise
Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains;
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw.
(Milton, Complete Shorter 325 [lines 11-14])
We might thus speculate that the blanket condemnation of sectarian lay preaching in A Satyr was less appealing to Milton than its virulent anti-Presbyterianism. But if the poem is placed in its original context of 1654, rather than the context of its publication in August 1655, it becomes evident that Phillips's anti-sectarian rhetoric echoes several of the most important official apologies for the establishment of the Protectorate which appeared at the beginning of 1654. Despite the angry withdrawal from politics of many leading republicans after the dissolution of the Rump Parliament, Milton, Marchamont Nedham and John Hall of Durham, the three leading salaried propagandists for the Commonwealth, all remained gainfully employed after Cromwell was installed as Protector, and they quickly produced the principal literary apologies for the new government. It is the works of Hall and Nedham rather than the Defensio Secunda of his uncle that Phillips seems to have been reading most closely when he composed A Satyr.
Confusion Confounded: Or, A Firm Way of Settlement Settled and Confirmed was acquired by Thomason on 18 January 1654, and was printed by one of the government's printers, Henry Hills. In this anonymous pamphlet, John Hall“diluted [the] republican language” of his earlier official writing, taking as his epigraph a quotation from Tacitus on how Augustus had assumed power to put an end to civil discord (Norbrook 343). Hall argues that the threat of disorder that Cromwell had to quell came from the religious radicals who had taken control of the Assembly, specifically the Fifth Monarchists. The “despised ones of Christ (as they call themselves)” are “ambitious and seditious men” who claim inspiration only to further their attempts to seize political power: their “main pretence was Religion, or according to their odd and fanatick Notions, the setting up of the Kingdome of Jesus Christ” (3, 9). In response to the Fifth Monarchists' biblical literalism and desire to impose Mosaic law, Hall maintains that the Bible has nothing to do with civil government, which is rather a product of “circumstances, sense, experience, and the judgement of our reason” (19). Hall alludes on several occasions to the civil science of his friend Thomas Hobbes, the “learned Modern,” and repeatedly argues, in language which echoes Leviathan (1651), for the necessity of subordinating religion to civil power:
By drawing all Politick debates into matter of Conscience, that is confounding them matters of Divinity, they [. . .] raise up an in-supportable Tyranny upon all Experience and good Induction[. . .] if they become once Magisterial, [they will] oblige us to quit our Discourse, our natural Reason, our experiences drawn even from common sense, the means God hath ordained to direct us in civil matters, and to follow those Wills-with-Wisps, or ignes fatui of revelation and pretended Spirit.
Hall's language here is very close to that of Phillips's manuscript dedication, with its attack on those who “hold forth thir false lights, thir ignes fatues” by which “men are lead, or rather gulld by them into thir destruction” (fol. 2v).
In February 1654, Marchamont Nedham, who edited the government newsbook Mercurius Politicus throughout the 1650s, similarly justified the installment of Cromwell as Lord Protector on the grounds of the danger posed to civil order by the fanaticism of the Fifth Monarchists. Nedham is more scornful than Hall, satirizing the preaching of “the hot-men at Black-Fryars Meeting, who pronounced all the Reformed Churches to be as the Out-Works of Babylon [. . .] their Party abroad in Pulpits uttered many peremptory predictions of the remove or downfall of one and the other” (14-15). Once again, religious enthusiasm is unmasked as worldly ambition. The Fifth Monarchists
made pretence to an extraordinary call from Christ himself, and to take upon them to rule the Nation by vertue of a supposed Right of Saintship in themselves, and upon this platform would have laid the foundation of a new platform, which was to go under the name of a Fifth Monarchy, never to have an end, but to war with all other Powers, and break them in pieces.
Phillips's parody of a Fifth Monarchist preacher brings Nedham's polemical portrait of the frenzied, violent “hot-men at Black-Fryars” to life:
Then down with Rome, with Babel, down with all,
Down with the Devil, the Pope, the Emperour,
With Cardinals, and the King of Spaine's great power;
They'l muster up, but I can tell you where,
At Armageddon, there, Beloved, there,
Fall on, fall on, kill, kill, alow, alow,
Kill Amaleck, and Turk, kill Gog and Magog too.
In their apologies for the Protectorate, Hall and Nedham present Cromwell's actions in dissolving the Nominated Assembly as an essential and urgent action to preserve civil liberty and national security. They depict the Assembly as dominated by an extreme religious sect whose leaders are at once fanatical and Machiavellian. In his satirical verse, Phillips repeats this image of the Fifth Monarchist as deranged and ridiculous yet charismatic, popular, and a real threat to the security of the state. A Satyr not only “seems to accept the new order” of the Protectorate, as Nigel Smith has observed, but it implicitly defends it by invoking the polemical rhetoric of the regime's official apologists (315). Given the resemblances to the pro-Protectorate propaganda published by Hall and Nedham at the beginning of 1654, it seems likely that the poem was originally written in early- to mid-1654 in the hope of obtaining preferment from the new regime. As we have seen, John Churchill, to whom the Bodleian manuscript is dedicated, had married into the Protectorate's establishment in 1654. Phillips may also have sought to circulate the verse satire in Protectorate circles through his uncle, or he could have gone directly to his uncle's friend Nedham, whom Phillips had doubtless met when living in Milton's house in Petty France in the early 1650s.15 The potential appeal of anti-sectarian writing to Cromwell at this time is suggested by his speech to the first Protectorate Parliament on 4 September 1654, in which he attacked “the mistaken notion of the Fifth Monarchy” and those who upon the “pretence” of inspiration seek to “determine of property and liberty and everything else.” Indeed, Cromwell later cited Nedham'sA True State in speeches justifying the Protectorate as a necessary defense against sectarian activity (Cromwell 3: 437, 587).16
Other writers close to Milton and seeking literary patronage from the Protectorate picked up on the appeal of this polemical theme to Cromwell and the government. Milton's letter to Bradshaw on 21 February 1653 recommending that Marvell be appointed assistant Latin Secretary had failed to win Marvell that position or any other government post. But with his appointment as tutor to Cromwell's ward William Dutton in the summer of 1653, Marvell appears to have been allowed into Cromwellian inner circles and to have gained an official audience for his poetry. The First Anniversary of the Government under his Highness the Lord Protector, published anonymously in mid-January 1655, was printed by a government printer, Thomas Newcomb, and advertized by Nedham in Mercurius Politicus (Marvell 281). David Norbrook has convincingly argued for Marvell's originality in this poem, describing it as “an experiment whose very boldness and brilliance worked against its having an immediate political impact” (339). Norbrook sees Marvell as continuing the representation of a sublime Cromwell that had begun in “An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland” (1650): the Lord Protector is an astonishing, elemental, and providential force of destruction and renovation. Yet in this soaring praise of the sublime, Cromwell is rooted in earthy satire of the radical religious opposition to the Protectorate, and specifically of the Fifth Monarchists.
In the lines that precede Marvell's attack on the Fifth Monarchists, he compares Cromwell to Noah as a husbandman who plants the vine of liberty. Marvell emphasizes that Cromwell, unlike Noah, has refrained from self-indulgence:
And only didst for others plant the vine
Of liberty, not drunken with its wine.
That sober liberty which men may have,
That they enjoy, but more they vainly crave:
And such as to their parent's tents do press,
May show their, not see his nakedness.
(Marvell295 [lines 287-92])
The representation of religious radicals as the sons of Ham, who was cursed for looking at the naked Noah, allows Marvell to reverse the charge of shame and guilt made by the radicals against Cromwell. The theme of nakedness invokes not only the specific behavior of the (fictitious) sect the Adamites, who were represented as going naked as a sign of their return to Adamic purity, but the general slur of sexual promiscuity aimed at sectarians by royalist polemicists and Presbyterian heresiographers. Marvell's“That sober liberty which men may have, / That they enjoy, but more they vainly crave” again echoes the sense and rhythm of Milton's“On the Detractions Which Followed upon My Writing Certain Treatises”: “Licence they mean when they cry liberty; / For who loves that, must first be wise and good.”Marvell, like Phillips, recollects Sonnet 12 in the moment of attacking sectarian licentiousness, suggesting that Marvell also believed that it was the alleged use of the divorce tracts in the name of sexual freedom by sectaries such as Mrs. Attaway that provoked Milton's scorn as much as the Presbyterians' attack on the morality of his ideas on divorce.
Marvell's poetic compression of sectarian excess in satirical couplets is comparable to A Satyr against Hypocrites, although without that poem's semi-dramatic narrative:
Yet such a Chammish issue still does rage,
The shame and plague of both the land and age,
Who watched thy halting, and thy fall deride,
Rejoicing when thy foot had slipped aside;
That their new king might the fifth sceptre shake,
And make the world, by his example, quake:
Whose frantic army should they want for men
Might muster heresies, so one were ten.
What thy misfortune, they the Spirit call,
And their religion only is to fall.
Oh Mahomet! Now couldst thou rise again,
Thy falling-sickness should have made thee reign,
While Feake and Simpson would in many a tome,
Have writ the comments of thy sacred foam:
For soon thou mightst have passed among their rant
Were't but for thine unmovèd tullipant;
As thou must needs have own'd them of thy band
For prophecies fit to be Alcoran'd.
(Marvell 295-96 [lines 293-310])
Just as Phillips took details of his representation of sectarian behavior from Gangraena, Marvell, as David Loewenstein has shown, used the expanded 1654 edition of the Heresiography, originally compiled by the Presbyterian cleric Ephraim Pagitt in 1645. This fifth edition included new sections on the Ranters and Quakers, but retained its striking frontispiece, which portrayed Adamites engaging in naked frolics (Loewenstein 152-54). Marvell blurs religious identities here in the manner of the heresiographies, though this is achieved through the careful ascription of verbs rather than explicit assertion: the Fifth Monarchists “quake” and “rant.” The notion that if Mahomet were to return he would find himself in great demand among the sectaries is taken straight from Gangraena: “if Mahomet were living among us, hee would be a gallant fellow in these times, and be in great request for his revelations and new light” (Edwards 1: 77). But Marvell is more Hobbesian than the Presbyterians in his depiction of the “frantic” Fifth Monarchists as physiologically damaged rather than demonically possessed. Their physical pretense of inspiration, their “falling” religion, is demystified as a fit, akin to Mahomet's alleged epilepsy. There is also a pun on “falling-sickness” which invokes Cromwell's attack in his Parliamentary address of September 1654 on the Fifth Monarchists who seek only to bring down rather than to renovate, to “ ‘overturn, overturn, overturn’ (a Scripture phrase very much abused and applied to justify unpeaceable practices by all men of discontented spirits)” (3: 438). The frenzied Fifth Monarchist preacher in A Satyr indeed urges his audience to “Fall on, fall on, kill, kill, alow, alow” (13). The depiction of the Fifth Monarchist leaders Christopher Feake and John Simpson recording the message of the “sacred foam” emerging from the mouth of the epileptic Mahomet also recalls the image in A Satyr, derived from Gangraena, of Fifth Monarchists “gaping” at the mouth of the inspired preacher (but intensifies its anti-Christian absurdity).
As in A Satyr, the Presbyterian and the sectarian are elided as the personification of false zeal in The First Anniversary, although more indirectly than in Phillips's poem. Marvell celebrates the Protector in terms of his suppression of the sectarian threat to the security of the state, focusing on his scattering of the “frantique Army” of the Fifth Monarchists. He works up to a violent denunciation of sectarians, representing them as hypocritical and deceitful in their claims to Adamic purity and a Satanic threat to both true religion and civil liberty:
Accursed Locusts, whom your King does spit
Out of the Center of th' unbottom'd Pit;
Wand'rers, adult'rers, liars, Münzers's rest,
Sorcerers, Atheists, Jesuites, Possesd;
You who the Scriptures and Laws deface
With the same liberty as Points and Lace;
Oh Race most hypocritically strict!
Bent to reduce us to the ancient Pict;
Well may you act the Adam and Eve;
Ay, and the Serpent too that did deceive.
(Marvell 296 [lines 311-20])
This is every bit as ferocious as Phillips's satire. The image of the sectarians as swarms of locusts rising from the bottomless pit is, of course, indebted to Revelation 9.1-11, but it also echoes Marvell's depiction of the “grim consistory” of the Presbyterian clergy in “To His Noble Friend Mr. Richard Lovelace, upon his Poems” (1649): “The air's already tainted with the swarms / Of Insects which against you rise in arms” (21 [lines 17-18, 22]). The association of buttoned-up Presbyterianism with unbuttoned sectarianism is suggested by the rhyme of “hypocritically strict” with “ancient Pict.”Marvell's warning that the swarms of sectarians will reduce the English to the condition of the “ancient Pict,” the Celtic barbarians encountered by the Roman soldiers who guarded Hadrian's Wall and who were supposed to have worn nothing but blue body paint, glances both at the supposed naked frolics of the Adamites and at the supposed origins of sectarianism in Scottish Presbyterianism.17
Marvell evidently believed that such views would find favor with those in authority and with the Protector himself, although it was not until September 1657 that he finally gained the post of Latin Secretary to John Thurloe. It seems quite possible that Marvell had seen A Satyr against Hypocrites in manuscript before he composed The First Anniversary, given his friendship with Milton. While Phillips had left the Milton household in Petty France by the end of 1652, he seems to have remained based in Westminster, which is the address that he gave on legal documents signed in 1653 and 1654 (Campbell 118). When placed in the context of the polemical prose and verse issued by propagandists for the Protectorate in 1654, it becomes clear that, far from giving vent to his natural cavalier instincts, John Phillips probably circulated A Satyr against Hypocrites in the hope of winning preferment from Cromwell's government. As with Hall'sConfusion Confounded, Nedham'sA True Account, and Marvell'sFirst Anniversary, Phillips's representation of the threat to the nation of religious extremism legitimates Cromwell's action against sectarian groups and dismissal of the nominated Parliament. Moreover, the fusion of anti-Presbyterianism, anti-sectarianism, and ribald satire in A Satyr would have attracted former royalist readers and suggested to that audience that it was preferable to accept the Protectorate than risk Presbyterian or Fifth Monarchist religious tyranny. If we assume that Phillips, like Marvell, wrote in the hope of obtaining patronage, then there may be some scattered evidence that he was successful, depending on when in 1654 A Satyr was written: it seems that he was working, at least occasionally, as an intelligencer for John Thurloe in the first half of 1654 and was continuing to exploit his uncle's connections. Andrew Sandelands had been a Fellow of Christ's College when Milton was there and had been in correspondence with Milton in 1653 over a plan to supply the English navy with Scottish timber. A letter from Sandelands to Thurloe dated 11 April 1654 reveals that Sandelands had employed “Mr. John Phillips (Mr. Miltons Kinsman)” to gather information concerning the crown lands in Scotland, a matter “which his Highness and the late Council of State did refer to the Commissioners at Leith.” Phillips had written to Sandelands promising “a very good account very speedily.” This evidence of intelligence gathering makes it possible that the John Phillips who wrote to Thurloe from Wales on 15 February 1654 to report anti-Cromwellian opinions was also Milton's nephew (Masson 5: 227; Campbell118).
When Milton's nephew, John Phillips, sought to impress Protectorate circles through his skill in anti-Presbyterian and anti-sectarian verse, he remembered Milton's unpublished satirical sonnets of 1646. Milton's friend, Marvel l, seems also to have remembered Sonnet 12 when anatomizing the threat of religious radicalism in The First Anniversary; the verse satire embedded in Marvell's panegyric to Cromwell may in fact have taken some of its inspiration from the representation of hypocritical Presbyterians and crazed sectarians in A Satyr against Hypocrites. This raises the question of whether Milton would have appreciated the representation of sectarian heresy, as opposed to Presbyterian clericalism, in the poems composed by his nephew and his friend—especially given the appropriation by Phillips and Marvell of tales from the Presbyterian heresiographers whose reaction to the divorce tracts had so outraged Milton. The elision of Presbyterianism and sectarianism in their polemical verse indicates that in 1654 John Phillips and Marvell tended towards the Erastian ecclesiology promoted by Nedham and Hall (and Hobbes), who initially accepted the Cromwellian regime in large part because its church settlement “provided the closest approximation” available to a civil religion subordinate to the authority of the secular state, rather than the separatism of Milton, who “eschewed all coercive authority over matters of faith” (Collins 205). Alternatively, perhaps the fact that those two writers so close to Milton thought of his poetry when they came to write anti-sectarian satire reveals that Milton's views on popular religious radicalism were, at least in private, rather less benevolent than we have assumed.