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From: H-Net Staff <revh...@mail.h-net.msu.edu>
Date: Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 3:31 PM
Subject: H-Net Review [H-Albion]: Southcombe on Goldie, 'Roger Morrice and
the Puritan Whigs'
To: h-rev...@lists.h-net.org

Mark Goldie.  Roger Morrice and the Puritan Whigs.  Rochester
Boydell Press, 2016.  462 pp.  $34.95 (paper), ISBN 978-1-78327-110-8.

Reviewed by George Southcombe (Wadham College, Oxford)
Published on H-Albion (February, 2018)
Commissioned by Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth

The publication in 1990 of _The Politics of Religion in Restoration
England_ marked an important historiographical moment. It was edited
by two scholars then at the beginning of their careers, Tim Harris
and Paul Seaward, and Mark Goldie, who had supervised Harris's
doctoral thesis. If not quite the ur-text of the modern study of the
Restoration, not least because of important other work that had
already been published by its editors, it has proved profoundly
influential. The three propositions that underpinned the analyses
offered--that the late seventeenth century was best understood in
relation to the early seventeenth century; that religion continued to
play a vital role in political life; and that politics "out-of-doors"
represented an important area of study--have shaped the terms of the
debate for now nearly thirty years. It was also in 1990 that Robin
Gwynn brought Mark Goldie aboard a long-standing project. Gwynn's was
the third attempt of the twentieth century to produce an edition of
Roger Morrice's _Entring Book _(1677-91), and in 1996, the year in
which Gwynn chose to leave academia for politics in New Zealand, a
board was formed to bring this project to fruition. This was
triumphantly achieved in 2007 when, under Goldie's general
editorship, a six-volume edition was published by Boydell and Brewer
(a seventh volume, the index, appeared in 2009). Four volumes
contained the 925,000 words of the _Entring_ Book,meticulously edited
by leading historians of the Restoration. The picture it painted of a
society riven by religious division, shaped by the experience of
civil war, and hungry for news provided powerful support for the
general lines of argument proposed in _The Politics of Religion_.
Indeed, in many ways the _Entring Book _can be seen as the
culmination of the process of research and interpretation heralded by
that collection of essays. The full extent of its own impact remains
to be seen. Its sheer weight, and cost, have perhaps meant that it
has not been as fully assimilated into more recent works as might
have been expected.[1] It is to be hoped that the book under review
will encourage its greater use.

The first volume of the published _Entring Book _contained Goldie's
monograph, _Roger Morrice and_ _the Puritan Whigs_. It is this which
has now been reprinted, with a new introduction but without the
appendices, as a stand-alone paperback. Boydell and Brewer are to be
praised for taking this step, which has made a remarkable book
accessible to a much wider audience. As has been the case with some
past introductions--we might in particular think of Austin Woolrych's
contextualization of some of Milton's later prose--Goldie's work
transcends its genre and takes on an importance of its own.[2] The
new introduction provides a survey of recent work, and Goldie casts a
wry eye on some historiographical tendencies. He warns that
"historians are best advised not over-zealously to chase intimations
of modernity in either Anglicans or Puritans," and he notes the
"immense prevailing preoccupation with textuality, with writing and
reading as if they were the primordial forms of human agency" (pp.
xxii, xxx). He concludes by suggesting that the weight of recent
study has been to overturn the old conceptualization of the
Restoration as a period of defeat for Puritanism: "the Puritans of
Restoration England cannot (and despite their own threnodies) be
construed merely as slaves under Egyptian taskmasters or wanderers in
Sinai" (p. xxxvii). The chapters that follow are unaltered from the
2007 publication (to the extent that they still include references to
the appendices). It is likely, though, that they will now be read in
different ways.

Undergraduate readers are likely to fall upon the three chapters in
which Goldie outlines an interpretation of English political and
religious history from the 1640s into the 1690s and beyond. And so
they should. Each is a masterpiece of compression, developing an
argument about the continued political significance of Puritanism in
the period 1660-89, and also a subtle case about its decline
thereafter. The general argument that Puritan political positions,
developed and solidified in the 1640s, and personified by Denzil
Holles, were fundamental in shaping Whiggism is particularly
important. But throughout it is specific detail about Morrice that
illuminates political Puritanism most brightly. In his notebooks,
Morrice recorded that the civil war itself had been justified, and
expressed his exasperation with the use of the memory of its outbreak
to deride what became Whig positions: "What anguish" it was "to hear
religion, liberty, property, sense and reason for twenty-eight years
together borne down with the artificial noise of 41 and 42" (p. 162).
For Morrice, Restoration politics were shaped by the struggle between
the upholders of the Puritan position and the nefarious designs of
prelatical churchmen, the "hierarchists," who held the Tory lay
magistracy in thrall. In terms that resonate with much recent
scholarship, Morrice wrote of the hierarchists' deployment of "the
two bombs of the representation and the image," by which he meant
"the (mis)representation of Dissenters as fanatics and rebels; and
... the disguising of popery under the image or mask of the Church of
England" (pp. 175-76). Morrice's concentration on the "hierarchists"
may have been peculiarly emphatic, but the broad outlines of his
understanding of the period as one of continued religious struggle
would have been shared by many of the early Whigs.

As these examples suggest, Morrice's example is of such interest that
it would be shame if it were only these ostensibly more wide-ranging
chapters that were read. Students would undoubtedly gain a great deal
from reading the chapters of close analysis concerning Morrice's
life, and the nature of the _Entring Book _itself. Both demonstrate
exemplary unravelling of historical puzzles. The first pieces
together the biography of a man who in the Restoration was chaplain
successively to the "veteran Presbyterian parliamentarians" Denzil
Lord Holles and Sir John Maynard (p. 47). He was, it seems,
deliberately self-effacing and "almost never appears in the diaries,
correspondence, or publications of his contemporaries" (p. 33). The
second contemplates the elephant in the room: what was this text, of
nearly a million words, actually for? Perhaps it was the "office
master copy of outgoing [news]letters" (p. 112). If it was, it seems
it was intended for a select audience, and therefore it reminds us
both that this was a culture saturated by news and one in which
individual, personal relationships retained a key significance.

The final substantive chapter, on "The History of the Puritans," is
in certain respects the best of all. Until the publication of the
_Entring Book_, it was as a historian that Morrice had proved most
useful to later writers. There is an irony in this, in that Morrice
was a failed historian. The history of the Puritans he wished to
write remained unfinished. The massive manuscript collections he
made, however, became important resources for authors from Daniel
Neal to Patrick Collinson and beyond. Goldie provides a sensitive
account of how Morrice's attempts were impeded from the start by a
simple difficulty of definition: "The problem of moderate Puritans in
the Restoration was that they were separatists who did not believe in
separation" (p. 276). Was their history that "of insiders or
outsiders" (p. 276)? This historiographical conundrum remained a
constraint on Morrice's ambitions, but it is clear that his
historical thinking shaped his life in all respects. This is perhaps
one of the areas that could still be explored further--the ways in
which understandings of the past, and specifically perhaps
understandings of the late sixteenth-century religio-political
situation, shaped the late seventeenth century.

The reader of this book, which covers so elegantly and clearly
material on biography, theology, politics (both in and out of doors),
and political thought, is left with deep admiration for its author,
and the slightly depressing question: could anybody else possibly
have written it?


____[1]. Goldie does provide a "supplementary bibliography" of
relevant works, mainly produced since the publication of _The Entring
Book _in 2007.

[2]. Austin Woolrych, "Historical Introduction," in _Complete Prose
Works of John Milton_, ed. D. M. Wolfe et al., 8 vols. (New Haven,
CT: Yale University Press, 1952-83), 8: 1-228.

Citation: George Southcombe. Review of Goldie, Mark, _Roger Morrice
and the Puritan Whigs_. H-Albion, H-Net Reviews. February, 2018.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=47013

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States


Best regards,

Andrew Stewart
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