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that common folk wasted in such disputes ; when the Trinitarian controversy could be discussed on the benches of an alehouse, and apprentices neglect their work to argue the question of prevenient grace,
feel that we atmosphere which if not religious, was at any rate theological.
Hales went to Dort a Calvinist—that, in those days, is equivalent to saying that he had never given his theological position much attention. What he heard there is uncertain, for a more unbusinesslike meeting was never held; “ignor ance, passion, animosity, injustice," said Lord Clarendon, were its characteristics. There was no one to whose ruling speakers deferred. No one knew what subject was to be discussed next, often hardly what was under discussion. A third of the members disappeared, after what an eye-witness called a "pondering speech” from the President. Such a theological schooling is too severe for a reflective mind. Hales came home what was called a Latitudinarian, having, as he quaintly says, at the "well pressing" of St. John iii. 16, by Episcopius (a divine, present at the Synod), “bid John Calvin good-night.” A Latitudinarian translated into modern English would be a very broad churchman indeed. For it is evident that Hales's native humour, which was very strong, prevented him from even considering religious differences in a serious light ;
when cussed entices
“theological scarecrows !” he said, half bitterly,
Only once did he encounter the little restless,
The whole incident is dramatic and entertaining in the highest degree. Hales, for the edification of some weak-minded friends, wrote out his views on schism, treating the whole subject with a humorous contempt for Church authority. This little tract got privately printed, and a copy fell into Laud's hands (as indeed, what dangerous matter did not ?), which he read and marked. He instantly sent for his recalcitrant subaltern, to be rated and confuted and silenced. The matter is exquisitely characteristic of Laud, both in the idea and in the method of carrying it out. “Mr. Hales came," says Heylyn,
" about nine o'clock to Lambeth on a summer
Hales afterwards confessed that the interview had been dreadful. “ He had been ferreted," he said, “'from one hole to another, till there was none left to afford him any further shelter ; that he was now resolved to be orthodox, and declare himself a true son of the Church of England both for doctrine and discipline.”
Laud evidently saw the mettle of the man with whom he had to deal, and what a very dangerous, rational opponent he was, so he made him his own chaplain, and got the king to offer him a canonry at Windsor in such a way that refusal, much to Hales's distaste, was out of the question thus binding him to silence in a manner that would make further speech ungracious. so," said Hales, quietly grumbling at his wealthy loss of independence, “I had a hundred and fifty more pounds a year than I cared to spend.”
During all these years Hales was a member of the celebrated Mermaid Club, so called from the tavern of that name in Friday Street. Thither Shakespeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, Donne, and many more repaired. There he must have seen the coarse, vivacious figure of Ben Jonson, the presiding genius of the place, drinking his huge potations of canary, and warming out of his native melancholy into wit and eloquence, merging at last into angry self-laudation, and then into drunken silence, till at last he tumbled home with his unwieldy body, rolling feet, and big, scorbutic face, to sleep and sweat and write far into the night; a figure strangely similar down to the smallest characteristics, in his gloom, his greediness, his disputatious talk, to the great Samuel of that ilk, in all but the stern religious fibre that is somehow the charm of the latter.
It was in London, at one of these convivial gatherings, that Suckling, Davenant, Endymion Porter, Ben Jonson, and Hales were talking together; Jonson, as was his wont, railing surlily at Shakespeare's fame, considering him to be much overrated,,"wanting art," as he told Drummond at Hawthornden.
Suckling took up the cudgels with great warmth, and the dispute proceeded; Hales in the background, sitting meekly, with the dry smile which he affected deliberately dumb, not from want of enthusiasm or knowledge, but of choice. Ben Jonson, irritated at last beyond the bounds of patience, as men of his stamp are wont to be, by a silent humorous listener, turned on him suddenly and began to taunt him with “a want of Learning, and Ignorance of the Ancients." Hales at last emerged from his shell, and told Jonson, with considerable warmth, that if Mr. Shakespeare had not read the ancients, he had likewise not stolen anything from them" a fault," adds the biographer, " the other made no conscience ofand that if he would produce any one topic finely treated of by any of them, he would undertake to show something upon the same subject, at least as well written by Shakespeare."
This is an extraordinary instance of perspicuity of literary judgment; that Hales should draw a favourable comparison between Shake