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Mark Burden, University of Bristol

Henry More’s Early Poetry

  • Ψυχωδια Platonica: Or A Platonicall Song of the Soul (1642)
  • Democritus Platonissans (1646)
  • Philosophicall Poems (1647)

Henry More’s first print publication was a collection of four poems with the general title Ψυχωδια Platonica: Or A Platonicall Song of the Soul (1642). This association between Platonism and the soul encapsulates the intellectual content of the poems themselves, which cover the topics of the life of the soul, its immortality, a confutation of the idea of soul-sleep, and a critique of the notion of monopsychism respectively. The first, Ψυχοζωια, Or A Christiano-Platonicall Display of Life, was written early in 1640, and was ‘published for all free Phi[lo]sophers and well-willers to the true Christian Life’, which More defined in the poem’s preface as ‘Universall life, or life that is omnipresent, though not alike omnipresent’.[1] More divided the Ψυχοζωια into three books, consisting of 211 Spenserian stanzas (61 + 79 + 71), and with each book introduced by a quatrain in the form of an ‘Argument’; that Spenser was the model for More’s philosophising poetry is also indicated in the preface, where he wrote of the ‘all-approved Spencer’, who ‘sings of Christ under the name of Pan’. The subject of the first book is the ‘Platonicall Triad’, Ahad, Æon, and Psyche, taken (in More’s words) ‘for a figment’ by those who slighted the Christian Trinity, but which should be understood as an indication that the ancient Platonists were ‘the best and divinest of Philosophers’. The second book displays the universe as ‘one simple uniform being, from Ahad to Hyle … All homogeneall, simple, single, pure, pervious, unknotted, uncoacted, nothing existing but those eight universall orders’, although More’s philosophical commitment to such a scheme is complicated by his description of it as the most ‘fit a similitude as I could light upon’. The third book allegorises the battle between the soul’s errors and triumphs.

The second poem in the Ψυχωδια Platonica of 1642 has the title Ψψχαθανασια Platonica: Or A Platonicall Poem of the Immortality of Souls, especially Mans Soul; it is composed of 3 books, 11 cantos (each with an introductory quatrain), and 419 Spenserian stanzas.[2] In the preface, More writes that the ‘hope of immortality’ provides the ‘nerves and sinews of Religion’, and offers the greatest incitement to ‘virtue and justice’. Citing Plato’s Ion, More suggests that the intensity of pleasure that readers gain from his poem will be ‘according as their Genius is fitted for it’, and asserts that persons ‘rightly acquainted with Platonisme’ will ‘make a good construction’ of them, despite their flaws. Book 1 begins with a paeon to Plato’s philosophy which mirrors the conventional invocations found in classical verse and early-modern epic poetry; it proceeds by defining the soul, asserting its immortality, and contrasting matter (the Platonic ‘Hyle’) with spirit (here figured in terms of God as the root of ‘Vitalitie’ or life). Book two contrasts the souls of humans and beasts, discusses the unreliability of sense-impressions, and seeks to demonstrate the soul’s incorporeity on rational grounds. Book three charts the progress of the soul between hell and heaven, presents physical, theosophical and astronomical proofs of the Copernican system, and discusses divine justice in relation to the final conflagration of the Earth.

The third section of the Ψυχωδια Platonica contains two poems, both of which critique misconceptions (in More’s view) about the soul’s essence and existence, and which More describes as ‘after-pieces’, designed ‘to skirmish and conflict with all the furious phansies of Epicurisme and Atheisme.’[3] As well as Plato, More’s acknowledged sources for these two poems include Aristotle, Plotinus, and Ficino.[4] The Αντιψυχοπαννυχια, Or A Confutation of the Sleep of the Soul after Death, has three cantos and 131 Spenserian stanzas (38 + 44 + 49); its theme, which More was to revise significantly in his later prose works, is the freedom of the soul when set loose from the corporeal body. The Αντιμονοψυχια is a comparatively brief text, consisting of 40 Spenserian stanzas on the topic of the differentiation of deiform souls from God, according to their plurality, individuation and memory.

The 1642 Ψυχωδια Platonica was produced by Roger Daniel, who oversaw the printing of books for Cambridge University in considerable numbers between 1628 and 1649. His imprints included editions of the Bible (1637), the Book of Common Prayer (1638), the Sternhold and Hopkins poetic psalter (1628), Herbert’s The Temple (1633), Donne’s Six Sermons (1634), Davenant’s Animadversions (1641), Thorndike’s Of Religious Assemblies (1642), Fuller’s Historie of the Holy War (1647), and Mede’s Clavis apocalyptica (1649), as well as philosophical, philological, and literary works in Latin and Greek by Cicero (c.1633), Dionysius Periegetes (1633), Hippocrates (1633), Aristotle (1634), Erasmus (c.1634), Isocrates (1638), Ovid (1638), Demosthenes (1642), Bede (1643), Burgersjijk (1644), Buxtorf (1646), Heinsius (1646), Bythner (1648), and Homer (1648). The Ψυχωδια Platonica of 1642 was printed in octavo on 16 sheets of paper,[5] including the general title page and a prefatory poem (sigs. A1r-A2v), the Ψυχοζωια with its own title page and prose preface (sigs. A3r-E1v), then the Ψψχαθανασια Platonica, also with a title page and preface (sigs. E2r-M4v), and then the Αντιψυχοπαννυχια and Αντιμονοψυχια, with a shared title page and preface, and followed by a brief ‘Paraphrasticall Interpretation of the answer of Apollo’, written in pentametric quatrains (sigs. M5r-P8v). These texts were clearly printed as a set, since the printer made no effort to start new sheets for the three supplementary title pages, meaning that it would have been very difficult to sell the poems individually. They are succeeded by a prose index, offering ‘interpretation of the more unusuall names or words’ in the poems, which does begin on a new sheet (sig. Q), followed by a verse hymn in honour of charity and humility, and a brief list of errata. While this appended matter is designed to be sold with the poems, it was the last section to be printed, and the use of a separate sheet theoretically left the possibility open for sale of the poems without the interpretative comments and errata, although no copies have yet been found in such a condition.

Not too much should be read into More’s decision to publish under the initials ‘H. M.’, which may have been partly a modesty topos rather than an attempt to seek anonymity: he also describes himself as ‘Master of Arts, and Fellow of Christs Colledge in Cambridge’, and was thus easily identifiable to the anticipated Cambridge University readership. Of more interest are the philosophical quotations on the four title pages, which include comments by Scaliger, Trismegistus (twice), Empedocles, Ovid, Plotinus, and John chapter 11; all of these are in Greek except for the Scaliger quotation, which is in Latin. [say more about these]

In 1646 More published another poem, his Democritus Platonissans, Or, An Essay upon the Infinity of Worlds out of Platonick Principles, this time under the name ‘H. More’, printed once again by Roger Daniel at Cambridge, and with citations from Plato and Libert Froidmont.[6] The publication is much shorter than the 1642 Ψυχωδια Platonica: it was printed on 5 sheets, containing the prefatory material (sigs. A1r-A8v), the ‘Democritus Platonissans’ (sigs. B1r-C6v), ‘Cupids Conflict’ (sigs. C7r-D5v), a prose index referring to three of the 1642 poems (sigs. D6r-E2v), and another poem, ‘The Philosophers Devotion’ (sigs. E3r-v). The ‘Democritus Platonissans’ itself consists of 107 Spenserian stanzas, presenting a series of arguments from Origen and others against the notion of an infinite procession of universes. From the outset, More anticipated that this poem would be read by the same audience as the 1642 volume, and presented it as a companion piece: it is preceded by a preface in which More lists Epicurus and Lucretius (as well as Democritus) among his sources, and provides a revised conclusion (labelled stanzas 33-42) to the Αντιμονοψυχια of 1642. ‘Cupids Conflict’, which follows the ‘Democritus Platonissans’, is in 80 sestets and presents a dialogue between Mela and Cleanthes on the nature of love and the vanity of bodily pleasures.[7] Appended to these texts is a prose index offering ‘A Particular Interpretation appertaining to the three last books of the Platonick Song of the Soul’, whereas ‘The Philosophers Devotion’ is a brief poem in rhyming couplets on God’s goodness and wisdom.

More’s Philosophicall Poems of 1647 is essentially the second edition of the works published in 1642 and 1647 with a few additions, but the change of title is significant: gone are the references to Plato, and the Greek citations, and they are replaced with a conventional title, and a Latin quotation from book 4 of Lucretius’ De rerum natura. As early as 1647, More was repackaging his poetry as part of a wider scientific project, and presenting himself at the forefront of academic discourse, displaying his interest in Lucretian poetics at the same time as using Platonic ideas to critique aspects of Epicurean materialism. This change of emphasis, effected in collaboration with the printer, can be discerned throughout the volume. The first of the supplementary title pages once again eschews the Greek titles of the first edition, and introduces the first set of poems as ‘A Platonick Song of the Soul: treating, Of The Life of the Soul, Her Immortalitie, The Sleep of the Soul, The Unitie of Souls, and Memorie after Death’; on the next title-page the word ‘Psychozoia’ appears in its English transliteration only, followed by a Latin quotation (from Ficino). Unlike the 1642 edition, the headers to each page refer only to the English titles of the poems, such as ‘The Infinitie of Worlds’, ‘The Unity of Souls’, or ‘Memory after Death’. There are also some small adjustments to the order, which now firmly suggests that readers should start at the front of the volume and proceed through in order. The main sequence (pp. 1-298) now runs as follows: (1) ‘The Life of the Soul’, (2) ‘The Immortality of the Soul’, (3) ‘The Infinity of Worlds’, (4) ‘The Sleep of the Soul’, (5) ‘The Præexistency of the Soul’, (6) ‘The Unity of Souls’ and ‘Memory after Death’, and (7) ‘The Oracle: Or, A Paraphrasticall Interpretation of the Answer of Apollo’. These are followed by a new title page, introducing ‘An Addition of Some Few Smaller Poems’ including ‘Cupids Conflict’, and a few previously unpublished lyrics in English, Latin and Greek (pp. 299-334). Then follow some revised notes on the poems, partly modelled upon the 1646 ‘Interpretation Generall’. In sum, each copy consists of approximately 496 octavo pages,[8] a very sizeable text for a mid-seventeenth-century English poetry collection, and one which presents its author as a philosophical heavyweight who has already worked his way to the very centre of English academic and literary life.[9]

Henry More on Enthusiasm

  • Observations upon Anthroposophia theomagica, and Anima magica abscondita (1650)
  • The Second Lash of Alazonomastix (1651)
  • Enthusiasmus triumphatus (1656, 1662)

More’s earliest published prose volume was his Observations upon Anthroposophia theomagica and Anima magica abscondita (1650), published under the pseudonym Alazonomastix Philalethes.[10] This volume was a critique of two texts, Anthroposophia theomagica (1650) and Anima magica abscondita (1650), both written by the alchemist Thomas Vaughan, twin brother of the poet Henry Vaughan, who had also used a pseudonym, Eugenius Philalethes; Vaughan’s texts were published by Humphrey Blunden, whose theosophical interests extended to the printing of texts by Boehme and the assistance of Vaughan in his experiments.[11] In his Observations, More lampoons Vaughan for his Rosicrucian sympathies and for his claim to have reduced Aristotle to ‘groundlesse superstition’, and he offers a sustained critique of Vaughan’s understanding of the soul.[12] At the same time, he imitates Vaughan by using a similar pseudonym,[13] and his volume claims to have been printed at ‘Parrhesia’ (‘Free-speech’), a term which should be associated with More’s ethical principles rather than with a specific location; the bookseller, however, is readily identifiable as Octavian Pullen of Paul’s Churchyard, London, a friend of the publisher and civil war book collector George Thomason. Vaughan responded to More’s Observations with The Man-mouse taken in a Trap (1650), which prompted More to write The Second Lash of Alazonomastix (1651), to which Vaughan replied in The Second Wash: Or The Moore scour’d once more (1651). Whereas More’s first attack was high on scurrility and invective, the Second Lash carried slightly more intellectual weight, both in its contents and patron. The title-page drops the allegorical ‘Parrhesia’ in favour of a University of Cambridge imprint, and the printing conventions, including the mis en page, are quite different.[14] The text itself contains a preface dedicated to the young virtuoso John Finch, More’s former student and the half-brother of Anne Conway, followed by a commendatory poem signed ‘Joannes Philomastix’,[15] and concluding with ‘An Index of the generall heads and more remarkable passages’ of the text.[16]

In 1656 Flesher and Morden republished More’s Observations and Second Lash in a single volume, prefaced by ‘A Short Discourse of the Nature, Causes, Kindes, and Cure of Enthusiasme’ written by ‘Philophilus Parresiastes’, and followed by ‘Mastix his letter to a private Friend concerning his Reply’.[17] The volume as a whole was titled Enthusiasmus triumphatus,[18] although strictly speaking this appellation only referred to the prefatory ‘Short Discourse’.[19] In the appended ‘letter to a private Friend’ Mastix states that the reprinting of these texts has taken place ‘through the importunity of our friend Parresiastes’, another of More’s aliases, who ‘would not let me be quiet till I had given him leave’. The identity of Mastix’s ‘private Friend’ is not revealed in the letter, but there are signs that More was invoking, if not necessarily addressing, a distinct group within his close acquaintance. The ‘Friend’ has recently moved a ‘tedious’ distance away, such that the post takes ‘three weeks or a moneth’; he has expressed a ‘good opinion’ of More’s Antidote against Atheism, and knows that More is the author of the Observations and Reply, although he does not consider them to be as effective a response to the problem of enthusiasm, and has provided a candid account of their faults; he is sufficiently interested in More’s writings to have received advanced knowledge of the republication of the Observations and Reply. Given that More’s literary patrons to this date had been the Finch-Conway circle, it seems likely that the letter is directed towards members of that group, such as John Finch, who read More’s work avidly and was at that time in Italy; nevertheless, it should be stressed that the ‘private Friend’ remains, in the last analysis, fictional, and is neither pseudonymous nor allegorical in a strict sense.

In the ‘letter’, Mastix explains that Parresiastes had threatened him that the Observations and Reply ‘might hereafter be republished whether I would or no’, and that Parresiastes had prefaced the commentaries on Vaughan with a treatise on enthusiasm. These statements are difficult to interpret, although Parresiastes does provide us with some further clues in the preface ‘To the Reader’. Despite its derivation from the fictional place of publication of the Observations, Parrhesia, the pseudonym ‘Parresiastes’ does not refer to Flesher or Morden, but is another alias of More himself, who is unquestionably the author of the ‘short Discourse’ on enthusiasm. Adopting a second pseudonym enables More to engage dialogically with his own arguments: Mastix, whose voice is usually the more strident, ironically criticises Parrhesiastes for being ‘something bold with some Authours’ in his essay on enthusiasm, but nevertheless praises him for his ‘sincere zeal … to the Truth’, and reiterates Parrhesiastes’ view that assent forms in the mind either by either ‘The guidance of Reason, or The Strength and vigour of Fancy’ (294). Conversely, in the preface ‘To the Reader’ at the start of the volume, Parrhesiastes describes Mastix as both ‘alive and not alive’, a man whose constitution has grown ‘unexpectedly and astonishingly grave or sower’ since writing the Antidote against Atheism (sig. A2r), and who is no longer provoked by the scurrility of Eugenius/Vaughan (sig. A3r). Both Mastix and Parrhesiastes agree that the Objections and Reply serve as an important defence against ‘vain Fantastry and Enthusiasme’, but they disagree about how that defence should be presented to the public. Parrhesiastes favours a single volume containing all Mastix’s treatises (including the Antidote against Atheism and the Conjectura), so that the writings against Eugenius will benefit from association with the others and ‘do more service’. Mastix, however, counters that the Observations and Reply will do a ‘disservice’ to the rest of his writings, which are ‘grave and serious’, thereby undermining their efficacy. Parrhesiastes is confident that Mastix’s writings will be sufficiently in demand after their author’s death that they will undoubtedly appear in a posthumous collected edition; in response, Mastix jokes that the only reason for presuming a future demand for his works is that ‘they are in so little [demand] now’. Mastix and Parrhesiastes then settle on a compromise: the Objections and Reply can be published together in one volume, but will remain separate (for now) from the rest of Mastix’s publications. Parrhesiastes then explains how he has revised the Objections and Reply: he has cast them into sections so that they can be compared to each other and has prefixed an argument to each section in order to make the text ‘ten times more plain and consequently more pleasant’ than before. These prefatory ‘arguments’ include summaries of the material from Eugenius/Vaughan to which Mastix/More has responded, so that the entire controversy is rendered intelligible. Parrhesiastes also informs his readers that the ‘Brief Discourse’ on enthusiasm, though it might seem to have cost him more effort, was easier than his editorial work, since he had ‘more easie and frequent accesse to Mastix’. This text then, while nominally ascribed to Parrhesiastes, nevertheless represents to a large extent the sentiments of Mastix, or (in other words) the ideas of More as expressed in the Observations, Reply, and Antidote against Atheism.

Over the next few decades, the ‘Short Discourse’ on enthusiasm turned out to be the most influential part of the volume: it was included in More’s Collection of philosophical writings of 1662 and retained its place when the Collection was re-edited in 1712; a Latin translation of the text was included in the second volume of More’s Opera philosophica (1679). More’s animadversions against Vaughan, by contrast, did not appear in any of the 1662, 1675-9, or 1712 volumes. When in 1661 Worthington described More’s essay on enthusiasm as ‘prudently observed’,[20] he made a typically incisive point about the difference between the ‘Short Essay’ and the animadversions: the essay was a serious work of moral theology, written in a rational and fairly temperate manner, and thus deserved to be read separately from the sarcastic frippery of the More-Vaughan controversy. The decision to print it separately in 1662 meant that More had to make small changes to the text of the ‘Short Discourse’ so that it could function on its own in the 1662 Collection. He achieved this by removing the ‘Preface to the Reader’ and rewriting the opening section. More also took the opportunity to add two new sections after section 58 on the enthusiast’s reputed willingness to suffer, even for mistaken doctrines.[21] By the time that the Collection was published in 1662, More’s criticisms no longer seemed to apply predominantly to Familists and Quakers, but could also be taken to refer to more moderate Puritans, who had either suffered on account of the Act for Confirming and Restoring Ministers (1660), or would soon lose their jobs under the Act of Uniformity (1662). As is testified by the hostile responses to the further expansion of More’s arguments on enthusiasm in his Mystery of Godliness (1660), this ambiguity over the true focus of More’s arguments got him into hot water, both with rigid Episcopalians such as Joseph Beaumont and with Protestant dissenters such as Richard Baxter.

Henry More, An Antidote against Atheism (1653; 2nd edition 1655; 3rd edition 1662)

More’s Antidote against Atheism was first published in 1653 by Roger Daniel, the former university printer who had been working in Paternoster Row, London since the Regicide. This was to be the last collaboration between More and Daniel; relations between the two certainly seem to have become strained by January of that year, when in a letter to Conway, More accused the printer of having ‘egregiously play’d the knave’, thereby delaying the delivery of presentation copies of the work.[22] The text, produced in octavo, contained a dedicatory epistle addressed ‘To the Honourable, the Lady Anne Conway’, a ‘Preface’, the main text in three books (containing 11, 12, and 13 chapters respectively), and a ‘Table of the Chapters’.[23] Conway’s own presentation copy was ‘something handsomelyer bound’ than that of her husband, and she wrote to More that she was ‘infinitely pleased with the subiect’ and with More’s ‘well managing’ of it, but she gently berated him for the unsuitability of the dedication, which she had been unable to read ‘without blushing’ on account of ‘not deserving that commendatione you would seeme to give me’.[24] Thomas Vaughan was also rumoured to have been among the text’s early readers: in February 1653 Conway wrote to More that ‘Eugenius Philalethes is writting some observations upon your last discourse’. Fortunately for the intellectual status of the Antidote against Atheism, Vaughan’s observations, if they ever existed, were never published, and the treatise is presented as a much more serious and substantial work than the somewhat glib and facetious animadversions of the More-Vaughan controversy. Furthermore, it was only the second publication to appear under More’s full name, the first being the Philosophicall Poems of 1647. Unlike More’s poetry, however, the first edition of the Antidote was printed with considerable economy: there is little white space, the margins are tight, and the typeface is small. In some ways, this was a simpler text to set than More’s earlier works: it contained very little Greek, very few long passages of italicisation, and only nine brief verse quotations. Although the text was to be one of More’s most widely-cited works,[25] readers did not necessarily encounter it in this first edition: there were further editions in 1655 and (as part of More’s Collection of Philosophical Writings) in 1662, both printed by James Flesher of London and sold by William Morden, a Cambridge bookseller.

The second edition of the Antidote against Atheism (1655)[26] was Flesher and More’s second collaboration, following the publication of the Conjectura Cabbalistica in 1653. The 1655 text of the Antidote was advertised on the title-page as ‘corrected and enlarged’,[27] although the front matter and the first two books remained largely unchanged as to their content. The title-page retained the same quotations from Hermes Trismegistus and Aristotle, the ‘Epistle Dedicatory’ and ‘Preface’ were not significantly altered, and books 1 and 2 differed only in accidentals from the first edition. Book 3 underwent more substantial revisions, including the omission of two paragraphs from chapter 5 (‘Examples of Bewitch’d Persons’: pp. 120/181), the addition of three new chapters after chapter 6 (pp. 127/190-227, discussing exorcisms, the shoemaker of Silesia, and the citizen of Pentsch/Pęcz), and the further omission of two pages from chapter 10 (pp. 128-30/229). Far more important was the addition of an ‘Appendix’ in 13 chapters, in which More attempted to answer objections against the text of the first edition (pp. 293-398), thereby increasing the length of the volume by approximately one third. Although the ‘Appendix’ became an integral part of the text, it is presented as a separate work with its own title page at the top of a new sheet (sig. X) after two blank pages, and it retained this status as a distinct treatise on the title page of the 1662 volume. More’s usual method of publication was to send his works to the printer in stages, so it is conceivable that he delivered the pre-existing three books to Flesher before he had completed the appendix, which was typeset later than the rest of the volume.[28]

More expanded and corrected his Antidote once again when he came to compile his Collection of Several Philosophical Writings (1662). The title page of the Collection labelled itself the ‘Second Edition’ of the author’s writings, but in the case of the Antidote, it was the third. For this third edition, More took the opportunity to rewrite several sections and add clarificatory remarks and paragraphs in-line. Rather than returning to the first edition of 1653, More worked from the expanded 1655 version, preserving the major changes to book 3 and including the 1655 ‘Appendix’. However, he also introduced other significant changes: he omitted the first twelve and a half paragraphs of the 1653/1655 ‘Preface’, added seven sections to book 2 chapter 2, and replaced the last two paragraphs of book 2 chapters 11 with eight new sections (#4 to #11). [29] In book 3 he added three more sections to chapter 2 (#7 to #9) and another two sections to chapter 16 (#12 and #13).[30] More had reason to be satisfied with his changes to the second book: on 31 December 1663 he wrote to Conway that he had recently acquired ‘a bird of Paradise of the most eminent kinde’ and was delighted with his present because he had ‘confirm’d by ocular demonstration what I conjectur’d to be true before, that they have feet … as you may see, book 2, ch. 11, sect. 11, 12.’[31]

More’s Antidote was widely commented on by his contemporaries. Robert Boyle, for example, picked up the challenges posed by More’s comments on the spirit of nature in his Continuation of New Experiments Physico-mechanical (1669); More’s objections against Boyle’s theories of air pressure were also answered by George Sinclair. Meanwhile, the Devon-based Nonconformist John Flavel cited the Antidote very approvingly on the issue of the wisdom of God’s providence, paraphrased More’s definition of spirit as an incorporeal, indivisible, invisible, and indiscerpible substance, and drew attention to More’s comments on the nourishment provided by one animal to another. The Quaker George Fox included More’s philosophical writings among many other testimonies on the nature of the soul, and Timothy Rogers cited More’s view that the soul was ‘as it were a compendious statue of the Deity’. More’s debt to Descartes was highlighted in an early English translation of the French philosophers Meditations (1680). There are detailed references to More’s text in John Ray’s The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691), while More’s comments on witchcraft and the spirit world were noted by William Drage in his Daimonomageia (1665), Robert Plot in The Natural History of Stafford-shire (1686), and William Turner, in his Compleat History of the most Remarkable Providence (1697).

Henry More, Conjectura Cabbalistica (1653; 2nd edition 1662)

The first collaboration between Henry More, the printer Thomas Flesher, and the bookseller William Morden, was on the production of More’s Conjectura Cabbalistica (1653).[32] Morden’s bookshop was to become an influential centre for the dissemination of scholarly works during the Protectorate and Restoration periods, including familiar titles such as Eustachius’ Ethica (1654), the writings of Porphyry (1655), and Ramus’ Dialecticæ (1672) alongside new and sometimes controversial writings, including William Spencer’s edition of Origen’s Kata Kelsou (1658), Meric Casaubon’s Letter … to Peter du Moulin (1669), and John Ray’s Appendix ad Catalogum plantarum (1663). Although it is quite conceivable that Morden also sold a range of Flesher’s books in Cambridge, there is little firm evidence of this. Their first shared imprint is on Christoph Scheiner’s Fundamentum opticum (1652), and they also worked together to print and sell Robert Billingsley’s Idea of Arithmetick (1655), William Godman’s Filius heroum (1660), Victorinus Bythner’s Lyra prophetica (1664), and John Templer’s Idea theologiæ Leviathanis (1673); more tellingly, they produced editions of Gassendi’s Institutio astronomica (1653 and 1675), perhaps largely for the use of university students in Cambridge, as well as John Smith’s Select Discourses (1660) and Epictetus’ Enchiridion (1670).[33] All their other shared imprints were works by More, including almost all his major publications between the end of 1653 and 1669; shortly after that point Flesher’s business passed to ‘E. Flesher’, who printed More’s Enchiridion metaphysicum (1671), after which the More-Flesher-Morden collaboration ended.

More’s Conjectura is a threefold interpretation of the first three chapters of Genesis according to his still-developing understanding of the ‘literal’, ‘philosophick’, and ‘moral’ Cabbala. In a letter to Conway, More suggested that his researches had been prompted by her desire to find ‘an Allegory of Adam and Eve’, and that he could not set about ‘any thing but this’, which would ‘take me up some consyderable time to accomplish’.[34] After finishing the text, he wrote to Conway again, stating his belief that the literal interpretation of the creation story had ‘furder’d Atheism’ and encouraged profane persons to believe that the whole of religion was ‘an obvious fable’. At this stage More was not certain that he wanted to publish his text, and he was not optimistic about its chances of success: ‘Atheism it self will seem more tolerable to the ignorant imperious priests then this Remedy against it’.[35] Nevertheless, he sent manuscript copies of various portions of the text to Conway on at least two separate occasions in 1653. As late as August 1653 he still declared himself ‘not yet fully resolved to try the judgement of the World’, although his method of argument suggests that he was already intending a wider audience than the immediate Conway circle: ‘I do what I can in my Defense … to lessen the odium of these inventions by alledgeing the Authority of Auncient Philosophers and Fathers’. More had come to feel that these extra references, and the digressions (‘not so speculative as practical’) had made the text longer than it should have been, but he nevertheless submitted the text for publication with an extra preface, and it appeared in print before the end of the year.[36] This published text conceals the work’s origin in the joint metaphysical speculations of More and Conway, and is instead dedicated to Cudworth, whose own Cabbalistic speculations appear in chapter 4 of the True Intellectual System (1678).

More’s changes to the Cabbalistica Conjectura for inclusion in his Collection of Several Philosophical Writings (1662) seem designed to clarify existing arguments and to bring the text closer in subject and topic to the other writings in the volume. In his account of the ‘Philosophick Cabbala’, for example, More added a sentence to chapter 1 section 9, identifying the location of ‘that Æther or Heaven’ in relation to the ‘fluid Air’, earth, and water; he also added a parenthetical comment to section 14 implying that there might be planets ‘through the whole Heavens allotted to the Suns’.[37] More made a fairly substantial change to the ‘Introduction to the Defence of the Threefold Cabbala’, adding a lengthy section about scriptural evidence that the world extended ‘no higher then the Clouds, or thereabout’.[38] To his ‘Defence of the Literal Cabbala’ he added an extra sentence analysing the Septuagint reading of Genesis 2.6 as ‘A mighty Torrent of Water’, and he changed the concluding remarks to chapter 3 of his ‘Defence of the Moral Cabbala’ to include an account of biblical prophecies in Daniel and Revelation.[39] More made the most extensive alterations to his ‘Defence of the Philosophick Cabbala’. These changes included adding references to Synesius, Demetrius and Virgil on the issue of water above the material heavens (chapter 1 verse 6); adding a comment on the triple movement of the Earth (chapter 1 verse 13); and adding a citation from Origen with a translation and commentary on Adam and Eve being cast out of Paradise.[40] More took the final four pages of his 1653 account of the ‘Philosophick Cabbala’ and expanded them into a 50-page ‘Appendix to the Defence of the Philosophick Cabbala’; it was here that he introduced the extended treatment of numerology which Worthington had mentioned to Hartlib in 1661. Taken together, these additions suggest that More was developing his earlier surmises about the Cabbala in relation to his understanding of Platonist and Neoplatonist ideas.

The Conjectura was the first of several texts that More completed on Cabbalistic topics: following discussions with Anne Conway, Francis Mercurius van Helmont and Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, More contributed several explanatory treatises to Knorr’s edition of the Zohar in his Kabbalistica denudata (1678-9). Conway was persistent in encouraging More to develop his writings on the Cabbala: in August 1663 she asked him to ‘recall to mind againe those thoughts you had for the carrying on of your Cabbala’ as soon as he had refreshed the ‘spiritts spent in your hard study’ to complete his recently-published Collection (1662); she suggested that a continuation of the Conjectura through the remaining chapters of Genesis would be a ‘noble designe’ which would be a great ‘discovery’ to the world.[41] More was reluctant to pursue his cabbalistic studies in that direction: he felt that there was no ‘possibility of undertaking it, my thoughts being charg’d with designes, of more generall use’, although he later worried that his outright rejection of Conway’s suggestion had offended her.[42] Meanwhile, one of the bishops who had read the book wrote to More in 1663 of the desirability of enlarging his defence of the moral Cabbala, another suggestion which More politely rejected. An enthusiastic early reader was Joseph Glanvill, who described More as ‘the great Restorer of the antient Cabbala’ and cited More’s ‘symbolical’ readings of Genesis in his own Lux orientalis (1662). Indeed, More’s Cabbalistic writings, though controversial within the scholarly community of his own day,[43] led to some enthusiastic readers: in 1671 More recalled being accosted by a stranger at a banquet, who ‘came thither on purpose to wayt on me’: ‘The bottome of all this’, More perceived, was that ‘he is much pleas’d with my Cabbala, and says it is bothe a plaine and profound peece, which showes he is no fool’.[44]

Henry More, The Immortality of the Soul (1659)

In April 1658 More wrote to Conway that the ‘present world is so full of vexations and disturbances, that I am up to the hard eares in computing the certainty of that which is to come’. The product of these computations was More’s treatise The Immortality of the Soul (1659),[45] a work whose compositional method was that of ‘severely demonstrating to my selfe in dry prose that the soul of man is immortall and that there are enjoyments attainable after this earth.’[46] Flesher had finished printing the treatise before the end of March 1659, by which point More had hastily ordered copies to be bound for his immediate circle, although he was not entirely happy with the results of the binding.[47] In the epistle dedicatory to Edward Conway (Anne Conway’s husband) More sought to distinguish his treatise from those which were ‘meer Transcriptions or Collections out of other Authors’, reminding Conway that it was the ‘genuine result of my own anxious and thoughtful mind’ (sigs. A3r-v). More claimed that he had first garnered his thoughts on the subject while reading Descartes’ treatise on the passions with Edward Conway in a garden in Luxemburg and had developed the ‘choicest Theories’ for the work in the ‘hidden solitude’ of Ragley estate and its accompanying walks, hills, and woods (sigs. A4r-v).[48]

Book 1 of the text adopts a geometrical method of demonstration,[49] involving a series of nineteen axioms about the nature and operation of human faculties and the metaphysical properties of matter and spirit; these axioms, some of which represent a clarification or development of ideas in More’s Antidote against Atheism, are explored in the subsequent discussion, which also answers possible objections from the Hobbesian materialists. Book 2 examines a further seven axioms referring to the relationship between motion and perception, and book three adds another ten axioms outlining the nature of the threefold (ethereal, aerial, and terrestrial) vital congruity between the soul and matter. While the discussion of axioms in philosophical and legal writings was widespread in seventeenth-century England, the use of them as a visual as well as intellectual structural device was surprisingly rare. More would have encountered and used similar methods during his university teaching, but he might have been further encouraged by a perusal of Kenelm Digby’s Two Treatises on the nature of bodies and souls (1644), which provided a critique of several axioms on the topic.

More’s Immortality was well received by his immediate circle. Three copies of the text were sent to Samuel Hartlib to distribute, and on 20 April 1659 Hartlib wrote to More’s friend John Worthington, asking him to return ‘hearty thanks’ to ‘that great ornament of your Univ[ersity]. learned Mr. More’, for his ‘accurate comment made upon the immortality of the soul’.[50] Hartlib also used the treatise to increase More’s reputation abroad: he wrote to Worthington, 5 May 1659, with some ‘lines here adjoined from Paris’ which demonstrated how he had ‘begun to spread the fame of the Tr[eatise] concerning the Immortality of the Soul’. By this date, some of Hartlib’s friends had already begun ‘to make their observations’ on the text, and if these critiques proved to be substantial, Hartlib promised to ‘transmit them to yours or the author’s hands’.[51] On 26 June 1659 Hartlib informed Worthington of a Mr Beale who had written ‘several letters’ expressing his gratitude for being presented with a copy of More’s Immortality, and who was ‘devising an answer’ for Worthington to peruse. Meanwhile, Hartlib’s ‘other friend’ who had begun to write some observations, ‘if not animadversions’ on More’s text was still ‘very shy to impart them’ until More had finished his next book, described by Hartlib as his ‘Mystery of Christian Religion’. Both Hartlib and the anonymous animadverter appear to have held the opinion that More’s Immortality of the Soul and projected Mystery of Godliness would benefit from being ‘compared together’, in order to ‘give a mutual light to many passages, wch seem now obscure & very paradoxal.’ In another letter, Hartlib provided Worthington with news of ‘a very acute and rational Discourse in writing concerning the notion of Death and Long Life (wch I believe is extant but in few books, if in any at all)’; Hartlib had promised not to divulge the details of the volume, but had ‘a mighty desire, that worthy Mr. More might be acquainted with it’. Hartlib had provided the author with a copy of More’s ‘book of the Immortality, &c.’ in the hope that the unnamed author would ‘give me leave to present a copy of [the treatise] to that sublime and penetrating spirit [Henry More]’.[52] From a later letter from Hartlib to Worthington (20 July 1659), it appears that the animadverter was probably ‘Mr. Pell’, a man who had ‘a most earnest longing desire to discourse’ with More; when the two finally met at More’s lodgings in London in July 1659, the two philosophers ‘spent a good deal of time between them to their mutual satisfaction’, and Pell may have taken advantage of the opportunity to deliver ‘some of his observations or animadversion[s?] by word of mouth, concerning death & long life.’ This text by Pell may have had the working title the ‘Singular Notion’, but whether it ever developed further than being ‘a MS. discourse of 2 or 3 sheets’ is unknown.[53] By October 1660, as a consequence of More’s Antidote, Immortality of the Soul, and his soon-to-be-published correspondence with Descartes, Hartlib was able to write to Worthington that he agreed, ‘without partiality’, that ‘there is none in transmarine parts, of the Cartesian philosophy, and of other philosophical excellencies, that may be compared with Dr. More, & some other English philosophers.’[54]

For the 1662 edition of the Immortality of the Soul, printed as the third part of his Collection of Philosophical Writings, More added an extra page to the ‘Preface’, providing further arguments for the individuation of human souls, for the spirit of nature, and against the concept of the universal spirit of the world. [55] In book 1 he added an extra section providing a critique of the idea of ‘divine matter’.[56] He made several small changes to book 2, including rewriting the sections after axiom 24 to remove a confusing comparison between parvitude and the properties of the human eye; adding a concluding sentence to chapter 8 explaining the connection of the animal spirits to the brain; clarifying his distinction between the soul and the brain in chapter 10 section 8; and extending his critique of Cardano’s interpretation of Icelandic apparitions in chapter 16 section 3.[57] In book 3, as well as making a small addition to chapter 16 section 7 on the false hypothesis of the soul of the world, he made a major addition of several pages to the end of chapter 13, distinguishing between animal instinct and acquired art and relating both concepts to the spirit of nature.[58]

More’s Immortality of the Soul was viewed by his contemporaries as one of his most important philosophical works. His demonstrations of the notion and nature of spiritual beings were cited by the Nonconformist philosopher John Howe in The Living Temple (1675), and his critique of Stoic materialism was cited approvingly by John Ray in his Miscellaneous Discourses (1692). While some, such as Henry Layton, chose to point out the weaknesses in More’s arguments (A Search after Souls, 1700), others, such as Manasseh ben Israel (De termino vitae) were appreciative of More’s confutations of Hobbes’s ‘sophistical principles’. Among the more controversial aspects of More’s text was his defence of pre-existence, which was criticised by ‘E. W.’ in 1667 (No Praeexistence); by contrast, there was some support for More’s argument that motion did not belong of necessity to matter (see M. S., A Philosophical Discourse (1695)). A final strand of citations came from those with an interest in apparitions: Nathaniel Wanley referred readers to More’s story of the monster at St Lawrence (The Wonders of the Little World (1673)), while ‘R. B.’ (Wonderful Prodigies (1682)) and others cited the story of the two gentlemen of Megara (see, for example, The Tryal and Condemnation of Capt. Thomas Vaughan (1697)); this Vaughan bears no relation to the alchemist). Perhaps most impressively, parts of the text were translated into Latin considerably before More published his own Latin version in his Opera philosophica of 1679: in November 1673 More wrote to Conway that ‘P. his Epitome of my Immortality, etc. is in Mr Standish his hands.’ According to More, ‘P.’ (who is usually understood to be ‘Peganius’, a pen-name of Christian Knorr von Rosenroth) had made ‘mistakes here and there by reason of his not being perfect master of the English tong’, but it provided a useful example of the potential market for a Latin edition of his writings.[59]

Henry More, An Explanation of the Grand Mystery of Godliness (1660)[60]

More’s Explanation of the Grand Mystery of Godliness (1660)[61] is one of the most underexplored of his major writings, despite the large number of responses – not always positive – to the work in More’s own lifetime. One of the earliest references to the composition of the text appears in a letter from Hartlib to Worthington, 5 May 1659, in which Hartlib expresses his confidence that ‘Mr. More’s Discourse of the Mystery of Christian Religion will no doubt be another transcendant piece.’[62] Around the same time, Hartlib mentioned the work to an unidentified ‘Mr Pell’, perhaps in an attempt to reassure Pell that the new text would shed some light on some difficult passages in More’s Immortality of the Soul (1659). Hartlib remained enthusiastic in anticipation of the text, writing to Worthington again on 30 January in expectation that More’s ‘elaborate piece’ would ‘no doubt be a universal blessing to all the world’.[63]

One of the most intriguing and potentially problematic aspects of the text for More’s early readers was his idiosyncratic sources. Alongside the generally positive references – not always rendered explicit – to classical authors, Neoplatonic philosophers, and Cabbalistic writers, More included extended critiques of obscure Familist works from the circle of David George and Henry Niklaes. Even Hartlib was soon to vent his frustration at being unable to acquire the ‘Vita Davidis Georgii’ and was reliant upon Worthington to provide him with the book’s full title. Similarly, Hartlib promised Worthington to ‘make my best enquiry after H. N. tho’ it will be very difficult to get a plain impartial account, & a true character of him.’[64] Other portions of the book which caused considerable discussion in More’s own day were the passages on astrology. Here again, Hartlib was eager for more information: having been given a precis of the text by Worthington, he noted that Worthington had ‘mention[ed] nothing of those Astrological principles wch Mr. More hath undertaken to examine, whether he approve or disallow of them.’ Such astrological discussions were not reserved to Cabbalists and mystics but were part of the mainstream of scientific discourse: Hartlib himself recalled sending to Hartlib a ‘witty Astrological Discourse’, and wished to know More’s opinion on the astrological works of the ‘learned Bulliadus’ (Ismaël Boulliau).[65]

The exact chronology of the text’s composition is unclear, but it is known that the main body of the text was completed before the preface. In an undated letter to Anne Conway (tentatively dated March or April 1660 by Nicolson although this may not be correct), More wrote that he intended to compose the preface ‘leasurely’, an interesting comment given the controversy which later emerged over his summaries of Platonic doctrine and Latitudinarian church government in this opening section. Before writing the preface, More sent ‘above a third part’ of his book to the press, but the printing process was delayed on account of ‘a do about the choice of the paper’, which meant that the printers had ‘scarce done one sheet’; one possibility is that this ‘do’ was about the decision to print the book in an unusual sixmo format. [66] More clearly felt that the book was not being printed as quickly as expected, because on 14 May 1660 he wrote to Conway to complain that the printer had ‘not been so good as his word’. The printer, Fletcher, now agreed to send More six sheets a week, and informed him that the work as a whole would ‘not be much above an hundred’ sheets in length.’[67] We can infer that More later reported to Worthington that the new arrangement was proving more productive, since Hartlib also wrote to Worthington on 4 June to express his gladness that the press was ‘making so good a progress in the desireable Mr. More’s Work.’[68] However, production may soon have slowed again, because it was not until 25 October that Worthington could report to Hartlib that More’s book would be ‘all finisht’ and dispatched to Cambridge within a week.[69] Hartlib’s reply, that it was ‘most welcome’ that the academic world would ‘need not now to exercise a long patience’, conceals a polite rebuke at the delay, framed by his usual enthusiastic anticipation about ‘the excellent gentleman’s so much desirable book’.[70] Nevertheless, the text took several more weeks before it was finally printed and disseminated: Worthington reported on 29 November that the new book was ‘now extant’, and that Hartlib and ‘some others’ would see it e’re long’.[71]

From the moment it started to circulate, readers perceived More’s Mystery of Godliness to be a strikingly original text. Worthington, who played such a pivotal role in the dissemination of More’s works, was quick to describe it as ‘such a book, as the like in that kind hath not yet appear’d in the world’. From the outset, the text was seen as a contribution to topical events and debates: Worthington immediately suggested that More’s comments about ‘church matters’ in the preface and particularly the final chapters were ‘of the same moderation with several passages in the king’s declaration [of Breda]’, which had been interpreted by many ecclesiastics as an olive branch to moderate puritans hoping to retain their positions within the Church of England after Charles’s return. Worthington found such similarities between the stated positions of Charles Stuart (the future Charles II) and Henry More that he expected some readers to think that More had ‘transcribed part of the declaration’. Worthington’s prediction has turned out to be true not only in his own time, but ever since: today’s scholars would do well to bear in mind Worthington’s further comment that ‘what [More] wrote in that kind was written many months before’.[72]

Nevertheless, it was against this political background that a plan emerged to send a copy of the text to Charles himself. This plan does not seem to have originated with More, who, according to Worthington, had ‘no design of ambition or advantage to himself’ in relation to the volume.[73] However, in 1661 Hartlib expressed the opinion that the new King would ‘highly approve’ of the volume, and promised to ask More ‘whether his Book be presented to his Majesty’; if this had not yet been done, he could think of ‘[n]o fitter person’ than Lord Conway for the task.[74] In May of that year, Worthington confirmed that the book had not been presented to the King, despite rumours to the contrary from some of More’s friends. There was, it seems, a view that the book contained ‘matters of the worthiest importance’, treated in an ‘unvulgar way’, and ‘fit to have been presented by some great men’ for ‘their own and the public good’.[75] On 28 May Hartlib wrote to Worthington that he ‘passionately’ wished the King were acquainted with More’s book, but after that there is no further mention of the plan in their correspondence.[76] By this time the political situation had changed dramatically since the Declaration of Breda, as parts of the Restoration religious settlement had been implemented, including the Act for Confirmation and Restoration of Ministers (1660); after the Act of Uniformity (1662) it seems unlikely that Charles’s administration would have actively promoted a work which appeared to recommend a broader and more inclusive church settlement.

From the start, More’s work was plagued by his apparent lack of clarity about key tenets of faith, Christology, and church government. By the end of 1659, before the book had even been published, there had already been considerable conversation and epistolary exchange about the book’s contents. Interlocutors in possession of manuscript, partially printed, or fully published copies (the book circulated in all three states) were quick to highlight aspects of the text which they found problematic. Worthington’s advice to one such dissatisfied person (probably William Brereton) was for him to ‘speak with Dr. More’ directly, (a rather impractical suggestion for many readers of the book). Worthington was clearly worried that readers who perused the text superficially might be alienated by its unfamiliar arguments and its unconventional structure: More’s texts, he urged his correspondents, were ‘best at the second reading’; they needed to be ‘consider’d most closely’; they often had a hidden structure, such that ‘one part of the book does illustrate another’. As an example, Worthington pointed to book 1 chapters 4 and 5 (on the Platonic Trinity), which were ‘further cleared’ by book 9 chapters 1 and 2 (on the reasonableness of the Christian Trinity and the correct interpretation of Athanasius), and book 10 chapter 6 (on the falseness of anti-Trinitarianism). The necessity of reading these passages together was also recognised by Ralph Cudworth, who drew on many of these ideas in his passage on the Platonic Christian in chapter four of his True Intellectual System (1678).

Although the publication of the Mystery of Godliness led to renewed calls for More to translate his works into Latin, writing in English was not always a barrier to dissemination within the international republic of letters. As Worthington realised, there were ‘divers beyond sea (some professors) who understand English, and make use of that skill’. It was thus paramount for Worthington, in his role as More’s agent and apologist, to encourage figures such as Hartlib to disseminate More’s work abroad through international networks; as he expressed it, those with a good grasp of English would find an important ‘treasury and magazine of better knowledge’ in More’s latest work. This dissemination had an evangelical dimension which mirrored some of More’s own claims in Book 10 of the text: according to Worthington, More’s works could help to free the Christian religion from all the ‘unworthy dogmata’ that had ‘clogg’d and encumber’d’ it, enabling the ‘beauty, healthfulness, and vigour’ of Christianity to be discovered more easily, making that religion ‘fitted for better entertainment in the world, and a quicker passage through the nations of the earth.’[77]

One potential reader whom More and Worthington were eager to influence was the philosopher Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, daughter of Frederick V and Elizabeth Stuart. Like More, Elisabeth was a correspondent of Descartes, and she also exchanged letters with van Schurmann, Malebranche, Leibniz, Robert Barclay and William Penn. Offering Elisabeth a copy of the book was seen as a way of increasing its philosophical profile, and its political influence among the intermarrying royal families of Europe. In the event, however, it proved more difficult than expected to present Elisabeth with More’s latest work. In early 1661 there was a rumour that Elisabeth had landed in England along with her mother, now the Queen of Bohemia, and that she (Elisabeth) was planning to marry Lord Craven. These circumstances caused Worthington to report that More had ‘a great esteem for high from the high testimony of Des-Cartes and others’ and would doubtless ‘think it fit to present her with his late Volume, and his former Discourses’. Worthington was confident that a person of her ‘perfections’ would ‘soon discover the worth and usefulness of is late volume’, which was ‘not unmeet for the royal observation’.[78] When it transpired that the Queen of Bohemia was travelling in England without her daughter (who had recently entered the Lutheran convent at Herford, Westphalia), Hartlib punningly expressed a wish that Elisabeth were in England, ‘that she might marry Dr. More’s Cartesian Notions, wch would beget a noble offspring of many excellent and fruitful truths.’[79]

Hartlib’s excitement in anticipation of More’s book extended to fulsome praise after its publication: writing to Worthington on 17 December 1660 he described it as an ‘incomparable piece’ which More had written both with ‘his hand and his heart’, and that he ‘long[ed] extreamly to speak with him, to give him all due acknowledgem[en]t’;[80] three days later (20 December) Hartlib wrote again to Worthington, stating that ‘the whole book’ had already been read by his friends Brereton and ‘Mr. Pell’.[81] On 26 February 1661 Hartlib wrote gushingly that he had ‘often occasion to mention [More’s] elaborate book in Fol.’ and that he was still hoping to speak with its author if and when he came to London.[82] On 23 April Hartlib described the book as ‘exceeding gustful … to my palate’, and in June he was delighted to receive a visit from More, although his ‘freedom in discoursing’ with More was somewhat hampered by Brereton’s presence at the same time.[83]

Meanwhile, Worthington continued his own promotional activities on More’s behalf. After reading Hobbes in March 1661, Worthington remarked to Hartlib that he wished Hobbes ‘would consider well Dr. More’s last book’, since ‘men of that leaven have but mean thoughts of Christianity, if indeed any at all’.[84] On 19 April Worthington recounted the recent publication of Joseph Glanvill’s Vanity of Dogmatizing (1661) with the remark that Glanvill was ‘a great valuer of Des-Cartes and Dr. More, whom he often mentions in his book; having been a great reader of his books’.[85] Across October and November 1661 More seems to have involved Conway’s assistance to get a copy of the book to bishop Jeremy Taylor in Ireland.[86] More also encouraged Conway herself to read the book closely: in February 1664, when concerned for her health, he reminded her that Christians ‘want no other pattern to imitate then the Lord Jesus Christ’, who offered a model of resignation, humility, piety, and charity; the method for attaining this ‘due accomplishment of minde’, he suggested to her, could be found in his Mystery of Godliness, book 9 chapters 10-12.[87] Another close reader of the book was Cudworth, who noted to Worthington in 1665 that More had ‘written a great deal of morality in most of his books, especially Mystery of Godliness and Cabbala’, and that he ‘intend[ed] to take notice’ of several things in them. Slightly later, 14 July 1671, More heard an anecdote concerning Conway’s Quaker acquaintance George Keith: a ‘sober person’ had told him that ‘the reading of my Mystery of Godlinesse first turned [Keith] into a Quaker’. Far from being surprised, More reported to Conway that he had always ‘had a suspicion that [Keith] had read that book’, but that Keith ‘did not drinke deepe enough of what was there offered to him’, and had instead ‘soile[d] the good he thence received’ by ‘such evill apostasy from the Church way and order’.[88]

Henry More, A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings (1662)

In early 1661 More informed Worthington that he had been desired ‘to reprint his former discourses, viz, of Atheism, of Enthusiasm, of the Immortality of the soul, and Conjectura Cabbalistica on Genesis ch. 1, 2, 3’, and to ‘put them all into one folio’. Morden, More’s bookseller, was ‘urgent with him about it’, and was also insisting that ‘the poems may not be omitted.’[89] This new edition of More’s works, which in the event did not include his poetry or his animadversions against Vaughan, was to appear the following year as A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings (1662). It was a project which was heartily approved by Worthington and his friends: on 14 May Hartlib wrote that More’s intention to republish his ‘several Treatises’ in a single volume was an ‘excellent endeavour’[90]. There were many reasons why such a volume seemed desirable to More and his circle. Firstly, there was always a danger that an author’s shorter texts would be overlooked and that copies would be lost, even when, as Worthington expressed it, these ‘smaller treatises … oftentimes are as good as ye greater volumes, or better’.[91] Producing a volume in which More’s ‘Essay on Enthusiasm’ could be printed alongside his letters to Descartes, his Antidote against Atheism, Immortality of the Soul, and Cabbalistica conjectura ensured that all five of these texts would remain accessible; the fact that both the Collection and the recently-published Grand Mystery of Godliness were published in 6mo format meant that they could sit side-by-side on a bookshelf as the ‘authorised version’ of More’s major works to that date.

A second reason for producing a new edition of More’s shorter works was that it gave him the opportunity to make minor corrections, to revise problematic passages, to supplement weak or controversial sections with new arguments, and even to write a whole new text. On 22 August Worthington reported to Hartlib that More was, indeed, ‘revising’ his philosophical treatises, and was hoping that his English publishers would be able to improve upon Clerselier’s recent Paris edition of his epistolary exchange with Descartes, in which he had discovered ‘above an hundred faults’. As well as correcting previous editions, More decided to include a new text, ‘[s]omething concerning Cartesius … besides his Epistles to him’;[92] this is the work published in the Collection as the ‘Epistola Mori ad V. C.’ He also made significant alterations to the texts of the Antidote (including adding an appendix) and the Conjectura (on the mystery of numbers). These changes cost More considerable time and effort: writing to Conway on 14 September 1661, he explained that the labour-intensive business of revision meant that he had ‘no designe of studye for the present’, having lately perused all his philosophical writings. Nevertheless, to his evident relief, More also reported that this process of having ‘consyder’d’ his works had not caused him to reject his earlier ideas; on the contrary, he was ‘the more assured’ of his ‘main conclusions’. In the same letter, More also had some hard words for his critics: ‘those that will be ignorant, if they find so great felicity in it, lett them be so.’[93]

More’s preparation of a volume of his collected works inevitably led to comparison with other authors. One of these was More’s friend and close collaborator Cudworth, who had by this time compiled a sizeable corpus of manuscript texts, including academic lectures, scriptural exegeses, and philosophical writings on freewill, but had not published anything substantial since his Sermon to the … House of Commons in 1647. Worthington’s comment in October 1661 that More’s volume was going on ‘apace’ at the press prompted Hartlib to remark on 2 November that he ‘wish[ed] you could write the like of Dr Cudworth’.[94] Print publication was not the only measure of intellectual worth for a seventeenth-century audience – both Worthington and Hartlib respected Cudworth despite his lack of publications – but they were clearly hoping that he would produce something more in print before too much longer. In contrast to Cudworth, Robert Boyle had published eight treatises between 1659 and 1661. On 26 August 1661 Hartlib noted that ‘[i]f the noble Mr. Boyl shall go on as he hath begun, it will be time that he publish all his Philos. Tr. together, as your write Dr. More intends to do.’[95] Hartlib’s comparison between More and Boyle was a significant early recognition of their commonality: despite being very different writers with different objectives, both wrote treatises which could be considered contributions to the theory of natural philosophy and natural theology, both would soon have connections to the Royal Society, and they were later to exchange letters over the meaning of Boyle’s experiments.[96]

By 26 October Worthington was able to report to Hartlib that More’s book was ‘[going] on apace at the press’, and on 9 January 1662 he noted that the volume was beginning ‘to draw towards a conclusion’. More had recently been working on his additions to the Conjectura Cabbalistica, including a new section on ‘the mystery of numbers’ describing the ideas of Pythagoras and his followers, who had sought ‘to intimate the profoundest truths, and under that veil to secure them from the unworthy and unprepared’; as Worthington understood it, this passage would explain how the Pythagoreans conveyed these truths ‘agreeably to the custom of the wise men in the first ages of philosophy.’[97] The new section was titled by More ‘An Appendix to the Defence of the Philosophick Cabbala’; he modelled the first chapter (pp. 99-104) closely on material from the first edition, but the remainder (pp. 104-51) was new material, and internal evidence suggests that much of it was written after More had composed his ‘Epistle to V. C.’[98]

Although More had been hopeful that the volume would be finished at the printer’s by the end of January 1662, it soon emerged that ‘other occasions’ were hindering the press from ‘making that dispatch which was expected’, meaning that the book was still not complete at the end of February.[99] This situation was particularly disappointing for Hartlib, who was now extremely ill (he died on 10 March 1662, probably without having seen the published work).[100] More hinted at the effort required to see the text through the press in a letter to Anne Conway, dated 15 March, in which he reiterated his apology that he had been ‘exceeding buisy this great while’ on account of preparing for his bookseller ‘my Antidote with the Appendix, my Enthusiasmus Triumphatus, all my letters to Des Cartes with that to [V. C.], my Treatise of the Immortality of the Soule, and my Conjectura Cabbalistica’.[101] Although Conway and her husband eventually received separate copies of the book, More was not able to deliver them until July, using Sir Edward Dering as an intermediary; while More must have been hopeful of a positive response to the book from Anne, he suspected that Lord Conway would ‘find little time to peruse any of it’. In the event, Conway was unusually tardy in thanking More for her copy: More’s letter to her on 5 August gently repeated the details of his gift and again named Sir Edward Dering as the gift-bearer.[102] In response, Conway thanked More for his ‘noble present’ in her letter of 23 August, but declared herself so ‘wholly taken up with those ceremonys and troubles’ that had attended her recent (temporary) move to Ireland that she had ‘not yett had the leisure to peruse’ the added passages in the new text, and explained that this had been her ‘first opportunity’ to return her thanks to him.[103]

Another copy of the Collection went to Anne’s brother John Finch, whom More had recently met several times in London; Finch apparently promised more to ‘read it over very consyderately at Florence’, and appeared to be less ‘confident of contrary conceptions’ than in the past.[104] Unfortunately, Finch was a notoriously erratic correspondent: on 29 August More reminded Anne Conway that Finch had ‘promissed me frequently letters from Italy’, including ‘philosophicall ones’, but that he did not expect to receive them, since Finch was ‘the best company that can be present, but the least when he is absent.’[105] Earlier in the year More had also sent a copy of the book to Finch’s close friend Thomas Baines; Baines had ‘solicited his invention to try all tricks possible to evade the force of my reasonings’, but More did not find his objections successful. Another individual to whom More gave a copy of his Collection appears in the correspondence as ‘Mr Solicitor’ or ‘Sir John’; this individual, More states, ‘was resolv’d to read it over’, and certainly had a ‘fitt Genius’ for understanding it, as More had discovered during ‘that little converse I had with him’. This potential reader caused More to reflect humorously that lawyers could make good dialecticians: after all, ‘Tully was an excellent Philosopher, as well as a famous Advocate and Oratour.’[106]

When the text was finally published in 1662, it was described on the title page as ‘The second Edition more correct and much enlarged’, a statement which requires some explanation. The volume was certainly More’s longest publication to date, printed on 70 sheets of paper[107] with continuous foliation but several sets of pagination, arranged as follows: the title page and ‘Preface General’ (i-xxviii), the Antidote and its Appendix (sigs. A1r-A4v, 1.1-190, sigs. R3r-S2v), the discourse on Enthusiasm with the More-Descartes correspondence and the Epistola ad V. C. (sigs. S3r-v, 2.1-134), the Immortality of the Soul (sigs. Ff5r-Gg1v, 3.1-234, sigs. Ccc5r-Ddd4v), and the Conjectura Cabbalistica followed an ‘Alphabetical INDEX of the whole [Collection]’ (sigs. Ddd5r-Eee1v, 4.1-184, sigs. Vvv4r-Xxx6v). Of these texts, the ‘Preface General’, the Appendix to the Antidote, the ‘Epistola ad V. C.’ and the ‘Appendix to the Defence of the Philosophick Cabbala’ were all published for the first time, whereas the Epistolæ quatuor ad Renatum Des-Cartes had previously appeared only in manuscript copies and in Clerselier’s Paris edition. In these senses, the text was certainly ‘much enlarged’ from earlier versions: More’s Antidote now had a new appendix, the letters to Descartes were supplemented with an epistle to ‘V. C.’, and there was a new section to the Conjectura. However, Morden was (not unusually for an early-modern bookseller) using the phrase ‘second Edition’ somewhat loosely: not only were there newly published texts in the volume, but the Antidote itself had been through two previous editions, making this the third. Furthermore, since the Collection was designed to emphasise his contribution to philosophical knowledge over his engagement in philosophical controversy, More’s early Animadversions were omitted from the volume, meaning that there was no ‘Second Edition’ of these texts. The decision made in 1662 to call the Collection the ‘Second Edition’ has led to bibliographical confusion ever since. The editors of a new version of the Collection in 1712, for example, seem to have assumed the following taxonomy: the quartos and octavos of the 1650s provide the ‘first editions’ of More’s works; the 1662 Collection is the ‘second edition’; the Latin Opera philosophica (2 vols., 1679) provides a ‘third edition’ (never stated as such in the text); and the 1712 Collection describes itself as the ‘Fourth Edition’. While it is often pragmatic for scholars to adopt this taxonomy, it should be remembered that it does not accurately reflect the complicated print history of More’s works, especially when it comes to disentangling the genesis of the 1662 edition (predominantly English) and the 1679 texts (translated into Latin).

The early-modern sense of ‘more correct and much enlarged’ differed from twenty-first century usage, in that both phrases could refer to substantive changes made to the texts. As well as the major additions noted above, More took the opportunity to rewrite several sections and add clarificatory remarks and paragraphs in-line. We can see this process at work in his revisions to the Antidote against Atheism. Rather than returning to the first edition of 1653, More worked from the expanded 1655 version, preserving the major changes to book 3 and including the 1655 ‘Appendix’. However, he also introduced other significant changes: he omitted the first twelve and a half paragraphs of the 1653/1655 ‘Preface’, added seven sections to book 2 chapter 2, and replaced the last two paragraphs of book 2 chapters 11 with eight new sections (#4 to #11).[108] In book 3 he added three more sections to chapter 2 (#7 to #9) and another two sections to chapter 16 (#12 and #13).[109] More had reason to be satisfied with his changes to the second book: on 31 December 1663 he wrote to Conway that he had recently acquired ‘a bird of Paradise of the most eminent kinde’ and was delighted with his present because he had ‘confirm’d by ocular demonstration what I conjectur’d to be true before, that they have feet … as you may see, book 2, ch. 11, sect. 11, 12.’[110]

More’s attention to detail in the production of his 1662 Collection is particularly in evidence in the revisions made to his correspondence with Descartes. As noted above, More was unhappy with Clerselier’s edition of the correspondence in 1657 on account of its numerous errors. In 1667 another influential French edition was to appear by Elsevier, but it seems unlikely that More and his circle would have been particularly happy with that version either: in May 1661 Hartlib described Elsevier as a ‘meer mechanic’, looking ‘more to his purse then [to] advancing the noblest kind of knowledge.’[111] The improvements that More made to the Clerselier edition were mostly at the level of spelling corrections: for example, he corrected ‘amari’ (1657, p. 312 line 7) to ‘amavi’ (1662, p. 59, line 1), altered ‘iuconda’ (1657, p. 313 line 12) to ‘iucunda’ (1662, p. 59, line 27), and changed ‘Singularis’ (1657, p. 316 line 19) to ‘Singulari’ (1662, p. 66 line 3). There are also slight differences in the headers to each letter between the 1657 and 1662 editions, and there are some slight differences in paragraphing (e.g. 1657 pp. 331-2 versus 1662, p. 68). More substantially, More added a response to a draft letter by Descartes which Clerselier had printed in 1657 (‘Responsio ad Fragmentum Cartesii, ex Epistola Henrici Mori ad Claudium Clerselier’), and added the ‘Epistola H. Mori ad V. C.’ as an appendix. This appended ‘Epistola’ had previously circulated in manuscript to some of More’s friends, including Anne Conway, but he checked it carefully before adding it to the Collection: in December 1661 he wrote to Conway to say that the copy which she had asked for had been ‘but carelessly flubbered over’ in haste, but that he would ‘ere long have a better Epist. to V. C. more large and more correct’.[112]

More’s treatise on the Immortality of the Soul had only been published in 1659, and More decided to revise the text throughout. Firstly, he added an extra page to the ‘Preface’, providing further arguments for the individuation of human souls, for the spirit of nature, and against the concept of the universal spirit of the world.[113] In book 1 he added an extra section providing a critique of the idea of ‘divine matter’.[114] He made several small changes to book 2, including rewriting the sections after axiom 24 to remove a confusing comparison between parvitude and the properties of the human eye; adding a concluding sentence to chapter 8 explaining the connection of the animal spirits to the brain; clarifying his distinction between the soul and the brain in chapter 10 section 8; and extending his critique of Cardano’s interpretation of Icelandic apparitions in chapter 16 section 3.[115] In book 3, as well as making a small addition to chapter 16 section 7 on the false hypothesis of the soul of the world, he made a major addition of several pages to the end of chapter 13, distinguishing between animal instinct and acquired art and relating both concepts to the spirit of nature.[116]

More’s changes to his Cabbalistica Conjectura (first published in 1653) seem designed to clarify existing arguments and to bring the text closer in subject and topic to the other writings in the volume. In his account of the ‘Philosophick Cabbala’, for example, More added a sentence to chapter 1 section 9, identifying the location of ‘that Æther or Heaven’ in relation to the ‘fluid Air’, earth, and water; he also added a parenthetical comment to section 14 implying that there might be planets ‘through the whole Heavens allotted to the Suns’.[117] More made a fairly substantial change to the ‘Introduction to the Defence of the Threefold Cabbala’, adding a lengthy section about scriptural evidence that the world extended ‘no higher then the Clouds, or thereabout’.[118] To his ‘Defence of the Literal Cabbala’ he added an extra sentence analysing the Septuagint reading of Genesis 2.6 as ‘A mighty Torrent of Water’, and he changed the concluding remarks to chapter 3 of his ‘Defence of the Moral Cabbala’ to include an account of biblical prophecies in Daniel and Revelation.[119] More made the most extensive alterations to his ‘Defence of the Philosophick Cabbala’. These changes included adding references to Synesius, Demetrius and Virgil on the issue of water above the material heavens (chapter 1 verse 6); adding a comment on the triple movement of the Earth (chapter 1 verse 13); and adding a citation from Origen with a translation and commentary on Adam and Eve being cast out of Paradise.[120] More took the final four pages of his 1653 account of the ‘Philosophick Cabbala’ and expanded them into a 50-page ‘Appendix to the Defence of the Philosophick Cabbala’; it was here that he introduced the extended treatment of numerology which Worthington had mentioned to Hartlib in 1661. Taken together, these additions suggest that More was developing his earlier surmises about the Cabbala in relation to his understanding of Platonist and Neoplatonist ideas.

Henry More, A Modest Enquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity (1664)

The third of More’s triptych of early Restoration publications was A Modest Enquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity (1664), which was also printed in sixmo format.[121] Like More’s earlier Enthusiasmus triumphatus and the Collection, the Modest Enquiry is in reality a group of texts: the ‘Modest Enquiry’ itself, in two books, a ‘Synopsis Prophetica’, also in two books (subtitled ‘The Second Part of the Enquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity’), and an important but only loosely-related text titled ‘The Apology of Dr. Henry More’, which included an explication of passages in the earlier Grand Mystery of Godliness as well of a defence of More’s arguments and methods against the criticisms of Joseph Beaumont.[122] Although the first two texts are meant to be read together, each of the three texts has its own title page within the volume, and each has its own preface. The addition of the ‘Apology’ after the list of contents led the compositors to adopt an unusual method for describing page signatures: the signatures for the final pages of the ‘Synopsis’, the appended list of contents, and the start of the ‘Apology’ (Ss, ss, Sss) are numbered in an unusual fashion, before returning to a more typical fashion for the remainder of the ‘Apology’ (sigs. Tt–Ccc).[123]

Following the end of the Hartlib-Worthington correspondence shortly before Hartlib’s death in March 1663, the printing history of More’s works is best observed from the More-Conway letters. One early indication that More was in the final stages of completing the Mystery of Iniquity may be provided by a letter from Conway to More, 11 August 1663, in which she somewhat cryptically refers to him having finished ‘that pourtraiture you mention to have so much tryed you’. While this reference has been taken to refer to one of the several paintings and engravings of More known to have appeared in his lifetime, it is more likely to refer to his discursive ‘pourtrait’ of iniquity. Conway states that she ‘can not doubt of its being drawne to the life’, since it had ‘so deeply engaged your thoughts and cost you so much paines’. Conway also expressed herself hopeful that she might ‘expect a sight of it shortly, though you [More] forget to tell me whether the copy was yet sent to the presse.’[124] However these statements are read, it is clear that parts of the text were being copied by an amanuensis in October (‘but not yett finished’) and that it was sent off for licensing towards the end of the year.[125] On 31 December More wrote to Conway that the text had recently been transcribed ‘into a more legible hand’, and then copied again ‘for greater safety’, and that this long process had set the publication process ‘much back’. Although the text was licensed in the middle of December and on 31 December More was hopeful that Flesher would begin to print the text ‘very shortly’, the printing probably did not start until several weeks later and may not have got underway seriously until April 1664.[126] Nevertheless, on 24 May More explained to Conway that the printer had been ‘more nimble in printing my book then I expected’, having ‘for some weeks together printed off 12 sheetes a week’; both parts of the Mystery of Iniquity had now been printed, and the printer was working on ‘my Apologia wherein I answer to those great Objections our fierce friends of Cambridge [including Beaumont] thought they had against my Mystery of Godlinesse’.[127] Conway was of the view that More’s ‘Apology’, the third part of his book, would ‘be thought by most persons a very unnecessary trouble imposed upon you’, but in an answer to a lost letter from More, she laments ‘the want of that fourth part you speake of for the compleating your designe in presse’ as ‘a very considerable losse’.[128] This is the only known reference to a potential fourth part of the Mystery of Iniquity and Conway gives no indication of its potential contents.

Presentation copies of the Mystery of Iniquity were distributed in the latter months of 1664. On 12 September More wrote to Conway that he could not come to see her in person, but had ‘sent my Substitute, a copy of my late book, which whyle your Ladiship reades, you converse with best part of me, my minde and understanding’, as opposed to his body, which ‘has neither sense nor reason in it’ and ‘is not more then a dead picture, not so much as one of Hoskins drawing’. The copies had been bound at London in the last few days: More was not confident that the binding would be ‘so handsome as our Cambridge binding’, and entreated Conway not to ‘prejudice your health by over-much or over-long attentiveness’ to anything, especially in his book.[129] Worthington, by contrast, was impressed with the alternative binding; writing to his friend George Evans on 28 October and enclosing a copy of More’s volume, he exclaimed that it was (from a printing perspective) ‘perfect’ and ‘better bound than unusually.’[130] On 2 December Worthington reported to More that he had recently delivered a copy of the Mystery of Iniquity to the bishop of Winchester (George Morley), and had dined with the bishop of Exeter (Seth Ward), who would be ‘ready to do you any service’. Ward was in some limited respects a kindred spirit to More: a natural philosopher who had been the Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford University during the 1650s; neither Ward nor Morley shared More’s views on toleration, however: both were to encourage rigorous enforcement of the Act of Uniformity in their respective dioceses. Two other early readers were ‘Lord Chief Justice Bridgman’ (probably Orland Bridgeman, then Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and a civil war Royalist), and the influential legal practitioner and historian Matthew Hale (also a former Royalist). In a period when More was under siege from Beaumont and his co-conspirators, Worthington was pleased to suggest to more that ‘the noise perhaps of such great mean reading [your book] might make for your advantage at Cambridge’. Worthington informed More that a ‘great man’ had reassured him that there was ‘no reason for you to be discouraged from going on to the third part’ of the book, although whether this ‘third part’ refers to the ‘Apology’, or to the abandoned section which More had discussed with Conway the year before is unclear.[131]

The publication of More’s ‘Apology’ triggered Beaumont into writing a second critique. Whereas Beaumont’s initial objections had circulated in manuscript, the appearance of More’s ‘Apology’ escalated the controversy, and Beaumont now felt it necessary to reply in print; the result was his Observations upon the Apologie of Dr Henry More for his Mystery of Godliness (1665), typeset by John Field, printer to Cambridge University. More’s correspondence across 1664 suggests that the appearance of Beaumont’s text can have come as little surprise to him. Nevertheless, Cudworth wrote to Worthington in January of 1665 with information that there was ‘a book a printing (they say it is Dr. Beaumont’s) against [More’s] Apology’. Cudworth himself had not seen the text, but ‘Mr. Standish hath acquainted [More] with it’, and Cudworth had also ‘spoken freely’ about it to More by this point.[132] By early Spring, More had acquired Beaumont’s book, ‘so long threaten’d against me’, during a trip to London, where he also received the judgment ‘not onely of him that sent [the book to] me, but of the whole University as I am inform’d’. According to More, writing to Conway, a consensus had emerged at Cambridge that Beaumont’s text was

the most villainous libell for insolency and the ordures of language, for wrathfulness and maliciousness of spiritt, for the perpetuall cavillings of its pretended reasonings that ever saw the light with the name of an Authour and the leave of an Imprimatur.

More’s testimony about the academic reaction to Beaumont cannot, of course, be relied on: it might be expected that in his correspondence he would put the best possible gloss on a damaging situation, and there is more than a whiff of stoicism about his exclamation that ‘I thank God I am not a jott mov’d with the abuse of the writer’ and his friends: their ‘infamy, he claimed, would ‘return upon their own heads.’ Beaumont’s attack was only one of several critiques which were threatening to eclipse his reputation: another had come from Margaret Cavendish. Publicly, More took Cavendish’s criticisms seriously, but privately he appears to have taken a pose of lofty amusement: ‘I am not fallen upon by one hand alone’, he explained to Conway: ‘I am spar’d by neither sexe.’ More appears to have regarded Cavendish as a somewhat extravagant female wit rather than a serious natural philosopher, and he invited Conway to join him in smiling condescendingly at the ‘large book’ in which Cavendish believed she had ‘confuted Mr Hobbs, Des Cartes, and myself, and … Van Helmont also to boot.’[133]

While More took little notice of Cavendish’s criticisms, the question of whether to respond to Beaumont weighed more heavily upon him, not least because of the proceedings which Widdrington and others brought against Cudworth and himself in an attempt to oust them from their positions at Christ’s College. On 24 April he explained to Conway that he had ‘layd asyde all thoughts’ of answering Beaumont’s ‘foul Pamphlet’, particularly since he had heard that the archbishop of Canterbury (Gilbert Sheldon) preferred him to let the matter rest. Sheldon’s intervention is significant, given that the controversy touched on religious toleration, and that More’s view in the Mystery of Godliness appeared to contradict the stated view of Act of Uniformity. More himself felt that there was nothing new in Beaumont’s Observations and was confident that if readers compared the text with the 1664 ‘Apology’ they would find that ‘all [Beaumont’s] enquirys were answered before they were writt’. Instead, he confessed that the main reason for framing a response to Beaumont’s pamphlet was on account of the ‘personall lyes’ in it, which had evidently cut him to the quick.[134] Conway, who had never been enthusiastic over the printing of the ‘Apology’, appears to have urged More to let the matter drop, since on 15 May More explained that he was ‘of your Ladiships opinion touching that pamphlet, and shall not meddle with it unlesse I finde they would build upon it as a ground to do me mischief’, in other words, unless it should become a springboard for other attempts at disciplining him at Christ’s College.[135]

Henry More, Divine Dialogues, 2 vols. (1668)

  • Divine Dialogues, containing Sundry Disquisitions & Instructions concerning the Attributes and Providence of God. The Three First Dialogues (1668) [published second]
  • The Two Last Dialogues, treating of the Kingdome of God within us and without us, and of his special Providence through Christ over his Church from the Beginning to the End of All Things (1668) [published first]

In some ways the two volumes of More’s Divine Dialogues (1668) represent a repackaging of ideas found in his previous philosophical texts, including the Antidote against Atheism, the Immortality of the Soul, and the Mystery of Godliness. This repackaging, designed to be accessible to a non-philosophical is evident in More’s choice of the dialogue form, but also in the printers’ use of an octavo format, involving smaller pages than More’s three previous sixmo publications. That said, there are many ideas in the second volume (containing the fourth and fifth dialogues) which More had not previously articulated in print, and the topics covered by these two dialogues, ‘the Kingdome of God Within us and Without is’, and ‘His special Providence through Christ over His Church’, are by no means rendered as accessible as those in volume 1 (the first three dialogues). The situation was not helped by the necessity of printing and distributing the second (more difficult) volume before the first. More alluded to these problems when he composed the prefatory epistle to the reader in the voice of a fictional publisher, ‘G. C.’ In this preface, G. C. humorously invites his readers to puzzle over the ‘preposterous Order of my publishing these Two Dialogues before the Three first have seen the light’, and then to consider ‘why I publish them at all’. G. C. is at pains to warn readers that the volume contains ‘a long tiresome Story of the Kingdome of God and Fate of the Church’, replete with ‘dark Types and obscure Ænigmaticall Prophecies’, which might prove to be much less immediately appealing than topics in politics, natural philosophy, or polemical divinity. The ‘preposterous Order’ of publication, starting with the second volume, is attributed by G. C. to ‘the Authour’, who ‘has a greater Concern for the Interest of Christianity then for the Curiosities of Philosophy’. Nevertheless, states G. C. reassuringly, the first three dialogues (when they appear) will explore ‘the most enticing Points in Philosophy, and also intermixt with much Pleasantry and Humour’, and (helpfully for advertising purposes) a list of their contents is appended to this second volume.

Yet this preface provides more than an authorial self-parody; it also dares readers to self-select according to their readiness to read and learn from the materials on offer in the volume. As G. C. explains, citing the example of the Book of Revelation, ‘every genuine Minister … has a commission to preach in season and out of season’, and the author has endeavoured to clear the ‘pretended Ænigmaticall Obscurity’ of the typology and predictions found in the prophetic books. For G. C., the historical truth of the prophecies was – as Joseph Mede had demonstrated – as capable of a ‘clear Solution’ as any algebraic problem. Whereas the ‘Pollutions’ of sin might hinder some readers from seeing the truth of More’s exposition, G. C. expresses confidence that there are ‘many usefull moral Passages’ in these last two Dialogues, on topics such as ‘regaining a due Divine temper of Body’, and ‘the means of arriving to that state which is the Kingdome of God within us’. Although this inner state was ‘not a matter of Politicall or Secular Interest’, anyone who had attained to the Kingdom of God within would necessarily be concerned for the Kingdom of God without: having lost his carnal and personal concerns and being united with the ‘Eternall Minde that superintends the Affairs of the Universe’, he would be ‘seized upon and actuated by the Spirit of God’ and ‘taken up with Interest of that Communialty’ of the particular kingdom and people of Christ.

The publication history of the Divine Dialogues was not quite as firmly under More’s control as the ‘Preface’ to the second volume suggests. The first volume includes a prefatory epistle by the character ‘Euistor’, a ‘man of Criticism, Philologie and History’, to a ‘Noble Friend’, on the (fictional) occasion of the Dialogues. The epistle is dated 29 November 1666 and suggests that the ‘notable Meeting’ described in dialogues themselves had occurred ‘well-nigh two years agoe’, and had taken the form of ‘Five Days Conferences’. Euistor had recorded each day’s discourse in the evenings and had supplemented his notes with information from his subsequent correspondence with Sophron, the ‘Sober and wary’ sceptic, and others present at the original meetings. Most of this account is fictional, providing an engaging framing device for the subsequent dialogues. However, it is consistent with More’s usual compositional practice that the initial impetus for the composition of the Dialogues occurred roughly two years before their completion, and that the publication process took a further year or so. It is thus conceivable that More began work on the Dialogues towards the end of 1664 or at the start of 1665, that he composed the prefatory epistle to volume one in November 1666, and then sent the manuscript to some of his close friends, including Worthington, for checking and editorial mark-up prior to printing. On 10 January 1667/8 Worthington wrote to More that he had ‘peruse[d] all the Dialogues [in manuscript], but the fifth or last’, and that he had managed ‘to score under words for [the printer to use] italic letters’. Observing that More’s hand was ‘too small for those that are not acquainted with it’, Worthington attributed this illegibility to the errors in More’s recent Enchiridion ethicum, and had endeavoured to ‘mend the letters, which were more hard to read’ in the manuscript of the Dialogues. Worthington advised More that he should ‘not trust [himself] alone about finding the errata’ in the printed text, but ‘get some other also to read’ copies prior to public distribution. He also had some advice about presentation copies: it would be common practice, he suggested, for some ‘30 or 40 copies’ to be printed in ‘better and larger paper’, so that they could be gifted to ‘great persons’ in a ‘fairer’ version than the rest of the stock; this was common practice among other booksellers, he suggested, and Morton (the bookseller) had been negligent in not arranging this for More’s previous publications.[136] There is nothing in Worthington’s letter of 10 January to indicate that the Dialogues were to be printed in two volumes. The first reference to these separate volumes occurs in a letter from Worthington to More on 24 March, in which Worthington advised More to bring with him the ‘two Dialogues’, perhaps a reference to the second volume. At this point, More appears to have been consulting his friends on whether to publish under a pseudonym and he had already drawn up at least two draft versions of the title page, the earlier of which attributed the work to ‘F. P.’ In his letter of 24 March, Worthington recommended using this ‘old title page’, in place of a new one, the details of which are unknown. Worthington explained that the attribution of authorship would be ‘no matter among friends’ (who already knew the author), but he felt that for public sale the use of ‘F. P.’ would be ‘best’. [137] In the event, More did not quite follow Worthington’s advice: the second volume of the Divine Dialogues was printed with no authorial attribution at all, and ‘F. P.’, meaning ‘Fr. Euistor’ of ‘Palæopolis’, only appeared on the title page to the first volume.

In the preface to the second volume, Euistor asserted that the inverted order of publication was down to authorial choice. However, this is not the full picture. On 27 March 1667/8 More wrote to Conway, apologising for his uncertainty about what was ‘likely to become of the 3 first Dialogues’. He had sent them to the licenser ‘above a month agoe’, but ‘how they speed I cannot yett tell’. This delay was a matter of anxiety for More: some of his works were licensed instantly, and he may have been concerned that objections could be raised over his use of the dialogue form to discuss unpalatable theological and political opinions. The licenser still had not agreed to publish the text by 12 May, when More wrote to Conway that he was ‘expecting in a maner ever since week by week what would become of the three first Dialogues’ and expressed frustration at the continual deferral of his travel plans in the expectation of receiving news of the book’s progress. By this point, however, he did at least know the cause of the delay, and his account is worth quoting in its entirety as it had consequences for the final shape of the dialogues. More explained to Conway that Samuel Parker, the licenser,

stuck it seemes at two thinges, the one in the first Dialogue that might mitigate that passage, and make it looke lesse like my own Assertion. And this being done the first two Dialogues passe the Licencer, as I desired, and the third Dialogue was cutt from the two first according to my own request, that I might see whether by inserting anything into it, or changeing it, I could make that passable too. Which having come to my hands I tryde accordingly, and by inserting a page or two more, in which Philotheus, Hylobares and Cuphophron talk, I think Sophron too, it wound off so the stresse and dogmaticallnesse that appeared before touching preexistence, that the third Dialogue has passed the license too, the Licenser being satisfyde with the Addition to be inserted, as I heard from Dr Outram, but all these were to be carry’d by the printer to Dr Outram to have some papyrs, those I mention’d with some others, to be putt in their right places that the printer may not mistake. All the papyrs and the Dialogues were at London Saturday was sennight, and Morden writt to Fletcher to send him word whether he had gott all dispatched with Dr Outram, so soone as possibly he could, and a proof of it might be possible, but hearing no thing from Fletcher since I make account that my account to your Ladiship is incomplete, and lesse satisfactory then I could desire it.[138]

The reception of the Divine Dialogues was mixed. Shortly after the publication of the Two Last Dialogues, More wrote to Conway (27 March 1668) that his Cambridge associates had shown little interest in the volume, and he implied that many of them had not read it. When the first three dialogues finally appeared, Worthington expressed disappointment that the theological opinions discussed in the volume did ‘not go well down’ with some of More’s neighbours. Worthington himself was confused about ‘what they should pretend to be distastfull’, since he had expected there to have been greater objection to the ‘theologicall documents in the 2 last [dialogues], which were [printed] first.’[139] As usual, More sent presentation copies to Lord and Lady Conway, but he had a strong suspicion that the Edward Conway had found the last two dialogues ‘tedious’, and was unlikely to enjoy the first three either. [140] To Anne Conway, who suffered from debilitating headaches throughout her life, he recommended reading only as much as would ‘consist with so much ease of your body as your paines will permitt you, and superciliously that if she had the same (limited) interest in the dialogues as he had found at Cambridge, there was ‘no great feare they should tempt you to over-read your self.’[141] Meanwhile there had, it seems, already been quite a lot of discussion over the text’s authorship: some were confident that More was the author, while others assumed that it had been Worthington, or Henry Hallywell. Somewhat later, in a letter to Joseph Church (c.1669), Worthington again stated that ‘the late Divine Dialogues, when they came out first, were said to be composed by me. But I suppose, the authors of that tale see their error by this time.’ The incident caused Worthington to reflect upon the ‘indiscretion and weakness of the discerning faculty in some that have been prone to judge of anonymous books.’[142] Hallywell, meanwhile, had recently received attention following the publication of his Private Letter of Satisfaction to a Friend (1667), a text which discussed the Morean themes of the sleep of the soul, the state of the soul after death, the rare appearance of ‘separate’ spirits, and the lawfulness of praying for departed souls. When one of More’s correspondents wrote to Conway asking for a copy of Hallywell’s book, More replied that he could not immediately locate a copy, but that he would send the Two Last Dialogues to her instead.

The inclusion of seven hymns as an appendix to the Two Last Dialogues was another controversial element. Prior to publication Worthington expressed his puzzlement at More’s inclusion of the hymns in a volume ‘where they will be less taken notice of’ and he urged More to ‘dispose them more conveniently, and to advantage’ in a different publication.[143] As we have seen, More was frequently content to publish materials with only a tenuous connection to each other in the same volume, but in this instance Worthington’s judgment may also indicate that he had a low opinion of the merit of the hymns. If so, he was not alone. Shortly after the publication of the Two Last Dialogues, More wrote to Conway that his friends at Cambridge had a ‘very mean conceit of the Hymnes, as they very well may’. More’s self-disparaging comments on the hymns led him to speculate amusedly that if Hallywell had been the author of the Dialogues, the hymns must have been written by his clerk, ‘who made them to be sung to the praise and glory of God’, for they were such ‘plane songs’ that they could ‘neither be sung nor sayd to the praise and glory of the Composer of them’.[144]

Henry More on Idolatry

  • An Exposition of the Seven Epistles to the Seven Churches (1669)
  • A Brief Reply to a Late Answer to Dr. Henry More his Antidote against Idolatry (1672)
  • An Appendix to the Late Antidote against Idolatry (1673)

By More’s own account, he never anticipated writing his Exposition of the Seven Epistles to the Seven Churches (1669). The text, a lengthy exegesis of Revelation chapters 1-3, should have been barely necessary (More argued) given that readers could already consult Joseph Mede’s excellent writings, the Synopsis prophetica, and More’s own Divine Dialogues. In the preface to the Exposition he asserted that the composition of the text was as ‘unexpected’ to him as its publication would be to some of his readers: he had ‘never yet affected to bestow my pains on these kind of Subjects’, and had thought that the publication of the Two Last Dialogues had rendered him ‘secure … from ever being engaged in them any more’. In particular, he had until recently felt that the literal and moral interpretation of the passages were too obvious to require the ‘needlesse labour’ of a further exposition. The turning point came when he sent his Divine Dialogues to a ‘Gentleman in the Countrey, to whom they were not unacceptable’ given the gentleman’s curiosity about the prophetic books. This gentleman, who may be identified from More’s manuscript correspondence as John Mansell of Thorpe Malsor, Northamptonshire,[145] had recorded his ‘civil acknowledgements’ for receiving the book, but had some ‘pertinent Reflexions’ on its main topics, and some advice regarding the interpretation of the early chapters in Revelation: ‘I find not, saith he, any late Writer apply the Seven Churches mystically …; Mr. BRIGHTMAN having failed in his Application’. Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) was an early Puritan apologist and theologian, whose political and prophetical exegesis of the Revelation had been published posthumously in Latin as Apocalypsis Apocalypseos (Amsterdam, 1609), before appearing in various English editions and redactions over several decades.[146] Mansell’s view was that the seven churches mentioned in Revelation chapters 1-3 represented ‘the State of the whole visible Church from Christ’s time to the Day of Judgement’, and he provided More with some precise correspondences between each of the churches mentioned by St John and historical or prophesied events.[147] More disagreed with the significance of some of the particular events alluded to by Mansell, but he acknowledged that Mansell’s sketch had given him ‘aim toward a more speedy hitting the intended Mark’, and provided ‘the Occasion of my undertaking, and the advantage I had for the easily performing this Task’.

Like the Divine Dialogues, More’s Exposition was licensed by Samuel Parker, and printed at London by James Flesher in the early months of 1669, for sale by William Morden at Cambridge. Parker is not known to have raised any objections over the apocalyptic sections of the Divine Dialogues, and there is no record of him objecting to the prophetic elements of More’s latest text. However, Flesher’s press was, as usual, overworked, with the printing of More’s Exposition taking place alongside the preparation of a new bilingual (Latin and Greek) edition of Epictetus’ Enchiridion, also for distribution by Morden. The potential delay to the publication of the Exposition caused Worthington to remark on 19 February 1669 that ‘Morden might let Epictetus the Philosopher stand aside, and step out of the way a while, till John the Divine, with his 7 Asiatick Churches be passt.’[148] In the event, Worthington got his wish: the Flesher/Morden edition of Epictetus was not completed until 1670, whereas More was able to report on 10 June that his Exposition was ‘out’, although he would be unable to ‘gett copies’ to send to Ragley for another week.[149] As well as sending the text to the Conways and the Foxcrofts, More articulated an aspiration that the Exposition, together with his earlier Synopsis prophetica, would be read by his collaborator on Cabbalistic matters, Christian Knorr von Rosenroth.[150] He also sent a presentation copy to Seth Ward, bishop of Salisbury, who had probably already read several of More’s works, and had offered his service to More after dining with Worthington shortly after the publication of the Mystery of Iniquity (1664).[151]

Unusually, the text was not dedicated to a member of the Conway/Finch family but to John Robartes, baron of Truro, who had recently been made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Robartes was a politically complicated individual, a moderate parliamentarian during the civil war, who had withdrawn from public affairs following the execution of Charles I, and who owed his return to political office to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. More’s dedicatory epistle points to some undefined ‘private Obligation’ to Robartes, as well as naming him as a patron and praising his ‘Parts and Vertues’ in conventional terms. More also refers to the ‘Providentiall Coincidence’ which has ensured that he has a book in press at the very time that Robartes should be promoted to Lord Lieutenant. Equally revealingly, More praises Robartes for having maintained a ‘steadinesse of minde and clearnesse of Judgement’ in defence of the Protestant religion in this ‘instable and uncertain Age’. More’s dedication, then, presents both himself and his patron as ardent and sincere defenders of the episcopal Church of England in opposition to Roman Catholicism. Unfortunately for More, his confidence in Robartes as a Protestant governor was not entirely well-placed: during the Exclusion Crisis of 1679-81, Robartes sided with the Tories against the Whigs and defended the right of the Catholic Prince James to inherit the throne after Charles II’s death. In the years immediately following the publication of More’s critique of Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologico-politicus in his 1679 Opera philosophica, More must have had occasion to contemplate the irony that his political commentaries, whether in his Enthusiasmus, Grand Mystery, Eposition, or Spinoza critique, always seemed fated to be misinterpreted as ill-judged interventions in current events.

An important reason why More considered Robartes to be a suitable dedicatee lay in the subject of the second part of the volume, which (as in several of More’s publications) is a separate text, with its own title page, titled ‘An Antidote against Idolatry’. The title characterises the text as another Morean sequel: just as the Mystery of Iniquity parallels the Mystery of Godliness, the ‘Antidote against Idolatry’ recalls the Antidote against Atheism. Together with his Enthusiasmus triumphatus, these texts tackle the rival moral, religious, and social ills of atheism, Protestant enthusiasm, and Roman Catholic idol-worship. More’s essay against idolatry, picking up on his discussion of the theme in his Mystery of Iniquity, aims to discover ‘what [it] is or ought to be held’, and applies this to ‘the Doctrine of the Council of TRENT’ to help stymy the ‘Romish Infection’.[152] More’s decision to produce an ‘entire Treatise’ on the subject may have been influenced by comments from friends and readers that shorter essays could be as effective as longer works, where important ideas could be lost, and the relationship between key arguments could be missed. Realising that he was vulnerable to the charge of being uncharitable towards the ‘Romanists’ (a not-unreasonable objection, given the appalling treatment of Irish Catholics by English-led forces for much of the century), More sought to remind his readers ‘what a sad condition those of the Church of Rome are [in]’, since even if they had the opportunity of being better instructed, they ran the risk of being ‘led away captive’ by ‘cunning’ apologists for Roman Catholicism.

The most prominent set of objections to the ‘Antidote’ came from John Walton, an individual whose identity has not been firmly established, although from the contents of his Brief Answer to the many Calumnies of Dr. Henry More, in his pretended Antidote against Idolatry (1672) it can be inferred that he was a Roman Catholic. Walton claimed that his Brief Answer was first written in manuscript in 1670, at ‘the request, & or the satisfaction of some worthy friends’, and ‘without any thought or intention as then, for the Press’. He was moved to publish the text after reading A Discourse concerning the Idolatry practised in the Church of Rome (1671) by Edward Stillingfleet, the future dean of St Paul’s (1678-89) and bishop of Worcester (1689-99). Stillingfleet, like More, was a Latitudinarian Episcopalian; his Discourse, unlike More’s, was a response to the Conventicles Act of 1670 which renewed and strengthened some of the provisions against Catholic recusancy and Protestant dissent from the similarly named Conventicles Act of 1664. In the wake of the 1670 Act, Walton had practical and political as well as philosophical reasons to oppose both More’s ‘Antidote’ using arguments which, he suggested, could equally apply to Stillingfleet’s Discourse.

Walton’s characterisation of More in the Brief Answer provides a useful snapshot of More’s reputation in the years when his publication portfolio was shifting (in a general sense) from philosophical inquiry to theological exposition. Walton concedes that More has a reputation as a ‘great Philosopher’, and that some have termed him ‘The great Restorer of the Platonick Cabbala’; the fundamental premise of Walton’s criticism is that More’s ‘unlucky engaging in Controversial Disputes’ will ‘prove a blot to his former undertakings’, since ‘Dr. More the Controvertist, is much degenerated from Dr. More the Philosopher’. Specifically, Walton felt that More’s Exposition had been written in an excessively ‘Romantick strain’, in which his fancy had ‘broken loose from the command of Reason’ and overstepped the boundaries of faith and church authority. Meanwhile, More’s ‘Antidote against Idolatry’ relied on a ‘harsh and unmanly Rhetorick’, in which he had thrown dirt ‘too bountifully upon Persons, which never deserved it at his hands’, producing a set of objections that were ‘bold, uncivil, irreligious’, and smelled too heavily of Genevan iconoclasm. In Walton’s opinion, it was only More’s great name that leant authority to the argument of the ‘Antidote’, and it was this coupling of an influential figure with bogus argumentation – coupled with the insult-laden assertions of More’s Protestant friends that his text was incontrovertible – which made answering the text such a necessity.

More had been offered sight of Walton’s manuscript when it had first been composed, c.1670, but, as he later explained, ‘I was then wholly taken up in writing my Enchiridion Metaphysicum’, and he would only promise to respond if Walton’s animadversions were published in print. As a consequence, More’s response to the Brief Answer was not written until the middle months of 1672, at which point he still did not seem to know ‘any more concerning my Adversary than that he was a Doctor of the Roman Church.’ On 11 July 1672 More wrote to Conway that, since his most recent return from London, he had been ‘wholely taken up with framing a Reply to the Answer to my Antidote against Idolatry’, which he had just finished. Unfortunately, More remarked laconically, his ‘scribled hand’ meant that he would ‘scarce be able to read’ the text again, and he would have to ‘transcribe it more legibly’, so that an amanuensis could then write a third copy to send to the press, to make sure that ‘printers … may not mistake me’. Transcribing his scribblings would, More observed, be a ‘very tedious’ activity, but ‘I must doe it, to satisfy the light within me, as the Quaker sayes’. Adopting an apologetic tone which Conway must have found quite familiar, More explained that his engagement to write the reply had ‘much retarded my intended Journeys into Lincolnshire and to Ragley’, and that he had, metaphorically at least, ‘worne myself of my legges … in hastening this Reply’.[153] Nevertheless, it took him another month to complete his transcription: ‘I had even almost made an end’, he wrote to Conway on 16 August, and ‘I send the copy this day to London.’[154]

The structure of the printed text of More’s Brief Reply shows his growing reputation with printers and booksellers as a marketable author. More’s earliest sets of prose animadversions – his Observations (1650) and Second Lash (1651) against the alchemist Henry Vaughan – were printed cheaply but rendered difficult to read on account of the absence of the source texts. The Brief Reply, in contrast, ran to over 330 printed pages which include More’s original ‘Antidote’; this was divided into sections, each of which was followed by Walton’s critique and More’s reply. Nevertheless, despite this more sophisticated and consequently more expensive manner of presentation, More’s tone in the Brief Reply marks a return to the jibing jousts of his earlier controversial prose, a style designed to rally friends and diminish opponents rather than to present reasoned argumentation. Although the Brief Reply is of greater intellectual weight than several of More’s other animadverting tracts (including those against Vaughan, Spinoza and Baxter), a tendency towards personal attack and hyperbole occludes some of the more salient philosophical points, and the text does not quite live up to More’s promise that he will write ‘without the least ill word’. More himself may have been aware of the text’s failings: A year later he published An Appendix to the late Antidote against Idolatry (1673), for which he engaged a new bookseller, Walter Kettibly of St Paul’s Churchyard, London, who was to be the main publisher of More’s works for the remainder of his life. As is also observable in the largely reasoned and reflective tone of the Appendix to the … Antidote against Atheism (1655), More considered the ‘Appendix’ to be a literary genre which took the structure of a subsequently-composed supplement to a philosophical text. Unlike the ‘Animadversions’ genre, this form suited More’s style and mode of reasoning; when he published his own Latin translation of the ‘Antidote against Idolatry’ for his Opera theologica (1675), he placed the Appendix straight after it, and omitted his Brief Reply entirely from the volume.

In doing so, More gave his authority to a process which had begun with his Collection of Several Philosophical Works in 1662 and which continued after his death in 1687. Back in the early 1660s More had debated with himself and with others whether to include his Observations and Second Lash of Vaughan in the Collection. In the end, while his friends were agreed that some of his shorter works were equally as important as his recent Grand Mystery, neither his poems nor his early animadversions made the cut, although his Enthusiasmus triumphatus, a somewhat more detached critique of the Familists, Behmenists, and early Quakers, did make it into the 1662 volume in a slightly modified form. It was More’s self-presentation as an author of rational, analytic, philosophical prose in publications such as the Collection which enabled Walton to assert that More the philosopher was giving too much ground to his alter ego, More the controversialist. He was not alone in believing More’s controversial writings to be inferior to the canon of philosophical works: More’s early eighteenth-century editors made no attempt to reprint his Brief Reply, or his Latin critiques of Boehme and Spinoza. There may have been other reasons for these omissions: the Latin of More’s Opera philosophica (1679), the only source-text for the Spinoza and Boehme essays, may have been too much of an obstacle to what was intended as a reasonably uncomplicated repackaging of More’s English works in 1708 and 1712. However, these editions contributed to a process which More himself had helped to initiate: his Anglophone reputation over the next 300 years would be primarily fought over in terms of his status as an epoch-transcending philosopher. The depth of his engagement with specifically seventeenth-century religious problems, and the sometimes very personal motives which prompted the composition and publication of his texts, have long been – and continue to be – underrepresented in the critical literature.

[1] Henry More, Ψυχωδια Platonica (Cambridge, 1642), ‘To the Reader, upon the first Book of Psychozoia’, sig. A4r.

[2] The stanzas are divided as follows: B1 C1 = 25; B1 C2 = 59; B1 C3 = 31; B1 C4 = 10; B2 C1 = 16; B2 C2 = 40; B2 C3 = 30; B3 C1 = 34; B3 C2 = 61; B3 C3 = 74; B3 C4 = 39.

[3] More, Ψυχωδια Platonica, sig. M6r.

[4] More, Ψυχωδια Platonica, sigs. M7r-M8v.

[5] Sigs. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q.

[6] More again is described on the title page as ‘Master of Arts, and Fellow of Christs Colledge in Cambridge’.

[7] In practice, it is barely a dialogue at all: Cleanthes speaks for only 6 lines.

[8] Each copy was printed on 31 sheets (sigs. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, Y, Z, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh), plus a list of errata.

[9] See also More to Conway, [January 1669/70?]: ‘I receiv’d from the hands of a friend an English translation of my [Euporia] the last Greek Poem in my book’ [etc.] (Conway Letters, 299); More to Conway, [5 April] 1670 (more on Elys’s poems).

[10] Octavo, sigs. A1-4, B, C, D, E, F, G, H1-2; sections: title page + dedicatory epistle, sigs. A1r-A4v; observations on Anthroposophia theomagica, sigs. B1r-D4r (pp. 1-39); observations on Anima magica abscondita, sigs. D4v-G8v (pp. 40-94); poem by J. T. ‘Vpon the Authors generous designe, in his Observations’, sigs. H1r-H2r. The Observations were entered in the stationers’ register on 12 September 1650: ‘Entred … under the hands of Master DOWNHAM and Master FLESHER warden a booke called Observac~ons upon Anthropophia Theomagica et anima magica abscondita p Alazono Mastix, Philalethes vjd Master Pullen.’: Stationers’ Register, I, 351.

[11] ODNB: ‘Vaughan, Thomas’. Two of Vaughan’s books, the Magia Adamica and A Man Mouse, were entered in the stationers’ register on 20 October 1650: Stationers’ Register, I, 352.

[12] Observations, pp. 4, 9, 47-56.

[13] ‘Philalethes’ (lover of truth) was a common pseudonym in seventeenth century England; More picks up on Vaughan’s choice of the term, presenting himself satirically as Vaughan’s brother, and ‘A Chip of the same Block’ (fo. A4v). The first part of More’s pseudonym perhaps recalls William Prynne’s Histriomastix: The Player’s Scourge, or Actor’s Tragedy (c.1632), which itself invokes John Marston’s play Histriomastix (performed c.1598 and published 1610).

[14] For example, there is greater regularity of spacing, greater consistency in the presentation of subheadings, and the use of a running header.

[15] ‘John Love-of-Mastix’, possibly written by Finch himself.

[16] Octavo, sigs. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O1-3; sections:

[17] Vaughan’s Anthroposophia magica was also republished at this date [which came first?].

[18] See Stationers’ Register, II, 50, 16 April 1656: ‘Entred … under the hand of Master STEPHENS warden, a booke entituled Enthusiasmus triumphatus, or a discourse of the nature, causes, kinds, and cure of enthusiasme, by Philophilus Parresiastes and prefixed to Alazonomastix his observations and reply … vjd Master James Flesher.’

[19] Foliation: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X; title page + epistle to the reader + contents pages, sigs. A1r-A8v; short discourse of enthusiasm, sigs. B1r-E7v (pp. 1-62); Observations, sigs. E8r-L2v (pp. 63-148); Second Lash, sigs. L3r-T8v (pp. 149-288); ‘Mastix his Letter’, sigs. V1r-X8v (pp. 289-320).

[20] Worthington to Hartlib, 5 September 1661: ‘I forget not what Dr. More hath prudently observed concerning philosophical enthusiasm’ (Worthington, II.1, 6).

[21] Enthusiasmus (1656), 57; Collection (1662), 41-3.

[22] Conway Letters, 69: 6 January 1652/3.

[23] Octavo, 13 sheets, sigs ***1-4, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M; the sections are as follows: title-page + ‘Epistle Dedicatorie’, sigs. ***1r-4v; ‘Preface’, sigs. A1r-B4v; book 1, sigs. B5r-E1v (pp. 1-42); book 2, sigs. E2r-H8v (pp. 43-104); book 3, sigs. I1r-M5v (pp. 105-64); ‘A Table of the Chapters of each BOOK’, sigs. M6r-8v.

[24] Conway Letters, 70-1: 17 January 1652/3 and 26 January 1652/3.

[25] See also Worthington to Hartlib, 5 September 1661: ‘You may see what Dr. More suggests in his 3d book against Atheism, chap. 14, That angels have no settled form, but what they please to give themselves upon occasion.’ (Worthington, II.1, 12)

[26] See Stationers’ Register, I, 471, 13 April 1655: ‘Entred … a booke entituled An antidote agt Atheisme or an appeale to the naturall facultyes of ye minde of man, whether there bee not a God. By Hen: Moore fellow of Christs Colledge in Camb wth an appendix thereunto annexed … vjd Master James Flesher.’

[27] Foliation: octavo, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, X, Y, Z, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd. Contents: title page + epistle dedicatory, sigs. A1r-A4v; preface, sigs. A5r-B8v; book 1, sigs. C1r-F7v (pp. 1-62); book 2, sigs. F8r-M6r (pp. 63-157); book 3, sigs. M6v-U2v (pp. 158-278); table of chapters, sigs. U3r-U7v; blank pages, sigs. U8r-v; appendix, sigs. X1r-Dd6v (pp. 291-398); table of chapters of the appendix + errata, sigs. Dd7r-Dd8v.

[28] This would explain the white space after the third book (sigs. U8r-v).

[29] Antidote (1655), 76, 140-1; Collection (1662), 1st pagination, 43-6, 73-8.

[30] Antidote (1655), 173, 276; Collection (1662), 1st pagination, 93-5, 140-1.

[31] Conway Letters, 219-20.

[32] See Stationers’ Register, I, 427, 31 August 1653: ‘Entred … a booke called Coniectura Cabbalistica, or a conjecturall essay, interpreting the mind of Moses according to a threefold Cabbala. By Henry Moore, fellow of Christs Colledge in Cambridge . . vjd Master Ja. Flesher.’

[33] See also Worthington to More, 25 June 1668 (Worthington, II.2, 297); Worthington to More, 19 February 1668/9 (Worthington, II.2, 307-8).

[34] Conway Letters, 74-5: 28 March 1653.

[35] Conway Letters, 82: 4 July 1653

[36] Conway Letters, 83: 9 August 1653; 92: 26 December 1653.

[37] Conjectura (1653), 27, 28; Collection (1662), 4th pagination, 18, 19.

[38] Conjectura (1653), 104; Collection (1662), 4th pagination, 51-3.

[39] Conjectura (1659), 124, 249-50; Collection (1662), 64-5, 181-4.

[40] Conjectura (1659), 146, 149, 181; Collection (1662), 77-8, 79, 96-7.

[41] Conway Letters, 217-18.

[42] Conway Letters, 281-21.

[43] Conway Letters, 359-60.

[44] Conway Letters, 336-7.

[45] Octavo: A1-4, a, b, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, Y, Z, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp1-4; contents: title page + epistle dedicatory, sigs. A1r-a1v; preface, sigs. a2r-b8v; book 1, sigs. B1r-H6v (pp. 1-108); book 2, sigs. H7r-Y3r (pp. 109-325); book 3, sigs. Y3v-Nn3v (pp. 326-550); contents pages, sigs. Nn4r-Pp4r; errata, sig. Pp4v.

[46] Conway Letters, 149: 27 April [1658].

[47] Conway, Letters, 155-6: 28 March [1659].

[48] It was this statement from More to which Worthington later referred when he wrote that More’s ‘book of the Soul’s Immortality had its birth or growth at Ragley’: Worthington, Diary and Correspondence, II.1, 153, cited in Conway Letters, 122.

[49] For an example of a mathematical text structured using axioms, see Thomas Urquhart, The Trissotetras (1645). [see also Comenius? Walter Charleton? Edward Knott?] For the layout, see John Newton, Institutio mathematica (1654). Also check William Chappell, The Preacher (1656) (121 hits); Thomas Stanley, The History of Philosophy (1656) (46 hits).

[50] Worthington, I, 120-2.

[51] Worthington, I, 181.

[52] Worthington, I, 136.

[53] Worthington, I, 141-2.

[54] Worthington, I, 210-11.

[55] Immortality (1659), sigs. b5v-6v; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 10-12.

[56] Immortality (1659), 83; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 47.

[57] Immortality (1659), 112, 115-16, 209, 223, 290; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 59-61, 62, 98, 104, 130.

[58] Immortality (1659), 499, 469-70; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 214-15, 200-4.

[59] Conway Letters, 374.

[60] See Ward, Life of More, 158-60.

[61] Sixmo, 50 sheets: A1-A8, a1-a6, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P Q, R, S, T, V, X, Y, Z, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Xx, Yy, Zz, Aaa, Bbb, Ccc. Contents: title page and preface ‘To the Reader’, sigs. A1r-a6v; book 1, sigs. B1r-D3v (10 chapters); book 2, sigs, D4r-F4v (12 chapters); book 3, sigs. F4v-K1v (19 chapters); book 4, sigs. K2r-N2v (15 chapters); book 5, sigs. N3r-T4r (17 chapters); book 6, sigs. T4v-Bb1v (19 chapters); book 7, sigs. Bb2r-Hh6v (17 chapters); book 8, sigs. Ii1r-Qq4v (20 chapters); book 9, sigs. Qq5r-Tt5r (12 chapters); book 10, sigs. Tt5v-Aaa3v (14 chapters); contents pages, sigs. Aaa4r-Ccc4v, scriptural index, sigs. Ccc5r-v; errata, sig. Ccc5v.

[62] Worthington, I, 131.

[63] Worthington, I, 166-9.

[64] Worthington, I, 166-9, 172.

[65] Worthington, I, 196.

[66] Conway Letters, 162.

[67] Conway Letters, 162-3.

[68] Worthington, I, 196.

[69] Worthington, I, 226.

[70] Worthington, I, 227.

[71] Worthington, I, 233.

[72] Worthington, I, 233-4.

[73] Worthington, I, 306-7.

[74] Worthington, I, 259.

[75] Worthington, I, 306-7.

[76] Worthington, I, 308, 314.

[77] Worthington, I, 234-5.

[78] Worthington, I, 311.

[79] Worthington, I, 317.

[80] Worthington, I, 249.

[81] Worthington, I, 255.

[82] Worthington, I, 259.

[83] Worthington, I, 304, 323.

[84] Worthington, I, 277.

[85] Worthington, I, 299-300.

[86] Conway Letters, 193-4, 195.

[87] Conway Letters, 222.

[88] Conway Letters, 341.

[89] Worthington, I, 305-6.

[90] Worthington, I, 308.

[91] Worthington, I, 314.

[92] Worthington, I, 356.

[93] Conway Letters, 192.

[94] Worthington, II.1, 64, 68.

[95] Worthington, I, 366, 375.

[96] Correspondence of Robert Boyle, ed. Michael Hunter et al., 6 vols. (London, 1994), II, 471-2, 589-90.

[97] Worthington, II.1, 64, 94-5.

[98] More, Collection (1662), 4th pagination, 127.

[99] Worthington, II.1, 98, 102, 107, 111.

[100] Worthington, II.98, 107, 111.

[101] Conway Letters, 199.

[102] Conway Letters, 205-6.

[103] Conway Letters, 206.

[104] Conway Letters, 203-4.

[105] Conway Letters, 208.

[106] Conway Letters, 203-4.

[107] i.e. 12 pages per sheet, with the following foliation: a, b1-4, c1-4, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, Y, Z, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, Tt, Vv, Xx, Yy, Zz, Aaa, Bbb, Ccc, Ddd, Eee, Fff, Ggg, Hhh, Iii, Kkk, Lll, Mmm, Nnn, Ooo, Ppp, Qqq, Rrr, Sss, Ttt, Vvv, Xxx.

[108] Antidote (1655), 76, 140-1; Collection (1662), 1st pagination, 43-6, 73-8.

[109] Antidote (1655), 173, 276; Collection (1662), 1st pagination, 93-5, 140-1.

[110] Conway Letters, 219-20.

[111] Worthington, I, 309.

[112] Conway Letters, 196.

[113] Immortality (1659), sigs. b5v-6v; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 10-12.

[114] Immortality (1659), 83; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 47.

[115] Immortality (1659), 112, 115-16, 209, 223, 290; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 59-61, 62, 98, 104, 130.

[116] Immortality (1659), 499, 469-70; Collection (1662), 3rd pagination, 214-15, 200-4.

[117] Conjectura (1653), 27, 28; Collection (1662), 4th pagination, 18, 19.

[118] Conjectura (1653), 104; Collection (1662), 4th pagination, 51-3.

[119] Conjectura (1659), 124, 249-50; Collection (1662), 64-5, 181-4.

[120] Conjectura (1659), 146, 149, 181; Collection (1662), 77-8, 79, 96-7.

[121] Sigs. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, X, Y, Z, Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, ss, Sss, Tt, Vv, Xx, Yy, Zz, Aaa, Bbb, Ccc1-4.

[122] Contents: general title page, sig. A1r; preface to the reader, sigs. A3r-A6v; ‘Mystery of Iniquity’ book 1, sigs. B1r-I1v (22 chapters); book 2, sigs. I2r-R1v (17 chapters); ‘Synopsis Prophetica’ title page, sig. R2r; preface to the reader, sigs. R3r-S6v; book 1, sigs. T1r-Ff6r (17 chapters); book 2, sigs. Ff6v-Ss5v (22 chapters); contents pages, sigs. Ss6r-Sss4v; ‘Apology’ title page, sig. Sss5r; preface to the reader, sigs. Sss6r-v; ‘Apology’ main body of text, sigs. Tt1r-Ccc4v.

[123] Some readers may also have realised that the Apology was a separate, and largely unrelated, text: it appears to be completely missing from the [EEBO] copy of the Mystery of Iniquity.

[124] Conway Letters, 217.

[125] Conway Letters, 218.

[126] Conway Letters, 219.

[127] Conway Letters, 223.

[128] Conway Letters, 224-5.

[129] Conway Letters, 228.

[130] Worthington, II.1, 138.

[131] Worthington, II.1, 154-5.

[132] Worthington, II.1, 162.

[133] Conway Letters, 233-4.

[134] Conway Letters, 235.

[135] Conway Letters, 236-7.

[136] Worthington, II.2, 262.

[137] Worthington, II.2, 268.

[138] Conway Letters, 293-4.

[139] Worthington, II.2, 280.

[140] Conway Letters, 293-4.

[141] Conway Letters, 292-3.

[142] Worthington, II.2, 315.

[143] Worthington, II.2, 262.

[144] Conway Letters, 292-3.

[145] Conway Letters, 346.

[146] For example, A Revelation of the Apocalyps (Amsterdam, 1611), A Revelation of the Revelation (Amsterdam, 1615), The Revelation of S. John illustrated (Leiden, 1616), A most comfortable Exposition ([Amsterdam], 1635), Reverend Mr. Brightmans Judgement, or Prophesies (London, [1641]), and The Workes of … Mr. Tho: Brightman (London, 1644). More adopted the same Latin title, Apocalpsis Apocalypseos, for an English work of 1680.

[147]viz. Ephesus, till Anno Christi 110; Smyrna, till 306; Pergamus, declining towards Popery, till the WALDENSIAN Separation, about Anno 1160; Thyatira, emerging from Popery, till the Pacification at Passaw in Germany 1552. and King EDWARD the Sixth’s Reformation in England; Sardis, the state of Reformed Christendome … untill Rome shall be totally subdued; Philadelphia, when Truth, Peace and Holinesse shall universally prevail … . And lastly, Laodicea, when towards the end of the Thousand years Satan shall be again let loose in a little space, and God and Magog shall trouble the Church’.

[148] Worthington, II.2, 308.

[149] Conway Letters, 297.

[150] Conway Letters, 331.

[151] Worthington, II.2, 318.

[152] Similarly, the discussion in the Enthusiasmus triumphatus is developed in the Mystery of Godliness.

[153] Conway Letters, 359.

[154] Conway Letters, 363.

Cite as: Publication History of Henry More’s Works,, accessed 2024-05-24.