1. The Reverend Samuel Rutherford [c. 1600 - 1661) was one of the most vital figures in the intellectual life of early modern Scotland, and given that his reputation rests on his vast body of prose writing, whether scholastic, polemical, homiletic or epistolary, the tiny handful of surviving poems by this one-time professor of humanity at Edinburgh University is of real interest. Three of his four extant poems were written in the autumn of 1634, and survive only in manuscript (non-holograph), bound into Wodrow Quarto LXXXIV, fols. 245v – 246 in the National Library of Scotland. The fourth poem is a printed liminary epigram, probably written in 1637 and certainly before 1644.This edition of Rutherford’s poetic remains also includes a short epigram by the Dutch polymath Anna Maria van Schurman, honouring Rutherford’s last, posthumous publication, the Examen Arminianismi published at Utrecht in 1668. Schurman’s epigram too appears to survive only in manuscript, and is reproduced here. NOTE 1
2. Rutherford is today primarily known as the author of the prose treatise Lex, Rex, or The Law and the Prince (1645), which so ruthlessly dismantled the divine right of kings and absolute monarchy that Charles I commented that it would scarcely be answered. The public burning of Lex, Rex by the executioner after the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 indicates that it was seen as one of the period’s most powerful books by one its most powerful writers. His fame throughout the “Calvinist Internationale” is indicated by the short Latin lyric written in his memory by the aforementioned epigram by Anna Maria Schurman. Rutherford’s death in St Andrews forestalled his arrest and almost certain execution by the vindictive régime set up at the behest of the restored Charles II. Yet, despite his prominence in his own lifetime, modern students of seventeenth century poetry may only have encountered his name mentioned with unbridled contempt in John Milton’s sonnet “On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament”: NOTE 2
Dare ye for this abjure the civil sword
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
And ride us with a classic hierarchy
Taught ye by mere A.S. and Rutherford.
3. Rutherford, a passionate presbyterian, played a crucial role in the Puritan revolutions of seventeenth-century Britain and was one the foremost theologians that Scotland has ever produced, a fact acknowledged by Anna Maria Schurman’s epigram. Rutherford’s other prose writings, chiefly his three hundred and sixty-five extant letters, also merit attention. These were prized and circulated in his own lifetime and first published by his disciple and sometime secretary, Robert MacWard, in 1664. NOTE 3 In a survey of Scots prose in this period, David Reid takes a bleak view of the field, but expresses puzzlement at the neglect of Rutherford’s writing. NOTE 4 He singles him out, with William Drummond of Hawthornden and Sir Thomas Urquhart, as a writer capable of “elaborately mannered prose,” citing inter alia Christ Dying and Drawing Sinner to Himselfe (London, 1647). Reid provides an example which displays “fitful imaginative brilliance,” when Rutherford speaks of a sinner haunted by the fear of Hell and even when he goes to church “there is a dog as great as a mountaine before his eye.” For Reid, Rutherford’s prose is marked by “images crowded thick with visionary grotesquenes”; someone who can write like that about wretchedness is an extraordinary force at least.” Rutherford excels in gargantuan cosmic visual imagery in the same treatise:
There’s need of an Angel engine [i.e. Scots ingyne, from Latin ingenium] framed in heaven, of a Tongue immediately created by God, and by the infinite Art of omnipotency, above other tongues, to speak of the praises of Christ; and that Pen must be moulded of God, and the Ink made of the river of the water of life, and the Paper fairer than the body of the Sunne, and the heart as pure as innocent and sinlesse Angels, who should write a Book of the vertue and supereminent excellency of Jesus Christ: All words, even uttered by Prophets and Apostles, come short of Christ’.” (Christ Lay Dying p. 454)
Suppose omnipotencie would inlarge the globe of the world, and the heaven of heavens, and cause it to swell to the quantity, and number of millions of millions of worlds, and make it so huge and capacious a vessel, and fill it with so many millions of elect Men and Angels, and then fill them, and all this wide circle with love; it would no more come neere to take in Christs lovely beauty, then a spoon can containe all the Seas; or then a childe can hide in his hand the globe of the world (ib. p. 300).
4. References to Cicero, Lucan, Seneca and classical historians abound in Rutherford’s treatises. Ten years prior to writing the Latin poems on Viscount Kenmure in 1634, Rutherford was “regent of humanity” at Edinburgh’s Tounis College (as the university was originally called), preparing students for their Latin entrance examination. He himself had entered on the same course in the autumn of 1617 after learning Latin at Jedburgh grammar school. NOTE 5 In their “bajan” or first year, students would focus on translating Cicero, and reading other classical texts. NOTE 6 1617 was also the year of James VI’s only return visit to his ancestral kingdom, from 13 May to 4 August; throughout his tour of Lowland Scotland, he was presented with Latin and Greek poems and addresses; Rutherford, as a mere bajan, was not one of the numerous Edinburgh students who contributed poems to the university’s presentation volume, an enterprise organised by John Adamson, minister of Liberton and also on the university teaching staff. On 18 July, the Edinburgh College Regents, including Adamson, held academic disputations in Latin before their monarch at Stirling Castle. This event so delighted the king that he wrote a vernacular sonnet punning on the names of the disputants, and granted the Tounis College the honour of calling itself the College of King James. The following year, John Adamson gathered together and edited all the various addresses and poems offered to the sovereign from throughout the kingdom, and published them in a single splendid volume entitled The Muses Welcome to the High and Mighty Prince James. NOTE 7|
5. After several years as regent in humanity at Edinburgh, Rutherford took a course in divinity and was ordained to the parish of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire. The patron of the parish was Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar [1599 - 1634], the area’s leading nobleman, and the subject of Rutherford’s three poems of 1634. In 1633, during Charles I’s coronation visit to Scotland, Gordon was ennobled as Viscount Kenmure and Lord Lochinvar by Charles I. He had also earlier been honoured by a royal charter issued in 1629. Kenmure is the protagonist of The Last and Heavenly Speeches, And Glorious Departure, of John, Viscount Kenmure, a short description of the thirty-five year old Kenmure’s deathbed conversations with the similarly-aged Rutherford in 1634. Rutherford’s Latin poems on Kenmure’s death do not seem to have been published, though the fact that the extant manuscript copy is not a holograph indicates that they must have circulated. The Last and Heavenly Speeches, however, were published only in 1649. The pamphlet was anonymous, but both style and content show it quite clearly to be from Rutherford’s pen. John Gordon had been a close friend of the former minister of Ayr, John Welsh (son-in-law of John Knox), in whose French home he resided for some time (Welsh had been exiled to France by King James in 1606 for his unflinching opposition to the Crown’s policy on the governance of the Kirk). In Last and Heavenly Speeches, Rutherford — who included a potted biography of Welsh in his Survey of Spirituall Antichrist — refers to Welsh as “that heavenly man in our times.” NOTE 8
6. The 1649 publication of The Last and Heavenly Speeches reflects Rutherford’s hope of recovering the so-called “malignant” nobility excluded from holding civil office by that same year’s Act of Classes. The pamphlet’s dedication states it has been published “For the Whole Nobility of Scotland, and Others Having Voice in Parliament or Committees,” and proclaims that “God has set you (noblemen) as stars in the firmament of honor; — upon your influence depends the whole course of the inferior world.” The dying viscount’s deathbed speeches are full of the Song of Songs-based imagery and expressive language frequently found in Rutherford’s Letters and sermons as well as in Christ Dying, revealing just how widespread was the influence of the preacher’s devotional language: “Another word was ordinary to him, ‘O Son of God, one love-blink, one smack, one kiss of thy mouth, one smile!’” and “I will wait on; he is worthy the on-waiting. Though he be long in coming, yet I dare say he is coming, leaping over the mountains, and skipping over the hills: if he were once come we should not sunder.” NOTE 9
7. In 1633, John Gordon found himself torn between grateful loyalty to the king, who had honoured him with a peerage, and his own adherence to the ecclesiology of the Presbyterian party to which Rutherford belonged. On 16 June 1633, five weeks after Gordon, together with others, had been honoured by the king at his coronation on 8 May 1633, the new viscount took his seat in Parliament. It was immediately clear that the king’s approach to Kirk policy was going to encounter stiff parliamentary resistance from Presbyterian nobles — namely those whom Rutherford names and addresses (ventriloquising the dead Kenmure) in Ad nobilissimos, the third of his Latin poems of 1634. Kenmure sought to avoid taking sides, and after attending the first day of Parliament, he feigned illness and left for home. It was not until he fell seriously ill a year later, in August 1634, that his conscience began to torment him because “he had deserted the Parliament.” Only after the various conversations with Rutherford recorded in The Last and Heavenly Speeches did the dying man find relief, passing away on 12 September 1634. Rutherford’s contemporary Latin elegiac couplets mourning Kenmure, and those in which the late nobleman urges other Scottish nobles to stand firm as an example to all, have never before been transcribed or translated. They are found in Wodrow Quarto Manuscript LXXXIV, fols. 245v - 46, in the National Library of Scotland.
8. In 1636 Rutherford published a Latin treatise against Arminianism and Jesuits called Exercitationes Apologeticae pro Divina Gratia, foreshadowing his posthumous Examen Arminianismi of 1668. The writing of the Exercitationes and their epistle dedicatory must, however, predate September 1634, since the book’s epistle is addressed to Kenmure, offering prayers for him and his family. Presumably there were delays in getting the treatise published in Holland. It was a publication that would cost him dearly, for later in 1636, the High Commission summoned him to appear for a three-day trial. “My newly printed book against Arminianism was one challenge,” wrote Rutherford, “not lording the prelates was another.” NOTE 10 He was deprived of his ministerial office, forbidden to preach anywhere in Scotland, and confined within the town of Aberdeen, which at that time was a bastion of Arminianism and episcopacy. Kenmure’s wife, Lady Jane Campbell (sister of the Covenanting leader Archibald, Marquis of Argyll) remained in regular correspondence with Rutherford throughout her life. No fewer than fifty-six of Rutherford’s letters are addressed to her. He later dedicated a volume to her, The Tryal and Triumph of Faith; or, An Exposition of the History of Christs dispossessing of the daughter of the woman of Canaan (London, 1645).
9. The Rutherford scholar John Coffey notes that two hundred and nineteen of Rutherford’s surviving letters, “two-thirds of the total, date from the period of his house-arrest in Aberdeen. NOTE 11 The letters are well known for their devotional qualities and constant application of the passionate language of the Song of Songs, e. g .“Oh, what a sight to be up in heaven in that fair orchard of the new paradise; and to see, and smell, and touch, and kiss that fair field flower, that evergreen Tree of life. Christ, Christ, nothing but Christ can cool our love’s burning languor. O thirsty love! Wilt thou set Christ, the well of life, to thy head, and drink thy fill? Drink, and spare not; drink love, and be drunken with Christ” (Letters LXXXII, p. 142). Many of the letters also feature political content. Writing in 1637 to one of those addressed in the poem Ad nobilissimos, the Earl of Cassillis, Rutherford lambasts the bishops:
They stole the keys from Christ and His church, and came in life the thief and the robber, not by the door, Christ; and now their song is, ‘Authority, authority! obedience to church-governors!’ When such a bastard and lawless pretended step-dame, as our Prelacy, is gone and mad, it is your place, who are the nobles, to rise and bind them. At least, law should fetter such wild bulls as they are, who push all who oppose themselves to their domination. Alas! what have we lost, since prelates were made master-coiners, to change our gold into brass, and to mix the Lord’s wine with water! Blessed for ever shall ye be of the Lord, if ye help Christ against the mighty, and shall deliver the flock of God, scattered upon the mountains in the dark and cloudy day, out of the hands of these idol-shepherds. Fear not men who shall be moth-eaten clay, that shall be rolled up in a chest, and casten under the earth: let the Holy One of Israel be your fear, and be courageous for the Lord and His truth. (Letters CCLXXVIII, p. 512).
10. Another of Rutherford’s addressees in Ad nobilissimos, the Earl of Loudoun, is lobbied to pursue the Covenanting Revolution to the extent of removing the bishops, which he called the “filthy nest” of Antichrist:
I am bold (and plead pardon for it) to speak in paper by a line or two to your Lordship…to go on, as ye have worthily begun, in purging of the Lord’s house in this land, and plucking down the sticks of Antichrist’s filthy nest, this wretched Prelacy, and that black kingdom whose wicked aims have ever been, and still are, to make this fat world the only compass they would have Christ and religion to sail by, and to mount up the Man of Sin, their godfather the Pope of Rome, upon the highest stair of Christ’s throne, and to make a velvet church (in regard of Parliament grandeur and worldly pomp, whereof always their stinking breath smelleth) (Letters CCLXXXI, p. 516).
Rutherford also counsels Loudoun in 1637, “It were the glory and honour of you who are the nobles of this land, to plead for your wronged Bridegroom and His oppressed spouse, as far as zeal and standing law will go with you” (Letters p. 253). NOTE 12 Later he wrote to the Earl of Cassillis, “Oh, if the nobles had done their part, and been zealous for the Lord! it had not been as it is now” (Letters, p. 235).
11. Rutherford’s epigram to John Row’s Hebrew Grammar was long the sole known example of the former humanity regent’s verse. It is one of a whole clutch of liminary commendations of the Grammar, which its preface tells us had been written at Perth 1637 – the year of the Edinburgh riots against King Charles’s Prayer Book and the beginning of the organised resistance to Crown policy. Presumably it was the subsequent upheavals surrounding the signing of the National Covenant in February 1638, the ensuing Glasgow General Assembly and the First Bishops’ War and ongoing hostilities, that prevented Row from publishing his grammar book until 1644, when George Anderson printed it at Glasgow. The full title runs Qasûr hadiqdûq Hebraeae linguae institutiones compendiosissimae & facillimae in discipulorum gratiam primum concinnata nunc vero in juventutis ubique studiosae & eorum praecipuè gratiam, qui Theologiae sacrosanctae navant operam in lucem editae / a Ioa. Row.
12. John Row, from 1651 principal of King’s College, Old Aberdeen, was the grandson of an eponymous early Reformer [d . 1580], a former schoolmaster-turned-minister in Perth, and the son of another John Row [1568 - 1646)] a child prodigy who had himself been taught Hebrew by the age of seven, and who went on to be minister of Carnock in Fife, a lifelong opponent of episcopacy and an important Kirk historian. By 1644m when Qasûr hadiqdûq was printed, Rutherford had been professor of divinity at St Andrews for six years. His commendatory epigram keeps interesting company, and the presence of Dr Patrick Panter of St Andrews, after 1638 a notorious royalist, Arminian and (by accusation) Pelagian, indicates that the liminary poems were probably written and sent to Row in 1637 or 1638. Rutherford’s poem comes second, after one by John Adamson (principal of Edinburgh University since 1623), and is followed by the lines penned by Dr Patrick Panter, who by 1644 had long been in disgrace and English exile. Next come an unidentified “G. C. Theolog. Stud.", James Guthrie of St Leonards College in St Andrews, atuus in domino frater A .S. (possibly Alexander Simson, minister of Merton, who had been persecuted by the bishops, rather than the philosopher and controversialist Adam Steuart ), and finally John Mow, son of a Dundee music master, and himself eventually minister at Strathmartine. Rutherford’s lines praising Row’s work apply the somewhat surprising epithet “lying” to the rabbi who had been the preferred Jewish commentator of the translators of the A.V., David Kimchi of Narbonne [1160 - 1235]. Rutherford can only have read Kimchi in Hebrew, as the rabbi’s works had never been translated. His writings show a close acquaintance with Hebrew grammar, but his commentaries on Hosea and Isaiah have never been located.
13. The breast-beating repetition of self-denunciation in Rutherford’s Defuncti pia confessio might seem like an inheritance from mediaeval Christian Latin, not classical style, but in reality it is more likely to reflect the kind of anaphora-laden penitential poetry written in the vernacular by, inter alia, Rutherford’s friend and correspondent Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross. With regard to Rutherford as a Latin versifier, the comments on Defuncti pia confessio made by Dr Henry Howard, who helped with some translation difficulties, are worth quoting: “A careful and clever piece of classical verse. Some of his alliteration is a bit unsubtle, some of it is quite effective. He is mistaken in the scansion of tertium (short short long) in line 1, and lines 2 and 3, with too many spondees and both lines starting Di, strike me as heavy. On the other hand the next two couplets read excellently. Particularly pleasing is me caro, me mundus, me Satan ipse petit, elegantly rhyming noxam and meam' while the dulce caro line is suitably sensuous, and something about the scansion of Quae pure sancteque sequi dum conor adultus reads very authentically.”
14. A hitherto apparently unknown tribute to Rutherford as a shining light in a dark world, thanks to his theology of divine grace, is the epigram written in praise of his final, posthumous publication by the celebrated Anna Maria van Schurman [1607 - 1678]. The Examen Arminianismi is based on Rutherford’s own theology lectures at the University of St. Andrews, and was published at Utrecht in 1668. The text was prepared under the supervision of Robert MacWard, Rutherford’s amanuensis at the Westminster Assembly, and Matthias Nethenus, a professor of divinity in the University of Utrecht. Anna Maria van Schurman, a widely known Dutch polymath (she was a painter, scholar, poet and polyglot linguist) was in fact the book’s dedicatee. The following poem by her is found on fol. .122 of Wodrow Folio Manuscript LX in the National Library of Scotland.
IN LIBRUM POSTREMUM BEATAE MEMORIAE D. SAMUELIS RHETORFORTIS
EPIGRAMMA M. à SHURMAN NOTE 13
Scotia clara dedit nostris quot lumina seclis,
Unde novum in nostro spargitur orbe bubar.
Hos inter fortis solet hic splendescere soles
Prae classe ut sexta sidera prima micant.
Suspice doctrinam, lector, mentemque profundam: 5
Sublimesque animos hic reverenter habe:
Pelagii fastus procul est; mera gratia vincit,
Quae simul excelsum, verè humilemque facit.
Haec sola accendit divino pectus amore,
Hincque ignes similes pagina lecta, paret. 10
ON THE LAST BOOK OF DR. SAMUEL RUTHERFORD OF BLESSED MEMORY
AN EPIGRAM BY MLLE. ANNA VAN SCHURMAN
How many shining stars has Scotland given to our age,
Whence a new dawn lights up our world.
Amongst them Rutherford, this stout speaker, is known to blaze,
As the first star outshines the other six. NOTE 14
Gaze up at his teaching, reader, and his deep thinking,
And hold his sublime spirit in reverence.
Pelagius’ arrogance is banished afar, mere grace is victorious,
Which makes man both exalted and truly humble.
It alone sets the heart afire with divine love,
And thus these choice pages will give birth to a like fire.
Underneath the Latin is an alternative version of the final couplet, written in the same beautiful small hand, namely,
Illa quoque accendit Divinis pectora flammis,
Atque ignes similes pagina docta parit.
It also sets the heart afire with flames divine,
And these learned pages give birth to like fires.”]
15. Matthew Vogan and James Reid Baxter wish to thank Prof. Dana F. Sutton for including this edition in the Philological Museum. Dr. Reid Baxter would also like to thank Matthew Vogan for prodding him into working on Rutherford’s Latin poems and also to thank Dr. Henry Howard and Dr. Sutton for their kind assistance with cruces when translating the verses.
NOTE 1 For a survey of Rutherford, see Sherman Isbell, “Samuel Rutherford,” Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology (ed. Nigel M. Cameron, Edinburgh, 1993) pp. 735f.
NOTE 2 John Milton, Complete Shorter Poems, ed. John Carey (London, 1987), p.294. A. S. refers to Adam Steuart [1591 – 1654], a Scottish philosopher and controversialist who taught at Saumur from 1617, and then at Sedan from 1622, where he was at some point clashed with Pierre du Moulin. Steuart was based in Holland from autumn 1644. In the spring and summer of 1644, debated in print with Independents on the subject of toleration, and published Some Observations and Annotations upon the Apologetical Narration (1st edition 1643).
NOTE 3 Joshua Redivivus or Mr. Rutherfoord’s Letters, now published for the use of the people of God: but more particularly for those who now are, or may afterwards be, put to suffering for Christ and His cause. By a well wisher to the work and to the people of God. Printed in the year 1664.
NOTE 4 David Reid, “Prose After Knox” in The History of Scottish Literature (Cairns Craig and Ronald D. S. Jack edd.,, three vols., Aberdeen, 1998) III, 183 - 197. Quotations from pp. 186 and 194.
NOTE 5 1617 was also a significant year for the future Kirk historian David Calderwood, minister of the Borders parish of Crailing in which Rutherford had grown up. Calderwood had signed a clerical protestation against the decree of the Lords of Articles giving power to the king, with the archbishops, bishops, and such ministers as he might choose, to direct the external policy of the Kirk. After a frank discussion with the king in 1617, Calderwood was summoned before the High Commission, deprived of his living, and banished the realm, though he only left for Holland in 1619. Thereafter his published polemics and continual agitation against the Scottish bishops were a thorn in the side of the Scottish government, helping to shape the thinking of the opposition that would eventually erupt in the Prayerbook Riots of July 1637.
NOTE 6 John Coffey, Politics: Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford, (Cambridge: 1997, p. 63
NOTE 7 See Jane Stevenson, “Adulation and Admonition in The Muses Welcome,” in D. J. Parkinson (ed).. James VI and I, Literature and Scotland: Tides of Change (Leuven, 2013), pp. 267 - 82, and Roger H. Green, “The King Returns: The Muses’ Welcome (1618),” in Steven J .Reid and David McOmish (edd.), Neo-Latin Literature and Literary Culture in Early Modern Scotland (Leiden, 2016), pp. 126 - 62.
NOTE 8 During his imprisonment in Blackness Castle in 1605 - 6, Welsh had been the addressee of a sonnet (based on an acrostic of his name) written by Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross, a future correspondent of Rutherford’s. See Poems of Elizabeth Melville (ed. Jamie Reid Baxter, Edinburgh, 2010) p. 68.
NOTE 9 Quoted from Anthology of Presbyterian and Reformed Literature (ed. C. Coldwell, Dallas, 1992), pp. 65 and 77.
NOTE 10 Letters LX (p. 135). Interestingly, with reference to the non-lording of the prelates, the final section of the epistle dedicatory of Exercitationes bluntly asks the recently ennobled viscount Quid vero nobilitas?’ and answers that Omnis sanguis concolor est, diversitatem parit virtus, imo pietas. Rutherford and his fellow presbyterians saw neither piety nor virtue in the Scottish episcopate.
NOTE 11 Coffey, p. 95.
NOTE 12 To Alexander Gordon of Lochinvar he writes “Ye are the first man in Galloway called out and questioned for the name of Jesus... howbeit body, life, and goods go for Christ your Lord, and though ye should lose the head for Him” (Letters LIX, pp. 133f.).
NOTE 13 That is, the posthumous Examen Arminianismi (Utrecht, 1668), published under the supervision of Robert MacWard, Rutherford’s amanuensis at the Westminster Assembly, and Matthias Nethenus, a professor of Divinity in the University of Utrecht. The book is dedicated to Anna Maria van Schurman. . It is a polemic against Arminianism, based on Rutherford’s own theology lectures at the University of St. Andrews.
NOTE 14 I. e., as the sun outshines the six planets visible to the naked eye.