Future perfect?: Elect nationhood and the grammar of desire in Mary Cary's millennial visions (1).
The Parliamentary Army's successes against the King's men in the Civil Wars raised the hopes of many Dissenters that the end of earthly monarchy was at hand. Far from a fringe belief, millenarianism was widespread and included among its proponents intellectuals and politicians such as (briefly) Cromwell himself, John Milton, and Sir Isaac Newton. (2) Fifth Monarchists were also a strong presence in the army and a powerful political force in the early years of the Commonwealth. The political and religious turmoil of the mid-century accounts in part for the flourishing of millennial hopes for the possibility and proximity of a paradise on earth. As Christopher Hill suggests, "in moments of acute social crisis some of the devoutest believers may see signs that the kingdom is at hand and may decide that it is their duty to expedite its coming. At such moments millenarian doctrines become equivalent to social revolution" ("John Mason and the End of the World" 290). For a brief time, faith in the imminent return of King Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom on earth held significant contemporary political weight. Published at the outset of the Civil Wars, for example, Fifth Monarchist John Archer's Personall Reigne of Christ (1642) prophesied that the Saints would enjoy an earthly reign of King Jesus beginning in 1666.
In order to buttress their belief in the imminent return of Jesus, millennial writers cultivated a hermeneutic practice of collapsing past and present, reading the world around them for signs of biblical prophecies fulfilled and urging anyone who would listen to help fulfill its necessary preconditions, particularly mass Jewish conversion. Quakers George Fox and Margaret Fell, for example, wrote numerous tracts urging Jewish conversion in order to facilitate "the moment of confrontation and decision" which they believed "was at hand for the kingdom of God to break into human history" (Kunze 216). (3) Millenarian hopes of Jewish conversion may have been reinforced by a mid-century policy reversal: In 1655, after a 365-year expulsion, Jews were readmitted to England by a rather informal reversal of the Royal expulsion of 1290. This reversal did not, however, result in an influx of practising Jews into England, for the simple reason that the expulsion had not completely removed Jews from England. Although most did leave, some remained, went underground and/or ceased to practice (Wolf, Rabb).
Like many apocalyptic writers, Fifth Monarchist polemicist Mary Cary also believed that the conversion of the Jews was a necessary precondition for Christ's second coming. Cary began printing her prophecies in the tumultuous years immediately before the execution of Charles I and continued into the early days of the Commonwealth. Unlike Fox and Fell, however, she does not advocate for present-day Jewish conversion in her published writings, neither directly addressing Jews themselves in her writing nor pleading with Parliament to consider their readmission to England before 1655.
Instead, her hermeneutic practice, like that of other seventeenth-century millennial writers, collapses past and present, offering a reminder that modern understandings of linear, progressive time do not apply to the early-modern period. Specifically, Cary collapses the biblical past with Civil War and Interregnum England. (4) Following this hermeneutic practice, the English are the new Israelites; Jews, who are closer to Old Testament Law, are therefore, paradoxically, closer to true Christianity than are Catholics. Cary's utopian vision also requires both that Jews must be readmitted to England and that they will, at some not-too-distant point in the future, have converted to Christianity, neatly eliding the contemporary material realities of the Jews and the complications of how and when such a mass conversion would occur. In order to navigate this complicated maze, Cary retreats into complicated rhetorical manoeuvres and mobilises a grammatical tense known as the "future anterior," the tense, I maintain, of utopian desiring. This paper explores some of the implications of this early-modern millennialist reading strategy, considering the implications of both collapsing ancient Israel with then-contemporary England and the conversion or "calling of the Jewes" (Archer 48) that millennialists held was an essential precursor to their Christian utopia. This hermeneutic practice, I will argue, facilitates a particular, seventeenth-century version of anti-Semitism. (5)
The Grammar of Desire
Grammatically, the future anterior is the tense used to discuss things that "will have happened" by some point in the future. At that future point, the event(s) envisioned will have been completed. Statements made in this tense usually take the form "X will have done" something (will have understood, will have spoken, will have become) "by the time Y has happened": for example, "The Jews will have converted by the time Christ returns." These statements differ from those in the future tense, in which someone will possess or do one definite thing that is not contingent on another action (for example, "The Jews will convert"). The future anterior is sometimes called the "future perfect"--and is sometimes confused with a perfect future: some time at which one will have done everything one plans to do, or at which all the necessary, desirable social and political reforms will have been enacted. In this sense, it is a utopian tense.
The future anterior is also the tense of desire in Lacanian psychoanalytic terms. The future anterior indicates an action that will begin and end in the future, or two future actions, one of which must precede the other: by the time the latter action occurs, the former will have already finished. In its structure, the future anterior implies a lack: something the speaker or writer does not have in the present but will have at some future point. In psychoanalytic terms, the desire is never realisable and the lack can never be filled. By the time the stated desired object is achieved, a new desired object has replaced it, or "will have" replaced it. And this replacement too can be formulated in the future anterior. The location of desire shifts perpetually. An unspoken desire for pre-verbal (re)union with the maternal body always lies beyond the stated demand.
For the purposes of this paper, I suggest that the future anterior is a tense of utopian desiring, and, further, that those desires are perpetually deferred and never fully attainable. I use this formulation to examine the interplay of conscious and unconscious desires in Mary Cary's writing. Specifically, I will suggest that Cary's "perfect future" relies on unstated assumptions about Jewish conversion to sustain her transcendental desiring. This reliance is a precarious undertaking. As Elizabeth Grosz reminds us, "desire is beyond conscious articulation, for it is barred or repressed from articulation. It is structured like a language, but is never spoken as such by the subject. Its production through repression is one of the constitutive marks of the unconscious" (64-65). Moreover, inferring unconscious desires from historical texts risks the hubristic assumption that the present is superior to the past and that from this vantage point it is possible to uncover the hidden truths of the past unencumbered by our own historical, desiring location.
Whether it is at all appropriate to apply psychoanalysis to early-modern texts depends largely on whether one believes Freud "invented" or merely articulated the unconscious, among other things. (6) If we believe he "discovered" psychoanalysis, then irrespective of time and place, all human beings are equally available for analysis. It might be tempting, as a result, to follow Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle as he writes:
Under the influence of the ego's instincts for self-preservation, the pleasure principle is replaced by the reality principle. This latter principle does not abandon the intention of ultimately obtaining pleasure, but it nevertheless demands and carries into effect the postponement of satisfaction, the abandonment of a number of possibilities of gaining satisfaction and the temporary toleration of unpleasure as a step on the long indirect road to pleasure. (4)
Under this rubric, the trajectory of Cary's writings capitulates to the "reality principle" and postpones her hope for attaining ultimate pleasure, the Fifth Monarchy, in favour of more "realistic" earthly reform. (7) This deferral may necessarily be perpetual and her aims unrealisable in this life. Such a reading, however, relies on the assumption both that Freud is correct about the ego's instinctual drive and that his interpretation is applicable to early-modern consciousness. Both assumptions are contestable. As the frequent recourse to grammatical metaphors suggests, there remains, however, a strong association between the language of psychoanalysis and early-modern culture.
Belief that desires are achievable rather than requiring perpetual deferral relies on faith in a transcendental signified, a source or origin for all meaning. I assume that Cary's ultimate desire is a transcendental one. As a millenarian, Cary would have subscribed to the belief that her desires were not only realisable but to be realised in this world. In her writing, however, the future anterior belies this impulse, for it marks an always unstable object of desire.
Mary Cary and Apocalyptic Utopian Writing of the Interregnum
Along with large numbers of women in seventeenth-century dissenting sects, many Fifth Monarchist women took up the work of preaching and prophesying during the middle decades of the century. For her part, Mary Cary published five tracts. The first, A Word in Season (1647), offers a "cordial" for England, then in the throes of civil war. This opening salvo into the tense politics of mid-seventeenth century England constitutes a demand for religious tolerance for non-Conformists. Implicitly addressing England's political turmoil, Cary offers tolerance as "the readiest way, and shortest cut to a happie and flourishing estate" (A2v; unpaginated). In this sense, A Word is both a political treatise and the beginning of Cary's larger utopian project. In this early tract, her utopian hopes consist primarily of a desire for the return of peace and political stability to England after years of violent turmoil. That goal, she suggests, can be achieved by universal religious tolerance.
Cary's later writings, however, belie this humanist impulse. As Cary advances her utopian programme, she becomes less and less inclusive. This growing exclusionary sentiment also marks the decline of her hopes for godly revolution. The year after A Ward, Cary published The Resurrection of the Witnesses (1648), an extended exegesis/sermon on Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation. Fifth Monarchists interpreted current events through the prophecies of the Book of Isaiah, the Book of Daniel, and the Book of Revelation. Like hundreds of other sermons written during the 1640s and 1650s, Cary's Resurrection emphasises the Book of Revelation's particular relevance to the English Saints. Reading biblical events onto current political affairs, Cary collapses past and present, and thus eradicates lived specificities. Her writings demonstrate that not only was biblical narrative read into current events but also that seventeenth-century Christians understood daily events in relation to biblical stories. Like other Fifth Monarchists, Cary believed that the Bible offered the key to understanding world history and a blueprint for political change. She used biblical prophecies to construct her own vision of a paradise on earth. And it is this hermeneutic practice that she brings to bear with a vengeance in her next two tracts.
While not explicitly utopian, Cary's Resurrection of the Witnesses participates in the millennialist project by virtue of its interest in the Book of Revelation. Cary was not alone in this focus. Indeed, mid-seventeenth century England saw a resurgence of interest in apocalyptic narrative, especially in the Book of Revelation, which was, as Bernard McGinn suggests, nowhere "more avidly studied and more vociferously debated" for complex reasons that lie, in part, in the "close linkage established between the English national identity and the cause of the Reformation, and the growth of the radical Puritan strain that eventually led to a revival of millenarianism" (535). Both Anglicans and Continental Reformers, notes McGinn, equated Rome with Babylon; those, however, who "came to question the Elizabethan settlement turned the tables on the moderates by viewing the established episcopal Church as Laodicea the lukewarm (Rev. 3:16) or even as Babylon on native shores" (535). Christopher Hill makes a similar point as he charts the different uses of the epithet "Antichrist" in England over the course of the seventeenth century. (8) Early in the century, the term was used solely to indicate Roman Catholicism in general and the Pope in particular. Into the Civil War years, the growing number of non-Conformists began to find too much Catholicism lingering both in the national church, with its ecclesiastical hierarchy and elaborate ritual, and in the related state apparatus. (9) The period also sees a war of words among various Protestant and Nonconformist sects, who tripped over themselves to label each other anti-Christian. Apocalyptic narrative and utopian visions were combined in radical puritan millennial utopias that, McGinn notes, "often included a sense of England as an apocalyptically elect nation" (536).
Cary follows up her exegesis on the Book of Revelation with Little Horns Doom and Downfall (1651), a mapping of The Book of Daniel onto current events. Although Little Horns was published two years after Charles I's execution, Cary claims to have written it seven years prior to its publication--five years, that is, before the regicide. This tract, which links the biblical Daniel's prophecies with Charles I's fate, participates in the same reading practice exemplified by Resurrection. (10) Fifth Monarchists identified Charles I as the little horn of the Book of Daniel (8:9) and understood his execution as a sign of the imminent return of Jesus to reign over the Saints for a thousand years. Cary was one of the few sectarian writers to welcome the news of the King's death, and asserts the justness of the regicide. Indeed, she insists that the King's execution could only have been achieved with God's help: "How could they which are so few in number and in the eyes of the world despised, and despicable creatures, have carried on that work so effectually, as to have cut off the [head of the] late King," she asks, "had not the Lord assisted them with thousands of Angels, and evidently manifested himselfe to bee with them?" (Little Horns 31, 32).
Later in the revolutionary years, Cromwell turned his back on the radical sects, and millennialism--which had earlier seemed a necessary and urgent response to acute political crisis--fell out of political favour. Little Horns, a double volume that contains both The Little Horns Doom and Downfall and A New and More Exact Mappe or Description of New Jerusalems Glory, was published while Puritan hopes for the godly revolution led by Cromwell were still high and Cromwell was still actively sympathetic toward Fifth Monarchists. Cary's attachment to and optimism about the future of the Commonwealth can be gauged in part by the tract's dedication, which is addressed to Elizabeth Cromwell (Cromwell's wife), Bridget Ireton (his daughter, who was married to the prominent army general Henry Ireton), and Margaret Rolle (who was married to a judge). In her dedication, Cary explains that she has selected these three women because they will be sympathetic to her millennial vision: "I have therefore chosen, (because of your own sex) to dedicate these Treatises to your Ladyships," she writes, "being assured both, First, of your ingenuous, and gracious acceptation hereof ... And also secondly, of your owning, and defending, and maintaining all the truths, which are therein laid down." The "truths" Cary expects her dedicatees will embrace include her identification of the late King as the fourth horn prophesied in the Book of Daniel, whose "downfall," she insists, heralds the end of earthly monarchy.
Cary aligns herself with those who believed Charles to be a crypto-Catholic who, under the influence of his Catholic wife, Henrietta Maria, extended the persecution of Saints. (11) In Little Horns, she identifies the Roman Empire, and by extension the Church of Rome, with the fourth kingdom of the Book of Daniel. Moreover, she insists that Charles was the tenth king of this fourth and final monarchy: "Now this [Daniel 24:8, 20] directly was the late King; he come up in the roome of three of the horns and reigned over three of the Kingdoms subjected to the Roman Beast; and before him three Homes were pluckt up by the roots" (6). Cary calculates that the "Romish Beast" has been "permitted to persecute the Church" for a reign of "one thousand two hundred and sixty years [Rev. 11:3]," and will soon be overthrown: "[T]his and to tread it under foot, is very neer come to a period [Rev. 12:6]" (17). q-he work of the Saints, Cary asserts, "was to take away the Dominion of that little Horne that spake great words against the most high, and made war against the Saints" (39).
While Little Horns argues that recent political events display the prophesied signs of the end of the fourth kingdom, its companion piece, A New and More Exact Mappe, outlines the steps necessary to prepare for Christ's arrival on earth--the conversion of both Jews (139-168) and Gentiles (161-170)--and offers a utopian vision of the coming Fifth Monarchy. The trajectory of Cary's writings ends with a political tract, as her utopian hopes peaked with the hopes for Cromwell's support for radical sects. (12) Her final tract, Twelve Humble Proposals to the Supreme Governours of the Three Nations (1653), addressed to Cromwell's Barebones Parliament of 1653 (also known as the Parliament of Saints), is a carefully worded request for utopian political reform. In advocating reform in the present, Cary is in keeping with much of the prophetic writing of the period; as Amy Boesky notes, "[b]y the 1640s in England the term utopia was increasingly associated with real-life reform," much to Charles I's chagrin (84). Boesky characterises the utopias of the Commonwealth period as "houses of industry" which aim to "enlarge capital, promote plenty, and train up model citizens" (84, 91). (13) This trait is most clear in Twelve Humble Proposals. Here, Cary advocates poor relief, the establishment of a Post Office (taxes from which will support poor relief) and, like other Puritan reformers, overhauling the university structure. Although she positions herself as a humble petitioner to Parliament, Cary's requests carry the weight of prophetic authority.
Cary's millennialist utopian blueprint, New Jerusalems Glory, outlines both the numerous privileges the Saints will enjoy in the Fifth Monarchy and the necessary preconditions for achieving that monarchy. Her final pamphlet, Twelve Humble Proposals, on the other hand, implicitly suggests that all necessary preconditions are in place and the earthly reign of the Saints can begin. Between the two tracts, Cary switches tense, from the future and future anterior to the present imperative. This change in grammatical tense, I maintain, articulates Cary's optimism about the object of her utopian desires.
New Jerusalem's (English) Glory
As we have seen, Cary's writings navigate two utopian modes, millennial prophecies and petitions for earthly reform. Although she does offer some predictions, Cary's prophecies, like their biblical precedents, offer a voice of a chosen messenger sent to illuminate Scripture. (14) Her various petitions are also part of this prophetic tradition. In A Word in Season (1647) and Twelve Humble Proposals (1653), her two utopian manifestos, she uses biblical examples to justify and expand her demands for religious toleration and social reform, respectively. In addition to manifestory writing, Cary's extended millennial utopia, A New and More Exact Mappe, enumerates the many privileges the Saints will enjoy during the thousand-year earthly reign of Christ that Cary predicts will begin in 1701. Apart from echoing passages from the Book of Isaiah that promise the end of bodily suffering, however, she shows little interest in material bodies, which remain somewhat spectral in her writing. As a result, it remains difficult to locate the somatic politics of her writings. Cary does, however, concern herself a great deal with England as the New Israel, and it is here that her lack of interest in material bodies combines with convoluted syntax to tiptoe around the delicate question of Jewish readmission and conversion/assimilation.
Just as she derives her method of reading from biblical texts, Cary also looks to them for definitional boundaries for community. Following the English Bible translators, Cary uses the word "nation" where the Hebrew aretz might resonate more closely with "land," "kingdom," "people," or even "Israelites." As Liah Greenfeld argues, although there was no precise word for "nation" in either Hebrew- or Greek-language bibles, all the English translations use the word "nation"--thus registering nascent English nationalism. The King James Version (1611), for example, uses it 454 times. Cary herself uses "nation" copiously; its use in Little Hornsl New Jerusalems Glory, for example, accounts for nearly one quarter of all the instances of the word in the entire corpus of the Brown Women Writers Project's Renaissance Women Online. (15) Moreover, Cary uses "nation" interchangeably to mean the Israelites and England. In this way, she signals another collapse of her present day and biblical past--with important implications for tracing early-modern anti-Semitism. (16) In her millennial utopia, the two nations, separated in time and space, become blurred. In order to support this ideological blurring, Cary, like many of her contemporaries who believed England was the new Israel, needed to articulate a relationship between the English Dissenters and contemporary Jews. Cary's strategies for incorporation and annexation are complex and participate in the current debates about the relation of Jews to Christianity. Unlike Margaret Fell, however, Cary does not call for the readmission of Jews but insists upon the religious proximity between Jews and Dissenters, an insistence that is further complicated by the prerequisite of Jewish and Gentile conversion in order to achieve the one thousand year earthly reign of Christ. (17)
For her part, Cary does not seem to be interested in practising Jews except to the extent that they represent an "accurate" relationship to the Old Testament, in opposition to her understanding of Catholicism. She does, however, dedicate a lengthy section of New Jerusalems Glory to a discussion of the Jews' conversion. Unlike many of her contemporaries, who expressed a similar interest in Jewish conversion, however, Cary neither addresses Jews nor pleads with Parliament to consider readmission. Instead, she limits herself to a discussion of the timing of such a conversion, ultimately deciding that--in order to be truly miraculous--the conversion will take place on one day. Cary's lack of interest is a product of her hermeneutic practice, but it is also a specific seventeenth-century form of anti-Semitism. Hers is neither the virulent anti-Semitism of William Prynne (A Short Demurrer to the Jews, 1656) nor the philo-Semitism of English writers on the Continent such as Baptist Joanna Cartwright (The Petition of the Jews, 1649), who lived in religiously tolerant Amsterdam. Cary shares the ambivalent in-between position with Quaker Margaret Fell. (18) We can attempt to locate the specificities of early-modern anti-Semitism by the ways in which it combines religious and racial discourse. Curiously, at least for early twenty-first-century readers, Cary reserves her venom not for Jews but for Catholics. This occurs partly because she never treats Jews as people but rather as a disembodied exemplar, and this treatment is where we find one facet of early-modern anti-Semitism. Moreover, Cary's tirades against Catholicism often come hard on the heels of discussions of Jewish conversion and, so, evince a slippage between Jews and Catholics in her thinking and suggest that both are joint targets of her invective.
Millennial utopias would seem to be fairly straightforward expressions of desiring. They desire both religious toleration and political reform. More explicitly, they desire Christ's return. Although the future anterior (or future perfect) is the tense of desire, early-modern utopias use what Louis Marin calls "static description" almost exclusively. And it is in a static future tense that Cary, in New Jerusalems Glory, outlines the utopian vision of the Fifth Monarchy. In this earthly paradise prophesied by Isaiah (65:17-25; Authorised Version), the saints' "prayers shall be speedily heard" (70); "they shall long enjoy the work of their hands, and they shall have abundance of flockes and herds; and eate and drink" (71; see also 288); "they shall live till they come to a good old age" (71; see also 289); and "no ravenous, or hurtfull, or devouring creature shall then do any hurt to man or beast" (71; see also 293-294). All wars will cease (228-230), and Satan will be chained for a thousand years (231-234). In addition, women will be liberated from Eve's punishment for the Fall and will no longer endure pain in childbirth. (19) Although outward privileges of the saints will be numerous, Cary insists that these are secondary to the spiritual powers they will enjoy (285). She uses the simple future countless times and heaps one use on top of another in a dizzying description of future joys to be enjoyed by the Saints:
they shall inhabit the houses which they build, and eate the fruite of the vineyards which they shall plant, & none shall take from them; but they shall long enjoy the work of their hands; and they shall have abundance of flockes, and herds; and eate and drink, and rejoyce in the Lord, and sing for joy of heart ... [and] they shall live till they come to a good old age, and be blessed. (70-71)
Cary shifts tense in this tract when she comes to discuss the steps necessary to prepare for Christ's arrival on earth--the conversion of both Jews (139-168) and Gentiles (161-170). Cary and other Fifth Monarchists believed the Jews' conversion would be an immediate precursor to Christ's return (one possible source of lack). In sharp contrast to her frequent use of the static future earlier in New Jerusalems Glory, Cary uses the future anterior only in her discussion "Of the Jews Conversion." Although it remains implicit, Cary never uses the precise formulation "the Jews will have converted" before Christ's return. Instead, she envisions their automatic conversion after the Church of Rome is destroyed. Jews, she insists, are such good, God-fearing people that they are currently deterred from conversion by the abuses of Catholics. Rhetorically Cary asks, "Why cannot they [Jews] believe it [that Jesus is the Messiah]?" (140) only to launch into a lengthy diatribe against Catholicism. The slippage between Judaism and Catholicism leads to the focus of Cary's vitriol:
[B]ecause that great Whore, the City of Rome, who pretends to have power over all that are called Christians, is such a filthy abominable, hatefull strumpet; such a mother of harlots, and abominations. Whereas the Jewes keep close to the Old Testament, and to the Law contained therein, which is holy, just and good. (140)
Cary continues to assault Catholics in the conventional anti-papal language of the day, accusing them of "unclean lusts" such as "fornication, adultery, sodomie, and beastiality; practises which the very heathen abhor" (141). Such "abominations," Cary insists, prevent Jews from recognising Christianity as the true faith. Although Jewish conversion is the stated object of Cary's desire, her demand for it is inextricably connected to the destruction of Roman control over Christianity, a curious and specifically seventeenth-century blend of anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic sentiment. And it is to this end that she employs the future anterior. Jews will convert, Cary maintains, "when the Lamb shall have overcome the ten Kingdomes, and shall have put them into a new frame and posture: and when his glory shall be wonderfully seen among his people, and all the world shall heare how gloriously he shall manifest himselfe among them" (142; emphasis added). What Cary suggests her culture lacks is both the destruction of the Catholic Church, a church which Dissenters see as the illegitimate descendant of the Roman Empire, and the conversion of the Jews.
What happens when Cary shifts tense? As I suggested earlier, the use of the future anterior suggests a perpetually deferred and unattainable desire. In a sense, Cary's career shifts tense with the flagging hopes for a godly Revolution under Cromwell. As discussed above, her final published pamphlet, The Twelve Humble Proposals, is her most overtly political tract, seeking, as it does, to reform the current ills of London rather than preparing for the coming millennium. That is, in this pamphlet she shifts her focus from the unattainable future to the present. This change in tense, and in strategy, leaves the resolution of her explicitly stated desires for a Christian utopia on earth in a state of perpetual deferral. The impossibility of her utopian project, combined with the changing political climate, either necessitates a change in strategy or, less optimistically, renders the old strategy of perpetual deferral intolerable. Her silence following this pamphlet also suggests the unspeakableness of perpetual deferral. (20)
Nationalism of the Elect
Nationalism is not engendered by nations. It is produced--or better, it is induced--by political fields of particular kinds. Its dynamics are governed by the properties of political fields, not by the properties of collectivities. Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed 17
By way of conclusion, I want to consider the implications for a burgeoning nationalism of what I have posited as a millenarian reading strategy and its concomitant seventeenth-century anti-Semitism. Following Rogers Brubaker, I want to avoid asking "what is a nation?" and thereby getting bogged down in arguing whether or not early-modern England had a fully developed understanding of itself as a nation. (21) Instead, I want to examine how the idea of nation functions.
In The Birthpangs of Protestant England, Patrick Collinson argues that the combination of the English Reformation and James VI and I's unification of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland gave rise to an intensified, and peculiarly Protestant, nationalism. "The Protestant Reformation," Collinson suggests, "extended and intensified the religious sense of English nationhood ... sublimating and idealizing vulgar Elizabethan nationalism. But it also inhibited and confused that sense, turning it inward and ultimately converting it into a disturbing and divisive as much as a uniting force" (7). Collinson examines late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century writings with a view to what he sees as the religious fragmentation that gave rise to the Civil Wars of the mid-seventeenth century, and offers a useful discussion of the relationship between biblical geography, burgeoning nationalism, and English imperialism. After the Bible became widely available in English translation, Collinson maintains, "the Israel of the Old Testament became a familiar paradigm for England, Jerusalem for London. Every biblical type and figure of God's people was now applied to England" (10). (22) Moreover, the discursive mapping of Israel onto England served "to allege two equally covenanted nations, virtually fused in one in the single bond sealed between God and his covenanted people" (11). Although he is cautious to warn against any easy assumptions about Protestant uniformity, Collinson does suggest some of the possible consequences of mapping Israel onto England: "If it really was the case that England was thought to be God's peculiar place, not just an elect nation but the elect nation, and if that idea was born out of the experience of the Protestant Reformation and its immediate consequences, then we have unearthed in protestant religious consciousness a root, perhaps even the taproot, of English imperialism" (5). (23)
Cary's interest in the Book of Revelation aligns her with a burgeoning sense of England as the new elect nation. Latent nationalism underwrites Cary's desire for Jewish conversion despite conversion's status as the unrealisable ideal. Fifth Monarchists believed Christ would return to reign over the world from London. London was to be the New Jerusalem, England the new Israel. Emergent nationalism deemed the English the new Elect Nation. Cary dedicates Resurrection to all Saints, but especially those in England. Cary's principal deduction from her reading of Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation is that it offers "speciall encouragement unto the high and honourable Court of Parliament; for as much as (a great number of them, being the Witnesses of Jesus Christ) they were the primary or first instruments, that God made use of to defend the cause of his people, and to preserve them from the tyranny and fury of the Beast" (174-175). For Cary and other Fifth Monarchists, the Parliamentary victory signalled the final defeat of "the Beast" that would precede Christ's return.
Cary's attachment to and development of "nation" as a concept and metaphor extends beyond merely following the King James Bible's translators in their use of the word and beyond simple chauvinism. In her dedicatory epistle to the Ladies Cromwell, Ireton, and Rolle, Cary praises the three women as "among the many pious, precious, prudent, and sage matrons, and holy women, with which this Common-wealth is adorned; as with so many precious jewels, and choice gemmes, (which God having here and there placed in it, doe set out the glory and lustre of the Nation)" (A3v). But it is her gloss on "nation" that links conventional praise of women's attributes, here spiritual attributes, with Protestant nationalism. "This nation so farre excels in glory, and happinesse all other Nations," Cary's note explains, "because of those number of precious Saints that are in it" (A3v-A4). While likening the women and their sagacity to precious jewels clearly falls under the rubric of conventional flattery, Cary extrapolates from the commonplace of women's status as gems in the poetic economy to an insistence that it is the Saints who increase the value of the nation. She concludes her gloss with a reference to Thomas Goodwin's Great Interest of States and Kingdomes (1645), which, Cary approvingly notes, claims that seventeenth-century Englishmen could only have preferred Christ's Israel for a time and place to live. England holds second place, perhaps, but only to one other time and place.
Beyond her title-page explanation that her exposition of the Book of Revelation is dedicated "especially to the Saints in England," Cary suggests that since England is the home of the Saints, London is, therefore, the spiritual Jerusalem. The title of "Holy City" she explains,
is given in Scripture unto that city, of which that Jerusalem of old was a figure, and that is, the Saints, and people of God who are all citizens of the holy City.... Jerusalem of old was a figure of this Holy city ... where the Saints are called by the name of Jerusalem, only they are differenced from the material Jerusalem, in that they are called, The heavenly Jerusalem.... Now that this Heavenly Jerusalem, which is compacted of Saints, and Sanctified ones, and therefore must needs be a Holy city. (Resurrection 42-43)
By reducing Jerusalem to a "figure" rather than both a historical and a living city, and dividing the "material" city from the biblical ideal "Holy City," Cary is able to map the spiritual Jerusalem onto England. This reduction, this conflation of past and present, however, erases Jews. The ancient city becomes a figure, and its inhabitants and their descendants disappear. In her rendering of England and London as particularly holy places inhabited by specially selected Saints, Cary participates in the same tradition as Foxe's Actes and Monuments. But where Foxe emphasised England's place of privilege as descendants of the first nation to embrace Christianity, Cary and other seventeenth-century radicals go further and claim not only to be an elect nation but the elect nation replacing Israel. We can either choose to be reassured by Cary's use of the future anterior--suggesting that such ideological assimilation is always impossible--or we can read the use of the future anterior here as speaking to an enormous cultural anxiety about desiring to be the new Israel and the new Israelites.
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Boesky, Amy. Founding Fictions: Utopias in Early Modern England. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1996.
Browne, Thomas. Pseudodoxia Epidemica. London, 1646.
Brubaker, Rogers. Nationalism Refrained. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
Cartwright, Joanna. The Petition of the Jews. London, 1649.
Cary, Mary. The Little Horns Doom and Downfall and A New and More Exact Mappe of the New Jerusalems Glory. London, 1651.
--. The Resurrection of the Witnesses. London, 1648.2nd. ed.,1653.
--. Twelve Humble Proposals To the Supreme Governours of the Three Nations London, 1653. (Appended to the 2nd ed. of Resurrection of the Witnesses.)
--. A Word in Season. London, 1647.
Collinson, Patrick. Birthpangs of Protestant England. London: St. Martin's P, 1988.
Cummins, Juliet, ed. Milton and the Ends of Time. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.
Ezell, Margaret. Writing Women's Literary History. Baltimore. MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1993.
Feroli, Teresa. "Prophecy." Renaissance Women On-line, Brown Women Writers Project. <http://www.wwp.brown.edu/texts/rwoentry.html>
Fell, Margaret. A Call to the Universal Seed of God. London, 1664.
--. A Call unto the Seed of Israel. London: Robert Wilson, 1668.
--. The Daughter of Sion Awakened. London, 1677.
--. For Menasseh ben Israel. The Call of the Jews out of Babylon. London: Giles Calvert, 1656.
--. A Loving Salutation to the Seed of Abraham. London, 1656.
--. The Second Call to the Seed of Israel. London, 1657.
Freud, Sigmund. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Trans. James Strachey. London: Hogarth, 1961.
Fuller, "Thomas. A Pisgah-sight of Palestine and the Confines thereof, with the History of the Old and New Testament Acted thereon. London, 1650.
Greenblatt, Stephen. "Psychoanalysis and Renaissance Culture." Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture. London: Routledge, 1990. 131-145.
Greenfeld, Liah. Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1992.
Grosz, Elizabeth. Jacques Lacan: A Feminist Introduction. London: Routledge, 1990.
Hill, Christopher. Antichrist in Seventeenth-Century England. 1971. London: Verso, 1990.
--. "John Mason and the End of the World." Puritanism and Revolution. London: Secker & Warburg, 1964. 290-302.
Katz, David. Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England 1603-1655. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1982.
Kunze, Bonnelyn Young. Margaret Fell and the Rise of Quakerism. London: Macmillan, 1994.
Marin, Louis. Utopics: Spatial Play. London: Macmillan, 1984.
McGinn, Bernard. "Revelation." The Literary Guide to the Bible. Ed. Robert Alter and Frank Kermode. Cambridge, MA.: Belknap P, 1987. 523541.
Milton, John. Areopagitica. John Milton: A Critical Edition of the Major Works. Ed. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991. 236-273.
Prynne, William. A Short Demurrer to the Jews. 2nd ed. London, 1656.
Rabb, Theodore K. "The Stirrings of the 1590s and the Return of the Jews to England." Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 26 (1979): 26-33.
Rosenblatt, Jason R "Eden, Israel, England: Milton's Spiritual Geography." All Before Them. Ed. John McVeagh. London: Ashfield, 1990.49-63.
Stirling, Grant. "The Nature of Anti-Semitism." <http://www.geocities.com/ Athens/Acropolis/7221/antisemitism.htm>
Thomas, Keith. "The Utopian Impluse in Seventeenth-Century England." Between Dream and Nature: Essays on Utopia and Dystopia. Ed. Dominic Baker-Smith and C.C. Barfoot. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1987. 20-46.
Wolf, Lucien. "Jews in Elizabethan England." Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 11 (1924-1927): 1-91.
(1) I would like to thank Patricia Demers, Elizabeth Harvey, Joan Gibson, Margaret Reeves, Agnes Ormsby, and Heather Campbell for generously reading and commenting on earlier versions of this article. Thanks especially to Rusty Shtier for encouraging me to be less polite.
(2) Although Cromwell later changed his position in relation to Dissenting sects such as the Fifth Monarchists, he invoked Daniel and the Book of Revelation in his address to the opening of the Barebones Parliament in 1653. The shared frame of biblical reference gave the Saints cause for great optimism. Although Milton never seriously embraced the more radical versions of millennialism, he was a student of Joseph Mede, one of the most important advocates of millennialism in England. Moreover, he shared with Cary both a sense of the justness of the regicide and a sense of the English as an elect nation. For recent discussions of Milton's millennial thought, see Cummins' Milton and the Ends of Time. For his part, Newton wrote an explication of the Books of Daniel and Revelation, Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John (published posthumously in 1733), which overlaps with much Fifth-Monarchist thinking.
(3) "Margaret Fell's writing to Menasseh ben Israel and the Jews are a typical expression of the fervor felt both by Jewish Messianists and Christian millenarians for the cosmic significance of the decade of the 1650s as well in anticipation of the hoped-for 'second-coming' year 1666" (Kunze 211).
(4) As Kunze notes of Margaret Fell: "Typical of the apocalyptic writers of her day, she equated the Jews with the ancient Hebrews, alluding to them as the 'Trees of Righteousness' and the 'Planting of the Lord'" (217).
(5) Several writers prefer the term anti-Judaism for the early-modern period. This term has the merit of insisting that the contours of anti-Jewish sentiment are historically specific, but it runs the risk of implicitly supporting the questionable distinction between religious and racial anti-Semitism. Throughout this article, I use the term anti-Semitism but hope that this use does not flatten the historically contingent contours of anti-Jewish sentiment.
(6) Stephen Greenblatt finds numerous texts that resonate with modern psychoanalytic theory but resists the idea that these prove the universal applicability of Freudian theory. Instead, he turns the universalising tendencies of psychoanalysis on their head and concludes, "psychoanalysis is the historical outcome of certain characteristic Renaissance strategies" (144). Chief among those strategies are early-modern property relations and their relationship to contemporary understandings of subjectivity. Moreover, Greenblatt cautions that in many early-modern texts "identity is conceived in a way that renders psychoanalytic interpretations marginal or belated" (141). Certainly, seventeenth-century English Christians did not understand themselves as individuals in the same ways late-twentieth- or early-twenty-first-century North Americans might.
(7) This reading also relies on the hierarchical opposition "reality/fantasy" and relegates Cary's utopian hopes to the pathologized and disparaged half of the binary.
(8) Hill offers this useful summary: "By the time we reach the period of Land's ascendancy there were four distinguishable attitudes among protestant Englishmen towards the Antichrist myth. First and foremost was the almost official doctrine of the Church of England, that the Pope was Antichrist. Second was the moderate Puritan conclusion, that far too much of Antichrist remained in the English church in the form of political power and persecution of the godly and of papal forms and ceremonies: further reformation was needed. Third was the separatist viewpoint--the Church of England was so totally antichristian that it was impossible to remain in communion with it. Finally, in reaction to these critical views, there was the Laudian position which questioned whether the Pope was Antichrist at all" (Antichrist in Seventeenth-Century England 62).
(9) The Grand Remonstrance (1641) offers an early and clear example of the perceived link between a purported Popish party with influence over Charles I and arbitrary legislative bodies such as the Star Chamber. Cary makes the point a little later in 1648 when she insists that even though England has "fallen away from the mysticall Babylon [Roman Catholicism]" it retains too much popery in its governance, particularly in giving power to the Bishops: "though Queen Elizabeth cast off the Popes supremacy and a great part of his devilish doctrine; yet England did notwithstanding remain one of the horns of the Beast, and a part of Romish Babylon: because there was a party retained, which did exercise authority over the consciences of Saints; which hath proved a great bondage to them ... for even in Queen Elizabeths daies, there were some Saints persecuted, that did scruple in some things to conforme to the Bishops; though the Bishops then, were not so bad as they have been since" (Resurrection 85-86).
(10) Not only does this shared reading practice illustrate one point of coherence among Cary's diverse writings; it also suggests one way of reading otherwise obscure texts. Mid-seventeenth-century prophetic texts resist incorporation into a tidy counter-canon of women's literary efforts in which the primary focus entails a critique of the evils of patriarchy. Margaret Ezell cautions against "assumptions about the past which operate well for establishing continuity between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but which break down for earlier periods; models that in fact enabled the growth of women's studies by challenging traditional literary histories paradoxically have acted to marginalize texts by earlier women writers" (38).
(11) Cary also points to the Book of Sports, introduced by James I and VI in 1618 and renewed by Charles I in 1633. "l-his declaration permitted the Sunday amusements that Puritans believed to be papist and sacrilegious: "Whereas many a poor soul might have been converted to, and confirmed in the ways of God," Cary writes, "but hee [Charles I] constraind (as it were) the people of the Kingdom to a prophane & loose life, to dishonour God, by inviting and requiring of them to practice prophane and wicked sports upon that day, which was appointed for a holy worshipping of God" (9). According to Cary, this act in part justifies overthrowing the King.
(12) Although Cary's final publication is actually a reprint of her 1648 pamphlet The Resurrection of the Witnesses, it also includes as an appendix a new tract with its own title page, Twelve Humble Proposals (1653).
(13) Boesky's analysis of mid-century utopias implicitly rejects millennialism as a utopian project. Keith "Thomas explicitly rejects millennialism as a utopian project. According to Thomas, the seventeenth-century utopian impulse is defined by a belief in the efficacy of human actions to reform the world rather than hope for Divine intervention (23). Indeed, he is deeply interested in this historical moment's paradigm shift to a belief that reform of the post-lapsarian world is possible.
(14) For a fuller discussion of early-modern prophecy and the ways in which this genre allows women writers to claim authority, see Teresa Feroli's "Prophecy."
(15) Although this is just a subset of early-modern women's writing, which includes roughly 120 texts and covers sixteenth to eighteenth centuries unevenly, the relatively large number of uses by Cary gives some indication of her investment in the concept. I would like to thank Carole Mah of Brown's Women Writers Project for her help with online searches.
(16) We can choose to temper the charge of anti-Semitism by invoking the dubious distinction between its religious and ethnic/racial incarnations. Religious anti-Semitism relies upon the specious belief that Jews have "failed" to follow the teachings of Jesus and have clung to the "old" ways, or, worse, that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. Under religious anti-Semitism, however, a Jew can convert to Christianity, repent, and be forgiven for all his/her previous transgressions. On the other hand, racial or ethnic anti-Semitism renders Jews irreducibly "Other" and unavailable to the ambiguously beneficent discourse of Christian conversion. (See Grant Stirling's
"The Nature of Anti-Semitism.") This rubric implicitly deems early-modern culture "less guilty" and its version of anti-Semitism less virulent, less murderous, than the version espoused by National Socialism. In practice, however, the distinction is not as quite so dear. Early-modern Spanish Jews who converted were known for generations as conversos, suggesting that Jewish conversion is never fully complete. In addition, racial and religious anti-Semitism often coexist. Thomas Browne, for example, rehearses his culture's attitudes toward Jews: "That Jews stinck naturally, that is, that in their race and nation there is an evil savour, is a received opinion" (Book IV, Chapter x). Although Browne proceeds to debunk this "vulgar error," he also testifies to its currency. Moreover, attempts to downplay the impact of any type of anti-Semitism are often also disingenuous attempts to absolve our own culture as the inheritor of historical anti-Semitism. Rather than offer apologias, we can attempt to locate the specificities of early-modern anti-Semitism to examine the ways in which it combines religious and racial discourses.
(17) For a detailed discussion of English Christian-Jewish relations in the seventeenth century, see David Katz's Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England 1603-1655.
(18) Like Cary, Fell's knowledge of Jews stems from her own extensive knowledge of the Old Testament rather than personal acquaintance. Although Fell addresses Menasseh ben Israel in one of her seven publications to urge Jewish conversion, there is no indication that the two ever met. As discussed above, Fell was one of the most active writers on the topic of Jewish conversion. Between 1656 and 1677, she published For Menasseh ben Israel The Call of the Jews out of Babylon (1656), A Loving Salutation to the Seed of Abraham (1656), The Second Call to the Seed of Israel (1657), A Call to the Universal Seed of God (1664), A Call unto the Seed of Israel (1668), and The Daughter of Sion Awakened (1677).
(19) Although it is tempting to label Cary "feminist" for this inclusion, the predicted return to Edenic ease in childbirth is also predicted in the Book of Isaiah, making it, ironically, patriarchal. I think if Cary's feminist politics are to be located anywhere it is in her socially-levelling and anti-hypocrisy sentiments expressed in her final pamphlet, sentiments that resonate more powerfully with the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).
(20) The sudden end of Cary's publishing career may well bespeak a more commonplace fate for an early-modern woman. Since we know that she changed her name to Rande during the course of her five pamphlets, we can infer that she married. Her sudden silence shortly after marrying raises the far from uncommon possibility that she died in childbirth. Thanks to Sylvia Brown for this observation.
(21) "We should not ask 'what is a nation' but rather: how is nation hood as a political and cultural form institutionalised within and among states? How does nation work as practical category, as classificatory scheme, as cognitive frame? What makes the use of the category by or against states more or less resonant or effective? What makes the nation-evoking, nation-invoking efforts of political entrepreneurs more or less likely to succeed?" (Brubaker 16).
(22) In his discussion of the latent imperialism in Milton's "Spiritual Geography," Jason Rosenblatt finds that "the sacred travel literature of the day dramatizes an unintentionally comic proprietary attitude toward the Holy Land. Under the heading 'English resemblances' in the huge index of A Pisgah-sight of Palestine, Fuller correlates biblical towns, cities, and rivers with their local namesakes: Tirzah ('sweet or delightful') with 'Beaufield, Kent,' Ramah ('High or exalted') with 'Uptons, Upham Hamsh., Upburn Buckin. sh. Uphall Hartf.sh, Hie-gate Midlesex,' and so on. Fullers near colonialist point of view appears in countless remarks, as in this casual inversion: 'Sion ... may be called the "Westminster of Jerusalem"'" (55).
(23) It is a "taproot" evident also in the oft-cited passage from Milton's Areopagitica: "Why else was this nation chosen before any other, that out of her, as out of Sion, should be proclaimed and sounded forth the first tidings and trumpet of reformation to all Europe?" (265). In addition, the discursive alignment of England with Israel, and by extension the English with the Israelites, is played out on the bodies of early-modern Jews in ways that are beyond the scope of this article.
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|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2007|
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