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him from whom I had it. And this was my first attempt at decyphering. This unexpected success on an easy cypher was then looked upon as a great matter; and I was somewhile after pressed to attempt one of another nature, which was a letter of Mr. secretary Windebank, then in France, to his son in England, in a cypher hard enough, and not unbecoming a secretary of state. It was in numeral figures, extending in number to above seven hundred, with many other characters intermixed; but not so bard as many that I have since met with. I was backward at first to attempt it, and after I had spent some time upon it, threw it by as desperate ; but after some months resumed it again, and had the good hap to master it. Being encouraged by this success beyond expectation, I afterwards ventured on many others, some of more, some of less difficulty; and scarce missed of any that I undertook for many years, during our civil wars, and afterwards. But of late years the French methods of cypher are grown so intricate beyond what it was wont to be, that I have failed of many, tho' I have mastered divers of them. Of such decyphered letters there be copies of divers remaining in the archives of the Bodleian library in Oxford, and many more in my own custody, and with the secretaries of state." The copies of decyphered letters, mentioned by Dr. Wallis to be in the archives of the Bodleian library, were reposited by him there in 1653, and are in the doctor's own hand-writing, with a memorandum at the beginning, to this purpose : “A collection of several letters and other papers, which were at several times intercepted, written in cypher, decyphered by John Wallis, professor of geometry in the university of Oxford; given to the public library there," anno domini 1653. This part of our author's skill gave him afterwards no small trouble, and might possibly have been of very bad consequences to him, had he not had some friends in
power, particularly the earl of Clarendon and sir Edward Nicholas secretary of state, who valued bim for his great learning and integrity, and were sensible of his affection for the royal family, and his loyalty to the king, and the many good services he had done his majesty before the restoration. The doctor's enemies soon after the restoration endeavoured to represent him as an avowed enemy to the royal family; and to prove this they reported, that he had during the civil wars decyphered king Charles I.'s letters taken in his cabinet at Naseby; and that the letters so de
cyphered by him were to be seen in the books of cyphers, which our author had given to the university. This report being revived upon the accession of king James II. to the crown, the doctor wrote a letter in his own vindication to his great friend Dr. John Fell, bishop of Oxford, dated April 8, 1685; which was as follows :
“ My Lord, “ I understand there have of late been complaints made of me, that I decyphered the late king's letters, meaning those taken in the late king's cabinet at Naseby-fight, and after printed. As to this, without saying any thing, whether it be now proper to repeat what was done above, forty years ago, the thing is quite otherwise. Of those letters and papers (whatever they were) I never saw any one of them but in print; nor did those papers, as I have been told, need any decyphering at all, either by me or any body else, being taken in words at length just as they were printed, save that some of them were, I know not by whom, translated out of French into English. 'Tis true, that afterwards some other letters of other persons, which had been occasionally intercepted,' were brought to my hands; some of which I did decypher, and some of them I did not think fit to do, to the displeasing of some, who were then great men. And I managed my selfe
selfe in that whole business by such measures, as your lordship, I think, would not bee displeased with. I did his majesty who then was (sing Charles the first) and his friends many good offices, as I had opportunity both before and after that king's death; and ventured farther to do them service; than perhaps some of those, who now complaine of mee, would have had the courage to do, had they been in my circumstances. And I did to his late majesty, k. Charles the second, many good services both before and since his restauration, which bimselfe has been pleased divers times to profess to mee with great kindnes. And if either my lord chancellor Clarendon, or Mr. secretary Nicholas, or his late majesty, were now alive, they would give mee a very different character from what, it seemes, some others have done. And I thinke his majesty that now is knowes somewhat of it, and some other persons of bonour yet alive, &c.”
In our authorities are other proofs of his innocence in this matter; but we presume it cannot be denied that he had been of service to the republican government by this peculiar talent. He had always joined with them, and in 1653 he had VOL. XXXI.
the sequestered living of St. Gabriel, Fenchurch-street, granted to him. The same year he published in 4to, ã Truth tried; or, Animadversions on the Lord Brooke's « Treatise of the nature of Truth'." His mother dying this year, he became possessed of a handsome fortune. In 1644 he was appointed one of the scribes or secretaries to the assembly of divines at Westminster, to whose conduct and views he gives a very different colouring from what we meet with in most of the publications of that time." The parliament,” he asserts, “ had a great displeasure against the order of bishops, or rather not so much against the order, as the men, and against the order for their sakes ; and had resolved upon the abolition of episcopacy as it then stood, before they were agreed what to put instead of it; and did then convene this assembly to consult of some
other form to be suggested to the parliament, to be by - them set up, if they liked it, or so far as they should like it. The divines of this assembly were, for the generality of them, conformable, episcopal men, and had generally the reputation of pious, orthodox, and religious protestants; and (excepting the seven independents, or, as they were called dissenting brethren) I do not know of any nonconformist among them as to the legal conformity then required. Many of them were professedly episcopal, and, I think, all of them so episcopal, as to account a well-regúlated episcopacy to be at least allowable, if not desirable and advisable; yet so as they thought the present constitution capable of reformation for the better. When I name the divines of this assembly, I do not include the Scots commissioners, who, though they were permitted to be present there, and did interpose in the debates, as they saw occasion, yet were no members of that assembly, nor did vote with them, but acted separately in behalf of the church of Scotland, and were zealous enough for the Scots presbytery, but could never prevail with the assembly to declare for it. On the other hand, the independents were against all united church government of more than one single congregation, holding that each single congregation, voluntarily agreeing to make themselves a church, and choose their own officers, were of themselves independent, and not accountable to any other ecclesiastical government, but only the civil magistrate, as to the public peace; admitting indeed that messengers from several churches might meet to consult in common, as there might
be occasion, but without any authoritative jurisdiction. Against these, the rest of the assembly was unanimous, (and the Scots commissioners with them) that it was lawful by the word of God for divers particular congregations (beside the inspection of their own pastor and other officers) to be united under the same common governinent; and such communities to be further subordinate to provincial and rational assemblies; which is equally consistent with episcopal and presbyterian principles. But whether with or without a bishop or standing president of such assemblies, was not determined or debated by them. When
When any such point chanced to be suggested, the common answer was, that this point was not before them, but was precluded by the ordinance by which they sat; which did first declare the abolition of episcopacy (not refer it to their declaration), and they only to suggest to the parliament somewhat in the room of that so abolished. And this is a true account of that assembly as to this point (and when as they were called presbyterians, it was not in the sense of anti-episcopal, but anti-independents), which I have the more largely insisted on, because there are not many now living who can give a better account of that assembly than I can. To this may be objected their agreement to the covenant, which was before I was amongst them. But this, if rightly understood, makes nothing against what I have said. The covenant, as it came from Scotland, and was sent from the parliament to the assembly, seemed directly against all episcopacy, and for setting up the Scots presbytery just as
But the assembly could not be brought to assent to it in those terms, being so worded as, to preserve the government of the church of Scotland, and to reform ibat of England, and so to reduce it to the nearest uniformity. But before the assembly could agree to it, it was thus mollified, to preserve that of Scotland (not absolutely, but) against the common enemy; and to reform that of England (not so as it is in Scotland, but) according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed churches; and to endeavour the nearest uniformity; which might be as well by reforming that of Scotland, as that of England, or of both. And whereas the covenant, as first brought to them, was against popery, prelacy, heresy, schism, profaneness, &c. they would by no means be persuaded to admit the word prelacy, as thus standing absolute. For though they thought the English episcopacy, as it then
stood, capable of reformation for the better in divers things, yet to engage indefinitely against all prelacy, they would not agree. After many days debate on this point (as I understood from those who were then present) some of the parliainent, who then pressed it, suggested this expedient, that by prelacy they did not understand all manner of episcopacy pr superiority, but only the present episcopacy, as it now stood in England, consisting of archbishops, bishops, and their several courts and subordinate officers, &c. And that if any considerable alteration were made in any part of this whole frame, it was an abolition of the present prelacy, and as much as was. here intended in these words; and that no more was intended but a reformation of the present episcopacy in England. And in pursuance of this it was agreed to be expressed with this interpretation ; prelacy, that is, church government by archbishops, bishops, their chancellors and commissaries, deans, deans and chapters, arch-deacons, and all other ecclesiastical officers depending on that hierarchy. And with this interpretation at length it passed ; and the Scots commissioners in behalf of their church agreed to those amendments., I know some have been apt to put another sense upon that interpretation; but this was the true intendment of the assembly, and upon this occasion.”
Some of these sentiments belong not only to the assembly, but to our author; and, as he retained them to the last, were probably the cause of his having so little preferment afterwards when he was a favourite at court, and much employed as a decypherer.
In March of this year, 1644, he married Susanna, daughter of John and Rachel Glyde of Northiam, Northamptonshire. In 1645, the weekly meetings, which gave birth to the Royal Society, being proposed, he attended them along with Dr. John Wilkins (afterwards bishop of Chester), Dr. Jonathan Goddard, Dr. George Ent, Dr. Glisson, Dr. Metret, doctors in physic, Mr. Samuel Foster, then professor of astronomy at Gresham college, Theodore Haak, a German of the palatinate, and then resident in London, who is said to have first suggested those meetings, and many others. These meetings were held sometimes at Dr. Goddard's lodgings in Wood-street, sometimes in Cheapside, and sometimes at Gresham college, or some place near adjoining.
In 1647, he happened to meet with Oughtred's “Clavis," of which he made himself master in a few weeks, and dis