The Pamphlet




Charles Herle and Henry Ferne’s disagreements were displayed through the literary medium of pamphlets. Each author used the titles of his pamphlets not only to identify the topic under consideration but also to insult his opponent – for example, Herles’ An answer to mis-led Doctor Ferne. The original spark of their pamphlet war was provided by Ferne’s 1642 The Resolving of Conscience, in which the royal chaplain strongly defended the royalist cause against Parliamentarian supporters prepared to defend their cause with force. This pamphlet was actually printed multiple times, in Cambridge, London, and York between 1642 and 1643.  Herle, a Puritan preacher, responded to Ferne and attacked the king’s cause with his pamphlet titled An Answer to a Misled Doctor Ferne. According to his own method in 1642 (a title also reprinted in 1643). In A fuller answer to a treatise written by Doctor Ferne, entitled The resolving of conscience upon this question, a second pamphlet Herle wrote in response to Ferne in December 1642, presented an early articulation of the theory of a “coordinative or mixt” monarchical government, an idea that proved highly influential.




There are five variations of Herle’s pamphlet listed in the Early English Books Online (EEBO) database. From the database we also learn that two copies exist in the Thomason collection. From our research, we have discovered two pamphlet variations of Herle’s A Fuller Answer. To avoid confusion, we will refer to these as “version A” and “version B”. Differences can be discerned through careful examination of the title pages. In version B, the words “to a” are printed smaller in the title line. However, in version A, only the word “to” is printed in smaller type. While the text in both remains the same, with a few minor exceptions, the text is situated differently on the page in each version. In version B, the word “frame” is capitalized in the phrase “Wherin the Original Frame and Fundamentals,” while in version A it is not capitalized. Another difference is that the phrase “Done by another author” stands alone in version A, while in version B, it is accompanied by the words “And by him revised and enlarged by some occasion of late Pamphlet, complaining in the name of the City against the Parliament.” This addition suggests that this version of the pamphlet was printed after version A, as it has been “revised.” Another notable difference between versions A and B is that A features a different style of dropped capital letter on the second page of the pamphlet than document B: version A features a small “T” in a large box, while version B features a much larger “T”.

In addition, the pamphlet names the bookseller as John Bartlet. Bartlet can be found in a dictionary of English booksellers. Barlet, apparently, was a victim of Archbishop Laud’s persecution and his main publications were “sermons and other theological works” (Plomer). This is consistent with Herle’s publication, which was very much a work of theology.

The version in the possession of Collins Memorial Library Archives and Special Collections is clearly version A, the earlier printing of the document. EEBO records indicate that both versions appear in the Thomason collection. Version A, the version that appears in Collins Library’s collection, was received by George Thomason on December 29, 1642, and presumably printed around that date (Thomason 212). That entry lists the catalogue number of another entry in the collection but does not list the exact date. However, according to EEBO, both volumes were printed in 1642. However, the Thomason Tracts are ordered chronologically according to the date collector George Thomason received the publication (Greenberg), and above the listing of version B is another pamphlet by Herle, this one with a note that it was “Printed the second week of January. 1642. [i.e. 1643].” Further, this entry is surrounded by publications printed in January 1643, suggesting that version B of the pamphlet was printed in January of 1643 as well.



The audience for pamphlets in the seventeenth century was much wider than one might think. In fact, both the authors and readers of pamphlets had, more or less consciously, a part in spreading the word to a larger audience. Our example comes in right at the beginning of this new way of distributing and debating political issues, in fact, in England this would start in the 1640s. In order to reach the widest possible audience, authors wrote their pamphlets in: “in the vernacular in order to reach the widest possible audience” (Verhoest), so that not just the well-educated would be able to understand them. Furthermore, thanks to the technology at the time, the pamphlets were printed onto a kind of paper more similar to very fine rags than modern paper, making the documents much more resistant to use. This resilience made it so that a single pamphlet could change hands many times throughout its lifetime, spreading its message to a much broader and larger audience. In fact: “pamphlets were distributed among friends, sent to correspondents, and referred to in letters” (Verhoest). Finally, even people who did not know how to read got a taste of the message thanks to the fact that: “pamphlets were also read aloud, listened to, and discussed in private and in public, in places like church porches or taverns.” This underlines the fact that the pamphlets like the one in our library were not just a one-time wonder, but were used and reused in many different ways by different people, in order to spread the content to a more diverse, but more importantly, much larger group of people.



When pamphlets were first produced they offered a medium through which the lower classes could learn about the current events. Whereas previously only upper class individuals could afford literary works that were relatively expensive, pamphlets were cheap booklets that “were much cheaper, sometimes selling for as little as a shilling, clearly within the reach of laborers, artisans, and small small shopkeepers.” (Noonan 2004). Because these pamphlets were so cheap to produce, they were intended to be read and discarded. Sometimes if the pamphlet reached a small town where they were not being sold the pamphlets would be posted in the middle of the city intended to be read by everyone.



Primary Sources

Ferne, Henry. The Resolving of Conscience, upon this Question, Whether upon such a        Supposition Or Case, as is Now Usually made (the King Will Not Discharge His Trust,          but is Bent Or Seduced to Subvert Religion, Laws, and Liberties) Subjects may Take              Arms and Resist? Cambridge : Roger Daniel, 1642.

Herle, Charles. An Answer to Mis-Led Doctor Ferne according to his own method…. London: s.n., 1642.

Secondary Sources

Hallasz, Alexandra. The Marketplace of Print: Pamphlets and the Public Sphere in Early Modern England. Cambridge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture 17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Greenberg, Stephen J. “Dating Civil War Pamphlets, 1641-1644.” Albion: A Quarterly                Journal Concerned with British Studies 20, no. 3 (1988): 387-401.                                    

Noonan, Kathleen M. “”Martyrs in Flames:’ Sir John Temple and the Conception of the           Irish in English martyrologies.” Albion 36, no. 2 (2004): 223-55.

Plomer, Henry R. “Bartlet (John).” In A Dictionary of the Booksellers and Printers Who            were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland …, Vol. 15. London: Blades, East & Blades, 1907.

Thomason, George. Catalogue of the Pamphlets, Books, Newspapers, and Manuscripts              Relating to the Civil War, the Commonwealth, and Restoration. London: British Museum, 1908.

Verhoest, Pascal. “Pamphlets, Commodification, Media Market Regulation and Hegemony: A Transnational Inquiry into the Seventeenth-Century Print Industry in England, France, and the Netherlands.” Media Industries Journal 3, No. 1 (2016).

Wheale, Nigel. Writing and Society: Literacy, Print, and Politics in Britain, 1590-1660.               London: Routledge, 1999.

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