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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

XIII. Legal Literature

§ 22. Scanty References to Personal Experiences

On the whole, the references in Table-Talk to the political events and transactions in which Selden had borne part, even before he became a member of Charles I’s second parliament in 1626, are but few. It is only incidentally that he mentions either “the imprisoning of the parliament men,” of whom he was one, “3° Caroli,” or any of the proceedings of the Long Parliament (except the removal of bishops “out of the house”). He is less reticent concerning the doings of the Westminster assembly of divines, of which, in common with other parliament men, he was chosen a member, and in whose debates Whitelock states him to have taken active part, at times “totally silencing” some of the divines by comparing their biblical quotations with the original Greek and Hebrew texts. But the times were manifestly not such as to invite individual comment on the action of public bodies; for, during practically the whole of the period which can be supposed to be covered by Table-Talk, peace seemed as far off as ever, and, “though we had peace, yet ’t will be a great while ere things be settled; though the wind lie, yet after a storm the sea will work a while.” Thus, “the wisest way for men in these times is to say nothing.” Personal references or allusions, such as light up the hearthside or tavern talk of Luther or Johnson, are, therefore, scanty in Selden’s observations—save for a few seasonable illustrations from the sayings of king James, or references to eccentrics like Sir Kenelm Digby or Sir Robert Cotton.