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Bishop Ken used to speak of Kettlewell in terms of the highest reverence and esteem. In a letter to Nelson, acknowledging the receipt of some of Kettlewell's sermons, which his correspondent had lately edited, he calls their author 'as saintlike a man as ever I knew;'[19] and when, in 1696, he was summoned before the Privy Council to give account for a pastoral letter drawn up by the nonjuring bishops on behalf of the deprived clergy, he spoke of it as having been first proposed by 'Mr. Kettlewell, that holy man who is now with God.'[20] There can be no doubt he well merited the admiration of his friends. Perhaps the most beautiful element in his character was his perfect guilelessness and transparent truth. Almost his last words, addressed to his nephew, were 'not to tell a lie, no, not to save a world, not to save your King nor yourself.'[21] He had lived fully up to the spirit of this rule. Anything like show and pretence, political shifts and evasions, dissimulations for the sake of safety or under an idea of doing good--'acting,' as he expressed it, 'deceitfully for God, and breaking religion to preserve religion,' were things he would never in the smallest degree condescend to. In no case would he allow that a jocose or conventional departure from accuracy was justifiable, and even if a nonjuring friend, under the displeasure, as might often be, of Government, assumed a disguise, he was uneasy and annoyed, and declined to call him by his fictitious name.[22] Happily, perhaps, for his peace of mind, his steady purpose 'to follow truth wherever he might find it,'[23] without respect of persons or fear of consequences, though it led to a sacrifice, contentedly, and even joyfully borne, of worldly means, led him no tittle astray from the ancient paths of orthodoxy. Like most High Churchmen of his day, he held most exaggerated views as to the duty of passive obedience, a doctrine which he held to be vitally connected with the whole spirit of Christian religion. He sorely lamented 'the great and grievous breach' caused by the nonjuring separation,[24] and earnestly trusted that a time of healing and reunion might speedily arrive; and though he adhered staunchly to the communion of the deprived bishops, whom he held to be the only rightful fathers of the Church, and believed that there alone he could find 'orthodox and holy ministrations,'[25] he never for an instant supposed that he separated himself thereby from the Church of England, in which, he said in his dying declaration, 'as he had lived and ministered, so he still continued firm in its faith, worship, and communion.'[26] Such was Kettlewell, a thorough type of the very best of the Nonjurors, a man so kindly and large-hearted in many ways, and so open to conviction, that the term bigoted would be harshly applied to him, but whose ideas ran strongly and deeply in a narrow channel. He lived a life unspotted from the world; nor was there any purer and more fervent spirit in the list of those whose active services were lost to the Church of England by the new oath of allegiance.

Henry Dodwell was another of Robert Nelson's most esteemed friends. After the loss of his Camdenian Professorship of History, he lived among his nonjuring acquaintances at Shottisbrooke, immersed in abstruse studies. His profound learning--for he was acknowledged to be one of the most learned men in Europe[27]--especially his thorough familiarity with all precedents drawn from patristic antiquity, made him a great authority in the perplexities which from time to time divided the Nonjurors. It was mainly to him that Nelson owed his return to the established Communion. Dodwell had been very ardent against the oaths; when he conceived the possibility of Ken's accepting them, he had written him a long letter of anxious remonstrance; he had written another letter of indignant concern to Sherlock, on news of his intended compliance.[28] But his special standing point was based upon the argument that it was schism of the worst order to side with bishops who had been intruded by mere lay authority into sees which had other rightful occupiers. When, therefore, this hindrance no longer existed, he was of opinion that political differences, however great, should be no bar to Church Communion, and that the State prayers were no insurmountable difficulty. Nelson gladly agreed, and the bells of Shottisbrooke rang merrily when he and Dodwell, and the other Nonjurors resident in that place, returned to the parish church.[29]

Dodwell is a well-known example of the extravagances of opinion, into which a student may be led, who, in perfect seclusion from the world, follows up his views unguided by practical considerations. Greatly as his friends respected his judgment on all points of precedent and authority, they readily allowed he had more of the innocency of the dove than the wisdom of the serpent.[30] His faculties were in fact over-burdened with the weight of his learning, and his published works, which followed one another in quick succession, contained eccentricities, strange to the verge of madness. A layman himself, he held views as to the dignities and power of the priesthood, of which the 'Tatler'[31] might well say that Rome herself had never forged such chains for the consciences of the laity as he would have imposed. Starting upon an assumption, common to him with many whose general theological opinions he was most averse to, that the Divine counsels were wholly beyond the sphere of human faculties, and unimpeded therefore by any consideration of reason in his inferences from Scripture and primitive antiquity, he advanced a variety of startling theories, which created some dismay among his friends, and gave endless opportunity to his opponents. Much that he has written sounds far more like a grave caricature of high sacerdotalism, after the manner of De Foe's satires on intolerance, than the sober conviction of an earnest man.[32] It is needless to dwell on crotchets for which, as Dr. Hunt properly observes, nobody was responsible but himself.[33] Ken, who had great respect for him--'the excellent' Mr. Dodwell, as he calls him--remarked of his strange ideas on the immortality of the soul, that he built high on feeble foundations, and would not have many proselytes to his hypotheses.[34] The same might be said of much else that he wrote on theological subjects. As for nonjuring principles, he was so wedded to them that he could see nothing but deadly schism outside the fold over which 'our late invalidly deprived fathers' presided. It only, as orthodox and unschismatic, 'was entitled to have its communions and excommunications ratified in heaven.'[35] No wonder he longed to see union restored, that so he might die in peace.[36]

With the ever understood proviso that they could not fall in with many of his views, Nelson and most of his friends loved Mr. Dodwell and were proud of him. They admired his great learning, his fervent and ascetic piety, his deep attachment to the doctrine and usages of the English Church, and many attractive features in personal character. 'He was a faithful and sincere friend,' says Hearne, 'very charitable to the poor (notwithstanding the narrowness of his fortune), free and open in his discourse and conversation (which he always managed without the least personal reflection), courteous and affable to all people, facetious upon all proper occasions, and ever ready to give his counsel and advice, and extremely communicative of his great knowledge.'[37] Although a man of retiring habits and much personal humility, he was bold as a lion when occasion demanded, and never hesitated to sacrifice interest of any kind to his sincere, but often strangely contracted ideas of truth and duty. It was his lot to suffer loss of goods under either king, James II. and William. Under the former he not only lost the rent of his Irish estates,[38] but had his name[39] on the murderous act of attainder to which James, to his great disgrace, attached his signature in 1689. Under the latter he was deprived of his preferment in Oxford, and under a harsher rule might have incurred yet graver penalties. 'He has set his heart,' said William of him, 'on being a martyr, and I have set mine on disappointing him.'[40] He died at Shottisbrooke in 1711.