Locke, the worker-poet, had been raised in a dour Evangelicalism, and he here makes an application of the Exodus to political phenomena which had been orthodox among the seventeenth-Puritans whom many Evangelical sects honored as predecessors. At other points in the novel, the hero, who exchanges his early faith for Kingsley's Broad Church Anglican views, treats the Bible with the broadly symbolic approach characteristic of the liberal wing of the Church. For instance, in the novel's opening chapter Locke tells the reader that he leamed from reading the scriptures that the

old Jewish heroes . . . were patriots, deliverers from that tyranny and injustice from which the child's heart . . . instinctively, and, as I believe, by a divine inspiration, revolts. Moses leading his people out of Egypt; Gideon, Barak, and Samson, slaying their oppressors; David, hiding in the mountains from the tyrant, with his little band of those who had fled from the oppressions of the aristocracy of Nabals; Jehu, executing God's vengeance on the kings they were my heroes, my models.

Later Locke interprets all biblical history along these lines, claiming that

the Bible is the history of mankind's deliverance from all tyranny, outward as well as inward, of the Jews, as the one free constitutional people among a world of slaves and tyrants; of their ruin, as the righteous fruit of a voluntary return to despotism; of the New Testament, as the good news that freedom, brotherhood, and equality, once confided only to Judaea and to Greece, and dimly seen even there, was henceforth to be the right of all mankind. (ch. 30, "Prison Thoughts').


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Print version published 1980; web version 1998