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Laud's intoleration was met with an equally intolerant Puritan populace that not only decried his upholding of worldly beauty as representative of anything but debased and fallen humanity, but that became increasingly dogmatic and repressive about such matters as idolatry, sexuality, "fictional representation," blasphemy, the taking of vows, and ecclesiastical imposition on matters considered to be spiritually autonomous.
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives 1611 as the first date for the occurrence of the word intoleration (rare) and 1765 for the more common intolerance, whereas both tolerance and intolerable are ascribed to Middle English (c 1150-c 1350) and toleration to 1517.
Forrest noted that "It was simply Toleration versus Intoleration," and that his defence of Dawson had been that an institution founded by figures such as Cobden should be maintained as "an abode for the expression of Free Thought and well conducted ebullitions of intellect." Interestingly, the recollection of Joseph Johnson, in a letter to which Forrest was responding, was also that "as a matter of pounds, shillings and pence, Dawson could not be dispensed with," although he may have been referring to the Mechanics' Institute; Letter of Johnson, the Owl, 28 October 1881, Volume 21, f.240-241, Dawson Collection, BCA.