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said that it was first printed in 1649; that a
Prynne or Hugh Peters.” Then follows a just panegyric on the cultivation of the King's mind and the elegance of his taste.
To talk of “ the poetical predilections" of the future author of Paradise Lost as totally obliterated, or to impute an abhorrence of plays to the man who not only wrote Samson Agonistes, but who bas left behind him a variety of subjects for the drama selected, at a period subsequent to the publication of the Iconoclastes, from profane history, among which is the story of Macbeth, is abundantly strange, if we must not call it absurd. But to enter into a serious contest with the perverse imbecillity of this note of Mr. Warton's would be to the last degree idle. The criminated passage in the Iconoclastes, which I shall produce, will prove that it was not in Milton's contemplation to censure the King for studying Shakespeare; and that Mr. Warton must either not have understood what he quoted, or, what my opinion of his probity will not allow me to suspect, must have quoted with a determination to misrepresent. Speaking of the pieces of devotion with which the Icon is so thickly bestrown, Milton observes that *“ he who from such a kind of psalmistry or any other verbal devotion, without the pledge and earnest of suitable deeds, can be persuaded of a zeal and true righteousness in the person, bath much yet to learn and knows not that the deepest policy of a tyrant hath been ever to counterfeit religious : and Aristotle in his Politics hath mentioned that special craft among twelve other tyrannical sophisms. Neither want we examples. Andronicus Comnenus, the Byzantine emperor, though a most cruel tyrant, is reported by Nicetas to have been a constant reader of St. Paul's epistles; and by continual study to have so incorporated the phrase and style of that transcendent apostle into all his familiar letters that the imitation seemed to vie with the original. Yet this availed not to deceive the people of that empire, who, notwithstanding the saint's vizard, tore him to pieces for his tyranny. From stories of this nature, both ancient and modern, which abound, the poets also, and some English, have been in this point so mind
* P.W. ü. 406.
second edition of it appeared in the following year; that in 1652 it was again published in London by Du Gard in a French translation; and that it received two answers, one with the title of 'Erxwo čxaæolos (Icon aclastos, or the Image unbroken) in 1651; and the other, called Vindiciæ Carolinæ, in 1692,
Though it was more consistent with Milful of decorum aș to put never more pious words in the mouth of any person than of a tyrant. I shall not instance an abstruse author, wherein the King might be less conversant, but one, whom we well know was the closet companion of his solitudes, William Shakspeare; who introduces the person of Richard III speaking in as high a strain of piety and mortifica. tion as is, uttered in any passage of this book; and sometimes to the same sense and purpose with some words in this place : “ I intended," saith he (the King)“ not only to oblige my friends but my enemies:" the like saith Richard (act ii, scene 1.)
“ I do not know that Englishman alive
With whom my soul is any jot at odds
I thank my God for my humility.” Mr. Waldron, in his republication of Downes's Roscius Anglicanus,” has preceded me, as I am told, (for I have not read Mr. Waldron's work,) in the detection of this false arraignment of Milton by the late Poet Laureat, a circumstance of which I was not aware when I first printed my note. But this repeated refutation of the injurious falsehood has not prevented its revival, (with the aggravation of making Milton contemptuously call Shakespeare a player,) by Mr. Walter Scott io his newly published Life of Dryden.”* Are we hence to conclude that this slander of Milton is to be employed, as a common place, by every writer who may be attached to the despicable Stuarts, and who can force it into his page?
* See Scott's Life of Dryden, p. 18.
ton's object to direct his reply immediately against the King and consequently to consider the Icon Basilikè as the production of the royal pen, he could not altogether refrain from intimating his suspicions of its authenticity. “ But as to the author of these soliloquies,” (he observes,) “ whether it were undoubtedly the late King, as is vulgarly believed, or any secret coadjutor, and some stick not to name him, it can add nothing to nor shall take from the weight, if any be, of reason which he brings.”u “ Bụt the matter here considerable is not whether the King, or his household rhetorician, have made a pithy declamation against tumults, but first whether there were tumults or not,'* &c. To these suspicions Milton was obviously led by the internal evidence of the work, which seemed strongly tainted with the pedantry of the gown and discovered in its style a more scholastic and artificial form than was likely to be the result of the education and the habits of a prince.
On a passage in this production, in which is introduced the word, demagogue, at that time not common in our language, our author remarks, “ Setting aside the affrightment of
u P. W. ii. 421.
* Ibid. 398.
this goblin-word; for the King, by his leave, cannot coin English, as he could money, to be current: and it is believed this wording was above his known style and orthography, and accuses the whole composure to be con .. scious of some other author.”y
“ These petty glosses and conceits,” says the Iconoclastes in another place,“ on the high and secret judgments of God, besides the boldness of unwarrantable commenting, are so weak and shallow and so like the quibbles of a court sermon, that we may safely reckon them either fetched from such a pattern, or that the hand of some household priest foisted them in.”?
These feelings of doubt respecting the author of the Icon were not wholly confined to Milton: for the same internal evidence of forgery which in this instance had influenced his judgment, was sufficiently strong to inAuence the conviction of others. In an able work, published, soon after the Iconoclastes, in 1649, with the title of " 'Eixwv åanden” (Icon alethine) or the true Image, the charge of spuriousness is brought and urged with great power against the Icon; which is ascribed by this anonymous writer, who exhibits much of
9 P.W. ii. 427.
z Ibid. 452.
Milton's spirit, to a doctor of the Church of England, seeking, by an enterprize so meritorious with his party as this serviceable fraud, to force his way on a fortunate change of things to some of the rich preferments of his church. To this work is prefixed a frontispiece, in which, on a curtain's being drawn aside by a hand issuing from the roof, is discovered a dignitary of the English Church in his full canonical dress : and beneath are inscribed the following lines,
following lines, which, in their close connexion with my subject, have sufficient merit to justify me for inserting them,
The curtain's drawn: all may perceive the plot,
But neither the charge of forgery against the King's book, as it was then called, thus
a This work, (which was printed in London by Thomas Paine in 1649) was answered the same year, by a very inferior writer in a pamphlet entitled “ 'Erxwv oj oss,” or “ the faithful Image," -and these productions may be regarded as the precursors of that long and violent controversy, which, after some interval, ensued on the subject of the authenticity of the Icon.