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merit of some great saint, suddenly transformed into prayers and tears; and, being divided into regiments and brigades, were the only arms which mischieved us in all those battles and encounters. These were his chief arms, whatever we must call them; and yet such arms as they, who fought for the commonwealth, have by the help of better prayers vanquished and brought to nothing.”
In one passage of this work Milton has been severe in his animadversions on the King for having adopted a prayer from the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney, and given it, with a few immaterial alterations, as his own to the bishop who attended him on the scaffold.
Whether Charles himself transcribed this prayer from the Arcadia, or whether unconscious of its origin he received it from one of his clerical attendants, the offence seems to have been of a very pardonable nature, and certainly undeserving of the harsh treatment which it has experienced from his adversary. The expressions, or the metaphysical elements of a prayer, which are merely the exciters of ideas in the minds of the speaker or the hearer, are not, like the meats offered upon an idol-altar, susceptible of pollution from the object to whom they may be addressed; and are to be received or rejected
by any subsequent votarist as they may be accommodated or otherwise to the purposes of his particular devotion. The blame therefore of plagiarism is the highest which in this instance can be imputed to the King; and even to this perhaps he may not properly be exposed, since, concluding the writer of the prayer to be generally known, he might give it as the just representative of his own feelings and sentiments, and therefore in an allowable sense as his own, to the attendant on his last moments, bishop Juxon.
The disproportionate severity with which Milton has arraigned this petty inadvertency, rather than offence, has exposed him to the charge of having been its author in the first instance that he might subsequently be its censurer. On the authority of Hills, the Protector's printer, and who afterwards, for the emolument of the same office under James II, professed himself a Roman catholic, Milton is accused of having prevailed, with the assistance of Bradshaw, on Du Gard, who was then printing an edition of the Icon Basilikè, to bring discredit on that publication by interpolating it with this prayer from the Arcadia. If a moment's belief were due to so idle a tale, we might confidently affirm that never before did men descend from such
heights of character to an object so contemptibly minute: an eagle stooping from his proudest wing to seize upon an earthworm would inadequately represent the folly of Milton and Bradshaw in their condescension to forge, for the purpose of casting a mere atom into the heavily-charged scale of the departed king. Fortunately however we possess the most satisfactory evidence of their exemption from the imputed meanness. By Royston, who was reported to have received the manuscript from the King, and not by Du Gard the printer to the Parliament, was that edition of the Icon printed in which the controverted prayer was originally inserted; and Royston's press was remote from the suspicion of any contact with Milton or his supposed accomplice. Notwithstanding this full though short confutation, which was first adduced by Toland, of the testimony of the unprincipled Hills, his calumny has been revived by the infamous Lauder, admitted by Lauder's friend and coadjutor, Dr. John
9 I have now in my possession the first edition of the Icon Basilike printed in 1649 (for R. Royston at the Angel in Ivylane) to which this prayer, called " A Prayer in time of Captivity,” is attached. Let us not then again be told by Milton's enemies of bis forgery in this instance, or be soothed by his friends with their hopes and their belief that he was incapable of committing it.
son,' and only faintly and timidly denied by the last compiler of our author's life, Mr. Todd.s
" As I have seldom, from the commencement of the present work, adverted to this libeller of Milton, my readers will perhaps pardon me, if I dedicate this note to his honour. Dr. Johnson tells us that “ the papers, which the King gave to Dr. Juxon on the scaffold, the regicides took away, so that they were at least the publishers of this prayer; and Dr. Birch, who examined the question with great care, was inclined to think them the forgers.” Fuller, who must have known and who would not have concealed the truth, shall refute the former part of this egregious paragraph: and Dr. Birch himself the latter. But “faction, Dr. Johnson! seldom leaves a man honest, however it might find him.”-Fuller in his Church History says,-" His Majesty being upon the scaffold held in his hand a small piece of paper, some four inches square, containing heads whereon in his speech he intended to dilate; and a tall soldier, looking over the King's shoulders, read it as the King held it in his hand. His speech ended, he gave that small paper to the bishop of London. After his death, the officers demanded the paper of the bishop, who because of the depth of his pocket, smallness of the paper, and the mixture of others therewith could not so soon produce it as was required. At last he brought it forth; but therewith the others were unsatisfied, (jealousy is quick of growth) as not the same which his Majesty delivered to him. When presently the soldier, whose rudeness had formerly overinspected it in the King's hand, attested this the very same paper, and prevented farther suspicions, which might have terminated to the bishop's trouble.” (Fuller's Church History of Britain, book xi. 236. ed. 1055.) So much for the King's papers taken from Dr. Juxon on the scaffold by the regicides! Let us now attend to Dr. Bircb. [Life of Milton, p. xxxiii. 4to ed.] “ In the course of the controversy about the book,
See Account of the Life of Milton, by Todd, p. 74.
Of the Iconoclastes it only remains to be
Milton's charge upon the King of borrowing the prayer of Pamela from Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, inserted in some editions of the Eirwy was retorted upon himself, as if this prayer had been added by his contrivance who in conjunction with serjeant Bradshaw had prevailed upon Du Gard the printer to insert it, in order to cast a disgrace upon the King, and blast the reputation of the Icon. This supposed fact was advanced chiefly upon the authority of Henry Hills the printer, who had frequently asserted it to Dr. Gill and Dr. Bernard, his physicians, as they testified. But Hills was not himself the printer who was dealt with in this manner; and consequently he could have the story only from hearsay; and though he was Cromwell's printer, yet afterwards he turned papist in the reign of James IId. in order to be that king's printer; and it was at that time he used to relate this story. Besides which, it is highly improbable that Milton and Bradshaw should make him their confident unnecessarily in such an affair, and laugh in his presence at their imposing such a cheat upon the world; or that he should conceal it dur. ing the life of the former, who survived the Restoration so many years. So that such a testimony from such a person is not to be admitted against a man, who, as his learned and ingenious editor (Bishop Newton) observes, had a soul above being guilty of so mean an action!"
I must be permitted to prolong this note by remarking on an attack which has been made on another passage of the Iconoclastes. In a note on Milton's first elegy, Mr. Warton observes “ His (Milton's) warmest poetical predilections were at last totally obliterated by civil and religious enthusiasm. Seduced by the gentle eloquence of fanaticism,” (make of it, gentle reader, what sense you can,) “ he listened no longer to the wild and native wood-notes of " fancy's sweetest child.' In his Iconoclastes he censures King Charles for studying “ One whom we know was the closet companion of his solitudes, William Shakspere.' This remonstrance, which not only resulted from his abborrence of a king, but from his disapprobation of plays, would have come with more propriety from