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WHEN the laft impreffion of Milton's profe works was committed to my care, I executed that trust with the greateft fidelity. Not fatisfied with printing from any copy at hand, as editors are generally wont, my affection and zeal for the author induced me to compare every fentence, line by line, with the original edition of each treatife that I was able to obtain. Hence, errours innumerable of the former impreffion were corrected; befides what improvements were added from the author's fecond edition of The Tenure of Kings and Magiftrates, which Mr. Toland had either not feen, or had neglected to commit to the prefs.*.

After I had endeavoured to do this juftice to my favourite author, the laft fummer I difcovered a fecond edition of his Eikonoklaftes, with many large and curi ous additions, printed in the year 1650, which edition had escaped the notice both of Mr. Toland and myself.

In communicating this difcovery to a few friends, I found that this edition was not unkown to fome others, though from low and bafe motives fecreted from the public. But I, who from my foul love liberty, and for that reafon openly and boldly affert its principles at all times, refolved that the public fhould no longer be withheld from the poffeffion of fuch a treasure.

I therefore now give a new impreffion of this work, with the additions and improvements made by the author: and I deem it a fingular felicity, to be the inftrument of restoring to my country fo many excellent lines

* Mr. Toland first collected and published the author's profe works in 3 vols. folio, 1697, or 1698; for which all lovers of liberty owe grateful praife to his name: but through hurry, or perhaps not having feen the different copies, he printed from the first edition of fome tracts, which the author had afterwards published with confiderable additions.

In 1738 Milton's profe works were again published in 2 vols. folio: of which impreffion all I fhall fay is, that, no perfon being employed to infpect the prefs, the printer took the liberty to alter what he did not understand, and thereby defaced the author, and marred the beauty of many paffages.




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long loft,

and in danger of being for ever loft,

of a writer who is a lafting honour to our language and nation; and of a work, wherein the principles of tyranny are confuted and overthrown, and all the arts and cunning of a great tyrant and his adherents detected and laid open.

The love of liberty is a public affection, of which those men must be altogether void, that can fupprefs or fmother any thing written in its defence, and tending to ferve its glorious caufe. What fignify profeffions, when the actions are oppofite and contradictory? Could any high-churchman, any partizan of Charles I, have acted a worse, or a different part, than fome pretended friends of liberty have done in this inftance? Many high-church priefts and doctors have laid out confiderable fums to destroy the prose works of Milton, and have purchased copies of his particular writings for the infernal pleasure of confuming them*. This practice, however deteftable, was yet confiftent with principle. But no apology can be made for men that efpoufe a caufe, and at the fame time conceal aught belonging to its fupport. Such men may tell us that they love liberty, but I tell them that they love their bellies, their eafe, their pleasures, their profits, in the first place. A man that will not hazard all for liberty, is unworthy to be named among its vota ries, unworthy to participate its blessings.

Many circumstances at prefent loudly call upon us to exert ourselves. Venality and corruption have well-nigh extinguished all principles of liberty. The bad books alfo, that this age hath produced, have ruined our youth. The novels and romances, which are eagerly purchased

This hath been practifed with fuch zeal by many of that curfed tribe, that it is a wonder there are any copies left. John Swale, a bookfeller of Leeds in Yorkshire, an honeft man, though of high-church, told me, that he could have more money for burning Milton's Defence of Liberty and the People of England, than I would give for the purchase of it. Some priests in that neighbourhood used to meet once a year, and after they were well warmed with ftrong beer, they facrificed to the flames the author's Defenfio pro Populo Anglicano, as alfo this treatise against the EIKON. I have it in my power to produce more inftances of the like facerdotal fpirit, with which in fome future publication I may entertain the world.

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and read, emafculate the mind, and banish every thing grave and manly. One remedy for thefe evils is, to revive the reading of our old writers, of which we have good ftore, and the ftudy whereof would fortify our youth against the blandifhments of pleasure and the arts of corruption.

Milton in particular ought to be read and studied by all our young gentlemen as an oracle. He was a great and noble genius, perhaps the greatest that ever appeared among men; and his learning was equal to his genius. He had the higheft fenfe of liberty, glorious thoughts, with a strong and nervous ftyle. His works are full of wisdom, a treasure of knowledge. In them the divine, the statesman, the hiftorian, the philologift, may be all inftructed and entertained. It is to be lamented, that his divine writings are fo little known. Very few are acquainted with them, many have never heard of them. The fame is true with respect to another great writer, contemporary with Milton, and an advocate for the fame glorious caufe; I mean Algernon Sydney, whose Difcourfes on Government are the moft precious legacy to these nations.

All antiquity cannot show two writers equal to these. They were both great mafters of reafon, both great mafters of expreffion. They had the strongest thoughts, and the boldest images, and are the best models that can be followed. The ftyle of Sydney is always clear and flowing, ftrong and mafculine. The great Milton has a style of his own, one fit to exprefs the astonishing fublimity of his thoughts, the mighty vigour of his fpirit, and that copia of invention, that redundancy of imagination, which no writer before or fince hath equalled. In fome places, it is confeffed, that his periods are too long, which renders him intricate, if not altogether unintelligible to vulgar readers; but thefe places are not many. In the book before us his ftyle is for the moft part free and eafy, and it abounds both in eloquence, and wit and argument. I am of opinion, that the ftyle of this work is the best and moft perfect of all his profe writings. Other men have commended the ftyle of his History as matchless and incomparable, whofe malice could not fee Cc 2


or would not acknowledge the excellency of his other works. It is no fecret whence their averfion to Milton proceeds; and whence their caution of naming him as any other writer than a poet. Milton combated fuperftition and tyranny of every form, and in every degree. Against them he employed his mighty ftrength, and, like a battering ram, beat down all before him. But notwithstanding these mean arts, either to hide or to difparage him, a little time will make him better known; and the more he is known, the more he will be admired. His works are not like the fugitive fhort-lived things of this age, few of which furvive their authors: they are fubftantial, durable, eternal writings; which will never die, never perifh whilft reafon, truth, and liberty have a being in these nations.

Thus much I thought proper to fay on occafion of this publication, wherein I have no refentment to gratify, no private intereft to ferve: all my aim is to strengthen and fupport that good old caufe, which in my youth I embraced, and the principles whereof I will affert and maintain whilft I live.

The following letter to Milton, being very curious, and no where published perfect and entire, may be fitly preferved in this place.

A Letter from Mr. Wall to John Milton, Efquire.


I RECEIVED yours the day after you wrote, and do humbly thank you, that you are pleafed to honour me with your letters. I confefs I have (even in my privacy in the country) oft had thoughts of you, and that with much refpect, for your friendlinefs to truth in your early years, and in bad times. But I was uncertain whether your relation to the court*, (though I think a commonwealth was more friendly to you than a court) had not clouded your former light, but your last book refolved that doubt. You complain of the nonproficiency of the

Milton was Latin Secretary,


nation, and of its retrogade motion of late, in liberty and fpiritual truths. It is much to be bewailed; but yet let us pity human frailty. When thofe who made deep proteftations of their zeal for our liberty both fpiritual and civil, and made the faireft offers to be affertors thereof, and whom we thereupon trufted; when thofe, being inftated in power, fhall betray the good thing committed to them, and lead us back to Egypt, and by that force, which we gave them to win us liberty, hold us faft in chains; what can poor people do? You know who they were, that watched our Saviour's fepulchre to keep him from rifing*.

Befides, whilft people are not free, but ftraitened in accommodations for life, their fpirits will be dejected and fervile: and conducing to that end, there fhould be an improving of our native commodities, as our manufactures, our fishery, our fens, forefts, and commons, and our trade at fea, &c. which would give the body of the nation a comfortable fubfiftence; and the breaking that curfed yoke of tithes would much help thereto.

Also another thing I cannot but mention, which' is, that the Norman conqueft and tyranny is continued upon the nation, without any thought of removing it; I mean the tenure of lands by copy-hold, and holding for life under a lord, or rather tyrant of a manor; whereby people care not to improve their land by coft upon it, not knowing how foon themfelves or theirs may be outed it; nor what the houfe is in which they live, for the fame reafon and they are far more enflaved to the lord of the manor, than the reft of the nation is to a king or fupreme magiftrate.

We have waited for liberty, but it must be God's work and not man's, who thinks it fweet to maintain his pride and worldly intereft to the gratifying of the flefh, whatever becomes of the precious liberty of mankind.

But let us not defpond, but do our duty; and God will carry on that bleffed work in defpite of all oppofites, and to their ruin if they perfift therein.

Soldiers; this is a fevere infinuation against a standing army.

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