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Title: "Nothing nobler then a free Commonwealth": Milton's Later Vernacular Republican Tracts
Author(s): Keeble, Neil
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Editor(s): McDowell, Nicholas
Smith, Nigel
Citation: Keeble N (2009) "Nothing nobler then a free Commonwealth": Milton's Later Vernacular Republican Tracts. In: McDowell Nicholas, Smith Nigel (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Milton. Oxford Handbooks of Literature, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 305-324.
Keywords: Milton, John
Prose tracts
Issue Date: 2009
Series/Report no.: Oxford Handbooks of Literature
Abstract: First paragraph: ‘Cromwell, our chief of men’:2 in the early 1650s Milton shared with a large body of radical and republican opinion in England an admiration for Oliver Cromwell as the agent of religious and political transformation. ‘Brave’ Cromwell, the conqueror of Ireland, had figured in the Defence of the English People of 1651 (4.1:458), and in the Second Defence of 1654, in which Milton takes the insult that he is ‘“worse than Cromwell”’ as ‘the highest praise you could bestow on me’ (4.1:595), the Lord Protector is famously eulogised as the one man upon whom the state depends (4.1:666-72). 3 Thereafter, however, Milton kept his counsel. His silence on the occasion of Cromwell’s death on 3 September 1658, and, apparently, for the four preceding years, has exercised commentators concerned to determine whether Milton’s earlier laudatory view of Cromwell survived the experience of the Protector’s later rule, with its Privy Council, second chamber indistinguishable from a House of Lords, courtly etiquette and increasingly monarchical characteristics. Though some have held that it did,4 the prevailing view has been that Milton’s silence betokens disillusion.5
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