First and only reprint since 1695.  A direct sequel to Milton's Paradise Lost, Sir Richard Blackmore's Prince Arthur is a Heroic Christian Epic in ten books, written in the late 1600s.  This volume contains all ten books and a preface by the author.  It also contains an author biography with illustration and a list of his other works; plus, for the first time anywhere, all of his corrections to the 1695 edition are incorporated - these corrections are missing from the Camelot Project's online version of the book and are unavailable anywhere else.

An excerpt from the Preface follows:


P R E F A C E.

To what ill purposes soever Poetry has been abus'd, its true and genuine End is by universal Confession, the Instruction of our Minds, and Regulation of our Manners ; for which 'tis furnish'd with so many excellent Advantages.  The delicacy of its Strains, the Sweetness and Harmony of its Numbers, the lively and admirable manner of its Painting or Representation, and the wonderful force of its Eloquence, cannot but open the Passages to our Breasts, triumph over our Passions, and leave behind them very deep Impressions.  'Tis in the power of Poetry to insinuate into the inmost Recesses of the Mind, to touch any Spring that moves the Heart, to agitate the Soul with any sort of Affection, and transform it into any Shape or Posture it thinks fit.  'Tis therefore no wonder that so wise a State, as that of Athens, should retain the Poets on the side of Religion and the Government.  The Stage there was set up to teach the People the Scheme of their Religion, and those Modes of Worship the Government thought fit to encourage, to convey to them such Ideas of their Deities, and Divine Providence, as might engage their Minds to a Reverence of superiour, invisible Beings, and to observe and admire their Administration of humane Affairs.  The Poets were look'd on as Divine, not only upon the account of that extraordinary Fury and Heat of Imagination, wherewith they were thought to be inspir'd, but likewise upon the account of their Profession and Imployment, their Business being to represent Vice as the most odious, and Virtue as the most desirable thing in the World.

   Tragedy was at its first Institution a part of the Ancient Pagans Divine Service, when the Chorus which originally was so great a part, contain'd many excellent Lessons of Piety and Morality, and was wholly imploy'd in rectifying their mistakes about the Gods, and their Government of the World, in moderating their Passions, and purging their Minds from Vice and Corruption.  This was the noble Design of the Chorus.  And the representation of great and illustrious Characters, gradually afterwards introduc'd, their Impious, or their Generous Actions, and the different Event that attended them, was to deter Men from Vice and Impiety, and encourage them to be Generous and Virtuous, by shewing them the Vengeance that at last overtook the one, and the Rewards and Praises that crown'd the other.  The End of Comedy was the same, but pursu'd in another way.  The business of Comedy being to render Vice ridiculous, to expose it to publick Derision and Contempt, and to make Men asham'd of Vile and Sordid Actions.

   Tragedy design'd to Scare Men, Comedy to Laugh them out of their vices.  And 'tis very plain, that Satyr is intended for the same End, the Promotion of Virtue, and exposing of Vice ; which it pursues by sharp Reproaches, vehement and bitter Invectives, or by a Courtly, but not less cutting Raillery.  The Odes of the Lyric Poet were chiefly design'd for the Praises of their Gods, their Heroes and extraordinary Persons, to draw Men to an Admiration and Imitation of them.

   But above all other kinds, Epick Poetry, as it is first in Dignity, so it mostly conduces to this end.  In an Epick Poem, where Characters of the first Rank and Dignity, Illustrious for their Birth or high Employment are introduc'd, the Fable, the Action, the particular Episodes are so contriv'd and conducted, or at least ought to be, that either Fortitude, Wisdom, Piety, Moderation, Generosity, some or other Noble and Princely Virtues shall be recommended with the highest Advantage, and their contrary Vices made as odious.  To give Men right and just Conceptions of Religion and Virtue, to aid their Reason in restraining their Exhorbitant Appetites and Impetuous Passions, and to bring their Lives under the Rules and Guidance of true Wisdom, and thereby to promote the publick Good of Mankind, is undoubtedly the End of all Poetry.

   'Tis true indeed, that one End of Poetry is to give Men Pleasure and Delight ; but this is but a subordinate, subaltern End, which is it self a Means to the greater, and ultimate one before mentioned.  A Poet should imploy all his Judgment and Wit, exhaust all the Riches of his Fancy, and abound in Beatiful and Noble Expression, to divert and entertain others ; but then it must be with this Prospect, that he may hereby engage their Attention, insinuate more easily into their Minds, and more effectually convey to them wise Instructions.  'Tis below the Dignity of a true Poet to take his Aim at any inferiour End.  They are Men of little Genius, of mean and poor Design, that imploy their Wit for no higher Purpose than to please the Imagination of vain and wanton People.

   I think these Poets, if they must be called so, whose Wit as they manage it, is altogether unuseful are justly reproach'd ; but I am sure those others are highly to be condemned, who use all their Wit in Opposition to Religion, and to the Destruction of Virtue and good Manners in the World.  There have been in all Ages such ill Men that have perverted the right Use of Poetry, but never so many, or so bold or mischievous as in ours.  Our Poets seem engag'd in a general Confederacy to ruin the End of their own Art, to expose Religion and Virtue, and bring Vice and Corruption of Manners into Esteem and Reputation.  The Poets that write for the Stage ( at least a great part of 'em ) seem deeply concern'd in this Conspiracy.  These are the Champions that charge Religion with such desperate Resolution, and have given it so many deep and ghastly Wounds. The stage was an Outwork or Fort rais'd for the Protection and Security of the Temple, but the Poets that kept it, have revolted, and basely betrayed it, and what is worse, have turn'd all their Force and discharg'd all their Artillery against the place their Duty was to defend.  If any Man thinks this is an unjust Charge, I desire him to read any of our modern Comedies, and I believe he will soon be convinc'd of the Truth of what I have said.

   The Man of Sense and the Fine Gentleman in the Comedy, who as the chiefest Person propos'd to the Esteem and Imitation of the Audience, is enrich'd with all the sense and Wit the Poet can bestow ; this Extraordinary Person you will find to be a Derider of Religion, a great admirer of Lucretius, not so much for his Learning, as his Irreligion, a Person wholly Idle, disolv'd in Luxury, abandon'd to his Pleasures, a great Debaucher of Women, profuse and extravagant in his Expences, and in short, this Finish'd Gentleman will appear a Finish'd Libertine.

   The Young Lady that must support the Character of a Vertuous, Well-manner'd Sensible Woman, the most perfect creature that can be, and the very Flower of her Sex, this Accomplish'd Person entertains the Audience with confident Discourses, immodest Repartees, and prophane Raillery.  She is throughly instructed in  Intreagues and Assignations, a great Scoffer at the prudent Reservedness and Modesty of the best of her Sex,  she despises the wise Instructions of her Parents or Guardians, is disobedient to their Authority, and at last, without their Knowledge or Consent, marries her self to the Fine Gentleman above mentioned.  And can any one imagine, but that our Young Ladies and Gentlemen are admirably instructed by such Patterns of Sense and Virtue ?  If a Clergy-man be introduc'd, as he often is, 'tis seldome for any other purpose, but to abuse him, to expose his very Character and Profession :  He must be a Pimp, a Blockhead, a Hypocrite ; some wretched Figure he must make, and almost ever be so manag'd, as to bring his very Order into Contempt.  This indeed is very common, but yet so gross an Abuse of Wit, as was never endured on a Pagan Theater, at least in the ancient, primitive Times of Poetry, before its Purity and Simplicity became corrupted with the Inventions of after Ages.  Poets then taught Men to reverence their Gods, and those who serv'd them.  None had so little regard for his Religion, as to expose it publickly, or if any had, their Governments were too wise to suffer the Worship of their Gods to be treated on the Stage with Contempt.


- Preface continues in the book -

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© MDCXCV (1695) Richard Blackmore, M.D.
This reproduction © MMIII Lodestone Press