An engraving with William of Orange (William III of England & William II of Scotland) and his wife, Mary II of England and Scotland in the center, surrounded by portraits of their various royal predecessors, including Edward VI of England (top left), Henry VIII of England (top center), Elizabeth I of England (top right), James I of England (bottom left), Charles II of England (bottom center), and Charles I of England (bottom right).


Section Four

Paradise Lost.  The 4th edition, adorn’d with sculptures. 

Printed by Miles Flesher for Richard Bently (Wing 2148)
Images: Portrait of Milton and frontispiece; Engravings preceding Books I, II, III, and VI. 

This Pitts holding is one of three distinct instances of the fourth edition of the poem, with Wing 2146 and 2147 bearing different printers’ marks on the frontispiece.  The fourth edition is the first folio printing of the poem and the first illustrated version, featuring more than a dozen engravings, including one of Milton himself with an epigram by John Dryden.  The printing of the fourth edition in 1688 coincided with the events leading up the deposition of James II, repositioning the poem to offer a somewhat different commentary on absolute monarchy and civil war than the first and second editions of 1667 and 1674 had done with respect to the revolution and subsequent restoration of the monarchy, 1642-1660.  Milton’s published opinions and literary art is especially remarkable in scope, ranging politically from royalist panegyric to defense of deposition and regicide, concepts all explored extensively in Paradise Lost.

The hind and the panther : a poem in three parts

This single volume grouping of several interrelated books contains the allegorical poem, The Hind and the Panther by then Poet Laureate John Dryden, who had converted to Catholicism.  Dryden’s poem is bound with a body of literature in response, particularly Matthew Prior’s The Hind and the Panther Transvers’d, an inversion of the original built upon “Much Malice mingled with a little Wit.”  The Hind and the Panther owes much to Milton’s earlier editions of Paradise Lost and was produced near the height of King James II’s crisis of authority and one year before publication of the fourth edition of Milton’s masterpiece.

An Account of the reasons of the nobility and gentry's invitation of His Highness the Prince of Orange into England: being a memorial from the English Protestants concerning their grievances: with a large account of the birth of the Prince of Wales presented to their Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Orange.

Printed for Nathanael Ranew and Jonathan Robinson

This remarkable pair of accounts delivered to William of Orange by “Your most humble Servants, whom you may hereafter know” is especially interesting in its second part, which presents the argument that Mary of Modena never conceived and did not give birth to James Francis Edward Stuart (the future “Old Pretender”) on 10 June 1688 or ever and that the child was surreptitiously transported into the supposed birthing room as a Catholic pretense to usurp the line of succession and exclude the future Mary II and William of Orange.

Prince George's letter to the King.

George, Prince, consort of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, 1653-1708;
John Churchill, Marlborough Duke of, 1650-1722.

While it would be naïve to imagine James lacked the politically savvy to anticipate this seemingly contrite letter of non-support from his “most Obedient Son [in-law] and Servant,” Prince George’s missive must have been unpleasant to the king in addition to being a profoundly disruptive political document.  George pleads prudence, interest in his native country, and a “Heart full of Grief” in this public separation from James’ interests and implied statement of allegiance to William of Orange.  “What I now do,” the Prince states, “is free from Passion, Vanity or Design” in undertaking “Actions of this Nature.”  George’s ominious musings toward the Letter’s conclusion are striking: “Could I secure your Person by the Hazard of my Life; I should think it could not be better employed.” 

The Prince of Orange his declaration: shewing the reasons why he invades England: With a short preface, and some modest remarks on it.

William III, King of England, b. 1650 - d. 1702.
London: Published by Randal Taylor

This is perhaps the most central and widely distributed text supporting the invasion and eventual ascendance of William of Orange.  The Declaration rests on the central religious and governmental controversies of James’ reign which originated from the threat of Catholic rule; the text furthers the claim that the birth of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart (later the “Old Pretender”) in June 1688 was a fraud, a matter “notoriously known to all the world” (p. 12).  That the Declaration, as its title states, contains “Some Modest Remarks” in support of William’s invasion suggests a humility and hesitancy which does not quite match up with the fierce literary campaign employed in support of William’s usurpation of the king and the state.