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not instance an abstruse author, wherein the king might be less conversant, but one whom we well know was the closest companion of these his solitudes, William Shakespeare; who introduces the person of Richard the Third, speaking in as high a strain of piety and mortification as is uttered in any passage of this book, and sometimes to the same sense and purpose with some words in this place: "I intended," saith he, "not only to oblige my friends, but my enemies." The like saith Richard, act ii. scene 1:
"I do not know that Englishman alive,
Other stuff of this sort may be read throughout the whole tragedy, wherein the poet used not much license in departing from the truth of history, which delivers him a deep dissembler, not of his affections only, but of religion.
In praying, therefore, and in the outward work of devotion, this king we see hath not at all exceeded the worst of kings before him. But herein the worst of kings, professing Christianism, have by far exceeded him. They, for aught we know, have still prayed their own, or at least borrowed from fit authors. But this king, not content with that which, although in a thing holy, is no holy theft, to attribute to his own making other men's whole prayers, hath as it were unhallowed and
unchristened the very duty of prayer itself, by borrowing to a Christian use prayers offered to a heathen god. Who would have imagined so little fear in him of the true all-seeing Deity, so little reverence of the Holy Ghost, whose office is to dictate and present our Christian prayers, so little care of truth in his last words, or honor to himself, or to his friends, or sense of his afflictions, or of that sad hour which was upon him, as immediately before his death to pop into the hand of that grave bishop who attended him, for a special relique of his saintly exercises, a prayer stolen word for word from the mouth of a heathen woman praying to a heathen god; and that in no serious book, but the vain amatorious poem of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia; a book in that kind full of worth and wit, but among religious thoughts and duties not worthy to be named; nor to be read at any time without good caution, much less in time of trouble and affliction to be a Christian's prayer-book? . .
However, to the benefit of others much more worth the gaining, I shall proceed in my assertion; that if only but to taste wittingly of meat or drink offered to an idol be in the doctrine of St. Paul judged a pollution, much more must be his sin who takes a prayer so dedicated into his mouth and offers it to God. Yet hardly can it be thought upon (though how sad a thing!) without some kind of laughter at the manner and solemn transaction of so gross a cozenage, that he, who had
trampled over us so stately and so tragically, should leave the world at last so ridiculously in his exit, as to bequeath among his deifying friends that stood about him such a precious piece of mockery to be published by them, as must needs cover both his and their heads with shame, if they have any left. Certainly, they that will may now see at length how much they were deceived in him, and were ever like to be hereafter, who cared not, so near the minute of his death, to deceive his best and dearest friends with the trumpery of such a prayer, not more secretly than shamefully purloined; yet given them as the royal issue of his own proper zeal. And sure it was the hand of God to let them fall, and be taken in such a foolish trap, as hath exposed them to all derision; if for nothing else, to throw contempt and disgrace in the sight of all men upon this his idolized book, and the whole rosary of his prayers; thereby testifying how little he accepted them from those who thought no better of the living God than of a buzzard idol, fit to be so served and worshipped in reversion, with the polluted orts and refuse of Arcadias and romances, without being able to discern the affront rather than the worship of such an ethnic prayer.
But leaving what might justly be offensive to God, it was a trespass also more than usual against human right, which commands, that every author should have the property of his own work reserved
to him after death, as well as living. Many princes have been rigorous in laying taxes on their subjects by the head; but of any king heretofore that made a levy upon their wit, and seized it as his own legitimate, I have not whom besides to instance. True it is, I looked rather to have found him gleaning out of books written purposely to help devotion. And if, in likelihood, he had borrowed much more out of prayer-books than out of pastorals, then are these painted feathers, that set him off so gay among the people, to be thought few or none of them his own. But if from his divines he have borrowed nothing, nothing out of all the magazine, and the rheum of their mellifluous prayers and meditations, let them who now mourn for him as for Thammuz, them who howl in their pulpits, and by their howling declare themselves right wolves, remember and consider, in the midst of their hideous faces, when they do only not cut their flesh for him like those rueful priests whom Elijah mocked, that he who was once their Ahab, now their Josiah, though feigning outwardly to reverence churchmen, yet here hath so extremely set at naught both them and their praying faculty, that, being at a loss himself what to pray in captivity, he consulted neither with the liturgy, nor with the directory, but, neglecting the huge fardell of all their honeycomb devotions, went directly where he doubted not to find better praying to his mind with Pamela, in the Countess's Arcadia.
What greater argument of disgrace and ignominy could have been thrown with cunning upon the whole clergy, than that the king, among all his priestery, and all those numberless volumes of their theological distillations, not meeting with one man or book of that coat that could befriend him with a prayer in captivity, was forced to rob Sir Philip and his captive shepherdess of their heathen orisons, to supply in any fashion his miserable indigence, not of bread, but of a single prayer to God? I say therefore not of bread, for that want may befall a good man, and yet not make him totally miserable but he who wants a prayer to beseech God in his necessity, it is inexpressible how poor he is; far poorer within himself than all his enemies can make him. And the unfitness, the indecency of that pitiful supply which he sought, expresses yet further the deepness of his poverty.
Thus much be said in general to his prayers, and in special to that Arcadian prayer used in his captivity; enough to undeceive us what esteem we are to set upon the rest. For he certainly, whose mind could serve him to seek a Christian prayer out of a pagan legend, and assume it for his own, might gather up the rest God knows from whence; one perhaps out of the French Astræa, another out of the Spanish Diana; Amadis and Palmerin could hardly scape him. Such a person we may be sure had it not in him to make a prayer of his own, or at least would excuse himself the pains and cost