Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Historical and Political Writings > Edmund Bolton
  Lord Herbert of Cherbury Sir Edward Walker  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

IX. Historical and Political Writings.

§ 3. Edmund Bolton.

Many indications of the growing interest in historical writing in the reign of James I and in the earlier years of that of Charles I must be passed by. Edmund Bolton, who, under the pseudonym of “Philanactophil,” dedicated to Buckingham a translation of Florus’s epitome of Roman history, in order to demonstrate the superiority of histories to “epitomes,” took occasion, from the publication of an epistle by Sir Henry Savile lamenting the existing state of English historical literature, to advocate, in a tract called Hypercritica, the production of a complete Corpus Rerum Anglicarum—“a felicity wanting to our Nation, now when even the name thereof is as it were at an end.” And we know how Milton contemplated on his own account a history of Britain from the origins, of which he only executed a fragment.  9  On the other hand, Thomas May, secretary of the Long Parliament, obeyed its authoritative behest by publishing, in 1647, the history of the great assembly which had begun its labours seven years earlier, together with “a short and necessary view of some precedent years.” May, who was a writer of considerable versatility,  10  had produced, besides a translation in rimed couplets of Lucan’s stirring epic on the second civil war of Rome, two moderately inspiring English poems on the reigns of Edward III and Henry II, in which “Philip and all her beauteous train” and Fair Rosamond do not fail to appear; but his History of the Parliament of England, which began 3 November, 1640, in conformity with the claim advanced, in the title as well as in the motto of the book, that its distinctive quality was veracity, exhibits both straight-forwardness of manner and dignity of tone. A succinct introduction dwells specially on the relations with Rome, with whom James I is described as having “temporised,” but holds the balance fairly between the personal virtues of Charles I and his errors as a ruler. Strafford’s trial and death, we are told, did at last as much harm to the kingdom as had resulted from his action while he was in power. The work, in which some important speeches and documents are inserted verbatim, ends with November, 1643.   8

Note 9. See, as to Milton’s History of England, and his History of Moscovia, ante, Chap. V. Milton’s Reflections on the Civil War in England, etc., which inveighs against the decay of religion during the civil wars and the period of uncertainty which ensued, is rptd. in Maseres’s Select Tracts, etc., part II. For a review of Milton’s historical work, see Firth, C. H., Milton as a Historian, Publications of the British Academy, 1909 (x). [ back ]
Note 10. See, as to his tragedies and comedies, of which the earliest is dated 1622, ante, Vol. VI, p. 264. He also wrote a Latin play, Julius Caesar, which remained in manuscript. [ back ]

  Lord Herbert of Cherbury Sir Edward Walker  

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