England and Israel, Milton and Dryden
This chapter shows what happened to the analogy between England and Israel after the Restoration. Cowley and others greeted Charles II as David and invoked the idea of Israel's redemption. The Church of England was reconstructed, symbol of unity in English Israel. But the reestablished Church was an instrument of division in the nation, persecuting nonconformists like Bunyan and the Quakers, who insisted that the persecuted people of God were the true Israel. Milton and Dryden represent alternative attitudes toward a nation claiming to be Israel. Suggestive of the complex English attitudes toward Jews, Milton as Hebraic prophet demonized nation–building, detaching Israel from the English nation and from Jewish Israel in his Restoration poems. Dryden, England's poet laureate, appropriated Isaiah's prophecies for England and used the biblical Absalom's rebellion to reaffirm Charles II's Davidic authority and the Israelite status of the nation. Some of the material on Milton here appeared in an earlier form in ‘England, Israel, and the Jews in Milton's prose, 1649–1660,’ in Milton and the Jews, ed. Douglas A. Brooks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 13-34; and ‘“The Jewish Question” and “the Woman Question” in Samson Agonistes: Gender, Religion, and Nation,’ in Milton and Gender, ed. Catherine Gimelli Martin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 184-203, both reprinted by permission of Cambridge University Press.
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