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Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England$
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Jan-Melissa Schramm

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826064

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826064.001.0001

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‘[T]o see the work of God / Achieved for others’

‘[T]o see the work of God / Achieved for others’

Sacrifice, (Self)-Censorship, and Sacred Closet Drama

(p.87) 3 ‘[T]o see the work of God / Achieved for others’
Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England

Jan-Melissa Schramm

Oxford University Press

Hone’s work exerted a profound influence over the nineteenth-century antiquarian and almanac traditions. Perhaps more importantly, his influence was also felt in the sacred dramatic literature of the period, with Lord Byron and Richard Carlile in particular expressing strong affinities with Hone’s radical politics and his appropriation of the plays as foundational to a demotic genealogy of blasphemy. Whilst Joanna Baillie, Richard Hengist Horne, Henry Hart Milman, and Digby Starkey also experimented with the form of the mysteries in the decades which followed Hone’s trials, they were compelled by law to position their work as closet drama, and even then their texts remained vulnerable to either prosecution for the common law offence of blasphemy or a denial of copyright protection from pirates as a consequence of their allegedly amoral tendencies. This chapter looks at a number of nineteenth-century sacred dramas to assess their contribution to political protest in their period.

Keywords:   blasphemy, parody, political economy, sacrifice, Lord Byron, Cain, Henry Hart Milman, Richard Hengist Horne, Digby Starkey, the ‘fortunate fall’ (felix culpa)

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