John King (1559?-1621) was Archdeacon of Nottingham when he gave his Lectures upon Jonas (published in 1597 and reissued four times to 1618) at York in 1594. He was one of James I’s favourite preachers and, from 1611, bishop of London. His public branding of Arcadia as a frivolous story is the earliest known such attack; in the seventeenth century, however, cf. Nos 50 and 58 and Wye Saltonstall, quoted below, p. 225. It was a point of view expressed by people as diverse in opinion as Milton and the recusant Alexander Baillie, who inveighs against the way in which ‘our Ministers trimme & culoure their hereticall sermons with the termigant tearmes & affectate language of Arcadia or Amadis de Gaul’ (A true information of the unhallowed offspring…of our Scottish Calvin-ian gospel, Würzburg, 1628, p. 219).
And it may be the sinne of Samaria, the sinne of this land and age of ours…to commit idolatry with such bookes [as those by Tasso and Ariosto], that insteed of the writings of Moses and the pro-phets, and Evangelists, which were wont to lie in our windowes as the principall ornaments, & to sit in the uppermost roumes as the best guests in our houses, now we have Arcadia, and the Faëry Queene, and Orlando Furioso, with such like frivolous stories.
Henry Olney’s edition of An Apologie for Poetrie was entered in the Stationers’ Register on 12 April 1595. It was, however,