"Inquisitorious And Tyrannical Duncery"
Context: During the years that immediately preceded the civil war the spokesmen for the Puritan and Anglican churches engaged in a spirited and often bitter pamphlet war. As perhaps the most articulate representative of the Puritan position, Milton contributed several important pamphlets to his party's campaign. The major differences between these two parties were not concerned with doctrine, or belief, but with discipline, or the government of the Church. Since the conventions of pamphlet war at this time were to attack both the opposition's argument as well as any personalities of importance, Milton frequently found occasion to defend not only Puritanism but himself as well. In Book I of this work he argues that the proper form of church government is prescribed in Scripture and attempts to refute specific arguments advanced by the Anglicans. In Book II he shows in detail how "Prelaty opposeth the Reason and End of the Gospel in three Ways," but first he inserts a preface in which he replies to some personal attacks which had been made against his shortcomings as a poet. His intentions as a poet, he says, contrary to those of the "libidinous and ignorant poetasters" of the other party, have always been to inspire wisdom and virtue.
. . . And the accomplishment of them lies not but in a power above man's to promise; but that none hath by more studious ways endeavored, and with more unwearied spirit that none shall, that I dare almost aver of myself, as far as life and free leisure will extend; and that the land had once enfranchised herself from this impertinent yoke of prelaty, under whose inquisitorious and tyrannical duncery, no free and splendid wit can flourish. Neither do I think it shame to covenant with any knowing reader, that for some few years yet I may go on trust with him toward the payment of what I am now indebted, as being a work not to be raised from the heat of youth, or the vapors of wine; like that which flows at waste from the pen of some vulgar amorist, of the trencher fury of a rhyming parasite; . . .