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The meaning of Morell's libretto of 'Judas Maccabaeus.'

In 1996 the Maryland Handel Festival's chronological progress through Handel's oratorios arrived at Judas Maccabaeus, marking with a stirring performance the 250th anniversary of the event which that oratorio commemorates, the final battle of the '1745' Jacobite rebellion against the Hanoverian regime at Culloden on 16 April 1746. The original version of this essay was prompted by an invitation to give a lecture introducing that performance. I was glad to be made to think about the oratorio again, for the previous (too cursory) attention I had given it had suggested either that Handel's first audiences had a capacity for interpreting allegory so broadly as to accept an apparently contradictory analogy - by which the Israelites instituting an insurrection represented the Hanoverians quelling one - or that they were willing to accept a subversive analogy (in defiance of the dedication to the Duke of Cumberland), whereby the virtuous Israelites represented the rebellious Jacobites. Or was it, as another Handel scholar suggested to me, that the librettist Thomas Morell 'was just not bothering', an explanation which would implicate Handel as well and would disappointingly reduce the reputations of all concerned? Going back to the sources and circumstances of the oratorio produced a more satisfactory reading.

In 1770 Morell recorded that he began writing for Handel in response to a request from the composer for a libretto, a request which carried particular weight because it was encouraged by the Prince of Wales (Morell was on the fringes of the prince's circle at Kew).(1) The outcome, Judas Maccabaeus, was dedicated not to the prince but to his younger brother, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who was England's national hero at the time of the libretto's composition.(2) As Morell later recorded, and as contemporaries recognized at the time, Judas Maccabaeus was dedicated to Cumberland in acknowledgement of his suppression of the recent Jacobite rebellion. But as usual with Handel's oratorios, there was a considerable (in this case, substantial) gap between the writing of the libretto and the first performance. This oratorio was not an 'occasional' piece in the sense of being dashed off to meet the mood of a moment. The libretto was begun when the outcome of the rebellion was still uncertain, Handel composed the music when it was in its closing stages (July-August 1746), and by the first performance the rebellion had been over for nearly a year and Britain was facing different difficulties and other threats to her safety? In what follows I look first at the political circumstances of Britain during this period, then at the use which Morell made of his source, and finally at the meaning of his libretto in the light of those circumstances.


The Jacobites were the family and supporters of James II and his descendants ('Jacobus' is the Latin for James). In 1688 James II of England (James VII of Scotland) was rejected by the majority of his subjects on account of his absolutism and his Catholicism, both of which were unacceptable to the British people and their constitution. After being ousted by the 'Glorious Revolution', James and his family settled initially in France, and subsequently, as the result of a British treaty with France, in Rome. To preserve the Protestantism of the monarchy, in 1714 Britain accepted as king George, Elector of Hanover, who was descended from James I (see the family tree in Appendix I, below) but who could be shown to be only 57th in direct succession to the British throne. The 1745 rebellion, which was one of several attempts in the eighteenth century to regain the throne for the Jacobites, was activated by James II's grandson, Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender; he was withstood principally by the Duke of Cumberland, second son of George II and leader of the British Hanoverian forces. Though of different generations, both men were in their early twenties; Cumberland celebrated his 25th birthday on the eve of Culloden.

This rebellion was not a small local, or even a merely national, affair (see the calendar of events in Appendix II, below): it was regarded in Britain as a part of a larger plan by the enemy nation, France, both to gain control of the United Kingdom and to weaken Britain's influence in Europe.(4) The meaning of Judas Maccabaeus becomes clear only if we appreciate the perceived role of France in British affairs in the 1740s.

In 1740, when Britain was already involved in a naval war over trade against one of the two major Bourbon powers, Spain (the 'War of Jenkins' Ear', 1739-48), George II's hated European rival, his nephew Frederick II of Prussia, precipitated the War of Austrian Succession by invading the Austrian territory of Silesia. A combination of factors involved Britain in this major European conflict, at first financially and then with arms and men.(5) This was a very complicated war, but for understanding Judas Maccabaeus four facts are important: it was (like the War of Jenkins' Ear and in keeping with the normal alignment of powers in eighteenth-century Europe) a conflict between Catholic and Protestant nations; it brought Britain into open war with France; in Britain it caused deep rifts in national opinion; and it affected, and was affected by, the way in which the British government dealt with the 1745 rebellion.

The almost universal English hatred of France dated back to the Hundred Years War. In the eighteenth century, English fears of French powers were justified: France had three times the population, a more powerful agricultural and industrial base, and acknowledged superiority in the arts and pure sciences.(6) In the great struggle over colonial trade in North America, in Spanish America and in India, France seemed to be outstripping Britain.

When George II memorably led the charge at the Battle of Dettingen (1743), the forces ranged against him were French, although the French had not yet declared war against Britain. In the same year, reacting to increasing British involvement in the war, Louis XV of France wrote to Philip V of Spain announcing his intention to invade England; Philip replied enthusiastically commending this glorious enterprise, and the Bourbon powers collaborated closely in the attempt which followed. The proposed French naval invasion of 1744 was a two-part plan. A fleet from Brest was to lure England's fleet to the Isle of Wight and engage it there while France's (and Europe's) best general, Marshal Saxe, would cross from Dunkirk and invade: 12,000 men were to land near the Thames estuary while 3,000 were to invade Scotland. The Brest fleet in fact travelled unmolested as far as the Kent coast. But although the plan had been betrayed by a French agent (a legacy of Robert Walpole's zealous secret-service recruitment policy), what actually saved Britain on this occasion, as others, was the weather. Storms prevented the Brest fleet from sailing up the Thames (also saving it an encounter with the British navy and allowing it to escape) and battered the Dunkirk fleet so hard that the entire plan had to be abandoned. Three weeks later, Louis XV declared war on England. During the preparations for the invasion, Charles Edward had moved from Rome to Paris; Louis rebuffed English demands that he honour the French commitment not to allow Charles on French soil and gave him a pension ([pounds]1,800 per annum, later raised to [pounds]3,000).

The 1744 invasion was a French attack on Britain, so it was not surprising that Britons of all walks of life interpreted the invasion of the following year, when Charles Edward landed at Moldart in Scotland on 21 July 1745, as the start of another French attempt, especially given the tradition of Franco-Scottish alliances against England. Charles actually undertook his expedition without the knowledge of the French government, and with the assistance of Irish and Scottish expatriates. But France consistently supported his attempt once he had begun, and much of the fear aroused in England was due to the assumption that Charles was part of a strategic French plan for the reduction of Britain to 'a province of France', which is what a judge at Weymouth warned in March 1744 would result if the Young Pretender became king. In fact, French foreign policy-making in 1745-6 was fragmented and chaotic:(7) six ministers shared responsibility and vied with each other for power, and Louis gave insufficient direction. English apprehensions of the French threat were greater than the reality. This gave the Jacobites a huge psychological advantage. The comment of Henry Fox MP noted two months after Charles's landing was representative of English anxiety: 'that the Pretender's son can hardly come thus without assurance of foreign support, is the thing that frightens me most, and considered as part of a scheme only, his coming has succeeded beyond expectation'.(8) This fear also achieved for France one of its main aims, the withdrawal of British troops from the European theatre of war for home defence, which resulted in massive French gains in the Low Countries.

When Charles landed in Scotland the critical Channel port of Ostend was about to fall to the French (Ghent and Bruges having succumbed in the previous weeks), reinforcing the impression that the invasion of Scotland was timed deliberately to coincide with events on the Continent and to form a prelude to invasion from Brest and Ferrol to Ireland, or from Brest to England, or from the eastern Channel ports, where a build-up of shipping was reported. George II was on one of his usual sojourns to Hanover, and the prime minister, the Duke of Newcastle, urged him to return not so much because of the rising in Scotland as because of fears of French invasion. One observer after another emphasized the sense that Charles Edward's action was a minor aspect of the very real danger from France:

this affair in Scotland taken by itself gives me no terror, but when I look upon it only as a branch of a more extensive and pernicious project, connected with the Spanish embarkation from Ferrol and contrived by France, who now has it in her power to invade us, void of troops and defense at present, from Ostend, Dunkirk, Brest and where not, I cannot but wish for the return of the Duke of Cumberland and the forces, at least 10,000, under his command, without which I am certain we do not sleep whole in our skins. You can not well imagine the concern all people are in ... I am thoroughly convinced we shall be invaded from Flanders.(9)

The question of whether to bring troops home from Europe - of whether to face France more strongly in Britain or on the Continent - touched a raw area of British disunity, the split (in government and in the nation) over foreign relations. Should a war be for empire, at sea, or for the balance of power in Europe, on land? And if its main purpose was to support the Protestant world against absolutist Catholic France and Spain, could this not be better done independently through trade and colonial expansion, without the expensive deployment of troops and the impediment of feeble allies (Cumberland had lost the battle of Fontenoy because he was let down by the Dutch)? This debate occupied parliament and the press throughout the period of the rebellion and beyond. It was not merely theoretical. The allies sustained one loss after another in Europe, while in North America the great British prize of Louisburg (Cape Breton Island), captured from the French in 1745, was endangered by the French capture of Madras in 1746 and French superiority in Europe, which made its retention unlikely (despite popular outcry, it was returned at the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle). The rebellion briefly created some unity of feeling in England, but as soon as the rebels began to retreat from Derby, all the disagreements resurfaced.

It was not until the emphatic Jacobite victory at Prestonpans in September 1745 that the British government began to concentrate effort on quashing the rebellion. Cumberland himself was ready to return to defend England from a French invasion, writing to Newcastle in July:

I desire you, that if this pretended design of an invasion should continue, to let me come home with whatever troops are thought necessary, for it would be horrid to be employed abroad when my home was in danger, and really, should it be found proper to detach home to England troops sufficient to secure it, there will be none left to save this little scrap of country we still have here, of the Austrian Netherlands.(10)

But the invasion of Scotland did not initially have the same effect. While Newcastle and his adherents were sure that troops should be recalled from Europe (Newcastle wrote on 3 October that 'I can scarce believe France will neglect this opportunity; when they undoubtedly set this young Pretender to work'),(11) George, Cumberland, and George's favourite minister Cartaret resisted the idea, Cumberland's secretary, Sir Edward Fawkener, writing that 'one must be deprived of his senses not to see that France is at the bottom of all this ... If they can alarm us so far as to make a detachment they do everything; for if this allied army once comes to divide I am afraid all is irretrievably over.'(12) In the event, all the British troops in Flanders were gradually recalled, for neither of the two armies initially deployed in England, under Marshal Wade (aged 72) and General Cope (in his sixties, the loser of Prestonpans and later court-martialled), managed to intercept the Jacobites, who gathered recruits and entered England. It was not until 19 October, after France had published a treaty pledging armed support to the Jacobites, that Cumberland himself returned from Europe.

The unexpected speed of the Jacobites' advance, which seemed a mark of their success, in fact may have lost them the rebellion. A supporting invasion was prepared in France from the beginning of October, but the scale of the operation, the elaborate complication of the plan, bad weather thwarting transports, and the rivalry of the French ministers all meant that it was not ready until late December. By this time the Jacobites were back in Scotland, having retreated from England because they were not joined by English Jacobites (who, in so far as they meant to come out at all, were waiting for the French invasion to materialize and be successful) and because they did not themselves know whether or not they could expect French support. The Jacobites moved faster than communications with France, so they did not know the timetable of the French invasion (and could not time their movement south accordingly), and France, not knowing where they were and when, but wanting news of a credible Jacobite front in England, did not speed up the invasion (although it is unlikely that it could ever have moved quickly enough to be in phase with the Jacobites). For example, news of the fall of Carlisle to the Jacobites on 17 November 1745, which strengthened the decision to invade, did not reach France until three weeks later, when the Jacobites were arriving at Derby and about to decide whether to go on or retreat.

France and the Jacobites were not in phase and the main French invasion was eventually called off, but fear of it galvanized Britain. The fact that the Jacobites pushed so rapidly into the Midlands convinced many that there was a concerted plan to meet a French force coming from the south coast. Before the Battle of Prestonpans, the Dean of Raphoe had found the citizens of Stratford-upon-Avon apathetic at 'the notion of their laws, their liberties and properties being at stake ... they yawn, and ask if they do not pay soldiers to fight for them'.(13) But on 24 September the Archbishop of York had an audience of about 2,000 for an address which - typically of an unfailing method of government propaganda - combined the threats of 'Popery' and 'France':

these commotions in the North are but part of a great plan concerted for our ruin - They have begun under the countenance, and will be supported by the forces of France and Spain ... If these designs should succeed, and Popery and arbitrary power come in upon us, under the influence and direction of these two tyrannical and corrupted Courts, I leave you to reflect what would become of everything that is valuable to us ... Let us unite, then, gentlemen, as one man, to stop this dangerous mischief, from which union no man surely can withdraw, or withold his assistance, who is not listed into the wicked service of a French or Spanish invasion, or wholly unconcerned for the fate of his bleeding country.(14)

Such rhetoric, and the presence of the rebels in England, had their effect, and the nation united behind the Hanoverian guardians of Protestantism and constitutional freedom as never before or after in the reigns of the first two Georges. On 22 October the London tradesman Richard Finch wrote to a merchant friend:

A native of London who went abroad before this rebellion began and knew the discontents of the people before would scarce credit the zeal, affection and loyalty, which appears every where all over the nation, on behalf of the king, and the Protestant religion; to the degree that smaller matters seem to be cancelled; the newspapers every day full of pathetic incitements to fight for our king and our liberties; and the pamphlet shops crowded with entire new books on the same important subjects. Our most gracious king and our excellent constitution were never so greatly the love and delight of all ranks and orders of men as at this time.(15)

Defence associations and subscriptions were formed nationwide. In December, following a report of French landings (actually smugglers) on the Sussex coast, a series of meetings of armed volunteers in Kent produced increasing numbers up to a turn-out of 5,000 (the size of the entire Jacobite army later at Culloden). For although the Jacobites' retreat from England suggested that there was less to fear because of the evident absence of French and Jacobite co-ordination, French preparations for invasion continued, duly monitored and reported by a justifiably anxious Admiral Vernon patrolling the Channel with an over-extended fleet. Had their plan been simpler, the French might have evaded him, but because of elaborate transports of troops and materials between Ostend, Dunkirk and Calais, intended to confuse the British, their movements were too apparent for the surprise they needed. The psychological advantage that was lost is evident in a letter of the Duke of Richmond to Newcastle: 'I make no doubt but this embarkation will go on at Dunkirk. Are we all mad? that you don't send for ten thousand more forces be they Hessians, Hanoverians, or devils, if they will but fight for us ... The whole kingdom is still asleep. Our cavalry can't be here before February, and the Pretender may be crowned in Westminster by that time.'(16) Meanwhile the impression that the rebellion had full French backing was strengthened by landings (and more often, fortunately for the Hanoverian government, failed landings) of men and supplies in Scotland: four ships arrived in mid October and six in late November. Ships and men continued to be sent even when Jacobite fortunes were in their last decline, three companies landing at Aberdeen from Ostend in early February 1746, another two ships arriving in March, and a series of five ships finally being despatched to rescue Charles and his remaining supporters. The British had the better of these attempts, notably the capture of a ship bringing men, arms and [pounds]13,600 just when the Jacobites desperately needed them, but the continuation of French landings and the engagement of British shipping meant that the Jacobite threat was still taken seriously by the English well after the Battle of Culloden, which was not at the time regarded as putting a conclusive end to the danger.(17) Even much later, in October 1747, the government, fearing a repetition of rebellion in Scotland and elsewhere and, once more, a possible invasion of southern England, recalled five battalions of Cumberland's Flanders army.

As the Jacobites began to retreat from England in late 1745 Cumberland pursued them, eager to force a battle, and again the fear of French invasion intervened: twice the government halted his troops while the danger of embarkation of cannon and supplies at Dunkirk was assessed. His fellow commanders Ligonier and Oglethorpe were actually recalled with their troops, as was Cumberland while at Macclesfield. The latter order was countermanded the next day, but Cumberland felt that the damage had been done to his chance of overtaking the rebels before they reached the border. Newcastle's fears were justified: the French were pouring everything into final preparations for the invasion. But three crucial engagements of French convoys with English privateers and the British navy between 18 and 20 December, which fully revealed French plans to the British, combined with a mass of logistical problems and lack of confidence on the part of the French high command, led to the invasion being called off at the end of January. Newcastle wrote to the Earl of Chesterfield on 6 January 1746 that 'their design may be at present suspended, yet I am still of opinion that they keep it up and shall not be surprised if we hear of them, and that soon, on some part of the coast.'(18) Meanwhile the French aim of weakening Britain in Europe continued to succeed: Brussels fell to Marshal Saxe in February, and Antwerp, Mons and Charleroi in the following spring and summer.

After accepting the surrender of Carlisle to government forces on 30 December 1745 Cumberland returned to London, but on 17 January 1746 the rebel army, increased by troops from France to 8,000, was victorious at Falkirk over the army of General Hawley (another British commander in his sixties), who allowed his enemy to seize the superior position for attack. This propelled Cumberland north again, from London to Edinburgh in five days, a speed compared by the poet Gray to a cannon shot;(19) and Handel's Occasional Oratorio, composed at this time, was recognized by one listener as 'expressive of the flight of the rebels and our pursuit of them.'(20) Cumberland's brutal suppression of the Scottish Highlands dates from his return north: expecting the rebels to disperse after Falkirk rather than offer another battle, he sent parties 'to burn and destroy that nest of robbers. And orders shall be given to kill all that have arms in their houses.'(21) His aide-de-camp Joseph Yorke wrote to his father, the Earl of Hardwicke, on 8 February: 'I hope we shall soon be able to move forward and extirpate the race... I hope we may not be deprived of the power to revenge the nation on the beggarly wretches ... it will be at least a summer's work to clear those parts of 'em and to destroy their clannism, but it must be gone thro' with.'(22) The rebel army did not melt away as Cumberland hoped, but aimed for Inverness and took it (17 February 1746), Lord Loudoun losing not only the town but also hundreds of men by desertion. The Jacobites' attempts to raise help from Spain created rumours which helped them: 2,000 Spanish troops were reported to have landed in Scotland. Moreover, it was feared that the French fleet being prepared at Brest for Cape Breton Island was actually intended for an invasion of Scotland or Ireland. The rebels continued to recruit and (as throughout) the government forces suffered a lack of coherent strategy. But during March 1746 fortunes turned decisively as Charles ran out of cash to pay his troops, French supplies were intercepted by the British, and desertions ensued. By 16 April, when Cumberland caught up with the Jacobites, his army numbered 8,000, while the Jacobites were down to 5,000 and in terrible condition. The Battle of Culloden lasted barely half an hour and was a Jacobite disaster, with 2,000 men lost (the British lost 350).

British troops remained on active service in the Highlands until September, when Charles was rescued and returned to France, where (the English press reported) Louis XV greeted him as a hero with a present of 800,000 livres, an annual pension of 600,000 livres and the titles of Royal Highness and Prince of Wales.(23) In May 1746 the British were outraged by French demands that the proposals for peace in Europe should include an amnesty for Jacobites. Aware that while the Highlanders were armed, France could exploit them, Cumberland was determined to abolish the clan system, which had made the rebellion strong in Scotland. The army, rapidly demoralized by frustrating guerrilla warfare with the Jacobite remnants in wretched terrain with no rewards, turned to pillage, rape and murder, and Cumberland began military executions of the Highlanders. Laws were eventually passed which outlawed wearing the kilt, plaid or any form of tartan: this did more to demoralize the clans than any other measure. Of the 80 prisoners executed in London, three were noblemen, including Lord Lovat, whose thai took place in late March 1747; Handel felt obliged to postpone the premiere of Judas Maccabaeus until 1 April because the trial was the centre of everyone's interest. The Gentleman's Magazine for March omitted its usual foreign news section and gave the thai a five-page leader, three pages of commentary and a fold-out illustration. The Lovat trial ensured that if Handel's public had begun to forget the Jacobite rebellion, it was now fresh in the minds of the first audience of Judas Maccabaeus.

In April 1747 the government could be glad of a public entertainment which counterbalanced a reminder of continuing Jacobitism with a recall of the nation's unity under dedicated and inspiring leadership. The rebellion's threat to 'Laws, Religion, Liberty' (a potent catch-phrase of the time, echoed in the libretto, Part II) had damaged the larger war effort; the British envoy in the Hague imputed the fall of Flanders to the withdrawal of British troops from the Continent to suppress the rebellion. By April 1747 the British were tired of long, expensive, unsuccessful and confusing foreign entanglements, and they were in bad need of some patriotic uplift.


Judas Maccabaeus is set in the era of the second temple, after the death of Alexander the Great, when Judaea belonged to the Syrians or Selucid dynasty, who continued their predecessors' policy of tolerating the Jewish religion. Twenty years before the action of the oratorio begins, the Selucids came under Roman control, but they were allowed to go on ruling their kingdom. The oratorio itself covers (very selectively) events of the years 166-161 BC. Morell chose parts of the two books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha which tell the story of the armed struggle of the Jews, led by the family called the Maccabees, against the Syrians. What provoked this struggle? Morell does not explain its origins, but we need to understand them if we are to make sense of the libretto.(24)

In 175 BC Antiochus Epiphanes had ascended to the Syrian throne. He was a strong internationalist ruler, who broke his kingdom out of the isolation which had resulted from war with Rome. He had expansionist ambitions and conducted a successful campaign against Egypt, mentioned by the Messenger in Part II of the libretto ('O Judas, O my brethren'), which meant that he was usually in need of cash. This explains some of his actions with regard to the Jews, who at this time were culturally not of one mind. There were two opposing extremes (which could be called orthodox and reform tendencies), the pious Hassidim and the hellenized Jews, the latter being open to the Greek culture of the ruling Syrians. The activities of these hellenized Jews are important to the libretto. In 174 Joshua (calling himself Jason, in Greek style), brother of the conservative Jewish high priest, approached Antiochus as a representative of those Jews advocating hellenization. He offered Antiochus money for the high priesthood, with a promise of more to come if Antiochus would turn Jerusalem into a Greek city with Greek institutions (2 Macc. 4: 8). Antiochus granted this, with far-reaching effects. So successfully did Greek customs take hold that, as the author of 2 Maccabees records, the priests of the temple left the high altar to join in games at the gymnasium erected next door (2 Macc. 4: 12-13). Jason apparently was not intending to change the Jewish religion, but his Hassidim opponents felt the traditional orthodox fear that his reforms were contaminating and diluting their religion, which until now had been preserved by segregation from other races. It is this backsliding from the true religion to which reference is made in Simon's first air in the libretto, when he urges the Jews to offer up 'pious airs' and 'decent pray'rs' to 'regain' God's love.

Apostasy went further, with further division among the Jews. Menelaus, from a rival and more radically hellenizing priestly family, made Antiochus a higher bid for the priesthood than Jason's, brazenly funding his offer by taking money from the temple treasury. He was successful (2 Macc. 4: 24), and the result was civil war in Jerusalem. Antiochus, returning from campaigning in Egypt and hearing this news, interpreted internecine strife as rebellion and sent his general Apollonius to put it down. The temple was profaned and robbed; many Jews were killed (80,000 according to 2 Macc. 5: 12); and Apollonius laid waste Jerusalem (having entered it by a deceitful promise of amity) and installed a Syrian garrison in a new Greek-style citadel near the temple. Garrisoning Jerusalem with foreign soldiers, of an enemy race, was an invasion without precedent for the Jews, many of whom fled Jerusalem, whereupon the Syrians took possession of their homes. This is the context of the choral lament in the opening scene of the libretto, 'For Sion lamentation make'. The Syrians also took over the Jewish temple for the worship of their own gods - hence the mention of 'polluted altars' in Part II of the libretto - which included the use of prostitutes (2 Macc. 6: 4), mentioned in the libretto (Part II) as the 'Virgin throng wild with delusion' who 'pay their nightly song to Ashtoreth'.

For the sake of political cohesion, Antiochus then instituted a series of brutally repressive measures: he burnt the scrolls of the Law, decreed death for concealing scrolls at home, executed mothers who had their children circumcised (and the children with them), prohibited Jewish religious observance, forbade keeping the sabbath and festivals, transformed the temple into a sanctuary of Zeus (hence the Israelites in the libretto intend to 'Hurl Jupiter Olympus from his Throne'), demanded worship of pagan gods, required festive processions to Dionysus (the libretto's 'Nor rev'rence Bacchus with his Ivy Crown' reflects this decree), ordered his own birthday to be celebrated each month with sacrifices, commanded every village in Palestine to set up a pagan altar, and sent military patrols to enforce heathen sacrifice (1 Mace. 1: 4451). The conservative author of 2 Maccabees saw these disasters which followed from the breakaway reform movement as a warning reprimand from God not to fall into apostasy: 'Now I beseech those that read this book, that they be not discouraged for these calamities but that they judge those punishments not to be for destruction, but for a chastening of our nation' (2 Macc. 6: 12; my emphasis). Morell took over this last passage nearly verbatim: in Part I, Simon rallies the Jews to face the enemy with the admonition 'Be comforted. - Nor think these Plagues are sent / For your destruction, but for chastisement.'

Freedom of worship had lasted several centuries; loss of it galvanized resistance and united the Jews who had fled into the countryside in a bid for combined religious and political freedom. The patriarch of the family called Maccabees, Mattathias, refused the order to make a pagan sacrifice and, when another Jew offered to do so, killed both him and the king's commissioner and pulled down the altar. Then he and his five sons (John, Simon, Judas, Eleazar, Jonathan) fled to the mountains and raised the standard of rebellion, attracting a large following who began destroying pagan altars throughout the countryside (1 Mace. 2: 15-48). They had the benefit of operating in familiar rugged country with good lines of communication and with lighter armaments than Selucid armies (incidentally, a close parallel with the situation of the rebels in the Scottish Highlands in 1745-6). Mattathias died soon after, bequeathing political leadership to Simon and military leadership to Judas.

Motell begins his libretto at this point, with Mattathias's funeral, and immediately departs from his source to emphasize one of his main themes, purification of the faith, by making Judas's appointment as commander the result not of Mattathias's last wish but of divine inspiration vouchsafed to Simon in response to the Jews' resumption of their traditional religious observance. (But Morell takes over and recasts the sharing of responsibility, making Judas the military and Simon the religious leader of the nation.) The libretto covers five years, during which Judas repulsed four attempts by the Syrians to relieve their supporters in Jerusalem. Again like the Jacobites, he was heavily outnumbered by troops with far superior equipment. But he had victories over the generals Apollonius and Seron, in battles for which the libretto's Jews prepare at end of Part I and which they celebrate at the start of Part II:

Victorious Hero! Fame shall tell With her last Breath, how Apollonius fell ... Thus too the haughty Seron, Syria's boast, Before thee fell ...

The first battle gave the Jews access to effective weapons: Judas gained Apollonius's sword and fought with it for the rest of his life, an epic detail to which Motell refers ('thy resistless Power dealt around, / With their own Leader's Sword, the doleful Wound'). They won the second battle because they had secured the advantage of being at the top of a hill (like the Jacobites at Falkirk). Judas's speech to his troops before the battle with Seron as reported by the author of 1 Maccabees (3: 18-22) contains many phrases echoed by Morell: compare 'strength cometh from heaven ... we fight for our lives and our laws ... the Lord himself will overthrow them ...' with Simon's 'Arm, arm, ye Brave':

In defence of your Nation, Religion, and Laws, The Almighty Jehovah will strengthen your Hands.

Judas also achieved two defeats of General Lysias, which Morell condenses into one engagement and relates in the Messenger's recitative in Part III. While Judas and the Jewish army fight the Syrians, Simon recovers the Sanctuary of the temple, which is where Part III begins. This is the spiritual centre of the work, enacting an event so important in Jewish history that it has been celebrated in Judaism as a major annual festival ever since: Chanuka, the feast of lights, commemorates the rekindling of the Sanctuary light when Judas, having regained the temple for the 'pious' Jews, on the very anniversary of its profanation, cleansed it and restored its worship, removing the pagan altar and erecting a new one (1 Macc. 4:54 and 2 Macc. 10:5 tally here). Antiochus, realizing that the measures he had taken to suppress a rebellion had actually caused one, withdrew his repressive orders: the Jews could now live in accordance with their own laws, including freedom of religion. Now the Jewish struggle was not for religious freedom but for independence, and the word 'liberty', the prime political buzz-word of mid eighteenth-century England, is prominent in the libretto.

Morell condenses the military action, as he carefully explains in a footnote: 'Several Incidents were introduced here by way of Messenger, and Chorus, in order to make the Story more compleat, but it was thought they would make the Performance too long, and therefore were not Set, and therefore not printed; this being design'd, not as a finish'd Poem, but merely as an Oratorio'. The Messenger's recitative about the brilliant defeats of Lysias and Nicanor actually covers the events of four years. One of the 'several incidents' which had to be left out was a dramatic scene in the temple (2 Macc. 14: 31-3) when Nicanor demanded that the priests hand over Judas and, on being refused, 'made an oath in this manner: If ye will not deliver me Judas as a prisoner, I will lay this temple of God even with the Ground, and I will break down the altar, and erect a notable temple unto Bacchus'. In the libretto, this becomes a reference to

The blasphemous Nicanor, who defy'd The living God, and in his wanton Pride, A Monument ordain'd Of Victories yet ungain'd.

But reading the parts of Maccabees which Morell left out at this point makes one sympathize with his evident regret at not being able to make the story 'more compleat', for there are several striking parallels with events in recent British experience. Judas and his army accomplished an amazing march of 31 miles in one night followed by a successful dawn attack (1 Macc. 5: 30), a parallel with Cumberland's rapid traverse of Britain in five days; and Judas gained the upper hand again by persuading his army to cross the brook of Raphon (1 Macc. 5: 37-44), just as Cumberland did in crossing the Spey, where the Jacobites lost one of their last possibilities of a successful confrontation.(25) But Morell retains from Maccabees the parading of the defeated Nicanor's head, a parallel with the executed Jacobites' heads adorning the English Gate at York:

Lo! the Conqueror comes, and on his Spear To dissipate all Fear, He bears the Vaunter's Head, and Hand, That threaten'd Desolation to the Land.

Concentrating the action also allows Morell to omit some less happy events. The citadel of Jerusalem remained in the hellenizers' hands, and Judas's attempts to relieve it failed; the Syrians broke through the Jewish hold on the Sanctuary, where the sabbatical year had reduced the population to near famine, and Judas evacuated it; and Judas and his supporters were boxed in to a small area of Judaea (again, rather like the retreating Jacobites). Morell concedes that not everything went well for the Jews by including in Judas's recitative 'Sweet flow the Strains' the account (1 Macc. 6: 43-6) of the death of Judas's brother Eleazar, who attacked one of the Syrians' famous 'huge Tow'r-back'd' cavalry elephants and was crashed beneath it. There may be a modem parallel here, too, with British losses incurred through lack of modem weaponry. The Westminster Journal on 18 October 1746 (reprinted in the Gentleman's Magazine) reported of the war in the Low Countries:

The courage of our men is indisputable, and has never been found to fail in all the severe trials it has been put to ... But what has all this signified, when put to the proof of perhaps a hundred pieces of cannon? Only to make us regret the lives of men who bravely faced a danger which they compared to the opening of hell, and sold as dearly as they could that blood, which, we have reason to think, was sacrificed to the want of artillery.

Morell chooses to end his libretto with news of an alliance which will guarantee the independence for which the Maccabees were fighting. The Jewish ambassador to Rome returns with a treaty of mutual defence concluded with the Senate which will prevent their foreign enemies from molesting them, and 'Lovely peace' is welcomed in the final scenes.


The story of the Maccabean revolt was a good choice to appeal to Handel's audiences. Its principal concerns - religious identity, freedom of worship, property, liberty, national unity and national independence - were all dear to the hearts of eighteenth-century Britons and all recently threatened.(26) Morell's libretto reifies the prevailing attitude, held as a cardinal belief, that through the constitution, enshrined in the law, British citizens (unlike those of the autocratic Bourbon governments) were guaranteed liberty, and one of the greatest treasures of that liberty was religious tolerance. 'If to fall', sings the chorus going into battle, 'for Laws, Religion, Liberty, we fall', echoing a catch-phrase of contemporary patriotism heard in contexts as varied as the opening lines of George Lillo's hugely popular sentimental drama The London Merchant and the House of Lords' loyal address to the king following the declaration of hostilities with France in 1744.(27) Morell's libretto spoke explicitly to contemporary Britons. How would they have received his version of the Maccabean revolt?

At first sight, it might seem that the analogy would have appeared paradoxical or strained to its intended audiences (except to any Jacobites in their midst):(28) the Maccabean story of a successful rebellion in which the rebels were in the right was apparently being used to celebrate the suppression of a rebellion in which the rebels were in the wrong. But Morell is careful not to transcribe from Maccabees the instances in which the Jewish opposition resembled the Jacobite campaign, and the parallel is not between Syrians attempting to suppress a rebellion by the native Jewish population and Britain suppressing a rebellion by the native Scottish population. Rather, in the light of the contemporary perception of the rebellion as part of France's plan to dominate Britain politically and forcibly to change its religion, Judas unifying a nation disrupted from within by hellenizers who co-opt foreign hellenizing Syrian forces is equivalent to Cumberland unifying a nation disrupted from within by Jacobites who co-opt foreign Catholic French forces. This factual analogy is given vitality by an emotional one: the purgation of hellenistic tendencies (and remorse for them) parallels British affirmation of loyalty after the upsurge of popular anti-Hanoverian feeling in 1742-4 (and revulsion against the Jacobites). While Morell omits most of the negative incidents of Judas's campaign, he includes and reiterates this remorse and its resolution in hopeful repentance. The 'Decent Sorrow, decent Pray'rs' of the 'Pious Orgies' will, Simon trusts, 'regain' God's love, lost by apostasy. Renewed attacks are interpreted as sent by God

for Chastisement. Heav'n oft' in Mercy punisheth; that Sin May feel its own Demerits ... ... Turn to God And draw a Blessing from his Iron Rod.

The implication (a fact in Maccabees) that the Jews have turned from God is also present in the injunction to tear down the altars of Bacchus, which contrasts previous virtuous generations with the recently corrupted one:

Our Fathers never knew Him, or his beastly Crew, Or knowing, scorn'd such idol Vanities.

The dereliction is admitted at the end of the following recitative in the vow to extirpate pagan worship, 'Ne'er to delude us more with pious Lies'. In the climax of the chorus which ends Part II Handel wonderfully shows his appreciation of the drama and commitment of the Jews' turn from false to true faith by a startling, deliberately clearcut move into 'church' mode for the final fine:

We never, never will bow down To the rude Stock or sculptur'd Stone - We worship God, and God alone.

Most appropriately, when we next see the Jews after this utterance, they have recovered the Sanctuary.

The centre-piece of the analogy is of course the parallel of Judas with Cumberland. During the rebellion, Newcastle reported of Cumberland that 'All the world is in love with him and he deserves it'? Judas, one of the three great Jewish figures in the traditional folk canon of nine worthies,(30) was certainly the most appropriate Jewish hero Morell could have chosen to compliment Cumberland the hero. Each was a patriot, a born strategist and commander of men, appearing to his troops as inspirational, humane and trustworthy, and able to unite disparate, unprepared men into a disciplined, effective army, fulfilling the prayer which was uttered as fervently in England in 1745 as by Morell's Jews:

The Hearts of Judah, thy Delight, In one defensive Band unite. Grant us a Leader bold, and brave, If not to conquer, born to save.

The convention of paralleling modern British men and events with those of ancient Israel was seldom so successfully invoked. It was, besides, given vitality by the direct Jewish connection with resistance to the Jacobite rebellion. Jewish City merchants were acknowledged to have helped stem the run on the Bank of England in September 1745 by the firmness of their confidence, and one of their leaders, Samson Gideon, offered the admiralty five ships fully equipped at his own expense to defend British coasts. Alongside its other contemporary significance, the oratorio is a polite thank-you to London's Jewish population.

In choosing Judas as hero, Morell was presenting a time-honoured example of a patriot who unifies his nation. More emphatically than any previous oratorio with named characters, Judas Maccabaeus is about a nation, not about individual people: it is a dramatic epic about the unifying, rallying and survival of the nation. Besides the chorus, we hear representative, unnamed Israelites expressing the feelings of the individual in this society: they are spokespersons for the nation. Internal conflict, caused by the adoption of hellenistic culture, is purged; national unity results and, in turn, national strength; and war is a means to the peaceful enjoyment of national independence. This theme is emphasized by the way in which (as has frequently been noted) the libretto is bare of other drama. There is no direct conflict of characters, no tangling of one person's emotions with another's; and there are only two major characters. We do not see the enemy (contrast, for example, Deborah or Belshazzar); dramatic events happen off-stage, and when we are told about them we hear the reactions of the hero and the nation. This allows Morell to concentrate on the positive qualities of his hero rather than his bloody actions (advisedly, in a celebration of 'Butcher' Cumberland); and he condenses physical action in order to foreground spiritual action.

In common with many other clergymen of his time, Morell was a writer of published religious verse intended both to reinforce Christian doctrine and to reinvigorate religious faith,(31) and it is interesting to see how he uses both the apocryphal accounts of Judas's story.

While the two books of Maccabees have much historical ground in common, their authors had very different spiritual agendas which happen to match the two ways of interpreting scripture current in the eighteenth century. 1 Maccabees is full of details of the Jewish campaigns, of strategy and tactics: it is a historical record of human achievement underpinned by faith which convinces us through its accumulation of concrete facts, of geographical and chronological detail. In 2 Maccabees, however, the great turning-points of history are due not so much to human achievement as to divine intervention. Whenever Judas is facing terrible odds, ministering angels and flaming visions appear and hearten the Jews and terrify their enemies (a device Morell transferred to his last libretto, Jephtha). Without divine intervention, the human heroes would not succeed.

Morell's own verse shows how the two books would have appealed to him as separate versions of complementary ways of recounting Jewish history, ways which he had himself combined. His poems stress that the miraculous history of the Israelites is literally that, impossible without the hand of God which is constantly being made manifest; but in lengthy footnotes he provides immensely detailed evidence of the facts and figures of such events as the crossing of the Red Sea to prove that they were real occurrences. In his libretto, Morell neatly combines human and divine causation. He builds a picture of Judas the hero while insisting that success is only possible if the nation returns to the true faith. In several ways (including verbatim quotation) he leans to 2 Maccabees,(32) and explicitly to the guiding spirit of the text during the celebration of Judas's victories over Apollonius and Seron, when Judas admonishes his admirers:

To Heav'n let Glory, and all Praise be giv'n; To Heav'n give your Applause, Nor add the second Cause, As once your Fathers did in Midian, Saying, The Sword of God and Gideon. It is the Lord, who for his Israel fought, And this our wonderful Salvation wrought.

Here Morell echoes the speech reported by 2 Maccabees (8: 18-19) with which Judas encourages his troops to fight Nicanor:

they, said he, trust in their weapons and boldness; but our confidence is in the Almighty God, who at a beck can cast down both them that come against us, and also all the world. Moreover he recounted what helps their forefathers had found, and how they were delivered, when under Sennacherib an hundred fourscore and five thousand perished.

Interestingly, this refusal to attribute success to any hand but God's is exactly the line taken by some of the poems celebrating Cumberland's defeat of the rebels. In the month before the first performance of Judas Maccabaeus, the Gentleman's Magazine published 'A Hymn for the 9th of October 1746, being the Thanksgiving Day for the Victory over the Rebels at Culloden', which exhorted:

Come Britons, in triumphant songs, Your thankful voices raise, Come, sound with thrice ten thousand tongues, Your great deliv'rer's praise.

'Twas not our gen'rals, or their might, Our strength or skill in arms, 'Twas God that put our foes to flight, And hush'd our dread alarms.

Victorious do we sheath the sword, And sing beneath the vine? Thine is the gen'rous vintage, Lord, The glorious conquest thine.

Less high-flown journalism, even government propaganda, made the same point. In the week after Culloden, Henry Fielding, enumerating each detail of recent political events that could be credited as Whig successes, concluded by asking 'who doth not overflow, on this Occasion, with Piety towards GOD, the Deliverer of Nations; and in the next Place, with the Praises of those glorious Men whom it hath pleased him to make the Instruments of our Preservation?'(33)

The language of the libretto is the language of the hour, and not only in thanking God for his protection. This text has more shadows in it than we might expect of a 'victory' oratorio. It is shot through with anxiety: of the 59 numbers, 25 are about oppression or the recovery of freedom, or both; nine refer to, call for or are prayers for aid; and eleven concern rededication to the service of God as the only real basis of security. This makes sense if we remember the situation in Europe. The opening scene of lamentation and fear is an apt reflection of the fall of the crucial barrier fortresses in Flanders which protected Britain from France and which during 1746 were going down like ninepins, as the Part I duet and its fraught overlapping of voices records:

From this dread Scene, these adverse Pow'rs, Ah! whither shall we fly? O Solyma, thy boasted Tow'rs In smoky Ruins lie. As whither shall we fly?

Morell gives the Jewish resistance movement added emotional appeal by frequently referring to the Jews as 'captive', which they were not. But the continuing fear of French invasion and consequent threat to British independence gives contemporary meaning to the presence of no fewer than three airs extolling liberty. Similarly, the prayer at the most exalted moment of the libretto - not a victory but an act of worship - expresses unequivocally the suffering caused by the double trauma of rebellion at home and war abroad:

O grant it, Heav'n, that our long Woes may cease, And Judah's Daughters taste the Calm of Peace; Sons, Brothers, Husbands to bewail no more, Tortur'd at Home, or havock'd in the War.

Heaven does grant the 'calm of peace' in the oratorio, but peace was not yet a fact in modern life when Morell wrote the libretto or during the first performance. The 'torture' and 'havock' were horribly connected: while French support of the Jacobites had not unseated the government at home, in the war it had produced devastating results, not only directly through the withdrawal of allied troops from Europe, but also through French capital gains. France is estimated to have spent [pounds]213,000 on Charles but Britain lost [pounds]700,000 worth of ships defending her coasts, and in Brussels alone the allies lost [pounds]1 million of arms, ammunition and treasure to France.(34) As in many of Handel's nationalist oratorio librettos, there is a strong element of 'if only' that makes Judas Maccabaeus a poignant work.

Judas forges a coherent fighting force, and the division of responsibility (Judas the field, Simon the Sanctuary) is effective. Cumberland was one of six commanding officers, all except himself old or ineffectual or both;(35) this made him appear the brighter by contrast, but cost the government some advantage even when he was in control (as in Oglethorpe's failure to overtake the rebels at Shap in the pursuit northwards). Judas's army is a national force; national identity was a constant theme of both the politics and the conduct of the Jacobite rebellion, but problematic and unhappy rather than unifying and triumphant.

Britain did not enjoy the religious unity which Morell shows the Jews reforging. Government propaganda depicted Catholicism as essentially foreign ('Popery'), deceitful and persecutionist, and much anti-Jacobite material warned that if France succeeded cardinals and priests would swarm over the country forcing Catholicism on an unwilling population. Yet Britain had an indigenous Catholic population (against whom proscriptive laws were strengthened at the start of the rebellion), and reprisals against the Jacobites in Scotland included authorized religious persecution: chapels, meeting-houses and their libraries were destroyed. Morell's parallel, the hellenistic tendency, is (as so often in the oratorio librettos) a more palatable version of reality, the pagan worship of the hellenizers being so remote from Jewish monotheism and so evidently morally corrupt as to be unquestionably 'other' and reprehensible. Morell's omissions also give a greater religious unity to his libretto than exists in his sources. He minimizes their accounts of Jewish backsliding by making only oblique references to it; and he omits the religious disparity which existed at the start of the uprising between the Maccabees, who allowed fighting on the sabbath, and the pious Hassidim, who did not, and who were consequently martyred in large numbers.

Political identity was no more unified in Britain than religious belief. The king was not British, and George II's double role as a ruler was a major problem for Britain. He was more attached to his electorate of Hanover than to his kingdom of Britain, and in 1741 he protected Hanover by declaring its neutrality in the European war, even though his concern for Hanover's position had taken Britain into the war and Britain was paying for Hanoverian troops, which caused widespread British outrage. His gallant charge at Dettingen, in June 1743, was soured for the British by his wearing the Hanoverian sash while leading British troops. Charles exploited all this by stressing his British pedigree and his mission to oust foreign interference; he also made a point of attending Protestant church services from the moment he landed in Britain so as to nullify the Hanoverians' major benefit (in British eyes) of safeguarding Protestantism. In his Edinburgh manifesto he turned the government's claim that he was the tool of France and Spain on its head:

My expedition was undertaken unsupported by either: but, indeed, when I see a foreign force brought by my enemies against me, and when I hear of Dutch, Danes, Hessians and Swiss, the Elector of Hanover's allies, being called over to protect his government against the King's subjects, is it not high time for the King my father to accept also of the assistance of those who are able and who have engaged to support him?... Who has the better chance to be independent of foreign powers? He who, with the aid of his own subjects, can wrest the government out of the hands of an intruder or he who cannot, without assistance from abroad, support his government, though established by all the civil power, and secured by a strong military force ...?(36)

In fact both sides used foreign assistance. In September 1745, when eight Dutch battalions were earmarked for use in England, the French ambassador in Holland protested to the States General that under the terms of surrender at Tournai, Dutch troops were not to be deployed against France or her allies. A diplomatic wrangle ensued which inhibited Cumberland from using the Dutch at the siege of Carlisle. In late November help arrived from France for the Jacobites in the form of the Irish Brigade under Lord John Drummond, and an absurd situation followed whereby Irish troops in Scotland successfully claimed to be French and also invoked the Tournai treaty; the Dutch were sent back. But they were replaced with a similar number of Hessians (again, Cumberland thought it wiser to do without them at Culloden). Disunity arising from difference of political allegiance within the nation plagued the government throughout the period of Handel's oratorios, and even in his piece of rejoicing after Culloden, Fielding felt it necessary to end with a plea for unity: 'Let us preserve but Unanimity among ourselves, and banish all Murmur and Discontent from among us: For these alone can now be our Bane ... nothing but Disaffection and Malcontentment, nothing but secret Divisions and Repinings among ourselves, can prevent us from being a happy, a glorious, and a tremendous People'.(37) Disunity was even more apparent on the Jacobite side, causing the unstrategic retreat from Derby and a failure to rally support: Charles seems never even to have made contact with his English supporters - even though they were part of, and party to, French invasion plans - and no prominent Welsh or English Jacobite declared for him. A Parisian agent suggested to his father that this was because 'a notion was spread everywhere in England that France sent the Prince as its tool, not to restore his father, but purely to make a diversion in Britain for the advantage of France'.(38) But equally, the attitude of Englishmen in general before the retreat from Derby seems to have been to wait and see who was likely to win, and this included the militia: for example (one of several similar instances), the Derbyshire Blues, a regiment raised by Duke of Devonshire, unanimously refused to march against the rebels. Some of these aspects of disunity were still weakening Britain's sense of achievement when Judas Maccabaeus was first performed. In November 1746 the army that gathered to fight under Cumberland's command in Europe in the coming spring and summer, unlike Judas's one-nation force, consisted (as the Gentleman's Magazine reported) of 50,000 Austrians, 40,000 Dutch, 18,000 Hanoverians, 6,000 Hessians, 4,000 Bavarians and 12,000 British.(39)

In the closing scene of the oratorio happiness and security are guaranteed by an alliance with Rome. However, it was not the British experience that alliances worked. An alliance had dragged Britain into the European war; aid to allies had drained the national purse; and the quadruple alliance of 1745 had shackled Britain to allies who were unreliable on the battlefield and were soon to bring about the worst defeat of the war (under Cumberland at Laffeldt). The papers were full of articles arguing that Britain should cut loose from her allies, leaving them to make the peace they wanted in Europe and enabling Britain to continue the battle independently with France for colonial power.(40) Morell misrepresented his source to create an optimistic conclusion. In Maccabees, the treaty with Rome ensuring peace and political freedom was actually made 25 years later, and the defensive treaty made after Judas's victories and celebrated by the libretto had no effect: even before the ambassador got back to Judaea from Rome the Syrians had attacked again, and within six weeks Judas, hopelessly outnumbered, was dead.

In 1747 Britons had much to be positive about, and Judas Maccabaeus gave them an image for it; they also had anxieties for which the oratorio was a panacea. Locating this work in the events and climate of its time enables us to hear it as a prayer for unity, peace and an end to fear of a foreign enemy, rather than as a gloating carol of triumph over fellow Britons. It is not complacent or vainglorious or belligerent but an expression of relief, gratitude and hope for a better future.

I am grateful to Donald Burrows and Anthony Hicks for reading my text before publication, and to Merlin Channon for several stimulating discussions of Judas Maceabacus. This essay discusses the libretto of the first performance (1 April 1747); for the oratodo's subsequent permutations in 1747-50, see Merlin Channon, 'Handel's Early Performances of "Judas Maccabaeus": Some New Evidence and Interpretations', Music & Letters, lxxvii (1996), 499-526.

1 For Morell's career, see my Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought, Cambridge, 1995.

2 The dedication reads: 'To His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, This Faint Portraiture of a Truly Wise, Valiant, and Virtuous Commander, As to the Possessor of the like Noble Qualities, Is, With most profound Respect and Veneration, Inscribed, By His Royal Highness's Most obedient, and most devoted Servant, The Author'. Morell recorded that the duke gave him a 'handsome present' for this dedication.

3 On the timetable of the oratorio's composition and its relation to the Occasional Oratorio, see Anthony Hicks's 'Judas Maccabaeus' in the programme book of the 1996 Maryland Handel Festival (University of Maryland, 1996), 20-22; Winton Dean, Handel's Dramatic Oratorios and Masques, London, 1959, pp. 461-2. The theatre-goer at the time of its first performance had a rich choice of dramas about civil wars: Shakespeare's Richard III, Julius Caesar and 1 Henry IV were all performed in the same fortnight.

4 There are several detailed accounts of the 1745 rebellion. I draw especially on Jeremy Black, Culloden and the '45, Stroud, 1990; Eveline Cruickshanks, Political Untouchables: the Tones and the '45, New York, 1979; F. J: McLynn, France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745, Edinburgh, 1981; W. A. Speck, The Butcher: the Duke of Cumberland and the Suppression of the 45, Oxford, 1981; Rex Whitworth, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland: a Life, London, 1992.

5 On the war with Spain and the War of Austrian Succession, see Paul Langford, The Eighteenth Century, 1688-1815, London, 1976; J. Black, British Foreign Policy in the Age of Walpole, Edinburgh, 1985; idem, Natural and Necessary Enemies: Anglo-French Relations in the Eighteenth Century, London, 1986; Richard Harding, Amphibious Warfare in the Eighteenth Century: the British Expedition to the West Indies 1740-1742, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1991.

6 Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837, New Haven & London, 1992.

7 McLynn, France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745, p. 2.

8 Given in Black, Culloden and the '45, p. 83.

9 Benjamin Keene MP, 3 September 1745, given in Black, Culloden and the '45, pp. 74-5.

10 Given in Whitworth, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, p. 55.

11 Black, Culloden and the '45, p. 89.

12 Speck, The Butcher, p. 29.

13 Ibid., p. 53.

14 Ibid., p. 55.

15 Black, Culloden and the '45, p. 91.

16 Cruickshanks, Political Untouchables, p. 92.

17 McLynn estimates that the actual French aid which reached Charles amounted to [pounds]15,000 and 1,200 men; see France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745, p. 234.

18 Given in McLynn, France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745, p. 172.

19 'Our Defeat to be sure is a rueful Affair for the Honour of the Troops, but the Duke is gone, it seems, with the Rapidity of a Cannon-Bullet to undefeat us again'; Correspondence of Thomas Gray, ed. Paget Toynbee & Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr, Oxford, 1971, i. 229.

20 George William Harris to Mrs Thomas Harris, given in Otto Erich Deutsch, Handel: a Documentary Biography, London, 1955, pp. 529-30.

21 Speck, The Butcher, p. 113.

22 Black, Culloden and the '45, p. 146.

23 Gentleman's Magazine (October 1746), 559.

24 There are several sources for the narrative. The Book of Daniel alludes repeatedly to the desecration of the temple (168 BC) and the Syrian persecution of 167. Morell used both books of Maccabees. 1 Maccabees is a Greek translation of the Aramaic original (1st century BC); 2 Maccabees, in Greek, is, first, an account of Judas's deeds in five books by Jason of Cyrene written soon before 152 BC; second, an abridgement of this with some additions (124 BC); and third, a further revision, with some additions and changes to the order of events, written before AD 70. Josephus (1st century AD) relies for Antiquities of the Jews, xii, almost entirely on I Maccabees (but, as Dean notes, he gives the Feast of Lights its name, absent from Maccabees). He read neither Jason of Cyrene nor 2 Maccabees, and his two accounts (Jewish War, i. 31 ff., and Antiq. xii. 237 ff.) are contradictory; see C. Habicht, 'The Seleucids and their Rivals', The Cambridge Ancient History (2nd edn.), viii: Rome and the Mediterranean to 133BC, ed. A. E. Astin, F. W. Walbank, M. W. Frederiksen & R. M. Ogilvie, Cambridge, 1989, pp. 324-87, at p. 346. The following narrative is taken from ibid., pp. 339-50; V. Tcherikover, 'The Hellenistic Movement in Jerusalem and Antiochus' Persecutions', The World History of the Jewish People, ser. I (Ancient Times), vi: The Hellenistic Age, n.p., 1976, pp. 115-44; M. Avi-Jonah, 'The Hasmonean Revolt and Judah Maccabee's War against the Syrians', ibid., pp. 147-82.

25 Black, Culloden and the '45, pp. 160-62.

26 On the importance of these topics in the period of Handel's oratorios and their reflection in his librettos, see my Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought.

27 Ibid., pp. 245-6.

28 On the ability of contemporary theatre and music-theatre works to be interpreted by different political groups as having different political messages, see ibid.

29 Given in Whitworth, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, p. 69.

30 Joshua, David, Judas; Hector, Alexander, Julius Caesar; Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon (i.e. three Jews, three pagans and three Christians).

31 See my Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought, pp. 110-12, 147-8.

32 For example, in taking Judas, not the whole Hasmonean dynasty, as his subject, and in ending his narrative shortly after the death of Nicanor.

33 Henry Fielding, The True Patriot, No. 26 (22-9 April 1746), ed. W. B. Coley, Oxford, 1987, pp. 270-77.

34 McLynn, France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745, p. 234.

35 Cope (in his sixties), loser of Prestonpans; Wade (72), whose army failed to intercept the rebels as they moved towards England; Hawley (loser of Falkirk); Oglethorpe (publicly rebuked by Cumberland); Ligonier (65).

36 Given in Cruickshanks, Political Untouchables, p. 82.

37 True Patriot, ed. Coley, p. 277.

38 McLynn, France and the Jacobite Rising of 1745, p. 224.

39 Gentleman's Magazine (November 1746), 615.

40 See, for example, the Westminster Journal, 31 May 1746; and the Gentleman's Magazine (December 1746), 647.
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