Front Page Titles (by Subject) A DEFENCE OF THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND, IN ANSWER TO SALMASIUS'S DEFENCE OF THE KING. * - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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A DEFENCE OF THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND, IN ANSWER TO SALMASIUS’S DEFENCE OF THE KING. * - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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A DEFENCE OF THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND,
[first published 1692.]
Although I fear, lest, if in defending the people of England, I should be as copious in words, and empty of matter, as most men think Salmasius has been in his defence of the king, I might seem to deserve justly to be accounted a verbose and silly defender; yet since no man thinks himself obliged to make so much haste, though in the handling but of any ordinary subject, as not to premise some introduction at least, according as the weight of the subject requires; if I take the same course in handling almost the greatest subject that ever was (without being too tedious in it) I am in hopes of attaining two things, which indeed I earnestly desire: the one, not to be at all wanting, as far as in me lies, to this most noble cause, and most worthy to be recorded to all future ages: the other, that I may appear to have avoided myself that frivolousness of matter, and redundancy of words, which I blame in my antagonist. For I am about to discourse of matters, neither inconsiderable nor common; but how a most potent king, after he had trampled upon the laws of the nation, and given a shock to its religion, and begun to rule at his own will and pleasure, was at last subdued in the field by his own subjects, who had undergone a long slavery under him; how afterwards he was cast into prison, and when he gave no ground, either by words or actions, to hope better things of him, he was finally by the supreme council of the kingdom condemned to die, and beheaded before the very gates of the royal palace. I shall likewise relate (which will much conduce to the easing men’s minds of a great superstition) by what right, especially according to our law, this judgment was given, and all these matters transacted: and shall easily defend my valiant and worthy countrymen (who have extremely well deserved of all subjects and nations in the world) from the most wicked calumnies both of domestic and foreign railers, and especially from the reproaches of this most vain and empty sophister, who sets up for a captain and ringleader to all the rest. For what king’s majesty sitting upon an exalted throne, ever shone so brightly, as that of the people of England then did, when shaking off that old superstition, which had prevailed a long time, they gave judgment upon the king himself, or rather upon an enemy who had been their king, caught as it were in a net by his own laws, (who alone of all mortals challenged to himself impunity by a divine right,) and scrupled not to inflict the same punishment upon him, being guilty, which he would have inflicted upon any other? But why do I mention these things as performed by the people, which almost open their voice themselves, and testify the presence of God throughout? who, as often as it seems good to his infinite wisdom, uses to throw down proud and unruly kings, exalting themselves above the condition of human nature, and utterly to extirpate them and all their family. By his manifest impulse being set on work to recover our almost lost liberty, following him as our guide, and adoring the impresses of his divine power manifested upon all occasions, we went on in no obscure, but an illustrious passage, pointed out and made plain to us by God himself. Which things, if I should so much as hope by any diligence or ability of mine, such as it is, to discourse of as I ought to do, and to commit them so to writing, as that perhaps all nations and all ages may read them, it would be a very vain thing in me. For what style can be august and magnificent enough, what man has parts sufficient to undertake so great a task? Since we find by experience, that in so many ages as are gone over the world, there has been but here and there a man found, who has been able worthily to recount the actions of great heroes, and potent states; can any man have so good an opinion of his own talents, as to think himself capable to reach these glorious and wonderful works of Almighty God, by any language, by any style of his? Which enterprise, though some of the eminent persons in our commonwealth have prevailed upon me by their authority to undertake, and would have it be my business to vindicate with my pen against envy and calumny, (which are proof against arms) those glorious performances of theirs, (whose opinion of me I take as a very great honour, that they should pitch upon me before others to be serviceable in this kind of those most valiant deliverers of my native country; and true it is, that from my very youth, I have been bent extremely upon such sort of studies, as inclined me, if not to do great things myself, at least to celebrate those that did,) yet as having no confidence in any such advantages, I have recourse to the divine assistance; and invoke the great and holy God, the giver of all good gifts, that I may as substantially, and as truly, discourse and refute the sauciness and lies of this foreign declamator, as our noble generals piously and successfully by force of arms broke the king’s pride, and his unruly domineering, and afterwards put an end to both by inflicting a memorable punishment upon himself, and as thoroughly as a single person did with ease but of late confute and confound the king himself rising as it were from the grave, and recommending himself to the people in a book published after his death, with new artifices and allurements of words and expressions. Which antagonist of mine, though he be a foreigner, and, though he deny it a thousand times over, but a poor grammarian; yet not contented with a salary due to him in that capacity, chose to turn a pragmatical coxcomb, and not only to intrude in state-affairs, but into the affairs of a foreign state: though he brings along with him neither modesty, nor understanding, nor any other qualification requisite in so great an arbitrator, but sauciness, and a little grammar only. Indeed if he had published here, and in English, the same things as he has now wrote in Latin, such as it is, I think no man would have thought it worth while to return an answer to them, but would partly despise them as common, and exploded over and over already, and partly abhor them as sordid and tyrannical maxims, not to be endured even by the most abject of slaves: nay, men that have sided with the king, would have had these thoughts of his book. But since he has swoln it to a considerable bulk, and dispersed it among foreigners, who are altogether ignorant of our affairs and constitution; it is fit that they who mistake them, should be better informed; and that he, who is so very forward to speak ill of others, should be treated in his own kind.
If it be asked, why we did not then attack him sooner, why we suffered him to triumph so long, and pride himself in our silence? For others I am not to answer; for myself I can boldly say, that I had neither words nor arguments long to seek for the defence of so good a cause, if I had enjoyed such a measure of health, as would have endured the fatigue of writing. And being but weak in body, I am forced to write by piecemeal, and break off almost every hour, though the subject be such as requires an unintermitted study and intenseness of mind. But though this bodily indisposition may be a hindrance to me in setting forth the just praises of my most worthy countrymen, who have been the saviours of their native country, and whose exploits, worthy of immortality, are already famous all the world over; yet I hope it will be no difficult matter for me to defend them from the insolence of this silly little scholar, and from that saucy tongue of his, at least. Nature and laws would be in an ill case, if slavery should find what to say for itself, and liberty be mute: and if tyrants should find men to plead for them, and they that can master and vanquish tyrants, should not be able to find advocates. And it were a deplorable thing indeed, if the reason mankind is endued withal, and which is the gift of God, should not furnish more arguments for men’s preservation, for their deliverance, and, as much as the nature of the thing will bear, for making them equal to one another, than for their oppression, and for their utter ruin under the domineering power of one single person. Let me therefore enter upon this noble cause with a cheerfulness, grounded upon this assurance, that my adversary’s cause is maintained by nothing but fraud, fallacy, ignorance, and barbarity; whereas mine has light, truth, reason, the practice and the learning of the best ages of the world, of its side.
But now, having said enough for an introduction, since we have to do with critics, let us in the first place consider the title of this choice piece: “Defensio Regia pro Car. Primo, ad Car. Secundum: a Royal Defence (or the king’s defence) for Charles the First, to Charles the Second.” You undertake a wonderful piece of work, whoever you are; to plead the father’s cause before his own son: a hundred to one but you carry it. But I summon you, Salmasius, who heretofore skulked under a wrong name, and now go by no name at all, to appear before another tribunal, and before other judges, where perhaps you may not hear those little applauses, which you used to be so fond of in your school. But why this royal defence dedicated to the king’s own son? We need not put him to the torture; he confesses why. “At the king’s charge,” says he. O mercenary and chargeable advocate! could you not afford to write a defence for Charles the father, whom you pretend to have been the best of kings, to Charles the son, the most indigent of all kings, but it must be at the poor king’s own charge? But though you are a knave, you would not make yourself ridiculous in calling it the king’s defence; for you having sold it, it is no longer yours, but the king’s indeed: who bought it at the price of a hundred jacobusses, a great sum for a poor king to disburse. I know very well what I say: and it is well enough known who brought the gold, and the purse wrought with beads: we know who saw you reach out greedy fists, under pretence of embracing the king’s chaplain, who brought the present, but indeed to embrace the present itself, and by accepting it to exhaust almost all the king’s treasury.
But now the man comes himself, the door creaks, the actor comes upon the stage.
For whatever the matter is with him, he blusters more than ordinary. “A horrible message had lately struck our ears, but our minds more, with a heinous wound concerning a parricide committed in England in the person of a king, by a wicked conspiracy of sacrilegious men.” Indeed that horrible message must either have had a much longer sword than that which Peter drew, or those ears must have been of a wonderful length, that it could wound at such a distance; for it could not so much as in the least offend any ears but those of an ass. For what harm is it to you, that are foreigners? are any of you hurt by it, if we amongst ourselves put our own enemies, our own traitors to death, be they commoners, noblemen, or kings? Do you, Salmasius, let alone what does not concern you: for I have a horrible message to bring of you too; which I am mistaken if it strike not a more heinous wound into the ears of all grammarians and critics, provided they have any learning and delicacy in them, to wit, your crowding so many barbarous expressions together in one period in the person of (Aristarchus) a grammarian; and that so great a critic as you, hired at the king’s charge to write a defence of the king his father, should not only set so fulsome a preface before it, much like those lamentable ditties that used to be sung at funerals, and which can move compassion in none but a coxcomb; but in the very first sentence should provoke your readers to laughter with so many barbarisms all at once. “Persona regis,” you cry. Where do you find any such Latin? or are you telling us some tale or other of a Perkin Warbec, who, taking upon him the person of a king, has, forsooth, committed some horrible parricide in England? which expression, though dropping carelessly from your pen, has more truth in it than you are aware of. For a tyrant is but like a king upon a stage, a man in a vizor, and acting the part of a king in a play; he is not really a king. But as for these gallicisms, that are so frequent in your book, I won’t lash you for them myself, for I am not at leisure; but shall deliver you over to your fellow-grammarians, to be laughed to scorn and whipped by them. What follows is much more heinous, that what was decreed by our supreme magistracy to be done to the king, should be said by you to have been done “by a wicked conspiracy of sacrilegious persons.” Have you the impudence, you rogue, to talk at this rate of the acts and decrees of the chief magistrates of a nation, that lately was a most potent kingdom, and is now a more potent commonwealth? Whose proceedings no king ever took upon him by word of mouth, or otherwise, to villify and set at nought. The illustrious states of Holland therefore, the genuine offspring of those deliverers of their country, have deservedly by their edict condemned to utter darkness this defence of tyrants, so pernicious to the liberty of all nations; the author of which every free state ought to forbid their country, or to banish out of it; and that state particularly that feeds with a stipend so ungrateful and so savage an enemy to their commonwealth, whose very fundamentals, and the causes of their becoming a free state, this fellow endeavours to undermine as well as ours, and at one and the same time to subvert both; loading with calumnies the most worthy asserters of liberty there, under our names. Consider with yourselves, ye most illustrious states of the United Netherlands, who it was that put this asserter of kingly power upon setting pen to paper? who it was, that but lately began to play Rex in your country? what counsels were taken, what endeavours used, and what disturbances ensued thereupon in Holland? and to what pass things might have been brought by this time? How slavery and a new master were ready prepared for you; and how near expiring that liberty of yours, asserted and vindicated by so many years war and toil, would have been ere now, if it had not taken breath again by the timely death of a certain rash young gentleman. But our author begins to strut again, and to feign wonderful tragedies; “whomsoever this dreadful news reached, (to wit, the news of Salmasius’s parricidial barbarisms,) all of a sudden, as if they had been struck with lightning, their hair stood an end, and their tongues clove to the roof of their mouth.” Which let natural philosophers take notice of, (for this secret in nature was never discovered before,) that lightning makes men’s hair stand on end. But who knows not that little effeminate minds are apt to be amazed at the news of any extraordinary great action; and that then they show themselves to be, what they really were before, no better than so many stocks? “Some could not refrain from tears;” some little women at court, I suppose, or if there be any more effeminate than they, of whose number Salmasius himself being one, is by a new metamorphis become a fountain near akin to his name, (Salmacis,) and with his counterfeit flood of tears prepared over night, endeavours to emasculate generous minds: I advise therefore, and wish them to have a care;
“They that had more courage” (which yet he expresses in miserable bald Latin, as if he could not so much as speak of men of courage and magnanimity in proper words) “were set on fire with indignation to that degree, that they could hardly contain themselves.” Those furious Hectors we value not of a rush. We have been accustomed to rout such bullies in the field with a true sober courage; a courage becoming men that can contain themselves, and are in their right wits. “There were none that did not curse the authors of so horrible a villany.” But yet, you say, their tongues clove to the roof of their mouths; and if you mean this of our fugitives only, I wish they had clove there to this day; for we know very well, that there is nothing more common with them, than to have their mouths full of curses and imprecations, which indeed all good men abominate, but withal despise. As for others, it is hardly credible, that when they heard the news of our having inflicted a capital punishment upon the king, there should any be found, especially in a free state, so naturally adapted to slavery as either to speak ill of us, or so much as to censure what we had done. Nay, it is highly probable, that all good men applauded us, and gave God thanks for so illustrious, so exalted a piece of justice; and for a caution so very useful to other princes.
In the mean time, as for those fierce, those steel-hearted men, that, you say, take on for, and bewail so pitifully, the lamentable and wonderful death I know not who; them I say, together with their tinkling advocate, the dullest that ever appeared since the name of a king was born and known in the world, we shall even let whine on, till they cry their eyes out. But in the mean time, what schoolboy, what little insignificant monk, could not have made a more elegant speech for the king, and in better Latin, than this royal advocate has done? But it would be folly in me to make such particular animadversions upon his childishness and frenzies throughout his book, as I do here upon a few in the beginning of it; which yet I would be willing enough to do, (for we hear that he is swelled with pride and conceit to the utmost degree imaginable,) if the undigested and immethodical bulk of his book did not protect him. He was resolved to take a course like the soldier in Terence, to save his bacon; and it was very cunning in him, to stuff his book with so much puerility, and so many silly whimsies, that it might nauseate the smartest man in the world to death to take notice of them all. Only I thought it might not be amiss to give a specimen of him in the preface; and to let the serious reader have a taste of him at first, that he might guess by the first dish that is served up, how noble an entertainment the rest are like to make; and that he may imagine with himself what an infinite number of fooleries and impertinencies must needs be heaped up together in the body of the book, when they stand so thick in the very entrance into it, where, of all other places, they ought to have been shunned. His tittle-tattle that follows, and his sermons fit for nothing but to be wormeaten, I can easily pass by; as for any thing in them relating to us, we doubt not in the least, but that what has been written and published by authority of parliament, will have far greater weight with all wise and sober men, than the calumnies and lies of one single impudent little fellow; who being hired by our fugitives, their country’s enemies, has scraped together, and not scrupled to publish in print, whatever little story any one of them that employed him put into his head. And that all men may plainly see how little conscience he makes of setting down any thing right or wrong, good or bad, I desire no other witness than Salmasius himself.
In his book, entitled, “Apparatus contra Primatum Papæ,” he says, “there are most weighty reasons why the church ought to lay aside episcopacy, and return to the apostolical institution of presbyters: that a far greater mischief has been introduced into the church by episcopacy, than the schisms themselves were, which were before apprehended: that the plague which episcopacy introduced, depressed the whole body of the church under a miserable tyranny; nay, had put a yoke even upon the necks of kings and princes: that it would be more beneficial to the church, if the whole hierarchy itself were extirpated, than if the pope only, who is the head of it, were laid aside,” page 160. “That it would be very much for the good of the church, if episcopacy were taken away, together with the papacy: that if episcopacy were once taken down, the papacy would fall of itself, as being founded upon it,” page 171. He says, “he can show very good reasons why episcopacy ought to be put down in those kingdoms that have renounced the pope’s supremacy; but that he can see no reason for retaining it there: that a reformation is not entire, that is defective in this point: that no reason can be alleged, no probable cause assigned, why the supremacy of the pope being once disowned, episcopacy should notwithstanding be retained,” page 197.—Though he had wrote all this, and a great deal more to this effect, but four years ago, he is now become so vain and so impudent withal, as to accuse the parliament of England, “for not only turning the bishops out of the house of lords, but for abolishing episcopacy itself.” Nay, he persuades us to receive episcopacy, and defends it by the very same reasons and arguments, which with a great deal of earnestness he had confuted himself in that former book; to wit, “that bishops were necessary and ought to have been retained, to prevent the springing up of a thousand pernicious sects and heresies.” Crafty turncoat! are you not ashamed to shift hands thus in things that are sacred, and (I had almost said) to betray the church; whose most solemn institutions you seem to have asserted and vindicated with so much noise, that when it should seem for your interest to change sides, you might undo and subvert all again with the more disgrace and infamy to yourself? It is notoriously known, that when both houses of parliament, being extremely desirous to reform the church of England by the pattern of our reformed churches, had resolved to abolish episcopacy, the king first interposed, and afterwards waged war against them chiefly for that very cause; which proved fatal to him. Go now and boast of your having defended the king; who, that you might the better defend him, do now openly betray and impugn the cause of the church, whose defence you yourself had formerly undertaken; and whose severest censures ought to be inflicted upon you.
As for the present form of our government, since such a foreign insignificant professor as you, having laid aside your boxes and desks stuffed with nothing but trifles, which you might have spent your time better in putting into order, will needs turn busybody, and be troublesome in other men’s matters, I shall return you this answer, or rather not to you, but to them that are wiser than yourself, viz. That the form of it is such as our present distractions will admit of; not such as were to be wished, but such as the obstinate divisions, that are amongst us, will bear. What state soever is pestered with factions, and defends itself by force of arms, is very just in having regard to those only that are sound and untainted, and in overlooking or secluding the rest, be they of the nobility or the common people; nay, though profiting by experience, they should refuse to be governed any longer either by a king or a house of lords.
But in railing at that supreme council, as you call it, and at the chairman there, you make yourself very ridiculous; for that council is not the supreme council, as you dream it is, but appointed by authority of parliament, for a certain time only; and consisting of forty persons, for the most part members of parliament, any one of whom may be president if the rest vote him into the chair. And there is nothing more common, than for our parliaments to appoint committees of their own members; who, when so appointed, have power to meet where they please, and hold a kind of a little parliament amongst themselves. And the most weighty affairs are often referred to them, for expedition and secrecy; the care of the navy, the army, the treasury; in short, all things whatsoever relating either to war or peace. Whether this be called a council, or any thing else, the thing is ancient, though the name may be new; and it is such an institution, as no government can be duly administered without it. As for our putting the king to death, and changing the government, forbear your bawling, don’t spit your venom, till, going along with you through every chapter, I show, whether you will or no, “by what law, by what right and justice,” all that was done. But if you insist to know, “by what right, by what law;” by that law, I tell you, which God and nature have enacted, viz. that whatever things are for the universal good of the whole state, are for that reason lawful and just. So wise men of old used to answer such as you. You find fault with us for “repealing laws, that had obtained for so many years;” but you do not tell us whether those laws were good or bad, nor, if you did, should we heed what you said; for you, busy puppy, what have you to do with our laws? I wish our magistrates had repealed more than they have, both laws and lawyers; if they had, they would have consulted the interest of the Christian religion, and that of the people better than they have done. It frets you, that “hobgoblins, sons of the earth, scarce gentlemen at home, scarce known to their own countrymen, should presume to do such things.” But you ought to have remembered, what not only the Scriptures, but Horace would have taught you, viz.
But take this into the bargain. Some of those who, you say, be scarce gentlemen, are not at all inferior in birth to any of your party. Others, whose ancestors were not noble, have taken a course to attain to true nobility by their own industry and virtue, and are not inferior to men of the noblest descent. They had rather be called “sons of the earth,” provided it be their own earth, (their own native country,) and act like men at home, than, being destitute of house or land, to relieve the necessities of nature in a foreign country by selling of smoke, as thou dost, an inconsiderable fellow and a jack-straw, and who dependest upon the good-will of thy masters for a poor stipend; for whom it were better to dispense with thy labours, and return to thy own kindred and countrymen, if thou hadst not this one piece of cunning, to babble out some silly prelections and fooleries at so good a rate amongst foreigners. You find fault with our magistrates for admitting such “a common sewer of all sorts of sects.” Why should they not? It belongs to the church to cast them out of the communion of the faithful; not to the magistrate to banish them the country, provided they do not offend against the civil laws of the state. Men at first united into civil societies, that they might live safely, and enjoy their liberty, without being wronged or oppressed; and that they might live religiously, and according to the doctrine of Christianity, they united themselves into churches. Civil societies have laws, and churches have a discipline peculiar to themselves, and far differing from each other. And this has been the occasion of so many wars in Christendom; to wit, because the civil magistrate and the church confounded their jurisdictions. Therefore we do not admit of the popish sect, so as to tolerate papists at all; for we do not look upon that as a religion, but rather as a hierarchical tyranny, under a cloak of religion, clothed with the spoils of the civil power, which it has usurped to itself, contrary to our Saviour’s own doctrine. As for the independents, we never had any such amongst us, as you describe; they that we call independents, are only such as hold, that no classis or synods have a superiority over any particular church, and that therefore they ought all to be plucked up by the roots, as branches, or rather as the very trunk, of hierarchy itself; which is your own opinion too. And from hence it was that the name of independents prevailed amongst the vulgar. The rest of your preface is spent in endeavouring not only to stir up the hatred of all kings and monarchs against us, but to persuade them to make a general war upon us. Mithridates of old, though in a different cause, endeavoured to stir up all princes to make war upon the Romans, by laying to their charge almost just the same things that you do to ours: viz. that the Romans aimed at nothing but the subversion of all kingdoms, that they had no regard to any thing, whether sacred or civil, that from their very first rise, they never enjoyed any thing but what they had acquired by force, that they were robbers, and the greatest enemies in the world to monarchy. Thus Mithridates expressed himself in a letter to Arsaces, king of the Parthians.
But how came you, whose business it is to make silly speeches from your desk, to have the confidence to imagine, that by your persuasions to take up arms, and sounding an alarm as it were, you should be able so much as to influence a king amongst boys at play; especially, with so shrill a voice, and unsavoury breath, that I believe, if you were to have been the trumpeter, not so much as Homer’s mice would have waged war against the frogs? So little do we fear, you slug you, any war or danger from foreign princes through your silly rhetoric, who accusest us to them, just as if you were at play, “that we toss kings’ heads like balls; play at bowls with crowns; and regard sceptres no more than if they were fools’ staves with heads on:” but you in the mean time, you silly loggerhead, deserve to have your bones well thrashed with a fool’s staff, for thinking to stir up kings and princes to war by such childish arguments. Then you cry aloud to all nations, who, I know full well, will never heed what you say. You call upon that wretched and barbarous crew of Irish rebels too, to assert the king’s party. Which one thing is sufficient evidence how much you are both a fool and a knave, and how you outdo almost all mankind in villainy, impudence, and madness; who scruple not to implore the loyalty and aid of an execrable people devoted to the slaughter, whom the king himself always abhorred, or so pretended, to have any thing to do with, by reason of the guilt of so much innocent blood, which they had contracted. And that very perfidiousness and cruelty which he endeavoured as much as he could to conceal, and to clear himself from any suspicion of, you, the most villainous of mortals, as fearing neither God nor man, voluntarily and openly take upon yourself. Go on then, undertake the king’s defence at the encouragement and by the assistance of the Irish. You take care, and so you might well, lest any should imagine, that you were about to bereave Cicero or Demosthenes of the praise due to their eloquence, by telling us beforehand, that “you conceive you ought not to speak like an orator.” It is wisely said of a fool; you conceive you ought not to do what is not in your power to do: and who, that knows you never so little, ever expects any thing like an orator from you? Who neither uses, nor is able to publish, any thing that is elaborate, distinct, or has so much as sense in it; but like a second Crispin, or that little Grecian Tzetzes, you do but write a great deal, take no pains to write well; nor could write any thing well, though you took never so much pains. “This cause shall be argued (say you) in the hearing, and as it were before the tribunal, of all mankind.” That is what we like so well, that we could now wish we had a discreet and intelligent adversary, and not such a hairbrained blunderbuss as you, to deal with. You conclude very tragically, like Ajax in his raving; “I will proclaim to heaven and earth the injustice, the villainy, the perfidiousness and cruelty of these men, and will deliver them over convicted to all posterity.” O flowers! that such a witless, senseless bawler, one that was born but to spoil or transcribe good authors, should think himself able to write any thing of his own, that will reach posterity, whom together with his frivolous scribbles, the very next age will bury in oblivion; unless this defence of the king perhaps may be beholden to the answer I give to it, for being looked into now and then. And I would entreat the illustrious states of Holland, to take off their prohibition, and suffer the book to be publicly sold. For when I have detected the vanity, ignorance, and falsehood, that it is full of, the farther it spreads the more effectually it will be suppressed. Now let us hear how he convicts us.
I persuade myself, Salmasius, that you, being a vain flashy man, are not a little proud of being the king of Great Britain’s defender, who himself was styled the “Defender of the Faith.” For my part, I think you deserve your titles both alike; for the king defended the faith, and you have defended him, so, that betwixt you, you have spoiled both your causes: which I shall make appear throughout the whole ensuing discourse, and particularly in this very chapter. You told us in the 12th page of your preface, that “so good and so just a cause ought not to be embellished with any flourishes of rhetoric; that the king needed no other defence, than by a bare narrative of his story:” and yet in your first chapter, in which you had promised us that bare narrative, you neither tell the story right, nor do you abstain from making use of all the skill you have in rhetoric to set it off. So that if we must take your own judgment, we must believe the king’s cause to be neither good nor just. But by the way I would advise you not to have so good an opinion of yourself (for nobody else has so of you) as to imagine that you are able to speak well upon any subject, who can neither play the part of an orator, nor an historian, nor express yourself in a style that would not be ridiculous even in a lawyer; but like a mountebank’s juggler, with big swelling words in your preface, you raised our expectation, as if some mighty matter were to ensue; in which your design was not so much to introduce a true narrative of the king’s story, as to make your own empty intended flourishes go off the better. For “being now about to give us an account of the matter of fact, you find yourself encompassed and affrighted with so many monsters of novelty, that you are at a loss what to say first, what next, and what last of all.” I will tell you what the matter is with you. In the first place, you find yourself affrighted and astonished at your own monstrous lies, and then you find that empty head of yours not encompassed, but carried round, with so many trifles and fooleries, that you not only now do not, but never did, know what was fit to be spoken, and in what method. “Among the many difficulties, that you find in expressing the heinousness of so incredible a piece of impiety, this one offers itself, you say, which is easily said, and must often be repeated; to wit, that the sun itself never beheld a more outrageous action.” But by your good leave, sir, the sun has beheld many things, that blind Bernard never saw. But we are content you should mention the sun over and over. And it will be a piece of prudence in you so to do. For though our wickedness does not require it, the coldness of the defence that you are making does. “The original of kings, you say, is as ancient as that of the sun.” May the gods and goddesses, Damasippus, bless thee with an everlasting solstice; that thou mayest always be warm, thou that canst not stir a foot without the sun. Perhaps you would avoid the imputation of being called a doctor Umbraticus. But alas! you are in perfect darkness, that make no difference betwixt a paternal power, and a regal: and that when you had called kings fathers of their country, could fancy that with that metaphor you had persuaded us, that whatever is applicable to a father, is so to a king. Alas! there is a great difference betwixt them. Our fathers begot us. Our king made not us, but we him. Nature has given fathers to us all, but we ourselves appointed our own king. So that the people is not for the king but the king for them. “We bear with a father, though he be harsh and severe;” and so we do with a king. But we do not bear with a father, if he be a tyrant. If a father murder his son, he himself must die for it; and why should not a king be subject to the same law, which certainly is a most just one? Especially considering that a father cannot by any possibility divest himself of that relation, but a king may easily make himself neither king nor father of his people. If this action of ours be considered according to its quality, as you call it, I, who am both an Englishman born, and was an eyewitness of the transactions of these times, tell you, who are both a foreigner and an utter stranger to our affairs, that we have put to death neither a good, nor a just, nor a merciful, nor a devout, nor a godly, nor a peaceable king, as you style him; but an enemy, that has been so to us almost ten years to an end; nor one that was a father, but a destroyer of his country. You confess, that such things have been practised; for yourself have not the impudence to deny it: but not by protestants upon a protestant king. As if he deserved the name of a protestant, that, in a letter to the pope, could give him the title of most holy father; that was always more favourable to the papists than to those of his own profession. And being such, he is not the first of his own family, that has been put to death by protestants. Was not his grandmother deposed and banished, and at last beheaded by protestants? And were not her own countrymen, that were protestants too, well enough pleased with it? Nay, if I should say they were parties to it, I should not lie. But there being so few protestant kings, it is no great wonder, if it never happened that one of them has been put to death. But that it is lawful to depose a tyrant, and to punish him according to his deserts; nay, that this is the opinion of very eminent divines, and of such as have been most instrumental in the late reformation, do you deny it if you dare.
You confess, that many kings have come to an unnatural death; some by the sword, some poisoned, some strangled, and some in a dungeon; but for a king to be arraigned in a court of judicature, to be put to plead for his life, to have sentence of death pronounced against him, and that sentence executed; this you think a more lamentable instance than all the rest, and make it a prodigious piece of impiety. Tell me, thou superlative fool, whether it be not more just, more agreeable to the rules of humanity, and the laws of all human societies, to bring a criminal, be his offence what it will, before a court of justice, to give him leave to speak for himself; and, if the law condemn him, then to put him to death as he has deserved, so as he may have time to repent or to recollect himself; than presently, as soon as ever he is taken, to butcher him without more ado? Do you think there is a malefactor in the world, that if he might have his choice, would not choose to be thus dealt withal? And if this sort of proceeding against a private person be accounted the fairer of the two, why should it not be counted so against a prince? Nay, why should we not think, that himself liked it better? You would have had him killed privately, and none to have seen it, either that future ages might have lost the advantage of so good an example; or that they that did this glorious action, might seem to have avoided the light, and to have acted contrary to law and justice. You aggravate the matter by telling us, that it was not done in an uproar, or brought about by any faction amongst great men, or in the heat of a rebellion, either of the people, or the soldiers: that there was no hatred, no fear, no ambition, no blind precipitate rashness in the case; but that it was long consulted on, and done with deliberation. You did well in leaving off being an* advocate, and turn grammarian, who from the accidents and circumstances of a thing, which in themselves considered sway neither one way nor other, argue in dispraise of it before you have proved the thing itself to be either good or bad. See how open you lie: if the action you are discoursing of be commendable and praiseworthy, they that did it deserve the greater honour, in that they were prepossessed with no passions, but did what they did for virtue’s sake. If there were great difficulty in the enterprise, they did well in not going about it rashly but upon advice and consideration. Though for my own part, when I call to mind with how unexpected an importunity and fervency of mind, and with how unanimous a consent, the whole army, and a great part of the people from almost every county in the kingdom, cried out with one voice for justice against the king, as being the sole author of all their calamities: I cannot but think, that these things were brought about by a divine impulse. Whatever the matter was, whether we consider the magistrates, or the body of the people, no men ever undertook with more courage, and, which our adversaries themselves confess, in a more sedate temper of mind, so brave an action, an action that might have become those famous heroes, of whom we read in former ages; an action, by which they ennobled not only laws, and their execution, which seem for the future equally restored to high and low against one another; but even justice, and to have rendered it, after so signal a judgment, more illustrious and greater than in its own self.
We are now come to an end of the 3d page of the first book, and have not the bare narrative he promised us yet. He complains that our principles are, that a king, whose government is burdensome and odious, may lawfully be deposed: and “by this doctrine,” says he, “if they had had a king a thousand times better than they had, they would not have spared his life.” Observe the man’s subtle way of arguing. For I would willingly be informed what consequence there is in this, unless he allows, that a king’s government may be burdensome and odious, who is a thousand times better than our king was. So that now he has brought things to this pass, to make the king that he defends a thousand times worse than some whose government notwithstanding is burdensome and odious, that is, it may be, the most monstrous tyrant that ever reigned. I wish ye joy, O ye kings, of so able a defender! Now the narrative begins. “They put him to several sorts of torments.” Give an instance. “They removed him from prison to prison;” and so they might lawfully do; for having been a tyrant, he became an open enemy, and was taken in war. “Often changing his keepers.” Lest they themselves should change. “Sometimes they gave him hopes of liberty; nay, and sometimes even of restoring him to his crown, upon articles of agreement.” It seems then the taking away his life was not done upon so much premeditation, as he talked of before; and that we did not lay hold on all opportunities and means, that offered themselves, to renounce our king. Those things that in the beginning of the war we demanded of him, when he had almost brought us under, which things if they were denied us, we could enjoy no liberty, nor live in any safety; those very things we petitioned him for when he was our prisoner, in a humble, submissive way, not once, nor twice, but thrice, and oftener, and were as often denied. When we had now lost all hopes of the king’s complying with us, then was that noble order of parliament made, that from that time forward, there should no articles be sent to the king; so that we left off applying ourselves to him, not from the time that he began to be a tyrant, but from the time that we found him incurable. But afterward some parliament-men set upon a new project, and meeting with a convenient opportunity to put it in practice, pass a vote to send further proposals once more to the king. Whose wickedness and folly nearest resembles that of the Roman senate, who contrary to the opinion of M. Tullius, and all honest men, voted to send embassadors to M. Antony; and the event had been the same, but that it pleased God Almighty, in his providence, to order it otherwise, and to assert our liberty, though he suffered them to be enslaved: for though the king did not agree to any thing that might conduce to a firm peace, and settlement of things, more than he had before, they go and vote themselves satisfied. Then the sounder part of the house finding themselves and the commonwealth betrayed, implore the aid of that valiant and always faithful army to the commonwealth. Upon which occasion I can observe only this, which yet I am loth to utter; to wit, that our soldiers understood themselves better than our senators, and that they saved the commonwealth by their arms, when the other by their votes had almost ruined it. Then he relates a great many things in a doleful, lamentable strain; but he does it so senselessly, that he seems rather to beg of his readers, that they would be sorrowful, than to stir up any such passion in them. It grieves him “to think that the king should undergo a capital punishment, after such a manner as no other king ever had done.” Though he had often told us before, that there never was a king that underwent a capital punishment at all. Do you use to compare ways and manners, ye coxcomb, when you have no things nor actions to compare with one another? “He suffered death,” says he, “as a robber, as a murderer, as a parricide, as a traitor, as a tyrant.” Is this defending the king? Or is it not rather giving a more severe sentence against him, than that that we gave? How came you so all on a sudden to be of our mind? He complains “that executioners in vizards [personati carnifices] cut off the king’s head.” What shall we do with this fellow? He told us before, of “a murder committed on one in the disguise of a king [in personâ regis]:” now he says, it was done in the disguise of an executioner. It were to no purpose, to take particular notice of every silly thing he says. He tells stories of “boxes on the ear, and kicks, that,” he says, “were given the king by common soldiers, and that it was four shillings apiece to see his dead body.” These, and such like stories, which partly are false, and partly impertinent, betray the ignorance and childishness of our poor scholar; but are far from making any reader ever a whit the sadder. In good faith his son Charles had done better to have hired some ballad-singer, to have bewailed his father’s misfortunes, than this doleful, shall I call him, or rather most ridiculous orator, who is so dry and insipid, that there is not the least spirit in any thing he says.
Now the narrative is done, and it is hard to say what he does next, he runs on so sordidly and irregular. Now he is angry, then he wonders; he neither cares what he talks, nor how; repeats the same things ten times over, that could not but look ill, though he had said them but once. And I persuade myself, the extemporary rhymes of some antic juck-pudding may deserve printing better; so far am I from thinking aught he says worthy of a serious answer. I pass by his styling the king a “protector of religion.” who chose to make war upon the church, rather than part with those church-tyrants, and enemies of all religion, the bishops; and how is it possible, that he should “maintain religion in its purity,” that was himself a slave to those impure traditions and ceremonies of theirs? And for our “sectaries, whose sacrilegious meetings,” you say, “have public allowance;” instance in any of their principles, the profession of which is not openly allowed of, and countenanced in Holland. But in the mean time, there is not a more sacrilegious wretch in nature than yourself, that always took liberty to speak ill of all sorts of people. “They could not wound the commonwealth more dangerously, than by taking off its master.” Learn, ye abject, homeborn slave; unless ye take away the master, ye destroy the commonwealth. That that has a master, is one man’s property. The word master denotes a private, not a public relation. “They persecute most unjustly those ministers, that abhorred this action of theirs.” Lest you should not know what ministers he means, I will tell you in a few words what manner of men they were; they were those very men, that by their writings and sermons justified taking up arms against the king, and stirred the people up to it: that daily cursed, as Deborah did Meroz, all such as would not furnish the parliament either with arms, or men, or money. That taught the people out of their pulpits, that they were not about to fight against a king, but a greater tyrant than either Saul or Ahab ever were; nay, more a Nero than Nero himself. As soon as the bishops, and those clergymen whom they daily inveighed against, and branded with the odious names of pluralists and nonresidents, were taken out of their way, they presently jump, some into two, some into three of their best benefices; being now warm themselves, they soon unworthily neglected their charge. Their covetousness brake through all restraints of modesty and religion, and themselves now labour under the same infamy, that they had loaded their predecessors with; and because their covetousness is not yet satisfied, and their ambition has accustomed them to raise tumults, and be enemies to peace, they cannot rest at quiet yet, but preach up sedition against the magistracy, as it is now established, as they had formerly done against the king. They now tell the people, that he was cruelly murdered; upon whom themselves having heaped all their curses, had devoted him to destruction, whom they had delivered up as it were to the parliament, to be despoiled of his royalty, and pursued with a holy war. They now complain, that the sectaries are not extirpated; which is a most absurd thing to expect the magistrates should be able to do, who never yet were able, do what they could, to extirpate avarice and ambition, those two most pernicious heresies, and more destructive to the church than all the rest, out of the very order and tribe of the ministers themselves.
For the sects which they inveigh against, I confess there are such amongst us, but they are obscure, and make no noise in the world: the sects that they are of, are public and notorious, and much more dangerous to the church of God. Simon Magus and Diotrephes were the ringleaders of them. Yet are we so far from persecuting these men, though they are pestilent enough, that though we know them to be ill-affected to the government, and desirous of and endeavouring to work a change, we allow them but too much liberty. You, that are both a Frenchman and a vagabond, seem displeased that “the English, more fierce and cruel than their own mastiffs,” as your barking eloquence has it, “have no regard to the lawful successor and heir of the crown: take no care of the king’s youngest son, nor of the queen of Bohemia.” I will make ye no answer; you shall answer yourself. “When the frame of a government is changed from a monarchy to any other, the new modellers have no regard to succession:” the application is easy; it is in your book De primatu Papæ. “The great change throughout three kingdoms,” you say, “was brought about by a small number of men in one of them.” If this were true, that small number of men would have deserved to have dominion over the rest; valiant men over fainthearted cowards. “These are they that presumptuously took upon them to change,” antiquum regni regimen, in alium qui a pluribus tyrannis teneatur. It is well for them that you cannot find fault with them, without committing a barbarous solecism; you shame all grammarians. “The English will never be able to wash out this stain.” Nay, you, though a blot and a stain to all learned men, were never yet able to stain the renown and everlasting glory of the English nation, that with so great a resolution, as we hardly find the like recorded in any history, having struggled with, and overcome, not only their enemies in the field, but the superstitious persuasions of the common people, have purchased to themselves in general amongst all posterity the name of deliverers: the body of the people having undertook and performed an enterprise, which in other nations is thought to proceed only from a magnanimity that is peculiar to heroes. What “the protestants and primitive Christians” have done, or would do upon such an occasion, I will tell ye hereafter, when we come to debate the merits of the cause: in discoursing it before, I should be guilty of your fault, who outdo the most impertinent talkers in nature.
You wonder how we shall be able to answer the Jesuits. Meddle with your own matters, you runagate, and be ashamed of your actions, since the church is ashamed of you; who, though but of late you set yourself so fiercely and with so much ostentation against the pope’s supremacy and episcopal government, are now become yourself a very creature of the bishops.
You confess, that “some protestants, whom you do not name, have asserted it lawful to depose a tyrant:” but though you do not think fit to name them, I will, because you say “they are far worse than the very Jesuits themselves;” they are no other than Luther, and Zuinglius, and Calvin, and Bucer, and Pareus, and many others. “But then,” you say, “they refer it to the judgment of learned and wise men, who shall be accounted a tyrant. But what for men were these? Were they wise men, were they men of learning? Were they anywise remarkable, either for virtue or nobility?” You may well allow a people, that has felt the heavy yoke of slavery to be wise, and learned, and noble enough, to know what is fit to be done to the tyrant that has oppressed them; though they neither consult with foreigners nor grammarians. But that this man was a tyrant, not only the parliaments of England and Scotland have declared by their actions and express words; but almost all the people of both nations assented to it, till such time as by the tricks and artifices of the bishops they were divided into two factions: and what if it has pleased God to choose such men, to execute his vengeance upon the greatest potentates on earth, as he chose to be made partakers of the benefit of the gospel? “Not many wise, not many learned, not many powerful, not many noble: that by those that are not, he might bring to nought those that are; and that no flesh might glory in his sight.” And who are you, that babble to the contrary? dare you affect the reputation of a learned man? I confess you are pretty well versed in phrase-books, and lexicons, and glossaries; insomuch that you seem to have spent your time in nothing else. But you do not make appear, that you have read any good authors with so much judgment as to have benefited by them. Other copies, and various lections, and words omitted, and corruptions of texts, and the like, these you are full of; but no footstep of any solid learning appears in all you have writ: or do ye think yourself a wise man, that quarrel and contend about the meanest trifles that may be? That being altogether ignorant in astronomy and physic, yet are always railing at the professors of both, whom all men credit in what things belong to their own sciences, that would be ready to curse them to the pit of hell, that should offer to deprive you of the vain glory of having corrected or supplied the least word or letter in any copy you have criticised upon. And yet you are mad to hear yourself called a grammarian. In certain trifling discourses of yours, you call Dr. Hammond knave in plain terms, who was one of this king’s chaplains, and one that he valued above all the rest, for no other reason but because he had called you a grammarian. And I do not question, but you would have been as ready to have thrown the same reproach upon the king himself, if you had heard that he had approved his chaplain’s judgment of you. Take notice now, how much I (who am but one of those many English, that you have the impudence to call madmen, and unlearned, and ignoble, and wicked) slight and despise you, (for that the English nation in general should take any notice in public of such a worm as you are, would be an infinite undervaluing of themselves,) who, though one should turn you topsyturvy, and inside out, are but a grammarian: nay, as if you had made a foolisher wish than Midas did, whatever you meddle with, except when you make solecisms, is grammar still. Whosoever therefore he be, though from among the dregs of that common people that you are so keen upon, (for as for those men of eminency amongst us, whose great actions evidenced to all men their nobility, and virtue, and conduct, I will not disgrace them so much, as to compare you to them, or them to you,) but whosoever, I say, among the dregs of that common people, has but sucked in this principle, that he was not born for his prince, but for God and his country; he deserves the reputation of a learned, and an honest, and a wise man more, and is of greater use in the world, than yourself. For such a one is learned without letters; you have letters, but no learning, that understand so many languages, turn over so many volumes, and yet are but asleep when all is done.
The argument that Salmasius, toward the conclusion of his first chapter, urged as irrefragable, to wit, that it was really so, because all men unanimously agreed in it; that very argument, than which, as he applied it, there is nothing more false, I, that am now about to discourse of the right of kings, may turn upon himself with a great deal of truth. For, whereas he defines “a king” (if that may be said to be defined which he makes infinite) “to be a person in whom the supreme power of the kingdom resides, who is answerable to God alone, who may do whatsoever pleases him, who is bound by no law:” I will undertake to demonstrate, not by mine, but by his own reasons and authorities, that there never was a nation or people of any account (for to ransack all the uncivilized parts of the world were to no purpose) that ever allowed this to be their king’s right, or put such exorbitant power into his hand, as “that he should not be bound by any law that he might do what he would, that he should judge all, but be judged of none.” Nor can I persuade myself, that there ever was any one person besides Salmasius of so slavish a spirit, as to assert the outrageous enormities of tyrants to be the rights of kings. Those amongst us that were the greatest royalists, always abhorred this sordid opinion: and Salmasius himself, as appears by some other writings of his before he was bribed, was quite of another mind. Insomuch, that what he here gives out, does not look like the dictates of a free subject under a free government, much less in so famous a commonwealth as that of Holland, and the most eminent university there: but seems to have been penned by some despicable slave, that lay rotting in a prison, or a dungeon. If whatever a king has a mind to do, the right of kings will bear him out in, (which was a lesson that the bloody tyrant Antoninus Caracalla, though his step-mother Julia preached it to him, and endeavoured to inure him to the practice of it, by making him commit incest with herself, yet could hardly suck in,) then there neither is, nor ever was, that king, that deserved the name of a tyrant. They may safely violate all the laws of God and man: their very being kings keeps them innocent. What crime was ever any of them guilty of? They did but make use of their own right upon their own vassals. No king can commit such horrible cruelties and outrages, as will not be within this right of kings. So that there is no pretence left for any complaints or expostulations with any of them. And dare you assert, that “this right of kings,” as you call it, “is grounded upon the law of nations, or rather upon that of nature,” you brute beast? for you deserve not the name of a man, that are so cruel and unjust towards all those of your own kind; that endeavour, as much as in your lies, so to bear down and vilify the whole race of mankind, that were made after the image of God, as to assert and maintain, that those cruel and unmerciful taskmasters, that through the superstitious whimsies, or sloth, or treachery of some persons, get into the chair, are provided and appointed by nature herself, that mild and gentle mother of us all, to be the governors of those nations they enslave. By which pestilent doctrine of yours, having rendered them more fierce and untractable, you not only enable them to make havoc of, and trample under foot, their miserable subjects; but endeavour to arm them for that very purpose with the law of nature, the right of kings, and the very constitutions of government, than which nothing can be more impious or ridiculous. By my consent, as Dionysius formerly of a tyrant became a schoolmaster, so you of a grammarian should become a tyrant; not that you may have that regal license of doing other people harm, but a fair opportunity of perishing miserably yourself: that, as Tiberius complained, when he had confined himself to the island Capreæ, you may be reduced into such a condition, as to be sensible that you perish daily. But let us look a little more narrowly into this right of kings that you talk of. “This was the sense of the eastern, and of the western part of the world.” I shall not answer you with what Aristotle and Cicero (who are both as credible authors as any we have) tell us, viz. That the people of Asia easily submit to slavery, but the Syrians and the Jews are even born to it from the womb. I confess there are but few, and those men of great wisdom and courage, that are either desirous of liberty, or capable of using it. The greatest part of the world choose to live under masters; but yet they would have them just ones. As for such as are unjust and tyrannical, neither was God ever so much an enemy to mankind, as to enjoin a necessity of submitting to them; nor was there ever any people so destitute of all sense, and sunk into such a depth of despair, as to impose so cruel a law upon themselves and their posterity. First, you produce “the words of King Solomon in his Ecclesiastes.” And we are as willing to appeal to the Scripture as you. As for Solomon’s authority, we will consider that hereafter, when perhaps we shall be better able to understand it. First, let us hear God himself speak, Deut. xvii. 14. “When thou art come into the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as the nations that are round about me.” Which passage I could wish all men would seriously consider: for hence it appears by the testimony of God himself; first, that all nations are at liberty to erect what form of government they will amongst themselves, and to change it when and into what they will. This God affirms in express terms concerning the Hebrew nation; and it does not appear but that other nations are, as to this respect, in the same condition. Another remark that this place yields us, is, that a commonwealth is a more perfect form of government than a monarchy, and more suitable to the condition of mankind, and in the opinion of God himself better for his own people; for himself appointed it, and could hardly be prevailed withal a great while after, and at their own importunate desire, to let them change it into a monarchy. But to make it appear, that he gave them their choice to be governed by a single person, or by more, so they were justly governed, in case they should in time to come resolve upon a king, he prescribes laws for this king of theirs to observe, whereby he was forbidden to multiply to himself horses and wives, or to heap up riches: whence he might easily infer, that no power was put into his hands over others, but according to law, since even those actions of his life, which related only to himself, were under a law. He was commanded therefore to transcribe with his own hand all the precepts of the law, and having writ them out, to observe and keep them, that his mind might not be lifted up above his brethren. It is evident from hence, that as well the prince as the people was bound by the law of Moses. To this purpose Josephus writes, a proper and able interpreter of the laws of his own country, who was admirably well versed in the Jewish policy, and infinitely preferable to a thousand obscure ignorant rabbins: he has it thus in the fourth book of his Antiquities, Ἁριςοϰρατία μὲν οὖν ϰράτιςον, &c. “An Aristocracy is the best form of government; wherefore do not you endeavour to settle any other; it is enough for you, that God presides over ye, but if you will have a king, let him guide himself by the law of God, rather than by his own wisdom; and lay a restraint upon him, if he offer at more power than the state of your affairs will allow of.” Thus he expresses himself upon this place in Deuteronomy. Another Jewish author, Philo Judæus, who was Josephus’s contemporary, a very studious man in the law of Moses, upon which he wrote a large commentary: when in his book concerning the creation of the king, he interprets this chapter of Deuteronomy, he sets a king loose from the law no otherwise than as an enemy may be said to be so: “They,” says he, “that to the prejudice and destruction of the people acquire great power to themselves, deserve not the name of kings, but that of enemies: for their actions are the same with those of an irreconcilable enemy. Nay, they, that under a pretence of government are injurious, are worse than open enemies. We may fence ourselves against the latter; but the malice of the former is so much the more pestilent, because it is not always easy to be discovered.” But when it is discovered, why should they not be dealt with as enemies? The same author in his second book, Allegoriar. Legis, “A king,” says he, “and a tyrant, are contraries.” And a little after, “A king ought not only to command, but also to obey.” All this is very true, you will say, a king ought to observe the laws, as well as any other man. But what if he will not, what law is there to punish him? I answer, the same law that there is to punish other men; for I find no exceptions. There is no express law to punish the priests, or any other inferior magistrates, who all of them, if this opinion of the exemption of kings from the penalties of the law would hold, might, by the same reason claim impunity, what guilt soever they contract, because there is no positive law for their punishment; and yet I suppose none of them ever challenged such a prerogative, nor would it ever be allowed them, if they should.
Hitherto we have learned from the very text of God’s own law, that a king ought to obey the laws, and not lift himself up above his brethren. Let us now consider whether Solomon preached up any other doctrine, chap. viii. ver. 2, “I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight; stand not in an evil thing; for he doth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say unto him, what dost thou?” It is well enough known, that here the preacher directs not his precepts to the Sanhedrim, or to a parliament, but to private persons; and such he commands to “keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.” But as they swear allegiance to kings, do not kings likewise swear to obey and maintain the laws of God, and those of their own country? So the Reubenites and Gadites promise obedience to Joshua, Josh. i. 17, “According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee; only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.” Here is an express condition. Hear the preacher else, ch. ix. ver. 17, “The words of wise men are heard in quiet, more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.” The next caution that Solomon gives us, is, “Be not hasty to go out of his sight; stand not in an evil thing; for he doth whatsoever pleaseth him.” That is, he does what he will to malefactors, whom the law authorizes him to punish, and against whom he may proceed with mercy or severity, as he sees occasion. Here is nothing like tyranny; nothing that a good man needs be afraid of. “Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say to him, What dost thou?” And yet we read of one, that not only said to a king, “What dost thou?” but told him, “Thou hast done foolishly.” But Samuel, you may say, was an extraordinary person. I answer you with your own words, which follow in the forty-ninth page of your book, “What was there extraordinary,” say you, “in Saul or David?” And so say I, what was there in Samuel extraordinary? He was a prophet, you will say; so are they that now follow his example; for they act according to the will of God, either his revealed or his sacred will, which yourself grant in your 50th page. The preacher therefore in this place prudently advises private persons not to contend with princes; for it is even dangerous to contend with any man, that is either rich or powerful. But what then? must therefore the nobility of a nation, and all the inferior magistrates, and the whole body of the people, not dare to mutter when a king raves and acts like a madman? Must they not oppose a foolish, wicked, and outrageous tyrant, that perhaps seeks the destruction of all good men? Must they not endeavour to prevent his turning all divine and human things upside down? Must they suffer him to massacre his people, burn their cities, and commit such outrages upon them daily; and finally, to have perfect liberty to do what he lists without control?
Whom all free people, if you can have the confidence hereafter to set your foot within a free country, ought to cast out from amongst them, and send to some remote parts of the world, as a prodigy of dire portent; or to condemn to some perpetual drudgery, as one devoted to slavery, solemnly obliging themselves, if they ever let you go, to undergo a worse slavery under some cruel, silly tyrant: no man living can either devise himself, or borrow from any other, expressions so full of cruelty and contempt, as may not justly be applied to you. But go on. “When the Israelites asked a king of God, they said, they would set up a king that should have the same rule and dominion over them, that the kings of their neighbour countries exercised over their subjects. But the kings of the East we know had an unlimited power,” as Virgil testifies,
First, what is that to us, what sort of kings the Israelites desired? Especially since God was angry with them, not only for desiring such a king as other nations had, and not such a king as his own law describes, but barely for desiring a king at all? Nor is it credible, that they should desire an unjust king, and one that should be out of the reach of all laws, who could not bear the government of Samuel’s sons, though under the power of laws; but from their covetousness sought refuge in a king. And lastly, the verse that you quote out of Virgil does not prove, that the kings of the East had an absolute unlimited power; for those bees, that he there speaks of, and who reverence their kings, he says, more than the Egyptians or Medes do theirs, by the authority of the same poet:
They do not live under a king then, that is tied to no law. But now I will let you see how little reason you have to think I bear you an ill-will. Most people think you a knave; but I will make it appear, that you have only put on a knave’s vizor for the present. In your introduction to your discourse of the pope’s supremacy, you say, that some divines in the council of Trent made use of the government, that is said to be amongst bees, to prove the pope’s supremacy. This fancy you borrow from them, and urge it here with the same malice that they did there. Now that very same answer that you gave them, whilst you were an honest man, now that you are become a knave, you shall give yourself and pull off with your own hand that vizor you have now put on: “The bees,” say you, “are a state, and so natural philosophers call them; they have a king, but a harmless one; he is a leader, or captain, rather than a king; he never beats, nor pulls, nor kills his subject bees.” No wonder they are so observant of him then: but in good faith, you had but ill luck to meddle with these bees; for though they are bees of Trent, they show you to be a drone. Aristotle, a most exact writer of politics, affirms that the Asiatic monarchy, which yet himself calls barbarous, was according to law, Politic. 3. And whereas he reckons up five several sorts of monarchies, four of those five he makes governments according to laws, and with the consent of the people; and yet he calls them tyrannical forms of government, because they lodge so much power in one man’s hand. But the kingdom of the Lacedemonians, he says, is most properly a kingdom, because there all power is not in the king.
The fifth sort of monarchy, which he calls παμβασιλεία that is, where the king is all in all: and to which he refers that that you call the right of kings, which is a liberty to do what they list; he neither tells us when nor where any such form of government ever obtained. Nor seems he to have mentioned it for any other purpose, than to show how unjust, absurd, and tyrannical a government it is. You say, that when Samuel would deter the people from choosing a king, he propounded to them this right of kings. But whence had Samuel it? Had he it from the written law of God? That cannot be. We have observed already, that the Scriptures afford us a quite other scheme of sovereignty. Had Samuel it then immediately from God himself by revelation? That is not likely neither; for God dislikes it, discommends it, finds fault with it: so that Samuel does not expound to the people any right of kings appointed by God; but a corrupt and depraved manner of governing, taken up by the pride and ambition of princes. He tells not the people what their kings ought to do, but what they would do. He told them the manner of their king, as before he told us the manner of the priests, the sons of Eli; for he uses the same word in both places (which you in the thirty-third page of your book, by a Hebrew solecism too, call םׁשפח.) That manner of theirs was wicked, and odious, and tyrannical: it was no right, but great wrong. The fathers have commented upon this place too: I will instance in one, that may stand for a great many; and that is Sulpitius Severus, a contemporary and intimate friend of St. Jerome, and, in St. Augustin’s opinion, a man of great wisdom and learning. He tells us in his sacred history, that Samuel in that place acquaints the people with the imperious rule of kings, and how they used to lord it over their subjects. Certainly it cannot be the right of kings to domineer and be imperious. But according to Sallust, that lawful power and authority that kings were entrusted with, for the preservation of the public liberty, and the good of the commonwealth, quickly degenerated into pride and tyranny: and this is the sense of all orthodox divines, and of all lawyers, upon that place of Samuel. And you might have learned from Sichardus, that most of the rabbins too were of the same mind; at least, not any one of them ever asserted, that the absolute inherent right of kings is there discoursed of. Yourself in your fifth chapter, page 106, complain, that “not only Clemens Alexandrinus, but all other expositors mistake themselves upon this text:” and you, I will warrant ye, are the only man that have had the good luck to hit the mark. Now, what a peice of folly and impudence is this in you to maintain, in opposition to all orthodox expositors, that those very actions, which God so much condemns, are the right of kings, and to pretend law for them! Though yourself confess, that that right is very often exercised in committing outrages, being injurious, contumelious, and the like. Was any man ever to that degree sui juris, so much his own master, as that he might lawfully prey upon mankind, bear down all that stood in his way, and turn all things upside down? Did the Romans ever maintain, as you say they did, that any man might do these things suo jure, by virtue of some inherent right in himself? Sallust indeed makes C. Memmius, a tribune of the people, in an invective speech of his against the pride of the nobility, and their escaping unpunished, howsoever they misbehaved themselves, to use these words, viz., “To do whatever one has a mind to, without fear of punishment, is to be a king.” This saying you catched hold of, thinking it would make for your purpose; but consider it a little better, and you will find yourself deceived. Does he in that place assert the right of kings? or does he not blame the common people, and chide them for their sloth, in suffering their nobility to lord it over them, as if they were out of the reach of all law, and in submitting again to that kingly tyranny, which, together with their kings themselves, their ancestors had lawfully and justly rejected and banished from amongst them? If you had consulted Tully, you would have understood both Sallust and Samuel better. In his oration pro C. Rabirio, “There is none of us ignorant,” says he, “of the manner of kings. These are their lordly dictates: mind what I say, and do accordingly.” Many passages to this purpose he quotes out of poets, and calls them not the right, but the custom or manner of kings; and he says, we ought to read and consider them, not only for curiosity’s sake, but that we may learn to beware of them, and avoid them. You perceive how miserably you are come off with Sallust, who though he be as much an enemy to tyranny as any other author whatsoever, you thought would have patronized this tyrannical right that you are establishing. Take my word for it, the right of kings seems to be tottering, and even to further its own ruin, by relying upon such weak props for its support; and by endeavouring to maintain itself by such examples and authorities, as would hasten its downfall, if it were further off than it is.
“The extremity of right or law,” you say, “is the height of injury, Summum jus summa injuria; this saying is verified most properly in kings, who, when they go to the utmost of their right, fall into these courses, in which Samuel makes the rights of kings to consist.” And it is a miserable right, which, when you have said all you can for, you can no otherwise defend, than by confessing, that it is the greatest injury that may be. The extremity of right or law is said to be, when a man ties himself up to niceties, dwells upon letters and syllables, and in the mean time neglects the intent and equity of the law; or when a written law is cunningly and maliciously interpreted; this Cicero makes to have been the rise of that common saying. But since it is certain that all right flows from the fountain of justice, so that nothing can possibly be any man’s right that is not just; it is a most wicked thing in you to affirm, that for a king to be unjust, rapacious, tyrannical, and as ill as the worst of them ever was, is according to the right of kings; and to tell us that a holy prophet would have persuaded the people to such a senseless thing. For whether written or unwritten, whether extreme or remiss, what right can any man have to be injurious? Which, lest you should confess to be true of other men, but not of kings, I have one man’s authority to object to you, who, I think, was a king likewise, and professes that that right of kings, that you speak of, is odious both to God and himself: it is in the 94th psalm, “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, that frameth mischief by a law?” Be not therefore so injurious to God, as to ascribe this doctrine to him, viz. that all manner of wicked and flagitious actions are but the right of kings; since himself tells us, that he abhors all fellowship with wicked princes for this very reason, because, under pretence of sovereignty, they create misery and vexation to their subjects. Neither bring up a false accusation against a prophet of God; for by making him to teach us in this place what the right of kings is, you do not produce the right Samuel, but such another empty shadow as was raised by the witch of Endor. Though for my own part, I verily believe that that infernal Samuel would not have been so great a liar, but that he would have confessed, that what you call the right of kings, is tyranny. We read indeed of impieties countenanced by law, Jus datum sceleri: you yourself confess, that they are bad kings that have made use of this boundless license of theirs to do every thing. Now, this right that you have introduced for the destruction of mankind, not proceeding from God, as I have proved it does not, must needs come from the devil; and that it does really so, will appear more clearly hereafter. “By virtue of this liberty, say you, princes may if they will.” And for this, you pretend to have Cicero’s authority. I am always willing to mention your authorities, for it generally happens, that the very authors you quote them out of, give you an answer themselves. Hear else what Cicero says in his 4th Philippic, “What cause of war can be more just and warrantable than to avoid slavery? For though a people may have the good fortune to live under a gentle master, yet those are in a miserable condition, whose prince may tyrannize over them if he will.” May, that is, can; has power enough so to do. If he meant it of his right, he would contradict himself, and make that an unjust cause of war, which himself had affirmed with the same breath to be a most just one. It is not therefore the right of all kings that you describe, but the injuriousness, and force, and violence of some. Then you tell us what private men may do. “A private man,” say you, “may lie, may be ungrateful:” and so may kings, but what then? May they therefore plunder, murder, ravish, without control? It is equally prejudicial and destructive to the commonwealth, whether it be their own prince, or a robber, or a foreign enemy, that spoils, massacres, and enslaves them. And questionless, being both alike enemies of human society, the one, as well as the other, may lawfully be opposed and punished; and their own prince the rather, because he, though raised to that dignity by the honours that his people have conferred upon him, and being bound by his oath to defend the public safety, betrays it notwithstanding all. At last you grant, that “Moses prescribes laws, according to which the king that the people of Israel should choose, ought to govern, though different from this right that Samuel proposes;” which words contain a double contradiction to what you have said before. For whereas you had affirmed, that a king was bound by no law, here you confess he is. And you set up two contrary rights, one described by Moses, and another by Samuel, which is absurd. “But,” says the prophet, “you shall be servants to your king.” Though I should grant that the Israelites were really so, it would not presently follow, that it was the right of their kings to have them so; but that by the usurpation and injustice of most of them, they were reduced to that condition. For the prophet had foretold them, that that importunate petition of theirs would bring a punishment from God upon them; not because it would be their king’s right so to harass them, but because they themselves had deserved it should be so. If kings are out of the reach of the law, so as that they may do what they list, they are more absolute than any masters, and their subjects in a more despical condition than the worst of slaves The law of God provided some redress from them, though of another nation, if their masters were cruel and unreasonable towards them. And can we imagine, that the whole body of the people of a free nation, though oppressed and tyrannized over, and preyed upon, should be left remediless? That they had no law to protect them, no sanctuary to betake themselves to? Can we think, that they were delivered from the bondage they were under to the Egyptian kings, to be reduced into a worse to one of their own brethren? All which being neither agreeable to the law of God, nor to common sense, nothing can be more evident, than that the prophet declares to the people the manner, and not the right of kings; nor the manner of all kings, but of most. Then you come to the rabbins, and quote two of them, but you have as bad luck with them here, as you had before. For it is plain, that that other chapter that rabbi Joses speaks of, and which contains, he says, the right of kings, is that in Deuteronomy, and not in Samuel. For rabbi Judas says very truly, and against you, that that discourse of Samuel’s was intended only to frighten the people. It is a most pernicious doctrine, to maintain that to be any one’s right, which in itself is flat injustice, unless you have a mind to speak by contraries. And that Samuel intended to affrighten them, appears by the 18th verse, “And ye shall cry out in that day, because of your king, which ye shall have chosen you, and I will not hear you in that day, saith the Lord.” That was to be their punishment for their obstinacy in persisting to desire a king, against the mind and will of God; and yet they are not forbidden here either to pray against him, or to endeavour to rid themselves of him. For if they might lawfully pray to God against him, without doubt they might use all lawful means for their own deliverance. For what man living, when he finds himself in any calamity, betakes himself to God, so as to neglect his own duty, in order to a redress, and rely upon his lazy prayers only? But be it how it will, what is all this to the right of kings, or of the English people? who neither asked a king against the will of God, nor had one appointed us by God, but by the right that all nations have to appoint their own governors, appointed a king over us by laws of our own, neither in obedience to, nor against, any command of God? And this being the case, for aught I see, we have done well in deposing our king, and are to be commended for it, since the Israelites sinned in asking one. And this the event has made appear; for we, when we had a king, prayed to God against him, and he heard us, and delivered us: but the Jews (who not being under a kingly government, desired a king) he suffered to live in slavery under one, till, at last, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, they betook themselves to their former government again. Then you come to give us a display of your talmudical learning; but you have as ill success with that as you have had with all the rest. For, whilst you are endeavouring to prove that kings are not liable to any temporal judicature, you quote an authority out of the treatise of the Sanhedrim, “that the king neither is judged of others, nor does himself judge any.” Which is against the people’s own petition in Samuel; for they desired a king that might judge them. You labour in vain to salve this, by telling us, that it is to be understood of those kings that reigned after the Babylonish captivity. For then, what say ye to Maimonides? He makes this difference betwixt the kings of Israel and those of Juda; that the kings of the posterity of David judge, and are judged; but the kings of Israel do neither. You contradict and quarrel with yourself or your rabbins, and still do my work for me. This, say you, is not to be understood of the kings of Israel in their first institution; for in the 17th verse it is said, “you shall be his servants;” that is, he shall use you to it, not that he shall have any right to make you so. Or if you understand it of their king’s right, it is but a judgment of God upon them for asking a king; the effects of which they were sensible of under most of their kings, though not perhaps under all. But you need no antagonists, you are such a perpetual adversary to yourself. For you tell us now a story, as if you were arguing on my side, how that first Aristobulus, and after him Jannæus surnamed Alexander, did not receive that kingly right that they pretended to, from the Sanhedrim, that great treasury and oracle of the laws of that nation, but usurped it by degrees against the will of the senate. For whose sake, you say, that childish fable of the principal men of that assembly being struck dead by the angel Gabriel was first invented. And thus you confess, that this magnificent prerogative, upon which you seem mainly to rely, viz. “that kings are not to be judged by any upon earth, was grounded upon this worse than an old wife’s tale, that is, upon a rabbinical fable.” But that the Hebrew kings were liable to be called in question for their actions, and to be punished with stripes, if they were found faulty, Sichardus shows at large out of the writings of the rabbins, to which author you are indebted for all that you employ of that sort of learning, and yet you have the impudence to be thwarting with him. Nay, we read in Scripture, that Saul thought himself bound by a decree of his own making; and in obedience thereunto, that he cast lots with his son Jonathan which of them two should die. Uzzias likewise, when he was thrust out of the temple by the priests as a leper, submitted as every private person in such a case ought to do, and ceased to be a king. Suppose he should have refused to go out of the temple, and lay down the government, and live alone, and had resolved to assert that kingly right of not being subject to any law, do you think the priests, and the people of the Jews, would have suffered the temple to be defiled, the laws violated, and live themselves in danger of the infection? It seems there are laws against a leprous king, but none against a tyrant. Can any man possibly be so mad and foolish as to fancy, that the laws should so far provide for the people’s health, as though some noisome distemper should seize upon the king himself, yet to prevent the infection’s reaching them, and make no provision for the security of their lives and estates, and the very being of the whole state, against the tyranny of a cruel, unjust prince, which is incomparably the greater mischief of the two? “But,” say you, “there can be no precedent shown of any one king that has been arraigned in a court of justice, and condemned to die.” Sichardus answers that well enough. It is all one, says he, as if one should argue on this manner: The emperor of Germany never was summoned to appear before one of the prince electors: therefore, if the prince elector Palatine should impeach the emperor, he were not bound to plead to it; though it appears by the golden bull, that Charles the Fourth subjected himself and his successors to that cognizance and jurisdiction.
But no wonder if kings were indulged in their ambition, and their exorbitances passed by, when the times were so corrupt and depraved, that even private men, if they had either money or interest, might escape the law, though guilty of crimes of never so high a nature. That ἀνυπεύθυνον, that you speak of, that is to be wholly independent upon any other, and accountable to none upon earth, which you say is peculiar to the majesty of sovereign princes, Aristotle in the 4th book of his Pol. Ch. 10, calls a most tyrannical form of government, and not in the least to be endured by a free people. And that kings are not liable to be questioned for their actions, you prove by the testimony of a very worthy author, that barbarous tyrant Mark Antony; one of those that subverted the commonwealth of Rome: and yet he himself, when he undertook an expedition against the Parthians, summoned Herod before him, to answer to a charge of murder, and would have punished him, but that Herod bribed him. So that Antony’s asserting this prerogative royal, and your defence of King Charles, come both out of one and the same spring. “And it is very reasonable,” say you, “that it should be so; for kings derive their authority from God alone.” What kings are those, I pray that do so? For I deny, that there ever were any such kings in the world, that derived their authority from God alone. Saul, the first king of Israel, had never reigned, but that the people desired a king, even against the will of God; and though he was proclaimed king once at Mizpah, yet after that he lived a private life, and looked to his father’s cattle, till he was created so the second time by the people at Gilgal. And what think ye of David? Though he had been anointed once by God, he was not anointed a second time in Hebron by the tribe of Judah, and after that by all the people of Israel, and that after a mutual covenant betwixt him and them? 2 Sam. v. 1 Chron. xi. Now, a covenant lays an obligation upon kings, and restrains them within bounds. Solomon, you say, “succeeded him in the throne of the Lord, and was acceptable to all men:” 1 Chron. xxix. So that it is something to be well-pleasing in the eyes of the people. Jehoiadah the priest made Joash king, but first he made him and the people enter into a covenant to one another, 2 Kings xi. I confess that these kings, and all that reigned of David’s posterity, were appointed to the kingdom both by God and the people; but of all other kings, of what country soever, I affirm, that they are made so by the people only: nor can you make it appear, that they are appointed by God, any otherwise than as all other things, great and small, are said to be appointed by him, because nothing comes to pass without his providence. So that I allow the throne of David was in a peculiar manner called “the throne of the Lord:” whereas the thrones of other princes are no otherwise God’s than all other things in the world are his; which if you would, you might have learnt out of the same chapter, ver. 11, 12. “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, &c. for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all.” And this is so often repeated, not to puff up kings, but to put them in mind, though they think themselves gods, that yet there is a God above them, to whom they owe whatever they are and have. And thus we easily understand what the poets, and the Essenes among the Jews, mean, when they tell us, that it is by God that kings reign, and that they are of Jupiter; for so all of us are of God, we are all his offspring. So that this universal right of Almighty God’s and the interest that he has in princes, and their thrones, and all that belongs to them, does not at all derogate from the people’s right; but that notwithstanding all this, all other kings, not particularly and by name appointed by God, owe their sovereignty to the people only, and consequently are accountable to them for the management of it. The truth of which doctrine, though the common people are apt to flatter their kings, yet they themselves acknowledge, whether good ones, as Sarpedon in Homer is described to have been; or bad ones as those tyrants in the lyrick poet:
He resolves the question himself: “Because, says he, we excel others in heroical virtues: Let us fight manfully then, says he, lest our countrymen tax us with sloth and cowardice.” In which words he intimates to us, both that kings derive their grandeur from the people, and that for their conduct and behaviour in war they are accountable to them. Bad kings indeed, though to cast some terror into people’s minds, and beget a reverence of themselves, they declare to the world, that God only is the author of kingly government; in their hearts and minds they reverence no other deity but that of fortune, according to that passage in Horace:
So that if it is by God that kings now-a-days reign, it is by God too that the people assert their own liberty; since all things are of him, and by him. I am sure the Scripture bears witness to both; that by him kings reign, and that by him they are cast down from their throne. And yet experience teaches us, that both these things are brought about by the people, oftener than by God. Be this right of kings, therefore, what it will, the right of the people is as much from God as it. And whenever any people, without some visible designation of God himself, appoint a king over them, they have the same right to put him down, that they had to set him up at first. And certainly it is a more godlike action to depose a tyrant than to set up one: and there appears much more of God in the people, when they depose an unjust prince, than in a king that oppresses an innocent people. Nay, the people have a warrant from God to judge wicked princes; for God has conferred this very honour upon those that are dear to him, that celebrating the praises of Christ, their own king, “they shall bind in chains the kings of the nations, (under which appellation all tyrants under the gospel are included,) and execute the judgments written upon them that challenge to themselves an exemption from all written laws,” Psalm cxlix. So that there is but little reason left for that wicked and foolish opinion, that kings, who commonly are the worst of men, should be so high in God’s account, as that he should have put the world under them, to be at their beck, and be governed according to their humour; and that for their sakes alone he should have reduced all mankind, whom he made after his own image, into the same condition with brutes.
After all this, rather than say nothing, you produce M. Aurelius as a countenancer of tyranny; but you had better have let him alone. I cannot say whether he ever affirmed, that princes are accountable only before God’s tribunal. But Xiphiline indeed, out of whom you quote those words of M. Aurelius, mentions a certain government, which he calls an Autarchy, of which he makes God the only judge: περὶ άυταρχίας ὁ Θεὸς μόνος ϰρίνειν δυνάται. But that this word Autarchy and Monarchy are synonymous, I cannot easily persuade myself to believe. And the more I read what goes before, the less I find myself inclinable to think so. And certainly whoever considers the context, will not easily apprehend what coherence this sentence has with it, and must needs wonder how it comes so abruptly into the text; especially, since Marcus Aurelius, that mirror of princes, carried himself towards the people, as Capitolinus tells us, just as if Rome had been a commonwealth still. And we all know, that when it was so, the supreme power was in the people. The same emperor honoured the memory of Thraseas, and Helvidius, and Cato, and Dio, and Brutus; who all were tyrant-slayers, or affected the reputation of being thought so. In the first book that he writes of his own life, he says, that he proposed to himself a form of government, under which all men might equally enjoy the benefit of the law, and right and justice be equally administered to all. And in his fourth book he says, the law is master, and not he. He acknowledged the right of the senate and the people, and their interest in all things: we are so far, says he, from having any thing of our own, that we live in your houses. These things Xiphiline relates of him. So little did he arrogate aught to himself by virtue of his sovereign right. When he died, he recommended his son to the Romans, for his successor, if they should think he deserved it. So far was he from pretending to a commission from Heaven to exercise that absolute and imaginary right of sovereignty, that Autarchy, that you tell us of. “All the Latin and Greek books are full of authorities of this nature.” But we have heard none of them yet. “So are the Jewish authors.” And yet, you say, “the Jews in many things allowed but too little to their princes.” Nay, you will find that both the Greeks and the Latins allowed much less to tyrants. And how little the Jews allowed them would appear, if that book that Samuel “wrote of the manner of the kingdom” were extant; which book, the Hebrew doctors tell us, their kings tore in pieces and burnt, that they might be more at liberty to tyrannize over the people without control or fear of punishment. Now look about ye again, and catch hold of somewhat or other.
In the last place, you come to wrest David’s words in the 17th Psalm, “let my sentence come forth from thy presence.” Therefore, says Barnachmoni, “God only can judge the king.” And yet it is most likely, that David penned this psalm when he was persecuted by Saul, at which time, though himself were anointed, he did not decline being judged even by Jonathan: “Notwithstanding, if there be iniquity in me, slay me thyself,” 1 Sam. xx. At least, in this psalm he does no more than what any person in the world would do upon the like occasion; being falsely accused by men, he appeals to the judgment of God himself, “let thine eyes look upon the thing that is right; thou hast proved and visited mine heart,” &c. What relation has this to a temporal judicature? Certainly they do no good office to the right of kings, that thus discover the weakness of its foundation.
Then you come with that threadbare argument, which of all others is most in vogue with our courtiers, “Against thee, thee only have I sinned,” Psalm li. 6. As if David in the midst of his repentance, when overwhelmed with sorrow, and almost drowned in tears, he was humbly imploring God’s mercy, had any thoughts of this kingly right of his when his heart was so low, that he thought he deserved not the right of a slave. And can we think, that he despised all the people of God, his own brethren to that degree, as to believe that he might murder them, plunder them, and commit adultery with their wives, and yet not sin against them all this while? So holy a man could never be guilty of such insufferable pride, nor have so little knowledge either of himself, or of his duty to his neighbour. So without doubt when he says, “against thee only,” he meant, against thee chiefly have I sinned, &c. But whatever he means, the words of a psalm are too full of poetry, and this psalm too full of passion, to afford us any exact definitions of right and justice; nor is it proper to argue any thing of that nature from them. “But David was never questioned for this, nor made to plead for his life before the Sanhedrim.” What then? How should they know, that any such thing had been, which was done so privately, that perhaps for some years after not above one or two were privy to it, as such secrets there are in most courts? 2 Sam. xii. “Thou hast done this thing in secret.” Besides, what if the senate should neglect to punish private persons? Would any infer, that therefore they ought not to be punished at all? But the reason why David was not proceeded against as a malefactor, is not much in the dark: he had condemned himself in the 5th verse, “The man that hath done this thing shall surely die.” To which the prophet presently replies, “Thou art the man.” So that in the prophet’s judgment, as well as his own, he was worthy of death: but God, by his sovereign right over all things, and of his great mercy to David, absolves him from the guilt of his sin, and the sentence of death which he had pronounced against himself; verse 13th, “The Lord hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die.”
The next thing you do, is to rail at some bloody advocate or other, and you take a deal of pains to refute the conclusion of his discourse. Let him look to that; I will endeavour to be as short as I can in what I have undertaken to perform. But some things I must not pass by without taking notice of; as first and foremost your notorious contradictions; for in the 30th page you say, “The Israelites do not deprecate an unjust, rapacious, tyrannical king, one as bad as the worst of kings are.” And yet, page 42, you are very smart upon your advocate, for maintaining that the Israelites asked for a tyrant: “Would they have leaped out of the fryingpan into the fire,” say you, “and groan under the cruelty of the worst of tyrants, rather than live under bad judges, especially being used to such a form of government?” First, you said the Hebrews would rather live under tyrants and judges; here you say they would rather live under judges than tyrants; and that “they desired nothing less than a tyrant.” So that your advocate may answer you out of your own book. For according to your principles it is every king’s right to be a tyrant. What you say next is very true, “the supreme power was then in the people, which appears by their own rejecting their judges, and making choice of a kingly government.” Remember this, when I shall have occasion to make use of it. You say, that God gave the children of Israel a king as a thing good and profitable for them, and deny that he gave them one in his anger, as a punishment for their sin. But that will receive an easy answer; for to what purpose should they cry to God because of the king that they had chosen, if it were not because a kingly government is an evil thing; not in itself, but because it most commonly does, as Samuel forewarns the people that theirs would, degenerate into pride and tyranny? If you are not yet satisfied, hark what you say yourself; acknowledge your own hand, and blush; it is in your “Apparatus ad Primatum: God gave them a king in his anger,” say you, “being offended at their sin in rejecting him from ruling over them; and so the Christian church, as a punishment for its forsaking the pure worship of God, has been subjected to the more than kingly government of one mortal head.” So that if your own comparison holds, either God gave the children of Israel a king as an evil thing, and as a punishment, or he has set up the pope for the good of the church. Was there ever any thing more light and mad than this man is? Who would trust him in the smallest matters, that in things of so great concern says and unsays without any consideration in the world? You tell us in your twenty-ninth page, “that by the constitution of all nations, kings are bound by no law.” That “this had been the judgment both of the eastern and western part of the world.” And yet, page 43, you say, “That all the kings of the east ruled ϰατὰ νόμον, according to law, nay, that the very kings of Egypt in all matters whatsoever, whether great or small, were tied to laws.” Though in the beginning of this chapter you had undertook to demonstrate, that “kings are bound by no laws, that they give laws to others, but have none prescribed to themselves.” For my part I have no reason to be angry with you, for either you are mad, or of our side. You do not defend the king’s cause, but argue against him, and play the fool with him: or if you are in earnest, that epigram of Catullus,
That epigram, I say, may be turned, and very properly applied to you: for there never was so good a poet as you are a bad patron. Unless that stupidity, that you complain your advocate is “immersed over head and ears in,” has blinded the eyes of your own understanding too, I will make you now sensible that you are become a very brute yourself. For now you come and confess, that “the kings of all nations have laws prescribed to them.” But then you say again, “They are not so under the power of them, as to be liable to censure or punishment of death, if they break them.” Which yet you have proved neither from Scripture, nor from any good author. Observe then in short; to prescribe municipal laws to such as are not bound by them, is silly and ridiculous: and to punish all others, but leave some one man at liberty to commit all sort of impieties without fear of punishment, is most unjust; the law being general, and not making any exception; neither of which can be supposed to hold place in the constitutions of any wise lawmaker, much less in those of God’s own making. But that all may perceive how unable you are to prove out of the writings of the Jews, what you undertook in this chapter to make appear by them, you confess of your own accord, that “there are some rabbins, who affirm that their forefathers ought not to have had any other king than God himself; and that he set other kings over them for their punishment.” And of those men’s opinion I declare myself to be. It is not fitting or decent, that any man should be a king, that does not far excel all his subjects. But where men are equals, as in all governments very many are, they ought to have an equal interest in the government, and hold it by turns. But that all men should be slaves to one that is their equal, or (as it happens most commonly) far inferior to them, and very often a fool, who can so much as entertain such a thought without indignation? Nor does “it make for the honour of a kingly government, that our Saviour was of the posterity of some kings,” more than it does for the commendation of the worst of kings, that he was the offspring of some of them too. “The Messias is a king.” We acknowledge him so to be, and rejoice that he is so; and pray that his kingdom may come, for he is worthy: nor is there any other equal, or next to him. And yet a kingly government being put into the hands of unworthy and undeserving persons, as most commonly it is, may well be thought to have done more harm than good to mankind. Nor does it follow for all this, that all kings, as such, are tyrants. But suppose it did, as for argument-sake I will allow it does, lest you should think I am too hard with ye; make you the best use of it you can. “Then, say you, God himself may properly be said to be the king of tyrants, nay, himself, the worst of all tyrants.” If the first of these conclusions does not follow, another does, which may be drawn from most parts of your book, viz. That you perpetually contradict, not only the Scriptures, but your own self. For in the very last foregoing period you had affirmed, that “God was the king of all things, having himself created them.” Now he created tyrants and devils, and consequently, by your own reason, is the king of such. The second of these conclusions we detest, and wish that blasphemous mouth of yours were stopped up, with which you affirm God to be the worst of tyrants, if he be, as you often say he is, the king and lord of such. Nor do you much advantage your cause by telling us, that “Moses was a king, and had the absolute and supreme power of a king.” For we could be content that any other were so, that could “refer our matters to God, as Moses did, and consult with him about our affairs,” Exod. xviii. 19. But neither did Moses, not withstanding his great familiarity with God, ever assume a liberty of doing what he would himself. What says he of himself; “the people come unto me to inquire of God.” They came not then to receive Moses’ own dictates and commands. Then says Jethro, ver. 19, “Be thou for the people to Godward, that thou mayst bring their causes unto God.” And Moses himself says, Deut. iv. 5, “I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me.” Hence it is that he is said to have been “faithful in all the house of God,” Numb. xii. 7. So that the Lord Jehovah himself was the people’s king, and Moses no other than as it were an interpreter or a messenger betwixt him and them. Nor can you, without impiety and sacrilege, transfer this absolute supreme power and authority, from God to a man, (not having any warrant from the word of God so to do,) which Moses used only as a deputy or substitute to God; under whose eye, and in whose presence, himself and the people always were.
But now, for an aggravation of your wickedness, though here you make Moses to have exercised an absolute and unlimited power in your “Apparat. ad Primat.” page 230, you say, that “he, together with the seventy elders, ruled the people, and that himself was the chief of the people, but not their master.” If Moses therefore were a king, as certainly he was, and the best of kings, and had a supreme and legal power, as you say he had, and yet neither was the people’s master, nor governed them alone; then, according to you, kings, though indued with the supreme power, are not by virtue of that sovereign and kingly right of theirs, lords over the people, nor ought to govern them alone; much less according to their own will and pleasure. After all this, you have the impudence to feign a command from God to that people, “to set up a king over them, as soon as they should be possessed of the Holy Land,” Deut. xvii. For you craftily leave out the former words, “and shalt say, I will set a king over me,” &c. And now call to mind what you said before, page 42, and what I said I should have occasion to make use of, viz., “That the power was then in the people, and that they were entirely free.” What follows, argues you either mad or irreligious; take whether you list: “God,” say you, “having so long before appointed a kingly government, as best and most proper for that people; what shall we say to Samuel’s opposing it, and God’s own acting, as if himself were against it? How do these things agree?” He finds himself caught; and observe now with how great malice against the prophet, and impiety against God, he endeavours to disentangle himself. “We must consider,” says he, “that Samuel’s own sons then judged the people, and the people rejected them because of their corruption; now Samuel was loth his sons should be laid aside, and God, to gratify the prophet, intimated to him, as if himself were not very well pleased with it.” Speak out, ye wretch, and never mince the matter: you mean, God dealt deceitfully with Samuel, and he with the people. It is not your advocate, but yourself, that are “frantic and distracted;” who cast off all reverence to God Almighty, so you may but seem to honour the king. Would Samuel prefer the interest of his sons, and their ambition, and their covetousness, before the general good of all the people, when they asked a thing that would be good and profitable for them? Can we think, that he would impose upon them by cunning and subtilty, and make them believe things that were not? Or if we should suppose all this true of Samuel, would God himself countenance and gratify him in it? would he dissemble with the people? So that either that was not the right of kings, which Samuel taught the people: or else that right, by the testimony both of God and the prophet, was an evil thing, was burdensome, injurious, unprofitable, and chargeable to the commonwealth: or lastly, (which must not be admitted,) God and the prophet deceived the people. God frequently protests, that he was extremely displeased with them for asking a king. Ver. 7th, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” As if it were a kind of idolatry to ask a king that would even suffer himself to be adored, and assume almost divine honour to himself. And certainly, they that subject themselves to a worldly master, and set him above all laws, come but a little short of choosing a strange god: and a strange one it commonly is; brutish, and void of all sense and reason. So 1st of Sam. chap. 10th, v. 19th, “And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulation, and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us;” &c. and chap. 12th, v. 12th, “Ye said unto me, Nay, but a king shall reign over us; when the Lord your God was your king:” and v. the 17th, “See that your wickedness is great, that ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king.” And Hosea speaks contemptibly of the king, chap. xiii. v. 10, 11, “I will be thy king; where is any other that may save in all thy cities, and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king, and princes? I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.” And Gideon, that warlike judge, that was greater than a king; “I will not rule over you,” says he, “neither shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you,” Judges, chap. viii. Intimating thereby, that it is not fit for a man, but for God only, to exercise dominion over men. And hence Josephus in his book against Appion, an Egyptian grammarian, and a foulmouthed fellow, like you, calls the commonwealth of the Hebrews a Theocracy, because the principality was in God only. In Isaiah, chap. xxvi. v. 13, the people in their repentance, complain that it had been mischievous to them, “that other lords besides God himself, had had dominion over them.” All which places prove clearly, that God gave the Israelites a king in his anger; but now who can forbear laughing at the use you make of Abimelech’s story? Of whom it is said, when he was killed, partly by a woman that hurled a piece of millstone upon him, and partly by his own armour-bearer, that “God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech.” “This history,” say you, “proves strongly, that God only is the judge and avenger of kings.” Yea, if this argument hold, he is the only judge and punisher of tyrants, villainous rascals, and bastards. Whoever can get into the saddle, whether by right or by wrong, has thereby obtained a sovereign kingly right over the people, is out of all danger of punishment, all inferior magistrates must lay down their arms at his feet, the people must not dare to mutter. But what if some great notorious robber had perished in war, as Abimelech did, would any man infer from thence, that God only is the judge and punisher of highwaymen? Or what if Abimelech had been condemned by the law, and died by an executioner’s hand, would not God then have rendered his wickedness? You never read, that the judges of the children of Israel were ever proceeded against according to law: and yet you confess, that “where the government is an aristocracy, the prince, if there be any, may and ought to be called in question, if he break the laws.” This in your 47th page. And why may not a tyrant as well be proceeded against in a kingly government? why, because God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech. So did the woman, and so did his own armour-bearer; over both which he pretended to a right of sovereignty And what if the magistrates had rendered his wickedness? Do not they bear the sword for that very purpose, for the punishment of malefactors? Having done with his powerful argument from the history of Abimelech’s death, he betakes himself, as his custom is, to slanders and calumnies; nothing but dirt and filth comes from him; but for those things that he promised to make appear, he hath not proved any one of them, either from the Scriptures or from the writings of the rabbins. He alleges no reason why kings should be above all laws, and they only of all mortal men exempt from punishment, if they deserve it. He falls foul upon those very authors and authorities that he makes use of, and by his own discourse demonstrates the truth of the opinion that he argues against. And perceiving, that he is like to do but little good with his arguments, he endeavours to bring an odium upon us, by loading us with slanderous accusations, as having put to death the most virtuous innocent prince that ever reigned. “Was King Solomon, says he, better than King Charles the First?” I confess some have ventured to compare his father King James with Solomon; nay, to make King James the better gentleman of the two. Solomon was David’s son, David had been Saul’s musician; but King James was the son of the earl of Darnley, who, as Buchanan tells us, because David the musician got into the queen’s bed-chamber at an unseasonable time, killed him a little after; for he could not get to him then, because he had bolted the door on the inside. So that King James being the son of an earl, was the better gentleman, and was frequently called a second Solomon, though it is not very certain, that himself was not the son of David the musician too. But how could it ever come into your head, to make a comparison between King Charles and Solomon? For that very King Charles whom you praise thus to the sky, that very man’s obstinacy, and covetousness, and cruelty, his hard usage of all good and honest men, the wars that he raised, the spoilings, and plunderings, and conflagrations, that he occasioned, and the death of innumerable of his subjects, that he was the cause of, does his son Charles, at this very time, whilst I am a-writing confess and bewail on the stool of repentance in Scotland, and renounces there that kingly right that you assert.
But since you delight in parallels, let us compare King Charles and King Solomon together a little: “Solomon began his reign with the death of his brother,” who justly deserved it; King Charles began with his father’s funeral, I do not say with his murder: and yet all the marks and tokens of poison that may be appeared in his dead body; but that suspicion lighted upon the duke of Buckingham only, whom the king notwithstanding cleared to the parliament, though he had killed the king and his father; and not only so, but he dissolved the parliament, lest the matter should be inquired into. “Solomon oppressed the people with heavy taxes;” but he spent that money upon the temple of God, and in raising other public buildings: King Charles spent his in extravagances. Solomon was enticed to idolatry by many wives: this man by one. Solomon, though he were seduced himself, we read not that he seduced others; but King Charles seduced and enticed others, not only by large and ample rewards to corrupt the church, but by his edicts and ecclesiastical constitutions he compelled them to set up altars, which all protestants abhor, and to bow down to crucifixes painted over them on the wall. “But yet for all this, Solomon was not condemned to die.” Nor does it follow because he was not, that therefore he ought not to have been. Perhaps there were many circumstances, that made it then not expedient. But not long after, the people both by words and actions made appear what they took to be their right, when ten tribes of twelve revolted from his son; and if he had not saved himself by flight, it is very likely they would have stoned him, notwithstanding his threats and big swelling words.
Having proved sufficiently that the kings of the Jews were subject to the same laws that the people were; that there are no exceptions made in their favour in Scripture; that it is a most false assertion grounded upon no reason, nor warranted by any authority, to say, that kings may do what they list with impunity; that God has exempted them from all human jurisdiction, and reserved them to his own tribunal only; let us now consider, whether the gospel preach up any such doctrine, and enjoin that blind obedience, which the law was so far from doing, that it commanded the contrary; let us consider, whether or no the gospel, that heavenly promulgation, as it were, of Christian liberty, reduce us to a condition of slavery to kings and tyrants, from whose imperious rule even the old law, that mistress of slavery, discharged the people of God, when it obtained. Your first argument you take from the person of Christ himself. But, alas! who does not know, that he put himself into the condition, not of a private person only, but even of a servant, that we might be made free? Nor is this to be understood of some internal spiritual liberty only; how inconsistent else would that song of his mother’s be with the design of his coming into the world, “He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart, he hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek!” How ill suited to their occasion would these expressions be, if the coming of Christ rather established and strengthened a tyrannical government, and made a blind subjection the duty of all Christians! He himself having been born, and lived, and died under a tyrannical government, has thereby purchased liberty for us. As he gives us his grace to submit patiently to a condition of slavery, if there be a necessity of it; so if by any honest ways and means we can rid ourselves, and obtain our liberty, he is so far from restraining us, that he encourages us so to do. Hence it is that St. Paul not only of an evangelical, but also of a civil liberty, says thus, 1 Cor. vii. 21. “Art thou called, being a servant? care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather; you are bought with a price, be not ye servants of men.” So that you are very impertinent in endeavouring to argue us into slavery by the example of our Saviour; who, by submitting to such a condition himself has confirmed even our civil liberties. He took upon him indeed in our stead the form of a servant, but he always retained his purpose of being a deliverer; and thence it was, that he taught us a quite other notion of the right of kings, than this that you endeavour to make good. You, I say, that preach up not kingship, but tyranny, and that in a commonwealth; by enjoining not only a necessary, but a religious, subjection to whatever tyrant gets into the chair, whether he come to it by succession or by conquest, or chance, or any how. And now I will turn your own weapons against you; and oppose you, as I use to do, with your own authorities. When the collectors of the tribute money came to Christ for tribute in Galilee, he asked Peter, Matt. xvii. “Of whom the kings of the earth took custom or tribute, of their own children, or of strangers?” Peter saith unto him, “Of strangers.” Jesus saith unto him,
Then are the children free; notwithsanding, lest we should offend them, &c. give unto them for thee and for me.” Expositors differ upon this place, whom this tribute was paid to; some say it was paid to the priests, for the use of the sanctuary; others, that it was paid to the emperor. I am of opinion, that it was the revenue of the sanctuary, but paid to Herod, who perverted the institution of it, and took it to himself. Josephus mentions divers sorts of tribute, which he and his sons exacted, all which Agrippa afterwards remitted. And this very tribute, though small in itself, yet being accompanied with many more, was a heavy burden. The Jews, even the poorest of them, in the time of their commonwealth, paid a poll; so that it was some considerable oppression that our Saviour spoke of: and from hence he took occasion to tax Herod’s injustice (under whose government, and within whose jurisdiction he then was) in that, whereas the kings of the earth, who affect usually the title of fathers of their country, do not use to oppress their own children, that is, their own natural-born subjects, with heavy and unreasonable exactions, but lay such burdens upon strangers and conquered enemies; he, quite contrary, oppressed not strangers, but his own people. But let what will be here meant by children, either natural-born subjects, or the children of God, and those of the elect only, or Christians in general, as St. Augustine understands the place; this is certain that if Peter was a child, and therefore free, then by consequence we are so too, by our Saviour’s own testimony, either as Englishmen or as Christians, and that it therefore is not the right of kings to exact heavy tributes from their own countrymen and those freeborn subjects. Christ himself professes, that he paid not this tribute as a thing that was due, but that he might not bring trouble upon himself by offending those that demanded it. The work that he came into this world to do, was quite of another nature. But if our Saviour deny, that it is the right of kings to burden their freeborn subjects with grievous exactions; he would certainly much less allow it to be their right to spoil, massacre, and torture their own countrymen, and those Christians too. He discoursed after such a manner of the right of kings, that those to whom he spoke suspected his principles as laying too great a restraint upon sovereignty, and not allowing the license that tyrants assume to themselves to be the rights of kings. It was not for nothing, that the Pharisees put such questions to him, tempting him; and that at the same time they told him, that he regarded not the person of any man: nor was it for nothing that he was angry when such questions were proposed to him, Matt. xxii. If one should endeavour to ensnare you with little questions, and catch at your answers, to ground an accusation against you upon your own principles concerning the right of kings, and all this under a monarchy, would you be angry with him? You would have but very little reason.
It is evident, that our Saviour’s principles concerning government were not agreeable to the humour of princes. His answer too implies as much; by which he rather turned them away, than instructed them. He asked for the tribute money. “Whose image and superscription is it?” says he. They tell him it was Cæsar’s, “Give then to Cæsar,” says he, “the things that are Cæsar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.” And how comes it to pass, that the people should not have given to them the things that are theirs? “Render to all men their dues,” says St. Paul, Rom. xiii. So that Cæsar must not engross all to himself. Our liberty is not Cæsar’s; it is a blessing we have received from God himself; it is what we are born to; to lay this down at Cæsar’s feet, which we derive not from him, which we are not beholden to him for, were an unworthy action, and a degrading of our very nature. If one should consider attentively the countenance of a man, and not inquire after whose image so noble a creature were framed; would not any one that heard him presently make answer, That he was made after the image of God himself? Being therefore peculiarly God’s own, and consequently things that are to be given to him, we are entirely free by nature, and cannot without the greatest sacrilege imaginable be reduced into a condition of slavery to any man, especially to a wicked, unjust cruel tyrant. Our Saviour does not take upon him to determine what things are God’s and what Cæsar’s; he leaves that as he found it. If the piece of money, which they showed him, was the same that was paid to God, as in Vespasin’s time it was; then our Saviour is so far from having put an end to the controversy, that he has but entangled it, and made it more perplexed than it was before: for it is impossible the same thing should be given both to God and to Cæsar. But, you say, he intimates to them what things were Cæsar’s; to wit, that piece of money, because it bore the emperor’s stamp: and what of all that? How does this advantage your cause? You get not the emperor, or yourself a penny by this conclusion. Either Christ allowed nothing at all to be Cæsar’s, but that piece of money that he then had in his hand, and thereby asserted the people’s interest in every thing else: or else, if (as you would have us understand him) he affirms all money that has the emperor’s stamp upon it, to be the emperor’s own, he contradicts himself, and indeed gives the magistrate a property in every man’s estate, whenas he himself paid his tribute-money with a protestation, that it was more than what either Peter or he were bound to do. The ground you rely on is very weak; for money bears the prince’s image, not as a token of its being his, but of its being good metal, and that none may presume to counterfeit it. If the writing princes’ names or setting their stamps upon a thing, vest the property of it in them, it were a good ready way for them to invade all property. Or rather, if whatever subjects have been absolutely at their prince’s disposal, which is your assertion, that piece of money was not Cæsar’s because his image was stamped on it, but because of right it belonged to him before it was coined. So that nothing can be more manifest, than that our Saviour in this place never intended to teach us our duty to magistrates, (he would have spoken more plainly if he had,) but to reprehend the malice and wickedness of the hypocritical Pharisees. When they told him that Herod laid wait to kill him; did he return an humble, submissive answer? “Go, tell that fox,” says he, &c. intimating, that kings have no other right to destroy their subjects, than foxes have to devour the things they prey upon. Say you, “he suffered death under a tyrant.” How could he possibly under any other? But from hence you conclude, that he asserted it to be the right of kings to commit murder and act injustice. You would make an excellent moralist. But our Saviour, though he became a servant, not to make us so but that we might be free; yet carried he himself so with relation to the magistracy, as not to ascribe any more to them than their due. Now, let us come at last to inquire what his doctrine was upon this subject. The sons of Zebedee were ambitious of honour and power in the kingdom of Christ, which they persuaded themselves he would shortly set up in the world; he reproves them so, as withal to let all Christians know what form of civil government he desires they should settle amongst themselves. “Ye know,” says he, “that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them; and they that are great exercise authority upon them; but it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Unless you had been distracted, you could never have imagined, that this place makes for you: and yet you urge it, and think it furnishes you with an argument to prove, that our kings are absolute lords and masters over us and ours. May it be our fortune to have to do with such enemies in war, as will fall blindfold and naked into our camp instead of their own: as you constantly do, who allege that for yourself, that of all things in the world makes most against you. The Israelites asked God for a king, such a king as other nations round about them had. God dissuaded them by many arguments, whereof our Saviour here gives us an epitome; “You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them.” But yet, because the Israelites persisted in their desire of a king, God gave them one, though in his wrath. Our Saviour, lest Christians should desire a king, such a one at least as might rule, as he says the princes of the Gentiles did, prevents them with an injunction to the contrary; “but it shall not be so among you.” What can be said plainer than this? That stately, imperious sway and dominion, that kings use to exercise, shall not be amongst you; what specious titles soever they may assume to themselves, as that of benefactors or the like. “But he that will be great amongst you,” (and who is greater than the prince?) “let him be your servant.” So that the lawyer, whoever he be, that you are so smart upon, was not so much out of the way, but had our Saviour’s own authority to back him, when he said, that Christian princes were indeed no other than the people’s servants; it is very certain that all good magistrates are so. Insomuch that Christians either must have no king at all, or if they have, that king must be the people’s servant. Absolute lordship and Christianity are inconsistent. Moses himself, by whose ministry that servile economy of the old law was instituted, did not exercise an arbitrary, haughty power and authority, but bore the burden of the people, and carried them in his bosom, as a nursing father does a sucking child, Numb. xi. and what is that of a nursing father but a ministerial employment? Plato would not have the magistrates called lords, but servants and helpers of the people; nor the people servants, but maintainers of their magistrates, because they give meat, drink, and wages to their kings themselves. Aristotle calls the magistrates, keepers and ministers of the laws. Plato, ministers and servants. The apostle calls them ministers of God; but they are ministers and servants of the people, and of the laws, nevertheless for all that; the laws and the magistrates were both created for the good of the people: and yet this is it, that you call “the opinion of the fanatic mastiffs in England.” I should not have thought the people of England were mastiff dogs, if such a mongrel cur as thou art did not bark at them so currishly. The master, if it shall please ye, of St. Lupus,* complains it seems, that the mastiffs are mad (fanatics). Germanus heretofore, whose colleague that Lupus of Triers was, deposed our incestuous king Vortigern by his own authority. And therefore St. Lupus despises thee, the master not of a Holy Wolf, but of some hunger-starved thieving little wolf or other, as being more contemptible than that master of vipers, of whom Martial makes mention, who hast by relation a barking she-wolf at home too, that domineers over thee most wretchedly; at whose instigations, as I am informed, thou hast wrote this stuff. And therefore it is the less wonder, that thou shouldst endeavour to obtrude an absolute regal government upon others, who hast been accustomed to bear a female rule so servilely at home thyself. Be therefore, in the name of God, the master of a wolf, lest a she-wolf be thy mistress; be a wolf thyself, be a monster made up of a man and a wolf; whatever thou art, the English mastiffs will but make a laughing-stock of thee. But I am not now at leisure to hunt for wolves, and will put an end therefore to this digression. You that but a while ago wrote a book against all manner of superiority in the church, now call St. Peter the prince of the apostles. How inconstant you are in your principles! But what says Peter? “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme, or to governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well: for so is the will of God,” &c. This epistle Peter wrote, not only to private persons, but those strangers scattered and dispersed through Asia; who, in those places where they sojourned, had no other right, than what the laws of hospitality entitled them to. Do you think such men’s case to be the same with that of natives, freeborn subjects, nobility, senates, assemblies of estates, parliaments? nay, is not the case far different of private persons, though in their own country; and senators, or magistrates, without whom kings themselves cannot possibly subsist? But let us suppose, that St. Peter had directed his epistle to the natural-born subjects, and those not private persons neither; suppose he had writ to the senate of Rome; what then? No law that is grounded upon a reason, expressly set down in the law itself, obligeth further than the reason of it extends. “Be subject,” says he, ὑποταγητε: that is, according to the genuine sense and import of the word, “be subordinate, or legally subject.” For the law, Aristotle says, is order. “Submit for the Lord’s sake.” Why so? Because a king is an officer “appointed by God for the punishment of evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well; for so is the will of God:” to wit, that we should submit and yield obedience to such as are here described. There is not a word spoken of any other. You see the ground of this precept, and how well it is laid. The apostle adds in the 16th verse, as free; therefore not as slaves. What now? if princes pervert the design of magistracy, and use the power that is put into their hands to the ruin and destruction of good men, and the praise and encouragement of evil-doers; must we all be condemned to perpetual slavery, not private persons only, but our nobility, all our inferior magistrates, our very parliament itself? Is not temporal government called a human ordinance? How comes it to pass then, that mankind should have power to appoint and constitute what may be good and profitable for one another; and want power to restrain or suppress things that are universally mischievous and destructive? That prince, you say, to whom St. Peter enjoins subjection, was Nero the tyrant: and from thence you infer, that it is our duty to submit and yield obedience to such. But it is not certain, that this epistle was writ in Nero’s reign: it is as likely to have been writ in Claudius’s time. And they that are commanded to submit, were private persons and strangers; they were no consuls, no magistrates: it was not the Roman senate, that St. Peter directed his epistle to. Now let us hear what use you make of St. Paul, (for you take a freedom with the apostles, I find, that you will not allow us to take with princes; you make St. Peter the chief of them to-day, and to-morrow put another in his place.)
St. Paul in his 13th chap. to the Romans, has these words: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained of God.” I confess he writes this to the Romans, not to strangers dispersed, as Peter did; but, however, he writes to private persons, and those of the meaner rank; and yet he gives us a true and clear account of the reason, the original, and the design of government; and shows us the true and proper ground of our obedience, that it is far from imposing a necessity upon us of being slaves. “Let every soul, says he, that is, let every man, submit.” Chrysostom tells us, “that St. Paul’s design in this discourse, was to make it appear, that our Saviour did not go about to introduce principles inconsistent with the civil government, but such as strengthened it, and settled it upon the surest foundations.” He never intended then by setting Nero or any other tyrant out of the reach of all laws, to enslave manking under his lust and cruelty. “He intended too, (says the same author,) to dissuade from unnecessary and causeless wars.” But he does not condemn a war taken up against a tyrant, a bosom enemy of his own country, and consequently the most dangerous that may be. “It was commonly said in those days, that the doctrine of the apostles was seditious, themselves persons that endeavoured to shake the settled laws and government of the world; that this was what they aimed at in all they said and did.” The apostle in this chapter stops the mouths of such gainsayers: so that the apostles did not write in defence of tyrants as you do; but they asserted such things as made them suspected to be enemies to the government they lived under, things that stood in need of being explained and interpreted, and having another sense put upon them than was generally received. St. Chrysostom has now taught us what the apostle’s design was in this discourse; let us now examine his words: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.” He tells us not what those higher powers are, nor who they are; for he never intended to overthrow all governments, and the several constitutions of nations, and subject all to some one man’s will. Every good emperor acknowledged, that the laws of the empire, and the authority of the senate, was above himself; and the same principle and notion of government has obtained all along in civilized nations. Pindar, as he is cited by Herodotus, calls the law πάντων βασιλέα, king over all. Orpheus in his hymns calls it the king both of gods and men: and he gives the reason why it is so; because, says he, it is that that sits at the helm of all human affairs. Plato in his book de Legibus, calls it τὸ χρατο[Editor: illegible character]ν ἐν τν̃ πόλει: that that ought to have the greatest sway in the commonwealth. In his epistles he commends that form of government, in which the law is made lord and master, and no scope given to any man to tyrannize over the laws. Aristotle is of the same opinion in his Politicks; and so is Cicero in his book de Legibus, that the laws ought to govern the magistrates, as they do the people. The law therefore having always been accounted the highest power on earth, by the judgment of the most learned and wise men that ever were, and by the constitutions of the best-ordered states; and it being very certain that the doctrine of the gospel is neither contrary to reason, nor the law of nations, that man is truly and properly subject to the higher powers, who obeys the law and the magistrates, so far as they govern according to law. So that St. Paul does not only command the people, but princes themselves, to be in subjection; who are not above the laws, but bound by them, “for there is no power but of God:” that is, no form, no lawful constitution of any government. The most ancient laws that are known to us were formerly ascribed to God as their author. For the law, says Cicero in his Philippics, is no other than a rule of well-grounded reason, derived from God himself, enjoining whatever is just and right, and forbidding the contrary. So that the institution of magistracy is Jure Divino, and the end of it is, that mankind might live under certain laws, and be governed by them. But what particular form of government each nation would live under, and what persons should be intrusted with the magistracy, without doubt, was left to the choice of each nation. Hence St. Peter calls kings and deputies, human ordinances. And Hosea, in the 8th chapter of his prophecy, “they have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew it not.” For in the commonwealth of the Hebrews, where upon matters of great and weighty importance, they could have access to God himself, and consult with him, they could not choose a king themselves by law, but were to refer the matter to him. Other nations have received no such command. Sometimes the very form of government, if it be amiss, or at least those persons that have the power in their hands, are not of God, but of men, or of the devil, Luke iv. “All this power will I give unto thee, for it is delivered unto me, and I give it to whom I will.” Hence the devil is called the prince of this world; and in the 12th of the Revelations, the dragon gave to the beast his power, and his throne, and great authority. So that we must not understand St. Paul, as if he spoke of all sorts of magistrates in general, but of lawful magistrates; and so they are described in what follows. We must also understand him of the powers themselves; not of those men, always, in whose hands they are lodged. St. Chrysostom speaks very well and clearly upon this occasion. “What?” says he, “is every prince then appointed by God to be so? I say no such thing,” says he. “St. Paul speaks not of the person of the magistrate, but of the magistracy itself. He does not say, there is no prince but who is of God. He says there is no power but of God.” Thus far St. Chrysostom; for what powers are, are ordained of God: so that Paul speaks only of a lawful magistracy. For what is evil and amiss cannot be said to be ordained, because it is disorderly; order and disorder cannot consist together in the same subject. The apostle says, “the powers that be;” and you interpret his words as if he had said, “the powers that now be;” that you may prove, that the Romans ought in conscience to obey Nero, who you take for granted was then emperor. I am very well content you should read the words so, and draw that conclusion from them. The consequence will be, that Englishmen ought to yield obedience to the present government, as it is now established according to a new model; because you must needs acknowledge, that it is the present government, and ordained of God, as much at least as Nero’s was. And lest you should object, that Nero came to the empire by a lawful succession, it is apparent from the Roman history, that both he and Tiberius got into the chair by the tricks and artifices of their mothers, and had no right at all to the succession. So that you are inconsistent with yourself, and retract from your own principles, in affirming that the Romans owed subjection to the government that then was; and yet denying that Englishmen owe subjection to the government that now is. But it is no wonder, to hear you contradict yourself. There are no two things in the world more directly opposite and contrary to one another, than you are to yourself. But what will become of you, poor wretch? You have quite undone the young king with your witticisms, and ruined his fortunes utterly; for according to your own doctrine you must needs confess, that this present government in England is ordained of God, and that all Englishmen are bound in conscience to submit to it. Take notice, all ye critics and textuaries; do not you presume to meddle with this text. Thus Salmasius corrects that passage in the epistle to the Romans: he has made a discovery, that the words ought not to be read, “the powers that are; but, the powers that now are:” and all this to prove, that all men owed subjection and obedience to Nero the tyrant, whom he supposed to have been then emperor. This Epistle, which you say was writ in Nero’s time, was writ in his predecessor’s time, who was an honest well-meaning man: and this learned men evince by undeniable arguments. But besides, the five first years of Nero’s reign were without exception. So that this threadbare argument, which so many men have at their tongues’ end, and have been deceived by, to wit, that tyrants are to be obeyed, because St. Paul enjoins a subjection to Nero, is evident to have been but a cunning invention of some ignorant parson. He that resists the powers, to wit, a lawful power, resists the ordinance of God. Kings themselves come under the penalty of this law, when they resist the senate, and act contrary to the laws. But do they resist the ordinance of God, that resist an unlawful power, or a person that goes about to overthrow and destroy a lawful one? No man living in his right wits can maintain such an assertion. The words immediately after make it as clear as the sun, that the apostle speaks only of a lawful power; for he gives us in them a definition of magistrates, and thereby explains to us who are the persons thus authorized, and upon what account we are to yield obedience, lest we should be apt to mistake and ground extravagant notions upon his discourse. “The magistrates,” says he, “are not a terror to good works, but to evil: Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. He beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” What honest man would not willingly submit to such a magistracy as is here described? And that not only to avoid wrath, and for fear of punishment, but for conscience sake. Without magistrates, and some form or other of civil government, no commonwealth, no human society, can subsist, there were no living in the world. But whatever power enables a man, or whatsoever magistrate takes upon him, to act contrary to what St. Paul makes the duty of those that are in authority; neither is that power nor that magistrate ordained of God. And consequently to such a magistracy no subjection is commanded, nor is any due, nor are the people forbidden to resist such authority; for in so doing they do not resist the power, nor the magistracy, as they are here excellently well described; but they resist a robber, a tyrant, an enemy; who if he may notwithstanding in some sense be called a magistrate, upon this account only, because he has power in his hands, which perhaps God may have invested him with for our punishment; by the same reason the devil may be called a magistrate. This is most certain, that there can be but one true definition of one and the same thing. So that if St. Paul in this place define what a magistrate is, which he certainly does, and that accurately well; he cannot possibly define a tyrant, the most contrary thing imaginable, in the same words. Hence I infer, that he commands us to submit to such magistrates only as he himself defines and describes, and not to tyrants, which are quite other things. “For this cause you pay tribute also:” he gives a reason together with a command. Hence St. Chrysostom; “why do we pay tribute to princes? Do we not,” adds he, “thereby reward them for the care they take of our safety? We should not have paid them any tribute, if we had not been convinced, that it was good for us to live under a government.” So that I must here repeat what I have said already, that since subjection is not absolutely enjoined, but on a particular reason, that reason must be the rule of our subjection: where that reason holds, we are rebels if we submit not; where it holds not, we are cowards and slaves if we do. “But,” say you, “the English are far from being freemen; for they are wicked and flagitious.” I will not reckon up here the vices of the French, though they live under a kingly government: neither will I excuse my own countrymen too far: but this I may safely say, whatever vices they have, they have learnt them under a kingly government; as the Israelites learnt a great deal of wickedness in Egypt. And as they, when they were brought into the wilderness, and lived under the immediate government of God himself, could hardly reform, just so it is with us. But there are good hopes of many amongst us; that I may not here celebrate those men who are eminent for their piety and virtue and love of the truth; of which sort I persuade myself we have as great a number, as where you think there are most such. “But they have laid a heavy yoke upon the English nation:” what if they have, upon those of them that endeavoured to lay a heavy yoke upon all the rest? upon those that have deserved to be put under the hatches? As for the rest, I question not but they are very well content to be at the expense of maintaining their own liberty, the public treasury being exhausted by the civil wars. Now he betakes himself to the fabulous rabbins again: he asserts frequently, that kings are bound by no laws; and yet he proves, that according to the sense of the rabbins, “a king may be guilty of treason, by suffering an invasion upon the rights of his crown.” So kings are bound by laws, and they are not bound by them; they may be criminals, and yet they may not be so.
This man contradicts himself so perpetually, that contradiction and he seem to be of kin to one another. You say that God himself put many kingdoms under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. I confess he did so for a time, Jer. xxvii. 7, but do you make appear, if you can, that he put the English nation into a condition of slavery to Charles Stuart for a minute. I confess he suffered them to be enslaved by him for some time; but I never yet heard, that himself appointed it so to be. Or if you will have it so, that God shall be said to put a nation under slavery, when a tyrant prevails; why may he not as well be said to deliver them from his tyranny, when the people prevail and get the upper hand? Shall his tyranny be said to be of God, and not our liberty? There is no evil in the city that the Lord hath not done, Amos iii. So that famine, pestilence, sedition, war, all of them are of God; and is it therefore unlawful for a people afflicted with any of these plagues, to endeavour to get rid of them? Certainly they would do their utmost, though they know them to be sent by God, unless himself miraculously from heaven should command the contrary: and why may they not by the same reason rid themselves of a tyrant, if they are stronger than he? Why should we suppose his weakness to be appointed by God for the ruin and destruction of the commonwealth, rather than the power and strength of all the people for the good of the state? Far be it from all commonwealths, from all societies of freeborn men, to maintain not only such pernicious, but such stupid and senseless principles; principles that subvert all civil society, that to gratify a few tyrants, level all mankind with brutes; and by setting princes out of the reach of human laws, give them an equal power over both. I pass by those foolish dilemmas that you now make, which that you might take occasion to propose, you feign some or other to assert, that the “superlative power of princes is derived from the people;” though for my own part I do not at all doubt, but that all the power that any magistrates have is so. Hence Cicero, in his Orat. pro Flacco, “Our wise and holy ancestors,” says he, “appointed those things to obtain for laws, that the people enacted.” And hence it is, that Lucius Crassus, an excellent Roman orator, and at that time president of the senate, when in a controversy betwixt them and the common people, he asserted their rights, “I beseech you, says he, suffer not us to live in subjection to any, but yourselves, to the entire body of whom we can and ought to submit.” For though the Roman senate governed the people, the people themselves had appointed them to be their governors, and had put that power into their hands. We read the term of Majesty more frequently applied to the people of Rome, than to their kings. Tully in Orat. pro Flancio, “it is the condition of all free people, (says he,) and especially of this people, the lord of all nations, by their votes to give or take away, to or from any, as themselves see cause. It is the duty of the magistrates patiently to submit to what the body of the people enact. Those that are not ambitious of honour, have the less obligation upon them to court the people: those that affect preferment, must not be weary of entreating them.” Should I scruple to call a king the servant of his people, when I hear the Roman senate, that reigned over so many kings, profess themselves to be but the people’s servants? You will object perhaps, and say, that all this is very true in a popular state; but the case was altered afterwards, when the regal law transferred all the people’s right unto Augustus and his successors. But what think you then of Tiberius, whom yourself confess to have been a very great tyrant, as he certainly was? Suetonius says of him, that when he was once called Lord or Master, though after the enacting of that Lex Regia, he desired the person that gave him that appellation, to forbear abusing him. How does this sound in your ears? a tyrant thinks one of his subjects abuses him in calling him Lord. The same emperor in one of his speeches to the senate, “I have said,” says he, “frequently, heretofore, and now I say it again, that a good prince, whom you have invested with so great a power as I am intrusted with, ought to serve the senate and the body of the people, and sometimes even particular persons; nor do I repent of having said so: I confess that you have been good, and just, and indulgent masters to me, and that you are yet so.” You may say, that he dissembled in all this, as he was a great proficient in the art of hypocrisy; but that is all one. No man endeavours to appear otherwise than he ought to be. Hence Tacitus tells us, that it was the custom in Rome for the emperors in the Circus, to worship the people; and that both Nero and other emperors practised it. Claudian in his panegyric upon Honorius mentions the same custom. By which sort of adoration what could possibly be meant, but that the emperors of Rome, even after the enacting of the Lex Regia, confessed the whole body of the people to be their superiors? But I find, as I suspected at first, and so I told ye, that you have spent more time and pains in turning over glossaries, and criticising upon texts, and propagating such like laborious trifles, than in reading sound authors so as to improve your knowledge by them. For had you been never so little versed in the writings of learned men in former ages, you would not have accounted an opinion new, and the product of some enthusiastic heads, which has been asserted and maintained by the greatest philosophers, and most famous politicians in the world. You endeavour to expose one Martin, who you tell us was a tailor, and one William a tanner; but if they are such as you describe them, I think they and you may very well go together; though they themselves would be able to instruct you, and unfold those mysterious riddles that you propose: as, “Whether or no they that in a monarchy would have the king but a servant to the commonwealth, will say the same thing of the whole body of the people in a popular state? And whether all the people serve in a democracy, or only some part or other serve the rest?” And when they have been an Œdipus to you, by my consent you shall be a sphinx to them in good earnest, and throw yourself headlong from some precipice or other, and break your neck; for else I am afraid you will never have done with your riddles and fooleries. You ask, “Whether or no, when St. Paul names kings, he meant the people?” I confess St. Paul commands us to pray for kings, but he had commanded us to pray for the people before, ver. 1. But there are some for all that, both among kings and common people, that we are forbidden to pray for; and if a man may not so much as be prayed for, may he not be punished? What should hinder? But, “when Paul wrote this epistle, he that reigned was the most profligate person in the world.” That is false. For Ludovicus Capellus makes it evident, that this epistle likewise was writ in Claudius’s time. When St. Paul has occasion to speak of Nero, he calls him not a king, but a lion; that is, a wild, savage beast, from whose jaws he is glad he was delivered, 2 Tim. iv. So that it is for kings, not for beasts, that we are to pray, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. Kings and their interest are not the things here intended to be advanced and secured; it is the public peace, godliness, and honesty, whose establishment we are commanded to endeavour after, and to pray for. But is there any people in the world, that would not choose rather to live an honest and careful life, though never free from war and troubles, in the defence of themselves and their families, whether against tyrants or enemies, (for I make no difference,) than under the power of a tyrant or an enemy, to spin out a life equally troublesome, accompanied with slavery and ignominy? That the latter is the more desirable of the two, I will prove by a testimony of your own; not because I think your authority worth quoting, but that all men may observe how double-tongued you are, and how mercenary your pen is. “Who would not rather,” say you, “bear with those dissensions, that through the emulation of great men often happen in an aristocratical government, than live under the tyrannical government of one, where nothing but certain misery and ruin is to be looked for? The people of Rome preferred their commonwealth, though never so much shattered with civil broils, before the intolerable yoke of their emperors. When a people, to avoid sedition, submits to a monarchy, and finds by experience, that this is the worst evil of the two, they often desire to return to their former government again.” These are your own words, and more you have to this purpose in that discourse concerning bishops, which under a feigned name you wrote against Petavius the Jesuit; though yourself are more a Jesuit than he, nay worse than any of that crew. We have already heard the sense of the Scripture upon this subject; and it has been worth our while to take some pains to find it out. But perhaps it will not be so to inquire into the judgment of the fathers, and to ransack their volumes: for if they assert any thing, which is not warranted by the word of God, we may safely reject their authority, be it never so great; and particularly that expression that you allege out of Irenæus, “that God in his providence orders it so, that such kings reign as are suitable to and proper for the people they are to govern, all circumstances considered.” That expression, I say, is directly contrary to Scripture. For though God himself declared openly, that it was better for his own people to be governed by judges, than by kings, yet he left it to them to change that form of government for a worse, if they would themselves. And we read frequently, that when the body of the people has been good, they have had a wicked king, and contrariwise that a good king has sometimes reigned, when the people have been wicked. So that wise and prudent men are to consider and see what is profitable and fit for the people in general; for it is very certain, that the same form of government is not equally convenient for all nations, nor for the same nation at all times; but sometimes one, sometimes another may be more proper, according as the industry and valour of the people may increase or decay. But if you deprive the people of this liberty of setting up what government they like best among themselves, you take that from them, in which the life of all civil liberty consists. Then you tell us of Justin Martyr, of his humble and submissive behaviour to the Antonines, those best of emperors; as if any body would not do the like to princes of such moderation as they were. “How much worse Christians are we in these days, than those were! They were content to live under a prince of another religion.” Alas! they were private persons, and infinitely inferior to the contrary party in strength and number. “But now papists will not endure a protestant prince, nor protestants one that is popish.” You do well and discreetly in showing yourself to be neither papist nor protestant. And you are very liberal in your concessions; for now you confess, that all sorts of Christians agree in that very thing, that you alone take upon you with so much impudence and wickedness, to cry down and oppose. And how unlike those fathers that you commend, do you show yourself: they wrote apologies for the Christians to heathen princes; you in defence of a wicked popish king, against Christians and protestants. Then you entertain us with a number of impertinent quotations out of Athenagoras and Tertullian: things that we have already heard out of the writings of the apostles, much more clearly and intelligibly exprest. But Tertullian was quite of a different opinion from yours, of a king’s being a lord and master over his subjects: which you either knew not, or wickedly dissembled. For he, though he were a Christian, and directed his discourse to a heathen emperor, had the confidence to tell him, that an emperor ought not to be called Lord. “Augustus himself, says he, that formed this empire, refused that appellation; it is a title proper to God only. Not but that the title of Lord and Master may in some sense be ascribed to the emperor: but there is a peculiar sense of that word, which is proper to God only; and in that sense, I will not ascribe it to the emperor. I am the emperor’s freeman. God alone is my Lord and Master.” And the same author, in the same discourse; “how inconsistent,” says he, “are those two appellations, Father of his country, and Lord and Master!”
And now I wish you much joy of Tertullian’s authority, whom it had been a great deal better you had let alone. But Tertullian calls them parricides that slew Domitian. And he does well, for so they were, his wife and servants conspired against him. And they set one Parthenius and Stephanus, who were accused for concealing part of the public treasure, to make him away. If the senate and the people of Rome had proceeded against him according to the custom of their ancestors; had given judgment of death against him, as they did once against Nero; and had made search for him to put him to death; do ye think Tertullian would have called them parricides? If he had, he would have deserved to be hanged, as you do. I give the same answer to your quotation out of Origen, that I have given already to what you have cited out of Irenæus. Athanasius indeed says, that kings are not accountable before human tribunals. But I wonder who told Athanasius this! I do not hear, that he produces any authority from Scripture, to confirm this assertion. And I will rather believe kings and emperors themselves, who deny that they themselves have any such privilege, than I will Athanasius. Then you quote Ambrosius, who after he had been a proconsul, and after that became a catechumen, at last got into a bishopric: but for his authority, I say, that his interpretation of those words of David, “against thee only I have sinned,” is both ignorant and adulatory. He was willing all others should be enthralled to the emperor, that he might enthral the emperor to himself. We all know with what a papal pride and arrogancy he treated Theodosius the emperor, how he took upon him to declare him guilty of that massacre at Thessalonica, and to forbid him coming into the church: how miserably raw in divinity, and unacquainted with the doctrine of the gospel, he showed himself upon that occasion; when the emperor fell down at his feet, he commanded him to get him out of the porch. At last, when he was received again into the communion of the church, and had offered, because he continued standing near to the altar, the magisterial prelate commanded him out of the rails: “O Emperor,” says he, “these inner places are for the priests only, it is not lawful for others to come within them!” Does this sound like the behaviour of a minister of the gospel, or like that of a Jewish high-priest? And yet this man, such as we hear he was, would have the emperor ride other people, that himself might ride him, which is a common trick of almost all ecclesiastics. With words to this purpose, he put back the emperor as inferior to himself; “You rule over men,” saith he, “that are partakers of the same nature, and fellow-servants with yourself: for there is only one Lord and King over all, to wit, the Creator of all.” This is very pretty! This piece of truth, which the craft and flattery of clergymen has all along endeavoured to suppress and obscure, was then brought to light by the furious passion, or to speak more mildly, by the ignorant indiscreet zeal, of one of them. After you have displayed Ambrose’s ignorance, you show your own, or rather, vent a heresy in affirming point blank, that “under the Old Testament, there was no such thing as forgiveness of sins upon the account of Christ’s sufferings, since David confessed his transgression, saying, against thee only have I sinned,” Psal. lviii. It is the orthodox tenet, that there never was any remission of sins, but by the blood of the Lamb that was slain from the beginning of the world. I know not whose disciple you are, that set up for a broacher of new heresies: but certain I am, that that great divine’s disciple, whom you are so angry with, did not mistake himself, when he said, that any one of David’s subjects might have said, “Against thee only have I sinned,” as properly, and with as much right, as David himself. Then you quote St. Austin, and produce a company of Hipponensian divines. What you allege out of St. Austin makes not at all against us. We confess that as the prophet Daniel has it, it is God that changeth times, sets up one kingdom, and pulls down another; we only desire to have it allowed us, that he makes use of men as his instruments. If God alone gave a kingdom to King Charles, God alone has taken it from him again, and given it to the parliament, and to the people. If therefore our allegiance was due to King Charles, because God had given him a kingdom; for the same reason it is now due to the present magistracy. For yourself confess, that God has given our magistrates such power as he uses to give to wicked princes, for the punishment of the nation. And the consequence of this will be, that according to your own opinion, our present magistrates being raised and appointed by God, cannot lawfully be deposed by any, but God himself. Thus you overthrow the opinion you pretend to maintain, which is a thing very frequent with you; your apology for the king carries its death wound in it. You have attained to such a prodigious degree of madness and stupidity, as to prove it unlawful upon any account whatsoever, to lift up one’s finger against magistrates, and with the very next breath to affirm, that is the duty of their subjects to rise up in rebellion against them.
You tell us, that St. Jerom calls Ishmael, that slew Gedaliah, a parricide or traitor: and it is very true, that he was so: for Gedaliah was deputy governor of Judæa, a good man, and slain by Ishmael without any cause. The same author in his comment upon the book of Ecclesiastes, says, that Solomon’s command to keep the king’s commandment, is the same with St. Paul’s doctrine upon the same subject; and deserves commendation for having made a more moderate construction of that text, than most of his contemporaries. You say, you will forbear inquiring into the sentiments of learned men that lived since St. Austin’s time: but to show that you had rather dispense with a lie, than not quote any author that you think makes for you, in the very next period but one you produce the authorities of Isidore, Gregory, and Otho, Spanish and Dutch authors, that lived in the most barbarous and ignorant ages of all; whose authorities, if you knew how much we despise, you would not have told a lie to have quoted them. But would you know the reason why he dares not come so low as to the present times? why he does as it were hide himself, and disappear, when he comes towards our own times? The reason is, because he knows full well, that as many eminent divines as there are of the reformed churches, so many adversaries he would have to encounter. Let him take up the cudgels, if he thinks fit; he will quickly find himself run down with innumerable authorities out of Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, Bucer, Martyr, Paræus, and the rest. I could oppose you with testimonies out of divines, that have flourished even in Leyden. Though that famous university and renowned commonwealth, which has been as it were a sanctuary for liberty, those fountains and streams of all polite learning, have not yet been able to wash away that slavish rust that sticks to you, and infuse a little humanity into you. Finding yourself destitute of any assistance or help from orthodox protestant divines, you have the impudence to betake yourself to the Sorbonists, whose college you know is devoted to the Romish religion, and consequently but of very weak authority amongst protestants. We are willing to deliver so wicked an assertor of tyranny as you, to be drowned in the Sorbonne, as being ashamed to own so despicable a slave as you show yourself to be, by maintaining that the whole body of a nation is not equal in power to the most slothful degenerate prince that may be. You labour in vain to lay that upon the pope, which all free nations, and all orthodox divines, own and assert. But the pope and his clergy, when they were in a low condition, and but of small account in the world, were the first authors of this pernicious absurd doctrine of yours; and when by preaching such doctrine they had gotten power into their own hands, they became the worst of tyrants themselves. Yet they engaged all princes to them by the closest tie imaginable, persuading the world, that was now besotted with their superstition, that it was unlawful to depose princes, though never so bad, unless the pope dispensed with their allegiance to them, by absolving them from their oaths. But you avoid orthodox writers, and endeavour to burden the truth with prejudice and calumny, by making the pope the first assertor of what is a known and a common received opinion amongst them; which if you did not do it cunningly, you would make yourself appear to be neither papist nor protestant, but a kind of mongrel Idumean Herodian. For as they of old adored one most inhuman bloody tyrant for the Messias, so you would have the world fall down and worship all. You boast, that “you have confirmed your opinion by the testimonies of the fathers that flourished in the four first centuries; whose writings only are evangelical, and according to the truth of the Christian religion.” This man is past all shame! how many things did they preach, how many things have they published, which Christ and his apostles never taught! How many things are there in their writings, in which all protestant divines differ from them! But what is that opinion that you have confirmed by their authorities? “Why, that evil princes are appointed by God.” Allow that, as all other pernicious and destructive things are. What then? why, “that therefore they have no judge but God alone, that they are above all human laws; that there is no law, written or unwritten, no law of nature, nor of God, to call them to account before their own subjects.” But how comes that to pass? Certain I am that there is no law against it: no penal law excepts kings. And all reason and justice requires, that those that offend, should be punished according to their deserts, without respect of persons. Nor have you hitherto produced any one law, either written or unwritten, of God or of nature, by which this is forbidden. What stands in the way then? Why may not kings be proceeded against? Why, “because they are appointed by God, be they never so bad.” I do not know whether I had best call you a knave, or a fool, or ignorant, unlearned barbarian. You show yourself a vile wretch, by propagating a doctrine so destructive and pernicious; and you are a fool for backing it with such silly arguments. God says in Isa. liv. “I have created the slayer to destroy.” Then by your reason a murderer is above the laws. Turn this topsyturvy, and consider it as long as you will, you will find the consequence to be the same with your own. For the pope is appointed by God, just as tyrants are, and set up for the punishment of the church, which I have already demonstrated out of your own writings. “And yet,” say you, Wal. Mes. pag. 412, “because he has raised his primacy to an insufferable height of power so as that he has made it neither better nor worse than plain downright tyranny, both he and his bishops may be put down more lawfully, than they were at first set up.” You tell us, that the pope and the bishops (though God in his wrath appointed them) may yet lawfully be rooted out of the church, because they are tyrants; and yet you deny that it is lawful to depose a tyrant in the commonwealth, and that for no other reason, than because God appointed him, though he did it in his anger. What ridiculous stuff is this! for whereas the pope cannot hurt a man’s conscience against his own will, for in the consciences of men it is that his kingdom consists, yet you are for deposing him as a grievous tyrant, in whose own power it is not to be a tyrant; and yet you maintain, that a tyrant properly and truly so called, a tyrant that has all our lives and estates within his reach, without whose assistance the pope himself could not exercise his tyranny in the church, ought for conscience sake to be borne withal and submitted to. These assertions compared with one another betray your childishness to that degree, that no man can read your books, but must of necessity take notice of your ignorance, rashness, and incogitancy. But you allege another reason, “human affairs would be turned upside down.” They would so, and be changed for the better. Human affairs would certainly be in a deplorable condition, if being once troubled and disordered, there was a necessity of their continuing always so. I say, they would be changed for the better, for the king’s power would revert to the people, from whom it was first derived, and conferred upon one of themselves; and the power would be transferred from him that abused it, to them that were prejudiced and injured by the abuse of it; than which nothing can be more just, for there could not well be an umpire in such a case; who would stand to the judgment of a foreigner? all mankind would equally be subject to the laws; there would be no gods of flesh and blood: which kind of deities whoever goes about to set up in the world, they are equally injurious to church and commonwealth. Now I must turn your own weapons upon you again. You say, “there can be no greater heresy than this, to set up one man in Christ’s seat. These two are infallible marks of Antichrist, infallibility in spirituals, and omnipotence in temporals.” Apparat. ad Prim. page 171. Do you pretend that kings are infallible? If you do not, why do you make them omnipotent? And how comes it to pass, that an unlimited power in one man should be accounted less destructive to temporal things, than it is to ecclesiastical? Or do you think, that God takes no care at all of civil affairs? If he takes none himself, I am sure he does not forbid us to take care which way they go. If he does take any care about them, certainly he would have the same reformation made in the commonwealth, that he would have made in the church, especially it being obvious to every man’s experience, that infallibility and omnipotency being arrogated to one man, are equally mischievous in both. God has not so modelled the government of the world as to make it the duty of any civil community to submit to the cruelties of tyrants, and yet to leave the church at liberty to free themselves from slavery and tyranny; nay, rather quite contrary, he has put no arms into the church’s hand but those of patience and innocence, prayer and ecclesiastical discipline; but in the commonwealth, all the magistracy are by him entrusted with the preservation and execution of the laws, with the power of punishing and revenging; he has put the sword into their hands. I cannot but smile at this man’s preposterous whimsies; in ecclesiastics he is Helvidius, Thraseas, a perfect tyrannicide. In politics no man more a lackey and slave to tyrants than he. If his doctrine hold, not we only that have deposed our king, but the protestants in general, who against the minds of their princes have rejected the pope, are all rebels alike. But I have confounded him long enough with his own arguments. Such is the nature of the beast, lest his adversary should be unprovided, he himself furnishes him with weapons. Never did any man give his antagonist greater advantages against himself than he does. They that he has to do withal, will be sooner weary of pursuing him, than he of flying.
Perhaps you think, Salmasius, that you have done enough to ingratiate yourself with princes; that you have deserved well of them: but if they consider their own interest, and take their measures according to what it really is, not according to the false gloss that your flatterers have put upon it, there never was any man in the world that deserved so ill of them as you, none more destructive and pernicious to them and their interest in the whole world than yourself. For by exalting the power of kings above all human laws, you tell all mankind that are subject to such a government, that they are no better than slaves, and make them but the more desirous of liberty by discovering to them their error, and putting that into their heads, that they never so much as dreamt of before, to wit, that they are slaves to their princes. And without doubt such a sort of government will be more irksome and unsufferable, by how much the more you persuade the world, that it is not by the allowance and submission of nations, that kings have obtained this exorbitant power; but that is absolutely essential to such a form of government, and of the nature of the thing itself. So that whether you make the world of your mind or no, your doctrine must needs be mischievous and destructive, and such as cannot but be abhorred of all princes. For if you should work men into a persuasion, that the right of kings is without all bounds, they would no longer be subject to a kingly government; if you miss of your aim, yet you make men weary of kings, by telling them that they assume such a power to themselves, as of right belonging to them. But if princes will allow of those principles that I assert; if they will suffer themselves and their own power to be circumscribed by laws, instead of an uncertain, weak, and violent government, full of cares and fears, they will reign peaceably, quietly, and securely. If they slight this counsel of mine, though wholesome in itself, because of the meanness of the author, they shall know that it is not my counsel only, but what was anciently advised by one of the wisest of kings. For Lycurgus king of Lacedemon, when he observed that his own relations that were princes of Argos and Messana, by endeavouring to introduce an arbitrary government had ruined themselves and their people; he, that he might benefit his country, and secure the succession to his own family, could think upon no better expedient, than to communicate his power to the senate, and taking the great men of the realm into part of the government with himself; and by this means the crown continued in his family for many ages. But whether it was Lycurgus, or, as some learned men are of opinion Theopompus, that introduced that mixed form of government among the Lacedemonians, somewhat more than a hundred years after Lycurgus’s time,) of whom it is recorded, that he used to boast, that by advancing the power of the senate above that of the prince, he had settled the kingdom upon a sure foundation, and was like to leave it in a lasting and durable condition to his posterity,) which of them soever it was, I say, he has left a good example to modern princes; and was as creditable a counsellor, as his counsel was safe. For that all men should submit to any one man, so as to acknowledge a power in him superior to all human laws, neither did any law ever enact, nor indeed was it possible that any such law should ever be; for that cannot be said to be a law that strikes at the root of all laws, and takes them quite away: it being apparent that your positions are inconsistent with the nature of all laws, being such as render them no laws at all. You endeavour notwithstanding, in this fourth chapter, to make good by examples, what you have not been able to do by any reasons that you have alleged hitherto. Let us consider whether your examples help your cause; for they many times make things plain, which the laws are either altogether silent in, or do but hint at.
We will begin first with the Jews, whom we suppose to have known most of the mind of God; and then, according to your own method, we will come to the times of Christianity. And first, for those times in which the Israelites being subject to kings, who, or howsoever they were, did their utmost to cast that slavish yoke from off their necks. Eglon the king of Moab had made a conquest of them; the seat of his empire was at Jericho; he was no contemner of the true God; when his name was mentioned, he rose from his seat: the Israelites had served him eighteen years; they sent a present to him, not as to an enemy, but to their own prince; notwithstanding which outward veneration and profession of subjection they killed him by a wile, as an enemy to their country. You will say perhaps, that Ehud, who did that action, had a warrant from God for so doing. He had so, it is like; and what greater argument of its being a warrantable and praiseworthy action? God uses not to put men upon things that are unjust, treacherous, and cruel, but upon such things as are virtuous and laudable. But we read no where that there was any positive command from Heaven in the case. “The Israelites called upon God;” so did we. And God stirred up a Saviour for them; so he did for us. Eglon of a neighbouring prince became a prince of the Jews; of an enemy to them he became their king. Our gentleman of an English king became an enemy to the English nation; so that he ceased to be a king. Those capacities are inconsistent. No man can be a member of the state, and an enemy to it at the same time. Antony was never looked upon by the Romans as a consul, nor Nero as an emperor, after the senate had voted them both enemies. This Cicero tells us in his Fourth Philippic: “If Antony be a consul,” says-he, “Brutus is an enemy; but if Brutus be a saviour and preserver of the commonwealth, Antony is an enemy: none but robbers count him a consul.” By the same reason, say I, who but enemies to their country look upon a tyrant as a king? So that Eglon’s being a foreigner, and King Charles a prince of our own, will make no difference in the case; both being enemies and both tyrants, they are in the same circumstances. If Ehud killed him justly, we have done so too in putting our king to death. Samson that renowned champion of the Hebrews, though his countrymen blamed him for it, “Dost thou not know,” say they, “that the Philistines have dominion over us?” Yet against those Philistines, under whose dominion he was, he himself undertook a war in his own person, without any other help; and whether he acted in pursuance of a command from Heaven, or was prompted by his own valour only, or whatsoever inducement he had, he did not put to death one, but many, that tyrannized over his country, having first called upon God by prayer, and implored his assistance. So that Samson counted it no act of impiety, but quite contrary, to kill those that enslaved his country, though they had dominion over himself too; and though the greater part of his countrymen submitted to their tyranny. “But yet David, who was both a king and a prophet, would not take away Saul’s life, because he was God’s anointed.” Does it follow, that because David refused to do a thing, therefore we are obliged not to do that very thing? David was a private person, and would not kill the king; is that a precedent for a parliament, for a whole nation? David would not revenge his own quarrel, by putting his enemy to death by stealth; does it follow, that therefore the magistrates must not punish a malefactor according to law? He would not kill a king; must not an assembly of the states therefore punish a tyrant? he scrupled the killing of God’s anointed; must the people therefore scruple to condemn their own anointed? especially one that after having so long professed hostility against his own people, and washed off that anointing of his, whether sacred or civil, with the blood of his own subjects. I confess that those kings, whom God by his prophets anointed to be kings, or appointed to some special service, as he did Cyrus, Isa. xliv., may not improperly be called the Lord’s anointed: but all other princes, according to the several ways of their coming to the government, are the people’s anointed, or the army’s, or many times the anointed of their own faction only.
But taking it for granted, that all kings are God’s anointed, you can never prove, that therefore they are above all laws, and not to be called in question, what villainies soever they commit. What if David laid a charge upon himself and other private persons, not to stretch forth their hands against the Lord’s anointed? Does not God himself command princes not so much as “to touch his anointed?” which were no other than his people, Psal. cv. He preferred that anointing, wherewith his people were anointed, before that of kings, if any such thing were. Would any man offer to infer from this place of the Psalmist, that believers are not to be called in question, though they offend against the laws, because God commands princes not to touch his anointed? King Solomon was about to put to death Abiathar the priest, though he were God’s anointed too; and did not spare him because of his anointing, but because he had been his father’s friend. If that sacred and civil anointing, wherewith the high priest of the Jews was anointed, whereby he was not only constituted high priest, but a temporal magistrate in many cases, did not exempt him from the penalty of the laws; how comes a civil anointing only to exempt a tyrant? But you say, “Saul was a tyrant, and worthy of death:” What then? It does not follow, that because he deserved it, that David in the circumstances he was then under had power to put him to death without the people’s authority, or the command of the magistracy. But was Saul a tyrant? I wish you would say so; indeed you do so, though you had said before in your Second Book, page 32, That “he was no tyrant, but a good king, and chosen of God.” Why should false accusers, and men guilty of forgery, be branded, and you escape without the like ignominious mark? For they practise their villainies with less treachery and deceit, than you write and treat of matters of the greatest moment. Saul was a good king, when it served your turn to have him so; and now he is a tyrant because it suits with your present purpose.
But it is no wonder, that you make a tyrant of a good king; for your principles look as if they were invented for no other design, than to make all good kings so. But yet David, though he would not put to death his father-in-law, for causes and reasons that we have nothing to do withal, yet in his own defence, he raised an army, took and possessed cities that belonged to Saul, and would have defended Keilah against the king’s forces, had he not understood, that the citizens would be false to him. Suppose Saul had besieged the town, and himself had been the first that had scaled the walls; do you think David would presently have thrown down his arms, and have betrayed all those that assisted him to his anointed enemy? I believe not. What reason have we to think David would have stuck to do what we have done, who when his occasions and circumstances so required, proffered his assistance to the Philistines, who were then the professed enemies of his country, and did that against Saul, which I am sure we should never have done against our tyrant? I am weary of mentioning your lies, and ashamed of them. You say, it is a maxim of the English, “That enemies are rather to be spared than friends;” and that therefore “we conceived we ought not to spare our king’s life, because he had been our friend.” You impudent liar, what mortal ever heard this whimsy before you invented it? But we will excuse it. You could not bring in that threadbare flourish, of our being more fierce than our own mastiffs, (which now comes in the fifth time, and will as oft again before we come to the end of your book,) without some such introduction. We are not so much more fierce than our own mastiffs, as you are more hungry than any dog whatsoever, who return so greedily to what you have vomited up so often. Then you tell us, that David commanded the Amalekite to be put to death, who pretended to have killed Saul. But that instance, neither in respect to the fact, nor the person, has any affinity with what we are discoursing of. I do not well understand what cause David had to be so severe upon that man, for pretending to have hastened the king’s death, and in effect to have put him out of his pain, when he was dying; unless it were to take away from the Israelites all suspicion of his own having been instrumental in it, whom they might look upon as one that had revolted to the Philistines, and was part of their army. Just such another action as this of David’s do all men blame in Domitian, who put to death Epaphroditus, because he had helped Nero to kill himself. After all this, as another instance of your impudence, you call him not only the “anointed of the Lord,” but “the Lord’s Christ,” who a little before you said was a tyrant, and acted by the impulse of some evil spirit. Such mean thoughts you have of that reverend name, that you are not ashamed to give it to a tyrant, whom you yourself confess to have been possessed with the devil. Now I come to that precedent, from which every man that is not blind, must needs infer the right of the people to be superior to that of kings. When Solomon was dead, the people assembled themselves at Sichem to make Rehoboam king. Thither himself went, as one that stood for the place, that he might not seem to claim the succession as his inheritance, nor the same right over a freeborn people, that every man has over his father’s sheep and oxen. The people propose conditions, upon which they were willing to admit him to the government. He desires three days’ time to advise; he consults with the old men; they tell him no such thing, as that he had an absolute right to succeed, but persuade him to comply with the people, and speak them fair, it being in their power whether he should reign or not. Then he advises with the young men that were brought up with him; they, as if Salmasius’s phrenzy had taken them, thunder this right of kings into his ears; persuade him to threaten the people with whips and scorpions: and he answered the people as they advised him. When all Israel saw, that the king hearkened not to them, then they openly protest the right of the people, and their own liberty; “What portion have we in David? To thy tents, O Israel! now look to thine own house, David.” When the king sent Adoram to them, they stoned him with stones, and perhaps they would not have stuck to have served the king himself so, but he made haste and got out of the way. The next news is of a great army raised by Rehoboam, to reduce the Israelites to their allegiance. God forbids him to proceed, “Go not up,” says he, “to war against your brethren the children of Israel; for this thing is of me.” Now consider, heretofore the people had desired a king; God was displeased with them for it, but yet permitted them to make a king according to that right that all nations have to appoint their own governors. Now the people reject Rehoboam from ruling them; and this God not only suffers them to do, but forbids Rehoboam to make war against them for it, and stops him in his undertaking; and teaches him withal, that those that had revolted from him were not rebels in so doing; but that he ought to look upon them as brethren. Now recollect yourself: you say, that all kings are of God, and that therefore the people ought not to resist them, be they never such tyrants. I answer you, the convention of the people, their votes, their acts, are likewise of God, and that by the testimony of God himself in this place; and consequently according to your argument, by the authority of God himself, princes ought not to resist the people. For as certain as it is, that kings are of God, and whatever argument you may draw from thence to enforce a subjection and obedience to them: so certain is it, that free assemblies of the body of the people are of God, and that naturally affords the same argument for their right of restraining princes from going beyond their bounds, and rejecting them if there be occasion; nor is their so doing a justifiable cause of war, any more than the people of Israel’s rejecting Rehoboam was. You ask why the people did not revolt from Solomon? Who but you would ask such an impertinent question? You see they did revolt from a tyrant, and were neither punished nor blamed for it. It is true, Solomon fell into some vices, but he was not therefore a tyrant; he made amends for his vices by many excellent virtues, that he was famous for, by many benefits which accrued to the nation of the Jews by his go vernment. But admit that he had been a tyrant: many times the circumstances of a nation are such that the people will not, and many times such that they cannot, depose a tyrant. You see they did it when it was in their power. “But,” say you, “Jeroboam’s act was ever had in detestation; it was looked upon as an unjust revolt from a lawful prince; he and his successors were accounted rebels.” I confess we find his revolt from the true worship of God often found fault with; but I no where find him blamed for revolting from Rehoboam; and his successors are frequently spoken of as wicked princes, but not as rebels. “Acting contrary to law and right,” say you, “cannot introduce or establish a right.” I pray, what becomes then of your right of kings? Thus do you perpetually baffle yourself. You say, “Adulteries, murders, thefts are daily committed with impunity.” Are you not aware, that here you give an answer to your own question, how it comes to pass, that tyrants do so often escape unpunished? You say, “Those kings were rebels, and yet the prophets do no where dissuade the people from their allegiance.” And why do you, you rascally false prophet, endeavour to persuade the people of England not to yield obedience to their present magistrates, though in your opinion they are rebels? “This English faction of robbers,” say you, “allege for themselves, that by some immediate voice from Heaven, they were put upon their bloody enterprise.” It is notoriously evident, that you were distracted when you wrote these lines; for as you have put the words together, they are neither Latin, nor sense. And that the English pretend to any such warrant, as a justification of their actions, is one of those many lies and fictions, that your book is full of. But I proceed to urge you with examples. Libna, a great city, revolted from Joram, because he had forsaken God: it was the king therefore that was guilty, not the city, nor is the city blamed for it. He that considers the reason that is given why that city rejected his government, must conclude, that the Holy Ghost rather approves of what they did than condemns them for it. “These kind of revolts are no precedents,” say you. But why were you then so vain, as to promise in the beginning of this chapter, that you would argue from examples, whereas all the examples that you allege, are mere negatives, which prove nothing? and when we urge examples that are solid and positive, you say they are no precedents. Who would endure such a way of arguing? You challenged us at precedents; we produced them; and what do you do? you hang back, and get out of the way. I proceed: Jehu, at the command of a prophet, slew a king; nay, he ordered the death of Ahaziah, his own liege prince. If God would not have tyrants put to death by their own subjects, if it were a wicked thing so to do, a thing of a bad example; why did God himself command it? If he commanded it, it was a lawful, commendable, and a praiseworthy action. It was not therefore lawful to kill a tyrant, because God commanded it; but God commanded it, because, antecedently to his command, it was a justifiable and a lawful action. Again, Jehoiada the high priest did not scruple to depose Athaliah, and kill her, though she had been seven years in actual possession of the crown. “But,” say you, “she took upon her the government, when she had no right to it.” And did not you say yourself, but a while ago, “that Tiberius assumed the sovereignty, when it belonged not at all to him?” And yet you then affirmed, that, according to our Saviour’s doctrine, we ought to yield obedience to such tyrants as he was. It were a most ridiculous thing to imagine, that a prince, who gets in by usurpation, may lawfully be deposed; but one that rules tyrannically may not. “But,” say you, “Athaliah could not possibly reign according to the law of the Jewish kingdom, ‘Thou shalt set over thee a king,’ says God Almighty; he does not say, Thou shalt set over thee a queen.” If this argument have any weight, I may as well say, the command of God was, that the people should set over themselves a king, not a tyrant. So that I am even with you. Amazias was a slothful idolatrous prince, and was put to death, not by a few conspirators; but rather, it should seem, by the nobility, and by the body of the people. For he fled from Jerusalem, had none to stand by him, and they pursued him to Lachish: they took counsel against him, says the history, because he had forsaken God: and we do not find that Azarias his son prosecuted those that had cut off his father. You quote a great many frivolous passages out of the rabbins, to prove that the kings of the Jews were superior to the Sanhedrim. You do not consider Zekediah’s own words, Jer. xxxviii. “The king is not he that can do any thing against you.” So that this was the prince’s own style. Thus he confessed himself inferior to the great council of the realm, “Perhaps,” say you, “he meant, that he durst not deny them any thing for fear of sedition.” But what does your perhaps signify, whose most positive asserting any thing is not worth a louse? For nothing in nature can be more fickle and inconsistent than you are. How oft you have appeared in this discourse inconsistent with yourself; unsaying with one breath what you have said with another? Here, again, you make comparisons betwixt King Charles, and some of the good kings of Judah. You speak contemptibly of David, as if he were not worthy to come in competition with him. “Consider David,” say you, “an adulterer, a murderer; King Charles was guilty of no such crimes. Solomon his son, who was accounted wise,” &c. Who can with patience hear this filthy, rascally fool, speak so irreverently of persons eminent both in greatness and piety? Dare you compare King David with King Charles; a most religious king and prophet, with a superstitious prince, and who was but a novice in the Christian religion; a most prudent wise prince with a weak one; a valiant prince with a cowardly one; finally, a most just prince with a most unjust one? Have you the impudence to commend his chastity and sobriety, who is known to have committed all manner of lewdness in company with his confidant the duke of Buckingham? It were to no purpose to inquire into the private actions of his life, who publicly at plays would embrace and kiss the ladies lasciviously, and handle virgins’ and matrons’ breasts, not to mention the rest. I advise you therefore, you counterfeit Plutarch, to abstain from such like parallels, lest I be forced to publish those things concerning King Charles, which I am willing to conceal.
Hitherto we have entertained ourselves with what the people of the Jews have acted or attempted against tyrants, and by what right they did it in those times, when God himself did immediately, as it were, by his voice from heaven govern their commonwealth. The ages that succeeded, do not afford us any authority, as from themselves, but confirm us in our opinion by their imitating the actions of their forefathers. For after the Babylonish captivity, when God did not give any new command concerning the crown, though the royal line was not extinct, we find the people return to the old Mosaical form of government again. They were one while tributaries to Antiochus, king of Syria; yet when he enjoined them things that were contrary to the law of God, they resisted him, and his deputies, under the conduct of their priests, the Maccabees, and by force regained their former liberty. After that, whoever was accounted most worthy of it, had the principality conferred upon him. Till at last, Harcanus the son of Simon, the brother of Judah, the Maccabee, having spoiled David’s sepulchre, entertained foreign soldiers, and began to invest the priesthood with a kind of regal power. After whose time his son Aristobulus was the first that assumed the crown; he was a tyrant indeed, and yet the people stirred not against him, which is no great wonder, for he reigned but one year. And he himself being overtaken with a grievous disease, and repenting of his own cruelty and wickedness, desired nothing more than to die, and had his wish. His brother Alexander succeeded him; “and against him,” you say, “the people raised no insurrection, though he were a tyrant too.” And this lie might have gone down with us, if Josephus’s history had not been extant. We should then have had no memory of those times, but what your Josippus would afford us, out of whom you transcribe a few senseless and useless apophthegms of the Pharisees. The history is thus: Alexander administered the public affairs ill, both in war and peace; and though he kept in pay great numbers of Pisidians and Cilicians, yet could he not protect himself from the rage of the people: but whilst he was sacrificing they fell upon him, and had almost smothered him with boughs of palm trees and citron trees. Afterward the whole nation made war upon him six years, during which time, when many thousands of the Jews had been slain, and he himself being at length desirous of peace, demanded of them, what they would have him to do to satisfy them; they told him nothing could do that but his blood, nay, that they should hardly pardon him after his death. This history you perceived was not for your purpose, and so you put it off with a few pharisaical sentences; when it had been much better, either to have let it quite alone, or to have given a true relation of it: but you trust to lies more than to the truth of your cause. Even those eight hundred Pharisees whom he commanded to be crucified, were of their number that had taken up arms against him. And they with the rest of the people had solemnly protested, that if they could subdue the king’s forces, and get his person into their power, they would put him to death. After the death of Alexander, his wife Alexandra took the government upon her, as Athaliah had formerly done, not according to law, (for you have confessed, that the laws of the Jews admitted not a female to wear the crown,) but she got it partly by force, for she maintained an army of foreigners; and partly by favour, for she had brought over the Pharisees to her interest, which sort of men were of the greatest authority with the people. Them she had made her own, by putting the power into their hands, and retaining to herself only the name. Just as the Scotch presbyterians lately allowed Charles the name of king, but upon condition, that he would let them be king in effect. After the death of Alexandra, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, her sons, contended for the sovereignty; Aristobulus was more industrious, and having a greater party, forced his elder brother out of the kingdom. A while after, when Pompey passed through Syria, in his return from the Mithridatic war; the Jews, supposing they had now an opportunity of regaining their liberty, by referring their cause to him, dispatch an embassy to him in their own names; they renounce both the brothers; complain that they had enslaved them. Pompey deposed Aristobulus, leaves the priesthood, and such a principality as the laws allowed, to Hyrcanus the elder. From that time forward he was called high priest, and Ethnarcha. After these times in the reign of Archelaus, the son of Herod, the Jews sent fifty ambassadors to Augustus Cæsar; accused Herod that was dead, and Archelaus his son, that then reigned; they deposed him as much as in them lay, and petitioned the emperor, that the people of the Jews might be governed without a king. Cæsar was moved at their entreaty, and did not appoint a king over them, but a governor, whom they called an ethnarch. When that governor had presided ten years over Judea, the people sent embassadors again to Rome, and accused him of tyranny. Cæsar heard them graciously; sent for the governor, condemned him to perpetual exile, and banished him to Vienna. Answer me, now, that people that accused their own princes, that desired their condemnation, that desired their punishment, would not they themselves rather, if it had been in their power, and that they might have had their choice; would not they, I say, rather have put them to death themselves; you do not deny, but that the people and the nobles often took up arms against the Roman deputies, when by their avarice, or their cruelty, their government was burdensome and oppressive. But you give a ridiculous reason for this, as all the rest of yours are. You say, “they were not yet accustomed to the yoke;” very like they were not, under Alexander, Herod, and his son. “But,” say you, “they would not raise war against Caius Cæsar, nor Petronius.” I confess they did not, and they did very prudently in abstaining, for they were not able. Will you hear their own words, on that occasion? “We will not make war,” say they, “because we cannot.” That thing, which they themselves acknowledge they refrained from for want of ability, you, false hypocrite, pretend they refrained from out of religion. Then with a great deal of toil you do just nothing at all; for you endeavour to prove out of the fathers, (though you had done it as superficially before) that kings are to be prayed for. That good kings are to be prayed for, no man denies; nay, and bad ones too, as long as there are any hopes of them: so we ought to pray for highwaymen, and for our enemies. But how? not that they may plunder, spoil, and murder us; but that they may repent. We pray both for thieves and enemies; and yet who ever dreamt, but that it was lawful to put the laws in execution against the one, and to fight against the other? I value not the Egyptian liturgy that you quote; but the priest that you mention, who prayed that Commodus might succeed his father in the empire, did not pray for any thing in my opinion, but imprecated all the mischiefs imaginable to the Roman state. You say, “that we have broken our faith, which we engaged more than once, in solemn assemblies, to preserve the authority and majesty of the king.” But because hereafter you are more large upon that subject, I shall pass it by in this place; and talk with you when you come to it again.
You return then to the fathers; concerning whom take this in short. Whatever they say, which is not warranted by the authority of the Scriptures, or by good reason, shall be of no more regard with me, than if any other ordinary man had said it. The first that you quote is Tertullian, who is no orthodox writer, notorious for many errors; whose authority, if he were of your opinion, would stand you in no stead. But what says he? He condemns tumults and rebellions. So do we. But in saying so, we do not mean to destroy all the people’s rights and privileges, all the authority of senates, the power of all magistrates, the king only excepted. The fathers declaim against seditions rashly raised by the giddy heat of the multitude; they speak not of the inferior magistrates, of senates, of parliaments encouraging the people, to a lawful opposing of a tyrant. Hence Ambrose, whom you quote; “Not to resist,” says he, “but to weep and to sigh, these are the bulwarks of the priesthood; what one is there of our little number, who dare say to the emperor, I do not like your laws? This is not allowed the priests, and shall laymen pretend to it?” It is evident of what sort of persons he speaks, viz. of the priests, and such of the people as are private men, not of the magistrates. You see by how weak and preposterous a reason he lighted a torch as it were to the dissensions that were afterwards to arise betwixt the laity and the clergy concerning even civil or temporal laws. But because you think you pressed hardest upon us with the examples of the primitive Christians; who though they were harassed as much as a people could be, yet, you say, “they never took up arms against the emperor:” I will make it appear, in the first place, that for the most part they could not: secondly, that whenever they could, they did: and thirdly, that whether they did or did not, they were such a sort of people, as that their example deserves to have little sway with us. First therefore, no man can be ignorant of this, that when the commonwealth of Rome expired, the whole and sovereign power in the empire was settled in the emperor; that all the soldiers were under his pay; insomuch that if the whole body of the senate, the equestrian order, and all the common people, had endeavoured to work a change, they might have made way for a massacre of themselves, but could not, in any probability retrieve their lost liberty: for the empire would still have continued, though they might perhaps have been so lucky as to have killed the emperor. This being so, what could the Christians do? It is true, there were a great many of them; but they were dispersed, they were generally persons of mean quality, and but of small interest in the world. How many of them would one legion have been able to keep in awe? Could so inconsiderable a body of men as they were in those days ever expect to accomplish an enterprise that many famous generals, and whole armies of tried soldiers, had lost their lives in attempting? When about 300 years after our Saviour’s nativity, which was near upon 20 years before the reign of Constantine the Great, when Dioclesian was emperor, there was but one Christian legion in the whole Roman empire; which legion, for no other reason than because it consisted of Christians, was slain by the rest of the army at a town in France called Octodurum. “The Christians,” say you, “conspired not with Cassius, with Albinus, with Niger;” and does Tertullian think they merited by not being willing to lose their lives in the quarrels of infidels? It is evident therefore, that the Christians could not free themselves from the yoke of the Roman emperors; and it could be no ways advantageous to their interest to conspire with infidels, as long as heathen emperors reigned. But that afterwards the Christians made war upon tyrants, and defended themselves by force of arms when there was occasion, and many times revenged upon tyrants their enormities, I am now about to make appear.
In the first place, Constantine, being a Christian, made war upon Licinius, and cut him off, who was his partner in the sovereign power, because he molested the eastern Christians; by which act of his he declared thus much at least, that one magistrate might punish another: for he for his subjects’ sake punished Licinius, who to all intents was as absolute in the empire as himself, and did not leave the vengeance to God alone: Licinius might have done the same to Constantine, if there had been the like occasion. So then, if the matter be not wholly reserved to God’s own tribunal, but that men have something to do in the case, why did not the parliament of England stand in the same relation to King Charles, that Constantine did to Licinius? The soldiers made Constantine what he was: but our laws have made our parliaments equal, nay, superior, to our kings. The inhabitants of Constantinople resisted Constantius an Arian emperor, by force of arms, as long as they were able; they opposed Hermogenes whom he had sent with a military power to depose Paul an orthodox bishop; the house whither he had betaken himself for security they fired about his ears, and at last killed him right out. Constans threatened to make war upon his brother Constantius, unless he would restore Paul and Athanasius to their bishoprics. You see those holy fathers, when their bishoprics were in danger, were not ashamed to stir up their prince’s own brother to make war upon him. Not long after, the Christian soldiers, who then made whom they would emperors, put to death Constans the son of Constantinus, because he behaved himself dissolutely and proudly in the government, and translated the empire to Magnentius. Nay, those very persons that saluted Julian by the name of emperor, against Constantius’s will, who was actually in possession of the empire, (for Julian was not then an apostate, but a virtuous and valiant person,) are they not amongst the number of those primitive Christians, whose example you propose to us for our imitation? Which action of theirs, when Constantius by his letters to the people very sharply and earnestly forbad, (which letters were openly read to them,) they all cried out unanimously, that themselves had but done what the provincial magistrates, the army, and the authority of the commonwealth had decreed. The same persons declared war against Constantius, and contributed as much as in them lay, to deprive him both of his government and his life. How did the inhabitants of Antioch behave themselves, who were none of the worst sort of Christians? I will warrant you they prayed for Julian, after he became an apostate, whom they used to rail at in his own presence, and scoffing at his long beard bid him make ropes of it: upon the news of whose death they offered public thanksgivings, made feasts, and gave other public demonstrations of joy. Do you think they used, when he was alive, to pray for the continuance of his life and health? Nay, is it not reported, that a Christian soldier, in his own army, was the author of his death? Sozomen, a writer of ecclesiastical history, does not deny it, but commends him that did it, if the fact were so. “For it is no wonder,” says he, “that some of his own soldiers might think within himself, that not only the Greeks, but all mankind hitherto had agreed, that it was a commendable action to kill a tyrant; and that they deserve all men’s praise, who are willing to die themselves to procure the liberty of all others: so that that soldier ought not rashly to be condemned, who in the cause of God and of religion, was so zealous and valiant.” These are the words of Sozomen, a good and religious man of that age. By which we may easily apprehend what the general opinion of pious men in those days was upon this point. Ambrose himself being commanded by the emperor Valentinian the younger, to depart from Milan, refused to obey him, but defended himself and the palace by force of arms against the emperor’s officers, and took upon him, contrary to his own doctrine, to resist the higher powers. There was a great sedition raised at Constantinople against the emperor Arcadius, more than once, by reason of Chrysostom’s exile. Hitherto I have shown how the primitive Christians behaved themselves towards tyrants; how not only the Christian soldiers, and the people, but the fathers of the church themselves, have both made war upon them, and opposed them with force, and all this before St. Austin’s time: for you yourself are pleased to go down no lower; and therefore I make no mention of Valentinian the son of Placidia, who was slain by Maximus a senator, for committing adultery with his wife; nor do I mention Avitus the emperor, whom, because he disbanded the soldiers, and betook himself wholly to a luxurious life, the Roman senate immediately deposed; because these things came to pass some years after St. Austin’s death. But all this I give you: suppose I had not mentioned the practice of the primitive Christians; suppose they never had stirred in opposition to tyrants; suppose they had accounted it unlawful so to do; I will make it appear, that they were not such persons, as that we ought to rely upon their authority, or can safely follow their example. Long before Constantine’s time the generality of Christians had lost much of the primitive sanctity and integrity both of their doctrine and manners. Afterwards, when he had vastly enriched the church, they began to fall in love with honour and civil power, and then the Christian religion went to wreck. First luxury and sloth, and then a great drove of heresies and immoralities, broke loose among them; and these begot envy, hatred, and discord, which abounded every where. At last, they that were linked together into one brotherhood by that holy band of religion, were as much at variance and strife among themselves as the most bitter enemies in the world could be. No reverence for, no consideration of, their duty was left among them: the soldiers and commanders of the army, as oft as they pleased themselves, created new emperors, and sometimes killed good ones as well as bad. I need not mention such as Verannio, Maximus, Eugenius, whom the soldiers all of a sudden advanced and made them emperors; nor Gratian, an excellent prince; nor Valentinian the younger, who was none of the worst, and yet were put to death by them. It is true, these things were acted by the soldiers, and soldiers in the field; but those soldiers were Christians, and lived in that age which you call evangelical, and whose example you propose to us for our imitation. Now you shall hear how the clergy managed themselves: pastors and bishops, and sometimes those very fathers whom we admire and extol to so high a degree, every one of whom was a leader of their several flocks; those very men, I say, fought for their bishoprics, as tyrants did for their sovereignty; sometimes throughout the city, sometimes in the very churches, sometimes at the altar, clergymen and laymen fought promiscuously; they slew one another, and great slaughters were made on both sides. You may remember Damasus and Urcisinus, who were contemporaries with Ambrose. It would be too long to relate the tumultuary insurrections of the inhabitants of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, especially those under the conduct and management of Cyrillus, whom you extol as a preacher up of obedience; when the monks in that fight, within the city, had almost slain Orestes, Theodosius’s deputy. Now who can sufficiently wonder at your impudence, or carelessness and neglect? “Till St. Austin’s time, say you, and lower down than the age that he lived in, there is not any mention extant in history, of any private person, of any commander, or of any number of conspirators, that have put their prince to death, or taken up arms against him.” I have named to you, out of known and approved histories, both private persons and magistrates, that with their own hands have slain not only bad but very good princes; whole armies of Christians, many bishops among them, that have fought against their own emperors. You produce some of the fathers, that with a great flourish of words, persuade or boast of obedience to princes: and I, on the other side, produce both those same fathers, and others besides them, that by their actions have declined obedience to their princes, even in lawful things; have defended themselves with a military force against them; others that have opposed forcibly, and wounded their deputies; and others that, being competitors for bishopries, have maintained civil wars against one another: as if it were lawful for Christians to wage war with Christians for a bishopric, and citizens with citizens; but unlawful to fight against a tyrant, in defence of our liberty, of our wives and children, and of our lives themselves. Who would own such fathers as these? You produce St. Austin, who, you say asserts, that “the power of a master over his servants, and a prince over his subjects, is one and the same thing.” But I answer; if St. Austin assert any such thing, he asserts what neither our Saviour, nor any of his apostles ever asserted; though for the confirmation of that assertion, than which nothing can be more false, he pretends to rely wholly upon their authority. The three or four last pages of this fourth chapter, are stuffed with mere lies, or things carelessly and loosely put together, that are little to the purpose: and that every one that reads them, will discover by what has been said already. For what concerns the pope, against whom you disclaim so loudly, I am content you should bawl at him, till you are hoarse. But whereas you endeavour to persuade the ignorant, that “all that called themselves Christians, yielded an entire obedience to princes, whether good or bad, till the papal power grew to that height, that it was acknowledged superior to that of the civil magistrate, and till he took upon him to absolve subjects from their allegiance:” I have sufficiently proved by many examples before and since the age that St. Augustine lived in, that nothing can be more false. Neither does that seem to have much more truth in it, which you say in the last place; viz. that pope Zachary absolved the Frenchmen from their oath of allegiance to their king. For Francis Hottoman, who was both a Frenchman and a lawyer, and a very learned man, in the 13th chapter of his Francogallia, denies that either Chilperic was deposed, or the kingdom translated to Pepin, by the pope’s authority; and he proves out of very ancient chronicles of that nation, that the whole affair was transacted in the great council of the kingdom, according to the original constitution of that government. Which being once done, the French histories, and pope Zachary himself, deny that there was any necessity of absolving his subjects from their allegiance. For not only Hottoman, but Guiccard, a very eminent historian of that nation, informs us, that the ancient records of the kingdom of France testify, that the subjects of that nation upon the first institution of kingship amongst them, reserved a power to themselves, both of choosing their princes, and of deposing them again, if they thought fit: and that the oath of allegiance, which they took, was upon this express condition; to wit, that the king should likewise perform what at his coronation he swore to do. So that if kings, by misgoverning the people committed to their charge, first broke their own oath to their subjects, there needs no pope to dispense with the people’s oaths; the kings themselves by their own perfidiousness having absolved their subjects. And finally. pope Zachary himself, in a letter of his to the French, which you yourself quote, renounces, and ascribes to the people that authority, which you say he assumes to himself: for, if a prince be accountable to the people, being beholden to them for his royalty; if the people, since they make kings, have the same right to depose them, as the very words of that pope are; it is not likely that the Frenchmen would by any oath depart in the least from that ancient right, or ever tie up their own hands, so as not to have the same right that their ancestors always had, to depose bad princes, as well as to honour and obey good ones; nor is it likely that they thought themselves obliged to yield that obedience to tyrants, which they swore to yield only to good princes. A people obliged to obedience by such an oath, is discharged of that obligation, when a lawful prince becomes a tyrant, or gives himself over to sloth and voluptuousness; the rule of justice, the very law of nature, dispenses with such a people’s allegiance. So that even by the pope’s own opinion, the people were under no obligation to yield obedience to Chilperic, and consequently had no need of a dispensation.
Though I am of opinion, Salmatius, and always was, that the law of God does exactly agree with the law of nature; so that having shown what the law of God is, with respect to princes, and what the practice has been of the people of God, both Jews and Christians, I have at the same time, and by the same discourse, made appear what is most agreeable to the law of nature: yet because you pretend “to confute us most powerfully by the law of nature,” I will be content to admit that to be necessary, which before I had thought would be superfluous; that in this chapter I may demonstrate, that nothing is more suitable to the law of nature, than that punishment be inflicted upon tyrants. Which if I do not evince, I will then agree with you, that likewise by the law of God they are exempt. I do not purpose to frame a long discourse of nature in general, and the original of civil societies; that argument has been largely handled by many learned men, both Greek and Latin. But I shall endeavour to be as short as may be; and my design is not so much to confute you, (who would willingly have spared this pains,) as to show that you confute yourself, and destroy your own positions. I will begin with that first position, which you lay down as a fundamental, and that shall be the groundwork of my ensuing discourse. “The law of nature,” say you, “is a principle imprinted on all men’s minds, to regard the good of all mankind, considering men as united together in societies. But this innate principle cannot procure that common good, unless, as there are people that must be governed, so that very principle ascertain who shall govern them.” To wit, lest the stronger oppress the weaker, and those persons, who for their mutual safety and protection have united themselves together, should be disunited and divided by injury and violence, and reduced to a bestial savage life again. This I suppose is what you mean. “Out of the number of those that united into one body,” you say, “there must needs have been some chosen, who excelled the rest in wisdom and valour; that they, either by force or by persuasion, might restrain those that were refractory, and keep them within due bounds. Sometimes it would so fall out, that one single person, whose conduct and valour was extraordinary, might be able to do this, and sometimes more assisted one another with their advice and counsel. But since it is impossible, that any one man should order all things himself, there was a necessity of his consulting with others, and taking some into part of the government with himself; so that whether a single person reign, or whether the supreme power reside in the body of the people, since it is impossible that all should administer the affairs of the commonwealth, or that one man should do all, the government does always lie upon the shoulders of many. And afterwards you say, “both forms of government, whether by many or a few, or by a single person, are equally according to the law of nature, viz. That it is impossible for any single person so to govern alone, as not to admit others into a share of the government with himself.” Though I might have taken all this out of the third book of Aristotle’s Politics, I chose rather to transcribe it out of your own book; for you stole it from him, as Prometheus did fire from Jupiter, to the ruin of monarchy, and overthrow of yourself, and your own opinion. For inquire as diligently as you can for your life into the law of nature, as you have described it, you will not find the least footstep in it of kingly power, as you explain it. “The law of nature,” say you, “in ordering who should govern others, respected the universal good of all mankind.” It did not then regard the private good of any particular person, not of a prince; so that the king is for the people, and consequently the people superior to him: which being allowed, it is impossible that princes should have any right to oppress or enslave the people; that the inferior should have right to tyrannize over the superior. So that since kings pretend to any right to do mischief, the right of the people must be acknowledged, according to the law of nature, to be superior to that of princes; and therefore, by the same right, that before kingship was known, men united their strength and counsels for their mutual safety and defence; by the same right, that for the preservation of all men’s liberty, peace, and safety, they appointed one or more to govern the rest; by the same right they may depose those very persons whom for their valour or wisdom they advanced to the government, or any others that rule disorderly, if they find them, by reason of their slothfulness, folly, or impiety, unfit for government: since nature does not regard the good of one, or of a few, but of all in general. For what sort of persons were they whom you suppose to have been chosen? You say, “they were such as excelled in courage and conduct,” to wit, such as by nature seemed fittest for government; who by reason of their excellent wisdom and valour, were enabled to undertake so great a charge. The consequence of this I take to be, that right of succession is not by the law of nature; that no man by the law of nature has right to be king, unless he excel all others in wisdom and courage; that all such as reign and want these qualifications, are advanced to the government by force or faction; have no right by the law of nature to be what they are, but ought rather to be slaves than princes. For nature appoints that wise men should govern fools, not that wicked men should rule over good men, fools over wise men: and consequently they that take the government out of such men’s hands, act according to the law of nature. To what end nature directs wise men should bear the rule, you shall hear in your own words; viz. “That by force or by persuasion, they may keep such as are unruly within due bounds.” But how should he keep others within the bounds of their duty, that neglects, or is ignorant of, or wilfully acts contrary to, his own? Allege now, if you can, any dictate of nature by which we are enjoined to neglect the wise institutions of the law of nature, and have no regard to them in civil and public concerns, when we see what great and admirable things nature herself effects in things that are inanimate and void of sense, rather than lose her end. Produce any rule of nature, or natural justice, by which inferior criminals ought to be punished, but kings and princes to go unpunished; and not only so, but though guilty of the greatest crimes imaginable, be had in reverence and almost adored. You agree, that “all forms of government, whether by many, or few, or by a single person, are equally agreeable to the law of nature.” So that the person of a king is not by the law of nature more sacred than a senate of nobles, or magistrates, chosen from amongst the common people, who you grant may be punished, and ought to be if they offend; and consequently kings ought to be so too, who are appointed to rule for the very same end and purpose that other magistrates are. “For,” say you, “nature does not allow any single person to rule so entirely, as not to have partners in the government.” It does not therefore allow of a monarch: it does not allow one single person to rule so, as that all others should be in a slavish subjection to his commands only. You that give princes such partners in the government, “as in whom,” to use your own words, “the government always resides,” do at the same time make others colleagues with them, and equal to them; nay, and consequently you settle a power in those colleagues of punishing and of deposing them. So that while you yourself go about, not to extol a kingly government, but to establish it by the law of nature, you destroy it; no greater misfortune could befall sovereign princes, than to have such an advocate as you are. Poor unhappy wretch! what blindness of mind has seized you, that you should unwittingly take so much pains to discover your knavery and folly, and make it visible to the world, (which before you concealed in some measure, and disguised,) that you should be so industrious to heap disgrace and ignominy upon yourself? What offence does Heaven punish you for, in making you appear in public, and undertake the defence of a desperate cause, with so much impudence and childishness, and instead of defending it, to betray it by your ignorance? What enemy of yours would desire to see you in a more forlorn, despicable condition than you are, who have no refuge left from the depth of misery, but in your own imprudence and want of sense, since by your unskilful and silly defence, you have rendered tyrants the more odious and detestable, by ascribing to them an unbounded liberty of doing mischief with impunity; and consequently have created them more enemies than they had before? But I return to your contradictions.
When you had resolved with yourself to be so wicked, as to endeavour to find out a foundation for tyranny in the law of nature, you saw a necessity of extolling monarchy above other sorts of government; which you cannot go about to do, without doing as you use to do, that is, contradicting yourself. For having said but a little before, “That all forms of government, whether by more or fewer, or by a single person, are equally according to the law of nature,” now you tell us, “that of all these sorts of government, that of a single person is most natural:” nay, though you had said in express terms but lately, “that the law of nature does not allow, that any government should reside entirely in one man.” Now upbraid whom you will with the putting of tyrants to death; since you yourself, by your own folly, have cut the throats of all monarchs, nay even of monarchy itself. But it is not to the purpose, for us here to dispute which form of government is best, by one single person, or by many. I confess many eminent and famous men have extolled monarchy; but it has always been upon this supposition, that the prince was a very excellent person, and one that of all others deserved best to reign; without which supposition, no form of government can be so prone to tyranny as monarchy is. And whereas you resemble a monarchy to the government of the world by one Divine Being, I pray answer me, whether you think that any other can deserve to be invested with a power here on earth that shall resemble his power that governs the world, except such a person as does infinitely excel all other men, and both for wisdom and goodness in some measure resemble the Deity? and such a person, in my opinion, none can be but the Son of God himself.—And whereas you make a kingdom to be a kind of family, and make a comparison betwixt a prince and the master of a family; observe how lame the parallel is. For a master of a family begot part of his household, at least he feeds all those that are of his house, and upon that account deserves to have the government; but the reason holds not in the case of a prince; nay, it is quite contrary. In the next place, you propose to us for our imitation the example of inferior creatures, especially of birds, and amongst them of bees, which according to your skill in natural philosophy, are a sort of birds too; “The bees have a king over them.” The bees of Trent you mean; do not you remember? all other bees you yourself confess to be commonwealths. But leave off playing the fool with bees; they belong to the Muses, and hate, and (you see) confute, such a beetle as you are. “The quails are under a captain.” Lay such snares for your own bitterns; you are not fowler good enough to catch us. Now you begin to be personally concerned. Gallus Gallinaceus, a cock, say you, “has both cocks and hens under him.” How can that be, since you yourself that are Gallus, and but too much Gallinaceus, by report cannot govern your own single hen, but let her govern you? So that if a Gallinaceus be a king over many hens, you that are a slave to one, must own yourself not to be so good as a Gallinaceus, but some Stercorarius Gallus, some dunghill-cock or other. For matter of books, there is no body publishes huger dunghills than you, and you disturb all people with your shitten cock-crow; that is the only property in which you resemble a true cock. I will throw you a great many barley-corns, if in ransacking this dung-hill book of yours, you can show me one jewel. But why should I promise you barley, that never pecked at corn, as that honest plain cock that we read of in Æsop, but at gold, as that roguey cock in Plautus, though with a different event; for you found a hundred Jacobusses, and he was struck dead with Euclio’s club, which you deserve more than he did.
But let us go on: “That same natural reason that designs the good and safety of all mankind, requires, that whoever be once promoted to the sovereignty, be preserved in the possession of it.” Whoever questioned this, as long as his preservation is consistent with the safety of all the rest? But is it not obvious to all men, that nothing can be more contrary to natural reason, than that any one man should be preserved and defended, to the utter ruin and destruction of all others? But yet (you say) “it is better to keep and defend a bad prince, nay one of the worst that ever was, than to change him for another; because his ill government cannot do the commonwealth so much harm as the disturbances will occasion, which must of necessity be raised before the people can get rid of him.” But what is this to the right of kings by the law of nature? If nature teaches me rather to suffer myself to be robbed by highwaymen, or if I should be taken captive by such, to purchase my liberty with all my estate, than to fight with them for my life, can you infer from thence, that they have a natural right to rob and spoil me? Nature teaches men to give way sometimes to the violence and outrages of tyrants, the necessity of affairs sometimes enforces a toleration with their enormities; what foundation can you find in this forced patience of a nation, in this compulsory submission, to build a right upon, for princes to tyrannize by the law of nature? That right which nature has given the people for their own preservation, can you affirm that she has invested tyrants with for the people’s ruin and destruction? Nature teaches us, of two evils to choose the least: and to bear with oppression, as long as there is a necessity of so doing; and will you infer from hence, that tyrants have some right by the law of nature to oppress their subjects, and go unpunished, because, as circumstances may fall out, it may sometimes be a less mischief to bear with them than to remove them? Remember what yourself once wrote concerning bishops against a jesuit; you were then of another opinion than you are now: I have quoted your words formerly; you there affirm “that seditious civil dissensions and discords of the nobles and common people against and amongst one another are much more tolerable, and less mischievous, than certain misery and destruction under the government of a single person, that plays the tyrant.” And you said very true. For you had not then run mad; you had not then been bribed with Charles his Jacobusses. You had not got the Kings’-evil. I should tell you perhaps, if I did not know you, that you might be ashamed thus to prevaricate. But you can sooner burst than blush, who have cast off all shame for a little profit. Did you not remember, that the commonwealth of the people of Rome flourished and became glorious when they had banished their kings? Could you possibly forget that of the Low Countries? which, after it had shook off the yoke of the king of Spain, after long and tedious wars, but crowned with success, obtained its liberty, and feeds such a pitiful grammarian as yourself with a pension: but not with a design that their youth might be so infatuated by your sophistry, as to choose rather to return to their former slavery, than to inherit the glorious liberty which their ancestors purchased for them. May those pernicious principles of yours be banished with yourself into the most remote and barbarous corners of the world. And last of all, the commonwealth of England might have afforded you an example, in which Charles, who had been their king, after he had been taken captive in war, and was found incurable, was put to death. But “they have defaced and impoverished the island with civil broils and discords, which under its kings was happy, and swam in luxury.” Yea, when it was almost buried in luxury and voluptuousness, and the more inured thereto, that it might be enthralled the more easily; when its laws were abolished, and its religion agreed to be sold, they delivered it from slavery. You are like him that published Simplicius and Epictetus in the same volume; a very grave stoic, “who call an island happy, because it swims in luxury.” I am sure no such doctrine ever came out of Zeno’s school. But why should not you, who would give kings a power of doing what they list, have liberty yourself to broach what new philosophy you please? Now begin again to act your part. “There never was in any king’s reign so much blood spilt, so many families ruined.” All this is to be imputed to Charles, not to us, who first raised an army of Irishmen against us; who by his own warrant authorized the Irish nation to conspire against the English; who by their means slew two hundred thousand of his English subjects in the province of Ulster, besides what numbers were slain in other parts of that kingdom; who solicited two armies towards the destruction of the parliament of England, and the city of London; and did many other actions of hostility before the parliament and people had listed one soldier for the preservation and defence of the government. What principles, what law, what religion ever taught men rather to consult their ease, to save their money, their blood, nay their lives themselves, than to oppose an enemy with force? for I make no difference between a foreign enemy and another, since both are equally dangerous and destructive to the good of the whole nation. The people of Israel saw very well, that they could not possibly punish the Benjamites for murdering the Levite’s wife, without the loss of many men’s lives: and did that induce them to sit still? Was that accounted a sufficient argument why they should abstain from war, from a very bloody civil war? Did they therefore suffer the death of one poor woman to be unrevenged? Certainly if nature teaches us rather to endure the government of a king, though he be never so bad, than to endanger the lives of a great many men in the recovery of our liberty; it must teach us likewise not only to endure a kingly government, which is the only one that you argue ought to be submitted to, but even an aristocracy and a democracy: nay, and sometimes it will persuade us, to submit to a multitude of highwaymen, and to slaves that mutiny. Fulvius and Rupilius, if your principles had been received in their days, must not have engaged in the servile war (as their writers call it) after the Prætorian armies were slain: Crassus must not have marched against Spartacus, after the rebels had destroyed one Roman army, and spoiled their tents: nor must Pompey have undertaken the Piratic war. But the state of Rome must have pursued the dictates of nature, and must have submitted to their own slaves, or to the pirates, rather than run the hazard of losing some men’s lives. You do not prove at all, that nature has imprinted any such notion as this of yours on the minds of men: and yet you cannot forbear boding us ill luck, and denouncing the wrath of God against us, (which may Heaven divert, and inflict it upon yourself, and all such prognosticators as you,) who have punished, as he deserved, one that had the name of our king, but was in fact our implacable enemy; and we have made atonement for the death of so many of our countrymen, as our civil wars have occasioned, by shedding his blood, that was the author and cause of them. Then you tell us, that a kingly government appears to be more according to the laws of nature, because more nations, both in our days, and of old, have submitted to that form of government than ever did to any other.” I answer, if that be so, it was neither the effect of any dictate of the law of nature, nor was it in obedience to any command from God. God would not suffer his own people to be under a king; he consented at last, but unwillingly; what nature and right reason dictates, we are not to gather from the practice of most nations, but of the wisest and most prudent. The Grecians, the Romans, the Italians, and Carthaginians, with many other, have of their own accord, out of choice, preferred a commonwealth to a kingly government; and these nations that I have named, are better instances than all the rest. Hence Sulpitius Severus says, “That the very name of a king was always very odious among a free-born people.” But these things concern not our present purpose, nor many other impertinences that follow over and over again. I will make haste to prove that by examples, which I have proved already by reason; viz. that it is very agreeable to the law of nature, that tyrants should be punished; and that all nations, by the instinct of nature, have punished them; which will expose your impudence, and make it evident, that you take a liberty to publish palpable downright lies. You begin with the Egyptians; and indeed, who does not see, that you play the gipsy yourself throughout? “Amongst them,” say you, “there is no mention extant of any king, that was ever slain by the people in a popular insurrection, no war made upon any of their kings by their subjects, no attempt made to depose any of them.” What think you then of Osiris, who perhaps was the first king that the Egyptians ever had? Was not he slain by his brother Typhon, and five and twenty other conspirators? And did not a great part of the body of the people side with them, and fight a battle with Isis and Orus, the late king’s wife and son? I pass by Sesostris, whom his brother had well nigh put to death, and Chemmis and Cephrenes, against whom the people were deservedly enraged; and because they could not do it while they were alive, they threatened to tear them in pieces after they were dead. Do you think that a people that durst lay violent hands upon good kings, had any restraint upon them, either by the light of nature or religion, from putting bad ones to death? Could they that threatened to pull the dead bodies of their princes out of their graves, when they ceased to do mischief, (though by the custom of their own country the corpse of the meanest person was sacred and inviolable,) abstain from inflicting punishment upon them in their lifetime, when they were acting all their villainies, if they had been able, and that upon some maxim of the law of nature? I know you would not stick to answer me in the affirmative, how absurd soever it be; but that you may not offer at it, I will pull out your tongue. Know then, that some ages before Cephrenes’s time, one Ammosis was king of Egypt, and was as great a tyrant, as who has been the greatest; him the people bore with. This you are glad to hear; this is what you would be at. But hear what follows, my honest Telltruth. I shall speak out of Diodorus, “They bore with him for somewhile, because he was too strong for them.” But when Actisanes king of Ethiopia made war upon him, they took that opportunity to revolt, so that being deserted, he was easily subdued, and Egypt became an accession to the kingdom of Ethiopia. You see the Egyptians, so soon as they could, took up arms against a tyrant; they joined forces with a foreign prince, to depose their own king, and disinherit his posterity; they chose to live under a moderate and good prince, as Actisanes was, though a foreigner, rather than under a tyrant of their own. The same people with a very unanimous consent took up arms against Apries, another tyrant, who relied upon foreign aids that he had hired to assist him. Under the conduct of Amasis their general they conquered, and afterwards strangled him, and placed Amasis in the throne. And observe this circumstance in the history; Amasis kept the captive king a good while in the palace, and treated him well: at last, when the people complained that he nourished his own and their enemy; he delivered him into their hands, who put him to death in the manner I have mentioned. These things are related by Herodotus and Diodorus. Where are you now? do you think that any tyrant would not choose a hatchet rather than a halter? “Afterwards,” say you, “when the Egyptians were brought into subjection by the Persians, they continued faithful to them;” which is most false; they never were faithful to them: for in the fourth year after Cambyses had subdued them, they rebelled. Afterwards, when Xerxes had tamed them, within a short time they revolted from his son Artaxerxes, and set up one Inarus to be their king. After his death they rebelled again, and created one Tachus king, and made war upon Artaxerxes Mnemon. Neither were they better subjects to their own princes, for they deposed Tachus, and conferred the government upon his son Nectanebus, till at last Artaxerxes Ochus brought them the second time under subjection to the Persian empire. When they were under the Macedonian empire, they declared by their actions, that tyrants ought to be under some restraint: they threw down the statues and images of Ptolemæus Physco, and would have killed him, but that the mercenary army, that he commanded, was too strong for them. His son Alexander was forced to leave his country by the mere violence of the people, who were incensed against him for killing his mother: and the people of Alexandria dragged his son Alexander out of the palace, whose insolent behaviour gave just offence, and killed him in the theatre: and the same people deposed Ptolemæus Auletes for his many crimes. Now since it is impossible, that any learned man should be ignorant of these things that are so generally known; and since it is an inexcusable fault in Salmasius to be ignorant of them, whose profession it is to teach them others, and whose very asserting things of this nature ought to carry in itself an argument of credibility; it is certainly a very scandalous thing (I say) either that so ignorant, illiterate a blockhead, should, to the scandal of all learning, profess himself, and be accounted a learned man, and obtain salaries from princes and states; or that so impudent and notorious a liar should not be branded with some particular mark of infamy, and for ever banished from the society of learned and honest men.
Having searched among the Egyptians for examples, let us now consider the Ethiopians their neighbours. They adore their kings, whom they suppose God to have appointed over them, even as if they were a sort of gods: and yet whenever the priests condemn any of them, they kill themselves: and on that manner, says Diodorus, they punish all their criminals; they put them not to death, but send a minister of justice to command them to destroy their own persons. In the next place, you mention the Assyrians, the Medes, and the Persians, who of all others were most observant of their princes: and you affirm, contrary to all historians that have wrote any thing concerning those nations, that “the regal power there had an unbounded liberty annexed to it, of doing what the king listed.” In the first place, the prophet Daniel tells us, how the Babylonians expelled Nebuchadnezzar out of human society, and made him graze with the beasts, when his pride grew to be insufferable. The laws of those countries were not entitled the laws of their kings, but the laws of the Medes and Persians; which laws were irrevocable, and the kings themselves were bound by them: insomuch that Darius the Mede, though he earnestly desired to have delivered Daniel from the hands of the princes, yet could not effect it. “Those nations,” say you, “thought it no sufficient pretence to reject a prince, because he abused the right that was inherent in him as he was sovereign.” But in the very writing of these words you are so stupid, as that with the same breath that you commend the obedience and submissiveness of those nations, of your own accord you make mention of Sardanapalus’s being deprived of his crown by Arbaces. Neither was it he alone that accomplished that enterprise; for he had the assistance of the priests (who of all others were best versed in the law) and of the people; and it was wholly upon this account that he deposed him, because he abused his authority and power, not by giving himself over to cruelty, but to luxury and effeminacy. Run over the histories of Herodotus Ctesias, Diodorus, and you will find things quite contrary to what you assert here; you will find that those kingdoms were destroyed for the most part by subjects, and not by foreigners; that the Assyrians were brought down by the Medes, who then were their subjects, and the Medes by the Persians who at that time were likewise subject to them. You yourself confess that “Cyrus rebelled, and that at the same time in divers parts of the empire little upstart governments were formed by those that shook off the Medes.” But does this agree with what you said before? Does this prove the obedience of the Medes and Persians to their princes, and that Jus Regium which you had asserted to have been universally received amongst those nations? What potion can cure this brainsick frenzy of yours? You say, “It appears by Herodotus how absolute the Persian kings were.” Cambyses being desirous to marry his sisters, consulted with the judges, who were the interpreters of the laws, to whose decision all difficult matters were to be referred. What answer had he from them? They told him, they knew no law which permitted a brother to marry his sister; but another law they knew, that the kings of Persia might do what they listed. Now to this I answer, if the kings of Persia were really so absolute, what need was there of any other to interpret the laws, besides the king himself? Those superfluous unnecessary judges would have had their abode and residence in any other place rather than in the palace where they were altogether useless. Again, if those kings might do whatever they would, it is not credible, that so ambitious a prince as Cambyses, should be so ignorant of that grand prerogative, as to consult with the judges, whether what he desired were according to law. What was the matter then? either they designed to humour the king, as you say they did, or they were afraid to cross his inclination, which is the account that Herodotus gives of it; and so told him of such a law, as they knew would please him, and in plain terms made a fool of him, which is no new thing with judges and lawyers now-a-days. “But,” say you, “Artabanus a Persian told Themistocles, that there was no better law in Persia, than that by which it was enacted, that kings were to be honoured and adored.” An excellent law that was without doubt, which commanded subjects to adore their princes! but the primitive fathers have long ago damned it; and Artabanus was a proper person to recommend such a law, who was the very man that a little while after slew Xerxes with his own hand. You quote regicides to assert royalty. I am afraid you have some design upon kings. In the next place, you quote the poet Claudian, to prove how obedient the Persians were. But I appeal to their histories and annals, which are full of the revolts of the Persians, the Medes, the Bactrians, and Babylonians, and give us frequent instances of the murders of their princes. The next person whose authority you cite, is Otanes the Persian, who likewise killed Smerdis then king of Persia, to whom, out of the hatred which he bore to a kingly government, he reckons up the impieties and injurious actions of kings, their violation of all laws, their putting men to death without any legal conviction, their rapes and adulteries; and all this you will have called the right of kings, and slander Samuel again as a teacher of such doctrines. You quote Homer, who says that kings derive their authority from Jupiter; to which I have already given an answer. For king Philip of Macedon, whose asserting the right of kings you make use of; I will believe that Charles his description of it, as soon as his. Then you quote some sentences out of a fragment of Diogenes a Pythagorean; but you do not tell us what sort of a king he speaks of. Observe therefore how he begins that discourse; for whatever follows must be understood to have relation to it. “Let him be king,” says he, “that of all others is most just, and so he is that acts most according to law; for no man can be king that is not just; and without laws there can be no justice.” This is directly opposite to that regal right of yours. And Ecphantas, whom you likewise quote, is of the same opinion: “Whosoever takes upon him to be a king, ought to be naturally most pure and clear from all imputation.” And a little after, “Him,” says he, “we call a king, that governs well, and he only is properly so.” So that such a king as you speak of, according to the philosophy of the Pythagoreans, is no king at all. Hear now what Plato says in his Eighth Epistle: “Let kings,” says he, “be liable to be called to account for what they do: Let the laws control not only the people but kings themselves, if they do any thing not warranted by law.” I will mention what Aristotle says in the Third Book of his Politics; “It is neither for the public good, nor is it just,” says he, “seeing all men are by nature alike and equal, that any one should be lord and master over all the rest, where there are no laws; nor is it for the public good, or just, that one man should be a law to the rest, where there are laws; nor that any one, though a good man, should be lord over other good men, nor a bad man, over bad men.” And in the Fifth Book, says he, “That king whom the people refuse to be governed by, is no longer a king, but a tyrant.” Hear what Xenophon says in Hiero: “People are so far from revenging the deaths of tyrants, that they confer great honour upon him that kills one, and erect statues in their temples to the honour of tyrannicides.” Of this I can produce an eye-witness, Marcus Tullius, in his oration pro Milone; “The Grecians,” says he, “ascribed divine worship to such as kill tyrants: what things of this nature have I myself seen at Athens, and in the other cities of Greece? how many religious observances have been instituted in honour of such men? how many hymns? They are consecrated to immortality and adoration, and their memory endeavoured to be perpetuated.” And lastly, Polybius, an historian of great authority and gravity, in the Sixth book of his History, says thus: “When princes began to indulge their own lusts and sensual appetites, then kingdoms were turned into so many tyrannies, and the subjects began to conspire the death of their governors; neither was it the profligate sort that were the authors of those designs, but the most generous and magnanimous.” I could quote many such like passages, but I shall instance in no more. From the philosophers you appeal to the poets; and I am very willing to follow you thither. Æschylus is enough to inform us, that the power of the kings of Greece was such, as not to be liable to the censure of any laws, or to be questioned before any human judicature; for he in that tragedy that is called, The Suppliants, calls the king of the Argives, “a governor not obnoxious to the judgment of any tribunal.” But you must know, (for the more you say, the more you discover your rashness and want of judgment,) you must know, I say, that one is not to regard what the poet says, but what person in the play speaks, and what that person says; for different persons are introduced, sometimes good, sometimes bad; sometimes wise men, sometimes fools; and such words are put into their mouths, as it is most proper for them to speak; not such as the poet would speak, if he were to speak in his own person. The fifty daughters of Danaus, being banished out of Egypt, became suppliants to the king of the Argives; they begged of him, that he would protect them from the Egyptians, who pursued them with a fleet of ships. The king told them he could not undertake their protection, till he had imparted the matter to the people; “For,” says he, “if I should make a promise to you, I should not be able to perform it, unless I consult with them first.” The women being strangers and suppliants, and fearing the uncertain suffrages of the people, tell him, “That the power of all the people resides in him alone; that he judges all others, but is not judged himself by any.” He answers: “I have told you already, that I cannot do this thing that you desire of me, without the people’s consent; nay, and though I could, I would not.” At last he refers the matter to the people: “I will assemble the people,” says he, “and persuade them to protect you.” The people met, and resolved to engage in their quarrel; insomuch that Danaus their father bids his daughters “be of good cheer, for the people of the country, in a popular convention, had voted their safeguard and defence.” If I had not related the whole thing, how rashly would this impertinent ignoramus have determined concerning the right of kings among the Grecians, out of the mouths of a few women that were strangers and suppliants, though the king himself, and the history, be quite contrary! The same thing appears by the story of Orestes in Euripides, who, after his father’s death, was himself king of the Argives, and yet was called in question by the people for the death of his mother, and made to plead for his life, and by the major suffrage was condemned to die. The same poet, in his play called “The Suppliants,” declares, that at Athens the kingly power was subject to the laws; where Theseus then king of that city is made to say these words: “This is a free city, it is not governed by one man; the people reign here.” And his son Demophoon, who was king after him, in another tragedy of the same poet, called Heraclidæ; “I do not exercise a tyrannical power over them, as if they were barbarians: I am upon other terms with them; but if I do them justice, they will do me the like.” Sophocles in his Œdipus shows, that anciently in Thebes the kings were not absolute neither: hence says Tiresias to Œdipus, “I am not your slave.” And Creon to the same king, “I have some right in this city,” says he, “as well as you.” And in another tragedy of the same poet, called Antigone, Æmon tells the king, “That the city of Thebes is not governed by a single person.” All men know, that the kings of Lacedemon have been arraigned, and sometimes put to death judicially. These instances are sufficient to evince what power the kings in Greece had.
Let us consider now the Romans: You betake yourself to that passage of C. Memmius in Sallust, of kings having a liberty to do what they list, and go unpunished; to which I have given an answer already. Sallust himself says in express words, “That the ancient government of Rome was by their laws, though the name and form of it was regal: which form of government, when it grew into a tyranny, you know they put down and changed.” Cicero, in his oration against Piso, “Shall I,” says he, “account him a consul, who would not allow the senate to have any authority in the commonwealth? Shall I take notice of any man as consul, if at the same time there be no such thing as a senate; when of old the city of Rome acknowledged not their kings, if they acted without or in opposition to the senate?” Do you hear; the very kings themselves at Rome signified nothing without the senate. “But,” say you, “Romulus governed as he listed;” and for that you quote Tacitus. No wonder: the government was not then established by law; they were a confused multitude of strangers, more likely than a regulated state; and all mankind lived without laws before governments were settled. But when Romulus was dead, though all the people were desirous of a king, not having yet experienced the sweetness of liberty, yet, as Livy informs us, “The sovereign power resided in the people; so that they parted not with more right than they retained.” The same author tells us, “That the same power was afterwards extorted from them by their emperors.” Servius Tullius at first reigned by fraud, and as it were a deputy to Tarquinius Priscus; but afterward he referred it to the people, Whether they would have him reign or no? At last, says Tacitus, he became the author of such laws as the kings were obliged to obey. Do you think he would have done such an injury to himself and his posterity, if he had been of opinion, that the right of kings had been above all laws? Their last king, Tarquinius Superbus, was the first that put an end to that custom of consulting the senate concerning all public affairs: for which very thing, and other enormities of his, the people deposed him, and banished him and his family. These things I have out of Livy and Cicero, than whom you will hardly produce any better expositors of the right of kings among the Romans. As for the dictatorship, that was but temporary, and was never made use of, but in great extremities, and was not to continue longer than six months. But that which you call the right of the Roman emperors, was no right, but a plain downright force; and was gained by war only. “But Tacitus,” say you, “that lived under the government of a single person, writes thus; the gods have committed the sovereign power in human affairs to princes only, and have left to subjects the honour of being obedient.” But you tell us not where Tacitus has these words, for you were conscious to yourself, that you imposed upon your readers in quoting them; which I presently smelt out, though I could not find the place of a sudden: for that expression is not Tacitus’s own, who is an approved writer, and of all others the greatest enemy to tyrants; but Tacitus relates that of M. Terentius, a gentleman of Rome, being accused for a capital crime, amongst other things that he said to save his life, flattered Tiberius on this manner. It is in the Sixth Book of his Annals, “The gods have entrusted you with the ultimate judgment in all things; they have left us the honour of obedience.” And you cite this passage as if Tacitus had said it himself; you scrape together whatever seems to make for your opinion, either out of ostentation, or out of weakness; you would leave out nothing that you could find in a baker’s or a barber’s shop; nay, you would be glad of any thing that looked like an argument, from the very hangman. If you had read Tacitus himself, and not transcribed some loose quotations out of him by other authors, he would have taught you whence that imperial right had its original. “After the conquest of Asia,” says he, “the whole state of our affairs was turned upside down; nothing of the ancient integrity of our forefathers was left amongst us; all men shook off that former equality which had been observed, and began to have reverence for the mandates of princes.” This you might have learned out of the Third Book of his Annals, whence you have all your regal right. “When that ancient equality was laid aside, and instead thereof ambition and violence took place, tyrannical forms of government started up, and fixed themselves in many countries.” The same thing you might have learned out of Dio, if your natural levity and unsettledness of judgment would have suffered you to apprehend any thing that is solid. He tells us in the Fifty-third Book of his History, out of which book you have made some quotation already, That Octavius Cæsar, partly by force, and partly by fraud, brought things to that pass, that the emperors of Rome became no longer fettered by laws. For he, though he promised to the people in public that he would lay down the government and obey the laws, and become subject to others; yet under pretence of making war in several provinces of the empire, still retained the legions, and so by degrees invaded the government, which he pretended he would refuse. This was not regularly getting from under the law, but breaking forcibly through all laws, as Spartacus the gladiator might have done, and then assuming to himself the style of prince or emperor, as if God or the law of nature had put all men and all laws into subjection under him. Would you inquire a little further into the original of the right of the Roman emperors? Marcus Antonius, whom Cæsar (when by taking up arms against the commonwealth he had got all the power into his hands) had made consul, when a solemnity called the Lupercalia was celebrated at Rome, as had been contrived beforehand, that he should set a crown upon Cæsar’s head, though the people sighed and lamented at the sight, caused it to be entered upon record, that Marcus Antonius, at the Lupercalia, made Cæsar king at the instance of the people. Of which action Cicero, in his second Philippic, says, “was Lucius Tarquinius therefore expelled, Spurius Cassius, Sp. Melius, and Marcus Manilius put to death, that after many ages Marcus Antonius should make a king in Rome, contrary to law?” But you deserve to be tortured, and loaded with everlasting disgrace, much more than Mark Antony; though I would not have you proud because he and yourself are put together; for I do not think so despicable a wretch as you fit to be compared with him in any thing but his impiety; you that in those horrible Lupercalia of yours set not a crown upon one tyrant’s head, but upon all, and such a crown as you would have limited by no laws, nor liable to any. Indeed if we must believe the oracles of the emperors themselves, (for so some Christian emperors, as Theodosius and Valens, have called their edicts, Cod. lib. 1. tit. 14,) the authority of the emperors depends upon that of the law. So that the majesty of the person that reigns, even by the judgment, or call it the oracle, of the emperors themselves, must submit to the laws, on whose authority it depends. Hence Pliny tells Trajan in his Panegyric, when the power of the emperors was grown to its height, “A principality and an absolute sovereignty are quite different things. Trajan puts down whatever looks like a kingdom; he rules like a prince, that there may be no room for a magisterial power.” And afterwards, “whatever I have said of other princes, I said that I might show how our prince reforms and corrects the manners of princes, which by long custom have been corrupted and depraved.” Are you not ashamed to call that the right of kings, that Pliny calls the corrupt and depraved customs of princes? But let this suffice to have been said in short of the right of kings, as it was taken at Rome. How they dealt with their tyrants, whether kings or emperors, is generally known. They expelled Tarquin. “But,” say you, “how did they expel him? Did they proceed against him judicially? No such matter: when he would have come into the city, they shut the gates against him.” Ridiculous fool; what could they do but shut the gates, when he was hastening to them with part of the army? And what great difference will there be, whether they banished him or put him to death, so they punished him one way or other? The best men of that age killed Cæsar the tyrant in the very senate. Which action of theirs, Marcus Tullius, who was himself a very excellent man, and publicly called the father of his country, both elsewhere, and particularly in his second Philippic, extols wonderfully. I will repeat some of his words: “All good men killed Cæsar as far as in them lay. Some men could not advise in it, others wanted courage to act in it, others an opportunity, all had a good will to it.” And afterwards, “what greater and more glorious action (ye holy gods!) ever was performed, not in this city only, but in any other country? what action more worthy to be recommended to everlasting memory? I am not unwilling to be included within the number of those that advised it, as within the Trojan horse.” The passage of Seneca may relate both to the Romans and the Grecians: “there cannot be a greater nor more acceptable sacrifice offered up to Jupiter, than a wicked prince.” For if you consider Hercules, whose words these are, they show what the opinion was of the principal men amongst the Grecians in that age. If the poet, who flourished under Nero, (and the most worthy persons in plays generally express the poet’s own sense,) then this passage shows us what Seneca himself, and all good men, even in Nero’s time, thought was fit to be done to a tyrant; and how virtuous an action, how acceptable to God, they thought it to kill one. So every good man of Rome, as far as in him lay, killed Domitian. Pliny the second owns it openly in his Panegyric to Trajan the emperor, “we took pleasure in dashing those proud looks against the ground, in piercing him with our swords, in mangling him with axes, as if he had bled and felt pain at every stroke: no man could so command his passion of joy, but that he counted it a piece of revenge to behold his mangled limbs, his members torn asunder, and after all, his stern and horrid statues thrown down and burnt.” And afterwards, “they cannot love good princes enough, that cannot hate bad ones as they deserve.” Then amongst other enormities of Domitian, he reckons this for one, that he put to death Epaphroditus, that had killed Nero: “Had we forgotten the avenging Nero’s death? Was it likely that he would suffer his life and actions to be ill spoken of, whose death he revenged?” He seems to have thought it almost a crime not to kill Nero, that counts it so great a one to punish him that did it. By what has been said, it is evident, that the best of the Romans did not only kill tyrants, as oft as they could, and howsoever they could; but that they thought it a commendable and a praiseworthy action so to do, as the Grecians had done before them. For when they could not proceed judicially against a tyrant in his lifetime, being inferior to him in strength and power, yet after his death they did it, and condemned him by the Valerian law. For Valerius Publicola, Junius Brutus his colleague, when he saw that tyrants, being guarded with soldiers, could not be brought to a legal trial, he devised a law to make it lawful to kill them any way, though uncondemned; and that they that did it, should afterwards give an account of their so doing. Hence, when Cassius had actually run Caligula through with a sword, though every body else had done it in their hearts, Valerius Asiaticus, one that had been consul, being present at that time, cried out to the soldiers, that began to mutiny because of his death, “I wish I myself had killed him.” And the senate at the same time was so far from being displeased with Cassius for what he had done, that they resolved to extirpate the memory of the emperors, and to raze the temples that had been erected in honour of them. When Claudius was presently saluted emperor by the soldiers, they forbad him by the tribune of the people to take the government upon him; but the power of the soldiers prevailed. The senate declared Nero an enemy, and made inquiry after him, to have punished him according to the law of their ancestors; which required that he should be stripped naked, and hung by the neck upon a forked stake, and whipped to death.
Consider now, how much more mildly and moderately the English dealt with their tyrant, though many are of opinion, that he caused the spilling of more blood than ever Nero himself did. So the senate condemned Domitian after his death; they commanded his statues to be pulled down and dashed to pieces, which was all they could do. When Commodus was slain by his own officers, neither the senate nor the people punished the fact, but declared him an enemy, and inquired for his dead corpse, to have made it an example. An act of the senate made upon that occasion is extant in Lampridius: “Let the enemy of his country be deprived of all his titles; let the parricide be drawn, let him be torn in pieces in the Spoliary, let the enemy of the gods, the executioner of the senate, be dragged with a hook,” &c. The same persons in a very full senate condemned Didus Julianus to death, and sent a tribune to slay him in the palace. The same senate deposed Maximinus, and declared him an enemy. Let us hear the words of the decree of the senate concerning him, as Capitolinus relates it: “The consul put the question, ‘Conscript fathers, what is your pleasure concerning the Maximines?’ They answered, ‘they are enemies, they are enemies, whoever kills them shall be rewarded.’ ” Would you know now, whether the people of Rome, and the provinces of the empire, obeyed the senate, or Maximine the emperor? Hear what the same author says: the senate wrote letters into all the provinces, requiring them to take care of their common safety and liberty; the letters were publicly read. And the friends, the deputies, the generals, the tribunes, the soldiers of Maximine, were slain in all places; very few cities were found, that kept their faith with the public enemy. Herodian relates the same thing. But what need we give any more instances out of the Roman histories? Let us now see what manner of thing the right of kings was in those days, in the nations that bordered upon the empire. Ambiorix, a king of the Gauls, confesses “the nature of his dominion to be such, that the people have as great power over him, as he over them.” And consequently, as well as he judged them, he might be judged by them. Vercingetorix, another king in Gaul, was accused of treason by his own people. These things Cæsar relates in his history of the Gallic wars. “Neither is the regal power among the Germans absolute and uncontrollable; lesser matters are ordered and disposed by the princes; greater affairs by all the people. The king or prince is more considerable by the authority of his persuasions, than by any power that he has of commanding. If his opinion be not approved of, they declare their dislike of it by a general murmuring noise.” This is out of Tacitus. Nay, and you yourself now confess, that what but of late you exclaimed against as an unheard-of thing, has been often done, to wit, that “no less than fifty Scottish kings have been either banished or imprisoned, or put to death, nay, and some of them publicly executed.” Which having come to pass in our very island, why do you, as if it were your office to conceal the violent deaths of tyrants, by burying them in the dark, exclaim against it as an abominable and unheard-of thing? You proceed to commend the Jews and Christians for their religious obedience even to tyrants, and to heap one lie upon another; in all which I have already confuted you.
Lately you made large encomiums on the obedience of the Assyrians and Persians, and now you reckon up their rebellions; and though but of late you said they never had rebelled at all, now you give us a great many reasons why they rebelled so often. Then you resume the narrative of the manner of our king’s death, which you had broken off so long since; that if you had not taken care sufficiently to appear ridiculous and a fool then, you may do it now You said, “he was led through the members of his own court.” What you mean by the members of the court, I would gladly know. You enumerate the calamities that the Romans underwent by changing their kingdom into a commonwealth. In which I have already shown how grossly you give yourself the lie. What was it you said, when you wrote against the Jesuit? You demonstrated, that “in an aristocracy, or a popular state, there could but be seditions and tumults, whereas under a tyrant nothing was to be looked for, but certain ruin and destruction;” and dare you now say, you vain corrupt mortal, that “those seditions were punishments inflicted upon them for banishing their kings?” Forsooth, because King Charles gave you a hundred Jacobusses, therefore the Romans shall be punished for banishing their kings. But “they that killed Julius Cæsar, did not prosper afterwards.” I confess, if I would have had any tyrant spared, it should have been him. For although he introduced a monarchical government into a free state by force of arms, yet perhaps himself deserved a kingdom best; and yet I conceived that none of those that killed him can be said to have been punished for so doing, any more than Caius Antonius, Cicero’s colleague, for destroying Catiline, who when he was afterwards condemned for other crimes, says Cicero in his oration pro Flacco, “Catiline’s sepulchre was adorned with flowers.” For they that favoured Catiline, they rejoiced; they gave out then, that what Catiline did was just, to increase the people’s hatred against those that had cut him off. These are artifices, which wicked men make use of, to deter the best of men from punishing tyrants, and flagitious persons; I might as easily say the quite contrary, and instance in them that have killed tyrants, and prospered afterwards; if any certain inference might be drawn in such cases from the events of things. You object further, “that the English did not put their hereditary king to death in like manner, as tyrants used to be slain, but as robbers and traitors are executed.” In the first place I do not, nor can any wise man, understand what a crown’s being hereditary should contribute to a king’s crimes being unpunishable. What you ascribe to the barbarous cruelty of the English, proceeded rather from their clemency and moderation, and as such, deserves commendation; who, though the being a tyrant is a crime that comprehends all sorts of enormities, such as robberies, treasons, and rebellions against the whole nation, yet were contented to inflict no greater punishment upon him for being so, than they used of course to do upon any common high wayman, or ordinary traitor. You hope “some such men as Harmodius and Thrasibulus will rise up against us, and make expiation for the king’s death, by shedding their blood that were the authors of it.” But you will run mad with despair, and be detested by all good men, and put an end to that wretched life of yours, by hanging yourself, before you see men like Harmodius avenging the blood of a tyrant upon such as have done no other than what they did themselves. That you will come to such an end is most probable, nor can any other be expected of so great a rogue; but the other thing is an utter impossibility.
You mention thirty tyrants that rebelled in Gallienus’s time. And what if it fall out, that one tyrant happens to oppose another, must therefore all they that resist tyrants be accounted such themselves? You cannot persuade men into such a belief, you slave of a knight; nor your author Trebellius Pollio, the most inconsiderable of all historians that have writ. “If any of the emperors were declared enemies by the senate,” you say, “it was done by faction, but could not have been by law.” You put us in mind what it was that made emperors at first: it was faction and violence, and to speak plainer, it was the madness of Antony, that made generals at first rebel against the senate, and the people of Rome; there was no law, no right for their so doing. “Galba,” you say, “was punished for his insurrection against Nero.” Tell us likewise how Vespasian was punished for taking up arms against Vitellius. “There was as much difference,” you say, “betwixt Charles and Nero, as betwixt those English butchers, and the Roman senators of that age.” Despicable villain! by whom it is scandalous to be commended, and a praise to be evil spoken of: but a few periods before, discoursing of this very thing, you said, “that the Roman senate under the emperors was in effect but an assembly of slaves in robes:” and here you say, “that very senate was an assembly of kings;” which if it be allowed, then are kings, according to your own opinion, but slaves with robes on. Kings are blessed, that have such a fellow as you to write in their praise, than whom no man is more a rascal, no beast more void of sense, unless this one may be said to be peculiar to you, that none ever brayed so learnedly. You make the parliament of England more like to Nero, than to the Roman senate. This itch of yours of making similitudes enforces me to rectify you, whether I will or no: and I will let you see how like King Charles was to Nero; Nero, you say, “commanded his own mother to be run through with a sword.” But Charles murdered both his prince, and his father, and that by poison. For to omit other evidences; he that would not suffer a duke that was accused for it, to come to his trial, must needs have been guilty of it himself. Nero slew many thousands of Christians; but Charles slew many more. There were those, says Suetonius, that praised Nero after he was dead, that longed to have had him again, “that hung garlands of flowers upon his sepulchre,” and gave out that they would never prosper that had been his enemies. And some there are transported with the like frenzy, that wish for King Charles again, and extol him to the highest degree imaginable, of whom you, a knight of the halter, are a ringleader. “The English soldiers, more savage than their own mastiffs, erected a new and unheard-of court of justice.” Observe this ingenious symbol, or adage of Salmasius, which he has now repeated six times over, “more savage than their own mastiffs.” Take notice, orators and schoolmasters; pluck, if you are wise, this elegant flower, which Salmasius is so very fond of: commit this flourish of a man, that is so much a master of words, to your desks for safe custody, lest it be lost. Has your rage made you forget words to that degree, that like a cuckoo, you must needs say the same thing over and over again? What strange thing has befallen you? The poet tells us, that spleen and rage turned Hecuba into a dog; and it has turned you, the lord of St. Lupus, into a cuckoo. Now you come out with fresh contradictions. You had said before, page 113, that “princes were not bound by any laws, neither coercive, nor directory; that they were bound by no law at all.” Now you say, that “you will discourse by-and-by of the difference betwixt some kings and others, in point of power; some having had more, some less.” You say, “you will prove that kings cannot be judged, nor condemned by their own subjects, by a most solid argument;” but you do it by a very silly one, and it is this: You say, “There was no other difference than that betwixt the judges, and the kings of the Jews; and yet the reason why the Jews required to have kings over them, was because they were weary of their judges, and hated their government.” Do you think, that, because they might judge and condemn their judges, if they misbehaved themselves in the government, they therefore hated and were weary of them, and would be under kings, whom they should have no power to restrain and keep within bounds, though they should break through all laws? Who but you ever argued so childishly? So that they desired a king for some other reason, than that they might have a master over them, whose power should be superior to that of the law; which reason, what it was, it is not to our present purpose to make a conjecture. Whatever it was, both God and his prophets tell us, it was no piece of prudence in the people to desire a king. And now you fall foul upon your rabbins, and are very angry with them for saying, that a king might be judged and condemned to undergo stripes; out of whose writings you said before you had proved, that the kings of the Jews could not be judged. Wherein you confess, that you told a lie when you said you had proved any such thing out of their writings. Nay, you come at last to forget the subject you were upon, of writing in the king’s defence, and raise little impertinent controversies about Solomon’s stables, and how many stalls he had for his horses. Then of a jockey you become a ballad-singer again, or rather, as I said before, a raving distracted cuckoo. You complain, that in these latter ages, discipline has been more remiss, and the rule less observed and kept up to; viz. because one tyrant in not permitted, without a check from the law, to let loose the reins of all discipline, and corrupt all men’s manners. This doctrine, you say, the Brownists introduced amongst those of the reformed religion; so that Luther, Calvin, Zuinglius, Bucer, and all the most celebrated orthodox divines, are Brownists in your opinion. The English have the less reason to take your reproaches ill, because they hear you belching out the same slanders against the most eminent doctors of the church, and in effect against the whole reformed church itself.
After having discoursed upon the law of God and of nature, and handled both so untowardly, that you have got nothing by the bargain but a deserved reproach of ignorance and knavery; I cannot apprehend what you can have further to allege in defence of your royal cause, but mere trifles. I for my part hope I have given satisfaction already to all good and learned men, and done this noble cause right, should I break off here; yet lest I should seem to any to decline your variety of arguing and ingenuity, rather than your immoderate impertinence, and tittle-tattle, I will follow you wherever you have a mind to go; but with such brevity as shall make it appear, that after having performed whatever the necessary defence of the cause required, if not what the dignity of it merited, I now do but comply with some men’s expectation, if not their curiosity. “Now,” say you, “I shall allege other and greater arguments.” What! greater arguments than what the law of God and nature afforded? Help, Lucina! the mountain Salmasius is in labour! It is not for nothing that he has got a she-husband. Mortals, expect some extraordinary birth. “If he that is, and is called a king, might be accused before any other power, that power must of necessity be greater than that of the king; and if so, then must that power be indeed the kingly power, and ought to have the name of it: for a kingly power is thus defined; to wit, the supreme power in the state residing in a single person, and which has no superior.” O ridiculous birth! a mouse crept out of the mountain! help grammarians! one of your number is in danger of perishing! the law of God and of nature are safe; but Salmasius’s dictionary is undone. What if I should answer you thus? That words ought to give place to things; that we having taken away kingly government itself, do not think ourselves concerned about its name and definition; let others look to that, who are in love with kings: we are contented with the enjoyment of our liberty; such an answer would be good enough for you. But to let you see that I deal fairly with you throughout, I will answer you, not only from my own, but from the opinion of very wise and good men, who have thought, that the name and power of a king are very consistent with a power in the people and the law superior to that of the king himself. In the first place, Lycurgus, a man very eminent for wisdom, designing, as Plato says, to secure a kingly government as well as it was possible, could find no better expedient to preserve it, than by making the power of the senate, and of the Ephori, that is, the power of the people, superior to it. Theseus, in Euripides, king of Athens, was of the same opinion; for he, to his great honour, restored the people to their liberty, and advanced the power of the people above that of the king, and yet left the regal power in that city to his posterity. Whence Euripides in his play called the “Suppliants,” introduces him speaking on this manner: “I have advanced the people themselves into the throne, having freed the city from slavery, and admitted the people to a share in the government, by giving them an equal right of suffrage.” And in another place to the herald of Thebes, “in the first place,” says he, “you begin your speech, friend, with a thing that is not true, in styling me a monarch: for this city is not governed by a single person, but is a free state; the people reign here.” These were his words, when at the same time he was both called and really was king there. The divine Plato likewise, in his eighth epistle, “Lycurgus,” says he, “introduced the power of the senate and of the Ephori, a thing very preservative of kingly government, which by this means has honourably flourished for so many ages, because the law in effect was made king. Now the law cannot be king, unless there be some, who, if there should be occasion, may put the law in execution against the king. A kingly government so bounded and limited, he himself commends to the Sicilians: “Let the people enjoy their liberty under a kingly government; let the king himself be accountable; let the law take place even against kings themselves, if they act contrary to law.” Aristotle likewise, in the third book of his Politics, “of all kingdoms,” says he, “that are governed by laws, that of the Lacedemonians seems to be most truly and properly so.” And he says, all forms of kingly governments are according to settled and established laws, but one, which he calls παμβασιλεία, or Absolute Monarchy, which he does not mention ever to have obtained in any nation. So that Aristotle thought such a kingdom, as that of the Lacedemonians was to be and deserve the name of a kingdom more properly than any other; and consequently that a king, though subordinate to his own people, was nevertheless actually a king, and properly so called. Now since so many and so great authors assert, that a kingly government both in name and thing may very well subsist even where the people, though they do not ordinarily exercise the supreme power, yet have it actually residing in them, and exercise it upon occasion; be not you of so mean a soul as to fear the downfall of grammar, and the confusion of the signification of words to that degree, as to betray the liberty of mankind, and the state, rather than your glossary should not hold water. And know for the future, that words must be conformable to things, not things to words. By this means you will have more wit, and not run on in infinitum, which now you are afraid of. “It was to no purpose then for Seneca,” you say, “to describe those three forms of government, as he has done.” Let Seneca do a thing to no purpose, so we enjoy our liberty. And if I mistake us not, we are other sort of men, than to be enslaved by Seneca’s flowers. And yet Seneca, though he says, that the sovereign power in a kingly government resides in a single person, says withal, that “the power is the people’s,” and by them committed to the king for the welfare of the whole, not for their ruin and destruction; and that the people has not given him a propriety in it, but the use of it. “Kings at this rate,” you say, “do not reign by God but by the people.” As if God did not so overrule the people, that they set up such kings, as it pleases God. Since Justinian himself openly acknowledges, that the Roman emperors derived their authority from that “royal law, whereby the people granted to them and vested in them all their own power and authority.” But how oft shall we repeat these things over and over again? Then you take upon you to intermeddle with the constitution of our government, in which you are no way concerned, who are both a stranger and a foreigner; but it shows your sauciness, and want of good manners. Come then, let us hear your solecisms, like a busy coxcomb as you are. You tell us, but it is in false Latin, “that what those desperadoes say, is only to deceive the people.” You rascal! was it not for this that you, a renegado grammarian, were so forward to intermeddle with the affairs of our government, that you might introduce your solecisms and barbarisms amongst us? But say, how have we deceived the people? “The form of government which they have set up, is not popular, but military.” This is what that herd of fugitives and vagabonds hired you to write. So that I shall not trouble myself to answer you, who bleat what you know nothing of, but I will answer them that hired you. “Who excluded the lords from parliament, was it the people?” Ay, it was the people; and in so doing they threw an intolerable yoke of slavery from off their necks. Those very soldiers, who you say did it, were not foreigners, but our own countrymen, and a great part of the people; and they did it with the consent, and at the desire, of almost all the rest of the people, and not without the authority of the parliament neither. “Was it the people that cut off part of the house of commons, forcing some away?” &c. Yes, I say, it was the people. For whatever the better and sounder part of the senate did, in which the true power of the people resided, why may not the people be said to have done it? What if the greater part of the senate should choose to be slaves, or to expose the government to sale, ought not the lesser number to interpose, and endeavour to retain their liberty, if it be in their power? “But the officers of the army and their soldiers did it.” And we are beholden to those officers for not being wanting to the state, but repelling the tumultuary violence of the citizens and mechanics of London, who like that rabble that appeared for Clodius, had but a little before beset the very parliament house? Do you therefore call the right of the parliament, to whom it properly and originally belongs, to take care of the liberty of the people both in peace and war, a military power? But it is no wonder that those traitors that have dictated these passages to you, should talk at that rate; so that profligate faction of Antony and his adherents used to call the senate of Rome, when they armed themselves against the enemies of their country, The camp of Pompey. And now I am glad to understand, that they of your party envy Cromwell, that most valiant general of our army, for undertaking that expedition in Ireland, (so acceptable to Almighty God,) surrounded with a joyful crowd of his friends, and prosecuted with the well-wishes of the people, and the prayers of all good men: for I question not but at the news of his many victories there, they are by this time burst with spleen. I pass by many of your impertinencies concerning the Roman soldiers. What follows is most notoriously false: “The power of the people,” say you, “ceases where there is a king.” By what law of right is that? Since it is known, that almost all kings, of what nations soever, received their authority from the people upon certain conditions; which if the king do not perform, I wish you would inform us, why that power, which was but a trust, should not return to the people, as well from a king, as from a consul, or any other magistrate. For when you tell us, that it is necessary for the public safety, you do but trifle with us; for the safety of the public is equally concerned, whether it be from a King, or from a Senate, or from a Triumvirate, that the power wherewith they were entrusted reverts to the people, upon their abuse of it; and yet you yourself grant, that it may so revert from all sorts of magistrates, a king only excepted. Certainly, if no people in their right wits ever committed the government either to a king, or other magistrates, for any other purpose than for the common good of them all, there can be no reason why, to prevent the utter ruin of them all, they may not as well take it back again from a king, as from other governors; nay, and it may with far greater ease be taken from one, than from many. And to invest any mortal creature with a power over themselves, on any other terms than upon trust, were extreme madness; nor is it credible that any people since the creation of the world, who had freedom of will, were ever so miserably silly, as either to part with the power for ever, and to all purposes, or to revoke it from those whom they had entrusted with it, but upon most urgent and weighty reasons. If dissensions, if civil wars, are occasioned thereby, there cannot any right accrue from thence to the king, to retain that power by force of arms, which the people challenge from him as their own. Whence it follows, that what you say, and we do not deny, that “governors are not likely to be changed,” is true with respect to the people’s prudence, not the king’s right; but that therefore they ought never to be changed, upon no occasion whatsoever, that does not follow by no means; nor have you hitherto alleged any thing, or made appear any right of kings to the contrary, but that all the people concurring, they may lawfully be deposed, when unfit for government; provided it may be done, as it has been often done in your own country of France, without any tumults or civil wars.
Since therefore the safety of the people, and not that of a tyrant, is the supreme law; and consequently ought to be alleged on the people’s behalf against a tyrant, and not for him against them: you that go about to pervert so sacred and so glorious a law, with your fallacies and jugglings; you who would have this supreme law, and which of all others is most beneficial to mankind, to serve only for the impunity of tyrants; let me tell you, (since you call us Englishmen so often inspired, and enthusiasts and prophets,) let me, I say, be so far a prophet, as to tell you, that the vengeance of God and man hangs over your head for so horrid a crime; although your subjecting all mankind to tyranny, as far as in you lies, which in effect is no better than condemning them to be devoured by wild beasts, is in itself part of its own vengeance; and whithersoever you fly, and wheresoever you wander, will first or last pursue you with its furies, and overtake you, and cause you to rave worse than you do at present. I come now to your second argument, which is not unlike the first: If the people may resume their liberty, “there would be no difference,” say you, “betwixt a popular state and a kingdom; but that in a kingdom one man rules, and in a popular state many.” And what if that were true; would the state have any prejudice by it? But you yourself tell us of other differences that would be notwithstanding; to wit, of “time and succession; for in popular states, the magistrates are generally chosen yearly;” whereas kings, if they behave themselves well, are perpetual;” and in most kingdoms there is a succession in the same family. But let them differ from one another, or not differ, I regard not those petty things: in this they agree, that when the public good requires it, the people may, without doing injury to any, resume that power for the public safety, which they committed to another for that end and purpose. “But according to the royal law, by the Romans so called, which is mentioned in the institutes, the people of Rome granted all their power and authority to the prince.” They did so by compulsion; the emperor being willing to ratify their tyranny by the authority of a law. But of this we have spoken before; and their own lawyers, commenting upon this place in the institutes, confess as much. So that we make no question but the people may revoke what they were forced to grant, and granted against their wills. But most rational it is to suppose, that the people of Rome transferred no other power to the prince, than they had before granted to their own magistrates; and that was a power to govern according to law, and a revocable, not an absurd, tyrannical power. Hence it was, that the emperors assumed the consular dignity, and that of the tribunes of the people; but after Julius Cæsar, not one of them pretended to the dictatorship: in the Circus Maximus they used to adore the people, as I have said already out of Tacitus and Claudian. But “as heretofore many private persons have sold themselves into slavery, so a whole nation may.” Thou jailbird of a knight, thou day-spirit, thou everlasting scandal to thy native country! The most despicable slaves in the world ought to abhor and spit upon such a factor for slavery, such a public pander as thou art. Certainly if people had so enslaved themselves to kings, then might kings turn them over to other masters, or sell them for money, and yet we know that kings cannot so much as alienate the demesnes of the crown: and shall he, that has but the crown, and the revenues that belong to it, as an usufructuary, and those given him by the people, can he be said to have, as it were, purchased the people, and made them his propriety? Though you were bored through both ears, and went barefoot, you would not be so vile and despicable, so much more contemptible than all slaves, as the broaching such a scandalous doctrine as this makes you. But go on, and punish yourself for your rogueries as now you do, though against your will. You frame a long discourse of the law of war; which is nothing to the purpose in this place: for neither did Charles conquer us; and for his ancestors, if it were never so much granted that they did, yet have they often renounced their title as conquerors. And certain it is, that we were never so conquered, but that as we swore allegiance to them, so they swore to maintain our laws, and govern by them: which laws, when Charles had notoriously violated, taken in what capacity you will, as one who had formerly been a conqueror, or was now a perjured king, we subdued him by force, he himself having begun with us first. And according to your own opinion, “Whatever is acquired by war, becomes his property that acquired it.” So that how full soever you are of words, how impertinent soever a babbler, whatever you prate, how great a noise soever you make, what quotations soever out of the rabbins, though you make yourself never so hoarse, to the end of this chapter, assure yourself, that nothing of it makes for the king, he being now conquered; but all for us, who by God’s assistance are conquerors.
To avoid two very great inconveniencies, and, considering your own weight, very weighty ones indeed, you denied in the foregoing chapter, that the people’s power was superior to that of the king; for if that should be granted, kings must provide themselves of some other name, because the people would indeed be king, and some divisions in your system of politics would be confounded: the first of which inconveniencies would thwart with your dictionary, and the latter overthrow your politics. To these I have given such an answer as shows, that though our own safety and liberty were the principal things I aimed the preservation of, yet withal, I had some consideration of salving your dictionary, and your politics. “Now,” say you, “I will prove by other arguments, that a king cannot be judged by his own subjects; of which arguments this shall be the greatest and most convincing, that a king has no peer in his kingdom.” What! Can a king have no peer in his kingdom? What then is the meaning of those twelve ancient peers of the kings of France? Are they fables and trifles? Are they called so in vain, and in mock only? Have a care how you affront those principal men of that kingdom; who if they are not the king’s peers, as they are called, I am afraid your dictionary, which is the only thing you are concerned for, will be found more faulty in France than in England. But go to, let us hear your demonstration, that a king has no peer in his own kingdom. “Because,” say you, “the people of Rome, when they had banished their king, appointed not one, but two consuls: and the reason was, that if one should transgress the laws, his colleague might be a check to him.” There could hardly have been devised any thing more silly: how came it to pass then, that but one of the consuls had the bundles of rods carried before him, and not both, if two were appointed, that each might have a power over the other? And what if both had conspired against the commonwealth? Would not the case then be the very same that it would have been, if one consul only had been appointed without a colleague? But we know very well, that both consuls, and all other magistrates, were bound to obey the senate, whenever the senate and the people saw, that the interest of the commonwealth so required. We have a famous instance of that in the decemvirs, who though they were invested with the power of consuls, and were the chief magistrates, yet the authority of the senate reduced them all, though they struggled to retain their government. Nay, we read that some consuls, before they went out of office, had been declared enemies, and arms have been taken up against them; for in those days no man looked upon him as a consul, who acted as an enemy. So war was waged against Antony, though a consul, by authority of the senate; in which being worsted, he would have been put to death, but that Octavius, affecting the empire, sided with him to subvert the commonwealth. Now whereas you say, “that it is a property peculiar to kingly majesty, that the power resides in a single person;” that is but a loose expression, like the rest of what you say, and is contradicted by yourself a little after: “for the Hebrew judges,” you say, “ruled as long as they lived, and there was but one of them at a time; the Scripture also calls them kings: and yet they were accountable to the great council.” Thus we see, that an itch of vain glory, in being thought to have said all that can be said, makes you hardly say any thing but contradictions. Then I ask, what kind of government that was in the Roman empire, when sometimes two, sometimes three emperors, reigned all at once? Do you reckon them to have been emperors, that is, kings, or was it an aristocracy, or a triumvirate? Or will you deny, that the Roman empire under Antoninus and Verus, under Dioclesian and Maximian, under Constantine and Licinius, was still but one entire empire? If these princes were not kings, your three forms of government will hardly hold; if they were, then it is not an essential property of a kingly government, to reside in a single person. “If one of these offend,” say you, “then may the other refer the matter to the senate, or the people, where he may be accused and condemned.” And does not the senate and the people then judge, when the matter is so referred to them? So that if you will give any credit to yourself, there needs not one colleague to judge another. Such a miserable advocate as you, if you were not so wretched a fellow as you are, would deserve compassion; you lie every way so open to blows, that if one were minded for sport’s sake to make a pass at any part of you, he could hardly miss, let him aim where he would. “It is ridiculous,” say you, “to imagine, that a king will ever appoint judges to condemn himself.” But I can tell you of an emperor, that was no ridiculous person, but an excellent prince, and that was Trajan, who, when he delivered a dagger to a certain Roman magistrate, as the custom was, that being the badge of his office, frequently thus admonished him, “Take this sword, and use it for me, if I do as I ought; if otherwise, against me: for miscarriages in the supreme magistrate are less excusable.” This Dion and Aurelius Victor say of him. You see here, that a worthy emperor appointed one to judge himself, though he did not make him equal. Tiberius perhaps might have said as much out of vanity and hypocrisy; but it is almost a crime to imagine, that so good and virtuous a prince as Trajan, did not really speak as he thought, and according to what he apprehended right and just. How much more reasonable was it, that though he were superior to the senate in power, and might, if he would, have refused to yield them any obedience, yet he actually did obey them, as by virtue of his office he ought to do, and acknowledged their right in the government to be superior to his own! For so Pliny tells us in his Panegyric, “The senate both desired and commanded you to be consul a fourth time; you may know by the obedience you pay them, that this is no word of flattery, but of power.” And a little after, “This is the design you aim at, to restore our lost liberty.” And Trajan was not of that mind alone; the senate thought so too, and were of opinion, that their authority was indeed supreme: for they that could command their emperor, might judge him. So the emperor Marcus Aurelius, when Cassius governor of Syria endeavoured to get the empire from him, referred himself either to the senate, or the people of Rome, and declared himself ready to lay down the government, if they would have it so. Now how should a man determine of the right of kings better and more truly, than out of the very mouths of the best of kings? Indeed every good king accounts either the senate, or the people, not only equal, but superior to himself by the law of nature. But a tyrant being by nature inferior to all men, every one that is stronger than he, ought to be accounted not only his equal, but superior: for as heretofore nature taught men from force and violence to betake themselves to laws; so wherever the laws are set at naught, the same dictate of nature must necessarily prompt us to betake ourselves to force again. “To be of this opinion,” says Cicero pro Sestio, “is a sign of wisdom; to put it in practice argues courage and resolution; and to do both, is the effect of virtue in its perfection.” Let this stand then as a settled maxim of the law of nature, never to be shaken by any artifices of flatterers, that the senate, or the people, are superior to kings, be they good or bad: which is but what you yourself do in effect confess, when you tell us, that the authority of kings was derived from the people. For that power, which they transferred to princes, doth yet naturally, or, as I may say, virtually reside in themselves notwithstanding: for so natural causes that produce any effect by a certain eminency of operation, do always retain more of their own virtue and energy than they impart; nor do they, by communicating to others, exhaust themselves. You see, the closer we keep to nature, the more evidently does the people’s power appear to be above that of the prince. And this is likewise certain, that the people do not freely, and of choice, settle the government in the king absolutely, so as to give him a propriety in it, nor by nature can do so; but only for the public safety and liberty, which, when the king ceases to take care of, then the people in effect have given him nothing at all: for nature says, the people gave it him to a particular end and purpose; which end, if neither nature nor the people can attain, the people’s gift becomes no more valid than any other void covenant or agreement.
These reasons prove very fully, that the people are superior to the king; and so your “greatest and most convincing argument, that a king cannot be judged by his people, because he has no peer in his kingdom,” nor any superior, falls to the ground. For you take that for granted, which we by no means allow. “In a popular state,” say you, “the magistrates being appointed by the people, may likewise be punished for their crimes by the people: in an aristocracy the senators may be punished by their colleagues: but it is a prodigious thing to proceed criminally against a king in his own kingdom, and make him plead for his life.” What can you conclude from hence, but that they who set up kings over them, are the most miserable and most silly people in the world? But, I pray, what is the reason why the people may not punish a king that becomes a malefactor, as well as they may popular magistrates and senators in an aristocracy? Do you think that all they who live under a kingly government, were so strangely in love with slavery, as when they might be free, to choose vassalage, and to put themselves all and entirely under the dominion of one man, who often happens to be an ill man, and often a fool, so as whatever cause might be, to leave themselves no refuge in, no relief from, the laws nor the dictates of nature, against the tyranny of a most outrageous master, when such a one happens? Why do they then tender conditions to their kings, when they first enter upon their government, and prescribe laws for them to govern by? Do they do this to be trampled upon the more, and be the more laughed to scorn? Can it be imagined, that a whole people would ever so villify themselves, depart from their own interest to that degree, be so wanting to themselves, as to place all their hopes in one man, and he very often the most vain person of them all? To what end do they require an oath of their kings, not to act any thing contrary to law? We must suppose them to do this, that (poor creatures!) they may learn to their sorrow, that kings only may commit perjury with impunity. This is what your own wicked conclusions hold forth. “If a king, that is elected, promise any thing to his people upon oath, which if he would not have sworn to, perhaps they would not have chose him, yet if he refuse to perform that promise, he falls not under the people’s censure. Nay, though he swear to his subjects at his election, that he will administer justice to them according to the laws of the kingdom; and that if he do not, they shall be discharged of their allegiance, and himself ipso facto cease to be their king; yet if he break this oath, it is God and not man that must require it of him.” I have transcribed these lines, not for their elegance, for they are barbarously expressed; nor because I think there needs any answer to them, for they answer themselves, they explode and damn themselves by their notorious falsehood and loathsomeness: but I did it to recommend you to kings for your great merits; that among so many places as there are at a court, they may put you into some preferment or office that may be fit for you. Some are princes’ secretaries, some their cup-bearers, some masters of the revels: I think you had best be master of the perjuries to some of them. You shall not be master of the ceremonies, you are too much a clown for that; but their treachery and perfidiousness shall be under your care.
But that men may see you are both a fool and a knave to the highest degree, let us consider these last assertions of yours a little more narrowly: “A king,” say you, “though he swear to his subjects at his election, that he will govern according to law, and that if he do not, they shall be discharged of their allegiance, and he himself ipso facto cease to be their king; yet can he not be deposed or punished by them.” Why not a king, I pray, as well as popular magistrates? because in a popular state, the people do not transfer all their power to the magistrates. And do they, in the case that you have put, vest it all in the king, when they place him in the government upon those terms expressly, to hold it no longer than he uses it well? Therefore it is evident, that a king sworn to observe the laws, if he transgress them, may be punished and deposed, as well as popular magistrates. So that you can make no more use of that invincible argument of the people’s transferring all their right and power to the prince; you yourself have battered it down with your own engines.
Hear now another most powerful and invincible argument of his, why subjects cannot judge their kings, “because he is bound by no law, being himself the sole lawgiver.” Which having been proved already to be most false, this great reason comes to nothing, as well as the former. But the reason why princes have but seldom been proceeded against for personal and private crimes, as whoredom, and adultery, and the like, is not because they could not justly be punished even for such, but lest the people should receive more prejudice through disturbances that might be occasioned by the king’s death, and the change of affairs, than they would be profited by the punishment of one man or two. But when they begin to be universally injurious and insufferable, it has always been the opinion of all nations, that then, being tyrants, it is lawful to put them to death any how, condemned or uncondemned. Hence Cicero, in his Second Philippic, says thus of those that killed Cæsar, “they were the first that ran through with their swords, not a man who affected to be king, but who was actually settled in the government; which, as it was a worthy and godlike action, so it is set before us for our imitation.” How unlike are you to him! “Murder, adultery, injuries, are not regal and public, but private and personal crimes.” Well said, parasite! you have obliged all pimps and profligates in courts by this expression. How ingeniously do you act both the parasite and the pimp with the same breath! “A king that is an adulterer, or a murderer, may yet govern well, and consequently ought not to be put to death, because, together with his life; he must lose his kingdom; and it was never yet allowed by God’s laws, or man’s, that for one and the same crime, a man was to be punished twice.” Infamous foul-mouth wretch! By the same reason the magistrates in a popular state, or in an aristocracy, ought never to be put to death, for fear of double punishment; no judge, no senator must die for they must lose their magistracy too, as well as their lives. As you have endeavoured to take all power out of the people’s hands, and vest it in the king, so you would all majesty too: a delegated translatitious majesty we allow, but that majesty does chiefly and primarily reside in him, you can no more prove, than you can that power and authority does. “A king,” you say, “cannot commit treason against his people, but a people may against their king.” And yet a king is what he is for the people only, not the people for him. Hence I infer, that the whole body of the people, or the greater part of them, must needs have greater power than the king. This you deny, and begin to cast up accounts. “He is of greater power than any one, than any two, than any three, than any ten, than any hundred, than any thousand, than any ten thousand:” be it so, “he is of more power than half the people.” I will not deny that neither; “add now half of the other half, will he not have more power than all those?” Not at all. Go on, why do you take away the board? Do you not understand progression in arithmetic? He begins to reckon after another manner. “Has not the king, and the nobility together, more power?” No, Mr. Changeling, I deny that too. If by the nobility, whom you style optimates, you mean the peers only; for it may happen that amongst the whole number of them, there may not be one man deserving that appellation: for it often falls out, that there are better and wiser men than they amongst the commons, whom in conjunction with the greater or the better part of the people, I should not scruple to call by the name of, and take them for, all the people. “But if the king is not superior in power to all the people together, he is then a king but of single persons, he is not the king of the whole body of the people.” You say well, no more he is, unless they are content he should be so. Now, balance your accounts, and you will find that by miscasting, you have lost your principal. “The English say, that the right of majesty originally and principally resides in the people; which principle would introduce a confusion of all states.” What, of an aristocracy and democracy? But let that pass. What if it should overthrow a gynæocracy too? (i. e. a government of one or more women,) under which state, or form of government, they say, you are in danger of being beaten at home; would not the English do you a kindness in that, you sheepish fellow, you? But there is no hope of that. For it is most justly so ordered, since you would subject all mankind to tyranny abroad, that you yourself should live in a scandalous most unmanlike slavery at home. “We must tell you,” you say, “what we mean by the word People.” There are a great many other things, which you stand more in need of being told: for of things that more immediately concern you, you seem altogether ignorant, and never to have learnt any thing but words and letters, not to be capable of any thing else. But this you think you know, that by the word people we mean the common people only, exclusive of the nobility, because we have put down the House of Lords. And yet that very thing shows, that under the word people we comprehend all our natives, of what order and degree soever; in that we have settled one supreme senate only, in which the nobility also, as a part of the people, (not in their own right, as they did before; but representing those boroughs or counties, for which they may be chose,) may give their votes. Then you inveigh against the common people, as being “blind and brutish, ignorant of the art of governing;” you say there is “nothing more empty, more vain, more inconstant, more uncertain than they.” All which is very true of yourself, and it is true likewise of the rabble, but not of the middle sort, amongst whom the most prudent men, and most skilful in affairs, are generally found; others are most commonly diverted either by luxury and plenty, or by want and poverty, from virtue, and the study of laws and government. “There are many ways,” you say, “by which kings come to the crown, so as not to be beholden to the people at all for it;” and especially, “those tht inherit a kingdom.” But those nations must certainly be slaves, and born to slavery, that acknowledge any one to be their lord and master so absolutely, as that they are his inheritance, and come to him by descent, without any consent of their own; they deserve not the appellation of subjects, nor of freemen, nor can they justly be reputed such; nor are they to be accounted as a civil society, but must be looked on as the possessions and estate of their lord, and his family: for I see no difference as to the right of ownership betwixt them, and slaves, or beasts. Secondly, “they that come to the crown by conquest, cannot acknowledge themselves to have received from the people the power to usurp.” We are not now discoursing of a conqueror, but of a conquered king; what a conqueror may lawfully do, we will discourse elsewhere; do you keep to your subject. But whereas you ascribe to kings that ancient right, that masters of families have over their households, and take an example from thence of their absolute power; I have shown already over and over, that there is no likeness at all betwixt them. And Aristotle (whom you name so often) if you had read him, would have taught you as much in the beginning of his Politics, where he says, they judge amiss, that think there is but little difference betwixt a king, and a master of a family: “For that there is not a numerical, but a specifical difference betwixt a kingdom and a family.” For when villages grew to be towns and cities, that regal domestic right vanished by degrees, and was no more owned. Hence Diodorus, in his first book, says, that anciently kingdoms were transmitted not to the former kings’ sons, but to those that had best deserved of the people. And Justin, “Originally,” says he, “the government of nations, and of countries, was by kings, who were exalted to that height of majesty, not by popular ambition, but for their moderation, which commended them to good men.” Whence it is manifest, that, in the very beginning of nations, that fatherly and hereditary government gave way to virtue, and the people’s right: which is the most natural reason and cause, and was the true rise of kingly government. For at first men entered into societies, not that any one might insult over all the rest, but that in case any should injure another, there might be laws and judges to protect them from wrong, or at least to punish the wrong doers. When men were at first dispersed and scattered asunder, some wise and eloquent man persuaded them to enter into civil societies; “that he himself,” say you, “might exercise dominion over them, when so united.” Perhaps you meant this of Nimrod, who is said to have been the first tyrant. Or else it proceeds from your own malice only, and certainly it cannot have been true of those great and generous spirited men, but is a fiction of your own, not warranted by any authority that I ever heard of. For all ancient writers tell us, that those first instituters of communities of men had a regard to the good and safety of mankind only, and not to any private advantages of their own, or to make themselves great or powerful.
One thing I cannot pass by, which I suppose you intended for an emblem, to set off the rest of this chapter: “If a consul,” say you, “had been to be accused before his magistracy expired, there must have been a dictator created for that purpose;” though you had said before, “that for that very reason there were two of them.” Just so your positions always agree with one another, and almost every page declares how weak and frivolous whatever you say or write upon any subject is. “Under the ancient Saxon kings,” you say, “the people were never called to parliaments.” If any of our own countrymen had asserted such a thing, I could easily have convinced him that he was in an error. But I am not so much concerned at your mistaking our affairs, because you are a foreigner. This in effect is all you say of the right of kings in general. Many other things I omit, for you use many digressions, and put things down that either have no ground at all, or are nothing to the purpose, and my design is not to vie with you in impertinence.
If you had published your own opinion, Salmasius, concerning the right of kings in general, without affronting any persons in particular, notwithstanding this alteration of affairs in England, as long as you did but use your own liberty in writing what yourself thought fit, no Englishman could have had any cause to have been displeased with you, nor would you have made good the opinion you maintain ever a whit the less. For if it be a positive command both of Moses and of Christ himself, “That all men whatsoever, whether Spaniards, French, Italians, Germans, English, or Scots, should be subject to their princes, be they good or bad,” which you asserted, p. 127, to what purpose was it for you, who are a foreigner, and unknown to us, to be tampering with our laws, and to read us lectures out of them as out of your own papers and miscellanies, which, be they how they will, you have taught us already in a great many words, that they ought to give way to the laws of God? But now it is apparent, that you have undertaken the defence of this royal cause, not so much out of your own inclination, as partly because you were hired, and that at a good round price too, considering how things are with him that set you on work; and partly, it is like, out of expectation of some greater reward hereafter; to publish a scandalous libel against the English, who are injurious to none of their neighbours, and meddle with their own matters only. If there were no such thing as that in the case, is it credible, that any man should be so impudent or so mad, as though he be a stranger, and at a great distance from us, yet of his own accord to intermeddle with our affairs, and side with a party? What the devil is it to you, what the English do amongst themselves? What would you have, pragmatical puppy? What would you be at? Have you no concerns of your own at home? I wish you had the same concerns that that famous Olus, your fellow-busybody in the Epigram, had; and perhaps so you have; you deserve them, I am sure. Or did that hotspur your wife, who encouraged you to write what you have done for outlawed Charles’s sake, promise you some profitable professor’s place in England, and God knows what gratifications at Charles’s return? But assure yourselves, my mistress and my master, that England admits neither of wolves, nor owners of wolves: so that it is no wonder you spit so much venom at our English mastiffs. It were better for you to return to those illustrious titles of yours in France; first to that hunger-starved lordship of yours at St. Lou;* and in the next place, to the sacred consistory of the most Christian king. Being a counsellor to the prince, you are at too great a distance from your own country. But I see full well, that she neither desires you, nor your counsel; nor did it appear she did, when you were there a few years ago, and began to lick a cardinal’s trencher: she is in the right, by my troth, and can very willingly suffer such a little fellow as you, that are but one half of a man, to run up and down with your mistress of a wife, and your desks full of trifles and fooleries, till you light somewhere or other upon a stipend, large enough for a knight of the grammar, or an illustrious critic on horseback, if any prince or state has a mind to hire a vagabond doctor, that is to be sold at a good round price. But here is one that will bid for you; whether you are a merchantable commodity or not, and what you are worth, we shall see by and by. You say, “the parricides assert, that the government of England is not merely kingly, but that it is a mixed government.” Sir Thomas Smith, a countryman of ours in Edward the Sixth’s days, a good lawyer, and a statesman, one whom you yourself will not call a parricide, in the beginning of a book which he wrote “of the commonwealth of England,” asserts the same thing, and not of our government only, but of almost all others in the world, and that out of Aristotle; and he says that it is not possible, that any government should otherwise subsist. But as if you thought it a crime to say any thing, and not unsay it again, you repeat your former threadbare contradictions. You say, “there neither is nor ever was any nation, that did not understand by the very name of a king, a person whose authority is inferior to God alone, and who is accountable to no other.” And yet a little after you confess, “that the name of a king was formerly given to such powers and magistrates, as had not a full and absolute right of themselves, but had a dependence upon the people, as the suffetes among the Carthaginians, the Hebrew judges, the kings of the Lacedemonians, and of Arragon.” Are you not very consistent with yourself? Then you reckon up five several sorts of monarchies out of Aristotle; in one of which only that right obtained, which you say is common to all kings. Concerning which I have said already more than once, that neither doth Aristotle give an instance of any such monarchy, nor was there ever any such in being: the other four he clearly demonstrates that they were bounded by established laws, and the king’s power subject to those laws. The first of which four was that of the Lacedemonians, which in his opinion did of all others best deserve the name of a kingdom. The second was such as obtained among barbarians, which was lasting, because regulated by laws, and because the people willingly submitted to it; whereas by the same author’s opinion in his third book, what king soever retains the sovereignty against the people’s will, is no longer to be accounted a king, but a downright tyrant; all which is true likewise of his third sort of kings, which he calls Æsymnetes, who were chosen by the people, and most commonly for a certain time only, and for some particular purposes, such as the Roman dictators were. The fourth sort he makes of such as reigned in the heroical days, upon whom for their extraordinary merits the people of their own accord conferred the government, but yet bounded by laws; nor could these retain the sovereignty against the will of the people; nor do these four sorts of kingly governments differ, he says, from tyranny in any thing else, but only in that these governments are with the good liking of the people, and that against their will. The fifth sort of kingly government, which he calls παμβασίλεια, or absolute monarchy, in which the supreme power resides in the king’s person, which you pretend to be the right of all kings, is utterly condemned by the philosopher, as neither for the good of mankind, nor consonant to justice or nature, unless some people should be content to live under such a government, and withal confer it upon such as excel all others in virtue. These things any man may read in the third book of his Politics. But you, I believe, that once in your life you might appear witty and florid, pleased yourself with making a comparison “betwixt these five sorts of kingly government, and the five zones of the world; betwixt the two extremes of kingly power, there are three more temperate species interposed, as there lie three zones betwixt the torrid and the frigid.” Pretty rogue! what ingenious comparisons he always makes us! may you for ever be banished whither you yourself condemn an absolute kingdom to be, that is, to the frigid zone, which when you are there, will be doubly cold to what it was before. In the meanwhile we shall expect that new-fashioned sphere which you describe, from you our modern Archimedes, in which there shall be two extreme zones, one torrid, and the other frigid, and three temperate ones lying betwixt. “The kings of the Lacedemonians, you say, might lawfully be imprisoned, but it was not lawful to put them to death.” Why not? Because the ministers of justice, and some foreign soldiers, being surprised at the novelty of the thing, thought it not lawful to lead Agis to his execution, though condemned to die? And the people of Lacedemon were displeased at his death, not because condemned to die, though a king, but because he was a good man and popular, and had been circumvented by a faction of the great ones. Says Plutarch, “Agis was the first king that was put to death by the ephori;” in which words he does not pretend to tell us what lawfully might be done, but what actually was done. For to imagine that such as may lawfully accuse a king, and imprison him, may not also lawfully put him to death, is a childish conceit. At last you betake yourself to give an account of the right of English kings. “There never was,” you say, “but one king in England.” This you say, because you had said before, “unless a king be sole in the government, he cannot be a king.” Which if it be true, some of them, who I had thought had been kings of England, were not really so; for to omit many of our Saxon kings, who had either their sons or their brothers partners with them in the government, it is known that King Henry II., of the Norman race, reigned together with his son. “Let them show,” say you, “a precedent of any kingdom under the government of a single person, who has not an absolute power: though in some kingdoms more remiss, in others more intense.” Do you show any power that is absolute, and yet remiss, you ass? is not that power which is absolute, the supreme power of all? How can it then be both supreme and remiss? Whatsoever kings you shall acknowledge to be invested with a remiss (or a less) power, those I will easily make appear to have no absolute power; and consequently to be inferior to a people, free by nature, who is both its own lawgiver, and can make the regal power more or less intense or remiss; that is, greater or less. Whether the whole island of Britain was anciently governed by kings, or no, is uncertain. It is most likely, that the form of their government changed according to the exigencies of the times Whence Tacitus says, “the Britons anciently were under kings; now the great men amongst them divide them into parties and factions.” When the Romans left them, they were about forty years without kings; they were not always therefore under a kingly government, as you say they were. But when they were so, that the kingdom was hereditary, I positively deny; which that it was not, is evident both from the series of their kings, and their way of creating them; for the consent of the people is asked in express words.
When the king has taken the accustomed oath, the archbishop stepping to every side of the stage erected for that purpose, asks the people four several times in these words, “Do you consent to have this man to be your king?” Just as if he spoke to them in the Roman style, Vultis, Jubetis hunc Regnare? “Is it your pleasure, do you appoint this man to reign?” Which would be needless, if the kingdom were by the law hereditary. But with kings, usurpation passes very frequently for law and right. You go about to ground Charles’s right to the crown, who was so often conquered himself, upon the right of conquest. William, surnamed the Conqueror, forsooth, subdued us. But they who are not strangers to our history, know full well, that the strength of the English nation was not so broken in that one fight at Hastings, but that they might easily have renewed the war. But they chose rather to accept of a king than to be under a conqueror and a tyrant: they swear therefore to William, to be his liegemen, and he swears to them at the altar, to carry himself towards them as a good king ought to do in all respects. When he broke his word, and the English betook themselves again to their arms, being diffident of his strength, he renewed his oath upon the Holy Evangelists, to observe the ancient laws of England. And therefore, if after that he miserably oppressed the English, (as you say he did,) he did it not by right of conquest, but by right of perjury. Besides, it is certain, that many ages ago, the conquerors and conquered coalesced into one and the same people: so that that right of conquest, if any such ever were, must needs have been antiquated long ago. His own words at his death, which I give you out of a French manuscript written at Caen, put all out of doubt, “I appoint no man (says he) to inherit the kingdom of England.” By which words, both his pretended right of conquest, and the hereditary right, were disclaimed at his death, and buried together with him.
I see now that you have gotten a place at court, as I foretold you would; you are made the king’s chief treasurer and steward of his court craft: and what follows, you seem to write ex officio, as by virtue of your office, magnificent Sir.” “If any preceding kings, being thereunto compelled by factions of great men, or seditions amongst the common people, have receded in some measure from their right, that cannot prejudice the successor; but that he is at liberty to resume it.” You say well; if therefore at any time our ancestors have through neglect lost any thing that was their right, why should that prejudice us their posterity? If they would promise for themselves to become slaves, they could make no such promise for us; who shall always retain the same right of delivering ourselves out of slavery, that they had of enslaving themselves to any whomsoever. You wonder how it comes to pass that a king of Great Britain must now-a-days be looked upon as one of the magistrates of the kingdom only; whereas in all other kingly governments in Christendom, kings are invested with a free and absolute authority. For the Scots, I remit you to Buchanan: for France, your own native country, to which you seem to be a stranger, to Holloman’s Franco-Gallia, and Girardus a French historian: for the rest, to other authors, of whom none that I know of were Independents: out of whom you might have learned a quite other lesson concerning the right of kings, than what you teach. Not being able to prove that a tyrannical power belongs to the kings of England by right of conquest, you try now to do it by right of perjury. Kings profess themselves to reign “by the grace of God:” what if they had professed themselves to be gods? I believe if they had, you might easily have been brought to become one of their priests. So the archbishops of Canterbury pretended to archbishop it by “Divine Providence.” Are you such a fool, as to deny the pope’s being a king in the church, that you may make the king greater than a pope in the state? But in the statutes of the realm the king is called our lord. You are become of a sudden a wonderful Nomenclator of our statutes: but you know not that many are called lords and masters who are not really so: you know not how unreasonable a thing it is to judge of truth and right by titles of honour, not to say of flattery. Make the same inference, if you will, from the parliament’s being called the king’s parliament; for it is called the king’s bridle too, or a bridle to the king: and therefore the king is no more lord or master of his parliament, than a horse is of his bridle. But why not the king’s parliament, since the king “summons them?” I will tell you why; because the consuls used to indict a meeting of the senate, yet were they not lords over that council. When the king therefore summons or calls together a parliament, he does it by virtue and in discharge of that office, which he has received from the people, that he may advise with them about the weighty affairs of the kingdom, not his own particular affairs. Or when at any time the parliament debated of the king’s own affairs, if any could properly be called his own, they were always the last things they did; and it was in their choice when to debate of them, and whether at all or no, and depended not upon the king’s pleasure. And they whom it concerns to know this, know very well, that parliaments anciently, whether summoned or not, might by law meet twice a year: but the laws are called too, “the king’s laws.” These are flattering ascriptions; a king of England can of himself make no law; for he was not constituted to make laws, but to see those laws kept, which the people made. And you yourself here confess, that “parliaments meet to make laws;” wherefore the law is also called the law of the land, and the people’s law. Whence king Ethelstane in the preface to his laws, speaking to all the people, “I have granted you every thing,” says he, “by your own law.”—And in the form of the oath, which the kings of England used to take before they were made kings, the people stipulate with them thus: “Will you grant those just laws, which the people shall choose?” The king answers, “I will.” And you are infinitely mistaken in saying, that “when there is no parliament sitting, the king governs the whole state of the kingdom, to all intents and purposes, by a regal power.” For he can determine nothing of any moment, with respect to either peace or war: nor can he put any stop to the proceedings of the courts of justice. And the judges therefore swear, that they will do nothing judicially, but according to law, though the king by word, or mandate, or letters under his own seal, should command the contrary. Hence it is that the king is often said in our law to be an infant; and to possess his rights and dignities, as a child or a ward does his: see the Mirror, Cap. 4, sec. 22. And hence is that common saying amongst us, that “the king can do no wrong:” which you like a rascal, interpret thus, “Whatever the king does, is no injury, because he is not liable to be punished for it.” By this very comment, if there were nothing else, the wonderful impudence and villainy of this fellow discovers itself sufficiently. “It belongs to the head,” you say, “to command, and not to the members: the king is the head of the parliament.” You would not trifle thus, if you had any guts in your brains. You are mistaken again (but there is no end of your mistakes) in not distinguishing the king’s counsellors from the states of the realm: for neither ought he to make choice of all of them, nor of any of them, which the rest do not approve of; but for electing any member of the house of commons, he never so much as pretended to it. Whom the people appointed to that service, they were severally chosen by the votes of all the people in their respective cities, towns, and counties. I speak now of things universally known, and therefore I am the shorter. But you say, “it is false that the parliament was instituted by the people, as the worshippers of saint Independency assert.” Now I see why you took so much pains in endeavouring to subvert the papacy; you carry another pope in your belly, as we say. For what else should you be in labour of, the wife of a woman, a he-wolf, impregnated by a she-wolf, but either a monster, or some new sort of papacy? You now make he-saints and she-saints, at your pleasure, as if you were a true genuine pope. You absolve kings of all their sins, and as if you had utterly vanquished and subdued your antagonist the pope, you adorn yourself with his spoils. But because you have not yet profligated the pope quite, till the second and third, and perhaps the fourth and fifth part of your book of his supremacy come out, which book will nauseate a great many readers to death, sooner than you will get the better of the pope by it; let it suffice you in the mean time, I beseech you to become some antipope or other. There is another she-saint, besides that Independency that you deride, which you have canonized in good earnest; and that is, the tyranny of kings: you shall therefore by my consent be the high priest of tyranny; and that you may have all the pope’s titles, you shall be a “servant of the servants,” not of God, but of the court. For that curse pronounced upon Canaan seems to stick as close to you, as your shirt. You call the people “a beast.” What are you then yourself; for neither can that sacred consistory, nor your lordship of St. Lou, exempt you its master from being one of the people, nay, of the common people; nor can make you other than what you really are, a most loathsome beast. Indeed the writings of the prophets shadow out to us the monarchy and dominion of great kings by the name, and under the resemblance, of a great beast. You say, that “there is no mention of parliaments held under our kings, that reigned before William the Conqueror.” It is not worth while to jangle about a French word: the thing was always in being; and you yourself allow that in Saxon times, Concilia Sapientum, Wittena-gemots, are mentioned. And there are wise men among the body of the people, as well as amongst the nobility. But “in the statute of Merton made in the twentieth year of king Henry the third, the earls and barons are only named.” Thus you are always imposed upon by words, who yet have spent your whole life in nothing else but words; for we know very well that in that age, not only the guardians of the cinque-ports, and magistrates of cities, but even tradesmen are sometimes called barons; and without doubt, they might much more reasonably call every member of parliament, though never so much a commoner, by the name of baron. For that in the fifty-second year of the same king’s reign, the commoners as well as the lords were summoned, the statute of Marlbridge, and most other statutes, declare in express words; which commoners King Edward the Third, in the preface to the statute-staple, calls, “Magnates Comitatum, the great men of the counties,” as you very learnedly quote it for me; those to wit, “that came out of several counties, and served for them;” which number of men constituted the house of commons, and neither were lords, nor could be. Besides, a book more ancient than those statutes, called, “Modus habendi Parliamenta, i. e. the manner of holding parliaments,” tells us, that the king and the commons may hold a parliament, and enact laws, though the lords, the bishops are absent; but that with the lords, and the bishops, in the absence of the commons, no parliament can be held. And there is a reason given for it, viz. because kings held parliaments and councils with their people before any lords or bishops were made; besides, the lords serve for themselves only, the commons each for the county, city, or borough that sent them. And that, therefore, the commons in parliament represent the whole body of the nation; in which respect they are more worthy, and every way preferable to the house of peers. “But the power of Judicature,” you say, “never was invested in the house of commons.” Nor was the king ever possessed of it: remember though, that originally all power proceeded, and yet does proceed, from the people. Which Marcus Tullius excellently well shows in his oration, “De lege Agraria, of the Agrarian law:” “As all powers, authorities, and public administrations ought to be derived from the whole body of the people; so those of them ought in an especial manner so to be derived, which are ordained and appointed for the common benefit and interest of all, to which employments every particular person may both give his vote for the choosing such persons, as he thinks will take most care of the public, and withal by voting and making interest for them, lay such obligations upon them, as may entitle them to their friendship and good offices in time to come.” Here you see the true rise and original of parliaments, and that it was much ancienter than the Saxon chronicles. Whilst we may dwell in such a light of truth and wisdom, as Cicero’s age afforded, you labour in vain to blind us with the darkness of obscurer times. By the saying whereof I would not be understood to derogate in the least from the authority and prudence of our ancestors, who most certainly went further in the enacting of good laws, than either the ages they lived in, or their own learning or education seem to have been capable of; and though sometimes they made laws that were none of the best, yet as being conscious to themselves of the ignorance and infirmity of human nature, they have conveyed this doctrine down to posterity, as the foundation of all laws, which likewise all our lawyers admit, that if any law, or custom, be contrary to the law of God, of nature, or of reason, it ought to be looked upon as null and void. Whence it follows, that though it were possible for you to discover any statute, or other public sanction, which ascribed to the king a tyrannical power, since that would be repugnant to the will of God, to nature and to right reason, you may learn from that general and primary law of ours, which I have just now quoted, that it will be null and void. But you will never be able to find, that any such right of kings has the least foundation in our law. Since it is plain therefore, that the power of judicature was originally in the people themselves, and that the people never did by any royal law part with it to the king, (for the kings of England neither used to judge any man, nor can by the law do it, otherwise than according to laws settled and agreed to: Fleta, Book I. Cap. 17,) it follows that this power remains yet whole and entire in the people themselves. For that it was either never committed to the house of peers, or if it were, that it may lawfully be taken from them again, you yourself will not deny. But, “It is in the king’s power,” you say, “to make a village into a borough, and that into a city; and consequently the king does in effect create those that constitute the Commons House of Parliament.” But, I say, that even towns and boroughs are more ancient than kings; and that the people is the people, though they should live in the open fields. And now we are extremely well pleased with your Anglicisms, COUNTY COURT, THE TURNE HUNDREDA: You have quickly learned to count your hundred Jacobuses in English.
The next thing you do is to trouble us with a long discourse of the earls and the barons, to show that the king made them all; which we readily grant, and for that reason they were most commonly at the king’s beck; and therefore we have done well to take care, that for the future they shall not be judges of a free people. You affirm, that “the power of calling parliaments as often as he pleases, and of dissolving them when he pleases, has belonged to the king time out of mind.” Whether such a vile mercenary foreigner as you, who transcribe what some fugitives dictate to you, or the express letter of our own laws, are more to be credited in this matter, we shall inquire hereafter. But say you, “there is another argument, and an invincible one, to prove the power of the kings of England superior to that of the parliament; the king’s power is perpetual and of course, whereby he administers the government singly without the parliament; that of the parliament is extraordinary, or out of course, and limited to particulars only, nor can they enact any thing so as to be binding in law, without the king.” Where does the great force of this argument lie? In the words “of course and perpetual?” Why, many inferior magistrates have an ordinary and perpetual power, those whom we call justices of the peace. Have they therefore the supreme power? And I have said already, that the king’s power is committed to him, to take care, by interposing his authority, that nothing be done contrary to law, and that he may see to the due observation of our laws, not to top his own upon us: and consequently that the king has no power out of his courts; nay, all the ordinary power is rather the people’s, who determine all controversies themselves by juries of twelve men. And hence it is, that when a malefactor is asked at his arraignment, “How will you be tried?” he answers always, according to law and custom, “by God and my country;” not by God and the king, or the king’s deputy. But the authority of the parliament, which indeed and in truth is the supreme power of the people committed to that senate, if it may be called extraordinary, it must be by reason of its eminence and superiority; else it is known they are called ordines, and therefore cannot properly be said to be extra ordinem, out of order; and if not actually, as they say, yet virtually they have a perpetual power and authority over all courts and ordinary magistrates, and that without the king.
And now it seems our barbarous terms grate upon your critical ears, forsooth! whereas, if I had leisure, or that it were worth my while, I could reckon up so many barbarisms of yours in this one book, as if you were to be chastised for them as you deserve, all the schoolboys’ ferulas in Christendom would be broken upon you; nor would you receive so many pieces of gold as that wretched poet did of old, but a great many more boxes on the ear. You say, “It is a prodigy more monstrous than all the most absurd opinions in the world put together, that the Bedlams should make a distinction betwixt the king’s power and his person.” I will not quote what every author has said upon this subject; but if by the words Personam Regis, you mean what we call in English, the person of the king; Chrysostom, who was no Bedlam, might have taught you, that it is no absurd thing to make a distinction betwixt that and his power; for that further explains the apostle’s command of being subject to the higher powers, to be meant of the thing, the power itself, and not of the persons of the magistrates. And why may not I say that a king, who acts any thing contrary to law, acts so far forth as a private person, or a tyrant, and not in the capacity of a king invested with a legal authority? If you do not know, that there may be in one and the same man more persons or capacities than one, and that those capacities may in thought and conception be severed from the man himself, you are altogether ignorant both of Latin and common sense. But this you say to absolve kings from all sin and guilt; and that you may make us believe, that you are gotten into the chair yourself, which you have pulled the pope out of. “The king,” you say, “is supposed not capable of committing any crime, because no punishment is consequential upon any crime of his.” Whoever therefore is not punished, offends not; it is not the theft, but the punishment, that makes the thief. Salmasius the Grammarian commits no solecisms now, because he is from under the ferula; when you have overthrown the pope, let these, for God’s sake, be the canons of your pontificate, or at least your indulgencies, whether you shall choose to be called the high priest St. Tyranny, or St. Slavery. I pass by the reproachful language, which towards the latter end of the chapter you give the state of the commonwealth, and the church of England; it is common to such as you are, you contemptible varlet, to rail at those things most that are most praiseworthy. But that I may not seem to have asserted any thing rashly concerning the right of the kings of England, or rather concerning the people’s right with respect to their princes; I will now allege out of our ancient histories a few things indeed of many, but such as will make it evident, that the English lately tried their king according to the settled laws of the realm, and the customs of their ancestors. After the Romans quitted this island, the Britons for about forty years were sui juris, and without any kings at all. Of whom those they first set up, some they put to death. And for that, Gildas reprehends them, not as you do, for killing their kings, but for killing them uncondemned, and (to use his own words) “non pro veri examinatione,” without inquiring into the matter of fact. Vortigern was for his incestuous marriage with his own daughter condemned (as Nennius informs us, the most ancient of all our historians next to Gildas) by St. German, “and a general council of the Britons,” and his son Vortimer set up in his stead. This came to pass not long after St. Augustine’s death, which is enough to discover how futilous you are, to say, as you have done, that it was a pope, and Zachary by name, who first held the lawfulness of judging kings. About the year of our Lord 600, Morcantius, who then reigned in Wales, was by Oudeceus, bishop of Llandaff, condemned to exile, for the murder of his uncle, though he got the sentence off by bestowing some lands upon the church.
Come we now to the Saxons, whose laws we have, and therefore I shall quote none of their precedents. Remember, that the Saxons were of a German extract, who never invested their kings with any absolute, unlimited power, but consulted in a body of the more weighty affairs of government; whence we may perceive, that in the time of our Saxon ancestors parliaments (the name itself only excepted) had the supreme authority. The name they gave them, was “councils of wise men;” and this in the reign of Ethelbert, of whom Bebe says, “that he made laws in imitation of the Roman laws, cum concilio sapientum; by the advice, or in a council of his wise men.” So Edwin king of Northumberland, and Ina king of the west Saxons, “having consulted with their wise men, and the elders of the people,” made new laws. Other laws King Alfred made, “by the advice” in like manner of “his wise men;” and he says himself, “that it was by the consent of them all, that they were commanded to be observed.”
From these and many other like places, it is as clear as the sun, that chosen men even from amongst the common people, were members of the supreme councils, unless we must believe, that no men are wise but the nobility. We have likewise a very ancient book, called the “Mirror of Justice,” in which we are told, that the Saxons, when they first subdued the Britons, and chose themselves kings, required an oath of them, to submit to the judgment of the law, as much as any of their subjects, Cap. 1. Sect. 2. In the same place it is said, that it is but just that the king have his peers in parliament, to take cognizance of wrongs done by the king, or the queen; and that there was a law made in King Alfred’s time, that parliaments should be holden twice a year at London, or oftener, if need were: which law, when through neglect it grew into disuse, was revived by two statutes in King Edward the Third’s time. And in another ancient manuscript, called “Modus tenendi Parliamenta,” we read thus, “If the king was summoned, he is guilty of perjury; and shall be reputed to have broken his coronation oath.” For how can he be said to grant those good laws, which the people choose, as he is sworn to do, if he hinders the people from choosing them, either by summoning parliaments seldomer, or by dissolving them sooner, than the public affairs require, or admit? And that oath which the kings of England take at their coronation, has always been looked upon by our lawyers as a most sacred law. And what remedy can be found to obviate the great dangers of the whole state, (which is the very end of summoning parliaments,) if that great and august assembly may be dissolved at the pleasure many time of a silly, headstrong king? To absent himself from them, is certainly less than to dissolve them; and yet by our laws, as that Modus lays them down, the king neither can nor ought to absent himself from his parliament, unless he be really indisposed in health; nor then neither, till twelve of the peers have been with him to inspect his body, and give the parliament an account of his indisposition. Is this like the carriage of servants to a master? On the other hand the house of commons, without whom there can be no parliament held, though summoned by the king, may withdraw, and having made a secession, expostulate with the king concerning maleadministration, as the same book has it. But, which is the greatest thing of all, amongst the laws of King Edward, commonly called the Confessor, there is one very excellent, relating to the kingly office; which office, if the king do not discharge as he ought, then, says the law, “he shall not retain so much as the name of a king.” And lest these words should not be sufficiently understood, the example of Chilperic king of France is subjoined, whom the people for that cause deposed. And that by this law a wicked king is liable to punishment, that sword of King Edward, called Curtana, denotes to us, which the earl of Chester used to carry in the solemn procession at a coronation; “a token,” says Matthew Paris, “that he has authority by law to punish the king, if he will not do his duty:” and the sword is hardly ever made use of but in capital punishments. This same law, together with other laws of that good King Edward, did William the Conqueror ratify in the fourth year of his reign, and in a very full council held at Verulam, confirmed it with a most solemn oath: and by so doing, he not only extinguished his right of conquest, if he ever had any over us, but subjected himself to be judged according to the tenor of this very law. And his son Henry swore to the observance of King Edward’s laws, and of this amongst the rest; and upon those only terms it was that he was chosen king, while his elder brother Robert was alive. The same oath was taken by all succeeding kings, before they were crowned. Hence our ancient and famous lawyer Bracton, in his first book, Chap. viii., “There is no king in the case,” says he, “where will rules the roast, and law does not take place.” And in his third book, Chap. ix., “A king is a king, so long as he rules well; he becomes a tyrant when he oppresses the people committed to his charge.” And in the same chapter, “The king ought to use the power of law and right as God’s minister and vicegerent; the power of wrong is the Devil’s and not God’s; when the king turns aside to do injustice, he is the minister of the Devil.” The very same words almost another ancient lawyer has, who was the author of the book called “Fleta;” both of them remembered that truly royal law of King Edward, that fundamental maxim in our law, which I have formerly mentioned, by which nothing is to be accounted a law, that is contrary to the laws of God, or of reason; no more than a tyrant can be said to be a king, or a minister of the Devil a minister of God.
Since therefore the law is chiefly right reason, if we are bound to obey a king, and a minister of God; by the very same reason, and the very same law, we ought to resist a tyrant, and a minister of the Devil. And because controversies arise oftener about names than things, the same authors tell us, that a king of England, though he have not lost the name of a king, yet is as liable to be judged, and ought so to be, as any of the common people. Bracton, Book I. Chap. viii.; Fleta, Book I. Chap. xvii.; “No man ought to be greater than the king in the administration of justice; but he himself ought to be as little as the least in receiving justice, si peccat, if he offend.” Others read it, si petat. Since our kings therefore are liable to be judged, whether by the name of tyrants, or of kings, it must not be difficult to assign their legal judges. Nor will it be amiss to consult the same authors upon that point. Bracton, Book I. Chap. xvi.; Fleta, Book I. Chap. 17; “The king has his superiors in the government; the law, by which he is made king; and his court, to wit, the earls, and the barons: comites (earls) are as much as to say, companions; and he that has a companion, has a master; and therefore, if the king will be without a bridle, that is, not govern by law, they ought to bridle him.” That the commons are comprehended in the word barons, has been shown already; and in the books of our ancient laws they are frequently said to have been called peers of parliament: and especially in the Modus tenendi, &c. “There shall be chosen,” says that book, “out of all the peers of the realm, five and twenty persons, of whom five shall be knights, five citizens, and five burgesses; and two knights of a county have a greater vote in granting and rejecting than the greatest earl in England.” And it is but reasonable they should, for they vote for a whole county, &c., the earls for themselves only. And who can but perceive, that those patent earls, whom you call earls made by writ, (since we have now none that hold their earldoms by tenure,) are very unfit persons to try the king, who conferred their honours upon them?
Since therefore by our law, as appears by that old book called “the Mirror,” the king has his peers, who in parliament have cognizance of wrongs done by the king to any of his people; and since it is notoriously known, that the meanest man in the kingdom may even in inferior courts have the benefit of the law against the king himself, in case of any injury, or wrong sustained; how much more consonant to justice, how much more necessary is it, that in case the king oppress all his people, there should be such as have authority not only to restrain him, and keep him within bounds, but to judge and punish him! for that government must needs be very ill, and most ridiculously constituted, in which remedy is provided in case of little injuries, done by the prince to private persons, and no remedy, no redress for greater, no care taken for the safety of the whole; no provision made to the contrary, but that the king may, without any law, ruin all his subjects, when at the same time he cannot by law so much as hurt any one of them. And since I have shown, that it is neither good manners, nor expedient, that the lords should be the king’s judges; it follows, that the power of judicature in that case does wholly, and by very good right, belong to the commons, who are both peers of the realm, and barons, and have the power and authority of all the people committed to them. For since (as we find it expressly in our written law, which I have already cited) the commons together with the king made a good parliament without either lords or bishops, because before either lords or bishops had a being, kings held parliaments with their commons only; by the very same reason the commons apart must have the sovereign power without the king, and a power of judging the king himself; because before there ever was a king, they in the name of the whole body of the nation held councils and parliaments, had the power of judicature, made laws, and made the kings themselves, not to lord it over the people, but to administer their public affairs. Whom if the king, instead of so doing, shall endeavour to injure and oppress, our law pronounces him from that time forward not so much as to retain the name of a king, to be no such thing as a king: and if he be no king, what need we trouble ourselves to find out peers for him? For being then by all good men adjudged to be a tyrant, there are none but who are peers good enough for him, and proper enough to pronounce sentence of death upon him judicially. These things being so, I think I have sufficiently proved what I undertook, by many authorities and written laws; to wit, that since the commons have authority by very good right to try the king, and since they have actually tried him, and put him to death, for the mischief he had done both in church and state, and without all hope of amendment, they have done nothing therein but what was just and regular, for the interest of the state, in discharging of their trust, becoming their dignity, and according to the laws of the land. And I cannot upon this occasion, but congratulate myself with the honour of having had such ancestors, who founded this government with no less prudence, and in as much liberty as the most worthy of the ancient Romans or Grecians ever founded any of theirs: and they must needs, if they have any knowledge of our affairs, rejoice over their posterity, who, when they were almost reduced to slavery, yet with so much wisdom and courage vindicated and asserted the state, which they so wisely founded upon so much liberty, from the unruly government of a king.
I think by this time it is sufficiently evident, that kings of England may be judged even by the laws of England; and that they have their proper judges, which was the thing to be proved. What do you do further? (for whereas you repeat many things that you have said before, I do not intend to repeat the answers I have given them.) “It is an easy thing to demonstrate, even from the nature of the things for which parliaments are summoned, that the king is above the parliament. The parliament (you say) is wont to be assembled upon weighty affairs, such as wherein the safety of the kingdom and of the people is concerned.” If therefore the king call parliaments together, not for his own concerns, but those of the nation, nor to settle those neither, but by their own consent, at their own discretion, what is he more than a minister, and as it were an agent for the people? since without their suffrages that are chosen by the people, he cannot exact the least thing whatsoever, either with relation to himself, or any body else? Which proves likewise, that it is the king’s duty to call parliaments whenever the people desire it; since the people’s and not the king’s concerns are to be treated of by that assembly, and to be ordered as they see cause. For although the king’s assent be required for fashion sake, which in lesser matters, that concerned the welfare of private persons only, he might refuse, and use that form, “the king will advise;” yet in those greater affairs, that concerned the public safety, and liberty of the people in general, he had no negative voice: for it would have been against his coronation oath to deny his assent in such cases, which was as binding to him as any law could be, and against the chief article of Magna Charta, cap. 29, “We will not deny to any man, nor will we delay to render to every man, right and justice.” Shall it not be in the king’s power to deny justice, and shall it be in his power to deny the enacting of just laws? Could he not deny justice to any particular person, and could he to all his people? Could he not do it in inferior courts, and could he in the supreme court of all? Or, can any king be so arrogant as to pretend to know what is just and profitable better than the whole body of the people? Especially, since “he is created and chosen for this very end and purpose, to do justice to all,” as Bracton says, lib. iii. c. 9, that is, to do justice according to such laws as the people agree upon. Hence is what we find in our records, 7 H. IV. Rott. Parl. num. 59, the king has no prerogative, that derogates from justice and equity. And formerly when kings have refused to confirm acts of parliament, to wit, Magna Charta and some others, our ancestors have brought them to it by force of arms. And yet our lawyers never were of opinion, that those laws were less valid, or less binding, since the king was forced to assent to no more than what he ought in justice to have assented to voluntarily, and without constraint.
Whilst you go about to prove that kings of other nations have been as much under the power of their senates or councils, as our kings were, you do not argue us into slavery, but them into liberty. In which you do but that over again, that you have from the very beginning of your discourse, and which some silly Leguleians now and then do, to argue unawares against their own clients. But you say, “We confess that the king, wherever he be, yet is supposed still to be present in his parliament by virtue of his power; insomuch, that whatever is transacted there, is supposed to be done by the king himself:” and then as if you had got some pretty bribe or small morsel, and tickled with the remembrance of your purse of gold, “we take,” say you, “what they give us;” and take a halter then, for I am sure you deserve it. But we do not give it for granted, which is the thing you thought would follow from thence, “that therefore that court acts only by virtue of a delegated power from the king.” For when we say, that the regal power, be it what it will, cannot be absent from the parliament, do we thereby acknowledge that power to be supreme? Does not the king’s authority seem rather to be transferred to the parliament, and, as being the lesser of the two, to be comprised in the greater? Certainly, if the parliament may rescind the king’s acts whether he will or no, and revoke privileges granted by him, to whomsoever they be granted: if they may set bounds to his prerogative, as they see cause; if they may regulate his yearly revenue, and the expenses of his court, his retinue, and generally all the concerns of his household; if they may remove his most intimate friends and counsellors, and, as it were, pluck them out of his bosom, and bring them to condign punishment; finally, if any subject may by law appeal from the king to the parliament, (all which things, that they may lawfully be done, and have been frequently practised, both our histories and records, and the most eminent of our lawyers, assure us,) I suppose no man in his right wits will deny the authority of the parliament to be superior to that of the king. For even in an interregnum the authority of the parliament is in being, and (than which, nothing is more common in our histories) they have often made a free choice of a successor, without any regard to an hereditary descent. In short, the parliament is the supreme council of the nation, constituted and appointed by a most free people, and armed with ample power and authority, for this end and purpose; viz. to consult together upon the most weighty affairs of the kingdom; the king was created to put their laws in execution. Which thing after the parliament themselves had declared in a public edict, (for such is the justice of their proceedings, that of their own accord they have been willing to give an account of their actions to other nations,) is it not prodigious, that such a pitiful fellow as you are, a man of no authority, of no credit, of no figure in the world, a mere Burgundian slave, should have the impudence to accuse the parliament of England, asserting by a public instrument their own and their country’s right, “of a detestable and horrid imposture?” Your country may be ashamed, you rascal, to have brought forth a little inconsiderable fellow of such profligate impudence. But perhaps you have somewhat to tell us, that may be for our good: go on, we will hear you. “What laws,” say you, “can a parliament enact, in which the bishops are not present?” Did you then, you madman, expel the order of bishops out of the church, to introduce them into the state? O wicked wretch! who ought to be delivered over to Satan, whom the church ought to forbid her communion, as being a hypocrite, and an atheist, and no civil society of men to acknowledge as a member, being a public enemy, and a plaguesore to the common liberty of mankind; who, where the gospel fails you, endeavour to prove out of Aristotle, Halicarnassæus, and then from some popish authorities of the most corrupt ages, that the king of England is the head of the church of England, to the end that you may, as far as in you lies, bring in the bishops again, his intimates and table-companions, grown so of late, to rob and tyrannize in the church of God, whom God himself has deposed and degraded, whose very order you had heretofore asserted in print that it ought to be rooted out of the world, as destructive of and pernicious to the Christian religion. What apostate did ever so shamefully and wickedly desert as this man has done, I do not say his own, which indeed never was any, but the Christian doctrine which he had formerly asserted? “The bishops being put down, who, under the king, and by his permission, held plea of ecclesiastical causes, upon whom,” say you, “will that jurisdiction devolve?” O villain! have some regard at least to your own conscience; remember before it be too late, if at least this admonition of mine come not too late, remember that this mocking the Holy Spirit of God is an inexpiable crime, and will not be left unpunished. Stop at last, and set bounds to your fury, lest the wrath of God lay hold upon you suddenly, for endeavouring to deliver the flock of God, his anointed ones that are not to be touched, to enemies and cruel tyrants, to be crushed and trampled on again, from whom himself by a high and stretched out arm had so lately delivered them; and from whom you yourself maintained, that they ought to be delivered, I know not whether for any good of theirs, or in order to the hardening of your own heart, and to further your own damnation. If the bishops have no right to lord it over the church, certainly much less have kings, whatever the laws of men may be to the contrary. For they that know any thing of the gospel know thus much, that the government of the church is altogether divine and spiritual, and no civil constitution. Whereas you say, that “in secular affairs, the kings of England have always had the sovereign power;” our laws do abundantly declare that to be false. Our courts of justice are erected and suppressed, not by the king’s authority, but that of the parliament; and yet in any of them, the meanest subject might go to law with the king; nor is it a rare thing for the judges to give judgment against him, which if the king should endeavour to obstruct by any prohibition, mandate, or letters, the judges were bound by law, and by their oaths, not to obey him, but to reject such inhibitions as null and void in law. The king could not imprison any man, or seize his estate as forfeited; he could not punish any man, not summoned to appear in court, where not the king, but the ordinary judges give sentence; which they frequently did, as I have said, against the king. Hence our Bracton, lib. 3, cap. 9, “The regal power,” says he, “is according to law; he has no power to do any wrong, nor can the king do any thing but what the law warrants.” Those lawyers that you have consulted, men that have lately fled their country, may tell you another tale, and acquaint you with some statutes, not very ancient neither, but made in King Edward IV., King Henry VI., and King Edward VIth’s days; but they did not consider, that what power soever those statutes gave the king, was conferred upon him by authority of parliament, so that he was beholden to them for it; and the same power that conferred it, might at pleasure resume it. How comes it to pass, that so acute a disputant as you, should suffer yourself to be imposed upon to that degree, as to make use of that very argument to prove the king’s power to be absolute and supreme, than which nothing proves more clearly, that it is subordinate to that of the parliament? Our records of the greatest authority with us declare, that our kings owe all their power, not to any right of inheritance, of conquest, or succession, but to the people. So in the parliament rolls of King Henry IV., numb. 108, we read, that the kingly office and power was granted by the commons to King Henry IV., and before him, to his predecessor King Richard II., just as kings use to grant commissioners’ places and lieutenantships to their deputies, by edicts and patents. Thus the house of commons ordered expressly to be entered upon record, “that they had granted to King Richard to use the same good liberty, that the kings of England before him had used:” which because that king abused to the subversion of the laws, and “contrary to his oath at his coronation,” the same persons that granted him that power, took it back again, and deposed him. The same men, as appears by the same record, declared in open parliament, “that having confidence in the prudence and moderation of King Henry the IVth, they will and enact, that he enjoy the same royal authority that his ancestors enjoyed.” Which if it had been any other than in the nature of a trust, as this was, either those houses of parliament were foolish and vain, to give what was none of their own, or those kings that were willing to receive as from them, what was already theirs, were too injurious both to themselves and their posterity; neither of which is likely. “A third part of the regal power,” say you, “is conversant about the militia; this the kings of England have used to order and govern, without fellow or competitor.” This is as false as all the rest that you have taken upon the credit of fugitives: for in the first place, both our own histories, and those of foreigners, that have been any whit exact in the relation of our affairs, declare, that the making of peace and war always did belong to the parliament. And the laws of St. Edward, which our kings were bound to swear that they would maintain, make this appear beyond all exception, in the chapter “De Heretochiis,” viz. “That there were certain officers appointed in every province and county throughout the kingdom, that were called Heretochs, in Latin, duces, commanders of armies, that were to command the forces of the several counties,” not for the honour of the crown only, “but for the good of the realm. And they were chosen by the general council, and in the several counties at public assemblies of the inhabitants, as sheriffs ought to be chosen.” Whence it is evident, that the forces of the kingdom, and the commanders of those forces, were anciently, and ought to be still, not at the king’s command, but at the people’s; and that this most reasonable and just law obtained in this kingdom of ours, no less than heretofore it did in the commonwealth of the Romans. Concerning which, it will not be amiss to hear what Cicero says, Philip. 1. “All the legions, all the forces of the commonwealth, wheresoever they are, are the people of Rome’s; nor are those legions, that deserted the consul Antonius, said to have been Antony’s, but the commonwealth’s legions.” This very law of St. Edward, together with the rest, did William the Conqueror, at the desire and instance of the people, confirm by oath, and added over and above, cap. 56, “That all cities, boroughs, castles, should be so watched every night, as the sheriffs, the aldermen, and other magistrates, should think meet for the safety of the kingdom.” And in the 6th law, “Castles, boroughs, and cities, were first built for the defence of the people, and therefore ought to be maintained free and entire, by all ways and means.” What then? Shall towns and places of strength in times of peace be guarded against thieves and robbers by common councils of the several places; and shall they not be defended in dangerous times of war, against both domestic and foreign hostility, by the common council of the whole nation? If this be not granted, there can be no freedom, no integrity, no reason, in the guarding of them: nor shall we obtain any of those ends, for which the law itself tells us, that towns and fortresses were at first founded. Indeed our ancestors were willing to put any thing into the king’s power, rather than their arms, and the garrisons of their towns; conceiving that to be neither better nor worse, than betraying their liberty to the fury and exorbitancy of their princes. Of which there are so very many instances in our histories, and those so generally known, that it would be superfluous to mention any of them here.
But “the king owes protection to his subjects; and how can he protect them, unless he have men and arms at command?” But, say I, he had all this for the good of the kingdom, as has been said, not for the destruction of his people, and the ruin of the kingdom: which in King Henry the IIId’s time, one Leonard, a learned man in those days, in an assembly of bishops, told Rustandus, the pope’s nuncio and the king’s procurator, in these words; “All churches are the pope’s, as all temporal things are said to be the king’s, for defence and protection, not his in propriety and ownership, as we say; they are his to defend, not to destroy.” The aforementioned law of St. Edward is to the same purpose; and what does this import more than a trust? Does this look like absolute power? Such a kind of power a commander of an army always has, that is, a delegated power; and yet both at home and abroad he is never the less able to defend the people that choose him. Our parliaments would anciently have contended with our kings about their liberty and the laws of St. Edward, to very little purpose; and it would have been an unequal match betwixt the kings and them, if they had been of opinion, that the power of the sword belonged to them alone: for how unjust laws soever their kings would have imposed upon them, their charter, though never so great, would have been a weak defence against force. But say you, “What would the parliament be the better for the militia, since without the king’s assent they cannot raise the least farthing from the people towards the maintaining it?” Take you no thought for that: for in the first place you go upon a false supposition, “that parliaments cannot impose taxes without the king’s assent,” upon the people that send them, and whose concerns they undertake.
In the next place, you, that are so officious an inquirer into other men’s matters, cannot but have heard, that the people of their own accord, by bringing in their plate to be melted down, raised a great sum of money towards the carrying on of this war against the king. Then you mention the largeness of our king’s revenue: you mention over and over again five hundred and forty thousands: that “those of our kings that have been eminent for their bounty and liberality have used to give large boons out of their own patrimony.” This you were glad to hear; it was by this charm, that those traitors to their country allured you, as Balaam the prophet was enticed of old, to curse the people of God, and exclaim against the judicial dispensations of his providence. You fool! what was that unjust and violent king the better for such abundance of wealth? What are you the better for it? Who have been no partaker of any part of it, that I can hear of, (how great hopes soever you may have conceived of being vastly enriched by it,) but only of a hundred pieces of gold, in a purse wrought with beads. Take that reward of thine iniquity, Balaam, which thou hast loved, and enjoy it. You go on to play the fool; “the setting up of a standard is a prerogative that belongs to the king only.” How so? Why because Virgil tells us in his Æneis, “that Turnus set up a standard on the top of the tower at Laurentum, for an ensign of war.” And do not you know Grammarian, that every general of an army does the same thing? But, says Aristotle, “The king must always be provided of a military power, that he may be able to defend the laws; and therefore the king must be stronger than the whole body of the people.” This man makes consequences just as Ocnus does ropes in hell; which are of no use but to be eaten by asses. For a number of soldiers, given to the king by the people, is one thing, and the sole power of the militia is quite another thing; the latter, Aristotle does not allow that kings ought to be masters of, and that in this very place which you have quoted; “He ought,” says he, “to have so many armed men about him, as to make him stronger than any one man, than many men got together; but he must not be stronger than all the people.” Polit. lib. 3, cap. 4. Else instead of protecting them, it would be in his power to subject both people and laws to himself. For this is the difference betwixt a king and a tyrant: a king, by consent of the senate and people, has about him so many armed men, as to enable him to resist enemies, and suppress seditions. A tyrant, against the will both of senate and people, gets as great a number as he can, either of enemies, or profligate subjects, to side with him against the senate and the people. The parliament therefore allowed the king, as they did whatever he had besides, the setting up of a standard; not to wage war against his own people, but to defend them against such as the parliament should declare enemies to the state: if he acted otherwise, himself was to be accounted an enemy; since according to the very law of St. Edward, or according to a more sacred law than that, the law of nature itself, he lost the name of a king, and was no longer such. Whence Cicero in his Philip. “He forfeits his command in the army, and interest in his government, that employs them against the state.” Neither could the king compel those that held of him by knight-service, to serve him in any other war, than such as was made by consent of parliament; which is evident by many statutes. So for customs and other subsidies for the maintenance of the navy, the king could not exact them without an act of parliament; as was resolved about twelve years ago, by the ablest of our lawyers, when the king’s authority was at the height. And long before them, Fortescue, an eminent lawyer, and chancellor to King Henry the Sixth, “The king of England,” says he, “can neither alter the laws, nor exact subsidies without the people’s consent.” Nor can any testimonies be brought from antiquity, to prove the kingdom of England to have been merely regal. “The king,” says Bracton, “has a jurisdiction over all his subjects;” that is, in his courts of justice, where justice is administered in the king’s name indeed, but according to our own laws. “All are subject to the king;” that is, every particular man is; and so Bracton explains himself in the places that I have cited. What follows is but turning the same stone over and over again, (at which sport I believe you are able to tire Sisiphus himself,) and is sufficiently answered by what has been said already. For the rest, if our parliaments have sometimes complimented good kings with submissive expressions, though neither savouring of flattery nor slavery, those are not to be accounted due to tyrants, nor ought to prejudice the people’s right: good manners and civility do not infringe liberty. Whereas you cite out of Sir Edward Coke and others, “that the kingdom of England is an absolute kingdom;” that is said with respect to any foreign prince, or the emperor: because as Camden says, “It is not under the patronage of the emperor:” but both of them affirm, that the government of England resides not in king alone, but in a body politic. Whence Fortescue, in his book de Laud. Leg. Ang. cap. 9, “The king of England,” says he, “governs his people, not by a merely regal, but a political power; for the English are governed by laws of their own making.” Foreign authors were not ignorant of this: hence Philip de Comines, a grave author, in the Fifth Book of his Commentaries, “Of all the kingdoms of the earth,” says he, “that I have any knowledge of, there is none in my opinion where the government is more moderate, where the king has less power of hurting his people, than in England.” Finally, “It is ridiculous,” say you, “for them to affirm that kingdoms were ancienter than kings; which is as much as if they should say, that there was light before the sun was created.” But with your good leave, Sir, we do not say that kingdoms, but that the people were before kings. In the mean time, who can be more ridiculous than you, who deny there was light before the sun had a being? You pretend to a curiosity in other men’s matters, and have forgot the very first things that were taught you. “You wonder how they that have seen the king sit upon his throne, at a session of parliament, (sub aureo et serico Cœlo, under a golden and silken heaven,) under a canopy of state, should so much as make a question, whether the majesty resided in him, or in the parliament?” They are certainly hard of belief, whom so lucid an argument, coming down from heaven, cannot convince. Which golden heaven, you, like a stoic, have so devoutly and seriously gazed upon, that you seem to have forgot what kind of heaven Moses and Aristotle describe to us; for you deny, that there was any light in Moses’s heaven before the sun; and in Aristotle’s you make three temperate zones. How many zones you observed in that golden and silken heaven of the king’s, I know not; but I know you got one zone (a purse) well tempered with a hundred golden stars by your astronomy.
Since this whole controversy, whether concerning the right of kings in general, or that of the king of England in particular, is rendered difficult and intricate, rather by the obstinacy of parties, than by the nature of the thing itself; I hope they that prefer truth before the interest of a faction, will be satisfied with what I have alleged out of the law of God, the laws of nations, and the municipal laws of my own country, that a king of England may be brought to trial, and put to death. As for those whose minds are either blinded with superstition, or so dazzled with the splendour and grandeur of a court, that magnanimity and true liberty do not appear so glorious to them, as they are in themselves, it will be in vain to contend with them, either by reason and arguments, or examples. But you, Salmasius, seem very absurd, as in every other part of your book, so particularly in this, who though you rail perpetually at the Independents, and revile them with all the terms of reproach imaginable, yet assert to the highest degree that can be, the independency of a king, whom you defend; and will not allow him to “owe his sovereignty to the people, but to his descent.” And whereas in the beginning of your book you complained, that he was “put to plead for his life,” here you complain “that he perished without being heard to speak for himself.” But if you have a mind to look into the history of his trial, which is very faithfully published in French, it may be you will be of another opinion. Whereas he had liberty given him for some days together, to say what he could for himself, he made use of it not to clear himself of the crimes laid to his charge, but to disprove the authority of his judges, and the judicature that he was called before. And whenever a criminal is either mute, or says nothing to the purpose, there is no injustice in condemning him without hearing him, if his crimes are notorious, and publicly known. If you say, that Charles died as he lived, I agree with you: if you say, that he died piously, holily, and at ease, you may remember that his grandmother Mary, Queen of Scots, an infamous woman, died on a scaffold with as much outward appearance of piety, sanctity, and constancy, as he did. And lest you should ascribe too much to that presence of mind, which some common malefactors have so great a measure of at their death; many times despair, and a hardened heart, puts on as it were a vizor of courage; and stupidity, a show of quiet and tranquillity of mind: sometimes the worst of men desire to appear good, undaunted, innocent, and now and then religious, not only in their life, but at their death; and in suffering death for their villainies, use to act the last part of their hypocrisy and cheats, with all the show imaginable; and like bad poets or stageplayers, are very ambitious at being clapped at the end of the play. “Now,” you say, “you are come to inquire who they chiefly were, that gave sentence against the king.” Whereas it ought first to be inquired into, how you, a foreigner, and a French vagabond, came to have any thing to do to raise a question about our affairs, to which you are so much a stranger? And what reward induced you to it? But we know enough of that, and who satisfied your curiosity in these matters of ours; even those fugitives, and traitors to their country, that could easily hire such a vain fellow as you, to speak ill of us. Then an account in writing of the state of our affairs was put into your hands by some hair-brained, half protestant, half papist chaplain or other, or by some sneaking courtier, and you were put to translate it into Latin; out of that you took these narratives, which, if you please, we will examine a little: “Not the hundred thousandth part of the people consented to this sentence of condemnation.” What were the rest of the people then, that suffered so great a thing to be transacted against their will? Were they stocks and stones, were they mere trunks of men only, or such images of Britons, as Virgil describes to have been wrought in tapestry?
For you describe no true Britons, but painted ones, or rather needle-wrought men instead of them. Since therefore it is a thing so incredible, that a warlike nation should be subdued by so few, and those of the dregs of the people, (which is the first thing that occurs in your narrative,) that appears in the very nature of the thing itself to be most false. “The bishops were turned out of the house of lords by the parliament itself.” The more deplorable is your madness, (for are not you yet sensible that you rave?) to complain of their being turned out of the parliament, whom you yourself in a large book endeavour to prove ought to be turned out of the church. “One of the states of parliament, to wit, the house of lords, consisting of dukes, earls, and viscounts, was removed.” And deservedly were they removed; for they were not deputed to sit there by any town or county, but represented themselves only; they had no right over the people, but (as if they had been ordained for that very purpose) used frequently to oppose their rights and liberties. They were created by the king, they were his companions, his servants, and, as it were, shadows of him. He being removed, it was necessary they should be reduced to the same level with the body of the people, from amongst whom they took their rise. “One part of the parliament, and that the worst of all, ought not to have assumed that power of judging and condemning the king.” But I have told you already, that the house of commons was not only the chief part of our parliament, while we had kings, but was a perfect and entire parliament of itself, without the temporal lords, much more without the bishops. But, “the whole house of commons themselves were not admitted to have to do with the trial of the king.” To wit, that part of them was not admitted, that openly revolted to him in their minds and counsels; whom, though they styled him their king, yet they had so often acted against as an enemy.
The parliament of England, and the deputies sent from the parliament of Scotland, on the 13th of January, 1645, wrote to the king, in answer to a letter of his, by which he desired a deceitful truce, and that he might treat with them at London; that they could not admit him into that city, till he had made satisfaction to the state for the civil war that he had raised in the three kingdoms, and for the deaths of so many of his subjects slain by his order; and till he had agreed to a true and firm peace upon such terms as the parliaments of both kingdoms had offered him so often already, and should offer him again. He on the other hand either refused to hear, or by ambiguous answers eluded, their just and equal proposals, though most humbly presented to him seven times over. The parliament at last, after so many years’ patience, lest the king should overturn the state by his wiles and delays, when in prison, which he could not subdue in the field, and lest the vanquished enemy, pleased with our divisions, should recover himself, and triumph unexpectedly over his conquerors, vote that for the future they would have no regard to him; that they would send him no more proposals, nor receive any from him: after which vote, there were found even some members of parliament, who out of the hatred they bore that invincible army, whose glory they envied, and which they would have had disbanded, and sent home with disgrace, after they had deserved so well of their nation, and out of a servile compliance with some seditious ministers, finding their opportunity, when many, whom they knew to be otherwise minded than themselves, having been sent by the house itself to suppress the Presbyterians, who began already to be turbulent, were absent in the several counties, with a strange levity, not to say perfidiousness, vote that that inveterate enemy of the state, who had nothing of a king but the name, without giving any satisfaction or security, should be brought back to London, and restored to his dignity and government, as if he had deserved well of the nation by what he had done. So that they preferred the king before their religion, their liberty, and that very celebrated covenant of theirs. What did they do in the mean time, who were sound themselves, and saw such pernicious councils on foot? Ought they therefore to have been wanting to the nation, and not provide for its safety, because the infection had spread itself even in their own house?
But, who secluded those ill-affected members? “The English army,” you say: so that it was not an army of foreigners, but of most valiant, and faithful, honest natives, whose officers for the most part were members of parliament; and whom those good secluded members would have secluded their country, and banished into Ireland; while in the mean time the Scots, whose alliance began to be doubtful, had very considerable forces in four of our northern counties, and kept garrisons in the best towns of those parts, and had the king himself in custody; whilst they likewise encouraged the tumultuating of those of their own faction, who did more than threaten the parliament, both in city and country, and through whose means not only a civil, but a war with Scotland too shortly after broke out. If it has been always counted praiseworthy in private men to assist the state, and promote the public good, whether by advice or action; our army sure was in no fault, who being ordered by the parliament to come to town, obeyed and came, and when they were come, quelled with ease the faction and uproar of the king’s party, who sometimes threatened the house itself. For things were brought to that pass, that of necessity either we must be run down by them, or they by us. They had on their side most of the shopkeepers and handicraftsmen of London, and generally those of the ministers, that were most factious. On our side was the army, whose fidelity, moderation, and courage were sufficiently known. It being in our power by their means to retain our liberty, our state, our common safety, do you think we had not been fools to have lost all by our negligence and folly? They who had had places of command in the king’s army, after their party was subdued, had laid down their arms indeed against their wills, but continued enemies to us in their hearts: and they flocked to town, and were here watching all opportunities of renewing the war. With these men, though they were the greatest enemies they had in the world, and thirsted after their blood, did the Presbyterians, because they were not permitted to exercise a civil as well as an ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all others, hold secret correspondence, and took measures very unworthy of what they had formerly both said and done; and they came to that spleen at last, that they would rather enthral themselves to the king again, than admit their own brethren to share in their liberty, which they likewise had purchased at the price of their own blood; they chose rather to be lorded over once more by a tyrant, polluted with the blood of so many of his own subjects, and who was enraged, and breathed out nothing but revenge, against those of them that were left, than endure their brethren and friends to be upon the square with them.
The Independents, as they are called, were the only men, that from first to last kept to their point, and knew what use to make of their victory. They refused (and wisely, in my opinion) to make him king again, being then an enemy, who when he was their king, had made himself their enemy: nor were they ever the less averse to a peace, but they very prudently dreaded a new war, or a perpetual slavery under the name of a peace. To load our army with the more reproaches, you begin a silly confused narrative of our affairs; in which, though I find many things false, many things frivolous, many things laid to our charge for which we rather merit; yet I think it will be to no purpose for me to write a true relation, in answer to your false one. For you and I are arguing, not writing histories, and both sides will believe our reasons, but not our narrative; and indeed the nature of the things themselves is such, that they cannot be related as they ought to be, but in a set history; so that I think it better, as Sallust said of Carthage, rather to say nothing at all, than to say but a little of things of this weight and importance. Nay, and I scorn so much as to mention the praises of great men, and of Almighty God himself, (who in so wonderful a course of affairs ought to be frequently acknowledged,) amongst your slanders and reproaches. I will therefore only pick out such things as seem to have any colour of argument. You say, “the English and Scots promised by a solemn covenant, to preserve the majesty of the king.” But you omit upon what terms they promised it; to wit, if it might consist with the safety of their religion and their liberty. To both which, religion and liberty, that king was so averse to his last breath, and watched all opportunities of gaining advantages upon them, that it was evident that his life was dangerous to their religion, and the certain ruin of their liberty. But then you fall upon the king’s judges again: “If we consider the thing aright, the conclusion of this abominable action must be imputed to the Independents, yet so as the Presbyterians may justly challenge the glory of its beginning and progress.” Hark, ye Presbyterians, what good has it done you? How is your innocence and loyalty the more cleared by your seeming so much to abhor the putting the king to death? You yourselves, in the opinion of this everlasting talkative advocate of the king your accuser, “went more than half-way towards it; you were seen acting the fourth act and more, in this tragedy; you may justly be charged with the king’s death, since you showed the way to it; it was you and only you that laid his head upon the block.” Woe be to you in the first place, if ever Charles his posterity recover the crown of England; assure yourselves, you are like to be put in the black list. But pay your vows to God, and love your brethren who have delivered you, who have prevented that calamity from falling upon you, who have saved you from inevitable ruin, though against your wills. You are accused likewise for that “some years ago you endeavoured by sundry petitions to lessen the king’s authority, that you published some scandalous expressions of the king himself in the papers you presented him with in the name of the parliament; to wit, in that declaration of the lords and commons of the 26th of May 1642, you declared openly in some mad positions that breathed nothing but rebellion, what your thoughts were of the king’s authority: Hotham by order of parliament shut the gates of Hull against the king; you had a mind to make a trial by this first act of rebellion how much the king would bear.” What could this man say more, if it were his design to reconcile the minds of all Englishmen to one another, and alienate them wholly from the king? for he gives them here to understand, that if ever the king be brought back, they must not only expect to be punished for his father’s death, but for the petitions they made long ago, and some acts that past in full parliament, concerning the putting down the common-prayer and bishops, and that of the triennial parliament, and several other things that were enacted with the greatest consent and applause of all the people that could be; all which will be looked upon as the seditions and mad positions of the Presbyterians. But this vain fellow changes his mind all of a sudden; and what but of late, “when he considered it aright,” he thought was to be imputed wholly to the Presbyterians, now that “he considers the same thing from first to last,” he thinks the Independents were the sole actors of it. But even now he told us, “the Presbyterians took up arms against the king, that by them he was beaten, taken captive, and put in prison:” now he says, “this whole doctrine of rebellion is the Independents’ principle.” O! the faithfulness of this man’s narrative! how consistent he is with himself! what need is there of a counter narrative to this of his, that cuts its own throat?
But if any man should question whether you are an honest man or a knave, let him read these following lines of yours: “It is time to explain whence and at what time this sect of enemies to kingship first began. Why truly these rare Puritans began in Queen Elizabeth’s time to crawl out of hell, and disturb not only the church, but the state likewise; for they are no less plagues to the latter than to the former.” Now your very speech bewrays you to be a right Balaam; for where you designed to spit out the most bitter poison you could, there unwittingly and against your will you have pronounced a blessing. For it is notoriously known all over England, that if any endeavoured to follow the example of those churches, whether in France or Germany, which they accounted best reformed, and to exercise the public worship of God in a more pure manner, which our bishops had almost universally corrupted with their ceremonies and superstitions; or if any seemed either in point of religion or morality to be better than others, such persons were by the favour of episcopacy termed Puritans. These are they whose principles you say are so opposite to kingship. Nor are they the only persons, “most of the reformed religion, that have not sucked in the rest of their principles, yet seem to have approved of those that strike at kingly government.” So that while you inveigh bitterly against the Independents, and endeavour to separate them from Christ’s flock, with the same breath your praise them; and those principles which almost every where you affirm to be peculiar to the Independents, here you confess have been approved of by most of the reformed religion: Nay, you are arrived to that degree of impudence, impiety, and apostacy, that though formerly you maintained bishops ought to be extirpated out of the church root and branch, as so many pests and limbs of antichrist, here you say the king ought to protect them, for the saving of his coronation oath. You cannot show yourself a more infamous villain than you have done already, but by abjuring the protestant reformed religion, to which you are a scandal. Whereas you tax us with giving a “toleration of all sects and heresies,” you ought not to find fault with us for that; since the church bears with such a profligate wretch as you yourself, such a vain fellow, such a liar, such a mercenary slanderer, such an apostate, one who has the impudence to affirm, that the best and most pious of Christians, and even most of those who profess the reformed religion, are crept out of hell, because they differ in opinion from you. I had best pass by the calumnies that fill up the rest of this chapter, and those prodigious tenets that you ascribe to the Independents, to render them odious; for neither do they at all concern the cause you have in hand, and they are such for the most part as deserve to be laughed at and despised, rather than receive a serious answer.
You seem to begin this eleventh chapter, Salmasius, though with no modesty, yet with some sense of your weakness and trifling in this discourse. For whereas you proposed to yourself to inquire in this place, by what authority sentence was given against the king; you add immediately, which nobody expected from you, that “it is in vain to make any such inquiry; to wit, because the quality of the persons that did it leaves hardly any room for such a question.” And therefore as you have been found guilty of a great deal of impudence and sauciness in the undertaking of this cause, so since you seem here conscious of your own impertinence, I shall give you the shorter answer. To your question then; by what authority the house of commons either condemned the king themselves, or delegated that power to others; I answer, they did it by virtue of the supreme authority on earth. How they come to have the supreme power, you may learn by what I have said already, when I have refuted your impertinencies upon that subject. If you believed yourself, that you could ever say enough upon any subject, you would not be so tedious in repeating the same thing so many times over. And the house of commons might delegate their judicial power by the same reason, by which you say the king may delegate his, who received all he had from the people. Hence in that solemn league and covenant that you object to us, the parliaments of England and Scotland solemnly protest and engage to each other, to punish the traitors in such manner as “the supreme, judicial authority in both nations, or such as should have a delegated power from them,” should think fit. Now you hear the parliaments of both nations protest with one voice, that they may delegate their judicial power, which they call the supreme; so that you move a vain and frivolous controversy about delegating this power.
“But,” say you, “there were added to those judges, that were made choice of out of the house of commons, some officers of the army, and it never was known, that soldiers had any right to try a subject for his life.” I will silence you in a very few words: you may remember, that we are not now discoursing of a subject, but of an enemy; whom if a general of an army, after he has taken him prisoner, resolves to dispatch, would he be thought to proceed otherwise than according to custom and martial law, if he himself with some of his officers should sit upon him, and try and condemn him? An enemy to a state, made a prisoner of war, cannot be looked upon to be so much as a member, much less a king in that state. This is declared by that sacred law of St. Edward, which denies that a bad king is a king at all, or ought to be called so. Whereas you say, it was “not the whole, but a part of the house of commons, that tried and condemned the king,” I give you this answer: the number of them, who gave their votes for putting the king to death, was far greater than is necessary, according to the custom of our parliaments, to transact the greatest affairs of the kingdom, in the absence of the rest; who since they were absent through their own fault, (for to revolt to the common enemy in their hearts, is the worst sort of absence,) their absence ought not to hinder the rest who continued faithful to the cause, from preserving the state; which when it was in a tottering condition, and almost quite reduced to slavery and utter ruin, the whole body of the people had at first committed to their fidelity, prudence, and courage. And they acted their parts like men; they set themselves in opposition to the unruly wilfulness, the rage, the secret designs of an inveterate and exasperated king; they preferred the common liberty and safety before their own; they outdid all former parliaments, they outdid all their ancestors, in conduct, magnanimity, and steadiness to their cause. Yet these very men did a great part of the people ungratefully desert in the midst of their undertaking, though they had promised them all fidelity, all the help and assistance they could afford them. These were for slavery and peace, with sloth and luxury, upon any terms: others demanded their liberty, nor would accept of a peace that was not sure and honourable. What should the parliament do in this case? Ought they to have defended this part of the people, that was sound, and continued faithful to them and their country, or to have sided with those that deserted both? I know what you will say they ought to have done. You are not Eurylochus, but Elpenor, a miserable enchanted beast, a filthy swine, accustomed to a sordid slavery even under a woman; so that you have not the least relish of true magnanimity, nor consequently of liberty, which is the effect of it: you would have all other men slaves, because you find in yourself no generous, ingenuous inclinations; you say nothing, you breathe nothing, but what is mean and servile. You raise another scruple, to wit, “that he was the king of Scotland too, whom we condemned;” as if he might therefore do what he would in England.
But that you may conclude this chapter, which of all others is the most weak and insipid, at least with some witty quirk, “there are two little words,” say you, “that are made up of the same number of letters, and differ only in the placing of them, but whose significations are wide asunder, to wit, Vis and Jus, (might and right.)” It is no great wonder that such a three-lettered man as you, (fur, a thief,) should make such a witticism upon three letters: it is the greater wonder (which yet you assert throughout your book) that two things so directly opposite to one another as those two are, should yet meet and become one and the same thing in kings. For what violence was ever acted by kings, which you do not affirm to be their right? These are all the passages, that I could pick out of nine long pages, that I thought deserved an answer. The rest consists either of repetitions of things that have been answered more than once, or such as have no relation to the matter in hand. So that my being more brief in this chapter than in the rest is not to be imputed to want of diligence in me, which, how irksome soever you are to me, I have not slackened, but to your tedious impertinence, so void of matter and sense.
I wish, Salmasius, that you had left out this part of your discourse concerning the king’s crime, which it had been more advisable for yourself and your party to have done; for I am afraid lest in giving you an answer to it, I should appear too sharp and severe upon him, now he is dead, and hath received his punishment. But since you choose rather to discourse confidently and at large upon that subject, I will make you sensible, that you could not have done a more inconsiderate thing, than to reserve the worst part of your cause to the last, to wit, that of ripping up and inquiring into the king’s crimes; which when I shall have proved them to have been true and most exorbitant, they will render his memory unpleasant and odious to all good men, and imprint now in the close of the controversy a just hatred of you, who undertake his defence, on the reader’s minds. Say you, “his accusation may be divided into two parts, one is conversant about his morals, the other taxeth him with such faults as he might commit in his public capacity.” I will be content to pass by in silence that part of his life that he spent in banquetting, at plays, and in the conversation of women; for what can there be in luxury and excess worth relating? And what would those things have been to us, if he had been a private person? But since he would be a king, as he could not live a private life, so neither could his vices be like those of a private person. For in the first place, he did a great deal of mischief by his example: in the second place, all that time that he spent upon his lust, and his sports, which was a great part of his time, he stole from the state, the government of which he had undertaken: thirdly and lastly, he squandered away vast sums of money, which were not his own, but the public revenue of the nation, in his domestic luxury and extravagance. So that in his private life at home he first began to be an ill king. But let us rather pass over to those crimes, “that he is charged with on the account of misgovernment.” Here you lament his being condemned as a tyrant, a traitor, and a murderer. That he had no wrong done him, shall now be made appear. But first let us define a tyrant, not according to vulgar conceits, but the judgment of Aristotle, and of all learned men. He is a tyrant who regards his own welfare and profit only, and not that of the people. So Aristotle defines one in the tenth book of his Ethics, and elsewhere, and so do very many others. Whether Charles regarded his own or the people’s good, these few things of many, that I shall but touch upon, will evince.
When his rents and other public revenues of the crown would not defray the expenses of the court, he laid most heavy taxes upon the people; and when they were squandered away, he invented new ones; not for the benefit, honour, or defence of the state, but that he might hoard up, or lavish out in one house, the riches and wealth, not of one, but of three nations. When at this rate he broke loose, and acted without any colour of law to warrant his proceedings, knowing that the parliament was the only thing that could give him check, he endeavoured either wholly to lay aside the very calling of parliaments, or calling them just as often, and no oftener, than to serve his own turn, to make them entirely at his devotion. Which bridle when he had cast off himself, he put another bridle upon the people; he put garrisons of German horse and Irish foot in many towns and cities, and that in time of peace. Do you think he does not begin to look like a tyrant? In which very thing, as in many other particulars, which you have formerly given me occasion to instance, though you scorn to have Charles compared with so cruel a tyrant as Nero, he resembled him extremely much. For Nero likewise often threatened to take away the senate. Besides, he bore extreme hard upon the consciences of good men, and compelled them to the use of ceremonies and superstitious worship, borrowed from popery, and by him reintroduced into the church. They that would not conform, were imprisoned or banished. He made war upon the Scots twice for no other cause than that. By all these actions he has surely deserved the name of a tyrant once over at least.
Now I will tell you why the word traitor was put into his indictment. When he assured his parliament by promises, by proclamations, by imprecations, that he had no design against the state, at that very time did he list Papists in Ireland; he sent a private embassy to the king of Denmark to beg assistance from him of arms, horses, and men, expressly against the parliament; and was endeavouring to raise an army first in England, and then in Scotland. To the English he promised the plunder of the city of London; to the Scots, that the four northern counties should be added to Scotland, if they would but help him to get rid of the parliament, by what means soever. These projects not succeeding, he sent over one Dillon, a traitor, into Ireland with private instructions to the natives, to fall suddenly upon all the English that inhabited there. These are the most remarkable instances of his treasons, not taken up upon hearsay and idle reports, but discovered by letters under his own hand and seal. And finally I suppose no man will deny that he was a murderer, by whose order the Irish took arms, and put to death with most exquisite torments above a hundred thousand English, who lived peaceably by them, and without any apprehension of danger; and who raised so great a civil war in the other two kingdoms. Add to all this, that at the treaty in the Isle of Wight the king openly took upon himself the guilt of the war, and cleared the parliament in the confession he made there, which is publicly known. Thus you have in short why King Charles was adjudged a tyrant, a traitor, and a murderer.—“But,” say you, “why was he not declared so before, neither in that solemn league and covenant, nor afterwards when he was delivered to them, either by the Presbyterians or the Independents, but on the other hand was received as a king ought to be, with all reverence?” This very thing is sufficient to persuade any rational man, that the parliament entered not into any councils of quite deposing the king, but as their last refuge, after they had suffered and undergone all that possibly they could, and had attempted all other ways and means. You alone endeavour maliciously to lay that to their charge, which to all good men cannot but evidence their great patience, moderation, and perhaps a too long forbearing with the king’s pride and arrogance. But “in the month of August, before the king suffered, the house of commons, which then bore the only sway, and was governed by the Independents, wrote letters to the Scots, in which they acquainted them, that they never intended to alter the form of government that had obtained so long in England under king, lords, and commons.” You may see from hence, how little reason there is to ascribe the deposing of the king to the principles of the Independents. They, that never used to dissemble and conceal their tenets, even then, when they had the sole management of affairs, profess, “That they never intended to alter the government.” But if afterwards a thing came into their minds, which at first they intended not, why might they not take such a course, though before not intended, as appeared most advisable, and most for the nation’s interest?—Especially when they found, that the king could not possibly be entreated or induced to assent to those just demands, that they had made from time to time, and which were always the same from first to last. He persisted in those perverse sentiments with respect to religion and his own right, which he had all along espoused, and which were so destructive to us; not in the least altered from the man that he was, when in peace and war he did us all so much mischief. If he assented to any thing, he gave no obscure hints, that he did it against his will, and that whenever he should come into power again, he would look upon such his assent as null and void. The same thing his son declared by writing under his hand, when in those days he run away with part of the fleet, and so did the king himself by letters to some of his own party in London. In the mean time, against the avowed sense of the parliament, he struck up a private peace with the Irish, the most barbarous enemies imaginable to England, upon base dishonorable terms; but whenever he invited the English to treaties of peace, at those very times, with all the power he had, and interest he could make, he was preparing for war. In this case, what should they do, who were entrusted with the care of the government? Ought they to have betrayed the safety of us all to our most bitter adversary? Or would you have had them left us to undergo the calamities of another seven years’ war, not to say worse? God put a better mind into them, of preferring, pursuant to that very solemn league and covenant, their religion and liberties, before those thoughts they once had, of not rejecting the king; for they had not gone so far as to vote it; all which they saw at last, (though indeed later than they might have done,) could not possibly subsist, as long as the king continued king. The parliament ought and must of necessity be entirely free, and at liberty to provide for the good of the nation, as occasion requires; nor ought they so to be wedded to their first sentiments, as to scruple the altering their minds, for their own, or the nation’s good, if God put an opportunity into their hands of procuring it. But “the Scots were of another opinion; for they, in a letter to Charles, the king’s son, call his father a most sacred prince, and the putting him to death a most execrable villainy.” Do not you talk of the Scots, whom you know not; we know them well enough, and know the time when they called that same king a most execrable person, a murderer and a traitor; and the putting a tyrant to death a most sacred action.
Then you pick holes in the king’s charge, as not being properly penned; and you ask “why we needed to call him a traitor and a murderer, after we had styled him a tyrant; since the word tyrant includes all the crimes that may be;” and then you explain to us grammatically and critically, what a tyrant is. Away with those trifles, you pedagogue, which that one definition of Aristotle’s, that has lately been cited, will utterly confound; and teach such a doctor as you, that the word tyrant (for all your concern is barely to have some understanding of words) may be applied to one, who is neither a traitor nor a murderer. But “the laws of England do not make it treason in the king, to stir up sedition against himself or the people.” Nor do they say, that the parliament can be guilty of treason by deposing a bad king, nor that any parliament ever was so, though they have often done it; but our laws plainly and clearly declare, that a king may violate, diminish, nay, and wholly lose his royalty. For that expression in the law of St. Edward, of “losing the name of a king,” signifies neither more nor less, than being deprived of the kingly office and dignity; which befel Chilperic king of France, whose example for illustration sake is taken notice of in the law itself. There is not a lawyer amongst us, that can deny, but that the highest treason may be committed against the kingdom as well as against the king. I appeal to Glanville himself, whom you cite, “If any man attempt to put the king to death, or raise sedition in the realm, it is high treason.” So that attempt of some papists to blow up the parliament-house, and the lords and commons there with gunpowder, was by King James himself, and both houses of parliament, declared to be high treason, not against the king only, but against the parliament and the whole kingdom. It would be to no purpose to quote more of our statutes, to prove so clear a truth; which yet I could easily do. For the thing itself is ridiculous, and absurd to imagine, that high treason may be committed against the king, and not against the people, for whose good, nay, and by whose leave, as I may say, the king is what he is: so that you babble over so many statutes of ours to no purpose; you toil and wallow in our ancient law-books to no purpose; for the laws themselves stand or fall by authority of parliament, who always had power to confirm or repeal them; and the parliament is the sole judge of what is rebellion, what high treason, (læsa majestas,) and what not. Majesty never was vested to that degree in the person of the king, as not to be more conspicuous and more august in parliament, as I have often shown: but who can endure to hear such a senseless fellow, such a French mountebank as you, declare what our laws are? And, you English fugitives! so many bishops, doctors, lawyers, who pretend that all learning and ingenuous literature is fled out of England with yourselves, was there not one of you that could defend the king’s cause and your own, and that in good Latin also, to be submitted to the judgment of other nations, but that this brainsick, beggarly Frenchman must be hired to undertake the defence of a poor indigent king, surrounded with so many infant-priests and doctors? This very thing, I assure you, will be a great imputation to you amongst foreigners; and you will be thought deservedly to have lost that cause, you were so far from being able to defend by force of arms, as that you cannot so much as write in behalf of it.
But now I come to you again, good man Goosecap, who scribble so finely; if at least you are come to yourself again: for I find you here towards the latter end of your book in a deep sleep, and dreaming of some voluntary death or other, that is nothing to the purpose. Then you “deny, that it is possible for a king in his right wits to embroil his people in seditions, to betray his own forces to be slaughtered by enemies, and raise factions against himself.” All which things having been done by many kings, and particularly by Charles the late king of England, you will no longer doubt, I hope, especially being addicted to Stoicism, but that all tyrants, as well as profligate villains, are downright mad. Hear what Horace says, “Whoever through a senseless stupidity, or any other cause whatsoever, hath his understanding so blinded as not to discern truth, the Stoics account of him as of a madman: and such are whole nations, such are kings and princes, such are all mankind; except those very few that are wise.” So that if you would clear King Charles from the imputation of acting like a madman, you must first vindicate his integrity, and show that he never acted like an ill man. “But a king,” you say, “cannot commit treason against his own subjects and vassals.” In the first place, since we are as free as any people under heaven, we will not be imposed upon by any barbarous custom of any other nation whatsoever. In the second place, suppose we had been the king’s vassals; that relation would not have obliged us to endure a tyrant to reign and lord it over us. All subjection to magistrates, as our own laws declare, is circumscribed, and confined within the bounds of honesty, and the public good. Read Leg. Hen. I. Cap. 55. The obligation betwixt a lord and his tenants is mutual, and remains so long as the lord protects his tenant; (this is all our lawyers tell us;) but if the lord be too severe and cruel to his tenant, and do him some heinous injury, “The whole relation betwixt them, and whatever obligation the tenant is under by having done homage to his lord, is utterly dissolved and extinguished.” These are the very words of Bracton and Fleta. So that in some case, the law itself warrants even a slave, or a vassal, to oppose his lord, and allows the slave to kill him, if he vanquish him in battle. If a city or a whole nation may not lawfully take this course with a tyrant, the condition of freemen will be worse than that of slaves.
Then you go about to excuse King Charles’s shedding of innocent blood, partly by murders committed by other kings, and partly by some instances of men put to death by them lawfully. For the matter of the Irish massacre, you refer the reader to Ἐιϰων Βασιλιϰὴ; and I refer you to Eiconoclastes. The town of Rochel being taken, and the townsmen betrayed, assistance shown, but not afforded them, you will not have laid at Charles’s door; nor have I any thing to say, whether he was faulty in that business or not; he did mischief enough at home; we need not inquire into what misdemeanours he was guilty of abroad. But you in the mean time would make all the protestant churches, that have at any time defended themselves by force of arms against princes, who were professed enemies of their religion, to have been guilty of rebellion. Let them consider how much it concerns them for the maintaining their ecclesiastical discipline, and asserting their own integrity, not to pass by so great an indignity offered them by a person bred up by and amongst themselves. That which troubles us most is, that the English likewise were betrayed, in that expedition. He who had designed long ago to convert the government of England into a tyranny, thought he could not bring it to pass, till the flower and strength of the military power of the nation were cut off. Another of his crimes was, the causing some words to be struck out of the usual coronation oath, before he himself would take it. Unworthy and abominable action! The act was wicked in itself; what shall be said of him that undertakes to justify it? For by the eternal God, what greater breach of faith, and violation of all laws, can possibly be imagined? What ought to be more sacred to him, next to the holy sacraments themselves, than that oath? Which of the two do you think the more flagitious person, him that offends against the law, or him that endeavours to make the law equally guilty with himself? Or rather him who subverts the law itself, that he may not seem to offend against it? For thus that king violated that oath, which he ought most religiously to have sworn to; but that he might not seem openly and publicly to violate it, he craftily adulterated and corrupted it; and lest he himself should be accounted perjured, he turned the very oath into a perjury. What other could be expected, than that his reign would be full of injustice, craft, and misfortune, who began it with so detestable an injury to his people? And who durst pervert and adulterate that law, which he thought the only obstacle that stood in his way, and hindered him from perverting all the rest of the laws: But “that oath” (thus you justify him) “lays no other obligation upon kings, than the laws themselves do: and kings pretend, that they will be bound and limited by laws, though indeed they are altogether from under the power of the laws.” Is it not prodigious, that a man should dare to express himself so sacrilegiously and so senselessly, as to assert, that an oath sacredly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists, may be dispensed with, and set aside as a little insignificant thing, without any cause whatsoever! Charles himself refutes you, you prodigy of impiety, who, thinking that oath no light matter, choose rather by a subterfuge to avoid the force of it, or by a fallacy to elude it, than openly to violate it; and would rather falsify and corrupt the oath, than mainfestly forswear himself after he had taken it. But “The king indeed swears to his people, as the people do to him; but the people swear fidelity to the king, not the king to them.” Pretty invention! Does not he that promises, and binds himself by an oath to do any thing to or for another, oblige his fidelity to them that require the oath of him? Of a truth, every king swears Fidelity, and Service, and Obedience to the people, with respect to the performance of whatsoever he promises upon oath to do.
Then you run back to William the Conqueror, who was forced more than once to swear to perform, not what he himself would, but what the people and the great men of the realm required of him. If many kings “are crowned without the usual solemnity,” and reign without taking any oath, the same thing may be said of the people; a great many of whom never took the oath of allegiance. If the king by not taking an oath be at liberty, the people are so too. And that part of the people that has sworn, swore not to the king only, but to the realm, and the laws, by which the king came to his crown; and no otherwise to the king, than whilst he should act according to those laws, that “the common People,” that is, the house of Commons, should choose; (quas vulgus elegerit.) For it were folly to alter the phrase of our law, and turn it into more genuine Latin. This clause, (quas vulgus elegerit,) which the commons shall choose, Charles before he was crowned, procured to be razed out. “But,” say you, “without the king’s assent the people can choose no laws;” and for this you cite two statutes, viz. Anno 37 H. VI., Cap. 15, and 13 Edw. IV., Cap. 8: but these two statutes are so far from appearing in our statute-books, that in the years you mention neither of those kings enacted any laws at all. Go now and complain, that those fugitives, who pretended to furnish you with matter out of our statutes, imposed upon you in it; and let other people in the mean time stand astonished at your impudence and vanity, who are not ashamed to pretend to be thoroughly versed in such books, as it is so evident you have never looked into, nor so much as seen. And that clause in the coronation oath which such a brazen-faced brawler as you call fictitious, “The king’s friends,” you say yourself, “acknowledge, that it may possibly be extant in some ancient copies, but that it grew into disuse, because it had no convenient signification.” But for that very reason did our ancestors insert it in the oath, that the oath might have such a signification as would not be for a tyrant’s conveniency. If it had really grown into disuse, which yet is most false, there was the greater need of reviving it; but even that would have been to no purpose, according to your doctrine: “For that custom of taking an oath, as kings now-a-days generally use it, is no more,” you say, “than a bare ceremony.” And yet the king, when the bishops were to be put down, pretended that he could not do it by reason of that oath. And consequently that reverend and sacred oath, as it serves for the king’s turn, or not, must be solemn and binding, or an empty ceremony: which I earnestly entreat my countrymen to take notice of, and to consider what manner of a king they are like to have, if he ever come back. For it would never have entered into the thoughts of this rascally foreign grammarian, to write a discourse of the rights of the crown of England, unless both Charles and Stuart now in banishment, and tainted with his father’s principles, and those profligate tutors that he has along with him, had industriously suggested to him what they would have writ. They dictated to him, “That the whole parliament were liable to be proceeded against as traitors, because they declared without the king’s assent all them to be traitors, who had taken up arms against the parliament of England; and that parliaments were but the king’s vassals: that the oath, which our kings take at their coronation, is but a ceremony:” And why not that of a vassal too? So that no reverence of laws, no sacredness of an oath, will be sufficient to protect your lives and fortunes, either from the exorbitance of a furious, or the revenge of an exasperated, prince, who has been so instructed from his cradle, as to think laws, religion, nay, and oaths themselves, ought to be subject to his will and pleasure. How much better is it, and more becoming yourselves, if you desire riches, liberty, peace, and empire, to obtain them assuredly by your own virtue, industry, prudence, and valour, than to long after and hope for them in vain under the rule of a king? They who are of opinion that these things cannot be compassed but under a king, and a lord, it cannot well be expressed how mean, how base, I do not say, how unworthy, thoughts they have of themselves; for in effect, what do they other than confess, that they themselves are lazy, weak, senseless, silly persons, and framed for slavery both in body and mind? And indeed all manner of slavery is scandalous and disgraceful to a free-born ingenuous person; but for you, after you have recovered your lost liberty, by God’s assistance, and your own arms; after the performance of so many valiant exploits, and the making so remarkable an example of a most potent king, to desire to return again into a condition of bondage and slavery, will not only be scandalous and disgraceful, but an impious and wicked thing; and equal to that of the Israelites, who, for desiring to return to the Egyptian slavery, were so severely punished for that sordid, slavish temper of mind, and so many of them destroyed by that God who had been their deliverer.
But what say you now, who would persuade us to become slaves? “The king,” say you, “had a power of pardoning such as were guilty of treason, and other crimes; which evinces sufficiently, that the king himself was under no law.” The king might indeed pardon treason, not against the kingdom, but against himself; and so may any body else pardon wrongs done to themselves; and he might, perhaps, pardon some other offences, though not always. But does it follow, because in some cases he had the right of saving a malefactor’s life, that therefore he must have a right to destroy all good men? If the king be impleaded in an inferior court, he is not obliged to answer, but by his attorney: does it therefore follow, that when he is summoned by all his subjects to appear in parliament, he may choose whether he will appear or no, and refuse to answer in person? You say, “That we endeavour to justify what we have done by the Hollanders’ example;” and upon this occasion, fearing the loss of that stipend with which the Hollanders feed such a murrain and pest as you are, if by reviling the English you should consequently reflect upon them that maintain you, you endeavour to demonstrate “how unlike their actions and ours are.” The comparison that you make betwixt them I resolve to omit (though many things in it are most false, and other things flattery all over, which yet you thought yourself obliged to put down, to deserve your pension). For the English think they need not allege the examples of foreigners for their justification. They have municipal laws of their own, by which they have acted; laws with relation to the matter in hand the best in the world: they have the examples of their ancestors, great and gallant men, for their imitation, who never gave way to the exorbitant power of princes, and who have put many of them to death, when their government became insupportable. They were born free, they stand in need of no other nation, they can make what laws they please for their own good government. One law in particular they have a great veneration for, and a very ancient one it is, enacted by nature itself, That all human laws, all civil right and government, must have a respect to the safety and welfare of good men, and not be subject to the lusts of princes.
From hence to the end of your book I find nothing but rubbish and trifles, picked out of the former chapters; of which you have here raised so great a heap, that I cannot imagine what other design you could have in it, than to presage the ruin of your whole fabric. At last, after an infinite deal of tittle-tattle, you make an end, calling “God to witness, that you undertook the defence of this cause, not only because you were desired so to do, but because your own conscience told you, that you could not possibly undertake the defence of a better.” Is it fit for you to intermeddle with our matters, with which you have nothing to do, because you were desired, when we ourselves did not desire you? to reproach with contumelious and opprobrious language, and in a printed book, the supreme magistracy of the English nation, when according to the authority and power that they are intrusted with, they do but their duty within their own jurisdiction, and all this without the least injury or provocation from them? (for they did not so much as know that there was such a man in the world as you.) And I pray by whom were you desired? By your wife, I suppose, who, they say, exercises a kingly right and jurisdiction over you; and whenever she has a mind to it (as Fulvia is made to speak in that obscene epigram, that you collected some centoes out of, page 320) cries, “Either write, or let us fight;” that made you write perhaps, lest the signal should be given. Or were you asked by Charles the younger, and that profligate gang of vagabond courtiers, and like a second Balaam called upon by another Balak to restore a desperate cause by ill writing, that was lost by ill fighting? That may be; but there is this difference, for he was a wise understanding man, and rid upon an ass that could speak, to curse the people of God: thou art a very talkative ass thyself, and rid by a woman, and being surrounded with the healed heads of the bishops, that heretofore thou hadst wounded, thou seemest to represent that beast in the Revelation.
But they say, that a little after you had written this book you repented of what you had done. It is well, if it be so; and to make your repentance public, I think the best course that you can take will be, for this long book that you have writ, to take a halter, and make one long letter of yourself. So Judas Iscariot repented, to whom you are like; and that young Charles knew, which made him send you the purse, Judas his badge; for he had heard before, and found afterward by experience, that you were an apostate and a devil. Judas betrayed Christ himself, and you betray his church; you have taught heretofore, that bishops were antichristian, and you are now revolted to their party. You now undertake the defence of their cause, whom formerly you damned to the pit of hell. Christ delivered all men from bondage, and you endeavour to enslave all mankind. Never question, since you have been such a villain to God himself, his church, and all mankind in general, but that the same fate attends you that befell your equal, out of despair rather than repentance, to be weary of your life, and hang yourself, and burst asunder as he did; and to send beforehand that faithless and treacherous conscience of yours, that railing conscience at good and holy men, to that place of torment that is prepared for you. And now I think, through God’s assistance, I have finished the work I undertook, to wit, the defence of the noble actions of my countrymen at home, and abroad, against the raging and envious madness of this distracted sophister; and the asserting of the common rights of the people against the unjust domination of kings, not out of any hatred to kings, but tyrants: nor have I purposely left unanswered any one argument alleged by my adversary, nor any one example or authority quoted by him, that seemed to have any force in it, or the least colour of an argument. Perhaps I have been guilty rather of the other extreme, of replying to some of his fooleries and trifles, as if they were solid arguments, and thereby may seem to have attributed more to them than they deserved.
One thing yet remains to be done, which perhaps is of the greatest concern of all, and that is, that you, my countrymen, refute this adversary of yours yourselves, which I do not see any other means of your effecting, than by a constant endeavour to outdo all men’s bad words by your own good deeds. When you laboured under more sorts of oppression than one, you betook yourselves to God for refuge, and he was graciously pleased to hear your most earnest prayer and desires. He has gloriously delivered you, the first of nations, from the two greatest mischiefs of this life, and most pernicious to virtue, tyranny and superstition; he has endued you with greatness of mind to be the first of mankind, who after having conquered their own king, and having had him delivered into their hands, have not scrupled to condemn him judicially, and pursuant to that sentence of condemnation, to put him to death. After the performing so glorious an action as this, you ought to do nothing that is mean and little, not so much as to think of, much less to do, any thing but what is great and sublime. Which to attain to, this is your only way; as you have subdued your enemies in the field, so to make appear, that unarmed, and in the highest outward peace and tranquillity, you of all mankind are best able to subdue ambition, avarice, the love of riches, and can best avoid the corruptions that prosperity is apt to introduce, (which generally subdue and triumph over other nations,) to show as great justice, temperance and moderation in the maintaining your liberty, as you have shown courage in freeing yourselves from slavery. These are the only arguments, by which you will be able to evince, that you are not such persons as this fellow represents you, Traitors, Robbers, Murderers, Parricides, Madmen; that you did not put your king to death out of any ambitious design, or a desire of invading the rights of others, not out of any seditious principles or sinister ends; that it was not an act of fury or madness; but that it was wholly out of love to your liberty, your religion, to justice, virtue, and your country, that you punished a tyrant. But if it should fall out otherwise, (which God forbid,) if as you have been valiant in war, you should grow debauched in peace, you that have had such visible demonstrations of the goodness of God to yourselves, and his wrath against your enemies; and that you should not have learned by so eminent, so remarkable an example before your eyes, to fear God, and work righteousness; for my part, I shall easily grant and confess (for I cannot deny it) whatever ill men may speak or think of you, to be very true. And you will find in a little time, that God’s displeasure against you will be greater than it has been against your adversaries, greater than his grace and favour has been to yourselves, which you have had larger experience of than any other nation under heaven.
[* ]This translation of the author’s “Defensio pro Populo Anglicano,” Mr. Toland ascribes to Mr. Washington, a gentleman of the Temple.
[* ]Salmasius was once an advocate, that is, a counsellor at law.
[* ]Lupus in Latin signifies a wolf.
[* ]St. Lou, in Latin, Sanctus Lupus, Saint Wolf, is the name of a place in France, where Salmasius had some small estate, and was called so from St. Lupus, a German bishop, who with St. German came over into England, Anno Dom. 429.