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THE SECOND DEFENCE OF THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND, AGAINST AN ANONYMOUS LIBEL ENTITLED “THE ROYAL BLOOD CRYING TO HEAVEN FOR VENGEANCE ON THE ENGLISH PARRICIDES.” - 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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THE SECOND DEFENCE OF THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND, AGAINST AN ANONYMOUS LIBEL
translated from the latin,
BY ROBERT FELLOWES, A. M. OXON.
A grateful recollection of the divine goodness, is the first of human obligations; and extraordinary favours demand more solemn and devout acknowledgments; with such acknowledgments I feel it my duty to begin this work. First, because I was born at a time, when the virtue of my fellow-citizens, far exceeding that of their progenitors in greatness of soul and vigour of enterprise, having invoked heaven to witness the justice of their cause, and been clearly governed by its directions, has succeeded in delivering the commonwealth from the most grievous tyranny, and religion from the most ignominious degradation. And next, because when there suddenly arose many who, as is usual with the vulgar, basely calumniated the most illustrious achievements, and when one eminent above the rest, inflated with literary pride, and the zealous applauses of his partisans, had in a scandalous publication, which was particularly levelled against me, nefariously undertaken to plead the cause of despotism, I who was neither deemed unequal to so renowned an adversary, nor to so great a subject, was particularly selected by the deliverers of our country, and by the general suffrage of the public, openly to vindicate the rights of the English nation, and consequently of liberty itself. Lastly, because in a matter of so much moment, and which excited such ardent expectations, I did not disappoint the hopes nor the opinions of my fellow-citizens; while men of learning and eminence abroad honoured me with unmingled approbation; while I obtained such a victory over my opponent, that notwithstanding his unparalleled assurance, he was obliged to quit the field with his courage broken and his reputation lost; and for the three years which he lived afterwards, much as he menaced and furiously as he raved, he gave me no further trouble, except that he procured the paltry aid of some despicable hirelings, and suborned some of his silly and extravagant admirers, to support him under the weight of the unexpected and recent disgrace which he had experienced. This will immediately appear. Such are the signal favours which I ascribe to the divine beneficence, and which I thought it right devoutly to commemorate, not only that I might discharge a debt of gratitude, but particularly because they seem auspicious to the success of my present undertaking. For who is there, who does not identify the honour of his country with his own? And what can conduce more to the beauty or glory of one’s country, than the recovery, not only of its civil but its religious liberty? And what nation or state ever obtained both, by more successful or more valorous exertion? For fortitude is seen resplendent, not only in the field of battle and amid the clash of arms, but displays its energy under every difficulty and against every assailant. Those Greeks and Romans, who are the objects of our admiration, employed hardly any other virtue in the extirpation of tyrants, than that love of liberty which made them prompt in seizing the sword, and gave them strength to use it. With facility they accomplished the undertaking, amid the general shout of praise and joy; nor did they engage in the attempt so much as an enterprise of perilous and doubtful issue, as in a contest the most glorious in which virtue could be signalized; which infallibly led to present recompence; which bound their brows with wreaths of laurel, and consigned their memories to immortal fame. For as yet, tyrants were not beheld with a superstitious reverence; as yet they were not regarded with tenderness and complacency, as the vicegerents or deputies of Christ, as they have suddenly professed to be; as yet the vulgar, stupified by the subtle casuistry of the priest, had not degenerated into a state of barbarism, more gross than that which disgraces the most senseless natives of Hindostan. For these make mischievous demons, whose malice they cannot resist, the objects of their religious adoration; while those elevate impotent tyrants, in order to shield them from destruction, into the rank of gods; and to their own cost, consecrate the pests of the human race. But against this dark array of long received opinions, superstitions, obloquy, and fears, which some dread even more than the enemy himself, the English had to contend; and all this, under the light of better information, and favoured by an impulse from above, they overcame with such singular enthusiasm and bravery, that, great as were the numbers engaged in the contest, the grandeur of conception, and loftiness of spirit which were universally displayed, merited for each individual more than a mediocrity of fame; and Britain, which was formerly styled the hotbed of tyranny, will hereafter deserve to be celebrated for endless ages, as a soil most genial to the growth of liberty. During the mighty struggle, no anarchy, no licentiousness was seen; no illusions of glory, no extravagant emulation of the ancients inflamed them with a thirst for ideal liberty; but the rectitude of their lives, and the sobriety of their habits, taught them the only true and safe road to real liberty; and they took up arms only to defend the sanctity of the laws, and the rights of conscience. Relying on the divine assistance, they used every honourable exertion to break the yoke of slavery; of the praise of which, though I claim no share to myself, yet I can easily repel any charge which may be adduced against me, either of want of courage, or want of zeal. For though I did not participate in the toils or dangers of the war, yet I was at the same time engaged in a service not less hazardous to myself, and more beneficial to my fellow-citizens; nor, in the adverse turns of our affairs, did I ever betray any symptoms of pusillanimity and dejection; or show myself more afraid than became me, of malice or of death: for since from my youth I was devoted to the pursuits of literature, and my mind had always been stronger than my body, I did not court the labours of a camp, in which any common person would have been of more service than myself, but resorted to that employment in which my exertions were likely to be of most avail. Thus, with the better part of my frame, I contributed as much as possible to the good of my country, and to the success of the glorious cause in which we were engaged; and I thought, that if God willed the success of such glorious achievements, it was equally agreeable to his will, that there should be others by whom those achievements should be recorded with dignity and elegance; and that the truth, which had been defended by arms, should also be defended by reason; which is the best and only legitimate means of defending it. Hence, while I applaud those who were victorious in the field, I will not complain of the province which was assigned me; but rather congratulate myself upon it, and thank the author of all good for having placed me in a station, which may be an object of envy to others, rather than of regret to myself. I am far from wishing to make any vain or arrogant comparisons, or to speak ostentatiously of myself, but, in a cause so great and glorious, and particularly on an occasion when I am called by the general suffrage to defend the very defenders of that cause; I can hardly refrain from assuming a more lofty and swelling tone, than the simplicity of an exordium may seem to justify: and much as I may be surpassed in the powers of eloquence, and copiousness of diction, by the illustrious orators of antiquity; yet the subject of which I treat, was never surpassed in any age, in dignity or in interest. It has excited such general and such ardent expectation, that I imagine myself not in the forum or on the rostra, surrounded only by the people of Athens or of Rome; but about to address in this as I did in my former defence, the whole collective body of people, cities, states, and councils of the wise and eminent, through the wide expanse of anxious and listening Europe. I seem to survey as from a towering height, the far extended tracts of sea and land, and innumerable crowds of spectators, betraying in their looks the liveliest interest, and sensations the most congenial with my own. Here I behold the stout and manly prowess of the Germans, disdaining servitude; there the generous and lively impetuosity of the French; on this side, the calm and stately valour of the Spaniard; on that, the composed and wary magnanimity of the Italian. Of all the lovers of liberty and virtue, the magnanimous and the wise, in whatever quarter they may be found, some secretly favour, others openly approve; some greet me with congratulations and applause; others, who had long been proof against conviction, at last yield themselves captive to the force of truth. Surrounded by congregated multitudes, I now imagine, that, from the columns of Hercules to the Indian ocean, I behold the nations of the earth recovering that liberty which they so long had lost; and that the people of this island are transporting to other countries a plant of more beneficial qualities, and more noble growth, than that which Triptolemus is reported to have carried from region to region; that they are disseminating the blessings of civilization and freedom among cities, kingdoms and nations. Nor shall I approach unknown, nor perhaps unloved, if it be told that I am the same person who engaged in single combat that fierce advocate of despotism; till then reputed invincible in the opinion of many, and in his own conceit; who insolently challenged us and our armies to the combat; but whom, while I repelled his virulence, I silenced with his own weapons; and over whom, if I may trust to the opinions of impartial judges, I gained a complete and glorious victory. That this is the plain unvarnished fact appears from this; that, after the most noble queen of Sweden, than whom there neither is nor ever was a personage more attached to literature and to learned men, had invited Salmasius or Salmasia (for to which sex he belonged is a matter of uncertainty) to her court, where he was received with great distinction, my defence suddenly surprized him in the midst of his security. It was generally read, and by the queen among the rest, who, attentive to the dignity of her station, let the stranger experience no diminution of her former kindness and munificence.
But, with respect to the rest, if I may assert what has been often told, and was matter of public notoriety, such a change was instantly effected in the public sentiment, that he, who but yesterday flourished in the highest degree of favour, seemed to day to wither in neglect; and soon after receiving permission to depart, he left it doubtful among many, whether he were more honoured when he came, or more disgraced when he went away; and even in other places it is clear, that it occasioned no small loss to his reputation; and all this I have mentioned, not from any futile motives of vanity or ostentation, but that I might clearly show, as I proposed in the beginning, what momentous reasons I had for commencing this work with an effusion of gratitude to the Father of the universe. Such a preface was most honourable and appropriate, in which I might prove, by an enumeration of particulars, that I had not been without my share of human misery; but that I had, at the same time, experienced singular marks of the divine regard; that in topics of the highest concern, the most connected with the exigencies of my country, and the most beneficial to civil and religious liberty; the supreme wisdom and beneficence had invigorated and enlarged my faculties, to defend the dearest interests, not merely of one people, but of the whole human race, against the enemies of human liberty; as it were in a full concourse of all the nations on the earth: And I again invoke the same Almighty Being, that I may still be able with the same integrity, the same diligence, and the same success, to defend those actions which have been so gloriously achieved; while I vindicate the authors as well as myself, whose name has been associated with theirs, not so much for the sake of honour as disgrace, from unmerited ignominy and reproach; but if there are any, who think that it would have been better to have passed over these in silent contempt, I should agree with them, if they had been dispersed only among those who were thoroughly acquainted with our principles and our conduct; but, how were strangers to discover the false assertions of our adversaries? When proper pains have been taken to make the vindication as extensive as the calumny, I think that they will cease to think ill of us, and that he will be ashamed of the falsehoods which he has promulgated; but, if he be past the feeling of shame, we may then well leave him to contempt. I should sooner have prepared an answer to his invective, if he had not entrenched himself in unfounded rumours and frequent denunciations that Salmasius was labouring at the anvil, and fabricating new libels against us, which would soon make their appearance; by which he obtained only a short delay of vengeance and of punishment; for I thought it right to reserve my whole strength unimpaired against the more potent adversary. But the conflict between me and Salmasius is now finally terminated by his death; and I will not write against the dead; nor will I reproach him with the loss of life as he did me with the loss of sight; though there are some, who impute his death to the penetrating severity of my strictures, which he rendered only the more sharp by his endeavours to resist. When he saw the work which he had in hand proceed slowly on, the time of reply elapsed, the public curiosity subsided, his fame marred, and his reputation lost; the favour of the princes, whose cause he had so ill-defended, alienated, he was destroyed after three years of grief rather by the force of depression than disease. However this may be, if I must wage even a posthumous war with an enemy whose strength I so well know, whose most vigorous and impetuous attacks I so easily sustained, there seems no reason why I should dread the languid exertions of his dying hour.
But now, at last, let us come to this thing, whatever it may be, that provokes us to the combat; though I hear, indeed, the cry not of the royal blood, as the title pretends, but that of some skulking and drivelling miscreant. Well, I beseech, who are you? a man, or nobody at all? Certainly one of the dregs of men, for even slaves are not without a name. Shall I always have to contend with anonymous scribblers? though they would willingly indeed pass for kings’ men, but I much doubt whether they can make kings believe that they are. The followers and friends of kings are not ashamed of kings. How then are these the friends of kings? They make no contributions; they more willingly receive them; they will not even lend their names to the support of the royal cause. What then? they support it by their pen; but even this service they have not sufficient liberality to render gratuitously to their kings; nor have they the courage to affix their names to their productions. But though, O anonymous Sirs! I might plead the example of your Claudius, who composed a plausible work concerning the rights of kings, but without having respect enough either for me or for the subject to put his name to the production. I should think it scandalous to undertake the discussion of so weighty a subject, while I concealed my name. What I, in a republic, openly attempt against kings, why do you in a monarchy, and under the patronage of kings, not dare to do except clandestinely and by stealth? Why do you, trembling with apprehension in the midst of security, and seeking darkness in the midst of light, depreciate the power and the majesty of sovereigns by a cowardice, which must excite both hatred and distrust? Do you suspect that you have no protection in the power of kings? But surely, thus skulking in obscurity and prowling in disguise, you seem to have come not so much as advocates to maintain the right of kings as thieves to rob the treasury. What I am, I ingenuously profess to be. The prerogative which I deny to kings, I would persist in denying in any legitimate monarchy; for no sovereign could injure me without first condemning himself by a confession of his despotism. If I inveigh against tyrants, what is this to kings? whom I am far from associating with tyrants. As much as an honest man differs from a rogue, so much I contend that a king differs from a tyrant. Whence it is clear, that a tyrant is so far from being a king, that he is always in direct opposition to a king. And he who peruses the records of history, will find that more kings have been subverted by tyrants than by their subjects. He, therefore, who would authorise the destruction of tyrants, does not authorise the destruction of kings, but of the most inveterate enemies to kings. But that right, which you concede to kings, the right of doing what they please, is not justice, but injustice, ruin and despair. By that envenomed present you yourselves destroy those, whom you extol as if they were above the reach of danger and oppression; and you quite obliterate the difference between a king and a tyrant, if you invest both with the same arbitrary power. For, if a king does not exercise that power, (and no king will exercise it as long as he is not a tyrant,) the power must be ascribed, not to the king, but to the individual. For, what can be imagined more absurd than that regal prerogative, which, if any one uses, as often as he wishes to act the king, so often he ceases to be an honest man; and as often as he chooses to be an honest man, so often he must evince that he is not a king? Can any more bitter reproach be cast upon kings? He who maintains this prerogative, must himself be a monster of injustice and iniquity; for how can there be a worse person than him, who must himself first verify the exaggerated picture of atrocity which he delineates.” But if every good man, as an ancient sect of philosophers magnificently taught, is a king, it follows that every bad one is, according to his capacity, a tyrant; nor does the name of tyrant signify any thing soaring or illustrious, but the meanest reptile on the earth; for in proportion as he is great, he is contemptible and abject. Others are vicious only for themselves: but tyrants are vicious, not only for themselves, but are even involuntarily obliged to participate in the crimes of their importunate menials and favourites, and to entrust certain portions of their despotism to the vilest of their dependants. Tyrants are thus the most abject of slaves, for they are the servants of those who are themselves in servitude. This name therefore may be rightly applied to the most insignificant pugilist of tyranny, or even to this brawler; who, why he should strenuously clamour for the interests of despotism, will sufficiently appear from what has been said already, and what will be said in the sequel; as also why this hireling chooses to conceal his name. Treading in the steps of Salmasius, he has prostituted his cry for the royal blood, and either blushing for the disgrace of his erudition, or the flagitiousness of his life, it is not strange that he should wish to be concealed; or perhaps he is watching an opportunity, wherever he may scent some richer odours of emolument, to desert the cause of kings, and transfer his services to some future republic. This was the manner of Salmasius, who, captivated by the love of gain, apostatised, even when sinking in years, from the orthodox to the episcopalians, from the popular party to the royalists. Thou brawler, then, from the stews, who thou art thou in vain endeavourest to conceal; believe me, you will be dragged to light, nor will the helmet of Pluto any longer serve you for a disguise. And you will swear downright, as long as you live, either that I am not blind, or that I was quicksighted enough to detect you in the labyrinth of imposture. Attend then, while I relate who he is, from whom descended, by what expectations he was led, or by what blandishments soothed to advocate the royal cause.
There is one More, part Frenchman and part Scot, so that one country, or one people, cannot be quite overwhelmed with the whole infamy of his extraction; an unprincipled miscreant, and proved not only by the general testimony of his enemies, but even by that of his dearest friends, whom he has alienated by his insincerity, to be a monster of perfidy, falsehood, ingratitude, and malevolence, the perpetual slanderer, not only of men, but of women, whose chastity he is no more accustomed to regard than their reputation. To pass over the more obscure transactions of his youth, he first made his appearance as a teacher of the Greek language at Geneva; where he could not divest himself either of the knave or fool; but where, even while secretly conscious, though perhaps not yet publicly convicted of so many enormities, he had the audacity to solicit the office of pastor in the church, and to profane the character by his crimes. But his debaucheries, his pride, and the general profligacies of his conduct, could not long escape the censure of the Presbyters; after being condemned for many heresies, which he basely recanted, and to which he still as impiously adhered, he was at last openly found guilty of adultery. He had conceived a violent passion for the maid-servant of his host, and even after she was married to another, did not cease to solicit the gratification of his lust. The neighbours often observed them together in close converse under a shed in the garden. But you will say this might have no reference to any criminal amours; he might have conversed upon horticulture, and have read lectures on the art, to the untutored and curious girl; he might one while have praised the beauty of the parterres, or regretted the absence of shade; he might have inserted a mulberry in a fig, and thence have rapidly raised a progeny of sycamores; a cooling bower; and might then have taught the art of grafting to the fair. All this and more he might, no doubt, have done. But all this would not satisfy the Presbyters, who passed sentence on him as an adulterer, and judged him unworthy of the ecclesiastical functions. The heads of those, and other accusations of the like kind, are still preserved in the public library at Geneva. But, even after this had become matter of public notoriety, he was invited, at the instance of Salmasius, to officiate in the French church at Middleburgh. This gave great offence to Spanheim, a man of singular erudition and integrity; who was well acquainted with his character at Geneva, though at last, but not without the most violent opposition, he succeeded in obtaining letters testimonial from the Genevese, but these only on the condition that he should leave the place, and couched in expressions rather bordering on censure than on praise. As soon as he arrived in Holland, he went to pay his respects to Salmasius; where he immediately cast his libidinous looks on his wife’s maid, whose name was Pontia; for the fellow’s lust is always inflamed by cooks and waiting-maids; hence he began to pay assiduous court to Salmasius, and, as often as he had opportunity, to Pontia. I know not whether Salmasius, taken by the busy attentions and unintermitted adulation of More, or More thinking that it would favour his purpose of meeting Pontia, which first caused their conversation to turn on the answer of Milton to Salmasius. But, however this might be, More undertook to defend Salmasius, and Salmasius promises to obtain for More the divinity-chair in that city. Besides this, More promises himself other sweets in his clandestine amour with Pontia; for, under pretext of consulting Salmasius in the prosecution of this work, he had free admission to the house at all hours of the night or day. And, as formerly Pyramus was changed into a mulberry tree, so More* seems suddenly transformed into Pyramus; but in proportion as he was more criminal, so he was more fortunate than that youth. He had no occasion to seek for a chink in the wall; he had every facility for carrying on his intrigue with his Thisbe under the same roof. He promises her marriage; and, under the lure of this promise, violates her chastity. O shame! a minister of the gospel abuses the confidence of friendship to commit this atrocious crime. From this amour no common prodigy accrued; for both man and woman suffered the pains of parturition: Pontia conceived a morill,* which long afforded employment to the natural disquisitions of Salmasius; More, the barren and windy egg; from which issued that flatulent cry of the royal blood. The sight of this egg indeed, at first, caused our monarchy-men, who were famishing in Belgium, to lick their chops; but the shell was no sooner broken, than they loathed the addle and putrid contents; for More, not a little elated with his conception, and thinking that he had obliged the whole Orange faction, had begun to anticipate a new accession of professorships and chairs, when he deserted his poor pregnant Pontia, as beneath his notice, to indigence and misfortune. She complained to the synod and the magistrates, of the injuries and the treachery which she had experienced. Thus the matter was brought to light, and afforded subject for merriment and observation in almost all places and companies. Hence some ingenious person wrote this distich,
Pontia alone was not seen to smile; but she gained nothing by complaint; for the cry of the royal blood soon overwhelmed the clamour about the rape, and the cries of the ruined fair. Salmasius deeply resented the injury and insult which were thus offered to himself and his family; and the derision to which he was exposed by his courteous and admiring friend; and perhaps this misfortune, added to his other mishaps in the royal causes, might have contributed to accelerate his end. But on this hereafter. In the mean time, Salmasius, with the fate of Salmasia, (for the fable is as appropriate as the name,) little thinking that in More he had got an hermaphrodite associate, as incapable of parturition as of procreation, without knowing what he had begot for him in the house, fondles the fruit of his travail, the book in which he was styled Great; justly perhaps in his own opinion, but very unfitly and ridiculously in that of other people. He hastens to the printer; and, in vain endeavouring to keep possession of the fame which was vanishing from his grasp, he anxiously attends as a midwife the public delivery of those praises, or rather vile flatteries, which he had so rapaciously sought this fellow and others to bestow. For this purpose Flaccus seemed the most proper person that could be found; him he readily persuades, not only to print the book, which nobody would have blamed, but also publicly to profess himself the author of a letter to Charles, filled with the most calumnious aspersions against me, whom he had never known. But when I show, as I can from good authority, how he has acted towards others, it will be the less astonishing why he should so readily be prevailed on to commence such a wanton and unprovoked attack upon me; and with so little consideration, to father another’s extravagance of slander and invective. Flaccus, whose country is unknown, was an itinerant bookseller, a notorious prodigal and cheat; for a long time he carried on a clandestine trade in London; from which city, after practising innumerable frauds, he ran away in debt. He afterwards lived at Paris, during the whole reign of James, an object of distrust and a monster of extortion. From this place he made his escape; and now does not dare to approach within many miles; at present he makes his appearance as a regenerated bookseller at the Hague, ready to perform any nefarious and dirty work to which he may be invited. And as a proof how little he cares what he says or what he does, there is nothing so sacred which a trifling bribe would not tempt him to betray; and I shall bring forward his own confession to show that his virulence against me was not prompted, as might be supposed, by any zeal for the public good. When he found that what I had written against Salmasius had a considerable sale, he writes to some of my friends to persuade me to let any future publication of mine issue from his press; and promises a great degree of elegance in the typographical execution. I replied, that I had, at that time, no work by me ready for the press. But lo! he, who had lately made me such an officious proffer of his services, soon appears, not only as the printer, but the (suborned) author of a most scandalous libel upon my character. My friends express their indignation; he replies with unabashed effrontery, that he is quite astonished at their simplicity and ignorance of the world, in supposing that he should suffer any notions of right or wrong to disturb his calculations of profit, and his speculations of gain: that he had received that letter from Salmasius, together with the book; that he begged him to publish it on his own account, in the way he had done; and that, if Milton or any other person thought fit to write an answer, he should have no hesitation in printing it, if they would employ him in the business. This was nothing else than to say that he would readily publish an invective against Salmasius, or King Charles; for the reply could relate to no other persons. It is needless to say more. I have unmasked the man; I proceed to others; for he is not the only one who has served to embellish this tragic cry of the royal blood. Here then are the actors in the drama. The brawling prolocutor, the profligate Flaccus, or, if you had rather, Salmasius, habited in the mask and cloak of Flaccus, two poetasters drunk with stale beer, and More famed for adultery and rape. A marvellous company of tragedians! and an honest set for me to engage! But as such a cause was not likely to procure adversaries of a different stamp; let us now proceed to the attack of the individuals, such as they are; only first premising that, if any one think my refutation wanting in gravity, he should recollect, that I have not to contend with a weighty foe, but only a merry-andrew host; and that in such a work, instead of labouring to give it throughout the highest polish of elegance, it was right to consider what diction might be most appropriate to such a crew.
The Royal Blood crying to heaven for vengeance on the English parricides.
Your narrative, O More, would have had a greater appearance of truth, if you had first shown that his blood was not justly shed. But as in the first dawn of the reformation, the monks, from their dearth of argument, had recourse to spectres and other impositions, so you, when nothing else will stand you in any stead, call in the aid of voices which were never heard, and superstitious tricks that have long been out of date. You would not readily give any of us credit for having heard a voice from heaven; but I could with little difficulty believe that you did actually hear a voice from hell. Yet, I beseech you, who heard this cry of the royal blood? Yourself? Mere trash; for first you never hear any thing good.* But that cry which mounts to heaven, if any but God hear, it can only be the upright and the pure; who, themselves, unstained with crimes, may well denounce the divine vengeance against the guilty. But how could you possibly hear it? or, as a catamite, would you write a satire against lust? For you seem, at the same time, to have fabricated this miraculous cry to heaven, and to have consummated your amour with Pontia. There are not only many impediments in your sense, but many evil incrustations about your heart, which would for ever prevent such cries from reaching your ears: and if nothing else did, the many cries which are continually ascending to heaven against your own enormities would be sufficient for the purpose. The voice of that harlot, whom you debauched in the garden, and who complains that you, her religious teacher, was the author of her seduction, demands vengeance against you. Vengeance is demanded against you by the husband, whose nuptial bed you defiled; it is demanded by Pontia, to whom you perjured your nuptial vow; it is demanded by that little innocent whom you caused to be born in shame, and then left to perish without support.—All these different cries for vengeance on your guilty head are continually ascending to the throne of God; which if you do not hear, it is certain that the cry of the royal blood you could never have heard. Thus your book, instead of the royal blood crying to heaven, might more fitly be entitled “More’s lascivious neighing for his Pontia.” Of that tiresome and addle epistle which follows, part is devoted to Charles, part to Milton, to exalt the one, and to vilify the other. Take a specimen from the beginning: “The dominions of Charles,” he says, “were thrown into the sacrilegious hands of parricides and Deicides.” I shall not stay to consider whether this rant be the product of Salmasius, of More, or of Flaccus. But this, which makes others laugh, may well make Charles rave; for a little after he says that “no one was more devoted to the interests of Charles.” What truly! was there no one more devoted to his interests than you, who offered to publish and to circulate the invectives of his enemies? How wretched and forlorn must be the situation of Charles, if a scoundrel of a printer dare to rank himself among his most confidential friends? Wretched indeed must he be, if the perfidious Flaccus equal his dearest friends in fidelity and affection! But could the fellow have spoken any thing either more arrogantly of himself, or more contemptuously of the king and the king’s friends? Nor is it less ridiculous that a low-lived mechanic should be brought upon the stage to philosophise on the principles of government, and the virtues of kings; and to speak in a tone as lofty as even Salmasius or More. But indeed on this as well as other occasions I have discovered evident indications that Salmasius, notwithstanding the multiplicity of his reading, was a man of puerile judgment, and without any knowledge of the world; for though he must have read that the chief magistrates, in the well-arranged government of Sparta, were always wont to ascribe to some virtuous citizen the merit of every good saying which the worthless and the profligate might occasionally pronounce, he has shown himself so utterly ignorant of all that is called propriety, as to ascribe to the vilest of men, sentiments which could become only the good and wise. Keep up your spirits, Charles; for the old rogue Flaccus, whose faith in providence is so great, tells you not to be depressed. Do not succumb under so many sufferings. Flaccus, the most unprincipled prodigal, who so soon lost all that he ever had, tells you not to despond when all is lost. Make the best of your ill-starred fortune. And can you help making the best of it, when he advises, who, for so many years, by every species of peculation and iniquity, has been wont to subsist on the fortunes of others? “Drink deep of wisdom, for you are plunged in wisdom’s pool.” So counsels, so directs jolly Flaccus, the unrivalled preceptor of kings, who, seizing the leathern flaggon with his ink-smeared hands, drinks among his fellow workmen a huge draught to the success of your philosophy. This dares Flaccus, your incomparable partizan, who signs his name to admonitions, which Salmasius, which More, and your other advocates, have too little courage, or too much pride, to own. For, as often as you have any need of admonition or defence, they are always anonymously wise or brave; and at another’s hazard rather than their own.
Let this fellow therefore, whoever he may be, cease to make a barren boast of his vigorous and animated eloquence; for the author truly “fears to divulge his name, which has become so renowned by the exertions of his genius.” But he had not the courage, even in that work which was to avenge the royal blood, to prefix a dedication to Charles without the vicarious aid of Flaccus, in whose words he was contented to say that, “if it might be permitted, he would dedicate the book to his majesty without a name.” Thus having done with Charles, he next puts himself in a menacing posture against me. “After this proæmium” the wonderful “Salmasius will make the trumpet blow a deadly blast.” You announce a new kind of harmony; for to the terrors of that loud-sounding instrument no symphony bears so close a resemblance as that which is produced by accumulated flatulency. But I advise Salmasius not to raise the notes of this trumpet to too high a pitch; for, the louder the tones, the more he will expose himself to a slap on the chops; which while both his cheeks ring, will give a delightful flow to his well-proportioned melodies. You chatter on, “who has not his equal, nor near his equal, in the whole literary and scientific world.” What assurance! Ye men of erudition, scattered over the world, can you think it possible that a preference over you all should be given to a grammatical louse, whose only treasure of merit, and hope of fame, consisted in a glossary; and who would at last be found to deserve nothing but contempt, if a comparison were instituted between him and men really learned. But this would not be affirmed by any except the lowest driveller, more destitute of understanding than even Flaccus himself. “And who has now employed in the service of your majesty, a stupendous mass of erudition, illuminated by a genius quite divine.” If you recollect what I said above, that Salmasius took this letter which was either written by himself or one of his creatures, to the printer, and intreated the servile artificer to affix his own name to the publication, you will discover the indisputable marks of a mind truly grovelling and contemptible; basely wooing a panegyrick on itself, and sedulously procuring, even from a fool, an unbounded prodigality of praise. “An incomparable and immortal work, which it is fruitless to revile, and in which it must astonish even the regular practitioners of the law, how a Frenchman should so soon bring himself to understand and to explain the English history, the laws, statutes, records, &c.” Indeed how little he understood our laws, and how much he spoke at random on the subject, we have produced abundant evidence to show. “But he will soon, in another impression which he is preparing against the rebels, stop the mouths of revilers, and chastise Milton according to his deserts.” You, therefore, as that little avant courier of a fish, run before the Salmasian whale, which threatens an attack upon our coast; we sharpen our harpoons to elicit any oil or gall which his impetuous vengeance may contain. In the mean time we admire the more than Pythagorean tenderness of this prodigy of a man, who compassionating animals, and particularly fish, to whose flesh even Lent shows no indulgence, destined so many volumes to the decent apparelling of myriads of poor sprats and herrings, and bequeathed by will a paper coat to each.
This I wrote on the long expected edition of his far-famed work; in printing which he was strenuously engaged, while you, sir, were polluting his house by your scandalous amour with Pontia. And Salmasius appears to have long and industriously applied himself to the execution; for only a few days before his death, when a learned person, from whom I received the information, sent to ask him when he would publish the second part of his argument against the supremacy of the pope; he replied, that he should not return to that work till he had completed his labours against Milton. Thus I was preferred before the pope; and that supremacy which he denied to him in the church, he gratuitously bestowed on me in his resentment.—Thus I seem to have furnished a timely succour against his subversion of the papacy; and to have saved the Roman capital from the irruption of a second Catiline, not indeed like the Consul Tully, by the fasces of office, or the premonitions of a dream, but by very different means. Surely many cardinals’ caps will be due to me on this account; and I fear lest the Roman Pontiff, by the transfer of a title, which lately belonged to our kings, should salute me with the appellation of Defender of the Faith. You see under what a cloud of disgrace Salmasius laboured to depress me. But ought he to have relinquished a post of honourable exertion to mingle in foreign controversies, or to have deserted the service of the church for political and external discussions, in which he had no knowledge and no concern? Ought he to have made a truce with the pope? and, what was most base of all, after the utmost bitterness of hostility, to have sought a reconciliation with the bishops? Let us now come to the charges which were brought against myself. Is there any thing reprehensible in my manners or my conduct? Surely nothing. What no one, not totally divested of all generous sensibility, would have done, he reproaches me with want of beauty and loss of sight.
A monster huge and hideous, void of sight.
I certainly never supposed that I should have been obliged to enter into a competition for beauty with the Cyclops; but he immediately corrects himself, and says, “though not indeed huge, for there cannot be a more spare, shrivelled and bloodless form.” It is of no moment to say any thing of personal appearance, yet lest (as the Spanish vulgar, implicitly confiding in the relations of their priests, believe of heretics) any one, from the representations of my enemies, should be let to imagine that I have either the head of a dog, or the horn of a rhinoceros, I will say something on the subject, that I may have an opportunity of paying my grateful acknowledgments to the Deity, and of refuting the most shameless lies. I do not believe that I was ever once noted for deformity, by any one who ever saw me; but the praise of beauty I am not anxious to obtain. My stature certainly is not tall; but it rather approaches the middle than the diminutive. Yet what if it were diminutive, when so many men, illustrious both in peace and war, have been the same? And how can that be called diminutive, which is great enough for every virtuous achievement? Nor, though very thin, was I ever deficient in courage or in strength; and I was wont constantly to exercise myself in the use of the sword, as long as it comported with my habits and my years. Armed with this weapon, as I usually was, I should have thought myself quite a match for any one, though much stronger than myself; and I felt perfectly secure against the assault of any open enemy. At this moment I have the same courage, the same strength, though not the same eyes; yet so little do they betray any external appearance of injury, that they are as unclouded and bright as the eyes of those who most distinctly see. In this instance alone I am a dissembler against my will. My face, which is said to indicate a total privation of blood, is of a complexion entirely opposite to the pale and cadaverous; so that, though I am more than forty years old, there is scarcely any one to whom I do not appear ten years younger than I am; and the smoothness of my skin is not, in the least, affected by the wrinkles of age. If there be one particle of falsehood in this relation, I should deservedly incur the ridicule of many thousands of my countrymen, and even many foreigners to whom I am personally known. But if he, in a matter so foreign to his purpose, shall be found to have asserted so many shameless and gratuitous falsehoods, you may the more readily estimate the quantity of his veracity on other topics. Thus much necessity compelled me to assert concerning my personal appearance. Respecting yours, though I have been informed that it is most insignificant and contemptible, a perfect mirror of the worthlessness of your character and the malevolence of your heart, I say nothing, and no one will be anxious that any thing should be said. I wish that I could with equal facility refute what this barbarous opponent has said of my blindness; but I cannot do it; and I must submit to the affliction. It is not so wretched to be blind, as it is not to be capable of enduring blindness. But why should I not endure a misfortune, which it behoves every one to be prepared to endure if it should happen; which may, in the common course of things, happen to any man; and which has been known to happen to the most distinguished and virtuous persons in history. Shall I mention those wise and ancient bards, whose misfortunes the gods are said to have compensated by superior endowments, and whom men so much revered, that they chose rather to impute their want of sight to the injustice of heaven than to their own want of innocence or virtue? What is reported of the Augur Tiregias is well known; of whom Apollonius sung thus in his Argonauts;
But God himself is truth; in propagating which, as men display a greater integrity and zeal, they approach nearer to the similitude of God, and possess a greater portion of his love. We cannot suppose the Deity envious of truth, or unwilling that it should be freely communicated to mankind.—The loss of sight, therefore, which this inspired sage, who was so eager in promoting knowledge among men, sustained, cannot be considered as a judicial punishment. Or shall I mention those worthies who were as distinguished for wisdom in the cabinet, as for valour in the field? And first, Timoleon of Corinth, who delivered his city and all Sicily from the yoke of slavery; than whom there never lived, in any age, a more virtuous man, or a more incorrupt statesman. Next Appius Claudius, whose discreet counsels in the senate, though they could not restore sight to his own eyes, saved Italy from the formidable inroads of Pyrrhus: then Cæcilius Metellus the high priest, who lost his sight, while he saved, not only the city, but the palladium, the protection of the city, and the most sacred relics, from the destruction of the flames. On other occasions Providence has indeed given conspicuous proofs of its regard for such singular exertions of patriotism and virtue; what, therefore, happened to so great and so good a man, I can hardly place in the catalogue of misfortunes. Why should I mention others of later times, as Dandolo of Venice, the incomparable Doge; or Boemar Zisca, the bravest of generals, and the champion of the cross; or Jerome Zanchius, and some other theologians of the highest reputation?—For it is evident that the Patriarch Isaac, than whom no man ever enjoyed more of the divine regard, lived blind for many years; and perhaps also his son Jacob, who was equally an object of the divine benevolence. And in short, did not our Saviour himself clearly declare that that poor man whom he restored to sight, had not been born blind, either on account of his own sins or those of his progenitors? And with respect to myself, though I have accurately examined my conduct, and scrutinized my soul, I call thee, O God, the searcher of hearts, to witness, that I am not conscious, either in the more early or in the later periods of my life, of having committed any enormity, which might deservedly have marked me out as a fit object for such a calamitous visitation.
But since my enemies boast that this affliction is only a retribution for the transgressions of my pen, I again invoke the Almighty to witness, that I never, at any time, wrote any thing which I did not think agreeable to truth, to justice, and to piety. This was my persuasion then, and I feel the same persuasion now. Nor was I ever prompted to such exertions by the influence of ambition, by the lust of lucre or of praise; it was only by the conviction of duty and the feeling of patriotism, a disinterested passion for the extension of civil and religious liberty.
Thus, therefore, when I was publicly solicited to write a reply to the defence of the royal cause, when I had to contend with the pressure of sickness, and with the apprehension of soon losing the sight of my remaining eye, and when my medical attendants clearly announced, that if I did engage in the work, it would be irreparably lost, their premonitions caused no hesitation, and inspired no dismay. I would not have listened to the voice even of Esculapius himself from the shrine of Epidauris, in preference to the suggestions of the heavenly monitor within my breast; my resolution was unshaken, though the alternative was either the loss of my sight or the desertion of my duty; and I called to mind those two destinies, which the oracle of Delphi announced to the son of Thetis.
I considered that many had purchased a less good by a greater evil, the meed of glory by the loss of life; but that I might procure great good by little suffering; that though I am blind, I might still discharge the most honourable duties, the performance of which, as it is something more durable than glory, ought to be an object of superior admiration and esteem; I resolved, therefore, to make the short interval of sight, which was left me to enjoy, as beneficial as possible to the public interest. Thus it is clear, by what motives I was governed in the measures which I took, and the losses which I sustained. Let then the calumniators of the divine goodness cease to revile, or to make me the object of their superstitious imaginations. Let them consider, that my situation, such as it is, is neither an object of my shame or my regret, that my resolutions are too firm to be shaken, that I am not depressed by any sense of the divine displeasure; that, on the other hand, in the most momentous periods, I have had full experience of the divine favour and protection; and that, in the solace and the strength which have been infused into me from above, I have been enabled to do the will of God; that I may oftener think on what he has bestowed, than on what he has withheld; that, in short, I am unwilling to exchange my consciousness of rectitude with that of any other person; and that I feel the recollection a treasured store of tranquillity and delight. But, if the choice were necessary, I would, Sir, prefer my blindness to yours: yours is a cloud spread over the mind, which darkens both the light of reason and of conscience; mine keeps from my view only the coloured surfaces of things, while it leaves me at liberty to contemplate the beauty and stability of virtue and of truth. How many things are there besides, which I would not willingly see; how many which I must see against my will; and how few which I feel any anxiety to see! There is, as the apostle has remarked, a way to strength through weakness. Let me then be the most feeble creature alive, as long as that feebleness serves to invigorate the energies of my rational and immortal spirit; as long as in that obscurity, in which I am enveloped, the light of the divine presence more clearly shines; then, in the proportion as I am weak, I shall be invincibly strong; and in proportion as I am blind, I shall more clearly see. O! that I may thus be perfected by feebleness, and irradiated by obscurity! And, indeed, in my blindness, I enjoy in no inconsiderable degree the favour of the Deity; who regards me with more tenderness and compassion in proportion as I am able to behold nothing but himself. Alas! for him who insults me, who maligns and merits public execration! For the divine law not only shields me from injury, but almost renders me too sacred to attack; not indeed so much from the privation of my sight, as from the overshadowing of those heavenly wings, which seem to have occasioned this obscurity; and which, when occasioned, he is wont to illuminate with an interior light, more precious and more pure. To this I ascribe the more tender assiduities of my friends, their soothing attentions, their kind visits, their reverential observances; among whom there are some with whom I may interchange the Pyladean and Thesian dialogue of inseparable friends.
Orest. Proceed, and be rudder of my feet, by showing me the most endearing love.
Eurip. in Orest.
You say that “all the protestants, particularly those in the Low Countries and France, are struck with horror at the crime which we have committed;” and immediately after, that “good men would every where think and speak differently on the subject.” That you should be at variance with yourself is a matter of little moment; but what follows is of a more shocking and atrocious cast. You say that “the wickedness of the Jews, who crucified Christ, was nothing compared with ours, whether you regard the intentions of the parties, or the effects of the crime.” Maniac; do you, a minister of Jesus, think so lightly of his crucifixion, as to have the audacity to assert, that the destruction of any king, whatever might be the intentions, or the effect, is equally atrocious? The Jews had the clearest and most convincing proofs that Jesus was the Son of God; but how could we possibly be led to believe, that Charles was not a tyrant? To diminish the enormity of the guilt, you very absurdly make mention of the effect; but I always observe, that the royalists, in proportion to their bigotry, are ready to depreciate the sufferings of Christ, in order to exalt those of their king; yet as they assert, that we ought principally to obey him for Christ’s sake, they show that they cherish no sincere regard either for Christ or for the king; and that they make their irrational and superstitious devotion to kings, only a pretext to conceal their ambitious, their sinister and interested views. “Salmasius, therefore, that great sovereign of literature, advanced to the combat!” Cease, Sir, I beseech you, to disgust us with the application of such an epithet as “great” to Salmasius; which you may repeat a thousand times, without ever persuading any one that Salmasius was great; though you may, that More was little; a worthless scribbler, who, quite ignorant of propriety, lavished the appellation of great without any fitness or discrimination. To grammarians and critics, who are principally occupied in editing the works of others, or in correcting the errors of copyists, we willingly concede the palm of industry and erudition; but we never bestow on them the surname of great. He alone is worthy of the appellation, who either does great things, or teaches how they may be done, or describes them with a suitable majesty when they have been done; but those only are great things, which tend to render life more happy, which increase the innocent enjoyments and comforts of existence, or which pave the way to a state of future bliss more permament and more pure. But has Salmasius done any thing like this? Nothing at all; what, that is great, has he ever either taught or related? unless perhaps you except his writings against the bishops, and the supremacy of the pope; the merit of which he entirely effaced by his subsequent recantations; by the habits of his life, and his vindications of episcopacy. He, therefore, cannot fitly be termed a great writer, who either never wrote any thing great, or who basely recanted the best work that he ever wrote. He is welcome for me, to be “the sovereign of literature,” and of the A, B, C; but you are not content with having him the “sovereign of literature,” but must exalt him to be “the patron of kings;” and a patron well fitted to adorn such a station of sublimity. You have certainly shown yourself very solicitous to promote the honour of kings, when in addition to their other illustrious titles, you would subjoin that of “the clients of Claud Salmasius.” On this condition, O sovereigns of the world, you may be released from every restraint upon your power; if you will but do homage to Salmasius the grammarian, and make your sceptres bend beneath his rod. “To him kings will be indebted, as long as the world lasts, for the vindication of their honour, and the existence of their power.” Attend, ye sovereigns! he who composes for you his beggarly defence, and who defends what no one attacked, has the arrogance to impute to himself the continuance of your dignity and your power. Such has been the effect of provoking this insolent grammarian from his cabinet of worms and moth, to support the cause of kings. “To whom the altar will be as much indebted as the throne;” not indeed for the protection, but for the scandalous desertion of its interests. Now, you lavish your panegyric in the defence of the royal cause; “you admire the genius, the erudition, the boundless diversity of matter, the intimate acquaintance with sacred and profane usages and laws, the impetuous volubility of diction, the limpid eloquence, which characterise that golden work.” Though I contend that the work is deficient in all these qualities; (for what has Salmasius to do with eloquence?) yet that it was a truly golden composition, I am willing a hundred times to acknowledge; for it cost Charles as many guineas, without mentioning the sums which the author received from the Prince of Orange. “The great man never appeared more mighty in his strength; Salmasius was never more himself.” He was truly so great that he burst; for we have seen how great he was in his former work; and shall perhaps see in what he may have left behind him on the same subject. I do not deny that Salmasius, on the first appearance of his book, was the general topic of conversation, and that he was in high favour with the royalists; that he was invited by the most august queen of Sweden, and received the most munificent presents; and, in short, that in the whole dispute, every circumstance was favourable to Salmasius and hostile to me. Men in general entertained the highest opinion of his erudition, the celebrity of which, he had been accumulating for many years, by many voluminous and massy publications, not indeed of any practical utility, but relating to the most abtruse discussions, and crammed with quotations from the most illustrious authors. Nothing is so apt as this to excite the astonishment of the literary vulgar. Who I was, no one in that country had ever known; his work had excited an impatient curiosity, which was increased by the magnitude of the subject. I had no means of exciting a similar interest, or a like ardour of expectation. Many indeed endeavoured to dissuade me from engaging with such a veteran; some from envy, lest I should, at any rate, gather some glory from the conflict with so mighty an adversary; others from fear, lest my defeat should prove injurious to myself, and to the acuse which I have undertaken to defend. Salmasius was invigorated and cheered by the specious plausibility of his subject, by the inveterate prejudices, or rather rooted superstitions, of the vulgar, in favour of kingly power. All these were adverse to my undertaking, and impediments to my success; and it is the less surprising, that my answer, on its first appearance, should be less eagerly read, except by those who were anxious to learn, who had the inconsiderate audacity to enter the lists with Salmasius.
But the work soon excited general approbation and delight; the author was lost sight of in the blaze of truth; and Salmasius, who had so lately been towering on the pinnacle of distinction, stripped of the mask which he had worn, soon dwindled into insignificance and contempt; from which, as long as he lived, he could never afterwards emerge, or recover his former consequence. But your penetrating mind, O! Serene queen of Sweden, soon detected his imposture; and, with a magnanimity almost above human, you taught sovereigns and the world to prefer truth to the interested clamours of faction. For though the splendour of his erudition, and the celebrity which he had acquired in the defence of the royal cause, had induced you to honour him with many marks of distinction, yet, when my answer appeared, which you perused with singular equanimity, you perceived that he had been convicted of the most palpable effrontery and misrepresentation; that he had betrayed the utmost indiscretion and intemperance, that he had uttered many falsehoods, many inconsistencies and contradictions. On this account as it is said, you had him called into your presence; but when he was unable to vindicate himself, you were so visibly offended, that from that time, you neither showed him the same attentions, nor held his talents nor his learning in the same esteem; and, what was entirely unexpected, you manifested a disposition to favour his adversary. You denied that what I had written against tyrants could have any reference to you; whence, in your own breast you enjoyed the sweets, and among others the fame, of a good conscience. For, since the whole tenor of your conduct sufficiently proves, that you are no tyrant, this unreserved expression of your sentiments makes it still more clear, that you are not even conscious to yourself of being one. How happy am I beyond my utmost expectations! (for to the praise of eloquence, except as far as eloquence consists in the force of truth, I lay no claim,) that, when the critical exigences of my country demanded that I should undertake the arduous and invidious task of impugning the rights of kings, I should meet with so illustrious, so truly a royal evidence to my integrity, and to this truth, that I had not written a word against kings, but only against tyrants, the spots and the pests of royalty! But you, O Augusta, possessed not only so much magnanimity, but were so irradiated by the glorious beams of wisdom and of virtue, that you not only read with patience, with incredible impartiality, with a serene complacency of countenance, what might seem to be levelled against your rights and dignity; but expressed such an opinion of the defender of those rights, as may well be considered an application of the palm of victory to his opponent. You, O queen! will for ever be the object of my homage, my veneration, and my love; for it was your greatness of soul, so honourable to yourself and so auspicious to me, which served to efface the unfavourable impression against me at other courts, and to rescue me from the evil surmises of other sovereigns. What a high and favourable opinion must foreigners conceive, and your own subject forever entertain, of your impartiality and justice, when, in a matter which so nearly interested the fate of sovereigns and the rights of your crown, they saw you sit down to the discussion, with as much equanimity and composure, as you would to determine a dispute between two private individuals. It was not in vain that you made such large collections of books, and so many monuments of learning; not indeed, that they could contribute much to your instruction, but because they so well teach your subjects to appreciate the merits of your reign, and the rare excellence of your virtue and your wisdom. For the Divinity himself seems to have inspired you with a love of wisdom, and a thirst for improvement, beyond what any books ever could have produced. It excites our astonishment to see a force of intellect so truly divine, a particle of celestial flame so resplendently pure, in a region so remote; of which an atmosphere, so darkened with clouds, and so chilled with frosts, could not extinguish the light, nor repress the operations. The rocky and barren soil, which is often as unfavourable to the growth of genius as of plants, has not impeded the maturation of your faculties; and that country, so rich in metallic ore, which appears like a cruel step-mother to others, seems to have been a fostering parent to you; and after the most strenuous attempts to have at last produced a progeny of pure gold. I would invoke you, Christina! as the only child of the renowned and victorious Adolphus, if your merit did not as much eclipse his, as wisdom excels strength, and the arts of peace the havoc of war. Henceforth, the queen of the south will not be alone renowned in history; for there is a queen of the north, who would not only be worthy to appear in the court of the wise king of the Jews, or any king of equal wisdom; but to whose court others may from all parts repair, to behold so fair a heroine, so bright a pattern of all the royal virtues; and to the crown of whose praise this may well be added, that neither in her conduct nor her appearance, is there any of the forbidding reserve, or the ostentatious parade of royalty. She herself seems the least conscious of her own attributes of sovereignty; and her thoughts are always fixed on something greater and more sublime than the glitter of a crown. In this respect, her example may well make innumerable kings hide their diminished heads. She may, if such is the fatality of the Swedish nation, abdicate the sovereignty, but she can never lay aside the queen; for her reign has proved, that she is fit to govern, not only Sweden, but the world.
This tribute of praise, to so highly meritorious a queen, there is, I trust, no one who will not applaud; and which if others did not pay, I could not have withheld, without the imputation of the most heinous ingratitude. For, whether it be owing to the benign aspects of the planets, or to the secret sympathies and affinities of things, I cannot too much extol my good fortune, in having found, in a region so remote, a patron so impartial and so kind, whom of all I least expected, but of all the most desired. But now we will return, from this digression, to a quite different theme. You say, that “we were thrown into the most furious commotion on hearing of the royal defence, and that we looked around for some servile pedagogue, who might employ his venal pen in the vindication of the parricides.” This is the mere effusion of your spite; for you must recollect, that, when the royalists were in search of a hawker for their lies, and a retailer of their malice, they applied to the grammarian Salmasius, who if he were not a menial, could never resist a bribe; who not only readily sold them his present work, but his good intentions for the future. And you must remember, that when Salmasius was anxiously ruminating, how he might re-establish his ruined character, and obliterate his shame, he was, by a certain retributive fatality, directed to you, who were then not officiating as a minister at Geneva, from which place you had been expelled, but as a worshipper of Priapus, of whose lascivious rites you made his house the shrine. Hence, nauseating those praises, which you had bestowed with so much extravagance, and which he had purchased with so much disgrace, his friendship was converted into the most inveterate hostility, and he cursed his panegyrist even in his dying hour. “They fixed upon one John Milton, a great hero truly, to oppose Salmasius.” I did not know that I was a hero, though you perchance may be the progeny of some frail heroine, for you are nothing but a compound of iniquity. When I consider the good of the commonwealth, I may indeed lament, that I alone was selected to defend the people of England, though I could not readily have endured an associate in the fame. You say, that it is a matter of uncertainty who and whence I am. The same uncertainty attached to Homer and Demosthenes. Indeed, I had been early taught to hold my tongue and to say nothing; which Salmasius never could; and I accordingly buried those things within my breast, which if I had pleased to disclose, I could then have obtained as much celebrity as I now possess. But I was not eager to hasten the tardy steps of fame; nor willing to appear in public till a proper opportunity offered. For I did not regard the fame of any thing so much, as the proper time for the execution. Hence it happened, that I had not long been known to many, before Salmasius begun to know himself. “Whether he be a man or a worm!” Truly, I would rather be a worm in the way that David expresses it (“I am a worm and no man,”) than that my bosom, like yours, should be the seat of a never-dying worm. You say, that “the fellow, having been expelled from the University of Cambridge, on account of his atrocities, had fled his country in disgrace and travelled into Italy.” Hence we may discern what little reliance can be placed on the veracity of those, from whom you derived your information; for all, who know me, know, that in this place, both you and they have uttered the most abominable falsehoods; as I shall soon make more fully appear. But, when I was expelled from Cambridge, why should I rather travel into Italy, than into France or Holland? where you, though a minister of the Gospel, and yet so vile a miscreant, not only enjoy impunity, but, to the great scandal of the church, pollute the pulpit and the altar by your presence. But why, Sir, into Italy? Was it that, like another Saturn, I might find a hiding-place in Latium? No, it was because I well knew, and have since experienced, that Italy, instead of being, as you suppose, the general receptacle of vice, was the seat of civilization and the hospitable domicile of every species of erudition. “When he returned, he wrote his book on divorce.” I wrote nothing more than what Bucer on the Kingdom of Christ, Fagius on Deuteronomy, and Erasmus on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which was more particularly designed for the instruction of the English, had written before me, for the most useful purposes and with the most disinterested views. Why what was not reprehensible in them, should constitute a charge of criminality against me, I cannot understand; though I regret that I published this work in English; for then it would not have been exposed to the view of those common readers, who are wont to be as ignorant of their own blessings, as they are insensible to others’ sufferings. But shall you, base miscreant, set up a cry about divorce, who, having debauched Pontia, under the most solemn assurances of marriage, afterwards divorced her in a manner the most unprincipled and inhuman? And yet this servant of Salmasius is said to have been an Englishwoman, and a staunch royalist; so that you seem to have wooed her as a piece of royalty, and to have deserted her as the image of a republic (res publica,) though you were the author of her degradation to that state of publicity, and, after having allured her from the service of Salmasius, reduced her to the condition of a public prostitute. In this manner, devotedly attached as you are to royalty, you are said to have founded many republics (res publicas) in one city, or to have undertaken the management of their concerns, after they have been founded by others. Such have been your divorces, or rather diversions, after which you proceed, as a ruffian, to attack my character. You now return to the invention of fresh lies. “When the conspirators were debating on the capital punishment of the king, he wrote to them, and, while they were wavering and irresolute, brought them over to determine on his death.” But I neither wrote to them, nor could I have influenced the execution; for they had previously determined on the measure, without consulting me. But I will say more on this subject hereafter, as also on the publication of the Iconoclast.
The fellow, (shall I call him a man, or only the excrement of a man,) next proceeding from his adulteries with servant maids and scullions, to the adulteration of the truth, endeavoured, by artfully fabricating a series of lies, to render me infamous abroad. I must therefore crave the indulgence of the reader, if I have said already, or shall say hereafter, more of myself than I wish to say; that, if I cannot prevent the blindness of my eyes, the oblivion or the defamation of my name, I may at least rescue my life from that species of obscurity, which is the associate of unprincipled depravity. This it will be necessary for me to do on more accounts than one; first, that so many good and learned men among the neighbouring nations, who read my works, may not be induced by this fellow’s calumnies, to alter the favourable opinion which they have formed of me; but may be persuaded that I am not one who ever disgraced beauty of sentiment by deformity of conduct, or the maxims of a free-man by the actions of a slave; and that the whole tenor of my life has, by the grace of God, hitherto been unsullied by enormity or crime.
Next that those illustrious worthies, who are the objects of my praise, may know that nothing could afflict me with more shame than to have any vices of mine diminish the force or lessen the value of my panegyric upon them; and lastly, that the people of England, whom fate, or duty, or their own virtues, have incited me to defend, may be convinced from the purity and integrity of my life, that my defence, if it do not redound to their honour, can never be considered as their disgrace. I will now mention who and whence I am. I was born at London, of an honest family; my father was distinguished by the undeviating integrity of his life; my mother by the esteem in which she was held, and the alms which she bestowed. My father destined me from a child to the pursuits of literature; and my appetite for knowledge was so voracious, that from twelve years of age, I hardly ever left my studies, or went to bed before midnight. This primarily led to my loss of sight. My eyes were naturally weak, and I was subject to frequent head-aches; which, however, could not chill the ardour of my curiosity, or retard the progress of my improvement. My father had me daily instructed in the grammar school, and by other masters at home. He then, after I had acquired a proficiency in various languages, and had made a considerable progress in philosophy, sent me to the University of Cambridge. Here I passed seven years in the usual course of instruction and study, with the approbation of the good, and without any stain upon my character, till I took the degree of Master of Arts. After this I did not, as this miscreant feigns, run away into Italy, but of my own accord retired to my father’s house, whither I was accompanied by the regrets of most of the fellows of the college, who showed me no common marks of friendship and esteem.
On my father’s estate, where he had determined to pass the remainder of his days, I enjoyed an interval of uninterrupted leisure, which I entirely devoted to the perusal of the Greek and Latin classics; though I occasionally visited the metropolis, either for the sake of purchasing books, or of learning something new in mathematics or in music, in which I, at that time, found a source of pleasure and amusement. In this manner I spent five years till my mother’s death, I then became anxious to visit foreign parts, and particularly Italy. My father gave me his permission, and I left home with one servant. On my departure the celebrated Henry Wootton, who had been King James’s embassador at Venice, gave me a signal proof of his regard, in an elegant letter which he wrote, breathing not only the warmest friendship, but containing some maxims of conduct which I found very useful in my travels. The noble Thomas Scudamore, King Charles’s embassador, to whom I carried letters of recommendation, received me most courteously at Paris. His lordship gave me a card of introduction to the learned Hugo Grotius, at that time embassador from the queen of Sweden to the French court; whose acquaintance I anxiously desired, and to whose house I was accompanied by some of his lordship’s friends. A few days after, when I set out for Italy, he gave me letters to the English merchants on my route, that they might show me any civilities in their power. Taking ship at Nice, I arrived at Genoa, and afterwards visited Leghorn, Pisa, and Florence. In the latter city, which I have always more particularly esteemed for the elegance of its dialect, its genius, and its taste, I stopped about two months; when I contracted an intimacy with many persons of rank and learning; and was a constant attendant at their literary parties; a practice which prevails there, and tends so much to the diffusion of knowledge and the preservation of friendship. No time will ever abolish the agreeable recollections which I cherish of Jacob Gaddi, Carolo Dati, Frescobaldo, Cultellero, Bonomatthai, Clementillo, Francisco, and many others. From Florence I went to Siena, thence to Rome, where, after I had spent about two months in viewing the antiquities of that renowned city, where I experienced the most friendly attentions from Lucas Holstein, and other learned and ingenious men, I continued my route to Naples. There I was introduced by a certain recluse, with whom I had travelled from Rome, to John Baptista Manso, Marquis of Villa, a nobleman of distinguished rank and authority, to whom Torquato Tasso, the illustrious poet, inscribed his book on friendship. During my stay, he gave me singular proofs of his regard; he himself conducted me round the city and to the palace of the viceroy; and more than once paid me a visit at my lodgings. On my departure he gravely apologized for not having shown me more civility, which he said he had been restrained from doing, because I had spoken with so little reserve on matters of religion.
When I was preparing to pass over into Sicily and Greece, the melancholy intelligence which I received, of the civil commotions in England, made me alter my purpose; for I thought it base to be travelling for amusement abroad, while my fellow-citizens were fighting for liberty at home.—While I was on my way back to Rome, some merchants informed me that the English Jesuits had formed a plot against me if I returned to Rome, because I had spoken too freely on religion; for it was a rule which I laid down to myself in those places, never to be the first to begin any conversation on religion; but if any questions were put to me concerning my faith, to declare it without any reserve or fear. I nevertheless returned to Rome. I took no steps to conceal either my person or my character; and for about the space of two months, I again openly defended, as I had done before, the reformed religion in the very metropolis of popery. By the favour of God, I got safe back to Florence, where I was received with as much affection as if I had returned to my native country. There I stopped as many months as I had done before, except that I made an excursion for a few days to Lucca; and crossing the Apennines, passed through Bologna and Ferrara to Venice. After I had spent a month in surveying the curiosities of this city, and had put on board a ship the books which I had collected in Italy, I proceeded through Verona and Milan, and along the Leman lake to Geneva. The mention of this city brings to my recollection the slandering More, and makes me again call the Deity to witness, that in all those places, in which vice meets with so little discouragement, and is practised with so little shame, I never once deviated from the paths of integrity and virtue, and perpetually reflected that, though my conduct might escape the notice of men, it could not elude the inspection of God.
At Geneva I held daily conferences with John Deodati, the learned professor of Theology. Then pursuing my former route through France, I returned to my native country, after an absence of one year and about three months; at the time when Charles, having broken the peace, was renewing what is called the episcopal war with the Scots; in which the royalists being routed in the first encounter, and the English being universally and justly disaffected, the necessity of his affairs at last obliged him to convene a parliament. As soon as I was able, I hired a spacious house in the city for myself and my books; where I again with rapture renewed my literary pursuits, and where I calmly awaited the issue of the contest, which I trusted to the wise conduct of Providence, and to the courage of the people. The vigor of the parliament had begun to humble the pride of the bishops. As long as the liberty of speech was no longer subject to control, all mouths began to be opened against the bishops; some complained of the vices of the individuals, others of those of the order. They said that it was unjust that they alone should differ from the model of other reformed churches; that the government of the church should be according to the pattern of other churches, and particularly the word of God. This awakened all my attention and my zeal—I saw that a way was opening for the establishment of real liberty; that the foundation was laying for the deliverance of man from the yoke of slavery and superstition; that the principles of religion, which were the first objects of our care, would exert a salutary influence on the manners and constitution of the republic; and as I had from my youth studied the distinctions between religious and civil rights, I perceived that if I ever wished to be of use, I ought at least not to be wanting to my country, to the church, and to so many of my fellow Christians, in a crisis of so much danger; I therefore determined to relinquish the other pursuits in which I was engaged, and to transfer the whole force of my talents and my industry to this one important object. I accordingly wrote two books to a friend concerning the reformation of the church of England. Afterwards, when two bishops of superior distinction vindicated their privileges against some principal ministers, I thought that on those topics, to the consideration of which I was led solely by my love of truth, and my reverence for Christianity, I should not probably write worse than those, who were contending only for their own emoluments and usurpations. I therefore answered the one in two books, of which the first is inscribed, Concerning Prelatical Episcopacy, and the other Concerning the Mode of Ecclesiastical Government; and I replied to the other in some Animadversions, and soon after in an Apology. On this occasion it was supposed that I brought a timely succour to the ministers, who were hardly a match for the eloquence of their opponents; and from that time I was actively employed in refuting any answers that appeared. When the bishops could no longer resist the multitude of their assailants, I had leisure to turn my thoughts to other subjects; to the promotion of real and substantial liberty; which is rather to be sought from within than from without; and whose existence depends, not so much on the terror of the sword, as on sobriety of conduct and integrity of life.
When, therefore, I perceived that there were three species of liberty which are essential to the happiness of social life; religious, domestic, and civil; and as I had already written concerning the first, and the magistrates were strenuously active in obtaining the third, I determined to turn my attention to the second, or the domestic species. As this seemed to involve three material questions, the conditions of the conjugal tie, the education of the children, and the free publication of the thoughts, I made them objects of distinct consideration. I explained my sentiments, not only concerning the solemnization of the marriage, but the dissolution, if circumstances rendered it necessary; and I drew my arguments from the divine law, which Christ did not abolish, or publish another more grievous than that of Moses. I stated my own opinions, and those of others, concerning the exclusive exception of fornication, which our illustrious Selden has since, in his Hebrew Wife, more copiously discussed; for he in vain makes a vaunt of liberty in the senate or in the forum, who languishes under the vilest servitude, to an inferior at home. On this subject, therefore, I published some books which were more particularly necessary at that time when man and wife were often the most inveterate foes, when the man often staid to take care of his children at home, while the mother of the family was seen in the camp of the enemy, threatening death and destruction to her husband. I then discussed the principles of education in a summary manner, but sufficiently copious for those who attend seriously to the subject; than which nothing can be more necessary to principle the minds of men in virtue, the only genuine source of political and individual liberty, the only true safeguard of states, the bulwark of their prosperity and renown. Lastly, I wrote my Areopagitica, in order to deliver the press from the restraints with which it was encumbered; that the power of determining what was true and what was false, what ought to be published and what to be suppressed, might no longer be entrusted to a few illiterate and illiberal individuals, who refused their sanction to any work, which contained views or sentiments at all above the level of the vulgar superstition.
On the last species of civil liberty, I said nothing; because I saw that sufficient attention was paid to it by the magistrates; nor did I write any thing on the prerogative of the crown, till the king, voted an enemy by the parliament, and vanquished in the field, was summoned before the tribunal which condemned him to lose his head. But when, at length, some presbyterian ministers, who had formerly been the most bitter enemies to Charles, became jealous of the growth of the Independents, and of their ascendancy in the parliament, most tumultuously clamoured against the sentence, and did all in their power to prevent the execution, though they were not angry, so much on account of the act itself, as because it was not the act of their party; and when they dared to affirm, that the doctrine of the protestants, and of all the reformed churches, was abhorrent to such an atrocious proceeding against kings; I thought, that it became me to oppose such a glaring falsehood; and accordingly, without any immediate or personal application to Charles, I showed, in an abstract consideration of the question, what might lawfully be done against tyrants; and in support of what I advanced, produced the opinions of the most celebrated divines, while I vehemently inveighed against the egregious ignorance or effrontery of men, who professed better things, and from whom better things might have been expected. That book did not make its appearance till after the death of Charles, and was written rather to reconcile the minds of the people to the event, than to discuss the legitimacy of that particular sentence which concerned the magistrates, and which was already executed.
Such were the fruits of my private studies, which I gratuitously presented to the church and to the state; and for which I was recompensed by nothing but impunity; though the actions themselves procured me peace of conscience; and the approbation of the good; while I exercised that freedom of discussion which I loved. Others, without labour or desert, got possession of honours and emoluments; but no one ever knew me, either soliciting any thing myself, or through the medium of my friends; ever beheld me in a supplicating posture at the doors of the senate, or the levees of the great. I usually kept myself secluded at home, where my own property, part of which had been withheld during the civil commotions, and part of which had been absorbed in the oppressive contributions which I had to sustain, afforded me a scanty subsistence. When I was released from these engagements, and thought that I was about to enjoy an interval of uninterrupted ease, I turned my thoughts to a continued history of my country, from the earliest times to the present period. I had already finished four books, when after the subversion of the monarchy, and the establishment of a republic, I was surprised by an invitation from the council of state, who desired my services in the office for foreign affairs. A book appeared soon after, which was ascribed to the king, and contained the most invidious charges against the parliament. I was ordered to answer it; and opposed the Iconoclast to his Icon. I did not insult over fallen majesty as is pretended; I only preferred Queen Truth to King Charles. The charge of insult, which I saw that the malevolent would urge, I was at some pains to remove in the beginning of the work; and as often as possible in other places. Salmasius then appeared, to whom they were not, as More says, long in looking about for an opponent, but immediately appointed me, who happened at the time to be present in the council. I have thus, Sir, given some account of myself, in order to stop your mouth, and to remove any prejudices which your falsehoods and misrepresentations might cause even good men to entertain against me. I tell thee then, thou mass of corruption, to hold thy peace; for the more you malign, the more you will compel me to confute; which will only serve to render your iniquity more glaring, and my integrity more manifest. I had reproved Salmasius, because he was a foreigner, for meddling with our affairs; but you exclaim “that the defence intimately concerns those who are not English.” Why? you say, that “the English may be supposed to be governed more by the spirit of party; but that the French will naturally pay more attention to the measures than the men.” To which I retort, as before, that no remote foreigner, as you are, would have interfered in the distractions of our country, if he were not influenced by the most sinister considerations.
I have already proved, that Salmasius was bribed; it is evident that you obtained the professional chair through the interest of Salmasius, and the Orange faction; and what is worse, you were debauching Pontia, at the same moment that you were defaming the parliament.
But the reason which you assign, why foreigners are the best judges in this business, is quite ridiculous; for if the English are carried away by party zeal, you, who make them your only guides, must certainly be infected by their antipathies. And if the English deserve no credit in their own cause, you must deserve much less, who have no knowledge whatever of our affairs, except what you derive from them, who, according to your own confession, ought not to be believed. Here again you launch out into the praises of the great Salmasius. Great he certainly was, whom you employed as a sort of pimp, to procure his servant girl. You praise him nevertheless: but he saw reason to curse you before his death, and a thousand times blamed himself for not giving more credit to the account of your atrocities, which he had received from Spanheim, a venerable divine. You are now worked into a fury, and assert, that Salmasius had long lost the use of his reason. You demand the first post in clamour and in rage, and yet assign the precedence in obloquy and abuse to Salmasius; “not because he is violent in his language, but because he is Salmasius.” O trifler! you, I suppose, learned this casuistry when you courted Pontia. Hence your clamour is taught to quibble and to whine; hence, foaming with menace, “you shall experience at last,” you say, “O base brutes, what my pen can do.” Shall we dread you, O libidinous adulterer, or your pen, which is an object of dread only to cooks and chambermaids? For if any one should hold up only his finger when he detects you in your criminal amours, you would think it well if you escaped without your back being broken, or your body dismembered. “I am not so foolish,” you say, “as to attempt the execution of a work, that was begun by Salmasius,” but such a work, if he had not been void of understanding, he would never have attempted; you therefore seem jocosely to give the preference to Salmasius over yourself in want of brains.
But you say, that “it is your province to invoke the vengeance of heaven on the murderers of the king;” which may be done by persons without any great share of erudition. Cry, shout, and brawl; continue to act the hypocrite, mouth religion, and practise lust. This God of vengeance whom you implore, will, believe me, one day arise in wrath, when he will begin with exterminating you, who are the servant of the devil, and the disgrace and pest of the reformed religion. To many, who blame the bitter invectives of Salmasius, you reply, that “this was the right way to deal with parricides, and such monsters of deformity.” I am obliged to you for thus teaching me in what manner yourself and your associate friends ought to be treated; and for furnishing me with so fair a pretext for severity. Now since you have no argument to produce, and the rights of kings, with whatever show of argument, had been already defended by Salmasius, your contumely and your rage evaporate in some miserable tales, some of which you have new-modelled from Salmasius, and interpolated others from that most confutable “confutation” of some anonymous scribbler who deserted not only his country but his name; and to the principal points of which, as I have already replied in my Iconoclast and my answers to Salmasius, no further reply can be necessary. Shall I always be compelled to go the same round, and answer every tautology of slanderous abuse? I will not do it; nor will I so misemploy my labour or my time. If any one think that his prostituted cries, his venal lamentations and frivolous declamation, deserve any credit, he is welcome for me to think so; for I have nothing to fear from such precipitate credulity. But I will just touch on a few of his points of attack, which may serve as a specimen of the rest, and give some insight into the character of the man and of the work. After having babbled a good deal of his exotic ignorance about the incorporation of the House of Commons and the House of Peers in one assembly, (a measure which no one in his senses would disapprove,) he says, that “this equality, introduced into the state, would naturally lead to the introduction of the same into the church; for episcopacy still remained, and if this be not downright anabaptism, I don’t know what is.” Who would have expected this from a Gallic minister and divine? I should hardly think that he knew what baptism is, who did not know what anabaptism is, if this were not. But if we will call things by their proper names, equality in the state is not anabaptism, but democracy, a far more ancient thing; and equality in the church is the practice of the apostles. But “episcopacy still remained.” We confess that it did; and Geneva still remained, though that city had consulted the interests of religion, in expelling both her bishop and her lawful chief; and why should we be condemned for what they are approved? But you wish, Sir, to take vengeance upon the Genevese, by whom it is uncertain whether you were dismissed with ignominy, or openly excommunicated on account of your impieties. It is clear that you, with your friend Salmasius, apostatized from this evangelical form of church-government, and took refuge among the episcopalians. “Then,” you say, “the republic passed into the hands of our levelling crew, so that it is evident that the same spirit prevailed at that time, which in the eighth year had perpetrated the impious murder of the king. Therefore the same spirit, as it seems, constituted your ministers, and perpetrated the parricide.” Go on, as you have begun, to eructate the rage of your apostacy. You say that “there were not more than three petitions which demanded the punishment of the king.” This is notoriously false. Those who have written an account of these transactions, mention not only three petitions of the kind, but many from different counties and from the armies in the course of one month; and three were presented in one day. You know how deliberately the matter was discussed in the senate, and that the people, suspecting them of too much lenity, resorted to petitioning, in order to put an end to their delays. How many thousands were there of the same opinion, who considered it to be either officious or superfluous to instigate the determination of the senate? I was one of these, though I made no secret of my sentiments. But suppose that the high rank of the accused had awed every tongue into silence, ought the parliament to have abstained from a decision, or have awaited the assent of the people, on which depended the issue of such momentous deliberations? For the supreme council of the nation was appointed by the people to curb the despotism of the king: and if on his capture, after the savage war which he had made, they had referred the question of his punishment to the decision of the people, and if they had acquitted him, what would those, who had so courageously restored our liberties, seem to have done, but to have furnished the king with the means of effecting their own destruction? Or if, after having been invested with full power to act as they thought best on the most momentous points, they should be compelled to refer to the multitude a question which far exceeded their capacity, and which they, conscious of their ignorance, had previously referred to the determination of the senate, where could this alternation of references and appeals have stopped? Where could we have found a place of rest in this turbulent eddy? How could we have procured any stability amid so much inconstancy, any security amid so much distraction? What if they had demanded the restoration of Charles to the crown? And such was the drift of some menaces, rather than petitions, which were presented by a few seditious persons, whose hatred one while, and whose compassion another, was wont to be equally senseless and malicious. Were we to make any account of these? “Who,” as you say, “in order to set on foot a conference with the king, flocked from all parts of the country to the doors of the parliament-house, where many of them were put to death by the soldiery, according to the order of the senators.”
Some inhabitants of Surry, either incited by the malicious suggestions of others, or by their own disorderly inclinations, paraded the city with a petition, in a state of tumult and intoxication. They proceeded in a body to assail the doors of the house; they beat off the guard, and, without the smallest provocation, killed one man who was stationed at the door. Hence they were deservedly driven by violence; and two or three of their number were slain, breathing the fumes of intemperance more than the love of liberty. You every where concede, that “the Independents were superior, not in numbers, but in discipline and in courage.” Hence I contend that they well deserved the superiority which they acquired; for nothing is more agreeable to the order of nature, or more for the interest of mankind, than that the less should yield to the greater, not in numbers, but in wisdom and in virtue. Those who excel in prudence, in experience, in industry and courage, however few they may be, will in my opinion finally constitute the majority, and every where have the ascendant. You intersperse many remarks on Cromwell, which I shall examine below; the rest I have replied to in my answer to Salmasius. Nor do you omit to mention the trial of the king, though your great rhetorician had made that the theme of his miserable declamation. You say that the peers, that is, in a great measure the pageants and courtiers of the king, were averse to the trial. I have shown in the other work the futility of this remark. “Then that the judges were erased, because they had given it as their opinion, that a king of England could not, by the law of England, be put upon his trial.” I know not what they then answered; I only know what they approve and vindicate. It is no uncommon, though a disreputable thing, for judges to be swayed by fear. “An obscure and insolent scoundrel was accordingly placed at the head of the base and iniquitous commission.” It is not surprising that you, who are contaminated by so many vices and crimes, who are a compound of whatever is most impure and vile, whose conscience has become a sort of fungus utterly devoid of sensibility, who are so notorious for atheism, for sacrilege and cruelty, should dare to vent your calumnies on the most worthy and illustrious names. But, though your abuse is the highest praise, yet I will never seem to abandon the excellent personage, the friend whom I most revere, to the torrent of your defamation. I will vindicate him from the unprincipled and intemperate obloquy of the fugitives and the Mores, which he would never have incurred, if he had not shown so much zeal for the good of the commonwealth. John Bradshaw (a name, which will be repeated with applause wherever liberty is cherished or is known) was sprung from a noble family. All his early life he sedulously employed in making himself acquainted with the laws of his country; he then practised with singular success and reputation at the bar; he showed himself an intrepid and unwearied advocate for the liberties of the people: he took an active part in the most momentous affairs of the state, and occasionally discharged the functions of a judge with the most inviolable integrity. At last when he was intreated by the parliament to preside in the trial of the king, he did not refuse the dangerous office. To a profound knowledge of the law, he added the most comprehensive views, the most generous sentiments, manners the most obliging and the most pure. Hence he discharged that office with a propriety almost without a parallel; he inspired both respect and awe; and, though menaced by the daggers of so many assassins, he conducted himself with so much consistency and gravity, with so much presence of mind and so much dignity of demeanour, that he seems to have been purposely destined by Providence for that part which he so nobly acted on the theatre of the world. And his glory is as much exalted above that of all other tyrannicides, as it is both more humane, more just, and more strikingly grand, judicially to condemn a tyrant, than to put him to death without a trial. In other respects, there was no forbidding austerity, no moroseness in his manner; he was courteous and benign; but the great character, which he then sustained, he with perfect consistency still sustains, so that you would suppose that, not only then, but in every future period of his life, he was sitting in judgment upon the king. In the public business his activity is unwearied; and he alone is equal to a host. At home his hospitality is as splendid as his fortune will permit; in his friendships there is the most inflexible fidelity; and no one more readily discerns merit, or more liberally rewards it. Men of piety and learning, ingenious persons in all professions, those who have been distinguished by their courage or their misfortunes, are free to participate his bounty; and if they want not his bounty, they are sure to share his friendship and esteem. He never ceases to extol the merits of others, or to conceal his own; and no one was ever more ready to accept the excuses, or to pardon the hostility, of his political opponents. If he undertake to plead the cause of the oppressed, to solicit the favour or deprecate the resentment of the powerful, to reprove the public ingratitude towards any particular individual, his address and his perseverance are beyond all praise. On such occasions no one could desire a patron or a friend more able, more zealous, or more eloquent. No menace could divert him from his purpose; no intimidation on the one hand, and no promise of emolument or promotion on the other, could alter the serenity of his countenance, or shake the firmness of his soul. By these virtues, which endeared him to his friends and commanded the respect even of his enemies, he, Sir, has acquired a name, which, while you and such as you are mouldering in oblivion, will flourish in every age and in every country in the world. But I must proceed; the king was condemned to lose his head. “Against this atrocity almost all the pulpits in London thundered out their censures.” We are not to be so easily scared by that thunder upon wood. We remember the fate of Salmoneous, and trust that these persons will one day see cause to repent of their fulminating temerity. These were the very persons, who so lately, and with such vehemence, fulminated their censures against pluralists and non-residents. But some of these persons having grasped three, and others four, of the livings, from which they had fulminated the episcopal clergy, they hence became non-residents themselves, guilty of the very sin against which they had inveighed, and the victims of their own fulminating rage. Nor have they any longer a spark of shame; they are now grown zealous abettors of the divine right of tythes; and truly as their thirst for tythes is so insatiable, they should be quite gorged with the commodity, and ordered to have, not only a tenth part of the fruits of the earth, but of the waves of the sea. They were the first to counsel a war of extermination against the king; but when the king was made prisoner, after having been convicted, according to their own repeated declarations, as the author of so much misery and bloodshed, they affected to compassionate his situation. Thus, in their pulpits, as in an auction room, they retail what wares and trumpery they please to the people; and what is worse, they reclaim what they have already sold. But “the Scots demanded that the king should be restored to them, and mention the promises of the parliament, when they delivered up the king to the English.” But I can prove, from the confession of the Scots themselves, that no such promise was given when the king was delivered up; and it would have been disgraceful for the English to have entered into any such stipulations with the Scotch troops, who were mercenaries in their pay. Why? Because the answer of the parliament to the representations of the Scotch, which was published on the fifteenth of March, clearly denies, that any assurances whatever were given respecting the treatment of the king; for they would have disdained to have submitted to such limitations of their right. But “they demanded that the king should be restored to them.” These tender-hearted persons, I suppose, were melted with compassion, and could no longer endure the regrets of royalty; though on several occasions, in which the subject had been discussed in parliament, they had unanimously agreed that the king might be deprived of his crown for three principal reasons; the despotism of his government, his alienation of the royal domains, and the desertion of his subjects. In the parliament, which was held at Perth, it was asked, Is the king, who is evidently an enemy to the saints, to be excommunicated from the society of the faithful? But before they could come to any decision on this question, Montrose advanced with his troops and dispersed the convention. The same persons, in their answer to General Cromwell, 1650, confess that he was justly punished, but that there was an informality in the proceedings, because they had no share in the commission which condemned him. This transaction, therefore, which was so atrocious, without their participation, would have been highly patriotic with it; as if the distinctions of right and wrong, of justice and injustice, depend on their arbitrary disposition, or their capricious inclinations. If the king had been restored to them, would he have experienced greater clemency and moderation? But “the Scotch Delegates had first brought this answer from the English Parliament, that they were unwilling to alter the form of the English Government; though they afterwards answered that they had changed their former determination, and would adopt such measures as the public interest seemed to require:” and this answer was discreet and wise. What do you infer from hence? “This change of sentiment,” you say, “was contrary to every engagement, to every stipulation, and to common sense.” To such common sense as yours it may be adverse, who do not know the difference between a gratuitous promise and a solemn and positive engagement. The English freely state to the Scots, what they were under no obligation to do, the sentiments which they then entertained respecting the future form of their government; but the safety of the state soon persuaded them to embrace a different policy, if they would not violate the solemn assurances which they had given to the people. And which, do you think, was most binding on their consciences; their gratuitous reply to the Scotch Delegates, concerning the future form of their constitution, or the necessary oath which they had taken, the solemn engagement into which they had entered with the people, to establish the liberties of their country? But that a parliament or a senate may alter their resolutions according to circumstances, as you deem whatever I assert to be mere anabaptistical extravagance, I shall endeavour to show you from the authority of Cicero in his oration for Plancius. “We should all stand, as it were, in some circular section of the commonwealth; in which since it is liable to a rotatory motion, we should choose that position to which the public interest seems to direct us: and this immediately, for I do not think it a mark of inconstancy to accomodate our measures, as we do the course which we steer at sea, to the winds and storms of the political horizon.” It is a maxim, which I have found justified by observation, by experience, and by books, by the examples of the wisest and most illustrious characters in this and in other countries, “that the same men are not always bound to defend the same opinions, but only such as the circumstances of the country, the current of popular opinion, and the preservation of peace, seem to render necessary.” Such were the sentiments of Tully; though you, Sir, would rather prefer those of Hortensius; such were the sentiments of those ages in which political wisdom flourished most; and which I deem it wise in the anabaptists to adopt. I could mention many other practices which are condemned as anabaptistical by these stripling teachers, and their chief Salmasius, who must be regarded as an illiterate dunce, if we look to things rather than to words. But you say that “the high and mighty chiefs of the United States of Holland most strenuously laboured, though to no purpose, both by supplications and by the offer of a ransom, to save the sacred life of the king.” Thus to wish to buy off justice was the same as not to will the safety of the king; but they soon learned that we were not all merchants, and that the parliament of England was not a venal crew.
With respect to the condemnation of the king, you say that “in order that the sufferings of Charles might be more nearly assimilated to those of Christ, he was exposed to the redoubled mockery of the soldiery.” The sufferings of Christ were indeed more like those of malefactors, than the sufferings of Christ were like those of Christ; though many comparisons of this kind were hawked about by those who were zealous in forging any lie, or devising any imposture that might tend to excite the popular indignation. But suppose that some of the common soldiers did behave with a little too much insolence, that consideration does not constitute the demerit of the execution. I never before heard, nor did I ever meet with any person who had heard, that “a person, who implored God to have mercy on the king as he was passing to the scaffold, was instantly put to death in the presence of the monarch.” I caused inquiries on the subject to be made of the officer who had the command of the guard during the whole time of the execution, and who hardly ever lost sight of the king’s person for a moment; and he positively declared that he had never heard this before, and that he knew it to be utterly destitute of foundation. Hence we may learn what credit is due to your narrative in other particulars; for you will be found not to discover much more veracity in your endeavours to procure affection and respect for Charles after his death, than in your exertions to make us objects of general and unmerited detestation. You say that “on the fatal scaffold, the king was heard twice to sigh out to the bishop of London, remember! remember!” The judges were all in anxiety to know what the words, so emphatically repeated, meant; the bishop, according to your account, was sent for, and with a menace ordered to declare to what the reiterated admonition might allude. He, at first, with a preconcerted dissimulation, pleaded his sense of delicacy, and refused to divulge the secret. When they became more impatient, he at last disclosed, as if by constraint, and under the influence of fear, what he would not for the world have had unknown. “The king,” said he, “ordered me, if I could gain access to his son, to inform him that it was the last injunction of his dying father, that, if he were ever restored to his power and crown, he should pardon you, the authors of his death. This was what his majesty again and again commanded me to remember.” Which shall I say? that the king discovered most piety, or the bishop most deceit? who with so little difficulty consented to disclose a secret, which on the very scaffold was so mysteriously entrusted to him, for the purpose of disclosure? But O! model of taciturnity! Charles had long since left this injunction, among others, to his son, in his “Icon Basilicon,” a book which was evidently written for this express purpose, that this secret, which had been so ostentatiously enveloped in obscurity, might be divulged with the utmost dispatch, and circulated with the utmost diligence. But I clearly see that you are determined to obtrude upon the ignorant some paragon of perfection, if not quite like Charles Stuart, at least some hyperborean and fabled hero, decorated with all the showy varnish of imposture; and that you tricked out this fiction, and embellished it with the effusions of sensibility, in order to entrap the attention of the populace. But though I do not deny but that one or two of the commissioners might perhaps have briefly interrogated the bishop on this subject, I do not find that he was either purposely called before them, or deliberately and scrupulously interrogated, as if it were a matter of their general solicitude and care. But let us grant that Charles, on the scaffold, did deliver to the bishop these dying injunctions to his son to pardon the authors of his death; what did he do more than others have done in similar situations? How few persons are there about to die upon a scaffold, and to close for ever the tragedy of life, when they must forcibly feel that vanity of every thing human, who would not do the same; who would not, when on the point of leaving the stage of life, cheerfully lay aside their animosities, their resentments, their aversions, or at least, pretend to do it, in order to excite compassion, or to leave behind them an opinion of their innocence? That Charles acted the hypocrite on this occasion, and that he never did sincerely, and from his heart, deliver any injunction to his son to pardon the authors of his death, or that his private were at variance with his public admonitions, may be proved by arguments of no small weight. For otherwise the son, who, in other respects was sufficiently obsequious to his father, would doubtlessly have obeyed this his most momentous and dying injunction, so religiously conveyed to him by the bishop. But how did he obey it, when two of our embassadors, the one in Holland, the other in Spain, neither of whom had any share in the destruction of the king, were put to death by his orders or his influence? And has he not indeed more than once openly declared in his public memorials, that nothing should induce him to pardon the murderers of his father? Consider, therefore, whether this narrative of yours be likely to be true, which, the more it commends the father, reviles the son. Next, digressing from your purpose, you not only make the royal blood invoke the vengeance of heaven, but the people clamour against the parliament. You forget your own enormities at home, to engage in foreign considerations, in which you have no concern. Vile wretch, would the people ever employ you to plead their cause, whose breath is steaming with the effluvia of venereal putrescence? You ascribe to the people the clamours of fugitives and profligates; and, like a juggler on a stage, you imitate the shrieks and cries of the most hideous brutes. Who denies, that there may be times, in which the vicious may constitute the majority of the citizens, who would rather follow Cataline or Antony, than the more virtuous part of the senate? But are not good citizens on this account to oppose the bad with vigour and decision? Ought they not to be less deterred by the smallness of their numbers, than they are animated by the goodness of their cause? Your beautiful scrap of declamation for the people of England, that it may not perish beyond recovery, I would advise you to insert in the Annals of Volusius; we do not want the savoury effusions of such a lecherous rhetorician. Next we are called to account for our injuries to the church. “The army is a Hydra-headed monster of accumulated heresies.” Those who speak the truth, acknowledge that our army excels all others, not only in courage, but in virtue and in piety. Other camps are the scenes of gambling, swearing, riot, and debauchery; in ours, the troops employ what leisure they have in searching the Scriptures and hearing the word; nor is there one, who thinks it more honourable to vanquish the enemy than to propagate the truth; and they not only carry on a military warfare against their enemies, but an evangelical one against themselves. And indeed if we consider the proper objects of war, what employment can be more becoming soldiers, who are raised to defend the laws, to be the support of our political and religious institutions? Ought they not then to be less conspicuous for ferocity than for the civil and the softer virtues, and to consider it as their true and proper destination, not merely to sow the seeds of strife, and reap the harvest of destruction, but to procure peace and security for the whole human race? If there be any, who either from the mistakes of others, or the infirmities of their own minds, deviate from these noble ends, we ought not to punish them with the sword, but rather labour to reform them by reason, by admonition, by pious supplications to God, to whom alone it belongs to dispel all the errors of the mind, and to impart to whom he will the celestial light of truth. We approve no heresies which are truly such; we do not even tolerate some; we wish them extirpated, but by those means which are best suited to the purpose; by reason and instruction, the only safe remedies for disorders of the mind; and not by the knife or the scourge, as if they were seated in the body. You say that “we have done another and equal injury to the temporal property of the church.” Ask the protestants of Holland, and even of Upper Germany, whether they ever spared the possessions of the church, against whom the Austrian Prince, as often as he makes war, hardly ever seeks for any other pretext than the restitution of the ecclesiastical domains. But that property did not belong to the church so much as the ecclesiastics, who, in this sense, might most justly be denominated church-men; indeed they might have been more fully termed wolves than any thing else; but could there be any impiety in applying to the necessary exigencies of a war which they themselves had occasioned, and which we had no other resource for carrying on, the property of these wolves, or rather the accumulated ravages of so many ages of ignorance and superstition? But it was expected that the wealth which was ravished from the bishops would be distributed among the parochial clergy. They expected, I know, and they desired, that the whole should be diffused among them; for there is no abyss so deep which it is not more easy to fill, than it is to satiate the rapacity of the clergy. In other places there may be an incompetent provision for the clergy; but ours have an abundant maintenance; they ought to be called sheep, rather than shepherds; they themselves are fed more than they feed others; every thing is fat around them, so that even their heads seem to swim in fat. They are stuffed with tythes in a way disapproved by the rest of the reformed churches; and they have so little trust in God, that they choose to extort a maintenance, rather by judicial force, and magisterial authority, than to owe it to divine providence, or the gratitude and benevolence of their congregations. And, besides all this, they are so frequently entertained by their pious auditors of both sexes, that they hardly know what it is to dine or sup at home. Hence they luxuriate in superfluities, rather than languish in want; their wives and children vie with the wives and children of the rich in luxury and refinement; and to have increased this tendency to prodigality, by an addition to their revenue, would have been the same as to infuse new poison into the church; a sort of pestilential malady, the introduction of which a voice from heaven lamented under Constantine. We have next to give an account of our enormities towards God, which principally concern our trust in the divine assistance, our prayers and fasts. But, vile miscreant! I will refute you out of your own mouth; and retort upon you that text of the apostle, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” Before our own master let us stand or fall. I will add also that saying of the prophet, “When I afflict my soul with fasting, this is turned to my reproach.” The rest of your delirious effusions on this subject, which no one will take the trouble to read twice, I should do wrong to detail. Nor are those things more to the purpose, which you brawl out concerning our successes. Beware, Sir, beware, lest, after your Pontian toils, you should swell into a polypus of corpulency; and we need be under apprehensions, lest as the great Salmasius lately did, you should chill the baths. On the nature of success I will say a few words. Success neither proves a cause to be good, nor indicates it to be bad; and we demand that our cause should not be judged by the event, but the event by the cause. You now enter on political discussions, the injuries which we have done to all kings, and to all people. What injuries? for we never intended any; the affairs of our own government alone occupied our attention, we neglected those of others; we do not envy the good that may have accrued from our example, and we can ascribe the evil only to the abuse or misapplication of our principles. But, what kings or people ever appointed you to proclaim their injuries? Indeed others have heard their orators and embassadors in the senate, and I have often heard them in the council, not only not complaining of any grievances, but voluntarily suing for our friendship and alliance. In the name of their kings and princes, they have often congratulated us on the state of our affairs, praying for the stability of our government, and the continuance of our prosperity. This was not the language of hostility or hatred, as you assert; and you must either necessarily be convicted of falsehood, at which you never stick, or kings themselves of an insincerity and dissimulation, the most humiliating and most base. But you object to our confession, that we had set a salutary example to all people, and a formidable one to all tyrants. This is surely as heinous a crime as if any one were to say,
Advis’d, learn Justice, and revere the gods.
Could any thing be uttered more pernicious? This was the language of Cromwell to the Scots after the battle of Dunbar. And worthy indeed was it of him and of that noble victory. “The infamous pages of Milton abound with the same noisome ingredients.” You always associate me with some illustrious colleague; and, on this occasion, you make me his equal, if not his superior; so that I might on this account think myself most honoured by you, if any thing honourable could proceed from you. “But those pages,” you say, “were burnt at Paris by the hands of the common hangman, and by the orders of the parliament.” I find that this was by no means done by the senate, but by one of the city officers, of what description I know not, but at the instigation of the clergy, those indolent vermin, who saw at a distance the fate which menaced, and which, I pray, may one day overtake their gluttony and extravagance. Do you imagine that we, in our turn, could not have burnt Salmasius’s defence of the king? I could myself easily have obtained this permission from the magistrates, if I had thought that it merited any thing but contempt. You, in your endeavours to extinguish one fire by another, have only erected an Herculean pile, from which I shall rise with more lustre and renown; we with more discretion, did not think it right to communicate any animating heat to the icy chilliness of the royal vindication. But I wonder that the Thoulousians should have become so degenerate, that a defence of religion and of liberty should be burnt in a city, in which, under the Counts of Raymond, religion and liberty were formerly so nobly defended. “And I wish,” you say, “that the writer had been burned as well.” Is this your disposition, slave? But you have taken good care that I should not indulge a similar wish towards you; for you have been long wasting in blacker flames. Your conscience is scorched by the flames of adultery and rape, and of those perjuries, by the help of which you debauched an unsuspecting girl, to whom you promised marriage, and then abandoned to despair. You are writhing under the flames of that mercenary passion, which impelled you, though covered with crimes, to lust after the functions of the priesthood, and to pollute the consecrated elements with your incestuous touch. While you are acting the hypocrite, you utter the most horrid imprecations against hypocrisy; and every sentence of condemnation only serves to condemn yourself. Such are the atrocities, such the infamy, with which you are all on fire; these are the infuriated flames, by which you are tormented night and day; and you suffer a punishment, than which even your bitterest foe could not invoke one more severe. In the mean time, not one hair of my head is singed by the conflagrations which you kindle; but those affronts are balanced by much delight, and many sweets. One tribunal perhaps, or a single Parisian executioner, under some unlucky bias, burnt my book; but nevertheless, how many good and wise men through all France read it, cherished and admired it? How many, through the spacious tracts of Germany, the domicile of freedom, and wherever any traces of freedom yet remain? Moreover Greece itself, and Athens, the eye of Greece, mingles its applause in the voice of its noble Philyras. And this I can truly say, that, as soon as my defence appeared, and had begun to excite the public curiosity, there was no public functionary of any prince or state then in the city, who did not congratulate me when we accidentally met, who did not desire my company at his house or visit me at mine. But it would be wrong not to mention you, O Adrian Paul, the honour and the ornament of Holland, who, dispatched on a splendid embassy to us, though I had never the pleasure of seeing you, sent me frequent assurances of your extraordinary predilection and regard. This it often delights me to recollect, and which could never have happened without the special appointment of the Deity, that royalty itself courteously favoured me, who had apparently written against kings; and afforded to my integrity and veracity, a testimony next to the divine. For, why should I fear to say this, when I consider how zealously and how highly all persons extol that illustrious queen? Nor do I think, that he who was the wisest of the Athenians, and with whom I by no means wish to compare myself, was more honoured by the testimony of the Pythian oracle, than I am by the approbation of such a queen. If this had happened to me, when a young man, and orators might have taken the same liberties as poets, I should not have hesitated to prefer my fate to that of some of the gods themselves; for, while they contended for the prize of beauty or harmony before a human judge, I, in the most glorious of all contests, had the palm of victory adjudged to me by the voice of an immortal. Thus honoured and caressed, no one but a common hangman would dare to treat me with disrespect; and such an one has both done it and caused it to be done. Here you take great pains, as Salmasius had done before, to prevent us from justifying our struggles for liberty by the example of the Dutch; but the same answer will serve for both. They are mistaken who think that we want any example to direct us. We often found it necessary to cherish and support, but never to rival, the Dutch in their struggles for liberty. If any extraordinary courage in the defence of liberty be requisite, we are wont, not to follow others, but to go before them and to lead the way. But you also employ the most paltry oratory, and the most flimsy argument, to induce the French to go to war with us. “The spirit of the French,” you say, “will never deign to receive our embassadors.” It has deigned, which is much more, voluntarily to send embassadors three or four times to us. The French, therefore, are as noble minded as usual; but you are degenerate and spurious, and your politics betray as much ignorance as falsehood. Hence you attempt to demonstrate that “the negotiation of the United States was purposely protracted, because they wished neither to treat with us, nor to go to war with us.” But it certainly behoves their High Mightinesses not to suffer their counsels to be thus exposed, and, I may say, traduced by a Genevese fugitive; who, if they suffer him any longer to remain among them, will not only debauch their women but their counsels. For they profess the most unfeigned amity; and have lately renewed a peace with us, of which it is the wish of all good men that it may be perpetual. “It was pleasant,” he says, “to see how those ruffian embassadors,” he means the English, “had to contend with the mockery and the menace of the English royalists, but chiefly of the Dutch.” If we had not thoroughly known to whom the murder of our former embassador, Dorislaus, and the affronts which were offered to our two other embassadors are to be ascribed, we might well exclaim, lo! a slanderous informant, who falsely accuses the very persons by whose bounty he is fed! Will you any longer, O Batavians! cherish and support a man, who, not contented with practising the most infamous debaucheries in the church, wishes to introduce the most sanguinary butchery into the state; who not only exposes you to violate the laws of nations, but falsely imputes to you the guilt of such violations?
The last head of his accusations is, “our injuries to the reformed churches.” But how our injuries towards them, rather than theirs towards us? For if you recur to examples, and turn over the annals of history from the Waldenses and the Thoulousians to the famine of Rochelle, you will find that we, of all churches, have been the last to take up arms against tyranny; but the first “to bring the tyrant to a scaffold.” Truly, because we were the first who had it in our power; and I think that they hardly know what they would have done if they had experienced similar opportunities. Indeed I am of opinion, that he against whom we wage war, must necessarily, and as long as we have any use of reason, be judged an enemy; but it has always been as lawful to put an enemy to death, as to attack him with the sword. Since then a tyrant is not only our enemy, but the public enemy of mankind; he may certainly be put to death with as much justice on the scaffold, as he is opposed with arms in the field. Nor is this only my opinion, or one of recent date; for common sense has long since dictated the same to others. Hence Tully, in his oration for Rabirius, declares, “If it were criminal to put Saturninus to death, arms could not, without a crime, have been taken up against Saturninus; but if you allow the justice of taking up arms against him, you must allow the justice of putting him to death.” I have said a good deal on this subject at other times and in other places, and the thing is clear enough in itself; from which you may conjecture what the French would have done if they had the power. I add, moreover, that those who oppose a tyrant in the field, do all in their power to put him to death; indeed, whatever sophistry they may use, they have already morally put him to death. But this doctrine is not to be imputed to us more than to the French, whom you wish to exempt from the imputation. For whence issued that work of “Franco Gallia,” except from Gaul, or “the defence against tyranny?” A book which is commonly ascribed to Beza. Whence others which Thaunus mentions? But as if I were the only author of the doctrine, you say, “Milton makes a pother about that, whose raving spirit I would have chastised as it deserves.”—You would have chastised, miscreant? You, whose atrocious proceedings, if the church of Middleburgh, which was disgraced by your impieties, had punished as they deserved, it would long since have committed you to the keeping of the devil; and if the civil power had rewarded you according to your desert, you would long ago have expiated your adulteries on a gibbet. And the hour of expiation seems on the point of arriving; for, as I hear, the church of Middleburgh, awakening to a right sense of your enormities and of its own disgrace, has expelled such a priest of lechery from her communion, and devoted you to perdition. Hence, the magistrates of Amsterdam have excluded you from the pulpit, that pious ears may no longer be scandalized, by hearing the sounds of your profligate effrontery in the bosom of the sanctuary. Your Greek professorship is now all that is left you; and this you will soon lose, except one single letter, of which you will not be the professor, but the pupil, pensile from the top [Editor: illegible character]. Nor do I omen this in rage; I express only the truth; for I am so far from being offended with such revilers as you, that I would always wish for such persons to revile me; and I esteem it a mark of the divine benevolence, that those, who have most bitterly inveighed against me, have usually been persons whose abuse is praise, and whose praise is infamy. But what served to restrain the irruption of such impotence of rage? “Unless,” you say, “I have been fearful of encroaching on the province of the great Salmasius, to whom I relinquish the undivided praise of victory over his great antagonist.”—Since indeed you now profess to consider me great, as well as him, you will find the difficulties of your undertaking increased, particularly since his death; though I feel very little solicitude about the victory, as long as truth prevails. In the mean time you exclaim, that “we are converting parricide into an article of faith, to which they secretly desire, though they do not openly dare to ascribe, the unanimous consent of the reformed churches; and Milton says, that it was the doctrine of the greatest theologians, who were the principal authors of the reformation.” It was, I say; as I have more fully shown in the tenure of kings and magistrates, and in other places. But now we are become scrupulous about doing what has been so often done. In that work, I have cited passages from Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, Bucer, Martyr, Paræus, and lastly, from that Knox, who you say alone countenances the doctrine which all the reformed churches at that time, and particularly those of France, condemned. And he himself affirms, as I have there explained, that he derived the doctrine from Calvin and other eminent theologians at that time, with whom he was in habits of familiarity and friendship. And in the same work you will find the same opinions supported by the authorities of some of our more pure and disinterested divines, during the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth. You conclude your work with a prolix effusion of your devotional abominations to the Deity. You dare to lift up your adulterous eyes and your obdurate heart to heaven! I will throw no impediments in your way, but leave you to yourself; for your impiety is great beyond the possibility of increase.
I now return, as I promised, to produce the principal accusations against Cromwell, that I may show what little consideration particulars deserve, when the whole taken together is so frivolous and absurd. “He declared in the presence of many witnesses, that it was his intention to subvert every monarchy, and exterminate every king.” We have often seen before what credit is due to your assertions; perhaps one of the emigrants ascribed this saying to Cromwell. Of the many witnesses, you do not mention the name of a single one; but aspersions, so destitute of proof, must be destitute of permanence. Cromwell was never found to be boastful of his actual exploits: and much less is he wont to employ any ostentatiousness of promise or arrogance of menace respecting achievements which were never performed, and the performance of which would be so difficult. Those, therefore, who furnished you with this piece of information, must have been liars rather from a spontaneous impulse or a constitutional propensity, than from deliberate intention, or they would never have invented a saying so contrary to his character and disposition. But the kings, whose trembling apprehensions and vigilant precautions you labour to excite, instead of accommodating their policy to the opinions which may be casually uttered in the street, had better enter on the consideration of the subject in a manner more suitable to its dignity, and more likely to throw light upon their interests. Another accusation is, that Cromwell had persuaded “the king secretly to withdraw himself into the Isle of Wight.” It is well known that the affairs of Charles were often rendered desperate in other ways, and thrice by flight; first, when he fled from London to York, next, when he took refuge among the Scotch in the pay of England, and lastly, when he retired to the Isle of Wight. But “Cromwell persuaded this last measure.” This is to be sure beyond all possibility of doubt; but I wonder that the royalists should lavish such an abundance of praise respecting the prudence of Charles, who seems scarce ever to have had a will of his own. For whether he was among his friends or his enemies, in the court or in the camp, he was generally the mere puppet of others; at one time of his wife, at another of his bishops, now of his nobles, then of his troops, and last of all, of the enemy. And he seems, for the most part, to have followed the worst counsels, and those too of the worst advisers. Charles is the victim of persuasion, Charles the dupe of imposition, Charles the pageant of delusion; he is intimidated by fear or dazzled by hope; and carried about here and there, the common prey of every faction, whether they be friends or foes. Let them either erase these facts from their writings, or cease to extol the sagacity of Charles. Though therefore a superior degree of penetration is an honourable distinction, yet when a country is torn with factions, it is not without its inconveniences; and the most discreet and cautious are most exposed to the calumnies of opposite factions. This often proved an obstacle in the way of Cromwell. Hence the presbyterians, and hence the enemy, impute every harsh treatment which they experience, not to the parliament but to Cromwell alone. They do not even hesitate to ascribe their own indiscretions and miscarriages to the fraud and treachery of Cromwell; against him every invective is levelled, and every censure passed. Indeed the flight of Charles to the Isle of Wight, which took place while Cromwell was at a distance, and was so sudden and unexpected, that he acquainted by letter every member then in the metropolis with the extraordinary occurrence. But this was the state of the case. The king, alarmed by the clamours of the whole army, which, neither softened by his intreaties nor his promises, had begun to demand his punishment, he determined to make his escape in the night with two trusty followers. But more determined to fly, than rightly knowing where to fly, he was induced, either by the ignorance or the cowardice of his attendants, to surrender himself to Hammond, governor of the Isle of Wight, whence he thought that he might easily be conveyed by ship into France or Holland. This is what I have learned concerning the king’s flight to the Isle of Wight, from those who possessed the readiest means of obtaining information. This is also one of the criminal charges; that “the English under Cromwell procured a great victory over the Scots.” Not “procured,” Sir, but, without any solecism, gloriously achieved. But consider how sanguinary that battle must have been, the mere idea of which excited such trembling apprehensions, that you could not mention it without striking your head against Priscian’s pate. But let us see what was the great crime in Cromwell in having gained such a complete victory over the Scots, who were menacing England with invasion, with the loss of her independence. “During this confusion, while Cromwell is absent with the army:” yes, while he was engaged in subduing an enemy, who had marched into the very heart of the kingdom, and menaced the safety of the parliament: while he was employed in reducing the revolted Welsh to their obedience, whom he vanquished wherever he could overtake, and dispersed wherever he could find; the presbyterians “began to conceive a disgust against Cromwell.” Here you speak the truth. While he is repelling the common enemy at the hazard of his life, and bravely defending their interests abroad, they are conspiring to ruin his reputation at home, and suborn one Huntington to take away his life. Does not this atrocious instance of ingratitude excite our abhorrence and our rage? By their instigation a mob of worthless people, reeking from the taverns and the stews, besieges the doors of the parliament, and (O indignity) compels them by clamour and intimidation, to vote such measures as they chose to dictate. And we should now have seen our Camillus, on his return from Scotland, after all his triumphs, and all his toils, either driven into exile, or put to an ignominious death, if General Fairfax had not openly remonstrated against the disgrace of his invincible lieutenant; if the whole army, which had itself experienced a good deal of ill-treatment, had not interposed to prevent such atrocious proceedings. Entering the metropolis, they quelled the citizens without much difficulty; they deservedly expelled from the senate those members who favoured the hostile Scotch; the rest, delivered from the insolence of the rabble, broke off the conference which had begun with the king in the Isle of Wight, contrary to the express orders of the parliament. But Huntington the accuser was left to himself; and at last, struck with remorse, solicited the forgiveness of Cromwell, and confessed by whom he had been suborned. These are the principal charges, except those to which I have replied above, which are brought forward against this noble deliverer of his country. Of how little force they are, is very apparent. But, in speaking of such a man, who has merited so well of his country, I should do nothing, if I only exculpated him from crimes; particularly since it not only so nearly concerns the country, but even myself, who am so closely implicated in the same disgrace, to evince to all nations, and as far as I can, to all ages, the excellence of his character, and the splendour of his renown. Oliver Cromwell was sprung from a line of illustrious ancestors, who were distinguished for the civil functions which they sustained under the monarchy, and still more for the part which they took in restoring and establishing true religion in this country. In the vigour and maturity of his life, which he passed in retirement, he was conspicuous for nothing more than for the strictness of his religious habits and the innocence of his life; and he had tacitly cherished in his breast that flame of piety which was afterwards to stand him in so much stead on the greatest occasions, and in the most critical exigencies. In the last parliament which was called by the king, he was elected to represent his native town; when he soon became distinguished by the justness of his opinions, and the vigour and decision of his counsels. When the sword was drawn, he offered his services, and was appointed to a troop of horse, whose numbers were soon increased by the pious and the good, who flocked from all quarters to his standard; and in a short time he almost surpassed the greatest generals in the magnitude and the rapidity of his achievements. Nor is this surprising; for he was a soldier disciplined to perfection in the knowledge of himself. He had either extinguished, or by habit had learned to subdue, the whole host of vain hopes, fears, and passions, which infest the soul. He first acquired the government of himself, and over himself acquired the most signal victories; so that on the first day he took the field against the external enemy, he was a veteran in arms, consummately practised in the toils and exigencies of war. It is not possible for me in the narrow limits in which I circumscribe myself on this occasion, to enumerate the many towns which he has taken, the many battles which he has won. The whole surface of the British empire has been the scene of his exploits, and the theatre of his triumphs; which alone would furnish ample materials for a history, and want a copiousness of narration not inferior to the magnitude and diversity of the transactions. This alone seems to be a sufficient proof of his extraordinary and almost supernatural virtue, that by the vigour of his genius, or the excellence of his discipline, adapted, not more to the necessities of war, than to the precepts of Christianity, the good and the brave were from all quarters attracted to his camp, not only as to the best school of military talents, but of piety and virtue; and that during the whole war, and the occasional intervals of peace, amid so many vicissitudes of faction and of events, he retained and still retains the obedience of his troops, not by largesses or indulgence, but by his sole authority, and the regularity of his pay. In this instance his fame may rival that of Cyrus, of Epaminondas, or any of the great generals of antiquity. Hence he collected an army as numerous and as well equipped as any one ever did in so short a time; which was uniformly obedient to his orders, and dear to the affections of the citizens; which was formidable to the enemy in the field, but never cruel to those who laid down their arms; which committed no lawless ravages on the persons or the property of the inhabitants; who, when they compared their conduct with the turbulence, the intemperance, the impiety, and the debauchery of the royalists, were wont to salute them as friends, and to consider them as guests. They were a stay to the good, a terror to the evil, and the warmest advocates for every exertion of piety and virtue. Nor would it be right to pass over the name of Fairfax, who united the utmost fortitude with the utmost courage; and the spotless innocence of whose life seemed to point him out as the peculiar favourite of heaven. Justly indeed may you be excited to receive this wreath of praise; though you have retired as much as possible from the world, and seek those shades of privacy which were the delight of Scipio. Nor was it only the enemy whom you subdued; but you have triumphed over that flame of ambition and that lust of glory, which are wont to make the best and the greatest of men their slaves. The purity of your virtues and the splendour of your actions consecrate those sweets of ease which you enjoy; and which constitute the wished for haven of the toils of man. Such was the ease which, when the heroes of antiquity possessed, after a life of exertion and glory, not greater than yours, the poets, in despair of finding ideas or expressions better suited to the subject, feigned that they were received into heaven, and invited to recline at the tables of the gods. But whether it were your health, which I principally believe, or any other motive which caused you to retire, of this I am convinced, that nothing could have induced you to relinquish the service of your country, if you had not known that in your successor liberty would meet with a protector, and England with a stay to its safety, and a pillar to its glory. For, while you, O Cromwell, are left among us, he hardly shows a proper confidence in the Supreme, who distrusts the security of England; when he sees that you are in so special a manner the favoured object of the divine regard. But there was another department of the war, which was destined for your exclusive exertions.
Without entering into any length of detail, I will, if possible, describe some of the most memorable actions, with as much brevity as you performed them with celerity. After the loss of all Ireland, with the exception of one city, you in one battle immediately discomfited the forces of the rebels: and were busily employed in settling the country, when you were suddenly recalled to the war in Scotland. Hence you proceeded with unwearied diligence against the Scots, who were on the point of making an irruption into England with the king in their train: and in about the space of one year you entirely subdued, and added to the English dominion, that kingdom which all our monarchs, during a period of 800 years, had in vain struggled to subject. In one battle you almost annihilated the remainder of their forces, who in a fit of desperation, had made a sudden incursion into England, then almost destitute of garrisons, and got as far as Worcester; where you came up with them by forced marches, and captured almost the whole of their nobility. A profound peace ensued; when we found, though indeed not then for the first time, that you was as wise in the cabinet as valiant in the field. It was your constant endeavour in the senate either to induce them to adhere to those treaties which they had entered into with the enemy, or speedily to adjust others which promised to be beneficial to the country. But when you saw that the business was artfully procrastinated, that every one was more intent on his own selfish interest than on the public good, that the people complained of the disappointments which they had experienced, and the fallacious promises by which they had been gulled, that they were the dupes of a few overbearing individuals, you put an end to their domination. A new parliament is summoned: and the right of election given to those to whom it was expedient. They meet; but do nothing; and, after having wearied themselves by their mutual dissensions, and fully exposed their incapacity to the observation of the country, they consent to a voluntary dissolution. In this state of desolation, to which we were reduced, you, O Cromwell! alone remained to conduct the government, and to save the country. We all willingly yield the palm of sovereignty to your unrivalled ability and virtue, except the few among us, who, either ambitious of honours which they have not the capacity to sustain, or who envy those which are conferred on one more worthy than themselves, or else who do not know that nothing in the world is more pleasing to God, more agreeable to reason, more politically just, or more generally useful, than that the supreme power should be vested in the best and the wisest of men. Such, O Cromwell, all acknowledge you to be; such are the services which you have rendered, as the leader of our councils, the general of our armies, and the father of your country. For this is the tender appellation by which all the good among us salute you from the very soul. Other names you neither have nor could endure; and you deservedly reject that pomp of title which attracts the gaze and admiration of the multitude. For what is a title but a certain definite mode of dignity; but actions such as yours surpass, not only the bounds of our admiration, but our titles; and like the points of pyramids, which are lost in the clouds, they soar above the possibilities of titular commendation. But since, though it be not fit, it may be expedient, that the highest pitch of virtue should be circumscribed within the bounds of some human appellation, you endured to receive, for the public good, a title most like to that of the father of your country; not to exalt, but rather to bring you nearer to the level of ordinary men; the title of king was unworthy the transcendant majesty of your character. For if you had been captivated by a name over which, as a private man, you had so completely triumphed and crumbled into dust, you would have been doing the same thing as if, after having subdued some idolatrous nation by the help of the true God, you should afterwards fall down and worship the gods which you had vanquished. Do you then, Sir, continue your course with the same unrivalled magnanimity; it sits well upon you;—to you our country owes its liberties, nor can you sustain a character at once more momentous and more august than that of the author, the guardian, and the preserver of our liberties; and hence you have not only eclipsed the achievements of all our kings, but even those which have been fabled of our heroes. Often reflect what a dear pledge the beloved land of your nativity has entrusted to your care; and that liberty which she once expected only from the chosen flower of her talents and her virtues, she now expects from you only, and by you only hopes to obtain. Revere the fond expectations which we cherish, the solicitudes of your anxious country; revere the looks and the wounds of your brave companions in arms, who, under your banners, have so strenuously fought for liberty; revere the shades of those who perished in the contest; revere also the opinions and the hopes which foreign states entertain concerning us, who promise to themselves so many advantages from that liberty, which we have so bravely acquired, from the establishment of that new government, which has begun to shed its splendour on the world, which, if it be suffered to vanish like a dream, would involve us in the deepest abyss of shame; and lastly, revere yourself; and, after having endured so many sufferings and encountered so many perils for the sake of liberty, do not suffer it, now it is obtained, either to be violated by yourself, or in any one instance impaired by others. You cannot be truly free, unless we are free too; for such is the nature of things, that he, who entrenches on the liberty of others, is the first to lose his own and become a slave. But, if you, who have hitherto been the patron and tutelary genius of liberty, if you, who are exceeded by no one in justice, in piety, and goodness, should hereafter invade that liberty, which you have defended, your conduct must be fatally operative, not only against the cause of liberty, but the general interests of piety and virtue. Your integrity and virtue will appear to have evaporated, your faith in religion to have been small; your character with posterity will dwindle into insignificance, by which a most destructive blow will be levelled against the happiness of mankind. The work which you have undertaken is of incalculable moment, which will thoroughly sift and expose every principle and sensation of your heart, which will fully display the vigour and genius of your character, which will evince whether you really possess those great qualities of piety, fidelity, justice, and self-denial, which made us believe that you were elevated by the special direction of the Deity to the highest pinnacle of power. At once wisely and discreetly to hold the sceptre over three powerful nations, to persuade people to relinquish inveterate and corrupt for new and more beneficial maxims and institutions, to penetrate into the remotest parts of the country, to have the mind present and operative in every quarter, to watch against surprise, to provide against danger, to reject the blandishments of pleasure and the pomp of power;—these are exertions compared with which the labour of war is mere pastime; which will require every energy and employ every faculty that you possess; which demand a man supported from above, and almost instructed by immediate inspiration. These and more than these are, no doubt, the objects which occupy your attention and engross your soul; as well as the means by which you may accomplish these important ends, and render our liberty at once more ample and more secure. And this you can, in my opinion, in no other way so readily effect, as by associating in your councils the companions of your dangers and your toils; men of exemplary modesty, integrity, and courage; whose hearts have not been hardened in cruelty, and rendered insensible to pity by the sight of so much ravage and so much death, but whom it has rather inspired with the love of justice, with a respect for religion, and with the feeling of compassion, and who are more zealously interested in the preservation of liberty, in proportion as they have encountered more perils in its defence. They are not strangers or foreigners, a hireling rout scraped together from the dregs of the people, but for the most part, men of the better conditions in life, of families not disgraced, if not ennobled, of fortunes either ample or moderate; and what if some among them are recommended by their poverty? for it was not the lust of ravage which brought them into the field; it was the calamitous aspect of the times, which, in the most critical circumstances, and often amid the most disastrous turns of fortune, roused them to attempt the deliverance of their country from the fangs of despotism. They were men prepared, not only to debate, but to fight; not only to argue in the senate, but to engage the enemy in the field. But unless we will continually cherish indefinite and illusory expectations, I see not in whom we can place any confidence, if not in these men and such as these. We have the surest and most indubitable pledge of their fidelity in this, that they have already exposed themselves to death in the service of their country; of their piety in this, that they have been always wont to ascribe the whole glory of their successes to the favour of the Deity, whose help they have so suppliantly implored, and so conspicuously obtained; of their justice in this, that they even brought the king to trial, and when his guilt was proved, refused to save his life; of their moderation in our own uniform experience of its effects, and because, if by any outrage, they should disturb the peace which they have procured, they themselves will be the first to feel the miseries which it will occasion, the first to meet the havoc of the sword, and the first again to risk their lives for all those comforts and distinctions which they have so happily acquired; and lastly, of their fortitude in this, that there is no instance of any people who ever recovered their liberty with so much courage and success; and therefore let us not suppose, that there can be any persons who will be more zealous in preserving it. I now feel myself irresistibly compelled to commemorate the names of some of those who have most conspicuously signalized themselves in these times: and first thine, O Fleetwood! whom I have known from a boy, to the present blooming maturity of your military fame, to have been inferior to none in humanity, in gentleness, in benignity of disposition, whose intrepidity in the combat, and whose clemency in victory, have been acknowledged even by the enemy: next thine, O Lambert! who, with a mere handful of men, checked the progress, and sustained the attack, of the duke of Hamilton, who was attended with the whole flower and vigour of the Scottish youth: next thine, O Desborough! and thine, O Hawley! who wast always conspicuous in the heat of the combat, and the thickest of the fight; thine, O Overton! who hast been most endeared to me now for so many years by the similitude of our studies, the suavity of your manners, and the more than fraternal sympathy of our hearts; you, who in the memorable battle of Marston Moor, when our left wing was put to the rout, were beheld with admiration, making head against the enemy with your infantry and repelling his attack, amid the thickest of the carnage; and lastly, you, who in the Scotch war, when under the auspices of Cromwell, occupied the coast of Fife, opened a passage beyond Sterling, and made the Scotch of the west, and of the north, and even the remotest Orkneys, confess your humanity, and submit to your power. Besides these, I will mention some as celebrated for their political wisdom and their civil virtues, whom you, Sir, have admitted into your councils, and who are known to me by friendship or by fame. Whitlocke, Pickering, Strickland, Sydenham, Sydney, (a name indissolubly attached to the interests of liberty,) Montacute, Laurence, both of highly cultivated minds and polished taste; besides many other citizens of singular merit, some of whom were distinguished by their exertions in the senate, and others in the field. To these men, whose talents are so splendid, and whose worth has been so thoroughly tried, you would without doubt do right to trust the protection of our liberties; nor would it be easy to say to whom they might more safely be entrusted.
Then, if you leave the church to its own government, and relieve yourself and the other public functionaries from a charge so onerous, and so incompatible with your functions; and will no longer suffer two powers, so different as the civil and the ecclesiastical, to commit fornication together, and by their mutual and delusive aids in appearance to strengthen, but in reality to weaken and finally to subvert, each other; if you shall remove all power of persecution out of the church, (but persecution will never cease, so long as men are bribed to preach the gospel by a mercenary salary, which is forcibly extorted rather than gratuitously bestowed, which serves only to poison religion, and to strangle truth,) you will then effectually have cast those money-changers out of the temple, who do not merely truckle with doves, but with the dove itself, with the Spirit of the Most High. Then since there are often in a republic men who have the same itch for making a multiplicity of laws, as some poetasters have for making many verses; and since laws are usually worse in proportion as they are more numerous, if you shall not enact so many new laws as you abolish old, which do not operate so much as warnings against evil, as impediments in the way of good; and if you shall retain only those which are necessary, which do not confound the distinctions of good and evil, which, while they prevent the frauds of the wicked, do not prohibit the innocent freedoms of the good, which punish crimes, without interdicting those things which are lawful, only on account of the abuses to which they may occasionally be exposed. For the intention of laws is to check the commission of vice, but liberty is the best school of virtue, and affords the strongest encouragements to the practice. Then if you make a better provision for the education of our youth than has hitherto been made, if you prevent the promiscuous instruction of the docile and the indocile, of the idle and the diligent, at the public cost, but reserve the rewards of learning for the learned, and of merit for the meritorious. If you permit the free discussion of truth without any hazard to the author, or any subjection to the caprice of an individual, which is the best way to make truth flourish and knowledge abound, the censure of the half-learned, the envy, the pusillanimity, or the prejudice which measures the discoveries of others, and in short every degree of wisdom, by the measure of its own capacity, will be prevented from doling out information to us according to their own arbitrary choice. Lastly, if you shall not dread to hear any truth, or any falsehood, whatever it may be, but if you shall least of all listen to those, who think that they can never be free, till the liberties of others depend on their caprice, and who attempt nothing with so much zeal and vehemence, as to fetter, not only the bodies but the minds of men, who labour to introduce into the state the worst of all tyrannies, the tyranny of their own depraved habits and pernicious opinions; you will always be dear to those who think not merely that their own sect or faction, but that all citizens of all descriptions should enjoy equal rights and equal laws. If there be any one who thinks that this is not liberty enough, he appears to me to be rather inflamed with the lust of ambition, or of anarchy, than with the love of a genuine and well regulated liberty; and particularly since the circumstances of the country, which has been so convulsed by the storms of faction, which are yet hardly still, do not permit us to adopt a more perfect or desirable form of government.
For it is of no little consequence, O citizens, by what principles you are governed, either in acquiring liberty, or in retaining it when acquired. And unless that liberty, which is of such a kind as arms can neither procure nor take away, which alone is the fruit of piety, of justice, of temperance, and unadulterated virtue, shall have taken deep root in your minds and hearts, there will not long be wanting one who will snatch from you by treachery what you have acquired by arms. War has made many great whom peace makes small. If after being released from the toils of war, you neglect the arts of peace, if your peace and your liberty be a state of warfare, if war be your only virtue, the summit of your praise, you will, believe me, soon find peace the most adverse to your interests. Your peace will be only a more distressing war; and that which you imagined liberty will prove the worst of slavery. Unless by the means of piety, not frothy and loquacious, but operative, unadulterated, and sincere, you clear the horizon of the mind from those mists of superstition, which arise from the ignorance of true religion, you will always have those who will bend your necks to the yoke as if you were brutes, who notwithstanding all your triumphs will put you up to the highest bidder, as if you were mere booty made in war; and will find an exuberant source of wealth in your ignorance and superstition. Unless you will subjugate the propensity to avarice, to ambition, and sensuality, and expel all luxury from yourselves and from your families, you will find that you have cherished a more stubborn and intractable despot at home, than you ever encountered in the field; and even your very bowels will be continually teeming with an intolerable progeny of tyrants. Let these be the first enemies whom you subdue; this constitutes the campaign of peace; these are triumphs, difficult indeed, but bloodless, and far more honourable than those trophies, which are purchased only by slaughter and by rapine. Unless you are victors in this service, it is in vain that you have been victorious over the despotic enemy in the field. For if you think that it is a more grand, a more beneficial, or a more wise policy, to invent subtle expedients for increasing the revenue, to multiply our naval and military force, to rival in craft the ambassadors of foreign states, to form skilful treaties and alliances, than to administer unpolluted justice to the people, to redress the injured, and to succour the distressed, and speedily to restore to every one his own, you are involved in a cloud of error; and too late will you perceive, when the illusion of those mighty benefits has vanished, that in neglecting these, which you now think inferior considerations, you have only been precipitating your own ruin and despair. The fidelity of enemies and allies is frail and perishing, unless it be cemented by the principles of justice; that wealth and those honours, which most covet, readily change masters; they forsake the idle and repair where virtue, where industry, where patience flourish most. Thus nation precipitates the downfall of nation; thus the more sound part of one people subverts the more corrupt; thus you obtained the ascendant over the royalists. If you plunge into the same depravity, if you imitate their excesses, and hanker after the same vanities, you will become royalists as well as they, and liable to be subdued by the same enemies, or by others in your turn; who, placing their reliance on the same religious principles, the same patience, the same integrity and discretion which made you strong, will deservedly triumph over you, who are immersed in debauchery, in the luxury and the sloth of kings. Then, as if God was weary of protecting you, you will be seen to have passed through the fire that you might perish in the smoke; the contempt which you will then experience will be great as the admiration which you now enjoy; and, what may in future profit others, but cannot benefit yourselves, you will leave a salutary proof what great things the solid reality of virtue and of piety might have effected, when the mere counterfeit and varnished resemblance could attempt such mighty achievements, and make such considerable advances towards the execution. For if, either through your want of knowledge, your want of constancy, or your want of virtue, attempts so noble, and actions so glorious, have had an issue so unfortunate, it does not therefore follow, that better men should be either less daring in their projects or less sanguine in their hopes. But from such an abyss of corruption into which you so readily fall, no one, not even Cromwell himself, nor a whole nation of Brutuses, if they were alive, could deliver you if they would, or would deliver you if they could. For who would vindicate your right of unrestrained suffrage, or of choosing what representatives you liked best, merely that you might elect the creatures of your own faction, whoever they might be, or him, however small might be his worth, who would give you the most lavish feasts, and enable you to drink to the greatest excess? Thus not wisdom and authority, but turbulence and gluttony, would soon exalt the vilest miscreants from our taverns and our brothels, from our towns and villages, to the rank and dignity of senators. For, should the management of the republic be entrusted to persons to whom no one would willingly entrust the management of his private concerns; and the treasury of the state be left to the care of those who had lavished their own fortunes in an infamous prodigality? Should they have the charge of the public purse, which they would soon convert into a private, by their unprincipled peculations? Are they fit to be the legislators of a whole people who themselves know not what law, what reason, what right and wrong, what crooked and straight, what licit and illicit means? who think that all power consists in outrage, all dignity in the parade of insolence? who neglect every other consideration for the corrupt gratification of their friendships, or the prosecution of their resentments? who disperse their own relations and creatures through the provinces, for the sake of levying taxes and confiscating goods; men, for the greater part the most profligate and vile, who buy up for themselves what they pretend to expose to sale, who thence collect an exorbitant mass of wealth, which they fraudulently divert from the public service; who thus spread their pillage through the country, and in a moment emerge from penury and rags, to a state of splendour and of wealth? Who could endure such thievish servants, such vicegerents of their lords? Who could believe that the masters and the patrons of a banditti could be the proper guardians of liberty? or who would suppose that he should ever be made one hair more free by such a set of public functionaries, (though they might amount to five hundred elected in this manner from the counties and boroughs,) when among them who are the very guardians of liberty, and to whose custody it is committed, there must be so many, who know not either how to use or to enjoy liberty, who either understand the principles or merit the possession? But what is worthy of remark, those who are the most unworthy of liberty, are wont to behave most ungratefully towards their deliverers. Among such persons, who would be willing either to fight for liberty, or to encounter the least peril in its defence? It is not agreeable to the nature of things, that such persons ever should be free. However much they may brawl about liberty, they are slaves, both at home and abroad, but without perceiving it; and when they do perceive it, like unruly horses that are impatient of the bit, they will endeavour to throw off the yoke, not from the love of genuine liberty, (which a good man only loves and knows how to obtain,) but from the impulses of pride and little passions. But though they often attempt it by arms, they will make no advances to the execution; they may change their masters, but will never be able to get rid of their servitude. This often happened to the ancient Romans, wasted by excess, and enervated by luxury: and it has still more so been the fate of the moderns; when after a long interval of years they aspired under the auspices of Crescentius, Nomentanus, and afterwards of Nicolas Rentius, who had assumed the title of Tribune of the People, to restore the splendour and re-establish the government of ancient Rome. For, instead of fretting with vexation, or thinking that you can lay the blame on any one but yourselves, know that to be free is the same thing as to be pious, to be wise, to be temperate and just, to be frugal and abstinent, and lastly, to be magnanimous and brave; so to be the opposite of all these is the same as to be a slave; and it usually happens by the appointment, and as it were retributive justice, of the Deity, that that people which cannot govern themselves, and moderate their passions, but crouch under the slavery of their lusts, should be delivered up to the sway of those whom they abhor, and made to submit to an involuntary servitude.
It is also sanctioned by the dictates of justice and by the constitution of nature, that he, who from the imbecility or derangement of his intellect is incapable of governing himself, should, like a minor, be committed to the government of another; and least of all, should he be appointed to superintend the affairs of others or the interest of the state. You therefore, who wish to remain free, either instantly be wise, or, as soon as possible, cease to be fools; if you think slavery an intolerable evil, learn obedience to reason and the government of yourselves; and finally bid adieu to your dissensions, your jealousies, your superstitions, your outrages, your rapine, and your lusts. Unless you will spare no pains to effect this, you must be judged unfit, both by God and mankind, to be entrusted with the possession of liberty and the administration of the government; but will rather, like a nation in a state of pupillage, want some active and courageous guardian to undertake the management of your affairs. With respect to myself, whatever turn things may take, I thought that my exertions on the present occasion would be serviceable to my country, and as they have been cheerfully bestowed, I hope that they have not been bestowed in vain. And I have not circumscribed my defence of liberty within any petty circle around me, but have made it so general and comprehensive, that the justice and the reasonableness of such uncommon occurrences explained and defended, both among my countrymen and among foreigners, and which all good men cannot but approve, may serve to exalt the glory of my country, and to excite the imitation of posterity. If the conclusion do not answer to the beginning, that is their concern; I have delivered my testimony, I would almost say, have erected a monument, that will not readily be destroyed, to the reality of those singular and mighty achievements, which were above all praise. As the Epic Poet, who adheres at all to the rules of that species of composition, does not profess to describe the whole life of the hero whom he celebrates, but only some particular action of his life, as the resentment of Achilles at Troy, the return of Ulysses, or the coming of Æneas into Italy; so it will be sufficient, either for my justification or apology, that I have heroically celebrated at least one exploit of my countrymen; I pass by the rest, for who could recite the achievements of a whole people? If after such a display of courage and of vigor, you basely relinquish the path of virtue, if you do any thing unworthy of yourselves, posterity will sit in judgment on your conduct. They will see that the foundations were well laid; that the beginning (nay it was more than a beginning) was glorious; but, with deep emotions of concern will they regret, that those were wanting who might have completed the structure. They will lament that perseverance was not conjoined with such exertions and such virtues. They will see that there was a rich harvest of glory, and an opportunity afforded for the greatest achievements, but that men only were wanting for the execution; while they were not wanting who could rightly counsel, exhort, inspire, and bind an unfading wreath of praise round the brows of the illustrious actors in so glorious a scene.
[* ]Morus, the Latin name for mulberry.
[* ]A little More, or mulberry.
[† ]It is impossible to give a literally exact rendering of this; I have played upon the name as well as I could in English.—R. F.
[* ]Latin, male audis. There is a play upon the words.