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coming to the throne of England as his hereditary freehold: or if that end was not accomplished by such a publication, then that it might rouse the foreign Potentates to attempt by the power of their armies to promote his Restoration. Having understood that SALMASius, a professor in the university of Leyden, a pensioner upon those free states, and employed in the service of the Dutch nation, was the fittest man for that purpose, he engaged him to undertake the work, on condition that when he had accomplished it, he should receive from the royal exile one hundred jacobusses!! In the year 1649 this bulky, incongruous volume was printed in Holland, and on account of its being opposed to the common cause of liberty between the Dutch and English, was ordered by the States to be suppressed.
On its publication in England by the title of Defencio Regia, or a defence of CHARLES the First to CHARLES the Second, it was taken under consideration by the council of the nation, and Milton being present, was unanimously called upon by every member of that noble band of patriots to write an answer to it. Within a very short time he produced his Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, or the Defence of the People of England : in which, to say nothing of his exposures of the ignorance and fury, and bar
barous stile of his opponent, and of the pointed sarcasms which exposed SALMASIus to the scorn and derision of the world, he completely defended the proceedings of the People of England, from the period of the commencement of the civil war, with such force of arguments and authorative examples, that in the estimation of persons of all judgments, and all the countries of Europe, he obtained a most decisive triumph over his pedantic, syllogizing, etymological opponent; his readers being lost in astonishment at the display of his extensive reading, and unrivalled judgment.
To afford some illustrations of the character of this work, I extract the concluding from the English Version by Mr. Washington of the Temple. “ And now I think,” (says the illustrious republican,) “ that by God's assistance I have finished the work I undertook, namely, to defend the noble actions of my countrymen both at home and abroad, against the raging and envious madness of this distracted sophister; and to assert the common rights of the people against the unjust domination of kings, not out of any hatred to Kings but Tyrants : nor have I purposely left unanswered any one argument alleged by my adversary, nor any example or authority quoted by him, that seemed to have any force in it, or the least colour of a proof; perhaps I have
been guilty rather of the other extreme, of replying to some of his fooleries and trifles as if they were solid arguments, and thereby may seem to have attributed more to them than they deserved. One thing yet remains to be done, which, perhaps, is the greatest concern of all, and that is, that you my countrymen confute this adversary of yours by yourselves; which I do not see any other means of your effe
effecting, than by a constant endeavour to out-do all men's bad words by your own good deeds. When you laboured under more sorts of opposition than one, you betook yourselves to God for refuge, and he was graciously pleased to hear your most earnest prayers and desires. He gloriously delivered you, the first of nations, from the two greatest mischiefs of this life, and the most pernicious to virtue, tyranny and superstition ; he induced you, with that greatness of soul, to be the first of mankind, who after having conquered and captuated their own king, have not scrupled to condemn him judicially, and according to that just sentence to put him to death. After performing such an illustrious action as this, you ought to do nothing that is mean and little, not even to think, much less to do any thing but what is great and sublime. To attain which praise there is only this way, that as you have subdued your enemies in the field, so to make it appear that unarmed, and
in full peace, you of all mankind are ablest to conquer ambition, avarice, the love of riches, and can best avoid those corruptions of prosperity which are apt to get the better of other nations; to shew as great justice, temperance, and moderation in preserving your liberty, as you have done courage in freeing yourselves from slavery. These are the only arguments and authorities by which you will be able to evince that you are not such persons as this fellow represents you, traitors, robbers, murderers, parricides, madmen; that you did not put your king to death out of any ambitious design, or a desire of invading the rights of others, nor out of any seditious principles and sinister ends, not agitated by fury or madness; but that it was wholly out of love to your liberty, religion, justice, virtue, and inflamed with an affection for your country, that you punished a tyrant. But if it should happen otherwise, (which I pray God mercifully to forbid,) if as you have been valiant in war, you should grow debauched in peace, you that have had such visible demonstrations of the goodness of God to yourselves, and his wrath against your enemies, and that you should not have by so eminent and memorable an example before your eyes, to fear God and work righteousness, for my part, I shall easily grant and confess (for I cannot deny it) all the ills that liars and slander
ers now think or speak of you to be true, And you will find in a little time that God's displeasure against you, will be greater than it has bin against your adversaries, greater than his benign favour and paternal care, which you have experienced above every nation under heaven.”
This work has been blamed for the roughness of its style: from the specimen given in the above quotation, it is more than probable numbers have disliked it for the puritanism of its sentiments. Oh!' that all public writers would imitate the bluntness of its honesty, the simplicity of its spirituality, and the evident aim of having nothing in view but the good of man and the glory of God.
Milton has been censured also for the abuse with which he loaded his antagonist, (and it must be acknowledged there is of that article quantum sufficit,) but let it be recollected how basely this pitiful, hired foreigner, had abused the whole English nation, as if they were “all mere barbarians and enthusiasts fiercer than their own mastiffs, and yet more silly than Athenian owls;” and does it not fully justify him in having answered such a fool according to his folly, and having laid forty stripes at least, not saving one, upon this contemptible fool's back, who knew nothing of the manner in which the people of England)