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the interests of the community are as effectually secured as if the sword, in perpetual and delicate suspense over his head, were ready to fall on him for every abuse of his delegated authority. But some of the finer lineaments of the English constitution were not ascertained in the time of Milton; and his ideas of liberty were formed principally in the school of Greece, where the hand which slew a tyrant was consecrated; and where, from the natural result of their trembling insecurity, these usurpers of the public rights were peculiarly bloody and ferocious.
The treatise, which we are noticing, is full of strong argument and weighty sense. In support of the lawfulness of tyrannicide, the writer adduces some examples from the Hebrew scriptures; and is willing to infer that the especial commission of unerring wisdom and justice, which certainly hallows the deed immediately in question, communicates the covering of its sanction to deeds precisely the same in kind, motive, and effect. From the sacred writings of the christians he can cite only two or three passages, which prove nothing more than that the blessed Jesus did not assign to monarchs all the attributes which were given to them by the adulation of the world, or feel for wicked sovereigns more respect than he felt for wicked men.
The opinions of christian divines," which are subsequently produced, make more directly and fully for the author's purpose. According to the judgment of these learned and pious men,
kings are under the laws as well as their subjects, and regal guilt, from its greater consequences, ought to be corrected with severer infliction : 66 kings have their authority from the people, who may upon occasion reassume it:”—“ kings who endeavour to subvert religion, and use their power to the injury of those for whose benefit it was entrusted to them, break the ties between them and their people, and release the latter from their allegiance;"--and, lastly, “ kings or rulers, who become blasphemers of God, oppressors and murderers of their subjects, ought not to be accounted kings or lawful magistrates, but ought, as private men, to be examined, accused, condemned and punished.”
These authorities unquestionably demonstrate that the responsibility of kings to a human tribunal is a doctrine which has not uniformly been considered as incompatible with christian theology: but their support cannot be extended to the full assertion in the title of this piece, “ that it is lawful for any who have the power to call to account a tyrant;" &c. though this assertion be a little qualified by the subsequent words," and after due conviction to depose and put him to death.”
d The divines, whose opinions are cited by Milton on this occasion, are Luther, Zwinglius, Calvin, Bucer, Peter Martyr, Paræus, Gilby, Christopher Goodman, and the Scotch reformers, with the whole body of the Scotch clergy.
In the course of this work the Presbyterians obtain much of the author's notice; and their conduct is exposed by him with the severity which it deserved. It was difficult indeed to animadvert too strongly upon the inconsistency of men who, after resisting the authority of their sovereign, , after making him the aim of their devout esecrations from the pulpit and of their artillery in the field, after “ hunting and pursuing him," to use the author's own words, “ round about the kingdom with fire and sword;" after dethroning, seizing, and imprisoning him, now clamoured against the natural result of their own actions, and, pretending conscience and the covenant, felt extreme tenderness for the inviolability and sacredness of the kingly person, which they had endangered by their war and had violated with their chains. It would have been well for them if they had attended to
the salutary warning given to them by our author, and, withholding their confidence from men exasperated beyond the just hope of a reconciliation, had forborne to coalesce with the royalists, by whom they were soon to be crushed in one common ruin with their immediate enemies the Independents.
The next work, which came in rapid succession from the pen of Milton, was, servations
upon the Articles of Peace, which the earl of Ormond had concluded at Kilkenny, on the 17th of Jan. 1648-9, in the king's name and by his authority, with the popish Irish Rebels, &c. &c.”
From its imputed connexion with the rebellion of the catholics in Ireland, the royal cause had contracted remarkable unpopularity. This insurrection, which evinced the power of long-continued oppression to debase and unbumanize man, was so deeply stained with blood, and was distinguished by features of such peculiar ferocity as to strike not England alone, but all civilized and christian Europe with horror and consternation. An insurrection which, in its first fury, had massacred, (as has been computed, though probably with considerable exaggeration,) nearly 200,000 persons, defenceless and unsuspicious of danger; an insurrection, in
which neither the tenderness of sex, nor the weakness of commencing or of declining life had prevailed on pity to suspend the stroke of murder; an insurrection, in which the mother and the infant at her breast had frequently been confounded in each others blood, and even the living womb had been ripped up to intercept the hope of breathing existence; an insurrection, in short, which had acknowledged no social tie, which had exhausted torture and insult to inflame the agonies of death, which in some instances had attempled to gratify its fiend-like revenge, by destroying with one wound both the body and the soul-could not certainly be contemplated without horror, or be embraced without the deepest contamination.
With the massacre itself no participation of the King's could be pretended by the hardiest malice of his enemies: but it would perhaps exceed the power of his most bigoted friends to clear him from the charge of being accessory to the revolt, of which the massacre was the terrible, but not necessary or foreseen consequence. The feeling of a common cause against the increasing power of the Parliament, and the persuasion of a common religion had undoubtedly prevailed upon the Queen to lend her sanction,