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by the name of Salmasius too highly to the notice of Europe. to be overlooked by the government of England. The Council immediately perceived the necessity of replying to it; and as immediately discovered the powers adequate to the occasion in their secretary, Milton. He was present, as he tells us, when the question was agitated, and the unanimous voice of the meeting committed to him the charge of repelling the acrimonious and mercenary attack. His compliance with the honourable requisition was instant; and inattentive to the suggestions of his friends, who were fearful of his reputation, committed against so renowned an adversary; undeterred by the remonstrance of his physicians, who predicted that the loss of his sight would be the infallible result of his labour; and unrestrained by the dissuasion of his bad health, which allowed him to compose only at intervals and with hourly interruptions, he persevered in the duty which he had undertaken ; and, with principle strong within his heart and the attraction of glory bright before his view, he produced early in the year 1651 that noble acquittal of his engagement to the Council, “ "The Defence of the People of England.”
mis, dextra lavis, recta pravis, religiosa profanis mutata. Merum denique omnis generis confusionum chaos. Hic status est regni Anglicani sub dirâ et immani Independentiam tyrannide.”
P. 365. “ Pactio, quam fingunt inter regem et subditos intercedere, non minus futilis est. Certe nulla est in imperiis vi armorum partis, qualia sunt hodiè fermè omnia.” P. 269.
“ Sed belluæ et feri molossi hominum facie et habitu," &c.
To speak of this composition in terms of too high praise would be difficult for its greatest admirer. If, happily, it had been a little less embittered with personal invective, and had withdrawn the two immediate combatants to a greater distance from our sight; if it had excluded every light and sportive sally from its pages, it would have approached very nearly to perfection, and would have formed one of the most able and satisfactory, the most eloquent and splendid defences of truth and liberty against sophistry and despotism, which has ever been exhibited to the world. Its diction, pure spirited and harmonious, is the adequate organ of strong argument, manly sentiment, comprehensive erudition, excursive fancy, and profound wisdom. By the laws of God, either written in our hearts or made the subjects of immediate revelation; by the testi
• Defensio pro Populo Anglicano contra Claudii Salmasii Defensionem Regiam.
mony of all history, sacred and profane, the “ Defence of the People of England” ascertains that political power properly emanates from the people, for whose good it must be exercised, and for whose good it may rightfully be resumed. On the narrowed question and with reference to the point more immediately at issue, the “ Defence” strenuously asserts the ancient genealogy of English freedom and traces it from its British origin, through its Saxon and Norman lineage, to the times in which Charles suffered and the commonwealth of England was established. During this whole period the “ Defence” proves that the existence of the ultimate sovereignty of the people was ascertained either by the electing or the deposing of the monarch, or by its acknowledgment in the compacts of the more potent possessors of the throne. From the Saxon times is demonstrated the existence of a supreme legislative assembly including the representatives of the commons, by which the conduct of the executive power was controlled and to which the chief magistrate was at all times responsible.
The author is unquestionably too severe in his treatment of Charles, and we are fatigued with the perpetual recurrence of his
invective against his immediate antagonist: but into the first of these errors he was betrayed by the exaggerated praise with which the departed Monarch was now lifted into popular favour; and for the second he may find some excuse in the abusive and insolent language, hurled by a presumptuous foreigner against the government and the people of England. In this instance however of management, or in this indulgence of intemperance, Milton has shewn himself to be injudicious; and, like other controversialists who have accommodated their works to the passions and the prejudices of the day, he has abandoned the more permanent for the more instant and impressive effect. In a contest, like this in question, it may be of importance, as Bayle acutely observes, to get the laughers on our side; and the aggravated censures, with the pointed personalities which now form the principal blemishes of the 56 Defence of the People of England,” constituted at the time of its publication one of the chief causes of its power and popularity. . No mean of teasing the adversary is omitted in this composition : his venality and accommodating pliancy of opinion are even made the subjects of a sportive sally in iambics.
“ Quis expedivit Salmasio suam hundredam; ..
Picamque docuit nostra verba conari:” “ Magister artis venter;" et Jacobæi
Centum, exulantis viscera P marsupii regis. « Quod si dolosi spes refulserit nummi,"
Ipse Antichristi qui modo primatum Papæ
Minatus uno est dissipare sufflatu
Who to our English tuned Salmasius' throat ?
But the reader may expect a graver specimen of this celebrated work; and I will transcribe for him the forcible and eloquent address with which it concludes.
Hactenus, quod initio institueram ut meorum civium facta egregia contra insamam et lividissimam furentis sophistæ rabiem et domi et foris defenderem, jusque populi commune ab injusto regum dominatu assererem, non id quidem regum odio sed tyrannorum, Deo bene juvante videor jam mihi absolvisse: neque ullum sine responso
p The classical reader need not be informed that these lines are a parody on the prologue of Persius to his satires.
1 P. W. v. 160.