« PreviousContinue »
from their enemies the Gauls; Manlius for sedition afterward was by the Romans thrown headlong from the capitol; therefore Manlius was punished by divine justice for defending the capitol, because in that place punished for sedition, and by those whom he defended. This is his logic upon divine justice; and was the same before upon the death of Sir John Hotham. And here again, "such as were content to see him driven away by unsuppressed tumults, are now forced to fly to an army. Was this a judgment? Was it not a mercy rather, that they had a noble and victorious army so near at hand to fly to?
From God's justice he comes down to man's justice. Those few of both houses who at first withdrew with him for the vain pretence of tumults, were counted deserters; therefore those many must be also deserters, who withdrew afterwards from real tumults: as if it were the place that made a parliament, and not the end and cause. Because it is denied that those were tumults, from which the king made shew of being driven, is it therefore of necessity implied, that there could be never any tumults for the future? If some men fly in craft, may not other men have cause to fly in earnest? But mark the difference between their flight and his: they soon returned in safety to their places, he not till after many years, and then a captive to receive his punishment. So that their flying, whether the cause be considered, or the event, or both, neither justified him, nor condemned themselves.
But he will needs have vengeance to pursue and overtake them; though to bring it in, it cost him an inconvenient and obnoxious comparison, "As the mice and rats overtook a German bishop." * I would our mice and rats had been as
*This is an allusion to the well-known story of Hatto, Archbishop of Mentz, one of the most popular of the Legends of the Rhine. As it has been made familiar to the English reader in Southey's ballad, "God's Judgment on a Bishop," we abstain from relating it here. Mice and rats, however, in the legendary history of mankind, have sometimes been employed on still more useful and important services than demolishing a German bishop. Herodotus, on the authority of the Egyptian priests, attributes to those warlike little vermin the destruction of Sennacherib's army at Pelusium; where a prodigious multitude of field-mice invading the Assyrian camp by night, ate up their quivers, bowstrings, and shield-thongs, so that, in the morning, finding themselves disarmed, they immediately took to flight, pursued and slaughtered by the Egyptians. In gratitude for this deliverance, Sethos (then
orthodoxal here, and had so pursued all his bishops out of England; then vermin had rid away vermin, which now hath lost the lives of too many thousand honest men to do.
"He cannot but observe this divine justice, yet with sorrow and pity." But sorrow and pity in a weak and overmastered enemy is looked upon no otherwise than as the ashes of his revenge burnt out upon himself, or as the damp of a cooled fury, when we say, it gives. But in this manner to sit spelling and observing divine justice upon every accident and slight disturbance that may happen humanly to the affairs of men, is but another fragment of his broken revenge; and yet the shrewdest and the cunningest obloquy that can be thrown upon their actions. For if he can persuade men that the parliament and their cause is pursued with divine vengeance, he hath attained his end, to make all men forsake them, and think the worst that can be thought of them.
Nor is he only content to suborn divine justice in his censure of what is past, but he assumes the person of Christ himself, to prognosticate over us what he wishes would come. So little is anything or person sacred from him, no not in heaven, which he will not use, and put on, if it may serve him plausibly to wreak his spleen, or ease his mind upon the parliament. Although, if ever fatal blindness did both attend and punish wilfulness, if ever any enjoyed not comforts for neglecting counsel belonging to their peace, it was in none more conspicuously brought to pass than in himself; and his predictions against the parliament and their adherents have for the most part been verified upon his own head, and upon his chief counsellors.
He concludes with high praises of the army. But praises in an enemy are superfluous, or smell of craft; and the king of Egypt) erected in the temple of Vulcan his own statue, holding a mouse in its hand, with this inscription-" Regard me, and be pious." (Euterpe. 140.) Josephus attributes the destruction of this vast army to a plague, by which they perished in one night. (Antiq. x. 2.) See Bochart, (Hierozoic. Compend. iii. 34.) Byron, in his Hebrew Melodies, has adhered to the account of scripture:
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings in the blast,
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts heaved but once, and for ever grew still!"-ED.
army shall not need his praises, nor the parliament fare worse for his accusing prayers that follow. Wherein, as his charity can be no way comparable to that of Christ, so neither can his assurance, that they whom he seems to pray for, in doing what they did against him, "knew not what they did." It was but arrogance therefore, and not charity, to lay such ignorance to others in the sight of God, till he himself had been infallible, like him whose peculiar words he overweeningly assumes.
Entitled, To the Prince of Wales.
WHAT the king wrote to his son, as a father, concerns not us; what he wrote to him as a king of England, concerns not him; God and the parliament having now otherwise 'disposed of England. But because I see it done with some artifice and labour, to possess the people that they might amend their present condition by his or by his son's restorement, I shall shew point by point, that although the king had been reinstalled to his desire, or that his son admitted should observe exactly all his father's precepts, yet that this would be so far from conducing to our happiness, either as a remedy to the present distempers, or a prevention of the like to come, that it would inevitably throw us back again into all our past and fulfilled miseries; would force us to fight over again all our tedious wars, and put us to another fatal struggling for liberty and life, more dubious than the former.* In which as our success hath been no other than our cause; so it will be evident to all posterity, that his misfortunes were the mere consequence of his perverse judgment.
First, he argues from the experience of those troubles, which he and his son have had, to the improvement of their piety and patience; and by the way bears witness in his own words, that the corrupt education of his youth, which was but glanced at only in some former passages of this answer,
* Here Milton wrote like a prophet; for the Restoration, which he lived to groan under, brought back, as he foresaw, tyranny and persecution, and a second struggle. But the issue was more glorious: the establishment of the present constitution in 1688, fourteen years after he had been gathered to his fathers.-Ed.
was a thing neither of mean consideration, nor untruly charged upon him or his son himself confessing here, that "court-delights are prone either to root up all true virtue * and honour, or to be contented only with some leaves and withering formalities of them, without any real fruits tending to the public good." Which presents him still in his own words another Rehoboam, softened by a far worse court than Solomon's, and so corrupted by flatteries, which he affirms to be unseparable, to the overturning of all peace, and the loss of his own honour and kingdoms.
That he came therefore thus bred up and nurtured to the throne far worse than Rehoboam, unless he be of those who equalized his father to king Solomon, we have here his own confession. And how voluptuously, how idly reigning in the hands of other men, he either tyrannized or trifled away those seventeen years of peace, without care or thought, as if to be a king had been nothing else in his apprehension, but to eat and drink, and have his will, and take his pleasure; though there be who can relate his domestic life to the exactness of a diary, there shall be here no mention made. This yet we might have then foreseen, that he who spent his leisure so remissly and so corruptly to his own pleasing, would one day or other be worse busied and employed to our sorrow. And that he acted in good earnest what Rehoboam did but threaten, to make his little finger heavier than his father's loins, and to whip us up with two twisted scorpions,
* Mrs. Macauley was right, when she said of Charles I., that "his manners partook of dissipation, and his conversation of the indecency of a court; " for, notwithstanding the panegyrics of Clarendon and Hume, Milton's view of his private character proved to be strictly consonant with the truth of history. In his "Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio," he speaks out more clearly, charging Charles with the grossest libertinism. But this, it may be said, is the account of an enemy. Then let us hear his friends. "Lady Leicester says to her husband, in 1636, 'I have been at court. his majesty (Charles I.) I found an inclination to shew me some kindness, but he could not find the way: at last he told me, that he perceived I was very kind to my husband when he was with me, which kept me very lean, for he thought me much fatter than I used to be. This short speech was worse to me than absolute silence, for I blushed, and was so extremely out of countenance, that all the company laughed at me.""-(Sidney Papers, ii. 472.) And young Lord Sunderland, in the camp, 1642, to his wife: "I never saw the king look better; he is very cheerful, and by the bawdy discourse I thought I had been in the drawing-room." So that, after all, the court of Charles II. sprang naturally enough from that of Charles I.-ED.
both temporal and spiritual tyranny, all his kingdoms have felt. What good use he made afterwards of his adversity, both his impenitence and obstinacy to the end, (for he was no Manasseh,) and the sequel of these his meditated resolutions, abundantly express: retaining, commending, teaching to his son all those putrid and pernicious documents, both of state and of religion, instilled by wicked doctors and received by him as in a vessel nothing better seasoned, which were the first occasion both of his own and all our miseries.
And if he, in the best maturity of his years and understanding made no better use to himself or others of his so long and manifold afflictions, either looking up to God, or looking down upon the reason of his own affairs; there can be no probability, that his son, bred up, not in the soft effeminacies of a court only, but in the rugged and more boisterous licence of undisciplined camps and garrisons, for years unable to reflect with judgment upon his own condition, and thus ill-instructed by his father, should give his mind to walk by any other rules than these, bequeathed him as on his father's death-bed, and as the choicest of all that experience, which his most serious observation and retirement in good or evil days had taught him. David indeed, by suffering without just cause, learned that meekness and that wisdom by adversity, which made him much the fitter man to reign. But they who suffer as oppressors, tyrants, violators of law, and persecutors of reformation, without appearance of repenting, if they once get hold again of that dignity and power, which they had lost, are but whetted and enraged by what they suffered, against those whom they look upon as them that caused their sufferings.*
How he hath been subject to the sceptre of God's word and Spirit," though acknowledged to be the best government; and what his dispensation of civil power hath been, with what justice, and what honour to the public peace, it is but looking back upon the whole catalogue of his deeds, and that will be sufficient to remember us. The cup
How exactly was this verified upon the Restoration! For an account of the public actions of Charles II., we need refer no further than to the common page of history; but nowhere, perhaps, except in the "Memoirs of Grammont," (See Standard Library Edition,) can we find a faithful picture of his private career, soiled by every vice, and dishonoured by every meanness, incident to human nature.-ED.