Billeder på siden

against the King, in defence of the parliament and people of England.

After this he retired again to his private studies ; and thinking that he had leisure enough for such a work, he applied himself to the writing of a history of England, which he intended to deduce from the earliest accounts down to his own times. He had fi nished four books of that history, when, neither court. ing nor expecting any such preferment, he was invited by the council of state to be their Latin secretary for foreign affairs. And he served in the same capacity under Oliver, and Richard, and the Rump, till the restoration; and, without doubt, a better Latin pen could not have been found in the kingdom. For the republic and Cromwell scorned to pay that tribute to "any foreign prince, which is usually paid to the French King, of managing their affairs in his language: they thought it an indignity and meanness, to which this or any free nation ought not to submit; and took a noble resolution, neither to write any letters to any foreign states, nor to receive any answers from them, but in the Latin tongue, which was common to them all. And it would have been well, if fucceeding princes had followed their example; for, in the opinion of very wise men, the universality of the French language will make way for the universality of the French monarchy.

But it was not only in foreign dispatches that the government made use of his pen. He had discharged the business of his office, a very little time before he was called to a work of another kind. For foon after the king's death was published a book under his name, intitled, Errwy Basilien, or, The royal image. This book, like Cæsar's last will, making a deeper impreffion, and exciting greater commiseration in the minds of the people, than the King himself did while alive, Milton was ordered to prepare an answer to it; which was pnblished by authority, and intitled, Enxovoxa$50,5, or, The image-breaker; the fimous firname of many Greek Emperors, who, in their zeal against idolatry broke all superstitious images to pieces. This piece


was translated into French; and two replies to it were published, one in 1657, and the other in 1692, upon the reprinting of Milton's book at Amsterdam.

But his most celebrated work in profe is his Defence of the people of England against Salmasius; Defenfio pro populo Anglicano contra Claudii anonymi, alias Salmasii, defenfionem regiam. Salmafius, by birth a Frenchman, fucceeded the famous Scaliger as honorary Professor of the univerfity of Leyden; had gained great reputation by his Plinian exercitations on Solinus, and by bis critical remarks on several Latin and Greek authors, was generally esteemed one of the greatest and most consummate scholars of that age ; and is commended by Milton himself in his Reason of church-government, and called the learned Salmasius. Besideshis great learning, he had extraordinary talents in railing “ This prince of scholars," as some body faid of him, “ seemed to have erected his throne up

on a heap of stones, that he might have them at es hand to throw at every one's head who passed by.". He was therefore courted by Charles II. as the most able man to write a defence of the late King his father, and to traduce his adversaries; and a hundred jacobuses were given him for that purpose. His book was published in 1649, under the title of Defenfio regia pro Carolo I. ad Carolum II. No sooner did this piece appear in England, but the council of state upani-moufly appointed Milton, then present, to answer it. He performed the task with amazing spirit and vigour, though his health at that time was such, that he could hardly endure the fatigue of writing; and being weak in body, he was forced to write by piece-meal, and to break off almost every hour. This necessarily occalioned fome delay; so that his Defence of the people of England was not made public till the beginning of 1651. They who cannot read the original, may yet have the pleasure to read the English translation by Mr. Washington of the Temple, which was printed in 1692, and is inserted among Milton's works in the two last editions. It was somewhat extraordinary, that Salmasius, a penfioner to a republic, fhould pre


tend to write a defence of monarchy: But the states ihowed their disapprobation by publicly

condemning his book, and ordered it to be fuppreffed. On the other hand, Milton's book was burnt at Paris, and at Thonlouse, by the hands of the common hangman : But this served only to procure it the more readers. It was read and talked of every where ; even they who were of different principles, could not but acknowledge, that he was a good defender of a bad cause. Salmafius's book underwent only one iinpresa fion, while Milton's passed through several editions, On the first appearance of it, he was visited or invited by all the foreign ministers at London, not excepting even those of crowned heads; and was particularly honoured and esteeined by Adrian Paaw, ambassador from the States of Holland. He was likewise highly complimented by letters from the moft learned and ingenious persons in France and Germany; and Leonard Philaras, an Athenian born, and ambaffador from the Duke of Parma to the French king, wrote a fine encomium of his defence, and sent him his pic. ture. And what gave him the greatest fatisfaction, the work was highly applauded by those who had defired him to undertake it; and they made him a prefent of 1000 l. which, in thofe days of frugality, was reckoned no inconfiderable reward for his perfora

But the case was far otherwise with Salmafius. He was then in high favour at the court of Christina Queen of Sweden, who had invited thither feveral of the most learned men of all countries: But when Milton's Defence was brought to Sweden, and was read to the Queen at her own defire, he funk immediately in her elteem, and the opinion of every body; and though he talked big at first, and vowed the destruction of Milton and the parliament, yet finding that he was looked upon with coldness, he thought proper to take leave of the court; and he who came in honour, was dismissed with contempt. He died sometime afterwards at Spa in Germany, and it is said more of a broken heart than of any diftemper; leaving a posthumous reply to Milton, which was not



published till after the restoration, and was dedicated to Charles II. by luis fon Claudius: But it has done no great honour to his memory, abounding with abure much more than argument.

Isaac Voffius, who was at Stockholm when Milton's book was brought thither, in some of his letters to Nicholas Heinsius, says, that he had the only copy of Milton's book, that the Queen borrowed it of him, was very much pleased with it, and commended Milton's wit and manner of writing; and that Salmasius was very angry, and very buty in preparing his answer, wherein he abused Milton as if he had been one of the vilest catamites in Italy, and also criticised his Latin poems. Heinfius writes again to Voffius from Holland, that he wondered that only one copy of Milton's book was brought to Stockholm, when three were sent thither, one to the Queen, another to Voflius, and the third Salmasius; that the book was in every body's hands, and there had been four editions in a few months, besides the English one; that a Dutch translation was handed about, and a French one was expected. Afterwards he writes from Ve. nice, that Holstenius had lent him Milton's Latin poems; that they were nothing, compared with the elegance of his Apology; that he had offended frequently against prosody, and here was a great open. ing for Salmafius's criticism : But as to Milton's having been a catamite in Italy, he says, that it was a mere calumny; on the contrary, he was disliked by the Italians, for the severity of his manners, and for the freedom of his discourses against Popery. In others of his letters Heinsius mentions how angry Salmafius was with him for commending Milton's book; and says, that Graswinkelius had written, something against Milton, which was to have been printed by Elzevir, but it was suppreffed by public authority

The first reply was published in 1651, intitled, An apology for the King and people, &c. Apologio pro rege populo Anglicano, contra Johannis Polypragmatici (alias Milioni Angli) defensionem destructivam regis & populi


this piece.

Anglicani. It is not known who was the author of

Some attributed it to one Janus a lawyer of Gray's-inn, and others to Dr John Bramhall, then Bishop of Derry, and after the restoration Primate of Ireland. But it is utterly improbable, that so mean a performance, written in such barbarous Latin, and so full of solecisms, should come from the hands of a prelate of such distinguished abilities and learning. But, whoever was the author of it, Milton did not think it worth his while to animadvert upon it himself, but employed the younger of his nephews to answer it ; only as he supervised and corrected the answer before it went to the press, it may in a manner be called his own. It came forth in 1652 under this title, Johannis Philippi Angli refponfio ad apologiam anonymi cujufdam tenebrionis pro rege de populo Anglicano infantiffimam. It is printed with Milton's works. Throughout the whole Mr. Philips treats Bp. Bramhall with great severity, as the author of the Apology, thinking probably that lo considerable an adversary would make the answer more considerable.

Sir Robert Filmer likewise published some animad. versions upon Milton's Defence of the People, in a piece printed in 1652, intitled, Observations concerning the original of government, upon Mr. Hobbes's Levia. than, Mr. Milton against Salmufius, and Hugo Grotius de jure belli. But I do not find, that Milton or any of his friends took notice of it. But Milton's quar. rel was afterwards sufficiently avenged by Mr. Locke, who wrote against Sir Robert Filmer's principles of government, more I suppose in condescension to the prejudices of the age, than out of any regard to the weight or importance of Filmer's arguments.

Milton, soon after he was made Latin secretary, re. moved from his house in High Holburn, to an apart. ment appointed for him in Scotland-yard. There his third child, a son, was born, and named John; but, through the ill usage or bad conftitution of the nurse, he died an infant. His own health too was greatly impaired. This made him remove from Scotland. yard to a house in Petty-France, Westminster, for


« ForrigeFortsæt »