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of argument in such courtly antagonists, which to convince might add to his reputation. Kings most commonly, though strong in legionis, * are but weak at argument; as they who ever have accustomed from their cradle to use their will only as their right hand, their reason always as their left. Whence unexpectedly constrained to that kind of combat, they prove but weak and puny adversaries: nevertheless, for their sakes,
3 who through custom, simplicity, or want of better teaching, have not more seriously considered kings, than in the gaudy name of majesty, and admire them and their doings, as if they breathed not the same breath with other mortal men, I shall make no scruple to take up (for it seems to be the challenge both of him and all his party) to take up this gauntlet, though a king's, in the behalf of liberty and the commonwealth.
And further, since it appears manifestly the cunning drift of a factious and defeated party, to make the same advantage of his book which they did before of his regal name and authority, and intend it not so much the defence of his former actions, as the promoting of their own future designs; (making thereby the book their own rather than the king's, as the benefit now must be their own more than his;) now the third time to corrupt and disorder the minds of weaker men, by new suggestions and narrations, either falsely or fallaciously representing the state of things to the dishonour of this present government, and the retarding of a general peace, so needful to this afflicted nation, and so nigh obtained; I suppose it no injury to the dead, but a good deed rather to the living, if by better information given them, or, which is enough, by only remembering them the truth of what they themselves know to be here + misaffirmed, they may be kept writes as 'twere with his sceptre.” (Curiosities of Literature, ii, 27, 28.) I hope Mr. D’Israeli has read these controversial pieces, since he adopts Collier's opinion of them : I candidly confess I have not.-ED.
* Milton here alludes to the following anecdote: “There was a philosopher that disputed with Hadrian the einperor, and did it but weakly. One of his friends, that had been by, afterwards said to him—Methinks you were not like yourself, last day, in argument with the emperor. I could have answered better myself.' “Why,' said the philosopher, would you have me contend with him that commands thirty legions ?'” (Apoph. thegms, New and Old, No. 160.) Mr. D’Israeli would have thought it some distinction for an obscure philosopher to be confuted by an emperor-by one who could argue with his sceptre.-ED,
+ That is, in the “Eikon Basilikè,” the book he had undertaken to confute.
from entering the third time unadvisedly into war and bloodshed. For as to any moment of solidity in the book itself, (save only that a king is said to be the author, a name than which there needs no more among the blockish vulgar, to make it wise, and excellent, and admired, nay to set it next the Bible, though otherwise containing little else but the common grounds of tyranny and
the better to deceivė, in a new protestant guise, trimly garnished over,) or as to any need of answering, in respect of staid and well-principled men, I take it on me as a work assigned* rather, than by me chosen or affected : which was the cause both of beginning it so late, and finishing it so leisurely in the midst of other employments and diversions.
And though well it might have seemed in vain to write at all, considering the envy and almost infinite prejudice likely to be stirred up among the common sort,t against whatever can be written or gainsaid to the king's book, so advantageous to a book it is only to be a king's; and though it be an irksome labour, to write with industry and judicious pains, that which, neither weighed nor well read, shall be judged without industry or the pains of well-judging, by faction and
* In the Second Defence of the People of England, he thus alludes to the origin of the present work. “I had already finished four books, (of the History of England,) when after the subversion of the monarchy, and the establishment of a republic, I was surprised by an invitation from the council of state, who desired my services in the office for foreign affairs. A book appeared soon after, which was ascribed to the king, and contained the most invidious charges against the parliament. I was ordered to answer it; and opposed the Eikonoklastes to the Eikon.”—ED.
7 Dr. Symmons, after dwelling on the impolicy of putting Charles I. to death, since such a transaction could not fail to excite, among so generous a people as the English, great commiseration for the sufferer, (see Clarendon's Hist. dc. vi. 240,) goes on, however, to characterize Milton's work, as follows : “ The Eikonoklastes, or Image-breaker, which was the apposite title affixed to this refutation of the imputed work of royal authorship, may be regarded as one of the most perfect and powerful of Milton's controversial compositions. Pressing closely on its antagonist, and tracing him step by step, it either exposes the fallacy of his reasoning, or the falsehood of his asserti or the hollowness of his professions, or the convenient speciousness of his devotion. In argument and in style compressed and energetic, perspicuous and neat, it discovers a quickness which never misses an advantage, and a keenness of remark which carries an irresistible edge. It cannot certainly be read by any man, whose reason is not wholly under the dominion of prejudice, without its enforcing a conviction unfavourable to the royal party." (Life of Milton, p. 322, 323.)ED.
easy literature of custom and opinion; it shall be ventured yet, and the truth not smothered, but sent abroad, in the native confidence of her single self, to earn, how she can, her entertainment in the world, and to find out her own readers : few perhaps, but those few, of such value and substantial worth, as truth and wisdom, not respecting numbers and big names, have been ever wont in all ages to be contented with.
And if the late king had thought sufficient those answers and defences made for him in his lifetime, they who on the other side accused his evil government, judging that on their behalf enough also hath been replied, the heat of this controversy was in all likelihood drawing to an end; and the further mention of his deeds, not so much unfortunate as faulty, had in tenderness to his late sufferings been willingly forborne; and perhaps for the present age might have slept with him unrepeated, while his adversaries, calmed and assuaged with the success of their cause, had been the less unfavourable to his memory.
But since he himself, making new appeal to truth and the world, hath left behind him this book, as the best advocate and interpreter of his own actions, and that his friends, by publishing, dispersing, commending, and almost adoring it, seem to place therein the chief strength and nerves of their cause; it would argue doubtless in the other party great deficience and distrust of themselves, not to meet the force of his reason in any field whatsoever, the force and equipage of whose arms they have so often met victoriously; And he who at the bar stood excepting against the form and manner of his judicature, and complained that he was not heard ;* neither he nor his friends shall have that cause now
* See in Clarendon, (History, vol. vi. p.230. sqq.) the particulars of the trial as described by a most zealous partisan. This writer observes, that “when he was first brought to Westminster-hall, which was upon the twentieth of January, before their high court of justice, he looked upon them, and sat down, without any manifestation of trouble, never stirring his hat ; all the impudent judges sitting covered, and fixing their eyes upon him, without the least show of respect. When the charge had been read, and the king was asked, “ What answer he had to make to that impeachment ?” he, “without any alteration in his countenance by all that insolent provocation, told them, "he would first know of them by what authority they presumed by force to bring him before them, and who gave them power to judge of his actions, for which he was accountable to none but God : though they had been always such as he need not be ashamed to own them before all the world." -ED.
to find fault, being met and debated with in this open and monumental court of his erecting; and not only heard uttering his whole mind at large, but answered : which to do effectually, if it be necessary, that to his book nothing the more respect be had for being kis, they of his own party can have no just reason to exclaim.
For it were too unreasonable that he, because dead, should have the liberty in his book to speak all evil of the parliament; and they, because living, should be expected to have less freedom, or any for them, to speak home the plain truth of a full and pertinent reply. As he, to acquit himself, hath not spared his adversaries to load them with all sorts of blame and accusation, so to him, as in his book alive, there will be used no more courtship than he uses; but what is properly his own guilt, not imputed any more to his evil counsellors,* (a ceremony used longer by the parliament than he himself desired,) shall be laid here without circumlocutions at his own door. That they who from the first beginning, or but now of late, by what unhappiness I know not, are so much affatuated, not with his person only, but with his palpable faults, and doté
Speaking of the early part of Charles the First's reign, Clarendon ob. serves, that the “proclamation, at the breaking up of the last parliament, and which was commonly understood to inhibit all men to speak of another parliament, produced tv!o very ill effects of different natures,” which he goes on to describe. (vol. i. p. 118, 899.) Upon this passage Warburton remarks : “ That this interpretation of the proclamation concerning parliaments, that the king intended that the people should think no more of them than he did,” (he means “ was correct,”) “ appears plainly from the following fact. In the year 1633, the king agreed upon a draught (which was by his direction drawn up by his ministers) of a circular letter for a voluntary contribution to the support of the Queen of Bohemia and her children ; which, to put the people in better humour, concluded with these words: “after our having so long forborne to demand any of them (the peo. ple) for foreign affairs; assuring them that as the largeness of their free gift will be a clear evidence to us of the measure of their affections towards us,' (no doubt! that is the way to measure affection,) which we esteem our greatest happiness, so their forwardness to assist us in this kind, shall not make us more backward to require their aid in another way, no less agreeable to us than to them, when the seuson shall be proper for it.' This paragraph the king struck out of the draught, and with his own hand hath added these words; I have scored out these eight lines, as not judging them fit to pass. See the Clarendon collection of State Papers. (vol. i. 8vo. published 1767, p. 113.)" He had no objection to send out begging circulars for money, but for their affections, or for their parliaments, where they might best show their affections, he did not judge the least hint at such a desire “ fit to pass.” -En.
upon his deformities, may have none to blame but their own folly, if they live and die in such a stricken blindness, as next to that of Sodom hath not happened to any sort of men more gross, or more misleading. Yet neither let his enemies expect to find recorded here all that hath been whispered in the court, or alleged openly, of the king's bad actions ; it being the proper scope of this work in hand, not to rip up and relate the misdoings of his whole life, but to answer only and refute the missayings of his book.
First, then, that some men (whether this were by him intended, or by his friends) have by policy accomplished after death that revenge upon their enemies, which in life they were not able, hath been oft related. And among other examples we find, that the last will of Cæsar being read to the people, and what bounteous legacies he had bequeathed them, wrought more in that vulgar audience to the avenging of his death, than all the art he could ever use to win their favour in his lifetime. And how much their intent, who published these over-late apologies and meditations of the dead king, drives to the same end of stirring up the people to bring him that honour, that affection, and by consequence that revenge to his dead corpse, which he himself living could never gain to his person, it appears both by the conceited portraiture before his book, drawn out of the full measure of a masking scene, and set there to catch fools and silly gazers; and by those Latin words after the end, Vota dabunt quæ
negarunt ; intimating, that what he could not compass by war, he should achieve by his meditations: for in words which admit of various sense, the liberty is ours, to choose that interpretation, which
best mind us of what our restless enemies endeavour, and what we are timely to prevent.
And here may be well observed the loose and negligent curiosity of those, who took upon them to adorn the setting out of this book; for though the picture set in front would martyr him and saint him to befool the people, yet the Latin motto in the end, which they understand not, leaves him, as it were, a politic contriver to bring about that interest, by fair and plausible words, which the force of arms denied him. But quaint emblems and devices, begged from the old pageantry of some twelfthnight's entertainment at Whitehall, will do but ill to make a saint or martyr: and if the people resolve