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may the better be at leisure to stay a while, and hear him commenting upon his own captivity.
He saith of his surprisal, that it was a motion eccentric. and irregular.” What then? his own allusion from the celestial bodies puts us in mind, that irregular motions may be necessary on earth sometimes, as well as constantly in heaven. That is not always best, which is most regular to written law. Great worthies heretofore, by disobeying law, ofttimes have saved the commonwealth ; and the law afterward by firm decree hath approved that planetary motion, that unblamable exorbitancy in them.
He means no good to either independent or presbyterian, and yet his parable, like that of Balaam, is overruled to portend them good, far beside his intention. Those twins, that strove enclosed in the womb of Rebecca, were the seed of Abraham: the younger undoubtedly gained the heavenly birthright; the elder, though supplanted in his simile, shall yet no question find a better portion than Esau found, and far above his uncircumcised prelates.
He censures, and in censuring seems to hope it will be an ill omen, that they who built Jerusalem divided their tongues and hands. But his hope failed him with his example; for that there were divisions both of tongues and hands at the building of Jerusalem, the story would have certified him; and yet the work prospered ; and, if God will, so may this, notwithstanding all the craft and malignant wiles of Sanballat and Tobiah, adding what fuel they can to our dissensions; or the indignity of his comparison, that likens us to those seditious zealots, whose intestine fury brought destruction to the last Jerusalem.
It being now no more in his hand to be revenged on his opposers, he seeks to satiate his fancy with the imagination of some revenge upon them from above; and, like one who in a drouth observes the sky, he sits and watches when anything will drop, that might solace him with the likeness of a punishment from heaven upon us ; which he straight expounds how he pleases. No evil can befall the parliament or city but he positively interprets it a judgment upon them for his sake; as if the very manuscript of God's judgments had been delivered to his custody and exposition. But bis reading declares it well to be a false copy which he uses ; dispensing often io his own
bad deeds and successes the testimony of divine favour, and to the good deeds and successes of other men divine wrath and vengeance.
But to counterfeit the hand of God is the boldest of all forgery:* And he who without warrant but his own fantastic surmise, takes upon him perpetually to unfold the secret and unsearchable mysteries of high providence, is likely for the most part to mistake and slander them; and approaches to the madness of those reprobate thoughts that would wrest the sword of justice out of God's hand, and employ it more justly in their own conceit. It was a small thing to contend with the parliament about the sole power of the militia, when we see him doing little less than laying hands on the weapons of God himself
, which are his judgments, to wield and manage them by the sway and bent of his own frail cogitations. Therefore “they that by tumults first occasioned the raising of armies” in his doom must needs " be chastened by their own army for new tumults.”
First, note here his confession, that those tumults were the first occasion of raising armies, and by consequence that he himself raised them first, against those supposed tumults. But who occasioned those tumults, or who made them so, being at first nothing more than the unarmed and peaceable concourse of people, hath been discussed already. And that those pretended tumults were chastised by their own army for new tumults, is not proved by a game at tic-tac with words; "tumults and armies, armies and tumults,” but seems more like the method of a justice irrational than divine.
If the city were chastened by the army for new tumults, the reason is by himself set down evident and immediate, 6 their new tumults." With what sense can it be referred then to another far-fetched and imaginary cause, that happened so many years before, and in his supposition only as à cause? Manlius defended the capitol and the Romans
* This passage, and what follows, approaching the prophetic style of eloquence, display an awful grandeur, which nothing in our language can surpass. In the same spirit, but with far less vigour, Pope exclaims to the proud reasoner
“ Snatch from His hand the balance and the rod,
(Essay on Man. Book I. v. 121, seq.)-ED.
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 å 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 acci- . dent 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 pursned 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
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 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,
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 establishnient of the present constitution in 1688, fourteen years after he had been gathered to his fathers.Ed.