Page images
PDF
EPUB

doings will be rough and dangerous, the baiting of a satire. And if the work seem more trivial or boisterous than for this discourse, let the Remonstrant thank the folly of this confuter, who could not let a private word pass, but he must make all this blaze of it. I had said, that because the Remonstrant was so much offended with those who were tart against the prelates, sure he loved toothless satires, which I took were as improper as a toothed sleekstone. This champion from behind the arras* cries out, that those toothless satires were of the Remonstrant's making; and arms himself here tooth and nail, and horn to boot, to supply the want of teeth, or rather of gums in the satires ; and for an onset tells me,

that the simile of a sleekstone “shows I can be as bold with a prelate as familiar with a laundress. But does it not argue rather the lascivious promptness of his own fancy, who, from the harmless mention of a sleekstone, could neigh out the remembrance of his old conversation among the viragian trollops ? For me, if he move me, I shall claim his own oath, the oath ex officio, against any priest or prelate in the kingdom, to have ever as much hated such pranks as the best and chastest of them all. That exception which I made against toothless satires, the confuter hopes I had from the satirist, but is far deceived: neither have I ever read the hobbling distich which he means.

For this good hap I had from a careful education, to be inured and seasoned betimes with the best and elegantest authors of the learned tongues, and thereto brought an ear that could measure a just cadence, and scan without articulating: rather nice and humorous in what was tolerable, than patient to read every drawling versifier. Whence lighting upon this title of “ toothless satires,” I will not conceal ye what I thought, readers, that sure this must be some sucking satyr, who might have done better to have used his coral, and made an end of teething, ere he took upon him to wield a satire’s whip. But when I heard him talk of “ scouring the rusty swords of elvish knights," do not blame me if I changed my thought, and concluded him some desperate cutler. But why “his scornful muse could never abide with

* Alluding to the scene in Hamlet, where Polonius ensconces himself behind the arras, to watch the conduct of the prince during the interview with lais mother.-En.

tragic shoes her ancles for to hide,” the pace of the verse told me that her mawkin knuckles were never shapen to that royal huskin. And turning by chance to the sixth satire of his second book, I was confirmed; where having begun loftily “ in heaven's universal alphabet,” he falls down to that wretched poorness and frigidity, as to talk of “ Bridge-street in heaven, and the ostler of heaven," and there wanting other matter to catch him a heat, (for certain he was in the frozen zone miserably benumbed,) with thoughts lower than any beadle betakes him to whip the signposts of Cambridge alehouses, the ordinary subject of freshmen's tales, and in a strain as pitiful. Which for him who would be counted the first English satire, to abase himself to, who might have learned better among the Latin and Italian satirists, and in our own tongue from the “ Vision and Creed of Pierce Plowman,” besides others before him, manifested a presumptuous andertaking with weak and unexamined shoulders. For a satire as it was born out of a tragedy,* so ought to resemble his parentage, to strike high, and adventure dangerously at the most eminent vices among the greatest persons, and not to creep into every blind tap-house, that fears a constable more than a satire. But that such a poem should be toothless, I still affirm it to be a bull, t taking away the essence of that which it calls itself. For if it bite neither the persons nor the vices, how is it a satire? And if it bite either, how is it toothless ? So that toothless satires are as much as if he had said hle teeth. What we should do, therefore, with this learned comment upon teeth and horns, which hath brought this confutant into his pedantic kingdom of cornucopia, to reward him for glossing upon horns even to the Hebrew root, I know not; unless we should commend him to be lecturer in Eastcheap upon St. Luke's day, when they send their tri

* He here adopts the idea, advanced by Aristotle, (Poet. i. $ 7,) that satire sprung out of the old form of tragedy. But the Greek satires were a species of farce, as we may judge from the Cyclops of Euripides, and had little in common with what was denominated satire among the Romans. “ Satyra-Fuit ejusmodi, ut in ea, quamvis duro et agresti joco, tamen vitia hominum, sine ullo proprii nominis titulo, carperentur, atque per scirpos, et ænigmata, magnæ res describerentur."--De Theatro, Tract. Var. Lat.-Conf. Rigalt. Dissert. de Satyr. Juvenai.-ED.

† Milton is the oldest author in whom we have discovered the jocular substitution of bull for blunder,-ED,

bute to that famous haven by Deptford. But we are not like to escape him so; for now the worm of criticism works in him, he will tell us the derivation of “ German rutters, of meat, and of ink,” which doubtless, rightly applied with some gall in it, may prove good to heal this tetter of pedagogism that bespreads him, with such a tenesmus of originating, that if he be an Arminian, and deny original sin, all the etymologies of his book shall witness, that his brain is not meanly tainted with that infection.

His seventh section labours to cavil out the flaws which were found in the Remonstrant's logic; who having laid down for a general proposition, that “civil polity is variable and arbitrary," from whence was inferred logically upon him, that he had concluded the polity of England to be arbitrary, for general includes particular; here his defendant is not ashamed to confess, that the Remonstrant's proposition was sophistical by a fallacy called ad plures interrogationes. which sounds to me somewhat strange, that a Remonstrant of that pretended sincerity should bring deceitful and doubledealing propositions to the parliament. The truth is, he had . let slip a shrewd passage ere he was aware, not thinking the conclusion would turn upon him with such a terrible edge, and not knowing how to wind out of the briers, he, or his substitute, seems more willing to lay the integrity of his logic to pawn, and grant a fallacy in his own major, where none is, than to be forced to uphold the inference. For that distinction of possible and lawful, is ridiculous to be sought for in that proposition; no man doubting that it is possible to change the form of civil polity; and that it is held lawful by that major, the word “arbitrary” implies. Nor will this help him to deny that it is arbitrary, " at any time, or by any undertakers," (which are the limitations invented by him since,) for when it stands as he would have it now by his second edition, “ civil polity is variable, but not at any time or by any undertakers," it will result upon him, belike then at some time, and by some undertakers it may. And so he goes on mincing the matter, till he mects with something in Sir Francis Bacon; then he takes heart again, and holds his major at large. But by and by, as soon as the shadow of Sir Francis hath left him, he falls off again, warping and warping, till he come to contradict himself in diameter; and

denies flatly that it is “either variable or arbitrary, being once settled?” Which third shift is no less a piece of laughter : for, before the polity was settled, how could it be variable, whenas it was no polity at all, but either an anarchy or a tyranny? That limitation, therefore, of after-settling, is a mere tantology. So that, in fine, his former assertion is now recanted, and “civil polity is neither variable nor arbitrary.”

Whatever else may persuade me, that this Confutation was not made without some assistance or advice of the Remonstrant, yet in this eighth section that his hand was not greatly intermixed, I can easily believe. For it begins with this surmise, that “not having to accuse the Remonstrant to the king, I do it to the parliament:" which conceit of the man clearly shoves the king out of the parliament, and makes two bodies of one.

Whereas the Remonstrant, in the epistle to his last “ Short Answer,” gives his supposal, “ that they can. not be severed in the rights of their several concernments.” Mark, readers, if they cannot be severed in what is several, (which casts a bull's eye to go yoke with the toothless satires,) how should they be severed in their common concernments, the welfare of the land, by due accusation of such as are the common grievances, among which I took the Remonstrant to be one? And therefore if I accused him to the parliament, t was the same as to accuse him to the king.

Next he casts it into the dish of I know not whom, “that they flatter some of the house, and libel others whose consciences made them vote contrary to some proceedings.” Those some proceedings can be understood of nothing else but the deputy's execution.* And can this private concoctor of malecontent, at the very instant when he pretends to extol the parliament, afford thus to blur over, rather than to mention that public triumph of their justice and constancy, so high, so glorious, so reviving to the fainted commonwealth, with such a suspicious and murmuring expression as to call it some proceedings? And yet immediately he falls to glossing, as if he were the only man that rejoiced at these times. But I shall discover to ye, readers, that this his praising of them is

as full of nonsense and scholastic foppery, as his meaning he himself discovers to be full of close malignity. His first

* The Earl of Strafford's execution in 1640.—ED.

encomium is, “ that the sun looks not upon a braver, nobler convocation than is that of king, peers, and commons.”

One thing I beg of ye, readers, as ye bear any zeal to learning, to elegance, and that which is called decorum in the writing of praise, especially on such a noble argument, ye would not be offended, though I rate this cloistered lubber according to his deserts. Where didst thou learn to be so aguish, so pusillanimous, thou losel bachelor of art, as against all custom and use of speech to term the high and sovereign court of parliament, a convocation ? Was this the flower of all the synonimas and voluminous papers, whose best folios are predestined to no better end than to make winding-sheets in Lent for pilchers ?* Couldst thou presume thus, with one word's speaking, to clap, as it were under hatches, the king with all his peers and gentry into square caps and monkish hoods? How well dost thou now appear to be a chip of the old block, that could find “ Bridge Street and alehouses in neaven?” Why didst thou not, to be his perfect imitator, liken the king to the vice-chancellor, and the lords to the doctors ? Neither is this an indignity only, but a reproach, to call that inviolable residence of justice and liberty by such an odious name as now a 56 convocation” is become, which would be nothing injured, though it were styled the house of bondage, whereout so many cruel tasks, so many unjust burdens have been laden upon the bruised consciences of so many Christians throughout the land.

But which of those worthy deeds, whereof we and our posterity must confess this parliament to have done so many and so noble, which of those memorable acts comes first into his praises ? None of all, not one. What will he then praise them for? Not for anything doing, but for deferring to do, for deferring to chastise his lewd and insolent compriests : not that they have deferred all, but that he hopes they will remit what is yet behind. For the rest of his oratory that follows, so just is it in the language of stall epistle nonsense, that if he who made it can understand it, I deny not but that he may ,deserve for his pains a cast doublet. When a man would look he should vent something of his own, as ever in a set speech the manner is with him that knows anything ; he, lest we should not take notice enough of his barren stupidity, de * They still continued to eat fish in Lent, like the Roman Catholics.-ED.

« PreviousContinue »