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legions, and thrones, into their glorious titles, and in super-eminence of heatific vision, progressing the dateless and irrevoluble circle of eternity, shall clasp inseparable hands with joy and bliss, in over-measure for ever."
MILTON A REPUBLICAN.
0(ia readers will by this time have gathered clearly the nature of Milton's politics. He was a Republican; he regarded the people (and not kings and aristocracies;) as the fountain of power, and no doubt this theory is really held by most of the people of England at this day. His "Tenure of Kings and Magistrates'" unfolds the relative duties of kings and people. Sir Egerton Brydges has a remarkable paragraph upon this, the first of Milton's guinea political books; he says :—
"The very title of this treatise is surely in the highest degree objectionable, and does not in these days require any refutation [?] To say
the truth, this is a part of Milton's character which puzzles me—and no other. This bloodthirstiness does not agree with his sanctity, and other mental and moral qualities. I will not say that kings may not be deposed: but Charles I. ought not to have been deposed, much less put to death. In the poet, however, posterity has forgotten the regicide."
The title of book objectionable! So then it seems that despotic baronets will still maintain that kings should rule, and governments exist and exercise power, without inquisition; a very pretty theory truly! But this carries us back to the days of Filmer and Salmasius; they could say but little more; and as to the deposition of kings, if it be objectionable even to enquire into the tenure of their authority, it is not likely that they shall be removed, however unjust may be their reign. All we have learned to know is, that thrones are ever the safest from shock and violence, when standing in the most perfect blaze of inquiry and light.
But Milton saw that a true Republic can only be established by a true people. "For, indeed none can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license, which never hath more scope or more indulgence than under tyrants/1 And it is because he feels and fears the goadings of combined ecclesiastical and civil tyranny to crush the awakened thought of the people, that he writes vehemently.
"In times of opposition, when either against new heresies arising, or old corruptions to bo reformed, this cool, impassioned mildness of positive wisdom is not enough to damp and astonish the proud resistance of carnal and false doctors; then (that I may have leave to soar awhile, as the poets1 use) Zeal, whose substance is ethereal, arming in complete diamond, ascends his fiery chariot, drawn with two blazing meteors, figured like beasts, but of a higher breed than any the Zodiac yields, resembling two of those four which Ezekiel and St. John saw; the one visaged like a lion, to express power, high authority, and indignation; the other, of countenance like a man, to cast derision and scorn upon perverse and fraudulent seducers; with these, the invincible warrior Zeal, shaking loosely the slack reins, drives over the heads of scarlet prelates, and such as are insolent to maintain traditions, bruising their stiff necks under his flaming wheels."
This is, at least, in better taste, and in a better spirit, than his assailants displayed; one of whom, a meek and mitred saint, wrote,— "You that love Christ, and know this miscreant wretch, stone him to death, lest you smart for his impunity."
Great is the faith of Milton; he writes in earnestness; his faith dictates to his energy. He believes that the principles, for which he and his compeers contend, will run coeval with the progress of the English nation; and not only so, but will be hailed with rapture by distant nations, shooting the beams of light far down into the remotest recesses, where despotism holds its citadel in darkness.
"Much as I may be surpassed in the powers of eloquence and copiousness of diction by the illustrious orators of antiquity, yet the subject of which I treat was never surpassed, in any age, in dignity or in interest. It has excited such general and such ardent expectation, that I imagine myself not in the forum or on the rostra, surrounded only by the people of Athens or of Rome, but about to address in this, as I did in my former 'Defence,' the whole collective body of people,—cities, states, and councils of the wise and eminent—through the wide expanse of anxious and listening Europe. I seem to survey, as from a towering height, the far-extended tracts of sea and land, and innumerable crowds of spectators, betraying in their looks the liveliest interest, and sensations the most congenial with my own. Here I behold the stout and manly prowess of the German, disdaining servitude; there, the generous and lively impetuosity of the French; —on this side, the calm and stately valour of the Spaniard; on that, the composed and wary magnanimity of the Italian. Of all the lovers of liberty and virtue, the magnanimous and the wise, in whatever quarter they may be found, some secretly favour, others openly approve; some greet me with congratulations and applause; others, who had long been proof against conviction, at last yield themselves captives to the force of truth. Surrounded by congregated multitudes, 1 now imagine that, from the Columns of Hercules to the Indian Ocean, I behold the nations of the earth recovering that liberty, which they so long had lost; and that the people of this island are transporting to other countries a plant of more beneficial qualities, and more noble growth, than that which Triptolemus is reported to have carried from region to region; that they are disseminating the blessings of civilization and freedom among cities, kingdoms, and nations. Nor shall I approach unknown, nor