« السابقةمتابعة »
wards he turned Papist in the reign of James II, in order to be that King's printer. It was at that tim; that he used to relate this story; so that, I think, little credit is due to his testimony. And in. deed I cannot but hope and believe, that Milton had a soul above being guilty of so mean an action to serve so mean a purpose; and there is as little rea. son for fixing it upon him, as he had to traduce the King for profaning the duty of prayer “ with the “ polluted trash of romances.” For there are not many finer prayers in the best books of devotion; and the King might as lawfully borrow and apply it to his own occasions as the Apostle might make quotations from Heathen poems and plays : and it became Milton, the least of all men, to bring such an accusation against the King, as he was himself particularly fond of reading romances, and has made use of them in some of the best and latest of his writings.
But his most celebrated work in prose is his Defence of the People of England against Salmasius, Defensio pro Populo Anglicano contra Claudii Anonymi, alias Salmasii, Defensionem Regiam. Salmasius, by birth a Frenchman, succeeded the famous Scaliger as an Ho, norary Professor of the University of Leyden, and had gained great reputation by his Plinian Exercitations on Solinus, and by his critical remarks on several
Latin and Greek authors, and 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. Besides his great learning, he had extraordinary talents in railing. “This prince " of scholars, as somebody said of him, seemed to "s have erected his throne upon a heap of stones, " that he might have them at 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, and the book was published in 1649, with this title, Defensio Regia pro Carolo I. ad Carolum II. No sooner did this book appear in England, but the Council of State unanimously appointed Milton, who was then present, to answer it : and he performed the task with amazing spirit and vigour, though his health at that time was such, that he could hardly indure the fatigue of writing, and being weak in body he was forced to write by piece-meal; and to break off almost every hour, as he says himself in the Introduction. This necessarily occasioned some delay, so that his Defence of the People of England was not made public till the beginning of the year 1651: and they who cannot read the original, may yet have the pleasure of reading 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. somewhat extraordinary, that Salmasius, a pensioner to a Republic, should pretend to write a defence of
Monarchy; but the States showed their disapprobation by publicly condemning his book, and ordering it to be suppressed. On the other hand, Milton's book was burnt at Paris, and at Toulouse, 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, and even they who were of different principles, yet could not but acknowledge that he was a good defender of a bad cause ; and Salmasius's book underwent only one impression, while this of Milton 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 esteemed by Adrian Paaw, Ambassador from the States of Holland. He was likewise highly complimented by letters from the most learned and ingenious persons in France and Germany; and Leonard Philaras, an Athenian born, and Ambassador from the Duke of Parma to the French King, wrote a fine encomium of his Defence, and sent him his picture, as appears from Milton's letter to Philaris, dated at London in June 1652. And what gave him the greatest satisfaction, the work was highly applauded by those who had desired him to undertake it; and they made him a present of a thousand pounds, which, in those days of frugality, was reckoned no inconsiderable reward for his performance. But the case was far otherwise with Salmasius, He was then in high favour af the
Court of Christina Queen of Sweden, who had invited thither several of the most learned men of all wuntries; but when Milton's Defence of the People of England was brought to Sweden, and was read to the Queen, at her own desire, he sunk immediately in her esteem 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 wlio came in honour, was dismissed with contempt. He died some time afterwards at Spa in Germany, and it is said more of a broken heart than of any distemper, leaving a posthumous reply to Milton, which was not published till after the Restoration, and was dedicated to Charles II. by his son Claudius; but it has done no great honour to his memory, abounding with abuse much more than argument.
Isaac Vossius was at Stockholm, when Milton's book was brought thither, and in some of his letters to Nicolas Heinsius, published by Professor Burman in the third tome of his Sylloge Epistolarum, he says, that he had the only copy of Milton's book, that the Queen borrowed it of him, and was very much pleased with it, and commended Milton's wit and manner of writing in the presence of several persons, and that Salmasius was very angry, and very busy 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. Heinsius
writes again to Vossius 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 Vossius which he had received, and the third to 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. And afterwards he writes from Venice, 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 opening for Salmasius'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. And in others of his letters to Vossius and to J. Fr. Gronovius from Holland, Heinsius mentions how angry Salmasius 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 suppressed by public authority.
The first reply that appeared was published in 1651, and intitled, An Apology for the King and People, &c. Apologia pro Rege & Populo Anglicano contra Johannis Polypragmatici (alias Miltoni Angli) Defensionem destructivam Regis & Populi Anglicana.