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fortunes of the deposed house. With this view he applied to Claude De Saumaise, better known by his Latinized name of Salmasius, then a professor in the University of Leyden, to undertake the cause of British royalty. The application was accompanied with a present of a hundred jacobuses, which probably had far less influence in determining the decision of the professor than the honour of advocating the cause of the heir apparent to the throne of England. At all events, in an evil hour he acceded to the proposal. Salmasius was a man of extensive and curious learning, but of essential littlencss of character, and of egregious and importunate vanity; as the result of both he was insolent and pedantic. Had he never been drawn into this controversy, he would have only survived in the prying interest of the book-worm ; as it is, he is immortalized like Icarus, and will be coeval with Milton as a captive chained to the triumphant chariot of his fame. The work of Salmasius was published in the Latin language, and was chtitled “A loyal Defence, addressed to Charles II., on behalf of Charles I.” It was deemed necessary by the Council of State that this production should be replied to in the name of the Conmonwealth, and Milton was again summoned forth to defend the liberties of his country. His reply, entitled “A Defence of the People of England,” is the work by which he was best known to contemporary European states, and which of all his prose writings is still the one most popularly associated with his name. It is one of the noblest cfforts of the human mind, displaying the unexampled combination of patriotism without nationality, religious independence without bigotry, crudition without pedantry, and severity without malice. In the conscious and excited power of his genius, he paralyses his victim with the shock of argument, dwindles him to insignificance by dignity of demeanour, holds him up by his wit to the ridicule of the world, lashes him with his satire, and finally slays him with his eloquence, and buries him beneath a tumulus of learning. This terrible overthrow, combined with the manifest appreciation of it by Queen Christina of Sweden, whose previous favours towards him, passed, as has been suspected, the bounds of modesty, is said to have cost Salmasius his life, and certainly involved a sacrifice to Milton far more deplored by posterity than the death of any court parasite, whether domestic or foreign. Unfortunately for Salmasius, his seduction by Charles II. involved the sin of political apostasy, and thus placed the previous writings of the hired advocate at the disposal of Milton, as an arsenal of poisoned weapons. Of these he avails himself with unsparing fidelity. It has already been shown how deeply ecclesiastical politics entered into the great question at issue; and as Salmasius had already publicly committed himself, Milton demolishes in his preface all the courtly adulations in which the future monarch is promised a spiritual as well as a political ascendancy, by quoting his own words against him:—“There are most weighty reasons why the church ought to lay aside episcopacy, and return to the apostolical institution of presbyters: that a far greater mischief has been introduced into the church by episcopacy, than the schisms themselves were, which were before apprehended: that the plague which episcopacy introduced, depressed the whole body of the church under a miserable tyranny: nay, had put a yoke even upon the necks of kings and princes: that it would be more beneficial to the church, if the whole hierarchy itself were extirpated, than if the pope only, who is the head of it, were laid aside.” In subsequently pursuing the same argument, in its more general aspect, he is naturally led to animadvert on the principles of the Presbyterians, which virtually coincided with the despotic dogmas of his chief antagonist. “They now complain,” he says, “that the sectaries are not extirpated; * Prose Works, vol. i. p. 13.
which is a most absurd thing to expect the magistrates should be able to do, who never yet were able, do what they could, to extirpate avarice and ambition, those two most pernicious heresies, and more destructive to the church than all the rest, out of the very order and tribe of the ministers themselves. For the sects which they inveigh against, I confess there are such amongst us; but they are obscure, and make no noise in the world : the sects that they are of, are public and notorious, and much more dangerous to the church of God. Simon Magus and Diotrephes were the ringleaders of them. Yet are we so far from persecuting these men, though they are pestilent enough, that though we know them to be ill-affected to the government, and desirous of and endeavouring to work a change, we allow them but too much liberty."*
The necessities of the case drove Salmasius to commit himself, without reservation, to the dogma of the Divine right of kings, an absurdity which we have subsequently been taught, by no mean ecclesiastical authority,t to identify with the Divine right of policemen and parish beadles. The essence of Milton's arguments, pursued throughout this treatise against this doctrine, may be thus concisely stated:—Civil government is indeed a Divine ordination, and as such demands a universal homage ; but its claims are regulated by the same fundamental moral principles which bind the duties of subjects, and control individual action ; that the powers that be, varying as they do with the vicissitudes of circumstance, are not to be regarded as individuals, but as functions subsisting under the conditions of unalterable law; that both parties in the social compact are bound by the same cardinal obligations, and that their claims and duties are strictly correlative. The violation of all laws, human and Divine, on the part of the first Charles, drove Salmasius for mere shelter to the doctrine of Divine right of kings; and the same melancholy history supplied Milton with the aptest illustration of the * Prose Works, vol. i. p. 27.
+ Archdeacon Paley.
great principle he maintained. “If," he says, “whatever a king has a mind to do, the right of kings will bear him out in, (which was a lesson that the bloody tyrant, Antoninus Caracalla, though his step-mother Julia preached it to him, and endeavoured to inure him to the practice of it, by making him commit incest with herself, yet could hardly suck in,) then there neither is, nor ever was, that king, that deserved the name of a tyrant. They may safely violate all the laws of God and man: their very being kings keeps them innocent. What crime was ever any of them guilty of? They did but make use of their own right upon their own vassals. No king can commit such horrible cruelties and outrages, as will not be within this right of kings. So that there is no pretence left for any complaints or expostulations with any of them. And dare you assert, that *this right of kings,' as you call it, “is grounded upon the law of nations, or rather upon that of nature, you bruto beast? for you deserve not the name of a man, that are so cruel and unjust towards all those of your own kind; that endeavour, as much as in you lies, so to bear down and vilify the whole race of mankind, that were made after the image of God, as to assert and maintain those cruel and unmerciful taskmasters, that through the superstitious whimsies, or sloth, or treachery of some persons, get into the chair, are provided and appointed by Nature herself, that mild and gentle mother of us all, to be the governors of those nations they enslave. By which pestilent doctrine of yours, having rendered them more fierce and untractable, you not only enable them to make havoc of, and trample under foot, their miserable subjects; but endeavour to arm them for that very purpose with the law of nature, the right of kings, and the very constitutions of government, than which nothing can be more impious or ridiculous.”* And so again, “Bad kings indeed, though to cast some terror into people's minds, and beget a reverence of themselves, they declare to the world,
Prose Works, vol. i. pp. 31, 32.
that God only is the author of kingly government; in their hearts and minds they reverence no other deity but that of Fortune, according to that passage in Horace :
'Te Dacus asper, te profugi Scythæ,
Regumque matres barbarorum, et
Purpurei metuunt tyranni.
Concitet, imperiumque frangat.' "So that if it is by God that kings now-a-days reign, it is by God too that the people assert their own liberty ; since all things are of him and by him. I am sure the Scripture bears witness to both ; that by him kings reign, and that by him they are cast down from their thrones. And yet experience teaches us, that both these things are brought about by the people, oftener than by God. Be this right of kings, therefore, what it may, the right of the people is as much from God as it. And whenever any people, without some visible designation of God himself, appoint a king over them, they have the same right to put him down, that they had to set him up at first. And certainly it is a more godlike action to depose a tyrant than to set up one: and there appears much more of God in the people, when they depose an unjust prince, than in a king that oppresses an innocent people. Nay the people have a warrant from God to judge wicked princes; for God has conferred this very honour upon those that are dear to him, that, celebrating the praises of Christ their own king, “they shall bind in chains the kings of the nations,” (under which appellation all tyrants under the gospel are included,) and execute the judgments written upon them that challenge to themselves an exemption from all written laws,' Psa. cxlix. So that there is but little reason left for that wicked and foolish opinion, that kings, who commonly are the worst of men, should be 60 high in God's account, as that he should have put the world under them, to be at their beck, and be governed