Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

bar

courtship and flattery, First, when that only is praised which is solidly worth praise : next, when greatest Tiketihoods are brought that such things are truly and really in those persons to whom they are ascrib d; the other, when he who praises, by shewing that such his actuall perswasion is of whom he writes, can demonstrate that he flatters not; the former two of these I have heretofore endeavour'd, rescuing the employment from him who went about to impaire your merits with a triviall and malignant Encomium.; the latter as belonging chiefly to mine owne acquittall, that whom I so extolld I did not flatter, hath been reserv'd opportunely to this occasion. For he who freely magnifies what hath been nobly done, and fears not to declare as freely what might be done better, gives ye the best Cov'nant of his fidelity; and that his loyalest affection and his hope waits on your pro

[ocr errors]

5

Rescuing the employment from him, &c.] i. e. from Hall, Bishop of Norwich. In the controversy with the Non-conforming Divines, who under the anagrammatic signature of Smectymnuus wrote conjointly against our hierarchical establishment, the Bishop had spoken of the proceedings of the Parliament with cold and faint approbation, such as left scarcely room for a doubt of his secret and sinister bent. This faultering and penurious praise accorded so little with Milton's earnest persuasion of their merits as to call forih, on his part, a glowing panegyric. See Pr. W. I. 121. ed. 1738.

To this recorded testimony of his fidelity to the Parliamentary cause, he is appealing with a just confidence, as vindicating him from all suspicion that he was a Malignant, because now contro. verting the propriety of one of their “ Orders,”

ceedings. His highest praising is not flattery, and his plainest advice is a kinde of praising : for though I should affirme and hold by argument, that it would fare better with Truth, with Learning, and the Commonwealth, if one of your publisht Orders which I should name, were callid in; yet at the same time it could not but much redound to the lustre of

your milde and equall Government, when as private persons are hereby animated to thinke ye better pleas'd with publick advice, then other Statists have been delighted heretofore with publicke flattery. And men will then see what difference there is between the magnanimity of a trienniall Parlamento, and that jealous hautinesse of Prelatęs and cabin Counsellours that usurpt of late, when as

6 See Illustration A.

Cabin counsellours-] That is, chamber-councellors, or councellors who are assembled by the King in a private chamber as it were in the cabin of a ship, to give him advice in matters of state. MASERES.

This was said unadvisedly. The context-" Prelates and “ cabin Counsellours that usurpt of late”-determines that MilTON pointed sarcastically at Laud and at Strafford and the other Individuals associated with them, who composed the Committee of Council, to whose care Charles, previously to the meeting of the Long Parliament, committed the principal management of public affairs, or to speak in the language of to-day, they were the King's Cabinet Ministers ; of whom Clarendon says,

made up the Committee of State, which was reproachfully after called the Junto, and enviously then “in the Court, the Cabinet Council.-Hist. of the Rebellion, I. 233, 8vo.

Milton appears to have shunned French terms; therefore it

o these persons

60

they shall observe yee in the midd'st of your victories and successes more gently brooking writt'n exceptions against a voted Order, then other Courts, which had produc't nothing worth memory but the weake ostentation of wealth", would have endur'd the least signifi'd dislike at any sudden Proclamation. If I should thus farre presume upon the meek de. meanour of your civill and gentle greatnesse, Lords and Commons'! as what your publisht Order hath

was that he wrote cabin for cabinet here, as in Eixovoxidotns: They would not stay perhaps the Spanish demurring, and “ putting off such wholesome acts and counsels, as the Poo “ litic Cabin at Whitehull had no mind to." p. 30, 80o. 1690.

Other Courts which had produc't nothing worth memory but the weake ostentation of wealth,] This I take to be an allusion to the imposing pomp which the Court of Star-Chamber displayed on particular days. In " A Discourse concerning the “ High Court of Star-Chamber," printed in Rushworth, it is observed that, “ It was a glorious sight upon a Star-day, when “ the Knights of the Garter appear with the Stars on their Gar

ments, and the Judges in their Scarlet.”-Hist. Collect. II. 473.

9 The meek demeanour of your civill and gentle greatnesse, Lords and Commons ! ] Civil retains here ils Latin idiom : “cum “ sic hominis natura generata sit, ut habeat quiddam innatum “ quasi civile atque populare, quod Græci Tontinò vocant.”

Cicero; de Fin. Bon. & Mal: lib. 5, sect. 23. And gentle then meant well-born, or of no vulgar rank :

“ Be he ne'er so vile
“ This day shall gentle bis condition."

Shakspeare; Hen. V. A. 4. S. 3.

Again; " There is every dayes experience of Gentlemen

directly said, that to gainsay, I might defend my selfe with ease, if any should accuse me of being new or insolent, did they but know how much better I find ye esteem it to imitate the old and elegant humanity of Greece, then the barbarick pride' of a Hunnish and Norwegian statelines. And

“ born, that are sordid and mean in nature, and of Plebeians " by birth that are genteeld in disposition."-A Commentary on Fortescue De Laudibus Legum Angliæ ; by E. Waterhous, Esq. p. 529. fol. 1663.

The old and elegant humanity of Greece, then the barbarick pride, &c.] By humanity we are to understand courtesy, politeness, a Latin sense; the same as in the acknowlegments he addressed in Cromwell's name to the Count of Oldenburgh for a set of German Horses which that Prince had presented to the Protector :-“cùm quòd essent ipsa singulari erga me humanitate ac benevolentiâ refertæ."-Pr. W. II. 434. ed. 1738. Humane was to convey a similar sense in Par. Lost, II. 109.

Belial, in act more graceful and humane." But the Commentators, from P. Hume downward, bave passed it over, as if they considered it to stand there in the acceptation now received among us.

The Athenians, with a vanity common to every People preemineat in the arts of cultivated lite, regarded all nations but the Greeks as strangers to civilization. With them he who was not a Greek was comprehended under the general appellation of Barbarian.

In this large sense it was that Cato, the Censor, while vehement in bis opposition to the introduction of Grecian Literature at Rome, warned his Son, " quandocumque ista gens suas litteras “ dabit, omnia corrumpet. Tum etiam magis, si medicos suos “ huc mittet. Jurarunt inter se, barbaros necare omnes medicina. “ Et hoc ipsum mercede faciunt, ut fides iis sit, et facile dispers

out of those ages, to whose polite wisdom and letters we ow that we are not yet Gothes and Jutlanders, I could name him who from his private house wrote that Discourse to the Parlament of Athens, that perswades them to change the forme of Democraty which was then establisht”. Such

“ dant. Nos quoque dictitant barbaros, et spurcius nos, quam " alios opicos, adpellatione foedant.”- Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. 39,

cap. 7.

MILTON, then, sets "the elegant humanity of Greece" in opposition to barbarick pride" with exact propriety of this propriety, Warburton, who thought highly of the AREOPAGITICA, and imitated it, seems to have been unaware; for when copying this passage, he gave these phrases a different construction. This was in his “

Enquiry into the Causes of Prodigies and “ Miracles, as related by Historians;" where he remarks, “We " justly pride ourselves in imitating the free Manners and elegant Humanity of Greece and Rome; rather than the barbarous' In“quisitorial Spirit of a Spanish or Italic Hierarchy.”—Tracts by Warburton and a Warburtonian ; p. 96, 8vo. 1789.

2 I could name him who from his privat house wrote that Discourse to the Parlament of Athens, that perswades them to change the forme of Democraty which was then establisht.]

He took this immediately from Dionysius Halicarnasseus; who had said of Isocrates, "Ή τις έκ αν θαυμάσειε την επιβολήν τα ρήτορος; ος ετόλμησε διαλεχθήναι περί πολιτειας Αθηναίοις, αξιών μεταθέσθαι μεν την τότε καθεσωσαν δημοκρατίαν, ως μεγάλα βλάπτεσαν την πόλιν, υπέρ ης των δημαγωγών έδεις επεχείρει neysly'—De Antiquis Oratoribus Commentarii ; p. 83. 1781. Mores's edit. At the same time he might have also remembered Cicero. • Exstitit igitur jam senibus illis, quos paulo ante “ diximus, Isocrates, cujus domus cunctæ Græciæ quasi ludus “ quidam patuit, atque officina dicendi, magnus orator, & per“ fectus magister, quamquam forensi luce caruit, intraque pa

« AnteriorContinuar »