« PreviousContinue »
or of Rome; but about to address in this as I did in my former defence, the whole collective body of people, cities, ftates, and councils of the wife and eminent, through the wide expanfe of anxious and liftening Europe. I seem to furvey as from a towering height, the far extended tracts of fea and land, and innumerable crowds of fpectators, betraying in their looks the livelieft intereft, and fenfations the most congenial with my own. Here I behold the ftout and manly prowess of the Germans, difdaining fervitude; there the generous and lively impetuofity of the French; on this fide, 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, fome fecretly favour, others openly approve; fome greet me with congratulations and applaufe; others, who had long been proof against conviction, at last yield themfelves captive to the force of truth. Surrounded by congregated mul titudes, I now imagine, that, from the columns of Hercules, to the Indian ocean, I behold the. nations of the earth, recovering that liberty which they fo long had loft; and that the people of this island, are tranfporting 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 diffeminating the bleflings of civilization and freedom among cities, kingdoms, and nations. Nor fhall I approach unknown, nor perhaps unloved, if it be told that I am the fame perfon, who engaged in fingle combat that fierce advocate of defpotifm; till then reputed invincible in the opinion of many, and in his own conceit; who infolently challenged us and our armies to the combat; but whom, while I repelled his virulence, I filenced with his own weapons; and over whom, if I may trust to the opinions of impartial judges, I gained a complete and glorious victory. That, this is the plain unvarnished fact appears from this; that, after the most noble queen of Sweden, than whom there neither is, nor ever was a perfonage more attached to literature and to learned men, had invited Salmafius or Salmafia, (for to which sex he belonged
belonged is a matter of uncertainty,) to her court, where he was received with great diftinction, my defence fuddenly furprized him in the midst of his fecurity. It was generally read, and by the queen among the reft, who, attentive to the dignity of her station, let the stranger experience no diminution of her former kindness and munificence. But, with refpect to the reft, if I may affert what has been often told, and was matter of public notority, fuch a change was inftantly effected in the public fentiment, that he, who but yefterday flourished in the highest degree of favour, feemed to day to wither in neglect; and foon after receiving permiffion to depart, he left it doubtful among many, whether he were more honoured when he came, or more difgraced when he went away; and even in other places it is clear, that it occa fioned no fmall lofs to his reputation; and all this I have mentioned, not from any futile motives of vanity or oftentation, but that I might clearly fhow, as I propofed in the beginning, what momentous reafons I had for commencing this work with an effufion of gratitude to the father of the universe. Such a preface was most honourable and appropriate, in which I might prove, by an enumeration of particulars, that I had not been without my fhare of human mifery; but that I had, at the same time, experienced fingular marks of the divine regard; that in topics of the higheft concern, the most connected with the exigencies of my country, and the moft beneficial to civil and religious liberty; the fupreme wisdom and beneficence had invigorated and enlarged my faculties, to defend the deareft interefts, not merely of one people, but of the whole human race, against the enemies of human liberty; as it were in a full concourfe of all the nations on the earth: And I again invoke the fame Almighty Being, that I may ftill be able with the fame integrity, the fame diligence, and the fame fuccefs, to defend thofe actions which have been fo gloriously atchieved; while I vindicate the authors as well as myfelf, whofe name has been affociated with theirs, not fo much for the fake of honour as difgrace, from unmerited ignominy and reproach; but if there are any, who think that it would have been better to have paffed over thefe in filent contempt, I fhould
with them, if they had been difperfed only among agree thofe, who were thoroughly acquainted with our principles and our conduct; but, how were ftrangers to difcover the falfe affertions of our adverfaries? When proper pains have been taken to make the vindication as extenfive as the calumny I think that they will ceafe to think ill of us, and that he will be afhamed of the falfehoods. which he has promulgated; but, if he be paft the feeling of fhame, we may then well leave him to contempt. I fhould fooner have prepared an answer to his invective, if he had not entrenched himfelf in unfounded rumours and: frequent denunciations that Salamafius was labouring at the anvil, and fabricating new libels against us, which would foon make their appearance; by which he obtained only a fhort delay of vengeance and of punifh ment; for I thought it right to referve my whole ftrength unimpaired against the more potent adversary. But the conflict between me and Salamafius is now finally termi nated by his death; and I will not write against the dead; nor will I reproach him with the lofs of life as he did me with the lofs of fight; though there are fome, who impute his death to the penetrating feverity of my ftrictures, which he rendered only the more fharp by his endeavours to refift. When he faw the work which he had in hand proceed flowly on, the time of reply elapsed, the public curiofity fubfided, his fame marred, and his reputation loft; the favour of the princes, whose cause he had fo ill-defended, alienated, he was destroyed after three years of grief rather by the force of depreffion than difeafe. However this may be, if I muft wage even a posthumous war with an enemy whofe ftrength I fo well know, whofe moft vigorous and impetuous attacks I fo easily sustained, there feems no reason why I should dread the languid exertions of his dying hour.
But now, at laft, let us come to this thing, whatever it . may be, that provokes us to the combat; though I hear, indeed, the cry not of the royal blood, as the title pretends, but that of fome skulking and drivelling mifcreant. Well, I befeech, who are you? a man or nobody at all? Certainly one of the dregs of men, for even flaves are not without a name. Shall I always have to contend with
anonymous fcribblers? though they would willingly indeed pass for kings men, but I much doubt whether they can make kings believe that they are. The followers and
friends of kings are not afhamed of kings. How then are thefe the friends of kings? They make no contributions? they more willingly receive them; they will not even lend their names to the fupport of the royal caufe. What then? they support it by their pen; but even this service they have not fufficient liberality to render gratuitously to their kings; nor have they the courage to affix their names to their productions. But though, O anonymous Sirs! I might plead the example of your Claudius, who compofed a plaufible work concerning the rights of kings, but without having respect enough either for me or for the fubject to put his name to the production, I fhould think it fcandalous to undertake the difcuffion of fo weighty a subject, while I concealed my name. What I, in a republic, openly attempt against kings, why do you in a monarchy, and under the patronage of kings, not dare to do except clandeftinely and by stealth? Why do you, trembling with apprehenfion in the midst of fecurity, and feeking darkness in the midst of light, depreciate the power and the majesty of fovereigns by a cowardice, which muft excite both hatred and diftruft? Do you fufpect that you have no protection in the power of kings? But furely, thus fkulking in obfcurity and prowling in difguife, you feem to have come not fo much as advocates to maintain the right of kings as thieves to rob the treasury. What I am, I ingenuously profess to be. The prerogative which I deny to kings, I would perfift in denying in any legitimate monarchy; for no fove reign could injure me without first condemning himself by a confeffion of his defpotifm. If I inveigh against tyrants, what is this to kings? whom I am far from affo ciating with tyrants. As much as an honest man differs from a rogue, fo much I contend that a king differs from a tyrant. Whence it is clear, that a tyrant is so far from being a king, that he is always in direct oppofition to a king. And he who peruses the records of history, will find that more kings have been fubverted by tyrants than by their fubjects. He, therefore, who would authorise
the destruction of tyrants, does not authorise the deftruction of kings, but of the moft inveterate enemies to kings. But that right, which you concede to kings, the right of doing what they please, is not justice, but injustice, ruin and despair. By that envenomed prefent you yourselves destroy those, whom you extol as if they were above the reach of danger and oppreffion; and you quite obliterate the difference between a king and a tyrant, if you invest both with the fame arbitrary power. For, if a king does not exercise that power, (and no king will exercise it as long as he is not a tyrant,) the power must be afcribed, not to the king, but to the individual. For, what can be imagined more abfurd than that regal prerogative, which, if any one ufes, as often as he wishes to act the king, fo often he ceases to be an honest man; and, as often as he chooses to be an honeft man, so often he must evince that he is not a king? Can any more bitter reproach be caft upon kings? He, who maintains this prerogative, must himself be a monster of injustice and iniquity; for how can there be a worse person than him, who must himself first verify the exaggerated picture of atrocity, which he delineates? But if every good man, as an ancient fect of philofophers magnificently taught, is a king, it follows that every bad one is, according to his capacity, a tyrant; nor does the name of tyrant fignify any thing foaring or illuftrious, but the meanest reptile on the earth; for in proportion as he is great, he is contemptible and abject. Others are vicious only for themselves: but tyrants are vicious, not only for themselves, but are even involuntarily obliged to participate in the crimes of their importunate menials and favourites, and to entrust certain portions of their defpotifm to the vileft of their dependants. Tyrants are thus the most abject of flaves, for they are the fervants of those who are themselves in fervitude. This name therefore may be rightly applied to the most infignificant pugilift of tyranny, or even to this brawler; who, why he fhould fo ftrenuously clamour for the interefts of defpotism, will fufficiently appear from what has been faid already, and what will be faid in the fequel; as also why this hireling chooses to conceal his name. Treading in the VOL. VI.