« PreviousContinue »
indications that Salmafius, notwithstanding the multiplicity of his reading, was a man of puerile judgment, and without any knowledge of the world; for though he must have read that the chief magiftrates, in the well-arranged government of Sparta, were always wont to afcribe to fome virtuous citizen the merit of every good faying which the worthlefs and the profligate might occafionally pronounce, he has fhewn himself fo utterly ignorant of all that is called propriety, as to ascribe to the vileft of men, fentiments which could become only the good and wife. Keep up your fpirits Charles; for the old rogue Flaccus, whofe faith in providence is fo great, tells you not to be depreffed. Do not fuccumb under fo many fufferings. Flaccus, the most unprincipled prodigal, who fo foon loft all that he ever had, tells you not to defpond when all is loft. Make the best of your ill-ftarred fortune. And can you help making the best of it when he advises, who, for fo many years, by every fpecies of peculation and iniquity, has been wont to fubfift on the fortunes of others? "Drink deep of wisdom, for you are plunged in wisdom's pool." So counfels, fo directs jolly Flaccus, the unrivalled preceptor of kings, who, feizing the leathern flaggon with his ink-fmeared hands, drinks among his fellow workmen a huge draught to the fuccefs of your philofophy. This dares Flaccus, your incomparable partizan, who figns his name to admonitions, which Salmafius, which More, and your other advocates have too little courage, or too much pride to own. For, as often as you have any need of admonition or defence, they are always anonymoufly wife or brave; and at another's hazard rather than their own. Let this fellow therefore, whoever he may be, ceafe to make a barren boast of his vigorous and animated eloquence; for the author truly "fears to divulge his name, which has become so renowned by the exertions of his genius." But he had not the courage, even in that work which was to avenge the royal blood, to prefix a dedication to Charles without the vicarious aid of Flaccus, in whofe words he was contented to say that, "if it might be permitted, he would dedicate the book to his majesty without a name.' Thus having done with Charles, he next puts himself in a me
nacing posture against me. "After this proæmium" the wonderful "Salmafius will make the trumpet blow a deadly blaft." You announce a new kind of harmony;. for to the terrors of that loud-founding inftrument no fymphony bears fo clofe a refemblance as that which is produced by accumulated flatulency. But I advife Salmafius not to raife the notes of this trumpet to too high a pitch; for, the louder the tones, the more he will expofe himself to a flap on the chops; which, while both his cheeks ring, will give a delightful flow to his wellproportioned melodies. You chatter on, "who has not his equal, nor near his equal, in the whole literary and fcientific world." What affurance! Ye men of erudidition, fcattered over the world, can you think it poffible that a preference over you all fhould be given to a grammatical loufe, whofe only treasure of merit, and hope of fame confifted in a gloffary; and who would at last be found to deferve nothing but contempt, if a comparison were instituted between him and men really learned. But this would not be affirmed by any except the lowest driveller, more destitute of understanding than even Flaccus himself. "And who has now employed in the fervice of your majefty, a ftupenduous mafs of erudition, illuminated by a genius quite divine." If you recollect what I faid above, that Salmafius took this letter, which was either written by himself or one of his creatures, to the printer, and intreated the fervile artificer to affix his own name to the publication, you will discover the indisputable marks of a mind truly grovelling and contemptible; bafely wooing a panegyrick on itself, and fedulously procuring, even from a fool, an unbounded prodigality of praife. "An, incomparable and immortal work, which it is fruitless to revile, and in which it must astonish even the regular practitioners of the law, how a Frenchman fhould fo foon bring himself to understand and to explain the English hiftory, the laws, fiatutes, records, &c.' Indeed how little he understood our laws, and how much he spoke at random on the subject, we have produced abundant evidence to fhew. "But he will foon, in another impreffion which he is preparing against the rebels, ftop the mouths of revilers, and chastife Milton accord
ing to his deferts." You, therefore, as that little avant courier of a fish, run before the Salmafian whale, which threatens, an attack upon our coaft; we sharpen our harpoons to elicit any oil or gall which his impetuous vengeance may contain. In the mean time we admire the more than Pythagorean tenderness of this prodigy of a man, who compaflionating animals, and particularly fish, to whose flesh even Lent fhews no indulgence, deftined fo many volumes to the decent apparelling of myriads of poor fprats and herrings, and bequeathed by will a paper
coat to each.
Rejoice ye herrings, and ye ocean fry,
This I wrote on the long expected edition of his farfamed work; in printing which he was ftrenuously engaged, while you, fir, were polluting his house by your fcandalous amour with Portia. And Salmafius appears to have long and induftriously applied himself to the execution; for, only a few days before his death, when a learned perfon, from whom I received the information, fent to ask him when he would publish the fecond part of his argument against the fupremacy of the Pope; he replied, that he fhould not return to that work till he had completed his labours against Milton. Thus I was preferred before the Pope; and that fupremacy which he denied to him in the church, he gratuitously bestowed on me in his refentment. Thus I feem to have furnished a timely fuccour against his fubverfion of the papacy; and to have faved the Roman capital from the irruption of a fecond Catiline, not indeed like the Conful
Tully, by the fafces of office, or the premonitions of a dream, but by very different means. Surely many cardinals' caps will be due to me on this account; and I fear left the Roman Pontiff, by the transfer of a title, which lately belonged to our kings, fhould falute me with the appellation of Defender of the Faith. You fee under what a cloud of difgrace Salmafius laboured to deprefs me. But ought he to have relinquifhed a post of honourable exertion to mingle in foreign controversies, or to have deferted the fervice of the church for political and external difcuffions, in which he had no knowledge and no concern? Ought he to have made a truce with the Pope? and, what was most base of all, after the utmost bitterness of hoftility, to have fought a reconciliation with the Bishops? Let us now come to the charges which were brought against myself. Is there any thing reprehenfible in my manners or my conduct? Surely nothing. What no one, not totally divested of all generous fenfibility would have done, he reproaches me with want of beauty and lofs of fight.
A monster huge and hideous, void of fight.
I certainly never fuppofed that I fhould have been obliged to enter into a competition for beauty with the Cyclops; but he immediately corrects himself, and fays "though not indeed huge, for there cannot be a more fpare, fhrivelled, and bloodlefs form." It is of no moment to fay any thing of perfonal appearance, yet left (as the Spanish vulgar, implicitly confiding in the relations of their priests, believe of heretics) any one, from the representations of my enemies, fhould be led to imagine that I have either the head of a dog, or the horn of a rhinoceros; I will fay fomething on the fubject, that I may have an opportunity of paying my grateful acknowledgments to the Deity, and of refuting the moft fhamelefs lies. I do not believe that I was ever once noted for deformity, by any one who ever faw me; but the praise of beauty I am not anxious to obtain. My ftature certainly is not tall; but it rather approaches the middle than the diminutive. Yet what if it were diminutive,
when fo many men, illuftrious both in peace and war, have been the fame? And how can that be called diminutive, which is great enough for every virtuous achieve ment? Nor, though very thin, was I ever deficient in courage or in strength; and I was won't conftantly to exercise myself in the ufe of the broad fword, as long as it comported with my habits and my years. Armed with this weapon, as I ufually was, I fhould have thought myself quite a match for any one, though much stronger than myself; and I felt perfectly fecure against the af fault of any open enemy. At this moment I have the fame courage, the fame ftrength, though not the fame eyes; yet fo little do they betray any external appearance of injury, that they are as unclouded and bright as the eyes of those who moft diftinctly fee. In this inftance alone I am a diffembler against my will. My face, which is faid to indicate a total privation of blood, is of a complexion entirely oppofite to the pale and the cadaverous; fo that, though I am more than forty years old, there is scarcely any one to whom I do not appear ten years younger than I am; and the finoothness of my fskin is not, in the least affected by the wrinkles of age. If there be one particle of falsehood in this relation, I fhould defervedly incur the ridicule of many thousands of my countrymen, and even many foreigners to whom I am perfonally known. But if he, in a matter fo foreign to his purpose, shall be found to have afferted fo many fhameless and gratuitous falsehoods, you may the more readily estimate the quantity of his veracity on other topics. Thus much neceffity compelled me to affert concerning my perfonal appearance. Refpecting yours, though I have been informed that it is moft infignificant and contemptible, a perfect mirror of the worthlessness of your character and the malevolence of your heart, I fay nothing; and no one will be anxious that any thing fhould be faid. I wifh that I could with equal facility refute what this barbarous opponent has faid of my blindnefs; but I cannot do it; and I muft fubmit to the affliction. It is not fo wretched to be blind, as it is not to be capable of enduring blindnefs. But why fhould I not endure a misfortune, which it behoves every one to be