Page images

styled the Royal Image, Milton called his reply the Image-breaker (E.xovoxAxSTYS—Iconoclastes). This production was first printed in 1649; again the year following, and in 1652 in French by Du Gard. An answer to it appeared in 1651, called Eixw arazoos, the Image unbroken; and another as late as. 1692, entitled, Vindiciæ Carolinæ.

Of the Iconoclastes, I have retained comparatively little, perhaps scarcely a third; because I apprehend it will be very far from being thought in the present day among the most important of Milton's works. As to the historic facts it contains, we have them at present with all the requisite evidence; whereas in Milton, they are commonly spoken of as recent and well known. Besides, many of the topics and arguments occur

, again, in the subsequent pieces. I have confined myself therefore to such parts as appeared the most permanently interesting.

The sale of the Icon Basilike was unexampled. Forty-seven editions were circulated in England alone ; and 43,500 copies sold.

There were strong suspicions at the time that the Icon was not the king's book. It has been since proved, almost beyond a possibility of doubt, that it was written by Dr. Gauden, bishop of Exeter. As the evidence is detailed in Laing's history of Scotland, and in Syminons's late life of

[ocr errors]

Milton, which accompanies the octavo edition, it need not be repeated in this place.

Milton had scarcely finished the Iconoclastes, when he was again obliged to enter the lists against a new adversary. This was Claudius Sal

a masius, or Claude de Saumaize, a man the most renowned for learning throughout Europe, and then honorary professor in the university of Leyden. Charles (afterwards Charles II,) was anxious to appeal to kings and to the world against the regicides, and the universal voice of fame proclaimed Salmasius the ablest champion to sustain the cause of afflicted majesty. Charles, therefore, lost no time in applying to this giant of literature, as he was then generally thought, and accompanied his application with a present of a hundred Jacobuses.

Salmasius had been educated in the principles of the protestants ; had been among the foremost in his attacks upon popery and the whole ecclesiastical hierarchy; and was now sitting under the laurels he had won, in a protestant republic, with a pension from the government. Such was his renown for learning, that different powers are said to have contended for the honour of his residence in their respective states, with very liberal offers. All these, however, he had hitherto steadily rejected; and disregarded, perhaps dis

[ocr errors]

dained such prospects of ambition from principle, from a love of independence, and from attacliment to his literary occupations. In evil hour, he yielded to the solicitations of Charles; and forgetful of his former principles—principles to which he had been indebted for the best portion of his fame-consented to become the vindicator not merely of the rights of kings, as supreme magistrates, but of the utmost extravagance

of despotism. But to have a monarch for his client was a circumstance too flattering to his vanity to be resisted. Literary reputation was his ruling passion, and not dreaming of meeting with any equal antagonist, much less a superior, he no doubt solaced his fancy with the anticipation of the new glories which were to encircle his lettered head, though doomed, alas ! to be humbled in the dust.

His book was entitled Defensio Regia pro Carolo primo ad Carolum secundum-—A Royal Defence for Charles the first to Charles the second." The friends and well-wishers of Salmasius were shocked at an inconsistency and venality so injurious to his character, and which' laid luim so open to the attacks of his adversary. Claude Sarraud, one of his confidential friends, and a member of the parliament of Paris, warned him of the impropriety and danger of the unders taking, and expostulated with him in strong terms


after its execution. An extract or two from the letters of Sarraud on this occasion will show how little claim Salmasius had for respect or indulgence from Milton. I quote from Dr. Symmons, p. 02, note, who refers to Birch.

“ Claudius Sarravius, counsellor in the parliament of Paris, and an intimate friend of Salmasius, in a letter to him dated at Paris, Feb. 18, 1650, expresses his surprise that he should write in the preface to his Defensio with so much zeal in defence of the bishops of England, when he had, in another work of his, ' De Presbyteris et Episcopis,' printed at Leyden, 1641, in 8vo, under the fictitious name of Wallo Messalinus, attacked them with the utmost acrimony; which he observes might expose him to the imputation of a time-server, who paid no regard to truth itself. Hoc sanè dicent esse tã xzıção de neuteur

. potius quam τη αληθεία πείθεσθαι. And in another letter dated Paris, March 5, of the same year, he reminds him of this inconsistency, which would make his sincerity questioned. “De necessitate episcopatus Anglicani quod obiter dixeras in præfatione, ut jam monui, fortius adhuc urges ipso opere, contra dictata Wallonis Messalini ; quod tibi vitio vertetur, diceturque te calidum et frigidum eodem ex ore efflare, nec generositatæ tuæ id convenire existimabitur.' Salmasius having wrote an answer to Sarravius upon this point, the latter re

[ocr errors]

i. e.

plied to him thus in a letter dated March 12, 1650.

( Te ergo habemus reum fatentem, &c.

"We have now your own confession of your fault; for it is the same thing to us, whether you adapt yourself to the times or to the cause. But before this, it was said, that you was a man of an inflexible disposition, who, like the god Terminus, would not give way to Jove himself. Besides, I am of opinion, that even a king's advocate ought not, in his master's cause, to speak in public differently from what he speaks and thinks in private; as the laws which we use in private life are not at all different from those, upon which decrees are made in courts of judicature. But you wrote, you say, ' By command. ' And was it possible for any commands to prevail on you to change your opinion? Your favourite Epictetus tells us, that our opinion is one of those things in our power, and so far in our power, that nothing can take it away from us without our consent.”

The fame of Salmasius, and the diligence with which he was known to prosecute his task, had raised great expectations. But it is universally allowed that the learned world was disappointed. Though the learning of Salmasius was vast, it consisted more in the knowledge of words than of things~a defect with which Milton frequently upbraids him. In critical acumen in the learn

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »