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houses than to the king; nay not so much, since he by a little sincerity and moderation might have rendered that needless which their duty to God and man then enforced them to do."
"Pardon me, Mr. Milton," said Mr. Cowley, "I grieve to hear you speak thus of that good king. Most unhappy indeed he was, in that he reigned at a time when the spirit of the then living generation was for freedom, and the precedents of former ages for prerogative. His case was like to that of Christopher Columbus, when he sailed forth on an unknown ocean, and found that the compass whereby he shaped his course had shifted from the north pole whereto before it had constantly pointed. So it was with Charles. His compass varied, and therefore he could not tack aright. If he had been an absolute king he would, doubtless, like Titus Vespasian, have been called the delight of the human race. If he had been a Doge of Venice, or a Stadtholder of Holland, he would never have outstepped the laws. But he lived when our government had neither clear definitions nor strong sanctions. Let, therefore, his faults be ascribed to the time. Of his virtues the praise is his own.
stain from those rigours? Had they, like him, for good and valuable considerations, aliened their hurtful prerogatives? Surely not: for whatever excuse you can plead for him, he had wholly excluded himself. The borders of countries, we know, are mostly the seats of perpetual wars and tumults. It was the same with the undefined frontiers, which of old separated privilege and prerogative. They were the debatable land of our polity. It was no marvel if, both on the one side and on the other, inroads were often made. But when treaties have been concluded, spaces measured, lines drawn, landmarks set up, that which before might pass for innocent error or just reprisal, becomes robbery, perjury, deadly sin. He knew not, you say, which of his powers were founded on ancient law, and which only on vicious example. But had he not read the Petition of Right? Had not proclamation been made from his throne; Soit fait comme il est desiré?
"For his private virtues they are beside the question. Remember you not," and Mr. Milton smiled, but somewhat sternly, "what Dr. Caius saith in the Merry Wives of Shakspeare? 'What shall the honest man do in my closet? There is no honest man that shall come in my closet.' Even so say I. There is no good man who shall make us his slaves. If he break his word to his people, is it a sufficient defence that he keeps it to his companions? If he oppress and extort all day, shall he be held blameless because he prayeth at night and morning? If he be insatiable in plunder and revenge, shall we pass it by because in meat and drink he is temperate? If he have lived like a tyrant, shall he be forgotten because he hath died like a martyr?
"Never was there a more gracious prince, or a more proper gentleman. In every pleasure he was temperate, in conversation mild and grave, in friendship constant, to his servants liberal, to his queen faithful and loving, in battle brave, in sorrow and captivity resolved, in death most Christian and forgiving. "For his oppressions, let us look at the former history of this realm. James was never accounted a tyrant. Elizabeth is esteemed to have been the mother of her people. Were they less arbitrary? Did they never lay hands on the purses of their subjects but by Act of Parliament? Did they never confine insolent and disobedient men but in due course of law? Was the court of Star-Chamber less active? Were the ears of libellers more safe? I pray you, let not King Charles be thus dealt with. It was enough that in his life he was tried forous; lovers of women and of wine, of no outan alleged breach of laws which none had ward sanctity or gravity. Charles was a ruler ever heard named till they were discovered for after the Italian fashion; grave, demure, of a his destruction. Let not his fame be treated as solemn carriage, and sober diet; as constant was his sacred and anointed body. Let not at prayers as a priest, as heedless of oaths as his memory be tried by principles found out an atheist." ex post facto. Let us not judge by the spirit of one generation a man whose disposition had been formed by the temper and fashion of another."
He was a man, as I think, who had such a semblance of virtues as might make his vices most dangerous. He was not a tyrant after our wonted English model. The second Richard, and the second and fourth Edwards, and the eighth Harry, were men profuse, gay, boister
Mr. Cowley answered somewhat sharply: "I am sorry, sir, to hear you speak thus. I had hoped that the vehemence of spirit which was caused by these violent times had now abated. Yet, sure, Mr. Milton, whatever yea may think of the character of King Charles, you will not still justify his murder."
"Nay, but conceive me, Mr. Cowley," said Mr. Milton," inasmuch as, at the beginning of his reign, he imitated those who had governed before him, I blame him not. To expect that "Sir," said Mr. Milton, "I must have been kings will, of their own free choice, abridge of a hard and strange nature, if the vehemence their prerogative, were argument of but slender which was imputed to me in my younger days wisdom. Whatever, therefore, lawless, unjust, had not been diminished by the afflictions or cruel, he either did or permitted during the wherewith it has pleased Almighty God to first years of his reign, I pass by. But for chasten mine age. I will not now defend all wha was done after that he had solemnly that I may heretofore have written. But this given his consent to the Petition of Right, I say, that I perceive not wherefore a king where shall we find defence? Let it be sup- should be exempted from all punishment. Is posed, which yet I concede not, that the tyranny it just that where most is given least should be of his father and of Queen Elizabeth had been required? or politic, that where there is the no less rigorous tha was his. But had his greatest power to injure there should no dan father, had that queen sworn, like him, to ab-ger to restrain? But, you will say, there is no
such law. Such a law there is. There is the law of self-preservation written by God himself on our hearts. There is the primal compact and bond of society, not graven on stone, nor sealed with wax, nor put down on parchment, nor set forth in any express form of words by men when of old they came together; but implied in the very act that they came together, presupposed in all subsequent law, not to be repealed by any authority, not invalidated by being omitted in any code; inasmuch as from thence are all codes and all authority. "Neither do I well see wherefore you cavaliers, and, indeed, many of us whom you merrily call Roundheads, distinguish between those who fought against King Charles, and specially after the second commission given to Sir Thomas Fairfax, and those who condemned him to death. Sure, if his person were inviolable, it was as wicked to lift the sword against it at Naseby as the axe at Whitehall. If his life might justly be taken, why not in course of trial as well as by right of war?
"Thus much in general as touching the right. But for the execution of King Charles in particular, I will not now undertake to defend it. Death is inflicted, not that the culprit may die, but that the state may be thereby advantaged. And, from all that I know, I think that the death of King Charles hath more hindered than advanced the liberties of England. 'First, he left an heir. He was in captivity. The heir was in freedom. He was odious to the Scots. The heir was favoured by them. To kill the captive, therefore, whereby the heir, in the apprehension of all royalists, became forthwith king; what was it in truth but to set their captive free, and to give him besides other great advantages?
"Next, it was a deed most odious to the people, and not only to your party, but to many among ourselves; and as it is perilous for any government to outrage the public opinion, so most was it perilous for a government which had from that opinion alone its birth, its nurture, and its defence.
Yet, doth not this properly belong to our dispute; nor can these faults be justly charged upon that most renowned Parliament. For, as you know, the high court of justice was not established until the House had been purged of such members as were adverse to the army, and brought wholly under the control of the chief officers."
"And who," said Mr. Cowley, "levied the army? Who commissioned those officers? Was not the fate of the Commons as justly deserved as was that of Diomedes, who was devoured by those horses whom he had himseif taught to feed on the flesh and blood of men? How could they hope that others would respect laws which they themselves insulted; that swords which had been drawn against the prerogatives of the king would be put up at an ordinance of the Commons? It was believed of old, that there were some devils easily raised, but never to be laid; insomuch, that if a magician called them up, he should be forced to find them always some employment; for, though they would do all his bidding, yet, if he eft them but for one moment without some
work of evil to perform, they would turn their claws against himself. Such a fiend is an army. They who evoke it cannot disiniss it. They are at once its masters and its slaves. Let them not fail to find for it task after task of blood and rapine. Let them not leave it for a moment in repose, lest it tear them in pieces. "Thus was it with this famous assembly. They formed a force which they could neither govern nor resist. They made it powerful. They made it fanatical. As if military inso[lence were not of itself sufficiently dangerous, they heightened it with spiritual pride,-they encouraged their soldiers to rave from the tops of tubs against the men of Belial, tili every trooper thought himself a prophet. They taught them to abuse popery, till every drummer fancied that he was as infallible as a pope.
"Then it was that religion changed her nature. She was no longer the parent of arts and letters, of wholesome knowledge, of innocent pleasures, of blessed household smiles. In their place came sour faces, whining voices, the chattering of fools, the yells of madmen. Then men fasted from meat and drink, who fasted not from bribes and blood. Then men frowned at stage-plays, who smiled at massacres. Then men preached against painted faces, who felt no remorse for their own most painted lives. Religion had been a pole-star to light and to guide. It was now more like to that ominous star in the book of the Apocalypse, which fell from heaven upon the fountains and rivers, and changed them into wormwood; for even so did it descend from its high and celestial dwelling-place to plague this earth and to turn into bitterness all that was sweet, and into poison all that was nourishing.
Therefore it was not strange that such things should follow. They who had closed the barriers of London against the king could not defend them against their own creatures. They who had so stoutly cried for privilege, when that prince, most unadvisedly no doubt, came among them to demand their members, durst not wag their fingers when Oliver filled their hall with soldiers, gave their mace to a corporal, put their keys in his pocket, and drove them forth with base terms, borrowed half from the conventicle and half from the ale-house. Then were we, like the trees of the forest in holy writ, given over to the rule of the bramble; then from the basest of the shrubs came forth the fire which devoured the Cedars of Lebanon. We bowed down before a man of mean birth, of ungraceful demeanour, of stam mering and most vulgar utterance, of scandalous and notorious hypocrisy. Our laws were made and unmade at his pleasure; the constitution of our Parliaments changed by his writ and proclamation; our persons imprisoned; our property plundered; our lands and houses overrun with soldiers; and the great charter itself was but argument for a scurrilous jest; and for all this we may thank that Parliament; for never, unless they had so violently shaken the vessel, could such foul dregs have risen to the top."
Then answered Mr. Milton: "What you have now said comprehends so great a number
of subjects, that it would require, not an even- | troubled times, nave worked out the deliver.
ing's sail on the Thames, but rather a voyage to the Indies, accurately to treat of all; yet, in as few words as I may, I will explain my sense of these matters.
ance of nations and their own greatness, not by logic, not by rhetoric, but by wariness in suc cess, by calmness in danger, by fierce and stubborn resolution in all adversity. The hearts of men are their books; events are their tutors; great actions are their eloquence; and such a one, in my judgment, was his late Highness, who, if none were to treat his name scornfully now, who shook not at the sound of it while he lived, would, by very few, be mentioned otherwise than with reverence. His own deeds shall avouch him for a great statesman, a great soldier, a true lover of his country, a merciful and generous conqueror.
"For his faults, let us reflect that they who seem to lead are oftentimes most constrained to follow. They who will mix with men, and specially they who will govern them, must, in many things, obey them. They who will yield to no such conditions may be hermits, but cannot be generals and statesmen. If a man will walk straight forward without turning to the right or the left, he must walk in a desert, and not in Cheapside. Thus was he enforced to do many things which jumped not with his inclination nor made for his honour; because the army, on which alone he could depend for and life, might not otherwise be contented. And I, for mine own part, marvel less that he sometimes was fain to indulge their violence than that he could so often restrain it
"In that he dissolved the parliament, I praise him. It then was so diminished in numbers, as well by the death as by the exclusion of members, that it was no longer the same as sembly; and if at that time it had made itself perpetual, we should have been governed, not by an English House of Commons, but by a Venetian Council.
"If in his following rule he overstepped the laws, I pity rather than condemn him. He may be compared to that Mæandius of Samos, of whom Herodotus saith, in his Thalia, that wishing to be of all men the most just, he was not able; for after the death of Polycrates he offered freedom to the people, and not till cer tain of them threatened to call him to a reckon ing for what he had formerly done, did he change his purpose, and make himself a tyrant, lest he should be treated as a criminal.
"First, as to the army. An army, as you have well set forth, is always a weapon dangerous to those who use it; yet he who falls among thieves spares not to fire his musquetoon because he may be slain if it burst in his hand. Nor must states refrain from defending themselves, lest their defenders should at last turn against them. Nevertheless, against this danger statesmen should carefully provide; and, that they may do so, they should take especial care that neither the officers nor the soldiers do forget that they are also citizens. I do believe that the English army would have continued to obey the Parliament with all duty, but for one act, which, as it was in intention, in seeming, and in immediate effect, worthy to be compared with the most famous in history, so was it, in its final consequence, most injurious. I speak of that ordinance called the self-denying, and of the new model of the army. By those measures the Commons gave up the command of their forces into the hands of men who were not of themselves. Hence, doubtless, derived no small honour to that noble assem-power bly, which sacrificed to the hope of public good the assurance of private advantage. And, as to the conduct of the war, the scheme prospered. Witness the battle of Naseby, and the memorable exploits of Fairfax in the west; but therety the Parliament lost that hold on the soldiers and that power to control them, which they retained while every regiment was commanded by their own members. Politicians there be, who would wholly divide the legislative from the executive power. In the golden age this may have succeeded; in the millennium it may succeed again. But where great armies and great taxes are required, there the executive government must always hold a great authority, which authority, that it may not oppress and destroy the legislature, must be in some manner blended with it. The leaders of foreign mercenaries have always been most dangerous to a country. The officers of native armies, deprived of the civil privileges of other men, are as much to be feared. This was the great error of that parliament, and though an error it were, it was an error generous, virtuous, and more to be deplored than censured. "Hence came the power of the army and its leaders, and especially of that most famous leader, whom both in our conversation to-day, and in that discourse whereon I before touched, you have, in my poor opinion, far too roughly handled. Wherefore you speak contemptibly of his parts I know not; but I suspect that you are not free from the error common to studious and speculative men. Because Oliver was an ungraceful orator, and never said, either in public or private, any thing memorable, you will have it that he was of a mean capacity. Sure this is unjust. Many men have there been ignorant of letters, without wit, without eloquence, who yet had the wisdom to devise, and the courage to perform that which they lacked language to explain. Such inen often, in
"Such was the case of Oliver. He gave to his country a form of government so free and admirable, that, in near six thousand years, human wisdom hath never devised any more excellent contrivance for human happiness. To himself he reserved so little power that it would scarcely have sufficed for his safety, and it is a marvel that it could suffice for his ambition. When, after that, he found that the members of his Parliament disputed his right even to that small authority which he had kept, when he might have kept all, then indeed I own that he began to govern by the sword those who would not suffer him to govern by the law.
"But for the rest, what sovereign was ever more princely in pardoning injuries, in con quering enemies, in extending the dominions and the renown of his people? What sea what shore did he not mark with imperishable
mcmorials of his friendship or his vengeance? The gold of Spain, the steel of Sweden, the ten thousand sails of Holland, availed nothing against him. While every foreign state trembled at our arms, we sat secure from all assault. War, which often so strangely troubles both husbandry and commerce, never silenced the song of our reapers, or the sound of our looms. Justice was equally administered; God was freely worshipped.
Mr. Cowley seemed to me not to take much amiss what Mr. Milton had said touching that thankless court, which had indeed but poorly requited his own good service. He only said, therefore, "Another rebellion! Alas! alas! Mr. Milton. If there be no choice but between despotism and anarchy, I prefer despotism."
Many men," said Mr. Milton, "have floridly and ingeniously compared anarchy and despot. ism; but they who so amuse themselves do but look at separate parts of that which is truly one great whole. Each is the cause and the effect of the other;-the evils of either are the evils of both. Thus do states move on in the same eternal cycle, which, from the remotest point, brings them back again to the same sad starting-post: and till both those who govern and those who obey shall learn and mark this great truth, men can expect little through the future, as they have known little through the past, save vicissitude of extreme evils, alternately producing and produced.
"When will rulers learn, that where liberty is not, security and order can never be! We talk of absolute power, but all power hath limits, which, if not fixed by the moderation of the governors, will be fixed by the force of the governed. Sovereigns may send their opposers to dungeons; they may clear out a senatehouse with soldiers; they may enlist armies of spies; they may hang scores of the disaffected in chains at every cross-road; but what power shall stand in that frightful time when rebellion hath become a less evil than endur. ance? Who shall dissolve that terrible tribu
"Now look at that which we have taken in exchange. With the restored king have come over to us vices of every sort, and most the basest and most shameful-lust, without love -servitude, without loyalty,-foulness of speech-dishonesty of dealing-grinning contempt of all things good and generous. The throne is surrounded by men whom the former Charles would have spurned from his footstool. The altar is served by slaves whose knees are supple to every being but God. Rhymers, whose books the hangman should burn, panders, actors, and buffoons, these drink a health and throw a main with the king; these have stars on their breasts and gold sticks in their hands; these shut out from his presence the best and bravest of those who bled for his house. Even so doth God visit those who know not how to value freedom. He gives them over to the tyranny which they have desired, “ Iva παντε; εταυρώνται βασιλής.”
"I will not," said Mr. Cowley, "dispute with you on this argument. But if it be as you say, how can you maintain that England hath been so greatly advantaged by the rebellion ?" "Understand me rightly, sir," said Mr. Mil-nal, which, in the hearts of the oppressed, "This nation is not given over to slavery denounces against the oppressor the doom of and vice. We tasted, indeed, the fruits of its wild justice? Who shall repeal the law of liberty before they had well ripened. Their self-defence? What arms or discipline shall flavour was harsh and bitter, and we turned resist the strength of famine and despair? How from them with loathing to the sweeter poisons often were the ancient Cæsars dragged from of servitude. This is but for a time. England their golden palaces, stripped of their purple is sleeping on the lap of Dalilah, traitorously robes, mangled, stoned, defiled with filth, chained, but not yet shorn of strength. Let the pierced with hooks, hurled into the Tiber! cry be once heard-the Philistines be upon How often have the Eastern Sultans perished thee; and at once that sleep will be broken, and by the sabres of their own Janissaries, or the those chains will be as flax in the fire. The bow-strings of their own mutes! For no power great Parliament hath left behind it in our which is not limited by laws can ever be prohearts and minds a hatred of tyrants, a just tected by them. Small, therefore, is the wisknowledge of our rights, a scorn of vain and dom of those who would fly to servitude as if it deluding names; and that the revellers of were a refuge from commotion; for anarchy Whitehall shall surely find. The sun is dark- is the sure consequence of tyranny. That goened, but it is only for a moment: it is but an vernments may be safe, nations must be free. eclipse; though a birds of evil omen have Their passions must have an outlet provided, begun to scream, and all ravenous beasts have lest they make one. gone forth to prey, thinking it to be midnight. Wo to them if they be abroad when the rays again shine forth.
"When I was at Naples, I went with Signor Manso, a gentleman of excellent parts and breeding, who had been the intimate friend of "The king hath judged ill. Had he been that famous poet Torquato Tasso, to see the wise he would have remembered that he owed burning mountain Vesuvius. I wondered how his restoration only to confusions which had the peasants could venture to dwell so fearwearied us out, and made us eager for repose.lessly and cheerfully on its sides, when the He would have known that the folly and per- lava was flowing from its summit, but Manso fidy of a prince would restore to the good old smiled, and told me that when the fire descends cause many hearts which had been alienated freely they retreat before it without haste or thence by the turbulence of factions; for, if I fear. They can tell how fast it will move, and know aught of history, or of the heart of man, how far; and they know, moreover, that though he will soon learn that the last champion of it may work some little damage, it will soon the people was not destroyed when he mur- cover the fields over which it hath passed with dered Vane, nor seduced when he beguiled rich vineyards and sweet flowers. But when Fairfax." flames are pent up in the mountain, then it is
that they have reason to fear; then it is that the earth sinks and the sea swells; then cities are swallowed up, and their place knoweth them no more. So it is in politics: where the people are most closely restrained, there it gives the greatest shocks to peace and order; therefore would I say to all kings, let your demagogues lead crowds, lest they lead armies; let them bluster, lest they massacre; a little turbulence is, as it were, the rainbow of the state; it shows indeed that there is a passing shower, but it is a pledge that there shall be no deluge."
"This is true," said Mr. Cowley: "yet these admonitions are not less needful to subjects than to sovereigns."
"Surely," said Mr. Milton, "and, that I may end this long debate with a few words in which we shall both agree, I hold that as freedom is the only safeguard of governments, so are order and moderation generally necessary to preserve freedom. Even the vainest opinions of men are not to be outraged by those who propose to themselves the nappiness of men for their end, and who must work with the passions of men for their means. The blind reverence for things ancient is indeed so foolish that it might make a wise man laugh, if it were not also sometimes so mischievous that it would rather make a good man weep. Yet, since it may not be wholly cured, it must be discreetly indulged, and therefore those who would amend evl laws should consider rather how much it
may be safe to spare, than how much it may be possible to change. Have you not heard that men who have been shut up for many years in dungeons shrink if they see the light, and fall down if their irons be struck off. And, so, when nations have long been in the house of bondage, the chains which have crippled them are necessary to support them, the darkness which hath weakened their sight is necessary to preserve it. Therefore release them not too rashly, lest they curse their freedom and pine for their prison.
"I think, indeed, that the renowned Parliament of which we have talked so much did show, until it became subject to the soldiers, a singular and admirable moderation, in such times scarcely to be hoped, and most worthy to be an example to all that shall come after. But on this argument I have said enough; and I will therefore only pray to Almighty God that those who shall, in future times, stand forth in defence of our liberties, as well civil as religious, may adorn the good cause by mercy, prudence, and soberness, to the glory of his name and the happiness and honour of the English people."
And so ended that discourse; and not long after we were set on shore again at the Temple Gardens, and there parted company: and the same evening I took notes of what had been said, which I have here more fully set down, from regard both to the fame of the men, and the importance of the subject-matter.