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from calumny, he not only refutes the arguments of his antagonists, but selects a few of the most eminent personages of the times for panegyric. Among these, Christina the queen of Sweden obtains the first place; and he fails not to repay her with interest for the commendation she bestowed upon the First Defence. What queen, on reading this, would not desire a Milton for her eulogist! The eulogium upon Cromwell towards the end is uncommonly elegant and splendid. Milton has the courage, however, to blend counsel with praise; and like Harrington before him, gives the protector a broad hint that he should lethink him of resigning his power into the hands of the people.
It has been asked, how the republican Milton could accept and retain his place of secretary for foreign affairs consistently with his principles, under a manifest usurpation? We may reply, it does not appear that he violated any of his principles by the acceptance at least of his place. There is no doubt that he considered the office of protector, even with arbitrary power, as necessary for a time, for the settlement of the distracted nation. In his piece Of Prelatical Episcopacy, he remarks incidentally—“ Brutus, that expelled the kings out of Roine, was for the time forced to be as it were a king himself, till matters were set in order, as in a free coinmonwealth"-a
remark, which was made at a time when it was impossible to foresee the event of the civil wars.
-But why should Milton retain his place, when he found that Cromwell persisted in reigning alone? That Milton, with the rest of his party, was grievously disappointed, there can be no doubt. This is visible to any attentive reader even of the magnificent eulogy he pronounces upon the protector; where it may be seen that he often applauds rather what he would wish him to be, than what he actually was; and it is still more manifest from many of his private letters, where he speaks without disguise. But even in these circumstances, how did Milton's principles demand his resignation ? Cromwell, if he possessed an uncontrouled power, had gained it by right of war-a war, too, justly undertaken. Notwithstanding his tenaciousness of power, Milton saw that his administration was marked by vigour, ability, and (where his interests as ruler were not directly concerned) by justice, so as to strike all foreign potentates with respect and
It was his opinion, moreover, potiri rerum dignissimum—that the most worthy (i. e. the man who is fittest for command) ought to possess the sovereign power. However much, therefore, there might have been to condemn in Cromwell, it was impossible that Milton should altogether withdraw his admiration, when there was
also so much to applaud. Besides, a man like Milton would naturally and justly think his own services of consequence.
He would naturally hope, and wait for better times; and would endeavour to produce them; a work which he would think himself inost likely to execute, in a situation where he had the most power, rather than by deserting his post and his party. At all events, he considered any thing as better than the readmission “ of kingship in the nation;" which was contrary to his professed principles, and dangerous to himself and friends.
Again; it was not Milton's opinion that abstract principles in politics, should be absolutely unbending; that, if we could not do all that is right, that we should therefore do nothing*. Numberless occasions are continually occurring in active life, where we are obliged to act, yet have only the choice of two evils: and notwithstanding the argus-eyed vigilance with which men in power should be constantly watched, the peculiar delicacy of their situation, and their better acquaintance with the state of things than can always be obtained by persons at a distance, should surely remind us sometimes of candour and indulgence. No one who knows any thing
* See Vol. II. p. 407, where he is speaking on the subject of expediency, and quotes a passage from Cicero in corroboration of his opinion.
of the character of Milton would presume to accuse him of profligacy of principle. All his sentiments and actions were eminently disinterested, public, and cosmopolitan.
The character of More was not equally proof with that of Milton against attack. It seems he bad a quarrelsome and over-bearing temper; and was so addicted to women as to disgrace the sanctity of his profesion. Milton, therefore, possessed of undoubted information, was enabled to retort bis scandals with tenfold efficacy. More, aware how open he lay to the hostility of his adversary, had no sooner published the Cry of the Royal, than he became sensible of his rashness; and bearing that Milton was preparing a reply, endeavoured, by all the interest he could muster, either to prevent or parry the blow. He had influence enough to prevail upon the Dutch ambassador to request Cromwell to interpose his authority in his behalf, but without effect. Then, by assuring the ambassador that he was not the author, he entreated him to interfere, and with. draw, if possible, the pen from the hand of Milton; but Milton was inexorable.
After the publication of the Second Defence, Bourdeaux, the French ambassador at London, writes More the following letter. Sir,
At my arrival here, I found Milton's book so public, that I perceived it was impossible to suppress it.
This man (Milton) hath been told that you were not the author of the book, which he refuted ; to which he answered, that he was at least assured that you had caused it to be imprinted: that you had writ the preface, and he believes, some of the verses that are in it, and that that is enough to justify him for setting upon you.
He doth also add, he is very angry that he did not know several things, which he hath heard since, being far worse, as he says,
forth in his book ; but he doth reserve them for another, if so be you answer this. I am very sorry for this quarrel, which will have a long sequence, as I perceive; for after you
have answered this, you may be sure he will reply with a more bloody one: for your adversary hath met with somebody here, who hath told hin strange stories of you."
The influence of the Second Defence upon the public opinion was wonderful. More was unable to withstand the keenness of Milton's satyr. But compelled, as it were, to another struggle, he published an answer, with testimonies of his good character from soine colleges and universities, and from the magistrates and synods of the towns in which he had resided. Milton replied again with fresh authorities for what he had before urged against bis opponent. This reply was entitled —“Authoris pro se Defensio contra Alexandrum Morum, Ecclesiasten : The Author's Defence of Himself against Alexander More, Ecclesiastic.” More again answered; which answer