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formerly, to look on my adversary abroad, through the deceiving glass of other men's great opinion of him, but at home, where I may find him in the proper light of his own worth; so now against the rancour of an evil tongue, from which I never thought so absurdly, as that I of all men should be exempt, I must be forced to proceed from the unfeigned and diligent inquiry of my own conscience at home, (for better way I know not, readers,) to give a more true account of myself abroad than this modest confuter, as he calls himself, hath given of me. Albeit, that in doing this I shall be sensible of two things which to me will be nothing pleasant; the one is, that not unlikely I shall be thought too much a party in mine own cause, and therein to see least: the other, that I shall be put unwillingly to molest the public view with the vindication of a private name; as if it were worth the while that the people should care whether such a one were thus, or thus. Yet those I entreat who have found the leisure to read that name, however of small repute, unworthily defamed, would be so good and so patient as to hear the same person not unneedfully defended.
4. I will not deny but that the best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words. And that I could at this time most easily and securely, with the least loss of reputation, use no other defence, I need not despair to win belief; whether I consider both the foolish contriving and ridiculous aiming of these his slanderous bolts, shot so wide of any suspicion to be fastened on me, that I have oft with inward contentment perceived my friends congratulating themselves in my innocence, and my enemies ashamed of their partner's folly: or whether I look at these present times, wherein most men, now scarce permitted the liberty to think over their own concernments, have removed the seat of their thoughts more outward to the expectation of public events : or whether the examples of men, either noble or religious, who have sat down lately with a meek silence and sufferance under many libellous endorsements, may be a rule to others, I might well appease myself to put up any reproaches in such an honourable society of fellowsufferers, using no other defence.
5. And were it that slander would be content to make an end where it first fixes, and not seek to cast out the like infamy upon each thing that hath but any relation to the person traduced, I should have pleaded against this confuter by no other advocates than those which I first commended, silence and sufferance, and speaking deeds against faltering words. But when I discerned his intent was not so much to smite at me, as through me to render odious the truth which I had written, and to stain with ignominy that evangelic doctrine which opposes the tradition of prelacy; I conceived myself to be now not as mine own person, but as a member incorporate into that truth whereof I was persuaded, and whereof I had declared openly to be a partaker. Whereupon I thought it my duty, if not to myself, yet to the religious
cause I had in hand, (4) not to leave on my garment the least spot or blemish in good name, so long as God should give me to say that which might wipe it off. Lest those disgraces which I ought to suffer, if it so befall me, for my religion, through my default religion be made liable to
(1) Egotism is viewed by different persons in very different lights. Contemporaries, and generally all individuals of a vain and conceited character, are offended when an author is compelled by circumstances to speak with due confidence of himself. Their vanity is shocked; a comparison seems to be tacitly instituted between them and the speaker ; and their irritation is exactly proportioned to their consciousness of littleness. On the contrary, men of genius love, almost above all things, to meet, in a writer, with such casual bursts of involuntary or extorted confessions, which seem to open the breast, and let in a momentary light on the secret machinery of the soul. Montaigne (Essais, 1. iii. ch. 8) who practised what in theory he approved, experienced considerable ill humour on finding Tacitus, in his Annals, (1. xi. ch. 11, apologizing for making an allusion to himself. He admired far more the boldness of Cicero, who never hesitated to put forward his own claims to commendation. But Tacitus had looked further into human nature than either the one or the other; and knew that, though to the judicious few he might afford pleasure, he would be sure to rouse the evil feelings of the many. Aristotle accordingly delivers it as a precept of art, that whether in speaking or writing, a show of great modesty is to be preserved, by which the judges will be propitiated, and thus, perhaps, be led to decide in our favour. Never was this rule more wisely observed than by Milton in this passage, where being about to exalt his own character at the expense of his opponent, he argues against the propriety of molesting the public with the vindication of a private name; adding, that for himself the best apology would have been silence and the testimony of a virtuous life ; but that, since a blow had been aimed at truth through him, and his feigned vices made a reproach to his cause, he was no longer at liberty to view the matter as an individual sufferer, but must defend his own conduct for the sake of the religion he professed.
suffer for me. And, whether it might not something reflect upon those reverent men, whose friend I may be thought in writing the Animadversions, was not my last care to consider; if I should rest under these reproaches, having the same common adversary with them, it might be counted small credit for their cause to have found such an assistant, as this babbler hath devised me. What other thing in his book there is of dispute or question, in answering thereto I doubt not to be justified; except there be who will condemn me to have wasted time in throwing down that which could not keep itself up. As for others, who notwithstanding what I can allege have yet decreed to misinterpret the intents of my reply, I suppose they would have found as many causes to have misconceived the reasons of my silence.
6. To begin therefore an apology for those Animadversions, which I wrote against the Remonstrant in defence of Smectymnuus; since the preface, which was purposely set before them, is not thought apologetical enough, it will be best to acquaint ye, readers, before other things, what the meaning was to write them in that manner which I did. For I do not look to be asked wherefore I wrote the book, it being no difficulty to answer, that I did it to those ends which the best men propose to themselves when they write: but wherefore in that manner, neglecting the main bulk of all that specious antiquity, which might stun children, and not men, I chose rather to observe some kind of military advantages to await him at his foragings, at his waterings, and whenever he felt himself secure, to solace his vein in derision of his more serious opponents.
7. And here let me have pardon, readers, if the remembrance of that which he hath licensed himself to utter contemptuously of those reverend men, provoke me to do that over again, which some expect I should excuse as too freely done; since I have two provocations—his latest insulting in his short answer, and their final patience. I had no fear, but that the authors of Smectymnuus, to all the show of solidity, which the Remonstrant could bring, were prepared both with skill and purpose to return a sufficing answer, and were able enough to lay the dust and pudder in antiquity, which he and his, out of stratagem, are wont to raise. But when I saw his weak arguments headed with sharp taunts, and that his design was, if he could not refute them, yet at least with quips and snapping adages to vapour them out, which they, bent only upon the business, were minded to let pass; by how much I saw them taking little thought for their own injuries, I must confess I took it as my part the less to endure that my respected friends, through their own unnecessary patience, should thus lie at the mercy of a coy flirting style; to be girded with frumps and curtal gibes, by one who makes sentences by the statute, as if all above three inches long were confiscate. To me it seemed an indignity, that whom his whole wisdom could not move from their place, them his impetuous folly