« AnteriorContinuar »
intimating, that what he could not compass by war, he should achieve by his meditations : for in words which admit of various sense, the liberty is ours, to choose that interpretation, which may best mind us of what our restless enemies endeavour, and what we are timely to prevent.
7. And here may be well observed the loose and negligent curiosity of those, who took upon them to adorn the setting out of this book; for though the picture set in front would martyr him and saint him to befool the people, yet the Latin motto in the end, which they understand not, leaves him, as it were, a politic contriver to bring about that interest, by fair and plausible words, which the force of arms denied him. But quaint emblems and devices, begged from the old pageantry of some twelfth night's entertainment (io) at Whitehall, will do but ill to make a saint or martyr: and if the people resolve to take him sainted at the canonizing, I shall suspect their calendar more than the Gregorian. In one thing I must commend his openness, who gave the title to this book, Elkwy Baollik), that is to say, The King's Image; and
(10) Christmas was, among our ancestors, the grand season for theatrical representations; and, as we learn from that curious MS. containing the Establishment of the Household of Henry Percy, fifth Earl of Northumberland, A. D. 1512, “ the exhibiting of the old mysteries or Scripture plays entered into the stated regulations of domestic economy in the houses of our ancient nobility, and that it was as much the business of the chaplain, in those days, to compose plays for the family, as it is now for him to make sermons.” (Additions to the Essay on the Origin of the English Stage, p. 227.) From this valuable old MS. we
by the shrine he dresses out for him, certainly would have the people come and worship him. For which reason this answer also is entitled, Eikonoklastes, the famous surname of many Greek emperors, who in their zeal to the command of God, after long tradition of idolatry in the church, took courage and broke all superstitious images to pieces.
8. But the people, exorbitant and excessive in all their motions, are prone ofttimes not to a religious only, but to a civil kind of idolatry, in idolizing their kings: though never more mistaken in the object of their worship; heretofore being wont to repute for saints those faithful and courageous barons, who lost their lives in the field, making glorious war against tyrants for the common liberty; as Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, against Henry III. ; Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster, against Edward II. But now, with a besotted and degenerate baseness of spirit, except some few who yet retain in them the old English fortitude and love of freedom, and have testified it by their matchless deeds, the rest, im
learn that they had their plays adapted to the several holidays on which they were performed, in the chapel ; on Christmasday the play of the Nativity ; on Easter-day, that of the Resurrection. But the “ twelve days of Christmas were the principal acting season. “ My lord useth and accustometh yearly to give him which is ordained to be the Master of the Revels yearly in my lord's house, in Christmas, for the overseeing and ordering of his lordship's plays, interludes, and dressing, that is played before his lordship in his house, in the twelve days of Christmas, and they to have a reward for that cause yearly, twenty shillings."
bastardized from the ancient nobleness of their ancestors, are ready to fall flat, and give adoration to the image and memory of this man, who hath offered at more cunning fetches to undermine our liberties, and put tyranny into an art, than any British king before him. Which low dejection and debasement of mind in the people, I must confess, I cannot willingly ascribe to the natural disposition of an Englishman, but rather to two other causes; first, to the prelates and their fellowteachers, though of another name and sect, whose pulpit-stuff, both first and last, hath been the doctrine and perpetual infusion of servility and wretchedness to all their hearers, and whose lives the type of worldliness and hypocrisy, without the least true pattern of virtue, righteousness, or selfdenial in their whole practice. I attribute it, next to the factious inclination of most men divided from the public by several ends and humours of their own. (")
9. At first no man less beloved, no man more generally condemned, than was the king; from the time that it became his custom to break parliaments at home, and either wilfully or weakly
(") Undoubtedly they who have interests different from those of the public must always be factious breeders of mischief. And this is the case with all privileged classes, all hereditary legislators, who naturally and necessarily oppose reform, knowing their own privileges to be the greatest of abuses, which, to be complete, reform must sweep away. Hence the House of Lords and its advocates, are almost invariably opposed to every thing that appears likely to benefit the nation at large, by curtailing the influence of the aristocracy.
to betray Protestants abroad, to the beginning of these combustions. All men inveighed against him; all men, except court-vassals, opposed him and his tyrannical proceedings; the cry was universal; and this full parliament was at first unanimous in their dislike and protestation against his evil government. But when they, who sought themselves and not the public, began to doubt, that all of them could not by one and the same way attain to their ambitious purposes, then was the king, or his name at least, as a fit property, first made use of, his doings made the best of, and by degrees justified; which begot him such a party, as, after many wiles and strugglings with his inward fears, emboldened him at length to set up his standard against the parliament: whenas before that time, all his adherents, consisting most of dissolute swordsmen and suburb-roysterers, ("?)
(12) Guizot, (Histoire de la Revolution de l’Angleterre, t. i. p. 226, 227,) describes with much ability the “roysterers” whom Milton here alludes to. Speaking of the ignorant and narrow-minded gentry, who, on their distant estates, had cherished the exploded ideas of feudal times,-“ Ils arrivaient à Londres en armes,” he says, “parcouraient fièrement les tavernes, les rues, et se rendaient souvent a Whitehall pour offrir au Roi leurs services en sollicitant quelque faveur. Là d'autres hommes se joignaient à eux, attirés par un dévouement moins pur et plus aveugle encore, les officiers réformés que le licenciement de l'armée avait laissés sans solde ni emploi, la plupart soldats de fortune, instruits dans les guerres du continent, dissolus, serviles et hardis, irrités contre le parlement qui leur avait en. levé leurs etat, contre le peuple qui detestaient leur mæurs, et prêt à tout faire pour tout maître qui les voudrait employer, n'em. porte à quel dessein. Des jeunes légistes, des étudians du Temple,
hardly amounted to the making up of one ragged regiment strong enough to assault the unarmed house of commons. After which attempt, seconded by a tedious and bloody war on his subjects, wherein he hath so far exceeded those his arbitrary violences in time of peace, they who before hated him for his high misgovernment, nay fought against him with displayed banners in the field, now applaud him and extol him for the wisest and most religious prince that lived. By so strange a method amongst the mad multitude is a sudden re
protégés de la cour, ou avides de s'associer à ses plaisirs, ou croyant faire preuve, en embrassant sa cause, de noblesse et d' élégance, grossissaient ce cortége remuant et présomptueux qui se rassemblait tous les jours autour de Whitehall, déclamant contre les communes, insultant leur partisans, prodigues de bravades, de moqueries, et pressés que le roi ou le hasard leur fournit quelque occasion de pousser leur fortune en prouvant leur fidélite.” (Mémoires de Ludlow, i. 27.)
Afterwards the character of Charles's courtiers and advisers is acknowledged to have been so despicable that, even in the council there was but one honest man. " There was only one man in the council of whom nobody spoke ill, or laid any thing to his charge; and that was the Lord Hopton. But there was then such a combination, by the countenance of Prince Rupert, with all the other lords of the court, and the attorney-general, upon former grudges, to undervalue him, that they had drawn the prince himself to have a less esteem of him than his singular virtue and fidelity, and his unquestionable courage and industry, (all which his enemies could not deny that he excelled in,) did deserve." (Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, 8c. vi. 82.) Upon which Warburton observes : “ One may judge from these words of the abandoned characters, and disorderly conduct of the then followers of the royal cause, and how little probability there was that they should ever recover this losing game; while there was but one man amongst them in that place that did honour to the cause, and him all the rest were in a combination to discredit.”