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THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND,
IN ANSWER TO SALMASIUS'S DEFENCE OF THE KING.*
(FIRST PUBLISHED 1692.]
Although I fear, lest, if in defending the people of England, I should be as copious in words, and empty of matter, as most men think Salmasius has been in his defence of the king, I might seem to deserve justly to be accounted a verbose and silly defender; yet since no man thinks himself obliged to make so much haste, though in the handling but of any ordinary subject, as not to premise some introduction at least, according as the weight of the subject requires; if I take the same course in handling almost the greatest subject that ever was (without being too tedious in it) I am in hopes of attaining two things, which indeed I earnestly desire: the one, not to be at all wanting, as far as in me lies, to this most noble cause, and most worthy to be recorded to all future ages: the other, that I may appear to have avoided myself that frivolousness of matter, and redundancy of words, which I blame in my antagonist. For I am about to discourse of matters, neither inconsiderable nor common; but how a most potent king, after he had trampled upon the laws of the nation, and given a shock to its religion, and begun to rule at his own will and pleasure, was at last subdued in the field by his own subjects, who had undergone a long slavery under him ; how afterwards he was cast into prison, and when he gave no ground, either by words or actions, to hope better things of him, he was finally by the supreme council of the kingdom condemned to die, and beheaded before the very gates of the royal palace. I shall likewise relate (which will much conduce to the easing men's minds of a great superstition) by what right, especially according to our law, this judgment was given, and all these matters transacted : and shall easily defend
my valiant and worthy countrymen (who have extremely well deserved of all subjects and nations in the world) from the most wicked calumnies both of domestic and foreign railers, and especially from the reproaches of this most vain and empty sophister, who sets up for a captain and ringleader to all the rest. For what king's majesty sitting upon an exalted throne, ever shone so brightly, as that of the people of England then did, when shaking off that old superstition, which had prevailed a long time, they gave judgment upon the king himself, or rather upon an enemy who had been their king, caught as it were in a net by his own laws, (who alone of all mortals challenged to himself impunity by a divine right,) and scrupled not to inflict the same punishment upon him, being guilty, which he would have inflicted upon any other? But why do I mention these things as performed by the people, which almost open their voice themselves, and testify the presence of God throughout? who, as often as it seems good to his infinite wisdom, uses to throw down proud and unruly kings, exalting themselves above the condition of human nature, and utterly to extirpate them and all their family. By his manifest impulse being set on work to recover our almost lost liberty, following him as our guide, and adoring the impresses of his divine power manifested upon all occasions, we went on in no obscure, but an illustrious passage, pointed out and made plain to us by God himself
* This translation of the author's "Defensio pro Populo Anglicano,” Mr. Toland asoribes to Mr. Washington, a gentleman of the Temple.
. Which things, if I should so much as hope by any diligence or ability of mine, such as it is, to discourse of as I ought to do, and to commit them so to writing, as that perhaps all nations and all ages may read them, it would be a very vain thing in me. For what style can be august and magnificent enough, what man has parts sufficient to undertake so great a task? Since we find by experience, that in so many ages as are gone over the world, there has been but here and there a man found, who has been able worthily to recount the actions of great heroes, and potent states; can any man have so good an opinion of his own talents, as to think himself capable to reach these glorious and wonderful works of Almighty God, by any language, by any style of his? Which enterprise, though some of the eminent persons in our commonwealth have prevailed upon me by their authority to undertake, and would have it be my business to vindicate with my pen against envy and calumny, (which are proof against arms) those glorious performances of theirs, (whose opinion of me I take as a very great honour, that they should pitch upon me before others to be serviceable in this kind of those most valiant deliverers of my native country; and true it is, that from my very youth, I have been bent extremely upon such sort of studies, as inclined if not to do great things myself, at least to celebrate those that did,) yet as having no confidence in any such advantages, I have recourse to the divine assistance; and invoke the great and holy God, the giver of all good gifts, that I may as substantially, and as truly, discourse and refute the sauciness and lies of this foreign declamator, as our noble generals piously and successfully by force of arms broke the king's pride, and his unruly domineering, and afterwards put an end to both by inflicting a memorable punishment upon himself, and as thoroughly as a single person did with ease but of late confute and confound the king himself rising as it were from the grave, and recommending himself to the people in a book published after his death, with new artifices and allurements of words and expressions. Which antagonist of mine, though he be a foreigner, and, though he deny it a thousand times over, but a poor grammarian; yet not contented with a salary due to him in that capacity, chose to turn a pragmatical coxcomb, and not only to intrude in state-affairs, but into the affairs of a foreign state: though he brings along with him neither modesty, nor understanding, nor any other qualification requisite in so great an arbitrator, but sauciness, and a little grammar only. Indeed if he had published here, and in English, the same things as he has now wrote in Latin, such as it is, I think no man would have thought it worth while to return an answer to them, but would partly despise them as common, and exploded over and over already, and partly abhor them as sordid and tyrannical maxims, not to be endured even by the most abject of slaves: nay, men that have sided with the king, would have had these thoughts of his book. But since he has swoln it to a considerable bulk, and dispersed it among foreigners, who are altogether ignorant of our affairs and constitution; it is fit that they who mistake them, should be better informed; and that he, who is so very forward to speak ill of others, should be treated in his own kind.
If it be asked, why we did not then attack him sooner, why we suffered him to triumph so long, and pride himself in our silence? For others I am not to answer; for myself I can boldly say, that I had neither words nor arguments long to seek for the defence of so good a cause, if I had enjoyed such a measure of health, as would have endured the fatigue of writing. And being but weak in body, I am forced to write by piecemeal, and break off almost every hour, though the subject be such as requires an unintermitted study and intenseness of mind. But though this bodily indisposition may be a hindrance to me in setting forth the just praises of my most worthy countrymen, who have been the saviours of their native country, and whose exploits, worthy of inmortality, are already famous all the world over; yet I hope it will be no difficult matter for me to defend them from the insolence of this silly little scholar, and from that saucy tongue of his, at least. Nature and laws would be in an ill case, if slavery should find what to say for itself, and liberty be mute: and if tyrants should find men to plead for them, and they that can master and vanquish tyrants, should not be able to find advocates. And it were a deplorable thing indeed, if the reason mankind is endued withal, and which is the gift of God, should not furnish more arguments for men's preservation, for their deliverance, and, as much as the nature of the thing will bear, for making them equal to one another, than for their oppression, and for their utter ruin under the domineering power of one single person. Let me therefore enter upon this noble cause with a cheerfulness, grounded upon this assurance, that my adversary's cause is maintained by nothing but fraud, fallacy, ignorance, and barbarity; whereas mine has light, truth, reason, the practice and the learning of the best ages of the world, of its side.
But now, having said enough for an introduction, since we have to do with critics, let us in the first place consider the title of this choice piece: “Defensio Regia pro Car. Primo, ad Car.. Secundum: a Royal Defence (or the king's defence) for Charles the First, to Charles the Second.” You undertake a wonderful piece of work, whoever you are ; to plead the father's cause before his own son: a hundred to one but you carry it. But I summon you, Salmasius, who heretofore skulked under a wrong name, and now go by no name at all, to appear before another tribunal, and before other judges, where perhaps you may not hear those little applauses, which you used to be so fond of in your school. But why this royal defence dedicated to the king's own son? We need not put him to the torture; he confesses why.“ At the king's charge,” says he. O mercenary and chargeable advocate ! could you not afford to write a defence for Charles the father, whom you pretend to have been the best of kings, to Charles the son, the most indigent of all kings, but it must be at the poor king's own charge? But though you are a knave, you would not make yourself ridiculous in calling it the king's defence ; for you having sold it, it is no longer yours, but the king's indeed: who bought it at the price of a hundred jacobusses, a great sum for a poor king to disburse. I know very well what I say: and it is well enough known who brought the gold, and the purse wrought with beads: we know who saw you reach out greedy fists, under pretence of embracing the king's chaplain, who brought the present, but indeed to embrace the present itself, and by accepting it to exhaust almost all the king's treasury.
But now the man comes himself, the door creaks, the actor comes upon
In silence now, and with attention wait,
That ye may learn what th’ Eunuch has to prate.-Terent. For whatever the matter is with him, he blusters more than ordinary “A horrible message had lately struck our ears, but our minds more, with a heinous wound concerning a parricide committed in England in the person of a king, by a wicked conspiracy of sacrilegious men.” Indeed that horrible message must either have had a much longer sword than that which Peter drew, or those ears must have been of a wonderful length, that it could wound at such a distance; for it could not so much as in the least offend any ears but those of an ass. For what harm is it to you, that are foreigners ? are any of you hurt by it, if we amongst ourselves put our own enemies, our own traitors to death, be they commoners, noblemen, or kings? Do
you, Salmasius, let alone what does not concern you: for I have a horrible message to bring of you too; which I am mistaken if it strike not a more heinous wound into the ears of all grammarians and critics, provided they have any learning and delicacy in them, to wit, your crowding so many barbarous expressions together in one period in the person of (Aristarchus) a grammarian; and that so great a critic as you, hired at the king's charge to write a defence of the king his father, should not only set so fulsome a preface before it, much like those lamentable ditties that used to be sung at funerals, and which can move compassion in none but a coxcomb; but in the very first sentence should provoke your readers to laughter with so many barbarisms all at once, “Persona regis,” you cry. Where do you find
any such Latin? or are you telling us some tale or other of a Perkin Warbec, who, taking upon him the person of a king, has, forsooth, committed some horrible parricide in England ? which expression, though dropping carelessly from your pen, has more truth in it than you are aware of. For a tyrant is but like a king upon a stage, a man in a vizor, and acting the part of a king in a play; he is not really a king. But as for these gallicisms, that are so frequent in your book, I won't lash you for them myself, for I am not at leisure ; but shall deliver you over to your fellowgrammarians, to be laughed to scorn and whipped by them. What follows is much more heinous, that what was decreed by our supreme magistracy to be done to the king, should be said by you to have been done by a wicked conspiracy of sacrilegious persons. Have you the impudence, you rogue, to talk at this rate of the acts and decrees of the chief magistrates of a nation, that lately was a most potent kingdom, and is now a more potent commonwealth? Whose proceedings no king ever took upon him by word of mouth, or otherwise, to villify and set at nought. The illustrious states of Holland therefore, the genuine offspring of those deliverers of their country, have deservedly by their edict condemned to utter darkness this defence of tyrants, so pernicious to the liberty of all nations ; the author of which every free state ought to forbid their country, or to banish out of it; and that state particularly that feeds with a stipend so ungrateful and so savage an enemy to their commonwealth, whose very fundamentals, and the causes of their becoming a free state, this fellow endeavours to undermine as well as ours, and at one and the same time to subvert both; loading with calumnies the most worthy asserters of liberty there, under our names. Consider with yourselves, ye most illustrious states of the United Netherlands, who it was that put this asserter of kingly power upon setting pen to paper? who it was, that but lately began to play