« PreviousContinue »
tillery in the field; after “ hunting and pur suing him," to use the author's own words, s round about the kingdom with fire and sword;" after dethroning, seizing, and imprisoning him, now clamoured against the natural result of their own actions, and, pretending conscience and the covenant, felt extreme tenderness for the inviolability and sacredness of the kingly person, which they had endangered by their war, and had violated with their chains. It would have been well for them if they had attended to the salutary warning given to them by our author, and, withholding their confidence from men, exasperated beyond the just hope of a reconciliation, had forborne to coalesce with the royalists, by whom they were soon to be crushed in one common ruin with their immediate enemies the Independents.
The next work, which came, in rapid succession, from the pen of Milton, was, * Observations upon the Articles of Peace, which the earl of Ormond had concluded at Kilkenny, on jan. 17, 1648-9, in the king's name and by his authority, with the popish Irish Rebels, &c. &c.”
From its imputed connexion with the rebellion of the catholics in Ireland, the royal cause had contracted remarkable unpopu
and polarity. This insurrection, which evinced the words power of long-continued oppression to de
base and unhumanize man, was so deeply nd is
stained with blood, and was distinguished by features of such peculiar ferocity as to strike, not England alone but, all civilized and christian Europe with horror and consternation. An insurrection which, in its first fury, had massacred, (as has been computed, though probably with some exaggeration,)
nearly 200,000 persons, defenceless and unutan suspicious of danger; an insurrection, in
which neither the tenderness of sex, nor the weakness of commencing or of declining life had prevailed on pity to suspend the stroke of murder; an insurrection, in which the mother and the infant at her breast had frequently been confounded in each others blood, and even the living womb had been ripped up to intercept the hope of breathing existence; an insurrection, in short, which had acknowledged no social tie, which had exhausted torture and insult to inflame the agonies of death, which, in some instances, had attempted to gratify its fiend-like revenge, by destroying with one wound both the body and the soul-could not, certainly, be contemplated without horror, or be embraced without the deepest contamination.
With the massacre itself no participation. of Charles's could be pretended by the hardiest malice of his enemies: but it would, perhaps, exceed the power of his most bigotted friends to clear him from the charge of being accessory to the revolt, of which the massacre was the terrible, but not necessary or foreseen consequence. The feeling of a common cause against the increasing power of the Parliament, and the persuasion of a common religion had, undoubtedly, pre
the Queen to lend her sanction, in which that of the King was implied, to the projected rising of the papists, whose army called itself her's, and whose leaders every where professed to act under the royal authority, and loyally avowed their support of the throne. We can easily admit that the king's commission, pretended by O ́Neale, was a forgery of that detestable ruffian's; but the
papers, produced after the restoration by his associate, the marquis of Antrim, among which was a letter in the King's own hand authorizing him to take up arms, cannot fail to convince the most resolute infidelity that the court; not aware of the weakness and the mischief of such assistance, had solicited aid from the co-operation of the Irish chiefs, The subsequent excesses of these barbarian
bigots made the strongest disavowal of any connexion with them, on the part of their royal ally, a measure of the most obvious expediency: but the conduct of Charles when, within the space of three years and at a crisis not unfavourable to his fortunes, he gave to the earl of Glamorgan full powers to treat with these murderers, and to grant, not merely pardon but, honours and triumph to their crimes abundantly demonstrates that loyalty with “ hands thicker than themselves with brother's blood," was more acceptable to him than resistance with the most specious and alluring smile of patriotism on its cheek. The
peace concluded, in his name, with these insurgents by the earl of Ormond, on the articles of which Milton now animadverts, was susceptible of more palliation, as it was made under circumstances of greater pressure and when the royal cause was reduced to the most desperate extremity. In either case, however, he must be a stern moralist, and ignorant of the just demand of human weakness, who will not pause before he condemns a monarch, in the situation of Charles, for refusing to offer his private interests at the shrine of public virtue, and to reject the promises of personal good from a regard to the welfare or from sympathy with
collected, are well arranged and combined; and that the style, made occasionally harsh by inversions not congenial with our language, is uniformly perspicuous and energetic while it is frequently elegant and harmonious. The first book of this work is abandoned without reserve to the fables of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and was intended, as the author intimates, rather to suggest subjects to the poet than maxims to the statesman or lessons to the sage.
The prosecution of this historical labour was suspended by an event which formed a great crisis in Milton's life; and, immediately leading him to extended fame and fortune, eventually proved the mean of his extreme danger and distress.
On the death of Charles, a government, nominally representative and professing to spring directly from the will of the people, was raised upon the ruins of the throne. In this state of things, the executive power was lodged, by that portion of the long Parliament which had survived the violence of the fanatic army; in a council, consisting of
į I have, therefore, determined to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales; be it for nothing else but in favour of our English poets and rhetoricians, who by their art will know how to use them judiciously. P.W. vol. iv. p. 2.