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And whence the coarse unlettered multitude
Perhaps some future distant age,
Less tinged with prejudice, and better taught,
Then, malice silenced in the tomb,
EPIGRAMS ON SALMASIUS.
Salmasius is a great name in the Biography of Milton. The person called by it, according to the custom, then common in the scholarly world of Europe, of Latinizing the names of its important members, was Claude de Saumaise, a Frenchman, born in 1588, and therefore Milton's senior by about twenty years. From his earliest youth he had been a prodigious reader; and by a series of publications, partly in France and partly in Germany, some against the Papal power, but others more purely historical and antiquarian, he had acquired the fame of being perhaps the most learned European scholar of his generation. Princes and States contended for the honour of possessing and pensioning him; but, after various travels, he had taken up his residence chiefly at Leyden, in Holland. Thus brought into contact with Charles II. and the English Royalist exiles after the execution of Charles I., he had been employed or induced, in an evil hour for himself, to write a defence of the late King and an attack on the English Commonwealth. It appeared in Holland in 1649, under the title of Defensio Regia pro Carolo I. A book of the kind by a man of his fame was felt in England to be a serious matter; and Milton, then Latin Secretary to the Council of State, was requested to answer it. He did so in his famous Defensio pro Populo Anglicano contra Claudii Salmasii Defensionem Regiam, published in the end of 1650, or beginning of 1651. Soon all Europe rang from side to side with the power of this pamphlet ; and the legend is that Salmasius, who had recently gone to reside at the Court of Sweden on the pressing invitation of the eccentric Queen Christina, was so chagrined at the applause with which the pamphlet was everywhere received, and especially by Christina's consequent coldness to himself, that he soon afterwards died. He did quit Sweden, and return to Holland, where he died Sept. 3, 1653, leaving an unfinished reply to Milton, and the task of continuing the controversy to other persons. Among these was the Gallo-Scot, Alexander More or Morus, already mentioned in the Introduction to the brief epigram De Moro among the Latin Elegies. Milton's Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano, published in 1654, was in reply to a treatise of the same year, which More was supposed to have written, but which he had only seen through the press, entitled Regii Sanguinis Clamor adversus Parricidas Anglicanos. In this "Second Defence," though More was the person directly attacked, Milton went back upon his ead opponent Salmasius. Hence, while the first of the two Epigrams against Salmasius now under notice is from the original pamphlet against the living Salmasius (called now, generally, the Defensio Prima), the second is from the Defensio Secunda, in which More receives the direct attack and Salmasius is only recollected for posthumous chastisement.
IN SALMASII HUNDREDAM.—This Epigram occurs in the 8th chapter of the Defensio Prima, and is a rough jest against Salmasius for his parade of his knowledge of a few English law-terms, or terms of public custom, such as "County Court," and "Hundred " or Hundreda," " in the sense of a division of a shire or an aggregation of parishes. "Where did Salmasius, that magpie, get his scraps of bad English, and especially his Hundreda?" asks the Epigram. "Why, he got a hundred Jacobuses, the last in the pouch of the
poor exiled King, for writing his pamphlet ! The prospect of more cash "would make him write up the very Pope, and sing the Song of the Cardinals, though he once demonstrated the Papacy to be Antichrist." Such is the substance of the Epigram; a poor thing after all, and a mere momentary parody of the last seven lines of the Prologue to the Satires of Persius.
IN SALMASIUM.-This is from the Defensio Secunda, where it is introduced in a passage in reply to an immense eulogy on Salmasius occurring in the Sanguinis Clamor. The writer of that book, assumed by Milton to be Alexander More, had anticipated the tremendous castigation that would be given to Milton in the forthcoming "impression" of the Answer to the Defensio Prima that had been written by the divine Salmasius himself, that prodigy of erudition and of genius. Milton professes to be very easy under the expectation of this posthumous reply, which he knew Salmasius had been busy with at the time of his death. People know that he has his own opinion of the genius and erudition of the famous deceased! "You, therefore, it seems,' he says, addressing More, are like the little client-fish in advance of Whale Salmasius, who is threatening 'impressions' on these shores : we are sharpening our "irons so as to be ready to squeeze out whatever may be in the 'impressions' "and castigations,' whether of oil or pickle. Meanwhile we shall admire "the more than Pythagorean goodness of the great man, who, in his pity "for the animals, and especially for the fishes, which are not spared even in
Lent, poor things, has provided so many volumes for decently wrapping them
up in, and has bequeathed by will, I may say, to so many thousands of poor sprats and herrings paper coats individually. After this ponderous piece of Latin prose-fun comes the Epigram. It simply prolongs the joke, in verse which is a cross between Catullus and Martial, by calling on all the herrings and other fishes to rejoice in their prospect of abundant paper wrappages from the books of Salmasius.
POEMS, ENGLISH AND LATIN, ETC.
The title-pages of the two original Editions, of 1645 and 1673, have been given in the General Introduction (p. 397 and p. 398). The Second Edition had no Preface; but the First had the following, by the publisher, Humphrey Moseley :
"THE STATIONER TO THE READER.
"It is not any private respect of gain, Gentle Reader (for the slightest Pamphlet is nowadays more vendible than the works of learnedest men), but it is the love I have to our own Language, that hath made me diligent to collect and set forth such Pieces, both in Prose and Verse, as may renew the wonted honour and esteem of our English tongue; and it's the worth of these both English and Latin Poems, not the flourish of any prefixed encomions, that can invite thee to buy them—though these are not without the highest commendations and applause of the learnedest Academicks, both domestic and foreign, and, amongst those of our own country, the unparalleled attestation of that renowned Provost of Eton, SIR HENRY WOOTTON. I know not thy palate, how it relishes such dainties, nor how harmonious thy soul is perhaps more trivial Airs may please thee better. But, howsoever thy opinion is spent upon these, that encouragement I have already received from the most ingenious men, in their clear and courteous entertainment of MR. WALLER'S late choice Pieces, hath once more made me adventure into the world, presenting it with these ever-green and not to be blasted laurels. The Author's more peculiar excellency in these studies was too well known to conceal his Papers, or to keep me from attempting to solicit them from him. Let the event guide itself which way it will, I shall deserve of the age by bringing into the light as true a birth as the Muses have brought forth since our famous SPENSER wrote; whose Poems in these English ones are as rarely imitated as sweetly excelled. Reader, if thou art eagle-eyed to censure their worth, I am not fearful to expose them to thy exactest perusal.
"Thine to command,