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by many of his contemporaries, as for his great knowledge of antiquity, the multiplicity of his attainments, and his immense research in antient languages.92 His Commentary on Solinus, and his Treatise de Re Hellenistica are imperishable
92 Toland says, 'What is worse than all the rest, Salmasius appeared on this occasion such an absolute stranger, and bungler in his own province, as to open a large field for Milton to divert himself with his barbarous phrases and solecisms,' p. 96. The fact is, Salmasius with all his vast erudition, from a hasty impetuosity of mind, committed occasionally great mistakes. I have a work of his, in which he makes our Saviour born at Jerusalem. 'Autant de livres de sa façon, autant d'Impromptu,' (says Vigneuil Marville) mais il ne digéroit assez bien les matières qu'il traitoit. Ce qu'il donnoit au public, il donnoit tout crû, avec dédain, et comme tout en colère. Il sembloit jetter son Grec, son Latin, et toute sa science à la tête des gens. Grotius au contraire considère tout, digère tout, l'ordonne, et la range sagement. Il respecte et ménage son lecteur. Son érudition est comme une grande fleuve qui se répand largement, fait du bien à tout le monde. Crescit cum amplitudine rerum, vis ingenii'-i. p. 9. D'autres ne peuvent écrire qu'à la hâte, et ne sauroient repasser sur leurs ouvrages. M. de Saumaise étoit de ce caractère.' Gronovius (de Sestertiis, p. 46,) says of him, Habebat hoc vir ille incomparabilis ut uberrimo ingenio nulla sufficeret manus, et ubi instituerat scribere, nec verum, nec verborum modum nosset. Sic factum esset, ut multa illi exciderent, quæ norat ipse melius, et rectius alio die tradiderat, tradebatque quæ, si paululum attendisset animum, facile vitasset.' What the great Scaliger thought of Salmasius, then young, may be gathered from the beginning of one of his letters to him (Ep. ccxlviii.) nunquam ab Epistolis tuis discedo nisi doctior :—a delightful character of Salmasius is given by the learned Huet, in his Commentar. de Rebus. ad Eum (Se) pertin. p. 125-130, who says, 'Si quis certe animum ejus atque mores ex scriptis æstimare velit, arrogans fuisse videatur, contumax, sibique presidens; at in usu, et consuetudine vitæ, nihil placidius nihil mitius, comis adhæc, urbanus, et officii plenus, verum benignitati ejus ac quieti multum officiebat uxor imperiosa Anna Mercera,' and then he proceeds to give an account how Salmasius's wife insisted, when he was presented at the court of Christina, in dressing him in scarlet breeches and gloves, with a black cap
monuments of his fame. Grotius alone could compete with him; and if Grotius were at all inferior, which I know not, in the extent of his information, he far excelled Salmasius in the correctness of his judgment, the distribution of his knowledge, and the more luminous arrangement of his erudition. Grotius was an enlightened philosopher, as well as a profound scholar; and the names of these two illustrious men were in commendation not often disjoined. Selden speaks of Grotius, 'as the greatest, the chief of men,' and of Salmasius as ' most admirable;' to whom he wished much more to be like than to be the most eminent person for riches and honour in the world;
and white feather. Salmasius told him he was very ill with the gout the whole time he was in Sweden; that Christina used to come to his bed; and one morning found him reading 'Libellum Subturpiculum,' which the affrighted professor hid under the bedclothes; but Christina searched for it and got it; and, being delighted with it, called in a young and beautiful lady of the name of Sparra,' whom she made to read aloud the passages that pleased her and while the girl blushed at her task, the Queen and her attendants were convulsed with laughter. Huet saw at Salmasius' house the girl Pontia,' and says she was 'satis elegans.' His account of the amour of Morus with this girl is not so unfavourable as Milton's; in fact, he made Morus sign a paper to marry her, but the passion and intemperance of Salmasius' wife rendered all interference unsuccessful. Morus was ill in Salmasius' house, and Pontia nursed him, which was the beginning of the acquaintance. An epitaph on Salmasius is given in V. Paravicini Sing. de Viris Erud. (1713) p. 201, in the bombastic style of the time.
Ingens exigua jacet hac sub mole sepultus
For Letters from Christina to Salmasius in the Ottoboni Palace at Rome, see Keysler's Travels, vol. iii. p. 147.
and Cardinal Richelieu declared, that Bignonius, Grotius, and Salmasius were the only persons of that age, whom he looked upon as arrived at the highest pitch of learning. Such was the antagonist whom Milton had been commanded to meet. The work which the exiled monarch required from the critic was probably somewhat beyond the circle of his studies; he wrote also on the unpopular side; and some among his friends neither admired the motive, nor anticipated the success of his undertaking.93 Hobbes says, 'he
93 See Sarravii Epistolas. p. 224, his love and admi ration of Salmasius evince qualities in that great man that commanded esteem. 'De Salmasio quid dicam? Precipiti Octobri in amplexus ejus iri. Cum eo vivere ameni et obeam libenter, vis plura? Ši per impossibile cuiquam mortalium erigantur unquam altaria, mihi, deus, deus ille de omnigena doctrina, moribusque humanissimis tibi comperta narrare nihil attinet,' p. 32. See also his 51st Epistle to Al. More. In his 140th, speaking of the death of Grotius, he says, 'Utri vestrum debeatur hujus sæculi principatus literarius, decernet ventura ætas!' In the 198th Letter Sarravius first mentions the subject of Salmasius's defence, which he applauds. Laudo animi tui generosum propositum, quo nefandum scelus aperte damnare sustines.' Then he mentions that Bochart intended eandem spartam ornare,' but had been dissuaded. In the 208th de tuo pro infelici Rege apoligetico soleres facis, qui facis quod libet, et amicorum consilia spernis.' In the 214th he has seen his work Omnino magnus est iste tuus labor, et istam materiam profunde meditatus es.' In the 216th he says, 'Tuam defensionem quod spectat dolendum esset in ipsis nascendi primordiis interire. In the 222nd he speaks of the fifth edition of Salmasius's work in the 223d he complains that a copy had not been sent to Charles's widow. Quamvis enim sit in re minime lauta, tamen potuisse solvere pretium tabellarii, qui illud attulisset.' The 228th is the letter so often quoted, beginning Te ergo habemus reum fatentem.' Sarravius differed from him in his defence of Episcopacy. July 1648 he tells him vos amis se plaignent que vous ne faites rien de ce dont ils vous prient, et que vos ennemis au contraire ont l'avantage de vous faire écrire de ce qu'il leur plait :' from a careful perusal of the
is unable to decide whose language is best, or whose argument worst,' and certainly the question is too often lost sight of in discussing the niceties of verbal construction, or in personal altercation; nor is the argument disposed with the calm and comprehensive views of the statesman and philosopher. That Milton's fame, however, was widely and honorably extended by this performance, no doubt can be entertained, it was In Liberty's defence, a noble task,
Of which all Europe rang from side to side:
but that Salmasius suffered disgrace at the court of Christina; that he was dismissed with contempt, or considered as defeated with dishonour, rests upon no valid authority. Milton in his second defence expressly allowed, that the queen, attentive to the dignity of her station, let the stranger experience no diminution of her former kindness, or munificence. The health of that illustrious scholar had long been languishing under his unremitted labours. He was afflicted with gout if not with stone, and he went to seek relief from the mineral waters of Spa (which he was supposed to have drunk improperly), where he died. The queen had offered him large ap
correspondence connected with this subject, I am convinced that the effect said to be produced by Milton's defence on Salmasius, and on his reputation has been prodigiously overrated. Salmasius seems at that time to have been as much interested about other works which he had in hand, and especially about conducting safely and commodiously his journey to Sweden, and preserving his health in that cold climate. It must also be observed that whatever More's moral character was, he stood in high esteem and reputation in the learned world, and that Milton's attack therefore affected him deeply. See Tan. Fabri. Epistol. lxvi. lib. i. ed. 1674, p. 219. A full and impartial account of him may be read in Bayle's Dict. Art. Morus.' Archd. Blackburne calls More the Atterbury, or rather the Dodd of his age, v. Mem. of Hollis, p. 522.
pointments 94 to remain in Sweden, and greatly regretted his departure; but the coldness of the climate was injurious to him: and after his death, she wrote a letter full of concern for his loss, and respect for his memory; the slander first thrown out in the Mercurius Politicus, and so frequently repeated, ought no longer to be believed. Salmasius went full of years, and honours to his grave.
The purpose of Salmasius 95 was to support the doctrine of the divine rights of kings: to prove that
94 He had a pension of 40,000 livres from Sweden. It will astonish some of my readers to know that Salmasius was a republican, 'Placebat Salmasio libera respublica.' He was invited by the University of Oxford to settle there on very handsome terms: 'and' says his biographer, he would have gone nisi aliquid ab eo petiissent, quamvis beatissima conditione, quod cum ad nationis utilitatem spectaret, non erat tamen ad genium ipsius ;' but so far was Salmasius, as all Milton's biographers assert, from being a slavish admirer of kings or regal governments, that Bataviam hac in parte præ Anglia preferebat quod majorem semper in respublica quam in regno libertatem esse judicaret.' v. Vit. Salmas. p.xvi. It was not solely on account of his superior learning that Salmasius was selected by the adherents of Charles, but that some of his previous writings on matters connected with the church and the sects, had produced much effect in England. 'Dissertatio de episcopis et presbyteris multum juverat optime sentientes (in Britanniâ) in abrogando jure Episcoporum, quod multi ex proceribus, et viris primariis ultro cum gratiarum actione testati sunt:' and it appears that he was in the habit of being consulted on ecclesiastical affairs by the persons of rank and influence in England, • Consilium Salmasii sæpius per deputationes implorarunt regni pro
95 Dr. Symmons has allowed the skill and eloquence displayed in the work of Salmasius, vide Life, p. 356, and has shown how much Burke was indebted to it. In that strange rambling work, T. Hollis's Memoirs, there is an engraving by Cipriani, representing Milton's head on a terminus, on which is a medallion suspended inclosing the portrait of Salmasius; this was a print emblematical of Milton's victory, v. p. 383.