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Dryden published shortly after its appearance. Maimbourg, on the other hand, from whose work the translation was made, was not only a zealous royalist, but a professed enemy of the Huguenots, had written a history of their religion, calculated to place it in the most odious point of view. There was, therefore, to be found in his “ History of the League,” not only an accurate and terrifying account of that famous combination, but many hints towards completing the parallel to be deduced betwixt the principles of the Guisards and those of the Calvinists. With this intention, and under the immediate auspices of the king, the work was translated and published.
The title page bears, that the translation was made according to his majesty's command : and the frontispiece represents Charles enthroned in state; Justice is seated upon one side, and upon the other is a view of a harbour, with two light-houses, and a fleet in sail. A hand from heaven is about to place on the king's head an imperial crown, from which glances a ray of light, bearing the motto, Per me reges regnant. In front, are the lords temporal and spiritual, assembled before the throne, in a dutiful posture, and at their feet a scroll, on which is writien, Sibi et successoribus suis legitimis, in allusion to the celebrated Exclusion Bill.
* "Our attention, therefore, was to make the play a parallel betwixt the Holy League plotted by the house of Guise and its adherents, with the Covenant plotted by the rebels in the time of Charles I, and those of the New Association, which was the spawn of the Old Covenant."-Vol. VII. p. 146.
Having received the honour of your Majesty's commands to translate the “History of the League, I have applied myself, with my utmost diligence, to obey them: First, by a thorough understanding of my author, in which I was assisted by my former knowledge of the French history in general, and, in particular, of those very transactions which he has so faithfully and judiciously related; then by giving his thoughts the same beauty in our language which they had in the original, and, which I most of all endeavoured, the same force and perspicuity: both of which, I hope, I have performed with some exactness, and without any considerable mistake. But of this your Majesty is the truest judge, who are so great a master of the original; and who, having read this piece when it was first published, can easily find out my failings, but, to my comfort, can more easily forgive them. fess, I could never have laid hold on that virtue of
your royal clemency at a more unseasonable time; when your enemies have so far abused it, that pardons are grown dangerous to your safety, and consequently to the welfare of your loyal subjects. But frequent forgiveness is their encouragement; they have the sanctuary in their eye before they attempt the crime; and take all measures of security, either not to need a pardon, if they strike the blow, or to have it granted, if they fail. Upon the whole matter, your Majesty is not upon equal terms with them; you are still forgiving, and they still designing against your sacred life; your principle is mercy, theirs inveterate malice; when one only wards, and the other strikes, the prospect is sad on the defensive side. Hercules, as the poets tell us, had no advantage on Antæus, by his often throwing him on the ground; for he laid him only in his mother's lap, which, in effect, was but doubling his strength to renew the combat. These sons of earth are never to be trusted in their mother-element; they must be hoisted into the air, and strangled.* If the experiment of clemency were new; if it had not been often tried without effect, or rather with effects quite contrary to the intentions of your goodness, your loyal subjects are generous enough to pity their countrymen, though offenders : but when that pity has been always found to draw into ex
• I wish the fervour of Dryden's loyalty had left this exhortation to such writers as the author of “ Justice Triumphant,” an excellent new song, in commendation of Sir George Jefferies, Lord Chief Justice of England. To a pleasant new tune, called, Now the Tories that glories.
Loyal Jefferies is judge again,
ample of greater mischiefs; when they continually hehold both your Majesty and themselves exposed to dangers; the church, the government, the succession, still threatened; ingratitude, so far from being converted by gentle means, that it is turned at last into the nature of the damned, desirous of revenge, and hardened in impenitence,-it is time, at length, for self-preservation to cry out for justice, and to lay by mildness, when it ceases to be a virtue. Almighty God has hitherto miraculously preserved you; but who knows how long the miracle will continue? His ordinary operations are by second causes; and then reason will conclude, that to be preserved, we'ought to use the lawful means of preservation. If, on the other side, it be thus argued, that, of many attempts, one may possibly take place, if preventing justice be not employed against offenders; what remains, but that we implore the divine assistance to avert that judgment; which is no more than to desire of God to work another and another, and, in conclusion, a whole series of miracles. This, Sir, is the general voice of all true Englishmen; I might call it the loyal address of three nations infinitely solicitous of your safety, which includes their own prosperity. It is, indeed, an high presumption for a man so inconsiderable as I am to present it; but zeal and dutiful affection, in an affair of this importance, will make every good subject a counsellor. It is, in my opinion, the test of loyalty ; and, to be either a friend or foe to the government needs no other distinction, than to declare at this time either for remissness or justice. I said at this time, because I look not on the storm as overblown. It is still a gusty kind of weather : there is a kind of sickness in the air ; it seems, indeed, to be cleared up for some few hours; but the wind still blowing from the same corner, and when new matter is gathered into a body, it will not fail to bring it round, and pour upon us a second tempest. I shall be glad to be found a false prophet; but he was certainly inspired, who, when he saw a little cloud arising from the sea, and that no bigger than a hand, gave immediate notice to the king, that he might mount the chariot, before he was overtaken by the storm. If so much care was taken of an idolatrous king, an usurper, a persecutor, and a tyrant, how much more vigilant ought we to be in the conceruments of a lawful prince, a father of his country, and a defender of the faith, who stands exposed by his too much mercy to the unwearied and endless conspiracies of parricides ? He was a better prince than the former whom I mentioned out of the sacred history, and the allusion comes yet more close, who stopped his hand after the third arrow: Three victories were indeed obtained ; but the effect of often shooting had been the total destruction of his enemies. † To come yet nearer : Henry the Fourth,
• “ And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of abundance of rain,
“ So Ahab went up to eat and to drink ; and Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, and cast himself down upon the earth, and put his head between his knees;
“ And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea ; and he went up and looked, and said there is nothing; and he said, Go again seven times.
“ And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold there comes a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand: And he said, Go, say unto Ahab, prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
“ And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind; and there was a great rain. And Abab rode and went to Jezreel.”—1 Kings, xviii. 41--46.
+ Joash king of Israel, having visited the prophet Elisha while on his death-bed, was desired, by the dying seer, to take a bow,