Page images
PDF
EPUB

say, this might have no reference to any criminal amours; he might have conversed upon horticulture, and have read lectures on the art, to the untutored and curi us girl; he might one while have praised the beauty of the parterres, or regretted the absence of shade; he might have inserted a mulberry in a fig, and thence have rapidly raised a progeny of sycamores; a cooling bower; and then might have taught the art of grafting to the fair. All this and more he might, no doubt, have done. But all this would not satisfy the presbyters, who passed sentence on him as an adulterer, and judged him unworthy of the ecclesiastical functions. The heads of those, and other accusations of the like kind, are still preserved in the public library at Geneva. But even after this had become matter of public notoriety, he was invited, at the instance of Salmasius, to officiate in the French church at Middleburgh. This gave great offence to Spanheim, a man of singular erudition and integrity ; who was well acquainted with his character at Geneva, though at last, but not without the most violent opposition, he succeeded in obtaining letters testimonial from the Genevese, but these only on the condition that he should leave the place, and couched in expressions rather bordering on censure than on praise. As soon as he arrived in Holland, he went to pay his respects to Sal masius; where he immediately cast his libidinous looks on bis wife's maid, whose name was Pontia; for the fellow's lust is always inflained by cooks and waiting-maids; hence he began to pay assiduous court to Salmasius, and, as often as he had opportunity, to Pontia. I know not whether Salmasius, taken by the busy attentions and unintermitted adulation of More, or More thinking that it would favour his purpose of meeting Portia, which first caused their conversation to turn on the answer of Milton to Salmasius. But, however this might be, More undertook to defend Salmasius, and Salmasius promises to obtain for More the divinity-chair in that city. Besides this, More promises himself other sweets in his clandestine amour with Pontia; for, under pretext of consulting Salmasius in the prosecution of this work, be had free admission to the house at all hours of the night or day. And, as formerly Pyramus was changed into a mulberri-tree, so More* seems suddenly transformed into Pyramus; but in

will

Morvs, the Jaatin rame for Mulberry.

proportion as he was more criminal, so he was more fortunate than that youth. He had no occasion to seek for a clink in the wall; he had every facility of carrying on his iutrigue with his Thisbe under the same roof. He promises her mar. riage: and linder the lure of this promise, violates her chastity. O shaine! a minister of the gospel abuses the confidence of friendship to commit this atrocious crime. From this amour no common prodigy accrued; for both man and woman suffered the pains of parturition : Pontia conceived a morill," which long afforded employment to the natural disquisitions of Salmasius; More, the barren and windy egg; from which issued that flatulent

cry

of the royal blood. The sight of this egg indeed, at first, caused our monarchy-men, who were famishing in Belgium, to lick their chops; but the shell was no sooner broken, than they loathed the addle and putrid contents; for More, not a little elated with his conception, and thinking that he had obliged the whole Orange faction, had begun to anticipate a new accession of professorships and chairs, when he deserted his poor pregnant Pontia, as Jeneath his notice, to indigence and misfortune. She complained to the synod and the magistrates of the injuries and the treachery which she had experienced. Thus the matter was brought to light, and afforded subject for merriment and observation in almost all places and companies. Hence some ingenious person wrote this distich:

“Galli ex concubitu gravidam te, Pontia, Mori,

Quis bene moratam morigeramque neget ? ” 't “O Pontia, teeming with More's Gallic seed,

You have been Mord enough, and no more need.” Pontia alone was not seen to smile; but she gained nothing by complaint; for the cry of the royal blood soon overwhelmed the clamour about the rape, and the cries of the ruined fair. Salinasius deeply resented the injury and insult which were thus offered to himself and his family; and the derision to which he was exposed by his courteous and admiring friend ; and perhaps this misfortune, added to his other mishaps in the royal cause, might have contributed to accelerate his end. But on this hereafter. In the mean time, Salmasius, with the fate of Salmasia, (for the fable is as appropriate as the name,) little thinking that in More he had got an hermaphrodite associate, as incapable of parturition as of procreation, without knowing what he had begot for him in the house, fondles the fruit of his travail, the book in which he was styled Great; justly perhaps in his own opinion, but very unfitly and ridiculously in that of other people. He hastens to the printer; and, in vain endeavouring to keep possession of the fame which was vanishing from his grasp, he anxiously attends as a midwife the public delivery of those praises, or rather vile flatteries, which he had so rapaciously sought this fellow and others to bestow. For this purpose

* A little More, or mulberry.

+ It is impossible to give a literally exact rendering of this. I have played upon the name as well as I could in English.—R. F.

Flaccus seemed the most proper person that could be found; him he readily persuades not only to print the book, which nobody would have blamed, but also publicly to profess himself the author of a letter to Charles, filled with the most calumnious aspersions against me, whom he had never known. But when I shew, as I can from good authority, how he has acted towards others, it will be the less astonishing why he should so readily be prevailed on to commence such a wanton and unprovoked attack upon me, and with so little consideration to father another's extravagance of slander and invective. Flaccus, whose country is unknown, was an itinerant bookseller, a notorious prodigal and cheat; for a long time he carried on a clandestine trade in London, from which city, after practising innumerable frauds, he ran away in debt. He afterwards lived at Paris, during the whole reign of James, an object of distrust and a monster of extortion. From this place he made his escape, and now does not dare to approach within many miles : at present he makes his appearance as a regenerated bookseller at the Hague, ready to perform any aefarious and dirty work to which he may be invited. And as a proof how little he cares what he says or what he does, there is nothing 30 sacred which a trifling bribe would not tempt him to betray; and I shall bring forward his own confession to shew that his virulence against me was not prompted, as might be supposed, by any zeal for the public good. When he found that what I had written against Salmasius had a considerable sale, he writes to some of my friends to persuade me to let any future publication of mine issue from his press; and promises a great degree of elegance in the typographical

I pro

Execution. I replied that I had at that time no work by me ready for the press. But lo! be, who had lately made me such an officious proffer of his services, soon appears not only as the printer, but the (suborned) author of a most scandalous libel upon my character. My friends express their indignation; he replies, with unabashed effrontery, that he is quite astonished at their simplicity and ignorance of the world, in supposing that he should suffer any notions of right or wrong to disturb his calculations of profit, and his speculations of gain : that he had received that letter from Salmasius together with the book, that he begged him to publish it on his own account, in the way he had done; and that, if Milton or any other person thought fit to write an answer, he should have no hesitation in printing it, if they would employ him in the business. This was nothing else than to say that he would readily publish an invective against Salmasius, or king Charles; for the reply could relate to no other persons. It is needless to say more.

I have unmasked the man. ceed to others; for he is not the only one who has served to embellished this tragic cry of the royal blood. Here then are the actors in the drama : the brawling prolocutor, the profligate Flaccus, or, if you had rather, Salmasius, habited in the mask and cloak of Flaccus, two poetasters drunk witli stale beer, and More, famed for adultery and rape. A marvellous

company of tragedians ! and an honest set for me to engage! But, as such a cause was not likely to procure adversaries of a different stamp, let us now proceed to the attack of the individuals, such as they are; only first premising that, if any one think nıy refutation wanting in gravity, he should recollect that I have not to contend with a weighty foe, but only a merryandrew host; and that in such a work, instead of labouring to give it throughout the highest polish of elegance, it was right to consider what diction might be most appropriate to such a crew. The Royal Blood crying to Heaven for vengeance on the

English Parricides. Your narrative, O More, would have had a greater appearance of truth, if you hail first shewn that his blood was not justly shed. But as in the first dawn of the reformation, the monks, from their dearth of argument, had recourse to

spectres and other impositions, so you, when nothing else wili stand you

in any stead, call in the aid of voices which were never heard, and superstitious tricks that have long been out of date. You would not readily give any of us credit for having heard a voice from heaven; but I could with little difficulty believe that you did actually hear a voice from hell. Yet, I beseech you, who heard this cry of the royal blood ? Yourself? Mere trash; for first you never hear anything good.* But that cry which mounts to heaven, if any but God hear, it can only be the upright and the pure ; who, themselves unstained with crired may well denounce the divine vengeance against the guilty. But how could you possibly hear it? or, as a catamite, would you write a satire against lust ? For you seem, at the same time, to have fabricated this miraculous cry to heaven, and to have consummated your amour with Pontia. There are not only many impediments in your sense, but many evil incrustations about your heart, which would for cver prevent such cries from reaching your ears; and if nothing else did, the many cries which are continually ascending to heaven against your own enorunities would be sufficient for the purpose. The voice of that harlot, whom debauched in the garden, and who complains that you, her religious teacher, was the author of her seduction, demands vengeance against you. Vengeance is demanded against you by the husband, whosc nuptial bed you defiled; it is demanded by Pontia, to whom you perjured your nuptial vow; it is demanded by that little innocent whom you caused to be born in shame, and then left to perish without support. All these different cries for vengeance on your guilty head are continually ascending to the throne of God; which if you do not hear, it is certain that the cry of the royal blood you

could never have heard. Thus your book, instead of the royal blood crying to heaven, might more fitly be entitled “More's lascivious neighing for his Pontia." Of that tiresome and addle epistle, which follows, part is devoted to Charles, part to Milton, to exalt the one, and to vilify the other. T'ake a specimen from the beginning: “The dominions of Charles," he says, “were thrown into the sacrilegious hands of parricides and Deicides.” I shall not stay to consider whether this cant be the product of Salmasius, of More, or of Flaccus.

* Latin male avdis. There is a play upon the words.

you

« EelmineJätka »