Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 3.djvu/208

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200 A SPEECH OF JOHN MILTON

from such a steep disadvantage of tyranny and superstition grounded into our principles as was beyond the manhood of a Roman recovery," it will be attributed first, as is most due, to the strong assistance of God our deliverer, next to your faithful guidance and undaunted wisdom, Lords and Com- mons of England. Neither is it in God's esteem the diminu- tion of his glory, when honorable things are spoken of good men and worthy magistrates ; which if I now first should begin to do, after so fair a progress of your laudable deeds, and such a long obligement upon the whole realm to your indefatigable virtues, I might be justly reckoned among the tardiest, and the unwillingest of them that praise ye. Never- theless there being three principal things, without which all praising is but courtship" and flattery; first, when that only is praised which is solidly worth praise : next, when greatest likelihoods are brought that such things are truly and really in those persons to whom they are ascribed, the other, when he who praises, by showing that such his actual persuasion is of whom he writes, can demonstrate that he flatters not: the former two of these I have heretofore endeavored, rescu- ing the employment from him who went about to impair your merits with a trivial and malignant Encomium f the latter as belonging chiefly to mine own acquittal, that whom I so ex- tolled I did not flatter, hath been reserved opportunely to this occasion. For he who freely magnifies what hath been nobly done, and fears not to declare as freely what might be done better, gives you the best covenant of his fidelity ; and that his loyalest affection and his hope waits on your proceedings. His highest praising is not flattery, and his plainest advice is a kind of praising; for though I should affirm and hold by argument, that it would fare better with truth, with learning, and the commonwealth, if one of your published orders which I should name, were called in, yet at the same time it could not but much redound to the luster of your mild and equal government, when as private persons are hereby animated to think ye better pleased with pubHc advice, than other statists" have been delighted heretofore with public flatter}\ And

• /. e., after the decline of the empire. Courtiership. ® Bishop Hall had damned the Parliament with faint praise. * Statesmen.

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