Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/135

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

religion, Milton declares, had been all hypocrisy. He had resorted to "ignoble shifts to seem holy, and to get a saintship among the ignorant and wretched people." The prayer he had given as a relic to the bishop at his execution had been stolen from Sidney's Arcadia, In outward devotion he had not at all exceeded some of the worst kings in history. But in spite of Milton, the Eikon Basilike sold rapidly, and contributed greatly to the reaction; and the Secretary, of the Council of State had just reason to complain of the perverseness of his generation, "who, having first cried to God to be delivered from their king, now murmur against God for having heard their prayer, and cry as loud for their king against those that delivered them."

The next year (1650) Milton had to take up his pen again in the same cause against the Defence of Charles I. to Charles II. by the learned Salmasius. Milton was not sparing in terms of abuse. He calls Salmasius a rogue," "a foreign insignificant professor," "a slug," "a silly loggerhead," " a superlative fool." Even a Times leader of to-day would fall short of Milton in vituperative terms. It is not for this we still reverence the Defensio; but for its political force, and its occa-