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Æneæ in Italiam adventum ornandum sibi sumit, reliquas prætermittit; ita mihi quoque vel ad officium vel ad excusationem satis fuerit unam saltem popularium meorum heroicè rem gestam exornâsse; reliqua prætereo-omnia universi populi præstare quis possit? Si post tam fortia facinora fædiùs deliqueritis, si quid vobis indignum commiseritis, ' loquetur perfecto posteritas, et judicium feret; jactá strenué fundamenta fuisse, præclara initia, immò plusquam initia; sed qui opus exædificarent, qui fastigium imponerent, non sine commotione quâdam animi desiderabit; tantis incæptis, tantis virtutibus non adfuisse perseverantiam dolebit; ingentem gloriæ segetem, et maximarum rerum gerendarum materiam præbitam videbit, sed materiæ defuisse viros: non defuisse qui monere recta, hortari, incitare, qui egregiè tum facta tum qui fecissent condecorare, et victuris in omne ævum celebrare laudibus potuerit.
“For myself, whatever may be the final result, such efforts as in my own judgment were the most likely to be beneficial to the commonwealth, I have made without reluctance, though not, as I trust, without ef
* P. W. v. 266.
fect: I have wielded my weapons for liberty not only in our domestic scene, but on a far more extensive theatre; that the justice and the principle of our extraordinary actions, explained and vindicated both at home and abroad and confirmed in the general approbation of the good, might be unquestionably established, as well for the honour of my compatriots as for precedents to posterity. That the conclusion prove not unworthy of such a commencement, be it my countrymen's to provide:—it has been mine to deliver a testimony, I had almost said to erect a monument which will not soon decay, to deeds of greatness and of glory almost transcending human panegyric; and, if I have accomplished nothing further, I have assuredly discharged the whole of my engagement. As the bard however who is denominated Epic, if he confine his work a little within certain canons of composition, proposes to himself for a subject of poetical embellishment not the whole life of his hero, but some single action, (such as the wrath of Achilles, the relurn of Ulysses, or the arrival in Italy of Æneas,) and takes no notice of the rest of his conduct; so will it suffice, either to form my vindication or to satisfy my duty, that I have
recorded in heroic narrative one only of my fellow-citizen's achievements. The rest I omit; for who can declare all the great actions of a whole people? If, after such valiant exploits, you fall into gross delinquency, and perpetrate any thing unworthy of yourselves, posterity will not fạil to discuss and to pronounce sentence on the disgraceful deed. The foundation they will allow indeed to have been firmly laid, and the first (nay more than the first) parts of the superstructure to have been erected with success; but with anguish they will regret that there were none found to carry it forward to completion; that such an enterprise and such virtues were not crowned by perseverance; that a rich harvest of glory and abundant materials for heroic achievement were prepared; but that men were wanting to the illustrious opportunity—while there wanted not a man to instruct, to urge, to stimulate to action, a man who could call fame as well upon the acts as the actors, and could spread their celebrity and their names over lands and seas to the admiration of all future ages.”
This work, with a compliment from its author, was presented to the Protector by Andrew Marvell; whose letter to his friend on
the occasion was first published by Doctor Birch, and will be found in the note.
• HONOURED SIR,
“ I did not satisfy myself in the account I gave you of presenting your book to my lord, although it seemed to me that I wrote to you all, which the messenger's speedy return the same night from Eton would permit me': and I perceive that by reason of that haste I did not give you satisfaction neither, concerning the delivery of your letter at the same time. Be pleased therefore to pardon me, and know that I tendered them both together. But my lord read not the letter while I was with him; which I attributed to our dispatch, and some other business tending thereto, which I therefore wished ill to, so far as it hindered an affair much better and of greater importance, I mean that of reading your letter. And to tell you truly mine own imagination, I thought that he would not open it while I was there, because he might suspect that I, delivering it just upon my departure, might have brought in it some second proposition, like to that which you had before made to him by your letter to my advantage. However, I assure myself that he has since read it, and you that he did then witness all respect to your person, and as much satisfaction concerning your work as could be expected from so cursory a review, and so sudden an account as he could then have of it from me.
Mr. Oxenbridge, at his return from London, will, I know, give you thanks for his book, as I do with all acknowledgment and humility for that you have sent me. I shall now study it even to the getting it by heart, esteeming it, according to my poor judgment (which yet I wish were so right in all things else) as the most compendious scale, for so much, to the height of the Roman eloquence. When I consider how equally it turns, and rises with so many figures, it seems to me a Trajan's column, in whose winding ascent we see embossed the several monuments of your learned victories: and Salmasius and Morus make up as great a triumph as that of Decebalus, whom too, for ought I
Colonel Overton, of whom the writer speaks with so much interest, was one of those steady republicans whom Cromwell, unable to conciliate, was under the necessity of securing. After a previous imprisonment in the tower, Overton was confined during the Protector's life in the island of Jersey; and obtained his liberty from the Parliament, a short time only before the Restoration. Whether any further notice was taken by Cromwell of Milton's present we are not informed: but we may be assured that he was not on the list of the Protector's peculiar friends, and that the Secretary would easily be reconciled to the consequences of exclusion from his employer's favour by the consciousness of commanding his respect.
With the “ Second Defence of the People
know, you shall have forced, as Trajan the other, to make themselves away out of a just desperation.
I have an affectionate curiosity to know what becomes of colonel Overton's business, and am exceeding glad to think that Mr. Skinner has got near you; tbe happiness which I at the same time congratulate to him, and envy, there being none who doth, if I may so say, more jealously honour you than,
Your most affectionate humble servant,
Eton, June 2, 1654,
ANDREW MARVELL. For my most honoured friend, John Milton, Esq. Secretary for the
Foreign Affairs, at his House in Petty France, Westminster.