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never completed, though two more books, extending the narrative to the Norman conquest, were written in a subsequent interval of literary leisure. Of this earlier portion the historical value assigned by himself is exceedingly small. The period it embraced was the twilight interval of myths and phantoms between the night of unknown antiquity and the rise of history. “I have therefore determined,” he says, “to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales, be it for nothing else but in favour of our English poets and rhetoricians, who by their art well know how to use them judiciously.” This labour was interrupted by the great event of Milton's life. A political and spiritual despotism had terminated with the life of the treacherous and misguided Charles I.; and England had entered on that brief period of renovation which had been hailed by Milton with the enthusiasm we have seen animating his eloquence. The executive government under the republic was committed to a council of state, consisting of thirty-eight members of the legislature; and as the diplomatic correspondence of Europe was then conducted in Latin, it became necessary to appoint a foreign secretary, who combined with other qualifications of the highest order, the most familiar acquaintance with that language. Among the many wise measures by which this period was rendered memorable, the appointment of Milton to this office was one of the most important. The date of the Commonwealth has often been indicated as the culminating point of England's greatness. This has been popularly attributed in a great measure to the administrative genius of Cromwell; but it is impossible not to believe that the intellectual and moral majesty of Milton contributed materially to the boasted pre-eminence of this country in the scale and the homage of contemporary nations. It is difficult to characterize Milton's Letters of State in terms of extravagant eulogy. Uncorrupted with the finesse of vulgar diplomacy, they are instinct with a philanthropy which extends its embrace far beyond the conventional limits of nationality, and in imitation of the Divine benignity recognizes the brotherhood of mankind. Their style is stamped with a majesty that fully represents the mightiest of earthly empires, and with that pacific courtesy, with that tender care for the oppressed, and that profound recognition of the King of kings, which are the most glorious insignia of imperial sway. Happy will it be for this country when these productions shall be reverenced by its rulers, as the great ensamples of national behaviour. It is obvious that these productions of Milton's pen do not admit of an analysis; a selection, therefore, from a few of the most characteristic letters, must suffice to exhibit the poet, the polemic, and the patriot in the new phase of the statesman. The following letter, written by Milton in the name of the Protector, to Gustavus of Sweden, affords a specimen of the conciliatory spirit infused by Milton into the foreign intercourse of his government:— “OLIVER, Protector of the Commonwealth of ENGLAND, &c., to the most Serene Prince CHARLEs GUSTAVUS, King of the SWEDES, GOTHS, and WANDALS. “Most Serene King, our dearest Friend and Confederate, “BEING assured of your majesty's concurrence both in thoughts and counsels for the defence of the Protestant faith against the enemies of it, if ever, now at this time most dangerously vexatious; though we cannot but rejoice at your prosperous success, and the daily tidings of your victories, yet on the other side we cannot but be as deeply afflicted, to meet with one thing that disturbs and interrupts our joy; we mean the bad news intermixed with so many welcome tidings, that the ancient friendship between your majesty and the States of the United Provinces looks with a dubious aspect, and that the mischief is exasperated to that height, especially in the Baltic Sea, as seems to bode an unhappy rupture. We confess ourselves ignorant of the causes; but we too easily foresee, that the events, which God avert, will be fatal to the interests of the Protestants. And therefore, as well in respect to that most strict alliance between us and your majesty, as out of that affection and love to the reformed religion, by which we all of us ought chiefly to be swayed, we thought it our duty, as we have most earnestly exhorted the States of the United Provinces to peace and moderation, so now to persuade your majesty to the same. The Protestants have enemies everywhere, enow and to spare, inflamed with inexorable revenge; they never were known to have conspired more perniciously to our destruction: witness the valleys of Piedmont, still reeking with the blood and slaughter of the miserable; witness Austria, lately turmoiled with the emperor's edicts and proscriptions; witness Switzerland. But to what purpose is it, in many words to call back the bitter lamentations and remembrance of so many calamities? Who so ignorant, as not to know, that the counsels of the Spaniards, and the Roman pontiff, for these two years have filled all these places with conflagrations, slaughter, and vexation of the orthodox P If to these mischiefs there should happen an access of dissension among Protestant brethren, more especially between two potent states, upon whose courage, wealth, and fortitude, so far as human strength may be relied upon, the support and hopes of all the reformed churches depend; of necessity the Protestant religion must be in great jeopardy, if not upon the brink of destruction. On the other side, if the whole Protestant name would but observe perpetual peace among themselves with that same brotherly union as becomes their profession, there would be no occasion to fear, what all the artifices or puissance of our enemies could do to hurt us which our fraternal concord and harmony alone would easily repel and frustrate. And therefore we most earnestly request and beseech your majesty, to harbour in your mind propitious thoughts of peace, and inclinations ready bent to repair the breaches of your pristime friendship with the United Provinces, if in any part it may have accidentally suffered the decays of mistakes or misconstruction. If there be anything wherein our labour, our fidelity, and diligence may be useful toward this composure, we offer and devote all to your service. And may the God of heaven favour and prosper your noble and pious resolutions, which, together with all felicity, and a perpetual course of victory, we cordially wish to your majesty. “Your majesty's most affectionate, “OLIVER, Protector of the Commonwealth of England, &c. “From our Palace at Westminster, Aug. —, 1656.”* It was during the foreign administration of Milton that Immanuel, Duke of Savoy, commenced against the Vaudois or Waldenses one of the most cruel religious persecutions that have raged in modern times. Its victims were an inoffensive and devout community, settled for ages in the valleys of Piedmont, and there preserving, amidst the surrounding darkness of Popish superstition, the light of uncorrupted Christianity. Though holding the same fundamental doctrines which the Protestants had embraced, they cannot be classed under the same religious denomination, seeing that they never dissented from the Papacy, but claimed, and in all probability with truth, to be the hereditary representatives of the apostolic Church originally founded in Rome. Instigated by ecclesiastical advisers, the duke resolved on the extermination of this innocent community, and issued an edict for this purpose, the effect of which was speedily felt in massacre, torture, and famine. The intelligence of these sufferings at once aroused the indignation of Cromwell and Milton, and the result was the following temperate and admirable letter to the author of the calamity:— “OLIVER, the Protector, &c., to the most Serene Prince, IMMANUEL, Duke of SAvoy, Prince of Piedmont, Greeting. “Most Serene Prince,— “LETTERs have been sent us from Geneva, as also from • Prose Works, vol. ii. pp. 282, 283.
the Dauphinate, and many other places bordering upon your territories, wherein we are given to understand, that such of your royal highness's subjects as profess the reformed religion, are commanded by your edict, and by your authority, within three days after the promulgation of your edict, to depart their native seats and habitations, upon pain of capital punishment, and forfeiture of all their fortunes and estates, unless they will give security to relinquish their religion within twenty days, and embrace the Roman Catholic faith. And that when they applied themselves to your royal highness in a most suppliant manner, imploring a revocation of the said edict, and that, being received into pristine favour, they might be restored to the liberty granted them by your predecessors, a part of your army fell upon them, most cruelly slew several, put others in chains, and compelled the rest to fly into desert places, and to the mountains covered with snow, where some hundreds of families are reduced to such distress, that it is greatly to be feared, they will in a short time all miserably perish through cold and hunger. These things, when they were related to us, we could not choose but be touched with extreme grief and compassion for the sufferings and calamities of this afflicted people. Now in regard we must acknowledge ourselves linked together not only by the same tie of humanity, but by joint communion of the same religion, we thought it impossible for us to satisfy our duty to God, to brotherly charity, or our profession of the same religion, if we should only be affected with a bare sorrow for the misery and calamity of our brethren, and not contribute all our endeavours to relieve and succour them in their unexpected adversity, as much as in us lies. Therefore in a greater measure we most earnestly beseech and conjure your royal highness, that you would call back to your thoughts the moderation of your most serene predecessors, and the liberty by them granted and confirmed from time to time to their subjects the Vaudois. In granting and confirming which, as they