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ged, out of that tender respect all naturally carry towards a faire repute, (which will perhaps prove the argument of a time may happen many ages after mine is spent,) not to suffer it to come into the world speechlesse ; which I looke upon as none of the least misfortunes, however it may be reckoned amongst the most innocent: the tongue supplying the same place in man, a stingis found to do in a serpent. Nor is it likely any thing so generall as this should scape wounding by such darts : which renders all indeavour to framne it a sufficient passport, not only difficult, but meerly impossible ; being quite derested of the patched coat of antiquity, (it not bearing so much as the facing of any others custome but my owne,) no lesse then the janglings of novelties relating to faith ; whose apparitions and sounds are only able to raise up the prickeared attentions of these times, that neither regard the middle-aged philosophers, nor ancient prophets, farther then they are (like blind horses) able to bring grist to their
owne mills : by whom tradition is held and persecuted for a vagabond, though the Bible it selfe, that hath hung so long at their girdles, as it is become an assistant to the sword, had for some centuries no better covering then this arke; into which the generality do now not only profanely peepe, but proclaime the retention of it, an occasion of all the scabs and emrods, do at this day, and have long before, infested the nation : though deducible out of history and experience, that unity was more pliant to the bond of peace, and the priests more steady in their chayrs, and not so apt to fall into schismes, and break cheir owne necks, together with their governors, before tradition was taken captive, and hypocrisy had blinded the strength of, &c. who, though they did at first grinde the motly colours of _such as imployd them, they became in a short time cunning enough to display their owne. Now, if nothing might be registered of wicked, effeminate, and ill-consulted princes, but things plausible, and tending to the fame of the dead, one of the chiefe reins of terrour and restraint would be quite let loose to those alive; the impartiall grave affording no more protection to their dust, then the righteous judge doth connivance to their sinnes. From whence it may be concluded no lesse necessary (by reason of the greater and more generall advantage accruing to the world from such a splendid example,) to dissect and make inspection into the defects of a dead king, or ruins of a tattered state, then for a physitian to anatomize a body, whose life was, through evill and extravagant courses, forfeited to the law: by both which, honest men may come to be cured, and common-wealths better governed. I confesse a huge blame is due to such as mannage their pens no lésse impertinently then clowns do their knives and hatchets, with which, in lieu of other imployment, or for pure want of discourse, they deface and whittle the sacred graves and unquestioned fame of great persons, upon no solider an account, then to fill volumes, though they relate to no more use but what the narrative containes, without pointing either to imitation or admonition, the bull-workes of government; towards the ' advancement of which, nothing can be so precious, as may not in manners and decency be imployd, whether relating to the fame or infamy of dead princes. The omission of which would not only obstruct all : the readers benefit and delight, deducible meerly from truth and variety, but remove out of the sphere of majesty, hope, feare, and shame of what may be censured of them after this life, (all the reward and punishment the most think themselves capable , of,) by which they would be left only to the - boundlesse and unsteady prosecution of chance, or the guidance of their owne wills, not unlikely to prove as destructive to them and their issue, as burdensome to their people; it being the duty of an historian, not only to better the present understanding, but to open a window into the future, by drawing the fairest landskip, and making | VOL. I.
the widest and farthest prospect into times past, his skill will give him leave; in which, perhaps, more art may be showne in discovering the ditches, boggs, and bushes, then the more lofty mountains and trees. And now, having, so farre as is necessary, vindicated tradition, (the free schoole of princes) where moderation may be learn’d from those that have fallen under a popular fury, and patience inculcated to all subjects by the deare effects of civill warre, and the example of many that have cast off one tyranny and fallen into a worse, not seldome their portion, who hunt after change, I shall farther adde, that no sound requires a more docile eare, nor an exacter attention, then that proceeding from the trumpet of fame; the jarrings of which, like other wind instruments, are not so discernable at any distance, as neerer hand; wherefore, it creates admi- ration in me, to find out what the composi. tion of their humours may be, that impute it not only for a blemish to the writer, but an undecent intrusion into the readers har