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Quotations about Liberty and Power

About this Quotation:

John Milton was devastated by two events in his life: the gradual loss of his sight and the defeat of the republic and restoration of the Stuart monarchy. In this quotation he worries about the immediate problem of a vengeful monarchy and the powerful groups that supported it, and how generations to come would view the failure of the republican movement to create a stable alternative to monarchical government. He did not live long enough to see how true his fears of retribution were, with the execution of Algernon Sidney in 1683. We would have to wait another 100 years to see the beginning of another experiment with the American republic to answer some of Milton’s fears.

Other quotes from this week:

Other quotes about Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots:

7 August, 2006

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After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 John Milton was concerned with both how the triumphalist monarchists would treat the English people and how the disheartened English people would face their descendants (1660)

Read the full quote in context here.

In 1660, with the Restoration of the English monarchy and the end of the experiment in Republican government, Milton was concerned with both how the triumphalist monarchists would treat the English people and how the English people would face their descendants:

But admitt, that monarchy of it self may be convenient to som nations, yet to us who have thrown it out, received back again, it cannot but prove pernicious. For [the] kings to com, never forgetting thir former ejection, will be sure to fortifie and arme themselves sufficiently for the future against all such attempts heerafter from the people: who shall be then so narrowly watch’d and kept so low, [as that besides the loss of all thir blood, and treasure spent to no purpose,], that though they would never so fain and at the same rate of thir blood and treasure, they never shall be able to regain what they now have purchasd and may enjoy, or to free themselves from any yoke impos’d upon them. nor will they dare to go about it; utterly disheartn’d for the future, if these thir highest attempts prove unsuccesfull; which will be the triumph of all tyrants heerafter over any people that shall resist oppression; and thir song will then be, to others, how sped the rebellious English? to our posteritie, how sped the rebells your fathers?

The full passage from which this quotation was taken can be be viewed below (front page quote in bold):

But admitt, that monarchy of it self may be convenient to som nations, yet to us who have thrown it out, received back again, it cannot but prove pernicious. For [the] kings to com, never forgetting thir former ejection, will be sure to fortifie and arme themselves sufficiently for the future against all such attempts heerafter from the people: who shall be then so narrowly watch’d and kept so low, [as that besides the loss of all thir blood, and treasure spent to no purpose,], that though they would never so fain and at the same rate of thir blood and treasure, they never shall be able to regain what they now have purchasd and may enjoy, or to free themselves from any yoke impos’d upon them. nor will they dare to go about it; utterly disheartn’d for the future, if these thir highest attempts prove unsuccesfull; which will be the triumph of all tyrants heerafter over any people that shall resist oppression; and thir song will then be, to others, how sped the rebellious English? to our posteritie, how sped the rebells your fathers? This is not my conjecture, but drawn from God’s known denouncement against the gentilizing Israelites; who though they were governd in a Commonwealth of God’s own ordaining, he only thir king, they his peculiar people, yet affecting rather to resemble heathen, but pretending the misgovernment of Samuel’s sons, no more a reason to dislike thir Commonwealth, then the violence of Eli’s sons was imputable to that priesthood or religion, clamourd for a king. They had thir longing; but with this testimonie of God’s wrath; ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen, and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Us if he shall hear now, how much less will he hear when we cry hereafter, who once deliverd by him from a king, and not without wondrous acts of his providence, insensible and unworthie of those high mercies, are returning precipitantly, if he withhold us not, back to the captivitie from whence he freed us. Yet neither shall we obtain or buy at an easie rate this new guilded yoke which thus transports us: [Besides this,] a new royal-revenue must be found; a new episcopal; for those are individual: both which being wholly dissipated or bought by private persons, or assing’d for service don, and especially to the Armie, cannot be recovered without a general detriment and confusion to men’s estates, or a heavy imposition on all men’s purses. benefit to none, but to the worst and ignoblest sort of men, whose hope is to be either the ministers of court riot and excess, or the gainers by it: But not to speak more of losses and extraordinarie levies on our estates, what will then be the [Not to speak of] revenges and offences [that will be] rememberd and returnd, not only by the chief person, but by all his adherents; accounts and reparations that will be requir’d, suites [and] inditements, inquiries, discoveries, complaints, informations, who knows against whom, or how many, though perhaps neuters, if not to utmost infliction, yet to imprisonment, fines, banishment; or molestation; [or] if not these, yet disfavour, discountnance, disregard and contempt on all but the known royalist, or whom he favours, will be plentious; nor let the new royaliz’d presbyterians perswade themselves that thir old doings, though now recanted, will be forgotten; whatever conditions be contriv’d or trusted on.

[More works by John Milton (1608 – 1674)]