TheReady And Easy Way To Establish A Free Commonwealth By John Milton

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TheReady and Easy Way To Establish a Free Commonwealth by John Milton exploredthe reality of a free commonwealth emerging in England as well as thepossibilities of monarchy returning. Milton was both a philosopher and prophet.With the recent establishment of a free commonwealth in England Milton realizedthe necessity for the proper leadership. Milton proposed for his fellow Englishmen a Parliamentary instead ofrestoration.

Miltonwrote a number of pamphlets around the1660s in which he told of the benefits offreedom and liberty, as well as the dangers of the monarchy. Milton drew hisconclusions based on scripture and the basis of freedom and liberty. "We remainfinally secure from the exasperated regal power, and out of snares; shallretain the best part of our liberty, which is our religion, and the civil partwill be from these who defer us much more easily recovered, being neither sosubtle nor so awful as a king reinthroned"(Milton 334-35). Milton talks of thepeoples new freedom in his statement "our victory at once against two of themost prevailing usurpers over mankind, superstition and tyranny"(Milton 335).He

claims to see England's hard fight for this freedom as threatened by thepossibility of monarchy returning.

Miltonportrays the king and his power as both tyrannical, as well as hypocritical.Milton claimed that the prior monarchs had taken on the role as both king andgod. He states that "They made not their covenant concerning him with nodifference between a king and a god"(Milton 332). He believed that the kingshad formed the system of previous government, and by forming religion in thechurch of England made themselves all powerful and in a sense a god. Miltonclaimed that the people of England under a king faced a dilemma "when we couldnot serve two contrary masters, God and the king"(Milton 332). Milton also sawthe king as master and the Englishmen as the slaves. The system of monarchythat allowed one person to be the absolute power allowed for no otherarrangement than that of Master and slaves. This being because your everyaction and effort is done for the benefit of the king.

Thepossibility of England returning to a kingship weighed heavy on Milton's mindwhen he wrote this pamphlet. He thought that if not executed correctly that thenew freedoms attained by the English would be never fully realized if theEnglish were to let the king retain the previous powers. Milton argued that theking could retain power by the peopleallowing this to happen. He states this in his comparison to the Jews led byMoses at Mt. Sinai "the Jews to return back to Egypt and to worship of theiridol queen because they falsely imagined that they lived in more plenty andprosperity"(Milton 352). Milton declares that England's situation is the same as those slaves who meltedtheir jewelry to build an idol calf to present to the queen to take them backinto slavery, for they had never known freedom and had little trust in theconcept. This is a strong statement claiming that his fellow countrymen were onthe verge of selling themselves back in to monarchy because it was all thatthey knew.

Thepeople of England having worked hard at getting into power their form ofdemocracy and new found freedom from the slavery of monarchy, were going toallow the king to take the throne back. "But admit that monarchy of itself maybe convenient to some nations; yet to us who have thrown it out, received backagain, it cannot but prove pernicious. For kings to come, never forgettingtheir former ejection, will be sure to fortify and arm themselves sufficientlyfor the future against all such attempts hereafter from the people,"(Milton346), Here he states that the people would damn themselves to the tyranny of aking devastated by their previous ousting. He further states, "the people whoshall be then so narrowly watched and kept so low that their blood andtreasure, they never shall be able to regain what they now have purchased andmay enjoy, or to free themselves from any yoke imposed on them"(Milton 346). Theking in Milton's mind represented the concept of a yoke that would be placed ona beast who would be the Englishman bearing the burden for the master.

Miltonbelieved that the concept of placing all the power on the head of one personwas preposterous. Milton outlined the danger of having one person being allpowerful, "Certainly then that the people must needs be mad or strangelyinfatuated that build the chief hope of their common happiness or safety on asingle person; who, if he happens to be good, can do no more than another man;if to be bad, hath in his hands to do more evil without check than millions ofother men"(Milton 337). The single power that a monarch possesses goes againstthe concept of freedom and liberty that the English had fought for andattained. The concept of Parliamentary systems weren't new, but were adopted bythe English.

Theparliamentary system that was explained by Milton, consisted of a body known asthe grand or general council. This council must be derived from the voters andnot of the kings pickings. "Which never parliament was more free to do, beingnow called not as heretofore, by the summons of a king, but by the voice ofliberty"(Milton 338). This allows the possibility of a free commonwealth. The people have to choose the correct men tolead the country. "if the people, laying aside prejudice and impatience, willseriously and calmly now consider their own good, both religious and civil,their own liberty and the means thereof, as shall be here laid before them, andwill elect their knights and burgesses able men, and according to the just andnecessary qualifications,"(Milton 339). The people are for the first time arehaving the responsibility of choosing leaders placed upon them. Milton furtherstates, "men not addicted to one person or house of lords, the work is done; atleast the foundation firmly laid of a free commonwealth"(Milton 339). Miltonlooked at other and previous systems in Europe to help him come to theconclusion on his parliamentary system consisting of the Grand Council.

Thesystems that came before such as in Athens, Sparta, Rome, And Venice, all hadsystems of parliament. In Peter Lindenbaum's critical essay, The Republican Mode of Literary Production on Milton we see him compare Milton's views tothat of Sarpi of Venice, "It is clear that Venice was on his mind as a possiblemodel if only in his decision to call his commonwealth's main governing body aGrand Council and to urge it's members to sit for life"(Lindenbaum 156). Milton may have borrowed some ideas,but the ideas were backed by his philosophy. This Grand Council was to serve asthe main form of government in England. It was to assume the duties of both thelaw making body, as well as the bureaucratic functions that an executive branchwould handle. Within this body the members were to select a Council of State toaid in the functions of government, such as sitting while the Grand Council ison recess.

Membersof the Grand Council, weren't intended to be temporary members subject tore-election. "I see not, therefore, how we can be advantaged by successive andtransitory parliaments; but they are much likelier continually to unsettlerather than to settle a free government, to breed commotions, changes,novelties and uncertainties, to bring neglect upon present affairs andopportunities, while all minds are suspense with expectations of a newassembly"(Milton 340). Milton also argued that these assemblies would never besubject to the same docket more than once, for if they elected the right peoplethen the decision that they make is going to be the best decision for England.He argued against rotation of elections (as in our U.S. Senate every six years)claiming that it would hurt England and that the fear of corruption oflong-standing members shouldn't be a problem since they can be removed uponconviction of a crime. "(Rotating elections) if possible might be avoided, ashaving too much affinity with the wheel of fortune. There is a danger ofputting out a great number of the best and ablest, which would be replaced bythe raw and inexperienced"(Milton 340). Milton saw the need for the members of the Grand Council to becomeexperts at all the aspects of governing such as defense and foreign relations,this makes it necessary for the members to sit for life.

Themembers of the Grand Council must sit for life, but are subject to replacementupon their death, as well as if they are convicted of a crime. This allows fora more stable government. "For the death of a king causeth oftimes manydangerous alterations, but the death now and then of a senator is notfelt"(Milton 341). Milton states that a senate made up of life long members,makes up the strongest form of parliamentary government. "A successive senatenot only impairs the dignity and lustre of the senate, but weakens the wholecommonwealth, and brings it into manifest danger"(Milton 341). With the dangerspresented by a successive senate, it is important for the elected members to bethe best suited for the job. Miltonbelieves that the best way to insure that the correct men are selected for thesenate is to educate the citizens. This way the best representatives are chosenand the citizenry is more knowledgeable about issues and are more apt toreforming the senate at any signs of corruption. This forces the electedsenators to be the role models for society. "wherein they who are the greatestand perpetual servants and drudges to the public neglect their own affairs, yetare not elevated above their brethren; live soberly in their families, walk thestreets as other men, may be spoken to freely familiarly, friendly, withoutadoration"(Milton 336).

The timein which Milton is writing is a great time period in English history. He wasOliver Cromwell's Latin secretary, he lived in a great time period in thechurch in England with the emergence of Calvinism. Milton served his timeperiod graciously, and is mentioned with Shakespeare when it comes to Englishpoets. This treatise was written right before the restoration in England. InJohn Spencer Hill's book John Milton: Poet, Priest, and Prophet, heclaims that Milton "speaks as a prophet rather than of the prophets"(Hill 80).Milton was trying to stop the inevitable restoration that was beginning to takeplace in England. Hugh M. Richardson says of the time in which Ready and Easy Way was written, in hisbook entitled, The Christian Revolutionary: John Milton , "It was atruly Platonic solution to England's political troubles"(Richardson 98). JohnMilton was trying to stop what he feared was the end of the freedom that he hadjust attained fifteen years earlier, and he was pulling out every plug he couldsuch as religion, tyranny, and the hope for a better and free commonwealth.

Thesystem that Milton came up with was never implemented, because of therestoration in England. Milton used various philosophies and prophecies to tryand influence his native Englishman into keeping the freedoms that otherEnglishmen had died to obtain some years prior. The unique time period that John Milton was born in dictated hisphilosophies he was giving a suitable alternative to Kingship and monarchy withthis treatise. Milton was a product of his time period, he had many greatpoems, and prose most notably ParadiseLost, but in politics his pamphlets prior to restoration in England willalways stand out as important philosophy. The Ready and Easy Way ToEstablish a Free Commonwealth by John Milton The Ready and Easy Way To Establish aFree Commonwealth by John Milton explored the reality of a freecommonwealth emerging in England as well as the possibilities of monarchyreturning. Milton was both a philosopher and prophet. With the recentestablishment of a free commonwealth in England Milton realized the necessityfor the proper leadership. Miltonproposed for his fellow Englishmen a Parliamentary instead of restoration.

Miltonwrote a number of pamphlets around the1660s in which he told of the benefits offreedom and liberty, as well as the dangers of the monarchy. Milton drew hisconclusions based on scripture and the basis of freedom and liberty. "We remainfinally secure from the exasperated regal power, and out of snares; shallretain the best part of our liberty, which is our religion, and the civil partwill be from these who defer us much more easily recovered, being neither sosubtle nor so awful as a king reinthroned"(Milton 334-35). Milton talks of thepeoples new freedom in his statement "our victory at once against two of themost prevailing usurpers over mankind, superstition and tyranny"(Milton 335).He claims to see England's hard fight for this freedom as threatened by thepossibility of monarchy returning.

Miltonportrays the king and his power as both tyrannical, as well as hypocritical.Milton claimed that the prior monarchs had taken on the role as both king andgod. He states that "They made not their covenant concerning him with nodifference between a king and a god"(Milton 332). He believed that the kingshad formed the system of previous government, and by forming religion in thechurch of England made themselves all powerful and in a sense a god. Miltonclaimed that the people of England under a king faced a dilemma "when we couldnot serve two contrary masters, God and the king"(Milton 332). Milton also sawthe king as master and the Englishmen as the slaves. The system of monarchythat allowed one person to be the absolute power allowed for no otherarrangement than that of Master and slaves. This being because your everyaction and effort is done for the benefit of the king.

Thepossibility of England returning to a kingship weighed heavy on Milton's mindwhen he wrote this pamphlet. He thought that if not executed correctly that thenew freedoms attained by the English would be never fully realized if theEnglish were to let the king retain the previous powers. Milton argued that theking could retain power by the peopleallowing this to happen. He states this in his comparison to the Jews led byMoses at Mt. Sinai "the Jews to return back to Egypt and to worship of theiridol queen because they falsely imagined that they lived in more plenty andprosperity"(Milton 352). Milton declares that England's situation is the same as those slaves who meltedtheir jewelry to build an idol calf to present to the queen to take them backinto slavery, for they had never known freedom and had little trust in theconcept. This is a strong statement claiming that his fellow countrymen were onthe verge of selling themselves back in to monarchy because it was all thatthey knew.

Thepeople of England having worked hard at getting into power their form ofdemocracy and new found freedom from the slavery of monarchy, were going toallow the king to take the throne back. "But admit that monarchy of itself maybe convenient to some nations; yet to us who have thrown it out, received backagain, it cannot but prove pernicious. For kings to come, never forgettingtheir former ejection, will be sure to fortify and arm themselves sufficientlyfor the future against all such attempts hereafter from the people,"(Milton346), Here he states that the people would damn themselves to the tyranny of aking devastated by their previous ousting. He further states, "the people whoshall be then so narrowly watched and kept so low that their blood and treasure,they never shall be able to regain what they now have purchased and may enjoy,or to free themselves from any yoke imposed on them"(Milton 346). The king inMilton's mind represented the concept of a yoke that would be placed on a beastwho would be the Englishman bearing the burden for the master.

Miltonbelieved that the concept of placing all the power on the head of one personwas preposterous. Milton outlined the danger of having one person being allpowerful, "Certainly then that the people must needs be mad or strangelyinfatuated that build the chief hope of their common happiness or safety on asingle person; who, if he happens to be good, can do no more than another man;if to be bad, hath in his hands to do more evil without check than millions ofother men"(Milton 337). The single power that a monarch possesses goes againstthe concept of freedom and liberty that the English had fought for andattained. The concept of Parliamentary systems weren't new, but were adopted bythe English.

The parliamentarysystem that was explained by Milton, consisted of a body known as the grand orgeneral council. This council must be derived from the voters and not of thekings pickings. "Which never parliament was more free to do, being now callednot as heretofore, by the summons of a king, but by the voice ofliberty"(Milton 338). This allows the possibility of a free commonwealth. The people have to choose the correct men tolead the country. "if the people, laying aside prejudice and impatience, willseriously and calmly now consider their own good, both religious and civil,their own liberty and the means thereof, as shall be here laid before them, andwill elect their knights and burgesses able men, and according to the just andnecessary qualifications,"(Milton 339). The people are for the first time arehaving the responsibility of choosing leaders placed upon them. Milton furtherstates, "men not addicted to one person or house of lords, the work is done; atleast the foundation firmly laid of a free commonwealth"(Milton 339). Miltonlooked at other and previous systems in Europe to help him come to theconclusion on his parliamentary system consisting of the Grand Council.

Thesystems that came before such as in Athens, Sparta, Rome, And Venice, all hadsystems of parliament. In Peter Lindenbaum's critical essay, The Republican Mode of Literary Production on Milton we see him compare Milton's viewsto that of Sarpi of Venice, "It is clear that Venice was on his mind as apossible model if only in his decision to call his commonwealth's maingoverning body a Grand Council and to urge it's members to sit forlife"(Lindenbaum 156). Milton may haveborrowed some ideas, but the ideas were backed by his philosophy. This GrandCouncil was to serve as the main form of government in England. It was toassume the duties of both the law making body, as well as the bureaucraticfunctions that an executive branch would handle. Within this body the memberswere to select a Council of State to aid in the functions of government, suchas sitting while the Grand Council is on recess.

Membersof the Grand Council, weren't intended to be temporary members subject tore-election. "I see not, therefore, how we can be advantaged by successive andtransitory parliaments; but they are much likelier continually to unsettlerather than to settle a free government, to breed commotions, changes,novelties and uncertainties, to bring neglect upon present affairs andopportunities, while all minds are suspense with expectations of a newassembly"(Milton 340). Milton also argued that these assemblies would never besubject to the same docket more than once, for if they elected the right peoplethen the decision that they make is going to be the best decision for England.He argued against rotation of elections (as in our U.S. Senate every six years)claiming that it would hurt England and that the fear of corruption oflong-standing members shouldn't be a problem since they can be removed uponconviction of a crime. "(Rotating elections) if possible might be avoided, ashaving too much affinity with the wheel of fortune. There is a danger ofputting out a great number of the best and ablest, which would be replaced bythe raw and inexperienced"(Milton 340). Milton saw the need for the members of the Grand Council to becomeexperts at all the aspects of governing such as defense and foreign relations,this makes it necessary for the members to sit for life.

Themembers of the Grand Council must sit for life, but are subject to replacementupon their death, as well as if they are convicted of a crime. This allows fora more stable government. "For the death of a king causeth oftimes manydangerous alterations, but the death now and then of a senator is notfelt"(Milton 341). Milton states that a senate made up of life long members,makes up the strongest form of parliamentary government. "A successive senatenot only impairs the dignity and lustre of the senate, but weakens the wholecommonwealth, and brings it into manifest danger"(Milton 341). With the dangerspresented by a successive senate, it is important for the elected members to bethe best suited for the job. Miltonbelieves that the best way to insure that the correct men are selected for thesenate is to educate the citizens. This way the best representatives are chosenand the citizenry is more knowledgeable about issues and are more apt toreforming the senate at any signs of corruption. This forces the electedsenators to be the role models for society. "wherein they who are the greatestand perpetual servants and drudges to the public neglect their own affairs, yetare not elevated above their brethren; live soberly in their families, walk thestreets as other men, may be spoken to freely familiarly, friendly, withoutadoration"(Milton 336).

The timein which Milton is writing is a great time period in English history. He wasOliver Cromwell's Latin secretary, he lived in a great time period in thechurch in England with the emergence of Calvinism. Milton served his time periodgraciously, and is mentioned with Shakespeare when it comes to English poets.This treatise was written right before the restoration in England. In JohnSpencer Hill's book John Milton: Poet, Priest, and Prophet, he claimsthat Milton "speaks as a prophet rather than of the prophets"(Hill 80). Miltonwas trying to stop the inevitable restoration that was beginning to take placein England. Hugh M. Richardson says of the time in which Ready and Easy Way was written, in his book entitled, TheChristian Revolutionary: John Milton , "It was a truly Platonic solution toEngland's political troubles"(Richardson 98). John Milton was trying to stopwhat he feared was the end of the freedom that he had just attained fifteenyears earlier, and he was pulling out every plug he could such as religion,tyranny, and the hope for a better and free commonwealth.

Thesystem that Milton came up with was never implemented, because of therestoration in England. Milton used various philosophies and prophecies to tryand influence his native Englishman into keeping the freedoms that otherEnglishmen had died to obtain some years prior. The unique time period that John Milton was born in dictated hisphilosophies he was giving a suitable alternative to Kingship and monarchy withthis treatise. Milton was a product of his time period, he had many greatpoems, and prose most notably ParadiseLost, but in politics his pamphlets prior to restoration in England willalways stand out as important philosophy Bibliography Hill, John Spencer, John Milton: Poet, Priest, and Prophet. Rowman and Littlefield, Totowa, New Jersey, 1943.

Lindenbaum, Peter. John Milton and the Republican Mode of Literary Production. The yearbook of English Studies, vol. 21, 1991. Modern Humanities Research Association. As printed in Critical Essays on John Milton. Edited by Christopher Kendrick. G.K. Hall and co. 1995.

Milton, John. John Milton: A Critical Edition of the Major Works. The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth. Edited by Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 1990.

Richmond, Hugh M. The Christian Revolutionary: John Milton. University of California Press Berkeley, Los Angeles, London. 1974.