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left him, and when asked to return at the time appointed, positively refused. He sent letter after letter to induce her to alter her resolution,-they were returned unopened; he even despatched a messenger, he was dismissed from her father's house with contempt. His grief and surprise were soon changed into fury; he determined to repudiate her, and proceeded to justify the step by writing four treatises, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce ; The Judgment of Martin Bucer concerning Divorce ; Tetrachordon ; and Colasterion. Without defending the loose and dangerous doctrines advocated in these treatises, we must say that Milton's conduct admits of more excuse than that of other celebrated men who have been in a similar domestic predicament. Coleridge's irregularities would have tried the patience of any woman that ever lived. Shelley married too young, and it was not much wonder that such “calf-love” did not continue. Byron seems to have behaved badly, if not brutally, to his lady, and was, we fear, unfaithful ere the one year of their connexion had elapsed. But Milton's wife had nothing to complain of except his austere manners and life, and of these she might have been aware before the marriage. “Hearing his nephews cry sometimes under his severe discipline” is the only fact alleged in her excuse. The truth simply is, they were uncongenial, and had, in the mysterious providence of God, met for mutual misery. But it had been braver and nobler, and in the long run better far for both, had they submitted in silence, instead of kicking against what was their fixed and forefated lot. His principal defence is, that she was the aggressor. These treatises, new in doctrine, uncompromising in spirit, and bold in language, could not fail of attracting attention, and of exciting controversy. Many sneered at them; some replied in print; others attacked them from the pulpit; and a few rallied around them, who gained the name of Divorcists or Miltonists. It was unfortunate for their effect that they so manifestly sprung from the bitterness of personal disappointment. The fox had lost his tail, and must persuade all future foxes to claim the liberty of cutting off theirs whenever they chose! The Presbyterians were especially inimical to his views. They had him summoned before the House of Lords, by whom, however, he was speedily dismissed; and one of their leading clergy, Herbert Palmer, abused his book in the bitterest terms. These facts seem to have determined the balance of Milton's mind against Presbyterianism and in favour of the Independent party. Meanwhile, he was carrying out the principles of his work, by paying his addresses to the daughter of Dr Davis, described as a lady of great beauty and intelligence. He had apparently not heard the Scottish proverb, “It is best to be off with the old love, before you are on with the new.” A short time afterwards, he was startlingly reminded of its truth. Although agonised and almost “driven to atheism” by this distressing event, his mind continued as active and powerful as ever. In 1644, he published his Tractate on Education, developing a plan of training rather Utopian, and which seems scarcely worth being realised. Any student subjected to it would have turned out a curious mixture; one-third farmer, one-third pedant, and one-third poet. In the same year, Milton wrote a far nobler production; indeed, his grandest in prose, The Areopagitica; a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. The most elaborate speeches or treatises of the ancients, the Philippics of Demosthenes and the orations of Cicero, seem but the discourses of Lilliput compared to this. It had suited an audience of “giant angels” better than even that stately senate to which it was addressed. It is almost entirely free from the quaintness, stiffness, and involution which mark his ordinary prose-style, and rises more easily into its altitudes. It is as “thunder mingled with clear echoes;” and amid all its merits, its strong argument, its sounding-march, the “deep organ-tone” of its diction, there is nothing more remarkable about it than its sustained, cheerful, and majestic calmness. One wonders how it could be written by one so strangely widowed as its author had been, and is tempted to suspect that the bright eyes of Miss Davis had in part inspired it. Like almost all first-rate speeches, such as Burke's, and Fox's, and Chatham's best, it failed in gaining its object, and would have failed even had Milton been permitted to read it in person to the Parliament. The Presbyterians when they got the press into their hands were as unfriendly to its unrestricted freedom as the Prelatists had been. His father had now come to reside with him, and the number of his pupils increasing, he took a larger house. Before removing to it, he was astonished, upon one of his usual visits to a relation in St Martin's le Grand, to see his wife coming in from another room and beseeching forgiveness. A scene followed, at which some will be disposed to laugh, and others to cry. She fell on her knees, she bathed him with her tears, and he, overpowered by her solicitations, took her once more to his bosom. It was magnanimous conduct, although undoubtedly the scheme was pre-concerted on the part of her friends, who felt the declining state of the royal cause, who foresaw that Milton's star was soon to culminate, and had heard that he was paying his addresses to another lady. This sets, we think, their conduct in a very mean light, and reminds us of that of the Armour family, who persecuted poor Burns when “hungry ruin had him in the wind,” but fawned on him, and made him welcome to visit Jean, after his triumphant return from Edinburgh. What became of Miss Davis we are not informed. The Poet removed soon after to Barbican, where he received, besides his wife, his pupils and his own father, his wife's father and mother, after they were impoverished by the success of the Roundheads. Todd has discovered some curious documents, which shew that Powell had been in debt to Milton's father, and that after his death, Milton, to reimburse himself, took possession of his mortgaged property, and so Powell's widow and eight children were left destitute. This is not a story much to Milton's credit, and constitutes, in fact, the one small thing recorded against him. But we are not acquainted with all the circumstances. In 1646–7, Powell died a brokenhearted bankrupt; and soon after, Milton's own father expired. Before this, he had published, for the first time in a collected form, his juvenile poems in Latin and English.
In 1647, his family circle having been lessened by the death of his father and father-in-law, and by the departure of widow Powell and her family, he took a smaller dwelling in Holborn, opening backward into Lincoln's Inn Fields, and continued to instruct a few scholars. From this date till the death of Charles I. his pen seems to have remained idle, with the exception of turning into English verse a few of the Psalms, sooth to say, with no great success. If Milton failed, can we wonder that no one else has fully succeeded in translating these divine lyrics? On the 30th of January 1648–9, Divine Right, in the person of Charles L., was publicly put to death before Whitehall, and the blow “resounded through the universe!” Thousands awoke at the sound—many to scream out contradiction and rage—many to shed bitter tears, and many to express a faint and faltering approbation. Milton belonged to none of these classes, but dared to echo the falling axe, and to cry aloud, “It is the judgment of God.” He published a treatise entitled the Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, in which he elaborately shews “that it is lawful, and hath been held so through all ages, for any who have the power to call to account a tyrant or wicked king.” This strong and seasonable argument, from the most powerful pen then extant, led to important advantages. Grateful for his aid, the government appointed him their Latin secretary, with a salary of £288 a-year. “As Latin secretary,” says an able writer, “his duties were multifarious and somewhat onerous. As it had been resolved that all the government correspondence with foreign princes and states should be in Latin, he had daily to attend at Whitehall to lend his services as a compiler and translator. A collection of the letters written by him in this capacity, both for the Council of State and for Cromwell, is published among his prose works. But, besides these strictly official duties, others naturally devolved upon him in consequence of his general literary abilities.” To this class belong his Critical Observations on the Articles of Peace between the Earl of Ormond and the Irish Rebels—his Eiconoclastes, written in reply to the famous Eicon Basilike, the supposed production of Charles I., and his Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, an answer to the Latin Defence of Charles I, produced by Salmasius, a Frenchman, and reputed one of the best scholars in Europe. Of these, the first two were published in 1649, and the last in 1651. All made more or less a profound sensation, and were in different measures distinguished by the same qualities —profuse learning—scholastic subtlety—eloquence of a rich and massive but involved and intricate texture—decision of tone, amounting to dogmatism and defiance—a fierce contemptuous bitterness to his opponents—passages of almost superhuman dignity and splendour, alternating with bad jokes, word-playings, and the vilest of all possible puns. On the whole, when he became a controversialist, if not weak as other men, his stature, like that of his own angels ere entering the halls of Pandemonium, was dwarfed and dwindled. Two passages from his Defensio are worthy of all admiration— those, namely, describing Cromwell and Bradshaw, pictures which reduce to mere daubs all the sketches of character produced before or since from Plutarch to Lord Brougham. Salmasius answered Milton's attack by an assault on his private character. Indeed, the personalities on both sides were atrocious and disgusting, as was the manner of that age. Peter de Moulin also replied to the Defensio pro Populo, and provoked a rejoinder still fiercer from Milton's pen, entitled Defensio Secunda. Salmasius shortly after died, according to some, broken-hearted, owing to the neglect he experienced after Milton's book appeared. For several years thereafter he was principally occupied in his official duties; and having given up his pupils, and finding his health somewhat impaired, he removed to Scotland Yard, and thence to Garden House in Westminster, where he continued till near the time of the Restoration. In 1652, a calamity which had long impended over at last came down on him—we allude to his blindness. This had been slowly gaining on him, and the labours connected with the Salmasian controversy brought it to a point. Of course, there were many to cry out, a “judgment,” and to dream that it was a drop of the king's blood which had quenched his eyes! Milton has written more than one noble