صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

French, and a competent knowledge of the mathematics and astronomy. The Sunday's exercise for his pupils was for the most part to read a chapter of the Greek Testament, and to hear his learned exposition of it. The next work after this was to write from his dictation some part of a system of divinity, which he had collected from the ablest divines, who had written upon that subjecth. Such were his academic institutions; and thus by teaching others he in some manner enlarged his own knowledge; and having the reading of so many authors as it were by proxy, he might possibly have preserved his sight, if he had not moreover been perpetually busied in reading or writing something bimself. It was certainly a very recluse and studious life, that both he and his pupils led; but the young men of that age were of a different turn from those of the present; and he himself gave an example to those under him of hard study and spare diet; only now and then, once in three weeks or a month, he made a gaudy day with some young gentlemen of his acquaintance, the chief of whom, says Mr. Philips, were Mr. Alphry and Mr. Miller, both of Gray’s-Inn, and two of the greatest beaux of those times.

But he was not so fond of this academical life, as to be an indifferent spectator of what was acted upon the public stage of the world. The nation was now in a great ferment in 1641, and the clamour ran high against the bishops, when he joined loudly in the cry, to help

“A perfect system of Divi- ologiæ of William Ames, a Puri"nity," says Philips, " collected tan, and the Compendium Theo" from Amesius, Wollebius, &c.logiæ of Wollebius. E. probably from the Medulla The

the puritan ministers, (as he says himself in his second Defence,) they being inferior to the bishops in learning and eloquence; and published his two books Of Re. formation in England, written to a friend. About the same time certain ministers having published a treatise against episcopacy, in answer to the Humble Remonstránce of Dr. Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich, under the title of Smectymnuus, a word consisting of the initial letters of their names, Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstow; and Archbishop Usher having published at Oxford a refutation of Smectymnuus, in a tract concerning the Original of Bishops and Metropolitans; Milton wrote his little piece Of Prelatical Episcopacy, in opposition chiefly to Usher, for he was for contending with the most powerful adversary; there would be either less disgrace in the defeat, or more glory in the victory. He handled the subject more at large in his next performance, which was the Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty, in two books. And Bishop Hall having published a Defence of the Humble Remonstrance, he wrote Animadversions upon it. All these treatises he published within the course of one year, 1641, which show how very diligent he was in the cause that he had undertaken. And the next year he set forth his Apology for Smectymnuus, in answer to the Confutation of his Animadversions, written as he thought himself by Bishop Hall or his son' And here he very luckily ended a controversy, which detained him from greater and better writings which he was

[ocr errors]


See Mr. Warton's concluding note on the Latin poems. E.

meditating, more useful to the public, as well as more suitable to his own genius and inclination: but he thought all this while that he was vindicating ecclesiastical libertyk.

In the year 1643, and the 35th of his age, he married; and indeed his family was now growing so numerous, that it wanted a mistress at the head of it. His father,

" As a specimen of the facility dustriæ vires transferre. Pri. with wbich men may persuade mum itaque De Reformanda Ecthemselves that their own mo. clesia Anglicana, duos ad amitives are altogether pure, and cum quendam libros conscripsi; those of their adversaries corrupt, deinde, cum duo præ cæteris I subjoin Milton's account of his magni nominis episcopi suum jus motives in writing these pieces, contra ministros quosdam primafrom the Defensio Secunda. Pr. rios assererent, ratus de iis rebus, W. ii. p. 384. ed. 1753. Ut pri- quas amore solo veritatis, et ex mum loquendi saltem cæpta est officii Christiani ratione didicelibertas concedi, omnia in Epis- ram, haud pejus me dicturum copos aperiri ore; alii de ipsorum quam qui de suo quæstu et invitiis, alii de ipsius ordinis vitio justissimo dominatu contendeconqueri; iniquum esse, se solos bant, ad hunc libris duobus, quoab ecclesiis omnibus, quotquot rum unus De Episcopatu Præreformatæ sunt, discrepare; ex- latico, alter De Ratione Discipliemplo fratrum, sed maxime ex næ Ecclesiasticæ, inscribitur, ad verbo Dei, gubernari Ecclesiam illum scriptis quibusdam Animconvenire. Ad hæc sane exper- adversionibus, et mox Apologia rectus, cum veram affectari viam respondi, et ministris facundiam ad libertatem cernerem, ab his hominis, ut ferebatur ægre susinitiis, his passibus, ad liberan- tinentibus suppetias tuli, et ab dam servitute vitam omnem mor eo tempore, si quid postea retalium rectissime procedi, si ab sponderent, interfui.—And Hall religione disciplina orta ad mores and Usher were the men against et instituta reipublicæ emanaret, whom these insinuations were cum etiam me ita ab adolescentia directed. parassem, ut quid divini, quid The celebrated passage, alhumani esset juris, ante omnia luded to by Bishop Newton, in possem non ignorare, meque con which Milton promises some great suluissem ecquando ullius usus poetical work at a future period, essem futurus, si nunc patriæ, occurs in the preface to the immo vero ecclesiæ, totque fra- second book of the Reason of tribus evangelii causa periculo Church Government. Parts of it sese objicientibus deessem, statui, are cited in the notes on P. L. etsi tunc alia quædam meditabar, i. 17. and P. R. i. 1. E. huc omne ingenium, omnes in

who had lived with his younger son at Reading, was, upon the taking of that place by the forces under the Earl of Essex, necessitated to come and live in London with this his elder son, with whom he continued in tranquillity and devotion to his dying day. Some addition too was to be made to the number of his pupils. But before his father or his new pupils were come, he took a journey in the Whitsuntide vacation, and after a month's absence returned with a wife, Mary the eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, of Foresthill near Shotover in Oxfordshire, a justice of the peace, and a gentleman of good repute and figure in that county! But she had not cohabited with her husband above a month, before she was earnestly solicited by her relations to come and spend the remaining part of the summer with them in the country. If it was not at her instigation that her friends made this request, yet at least it was agreeable to her inclination; and she obtained her husband's consent upon a promise of returning at Michaelmas. In the mean while his studies went on very vigorouslym; and his chief diversion,

"A letter of Sir W. Jones to L'Allegro and Il Penseroso might Lady Spencer, which Lord have been written at that time, Teignmouth has preserved in his for they were not published till Life of Sir W. Jones, has given 1645, yet in his Ode to Rouse he celebrity to the tradition that speaks of the whole volume of Milton composed several of his poems in which they were inearliest productions, and parti- cluded as the production of his cularly L'Allegro and Il Pense- youthful days. See Todd's Life roso, at Foresthill. It is more of Milton, p. 19–25. and the probable that these poems were Life by Symmons, p. 616–618. composed during his residence ed. 2. E. at Horton. There is no evidence m“ And now the studies went that he ever resided at Foresthill, "on with so much the more except perhaps during the month “vigour, as there were more of his courtship. And though “ hands and heads employed;

after the business of the day, was now and then in an evening to visit the Lady Margaret Lee, daughter of the Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer of England, and President of the Privy Council to King James I. This Lady, being a woman of excellent wit and understanding, had a particular honour for our author, and took great delight in his conversation; as likewise did her husband Captain Hobson, a very accomplished gentleman. And what a regard Milton again had for her, he has left upon record in a sonnet to her praise, extant among his other poems.

Michaelmas was now come, but he heard nothing of his wife's return. He wrote to her, but received no answer. He wrote again letter after letter, but received no answer to any of them. He then dispatched a messenger with a letter, desiring her to return ; but she positively refused, and dismissed the messenger with contempt. Whether it was, that she had conceived any dislike to her husband's person or humour; or whether she could not conform to his retired and philosophical manner of life, having been accustomed to a house of much gaiety and company; or whether being of a family strongly attached to the royal cause, she could not bear her husband's republican principles; or whether she was overpersuaded by her relations, who possibly might repent of having matched the eldest daughter of the family to a man so distinguished for taking the contrary party, the King's head-quarters being in their neighbourhood at Oxford, and his Majesty having now some fairer prospect of success ; "the old gentleman (Milton's “out the least trouble imaginfather] living wholly retired « able." Philips. "to his rest and devotion, with

« السابقةمتابعة »