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authors, and improved by all, even by romances, of which he had been fond in his younger years; and as the bee can extract honey out of weeds, so (to use his own words in his Apology for Smectymnuus) 66 those “ books, which to many others have been the fuel of “ wanton ness and loose living, proved to him so many “incitements to the love and observation of virtue.” His favourite author after the holy Scriptures was Homer". Homer he could repeat almost all without book; and he was advised to undertake a translation of his works, which no doubt he would have executed to admiration. But (as he
But (as he says of himself in his postscript to the Judgment of Martin Bucer) “ he never " could delight in long citations, much less' in whole “ traductions.” And accordingly there are few things, and those of no great length, which he has ever translated. He was possessed too much of an original genius to be a mere copier. 66 Whether it be natural
disposition, says he, or education in me, or that my "mother bore me a speaker of what God made my
own, and not a translator." And it is somewhat remarkable, that there is scarce any author who has written so much, and upon such various subjects, and yet quotes so little from his contemporary authors, or so seldom mentions any of them. He praises Selden indeed in more places than one, but for the rest he appears disposed to censure rather than commend".
* And, next to these, Euripi- Epist. Fam. Pr. W. ii. p. 582. des and Ovid. See the last para- Letter to Henry De Brass. E. graph of Mr. Warton's note on * In his Areopagitica, however, v. 55 of the ode, Ad J. Rousium. he has extolled, in terms of suHe preferred Sallust before all perabundant eulogy, the merits the other Roman historians. See of Lord Brooke, who had lately
After his severer studies, and after dinner as we observed before, he used to divert and unbend his mind with playing upon the organ or bass-viol, which was a great relief to him after he had lost his sight; for he was a master of music as was his father, and he could perform both vocally and instrumentally, and it is said that he composed very well, though nothing of this kind is handed down to uso. It is also said that he had some skill in painting as well as in music, and that somewhere or other there is a head of Milton, drawn by himself; but he was blessed with so many real excellencies, that there is no want of fictitious ones to raise and adorn his character. He had a quick apprehension, a sublime imagination, a strong memory, a piercing judgment, a wit always ready, and facetious or grave as the occasion required: and I know not whether the loss of his sight did not add vigour to the faculties of the mind. He at least thought so, and often comforted himself with that reflection P.
But his great parts and learning have scarcely gained fallen in the service of the Par- amissum quam revocatum intus liament, and had written a trea-. atque retractum, ad acuendam tise Against the English Episco- potius mentis aciem quam ad hepacy, and, against the danger of betandam, sperem. Quo fit, ut Sects and Schisms. He has also neque Literis irascar, nec earum spoken of John Cameron with studio penitus intermittam, etihigh respect in his Tetrachordon. amsi me tam male multaverint: Todd.
tam enim morosus ne sim, My. o He had a delicate tunable sorum Regis Telephi saltem ex. voice, and had good skill. Au- emplum erudiit; qui eo telo, quo brey.
vulneratus est, sanari postea non p De mea animi tranquillitate recusavit. Epist. Fam. 21. Pr. W'. in hoc tanto luminis detrimento, p. 581. ed. 1753. See also his redeque mea in excipiendis exteris Aections upon his blindness in hominibus comitate ac studio, his Second Defence, p. 374—377. persuasum tibi esse gaudeo. Or- ed. 1753. “Utinam de cæcitate bitatem certe luminis quidni “-condonare." E. leniter feram, quod non tam
him more admirers, than his political principles have de raised him enemies. And yet the darling passion of
his soul was the love of liberty; this was his constant
aim and end, however he might be mistaken in the ed!
means. He was indeed very zealous in what was called the good old cause, and with his spirit and his resolution it is somewhat wonderful, that he never ventured his person in the civil war; but though he was not in arms, he was not inactive, and thought, I suppose, that he could be of more service to the cause by his pen than by his sword 4.
He was a thorough republican, and in this he thought like a Greek or Roman, as he was very conversant with their writings. And one day Sir Robert Howard, who was a friend to Milton as well as to the liberties of his country, and was one of his constant visitors to the last, inquired of him how he came to side with the republicans. Milton answered
among other reasons, because theirs was the most frugal government, for the trappings of a mo
* So he says himself, Def. Sec. ut qui maxime deditus, et ingenio Pr. W. ii. p. 366. ed. 1753. Åt- semper quam corpore validior, que illi quidem Deo perinde posthabita castrensi opera, qua confisi, servitutem honestissimis me gregarius quilibet robustior armis pepulere: cujus laudis etsi facile superasset, ad ea me connullam partem mihi vendico, a tuli, quibus plus potui; ut parte reprehensione tamen vel timidi- mei meliore ac potiore, si satatis vel ignaviæ, siqua infertur, perem, non deteriore, ad rationes facile me tueor. Neque enim patriæ, causamque hanc præstanmilitiæ labores et pericula sic de- tissimam, quantum maxime posfugi
, ut non alia ratione et ope sem momentum accederem. Sic ram multo utiliorem, nec minore itaque existimabam, si illos Deus eum periculo meis civibus na res gerere tam præclaras voluit, varim, et animum dubiis in rebus esse itidem alios a quibus gestas neque demissum unquam, neque dici pro dignitate atque ornari, ullius invidiæ, vel etiam mortis et defensam armis veritatem raplus æquo metuentem præsti- tione etiam (quod unicum est terim. Nam cum ab adolescen- præsidium vere ac proprie hutalo humanioribus essem studiis manum) defendi voluerit. E.
narchy might set up an ordinary commonwealth. But then his attachment to Cromwell must be condemned, as being neither consistent with his republican principles, nor with his love of liberty. And I know no other way of accounting for his conduct, but by presuming (as I think we may reasonably presume) that he was far from entirely approving of Cromwell's proceedings, but considered him as the only person who could rescue the nation from the tyranny of the Presbyterians, who he saw were erecting a worse dominion of their own upon the ruins of prelatical episcopacy; and of all things he dreaded spiritual slavery, and therefore closed with Cromwell and the Independents, as he expected under them greater liberty of conscience. And though he served Cromwell, yet it must be said for him, that he served a great master, and served him ably, and was not wanting from time to time in giving him excellent good advice, especially in his second Defence': and so little being said of him in all
It is remarkable, that the Aler. Mori Fides Publica, p. 72, magnanimity and high tone of 73. Symmons. the address to the Protector, in There is no appearance of any Milton's second Defence, struck thing like intimacy between MilMorus, and was objected by him ton and Cromwell in A. Marto his adversary as an evidence vel's account of his presenting of overweening pride, and an the Second Defence to the Proimperious spirit. Quæ quidem tector; and, in a letter which omnia spiritus tibi tam altos indu- Mr. Godwin notices, addressed erunt, ut proximus a primo cen to P. Heimbach, (Dec. 18, 1657,) seri concupiveris, adeoque celsis- who desired a recommendation simo Cromuello celsior appareas for the office of secretary to our interdum ; quem sine ulla honoris Embassador in Holland, Milton præfatione familiariter appellas, pleads his inability to assist him quem specie laudantis doces, cui partly on account of his slight leges dictas, titulos circumscribis, acquaintance with persons in munia præscribis, consilia suggeris, power-propter paucissimas fael si secus fecerit, minas ingeris. miliaritates meas cum gratiosis, Illi arma et imperium concedis, qui domi fere, idque libenter me ingenium tibi togamque vindicas. contineo. E.
Secretary Thurloe's state-papers, it appears that he had
In matters of religion too he has given as great of-