« السابقةمتابعة »
for Smeetymnuus) “those books, which to niany others have been the fuel of wantonness and loose living, proved to him so many incitements to the love and observation of virtue." His favourite author after the Holy Scriptures wis 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 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 copyer :
6 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 reinarkable, 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.
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 hass-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 us. 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.
But his great parts and learning have scarcely gain. ed him more admirers, than his political principles have 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 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 noi unactive, and thought, I suppose, that he could be of more service to the cause by his pen than by his sword. He was a thorough republican, and in this he thought like a Greek or Roman, as he was very conversant with their writings. One day Sir Robert Toward, who
was a friend to Milton as weil 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 monarchy 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 a prelatical episcopacy; and of ail things he dreaded spiritual slavery, and therefore closed with Cromwell and the Independents, as he expected under them greater liberty of consci
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 advicc, especially in his second Defence: and so little being said of him in all Secretary Thurloe's state papers, it appears that he had no great share in the secrets and intrigues of government; what he dispatched was little more than matters of necessary form, letters and a swers to foreign states : and he may be justiñed for alting
in such a station, upon the same principle as Sir Matthew Hale for holding a judge's cominission under the usurper : and in the latter part of his life he frequently expressed to his friends his entire satisfaction of inind that he had constantly employed his strength and faculties in the defence of liberty, and in opposition to slavery.
In matters of religion too he has given as great of. fence, or even greater, than by his political princi. ples. But still let not the infidel giory: no such man was ever of that party. He had the advantage of a pious education, and ever expressed the profoundest reverence of the Deity in his words and actions, was both a Christian and a protestant, and studied and admired the Holy Scriptures above all other books whatsoever; and in all his writings he plainly showeth a religious turn of mind, as well in Verse as in prose, as well in his works of an earlier date as in those of a later composition. When he wrote the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce he appears to have been a Calvinist; but afterwards he entertained a more favourable opinion of Arminius. Some have inclined to believe, that he was an Arian; but there are more express passages in his works to overthrow this opinion, than any there are to confirm it. For in the conclusion of his treatise of Reformation hethus solemnly invokes the Trinity; “ Thou therefore that sittest in light and glory unapproachable, Parent of Angels and Men! next thee I implore Onnipotent King, Redeemer of that lost remnant
whose nature thou didst assume, ineffable and everlasting Love! And thou the third subsistence of divine infinitude, illumining the Spirit, the joy and solace of created things! one Tri-personal Godhead! look upon this thy poor, and almost spent and expiring church, &c." In his tract of Prelatical Episcopacy he endeavours to prove the spuriousness of some epistles attributed to Ignatius, because they contained in them heresies, one of which heresies is, that " he condemns them for ministers of Satan, who say that Christ is God above all.” And a little after in the same tract he objects to the authority of Tertuilian, because he went about to
prove an imparity between God the Father and God the Son.". And in the Paradise Lost we shall find nothing upon this head, that is not perfectly agreeable to Scripture. The learned Dr. I'rapp, who was as likely to cry out upon heresy as any man, asserts that the
is orthodox in every part of it; or otherwise he would not have been at the pains of translating it. Ncque alierum videtur a studiis viri theologi poemi magna ex parte theologicum; omni ex parte (ridcant, per me licet, atque ringantur athei et infideles) orthocoxiun.
Milton was indeed a dissenter from the Church of Fngland, in which he had been educated, and was by his parents designed for holy orders, as we related Lefore; but he was led away by early prejudices against the doctrine and discipline of the Church: in his younger years lie was a favourer of the l’resbyterians;