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PKEFACE.

The present Bishop of Winchester, in fulfilling the duty that was honourably imposed upon him, of editing a posthumous production of England's greatest Epic Poet, makes the following observation :—" There is much reason for regretting that the prose works of Milton—where, in the midst of much that is coarse and intemperate, passages of such redeeming beauty occur—should be in the hands of so few readers; considering the advantage which might be derived to our literature from the study of their original and nervous eloquence."

Several obvious reasons may account for this neglect; and the first of these is, that a somewhat repulsive influence obstructs the inquirer at the very threshold of this rare but almost unexplored cabinet of British literature.

The very names of many of Milton's prose works present themselves to all but the learned, as an array of quaint forms, which frown upon the uninitiated. Their style, like the waters of the fabled stream, is turbid with the grains of classic gold; and the literary habits of the writer were so closely connected with ancient and foreign literature, ;is to deprive his writings of that strictly national character which is essential to a wide popularity.

But a further and a still more potent cause has concealed the writings of Milton from the careful inspection of his countrymen. It has been said of the Puritans, that, like the victorious lion, they were depicted by their opponents. And so it has fared with Milton. His most eminent biographers, as members of the Church of England, have had no sympathy with their illustrious subject in the grandest phase which his character and his writings present.

Milton, unequalled as a poet, and memorable and exemplary as a statesman, was most especially a Nonconformist, an advocate of religious freedom, unshackled by secular and political interference;—in a word, a Puritan, in all but those excesses of untempered zeal which historians and satirists have combined to exaggerate, in order to dim the historic lustre they cannot hide, and to throw contempt on a cause which must rise proportionately with the elevation and advancement of mankind.

It is the purpose of the following pages to present Milton afresh to the public as the champion of political, and especially of religious liberty; and, while delineating the few incidents of his life, to present such passages from his prose writings, especially on ecclesiastical subjects, as may invite the attention of the public to the whole of those much neglected but immortal productions.

All the circumstances of the present times, and particularly the events which, in the religious world, have of late been thickening around us, compel the attention of society to those fundamental principles which Milton so sublimely developed and illustrated.

To assist in guiding this movement of the popular mind to the study of the works of Milton, is the earnest aim of this biography: and if it should subserve this end, its author will be con tap* ibitt'Bffl own labours should be disregarded or forgotteftr"

June, 1851.

FAGK

CHAPTER V.

Milton publishes his Treatises "On Prelntical Episcopacy,"

and " The Reason of Church Government urged against

Prelacy," in Answer to Bishop Hall and Archbishop Usher

—Criticism on their Style—Analysis of both Treatises . 57

CHAPTER VI.

Milton publishes his "Animadversions on the Remonstrants'

Defence "—The most striking Passage from this Work—

The Episcopalian claim to the right of Ordination—Ap-

pearance of the "Modest Confutation "—Milton replies

in the "Apology for Smectymnuus " — Analysis of the

Work—Defence of the Parliament—Relics of Rome in the

Anglican Church . .... 75

CHAPTER VII.

Milton's Marriage—Is deserted by his Wife—Publishes his

Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce—Effect of the exist-

ing Laws on Personal Religion—Their Bearing on Chris-

tian Liberty—Publication of the Judgment of Martin

Bucer concerning Divorce — The Tetrachordon — The

Colasterion . . . . . .90

CHAPTER VIII.

State of Religious Parties in England—Persecutions by Land

and the Courts of High Commission and Star Chamber—

Persecuting Bigotry of the Presbyterians—Meeting of the

Westminster Assembly—The Solemn League and Cove-

nant—Catastrophe of the Royal Cause—Repentance and

Return of Milton's Wife—He publishes his Treatise on

Education—Analysis of the Work . . .101

CHAPTER IX.

Milton publishes his "Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed

Printing "—Analysis of the Work—Noble Passages occur-

ring in it—Discharge of Mabbot, the Licenser, at his own

request . . . . . . 1 115

CHAPTER X.

Milton's Sonnets—Domestic Incidents—Conduct of the Pres-

PAGE

byterians—Publication of the " Tenure of Kings and Ma-

gistrates "—Eulogies on Fairfax, Vane, and Bradshaw—

Analysis of the Treatise on the "Tenure of Kings and

Magistrates" . . . . .127

CHAPTER XI.

Observations on the Articles of Peace—Manifesto of the Pres-

bytery at Belfast—Milton composes Four Books of his

English History—Is appointed Latin Secretary under

Cromwell—Selection from his Letters of State —Perse-

cution of the Waldenses—His successful Efforts in their

behalf—His Sonnet on the Massacre in Piedmont . 147

CHAPTER XII.

Publication of the Eikon Basilike—Authorship of the Eikon

—Milton Replies in the Eikonoklastes—Publication of

the Royal Defence by Salmasius—Milton replies in his

First Defence of the People of England—Description of

the Work and of its Effects—The most striking Passages

from the Defence of the People of England . .161

CHAPTER XIII.

Domestic Changes—Birth of Two Children to Milton—Death

of his Wife—Suffers the Loss of Sight—His Letter to

Leonardi Philaras, the Athenian, detailing the History of

the Disease—His Magnanimity and pious Resignation—

Sonnet on his Blindness—His Second Marriage, and Se-

cond Bereavement of his Wife and her Infant Child—

Sonnet on his deceased\ Wife . . . .174

CHAPTER XIV.

Publication of the " Regii Sanguinis Clamor"—The Second

Defence of the People of England—Character of the

Puritans—Eulogy on Christina of Sweden—The First

Defence unrewarded with Money—Vindication of the

Protector—Eulogy on Cromwell . . .182

CHAPTER XV.

Consequences of the Death of Cromwell—Milton publishes

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