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But the truth is, that the knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge requires or includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind. Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with those examples which may be said to embody truth, and prove by events the reasonableness of opinions. Prudence and Justice are virtues and excellencies of all times and of all places; we are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance. Our intercourse with intellectual nature is necessary; our speculations upon matter are voluntary, and at leisure. Physiolo, gical learning, is of such rare emergence, that one man may know another half his life without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostatics or astronomy; but his moral and prudential character im, mediately appears.
Those authors, therefore, are to be read at schools, that supply most axioms of prudence, most principles of moral truth, and most materials for conversation; and these purposes are best served by poets, orators, and historians.
Let me not be censured for this digression as pedantic or paradoxical ; for, if I have Milton against me, I have Socrates at my side. It was his labor !0 twin philosophy from the study of nature ta
speculations upon life ; but the innovators whom I oppose are turning off attention from life to nature. They seem to think, that we are placed here to Watch the growth of plants, or the motions of the stars. Socrates was rather of opinion, that what we had to learn was, how to do good, and avoid evil,
"Oslo Toi èv puszáporci naróvt' éyabórls témuxlas.
Of institutions we may judge by their effects. From this wonder-working academy, I do not know that there ever proceeded any man very emineni for knowledge : its only genuine product, I believe, is a small History of Poetry, written in Latin by bis nephew Philips, of which perhaps none of my readers has ever heard *.
That in his school, as in every thing else which he undertook, he labored with great diligence, there is no reason for doubting. One part of his method deserves general iinitation. He was care, ful to instruct his scholars in religion. Every Sunday was spent upon theology; of which he dictated a short system, gathered from the writers that were then fashionable in the Dutch universities.
• We may be sure at least, that Dr. Johnson had never seen the book he speaks of; for it is entirely composed in English, 'though its title begins with two Latin words, Theatruin Poe'tarum; or, A complete Collection of the Poets, &c.' a cir
cumstance that probably misied the biographer of Milton.' European Mugazine, June 1787, p. 388. R.
He set his pupils an example of hard study and spare diet; only now and then he allowed himself to pass a day of festivity and indulgence with some gay gentlemen of Gray's Inn.
He now began to engage in the controversies of the times, and lent his breath to blow the flames of contention. In 1641 he published a treatise of Reformation, in two books, against the established Church; being willing to help the Puritans, who were, he says, inferior to the Prelates in learning.
Hall, bishop of Norwich, had published an Humble Remonstrance, in defence of Episcopacy; to which, in 1641, five ministers *, of whose names the first letters made the celebrated word Smectymnuus, gave their Answer. Of this Answer a Confutation was attempted by the learned Usher; and to the Confutation Milton published a reply, intituled, Of Prelatical Episcopacy, and whether it may be deduced from the Apostolical Times, by virtue of those testimonies which are alledged to that purpose in some late treatises, one whereof goes under the name of James Lord Bishop of Armagh.
I have transcribed this title to shew, by his contemptuous mention of Usher, that he had now adopted the puritanical savageness of manners. His next work was, The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelacy, by Mr. John Milton, 1642. In this book he discovers, not with ostentatious
*Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, Willian Spurstow, R.
exultation, but with calm confidence, his high opinion of his own powers; and promises to undertake something, he yet knows not what, that may be of use and honor to his country. “This,' says he, 'is not to be obtained but by devout prayer ' to that Eternal Spirit that can enrich with all
utterance and knowledge, and sends out his Sera'phim with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch
and purify the lips of whom he pleases. To * this must be added, industrious and select reada *ing, steady observation, and insight into all seemly ‘and generous arts and affairs ; till which in some
measure be compast, I refuse not to sustain this • expectation. From a promise like this, at once fervid, pious, and rational, might be expected the Paradise Lost.
He published the same year two more pamphlets, upon the same question. To one of his antagonists, who affirms that he was vomited out of the university, he answers, in general terms; · The • Fellows of the College wherein I spent some
years, at my parting, after I had taken two de'grees, as the manner is, signified many times how ' much better it would content that I should stay. '-As for the common approbation or dislike of
that place, as now it is, that I should esteem or 'disesteem myself the more for that, too simple is
the answerer, if he think to obtain with me. Of 'small practice were the physician who could not 'judge, by what she and her sister have of long6 time vomited, that the worser stuff she strongly • keeps in her stomach, but the better she is ever kecking at, and is queasy; she vomits now out of sickness; but before it will be well with her,
she must vomit with strong physic. The uni"versity, in the time of her better health, and my • younger judgement, I never greatly admired, but I now much less.'
This is surely the language of a man who thinks that he has been injured. He proceeds to describe the course of his conduct, and the train of his thoughts; and, because he has been suspected of incontinence, gives an account of his own purity: "That if I be justly charged,' says he, with this 'crime, it may come upon me with tenfold shame.'
The style of his piece is rough, and such perhaps was that of his antagonist.' This roughness he justifies, by great examples, in a long digression. Sometimes he tries to be humorous: • Lest I • should take him for some chaplain in hand, some
squire of the body to his prelate, one who serves • not at the altar only but at the Court-cupboard, • he will bestow on us a pretty model of himself; • and sets me out half a dozen ptisical mottoes, • wherever he had them, hopping short in the mea• sure of convulsion fits ; in which labor the agony • of his wit having scaped narrowly, instead of ' well-sized periods, he greets us with a quantity
of thumb-ring posies.And thus ends this sec. tion, or rather dissection of himself.' Such is the