صور الصفحة

important objeet. I aeeordingly wrote two books to a lriend, eoneerning 'The Reformation of the Chureh of England.'"

Upon his return to England, whieh was abont August, 1030, Milton did not see any way in whieh he eonld immediately serve the eause of the people. He therefore hired a house in 8t. Rride's Churehyard, about a qnarter of a mile west of 8t. Paul's, and renewed his literary pursnits, ealmly awaiting an opportunity for him to enlist in the great struggle for eivii freedom, on the side of the people. In the mean time he reeeived as pupiis his two nephews, John and Edward Phillips, and subseqnently, yielding to the importunities of some intimate friends, he added to their numbev. Finding his apartments too small for him, he removed to a "garden-house in Aldersgate street, free from the noise and disturhanee of passengers," where he reeeived more boys, and instrueted them in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, as well aa in mathematies, history, and some of the modern langnages. What a privilege, to have had a Miiton for an instruetor; to have reeeived from sueh lips lessons of truth and wis., dom, eloqnently enforeing and illustrating the great prineiples of eivil and religious iiberty!

Rnt the time was drawing near for him to enter the politieal arena. The tyraunieal power of the king and the domineering and intolerant seal of Laud were bringing matters to a erisis, and Miiton determined to take an netive part in the eontest .

In 1041 appeared the first of his eontroversial works, entitled "Of Reformation touehing Chureh Diseipiine in England, ami the Causes that hitherto have hindered it,"—the objeet of whieh is to demonstrate the proposition that prelaey is essentially inimieal to eivii and religious liberty. In the proseention of this grand objeet, "ho displays a profundity of learning, a vigour of reasouing, an earnestuess of purpose, an impassioned eloqnenee of style, and a eomprehensive grasp of his subjeet, whieh must ever exeite admiration: indeed, the work is, throughont, one eontinned strain of wisdom and eloqnenee."n To this, Hall, Rishop of Norwieh, at the reqnest of Laud, repiied in "An Humble Remonstranee to the High Court of Parliament;" and abont the same time, Usher, Arehbishop of Armagh, pubiished "The Apostolieal Institntion of Episeopaey." In answer to these able and learned works, Miiton wrote two pieees, one of them entitled " Of Prelatieall Episeopaey." and the other, " The Reason of Chureh Government urged against Prelaty." These produetions of Miiton, distingulshed by vigour, aeuteness, and erudition, were unqnestionably the most able, eloqnent, and learned on the Puritan side of the eontroversy. Rnt the publieation whieh appears to have attraeted most attention at the time, was a pamphlet, the joint produetion of five Presbyterian divines, under the appellation of 8mbetymnlun, a word formed from the initials of the names of the anthors.f To this produetion Bishop Hall replied in "A Defenee of the Remonstranee ;"and Miiton's formidable pen, again employed in opposition to the prelates, produeed "Animadversions on the Remonstrant's Defenee." All these various pubiieations were written in the eour.-e of one yeav. l10I1,l when their author was only thirty-three years of age, and oeeupied with the ardnous dnties of an instruetor of yonth,— a eireumstanee whieh eaunot faii to exeito greater wonder at the unwearied industry, the ready applieation of various knowledge, and she exuberant fertiiity of mind whieh are displayed in their eomposition.

We now eome to an event in Miiton's iife whieh materially affeeted his domestie eomfort, and gave a new direetion to his literary labours. This was his marriage, in 104-1, when in his thirty-Iifth year, to Mary, eldest daughter of Mv. Riehard Powell, a high royaiist, of Forest Hiil, Oxfordshire. This was an eminent example of the unhappiness that must ever

[ocr errors]

ensne from the union in wedloek of those whose tempers, dispositions, and tastes are entirely uneongeniai. The wife, who appears to have been a dull' uoiutelleetu.d, insensate woman, though possessed of outward personal bennty, aeeustomed to the afflnent hospitality of her father's house, and to the gay soeiety found there, eould not relish the ealm und qntet philosophie abode of Miiton: and having no ulind to enjoy his eonversation, and no sympathy in the eause in whieh his whole soul was enl,sted, she early reqnested to return to her father's on a visit, and to remain there during the 8ummee. The reqnest was readily granted; but when the timo fixed for her return eame, she did not go haek. Miitou wrote to her, urging her immediate return. This letter was unanswered. Others were sent, and similarly treated. He then sent a messenger to bring her home; bnt he was dismissed, and the wife remained with her friends. 8he was strengthened in this purpose by the faet, that vietory up to that time had faveured the royalists, and the Powells wished to break off the allianee.

Miiton was not the man to submit patiently to sueh injustiee aggravated by insult. Aeeordingly, he repudiated his wife upon the gmunds of disobedienee and desertion; and to justify this stop to the world, he pubiished, in 1044, " The Doetrine and Diseipline of Divoree," in whieh he maintains, that "indisposition, unlituess, or eontrariety of mind, arising from a eause in nature, unehangeable, hindering and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of eonjugal soeiety, whieh are solaee and peaee, is a greater reason of diveree than adultery, provided there be a mutnal eonsent for separation." He next pubiished " Tetraohordon," or "Exposition of the Four Chief Plaees in 8eripture whieh treat of the Nuliities in Marriage." Thirdly, "The Judgment of the famous Martin Rueer tonehing Divoree.''n Fourthly, " Colasterion/'f These traets raised a great elamour against the anthov. The Presbyterian elergy, espeeially, unmindful of the important serviees he had reeently rendered them, assailed him from the pulpit and the press with sueh violent and aerimonious hostiiity, that they aiienated him irrevoeably from their eause.

1t must, however, in truth be aeknowledged, that this '' Doetrine of Divoree," as urged by Milton, is not defensible. With sueh a man as Miiton, it would indeed be produetive of no praetieal ill eIfeets; bnt if it should be generally reeeived and praetised, it would doubtless open the way to a great amount of domestie unhappiness and immorality.

Miiton, however, soon showed that he sineerely entertained these views, by paying his addresses to a beantiful and aeeompiished young woman, the daughter of a De. Davis. This alarmed his wife and her relations.— more espeeially as the royal eause was now desperate,—and they eontrived to have bis wife meet him. They watehed his visits, and when he was at the house of a relative, the wife burst into the room, fell down at his knees, and with tears implored his pardon. At first he appeared inexorable} bnt his firmuess soon gave way, and, yielding to his own generous nature, he eonsented to forgive the past, and took her to his homo and his aIfeetions. Nor was this all: he took her family, in their danger and distress, when the royaiists were entirely prostrate, under his own roof, and gave them bis proteetion and support.

In 1014, Miiton published his traetate on "Edueation," and his Arsnpn9itien, or "A 8peeeh for the Liberty of Unlieensed Printing." This M itford pronounees the finest produetion in prose from Miiton's pen. For vigour and eloqnenee of style, uneonqnerable foree of argument, majesty and riehness of langnage, it is not to be surpassed. l.ut the Presbyterians, now risen to power, speedily forgot the prineiples they had professed in adversity, and deelared against unlimited toleration; and the very men

n Martin Bueev. a man of groat learning, was one of the first promoters of the Reformation at 8trasburg, Ho agrees with Miiton, thongh the latter had not seen bis book tiil after the pubiieation of his own.

t From a Greek word meaning "adapted for punishment,'' as it was written in reply to a maiieious adversary who abused Miiton's first work.

who had go indignantly eomplained of restraints on the press, when imposed by prelaey, lost no time in subjeeting it to the moat rigorous eensorship when it passed into their own hands. It was thus fonnd, in the nerveus langnage of Miiton, that

"New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ large."

In 1048-40, Milton published "The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates," in whieh he shows that the trial and exeention of Charles 1. was justifiable. 8oon after this he began a new work, "A History of England," but was prevented from labonring long in this department, by being, unexpeetedly to himself, appointed 8eeretary of 8tate, Mareh, 1040: he therefore immediately appiied himself to the duties of his new avoeation.

About this time, soon after King Charles' death, a book appeared, under the title of E,kwv BaotXtnr), Lieon Basilike,l "The Royal Image," or "Portraiture of his 8aered Majesty in his 8olitudes and 8ufferings." It purported to have been written by the king himself,n and made a powerful impression on the publie mind.f Milton was ordered by Parliament to answer it, and he did so in the E^ovoxXaor,)e, Lieonoelast, or "Image Rreakev.") This was eonsidered, even by the prejudieed, as a trinmphant refutation of the " Portraiture," and produeed a eonvietion deeidedly unfavonrable to the royal party. It is indeed one of the very ablest of his eontroversial writings.

Rnt a still greater trinmph awaited him. Charles I1., then in Franee, anxious to appeal to the world against the exeention of his father, employed Claudins 8almatins, professor in the university of Leyden, and famed for his learning, to write a defenee of the late king and monarehy; and before the elose of the year 1040 the book appeared, under the title of Defensio Regia pro Carolo Prima ad Carol t,nt 8eeundum. All eyes were now turned to Milton to answer it. Ry this time his sight, whieh had for a long time been weak, had beeome greatly impaired, and he was forewarned by his physieians that total blindness would be the infallible result, if he shonld engage in any new literary labour; bnt, undeterred by this predietion, and unrestrained by had health, he persevered in the work,—for, as he says himself, u I did not long halanee whether my duty shonld be preferred to my eyes." Early, therefore, in the year 1051, appeared his Pro Populo Anglieano Defensio eontra Claudii 8almatii Defeusionem Jiegiam. This work more than answered the expeetations whieh were entertained of it. It was read with universal applause and admiration. The triumph of Miiton was deeisive, and the humiliation of his adversary so great, that he lost favonr oven with those whom ho sought to please—the erowned heads. 8o great, indeed, was his mortifieation, and so wounded was his pride, that ill health soon followed, and he died the next yeav.

In 105;}, Milton lost his wife, and he was left with three motherless daughters, in domestie soiitude and in almost total blindness. Bnt sueh was the vigour of his intelleet, that he eontinned to labonr in defenee of the eommonwealth. Numerous replies to his " Defenee" were sent forth by the royalists, but all those he left to perish in obseurity, exeepting one that was published at the Hagne, entitled Regii 8anguinis Clamor ad Caelum adverst,s Pareieidas At,glieanas. It was written by Peter du Moulin, a Frenehman, bnt afterwards Prebendary of Canterbury: but A. More, who had the eharge of publishing it,—a 8eotehman by birth, who had settled in Franee,—was treated by Milton as the real anthov. A terrible eastigation awaited him; for, in 1054, appeared Milton's reply, under the title of Defeusio 8eeunda I,ro Populo Anglieano eontra infam em

n II is now known to have been written by Gandon, liishop of Exetev. Read a most interesting and masterly aeeount ot" the subjeet in the Edinburgh Review, June, 182ij. )ixiv. 1.1 written by 8ir Ja,n Ok Maekintosh.

j- 48,500 eopies of this book were sold,—a number whirb. when we look nt tho times, and the seareity and dearness of books then, is truly extraordinary.

lAbellum anonymum eut Titulunt Regii 8angninit Clamor ad Cerium, This, on many aeeonnts, is a more valnable work to us than the Iirst; for, besides that he trinmphantly and everywhere vindieates demoeratie prineiples,—laying down the broad truth that all legitimate governments are and must be from the people,—he has also, to refnte the ealumuies of his enemies, given a sketeh of many parts of his own history, and introduees us to a large number of his republiean friends, und gives their eharaeters. The Address to Cromwell, notwithstanding Dv. Johnson's sneer,4 has been generally admired, as ably portraying the eharaeter of that most remarkable man.

Abont 1050, Milton married his seeond wife, the daughter of Captain Woodeoek, of Haekney, who died the next yeav. In one of his 8ounets, he has paid an aIfeetionate tribute to her memory. 8oon after this event, he retired from the olfiee of 8eeretary of 8tate, on an allowanee of one hundred and fifty pounds a yeav. He oeeupied his time in eompleting his " History of England1' to the Norman eonqnest; in the preparation of his Thenunrnt Lingua; Latino1, and doubtless in reIleeting upon the subjeet of his immortal epie, the "Paradise Lost."

In 8eptember, 1058, Cromwell, broken down by the eares and anxieties of government, finished his splendid eareev. His death, of eourse, gave no little anxiety in the breast of Milton, lest the great eauso of freedom, for whieh he had been eontending, should suffer detriment, and intoleranee and perseention return. He therefore published two treatises, devoted to the eonsideration of two evils. One of these was entitled "A Treatise of Civil Power in Eeelesiastieal Causes;" and the other, "Considerations tonehing the likeliest Means to remove Hirelings ont of the Chureh." In the first he asserts the entire liberty of eonseienee, maintaining that in matters purely religions, the eivil magistrate has no right to interfere. In the seeond, he eontends against all tithes; and that pastors should be supported by the veluntary eontribntions of their own floek. 8o wonderfully was this great man ahead of his times!

At the Restoration, he was of eourse in imminent peril, and he retired to the house of a friend in Rartholomew Close,f and there he lay eoneealed till the Aet of Oblivion was passed, August 20, 1000. On his return to soeiety, he took a house in Holborn, near Red Lion 8qnare, and in 1002 removed to a house in the Artillery Walk, adjoining Bunhill Fields, where he eontinned during the remainder of his life. In 1005, Milton married his third wife,;}; Elizabeth Minshul, daughter of 8ir Edward Minshul, of an aneient Cheshire family. 8he survived him above fifty years, and, retiring to Nantwieh, in Cheshire, died there in 1727.

Abont this time, (1005,l Ellwood, the Qnaker, desired to be introdueed to Milton,—believing that, by reading to him, he would advanee himself in elassieal knowledge, as well as materially aid the blind hard. The worthy and benevolent Qnaker soon found in Milton a friend as well as an instruetor; and when the plagne began to rage in London, he had the poet and his family eonveyed to a house near his own, at Chalfont, 8t. Giles, Buekinghamshire. Here Milton gave to Ellwood the manuseript of" Paradise Lost" to read, desiring his opinion upon it. When Ellwood returned it, he expressed his great pleasure, and added—"Thou hast said

"Dv. Johnson, in his Life of Miiton, seems to )niss no opportunity of iibeliing his eharaetev. lndeed, we ran hardly eoneeive of two men more opposite: the one was a Demoerat, the other a Tory in poiities; the one a Co ngr,-gationaiist, the other a High-ehurehman in reiigion: the one highly imaginative, th:s other wn"noux. Of Johnson's iife of the poet, Fleteher says, '"II is the traii of a serpent over all Miiton's works: nothing eseaped the fang of detraetion."

t A very narrow elose or passage, in London, entered from West 8mithfleld.

| This step seemed to be really neeessary, to proteet the biind poet from the unnatural eonduet of his danghters, who sold his books, and eombined with the maidservant to eheat him in the marketing, His friendly physieian. Ov. Pnget, seleeted thy lady for him, who appears to have been sueh a helpmate as his eireumstanees reqnired.

mueh here abont Paradise Lest, bnt what hast thon to say of Para dive Found?" That this remark was the means of our having the latter immortal poem, we have Ellwood's subseqnent anthority :—" 8oon after ho showed mo his seeond Poem, ealled ' Paradise Regained,' and in a pleasant tone said to mo—s This is owing to you : for you pnt it into my head by the qnestion yon pnt to me at Chalfont, whieh before I had not thought of.'" Newton remarks, that eonsidering the diIfieulties "under whieh the anthor lay,—his uneasiness at the publie aIfairs and his own, his age and infirmities, his not being now in eireumstanees to maintain an amannensis, bnt obliged to make use of any hand that eame next, to write his verses as he made them,—it is really wonderful that he should have had the spirit to undertake sueh a work, and mueh more that he should ever have brought it to perfeetion."

In 1070, Miiton published his "History of England," eontinned only as far as tho Norman eonqnest. In 1071, he gave to the world " Paradise Regained" and "8amson Agonistes." Rnt he did not disdain to perform what are eonsidered humbler serviees to literature. Having already published a book of Latin Aeeidenee for ehiidren, he now, in 1072, supplied the more advaneed student with a system of logie on the plan of Ramus, entitled, Artis Lot}teat pfeus'or Inatitutio ad Petei Rami M.-thodnm nmeinnata ; and in 1073 he published a short treatise, entitled " Of trne Religion, Heresy, 8ehism, Toleration, and what best Means may be used against the growth of Popery." *

In the latter part of his life, prohably when 8eeretary of 8tate, but at what partieular time is not known, Milton employed a portion of his hours iu preparing a Treatise on Divinity. It was written in Latin, and deposited in the hands of Cyriaek 8kiuner, sinee whieh time all traees of it were lost until in the year 1823, when Mv. Lemon, the Deputy Keeper of the old 8late Paper Offiee in Whitehall, diseovered it, loosely wrapped up in two or three sheets of printed paper, enelosed in a eover, and direeted to Mv. 8kiuner, Merehant . There is not room here to give tho evidenee of this being Miiton's long-lost work; suffiee it to say that its gennineness is estabiished beyond the shadow of a doubt. When it was diseovered, it was plaeed in the hands of the Rev. Charles R. 8umuer, M. A., sinee Arehbishop of Canterbury, by whom it was earefully edited, and who also gave to the publie a very elegant and exaet translation. The work opens with a salntation, whieh, from any other man, would be presumption or aIfeetation; bnt it was in perfeet harmony with Milton's purity of eharaeter, loftiness of sonl, extent of learning, and a whole life dedieated to the serviee of God and mankind, to adopt the style of an Apostle:— "jonn Milton, Vo All Vne Enurenes Of Cnrist, And Vo All Wno Profess Tne C'nr)stian Faivn Vnrougnouv Tne World, Peaee And Vne Reeognition Of Vne Vrutn, And Evernal Salvation In (tod Vne Farner, And In Our Lord Jesus Cnrisv." No work of this remarkable man shows more independenee of thought than this. He diseards all the old systems of theology, and tests every qnestion by the authority of 8eripturo alone; and though some may hesitate to adopt every eonelusion to whieh he arrives, all must aeknowledge that this Treatise evinees in its author a ealm and eonseientions desire for trnth, an humble and reverential feeling for the Rook of God, a logieal preeision of reasoning, and an amount of learning and a familiarity with the 8eriptures never united in any other man.

Milton's health was now deelining fast, and the gout, whieh had for many years afflieted him, attaeked him with a severity whieh prognostieated a fatal termination; yet sueh was the bnoyaney of his spirits, that, even in the paroxysms of the disease, he would, aeeording to Aubrey, "be very eheerful, and sing." On 8unday, the 8th of November, 1074, he expired withont pain, in the sixty-sixth year of his age. and was buried iu the ehaneel of 8t . Giles, Cripplegate; "all his learned aud great frtends

« السابقةمتابعة »