صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

"

eyes,euse he hath found some uncleanness in her: tet him write her a bill of divorcement,' &c. She may now take another husband. And if the latter bus band hate her, and write her a bill of divorce the former husband cannot take her back.*

From the latter verse, it would, at first sight, appear, that the band has only to 'hate' his wife, in order to hand be a bill of divorcement. We cannot think, thatoses intended to give this power to husbands, unk they have some reasonable cause,-not of dis merely,-but of absolute hatred. In the former passage, 'uncleanness' is considered as a cause; an from other parts of this same book, it is beyond doubt, that uncleanness, in this place, means chastity. If any man take a wife, (we are told) and go in to her, and hate herand say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid," it is incumbent on the father and mother to discove his assertion. If they succeed, she shall be his wife again, and he may not put her away all days:' if they fail, she is to be brought to her father's door and stoned to death.† It appears, then, bat, according to Moses, the cause of hatred in the husband must be the fornication .འ the wife; and at, if this fact be disproved, let him hate her as he will, he shall live with her all his days. If there be any thing else in the language of Christ, we have not been able to find his meaning "Whoever (says he) shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.'+ Milton cites Grotius, indeed, as proving 'that fornication is taken in Scripture for such a continual headstrong behaviour, as tends to plain contempt of the husband.' There can be no such construction put upon the passage we have just transcribed; and, even if there could, it must apply

*Deut. ch. XXIV.

S. Matth. ch. v.

+ Ibid. ch. xxii.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

as well to the language of Christ as to that of Moses.

We do not believe, with the rest of Milton's biographers, that he first formed a resolution to divorce his wife, and then wrote these treatises to strengthen his purpose, and justify his conduct. A man is not apt to be jealous of a person, whom he has ceased to love; and Milton, by remarking, "that every motion of a jealous mind is not to be regarded,'* puts one in mind of Iago's caution-Beware of jealousy, my lord.' Aubrey takes pains, however, in two different places, to declare he has so much charity for her, that,' he cannot believe, she would 'wrong his bed.' He never heard the least suspicions, nor had Milton of that any jealousie: but what man (especially contemplative)' he adds, 'would like to have a young wife environ'd [and storm'd] by the sons of Mars, and those of the enemie partie." The king's quarters were then at Oxford.†

It was not till Milton undertook to carry his new doctrines into practice, that the stubbornness of his spouse began to yield. There fell out a passage,' says his nephew, which, though it altered not the whole course he was going to steer, yet it put a stop or rather an end (Phillips was a lexicographer) to a grand affair, which was more than probably thought to be then in agitation: it was indeed a design of marrying one of Dr. Davis's daughters, a very handsome and witty gentlewoman, but averse, as it is said, to this motion. However, the intelligence hereof, and the then declining state of the king's cause, and consequently of the circumstances of Justice Powell's family, caused them to set all engines on work, to restore the late married woman to the station wherein they a little before had planted: at last this device was pitch'd upon. There dwelt in the lane of St. Martin's le Grand, which

+Aub. ap.Gouw. p. 345.

Doc. and Disc. Div. b. i. c. 13.
VOL. VII.

D

[ocr errors]

was hard by, a relation of our author's, one Blackborough, whom it was known he often visited, and upon this occasion the visits were more narrowly observed, and possibly there might be a combination between both parties; the friends on both sides concentering in the same action, though on different behalfs. One time above the rest, he making his usual visit, the wife was ready in another room, and on a sudden he was surprised to see one whom he thought to have never seen more, making submission and begging pardon on her knees before him."*

-Soon his heart relented

Towards her, his life so late, and sole delight,
Now at his feet submissive in distress.†

His own generous nature, and the mutual intercession of friends, 'soon brought him to an act of oblivion, and a firm league of peace for the future.' The question of divorce was at an end; and the Discipline, the Exposition, the Judgement, and the Rod, were no longer of any account. The increase of his school had already induced him to hire a larger and more conspicuous house in the Barbican; and, until that could be prepared for his wife's reception, she was lodged at the house of Christopher's mother-in-law, in St. Clement's Church-yard. Milton's forgiveness went farther than reconciliation; for, when the rebels afterwards seized the estate of his father-in-law, he re

† Parad. Lost.

Ph. ap. Godw. pp. 368, 369.
Ph. ap. Godw. p. 369.

Ph. ap. Godw. p. 369. The Earl of Bridgewater, for whom Comus was written, owned extensive property in the Barbican; and it has been conjectured, that Milton's new house not only belonged to him, but was let to our author free of rent. Todd, vol. vi. p. 178, note. Mr. Todd thinks it ungenerous in Dr. Johnson to observe, that Milton had taken a larger house in Barbican, for the reception of scholars.' But Dr. Johnson only copied the account of Milton's nephew. Ph. ap. Godw. p. 368.

ceived and entertained the whole family; and, by his interest with the prevailing party, was enabled, in some measure, to re-establish their affairs.

In the mean time, Milton continued to teach school himself; and to show others how to teach. His treatise Of Education was published in 1644; when, from the desertion of his wife, and the despair of her dowry, it became necessary to place more reliance on his pedagogical resources. 'Possibly his proceeding thus far in the education of youth (says his anxious nephew) may have been the occasion of some of his adversaries calling him pedagogue and schoolmaster: whereas it is well known he never set up for a public school to teach all the young fry of a parish, but only was willing to impart his learning and knowledge to relations, and the sons of some gentlemen that were his intimate friends; besides, that neither his converse, nor his writings, nor his manner of teaching ever savour'd in the least any thing of pedantry.' And then it is suggested, that he was only endeavouring to put in practice the theory of his treatise on education; and the biographer is much mistaken, if there were not, about this time, a design in agitation of making him adjutant-general to Sir William Waller's army.'t

9

Thus laboriously,' says Dr. Johnson, 'does his nephew extenuate what cannot be denied, and what might be confessed without disgrace. Milton did not sell literature to all comers at an open shop; he was a chamber-milliner, and measured his commodities only to friends.' When Dr. Johnson taught school, he was not ashamed to hang out his sign, and publish his advertisement. He was no chambermilliner. He kept open shop; and was ready to

Ph. ap. Godw. pp. 37c, 371.

+ Id. ibid.

Gent. Mag. June and July, 1736, pp. 360. 428. under the head of Advertisements-At Edial, near Litchfield, in Staffordshire, young gentlemen are boarded and taught the Latin and Greek languages, by Samuel Johnson.

serve all the world-if they would only come to Litchfield.

6

It was in the same year, that Milton published his Areopagitica, or a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. The danger of such unbounded liberty, and the danger of bounding it,' says Dr. Johnson, 'have produced a problem in the science of government, which human understanding seems hitherto unable to solve;' and that such a reproach may no longer stand against human understanding, he proceeds to solve it himself, in a single paragraph. After touching and dismissing the heads of Milton's argument, he concludes that it is not more reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained because writers may be afterwards censured, than it would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief.' The question is not, what this or that man may do to secure his own house, or to protect his own character. If he has bolts to his doors, it is well; and, if his virtues are a shield for his reputation, it is better. He will stand în no need of the laws which hang a thief, or mulct a defamer. But the question is, whether the government shall take our houses and our reputations into its own immediate care;-whether a public licenser is to say, what doors shall have bolts, and what characters shall be protected; who may be a thief, and who a calumniator.

'Debtors and delinquents,' says Milton, may walk abroad without a keeper, but inoffensive books may not stir forth without a visible jailor in their title. Nor is it to the common people less than a reproach; for, if we be so jealous over them, as that we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vitious, and ungrounded people?-And it reflects on the reputation of our ministers, also, of whose labours we should hope better, and of the proficiency which their flocks reap by them, than that after all this

« السابقةمتابعة »