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of his own. He would have wanted little help from books, had he retained the power of perusing them.
But while his greater designs were advancing, hav. ing now, like many other authors, caught the love of publication, he amused himself, as he could, with little productions. He sent to the press (1658) a. manuscript of Raleigh, called The Cabinet Council; and next year gratified his malevolence to the clergy, by a Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Cases, and the Means of removing Hirelings out of the Church.
Oliver was now dead; Richard was constrained to resign : the system of extemporary government, which had been held together only by force, naturally fell into fragments when that force was taken away ; and Milton saw himself and his cause in equal danger. But he had still hope of doing something. He wrote letters, which Toland has published, to such men as he thought friends to the new commonwealth ; and even in the year of the Restoration he bated no jot of heart or hope, but was fantastical enough to think that the nation, agitated as it was, might be settled by a pamphlet, called A ready and easy way to establish a Free Commonwealth ; which was, however, enough considered to be both seriously and ludicroully answered.
The obstinate enthusiasm of the commonwealthmen · was very remarkable. When the King was ap
parently returning, Harrington, with a few aflociates as fantastical as himself, used to meet, with all the gravity of political importance, to settle an equal government by rotation ; and Milton, kicking when he could strike no longer, was foolith enough to pub. lish, a few weeks before the Restoration, Notes upon a sermon preached by one Griffiths, intituled, The Fear of God and the King. To there notes an answer was written by L'Estrange, in a pamphlet petulantly called No Blind Guides.
But whatever Milton could write, or men of greater activity could do, the King was now about to be restored with the irresistible approbation of the people. He was therefore no longer secretary, and was consequently obliged to quit the house which he held by his office; and proportioning his sense of danger to his opinion of the importance of his writings, thought it convenient to seek soine shelter, and hid himself for a time in Bartholomew.Close, by WestSmithfield. · I cannot but remark a kind of respect, perhaps unconsciously, paid to this great man by his biographers: every house in which he resided is historically mentioned, as if it were an injury to neglect naming any place that he honoured by his presence.
The King, with lenity of which the world has had perhaps no other example, declined to be the judge or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs: and promised to admit into the Act of Oblivion all, except those whom the Parliament should except ; and the Parliament doomed none to capital punishment but the wretches who had immediately cooperated in the murder of the King. Milton was certainly not one of them; he had only justified what they had done.
This justification was indeed sufficiently offensive ; and (June 16) an order was issued to seize Milton's Defence, ard Goodwin's Obstruclor's of Justice, another
book of the same tendency, and burn them by the common hangman. The attorney-general was or. dered to prosecute the authors; but Milton was not seized, nor perhaps very diligently pursued.
Not long after (August 19) the Autter of innumerable bofoms was stilled by an act, which the King, that his inercy might want no recommendation of elegance, rather called an Act of Oblivion than of Grace. Goodwin was named, with nineteen more, as incapacitated for any publick trust; but of Milton There was no exception.
Of this tenderness Thewn to Milton, the curiosity of mankind has not forborn to enquire the reason. Burnet thinks he was forgotten; but this is another instance which may confirm Dalrymple's observation, who says, “ that whenever Burnet's narrations are sf examined, he appears to be mistaken.”
Forgotten he was not ; for his prosecution was ordered; it must be therefore by design that he was included in the general oblivion. He is said to have had friends in the House, such as Marvel, Mor. rice, and Sir Thomas Clarges; and undoubtedly a man like him must have had influence. A very particular story of his escape is told by Richardson in his Memoirs, which he received from Pope, as delivered by Betterton, who might have heard it from Davenant. In the war between the King and Parliament, Davenant was made prisoner and con. demned to die; but was spared at the request of Milton. When the turn of success brought Milton into the like danger, Davenant repayed the benefit by appearing in his favour. Here is a reciprocation of generosity and gratitude so pleasing, that
the tale makes its own way to credit. But if help were wanted, I know not where to find it. The danger of Davenant is certain from his own relation; but of his escape there is no account. Betterton's narration can be traced no higher; it is not known that he had it from Davenant. We are told that the benefit exchanged was life for life; but it seems not certain that Milton's life ever was in danger. Goodwin, who had committed the same kind of crime, escaped with incapacitation; and, as exclusion from publick trust is a punishment which the power of government can commonly inflict without the help of a particular law, it required no great interest to exempt Milton from a censure little more than verbal. Something may be reasonably ascribed to veneration and compassion; to veneration of his abi. lities, and compassion for his distresses, which made it fit to forgive his malice for his learning. He was now poor and blind; and who would pursue with violence an illustrious enemy, depressed by fortune, and disarmed by nature * ?
The publication of the Act of Oblivion put him in the same condition with his fellow subjects. He was, however, upon some pretence now not known, in the custody of the serjeant in December; and,
* A different account of the means by which Milton secured himself is given by an historian la cly brought to light. “Mil. 6 ton, Latin fecretary to Cromwell, distinguished by his writings “ in favour of the rights and liberties of the people, pretended “ to be dead, and had a publick funeral procession. The King “ applauded his policy in escaping the punishment of death, by " a seasonable shew of dying." Cunningham's Hifiory of GreatBritain, Vol. I. p. 14. R.
when he was released, upon his refusal of the fees demanded, he and the ferjeant were called before the House. He was now safe within the shade of obli. vion, and knew himself to be as much out of the power of a griping officer, as any other man. How the question was determined is not known. Milcon would hardly have contended, but that he knew himself to have right on his side.
He then removed to Jewin-street, near Alderfgate-street; and being blind and by no means wealthy, wanted a domestick companion and attendant; and therefore, by the recommendation of Dr. Paget, married Elizabeth Minshul, of a gentleman's family in Cheshire, probably without a fortune. All his wives were virgins; for he has declared that he thought it gross and indelicate to be a second husband : upon what other principles his choice was made cannot now be known; but marriage afforded not much of his happiness. The first wife left him in disguft, and was brought back only by terror; the second, indeed, seems to have been more a fa. vourite, but her life was short. The third, as Philips relates, opprefsed his children in his life-time, and cheated them at his death.
Soon after his marriage, according to an obscure story, he was offered the continuance of his eniployment, and, being prefled by his wife to accept it, answered, “ You, like other women, want to 6 ride in your coach; my wish is to live and die an 6 honest man.” If he considered the Latin secretary as exercising any of the powers of government, he that had shared authority, either with the Parliament or Cromwell, might have forborn to talk, very