« PreviousContinue »
Man turned Solicitor. Howel in his letters mentions the new doctrine with cona tempt; and it was, I suppose, thought more worthy of derision than of conifotation. He complains of this neglect in two sonnets, of which the first is contemptible, and the second not excellent.
From this time it is observed that he became an enemy to the Presbyterians, whom he had favoured before. He that changes his party by his humour, is not more virtuous than he that changes, it by his interest ; he loves himself rather than truth.
His wife and her relations now found that Milton was not an unresisting sufferer of injuries; and perceiving that he had begun to put his doctrine in praca tice, by courting a young woman of great accomplishments, the daughter of one Dr. Davis
, who was however not ready to comply, they resolved to endeavont a re-union. He went sometimes to the house of the Blackborough his relation, in the lane of St. Martin's-le-Grand, and at one of his usual visits was surprised to see his wife come from another room, and implore forgiveness on her inees. He resisted her intrčaties for a while: but partly," says Philips, “ hiš " own generous nature, more inclinable to reconciliation than to perseverance * in anger or revenge, and partly ihe strong intercession of friends on botlı " sides
, soon brought him to an act of oblivion, and a fitm league of peace.” It were injurious to omit, that Milton afterwards received her father and her brot thers in his own house, when they were distressed, with other Royalists.
He poblished about the same time his Åreopagitica, a Speech of Mr. Johti Mii. son for the liberty of unlicensed Printing. The danger of such unbounded liberty, and the danger of bounding it, have produced a problem in the sciencë of Go. vernment which human understanding seems hitherto unable to solve. - If nothing may be published but what civil authority shall have previously approved, power müst always be tire standard of truth; if every dreamer of innovations may propagate his projects; there can be no settlement; if every murmurer at government may diffuse discontent, there can be no peace; and if every sceptick in theology may teach his follies, there can be no religion. The remedy against these evils is to punish the authors; for it is yet allowed thatevery Society may punish, though not prevent, the publication of opinions, which that society shall think pernicious ; but this punishment, though it may crush the author, promotes the book; and it seems not more reasonable to leave the right of printing untestrained, because writers may be afterwards censored, than it would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief.
But whatever were his engagements, civil or domestic; pocity was never long out of bis thoughts.
About this time (1645) a collection of his Latin and English poems appeared, in which the Allegro and Penderoso, with some others, were first published.
He had taken a larger house in Barbican for the reception of scholars; but the numerous relations of his wife, to whom he generously granted refuge for a while
, occupied his rooms. In time, however, they went away ;" and the house; " again,” says Philips, “ now looked like a house of the Muses only, though the eccession of scholars was not great. Possibly his having proceeded so far in the tol. t.
"education of youth, may have been the occasion of his adversaries calling hiin " pedagoguea nd school-master; whereas it is well known that he never see
up for a public school, to teach ail the young fry of a parish; but only was “ willing to impart his learning and knowledge to his relations, and the sons “ of gentlemen who were bis intimate friends; and that neither his writings “ nor his way of teaching savoured in the least of pedantry." : Thus laboriously does bis nephew extenuate what cannot be denied, and what migth he confessed without disgrace. Milton was not a man wbo could become mean by a mean employment. This, however, his warmest friends seem not to have found ; they therefore shift and palliate. He did not sell literature to all comers at an open shop; he was a chamber-milliner, and measured his commodities to his friends
Philips, evidently impatient of viewing him in this state of degradation, tells us that it was not long continued; and, to raise his character again, has a mind to invest hinı with military splendour: “ He is much mistaken,” he says, “ if “there was not about this time a design of making him an adjutant-general in “ Sir William Waller's army. But the new modelling of the army proved
an obstruction to the design.” An event cannot be set at a much greater distance than by having been only designed, about some time, if a man be not much mistaker. Milton shall be a pedagogne no longer ; for, if Philips be not much mistaken, somebody at some time designed him for a soldier.
About the time that the army was new-modelled (1645) he removed to a smaller house in Holbourn, which opened backward into Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. , He is not known to have published any thing afterwards till the King's death, when, finding his murderers condemned by the Presbyterians, he wrote a treatise to justify it, and to compase the minds of the people.
He made some Remarks on the Articles of Peace between Ormond and the Irish Rebels. While he contented himself to write, he perhaps did only what his conscience dictated; and if he did not very vigilantly watch the influence of his own passions, and the gradual prevalence of opinions, first willingly adınitted, and then habitually indulged ; if objections, by being overlooked, were forgotten, and desire superinduced conviction; he yet shared only the common weakness of mankind, and might be no less sincere than his opponents. But as faction seldom leaves a man honest, however it might find him, Milton is suspected of having interpolated the book called Icon Basilike, which the Council of State, to whom he was now made Latin secretary, employed him to censure, by inserting a prayer taken from Sidney's Arcadia, and imputing it to the King; whom he charges, in his Iconoclastes, with the use of this prayer, as with a heavy crime, in the indecent language with which prosperity had emboldened the advocates for rebellion to insult all that is venerable or great: “ Who " would have imagined so little fear in him of the true all seeing Deity-as, “iinmediately before his death, to pop into the hands of the grave bislop that “ attended him, as a special relique of his saintly exercises, a prayer stolen word " for word from the mouth of a heathen woman praying to a heathen god?"
The papers which the King gave to Dr. Juxon on the scaffold, the regicides took away, so that they were at least the publishers of this prayer; and Dr.
Birch who had examined the question with great care, was inclined to think then the forgers. The use of it hy adaptation was innocent; and they who could so noisily censure it, with a little extension of their malice could contive what they wanted to accuse.
King Charles the Second, being now sheltered in Holland, employed Sada masius, professor of Polite Learning at Levden, to write a defence of his father and of monarchy; and, to excite his industry, gave him, as was reported, a hundred Jacobuses. Salmasius was a man of skill in languages, knowledge of antiquity, and sagacity of emendatory criticismı, almost exceeding all hope of human attainment; and having, by excessive praises, heen confirmed in great confidence of himself, though he probably had not much considered the principles of society or the rights of government, undertook the employment without distrust of his own qualifications; and, as his expedition in writing was wonderful, in 1649 publihed Difensio Regis
To this Milton was required to write a sufficient answer; which he performed (1651) in such a manner, that Hobbes declared himself unable to decide whose language was best, or whose arguments were worst. In my opinion, Milton's periods are smoother, neater, and more pointed; but he delights himself with teazing his adversary as much as with confuting hiin. He makes a foolish allusion of Salmasius, whose doctrine he considers as servile and unnanly, to the stream of Salmacis, which whoever entered left half his virility behind him. Salinasius was a Frenchman, and was unbappily married to a scold. Tu
Gallus, says Milton, & ut aiunt, nimium gallinaceus. But his supreme pleasure is to tax his adversary, so renowned for criticism, with vicious Latin. He opens his book with telling that he has used Persona, which, according to Milton, signifies only a Mask, in a sense not known to the Romans, by applying it as we apply Person. But as Nemesis is always on the watch, it is memorable that he has enforced the charge of a solecism by an expression in itself grosly solecistical, when for one of those supposed blunders, he says, as Ker, and I think some one before him, has remarked, propino le grammatistis euis vapulanduma from vapuls, which has a passive sense, vapulandus can never be derived. No san forgets his original trade: the rights of nations, and of kings, sink into questions of grammar, if grammarians discuss them.
Milton, when he undertook this answer, was weak of body and dim of sight; but his will was forward, and what was wanting of health was supplied by zeal. He was rewarded with a thousand pounds, and his book was much read; for paradox, recommended by spiritand elegance, easily gains attention; and he who told every man that he was equal to his King, could hardly want an audience.
That the performance of Salmasius was not dispersed with equal rapidity, or read with equal eagerness, is very credible. He taught only the stale doctrine of authority, and the unpleasing duty of submission; and he had leen so long not only the monarch but the tyrant of literature, that almost all mankind were delighted to find him defied and insulted by a new name, not yet considered as any one's rival. If Christina, as is said, commended the Defence of the People, her purpose must be to torment Salmasius, who was then at her Court; for neither ber civil station nor her natural character could dispose them to favour the doctrine, who was by birth a queen, and by temper despotick.
That Salmasius was, from the appearance of Milton's book, treated with ne glect, there is not much proof; but to a man so long accustomed to admiration, a little praise of his antagonist would be sufficiently offensive, and inight incline him to leave Sweden, from which, however, he was dismissed, not with any mark of contempt, but with a train of attendance scarce less than regal.
He prepared a reply, which, left as it was imperfect, was published by his son in the year of the Restauration. In the beginning, being probably most ir pain for his Latinity, he endeavours to defend his use of the word persona ; but, if I remember right, he misses a better authority than any that he has found, that of Javeral in his fourth satire:
- Quid agis cum dira et fædior omni
Crimine persona et? As Salmasius reproached Milton with losing his eyes in the quarrel, Milton delighted bimself with the belief that he had shortened Salmasius's life, and both perhaps with more malignity than reason. Salmasius died at the Spa, Sept. 3, 1653; and, as controvertists are commonly said to be killed by their last dispute, Milton was flattered with the credit of destroying him.
Cromwell had now dismissed the parliament by the authority of which he had destroyed monarchy, and commenced monarch himself, under the title of protector, but with kingly and more than kingly power. That his authority was lawful, never was pretended; he himself founded his right only in necessity; but Milton, having now tasted the horsey of public e.mployment, would noč return to hunger and philosophy, but, continuing to excrcise his office under a manifest usurpation, betrayed to his power that lịherty which he had defended. Nothing can be more just, than that rebellion should end in slavery; that he who had justified the murder of his king, for soine acts which to him seemed unlawful, should now sell his services, and his flatteries, to a tyrant, of whom it was evident that he could do nothing lawful.
He had now been blind for some years; but his vigour of intellect was such, that he was not disabled to discharge his office of Latin secretary, or continue his controversies. His mind was too eager to be diverted, and too strong to be subdued.
About this time his first wise died in child-bed, having left him three daughters. As he probably did not much love her, he did not long continue the appearance of lamenting her; but after a short time married Catharine, the daughter of one captain Woodcock of Hackney; a woman doubtless educated in opinions like his own. She died within a year of childbirth, or some distemper that followed it; and her husband honoured her memory with a poor sonnet.
The first reply to Milton's Defensio Populi was published in 1651, called Apologia pro Rege & Populo Anglicano, contra Johannis Polypragmatici (alias Miltoni) defensionem destructivam Regis & Populi
. Of this the author was not known; but Milton and his nephew Philips, under whose name he published an answer so much corrected by him, that it might be called his own, imputed it to Bramhal; and, knowing him no friend to regicides, thought themselves at liberty to treat him as if they had known what they only suspected.
Next year appeared Regü Sanguinis clamer ad Cælum. Of this the aythor was Peter du Moulin, who was afterwards prebendary of Canterbury; but Morus or More, a French Minister, having the care of its publication, was treated as the writer by Milton in his Defensio Sccunda, and overwhelmed by such violence cf invective, that he began to shrink under the tempest, and gave his persecuton the means of knowing the true author. Du Moulin was now in great danger; but Milton's pride operated against his malignity; and both he and his friends were more willing that Du Moulin should escape than that he should be con. victed of mistake.
In this second Defence he shews that his eloquence is not merely satirical; the rudeness of his inyective is equalled by the grossness of his flattery. “ Defi serimur, Cromuelle, tu solus superes, ad te summa nostrarum rerum rediit, " in te solo consistit, insuperabili tuæ virtuti cedimus cuncti, nemine vel
obloquente, nisi qui æquales inæqualis ipse honores sibi quærit, aut digniori “concessos invidet, aut non intelligit nihil esse in societate hominum magis “ vel Deo gratum, vel rationi consentaneum, esse in civitate nihil æquius, * utilius, quam potiri rerum dignissimum. Eum te agncscunt omnes, Cromucelle, "ea tu civis maximus & * gloriosissimus, dux publici consilii, exercityuin "fortissimorum imperator, pater patriæ gessisti. Sic tu spontanea bonurum " omnium & animitus missa voce salutaris.”
Czsar, when he assumed the perpetual dictatorship, had not more servile or more elegant flattery. A translation may shew its servility; but its elegance is less attainable. Having exposed the unskilfulness or selfishness of the former government, “ We were left," says Milton; “ to ourselves: the whole nati"onal interest fell into your hands, and subsists only in your abilities. To your "virtue, overpowering and resistless, every man gives way, except some wlió, " without equal qualifications, aspire to equal honours, who envy the distinc
tions of merit greater than their own, or who have yet to learn, that in the "coalition of human society, nothing is more pleasing to God, or more agreea"ble to reason, than that the highest mind should have the sovereign power. "Such sir, are you by general confession, the greatest and most glorious " of our countrymen, the director of our public councils, the leader of uncon"quered armies, the father of your country; for by that title does every good " man hail you, with sincere and voluntary praise."
Next year having defended all that wanted defence, he found leisure to de fend himself. He undertook his own vindication against More, whom he declares in his title to be justly called the author of the Regü Sanguinis clamer. In this there is no want of vehemence or eloquence, nor does he forget his wonted wit. "Morus es? an Mornus? an uterque ideni est?” He then remembers that Morus is Latin for a Mulberry-tree, and hints at the known transformation:
-Poma alba ferebas
Quæ post nigra tulit Morus. With this piece ended his controversies: and he from this time gave himself up to his private studies and his civil employment.
It may be doubted whether glorios. ssimus be bere used with Mikon's boasted purity. Res fiariosa is an illustrious thing; but vir gloriosus is commonly a braggart, as in miles gloriopas. Ds. .