« AnteriorContinuar »
the greatest men in all ages had delighted in teach- Mr. Alphry and Mr. Miller, both of Gray's Inn, ing others the principles of knowledge and virtue, and two of the greatest beaus of those times. undertook the office, not out of any sordid and But he was not so fond of this academical life, mercenary views, but more from a benevolent dis- as to be an indifferent spectator of what was acted position, and a desire to do good. And his method upon the public stage of the world. The nation of education was as much above the pedantry and was now in a great ferment in 1641, and the clajargon of the common schools, as his genius was mour run high against the bishops, when he joined superior to that of a common school-master. One loudly in the cry, to help the puritan ministers, (as of his nephews has given us an account of the he says himself in his second Defence) they being many authors both Latin and Greek, which (be- inferior to the bishops in learning and eloquence; sides those usually read in the schools) through and published his two books, Of Reformation in his excellent judgment and way of teaching were England, written to a friend. About the same run over within no greater compass of time, than time certain ministers having published a treatise from ten to fifteen or sixteen years of age. Of against episcopacy, in answer to the Humble Rethe Latin the four authors concerning husbandry, monstrance of Dr. Joseph Hall, Bishop of NorCato, Varro, Columella, and Palladius, Cornelius wich, under the title of Smectymnuus, a word Celsus the physician, a great part of Pliny's Na- consisting of the initial letters of their names, Stetural History, the Architecture of Vitruvius, the phen Marshal, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Stratagems of Frontinus, and the philosophical Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstow; poets Lucretius and Manilius. Of the Greek He- and Archbishop Usher having published at Ox siod, Aratus' Phænomena and Diosemeia, Diony- ford a refutation of Smectymnuus, in a tract consius Afer de situ orbis, Oppian's Cynegetics and cerning the original of Bishops and Metropolitans; Halieutics, Quintus Calaber's poem of the Trojan Milton wrote his little piece Of Prelatical Episcowar continued from Homer, Apollonius Rhodius' pacy, in opposition chiefly to Usher, for he was for Argonautics, and in prose, Plutarch's Placita phi- contending with the most powerful adversary; losophorum, and of the education of children. Xe- there would be either less disgrace in the defeat, nophon's Cyropædia and Anabasis, Ælian's Tac- for more glory in the victory. He handled the tics, and the stratagems of Polyænus. Nor did subject more at large in his next performance, this application to the Greek and Latin tongues which was the Reason of Church Government hinder the attaining to the chief oriental languages, urged against Prelacy, in two books. And Bishop the Hebrew, Chaldee and Syriac, so far as to go Hall having published a Defence of the Humble through the Pentateuch or five books of Moses in Remonstrance, he wrote Animadversions upon it. Hebrew, to make a good entrance into the Tar-All these treatises he published within the course gum or Chaldee paraphrase, and to understand of one year, 1641, which show how very diligent several chapters of St. Matthew in the Syriac he was in the cause that he had undertaken. And Testament; besides the modern languages, Italian the next year he set forth his Apology for Smecand French, and a competent knowledge of the tymnuus, in answer to the Confutation of his Animathematics and astronomy. The Sunday's ex- madversions, written as he thought himself by ercise for his pupils was for the most part to read Bishop Hall, or his son. And here very luckily a chapter of Greek Testament, and to hear his ended a controversy, which detained him from learned exposition of it. The next work after greater and better writings which he was medithis was to write from his dictation some part of a tating, more useful to the public, as well as more system of divinity, which he had collected from suitable to his own genius and inclination: but he the ablest divines, who had written upon that sub-thought all this while that he was vindicating ject. Such were his academic institutions; and ecclesiastical liberty. thus by teaching others he in some measure en- In the year 1643, and the thirty-fifth year of his larged his own knowledge; and having the read- age, he married; and indeed his family was now ing of so many authors as it were by proxy, he growing so numerous, that it wanted a mistress might possibly have preserved his sight, if he had at the head of it. His father, who had lived with not moreover been perpetually busied in reading his younger son at Reading, was, upon the taking or writing something himself. It was certainly a of that place by the forces under the Earl of Esvery recluse and studious life, that both he and his sex, necessitated to come and live in London with pupils led; but the young men of that age were this his elder son, with whom he continued in of a different turn from those of the present; and tranquillity and devotion to his dying day. Some he himself gave an example to those under him addition too was to be made to the number of his of hard study and spare diet; only now and then, pupils. But before his father or his new pupils once in three weeks or a month, he made a gaudy were come, he took a journey in the Whitsuntide day with some young gentlemen of his acquaint- vacation, and after a month's absence returned ance, the chief of whom, says Mr. Philips, were with a wife, Mary the eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, of Foresthill, near Shotover in main benefits of conjugal society, which are soOxfordshire, a justice of the peace, and a gentle- lace and peace, are greater reasons of divorce than man of good repute and figure in that county. But adultery or natural frigidity, especially if there be she had not cohabited with her husband above a no children, and there be mutual consent for semonth, before she was earnestly solicited by her paration. He published it at first without his relations to come and spend the remaining part name, but the style easily betrayed the author; of the summer with them in the country. If it and afterwards a second edition, much augmentwas not at her instigation that her friends made ed, with his name; and he dedicated it to the Parthis request, yet at least it was agreeable to her liament of England with the Assembly of Divines, inclination; and she obtained her husband's con- that as they were then consulting about the genesent upon a promise of returning at Michaelmas. ral reformation of the kingdom, they might also And in the mean while his studies went on very take this particular case of domestic liberty into vigorously; and his chief diversion, after the busi- their consideration. And then, as it was objected, ness of the day, was now and then in an evening that his doctrine was a novel notion, and a paradox to visit the Lady Margaret Lee, daughter of the that no body had ever asserted before, he endeaEarl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer of voured to confirm his own opinion by the authority England, and President of the Privy Council to of others, and published in 1614 the Judgment of King James I. This Lady, being a woman of Martin Bucer, &c.: and as it was still objected, excellent wit and understanding, had a particular that his doctrine could not be reconciled to Scriphonour for our author, and took great delight in his ture, he published, in 1645, his Tetrachordon, or conversation; as likewise did her husband Captain Expositions upon the four chief places in ScripHobson, a very accomplished gentleman. And ture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in mar
а what a regard Milton again had for her, he has riage. At the first appearing of the Doctrine and left upon record in a sonnet to her praise, extant Discipline of Divorce the clergy raised a heavy among his other poems.
outcry against it, and daily solicited the ParliaMichaelmas was now come, but he heard no- ment to pass some censure upon it; and at last thing of his wife's return. He wrote to her, but one of them, in a sermon preached before the received no answer. He wrote again letter after Lords and Commons on a day of humiliation in letter, but received no answer to any of them. He August, 1614, roundly told them that there was a then despatched a messenger with a letter, de- book abroad, which deserved to be burned, and siring her to return; but she positively refused, that among their other sins they ought to repent, and dismissed the messenger with contempt. that they had not yet branded it with some mark Whether it was, that she had conceived any dis- of their displeasure. And Mr. Wood informs us, like to her husband's person or humour; or whe-that upon Milton's publishing his three books of ther she could not conform to his retired and phi- Divorce, the Assembly of Divines, that was then losophical manner of life, having been accustom-sitting at Westminster, took special notice of them; ed to a house of much gaiety and company; or and notwithstanding his former services in writing whether being of a family strongly attached to against the bishops, caused him to be summoned the royal cause, she could not bear her husband's before the House of Lords: but that House, wherepublican principles; or whether she was over-ther approving his doctrine, or not favouring his persuaded by her relations, who possibly might accusers, soon dismissed him. He was attacked repent of having matched the eldest daughter of too from the press as well as from the pulpit, in a the family to a man so distinguished for taking pamphlet entitled Divorce at Pleasure, and in anothe contrary party, the King's head-quarters being ther entitled an Answer to the Doctrine and Disin their neighbourhood at Oxford, and his Majesty cipline of Divorce, which was licensed and recomhaving now some fairer prospect of success; whe- mended by Mr. Joseph Caryl, a famous Presbyther any or all of these were the reasons of this terian divine, and author of a voluminous comextraordinary behaviour; huwever it was, it so mentary on the book of Job: and Milton, in his highly incensed her husband, that he thought it Colasterion or Reply, published in 1645, expostuwould be dishonourable ever to receive her again lates smartly with the licenser, as well as handles after such a repulse, and he determined to repu- very roughly the nameless author. And these diate her as she had in effect repudiated him, and provocations, I suppose, contributed not a little to to consider her no longer as his wife. And to make him such an enemy to the Presbyterians, to fortify this his resolution, and at the same time to whom he had before distinguished himself a justify it to the world, he wrote the Doctrine and friend. He composed likewise two of his sonnets Discipline of Divorce, wherein he endeavours to on the reception his book of Divorce met with, but prove, that indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety the latter is much the better of the two. To this of mind, proceeding from any unchangeable cause account it may be added from Antony Wood, that m nature, hindering and ever likely to hinder the after the King's restoration, when the subject of
divorce was under consideration with the Lords convinced or not at his arguments, he was certainupon the account of John Lord Ross, or Roos, his ly convinced himself that he was in the right; and separation from his wife Anne Pierpoint, eldest as a proof of it he determined to marry again, and daughter to Henry, Marquis of Dorchester, he made his addresses to a youyg lady of great wit was consulted by an eminent member of that and beauty, one of the daughters of Dr. Davis. House, and about the same time by a chief officer But intelligence of this coming to his wife, and of state, as being the prime person who was know- the then declining state of the King's cause, and ing in that affair.
consequently of the circumstances of Justice Pow. But while he was engaged in this controversy ell's family, caused them to set all engines on work of divorce, he was not so totally engaged in it, but to restore the wife again to her husband. And he attended to other things; and about this time his friends too for different reasons seem to have published his Letter of Education to Mr. Samuel been as desirous of bringing about a reconciliation Hartlib, who wrote some things about husbandry, as her's, and this method of effecting it was conand was a man of considerable learning, as ap- certed between them. He had a relation, one pears from the letters which passed between him Blackborough, living in the lane of St. Martin's and the famous Mr. Mede, and from Sir William Le Grand, whom he often visited; and one day Petty's and Pell the mathematician's writing to when he was visiting there, it was contrived that him, the former his Treatise for the Advancement the wife should be ready in another room; and as of some particular parts of Learning, and the lat- he was thinking of nothing less, he was surprised ter his Idea of the Mathematics, as well as from to see her, whom he had expected never to have this letter of our author. This letter of our au- seen any more, falling down upon her knees at his thor has usually been printed at the end of his feet, and imploring his forgiveness with tears. At poems, and is as I may say the theory of his own first he showed some signs of aversion, but he conpractice; and by the rules which he has laid down tinued not long inexorable; his wife's intreaties, for education, we see in some measure the methol and the intercession of friends on both sides, soon that he pursued in educating his own pupils. wrought upon his generous nature, and procured And in 1644, he published his Areopagitica, or a happy reconciliation with an act of oblivion of Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to all that was past. But he did not take his wife the Parliament of England.
at home immediately; it was agreed that she should the desire of several learned men, and is perhaps remain at a friend's, till the house that he had the best vindication that has been published at newly taken was fitted for their reception; for any time or in any language, of that liberty which some other gentlemen of his acquaintance, having is the basis and support of all other liberties, the observed the great success of his method of educaliberty of the press: but alas, it had not the de- tion, had recommended their sons to his care; and sired effect; for the Presbyterians were as fond of his house in Aldersgate-street not being large exercising the licensing power, when they got it enough, he had taken a larger in Barbican: and into their own hands, as they had been clamor- till this could be got ready, the place pitched upon ous before in inveighing against it, while it was in for his wife's abode was the widow Webber's house the hands of the prelates. And Mr. Toland is in St. Clement's Churchyard, whose second daughmistaken in saying, “ that such was the effect of ter had been married to the other brother many this piece, that the following year Mabol, a li- years before. The part that Milton acted in this censer, offered reasons against licensing; and at whole affair, showed plainly that he had a spirit his own request was discharged that office.” For capable of the strongest resentment, but yet more neither was the licenser's name Mabol, but Gil- inclinable to pity and forgiveness: and neither in bert Mabbot; neither was he discharged from his this was any injury done to the other lady, whom office till May, 1649, about five years afterwards, he was courting, for she is said to have been although probably he might be swayed by Milton's ways averse from the motion, not daring I suppose arguments, as every ingenuous person must, who to venture in marriage with a man who was known peruses and considers them. And in 1645, was to have a wife still l'ving. He might not think published a collection of his poems, Latin and himself too at liberty as before, while his wife conEnglish, the principal of which are on the Morn- tinued obstinate; for his most plausible argument ing of Christ's Nativity, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, for divorce proceeds upon a supposition, that the Lycidas, the Mask, &c. &c.: and if he had left thing be done with mutual consent. no other monuments of his poetical genius behind After his wife's return his family was increased him, these would have been sufficient to have ren- not only with children, but also with his wife's redered his name immortal.
lations, her father and mother, her brothers and But without doubt his Doctrine of Divorce and sisters, coming to live with him in the general disthe maintenance of it principally engaged his tress and ruin of the royal party: and he was so thoughts at this period; and whether others were far from resenting their former ill treatment of hin,
that he generously protected them, and entertained charged the business of his office a very little time, them very hospitably, till their affairs were accom- before he was called to a work of another kind. modated through his interest with the prevailing For soon after the king's death was published a faction. And then upon their removal, and the book under his name, entitled Eexcer Broininn, or the death of his own father, his house looked again Royal Image: and this book, like Cæsar's last like the house of the Muses; but his studies had will, making a deeper impression, and exciting like to have been interrupted by a call to public greater commiseration in the minds of the people, business; for about this time there was a design than the king himself did while alive, Milton was of constituting him Adjutant General in the army ordered to prepare an answer to it, which was under Sir William Waller; but the new modelling published by authority, and entitled EixovoxacOSNS, of the army soon following, that design was laid or the Image-breaker, the famous surname of many aside. And not long after, his great house in Bar- Greek emperors, who, in their zeal against idolabican being now too large for his family, he quit. try, broke all superstitious images to pieces. This ted it for a smaller in High Holborn, which open- piece was translated into French; and two replies ed backward into Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he to it were published, one in 1651, and the other in prosecuted his studies till the King's trial and 1692, upon the reprinting of Milton's book at death, when the Presbyterians declaiming tragi- Amsterdam. In this controversy a heavy charge cally against the King's execution, and asserting has been alleged against Milton. Some editions that his person was sacred and inviolable, provoked of the king's book have certain prayers added at him to write the Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, the end, and among them a prayer in time of capproving that it is lawful to call a tyrant to account tivity, which is taken from that of Pamela in Sir and to depose and put him to death, and that they Philip Sidney's Arcadia : and it is said, that this who of late so much blame deposing are the men prayer was added by the contrivance and artifice who did it themselves: and he published it at the of Milton, who, together with Bradshaw, prevailbeginning of the year 1619, to satisfy and com- ed upon the printer to insert it, that from thence pose the minds of the people. Not long after this he might take occasion to bring a scandal upon he wrote his Observations on the Articles of Peace the king, and to blast the reputation of his book, between the Earl of Ormond and the Irish Rebels. as he has attempted to do in the first section of his And in these and all his writings, whatever others answer. This fact is related chiefly upoz the auof different parties may think, he thought himself thority of Henry Hills the printer, who had frean advocate for true liberty, for ecclesiastical liber- quently affirmed it to Dr. Gill and Dr. Bernard, ty in his treatises against the bishops, for domestic his physicians, as they themselves have testified. liberty in his books of divorce, and for civil liberty But Hills was not himself the printer, who was in his writings against the king in defence of the dealt with in this manner, and consequently he parliament and people of England.
could have the story only from hearsay: and After this he retired again to his private studies; though he was Cromwell's printer, yet afterwards and thinking that he had leisure enough for such he turned papist in the reign of James II, in order a work, he applied himself to the writing of a His. to be that King's printer, and it was at that time tory of England, which he intended to deduce that he used to relate this story; so that I think, little from the earliest accounts down to his own times: credit is due to his testimony. And indeed I can and he had finished four books of it, when neither not but hope, and believe, that Milton had a soul courting nor expecting any such preferment, he above being guilty of so mean an action, to serve was invited by the Council of State to be their so mean a purpose; and there is as little reason for Latin Secretary for foreign affairs. And he served fixing it upon him, as he had to traduce the king in the same capacity under Oliver, and Richard, for profaning the duty of prayer “with the pollutand the Rump, till the Restoration; and without ed trash of Romances." For there are not many doubt a better Latin pen could not have been found finer prayers in the best books of devotion; and in the kingdom. For the Republic and Cromwell the king might as lawfully borrow and apply it to scorned to pay that tribute to any foreign Prince, his own occasions, as the Apostle might make which is usually paid to the French king, of ma- quotations from Heathen poems and plays: and it naging their affairs in his language; they thought became Milton the least of all men to bring such it an indignity and meanness to which this or any an accusation against the king, as he was himself free nation ought not to submit; and took a noble particularly fond of reading romances, and has resolution neither to write any letters to any foreign made use of them in some of the best and latest states, nor to receive any answers from them, but of his writings. in the Latin tongue, which was common to them But his most celebrated work in prose is his De. all.
fence of the people of England against Salmasius, But it was not only in foreign dispatches that Defensio pro populo Anglicano contra Claudii the government made use of his pen. He had dis-Anonymi, alias Salmasia, Defensionem Regiam.
Salmasius, by birth a Frenchman, succeeded the sador from the Duke of Parma to the French king, famous Scaliger as honorary Professor of the uni- wrote a fine encomium of his Defence, and sent versity of Leyden, and had gained great reputa- him his picture, as appears from Milton's Letter tion by his Plinian Exercitations on Solinus, and to Philaras, dated at London, in June, 1652. And by his critical remarks on several Latin and Greek what gave him the greatest satisfaction, the work authors, and was generally esteemed one of the was highly applauded by those, who had desired greatest and most consummate scholars of that him to undertake it; and they made him a present age: and is commended by Milton himself in his of a thousand pounds, which, in those days of fruReason of Church Government, and called the gality, was reckoned no inconsiderable reward for learned Salmasius. And besides his great learn- his performance. But the case was far otherwise ing he had extraordinary talents in railing. “This with Salmasius. He was then in high favour at prince of scholars, as somebody said of him, seemed the court of Christina, Queen of Sweden, who to have erected his throne upon a heap of stones, had invited thither several of the most learned men that he might have them at hand to throw at every of all countries: but when Milton's Defence of one's head who passed by.” He was, therefore, the People of England was brought to Sweden, courted by Charles II, as the most able man to and was read to the Queen at her own desire, he write a defence of the late king, his father, and to sunk immediately in her esteem, and the opinion traduce his adversaries, and a hundred Jacobuses of every body; and though he talked big at first, were given him for that purpose, and the book was and vowed the destruction of Milton and the Parpublished in 1619, with this title, Defensio Regia liament, yet finding that he was looked upon with pro Carolo I. ad Carolum II. No sooner did this coldness, he thought proper to take leave of the book appear in England, but the Council of State court; and he who came in honour, was dismissed unanimously appointed Milton, who was then pre- with contempt. He died some time afterwards at sent, to answer it: and he performed the task with Spa, in Germany, and, it is said, more of a broken amazing spirit and vigour, though his health at heart than of any distemper, leaving a posthumous that time was such, that he could hardly endure reply to Milton, which was not published till after the fatigue of writing, and being weak in body he the Restoration, and was dedicated to Charles II. was forced to write by piece-mcal, and to break off by his son Claudius; but it has done no great hoalmost every hour, as he says himself in the intro- nour to his memory, abounding with abuse much duction. This necessarily occasioned some delay, more than argument. so that his Defence of the people of England was Isaac Vossius was at Stockholm, when Milton's not made public till the beginning of the year book was brought thither, and in some of his let1651: and they who can not read the original, may ters to Nicholas Heinsius, published by Professor yet have the pleasure of reading the English trans- Burman in the third tome of his Sylloge Epistolalation by Mr. Washington, of the Temple, which rum, he says, that he had the only copy of Milton's was printed in 1692, and is inserted among Mil- book, that the Queen borrowed it of him, and was ton's works in the two last editions. It was some very much pleased with it, and commended Milwhat extraordinary, that Salmasius, a pensioner ton's wit and manner of writing in the presence to a republic, should pretend to write a defence of of several persons, and that Salmasius was very monarchy, but the States showed their disappro- angry, and very busy in preparing his answer, bation by publicly condemning his book, and or- wherein he sed Milton as if he had been one dering it to be suppressed. And, on the other of the vilest catamites in Italy, and also criticised hand, Milton's book was burnt at Paris, and at his Latin poems. Heinsius writes again to VosToulouse, by the hands of the common hangman; sius from Holland, that he wondered that only one but this served only to procure it the more readers: copy of Milton's book was brought to Stockholm, it was read and talked of every where, and even when three were sent thither, one to the Queen, they who were of different principles, yet could another to Vossius which he had received, and the not but acknowledge that he was a good defender third to Salmasius; that the book was in every of a bad cause; and Salmasius's book underwent body's hands, and there had been four editions in only one impression, while this of Milton passed a few months besides the English one; that a through several editions. On the first appearance Dutch translation was handed about, and a French of it, he was visited or invited by all the foreign one was expected. And afterwards he writes from ministers at London, not excepting even those of Venice, that Holstenius had lent him Milton's crowned heads; and was particularly honoured Latin poems; that they were nothing, compared and esteemed by Adrian Paaw, ambasssador from with the elegance of his Apology; that he had the States of Holland. He was likewise highly offended frequently against prosody, and here was complimented by letters from the most learned and a great opening for Salmasius' criticism: but as to ingenious persons in France and Germany; and Milton's having been a catamite in Italy, he says, Leonard Philaras, an Athenian born, and ambas- that it was a mere calumny; on the contrary, he