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all who confided in him, to abandon his old associates to the butchery of legal vengeance, and with a fearful accumulation of perjury on his head to surrender the nation, without a single stipulation in its favour, to the dominion of a master in whom voluptuousness and cruelty were confounded in a disgusting embrace. By every intelligent and reflecting man the restoration of the monarchy of England must be hailed as a most auspicious event: but it may be questioned whether the unconditional restoration of it, and this alone was properly the act of Monk, can be regarded as a benefit either to the prince or to the people ;-to the former, whom it allured to those excesses which induced the final expulsion of his family from the throne; or to the latter, whom it immediately exposed to the evils of an injurious reign, and eventually subjected to the necessity of asserting, with the blood of two domestic wars, their right to civil and religious liberty.
While these strange transactions were passing in the space between the Protector's death and the return of Charles, the mind of Milton must necessarily have been agitated with very severe inquietudes. Under the usurpation of Cromwell he had seen the structure of liberty, which his ardent imagi
nation had erected, dissolve like a vision into air, and leave not a vestige to intimate the place where the fanciful edifice had stood. In this bad case however there were circumstances to appease and console him. At home, religious freedom had been admitted in its most ample expansion; and, with the name of a commonwealth, many of the privileges of free men had been respected and permitted to remain. The personal character of the usurper had also in some measure covered the deformity of the usurpation. Magnificent in public, as the representative of a great nation, in private he was simple and plain. Impatient of those questions which pressed upon his own title, he admitted all others to unlimited discussion; and while the most equal justice was distributed under his auspices through all the ranks of the community, his vigorous arm controlled Europe and seated Britain as her queen upon the throne.
His generous policy that protected the reformed churches against their catholic oppressors, (one exertion of which, for the Protestants of Piedmont, has already been mentioned,) was alone sufficient to soften the hostility, if it could not entirely engage the affection of Milton.
On the death of Oliver the usurper was
no more, but the usurpation survived; and for the vigour and liberality which he had been accustomed to respect, Milton saw nothing but the weakness and the selfishness of faction, trampling upon the rights ard the patience of the nation, and precipitating itself, with the cause which it professed to support, into irretrievable ruin.
He was not however wanting to the community at this crisis of confusion and alarm, Apprehensive of returning intolerance from the increasing influence of the Presbyterians, he published two treatises, one called, Treatise of the Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes;" and the other, “ Considerations touching the likeliest means to remove Hirelings out of the Church.” In the first of these works, which he addressed to the Parliament convened by Richard Cromwell, he asserts the entire liberty of conscience, and with arguments drawn from the sacred writings he demonstrates that in matters merely of religion the interference of the magistrate is unlawful: in the second, which he inscribed to the Long Parliament on its revival by the army, he allows the propriety of a maintenance for the christian minister, but, arguing against the divine right as well as the political expediency of tithes, he is of opinion that the pastor ought to be supported by the contributions of his own immediate flock. To the politician, who contemplates in this country the advantages of a church establishment and sees it in union with the most perfect toleration, or to the philosopher, who discovers in the weakness of human nature the necessity of present motives to awaken exertion and to stimulate attention, the plan recommended by our author would appear to be visionary or pernicious;
and we should not hesitate to condemn it, if its practicability and its inoffensive consequence were not incontrovertibly established by the testimony of America. From Hudson's Bay, with the small interruption of Canada, to the Mississippi, this immense continent beholds the religion of Jesus, unconnected with the patronage of government, , subsisting in independent yet friendly communities, breathing that universal charity which constitutes its vital spirit, and offering, with its distinct yet blending tones, one grand combination of harmony to the ear of its Heavenly Father.
Milton, as a political writer, had now been so long withdrawn from the public observation, and had so long been reposing under the shade of the Protectoral government, that his republican admirers began to suspect him of alienation from their cause, and of hesitation in the race on which he had entered with so much spirit and effect. Their opinion of his consistency was restored however by the publications of which we have been speaking; and they now acknowledged him to be still the Milton of former times. In a letter, addressed to him on the subject of the first of these treatises by a Mr. Wall of Causham, dated May 29, 1659, that gentleman says,
“ I confess I have even in my privacy in the country oft had thoughts of you, and that with much respect for your friendship to truth in your early years and in bad times. But I was uncertain whether your relation to the Court, (though I think that a commonwealth was more friendly to you than a court,) had not clouded your former light: but your last book resolved that doubt."
As the disorders and the disgraces of the year increased, while the earnest protestations of Monk and the existence of a Parliament, in which the royalists formed an inconsider
• Transcribed from the original by Mr. Owen of Rochdale in Lancashire. Birch's Life of Milton, p. xlii. The whole letter is inserted in P. W.ii. 388, and the reader will find it to be deserving of his notice.