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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 cona futation. 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 sufa rerer of injuries; and perceiving that he had begun to put his doctrine in praca tice, hy courting a young woman of great accomplishments, the daughter of one Dr. Davis, who was however not ready to comply, they resolved to endeavour a re-union. He went sometimes to the house of one 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 knees. He resisted her intreaties for a while: “ but partly,” says Philips,“ his " own generous naturc, more inclinable to reconciliation than to perseverance “ in anger or revenge, and partly the strong intercession of friends on both “ sides, soon brought him to an act of oblivion, and a firm league of peace." It were injurious to omit, that Milton afterwards received her father and her brothers in his own house, when they were distressed, with other Royalists.
He published about the same time his Areopagitica, a Speech of Mr. John Mil. con for the liberty of unlicensed Printing. The danger of such unbounded liherty, and the danger of bounding it, have produced a problem in the science of Government which human understanding seems hitherto unable to solve. If nothing may be published but what civil authority shall have previously approved, power must always be the standard of iruth; 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 crus! the author, promotes the book; and it seems not more reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained, because writers may be afterwards cena sured, 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, poctry was never long out of his thoughts.
About this time (1645) a collection of his Latin and English poems appeared, in which the Allegro and Penseroso, 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 « accession of scholars was not great. Possibly his having proceeded so far in the VOL. I.
" education of youth, may have been the occasion of his adversaries calling him “ pedagoguea nd school master; whereas it is well known that 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 his relations, and the sons “ of gentlemen who were his intimate friends; and that neither his writings "nor his way of teaching savoured in the least of pedantry.”
Thus laboriously does his nephew extenuate what cannot be denied, and - what migth be confessed without disgrace. Milton was not a man who 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 him 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 dis- tance than by having been only designed, about some time, if a man be not much
mistaken. Milton shall be a pedagogue no longer ; for, if Philips be not mucli · mistaken, somebody at some time designed him for a soldier.
About the time that the army was new-modelled (1645) ho 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 compose 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 admitted, 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 embold. ened 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, “ immediately before his death, to pop into the hands of the grave bishop 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 them tlie forgers. The use of it by adaptation was innocent; and they who could so noisily censure it, with a little extension of their malice could con. trive what they wanted to accuse. .
King Charles the Second, being now sheltered in Holland, employed Sal. masius, professor of Polite Learning at Leyden, to write a defence of his father and of monarchy; and, to excite his industry, gave him, as was report. ed, a hundred Jacobuses. Salmasius was a man of skill in languages, knowledge of antiquity, and sagacity of emendatory criticism, almost exceeding all hope of human attainment; and having, by excessive praises, been confirmed ia 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 published Defensio. Regis
To this Milton was required to write a sufficient anşrver; 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 him. He makes a foolish allu. sion of Salmasius, whose doctrine he considers as servile and unmanly, to the stream of Salmacis, which whoever entered left half his virility behind him.. Salmasius was a Frenchman, and was unhappily married to a scold. Tu es Gallus, says Milton, & ut aiunt, nimium gallinaceus. But his supreme pleasure is to tax his adversary, so renowned for criticism, with vicio is Lain. He opens his book with telling that he has used Persona, which, accorcing 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 meinorable 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 te grammatistis tuis vapulandum. From vapulo, which has a passive senise, vapulandus can never be derived. No man 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 supp.ied by zeal. He was rewarded with a thousand pounds, and his book was much read; for paradox, recommended by spirit and 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 een 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, ber purpose must be to torment Salmasius, who was then at her Court; for neither her civil station nor her natural character could dispose them to favour the doctrine, who was by birth a queen, and by temper despotick. I 2
That Salmasius was, from the appearance of Milton's book, treated with neglect, 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 might in. cline 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 in pain for his Latinity, he endeavours to defend his use of the word perfona ; but, if I remember right, he misses a better authority than any that he has found, that of Juvenal in his fourth satire:
Quid agis cum dira et fødjor omni
Crimine persona est? As Salmasius reproached Milton with losing his eyes in the quarrel, Milton delighted himself 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 Jast 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 honey of public employment, would not Teturn ta hunger and philosophy, but, continuing to exercise his office under a manifest usurpation, betrayed to his power that liberty 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 some acts which to him seemed unlawful, should now sell his scrvices, 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 wife 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 1657, called Apon logia pro Rege & Populo Anglicano, contra Johannis Polypragmatici (alias Miltoni) defensionem destructivam Regis & Populi. Of this the author was not known; büt 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 ta 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 Regii Sanguinis clamor ad Cælum. Of this the author was Peter du Moulin, who was afterwards prebendary of Canterbury; but Morus or More, a French Minister, leaving the care of its publication, was treated as the writer by Milton in his Defensio Sccunda, and overwhelmed by such violence of invective, that he hegan to shrink under the tempest, and gave his persecutors 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 invective is equalled by the grossness of his flattery. “ Desi 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 agnoscunt omnes, Cromuelle, “ ea tu civis maximus & * gloriosissimus, dux publici consilii, exercituuin « fortissimorum imperator, pater patriæ gessisti. Sic tu spontanea bonorum “ omnium & animitus missa voce salutaris.”
Cæsar, 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 who, “ 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 defend himself. He undertook his own vindication against More, whom he declares in his title to be justly called the author of the Regii Sanguinis clamor. In this there is no want of vehemence or eloquence, nor does he forget his wonted wit, “ Morus es? an Momus? an uterque ideni est ?" He then remembers that Morus is Latin for a Mulberry-tree, and hints at the known transformation :
-Poma alba ferebar
Quæ post nigra culic Morus. With this piece ended his controversies: and he from this time gave him self up to his private studies and his civil employment.
• It may be doubted whether gloriosissimus be here used with Milton's boasted purity. Res Floriosa is arrillustrious thing; but vir gloriosus is commonly a braggart, as in mides gloriosus. Dr. }.