תמונות בעמוד

came to be reputed the author of the whole. Thie Morus was the son of a learned Scotchman, who was President of the College, which the Protestants had formerly at Castres in Languedoc; and he is said to have been a man of a most haughty disposition, and immoderately addicted to women, hasty, ambitious, full of himself and his own performances, and satirical upon all others. He was, however, esteemed one of the most eminent preachers of that age among the Protestants; but as Monsieur Bayle observes, his chief talent must have consisted in the gracefulness of his delivery, or in those sallies of imagination and quaint turns and allusions, whereof his sermons are full ; for they retain not those charms in reading, which they were said to have formerly in the pulpit. Against this man, therefore, as the reputed author of Regii Sanguinis Clamor, &c. Milton published by authority his Second Defence of the People of England, Defensio Secunda pro populo Anglicano, in 1654, and treats Morus with such severity as nothing could have excused, if he had not been provoked to it by so much abuse poured upon himself. There is one piece of his wit, which had been published before in the news-papers at London, a distich upon Morus, for getting Pontia, the maid servant of his friend Salmasius, with child.

Galli ex concubitu gravidam te, Pontia, Mori

Quis bene moratam morigeramque neget?


Upon this Morus published his Fides Publica in answer to Milton, in which he inserted several testimonies of his orthodoxy and morals signed by the consistories, academies, synods, and magistrates of the places where he had lived; and disowned his being the author of the book imputed to him, and appealed to two gentlemen of great credit with the Parliament party, who knew the real author. This brought Du Moulin, who was then in England, into great dan

but the government suffered him to escape with impunity, rather than they would publicly contradict the great patron of their cause. For he still persisted in his accusation, and endeavoured to make it good in his defence of himself, Autoris pro se Defensio, which was published in 1655, wherein he opposed to the testimonies in favour of Morus other testimonies against him; and Morus replied no more.

After this controversy was ended, he was at leisure again to pursue his own private studies, which were the History of England, before mentioned, and a new Thesaurus of the Latin tongue, intended as an improvement upon that by Robert Stephens; a work, which he had been long collecting from the best and purest Latin authors, and continued at times almost to his dying day: but his papers were left so confused and imperfect, that they could not be fitted for the press, though great use was made of them by the compilers of the Cambridge Dictionary printed in 1693. These papers are said to have consisted of three large volumes in folio ; and it is a great pity


that they are lost, and no account is given what is become of the manuscript. It is commonly said too that at this time he began his famous poem of Paradise Lost; and it is certain, that he was glad to be released from those controversies, which detained him so long from following things more agreeable to his natural genius and inclination, though he wa from ever repenting of his writings in defence of liberty, but gloried in them to the last.

The only interruption now of his private studies was the the business of his office. In 1655 there was published in Latin a writing in the name of the Lord Protector, setting forth the reasons of the war with Spain: and this piece is rightly adjudged to our author, both on account of the peculiar elegance of the stile, and because it was his province to write such things as Latin Secretary; and it is printed among his other prose-works in the last edition. And for the same reasons I am inclined to think, that the famous Latin verses to Christina Queen of Sweden in the name of Cromwell were made by our author rather than Andrew Marvel. In those days they had admirable intelligence in the Secretary's

and Mr. Philips relates a memorable instance or two upon his own knowledge. The Dutch were sending a plenipotentiary to England to treat of peace; but the emissaries of the government had the art to procure a copy of his instructions in Holland, which were delivered by Milton to his kinsman wno was then with him, to translate them for the use of


the Council, before the said plenipotentiary had taken shipping for England: and an answer to all that he had in charge was prepared, and lay ready for him before he made his public entry into London. Another time a person came to London with a very sumptuous train, pretending himself an agent from the Prince of Condé, who was then in arms against Cardinal Mazarine : but the government suspecting him, set their instruments to work so successfully, that in a few days they received intelligence from Paris, that he was a spy employed by Charles II : whereupon the very next morning Milton's kinsman was sent to him with an order of Council, commanding him to depart the kingdom within three days, or expect the punishment of a spy. This kinsman was in all probability Mr. Philips or his brother, who were Milton's nephews, and lived very much with him, and one or both of them were assistant to him in his office. His blindness no doubt was a great hindrance and inconvenience to him in his business, though sometimes a political use might be made of it; as mer 's natural infirmities are often pleaded in excuse for not doing what they have no great inclination to do. Thus when Cromwell, as we may collect from Whitlock, for some reasons delayed artfully to sign the treaty concluded wit? Sweden, and the Swedish Ambassador made frequent complaints of it, it was excused to him, because Mr. Milton on account of his blindness proceeded slower in business, and had not yet put the articles of the treaty inta

Latin. Upon which the Ambassador was greatly surprised, that things of such consequence should be intrusted to a blind man, for he must necessarily employ an amanuensis, and that amanuensis might divulge the articles ; and said it was very wonderful, that there should be only one man in England who could write Latin, and he a blind one. But his blindness had not diminished, but rather increased the vigour of his mind; and his state-letters will remain as authentic memorials of those times, to be admired equally by critics and politicians; and those particularly about the sufferings of the poor Protestants in Piedmont, who can read without sensible emotion? This was a subject he had very much at heart, as he was an utter enemy to all sorts of persecution; and among his sonnets there is a most'excellent one upon the same occasion.

But Oliver Cromwell being dead, and the government weak and unsettled in the hands of Richard and the Parliament, he thought it a seasonable time to offer his advice again to the public; and in 1659 published a Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes; and another tract intitled Considerations touching the likeliest Means to remove Hirelings out of the Church; both addressed to the Parliament of the commonwealth of England. And after the Parliament was dissolved, he wrote a letter to some Statesman, with whom he had a serious discourse the night before, concerning the ruptures of the commonwealth, and another, as it is supposed, to Ge.

« הקודםהמשך »