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band Captain Hobson, a very accomplished gentle
And what a regard Milton again had for her, he has left upon record in a sonnet to her praise, extant among
his other poems. Michaeimas was now come, but he heard nothing of his wife's return. He wrote to her, but received
He wrote again letter after letter, but received no answer to any of them. He then dispatched a messenger with a letter, desiring her to return; but she positively refused, and dismissed the messenger with contempt. Whether it was, that she had conceived any dislike to her husband's person or humour; or whether she could not conform to his retired and philosophical manner of life, having been accustomed to a livuse of much gaiety and company; or whether being of a family strongly attached to the royal cause, she could not bear her husband's republican principles; or whether she was over-persuaded by her relations, who possibly might repent of having matched the eldest daugiiter of the family to a man so distinguished for taking the contrary party, the King's head-quarters being in thcir neighbourhood at Oxford, and his Majesty having now some fairer prospect of success; whether any or all of these were the reasons of this extraordinary behaviour; however it was, it so highly incensed her husband, that he thought it would be dishonourable ever to receive her again after such a repulse, and he determined to repudiate her as she had in effect repudiated him, and to consider her no longer as his wife.
And to fortify this his resolution, and at the same time to justify it to the world, he wrote the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, wherein he endeavours to prove, that indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind, proceeding from any unchangeable cause in nature, hindering and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugal society, which are solace and peace, are greater reasons of divorce than adultery or natural frigidity, especially if there be no children, and there be mutual consent for se... paration. He published it at first without his name, but the stile easily betrayed the author ; and afterwards a second edition, much augmented with his name; and he dedicated it to the Parliament of England with the Assembly of Divines, that as they were then consulting about the general reformation of the kingdom, they might also take this particular case of domestic liberty into their consideration. And then, as it was objected that his doctrine was a novel notion, and a paradox that nobody had ever asserted before, he endeavoured to confirm his own opinion by the authority of others, and published in 1644 the Judgment of Martin Bucer, &c: and as it was still objected, that his doctrine could not be reconciled to Scripture, he published in 1645 his Tetrachordon, or Expositions upon the four chief places in Scripture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in marriage., At the first appearing of the Doctrine and · Discipline of Divorce, the clergy raised a heavy outcry, against it, and daily solicited the Parliażnent to
pass some censure upon it; and at last one of them, in a sermon preached before the Lords and Commons on a day of humiliation in August 1664, roundly told them, that there was a book abroad which deserved to be burnt, and that among their other sins they ought to repent, that they had not yet branded it with some inark of their displeasure. And Mr. Wood informs us, that upon Milton's publishing his three books of Divorce, the Assembly of Divines, that was then sitting at Westminster, took special notice of them; and notwithstanding his former services in writing against the Bishops, caused him to be summoned before the House of Lords : but that House, whether approving his doctrine, or not favouring his accusers, soon dismissed him. He was attacked too from the press as well as from the pulpit, in a pamphlet intitled Divorce at Pleasure, and in another intitled an Answer to the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, which was licensed and recommended by Mr. Joseph Caryl, a famous Presbyterian Divine, and author of a voluminous Commentary on the Book of Job: and Milton in his Co. lasterion or reply published in 1645 expostulates smartly with the licencer, as well as handles very roughly the nameless author. These provocations, I suppose, contributed not a little to make him such an enemy to the Presbyterians, to whom he had before distinguished himself a friend. He composed likewise two of his sonnets on the reception his book of Divorce met with, but the latter is much
the better of the two. To this account it may be added from Anthony Wood, that after the King's Restoration, when the subject of divorce was under consideration with the Lords upon the account of John Lord Ros or Roos his separation from his wife Anne Pierpoint, eldest daughter to Henry Marquis of Dorchester, he was consulted by an eminent member of that House, and about the same time by a chief officer of state, as being the prime person who was knowing in that affair.
But while he was engaged in this controversy of divorce, he was not so totally engaged in it, but he attended to other things ; and about this time published his Letter of Education to Mr. Samuel Hartlib, who wrote some things about husbandry, and was a man of considerable learning, as appears from the letters which passed between him and the famous Mr. Mede, and from Sir William Petty's and Pell the mathematician's writing to him, the former his treatise forthe Advancement of some particular parts of Learning, and the latter his Idea of the Mathematics, as well as from this letter of our author. This letter of our author has usually been printed at the end of his poems, and is, as I may say, the Theory of his own Practice ; and by the rules which he has laid down for Education, we see, in some measure, the method that he pursued in educating his own pupils. And in 1644 he published his Areopagitica, or Speech for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England. It was written at the desire of several
learned men, and is perhaps the best vindication that has been published at any time or in any language, of that liberty which is the basis and support of all other liberties, the liberty of the press: but alas ! it had not the desired effect; for the Presbyterians were as fond of exercising the licensing power, when they got it into their own hands, as they had been clamorous before in inveighing against it, while it was in the hands of the Prelates. And Mr. Toland is mistaken in saying, “ that such was “ the effect of this piece, that the following year “ Mabol a licencer offered reasons against licensing; " and at his own request was discharged that office." For neither was the leicencer's name Mabol, but Gilbert Mabbot; neither was he discharged from his office till May 1649, about five years afterwards, though probably he might be swayed by Milton's arguments, as every ingenuous person must, who peruses and considers them. And in 1645 was published a collection of his poems, Latin and English, the principal of which are, On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, Lycidas, the Mask, &c. &c.: and if he had left no other monuments of his poetical genius behind him, these would have been sufficient to have rendered his name immortal.
But without doubt, his Doctrine of Divorce, and the maintenance of it, principally engaged his thoughts at this period; and whether others were convinced or not by his arguments, he was certainly convinced himself that he was in the right; and as a proof of