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domestic liberty in his treatises on divorce—and for civil liberty in his writings against the king, in defence of the parliament and people of England."
After this he retired to his studies, and had just finished four books of his intended History of England from the earliest accounts down to his own time, when he was unexpectedly invited, March 15th, 1649, by the Council of State, to be their Latin Secretary for foreign affairs, at a salary of 2881. 18s. 6d. ; an office which he held till the restoration. Whatever may have been Cromwell's faults, that of bending the neck of Britain to any foreign power, even in the slightest matter, was not one of them. He disdained to pay that tribute to the French king, which had been long paid him by every court in Europe—of recognising the French as the diplomatic language. He considered it an indignity and a degradation, to which a great and free nation, like Britain, ought not to submit ; and he therefore took the noble resolution of neither making any written communications to foreign states, nor receiving any from them, but in the Latin language, which was common to them all.* Soon after Milton's appointment, a book, entitled “ Eikon Basilike," or the Royal Image, was published, under the king's name, with a view to excite commiseration for his fate, and hatred against his executioners. Milton was ordered to prepare an answer, which he did, in Latin, under the title of “Ikono-clastes,” or the image breaker, (published by order of the Privy Council, the famous surname of many
Greek emperors of the Christian Church, who, in their zeal against Romish idolatry and superstition, broke all images to pieces. Both books had great circulation, and created a great sensation. Charles II. being protected in Holland, employed, at a high price, (one hundred Jacobuses, 1201.) Salmasius, a Frenchman, esteemed one of the most consummate scholars of Europe, and the successor of the famous Scaliger as honorary professor
There is a curious passage in Milton's History of England, (b. vi.) in which he strongly reprobates the adoption of the French language, and of French manners, by the aristocracy, as impious, and antinational, and a disgraceful affectation of gentility; and as tending to public corruption of morals,
of polite literature in the university of Leyden, to write a defence of the late king, his father. This book appeared towards the close of 1649, under the title “ Defensio Regia pro Carolo I. ad Carolum II.” Milton, when the book first appeared in England, was directed by the Council of State to answer it. This task he cheerfully undertook, though he was then blind of one eye, (the left,) and his physicians told him, that if he were to undertake it he would lose the other, (see Sketches of Autobiography, chap. ii.) and, as he further says in his Introduction, he was so brokendown in health, that he was forced to break off from his labour every hour. This necessarily delayed the publication till the beginning of 1651. No sooner did the book, written in Latin, and entitled “Defensio pro Populo Anglicano,” or, Defence of the English People, circulate, than its renown blazed over Europe. All the eminent foreigners in London, including the ambassadors, visited him; complimentary letters, and other tokens of approbation, showered upon him from all parts of the continent; and so sensible was the administration at home of the value of the signal triumph he had achieved, and of his services to the popular cause, that they voted him 10001.
-a vast sum in those days. It was quickly translated on the continent, and was in the hands of every scholar. But the case was very different with Salmasius. Christina, Queen of Sweden, a great patroness of learning, had previously invited Salmasius, and several of the most distinguished scholars from all countries, to her court, -among them, the famous Isaac Vossius, who (as he says in a letter to Nicholas Heinsius) first showed her Milton's book. When she read it, Salmasius speedily sunk in her estimation, and that of the eminent literati about her, and quitted the court. The states of Holland publicly condemned Salmasius's book, and ordered it to be suppressed, while Milton's circulated rapidly through the country.
On the other hand, Milton's book was publicly burned by the hangman in Paris and Toulouse, on account of its principles : but this only served to procure it more readers. It was everywhere read and admired for the great learning, genius, logical reasoning, and eloquence it showed. It is said that the mortification Salmasius felt at his utter overthrow
accelerated his death, which occurred at Spa in Germany, in 1653.
Having resided for some time in apartments apointed for him in Scotland-yard, where he lost an infant son, he removed for the benefit of the air to a house in Petty France, Westminster, which was next door to Lord Scudamore's, and looked into St. James's Park. There he remained eight years—from 1652 till he relinquished his office, within a few weeks of the king's restoration. Soon after his removal to this house, his first wife died in child-bed: and his condition requiring some care and attendance, he was induced to marry, after a proper interval, a second, Catherine, daughter of Captain Woodcock, of Hackney: she too died in child-bed within a year after their marriage, and her child, who was a daughter, died in a month after. His twenty-third sonnet, “On my Deceased Wife,” is a touching tribute to her memory.
In 1652 he became totally blind. In addition to incessant study, the frequent head-aches to which he was subject from his youth, and his continual tampering with physic, are said to have contributed to this calamity. At the desire of his friend, Leonard Philaras, a celebrated Athenian, the duke of Parma's minister at Paris, he sent him an account of his case, for the purpose of being submitted to the eminent oculist, Dr. Thavenot, of Paris. The letter is dated September 28, 1654. “I think it is about ten years, more or less, since I began to perceive that my eye-sight grew weak and dim, and at the same time my spleen and bowels to be oppressed and troubled with flatus ; and in the morning when I began to read, according to custom, my eyes grew painful immediately, and to refuse reading, but were refreshed after a moderate exercise of the body. A certain iris began to surround the candle if I looked at it; soon after which, on the left part of the left eye (for that was some years sooner clouded) a mist arose which hid every thing on that side; and, if I shut my right eye and looked forward, objects appeared smaller. My other eye also, for these last three years, failing by degrees, some months before all sight was abolished, things which I looked on seemed to swim to the right and left ; certain inveterate vapours
seem to possess my forehead and temples, which, after food especially, quite to evening generally, urge and depress my eyes with a sleepy heaviness : so that I frequently recollect the condition of the prophet Phineus, in the Argonautics :
“ Him vapours dark enveloped,
Sinking in a lifeless trance.” Nor would I omit, that whilst there was as yet some remainder of sight, I no sooner lay down on my bed, and turned on my side, but a copious light dazzled out of my shut eyes ; and as my sight diminished every day, colours gradually more obscure flashed out with vehemence. But now that the lucid is in a manner wholly extinct, a direct blackness, or else spotted, and as it were woven with ash-colour, is used to pour itself in. Nevertheless, the constant and settled darkness that is before me, as well by day as by night,-seems nearer to the whitish than the blackish ; and the eye rolling itself a little seems to admit I know not what little smallness of light, as through a chink.” It appears the case was hopeless, as there is no account of a satisfactory answer having been received. After his blindness, his eyes still appeared as clear and spotless as ever; and at first view, and at a little distance, it was not easy to know that he was blind.
In 1652 a book entitled “Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum adversus Paricidas Anglicanos " (or, The King's Blood crying to Heaven against the English Parricides,) was published at the Hague, and ascribed to Morus, a French minister, the son of a Scotchman, who was president of the college which the Protestants formerly had at Castres, in Languedoc. But it is now known that the true author was Peter du Moulin the Younger, who was afterwards prebendary of Canterbury. He transmitted his papers to Salmasius; and Salmasius sent them to Morus, who, though represented as a licentious, vain, and arrogant man, had the reputation of being one of the most eminent preachers of that age among the Protestants. Morus got them published. To this Milton replied (by authority) in his " Defensio Secunda," in 1654, in which he treats Morus, as the supposed author, with uncommon severity. Morus replied in his “Fides Publica,”
exculpating himself and disavowing the book. Milton replied in his “Authoris pro se Defensio.” Morus ventured to rejoin in a " Supplementum." But Milton soon silenced him by his
Responsio.“ In the Philippics of Cicero, there is nothing so vehement or crushing as some of the invectives of Milton against Morus.
After this controversy was ended, he again, zealously as ever, entered on his literary pursuits, and proceeded with the completion of his History of England, and of a work which he had been compiling from his first manhood—a Theasaurus, or Lexicon of the Latin Language. Unfortunately, however, he was unable to complete either. The lexicon would have been a most invaluable acquisition : it appears that materials for three large volumes in folio were written of the lexicon, but so confused and imperfect were the papers left at his death, that they could not be fitted for the press. It has been stated that his nephew, Phillips, made a collection of these papers, from which he contributed largely to the Cambridge Dictionary, published in 1693. The minor duties of Milton's state office were generally performed by his secretaries, of whom Phillips was the most confidential. It is well known that the famous Andrew Marvel, the poet, was assistant-secretary to Milton in the year 1657, and subsequently, till the Restoration. But it is not generally known, that he was indebted for his introduction into public life to the patronage of Milton. There is a very interesting letter of Milton's, written in 1653, lately recovered from the State Paper Office, in which he pithily sketches his history and character, while recommending him to the council and to Cromwell. “A gentleman, whose name is Mr. Marvel ; a man, both by report and the converse I have had with him, of singular desert for the state to make use of; who also offers himself if there be any employment for him. His father was the minister of Hull; and he hath spent
years abroad in Holland, France, Italy, and Spain, to very good purpose, I believe, and the gaining of these four languages : besides, he is a scholar, and well read in the Latin and Greek authors; and no doubt of an approved conversation, for he comes now lately out of the house of the Lord Fairfax, who was