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tion or possession had endeared; while the
other was pressed to the attack by the recol-
lection of the past, and by the terror of fu-
ture oppression.

With an ardent temper and a brilliant
imagination, Milton was not formed for cool
and temperate disputation. "I could not,"
he says,
"to my thinking, honour a good
cause more from the heart than by defend-
ing it earnestly." He talked, indeed, "of
pleading against his confuter by no other
advocates than silence and sufferance; and
speaking deeds against faltering words;" but
his bold and sanguine nature prohibited such
efficient acquiescence, and hurried him into
active war. When his adversary called upon
all "Christians to stone him, as a miscreant,
whose impunity would be their crime,” we
cannot reasonably wonder at the warmth of
his expressions, or at the little scruple with
which he scattered his various instruments of
pain. These polemical tracts of our author,
though, perhaps, some of the least valuable of
his works, are so illumined with knowledge
and with fancy, and open to us such occa-
sional glimpses of a great and sublime mind,
that they must always be regarded as afford-
ing an ample compensation for any harsh-

Apol. for Smect. P.W. vol. i. 207.

9 Ibid. vol. i. 209.

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ness of manner with which they may sometimes offend.

We have now conducted our author to a period of his history when an event took place, which, by its immediate and its remote result, was destined to interrupt the even tenor of his domestic life, and to afflict his heart to the latest moment of his existence. "About Whitsuntide," (1643) says his nephew, "he took a journey into the country, no body about him certainly knowing the reason, or that it was more than a journey of recreation. After a month's stay, home he returns a married man, who set out a bachelor, his wife being Mary, the eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, then a justice of the peace, of Forest-Hill, near Shotover, in Oxfordshire."

Milton's matrimonial choice, in this instance, seems to have been the result of fancy alone, and its consequences were those which might have been expected from a connexion so evidently imprudent. Strongly attached with all her family to the royalist party, and accustomed to the affluent hospitality of her father's house," where there was," as Aubrey mentions," a great deal of company, and

Philips, p 18.

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198

LIFE OF MILTON.

1

merriment, and dancing," the wife of Milton
would not probably find much gratification
in the frugal establishment, the retired and
studious habits, or the political conversation
of her literary and republican husband. In
the event, the effect followed regularly and
immediately from its cause. After a month's
experience of her new life, to the full taste
of which the departure of her friends, who
had been present at the nuptial festivities,
had only just resigned her, the lady sighed
for the gaieties which she had left; and, ob-
taining permission, by the earnest request of
her relations, for a short absence, she revi-
sited Forest-Hill.

About this time some new pupils, whom Milton had consented to admit under his care, were received into his family; and his father, who had lately lived with his younger son in Reading, till the taking of that town, in the april of the present year (1643) by the earl of Essex, now came to form a part of the establishment in Aldersgate-street. In this asylum the respectable old man resided till 1647, when he closed a long and useful life in the embraces of a son, whose eminence fully justified his early cares, and whose piety as affectionately requited them.

In the list of Milton's friends, at this pe

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riod, we find the names of the lady Margaret Ley and of captain Dobson, her husband, who seem to have entertained a high value for our author, by whom they were equally esteemed. The lady was the daughter of sir James Ley, who, rising at the bar, was advanced by James I. to the title of earl of Marlborough, and to the important office of High Treasurer. She was celebrated by her contemporaries for her talents and her learning; and from Milton she received the compliment of a sonnet, not adequate, perhaps, to the occasion, and certainly not comparable in poetic merit to that which he had written, in the preceding year, when, by the King's near approach, the city had been threatened with an assault.

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As the time, limited for the return of his wife, was now passed, he thought it necessary to write to her on the subject of her engagement. When no answer was made to this and to some subsequent letters, he determined on sending a messenger to ForestHill. But the crisis was unpropitious to his views, and to the reputation of his new allies. The prosperous fortunes of the King, whose forces had defeated those of the Parliament

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* The King advanced as far as Brentford, in his approach to the city, on the 13th of nov. 1642.

terian ministers were left without any consolation for the loss of an able friend, and the excitement of a formidable enemy. Milton was, now, irrevocably alienated from their cause; and, at last, he fully discovered that these pretended zealots of liberty sought only their own aggrandizement, and the power of imposing upon others that yoke which they had themselves been unable to bear. On à question less incontrovertibly right, and, perhaps, more certainly important, we shall soon have occasion to notice our consistent asserter of liberty in determined opposition to these sanctified advocates of insurrection and of tyranny.

On the subject of divorce he makes out a strong case, and fights with arguments which are not easily to be repelled. The whole context of the Holy Scriptures, the laws of the first christian emperors, the opinions of some of the most eminent among the early reformers, and a projected statute of Edward VI are adduced by him for the purpose of demonstrating that, by the laws of God and by the inferences drawn from them by the most virtuous and enlightened men, the power of divorce ought not to be rigidly restricted to those causes which render the nuptial state unfruitful, or which taint it with a spuri

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