Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

ous offspring. Regarding mutual support and comfort as the principal objects of this union, he contends that whatever defrauds it of these ends essentially vitiates the contract, and must necessarily justify its dissolution. "What, therefore, God hath joined, let no man put asunder." "But here," says our author," the christian prudence lies, to consider what God hath joined. Shall we say that God hath joined error, fraud, unfitness, wrath, contention, perpetual loneliness, perpetual discord? Whatever lust, or wine, or witchery, threat or enticement, avarice or ambition hath joined together, faithful or unfaithful, christian with anti-christian, hate with hate, or hate with love-shall we say this is God's joining?" In another passage he expresses himself with the most happy energy on the effect of this discordancy of character. "But unfitness and contrariety frustrate and nullify for ever, unless it be a rare chance, all the good and peace. of wedded conversation; and leave nothing between them enjoyable, but a prone and savage necessity, not worth the name of marriage, unaccompanied with love.” *

Though his arguments failed, and, indeed, they could not reasonably hope to

2 Colast.

z Tetrac.

[ocr errors]

their purposes was conceived and executed
with successful ingenuity. Combining with
his friends, who concurred in the wish for a
reconciliation between the pair who had
been united at the altar, they watched our
author's visits, and, as he was in the house
of a relation, they stationed his wife in an
inner apartment, with instructions to appear
at the proper time, and to supplicate for
his pardon upon her knees. Faithful to the
lesson of her friends, she sustained her part
with skill, and, probably, with feeling. The
scene was surprising, and the resistance of
Milton, which seemed firm only for a mo-
ment, fell before its weighty effect. Yield-
ing to the entreaties of beauty, and, perhaps,
also to the recurrence of love, what he ap-
peared to concede only to the solicitations
of his friends, and dismissing every irritating
recollection from his bosom, he re-admitted
the wife, who had deserted and insulted
him, into the full possession of his affections.
Not satisfied with this single triumph over
his resentment, he extended his placabi-
lity to the abettors, if not the instigators of
her offence; and, receiving her parents and

• The name of this relation was Blackborough, and his residence in the lane of St. Martin's le Grand.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

her family under his roof, he protected and maintained them in this hour of their danger and distress. If his interest with the victorparty was unable to obtain complete immunity for his royalist connexions, it availed to save them from ruin, and to preserve the bulk of a property,' from which he was destined to receive not even the stipulated fortune of his wife. Conduct of so high a character, the offspring of a large and a feeling heart, is above the ornament of any laboured panegyric. Let the facts, in the intercourse of Milton with the Powells, be placed, distinctly and at once, in our view, and nothing but atrocious prejudice can withhold us from admiring the magnanimity of the former, and from despising while we pity the meanness of the latter.

Milton was now reunited to his wife, but, his augmented family being too large for his

f. Mr. Todd, to whose industry and accuracy I am frequently indebted, says on this occasion, "I observe in the Catalogue of the lords, knights, and gentlemen, who have compounded for their estates," printed at London in 1655, that he (Milton's father-in-law) is thus branded as well as punished. "Richard Powel, delinquent, per John Pye, esq. 576l. 12s. 3d." Delin. quent, was the usual term assigned to the Royalists by the Parliament and its adherents, and expressed the idea of disaffected or failing in duty to the public cause: in this place it may mean nothing more than defaulter with reference to the composition, which was not a very heavy one.

present habitation, he was obliged to place her in a friend's house, till a more spacious mansion, which he had recently hired in Barbican, could be made ready for her reception. When the necessary preparations were completed, she removed to her new residence; whither she was soon followed by her parents, with her numerous brothers and sisters, who were not unwilling to share in the entertainment which was now become re

quisite for their support. In this asylum they continued till the question respecting their property was adjusted with the government, and till a period subsequent to the death of the author's father in 1647.

Under the pressure of these domestic embarrassments, and of the momentous interest, at this crisis, of the public scene, the intellect of Milton, obedient to a heart actuated by the purest benevolence, was busy in promoting the welfare of the human race. The year 1644, which saw this great man immersed in his controversy about divorce, beheld him also imparting to the world his ideas on the subject of education, and defending, with a power which has never been exceeded, that great guardian of liberty and truth, the freedom of the press.

His "Treatise on Education" is addressed,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]




place in the form of a letter, to Mr. Samuel HartClib; a man to whom sir William Petty afterBar wards inscribed one of his first works; and ecep who was celebrated for the compass of his learning, and the energy of his public spirit. We have already had occasion to notice the peculiar system of instruction adopted by Milton. Convinced of the lavish expenditure of time in the public schools, where the highest object proposed to hope was the acquisition of the classic tongues, he inconceived it to be possible to initiate the young student into science and language by the same process; and to make an acquaintance with things the result of an acquaintance with words.

n the

e re

[ocr errors]





Between the years of twelve and twentyone, the pupil, in the schools recommended by our author, was to be led, through various languages, from grammar to ethics, logic, rhetoric, politics, law, theology, criticism, composition. Geography was to exhibit thẹ surface of the globe to him, and astronomy to unfold the heavens: natural philosophy, comprehending anatomy and physiology, was to make him conversant with the phafenomena of nature, and with the wonders of his own frame: the mathematics were to introduce him to the sciences of architecture,



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »