« PreviousContinue »
Soon after, he published an abridged translation of “ Martin Bucer concerning divorce;" nothing of which is, of course, extracted in the following collection. In a short postcript to this work, he says—“ Thus far Martin Bucer: whom, where I might without injury to either part of the cause, I deny not to have epitomized; in the rest observing a well-warranted rule, not to give an inventory of so many words, but to weigh their force. I could have added that eloquent and right Christian discourse, written by Erasmus on this argument, not disagreeing in effect, from Bucer. But this, I hope, will be enough to excuse me with the mere Englishman, to be no forger of new and loose opinions. Others may read him in his own phrase on the first to the Corinthians, and ease me who never could delight in long citations, much less in whole traductions ; whether it be natural disposition or education in me, or that my mother bore me a speaker of what God made mine own, and not a translator."
Tetrachordon and Colasterion followed, in 1645; the former being an exposition of the four chief places in sacred writ, which apparently respect the permanency of marriage. The latter was in answer to some nameless antagonist. From this I have taken but one short passage only, which I have therefore incorporated, within
brackets, with corresponding sentiments in the Tetrachordon.
“ The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce” is divided into chapters ; but as I have omitted many entire chapters, and as the abridgment throughout these pieces bears but a very small proportion to the extent of the original, these could not be retained ; nor indeed could it be of any use. The Tetrachordon has numberless textual divisions, as the author expounds the Scriptures relating to his subject, in minute portions. The extracts, therefore, will appear in the form of three continuous essays, and of no great length. In the treatment of his subject, Milton has accumulated a vast mass of biblical learning; the extracts will dispiay chiefly bis own sentiments; frequently, however, as interwoven with, and founded upon scriptural doctrines. The curious will have recourse to the original ; but they will find, I think, little omitted which is of inuch value, and which can be called Milton's.
We probably owe these productions of Milton, not merely to the caprice, or “unfitness” of his wife, but to the fluctuations in the state of the two great contending parties. The Powels (the family of Milton's wife) were cavaliers. Some successes of the royalists had elevated their spi, rits, and the Powels began to be ashamed of their republican connection. The battle of Nașeby, it
is probable, even more than womanish jealousy of a rival (for Milton had proceeded to put his principles in practice) contributed to bring that family to their senses.
On the publication of these writings, the presbyterian clergy, his former partizans, were all in commotion. They assailed him from the pulpit and the press; and had influence enough to cause him to be summoned before the house of Lords; from which, however, he was dismissed with honour. Milton was now entirely alienated from their cause ; and soon saw still greater reason to justify his secession. Though these writings did not produce the full effect intended-the establishment of his principles into law-it is said, they had sufficient effect to form a parly, under the name of Miltonists,
The short piece On Education, in the form of a letter' addressed to Master Samuel Hartlib, was published in 1644. From this nothing has been rejected. This production, considered as recommending a new system of education, though admirable in some respects for the general views it presents, would be commonly thought perhaps, in the present day, of no great importance. It contains, nevertheless, many just observations and beautiful passages, and the author's idea of à good education is undoubtedly just, and ought
to be kept steadily in view. “I call (says he) à complete and generous education, that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war.”
About the saine time, also, or in 1644, appeared Areopagitica, a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. The presbyterians having risen into power, forgot their principles of toleration they seized the press, and employed a licenser, notwithstanding their previous clamours against the intolerance of the bishops. Milton boldly advanced in defence of freedom of discussion and of communication; and never was a noble cause more nobly defended. I can say of it nothing better than recommend an attentive perusal. Of this production a few pages only have been omitted, amounting perhaps to seven or eight of the octavo edition, which, though curiositymight wish to have seen, certainly add nothing to the value of the piece.
We come next to the works, which are purely political, and on which chiefly depend Milton's character and merit as Of these the first is “ The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates,” published in 1648-9, &c. For the origin of this piece, I shall refer the reader, to avoid needless repetition, to Milton's own
account; vol. 2. p. 391 of the present edition. I shall decline also saying any thing in this place of the principles contained in it, as the few remarks I should have to make would occur again, in speaking of the First Defence.
Milton bad not been long settled in his office for foreign affairs, when appeared the Eixw Baginuxm (Icon Basilike) “ The Portraiture of Εικων Βασιλικη () " his sacred Majesty in his Solitude and Sufferings :" for it was published a few days after the death of the king, with his name as the author. This was a highly inflammatory publication. The king was represented in constant, and devout intercourse with his maker, asserting the integrity of his motives, and appealing from the injustice and cruelty of man to the mercy of his maker. From the time of Charles's execution, the current of popular feeling seemed to set strongly in his favour. No efforts of the prevailing party could prevent a very general sympathy for his fate. Resistance being now at an end on his part, his despotism was forgotten, his good qualities studiously magnified, and nature, softening into forgiveness, beheld in his enemies nothing but his murderers. The appearance of such a book at this critical moment could not fail to be attended with danger, and it behoved the rulers if possible to counteract its influence. For this task they pitched upon Milton; and as the king's book was