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among the Romans (A.D. 42--118), in whose master-work on Education so much is said about elegance and attention to melody in the choice of words.—In the last three lines of the Sonnet, however, Milton changes his key, and, instead of continuing his comic defence of the word Tetrachordon, breaks out angrily against the illiteracy of an age that could object to a treatise bearing such a name. It had not been always so, he says.—“ Thy age, like ours," &c. The construction of this passage is important, and is generally missed. It is “ Thy age, O soul of Sir John Cheek, did not, like ours, hate learning worse than toad or asp, when thou first taughtest Greek to Cambridge and to King Edward ;” and the meaning is “ Once there was a time when a bit of Greek, like the word Tetrachordon, would have been welcome rather than otherwise : viz. when the famous Sir John Cheke (1514—1557), the first Professor of Greek at Cambridge, introduced the effective study of that language in the University, fixed the English pronunciation of it, and also taught it privately to King Edward VI. That age did not, as ours does, hate learning worse than toad or asp." Where Milton wrote “like ours we should now say " unlike ours.”
From the Cambridge draft of this Sonnet in Milton's own hand it appears that “ A book was writ” in line 1 is an amendment for “I writ a book" originally written; woven
» in line
wove it” “ The subject new, it walked” in line 3 for “ It went off well about” ; "good intellects, now seldom” in line 4 for “good wits, but now is seldom”; and “rugged” in line 10 for “rough-hewn,” and that again for “barbarous." The last correction is in Milton's own hand ; the others had been dictated by him, and are in a different penmanship.-In the edition of 1673 the word "it" after “is” in line 8 was accidentally omitted, and the name “ Colkitto" in line 9 was misprinted “ Coliktto." Both misprints are noted among the Errata. In some modern editions the sentence “ Why is it harder ?” &c., is converted into "Why, it is harder," &c., the sign of interrogation being omitted; which spoils the
SONNET XII.--In this Sonnet the subject of the last is continued, but Milton comments more tiercely on the reception that had been given to the doctrine of his Divorce Pamphlets. They had brought him little else than infamy and abuse; they had brought round him all the
owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, and dogs” of the time, hooting, braying, gibbering, and barking at him. Among the miscellany so designated certain Presbyterian clergymen must have been prominently in his mind. Not the less did he retain his opinion that the doctrine he had promulgated was an important and beneficial one, a highly necessary contribution to the true theory of individual and social liberty. He compares the reception given it to the treatment of the goddess Latona and her newly-born twins by the Lycian rustics. These
twins afterwards “held the sun and moon in fee” (i.e. in full possession), for they were Apollo and Diana; and yet, when the goddess, carrying them in her arms, and fleeing from the wrath of Juno, stooped in her fatigue to drink of the water of a small lake, the rustics railed at her and puddled the lake with their hands and feet-for which, on the instant, at the goddess's prayer, they were turned into frogs, to live for ever in the mud of their own making (Ovid, Met. VI. 337–381).:The sentiment of lines 11, 12 was repeated, as Hurd observed, in Milton's Eikonoclastes, published in 1649: “None can love Freedom heartily but good men : the rest love not Freedom, but License.”—“ Rove" in line 13 means shoot astray; and “For" in the last line means Notwithstanding
From the Cambridge draft it appears that Milton had first written "buzzards” for “cuckoos ” in line 4, and that line 10 ran originally “ And hate the truth whereby they should be free."
ON THE NEW FORCERS OF CONSCIENCE.-In this “Tailed Sonnet,” as we have ventured to call it, on account of its form (Sonetto Codato was the Italian phrase), Milton perseveres in the strain of the two foregoing Sonnets, but less in mere defence of his Divorce Doctrine, and more in denunciation of the intolerance of the Presbyterians generally. It may have been written in 1646, or possibly not till 1647.
-“thrown off your Prelate Lord, and . renounced his Liturgy." Episcopacy was formally abolished in England by ordinance of the Long Parliament in Sept. 1646, but it had been virtually abolished and the Church of England Presbyterianized some years before; the Liturgy, after being practically in disuse for some time, had been prohibited under penalties in 1644. No one had written more resolutely in favour of these changes than Milton himself in 1641–2, when as yet he and the Presbyterians were at one.—" To seize the widowed whore Plurality,” i.e. to be yourselves the successors of the Prelates in one of their worst practices, that of conjoining parochial livings, University posts, &c., so as to enrich themselves and each other by the aggregate incomes of charges that ought to have been kept separate. Since 1644 this had been an accusation against some of the Divines of the Westminster Assembly, and Milton could have named instances.-“ Dare ye for this [i.e. for the sake of your incomes and pluralities) adjure the civil sword ? ” It was the uniform demand of the Presbyterian clergy that not only should Preshytery be established as the national system of worship and church-government, but all deviations from it, all meetings for worship elsewhere than in the Presbyterian churches, and also all heresies and blasphemies, should be punished by the state. For some of the graver heresies, capable of being characterized as blasphemies, they demanded death. — “ride us with a classic Hierarchy": i.e. with an organization of your so-called Classes or Presbyterial Churchcourts, composed of the ministers and selected lay-elders of defined districts, instead of, as before, under Prelacy, with Archbishops, Bishops, Deans, Archdeacons, &c. In the Scottish Presbyterian Kirk the next authority above that of the mere Kirk-session of each individual congregation, was the Presbytery proper, or council of the ministers and elders of a whole town, or a country-district; the more favourite English
a word for such a Presbytery was a classis; when London was formally Presbyterianized in the end of 1645, it was divided into twelve such classes; and the same organization was extended to Lancashire, with a view to its general adoption over all England. Hence the significance of the phrase "classic Hierarchy.”—“Taught ye by mere A. S. and Rutherford." Among the most conspicuous defenders of strict Presbytery against the Independents and advocates of a Toleration was a certain Adam Steuart, a Scotchman, then living in London, where four or five pamphlets of his, published in 1644, but with his initials only, A. S., excited a good deal of controversy. With him Milton associates Samuel Rutherford, one of the four Scottish Divines of the Westminster Assembly, and author of "A Peaceable and Temperate Plea for Paul's Presbytery in Scotland,” and other tracts in the same strain, expounding the principles of Presbytery for the English. He was a man of eminence among the Scottish divines of his time, and Professor of Divinity in St. Andrews, where he died in 1661, leaving many works, and a name still remembered with affection in Scotland. While he and A. S. are mentioned by Milton, the general sneer is that the Presbyterian system which the English clergy were so largely adopting had been taught them by a few insignificant Scotchmen. -"named and printed heretics by shallow Edwards and Scotch What d'ye-call ! ” “ Shallow Edwards” is the Rev. Thomas Edwards, M.A., an Englishman by birth, then a preacher in London, and well known as the author of several popular treatises in behalf of strict Presbytery and against Independency and Toleration ; of which by far the most famous was his “Gangræna : or a Catalogue of many of the Errors, Heresies, Blasphemies, and pernicious Practices of the Sectaries of this Time," published in three parts in 1645-6. It is an extraordinary collection of personalities and scurrilities, fluently written; and among the scores of “heretics " named and denounced in it is Milton on account of his Divorce Pamphlets. Milton's reference to him is, therefore, a quid pro quo. The “Scotch What-d'ye-call” has hitherto eluded commentators-some guessing at Gillespie of the Westminster Assembly from the previous supposed mention of him in Sonnet XI. (see note there), others at Alexander Henderson, also one of the Scottish Commissioners in the Assembly, and, by universal consent, then the ablest man in the Scottish Church. I think I can vouch that he is neither of these, but another of their Scottish colleagues in the Assembly-no other than the Rev. Robert Baillie, Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow, and afterwards Principal there, whose Letters and Journals are still of standard value, as the richest, most graphic, and,
with all their Presbyterian prejudice, most trustworthy account of many of the English and Scottish transactions of that time. For, among Baillie's publications during his residence in London, one, issued in the end of 1645, was “ A Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time : wherein the Tenets of the principal Sects, especially of the Independents, are drawn together into one Map, for the most part in the words of their own authors ;” and in this book, as well as in a sequel to it published in the end of the following year, Milton is stigmatized for his Divorce heresy very much in the same way as in Edwards's Gangræna. For greater contempt, Milton, while coupling him with Edwards, leaves him anonymous. And, by a singular fate, Milton's assumed forgetfulness of the very names of those troublesome Scottish critics of his in London has become a reality since among his countrymen. Read, for example, Warton's references to them in his notes on this very Sonnet. After having told who the Rutherford of line 8 was, he says, honestly enough I have no doubt, “Rutherford's Letters, called Joshua Redivivus, are the most genuine specimen I remember to have seen of the enthusiastick cant of the old Scotch divines ;” and then, to illustrate the “Scotch What-d'ye-call” of line 12, he adds :-“ Perhaps [he was] Henderson, " or George Galaspie, another Scotch minister with a harder name, and
one of the ecclesiastical commissioners at Westminster. John Hen“derson appears as a loving friend in Rutherford's Joshua Redivivus, “B. II. Epist. 50, p. 482. And Hugh Henderson, B. I. Epist. 127,
p. 186. See also, Ibid. p. 152. And Alexander Henderson, B. I.
Epist. 16, p. 33. But I wish not to bewilder myself or my readers "any further in the library of fanaticism. Happily, the books, as well
as the names of the enthusiasts on both sides of the question, are “almost consigned to oblivion.” A most candid and instructive confession by an English scholar of the eighteenth century! Yet the Henderson over whose Christian name Warton bungles was the second founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and one of the most massive figures in the British History of his time; and the business in which he and his colleagues, Baillie, Rutherford, and Gillespie, were so strenuously engaged in London from 1643 onwards, in conjunction with about 120 English clergymen, and under the orders of the English Parliament, was one which vitally interested all England then, modified English society remarkably for the next half-generation, and handed on influences and sentiments that are powerful in the English mind to this day-if only, let us say, the sentiment of disgust at the recollection of it, and desire to hear no more about it, except by superficial tradition, or through the convenient pages of Clarendon. But surely English scholarship might, with propriety and profit, be as inquisitive about the details of an eccentric portion of English History as it has always been allowed to be about the genealogy of the Greek gods, the names of Horace's mistresses, or the constitution of the court of Areopagus ! All this in full sympathy with Milton's feelings when he wrote the
Sonnet. To him and to many others the proceedings of those Scottish divines in London, and of the Assembly to which they belonged, had become a real annoyance, and the prospect of the strict Presbyterian ascendancy which they were establishing was unendurable. Hence, in continuing his invective, he addresses the Westminster Assembly almost by name. “ We do hope to find out all your tricks,” he says, “your plots and packing, worse than those of Trent;" the meaning of which is that not even in the famous Council of Trent itself
, which had settled and redefined the creed of the Roman Catholic Church after the Reformation (1545-1563), had there been so much intriguing and sharp practice as there had been in the Westminster Assembly since its meeting in July 1643. The word “packing” implies an assertion that the Assembly from the first had been unfairly constituted—that it was not a fair representation of English religious opinion, but a body composed almost entirely of Presbyterians, and in the interest of foregone conclusions. Facts gave some colour to this charge; for the few moderately Episcopal clergymen that had been at first nominated to the Assembly had dropped off or been excluded, and there were only five avowed Independents in it to contest the decisions of the compact Presbyterian majority.—“ That so the Parliament may,” &c. The only hope of the Independents, and other claimants of religious freedom, lay in the two Houses of Parliament, and especially in the Commons, where, though Presbyterian opinions were also in the ascendant and a trial of the Presbyterian system had been resolved on, the Independents had great influence, and there was a consequent indisposition to that policy of universal Presbyterian compulsion which the divines of the Assembly advocated. More than once the Parliament had rebuked the over-officiousness of the Assembly, and reminded it that it was not an authority in the realm, but only a body called together by Parliament for special business and entirely under the instructions of Parliament while it performed that business. Especially in April 1646 there had been a case of this kind, when the Commons voted certain proceedings of the Assembly to be a breach of privilege, and so intimated to the Divines that a repetition of such proceedings might subject them individually to heavy punishment. It is this that Milton has in view ; and he anticipates a time when the Parliament might see fit to come to a severe reckoning with this body of its own making, and teach it which was the master and which the servant.“ Clip your phylacteries, though baulk your ears," i.e. punish you to the extent of reducing those badges of sanctity which you wear about your heads, ostentatiously broader than other people's, like the phylacteries of the Pharisees (Matt. xxiii. 5), though passing over your ears, and so treating you more mercifully than you would treat your so-called “ heretics” if you had the power.-" New PRESBYTER is but old PRIEST writ large." This aphorism, which was to stand in the Parliamentary “charge or indictment against the Presbyterians, turns on a play of