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and fometimes flowly improved by fteady medi.


Invention is almoft the only literary labour which, blindness cannot obftruct, and therefore he naturally folaced his folitude by the indulgence of his fancy, and the melody of his numbers, He had done

what he knew to be neceffarily previous to poetical excellence; he had made himself acquainted with feemly arts and affairs; his comprehenfion was ex tended by various knowledge, and his memory ftored with intellectual treasures, He was fkilful in many languages, and had by reading and compofi tion attained the full maftery of his own. He would have wanted little help from books, had he retained the power of perufing them.

But while his greater defigus were advancing, having now, like many other authors, caught the love of publication, he amufed himself, as he could, with little productions. He fent to the prefs (1658) a manufcript of Raleigh, called the Cabinet Council; and next year gratified his malevolence to the cler gy, by a Treatife of Civil Power in Ecclefiaßical Cafes, and the Means of removing Hirelings out of the Church

Oliver was now dead; Richard was conftrained to refign: the fyftem of extemporary govern ment, which had been held together only by force, naturally fell into fragments when that force was taken away; and Milton faw himfelf and his caufe. in equal danger, But he had ftill hope of doing fomething

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mething. He wrote letters, which Toland has publifhed, to fuch men as he thought friends to the new commonwealth; and even in the year of the Restoration.he bated no jot of heart or hope, but was fantastical enough to think that the nation, agitated as it was, might be fettled by a pamphlet, called A ready and easy way to establish a Free Commonquealth; which was, however, enough confidered to be both feriously and ludicrously answered,

The obftinate enthufiafin of the commonwealthmen was very remarkable, When the King was apparently returning, Harrington, with a few affoçiates as fanatical as himself, used to meet, with all the gravity of political importance, to fettle an equal government by rotation; and Milton, kicking when he could frike no longer, was foolish enough to publish, a few weeks before the Restoration, Notes upon a fermon preached by one Griffiths, intituled, The Fear of God and the King. Τα these notes an answer was written by L'Eftrange, in a pamphlet petulantly called No blind Guides,

But whatever Milton could write, or men of greater activity could do, the King was now about to be restored with the irresistible approbation of the people. He was therefore no longer fecretary, and was confequently obliged to quit the houfe which he held by his office; and proportioning his fenfe of danger to his opinion of the importance of his writings, thought it convenient to feeck fome thelter, and hid himself for a time in BartholomewClose by Weft Smithfield,

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I cannot but remark a kind of refpect, perhaps ur confcioufly, paid to this great man by his biographers: every house in which he refided is hiftorically mentioned, as if it were an injury to neglec naming any place that he honoured by his prefence.'

The King, with lenity of which the world has had perhaps no other example, declined to be the judge or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs? and promifed to admit into the Act of Oblivion all, except those whom the parliament should except; and the parliament doomed none to capital punishment but the wretches who had immediately cooperated in the murder of the King. Milton was certainly not one of them; he had only juftified what they had done.

This juftification was indeed fufficiently offenfive; and (June 16) an order was iffued to feize Milton's Defence, and Goodwin's Obstructors of Justice, another book of the fame tendency, and burn them by the common hanginan, The attorney-general was ordered to profecute the authors; but Milton was not seized, nor perhaps very diligently pursued,

Not long after (Auguft 19) the flutter of innu merable bofoms was ftilled by an act, which the King, that his mercy might want no recommen dation of elegance, rather called an act of oblivion than of grace. Goodwin was named, with nineteen more, as incapacitated for any publick truft; but of Milton there was no exception.


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Of this tenderness fhewn to Milton, the curiofity of mankind has not forborn to enquire the reason. Burnet thinks he was forgotten; but this is another inftance which may confirm Dalrymple's obfervation, who fays, "that whenever Burnet's narrations are ,,examined, he appears to be mistaken.”

Forgotten he was not; for his profecution was ordered; it must be therefore by defign that he was

fncluded in the general oblivion, He le is laid faid to

have had friends in the Houfe, fuch as Marvel, Morrice, and Sir Thomas Clarges; and undoubtedly a man like him muft have had influence. A very particular ftory of his efcape is told by Richardfon, in his Memoirs, which he received from Pope, as delivered by Betterton, who might have heard it. from Davenant. In the war between the King and Parliament, Davenant was made prifoner, and conwas demned to die; but was fpared at the request of Milton. When the turn of fuccefs brought Milton into the like danger, Davenant repaid the benefit by appearing in his favour, Here is a reciprocation of generofity and gratitude fo pleafing, that the tale. makes its own way to credit. But if help were wanted, I know not where to find it, The danger of Davenant is certain from his own relation; but of his efcape there is no account. Betterton's narration can be traced no higher; it is not known that he had it from Davenant. We are told that, the benefit exchanged was life for life; but it seems not certain that Milton's life ever was in danger.


Goodwin, who had committed the fame kind of crime, efcaped with incapacitation; and as exclufion from publick, truft is a punishment which the power of government can commonly inflict without the help of a particular law, it required no great interest to exempt Milton from a cenfure little more than verbal. Something may be reasonably afcribed to veneration and compaffion; to veneration of his abilities, and compaffion for his diftreffes, which made it fit to forgive his malice for his learning. He was now poor and blind; and who would pursue with violence an illuftrious enemy, depreffed by fortune, and difarmed by nature ?e

The publication of the act of oblivion put him in the fame condition with his fellow fubjects. He was, however, upon fome pretence not now known, in the cuftody of the ferjeant in December; and, when he was released, upon his refusal of the fees demanded, he and the ferjeant were called before the House, He was now fafe within the fhade of oblivion, and knew himself to be as much out of the power of a griping officer as any other man. How the question was determined is not known. Milton would hardly have contended, but that he knew himself to have right on his fide.

He then removed to Jewin-ftreet, near Alderfgate ftreet; and being blind, and by no means wealthy, wanted a domeftick companion and attendant; and therefore, by the recommendation of Dr. Paget, married Elizabeth Minfhul, of a gentleman's family

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