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borough, a nobleman of whom there still remained a respectful recollection in England. Born in 1552, he had been eminent as a lawyer before Queen Elizabeth's death; and, after a long career as Knight, Baronet, and Judge, he had been raised by James to the great office of Lord High Treasurer of England in 1624, and, at the same time, to a peerage as Baron Ley of Ley in Devonshire. The higher dignity of the Earldom of Marlborough was conferred on him by Charles in 1626-7, when he was seventy-four years of age. In 1628 he had been removed from the High Treasurership to the less laborious office of President of the Council, ostensibly on account of his old age, but really, it was thought, because he was not sufficiently compliant with the policy of Charles and Buckingham. He died in March 1628-9, immediately after the dissolution of Charles's Third Parliament; and, as the Sonnet hints, his death was believed to have been hastened by political anxiety at that crisis. He left three sons; the eldest of whom, Henry, succeeded him in the Earldom, but, dying in 1638, transmitted it to his son, James Ley, third Earl of Marlborough, who attained to unusual distinction by his services to the King in the Civil War, and by his various abilities. Among the surviving aunts of this young nobleman, and herself probably somewhat past her youth, was the Lady Margaret of the Sonnet. She had married a Captain Hobson, from the Isle of Wight; and both she and her husband seem to have taken the Parliamentarian side. They resided in London, and Milton had become acquainted with them. His nephew and biographer Phillips expressly says that, after his desertion by his first wife in 1643, Milton "made it his chief diversion now and then of an evening to visit "the Lady Margaret Ley," adding, "This lady, being a woman of great wit "and ingenuity, had a particular honour for him, and took much delight in his 'company, as likewise Captain Hobson, her husband, a very accomplished "gentleman." Milton's compliment to her in the Sonnet is that she was a true daughter of her liberal father. Her political and religious opinions probably agreed with Milton's. This is the latest of the Sonnets printed in the edition of 1645, and it is there printed without a heading. The heading is from the Cambridge draft.
SONNETS XI. AND XII.: "ON THE DETRACTION WHICH FOLLOWED UPON MY WRITING CERTAIN TREATISES," AND "ON THE SAME."
The Treatises in question were Milton's four Treatises on the subject of Divorce, written between his desertion by his first wife in 1643 and her return to him and reconciliation with him in the autumn of 1645 viz. his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, which came first and passed through two editions, and his Judgment of Martin Bucer, his Tetrachordon, and his Colasterion, which followed, at intervals, in defence of the original publication. As the opinion broached by Milton in these pamphlets was a new and daring one, it shocked people greatly, and especially the Presbyterians, who were then in the ascendant in Parliament, and all-powerful in the Westminster Assembly. Milton's strange doctrine of Divorce was the subject of talk in society; it was attacked through the press; it even brought him into danger with the public authorities. Milton's two Sonnets are his comments, one half jocose, the other contemptuous and indignant, on this execration with which he found himself surrounded. They were written late in 1645 or early in 1646, when the return of his wife and his reconciliation with her had abated his practical and personal interest in the success of his doctrine. The Scotch names ridiculed in Sonnet XI. are those of the Gordons
then much heard of as among the followers of the Marquis of Montrose in his Royalist enterprise in Scotland, and of a certain Highland warrior, who was Montrose's Lieutenant-General, and called in Gaelic Alexander Macdonnel, Mac-Colkittoch, Mac-Gillespie, i.e., Alexander Macdonnel, son of Colkittoch (the left-handed), son of Gillespie. He was Colkitto, Macdonnel, and Galasp, all in one.
"ON THE NEW FORCERS OF CONSCIENCE Under
This is, in reality, a continuation or extension of the vein of the two Divorce Sonnets, and must have been written about the same time, or hardly later than 1647. Partly on account of the outcry against Milton's Divorce Pamphlets among the Presbyterians, partly on more general grounds, he had parted company with them, and had attached himself rather to the party, or combina. tion of parties, of which Cromwell was becoming the recognised head, and who were called by the general name of The Independents. It was the leading principle of this party, or combination of parties, to oppose the too rigorous establishment of that system of Presbyterian Church Government and Discipline, after the Scottish model, which had been decreed in England by the Long Parliament, and in part carried into effect, after the abolition of Episcopacy. It was their effort, at all events, to secure that, if this system were permanently established by the majority as the national English system, there should be room under it for freedom of conscience and worship for the dissenting minority. Gradually the notion of a Toleration of Independents and other Sects within certain limits under the established Presbyterianism was gaining ground in Parliament, chiefly in consequence of the power of the Parliamentarian Army, which was composed largely of Independents, Baptists, and more extreme Sectaries; but the rigid Presbyterians, and especially the Presbyterian Divines of the Westminster Assembly, and most especially the small group of Scottish Divines who sat in that Assembly as assessors to their English brethren, were loud in their denunciations of the arch-heresy of Toleration, as they called it, and their calls for a suppression of all Sects and the enforcement of an absolute Presbyterian uniformity by the civil power. It is against these claims of strict Presbyterian supremacy that Milton speaks out in the present piece of verse. He intended it to be what may be called an Anti-Presbyterian and Pro-Toleration Sonnet; but by going beyond fourteen lines converted it into what the Italians called a 66 Sonnet with a tail."-Class 'c Hierarchy means Presbyterian Hierarchy, the English name for the Church-Court called "a Presbytery" in Scotland being "a Classis." A.S. stands for a Scottish pamphleteer, named Adam Steuart, who wrote with his initials; Rutherford is the Scottish divine, Samuel Rutherford, who was of the Westminster Assembly; Shallow Edward's is an English Presbyterian preacher, Thomas Edwards, who had written a book of virulent personalities against Independents and Heretics, Milton included; Scotch what d'ye call is probably the Rev. Robert Baillie, the historian, then one of the Westminster Assembly, who had also attacked Milton in print.
SONNET XIII.: "To MR. H. LAWES, ON HIS AIRS."
One of the Cambridge drafts of this Sonnet fixes its date as Feb. 9, 1645-6. That draft is headed "To my Friend, Mr. Henry Lawes: Feb. 9, 1645,'
and signed "J. M. ;" the other draft, though also in Milton's hand, bears this heading in another, "To Mr. Hen. Lawes, on the publishing of his Aires." Actually, the Sonnet first appeared in print, with Milton's name attached, as one of a few pieces of eulogistic verse prefixed to a volume published by Moseley in 1648 and entitled Choice Psalmes, put into Musick for three Voices: composed by Henry and William Lawes, Brothers, and Servants to His Majestie. Milton's friendship from his boyhood with the musician Henry Lawes, and the main facts of that interesting person's life till his co-operation with Milton in the production of the Arcades at Harefield, and of Comus at Ludlow, have been recorded in the Introductions to those two poems (see antè, pp. 414-15, and 418-19). We have now to add that, in the intervening years, the reputation of Lawes in his art had been steadily growing, till there was perhaps no musical composer of his time more generally known and liked. Still retaining, in association with his brother William, his position as one of the King's musicians and gentlemen of the Chapel Royal, and still connected by special professional engagements with the Bridgewater family, he had done much work in the way of setting to music songs by Carew, Herrick, Waller, Cartwright, and other popular poets. These songs of Lawes were favourites in English households, and the poets whose words were thus recommended by his airs could not thank him enough. There are verses by Herrick and others in which affectionate mention is made of "Harry" and his musical skill. so the publisher Moseley, or perhaps Milton himself, in bringing out the first edition of Milton's Poems in 1645, did not forget that Lawes's name might be an advantage to the volume. "The Songs were set in Musick by Mr. Henry Lawes, Gentleman of the King's Chappel, and one of His Majesties private Musick," was the announcement on the title-page, referring to the songs in Arcades and Comus, and perhaps to others in the volume; and in the body of the volume was reprinted Lawes's Dedication of Comus to Lord Brackley. Clearly, therefore, Milton's intimacy with Lawes had not been interrupted even by the Civil War and the division of all Englishmen into Royalists and Parliamentarians. By his position, if not from his artistic temperament, Lawes was a Royalist; and indeed his brother William had been slain in the King's cause at the siege of Chester (1645), greatly to the King's Not the less grief, who is said to have put on private mourning for him. had Henry Lawes, who remained in London, his meetings with his old friend Milton, when they would lay politics aside and agree in music.
SONNET XIV. : "ON THE RELIGIOUS MEMORY OF MRS. CATHERINE THOMSON, MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND, DECEASED 16 DECEMB. 1646."
The Sonnet itself, with its heading, which does not occur in the printed volume, but is taken from the Cambridge MS., supplies all the information we have respecting the person addressed. Phillips, indeed, mentions that, some time in 1649, Milton "lodged at one Thomson's, next door to the Bull Head Tavern at Charing Cross, opening into the Spring Garden;" and it has been supposed that the Mrs. Catherine Thomson who died in 1646 may have been one of the Charing Cross family with whom Milton thus afterwards lodged. This is mere guess. Thomson, then as now, was a very common London.
SONNET XV.: "ON THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX AT THE SIEGE OF COLCHESTER."
The siege of Colchester in Essex lasted from the 15th of June to the 28th of August, 1648, and was one of the most memorable incidents of what is called the Second Civil War," i.e. of that spasmodic new rising of the English and Scottish Royalists on behalf of Charles I., then a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, which it required all the energy of Fairfax, the Parliamentarian commander-in-chief, and of Cromwell, his lieutenant-general, to put down, and which led very speedily to the King's trial and doom. While Cromwell managed the Northern department of the war, meeting and beating the Duke of Hamilton and the Royalist Scots and English at Preston, Fairfax in person superintended the siege of Colchester; which town had been seized for the King, and was defended by the Earl of Norwich, Lord Capel, Sir Charles Lucas, Sir
George Lisle, and other Royalist chiefs. As Fairfax offered quarter only to the soldiers, but required the leaders to surrender at discretion, the defence was desperate, and both the garrison and the townspeople were reduced to the last straits of starvation, having to eat grass and the flesh of horses, cats, and dogs. When the surrender did take place, Sir Charles Lucas and Sir George Lisle were tried by court-martial, and immediately shot, as released prisoners of war who had broken their parole to the Parliament in again taking arms for the King. The Earl of Norwich and Lord Capel were left to the mercy of Parliament; and Lord Capel was afterwards_executed. The taking of Colchester was heard of with triumph by the Parliamentarians throughout England, and went as an addition to the renown of Fairfax acquired by his many actions since he had been made Parliamentary commander-in-chief in December 1644. Milton, in this Sonnet, expresses the general feeling of the hour, not only about the particular victory, but also about the character of Fairfax, and England's farther hopes from him. Although Fairfax afterwards retired from his connexion with the Commonwealth, and even co-operated at last in the Restoration, this Sonnet to him savoured too much of pre-Restoration politics to be allowable in Milton's edition of his Minor Poems in 1673. It was first published by Phillips in 1694, at the end of his memoir of Milton.
SONNET XVI.: "TO THE LORD GENERAL CROMWELL, MAY 1652: ON THE PROPOSALS OF CERTAIN MINISTERS AT THE COMMITTEE FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL."
Milton's admiration of Cromwell is attested by many proofs, and, amongst them, by a long and impassioned outburst of Latin eulogium in the Defensio Secunda. No two men, I believe, were more essentially like-minded, more one at heart in their thoughts about the great problems of the English nation at that time, than the two whom fate had drawn together in such different capacities-Cromwell, the supreme soldier and man of action, raised at length to be the ruler; Milton, the poet and idealist, brought beside this ruler as a scholarly official. The Sonnet under notice, however, is not, as the mere title "To Cromwell" sometimes given to it might lead one to imagine, Milton's estimate of Cromwell from the whole of his career, or even after Milton's Secretaryship to him singly had begun. It is an address by Milton to Cromwell at a particular moment of Cromwell's career and on a particular occasion. The
date was May 1652. Cromwell was not yet Protector, though he was the first man in the Republic, and they were proposing to make him its head. Since the execution of the King, and the establishment of the Commonwealth under the government of the Parliament with a Council of State, he had been away in Ireland, as Lord-Lieutenant of that country, trampling down its long Rebellion and reducing it to order (1649-50); he had also been in Scotland, and had fought the Battle of Dunbar (Sept. 3, 1650) there, and taken other measures which, when followed up by the crowning victory of Worcester (Sept. 3, 1651), utterly ruined the cause of Charles II. in Scotland, as well as in England, and united both parts of the island in one Commonwealth. These were the acts of Cromwell freshest in men's minds, and he had been again in London through the winter of 1651-2, when the Sonnet was written. The Sonnet breathes
the feeling of many at that hour with respect to him. Now that he was at home again, would not things be better managed than they had been in his absence by the persistent Rump of the Long Parliament and the Council of State? Especially in matters of Religion was not fresh zeal necessary? Throughout England and Wales, or in many parts of them, Church matters were in chaos-Presbyterian ministers here and Independents there, mixed with the wrecks of the old parish clergy; no regular arrangement for the provision of ministers; disputes as to the method of such provision, whether by a common fund out of the tithes, or by voluntary contribution without tithes at all; many districts meanwhile in spiritual destitution for want of fit pastors and preachers. For the consideration of such questions and the remedying of such evils there had been appointed a Parliamentary "Committee for the Propagation of the Gospel ;" and this Committee seems to have been in unusual activity after Cromwell's return. There was then some new form of the controversy respecting a State Church and endowments for the clergy, and the Presbyterian ministers more especially seemed to their enemies to be trying to get for themselves all the property that had belonged to the abolished Prelatic Church. It was expected that Cromwell, whose sympathies had been with the Independents and Sectaries, would have something to say to this; and Milton's Sonnet expresses that expectation. Cromwell's Protectorate (Dec. 1653—Sept. 1658), with Milton's closer connexion with him during that Protectorate, came later. Yet the Sonnet may well stand as Milton's tribute of respect to Cromwell on the whole; and little wonder that he did not dare to print it in the edition of his Poems in 1673.
SONNET XVII.: "To SIR HENRY VANE THE YOUNGER."
This Sonnet breathes the same spirit as the last, and may have been written at the same time, or perhaps somewhat earlier. If it was written in 1652, Vane was in his fortieth year when it was addressed to him, and was one of the Council of State; but, as his father was still alive, he was always known as the Younger Vane It was recollected, moreover, how he had entered the Long Parliament at the age of twenty-seven, having already distinguished himself in America, and how all through the Parliament he had acted and been regarded as one of the subtlest and boldest theorists of the extreme Revolutionary party. In his style of mind he was what would now be called a doctrinaire, or abstract thinker, with perhaps a dash of the fanatic; and, as Milton hints, he had exercised himself very particularly on the question of the relations and mutual limits