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less than a splendid dream; a noble outline of a theory too magnificent to be realized. What is promised in the time allowed, could not possibly be performed. While Milton is projecting the mastery of every science, the attainment of so many languages, acquaintance with such various authors; is moving over the extensive circle of his studies, and piling up his structure of education even to its turrets and pinnacles; the humbler plan which experience has approved, is content with laying deep its foundations during the years of youth, in acquiring habits of accurate reasoning, in cultivating correct taste, and in learning those sound principles of philosophy which may hereafter be developed and directed into various channels. What Milton professes to complete in a few years, the old system is contented to commence; one is only planting the tree and fertilizing the soil, the other is already reposing under its shade, and feeding on its fruits.

The Areopagitica is, on the whole, the finest production in prose from Milton's pen. For vigour and eloquence of style, unconquerable force of argument, majesty, and richness of language, it is not to be surpassed. Doctor Johnson considers the argument which it discusses to be of very difficult solution. I shall content myself with observing, that when a nation becomes sufficiently enlightened to demand the removal of these restrictions of the press, which have been imposed when governments were arbitrary, and the people ignorant; the correction of the evils attendant on its liberty must be found, not in the punishment of the offenders, but in the good sense and moral feeling of the community. It is in this way that virtue is stronger than vice, that truth triumphs over falsehood, and law is superior to

if every

offence. Johnson's observation that sceptic in theology may teach his follies, there can be no religion, '59 falls to the ground, when it is remembered that our religion was born amid disbelief and doubt, and has grown up and increased among every variety of heresy, and form of scepticism that the ingenuity of man could devise. Hume's famous argument that was to be the touchstone of truth, has only served to establish the force of testimony, and to confirm the credibility of miracles.

In 1645 Milton collected his early poems, Latin and English, for the press; in which the Allegro 60 and Penseroso appeared for the first time. Of the picturesque imagery, the musical versification, and the brilliant language of these poems, praise too high cannot be heard. They have all the pastoral beauties, and sweet descriptions of our elder poets, embellished, and heightened by a richer style, and a more refined combination. It has been more than once observed, that these poems, short as they are, have collected in one

59 The moderation and justice of Toland's sentiments on this subject may excite surprise (v. p. 79.) The wishes of all good men are, that the national church being secured in her worship, and emoluments, may not be allowed to force others to her communion; and that all dissenters from it, being secured in their liberty of conscience, may not be permitted to meddle with the riches or power of the national church.' May a sentiment so philosophically just prove historically true!

60 Mr. Peck's manner of giving the titles of these poems is ludicrously quaint. He calls them His Homo L'Allegro, or the lætans; and his Homo Il Penseroso, or the cogitans.' v. New Memoirs, p. 26. Comus had been printed in 1637, and Lycidas in 1638. Before Cartwright's Poems, 1651, is a copy of verses by J. Leigh, enumerating the various Poets whose works had been published by Moseley, but omitting the name of Milton.

splendid view all that can be said on their respective subjects.

Moseley the publisher says in his preface,' that the poems of Spenser, in these English ones are as nearly imitated, as sweetly excelled.' It is to this edition that the portrait by Marshall is prefixed, which so much displeased Milton; and which has transformed the youthful bard into a puritanical gentleman of fifty; it is the first published portrait of the Poet.*

In 1647, as the relations of his wife had gradually left him, he removed into a smaller house in Holborn, which opened backward into Lincoln's Inn Fields, and continued the instruction of a few scholars, chiefly the sons of gentlemen his friends. That there ever was a design of making him an adjutant general in the army of Sir William Waller may be doubted; for Philips has expressed his belief doubtfully, and Waller was considered at that time the leader of the Presbyterians, between whom and our Poet no amity could now exist.

His next publication in 1648-9, was the Tenour of Kings and Magistrates. 61 This was occasioned by the outcry of the Presbyterians against the death of Charles; whereas Milton proves that they who so much condemned deposing were the men themselves that deposed the king: and cannot, with all their shifting and relapsing, wash the guiltiness off their own hands. For they themselves, by their late doings have made

* Salmasius considered this print as presenting not an unfavourable portrait of Milton. The pastoral view in the back ground is worthy of Ostade; but neat handed Phyllis' is, methinks, a little too free. She should have recollected that in a dance Junctæque nymphis Gratia decentes.' 31 This tract first published February 1648-9, republished with additions in 1650.


it guiltiness, and turned their own warrantable actions into rebellion. He then pushes on his arguments against them till he shows that they not only deposed, but how much they did toward the killing the king. Have they not levied wars against him, whether offensive or defensive (for defence in war equally offends, and most prudently beforehand) and given commission to slay when they knew his person could not be exempt from danger; and if chance or flight had not saved him, how often had they killed him, directing their artillery without blame or prohibition to the very place where they saw him stand. Have they not sequestered him, judged or unjudged, and converted his revenue to other uses, detaining from him as a grand delinquent, all means of livelihood, so that from them long since he might have perished or starved. Have they not hunted or pursued him round the kingdom with sword and fire. Have they not besieged him, and to their power forbad him water and fire, save what they shot against him to the hazard of his life. Yet while they thus assaulted and endangered it with hostile deeds, they swore in words to defend it, with his crown and dignity,' &c.

But though Milton in his writings discussed these measures which he considered important to the public welfare, his life was strictly private, passed with his scholars, or among his studies; and his History of England was just commenced; when, without any solicitation, he was invited 62 by the council of the state to be their secretary

62 See the original orders of council appointing a committee to invite him to accept the office, first printed in Todd's Life (second ed.) p. 107. He succeeded in this office Mr. Weckherleyn, whose only daughter was mother of Sir W. Trumball, the friend of Pope.

for foreign tongues. They had resolved to employ the Latin language in their correspondence with other nations and no man more eminently skilled in the knowledge of it, than Milton, could at that time probably have been found.

Bishop Newton wishes this example had been followed; but I must express my doubts whether diplomatic correspondence could be carried on through the medium of the Latin tongue, with the facility or the precision that would be now required. It surely is better that every nation should express itself in its own idioms, than to attempt to make an ancient language convey new varieties of opinion, and new modifications of thought. Modern languages are constantly borrowing from each other to supply those minute shades of meaning, and to express those refined and subtle ideas that have arisen in the progress of knowledge, and that have been brought from more advanced habits, and more complicated structures of society. To effect this with a language that has long been removed from use, is surely to encumber oneself with unnecessary difficulties, and to prefer the less commodious vehicle of reasoning.

In 1649-50 it was ordered by the council, that Mr. Milton do prepare something in answer to the book of Salmasius, and when he hath done it bring it to the council. Previously, however, to this, he had written his answer 63 to the Icon Basilike, it is supposed by a verbal command: for no written order of the council to that effect has been

63 Milton's Answer was printed in London in 1640, 4to. again in 1650. Of the Icon Basilike, forty-seven editions were circulated in England alone, and 48,500 copies sold. Toland says, Milton was rewarded by the parliament for his performance with the present of a thousand pounds. v. Life, p. 32. The real fact is not ascertained.

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