[ocr errors]

the puritan ministers, (as he says himself in his second Defence.) they being inferior to the bishops in learning and eloquence; and published his two books Of Reformation in England, written to a friend. About the same time certain ministers having published a treatise against episcopacy, in answer to the Humble Remonstrance of Dr. Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich, under the title of Smectymnuus, a word consisting of the initial letters of their names, Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstow; and Archbishop Usher having published at Oxford a refutation of Smectymnuus, in a tract concerning the Original of Bishops and Metropolitans; Milton wrote his little piece Of Prelatical Episcopacy, in opposition chiefly to Usher, for he was for contending with the most powerful adversary; there would be either less disgrace in the defeat, or more glory in the victory. He handled the subject more at large in his next performance, which was the Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty, in two books. And Bishop Hall having published a Defence of the Humble Remonstrance, he wrote Animadversions upon it. All these treatises he published within the course of one year, 1641, which show how very diligent he was in the cause that he had undertaken. And the next year he set forth his Apology for Smectymnuus, in answer to the Confutation of his Animadversions, written as he thought himself by Bishop Hall or his son'. And here he very luckily ended a controversy, which detained him from greater and better writings which he was

* See Mr. Warton's concluding note on the Latin poems. E.

meditating, more useful to the public, as well as more suitable to his own genius and inclination: but he thought all this while that he was vindicating ecclesias

tical liberty*.

In the year 1643, and the 35th of his age, he married; and indeed his family was now growing so numerous,

that it wanted a mistress at the head ofit.

* As a specimen of the facility with which men may persuade themselves that their own motives are altogether pure, and those of their adversaries corrupt, I subjoin Milton's account of his motives in writing these pieces, from the Defensio Secunda. Pr. W. ii. É 884. ed. 1753. Ut primum loquendi saltem coepta est libertas 'concedi, omnia in Episcopos aperiri ore; alii de ipsorum vitiis, alii de ipsius ordinis vitio conqueri ; iniquum esse, se solos ab ecclesiis omnibus, quotquot reformatæ sunt, discrepare; exemplo fratrum, sed maxime ex verbo Dei, gubernari Ecclesiam convenire. Ad hæc sane experrectus, cum veram affectari viam ad libertatem cernerem, ab his initiis, his passibus, ad liberandam servitute vitam omnem mortalium rectissime procedi, si ab religione disciplina orta ad mores et instituta reipublicæ emanaret, cum etiam me ita ab adolescentia parassem, ut quid divini, quid humani esset juris, ante omnia possem non ignorare, meque consuluissem ecquando ullius usus essem futurus, si nunc patriæ, immo vero ecclesiae, totque fratribus evangelii causa periculo sese objicientibus deessem, statui, etsi tunc alia quædam meditabar, huc omne ingenium, omnes in

His father,

dustriæ vires transferre. . Primum itaque De Reformanda Ecclesia * Anglicana, duos ad amicum quendam libros conscripsi; deinde, cum duo præ cæteris magni nominis episcopi suum jus contra ministros quosdam primarios assererent, ratus de iis rebus, quas amore solo veritatis, et ex officii Christiani ratione didiceram, haud pejus me dicturum quam qui de suo quæstu et injustissimo dominatu contendebant, ad hunc libris duobus, quorum unus De Episcopatu Prælatico, alter De Ratione Disciplinæ Ecclesiasticæ, inscribitur, ad illum scriptis quibusdam Animadversionibus, et mox Apologia respondi, et ministris facundiam hominis, ut ferebatur ægre sustinentibus suppetias tuli, et ab eo tempore, si quid postea responderent, interfui.—And Hall and Usher were the men against whom these insinuations were directed. The celebrated passage, alluded to by Bishop Newton, in which Miltonpromisessome great poetical work at a future period, occurs in the preface to the second book of the Reason o Church Government. Parts of it are cited in the notes on P. L. i. 17. and P. R. i. 1. E.

who had lived with his younger son at Reading, was, upon the taking of that place by the forces under the Earl of Essex, necessitated to come and live in London with this his elder son, with whom he continued in tranquillity and devotion to his dying day. Some addition too was to be made to the number of his pupils. But before his father or his new pupils were come, he took a journey in the Whitsuntide vacation, and after a month's absence returned with a wife, Mary the eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, of Foresthill near Shotover in Oxfordshire, a justice of the peace, and a gentleman of good repute and figure in that county". But she had not cohabited with her husband above a month, before she was earnestly solicited by her relations to come and spend the remaining part of the summer with them in the country. If it was not at her instigation that her friends made this request, yet at least it was agreeable to her inclination; and she obtained her husband's consent upon a promise of returning at Michaelmas. In the mean while his studies went on very vigorously"; and his chief diversion,

' A letter of Sir W. Jones to Spencer, which Lord Teignmouth has preserved in his Life of Sir W. Jones, has given celebrity to the tradition that Milton composed several of his earliest productions, and particularly L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, at Foresthill. It is more probable that these poems were composed during his residence at Horton. There is no evidence that he ever resided at Foresthill, except perhaps during the month of his courtship. And though

L'Allegro and Il Penseroso might have been written at that time, for they were not published till 1645, yet in his Ode to Rouse he speaks of the whole volume of poems in which they were included as the production of his youthful days. See Todd's Life of Milton, p. 19–25. and the Life by Symmons, p. 616—618. ed. 2. E. * “And now the studies went “on with so much the more vigour, as there were more

“hands and heads employed;

after the business of the day, was now and then in an evening to visit the Lady Margaret Lee, daughter of the Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer of England, and President of the Privy Council to King James I. This Lady, being a woman of excellent wit and understanding, had a particular honour for our author, and took great delight in his conversation; as likewise did her husband Captain Hobson, a very accomplished gentleman. And what a regard Milton again had for her, he has left upon record in a sonnet to her praise, extant among his other poems. Michaelmas was now come, but he heard nothing of his wife’s return. He wrote to her, but received no answer. He wrote again letter after letter, but received no answer to any of them. He then dispatched a messenger with a letter, desiring her to return; but she positively refused, and dismissed the messenger with contempt. Whether it was, that she had conceived any dislike to her husband’s person or humour; or whether she could not conform to his retired and philosophical manner of life, having been accustomed to a house of much gaiety and company; or whether being of a family strongly attached to the royal cause, she could not bear her husband's republican principles; or whether she was overpersuaded by her relations, who possibly might repent of having matched the eldest daughter of the family to a man so distinguished for taking the contrary party, the King’s head-quarters being in their neighbourhood at Oxford, and his Majesty having now some fairer prospect of success; “the old gentleman [Milton's “out the least trouble imagin

“father] living wholly retired “able.” Philips. “to his rest and devotion, with

whether any or all of these were the reasons of this extraordinary behaviour; however it was, it so highly incensed her husband, that he thought it would be dishonourable ever to receive her again after such a repulse, and he determined to repudiate her as she had in effect repudiated him, and to consider her no longer as his wife. And to fortify this his resolution, and at the same time to justify it to the world, he wrote the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, wherein he endeavours to prove, that indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind, proceeding from any unchangeable cause in nature, hindering and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugal society, which are solace and peace, are greater reasons of divorce than adultery or natural frigidity, especially if there be no children, and there be mutual consent for separation". He published it at first without his name, but the style easily betrayed the author; and afterwards a second edition, much augmented, with his name; and he de

esse species, quae nisiadsint, vita ulla transigi commode vix possit, Ecclesiasticam, Domesticam seu

" Milton in the account of his Works in his Second Defence does not allude to his domestic

injuries, but treats of his writings on Divorce as the natural fruits of his anxious wishes to promote liberty, first ecclesiastical, then domestic liberty. Cum petiti omnium telis Episcopi tandem cecidissent, otiumque abillis esset, verti alio cogitationes; si qua in re possem libertatis verae ac solidae rationem promovere; quae non foris, sed intus quaerenda, non pugnando, sed vitam recte instituendo, rectegue administrando adipiscenda potissimum est. Cum itaque tres ommino animadverterem libertatis

privatam, atque Civilem, deque prima jam scripsissem, deque tertia Magistratum sedulo agere viderem, quae reliqua secunda erat, domesticam mihi desumpsi. Pr. W. ii. p. 385. ed. 1753. A little further on, however, there appears to be a curious allusion to circumstances very like his own—ea igitur de re aliquot libros edidi; eo praesertim tempore cum vir saepe et conjux hostes inter se acerrimi, hic domi cum liberis, illa in castris hostium materfamilias versaretur, viro cacdem atque permiciem minitans. E.

« 上一頁繼續 »