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After his severer studies, and after dinner as we observed before, he used to divert and unbend his mind with playing upon the organ or bass-viol, which was a great relief to him after he had lost his sight; for he was a master of music as was his father, and he could perform both vocally and instrumentally, and it is said that he composed very well, though nothing of this kind is handed down to us”. It is also said that he had some skill in painting as well as in music, and that somewhere or other there is a head of Milton, drawn by himself; but he was blessed with so many real excellencies, that there is no want of fictitious ones to raise and adorn his character. He had a quick apprehension, a sublime imagination, a strong memory, a piercing judgment, a wit always ready, and facetious or grave as the occasion required: and I know not whether the loss of his sight did not add vigour to the faculties of the mind. ... He at least thought so, and often comforted himself with that reflection P. -
But his great parts and learning have scarcely gained
amissum quam revocatum intus atque retractum, ad acuendam
fallen in the service of the Parliament, and had written a trea
tise Against the English Episcopacy, and, against the danger of Sects and Schisms. He has also spoken of John Cameron with high respect in his Tetrachordon. Todd.
* He had a delicate tunable voice, and had good skill. Aubrey.
P. De mea animi tranquillitate in hoc tanto luminis detrimento, deque mea in excipiendis exteris hominibus comitate ac studio, persuasum tibi esse gaudeo. Orbitatem certe luminis quidni leniter feram, quod non tam
potius mentis aciem quam ad hebetandam, sperem. Quo fit, ut neque Literis irascar, necearum studio penitus intermittam, etiamsi metam male multaverint: tam enim morosus ne sim, Mysorum Regis Telephi saltem exemplum erudiit; qui eo telo, quo vulneratus est, sanari postea non recusavit. Epist. Fam. 21. Pr. W. p. 581. ed. 1758. See also his reflections upon his blindness in his Second Defence, p. 374—377. ed. 1753. “Utinam de caecitate “—condonare.” E.
him more admirers, than his political principles have raised him enemies. And yet the darling passion of his soul was the love of liberty; this was his constant aim and end, however he might be mistaken in the means. He was indeed very zealous in what was called the good old cause, and with his spirit and his resolution it is somewhat wonderful, that he never ventured his person in the civil war; but though he was not in arms, he was not inactive, and thought, I suppose, that he could be of more service to the cause by his pen than by his sword". He was a thorough republican, and in this he thought like a Greek or Roman, as he was very conversant with their writings. And one day Sir Robert Howard, who was a friend to Milton as well as to the liberties of his country, and was one of his constant visitors to the last, inquired of him how he came to side with the republicans. Milton answered among other reasons, because theirs was the most frugal government, for the trappings of a mo
* So he says himself, Def. Sec. Pr. W. ii. p. 366. ed. 1753. Atque illi quidem Deo perinde confisi, servitutem honestissimis armis pepulere: cujus laudis etsi nullam partem jo vendico, a reprehensione tamen vel timiditatis vel ignaviae, siqua infertur, facile me tueor. Neque enim militiae labores et pericula sic defugi, ut non alia ratione et operam multo utiliorem, nec minore cum periculo meis civibus navarim, et animum dubiis in rebus neque demissum unquam, neque ullius invidiae, vel etiam mortis plus aequo metuentem praestiterim. Nam cum ab adolescentulo humanioribus essem studiis
ut qui maxime deditus, et ingenio semper quam corpore validior, posthabita castrensi opera, qua me gregarius quilibet robustior facile superasset, ad ea me contuli, quibus plus potui; ut parte mei meliore ac potiore, si saperem, non deteriore, ad rationes patriae, causamgue hanc praestantissimam, quantum maxime possem momentum accederem. Sic itaque existimabam, si illos Deus res gerere tam praeclaras voluit, esse itidem alios a quibus gestas dici pro dignitate atque ornari, et defensam armis veritatem ratione etiam (quod unicum est praesidium vere ac proprie humanum) defendi voluerit. E.
narchy might set up an ordinary commonwealth. But then his attachment to Cromwell must be condemned, as being neither consistent with his republican principles, nor with his love of liberty. And I know no other way of accounting for his conduct, but by presuming (as I think we may reasonably presume) that he was far from entirely approving of Cromwell’s proceedings, but considered him as the only person who could rescue the nation from the tyranny of the Presbyterians, who he saw were erecting a worse dominion of their own upon the ruins of prelatical episcopacy; and of all things he dreaded spiritual slavery, and therefore closed with Cromwell and the Independents, as he expected under them greater liberty of conscience. And though he served Cromwell, yet it must be said for him, that he served a great master, and served him ably, and was not wanting from time to time in giving him excellent good advice, especially in his second Defence': and so little being said of him in all
* It is remarkable, that the magnanimity and high tone of the address to the Protector, in Milton's second Defence, struck Morus, and was objected by him to his adversary as an evidence of overweening pride, and an imperious spirit. Quae quidem omnia spiritus tibi tam altos induerunt, ut proximus a primo censeri concupiveris, adeoque celsissimo Cromuello celsior appareas interdum ; quem sine ulla homoris praefatione familiariter appellas, quem specie laudantis doces, cui leges dictas, titulos circumscribis, munia praescribis, consilia suggeris, et si secus fecerit, minas ingeris. Illi arma et imperium concedis, ingenium tibi togamoue vindicas.
Aler. Mori Fides Publica, p. 72, 73. Symmons.
There is no appearance of any thing like intimacy between Milton and Cromwell in A. Marvel's account of his presenting the Second Defence to the Protector; and, in a letter which Mr. Godwin notices, addressed to P. Heimbach, (Dec. 18, 1657,) who desired a recommendation for the office of secretary to our Embassador in Holland, Milton pleads his inability to assist him partly on account of his slight acquaintance with persons in power—propter paucissimas familiaritates meas cum gratiosis, qui domi fere, idque libenter me contineo. E.
Secretary Thurloe's state-papers, it appears that he had no great share in the secrets and intrigues of government; what he despatched was little more than matters of necessary form, letters and answers to foreign states; and he may be justified for acting in such a station, upon the same principle as Sir Matthew Hale for holding a Judge's commission under the Usurper; and in the latter part of his life he frequently expressed to his friends his entire satisfaction of mind, that he had constantly employed his strength and faculties in the defence of liberty, and in opposition to slavery. , - 2
In matters of religion too he has given as great of. fence, or even greater, than by his political principles. But still let not the infidel glory; no such man was ever of that party. He had the advantage of a pious education, and ever expressed the profoundest reverence of the Deity in his words and actions, was both a Christian and a Protestant, and studied and admired the holy Scriptures above all other books whatsoever; and in all his writings he plainly showeth a religious turn of mind, as well in verse as in prose, as well in his works of an earlier date as in those of later composition. ..When he wrote the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, he appears to have been a Calvinist; but afterwards he entertained a more favourable opinion of Arminius. Some have inclined to believe, that he was an Arian; but othere are more express passages in his works to overthrow this opinion, than any there are to confirm it. For in the conclusion of his treatise of Reformation he thus solemnly invokes the Trinity; “Thou therefore “ that sittest in light and glory unapproachable, Parent “ of Angels and Men next thee I implore Omnipo
WOL. I. - h
“tent King, Redeemer of that lost remnant whose “nature thou didst assume, ineffable and everlasting “Love! And thou the third subsistence of divine “infinitude, illumining Spirit, the joy and solace of “created things one Tri-personal Godhead look “upon this thy poor, and almost spent and expiring “Church, &c.” And in his tract of Prelatical Episcopacy he endeavours to prove the spuriousness of some epistles attributed to Ignatius, because they contained in them heresies, one of which heresies is, that “he “condemns them for ministers of Satan, who say that “ Christ is God above all.” And a little after in the same tract he objects to the authority of Tertullian, because he went about to “prove an imparity between “ God the Father, and God the Son.” . And in the Paradise Lost we shall find nothing upon this head, that is not perfectly agreeable to Scripture. The learned Dr. Trapp, who was as likely to cry out upon heresy as any man, asserts that the poem is orthodox. in every part of it; or otherwise he would not have been at the pains of translating it. Neque alienum videtur a studiis viri theologi poema magna ex parte theologicum; omni ex parte (rideant, per me licet, atgue ringantur atheiet infideles) orthodoxum. Milton was indeed a dissenter from the Church of England, in which he had been educated, and was by his parents designed for holy orders, as we related before; but he was led away by early prejudices against the doctrine and discipline of the Church; and in his younger years was a favourer of the Presbyterians; in his middle age he was best pleased with the Independents and Anabaptists, as allowing greater liberty of con