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after this event, he retired from his office of secretary 6 on an allowance for life, of one hundred and fifty pounds a year. His name does not again occur in the books of the council of state; his friend 6 Andrew Marvell had been associated with him.
As we are now arrived at the close of Milton's public life, it may be as well for a moment to look back, and recollect the system upon which he asserts his political career to have been conducted, and the end to which his writings were directed. He says, when the outcry against the bishops commenced, and the model of our reformed church was to its disadvantage compared to others, he saw that a way was opening for the establishment of real liberty. That he perceived there were three species of liberty essential to the happiness of social life-religious, domestic, and civil. To promote the first, he wrote his Treatise on Reformation, &c.; and as he saw that the magistrates were active in obtaining the third, he therefore turned his attention to the second, or domestic. This included three material questions, first, the conduct of the conjugal tie; secondly, the education of children; and, thirdly, the free
6 But see Mr. Todd's Life (ed. 2), p. 158, who says some official documents were written by him after 1655. The last payment of his salary was Oct. 22, 1659, when he was sequestered from the office.
6 "His familiar learned acquaintance were A. Marvell, Lawrence, Needham, Hartlib, Mr. Skinner, Dr. Paget, M. D. Mr. Skinner was his disciple.- His widow assures me that Mr. Hobbes was not one of his acquaintance. That her husband did not like hiin at all; but he would acknowledge him to be a man of great parts, and a learned man.” Aubrey Lett. iii. 444. He had no intimacy with Cromwell, nor with those in power. He tells Heimbach that he cannot serve him, “Propter paucissimas familiaritates meas cum gratiosis." Ep. Fam. Dec. 18, 1657.
publication of the thoughts. These questions were severally considered by him in his Treatise on Divorce, his Tractate on Education, and his Areopagitica, or Liberty of unlicensed printing. With regard to civil affairs, he left them in the hands of the magistrates, till it became necessary to vindicate the right of lawfully dethroning, or destroying tyrants (without any immediate or personal application to Charles), against the doctrine of the presbyterian ministers. Such were the fruits of his private studies, which he had gratuitously presented to church and state, and for which he was recompensed by nothing but impunity. Though the actions themselves (he says) procured me peace of conscience, and the approbation of the good; while I exercised that freedom of discussion which I loved.
Disencumbered of the duties of secretary, disgusted with the treachery of parties, and the failure of his fondest wishes, Milton at length retreated from the changes and turbulence of the times, and had now leisure to resume the great works which he had long destined for his future employment. He commenced a history of his native country, a dictionary of the Latin language, more copious and correct than that of Stephens; he framed a body of divinity out of the Bible; and, lastly, he sketched the first outlines of his immortal poem. For the subject of his epic poem, says Johnson, after much deliberation, long choosing, and beginning late, he fixed upon Paradise Lost, a design so comprehensive, that it could be justified only by success. He had once meant to celebrate the exploits of K. Arthur, as he has hinted in his Verses, “but,” says Toland,“ this particular subject was reserved for the celebrated pen of Sir Richard Blackmore.” Amidst the prosecution of these great and laborious designs, he found time during the year 1659 for some humbler occupations. He edited some manuscript treatises of Sir Walter Raleigh. He published the foreign correspondence of the English parliament and of Cromwell; he wrote (against the Presbyterians) his " Considerations to remove hirelings out of the Church; and, alarmed at the prospect of a returning monarchy, he printed his “ Ready and easy way to establish a free Commonwealth.” What he speaks,
7 These collections consisted of three large volumes in folio. They were much discomposed and deficient, but were used by the editors of the Camb. Dict. in_1693, 4to. See the Pref. to Ainsworth's Lat. Thesaurus. It was said that Philips was the last possessor of these collections. I have an extract from a bookseller's catalogue by me-Dictionary, Latin and English, compiled from the works of Stephens, Cooper, Littelton, a large MS. in three volumes, of Mr. John Milton, 15s. 4to.
says, is the language of that which is not called amiss- “ the good old cause.” It appears, from a passage in this treatise, that commerce had much languished during the civil wars and usurpation; and that the trading community were all anxious for the return of a luxurious court, and the assistance of regal prodigality.
When the restoration of the king proved all his wishes fruitless, Milton withdrew to a friend's house in Bartholomew Close. This temporary concealment seems to have been necessary to his safety, for a particular prosecution was directed against him.
It is mentioned by his biographers that á mock
8 This circumstance was first related by T. Warton, on the authority of Tyers: see his ed. of Milton, p. 308, and by Cunningham in his Hist. of G. Britain. 1. p. 14.
funeral was made for him, and that when matters were arranged, the careless and merry monarch laughed at the imposition. It was however ordered that his “Iconoclastes' and · Defensio pro Populo Anglicano' should be burned by the common hangman, and that the attorney general should proceed against them by indictment, or otherwise. Of the proscribed books several copies on the 27th of Augusto were committed to the flames. Within three days after this, the act of indemnity passed, and he was relieved from the necessity of further concealment. When subsequently he was in the custody of the serjeant at arms, it is supposed that his pardon was obtained by the intervention of some powerful friends. Whether the story of Davenant's assistance is authentic, I am not able to say.
The house on the 13th of December ordered his release: but how long he remained in custody is not known. Richardson says, that he lived in perpetual terror of being assassinated. It has been asserted, that Milton was offered the place of Latin secretary to the king, an offer that it is obvious, he could not in honour or conscience accept, and that on
9 In 1683 twenty-seven propositions from the writings of Milton, Hobbes, Buchanan, &c. were burnt at Oxford, as destructive to Church and State. This transaction is celebrated in Musæ Anglicanæ, called Decretum Oxoniense, vol. iii. p. 180.
Si similis quicunque hæc scripserit auctor,
Miltonum, coelo terrisque inamabile nomen. 10 The most copious account of the circumstances attending Milton's pardon are in Richardson's Life, p. 86, &c. communicated by Pope; who is also the authority for the assertion that Milton was offered the place of Latin secretary to the king.
his wife pressing his compliance, he said, “Thou art in the right, you as other women, would ride in your coach; for me, my aim is to live and die an honest man.
In 1661 he published his ‘Accidence commenced Grammar,' bending his great and comprehensive mind to the construction of those humbler works which he considered of advantage to education. He lived for a short time in Holborn, near Red Lion Street, but soon removed to Jewin Street, by Aldersgate. In 1664, the year previous to the great sickness, he married his third wife, Elizabeth Minshull, of a genteel family in Cheshire, a relation of his particular friend Dr. Paget. Mr. Todd considers it worthy of observation, that Milton chose his three wives out of the virgin state; while Sheffield duke of Buckingham selected his three from that of widowhood: but what inference the learned biographer would draw from their respective choices, is, from an entire ignorance on these subjects, to me unknown. Sheffield was probably looking out for a splendid jointure, and Milton for a gentle, virtuous, and attached companion.
From some cause, of course too trifling to be known to us, probably from the numerous fluctuations of his fortune, Milton seems to have
11 The poet's widow died at Nantwich, in Cheshire, in 1727, having survived her husband fifty-two years; her funeral sermon, preached by the Rev. I. Kember, is published. 'I remember,' says Dr. Newton, 'to have heard from a gentleman who had seen his widow in Cheshire, that she had hair of this colour (golden tresses): it is more probable that he intended a compliment to his wife in the drawing of Eve, as he drew the portrait of Adam not without regard to his own person, of which he had no mean opinion. v. P. L. iv. 305. The Aubrey MSS. say, she was a genteel person, a peaceful and agreeable humour. v. Vol. iii. p. 442.