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1. RELIGIOUS.-A group of five pamphlets
against Episcopacy (1641, 2). 2. DOMESTIC.—This he subdivides as follows:
a. EDUCATION: one pamphlet (1644).
freedom of Divorce (1643–5). Milton's
of this subject.
argument in favor of unlicensed printing.
monwealth (1649-1660). His prose writing continued into his last period, when he produced, among other things, a history of Britain to the Norman Conquest, and a Latin disquisition on Christian Doctrine, which is our chief source of information about his later theological opinions.
Meanwhile, the crisis in national affairs was growing more acute. In 1639, the Scots had obtained from Charles, through force of arms, the temporary withdrawal of all attempts to force Episcopacy upon them. Soon, however, he had broken with them again, had called the Short Parliament in order to obtain supplies, had been presented with a request for the redress of grievances, and had once more ordered a dissolution. A second attempt to subdue the Scotch resistance by force failed, and in November, 1640, Charles called the famous Long Parliament. This assembly began by instituting constitutional reforms with great energy, and later took up Church questions. It was at this juncture that Milton entered the lists with his pamphlets against Episcopacy.
In 1642, the differences between Charles and the Parliamentary party became so acute that civil war broke out; and after a struggle of four years it ended in the overthrow of the Royalists, and the surrender of the King to the Scots auxiliaries who had been fighting on the Parliamentary side in England.
Now a new cause of controversy arose. The opponents of the King split into two parties, one desirous of establishing a strict and uniform national church on Presbyterian principles, with no toleration for dissenters, the other standing for the right of liberty of worship for those whose consciences forbade their entering the established Church. The latter party, supported by Cromwell and the army, triumphed; and to this side Milton belonged.
Charles, meanwhile, had been negotiated with again and again; had entered into a treaty with
the Scots with the result of bringing about a second civil war, which ended abruptly in the overthrow of his allies; and had finally been brought to trial by the army and the remnant of the Long Parliament, condemned, and executed (January, 1649). » England now became a Republic, and Milton threw himself into the task of defending the principles on which it had been established. He became officially associated with the new government as Secretary for Foreign Tongues, in which capacity he not only conducted its foreign correspondence, but also acted as its literary adviser and champion in the controversies by pamphlet that arose in connection with the execution of the King and the theory of the Commonwealth. It was in the midst of these activities that a great calamity fell upon him. The defence of the late King had been undertaken by the famous Dutch Latinist Salmasius in a Defensio Regia, and to Milton fell the task of replying to it. His eyesight, weakened even in childhood by overstudy, was 'now failing fast, and he was warned by physicians that it would go altogether if he persisted in this work. But to Milton the fight he had entered was no mere matter of professional employment as it was to his opponent, and he deliberately sacrificed what remained to him of light in the service of the cause to which he was devoted. The reply was a most effective one, but it left Milton hopelessly
blind. With the aid of an assistant, however, he retained his office through the Protectorate of Cromwell, until the eve of the Restoration.
(c) Third Period (1660-1674) Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, his son Richard succeeded him for a short time, and in 1660 Charles [I. was restored to the throne. To the last Milton fought with tremendous earnestness against this catastrophe. For, to him, it was indeed a catastrophe. The return of the Stuarts meant to him not only great personal danger, but, what was far more important, it meant the overthrow of all that he had for twenty years spent himself to uphold. It meant the setting up in government, in religion, and in society, of ideals and institutions that he could not but regard as the extreme of reaction and national degradation. Almost by a miracle he escaped personal violence, but he was of necessity forced into obscure retirement; and there, reduced in fortune, blind, and broken-hearted, he devoted himself to the proauction of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The great schemes which in his early manhood he had planned and dreamed over, had for years been laid aside; but now at last he had a mournful leisure, and with magnificent fortitude he availed himself of the opportunity.
Paradise Lost had been begun even before the King's return; in 1665 it was finished, and in 1667 the first edition appeared. Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes were published in 1671. The History of Britain already mentioned, and a number of other prose works, chiefly of a personal and curious interest, were produced in the same period.
In 1657, Milton's second wife, Catherine Woodcock, had died. For about seven years after, he lived alone with his three daughters, whom he trained to read to him not merely in English, but in Latin, Greek, Italian, French, Spanish, and Hebrew, though they did not understand a word of what they read. What little we know of their relations to their father is not pleasant. They seem to have been rebellious and undutiful, though doubtless there was much provocation. In 1663, Milton took a third wife, Elizabeth Minshull, who did much to give ease and comfort to his last years, and who long survived him.
The retirement in which he lived during this third period, when public affairs seemed to him to have gone all wrong, was not absolutely solitary. He was visited by a number of friends and admirers, men of culture and rank, and often by foreigners who wished, before they left London, to see the great Latinist who had humbled Salmasius. The harshness that appears in his controversial writings, and the somewhat unsympathetic austerity that seems to be indicated by his relations