Sivut kuvina
PDF

daughter, of the elder Hartlib, who probably had not yet fallen into bad circumstances at the time of her marriage.

HENRY LAWRENCE.

Milton addressed one of his social sonnets to Lawrence, whom he styles “ of virtuous father virtuous son.” Warton, who is duteously followed as usual by Todd, makes, we think, a mistake here, when he says “ of the virtuous son nothing has transpired ;” for he is actually the person of whom he himself gives an account, as the father. It will thus appear. The sonnet, though probably subsequent to 1645, must have been written before Milton lost his sight, that is, before 1653. Now Todd quotes a letter of Lawrence’s, in the Harleian MSS., written in 1646, from which it appears that his son was at that time only thirteen years of age; but the person to whom Milton addresses his sonnet was apparently a man of about his own time of life, and therefore the person who has been hitherto taken for the father, of whom Warton gives the

. following account :—

“ The virtuous father, Henry Lawrence, was member for Herefordshire in the Little Parliament, which began in 1653, and was active in settling the Protectorate of Cromwell. In consequence of hi services he was made President of Cromwell’s Council, where he appears to have signed many severe and arbitrary decrees, not only against the Royalists, but the Brownists, FifthMonarchymen, and other sectarists. He continued high in favour with Richard Cromwell. As innovation is progressive, perhaps the son, Milton’s friend, was an Independent and a still warmer Republican. The family appears to have been seated not far from Milton’s neighbourhood in Buckinghamshire, for Henry Lawrenee’s near relation William Lawrence, a writer, and appointed a judge in Scotland by Cromwell, and who was in 1631 a Gentleman Commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, died at Bedfont, near Staines, in Middlesex, in 1682. Hence, says Milton, 0. 2,—

‘ Now that the fields are dank and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet P’ etc.*

Milton, in his first reply to More, written 1654, recites among the most respectable of his friends who contributed to form the Commonwealth, ‘ Montacutium, Lam’entium, summo ingenio ambos optimisque artibus expolitos, etc.;’ where by Jllontacutium we are to understand Edward Montague, Earl of Manchesterfi who, while Lord Kimbolton, was one of the members of the House of Commons impeached by the King, and afterwards a leader in the rebellion. I believe they both deserved this paneygric.”

Mr. Todd adds that “ Lawrence, the virtuous faflmr, is the author of a work suited to Milton’s taste; on the subject of which, I make no doubt, he and the author ‘ by the fire helped to waste many a sullen day.’ It is entitled Of our Communion and Warre with Angels, etc. Printed Anno Dom. 1646, 4to, 189 pages. The dedication is: ‘ To my Most deare and Most honoured Mother, flee Lady Lawrence.’ I suppose him also to be the same Henry Lawrence who printed A Vindication of the Scriptures and Christian Ordinances, 1649, Lond., Alto.”

[ocr errors]

Cyriac Skinner was the third son of William Skinner, Esq., of Thornton College, in Lincolnshire, son and heir of Sir Vincent Skinner, Knight. His mother was Bridget, second daughter of the celebrated Sir Edward Coke, to whom the poet alludes in the beginning of the first son

* It would actually appear as if Warton supposed this sonnet to have been written at Horton, and that the place of meeting was some roadside alehouse.

1' Rather, we think, Edward Montague, afterwards Earl of Sandwich. Milton in this passage does not speak of either him or Lawrence as his friend. The only personal friends whom he names in the list of the supporters of Cromwell, not the formers of the Commonwealth, are Fleetwood and Overton ; but those two are among the “vel amicitia vel fama mihi cognitos.”

net which he addressed to him,—an allusion hitherto not understood by the commentators. The year of his birth is not known ; but as his father died in 1627, it was probably some years before that date. He himself died in the last year of the seventeenth century.

Wood tells us that Cyriac Skinner was one of Milton’s pupils. From a letter of Andrew Marvell’s, it appears that in 1653, when Milton was living in Petty France, Skinner “had got near him ;” but as he appears to have always dwelt in the parish of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, this is perhaps all that is meant. Wood also tells us that Skinner was, with Harrington, Wildman, and others, a memberof the celebrated Rota Club, which used to hold its meetings at the Turk’s Head, in New Palace-yard, Westminster, in which he occasionally took the chair. He calls him “ a merchant’s son of London, an ingenious young gentleman, and scholar to Jo. Milton.” It is supposed that it is of him also that Aubrey speaks, when he says that the manuscript of Milton’s Idea Theologiae “is in the hands of Mr. Skinner, a merchant’s son, in Mark Lane. Mlem. There was one Mr. Skinner, of the Jerker’s Office, up two pair of stairs, at the Custom House.” It is evident from this that Aubrey knew little about Cyriac Skinner (and be was probably Wood’s authority), if it is him he means; for he was a merchant himself, and, as we have seen, the son of a country gentleman. Warton says, “ I find one Cyriac Skinner, I know not if the same, a member of Trinity College, Oxford, in 1640 ;” and it seems to us not at all unlikely that it was the same, and that Wood was mistaken in calling him a scholar (if by that he meant a pupil) of Milton’s. Nothing further is known of Cyriac Skinner.

Exclusive however of the two sonnets addressed to Cyriac Skinner, the name has obtained some celebrity in connection with Milton’s great theologic work. From the passage of Aubrey, quoted above, it appears that such a work was known to exist; but no one had any idea of what had been its fate. At length, in the year 1823, Mr. Lemon, the Deputy Keeper of the State Papers, when making his researches in the Old State Paper Office, chanced to find in one of the presses a Latin manuscript with the title “J ohannis Miltoni Angli de Doctrina Christiana, ex Sacris duntaxat Libris petita, Disquisitionum Libri duo posthumi.” It was wrapped up in two or three sheets of printed paper, with a great many letters, informations, etc., relating to the Popish Plots of 1677 and 1678, and the Rye House Plot of 1683. The parcel also contained a complete and corrected copy of what are called Milton’s State Letters ; and the whole was enclosed in an envelope, addressed To Mr. S/cim2er, ./11870/L‘.

This then,—for no one that reads it can have a doubt of it,—was the celebrated treatise, erroneously termed by Aubrey, Idea Theologiae. The question is, how it came to be in the State Paper Office. Mr. Lemon made at first various conjectures, such as a seizure of the papers of

-Cyriac Skinner when he was engaged in one of the many

conspiracies of the time, etc. ; but his further researches discovered the truth, to the following effect.

There was a person named Daniel Skinner, in all pro

bability a nephew of Cyriac’s, and who, it is likely, was

also Aubrey’s “ merchant’s son in Mark Lane.” He was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; 'and it was to him, and not to his uncle, that Milton had consigned the manuscript treatise, which he sent over to Holland, along with a transcript of the State Letters, in order to have them printed by Elzevir. His own account is: “ The works of

[ocr errors]

Milton having been left behind him to me, which, out of pure indiscretion, not dreaming any prejudice might accrue tome, I had agreed with a printer at Amsterdam to have printed. As good fortune would have it, he has not printed one tittle of them. About a month ago, there creeps out into the world a little imperfect book of Milton's State Letters, procured to be printed by one Pitts, a bookseller in London, which he had bought of a poor fellow that had formerly got them surreptitiously from Milton.” Perhaps this publication gave some uneasiness to the Government, and inquiries were made after other manuscripts of Milton's; for we find that on the 20th November, 1676, Dan. Elzevir wrote as follows to Sir Joseph Williamson, one of the Secretaries of State: —“ That about a year before Mr. Skinner put into his hands this collection of Letters, and a Treatise on Healoyy, with directions to print them ; but that on examining them he found many things in them which, in his opinion, had better be suppressed than divulged; that he declined printing them; and that Mr. Skinner had lately been at Amsterdam, had expressed himself to be

' highly gratified that he had not commenced the printing

of those works, and then took away the manuscripl‘s." Q It being known now that the MSS. were in the posses

,sion of Skinner, and that he was in Paris, Dr. Isaac Bar

row, the Master of his College, wrote to him the following February, ordering him to return under penalty of expulsion. “ We do also warn you,” he says, “Ihat you sfiall publish any i0rii‘i72'9I misc/iievous to 0'he C/mrc/i or State, you will thence incur a forfeiture of your interest here. I hope God will give you the wisdom and grace to take warning.” In the letter to a friend, to whom he enclosed this, he says: “I am sorry for the miscarriages of t/eat

« EdellinenJatka »