Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

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 of 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 stile easily betrayed the author; and afterwards a second edition, much augmented, with his name ; and he dedicated it to the Parlament of England with the Assembly of Divinės, that as they were then consulting about the general reformation of the kingdom, they might also take this particular cafe of domestic liberty into their consideration. And then, as it was objected, that his doctrin was a novel notion, and a paradox that no body had ever afferted before, he endevored to confirm his own opinion by the authority of others, and published in 1644 the Judgment of Martin Bucer &c: And as it was still objected, that his doctrin could not be reconciled to Scripture, he published in 1645. his Tetrachordon or Expositions upon the four chief places in Scripture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in marriage. At the first appearing of the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce the clergy raised a heavy outcry against it, and daily solicited the Parlament to pass fome censure upon it, and at last one of them, in a sermon preached before the Lords and Commons on a day of humiliation in August 1644, roundly told them, that there was a book abroad which deserved to be burnt, and that among their other fins they ought to repent, that they had not yet branded it with some mark of their displeasure. And Mr. Wood informs us, that upon Milton's publishing

his three books of Divorce, the Affembly of Divines, that was then fitting at Westminster, took special notice of them; and notwithstanding his former services in writing against the Bishops, caused him to be summoned before the House of Lords : but that House, whether approving his doctrin, or not favoring his accusers, foon dismissed him. He was attacked too from the press as well as from the pulpit, in a pamphlet intitled Divorce at pleasure, and in another intitled an Answer to the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, which was licenced and recommended by Mr. Joseph Caryl, a famous Presbyterian Divine, and author of a voluminous commentary on the book of Job: and Milton in his Colasterion or Reply published in 1645 expoftulates smartly with the licencer, as well as handles very roughly the nameless author. And these provocations, I suppose, contributed not a little to make him such an enemy to the Presbyterians, to whom he had before distinguished himself a friend. He composed likewise two of his sonnets on the reception his book of Divorce met with, but the latter is much the better of the two. To this account it may be added from Antony Wood, that after the King's restoration, when the subject of divorce was under consideration with the Lords upon the account of John Lord Ros or Roos his separation from his wife Anne Pierpoint eldest daughter to Henry Marquis of Dorchester, ho was consulted by an eminent member of that Houfe, and about the same time by a chief officer of state, as being the prime person who was knowing in that affair.

But

But while he was engaged in this controversy of divorce, he was not fo totally engaged in it, but he attended to other things; and about this time publithed his letter of Education to Mr. Samuel Hartlib, who wrote fome things about husbandry, and was a man of confiderable learning, asappears from the letters which passed between him and the famous Mr. Mede, and from Sir William Petty's and Pell the mathematician's writing to him, the former his treatise for the Advancement of fome particular parts of learning, and the latter his Idea of the Mathematics, as well as from this letter of our author. This letter of our author has usually been printed at the end of his poems, and is as I may lay the theory of his own practice; and by the rules which he has laid down for education we see in fome measure the method that he pursued in educating his own pupils. And in 1644 he published his Areopagitica or Speech for the liberty of unlicenced printing to the Parlament of England. It was written at the desire of several learned men, and is perhaps the best vindication, that has been publifhed at any time or in any language, of that liberty which is the bafis and support of all other liberties, the liberty of the press: but alas it had not the desired effect; for the Presbytes rians were as fond of exercising the licensing power, when they got it into their own hands, as they had been clamorous before in inveighing against it

, while it was in the hands of the Prelates. And Mr. Toland is mistaken in saying,

" that such was “ the effect of this piece, that the following year « Mabal a licencer offered reasons against licencing; " and at his own request was discharged that office. VOL.I.

D

For

For neither was the licencer's name Mabol, but Gilbert Mabbot; neither was he discharged from his office till May 1649, about five years afterwards, tho’ probably he might be fwayed by Milton's arguments, as every ingenuous person must, who peruses and considers them. And in 1645 was published a collection of his poems, Latin and English, the principal of which are On the morning of Christ's nativity, L'Allegro, Il Penferoso, Lycidas, the Mask &c &c: and if he had left no other monuments of his poetical genius behind him, these would have been fufficient to have rendered his name immortal

... 703 But without doubt his Doctrin of Divorce and the maintenance of it principally engaged his thoughts at this period; and whether others were convinced or not by his arguments, he was certainly convinced himself that he was in the right; and as a proof of it he determined to marry again, and made his addresses to a young lady of great wit and beauty, one of the daughters of Dr. Davis. But intelligence of this coming to his wife, and the then declining state of the King's cause, and consequently of the circumstances of Justice Powell's family, caused them to set all engins on work to restore the wife again to her husband. And his friends too for different reafons seem to have been as desirous of bringing about a reconciliation as her's, and this method of effecting it was concerted between them. He had a relation, one Blackborough, living in the lane of St. Martin's Le Grand, whom he often visited ; and one day i when he was visiting there, it was contrived that the wife should be ready in another room; and as he was thinking of nothing less, he was furprised to

fee

1

[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]

fee her, whom he had expected never to have seen any more, falling down upon her knees at his feet, and imploring his forgiveness with tears. At first he fhowed some signs of aversion, but he continued not long inexorable; his wife's intreaties, and the interceflion of friends on both sides foon wrought upon his generous nature, and procured a happy reconciliation with an act of oblivion of all that was past. But he did not take his wife home immediately; it Was agreed that she should remain at a friend's till the house, that he had, newly taken, was fitted for their reception; for some other gentlemen of his acquaintance, having observed the great success of his method of education, had recommended their sons to his care; and his house in Aldersgate-street not being large enough, he had taken a larger in Barbican: and till this could be got ready, the place pitched upon for his wife's abode was the widow

Webber's house in St. Clement's Churchyard, whose : , fecond daughter had been married to the other bro

ther many years before. : The part, that Milton acted in this whole affair, showed plainly that he had a fpirit capable of the strongest resentment, but yet more inclinable to pity and forgiveness: and neither

in this was any injury done to the other lady, whom : she was courting, for the is said to have been always

averse from the motion, not daring I suppose to vennture in marriage with a man who was known to have : a wife ftill living. He might not think himself too at

liberty as before, while his wife continued obstinate; for his most plausible argument for divorce proceeds upon a supposition, that the thing be done with mu. tual consent.

After

[ocr errors]

D 2

« EdellinenJatka »