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It was the sight of his left eye that he lost first: and at the desire of his friend Leonard Philaras the Duke of Parma's minister at Paris he sent him a particular account of his case, and of the manner of his growing blind, for him to consult Thevenot the physician, who was reckoned famous in cases of the eyes.
The letter is the fifteenth of his familiar epistles, and is dated Septemb. 28. 1654: but it does not appear what answer he received; we may presume, none that administered any relief. His blindness however did not disable him entirely from performing the business of his office. An assistant was allowed him, and his falary as secretary still continued to him.
And there was farther occasion for his service befides dictating of letters. For the controversy with Salmafius did not die with him, and there was published at the Hague in 1652 a book intitled the Cry of the King's blood &c, Řegii fanguinis Clamor ad cælum adversus Parricidas Anglicanos. The true author of this book was Peter du Moulin the younger, who was afterwards prebendary of Canterbury: and he transmitted his papers to Salmasius ; and Salmafius intrusted them to the care of Alexander Morus, a French minister; and Morus published them with a dedication to King Charles II
. in the name of Adrian Ulac the printer, from whence he came to be reputed the author of the whole. This Morus was the son of a learned Scotsman, who was president of the college, which the protestants had formerly at Castres in Languedoc ; and he is said to have been a man of a most haughty disposition, and immoderately addicted to women, hasty, ambitious,
full of himself and his own performances, and fatirical upon all others. He was however esteemed one of the most eminent preachers of that age among the protestants ; but as Monsieur Bayle obferves, his chief talent must have consisted in the gracefulness of his delivery, or in those fallies of imagination and quaint turns and allusions, whereof his sermons are full; for they retain not those charms in reading, which they were said to have formerly in the pulpit
. Against this man therefore, as the reputed author of Regii fanguinis Clamor &c, Milton published by authority his Second Defense of the people of England, Defensio Secunda pro populo Anglicano, in 1654, and treats Morus with such feverity as nothing could have excused, if he had not been provoked to it by so much abuse poured upon himself. There is one piece of his wit, which had been published before in the news-papers at London, a distich
upon Morus for getting Pontia the maidfervant of his friend Salmafius with child.
70 Galli ex concubitu gravidam te, Pontia, Mori
Quis bene moratam morigeramque neget?
Upon this Morus published his Fides Publica in answer to Milton, in which he inserted several testimonies of his orthodoxy and morals signed by the i consistories, academies, fynods, and magiftrates of
the places where he had lived ; and disowned his being the author of the book imputed to him, and appealed to two gentlemen of great credit with the Parlament
who knew the real author. This brought Du Moulin, who was then in England,
into great danger ; but the government fuffered him to escape with impunity, rather than they would publicly contradict the great patron of their cause, For he still persisted in his accusation, and endevored to make it good in his Defense of himself, Autoris pro
se Defenfio, which was published in 1655, wherein he opposed to the testimonies in favor of Morus other testimonies against him; and Morus replied no more.
After this controversy was ended, he was at leisure again to pursue his own private studies, which were the History of England before mentioned, and a new Thefaurus of the Latin tongue, intended as an improvement upon
that by Robert Stephens; a work, which he had been long collecting from the best and purest Latin authors, and continued at times almost to his dying day: but his papers were left fo confused and imperfect, that they could not be fitted for the press, tho' great use was made of them by the compilers of the Cambridge Dictionary printed in 1693.These papers are said to have consisted of three large volumes in folio; and it is a great pity that they are loft, and no account is given what is become of the manuscript. It is commonly said too that at this time he began his famous poem of Paradise Lost;. and it is certain, that he was glad to be releafed from those controversies, which detained him so long from following things more agreeable to his natural genius and inclination, tho' he was far from ever repenting of his writings in defense of liberty, but gloried in them to the last.
The only interruption now of his private studies was the business of his office. In 1655 there was
published in Latin a writing in the name of the Lord Protector, setting forth the reasons of the war with Spain: and this piece is rightly adjudged to our author, both on account of the peculiar elegance of the stile, and because it was his province to write such things as Latin Secretary; and it is printed among his other prose-works in the last edition. And for the same reasons I am inclined to think, that the famous Latin verses to Christina Queen of Sweden in the name of Cromwell were made by our author rather than Andrew Marvel. In those days they had admirable intelligence in the Secretary's office; and Mr. Philips relates a memorable instance or two upon his own knowledge. The Dutch were sending a plenipotentiary to England to treat of peace; but the emiffaries of the government had the art to procure a copy of his instructions in Holland, which were delivered by Milton to his kinsman who was then with him, to translate them for the use of the Council, before the faid plenipotentiary had taken shipping for England; and an answer to all that he had in charge was prepared, and lay ready for him before he made his public entry into London. Another time a person came to London with a very sumptuous train, pretending himself an agent from the Prince of Conde, who was then in arms against Cardinal Mazarine: but the government suspecting him set their instruments to work so successfully, that in a few days they received intelligence from Paris, that he was a spy employed by Charles II: whereupon the very next morning Milton's kinsman was sent to him with an order of Council, commanding him to depart the kingdom within three VOL, I,
af the treaty into Latin. Upon which the embaf
days, or expect the punishment of a spy. This kinsman was in all probability. Mr. Philips or his brother, who were Milton's nephews, and lived very much with him, and one or both of them were assistant to him in his office, His blindness no doubt was a great hindrance and inconvenience to him in his buliness, tho' fometimes a political use might be made of it; as men's natural infirmities are often pleaded in excuse for not doing what they have no great inclination to do. Thus when Cromwell, as we may collect from Whitlock, for some reasons delayed artfully to sign the treaty concluded with Sweden, and the Swedish embassador made frequent complaints of it, it was excused to him, because Mr. Milton on account of his blindness proceeded flower in business, and had not yet put the articles
fador. was greatly furprised, that things of such confequence Tould be intrusted to a blind man, for he muft neceffarily employ an amanuensis, and that amanuenfis might divulge the articles; and said it was very wonderful, that there should be only one man in England who could write Latin, and he a blind one. But his blindness had not diminished, but rather increased the vigor of his mind : and his State-letters will remain as authentic memorials of those times, to be admired equally by critics and poo liticians; and those particularly about the sufferings of the poor protestants in Piedmont, who can read without sensible emotion? This was a subject that he had very much at heart, as he was an utter enemy to all sorts of persecution; and among his sonnets there is a moft excellent one upon the same occafion. woda