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discipline there can be nothing hostile to whether Milton's ideal of Church Governcivil freedom. It requires no civil sanc- ment and discipline could under any cirtion ; and, in its essence, it cannot, in cumstances be realized. He expressly the nature of things, be affected by ma- excludes all “courts of plea and indictterial force. The penalty is exclusion ment,” all "bill and process,” in one from Christ's Church; the instrument word' the whole apparatus of judicial enby which the penalty is enforced is essen- quiry which appears to be indispensable tially the sentiment of the Church ; and in order to the ascertainment of guilt or so long as this sentiment is expressed, innocence. It seems likely, nevertheless, if not by word of mouth, then by glance that his views upon this subject had an of eye, or even by feeling in the secret important practical resemblance to those places of the heart, the excommuni- of Cromwell and Vane. These men had cated one is not restored. The Roman an invincible jealousy of Church Courts. Catholic Church claims temporal power to Milton no sooner had experience of the inback up her spiritual sentences. Of this terpretation of his Presbyterian ideal into she has been deprived. But Bismarck's Presbyterian actuality, than he growled million bayonets cannot protect Dr. Döl- out his disappointment, and declared that linger against the spiritual discipline of new Presbyter was old priest writ large. the Church in which he was ordained. Candour will admit, however, that this He has his own conscience ; he has his memorable change of opinion may have appeal to Christ's law in the Bible ; he been connected with certain interesting has his appeal to Christ in the court of circumstances in Milton's domestic life, heaven ; and these may well be enough at which it is now time for us to look. to turn Rome's anathemas into air : but Early in the summer of 1643, he took a the arrow of spiritual discipline can journey into the country, without informglance aside only from spiritual armour. ing his friends in London that he had Ånd marvellously incapable as we, in anything more than recreation in view. these days, have become of sympathizing He returned after a month's absence, with any manifestation of firm will and bringing with him a wife. She was a purifying, vitality in religious brother- girl of seventeen, Mary, eldest daughter hoods,- far as we have travelled, in our of Richard Powell of Forest-hill in Oxmutinous confusions, from the concep- fordshire. Her family were Royalists, tion of such discipline as bound together and she had been accustomed to dance an order of knights when chivalry was with Royalist officers from the King's in its prime, or a Puritan Church when quarters in Oxford. She soon found her Puritanism was in its first love,- we London life intolerably irksome, and obmust surely, when Christian discipline tained her husband's permission to visit is thus apprehended, perceive that the her parents. She refused to return, and Church which can voluntarily surrender her relatives countenanced her in her reit, is fallen indeed. Even a Club would fusal. Within a few months, Milton had feel itself degraded if it confessed incom- published the first of four treatises, adpetence to administer its affairs and fix dressed to the Parliament of England, in its list of membership.
which he proposed a fundamental modiWhether the Presbyterians, whom fication in the laws regulating marriage. Milton ardently backed against the Pre- His views appeared to the divines of the latists both in his Books on Reformation Westminster Assembly so objectionable and in his Reasons of Church Govern- that, in the event of Presbyterian church ment, accepted without qualification his discipline having been fully established account of their discipline may be ques- in England, he would certainly have been tioned. He declares, indeed, that he has called to account. As it belongs to the no fear “lest any crookedness, any sensitive poetical nature to be powerfully wrinkle or spot, should be found in influenced by all personal circumstances, Presbyterian government;” but he is there is no offence to charity in the nocareful to explain that “all God's people ”tion that Milton's experience of sharp possess, on the authority of St. Peter, opposition from the Presbyterians to his is the title of clergy,” and are to be asso- opinions on divorce may have assisted to ciated with the pastor in the administra- congeal into keen repugnance his early tion of censure, propositions which would, sympathy with Presbyterianism. I think, have received only a suspicious In his first book on divorce, Milton and guarded acceptance, if even that, makes no direct allusion to his own case, from the Presbyterians of the period. but, recollecting what he was at Horton, It may, in point of fact, be doubted 'we can find between the lines one or two
hints as to his courtship, and can discern | ready and reviving associate.” Of all the cause of its being, in essential points, except the high intellectual and moral a failure. Ought not the disposition of ends of marriage he is loftily disdainful the woman, asks a supposed maintainer He assigns to married love all those of the inflexible sacredness of the mar- spiritual joys which seem, as such, to riage bond, to have been ascertained be- pertain rather to friendship; and the fore wedlock ? “For all the wariness man who cannot love his wife as the sis. that may be used,” replies Milton, “it ter of his spirit, is permitted, nay, is
a discreet man to be mistaken bound, to give her a bill of divorcemecs in his choice.” And if he has been a and send her away. Otherwise his curevirtuous, austere youth, who never went less condition “must needs be to him, if abroad at night except to hear the night- especially his complexion incline him to ingales or unsphere the spirit of Plato ? melancholy, a daily trouble and pain of So much the worse for him. “ The so- loss, in some degree like that which repberest and best governed men are least robates feel.” Lest, therefore, “so noble practised in these affairs. . . . It is not a creature as man should find in marstrange though many, who have spent riage that the woman instead of alleviating, their youth chastely, are in some things helps rather “to increase that same Godnot so quicksighted, while they haste too forbidden loneliness, which will in time eagerly to light the nuptial torch.” The draw on with it a general discomfort and free and easy fellows, “by reason of dejection of mind," the way of divorce is their bold accustoming, prove most suc-open to him. cessful in their matches, because their A Dorothea Brook and a John Miltoa wild affections, unsettling at will, have might on these terms have realized an been as so many divorces to teach them ideally perfect marriage union. But, in experience.” Hard rather, upon the im- ordinary circumstances, it can be neither maculate youth! but in fact nature has safe nor fair that the power should be all an inveterate underhand kindness for her on the side of the man, and submission scamps, and this Shakespeare and Goe- be the sole duty of the woman. Milton the knew, if John Calvin and John Mil- declares with stern brevity that woman is ton didn't. One can see how Mary Pow- created for man, not man for woman; ell comported herself when Milton was and for the woman, even to the length of paying his addresses. “ The bashful divorce, the will of the husband is lay. muteness of a virgin may oft-times hide The Church, “the corrupt and venal all the unliveliness and natural sloth discipline of clergy courts," as he now which is really unfit for conversation." phrases it, — has nothing to do with the The poor girl was probably dazzled into matter. Nor does it fall under the civil silence by his talk, and thought that jurisdiction. It was “so clear in nature when he was married, he would come and reason, that it was left to a man's down from his elevation and be like other own arbitrament to be determined bemen. If she hoped that he would come tween God and his own conscience.” It down, he hoped that she would wake up. might not be always pleasant to be the “Where any indisposition is suspected, wife even of " so noble a creature as what more usual than the persuasion of man” on these conditions. friends, that acquaintance, as it increas- When Milton's wife left him in 1643 es, will amend all ?" Both were disap- the affairs of the King may have seemed pointed, but it was the man of thirty-five, to her family in so promising a posture not the girl of seventeen, who was to that it was safer for her and for them to blame.*
suspend all visible connection with the Milton's doctrine of marriage is sim- zealous Puritan. But in 1645 Charles ple. . The union is primarily a convers- was overthrown, and association with ing of soul with soul. Incompatibility, Milton might be useful to a Royalist therefore, is a valid ground of divorce. family. He was the man, besides, to Marriage was instituted to relieve man's carry out his principles, whether they spirit pining in "unkindly solitariness," occasioned scandal or not. He had reby "an intimate and speaking help, a solved form a connection with
lady, which, as he had obtained no legal After the M$. of my article had been put into the divorce from his wife, could have been printer's hands, I received the third volume of Profes- marriage only in the judgment of his own sor Masson's “Life of Milton.' The minute investiga: conscience and reason. tion conducted by the author into the particulars of
By a virtuous Milton's first marriage, strongly confirms me in the stratagem Mrs. Milton obtained access to opinion that the fault was Milton's.
his presence, and, falling at his feet, im
pred him to forgive her. He not only his weakest point was here. Charlotte ok her back, but opened his house to Brontë says that he tried to see the first :r family, who came to London when woman but saw her not. Once more, he xford surrendered to the Parliament. never supremely loved, and it is perhaps is logic gave way at once to the only through love that a man attains the ersonal appeal, for he was at heart power of performing with fine rightness nerous. But they were an unhappy any duty to woman, whether as lover, >uple.
husband, father, or poet. His three daughters, Anne, Deborah, Milton wrote a glowing tract on educaid Mary were the children of his first tion, devoted himself with assiduity to ife. He was twice married after her the education of his nephews, and for eath in 1653, but had no more children. several years took pupils. But he was o early as 1644 his sight began to fail, too original, too contemptuous of comad when his little girls were left moth- monplace methods and needs, to be in less, they could be known to him, as the common sense a successful schoolrofessor Masson* touchingly says, “only master. He would have been in place at 5 tiny voices of complaint going about the Court of some eastern king, training i the darkness.” The tiny voices did princes for the purple ; or in some Plaot move him to love or pity: His impa- tonic Republic, preparing the children of ent and imperious nature had doubtless the State for war and government. His ndergone exquisite misery from the tract on education reads like the ordijoaning discontent of his wife ; the nances of an ideal University, chaunted aughters took the mother's part so soon in rhythmic prose. But even in the s they were able to understand her sor- Puritan age, dwellers in Cheapside could ows; and the grave Puritan displeasure discern no particular advantage for their vith which Milton regards the mother children in being made Miltonic. eems to have been transferred to the From the cheerless discomfort of his hildren. His austerity as a Puritan and domestic circle we turn with a sense of
pedagogue, and the worse than old He- relief to those aspects of his life in which rew meanness of his estimate of women, he is seen in connection with the historical ppear to the greatest disadvantage in movement of his time. “How his brow connection with his daughters. Had lightened as the music rose !” When hey been sons, he would have thrown all more timid men shrank back alarmed, ais ardour into the enterprise of their and the revolution passed on to the ceneducation. The training of boys was tral paroxysms of its wrath and triumph, one of his enthusiasms; but his daugh- his spirit rose in sympathy with the pasters were taught nothing except to read, sion of the time." He saith among the ind were ordered to read aloud to him in trumpets, Ha, ha!” His intellectual languages of which they did not under- habit being no slow process of ratiocistand a word. Naturally they never nation, no laborious weighing of probaloved him ; his fame, which they were bility against probability, but a fiery innot able to appreciate, cast on them no tuitive leaping from conviction to conray of comforting light; and they thought viction, he had no sympathy, no paprobably in sad and scared bewildermenttience, with the doubts of weaker men. of the relations between their unhappy Against Charles his passion of indignawraith-like mother, and their Titan father. tion rose to the transcendent pitch. How different the warm and tender rela- The volcanic fervour and directness of tions between Shakespeare and his chil- Milton found unutterable offence in the dren! In that instance it was the daugh- shuffling, guileful Stuart. In his exultater, the pet Judith, that was the demure tion over the fallen king, however, and sweet Puritan, yet with a touch of her fa- in the harshness of his references to ther's wit in her, and able to enjoy all the others with whom he once had sympadepth of his smile when he would ask her thized, the hard, unmelodious fibre in his whether cakes and ale were to be quite nature comes into view. We recall, not abolished when the reign of the saints to the advantage of Milton, the touch of came in. Milton frowned on his daugh- heart-searching pathos which Shaketers as undutiful, but they would hardly speare, though his man of men was the have been undutiful if he had been kind. “all-honoured Roman Brutus, could His relations with women were compre- throw into a word about the death of hensively infelicitous. Even as a poet kings.
The political cynic, nay, the candid ob* In the Encyclopædia Britannica. server though no cynic, fails not to per
ceive, in reading Milton's prose, that his fast in the mire. Then Cromwell faith and his hope constantly light up stepped forward, made of his right arm a his canvas with ideal colours, and that sceptre for the people, and with one gi. it is an impossible perfection lie depicts. ant push set the machine in motion. The England which rises to the eye of Here, quoth the Puritan poet, is the Puhis imagination is a vision. “Methinks ritan king; God Almighty signs his title. I see in my mind a noble and puissant And so, for once, the historic sketcher nation rousing herself like a strong man can signalize a group which Shakespeare after sleep, and shaking her invincible himself could not have out-done in dralocks: methinks I see her as an eagle matic effectiveness. John Milton, Latin mewing her mighty youth, and kindling Secretary to Oliver Cromwell! It could her undazzled eyes at the full midday not be known to Cromwell that the blind beam; purging and unscaling her long scholar who wrote to his dictation was abused sight at the fountain itself of the most remarkable man of his time : heavenly radiance; while the whole but one likes to think that there was noise of timorous and flocking birds, something of personal intercourse and with those that love the twilight, flutter the fellowship of friend with friend beabout, amazed at what she means. tween the two. Milton subsequently There is not and has not been any such ; commended a Commonwealth as conEngland. What then? Has not many i trasted with a Monarchy, on the ground an eye, following Milton's as he looked that whereas “a king must be adored upon his transfigured country, sparkled like a demigod," the greatest in a free with kindred enthusiasm ? Is not the Commonwealth “ walk the streets as glow of poetic inspiration, as it warms other men, may be spoken to freely, fathe heart and sends a thrill of new en- miliarly, friendly." This is not given, ergy along the brain, more vitalizing but may it not be taken, as a hint of the than the chill formula of the political kind of converse which sometimes ocphilosopher ? Milton's prose writings curred between Cromwell and Milton ? are studded with words and phrases of It is, however, instructive in a painintense nobleness, that beacon the gloom fully eminent degree, to observe that of sordid ages, and send rays of star- Milton, like Vane, failed to see that Pulike illumination into the dusk of com- ritanism could not stand without Oliver, promise, conventionality, hypocrisy: Arguing earnestly in a pamphlet-letter, They are a sovereign antidote to moral addressed to Monk, for the perpetuation cowardice, to all base, poor, cringing, of the Commonwealth, he speaks of libfrost-bitten moods of mind. They suit erty and religion, "fought for, gained, the elevated moments of humanity. and many years possessed, except in thase
When even Harry Vane refused to unhappy interruptions, which God hath sanction Cromwell, Milton did not flinch. removed." The words put by me into In his first prose work he had said, that italics appear to allude to the predomi"to govern a nation piously and justly, nance of the Cromwells, father and son. which only is to say happily, is for a So hard is it, even for the greatest and spirit of the greatest size and divinest most favourably disposed, to realize the mettle.” Through the “cloud," as he value of a man. The indispensable one says in one of his proudest sonnets, “not is so like, in outward guise and lineaof war only but detractions rude," he had ments, to the dispensable million. A watched Cromwell “ ploughing his way," poor system will make a good figure if and when the victor of Worcester hung you have a man in it; but the most faultup his armour, he was ready to hail him less of theoretic Republics will not as England's chief of men.” In the Sec- stand upon wooden legs. Milton was ond Befence of the People of England, more expressly a Republican than Hamppublished when Cromwell was Protector, den, Pym, or Cromwell. Milton declares that his countrymen have At the Restoration his life was spared. given way to his unsurpassable valour He was not a force in party politics, and and virtue, and that there is nothing in Charles II., whose grand principle was to human society more pleasing to God or get rid of men who might help to send more accordant with reason, than that him again on his travels, knew that the the most worthy should be at the head of poet and apologist of Puritanism was affairs. Parliament had been talking not dangerous in the sense in which and promising; manipulating schemes Vane and Argyle were dangerous. If a and constitutions : but month after whole skin, and a sufficiency of food and month had gone by and the wain stuck'raiment had been enough to make Milton
happy, the characteristically narrow and and plumes of a bird, * floating in the mean reflections of Johnson on his com- sky and flooding the vault of heaven with plaint that he had “ fallen on evil times "
grave, sweet melody. and “evil tongues,” would have had Such is Paradise Lost. The rhythm some sense in them. Otherwise they of it is the inspiration of the Puritan time have none. It was an evil time for John in its purest form. This sound was then Milton when he, who had spoken to in the ears and hearts of men. As the Principalities and Powers in England's Homeric rhythm, the clangour and marand in Cromwell's name, saw his coun- tial tumult of the Iliad, give us a more try self-degraded in the eyes of Europe ; inward and real acquaintance with the and those were evil tongues that reviled spirit of that young civilization than any “the great Achilles," whom he knew. possible accumulation of detail, so the But in one sense the new time was pro- cathedral music” of Paradise Lost, its pitious to Milton. Sequestered from moral elevation, its lack of softer tones public life, he could recall the ambition and delicate and dewy touches, enable of his youth, and recollect that the arena us, better than any bulletins from the of political controversy was not his cho- field or any records of debate, to undersen sphere. He resumed his lyre, and stand the great Puritan enthusiasm. It commenced, at fifty, the great business was not in its meaner and more repulsive of his life. It is one of the wonders of attributes, it was in its intense and lofty history that such a purpose as his, delib- enthusiasm, that the strength of Puritanerately suspended for twenty years, ism lay; and Paradise Lost is therefore should have been executed.
the best historical monument of the RevWe saw how, from the bright serenity olution. and sweet, calm cadence of his early po- Richardson did an excellent piece of ems, Milton, at the call of duty, passed in- service when he hunted up the informato the agitated atmosphere of his prose tion that Milton “would sometimes,” writings. We now see him returning to while engaged on Paradise Lost, “lie a still intellectual region, and subjecting awake whole nights, but not a verse could those energies which, in his prose, had he make, and on a sudden his poetical revealed
wild, almost savage faculty would rush upon him with an imstrength, to the finer, severer discipline petus or æstrum.” Johnson's sneer at of poetic melody. One figures him
as a this, as if Richardson were a foolish wonHomeric warrior, who in the cool of der-seeker, may be taken to fix the lowdawn, mounted his chariot and practised water mark of our literature, the uthis horses in proud, measured pacings by most reach of ebb from its glorious springthe river bank; who heard suddenly the tide in the days of Shakespeare. That cry of combat, turned his coursers' heads inspiration that divine madness to the fray, and, through long hours of which true critics, poets, and artists, conflict, urged them on the enemy; and from Plato to Lionardo da Vinci, have who, last of all, when the struggle was known or felt to be the condition of right over, and shadows lengthened in the production in art, had become for Johnwestering sun, reined them up in meas- son the mere alacrity of the literary craftsured pacing as of the morning, only that man when his hand is in. Lionardo, now, in the grandeur of their tread, there often,” according to Mr. Pater, “coming was the memory of battle. Realize it by the whole length of Milan to give a sinwhat imagery we may, there is a differ-gle touch” to his picture of the Supper, ence, there is also an affinity, between scornfully refusing to take up his brush, Milton's prose and his poetry, which, if “except at the moment of invention,” we would understand him, we must ap- worked on the same principles with the prehend. Had he left us only his poetry, author of Paradise Lost. A poetic seer we should have had little surmise of the of the antique type, Milton knew that the tremendous strength that lay in him. We elaborate and dearly prized culture of his can now see that, both in the poetry and life could but furbish the instruments, or the prose, we have Milton, another, yet furnish the materials, of poetic production, the same. In the prose the torrent foams, and that it would be an offence to the leaps, rages, tosses rocks about; in the poetry the torrent sings a song. In the # "We will take the bird first. It is little more than prose, the tempest hurtles through the drift of the air brought into form by plumes; the air air, driving the clouds before it like the and flesh, and glows with air in its tlying, like a biown routed autumn leaves; in the poetry the flame: it rests upon the air, subdues it, surpasses it, great wind is imprisoned in the breast itself, ruling itself.” – Ruskin's Queen of the Air.
LIVING AGE. VOL. III. 146