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tion or possession had endeared; while the other was pressed to the attack by the recollection of the past, and by the terror of future oppression.
With an ardent temper and a brilliant imagination, Milton was not formed for cool and temperate disputation. “ I could not,"
“ to my thinking, honour a good cause more from the heart than by defending it earnestly.” He talked, indeed, “ 4 of pleading against his confuter by no other advocates than silence and sufferance; and speaking deeds against faltering words;" but his bold and sanguine nature prohibited such efficient acquiescence, and hurried him into active war. When his adversary called upon all “ Christians to stone him, as a miscreant, whose impunity would be their crime," we cannot reasonably wonder at the warmth of his expressions, or at the little scruple with which he scattered his various instruments of pain. These polemical tracts of our author, though, perhaps, some of the least valuable of his works, are so illumined with knowledge and with fancy, and open to us such occasional glimpses of a great and sublime mind, that they must always be regarded as affording an ample compensation for
Apol. for Smect. P.W. vol. i. 207.
9 Ibid. vol. i. 209.
ness of manner with which they may sometimes offend.
We have now conducted our author to a period of his history when an event took place, which, by its immediate and its remote result, was destined to interrupt the even tenor of his domestic life, and to afflict his heart to the latest moment of his existence. “ About Whitsuntide,” (1643) says his nephew, “he' took a journey into the country,
, no body about him certainly knowing the reason, or that it was more than a journey of recreation. After a month's stay, home he returns a married man, who set out a bachelor, his wife being Mary, the eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, then a justice of the
peace, of Forest-Hill, near Shotover, in Oxfordshire.”
Milton's matrimonial choice, in this instance, seems to have been the result of fancy alone, and its consequences were those which might have been expected from a connexion so evidently imprudent. Strongly attached with all her family to the royalist party, and accustomed to the affluent hospitality of her father's house, “ where there was," as Aubrey mentions, '* a great deal of
a great deal of company, and
Philips, p 18.
merriment, and dancing," the wife of Milton
About this time some new pupils, whom
In the list of Miltan's friends, at this pe
riod, we find the names of the lady Margaret Ley and of captain Dobson, her husband, who seem to have entertained a high value for our author, by whom they were equally esteemed. The lady was the daughter of sir James Ley, who, rising at the bar, was advanced by James I. to the title of earl of Marlborough, and to the important office of High Treasurer. She was celebrated by her contemporaries for her talents and her learning; and from Milton she received the compliment of a sonnet, not adequate, perhaps, to the occasion, and certainly not comparable in poetic merit to that which he had written, in the preceding year, when, by the King's' near approach, the city had been threatened with an assault.
As the time, limited for the return of his wife, was now passed, he thought it necessary to write to her on the subject of her engagement. When no answer was made to this and to some subsequent letters, he determined on sending a messenger to ForestHill." But the crisis was unpropitious to his views, and to the reputation of his new allies. The prosperous fortunes of the King, whose forces had defeated those of the Parliament
The King advanced as far as Brentford, in his approach to the city, on the 13th of nov. 1642.
terian ministers were left without any consolation for the loss of an able friend, and the excitement of a formidable enemy. Milton was, now, irrevocably alienated from their cause; and, at last, he fully discovered that these pretended zealots of liberty sought only their own aggrandizement, and the
of imposing upon others that yoke which they had themselves been unable to bear. On a question less incontrovertibly right, and, perhaps, more certainly important, we shall soon have occasion to notice our consistent asserter of liberty in determined opposition to these sanctified advocates of insurrection and of tyranny.
On the subject of divorce he makes out a strong case, and fights with arguments which are not easily to be repelled. The whole context of the Holy Scriptures, the laws of the first christian emperors, the opinions of some of the most eminent among the early reformers, and a projected statute of Edward VI are adduced by him for the purpose of demonstrating that, by the laws of God and by the inferences drawn from them by the most virtuous and enlightened men,
of divorce ought not to be rigidly restricted to those causes which render the nuptial state unfruitful, or which taint it with a spuri