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title to be justly called the author of the Regii Sanguinis Clamor. In this there is no want of vehemence or eloquence, nor does he forget his wonted wit. "Mo rus es? an Momus? an uterque idem est ?" He then remembers that morus is Latin for a mulberry-tree, and hints at the known transformation;
-Poma alba ferebat
Quæ post nigra tulit Morus.
With this piece ended his controversies; and he from this time gave himself up to his private studies and his civil employment.
As secretary to the Protector, he is supposed to have written the Declaration of the reasons for a war with Spain. His agency was considered as of great importance; for, when a treaty with Sweden was artfully suspended, the delay was publicly imputed to Mr. Milton's indisposition: and the Swedish agent was provoked to express his wonder, that only one man in England could write Latin, and that man blind.
Being now forty-seven years old, and seeing himself disencumbered from external interruptions, he seems to have recollected his former purposes, and to have resumed three great works which he had planned for his future employment; an epic poem, the history of his country, and a dictionary of the Latin tongue,
To collect a dictionary, seems a work of all others least practicable in a state of blindness, because it depends upon perpetual and minute inspection and collation. Nor would Milton probably have begun it after he had lost his eyes; but, having had it alway before him, he continued it, says Philips, "almost to his dying day; but the papers were so discomposed and deficient, that they could not be fitted for the press." The compilers of the Latin dictionary, printed at Cambridge, had the use of those collections in three folios; but what was their fate afterwards is not known 9.
To compile a history from various authors, when they can only be consulted by other eyes, is not easy nor possible, but with more skilful and attentive help than can be commonly obtained; and it was probably the difficulty of consulting and comparing that stopped Milton's narrative at the Conquest; a period at which affairs were not yet very intricate, nor authors very numerous.
For the subject of his epic poem, after much deliberation, long chusing, and be ginning late, he fixed upon Paradise Lost: a design so comprehensive, that it could be justified only by success. He had once designed to celebrate King Arthur, as he hints in his verses to Mansus; but Arthur was reserved, says Fenton, to another destiny 10.
It appears, by some sketches of poetical projects left in manusript, and to ba seen in a library at Cambridge, that he had digested his thoughts on this subject into one of those wild dramas which were anciently called Mysteries; and Philips had
9 The Cambridge Dictionary, published in 4to, 1693, is no other than a copy, with some small ad ditions, of that of Dr. Adam Littleton in 1685, by sundry persons, of whom, though their names are con cealed, there is great reason to conjecture that Milton's nephew, Edward Philips, is one; for it is expressly said by Wood, Fasti, vol. I. p. 266, that "Milton's Thesaurus" came to his hands; and it is asserted, in the preface thereto, that the editors thereof had the use of three large folios in manuscript, collected and digested into alphabetical order by Mr. John Milton.
It has been remarked, that the additions, together with the preface above mentioned, and a large part of the title of the Cambridge Dictionary, have been incorporated and printed with the subsequent editions of Littleton's Dictionary, till that of 1755. Vid. Biog. Brit. 2985, in not. So that, for aught that appears to the contrary, Philips was the last possessor of Milton's MS. H.
10 Id est, to be the subject of an heroic poem written by sir Richard Blackmore. II. 1 Trinity College. R.
seen what he terms part of a tragedy, beginning with the first ten lines of Satan's address to the Sun. These mysteries consist of allegorical persons; such as Justice, Mercy, Faith. Of the tragedy or mystery of Paradise Lost there are two plans:
Moses apoyi, recounting how he assumed his true body; that it cor rupts not, because it is with God in the mount; declares the like with Enoch and Elijah; besides the purity of the place, that certain pure winds, dews, and clouds, preserve it from corruption; whence exhorts to the sight of God; tells they cannot see Adam in the state of innocence by reason of their
debating what should become of man, should he fall.
Chorus of Angels singing a hymn of the Creation.
Chorus sing the marriage-song, and describe Paradise.
Lucifer contriving Adam's ruin.
Chorus fears for Adam, and relates Lucifer's rebellion and fall.
Conscience cites them to God's examination.
Chorus bewails, and tells the good Adam has lost.
Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise. presented by an angel with
Labour, Grief, Hatred, Envy, War, Famine, Pestilence, Sickness, Mutes.
To whom he gives their names. Likewise, Winter, Heat, Tempest, &c.
Chorus briefly concludes.
comfort him and instruct him.
Such was his first design, which could have produced only au allegory, or mystery. The following sketch seems to have attained more maturity.
The angel Gabriel, either descending or entering; showing, since this globe was created, his frequency as much on Earth as in Heaven; describes Paradise. Next, the Chorus, showing the reason of his coming to keep his watch in Paradise, after Lucifer's rebellion, by command from God; and withal expressing his desire to see and know more concerning this excellent new creature, man. The angel Gabriel, as by his name signifying a prince of power, tracing Paradise with a more free office, passes by the station of the Chorus, and, desired by them, relates what he knew of man; as the creation of Eve, with their love and marriage. After this, Lucifer appears; after his overthrow, bemoans himself, sceks revenge on man. The Chorus prepare resistance on his first approach. At last, after discourse of enmity on either side he departs: whereat the Chorus sings of the battle and victory in Heaven, against him and his accomplices: as before, after the first act, was sung a hymn of the creation. Here again may appear Lucifer, relating and exulting in what he had done to the destruction of man. Man next, and Eve, having by this time been seduced by the Serpent, appears confusedly covered with leaves. Conscience in a shape accuses him; Justice cites him to a place whither Jehovah called for him. In the mean while, the Chorus entertains the stage, and is informed by some angel the manner of the fall. Here the Chorus bewails Adam's fall; Adam then and Eve return; accuse one another; but especially Adam lays the blame to his wife; is stubborn in his offence. Justice appears, reasons with him, convinces him. The Chorus admonisheth Adam, and bids him beware Lucifer's example of impenitence. The angel is sent to banish them out of Paradise; but before, causes to pass before his eyes, in shapes, a mask of all the evils of this life and world. He is humbled, relents, despairs; at last appears Mercy, comforts him, promises the Messiah;
then calls in Faith, Hope, and Charity; instructs him, he repents, gives God the glory, submits to his penalty. The Chorus briefly concludes. Compare this with the former draught.
These are very imperfect rudiments of Paradise Lost; but it is pleasant to see great works in their seminal state, pregnant with latent possibilities of excellence; nor could there be any more delightful entertainment than to trace their gradual growth and expansion, and to observe how they are sometimes suddenly advanced by acci dental hints, and sometimes slowly improved by steady meditation.
Invention is almost the only literary labour which blindness cannot obstruct, and therefore he naturally solaced his solitude by the indulgence of his fancy, and the melody of his numbers. He had done what he knew to be necessarily previous to poetical excellence; he had made himself acquainted with seemly arts and affairs; his comprehension was extended by various knowledge, and his memory stored with intellectual treasures. He was skilful in many languages, and had by reading and composition attained the full mastery of his own. He would have wanted little help from books, had he retained the power of perusing them.
But while his greater designs were advancing, having now, like many other au thors, caught the love of publication, he amused himself, as he could, with little productions. He sent to the press (1658) a manuscript of Raleigh, called The Cabinet Council; and next year gratified his malevolence to the clergy by a Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Cases, and the means of removing Hirelings out of the Church.
Oliver was now dead; Richard now constrained to resign: the system of extemporary government, which had been held together only by force, naturally fell into fragments when that force was taken away; and Milton saw himself and his cause in equal danger. But he had still hope of doing something. He wrote letters, which Toland has published, to such men as he thought friends to the new commonwealth; and even in the year of the Restoration he bated no jot of heart or hope, but was fantastical enough to think that the nation, agitated as it was, might be settled by a pamphlet, called A ready and easy Way to establish a free Commonwealth; which was, however enough considered to be both seriously and ludicrously answered.
The obstinate enthusiasm of the commonwealthmen was very remarkable. When the king was apparently returning, Harrington, with a few associates as fanatical as himself, used to meet, with all the gravity of political importance, to settle an equal government by rotation; and Milton, kicking when he could strike no longer, was foolish enough to publish, a few weeks before the restoration, Notes upon a sermon preached by one Griffiths, cutituled, The Fear of God and the King. To these notes an answer was written by L'Estrange, in a pamphlet petulantly called, No Blind Guides.
But whatever Milton could write, or men of greater activity could do, the king was now about to be restored, with the irresistible approbation of the people. He was therefore no longer secretary, and was consequently obliged to quit the house which he held by his office; and, proportioning his sense of danger to his opinion of the importance of his writings, thought it convenient to seek some shelter, and hid himself for a time in Bartholomew-Close, by West-Smithfield.
I canno: but remark a kind of respect, perhaps unconsciously, paid to this great
man by his biographers; every house in which he resided is historically mentioned as if it were an injury to neglect naming any place that he honoured by his pre
The king, with lenity of which the world has had perhaps no other example, declined to be the judge or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs; and promised to admit into the act of oblivion all, except those whom the parliament should except; and the parliament doomed none to capital punishment but the wretches who had immediately cooperated in the murder of the king. Milton was certainly not one of them; he had only justified what they had done.
This justification was indeed sufficiently offensive; and (June 16) an order was issued to seize Milton's Defence, and Goodwin's Obstructors of Justice, another book of the same tendency, and burn them by the common hangman. The attorneygeneral was ordered to prosecute the authors; but Milton was not seized, nor perhaps very diligently pursued.
Not long after (August 19) the flutter of innumerable bosoms were stilled by an act, which the king, that his mercy might want no recommendation of elegance, rather called an Act of Oblivion than of Grace. Goodwin was named, with nineteen more, as incapacitated for any public trust; but of Milton there was no exception.
Of this tenderness shown to Milton, the curiosity of mankind has not forborn to inquire the reason. Burnet thinks he was forgotten: but this is another instance which may confirm Dalrymple's observation, who says, "that whenever Burnet's narrations are examined, he appears to be mistaken.”
Forgotten he was not; for his prosecution was ordered; it must be therefore by design that he was included in the general oblivion. He is said to have had friends in the house, such as Marvel, Morrice, and sir Thomas Clarges: and undoubtedly a man like him must have had influence. A very particular story of his escape is told by Richardson 2 in his Memoirs, which he received from Pope, as delivered by Betterton, who might have heard it from Davenant. In the war between the king and parliament Davenant was made prisoner, and condemned to die; but was spared at the request of Milton. When the turn of success brought Milton into the like danger, Davenant repaid the benefit by appearing in his favour. Here is a reciprocation of generosity and gratitude so pleasing, that the tale makes its own way to credit. But, if help were wanted, I know not where to find it. The danger of Davenant is certain from his own relation; but of his escape there is no account. Betterton's narration can be traced no higher; it is not known that he had it from Davenant. We are told that the benefit exchanged was life for life; but it seems not certain that Milton's life ever was in danger. Goodwin, who had committed the same kind of crime, escaped with incapacitation; and, as exclusion from public trust is a punishment which the power of government can commonly inflict without the help of a particular law, it required no great interest to exempt Milton from a censure little more than verbal. Something may be reasonably ascribed to veneration and compassion, to veneration of his abilities, and compassion for his distresses, which made it fit to forgive his malice for his learning. He was now poor and blind;
* It was told before by A. Wood in Ath. Oxon. Vol. II p. 412, 2d edit. Ca VOL. VII.