« AnkstesnisTęsti »
unchangeable caufe in nature, hindering and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugal fociety, which are folace and peace, are greater reafons of divorce than adultery or natural frigidity, efpecially if there be no children, and there be mutual consent for feparation. He published it at firft without his name, but the ftile eafily betrayed the author; and afterwards a fecond edition, much augmented, with his name; and he dedicated it to the Parlament of England with the Affembly of Divines, that as they were then confulting about the general reformation of the kingdom, they might also take this particular cafe of domeftic liberty into their confideration. 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 publifhed in 1644 the Judgment of Martin Bucer &c: And as it was ftill objected, that his doctrin could not be reconciled to Scripture, he published in 1645 his Tetrachordon or Expofitions upon the four chief places in Scripture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in marriage. At the first appearing of the Doctrin and Difciplin of Divorce the clergy raised a heavy outcry against it, and daily folicited the Parlament to pafs fome cenfure upon it; and at laft one of them, in a fermon preached before the Lords and Commons on a day of humiliation in August 1644, roundly told them, that there was a book abroad which deferved 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 fpecial notice of them; and notwithstanding his former services in writing against the Bishops, caufed him to be fummoned before the Houfe of Lords: but that House, whether approving his doctrin, or not favoring his accufers, foon difmiffed him. He was attacked too from the prefs as well as from the pulpit, in a pamphlet intitled Divorce at pleasure, and in another intitled an Anfwer to the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, which was licenced and recommended by Mr. Jofeph Caryl, a famous Presbyterian Divine, and author of a voluminous commentary on the book of Job: and Milton in his Colafterion or Reply published in 1645 expoftulates smartly with the licencer, as well as handles very roughly the nameless author. And these provocations, I fuppofe, contributed not a little to make him fuch an enemy to the Presbyterians, to whom he had before diftinguished himself a friend. He composed likewife two of his fonnets 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 confideration with the Lords upon the account of John Lord Ros or Roos his feparation from his wife Anne Pierpoint eldeft daughter to Henry Marquis of Dorchefter, he was confulted by an eminent member of that House, and about the fame time by a chief officer of state, as being the prime person who was knowing in that affair.
But while he was engaged in this controverfy of divorce, he was not fo totally engaged in it, but he attended to other things; and about this time published his letter of Education to Mr. Samuel Hartlib, who wrote fome things about husbandry, and was a man of confiderable learning, as appears from the letters which paffed between him and the famous Mr. Mede, and from Sir William Petty's and Pell the mathemati cian's writing to him, the former his treatife 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 fay the theory of his own practice; and by the rules which he has laid down for education we fee 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 defire of feveral learned men, and is perhaps the best vindication, that has been published at any time or in any lan guage, of that liberty which is the bafis and fupport of all other liberties, the liberty of the prefs: but alas it had not the defired effect; for the Prefbyte rians were as fond of exercising the licenfing 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 fuch was "the effect of this piece, that the following year. "Mabol a licencer offered reafons against licencing; " and at his own request was discharged that office. VOL. I.
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 perfon muft, who peruses and confiders them. And in 1645 was published a collection of his poems, Latin and English, the principal of which are On the morning of Chrift's nativity, L'Allegro, Il Penferofo, Lycidas, the Mafk &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.00 700
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 addreffes 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 caufe, and confequently of the circumftances of Juftice Powell's family, caufed them to fet all engins on work to reftore the wife again to her husband. And his friends too for different reafons seem to have been as defirous 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 vifited; and one day when he was vifiting there, it was contrived that the wife fhould be ready in another room; and as he was thinking of nothing lefs, he was furprised to
fee her, whom he had expected never to have feen any more, falling down upon her knees at his feet, and imploring his forgiveness with tears. At first he fhowed fome figns of averfion, but he continued not long inexorable; his wife's intreaties, and the interceflion of friends on both fides foon wrought upon his generous nature, and procured a happy reconciliation with an act of oblivion of all that was paft. 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 fome other gentlemen of his acquaintance, having obferved the great fuccefs of his method of education, had recommended their fons to his care; and his houfe in Alderfgate-ftreet 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 brother many years before. The part, that Milton acted in this whole affair, showed plainly that he had a fpirit capable of the strongest refentment, but yet more inclinable to pity and forgiveness: and neither in this was any injury done to the other lady, whom he was courting, for fhe is faid to have been always averfe from the motion, not daring I fuppofe to vencture 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 obftinate; for his most plaufible argument for divorce proceeds upon a fuppofition, that the thing be done with mutual confent.