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It was the fight of his left eye that he loft firft: and at the defire of his friend Leonard Philaras the Duke of Parma's minifter at Paris he fent him a particular account of his cafe, and of the manner of his growing blind, for him to confult Thevenot the phyfician, who was reckoned famous in cafes 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 prefume, none that administered any relief. His blindness however did not difable him entirely from performing the business of his office. An affiftant was allowed him, and his falary as fecretary ftill continued to him.
And there was farther occafion for his fervice 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, Regii fanguinis Clamor ad cœlum adverfus Parricidas Anglicanos. The true author of this book was Peter du Moulin the younger, who was afterwards prebendary of Canterbury: and he tranfmitted his papers to Salmafius; and Salmafius intrusted them to the care of Alexander Morus, a French minifter; 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 fon of a learned Scotfman, who was prefident of the college, which the proteftants had formerly at Caftres in Languedoc; and he is faid to have been a man of a moft haughty difpofition, and immoderately addicted to women, hafty, ambitious,
full of himself and his own performances, and fatirical upon all others. He was however efteemed one of the most eminent preachers of that age among the proteftants; but as Monfieur Bayle obferves, his chief talent must have confifted in the gracefulness of his delivery, or in thofe fallies of imagination and quaint turns and allufions, whereof his fermons are full; for they retain not those charms in reading, which they were faid 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, Defenfio Secunda pro populo Anglicano, in 1654, and treats Morus with fuch feverity as nothing could have excufed, if he had not been provoked to it by fo much, abuse poured upon himself. There is one piece of his wit, which had been published before in the news-papers at London, a diftich upon Morus for getting Pontia the maidfervant of his friend Salmafius with child.
71 Galli ex concubitu gravidam te, Pontia, Mori Quis bene moratam morigeramque neget?
Upon this Morus published his Fides Publica in anfwer to Milton, in which he inferted feveral teftimonies of his orthodoxy and morals figned by the ...confiftories, academies, fynods, and magiftrates of the places where he had lived; and difowned his being the author of the book imputed to him, and appealed to two gentlemen of great credit with the Parlament party, 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 caufe. For he ftill perfifted in his accufation, and endevored to make it good in his Defenfe of himself, Autoris pro fe Defenfio, which was published in 1655, wherein he oppofed to the teftimonies in favor of Morus other teftimonies against him; and Morus replied no
After this controverfy was ended, he was at leifure again to purfue his own private ftudies, 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 beft and pureft Latin authors, and continued at times almoft to his dying day but his papers were left fo confufed and imperfect, that they could not be fitted for the prefs, tho' great ufe was made of them by the compilers of the Cambridge Dictionary printed in 1693. Thefe papers are faid to have confifted 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 manufcript. It is commonly faid too that at this time he began his famous poem of Paradise Loft; and it is certain, that he was glad to be releafed from those controverfies, which detained him fo long from following things more agreeable to his natural genius and inclination, tho' he was far from ever repenting of his writings in defenfe of liberty, but gloried in them to the laft.
The only interruption now of his private ftudies was the bufinefs of his office. In 1655 there was
publifhed in Latin a writing in the name of the Lord Protector, fetting forth the reafons of the war with Spain: and this piece is rightly adjudged to our author, both on account of the peculiar elegance of the ftile, and because it was his province to write fuch things as Latin Secretary; and it is printed among his other profe-works in the laft edition. And for the fame reafons I am inclined to think,' that the famous Latin verfes to Chriftina Queen of Sweden in the name of Cromwell were made by our author rather than Andrew Marvel. In thofe days they had admirable intelligence in the Secretary's office; and Mr. Philips relates a memorable inftance or two upon his own knowledge. The Dutch were fending a plenipotentiary to England to treat of peace; but the emiffaries of the government had the art to procure a copy of his inftructions in Holland, which were delivered by Milton to his kinfman who was then with him, to tranflate them for the use of the Council, before the faid plenipotentiary had taken fhipping for England; and an anfwer 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 perfon came to London with a very fumptuous train, pretending himself an agent from the Prince of Conde, who was then in arms against Cardinal Mazarine: but the government fufpecting him fet their inftruments to work fo fuccessfully, that in a few days they received intelligence from Paris, that he was a fpy employed by Charles II: whereupon the very next morning Milton's kinfman was fent to him with an order of Council, commanding him to depart the kingdom within three VOL. I. E days,
days, or expect the punishment of a fpy. 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 affiftant to him in his office. His blindness no doubt. was a great hindrance and inconvenience to him in his business, tho' fometimes a political ufe might be made of it; as men's natural infirmities are often pleaded in excufe for not doing what they have no great inclination to do. Thus when Cromwell, as we may collect from Whitlock, for fome reafons delayed artfully to fign the treaty concluded with Sweden, and the Swedish embaffador made frequent complaints of it, it was excufed to him, because Mr. Milton on account of his blindness proceeded flower in business, and had not yet put the articles of the treaty into Latin. Upon which the embaffador was greatly furprised, that things of fuch confequence fhould be intrufted to a blind man, for he muft neceffarily employ an amanuenfis, and that amanuenfis might divulge the articles; and faid it was very wonderful, that there fhould 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 ftate-letters will remain as authentic memorials of those times, to be admired equally by critics and politicians; and thofe particularly about the fufferings of the poor proteftants in Piedmont, who can read without fenfible emotion? This was a fubject that he had very much at heart, as he was an utter enemy to all forts of perfecution; and among his fonnets there is a most excellent one upon the fame occafion.