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plicity, to avoid such offence. Without courting controversy, he never hesitated freely to express opinions when circumstances seemed to require it, and though not without some danger, he returned home in safety, with his mind stored with enlarged views, and his imagination filled with the grandeur and beauty derived from beholding the noble remains of ancient Rome, and the most splendid creations of modern art. He had visited and conversed with the great Galileo, then a prisoner in the Inquisition, and in spite of his religion and the bold expression of his opinions, he had formed lasting friendships with some of the most eminent men in the south of Europe, and had received from all marks of honour and esteem.

After an absence of about fifteen months, Milton returned to England, just as Charles the First was setting out on his second expedition against the Scots. On his return, he undertook the education of two of his nephews; and soon after he was induced by some of his friends to admit their sons to the same privilege. On this Dr Johnson remarks, "Let not our veneration for Milton forbid us to look with some degree of merriment on great promises and small performance: on the man who hastens home because his countrymen are contending for their liberty, and when he reaches the scene of action, vapours away his patriotism in a private boardingschool." This unworthy sneer is easily confuted. Milton knew his own intellectual powers too well-even had he possessed the necessary bodily strength-to imagine that the only, or even the most useful course that lay open for him in the cause of liberty, was the profession of arms; and his labours with his pen during the long continuance of the contest, afford the best evidence that he lent his energies with no grudging hand to the cause of liberty.

They must be very ignorant of the history of England at this period who imagine that Milton was avoiding the post of danger, in thus taking up the pen as his weapon of war. Laud had already organized that systematic persecution of the Puritans, which, by the cruel lawlessness with which it was pursued, needed the evils of a revolution to wipe away the stain from the nation: and the unhappy king, with his

high notions of prerogative, had abundantly shown that he would permit no law to stand between him and his opponents. The cruelties enforced by the Star-Chamber on such victims as Prynne, Bastwick, and Leighton, may afford some conception of the dangers that Milton voluntarily dared in returning to his country, and thus boldly defending his opinions at such a time.

From his efforts for the removal of ecclesiastical grievances, he next applied himself to securing the liberty of the press. He had already set at defiance the law's restrictions on its just freedom, and now he exposed with masterly vigour the evils engendered by its thraldom. In this noble work the passage occurs in which he speaks of Galileo, a victim of the same system that denied the free expression of opinions, against which he was now contending. "There it was, in Italy," says he, "that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old a prisoner in the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought. And though I knew that England was groaning loudest under the prelatic yoke, nevertheless I took it for a pledge of future happiness, that other nations were so persuaded of her liberty. Yet was it beyond my hope, that those worthies who were then breathing in her air, should be her leaders to such a deliverance as shall never be forgotten by any revolution of time that this world hath to finish."

It was not till a second revolution had finally banished the Stuarts from the throne, that the press was freed from the trammels under which it had been so long restrained, and left to develope its mighty energies for the national well-being.

CHAPTER II.

POLITICAL LIFE.

AT the age of thirty-five, Milton married Mary, the daughter of Richard Powell, a wealthy royalist, and justice of the peace in Oxfordshire. No account is preserved of the circumstances that led to this union; but it proved unhappy, and gave rise to incidents in his life which the biographer

would gladly omit. They had only been married a month when the young bride sought permission to spend the rest of the summer with her friends in Oxfordshire. The request is scarcely less singular than the immediate compliance it met with. The period of Michaelmas was fixed for her return, but she came not; and repeated letters from her husband were even left unanswered. Milton then sent a messenger, demanding her immediate return home, when she at length positively refused to come, dismissing his messenger with contempt. From all that appears, the probability seems to be that the fault lay more with her relatives than herself; they seem to have sanctioned the marriage with the zealous republican when their party appeared to be on the wane, and to have repented of the match when a temporary success of the royalists had revived their hopes, the haughty cavaliers being probably somewhat ashamed of an alliance with one who took so active a part against royalty. This at least may be concluded, that she was a young and frivolous girl, little fitted to be the companion of such a man. The reasons assigned in her defence abundantly confirm this: it is stated that she had been accustomed to a great deal of company, with merriment and dancing, so that she found her married life solitary and irksome, and at length went home to her parents.

Whatever were the reasons for her departure, all attempts of Milton to prevail on her to return proved ineffectual; and, with a just feeling of indignation, he declared that he no longer held her as his wife. This occurrence set him seriously to consider the nature of those obligations involved in the marriage tie, in consequence of which he published his work on the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, which led him into various controversies, conducted on his part with his usual energy.

Fully four years elapsed without Milton meeting with his wife, and he had taken the most decided steps to show his conviction that all ties between them were dissolved. Time, however, had led her to repent of her foolish step; and learning of his intention to visit a common friend, she suddenly presented herself before him, and throwing herself at his

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feet, with tears besought his forgiveness. A perfect reconciliation took place between them, and so completely did he overlook all that had passed, that he soon after received into his own house her father and mother, and several of her brothers and sisters, affording them an asylum there, and exerting all his political influence in their behalf, when they were involved in the final overthrow of the royal cause.

The pen I of Milton was again called into requisition on a subject of the highest public value. He put forth his "Treatise on Education," a work intended to strike at the root of the prevalent system of employing the whole time and energies of the youthful mind in mastering one or two dead languages. Fully two centuries have since elapsed, but so slow is the mass of mankind in receiving the wisdom of its great teacher, that we are only now beginning to apply the sound suggestions which he so eloquently enforced.

Within a year after his reunion with his wife, his family was increased by the birth of a daughter, Anne, the eldest of his children, who was lame either from her birth, or in consequence of some accident in her early infancy. His second daughter, Mary, was born in the same large house in the Barbican, which had sufficed to accommodate his numerous train of dependant relatives. Shortly after their departure, he quitted this house for a smaller one in Holborn, opening into Lincoln's Inn Fields; and there he continued to reside, closely engaged in a variety of studies, till his acceptance of the office of Latin Secretary to the Commonwealth rendered a situation nearer to Whitehall an object of convenience to him.

In 1649 the grand climax of successive civil wars was at length accomplished in the death of the king. Milton was in no way implicated in this act of judicial judgment by the popular leaders on their king; but he viewed with disgust the lamentations of the Presbyterian party for the final accomplishment of the result which they had so long laboured to bring about; and to meet the exigencies of the period, he published his "Tenure of Kings and Magistrates." "This work," he says, was not published till after the death of the king, and was written rather to tranquillize the minds of

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men, than to discuss any part of the question respecting Charles-a question, the decision of which belonged to the magistrate and not to me, and which had now received its final determination."

During Milton's residence in his new apartments in Scotland-yard, his third child, a son, was born, but he only survived a few months. From this he removed, in 1652, to a handsome house opening into St James's Park, adjoining the mansion of Lord Scudamore, and here he continued to reside till the Restoration.

Charles, the son of the late king, anxious to appeal to the courts of Europe against the judgment of the people of England, employed, as his advocate, Salmasius, an honorary professor in the University of Leyden. It would have been difficult for Charles readily to have found a foreigner at this period well qualified for the task, but in his choice he seems to have been peculiarly unfortunate. This man, though possessed of great erudition and considerable critical acumen, was altogether destitute of those practical talents that were needed for the work imposed on him; and, above all, he was utterly ignorant of the entire facts and bearings of the question he thus undertook to exhibit in its true light to others; so that he was entirely dependant for his materials on the prejudiced representations of ruined cavaliers.

In reply to the work thus produced, Milton published in 1651, his "Defence of the People of England," giving in it, perhaps, the noblest instance of self-sacrifice that ever patriotism offered. He had already greatly injured his eyes by his protracted studies, and his physicians now assured him that unless he abandoned this labour, he must lose his sight. "On this occasion," says Milton, replying to an antagonist who had made his blindness a reproach, "I reflected that many had purchased with a superior evil a lighter good, glory with death;-to me, on the contrary, greater good was purchased with an inferior evil; so that by incurring blindness alone, I might fulfil the most honourable of all duties."

The unanimous voice of the Council had called him to this work, and the reception it met with on the Continent was such as might have satisfied the highest ambition ;-enemies

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