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gument would effect it, to obtain legal deliverance from a woman unworthy, as all his biographers agree,
of his own history he evidently glances in the “Paradise Lost,” where Adam, incensed, and half despairing, reproaches his guilty and now submissive consort with the fatal sin they had shared together:-
« But for thee
By a far worse; or if she love, withheld
Book x. 873_-908.
27. In handling this subject, it is easy to see he was personally concerned, so frequently and with such torturing eloquence does he pourtray domestic infelicity. He speaks of the husband, overtoiled with long-continued laborious thought, sitting down lonely by his fire-side, a prey to that melancholy which intellectual exertion commonly leaves behind it, not finding in his wife a fit companion, but rather a cold image of clay, devoid of sympathy, devoid of love. And we see throughout that he had no children upon whom his heart might otherwise have showered its affections. This,
known; for he was childless. And as far as it could be done,-much farther than at first view would be deemed possible,-he has bared, in these works, the secrets of his bosom, and admitted the reader into communion close as that of friend with friend. He has exhibited to all those who know how to regard it, a picture of his soul, for the truth of which every man who attentively reads will be answerable. And he who can rise from the contemplation of this portrait, without intense love and admiration for the great and godlike
spirit it represents, must be cased more completely in stoicism than Zeno himself.
28. Many of the finest passages in his controversial writings, are sometimes spoken of, even by favourable judges, as declamation. But here, at least, he does not declaim. He reasons, and supports his reasoning by so many authorities and examples, fetched from the Scriptures, or from the most unobjectionable authors of ancient and modern times, that he overwhelms and bears down before him all his antagonists, triumphantly establishing the doctrine, that divorce, properly regulated, can be no other than an important blessing to society. Timid and illjudging persons, however, though convinced of this verity, often hesitate to support it, from the supposition that some truths may prove prejudicial to society; which, though they intend it not, is a most impious and unphilosophical notion, for it supposes God to be in contradiction with himself, to have established laws and relations which it would be destructive to human kind to make known.
29. Milton was .wholly incapable of cherishing fancies of this kind. He saw every part of the economy of the universe in harmony with every other part; and even thus early undertook
" To vindicate eternal providence,
And justify the ways of God to man.”
He, therefore, feared not to encounter the obloquy he foresaw would be heaped upon him, for thus endeavouring, by one bold effort, “to wipe away ten thousand tears out of the life of man,” insisting on the necessity of recovering domestic liberty, and of preceding the reforms of the state by a more important reform in the household laws, wbich, ill understood, had banished peace and love from the Christian hearth.
30. His ideas of woman must be sought for in this treatise, not in Johnson. Here we find him representing her as man's best companion, and in the sense most flattering to the sex, as the companion of his intellect, with whom he might well be content, though no other rational creature existed, to spend a life devoted to each other. For St. Augustin, in his commentary on the words,“And the Lord said, It is not good that man should be alone,”—having contended that, excepting for the continuation of the human race,“ manly friendship, in all other regard, had been a more becoming solace for Adam, than to spend so many secret years in an empty world with one woman;" Milton replies : “But our writers deservedly reject this crabbed opinion; and defend that there is a peculiar comfort in the married state which no other society affords. No mortal nature can endure either in the actions of religion, or study of wisdom, without sometime slackening the cords of intense thought and labour; which, lest we should think faulty, God himself conceals us not his own recreations before the world was built: ‘I was, saith the Eternal Wisdom, daily his delight, playing always before him. And to him indeed wisdom is as a high tower of pleasure, but to us a steep hill, and we toiling ever about the bottom: he executes with ease the exploits of his omnipotence, as easy as with us it is to will: but no worthy enterprize can be done by us without continual plodding and wearisomeness to our faint and sensitive abilities. We cannot therefore be always contemplative, or pragmatical abroad, but have need of some delightful intermissions, wherein the enlarged soul may leave off awhile her severe
vacancy, may keep her holidays to joy and harmless pastime. Which as she cannot well do without company, so in no company so well as where the different sex in most resembling unlikeness, and most unlike resemblance, cannot but please best, and be pleased in the aptitude of that variety. Whereof lest we should be too timorous, in the awe that our flat sages would form us and dress us, wisest Solomon among his gravest pro
erring fondness in the entertainment of wedded leisure.”
31. But where this sweet intercommunion of thought, in which the beauty of the gentler spirit exercises its soothing influence over man's sterner and rougher nature, is not found, “the solitariness of man, which God had mainly and principally ordered to prevent by marriage, hath no remedy, but lies under a worse condition than the loneliest single life. For, in single life, the absence and