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fited by a connubial quarrel, for to this adventure we are indebted for that admirable scene between Adam and Eve in the 10th book of Paradise Lost:
Soon his heart relented
The issue of a romantic marriage, begun in mystery, renewed in tears, was three daughters, and two of these Antigones re-opened the pages of antiquity to their blind father.
After the triumph of the Parliament, Milton offered an asylum to his wife's family. Todd has discovered among the public records, papers which shew that Milton took possession of the remnant of his father-in-law's property at his death – property which became his by mortgage for money lent by the poet's father. Powell's widow might have claimed her dowry, but she durst not; “for," said she, “ Mr. Milton is a harsh and choleric man, and my daughter, whom he has married, would be undone if I were to prosecute my claim.”
The Presbyterians having attacked the work on Divorce, the irascible author separated himself from their sect and became their enemy.
SPEECH ON THE LIBERTY OF THE PRESS.
MILTON soon produced his “ Areopagitica,” the best English prose-work that he ever wrote. This term for the liberty of the press not being generally understood, he entitled his work “A Speech for the Liberty of unlicensed Printing," addressed to the Parliament of England.
After remarking that a censorship is useless against bad books, since it does not prevent their circulation, the author proceeds :
“As good almost kill a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself ...... A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life ... ... Revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse.
“Lords and Commons of England ! consider what nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors
.... Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation, rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks: methinks I see her as an eagle mewing her nighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beain; purging and unscaling her long abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance; while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about, amazed at what she means.
“What should ye do then ? should ye suppress all this flowery crop of knowledge and new light sprung up, and yet springing daily in this city ? should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers over it to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is measured to us by their bushel ? .. I could recount what I have seen and heard in other countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes: where I have sat among their learned men (for that honour I had) and been counted happy to be born in such a place of philosophic freedom as they supposed England was; while themselves did nothing but bemoan the servile condition into which learning amongst them was brought. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition, for thinking in
astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican inquisitors thought . Liberty is the nurse of all great wits; this is that which hath rarefied and enlightened our spirits like the influence of heaven."
In this energetic language we recognise the author of “Paradise Lost." Milton is as great a writer in prose as in verse: revolutions have approximated him to us; his political ideas make him a man of our own epoch. He complains in his verses that he came a century too late; he might have complained in his prose that he had come a century too early. The hour of his resurrection is now arrived. I shall be proud to have lent a hand to draw Milton from his grave as a prose-writer; Glory long since said to him as a poet,
“ Arise!” and he did arise, and never will he lie down again.
The liberty of the press ought to deem it a high honour to have for its patron the author of “ Paradise Lost:" he was the first by whom it was fairly and formally claimed. With what pathetic art the poet calls to mind that he had beheld Galileo, bent with age and infirmities, ready to expire in the fetters of the censorship, for having dared to assert the motion of the earth! This was an example congenial with the greatness of Milton. What would become of us now-a-days, if we were to hold such language !
DEATH OF MILTON'S FATHER.
HISTORICAL EVENTS-TREATISE ON THE TENURE OF
KINGS AND MAGISTRATES.
In 1645 Milton published a collection of the English and Latin poems of his youth. The songs were set to music by Henry Laws, who belonged to the chapel of Charles I. : the voice of the apologist was soon to penetrate to the coffin of the sovereign in the chapel of Windsor.
Milton's father died; the parents of the poet's wife returned to their own home, and his house, says Philips, once more became the temple of the
At this time Milton was on the point of being employed as adjutant-general of the troops under Sir William Waller, a general of the Presbyterian party, who has left us his memoirs.
When, in the month of April, 1647, Fairfax and Cromwell bad made themselves masters of London, Milton, in order to pursue his studies