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part of the manuscript was much employed in Milton's service ; for the hand-writing is the same as appears in the fair copy of the Latin letters, discovered, as has been mentioned, in the press which contained the present treatise.*
* It is desirable that a new edition of these letters should be published from this corrected manuscript. The text appears to differ in many instances from that of our present editions, and from the following printed advertisement, which was found in the same parcel, there can be no doubt that the collection had been carefully revised by the author or his friends, and was prepared for publication. It was intended to have been committed to the press in Holland, and was therefore probably among the papers which Skinner had left in that country. The advertisement itself is curious, as containing an indignant remonstrance against the conduct of some dishonest bookseller who had obtained a surreptitious copy of the letters, and published them in an incorrect shape.
• Innotescat omnibus cum in Academiis, tum in Londino, literatis, Bibliopolis etiam, si qui sint qui præter solitum Latine sciunt, nec non exteris quibuscunque, quod Literæ Joannis Miltoni Angli, interregni tempore scriptæ, quas bibliopola quidam Londinensis, secum habita consultatione quantam in rem famamque quantam imperfectissimum quid et indigestum ex operibus tanti viri sibi pro certo cederet, nuper in lucem irrepi fecit (præterquam quod a contemptissimo quodam et perobscuro preli quondam curatore, qui parvam schedarum manum vel emendicaverit olim abs authore, vel, quod verisimilius est, clam suppilaverit, perexiguo pretio fuerunt emptæ) sunt misere mutilæ, dimidiatæ, deformnes ex omni parte ruptoque ordine confusæ, præfatiuncula spurca non minus quam infantissima dehonestatæ, cæterisque dein a numerosi. oribus chartis nequiter arreptæ. Quodque vera Literarum exemplaria, locupletiora multum et auctiora, composita concinnius et digesta, typis elegantioribus excudenda sunt in Hollandia prelo commissa. Quæ una cum Articulis Hispanicis, Portugallicis, Gallicis, Belgicis in ista rerum inclinatione nobiscum initis et percussis, pluribusque chartis Germanicis, Danicis, Suevicis scitissime scriptis, ne ex tam spuriis libri natalitiis, et ex tam vili præfatore læderetur author, brevi possis, humanissime lector, expectare.'
The remainder of the manuscript is in an entirely different hand, being a strong upright character, supposed by Mr. Lemon to be the hand-writing of Ed. ward Philipps, the nephew of Milton. This part of the volume is interspersed with numerous interlineations and corrections, and in several places with small slips of writing pasted in the margin. These corrections are in two distinct hand-writings, different from the body of the manuscript, but the greater part of them undoubtedly written by the same person who transcribed the first part of the volume. Hence it is probable that the latter part of the MS. is a copy transcribed by Philipps, and finally revised and corrected by Mary and Deborah Milton from the dictation of their father, as many of the alterations bear a strong resemblance to the reputed hand-writing of Deborah, the youngest daughter of Milton, in the manuscripts preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge ; who is stated by Wood (Fasti Oxonienses, Part I, 1635. col. 483.) to have been
trained up by her father in Latin and Greek, and made by him his amanuensis.' A lithrographic facsimile has been taken of two of the Sonnets in the Trinity manuscript, and is prefixed to this volume, by the permission of the Master and Seniors of that Society. The other plate is an accurate representation of the three hand-writings alluded to in the preceding statement.
Independently, however, of other considerations, the readers of the volume now published will find the
best proofs of its authenticity in the resemblance of its language and opinions to the printed works of Milton. Some striking specimens of this agreement are frequently given in the notes, and these illustrations might have been multiplied to a much greater extent, had it not seemed desirable, on account of the bulk of the volume, only to select such as were most remarkable for similarity of style or sentiments.
It must be acknowledged that the disqualifications of Milton for such a work as the present, were neither few nor unimportant. They were owing partly to the unhappy circumstances of the period at which he lived, and partly to that peculiar disposition of mind which led him to view every surrender of individual opinion, whether in morals or politics as an infringement on the rights of natural liberty. In his time power was abused, under pretence of religion, in a degree to which, happily for genuine Christianity, the ecclesiastical annals can scarcely afford a parallel; and the universal prevalence of an intolerant spirit, from which his own connexions as well as himself had suffered severely, disposed him to look with an unfavourable eye, not only upon the corruptions, but on the doctrine itself and discipline of the church. His father had been disinherited for embracing the Protestant faith. He himself had been brought up under a Puritan who was subsequently obliged to leave England on account of his religious opinions, Thomas Young of Essex, one of the six answerers of Hall's Humble Remonstrance. Hence there is some foundation for the remark of Hayley, that Milton * wrote with the indignant enthusiasm of a man resenting the injuries of those who are most entitled to his love and veneration. The ardour of his affections conspired with the warmth of his fancy to inspire him with that puritanical zeal which blazes so intensely in his controversial productions.'* Thus it was that, like Clarke, though on different grounds, he was biassed against the authority of the church, and predisposed by the political constitution of his mind to such unbounded freedom as can hardly consist, as has been truly said, with any established system of faith whatever.f His love of Christian liberty began indeed to manifest itself at a very early period of his life, for though destined to the church from his childhood, he refused to enter it from a religious scruple, thinking that he who took orders must subscribe slave.
There were, however, other circumstances of a different nature, which in some degree counterbalanced these defects. His epic poems afford sufficient evidence not only of extensive biblical knowledge, but of singular judgement in availing himself of the language of Scripture itself, without addition or alteration, in particular parts of his subject. There is no topic to which he recurs more frequently or with nore apparent satisfaction than to the serious turn of his early studies. In his Apology for Smectymnuus he speaks of the 'wearisome labours and studious vatchings wherein he had spent and tired out almost a whole youth.'* Again care was ever had of me with my earliest capacity, not to be negligently trained up in the precepts of Christian religiou.' In his treatise on education he mentions his and contemplative years altogether spent in the search of religious and civil knowledge,' to which allusion is again made with much feeling in the Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano.f He was a proficient in the Hebrew tongue, which he strongly recommends should be gained at a set hour,' that the Scriptures may be read in their own original.? | His own knowledge of this language was probably acquired in his early youth, for in a letter to Young, written in 1625, he thanks him for his acceptable present of a Hebrew Bible ; • Biblia Hebræa, pergratum sane munus tuum, jampridem accepi.? Aubrey and others, who obtained their information from his widow, have related that as long as he lived it was his custom to begin the day with hearing a portion of the Hebrew Scriptures, which a person was employed to read to him; and during every period of his life his Sundays were wholly devoted to theology. The importance which he attached to these pursuits is further confirmed by what Birch relates of the system pursued by him with his pupils. “The Sunday's work for his pupils was for the most part to read a
* Hayley's Life of Milton, p. 66. | Bp. Van Mildert's Review of Waterland's Life and Writings. Works, I. 48.