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turned his eyes upon Milton as the man from whose ,
fpirit and eloquence his country might expect the
moft able vindication. In 1651, he published his
defence of the people, the most elaborate of all his
Latin compofitions; the merits and defects of this
fingular performance might be most properly dif-
cussed in a preliminary discourse to the prose works "
of Milton; here I shall only remark, that in the
composition of it he gave the most fingular proof of
genuine public spirit that ever patriot had occasion
to display; fince, at the time of his engaging in
this work, the infirmity in his eyes was so alarming,
that his physicians assured him he must inevitably
lose them if he persisted in his labour. “On this
" occasion," (says Milton to a savage antagonist,
who had reproached him with blindness) " * I re-

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* Unde fic mecum reputabam, multos graviore malo minus bonum morte gloriam, redemisse; mihi contra majus bonum minore, cum malo proponi ; ut poffem cum cæcitate sola vel honeftiffimum officii munus implere quod ut ipfa gloria per fe eft solidius, ita cuique optatius atque antiquius debet esse. Hac igitur tam brevi luminum usurâ, quanta maxima quivi cum uti. litate publica, quoad liceret, fruendum effe ftatui. Videtis quid prætulerim, quid amiserim, quâ inductus ratione : definant ergo judiciorum Dei calumniatores maledicere, deque me fomnia fibi fingere: fic denique habento me fortis meæ neque pigere neque pænitere; immotum atque fixum in fententiâ perftare; Deum iratum neque fentire, neque habere, imo maximis in rebus cle. mentiam ejus et benignitatem erga me paternam experiri atque agnofcere ; in hoc præfertim, quòd folante ipso atque animum confirmante in ejus divina voluntate acquiefcam ; quid is largitus mihi fit quam quid negaverit fæpius cogitans; poftremo nolle me cum suo quovis rectiffime facto, facti mei conscientiam permutare, aut recordationem ejus gratam mihi femper atque tranquillam deponere. Profe Works, vol. 2. p. 376.

66 flected



co flected that many had purchased with a superior “ evil a lighter good, glory with death; to me, on " the contrary, greater good was proposed with an “ inferior evil; fo that, by incurring blindness “ alone, I might fulfil the most honourable of all “ duties, which, as it is a more solid advantage than

glory itself, ought to be more eligible in the estima« tion of every man ; I resolved therefore to make 66 what short use I might yet have of my eyes as “ conducive as poflible to public utility: you fee “ what I preferred, and what I lost, with the prin

ciple on which I acted ; let flanderers therefore “ cease to talk irreverently on the judgment of “ God, and to make me the subject of their fiâions; “ let them know that I am far from considering “ my lot with sorrow or repentance; that I persist «s immovable in my sentiment; that I neither fancy

nor feel the anger of God, but, on the contrary, experience and acknowledge his paternal clemency and kindness in my most important con

cerns, in this especially, that, by the comfort and - confirmation which he himself infuses into my “ fpirit, I acquiesce in his divine pleasure, continu

ally considering rather what he has bestowed

upon me, than what he has denied. Finally, " that I would not exchange the consciousness of “ my own conduct for their meril, whatever it may “ be, or part with a remembrance, which is to my s own mind a perpetual source of tranquillity and “ fatisfaction.”

Whenever he is induced to mention himself, the purity and vigour of Milton's mind appear in full


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lustre, whether he speaks in verse or in prose: the preceding passage from his Second Defence is consonant to the sonnet on his blindness, addressed to Syriac Skinner, which, though different critics have denied the author to excel in this minute species of composition, has hardly been surpassed; it deserves double praise for energy of expression and heroism of sentiment.

Cyriac, this three-years day these eyes, tho' clear
To outward view of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of fight their seeing have forgot,

Nor to their idle orbs does day appear,
Or fun, or moon, or ftar, throughout the year,

Or man or woman; yet I argue not
Against Heav’n’s hand or will, nor bate one jot,
Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer
Right onward. What supports me dost thou ask?
The conscience, friend, to have lost them over-ply'd

In liberty's defence, my noble talk,
Of which all Europe talks from side to side :

This thought might lead me thro’the world's vain mask
Content, tho' blind, had I no better guide.”

The ambition of Milton was as pure as his genius was sublime; his first object on every occasion was to merit the approbation of his conscience and his God; when this most important point was secured, he seems to have indulged the predominant passion of great minds, and to have exulted, with a triumph proportioned to his toil, in the celebrity he acquired: he must have been insensible indeed to public applause, had he not felt elated by the signal honours which were paid to his name in various coun

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tries, as the eloquent defender of the English fiation. “6 * This I can truly affirm,” (fays Milton, in mentioning the reception of his great political performance) “ that as soon as my defence of the peo

ple was published, and read with avidity, there was not, in our metropolis, any ambassador from

any state or fovereign, who did not either con“ gratulate me if we met by chance, or express a “ desire to receive me at his house, or visit me at “ mine."

Toland relates, that he received from the parliament a present of a thousand pounds for the defence. The author does not include this circumstance among the many particulats he mentions of himself; and if such a reward was ever bestowed upon him, it must have been after the publication of his Second Defence, in which he affirms, that he was content with having discharged what he confidered as an honourable public duty, without aining at a pecuniary recompence; and that instead of having acquired the opulence with which his adversary reproached him, he received not the flightest gratuity for that production t. Yet he appears to


* Hoc etiam vere poffum dicere, quo primùm tempore noftra defenfio eft edita, et legentium ftudia incaluere, nullum vel principis vel civitatis legatum in urbe tum fuiffe, qui non vel fortè obvio mihi gratuleretur, vel conventum apud fe cuperet vel domi inviferit. Prose Works, vol. 2. p. 394.

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+ Contentus quæ honefta factu funt, ea propter fe folum appetiffe, et gratis perfequi: id alii viderint tuque fcito me illas “ opimitates," atque “opes," quas mihi exprobas, non attigiffe


have been perfectly fatisfied with the kindness of his affociates ; for, in speaking of his blindness, he fays, that “ far froin being neglected on this acas count by the highest characters in the republic,

they constantly regarded him with indulgence " and favour, not seeking to deprive him either of “ distinction of emolument, though his powers of “ being useful wete diminished ;' hence he compares himself to an ancient Athenian, supported by a decree of honour at the expetice of the public *. Among the foreign compliments he received, the applause of Christina afforded him the highest gratification ; for he regarded it as an honourable proof of what he had ever affirmed, that he was a friend to good fovereigns, though an enemy to tyrants: he understood that the queen of Sweden had made this distinction in commending his book, and in the warmth of his gratitude he bestowed on the northern princess a very fplendid panegyric, of which the subsequent conduct of that singular and fantas

neque eo nomine quo maxime accusas obolo factum ditiorem. Profe Works, vol. ii. p. 378.

Quin et summi quoque in republica viri quandoquidem non otio torpentem me, sed impigrum et fumma discrimina pro libertate inter primos adeuntem oculi deseruerunt, ipfi non deserunt ; verum humana qualia fint fecum reputantes, tanquam emerito favent, indulgent vacationem atque otium faciles concedunt; fi quid publici muneris, non adimunt ; fi quid ex ea re. commodi, non minuunt; et quamvis non æquè nunc utili præbendum niż hilo minus benignè censent ; eodem plane honore, ac fi, ut olim Atheniensibus mos erat; in Prytanéo alendum decreviffent. -Profe Works, vol. ii. p. 376.

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