Imágenes de páginas

To a fell adversary, his bate or shame!

Which infinite calamity shall cause

To human life, and houshold peace confound."

However strong the scruples of his new favorite might have been, it seems not improbable that he would have triumphed over them had not an occurrence, which has the air of an incident in romance, given another turn to the emotions of his heart. While he was conversing with a relation, whom he frequently visited in St. Martin's-lane, the door of an adjoining apartment was suddenly opened: he beheld his repentant wife kneeling at his feet, and imploring his forgiveness. After the natural struggles of honest pride and just resentment, he forgave and received her, "partly from the inter- cession of their common friends, and partly," says his nephew, "from his own generous nature, more inclinable to reconciliation, than to perseverance in anger and revenge."

Fenton justly remarks, that the strong impression which this interview must have made on Milton, " contributed much to the painting of that pathetic scene in Paradise Lost, in which Eve addresses herself to Adam for pardon and peace; the verses, charming as they are, acquire new charms, when we consider them descriptive of the poet himself and the penitent destroyer of* his domestic comfort.

"Her lowly plight
Immovable, till peace obtain'd from fault
Acknowledg'd and deplor'd, in Adam wrought
Commiseration; soon his heart relented
Towards her, his life so late and sole delight,
Now at his feet submissive in distress!
Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking,
His counsel, whom she had displeas'd, his aid:
As one disarm'd, his anger all he lost."

It has been said, that Milton resembled his own Adam in the comeliness of his person; but he seems to have resembled him still more in much nobler endowments, and particularly in uniting great tenderness of heart to equal dignity of mind. Soon after he had pardoned, and lived again with his wife, he afforded an asvlum, in his own


house, to both her parents, and to their numerous family. They were active royalists and fell into great distress by the ruin of their party: these were the persons who had not only treated Milton with contemptuous pride, but had imbittered his existence for four years, by instigating his wife to persist in deserting him. The mother, as Wood intimates, was his greatest enemy, and occasioned the perverse conduct of her daughter. The father, though sumptuous in his mode of life when he first received Milton as his son-in-law, had never paid the marriage portion of a thousand pounds, according to his agreement, and was now stript of his property by the prevalence of the party he had.- opposed. On persons thus contumelious and culpable towards him, Milton bestowed his favor and protection. Can the records of private life exhibit a more magnanimous example of forgiveness and beneficence?

At the time of his wife's unexpected return, he was preparing to remove from Aldersgate to a larger house in Barbican* with a view of increasing the number of his scholars. It was in this new mansion that he received the forgiven penitent, and provided a refuge for her relations, whom he retained under his roof, according to Fenton, "till their affairs were accommodated by his interest with the victorious party."

They left him soon after the death of his father, who ended a very long life, in the year 1647, and not without the gratification, peculiarly soothing toan affectionate old man, of bestowing his benediction on a grand-child; for, within the year of Milton's re-union with his wife, his family was increased by a daughter, Anne, the eldest of his children, born July 29, 1646.

When his apartments were no longer occupied by the guests, whom he had so generously received, he admitted more scholars; but their number was small, and Philips imagines, that he was induced to withdraw himself from the business of education by a prospect of being appointed adjutant general in Sir William Waller's army.: whatever might have been the motive for his change of life, he quitted his large house in Barbican for a smaller one in Holborn, " among those (says his nephew) that open backwards into Lincoln's Inn Fields," ■where he lived, according to the sameauthor, in great privacy, and perpetually engaged in a variety of studies.


Three years elapsed without any new publication from his pen; a silence which the various affecting occurrences in his family would naturally produce. In 1649, he published The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates; and in his summary account of his own writings, he relates the time and occasion of this performance. He declares, that without any personal malevolence against the deceased monarch, who had been tried and executed before this publication appeared, it was written to compose the minds of the people, disturbed by the duplicity and turbulence of certain presbyterian ministers, who affected to consider the sentence against the king as contrary to the principles of every protestant church, "a falsehood (says Milton) which, without

« AnteriorContinuar »