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by reason of their bold accustoming, prove most successful in their matches, because their wild affections unsettling at will, have been as so many divorces to teach them experience. Whereas the sober man honouring the appearance of modesty, and hoping well of every social virtue under that veil, may easily chance to meet if not with a body impenetrable, yet often with a mind to all other due conversation inaccessible, and to all the more estimable and superior purposes of matrimony useless and almost lifeless, and what a solace, what a fit help such a consort would be through the whole life of a man, is less pain to conjecture, than to have experience. He speaks again of a mute, and spiritless mate;' and again, “if he shall find himself bound fast to an image of earth and phlegm, with whom he looked to be the copartner of a sweet and gladsome society:' these observations will, I think, put us in possession of his wife's "fair defects, and the causes of the separation.

Whoever differs from Milton in the inferences which he draws, and the doctrine which he advocates, must yet allow that these Treatises on Divorce are written with the command of scriptural" learning, with many ingenious explanations of the intent of the divine laws, and human institutions; and with a force of argument sometimes difficult to resist. The whole is composed with uncommon zeal and earnestness, and conveys the sentiments of one who feels his own important interests are at issue; the causes of dislike in this little month of wedlock, must have struck deep root, for he alludes much to rash, sudden, and mistaken choices, he urges the justice of divorce in cases where a violent hatred in matrimony has arisen, yet not sinful, irksome, grievous, obstinately hateful, and injurious even to hostility; he speaks of invincible antipathies, when the work of sorrow lasts, till death unharness them; and upon the ground that such matches in this misery are insufferable, unalterable, and without hope, or prospect of termination, he claims the power of release from his unequal yoke. That his whole argument hinges on his own case, no one who reads these tracts can reasonably doubt: and that his sorrows were seen through an exaggerating medium, seems hardly less clear. His own experience is the best refutation of his work; his marriage, though clouded over in its rise, and portending storms and sorrows, and strife, ended, as we believe, in the smiles of renewed affection, in conjugal endearments, and continued love: and we must also recollect that Milton had lived but one short month with his wife, when this eternal aversion, this perpetuity of hatred, this radical discord of nature were declared.51

That this doctrine was received with neglect or ridicule is evident from a passage in Howell's Letters. There are, however, in all societies some to whom every paradox is acceptable, and who rejoice in believing themselves superior to the settled opinions of mankind. By them it was greedily adopted, and they were named divorcers or Miltonists.52

51 See P. Knight's Civil Society, p. 55. Let me not be supposed to mean a condemnation of marriage, from which I have derived all the blessings and benefits of civil society, but merely of its indissolubility. There are many causes which ought to justify divorce, as well as that of adultery on the part of the woman, and I think it probable, that if other causes were admitted, this would be less frequent. Divorce is, I believe, as often the object, as the consequence of adultery.'

The Presbyterian clergy, then holding their assembly in Westminster, were much offended, and procured the author to be summoned before the house of lords; but the house,' says Wood, whether approving the doctrine, or not favoring his accusers, did soon dismiss him. The Lords probably considered the doctrines advanced as too wild and speculative to produce any practical mischief. Milton wished he had not written the work in English. Vellem hoc tantem sermone vernaculo me non scripsisse, non enim in vernas lectores incidissem, quibus solemne est sua bona ignorare, aliorum mala irridere:' on this confession it is plain that the work was viewed as an apology and defence of himself.

The golden reins of discipline and government in the church being now let loose, Milton proceeded to put in practice the doctrine which he had advocated, and seriously paid his addresses to a very accomplished and beautiful young lady, the daughter of Doctor Davis ; 63 the lady, however, hesitated, and was not easily to be persuaded

52 A passage in the Electra of Sophocles, by C. W. at the Hague, 1649, 8vo, proves that Milton's doctrine on divorce was not unnoticed.

• While like the froward Miltonist

We our nuptial knot untwist.' See also a passage in Echard, quoted by Todd, p. 56, and in Britain's Triumph, p. 15, by G. S. What, Milton, are you come to see the sight? v. Todd's Life, p. 54. And see also his eleventh and twelfth Sonnets, in themselves a sufficient proof of the detraction and ridicule attending his doctrine.

53 During the desertion of his wife, Milton frequented the society of the Lady Margaret Leigh, a person of distinction and accomplishment. To Lady Ranelagh the favourite sister of the illustrious Boyle, in his later years he was gratefully VOL. I.


into the lawfulness of the proposal; and it fortunately terminated by effecting a happy reconciliation with the offending and discarded wife.

He went sometimes to visit a relation who lived in the lane of St. Martin's-le-grand; and at one of these visits he was surprised to see his wife come from an inner room, throw herself on her knees before him, and implore forgiveness. It is said that he was for some time inexorable; but partly, says his nephew, ‘his own generous nature, more inclinable to reconciliation than to perseverance in anger or revenge, and partly the strong intercession of friends on both sides, soon brought him to an act of oblivion, and a firm league of peace. It was the forgiveness of a good and generous mind, for he behaved ever after to her with affection, and received all her family into his house,54 when their seat was seized by the rebels, and they were obliged, at a ruinous expense, to compound for their estate.55 Mr. Powell is said to have lost by the wars, above three, thousand pounds, and to have died above fifteen hundred pounds in debt, leaving a widow and nine children. The dowry of a thousand pounds, promised to Milton with his wife, remained unpaid at his death. On Mrs. Anne Powell's petition 56 to the commissioners for her thirds, the following observations were made. "Mr. Milton is a harsh and choleric man, and married Mr. Powell's daughter, who would be undone if any such course were taken against him by Mrs. Powell. He having turned away his wife heretofore for a long space, upon some other occasion (var. a small occasion.'57 Milton, it appears, having discharged the fine upon Mr. Powell's estate, had succeeded to the possession of it; and his mother-in-law, by petition, was anxious to recover her thirds, which she was afraid to press for by suit.

attached. He says of her to her son, who had been his pupil, Nam et mihi omnium necessitudinum loco fuit.'

54 The family of the Powells continued to reside in Milton's house till after the death of his father in 1647. See Todd's Life, p. 88.

55 See the transcript of the original documents of Mr. Powell's compounding, in Todd's Life, (second ed.) p. 69, 70; and Milton's Petition, p. 81.

66 This passage may throw some additional light on the subject of the desertion of Milton by his wife. Aubrey says, she was a zealous royalist, and went without her husband's consent to her mother in the king's quarters. (Letter iii. p. 441). The truth then, as far as we can command it, seems to be, that she found her bridal home cheerless and dull; her husband's temper unsuitable to hers, and his opinions different; that disagreements arose and discontent on either side; and when the king and his army and court arrived in the neighbourhood of her father's house, she gladly availed herself of the opportunity of joining them, with her family. Their support secured her against the power of enforcing her return; and had the king's party been victorious, she probably would never have returned, nor acknowledged' her marriage. The battle of Naseby, and the beauty of Miss Davis, brought her to her senses. One of Milton's antagonists (G. S. 1660) accuses him; “You throw aside your wife, because your waspish spirit could not agree with her qualities, and your crooked phantasy could not be brought to take delight in her.'

In 1644, at the request of Hartlib, he published his «Tractate on Education, and his “Areopagitica, or Speech for the Liberty of unlicensed Printing.'58 The plan developed in the former tract must, I am afraid, be considered as little less than a splendid dream; a noble outline of a

57 See Todd's Life, p. 90 (second ed.)

58 Sextus the Fourth, who died in 1484, was the first who placed the press under the control of a licenser. In 1649 Gilbert Mabbet resigned the office of licenser, and urged the reasoning of Milton's work as his defence. See Birch's Life, p. xxvi. and Hollis's Memoirs, p. 257, who calls him S. Mabbot, or rather Mabbold, for so he is called in Whitelock's Index.

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