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lar proof of genuine public spirit that ever patriot had occasion to display; since, 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 reflected that many had purchased with a supe“rior evil a lighter good, glory with death; to me, on the “ contrary, greater good was proposed with an inferior evil; " so that, by incurring blindness alone, I might fulfil the “ most honourable of all duties, which, as it is a more folid “ advantage than glory itself, ought to be more eligible in “ the estimation of every man ; I refolved therefore to make “ what short use I might yet have of my eyes as conducive
as possible to public utility : you see what I preferred, and " what I lost, with the principle on which I acted ; let slan".derers therefore cease to talk irreverently on the judgment « of God, and to make me the subject of their fi&tions; let " them know that I am far from considering my lot with
Unde fic mecum reputabam, multos gra neque pænitere; immotum atque fixum in viore malo minus bonum, morte gloriam, re fententiâ perftare; Deum iratum neque sendemisse; mihi contra majus bonum minore tire, neque habere, immo maximis in rebus cum malo proponi ; ut poffem cum cæcitate clementiam ejus et benignitatem erga me pafola vel honcstiffimum officii munus implere ternam experiri atque agnoscere; in hoc przequod ut ipfa gloria per fe eft folidius, ita euique sertim, quòd folante ipfo atque animum conoptatius atque antiquius debet effe. Hac firmante in ejus divina voluntate acquiescam; igitur tam brevi luminum usurâ; quanta max quid is largitus mihi sit quàm quid negaverit ima quivi cum utilitate publica, quoad liceret,' fæpius cogitans ; poitremo nolle me cum fuo fruendum effe ftatui. Videtis quid prætule. quovis rectissime facto, facti mei conscientiam rim, quid amiserim, quâ inductus ratione : permutare; aut recordationem ejus gratam desinant ergo judiciorum Dei calumniatores i mihi femper atque tranquillam deponere.maledicere, deque me fomnia sibi fingere: sic
Profe Works, val., 2. p.: 376. denique habento me fortis meæ 'neque pigere
“ sorrow or repentance ; that I persist 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 import“ ant concerns, in this especially, that, by the comfort and " confirmation which he himself infuses into my spirit, I ac
quiesce in his divine pleasure, continually 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 merit, whatever it may be, s or part with a remembrance, which is to my own mind
a perpetual source of tranquillity and satisfaction.”
Whenever he is induced to mention himself, the purity and vigour of Milton's mind appear in full lustre, whether he speaks in verse or in prose: the preceding passage from his Second Defence is consonant to the fonnet on his blindness, addressed to Syriac Skinner, which, though different critics have denied the author to excel in this minute fpecies of composition, has hardly been surpassed; it deserves double praise for energy of expression and heroisin of sentiment.
Cyriac, this three-years day these eyes, tho' clear
To outward view of blemish or of spot,
Nor to their idle orbs does day appear,
Or man or woman; yet I argue not
Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer
This thought might lead me thro' the world's vain mask
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 countries, as the eloquent defender of the English nation. “* This I can truly affirm,” (says Milton, in mentioning the reception of his great political performance) “ that as soon as my defence of the
people was published, and read with avidity, there was
not, in our metropolis, any, ambassador from any state or ss fovereign, who did not either congratulate me if we met “ by chance, or express a desire to receive me at his house,
me at mine.”
* Hoc etiam vere possum dicere,' quo primùm tempore nostra defenfio eft edita, et legentium ftudia incaluere, nullum vel principis yel civitatis legatum in urbe tum fuisse,
qui non vel fortè obvio mihi gratuleretur, vel conventum apud le cuperet yel domi invia foret. Proto Works, vol. 2. p. 394.
Toland relates, that he received from the parliament a prefent of a thousand pounds for the defence. The author does not include this circumstance among the many particulars 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 considered as an honourable public duty, without aiming at a pecuniary recompence; and that instead of having acquired the opulence with which his adversary reproached him, he received not the slightest gratuity for that production * Yet he appears to have been perfectly satisfied with the kindness of his associates; for, in speaking of his blindness, he says, that “ far from being neglected on this account by the
highest characters in the republic, they constantly regarded him with indulgence and favour, not seeking to
deprive him either of distinction or emolument; though “his powers of being useful were diminished ;” hence he compares himself to an ancient Athenian, supported by a decree of honour at the expence of the public t. Among the foreign compliments he received, the applause of
* Contentus quæ honesta factu funt, ca propter se foluin appetisse, et gratis persequi : id alii viderint tuque scito me illas “opimi
tatcs," atque “opes," quas mihi exprobas, non attigisse neque eo nomine quo maxime accufas obolo faétum ditiorem.---Prore Works, vol. ii. p. 378.
+ Quin et summi quoque in republica viri quandoquidem non otio torpentem me, sed iinpigrum et summa discrimina pro libertate inter primos adeuntem oculi deseruerunt, ipfi
non deferunt; verum humana qualia fint fecum reputantes, tanquam emerito favent, indulgent vacationem atque otium faciles concedunt; si quid publici muneris, non adimunt; fi quid ex ea re commodi, non mia nuunt ; et quamvis non æquè nunc utili præ. bendum nihilo minus benignè censent; eodem plane honore, ac fi, ut olim Atheniensibus mos erat, in Prytaneo alendum decreviffent. Profe Works, vol. ii. p. 376.
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 sovereigns, 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 splendid panegyric, of which the subsequent conduct of that singular and fantastic personage too clearly proved her unworthy; yet Milton cannot fairly be charged with servile adulation. Christina, when he appeared as her eulogist, was the idol of the literary world. The candour with which she spake as a queen on his defence of the people would naturally strike the author as an engaging proof of her discernment and magnanimity; he was also gratified in no common degree by the coolness with which The treated his adversary; for Salmafius, whom she had invited to her court for his erudition, was known to have lost her favour, when his literary arrogance and imbecility were exposed and chastised by the indignant fpirit of Milton. The wretched Salmasius, indeed, was utterly overwhelmed in the encounter : he had quitted France, his native country, where he honourably disdained to purchase a pension by flattering the tyranny of Richlieu, and had settled in Leyden as an asylum of liberty ; he seemed, therefore, as one of his Parisian correspondents observed to him, to cancel the “ merit of his former conduct by writing against England.” Salmafius was extravagantly vain, and trusted too much to his great reputation as a scholar ; his antagonist, on the contrary, was so little known as a Latin writer before the