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and confidence of mankind, the worst of wounds, since the fall of our first parents, that could be inflicted on the human
You have taken upon you a burthen of weight inexpressible ; it will put to the severest perpetual test the inmost qualities, virtues, and powers
heart and soul; it will determine whether there really exists in your character that piety, faith, justice, and moderation, for the sake of which we believe you raised above others, by the influence of God, to this supreme charge. •
“ To direct three most powerful nations by your counsel, to endeavour to reclaim the people from their depraved institutions to better conduct and discipline, to send forth into remotest regions your anxious spirit and incessant thoughts, to watch, to foresee, to shrink from no labour, to spurn every allurement of pleasure, to avoid the oftentation of opulence and power, these are the arduous duties, in comparison of which war itself is mere sport; these will search and prove you ; they require, indeed, a man supported by the assistance of heaven, and almost admonished and instructed by immediate intercourse with God. These and more I doubt not but you diligently revolve in your mind, and this in particular, by what methods you may be most able to accomplish things of highest moment, and secure to us our liberty not only safe but enlarged.”
If a private individual thus speaking to a man of unbounded influence, whom a powerful nation had idolized and courted to assume the reins of government, can be called a flatterer, we have only to wish that all the flatterers of earthly power may be of the same complexion. The ad-
monition to the people, with which Milton concludes his second defence, is by no means inferior in dignity and spirit to the advice he bestowed on the protector. The great misfortune of the monitor was, that the two parties, to whom he addressed his eloquent and patriotic exhortation, were neither of them so worthy of his counsel as he wished them to be, and endeavoured to make them. For Cromwell, as his subsequent conduct sufficiently proved; was a political impostor with an arbitrary soul ; and as to the people, they were alternately the dishonoured instruments and victims of licentiousness and fanaticisın. The protector, his adherents, and his enemies, to speak of them in general, were as little able to reach the disinterested purity of Milton's principles, as they were to attain, and even to estimate, the sublimity of his poetical genius. But Milton, who palfionately loved his country, though he saw and lamented the various corruptions of his contemporaries, still continued to hope, with the native ardour of a fanguine fpirit, that the mass of the English people would be enlightened and improved. His real sentiments of Cromwell, I am persuaded, were these : he long regarded him as a person not only possessed of wonderful influence and ability, but disposed to attempt, and likely to accomplish, the purest: and noblest purposes of policy and religion ; yet often thwarted and embarrassed in his best designs, not only by the power and machinations of the enemies with whom he had to contend, but by the want of faith, morality, and sense in the motley multitude, whom he endeavoured to guide and govern. As religious enthusiasm was the predo
minant characteristic of Milton, it is most probable that his fervid imagination beheld in Cromwell a person destined by heaven to reduce, if not to annihilate, what he considered as the most enormous grievance of earth, the prevalence of popery and superstition.' The several humane and spirited letters which he wrote, in the name of Cromwell, to redress the injuries of the perfecuted protestants, who suffered in Piedmont, were highly calculated to promote, in equal degrees, his zeal for the purity of religion, and his attachment to the protector.
Yet great as the powers of Cromwell were to dazzle and delude, and willing as the liberal mind of Milton was to give credit to others for that pure public fpirit, which he possessed himself, there is great reason to apprehend, that his veneration and esteem for the protector were entirely destroyed by the treacherous despotism of his latter days. But however his opinion of Oliver might change, he was far from betraying liberty, according to Johnson's ungenerous accusation, by continuing to exercise his office ; on the contrary, it ought to be' esteemed a proof of his fidelity to freedom, that he condescended to remain in an office, which he had received from no individual, and in which he justly .considered himself as a servant of the state. From one of his familiar letters, written in the year preceding the death of Cromwell, it is evident that he had no secret intimacy or influence with the protector; and that, instead of engaging in ambitious machinations, he confined himself as much as possible to the privacy of domestic life. Finally, on a full and fair review of all the intercourse between Milton and
Cromwell, there is not the smallest ground to suspect, that Milton ever spoke or acted as a sycophant or a Nave; he bestowed, indeed, the most liberal eulogy, both in prose and rhyme, upon the protector ; but at a period, when it was the general opinion, that the utmost efforts of panegyric could hardly equal the magnitude and the variety of the services rendered to his country by the acknowledged hero and the fancied patriot ; at a period when the eulogist, who understood the frailty of human nature, and foresaw the temptations of recent power, might hope that praise so magnificent, united to the noblest advice, would prove to the ardent spirit of the protector the best preservative against the delirium of tyranny. These generous hopes were disappointed; the despotic proceedings of Cromwell convinced his independent monitor, that he deserved not the continued applause of a free spirit; and though the atchievements of the protector were so fascinating, that poetical panegyrics encircled even his grave, yet Milton praised him no more, but after his decease fondly hailed the revival of parlia-mentary independence, as a new dawning of God's providence on the nation. In contemplating these two extraordinary men together, the real lover of truth and freedom can hardly fail to observe the striking contrast of their characters; one was an absolute model of false, and the other of true, grandeur. Mental dignity and public virtue were in Cromwell fi&titious and delusive; in Milton they were genuine and unchangeable ; Cromwell shews the formidable wonders that courage and cunning can perform, with the assistance of fortune ; Milton, the wonders, of a superior
kind, that integrity and genius can accomplish, in despight of adversity and affliction.
An eager solicitude to vindicate a most noble mind from a very base and injurious imputation has led me to anticipate some public events. From these observations on the native and incorruptible independence of Milton's mind, let us return to the incidents of his domestic life.
Soon after his removal to his house in Westminster, his fourth child, Deborah, was born, on the ad of May, 1652. The mother, according to Philips, died in child-bed. The situation of Milton at this period was such as might have depressed the mind of any ordinary man : at the age of fortyfour he was left a widower, with three female orphans, the eldest about six years old, deformed in her person, and with an impediment in her speech ; his own health was very delicate; and with eyes that were rapidly sinking into incurable blindness, he was deeply engaged in a literary contest of the highest importance. With what spirit and success he triumphed over his political and personal enemies the reader is already informed. When these, in 1654, were all filenced and subdued by the irresistible power of his superior talents and probity," he had leisure again (says his nephew) for “ his own studies and private designs.”
It seems to have been the habit of Milton to devote as many hours in every day to intense study as the mental faculties could bear, and to render such constant exertion less oppressive to the mind, by giving variety to the objets of its application, engaging in different works of magnitude at the same time, that he might occasionally relieve and in