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fpirit his thoughts by a transition from one species of compofation to another. If we may rely on the information of Philips, he now began to employ himself in this manner on three great works; a voluminous Latin Dictionary, a history of England, and an Epic poem ;. of the two last I shall speak again, according to the order of their publication. The first and least important; a work to which blindness was peculiarly unfavourable, was never brought to maturity, yet served to amuse this most diligent of authors, by a change of literary occupation, almost to the close of his life. His collection of words amounted to three folios ; but the
papers, after his decease, were so discomposed and deficient (to use the expression of his nephew) 'that the work could not be made fit for the press. They proved serviceable, however,' to future compilers, and were used by those who published: the Latin Dictionary at Cambridge, in 1693.
Though he had no eyes to chuse a second wife, Milton did not long continue a widower. He married Catherine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, a rigid fectarist, says Mr. Warton, of Hackney. This lady appears to have been the most tender and amiable of the poet's three wives, and she is the only one of the three whom the muse of Milton has immortalized with an affectionate memorial. Within the year of their marriage she gave birth to a daughter, and very soon followed her infant to the grave. : “ Her husband ” (lays Johnson) “has honoured her memory with a poor “ fonnet;” an expression of contempt, which only proves that the rough critic was unable to sympathise with the
tenderness that reigns in the pathetic poetry of Milton : in the opening of this sonnet;
Methought I saw late espoused saint
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,...
and in the latter part of it,
Her face was veil'd, yet to
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her perfon Thin'd
But 0, as to embrace me she inclin'd
Milton has equalled the mournful graces of Petrarch and of Camoens, who have each of them left a plaintive composition on a similar idea. The curious reader, who may.wish to compare the three poets on this occasion, will find the similarity I speak of in the 79th sonnet of Petrarch, and the 72d of Camoens.
The loss of a wife so beloved, and the severe inthralment of his country under the increasing despotism of Cromwell, must have wounded very deeply the tender and patriotic feelings of Milton. His variety of affliction from these sources might probably occasion his being silent, as an author, for some years. In 1655 he is supposed to have written a national manifesto in Latin, to justify the war against Spain. From that time, when his defence of him
self also appeared, we know not of his having been engaged in any publication till the year 1659, excepting a political manuscript of Sir Walter Raleigh, called the Cabinet Council, which he printed in 1658, with a brief advertise
What his sentiments were concerning the last years of Cromwell, and the following distracted period, we have a striking proof in one of his private letters, written not long after the death of the protector. In reply to his foreign friend Oldenburg (he says) * “ I am very far from preparing a history of our commotions, as you seem to advise, for they are more worthy of silence than of panegyric; nor do we want a person with ability to frame an history of our troubles, but to give those troubles a happy termination ; for I sympathise with you in the fear, that the enemies of our liberty and our religion, who are recently combined, may find us too much exposed to their attack in these our civil diffentions, or rather our fits of frenzy; they cannot, however, wound our religion more than we have done ourselves by our own enormities.” The interest of religion appears on every occasion to have maintained its due ascendency in the mind of Milton, and to have formed, through the whole course of his life, the primary obje& of his pursuit ; it led him to publish, in 1659, two distinct treatises, the first on civil power in ecclesiastical causes; the second,
• Ab historia noftrorum motuum concinnanda, quod hortari videris, longe absum ; funt enim filentio digniores quam præconio : nec nobis qui motuum historiam concinnare, fed qui motus iplos componere feliciter poslitest opus, tecum enim vereor ne libertatis ac reli
gionis hoftibus nunc nuper societatis, nimis opportuni inter has noftras civiles difcordias vel potius infanias, vidcamur ; verum non illi gravius quam nofmetipfi jamdiu fagitiis 1106 tris religioni vulnus intulerint.----Prose Works, vol. 2. p. 585.
on the likeliest means to remove hirelings out of the church; performances which Johnson presumes to characterize by an expression not very consonant to the spirit of Christianity, representing them as written merely to gratify. the author's malevolence to the clergy ; a coarse reproach, which every bigot bestows upon enlightened solicitude for the purity of religion, and particularly uncandid in the present case, because the devout author has conscientiously explained his own motives in the following expressions, addressed to the long parliament restored after the decease of Cromwell.
“ Of civil liberty I have written heretofore by the appointment, and not without the approbation, of civil power; of Christian liberty I write now, which others long since having done with all freedom under heathen emperors, I should do wrong to suspect that I now shall with less under Christian governors, and such especially as profess openly their defence of Christian liberty; although I write this not otherways appointed or induced than by an inward persuasion of the Christian duty, which I may usefully difcharge herein to the common Lord and Master of us all, and the certain hope of his approbation, first and chiefest to be fought.” Milton was not a being of that common and reptile class, who assume an affected devotion as the mask of malignity. In addressing his second treatise also to the Parliament, he describes himself as a man under the protection of the legislative assembly, who had used, during eighteen years, on all occasions to affert the just rights and freedom both of church and state. 6
Had he been conscious of any base servility to Cromwell, he would certainly have abstained from this manly assertion of his own patriotic integrity, which, in that case, would have been only ridiculous and contemptible. His opinions might be erroneous, and his ardent mind over heated; but no man ever maintained, with more steadiness and refolution, the native dignity of an elevated spirit, no man more sedulously endeavoured to discharge his duty both to earth and heaven.
In February 1659, he published The ready and easy Way to establish a Free Commonwealth, a work not approved even by republican writers: I will only make one observation upon it: the motto to this performance seems to display the juft opinion that Milton entertained concerning the tyranny of Cromwell;
Consilium Syllæ dedimus, demus populo nunc,
we'en we have given Counsel to Sylla-to the people now;
a very happy allusion to the noble þut neglected advice which he bestowed on the Protector.
Amidst the various political distractions towards the end of the year 1659, he addressed a letter to a nameless friend, who had conversed with him the preceding evening on the dangerous ruptures of the commonwealth. . This, letter and a brief paper, containing a sketch of a commonwealth, addressed to general Monk, were, soon after the author's