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current of popular opinion ran with great vehemence against

Having paid what was due to friendship in his poetical capacity, he devoted his pen to public affairs, and entered on that career of controversy, which estranged him so long, and carried him so far from those milder and more engaging studies, that natute and education had made the darling's of bis 'mind. If to facrifice favourite pursuits that promised great glory, pursuits in which acknowledged genius had qualified an ambitious spirit to excel; if to sacrifice these to irksome disputes, from a sense of what he owed to the exigencies of his country; if such conduct deserve, as it affuredly does, the name of public virtue, it may be as difficult, per haps, to find an equal to Milton in genuine patriotism as in poetical power : for who can be said to have facrificed fo much, or to have shewn a former affection - to-the-public good? If he miftook the mode of promoting it ; if his fen: timents, both on' ecclesiastical and civil? policy, are fuch as the majority of our countrymen think it just and wise' to reject, let us give him the credit he deserves for the merit of his intention ; let us respect, as we ought to do, the probity of an exalted understanding; animated by a fervent; steady, and laudable desire to enlighten mankind, and to render them more virtuous and happy:

In the year 1640, when Milton returned to England, the

episcopacy. He was prepared to catch the spirit of the time, and to become an advocate for ecclesiastical reformation, by having peculiar and domestic grounds of complaint against religious oppression. His favourite preceptor had been reduced to exile, and his father difinherited, by into



lerance and superstition. He wrote, therefore, with the indignant enthusiasm of a man resenting the injuries of those, who are most entitled to his love and veneration. The ardour of his affections conspired with the warmth of his fancy to enflame him with that puritanical zeal, which blazes so intensely in his controversial productions: no less than four of these were published within two years after his return; and he thus speaks of the motives, that led him to this species of composition, in his Second Defence.

“Being * animated by this universal outcry against the bishops, as I perceived that men were taking the true road to liberty, and might proceed with the utmost rectitude from these beginnings to deliver human life from all base subje&ion, if their discipline, drawing its source from religion, proceeded to morals and political institutions; as I had been trained from my youth to the particular knowledge of what belonged to divine, and what to human jurisdiction; and as

* Ut primum loquendi faltem cæpta eft li mumritaque de reformanda ecclefia Anglicana; bertas concedi, omnia in epifcopos' aperiri duos ad amicum quendam libros confcripfi ; ora; alii de ipsorum vitiis, alii de ipfius ordinis deinde, cum duo præ cæteris magni nominis vitio conqueri - - - Ad hæc fane experrectus, episcopi suum jus contra ministros quofdam cum veram affectari viam ad libertatem cer primaries affererent, ratus de iis rebus, quas nerem, ab his initiis, his passibus, ad liberandam amore folo veritatis, & ex officii christiani fervitute vitam omnem mortalium rectiffime ratione didiceram, haud pejus me diclurum procedi, G ab religione disciplina orta, ad mores quam qui de fuo quæftu & injuftiffimo domi& instituta reipublicæ emanaret, cum etiam

natu contendebant, ad hunc libris duobus, quome ita ab adolescentia parâfsem, ut quid divini, rum unus De Epifcopatu Prælatico, alter De quid bumani effet juris, ante omnia poffem non

Ratione Disciplinæ Ecclesiasticæ, infcribitur, ignorare, meque consuluissem ecquando ullius ad illum scriptis quibusdam animadversionibus, ulus effem futurus, fi nunc patriæ, immo vero & mox Apologia respondi, et miniftris facunecclefiae totque fratribus evangelii caula peri diam bominis, ut ferebatur ægre fuftinentibus, culo sese objicientibus deessem, ftatui, etfi fuppetias tuli, & ab eo tempore, fi quid poftea tunc alia quædam meditabar, huc omne inge responderent, interfixi, T.; nium, omnes industriæ vires transferre. Pria

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I thought I should deserve to forfeit the power of being useful to mankind, if I now failed to affift' my country and the church, and so many brethren, who for the sake of the gospel were exposing themselves to peril, I refolved, though my thoughts had been pre-engaged by other designs, to transfer to this object all my talents and all my application : first, therefore, I wrote of reformation in England two books addressed to a friend; afterwards, when two bishops of eminence had aflerted their càuse against the leading ministers of the opposite-party, as 'I conceived that I could argue, from a love of truth and a sense of christian duty, not less forcibly than my antagonists (who contended for lucre and their own unjust dominion) I answered one of them in two books with the following titles, Of Prelaticat Epifcopacy, Of Church Government; and the other, first in Animadverfions upon the Remonstrañits Defence againt Sme&ymnuus, and secondly, in my Apology. As the minifters were thought hardly equal to their opponent in eloquence, I lent them aid, and from that time, if they made any farther reply, I was a party concerned.”

I have inserted this passage at full length, because it gives' us a clear insight into the motives of Milton on his firft engaging in controversy, and discovers the high opinion which he entertained, both of the christian purity and the argumentative powers of his own cultivated mind: the two bishops to whom he alludes were, Hall bishop of Norwich, famous as our first satirist, and the learned Usher, primate of Ireland. Hall published in 1640, " An humble Remonstrance to the High Court of Parliament in Behalf of Episcopacy”—


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an answer to this appeared written by six ministers, under the title of Smectymnuus, 'a word casually formed from the initial letters of their respective names... This little band of religious writers included Thomas Young, the beloved preceptor of Milton; so that personal attachment conspired with public enthusiasm to make our author vehement in his reply to the two bishops; who failed not to encounter the confederate antagonifts of their order. He probably recollected the sufferings of his favourite instructor, when he exclaimed in his treatise of reformation, “What numbers of faithful and free born Englishmen and good christians have been constrained to forsake their dearest home, their friends and kindred, whom nothing but the wide ocean, or the savage deserts of America, could hide and shelter from the fury of the bishops."ii

22 However furious the persecution might be, which excited antipathy and abhorrence in Milton against the order of bishops, it must be confessed that he frequently speaks with that intemperance of zeal, which defeats its own purpose. There are some passages in his controversial writings, that must be read with concern by his most paflionate admirers; yet even the gloom and severity of these are compensated by such occafional flashes of ardent fancy, of sound argument, and of fublime devotion, as may extort commendation even from readers who love not the author

,, In his first Ecclefiaftical Treatise of Reformation, he makes the following very, folemn appeal to heaven on his integrity as a writer :,,,"And here withal I inyoke the immortal

deity, revealer and judge of secrets, that wherever I have

" in this book plainly and roundly, though worthily and " truly, laid open the faults and blemishes of fathers, már

tyrs, or christian emperors, or have otherways inveighed

against error and superstition with vehement expressions, “ I have done it neither out of malice, nor list to speak evil;

nor any vain glory, but of mere necessity, to vindicate the “ spotless truth from an ignominious bondage.”

Towards the close of this performance he gives a diftant-mysterious hint of his great and unsettled poetical de-' signis, with a very striking mixture of moral, political, and religious enthufiasm.

Then, amidst the hymns and hallelujahs of saints, fome " one may, perhaps, be heard offering at high-strains, in new "and lofty measures, to sing and celebrate thy divine mercies " and marvellous judgments in this land throughout all

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In his subsequent work, on-the Reason of Church Government, he gratifies us with a more' enlarged view of his literary projects, not yet moulded into form, but, like the une arranged elements of creation, now floating at large in his capacious mind...)

I transcribe the long passage alluded to, because it illustrates the mental character of Milton, with á mild energy, a folemn fplendor of sentiment and expression peculiar to himfelf, ils:

::.« Time serves not now, and, perhaps, I might seem too « profuse to give any certain account of what the mind at “home, in the spacious circuits of her musing, hath liberty " to propose to herself, though of highest hope and hardest

“ attempting;

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