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eulogy alone appears sufficient to refute a remark unfriendly to Milton, that he was frugal of his praise; such frugality will hardly be found united to a benevolent heart and a glowing imagination.
In 1645, his early poems, both English and Latin, were first published in a little volume by Humphry Mosely, who informs the reader in his advertisement, that he had obtained them by solicitation from the author, regarding him as a successful rival of Spencer,
Milton had now passed more than three years in that fingular state of mortification, which the disobedience of his wife occafioned. His time had been occupied by the inceffant exercise of his mental powers ; but he probably felt with peculiar poignancy
“. A craving void left aching in the breast.”
As he entertained serious thoughts of enforcing, by his own example, his doctrine of divorce, and of marrying another wife, who might be worthy of the title, he paid his addresses to the daughter of Doctor Davies : the father seems to have been a convert to Milton's arguments ; but the lady had scruples. She possessed, according to Philips, both wit and beauty.
A novelist could hardly imagine circum-stances more singularly distressing to fenfibility, than the situation of the poet, if, as we may reasonably conjecture, he was deeply enamoured of this lady; if her father was inclined to accept him as a son-in-law; and if the object of his love had no inclination to reject his fuit, but what arose from a dread of his being indissolubly united to another.
Perhaps Milton alludes to what he felt on this occasion in those affecting lines of Paradise Lost, where Adam, prophetically enumerating the miseries to arise from woman, says, in closing the melancholy list, that man sometimes
“ His happieft choice too late
However strong the scruples of his new favourite might have been, it seems not improbable that he would have triumphed over them, had not an occurrence, which has the air of an incident in romance, given another turn to the emotions of his heart. While he was conversing with a relation, whom he frequently vifited in St. Martin's-lane, the door of an adjoining apartment was suddenly opened : he beheld his repentant wife kneeling at his feet, and imploring his forgiveness. After the natural struggles of honest pride and just refentment, he forgave and received her, “ partly « from the intercession of their common friends, and partly," fays his nephew, “ from his own generous nature, more " inclinable to reconciliation, than to perseverance in anger " and revenge."
Fenton juftly remarks, that the strong impression which this interview must have made on Milton" contributed “ much to the painting of that pathetic scene in Paradise "Loft, in which Eve addresses herself to Adam for pardon
“ and peace ;” the verses, charming as they are, acquire new charms, when we consider them as descriptive of the poet himself and the penitent destroyer of his domestic comfort.
“ Her lowly plight
Acknowledg’d and deplor’d, in Adam wrought
It has been said, that Milton resembled his own Adam in the comeliness of his person; but he seems to have resembled him still more in much nobler endowments, and particularly in uniting great tenderness of heart to equal dignity of mind. Soon after he had pardoned, and lived again with his wife, he afforded an asylum, in his own house, to both her parents, and to their numerous family. They were active royalists, and fell into great distress by the ruin of their party: these were the persons who had not only treated Milton with contemptuous pride, but had imbittered his existence for four years, by instigating his wife to persist in deferting him. The mother, as Wood intimates, was his greatest enemy, and occasioned the perverse conduct of her daughter. The father, though sumptuous in his mode of life when he first received Milton as his son-in-law, had
never paid the marriage portion of a thousand pounds, according to kis agreement, and was now stript of his property by the prevalence of the party he had opposed. On persons thus contumelious and culpable towards him, Milton, bestowed his favour and protection. Can the records of private life exhibit a more magnanimous example of forgiveness and beneficence ?
At the time of his wife's unexpected return, he was preparing to remove from Aldersgate to a larger house in Barbican, with a view of increasing the number of his scholars. It was in this new mansion that he received the forgiven penitent, and provided a refuge for her relations, whom he retained under his roof, according to Fenton, “ till their “affairs were accommodated by his interest with the victo
- rious party.”
They left him soon after the death of his father, who ended a very long life, in the year 1647, and not without the gratification, peculiarly soothing to an affectionate old man, of bestowing his benediction on a grand-child; for, within the year of Milton's re-union with his wife, his family was increased by a daughter, Anne, the eldest of his children, born July 29th, 1646.
When his apartments were no longer occupied by the guests, whom he had so generously received, he admitted more scholars ; but their number was small, and Philips imagines, that he was induced to withdraw himself from the business of education by a prospect of being appointed adjutant general in Sir William Waller's army : whatever might have been the motive for his change of life, he quit
ted his large house in Barbican for a smaller in Holborn,
among those (says his nephew) that open backwards into “ Lincoln's Inn Fields,” where he lived, according to the same author, in great privacy, and perpetually engaged in a variety of studies.
Three years elapsed without any new publication from his pen; a silence which the various affecting occurrences in his family would naturally produce. In 1649 he published The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates ; and in his fummary account of his own writings, he relates the time and occasion of this performance. He declares, that without any personal malevolence againft the deceased monarch, who had been tried and executed before this publication appeared, it was written to compose the minds of the people, disturbed by the duplicity and turbulence of certain presbyterian ministers, who affected to consider the sentence against the king as contrary to the principles of every protestant church, falsehood (says Milton) which, with“ out inveighing against Charles, I refuted by the testimony ss of their most eminent theologians *.”
* Tum verò tandem, cùin presbyteriani Carolo quicquam fcripfi aut suası, fed quid in quidam ministri, Carolo priùs infeftiffimi, genere contra tyrannos liceret, adductis haud nunc independentium partes fuis antefcrri, et paucis fuiniorum theologoruin testimoniis in senatu plus posse indignantes, parliamenti oftendi ; et insignem hominum meliora prosententiæ de rege latæ (non facto irati, sed quod fitentium, five ignorantiam five impudentiam ipsorum factio non feciffet) reclamitarent, et propè concionabundus inceffi. Liber ifte non quantum in ipfis erat tumultuarentur, aufi nifi poft mortein regis prodiit, ad componenaffirmare proteftantium doctrinam, omnesque dos potius hominum animos factus, quam ad ecclefias reformatas ab ejufmodi in reges atroci ftatuendum de Carolo quicquam, quod non sententiâ abhorrere, ratus falfitati tam aperta mea, fed magistratuum intererat, et peractum palàm eundem obviàm efle, ne tum quidem de jam tum erat. Prose Works, vol. ii. p. 385.