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joy when her mother, to console her, presented | For truth is as impossible to be reached by her with some trinkets, for which her daughter any outward touch as the sunbeam; though had long wished.
this ill bap wait on her nativity, that she never Milton awaited his friend's return with the comes into the world, but, like a bastard, to utmost impatience. When Overton bad given the ignominy of him that brought her forth ; him a detailed account of his unsuccessful mis- till Time, the midwife rather than the mother sion, and of Mary's conduct, he was seized of truth, have washed and salted the infant, with poignant grief, which soon gave way to declared her legitimate."
“I am afraid you will not only be strenuously “Very well,” he said, after a short inward opposed, but those men, to whom no liberty struggle. “Nothing remains for me then but is pleasing but unbridled and vagabond lust, to obtain a divorce."
without pale or partition, will laugh broadly “You can hardly hope to accomplish your to see you arguing, as they suppose, in favor purpose, as our church regulations and civil of their debaucheries.” laws render it almost impossible for any one “Bad men, like spiders, draw venom from to get a divorce."
the most innocent flowers. But this cannot Milton admitted this, and said:
prevent us from telling the truth, to wit, that “If it were seriously asked (and this is the honest liberty is the greatest foe to dishonest very question now) who, of all teachers and license. I deem the question of divorce of masters that have ever taught, has drawn the the highest importance to society, although it most disciples after him, both in religion and is not treated yet by any means with the atin manners, it might be not antruly answered, tention which it deserves. Indeed, man's disCustom. Though virtue be commended for position, though prone to search after vain the most persuasive in her theory, and con- curiosities, yet, when points of difficulty are to science in the plain demonstration of the spirit be discussed, appertaining to the removal of finds most evincing, yet, whether it be the se- unreasonable wrong and burden from the per cret of divine will, or the original blindness plexed life of our brother, it is incredible how we are born in, so it happens, for the most cold, how dull, and far from all fellow-feeling part, that Custom still is silently received for we are, without the spur of self-concernment. the best instructor, although it fills each estate Now, what thing is more instituted to the of life and profession with abject and servile solace and delight of man than marriage ? principles, and depresses the high and heaven And yet the misinterpreting of some Scripture, born spirit of man far beneath the condition directed mainly against the abusers of the law wherein either God created him, or sin has for divorce, given by Moses, has changed the sunk him. Custom is but a mere face, as blessing of matrimony not seldom into a faEcho is a mere voice, and she rests not in her miliar and coinhabiting mischief ; at least into unaccomplishment, until, by secret inclination, a drooping and disconsolate household capshe accorporates herself with Error, who, betivity, without refuge or redemption. No place ing a blind and serpentine body, without a in heaven or earth, no place except hell, where head, willingly accepts what he wants, and charity may not enter; yet marriage, the orsupplies what her incompleteness went seek- dinance of our solace and contentment, the ing. Hence it is, that Error supports Custom, remedy of our loneliness, will not admit now Custom countenances Error; and he who op- either of charity or mercy to come in and poses them must submit to slander and enmity. / mediate, or pacify the fierceness of this gentle
ordinance, the unremedied loneliness of this knowledge, as this prevention of loneliness to remedy. He who marries, intends as little to the mind and spirit of man. And with all conspire his own ruin as he that swears alle- generous persons married thus it is, that giance; and as a whole people is in proportion where the mind and person pleases aptly, to an ill goverument, so is one man to an ill there some unaccomplishment of the body's marriage. If they, against any unworthy au- delight may be better borne with, than when thority, covenant, or statute, may, by the the mind hangs off in an unclosing disproporsovereign edict of charity, save not only tion, though the body be as it ought; for their lives but honest liberties from unworthy there all corporal delight will soon become unbondage, as well may he against any private savory and contemptible. And the solitariness covenant, which he never entered to his mis- of man, which God had namely and principally chief, redeem himself from unsupportable dis- ordered to prevent by marriage, has no remedy, turbances to honest peace and just content- but lies under a worse condition than the ment. For no effect of tyranny cau sit more loneliest single life ; for, in single life, the abheavy on the commonwealth than this house sence and remoteness of a helper might inure hold unbappiness on the family. And fare- him to expect his own comforts out of himwell all hope of true reformation in the state self, or to seek with hope; but here the conwhile such an evil as this lies undiscerned or tinual sight of his deluded thoughts, without udregarded in the house, on the redress where- cure, must needs be to him, if especially his of depends, not only the spiritual and orderly complexion inclines him to melancholy, a daily life of our own grown men, but the willing trouble and pain of loss, in some degree like and careful education of our children."
that which reprobates feel.” “I have no doubt of the correctness of your “For this reason the most careful examinaviews; however, they are not in accordance tion ought to precede the choice of a consort, with the teachings and principles of the and he who resolves to marry should proceed Church, which acknowledges only adultery as with the utmost deliberation." a cause of divorce."
“ The utmost deliberation and care do not “And yet all sense and equity reclaims, that exclude mistakes in all human matters. The any law or covenant, how solemn or strait so most deliberate and calm men are generally ever, either between God and man, or man those wbo have the least practical experience and man, should bind against a prime and in this regard. But it does not follow from principal scope of its own institution. And this that any one, by committing so pardonwhat God's chief end was of creating woman able a mistake, should forfeit his happiness for to be joined with man, His own instituting all his lifetime. Marriage is a covenant, the words declare, and are infallible to inform us very being whereof consists not in a forced cowhat is marriage, and what is no marriage. habitation, and counterfeit performance of du* It is not good,' saith He, 'that man should ties, but in unfeigned love and peace. I do be alone; I will make him a help meet for not know if you are familiar with the parable him. From which words, so plain, less can of the ancient sages, which, it seems to me, not be concluded, nor is by any learned in- might be aptly quoted on this occasion.” terpreter, than that in God's intention a meet “I am not, and would like to hear it from and happy conversation is the chiefest and the your lips." noblest end of marriage; for we find here no “Eros, the god of love, if he be not twinexpression so necessarily implying carnal | born, yet has a brother wondrous like him,
called Anteros; whom while he seeks all about, | his objections to Milton's resolution to obtain his chance is to meet with many false and a divorce from Mary. Milton, however, perfeigning desires, that wander singly up and sisted in it, and continued to present additional down in his likeness; by them in their bor- arguments to his friend. rowed garb, Eros, though not wholly blind, as “What can be a fouler incongruity,” he said poets wrong him, yet having but one eye, as in the course of the conversation, “a greater being born an archer aiming, and that eye not violence to the reverend secret of nature, than the quickest in this dark region here below, to force a mixture of minds that cannot unite, which is not love's proper sphere, partly out and to sow the sorrow of man's nativity with of the simplicity and credulity which is native seed of two incoherent and uncombining disto him, often deceived, embraces and consorts positions ? Generally daily experience shows him with these obvious and suborned striplings, that there is a hidden efficacy of love and as if they were his mother's own sons; for so batred in man as well as in other kinds, not he thinks them, while they subtilly keep them- moral but natural, which, though not always selves most on his blind side. But after a in the choice, yet in the success of marriage, while, as his manner is when soaring up into will ever be most predominant. But what the high tower of his Apogæum, above the might be the cause, whether each one's allotted shadow of the earth, he darts out the direct genius or proper star, or whether the supernal rays of his then most piercing eyesight upon influence of schemes and angular aspects, or the impostures and trim disguises that were this elemental crasis here below; whether all used with him, and discerns that this is not his these jointly or singly meeting friendly or ungenuine brother as he imagined; he has no friendly in either party, I dare not appear so longer the power to hold fellowship with such much a philosopher as to conjecture. Seeing, a personated mate: for straight bis arrows then, there is a twofold seminary, or stock in lose their golden heads and shed their purple nature, from wbence are derived the issues of feathers, his silken braids untwine and slip love and batred, distinctly flowing through the their knots, and that original and fiery virtue whole mass of created things, and that God's given him by fate all on a sudden goes out, and doing ever is to bring the due likenesses and leaves him undeified and despoiled of all bis harmonies together, except when out of two force; till finding Anteros at last, he kindles contraries met to their own destruction He and repairs the almost faded ammunition of moulds a third existence; and that it is error his deity by the reflection of a coequal and or some evil angel which either blindly or mahomogeneous fire. Thus mine author sung it liciously has drawn together, in two persons ill 'to me; and by the leave of those who would embarked in wedlock, the sleeping discords be counted the only grave ones, this is no mere and enmities of nature, lulled on purpose with amatorious novel, but a deep and serious verity some false bait, that they may wake to agony showing us that love in marriage cannot live and strife, later than prevention could have nor subsist unless it be mutual; and where love wished, if from the bent of just and honest incannot be, there can be left of wedlock noth- tentions beginning what was begun and so coning but the empty husk of an outside matri- tinuing, all that is equal, all that is fair and mony, as undelightful and unpleasing to God possible has been tried, and no accommodaas any other kind of hypocrisy."
tion likely to succeed; what folly is it still to Overton had listened approvingly to the par- stand combating and battering against invinable; nevertheless, he renewed again and again ! cible causes and effects, with evil upon evil, till
either the best of our days be lingered out, or and fruitless rigor of the most unwarranted ended with some speeding sorrow! If the law." noisomeness or disfigurement of body can soon destroy the sympathy of mind to wedlock duties, much more will the annoyance and trouble
CHAPTER XVII. of mind infuse itself into all the faculties and
ANNA DAVIES-REUNION OF HUSBAND AND WISE, acts of the body, to render them invalid, unkindly, and even unholy against the law of na The longer Mary delayed returning to him, ture. What is life without the vigor and spir- the more fixed became Milton's purpose to reitual exercise of life? How can it be useful pudiate her forever. But, in reflecting on the either to private or public employment ? Shall nature of matrimony and divorce, he had in it therefore be quite dejected, though never so view not so much his own individual case as valuable, and left to moulder away in heavi- the general welfare of his country. He longed ness, for the superstitious and impossible per- to abate the evils which he believed exerted formance of an ill-driven bargain? It is not the most injurious effects, and he really inwhen two unfortunately met are by the canon tended to benefit bis fellow-citizens far more forced to draw in that yoke an unmerciful day's than himself. His own case seemed less imwork of sorrow till death upharnesses them, portant to him than the pernicious consethat then the law keeps marriage most unvio- quences of that legislation which made the lated and unbroken ; but when the law takes institution of wedlock an indissoluble bond, an order, that marriage be accountant and respon-intolerable tyrant for all. He did not wish to sible to perform that society, whether it be re deliver himself alone, but the whole world was ligious, civil, or corporal, which may be con to enjoy the liberty for which he strove. Thus scionably required and claimed therein, or else he rose above his own grief, and sought to to be dissolved if it cannot be undergone. This free himself from the sufferings weighing him is to make marriage most indissoluble, by mak- down, in a less egotistical manner, and to the ing it a just and equal dealer, a performer of benefit of all men. For this reason he wrote those due helps which instituted the covenant; out in an elaborate manner the ideas to which being otherwise a most unjust contract, and his conversation with Overton had given rise, no more to be maintained under tuition of law, and dedicated his “Doctrine and Discipline of than the vilest fraud, or cheat, or theft, that Divorce" to the British Parliament. may be committed. Let not, therefore, the Milton was not a little surprised at the unfrailty of man go on thus inventing needless expected attacks which were made upon this troubles to itself, to groan under the false ima- work from a side whence he had expected gination of a strictness never imposed from them least. The Presbyterian clergy, which above. Let us not be thus over-curious to he had defended so courageously and ably in strain at atoms, and yet to stop every vent and his pamphlet against the Episcopal prelates, cranny of permissive liberty, lest nature, want-took umbrage at this essay, and preferred ing those needful pores and breathing-places, charges against the author on account of his which God has not debarred our weakness, liberal sentiments. The same party, which either suddenly break out into some wide rup- bad but a short time ago groaned under the ture of open vice and frantic heresy, or else in- persecutions of the bishops, and fought for wardly fester with useless repinings and freedom of conscience and faith, persecuted blasphemous thoughts, under an unreasonable / truth now that it had achieved a victory. For
tunately, Parliament did not listen to its in- , such as influence us in a palpable manner, tolerant charges, and dropped the whole while we are only too much inclined to conmatter.
sider as non-existent those mysterious powers Deserted by his wife, Milton sought to com which escape our coarser senses. fort and divert himself at the house of a noble they are the rulers of the world and the prinlady. Lady Margaret Ley was the daughter cipal wheels of the creation.” of the Earl of Marlborough, and endowed with “You are right,” replied Lady Ley; "above rare qualities of the heart and mind. At her all, it seems to me, love is one of those myshouse met the most eminent men and women, terious forces of Nature which are revealed to who, amidst the troubles and disorder of a man only by tbeir effects. Urfortunately, we bloody civil war, preserved a refined taste for have no natural philosopher who demonstrates art and science, and worshipped the Muses and its peculiarities to us as clearly as our friend Graces in this peaceful asylum. Here Milton Boyle did in regard to air.” was a welcome and much-courted guest. His “Love would only lose thereby,” said a domestic sorrows added to the interest which timid young lady. “Its nature requires sethe ladies took in the poet, while his genius crecy, in which it hides itself from the world. and learning captivated the men. He passed Take from it the veil in which it is chastely his evenings there in pleasant and instructive wrapped, and it is no longer love. The poet, conversation. Eminent members of all parties and not the naturalist, has alone the right of met there, as it were, on neutral ground, and revealing the purest and most sacred feelings it was at this house that Milton made the ac of the human heart." quaintance of the accomplished Lady Ranelagh Milton applauded the words of the youthful and her distinguished brother, the Honorable speaker, who was graceful and interesting Robert Boyle, the celebrated naturalist. Nat- rather than beautiful. He had long since ural philosophy was cultivated with especial noticed the charming creature. A sweet expredilection in those days, and it had become pression of melancholy was stamped on the fasbionable even for ladies to speak of phlo- slender form, which was slightly bent forward, giston, observe an eclipse of the moon through and on the noble features of the girl, who was the telescope, and admire magnified infusoria a daughter of Dr. Davies. From her blue eyes by means of the yet imperfect microscope. beamed a glorious soul; they resembled a
One evening Robert Boyle brought with him mountain lake, and were, like it, clear, deep, the air-pump which Otto Guericke had invent- and mysterious. Generally she was taciturn ed, and the construction of which he had ma- and reserved, and she was one of those women terially improved, and astonished the specta- who know even better how to listen than to tors by his ingenious experiments. Removing speak, and who, therefore, are so agreeable to from two hollow balls the air contained therein, talented men. Her mannery indicated true he pressed them together in such a manner womanly grace, and a modesty equally remote that they could not be torn asunder, and de- from unbecoming bashfulness and secret pride. monstrated thus the pressure of the atmos When Milton approached her now, a sweet phere around us on all bodies.
blush suffused the pale cheeks of the amiable The air around us,” said Milton, on this Anna, and her charming confusion made her occasion, “resembles our ideas. Both exer almost look beautiful. The poet soon entered tise an invisible power over man.
into an animated conversation with her, in accustomed to acknowledge as forces only I which she displayed profound knowledge and