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remarkable manner. What has become of loss which I have sustained is that of my eyeyou and your republic ? The very children sight. To be blind, oh! that is worse than laugh it to scorn. Admit now that you acted imprisonment, poverty, or the infirmities of the fool. In truth, when I think of the time age; for a blind man is at the same time a we spent together in Rome, and compare the prisoner, buried in everlasting night, poorer present to it, I am almost inclined to take than the most wretched beggar, and more decompassion on you. At that time the world crepit than the feeblest old man. The lowest lay admiringly at your feet; beauty, wealth, animal is better off; the worm creeps in the and power offered themselves to you. All you dust, but it sees, while I live in darkness. O needed to do was to stretch out your hands darkness! darkness! And I know that the for them. Why did you not follow my golden sun is now shining in the heavens. advice? With the eye of a seer I divined This terrible gloom deprives me of all hope events as they have come to pass. Instead of and joy. And why is the noblest of boons inyour so-called liberty, the throne stands firmer trusted to an organ so delicate and weak as than ever; and in a few years, as is to be the eye ? " foreseen with absolute certainty, all England In this touching manner the poet lamented will return to the faith of its fathers."
over his fate. Even Sir Kenelm Digby was “And you can really hope to bow my cour- profoundly moved; but the Duke of York had age ?” asked Milton. “It is true, I am poor, no compassion on him. With his innate cruelty unfortunate, and weighed down by adversity; he gloated over the sufferings of the unfortubut I do not despair for all that. Out of the nate man, which he tried to sharpen by his shipwreck of my life I have saved my most bitter taunts.
precious treasure, the consciousness of having“ And do you not see yet,” he asked, sneer
remained true to myself, and of never having ingly," that your blindness is only the just pendenied my convictions. I know full well that alty of your misdeeds ?" man is not infallible, but the Lord forgives “I am not sensible of any guilt,” replied errors arising from thirst for truth. God will | Milton, with the calmness of a clear conscience. be a mild judge to me.
Now I am sitting “You forget entirely your sins against the here like Job, whom Heaven had given into late king, whom you reviled even in his grave. the hands of the tempter. . My houses have Do you confess your guilt ? " sunk into ruin, my gardens are devastated, “I do not, for I acted only in accordance my children have forsaken me; my enemies with my convictions." are triumphant, my very friends deride me; " You do not know with whom you are but, like him, I am firm in my faith. There- speaking,” whispered Sir Kenelm to the poet. fore, the all-merciful Father will not forsake “Beware! your imprudent utterances might me, but sustain me in my sore distress.” still endanger your life.”
“But I believe you have not yet experienced “I am afraid of no man,” replied Milton, the full extent of the sufferings which you aloud. have brought upon your head,” remarked the “Not even of me?" asked the duke. duke, exasperated at the firmness which Mil “Not even of you, even though you were ton still displayed amidst his misfortunes. the king himself.” “What more can befall me?" asked the “I am not the king,” replied James, frown.
“Since I have become blind, I am ing, “ but his brother, the Duke of York. I no longer afraid of any thing. The greatest | repeat it to you, that Heaven is just. Heb s
deprived you of your eyesight, because you, an lent cavalier, who believes himself justly enincorrigible republican, insulted my late la- titled to my gratitude; and that waddling duck mented father even after bis assassination. yonder is urgently requesting me to promote You deserve your fate; the vengeance of and reward her young ones. All my favors Heaven has overtaken you."
have been distributed for to-day, and I am Milton was not frightened by this unexpected sorry that I can no longer do any thing for the visit, nor did he humble himself before the birds." most powerful of his enemies. With a calm The courtiers joined in these playful sallies, smile he rose from his chair, and saluted the and delighted the king by applying to the duke by bowing slightly to him.
ducks the names of well-known office-seekers. “ If your royal highness,” he replied, “is of Meanwhile the Duke of York had approached. opinion that our misfortunes are evidences of On perceiving his brother, Charles said to him the wrath of God, and that they befall us only in a kind tone: “ Come, James, we are giving in consequence of our crimes, how do you ex an audience in the open air, and conferring plain the death of your father ? "
orders and offices on our faithful subjects in The duke turned pale with rage; muttering the pond.” a terrible threat between his clinched teeth, “Will you do me a favor ?” said the duke. he left the inflexible republican, a prey to the “Well, I do not care if you get a crumb too, most violent agitation.
though you are in want of nothing, because you “By the bloody head of my father!” he have always been more economical than I.” exclaimed, on leaving the house, “this blind “I do not ask for money, but for the punishmonster shall find out that a worse fate than ment of an offender.” the loss of his eyesight is in store for him." “ Always the same old strain," said the king,
Flushed with excitement and vindictiveness, more gravely; "always the same old cry for he went to the king his brother. Charles II. revenge. Do you know, James, that your vinwas promenading in his park with his boon dictiveness begins to be tedious ? I think we companions, and engaged in his favorite pas- have done enough, and you may be satisfied." time of feeding the ducks in the pond of St. “There lives as yet or 3 of the most infaJames's. While the birds were snapping mous adversaries of our lamented father-a greedily at the crumbs which he threw to them, man who, in my eyes, is more criminal than the he made all sorts of witty remarks as to their regicides. Sire, it is your fault that old Milton haste and the manner in which one duck tried has not yet been hanged.” to deprive another of the morsels destined for “ Then you have been at his house ? " asked her.
Charles, throwing the rest of his crumbs with “They are my parasites,” said the king, a careless air into the pond. who was in excellent humor. “Look, Bucking
“I have had an interview with him." ham, how they are fighting for a few crumbs ! “ And in what condition did you find him ?” If this goes on for any length of time, my “Bowed down by age, and, it seemed also, pockets will soon be empty, and I shall not very poor.” have a morsel left. These parasites will utterly “And he is blind, too, is he not ? ” impoverish me. Do you not think so too, “He is totally blind.” Rochester? How loud they scream! I sup “Go, go, James,” replied the king; "you pose they are relating how well they have are a downright fool to believe that the galserved me. I bet that old drake is an excel- | lows would be a punishment for such a man.
Why, it would at once put an end to his suf- | turbing influences, completed his “Paradise ferings, and confer upon him a great blessing. Lost.” If he is old, poor, and blind, he is sufficiently The young Quaker was in an ecstasy of de punished, and we may spare his life.”
light when Milton permitted him to read the In spite of his brother's remonstrances, manuscript. On returning it to him, be exCharles adhered for once to his resolution not pressed the warmest thanks. to take any further steps against Milton. But, “In truth,” he said, with the frankness in return, the bloodthirsty James wrested from peculiar to his sect, “ thou hast created a work him an order for the execution of the younger which will outlive all thy other writings. Thou Vane, although the king had solemnly prom- hast descended to hell and ascended to heaven, ised to the latter that no harm should befall and forcest the reader's soul to follow thee him. Indemnified by this victim, the duke left with transports or horror wherever thou mayst St. James's Park, and gloated over the agony lead it. Through thee we become acquainted to which the king's perfidy would subject the with the terrible majesty of Satan, who, in prisoner.
spite of his wickedness, still exhibits traces of his divine origin. We see the prince of hell
a prey to the most violent grief and looking CHAPTER XIII.
up to heaven with intense longing; only bis
still unbroken pride sustains him and fans the PUBLICATION “PARADISE LOST "-MILTON
flames devouring his bosom. Guided by thy
hand, we walk in an ecstasy of delight through HENCEFORTH Milton was safe from further Paradise, and rejoice in the innocence of Adam persecutions, and he had ample leisure to com- and Eve, in their pure love, in their devout plete his immortal epic. He dictated it alter- prayers, and in the sweet charms of the scenately to his daughters and young Ellwood, nery surrounding them. We tremblingly see who had been recommended to him, and who the evil one, in the shape of a seductive sernow lived at his house. Ellwood was a Quaker, pent, approach the credulous Eve and tempt and by his modesty, and the reverential hom- ber to eat of the forbidden fruit. We take age which he paid to the blind poet, he won compassion on the fallen woman, and, although Milton's friendship and esteem. Perhaps Mil- she has delivered mankind to sin and death, ton secretly entertained the desire of making we forgive her, as did Adam, touched by her him his son-in-law; but his youngest daughter prayers and supplications. We follow Adam Deborah, his only child that had never treated and Eve as they are driven out of Paradise, him in an undutiful and disrespectful manner, and listen with solemn awe to the teachings and whom he had destined to his young friend, and prophecies of the messenger of God, who left her parental home and eloped to Ireland, reveals the fate of his descendants, until be where she married. This event, however, did finally promises them, in the name of the Lord, not dissolve the intimate relations between the that He will send them a Redeemer to deliver master and his pupil; and when the plague the human race from the bondage of sin.” which had broken out in London made sad “I am glad,” replied Milton, to the entbuhavoc among the inhabitants of the capital, siastic youth, " that my poem has pleased you Ellwood rented for Milton a small cottage at so well, and that you have so clearly peneChalfont, in Bucks, where the poet, in the trated its spirit and object. My only merit is *healtby country air, and protected from all dis- the firm confidence that, in the struggle be.
tween the good and evil powers, truth and “ Tell me what you will give me for it. I liberty must triumph over all the wiles and do not like to haggle about the price, although arts of hell."
I greatly need the money." “For this reason I do not consider thy “Well, I will give you five pounds," said work complete. Thou hast given us only the the penurious bookseller. “That is a handpromise, but not the fulfilment; thou bast some sum, and I will pay it to you immeshown us 'Paradise Lost,' but not 'Paradise diately. Are you satisfied with it?" Regained.'”
“Nothing remains for me but to accept Milton made no reply to the honest Quaker; your offer." he sat for a time absorbed in his reflections, “And you will receive the like sum as soon and in his soul dawned the plan of a new epic, as a new edition is issued. You shall see the subject of which was to be the salvation that I am not niggardly, and treat authors in of mankind.
a generous manner." No sooner had the plague ceased raging in A melancholy smile played over the poet's the metropolis, than the poet returned thither lips when he delivered his immortal work, the to find a publisher for his work. He applied fruit of years of toil and reflection, to the avato Samuel Simmons, a well-known bookseller, ricious publisher for this ridiculous sum. Simto whom be offered the manuscript. After mons immediately drew up a contract, which reading the poem, Simmons returned it to the Milton, who stood in need of the money, signed poet.
with a deep sigh. “The poem is not so bad," said the book When the book was issued from the press. seller, “but it is not suitable to the times. A the predictions of Mr. Simmons seemed to be few years ago I should have gladly given you fully verified. The public appeared insensible ten times as much for it as I can offer you to the merits of the divine poem then entering
The times are changed, and taste is on its course of immortality. Taste was changed with them. The public no longer changed indeed. Literature, which always recares for religious books; nobody buys them flects the time and its sentiments, languished nowadays. There is no demand for grave in the midst of the general decay and corrupand learned treatises. Ah, if you had written tion which bad seized the whole English naa satire or a witty farce, I might pay you a tion. The greatest licentiousness and most round price for it. I want such works as shameless immorality reigned at that period Butler's 'Hudibras,' of which thousands of in the productions of the poets, and on the copies have been sold, and which every one stage, which had become the scene of all vices wants to read. I admit that it is a low and and extravagances. Obscene wit levelled its scurrilous book; but we publishers have to shafts at all that was sacred and venerable. humor the wishes of the public."
Innocence and truth were mercilessly derided, “Then only scurrilous books and farces and lewdness was of itself considered a sign meet with purchasers nowadays ? "
of talent. Only the books of authors who “That is the difficulty, and I cannot help pursued this course, and penned the most dis it. But in order that you may see how willing graceful things, were bought, and eagerly de I am to help talented men, I will take your voured. Hardly any notice was taken of Mil. poem on liberal terms. It is true, I know ton's sublime epic, which was kept out of beforehand that it will not sell, but I will do sight by the rankling weeds of contemporary. the best I can."
literature. The publisher was dissatisfied
with the small sales, and dinned the poet's second edition of the work a short and spirited ears with his complaints.
explanation of his reasons for departing from “Yes, yes,” said Mr. Simmons, “such are the troublesome bondage of rhyming. We the results of the desire of writers to immor- do not know whether or not the idea of the talize themselves, and of their contempt of bookseller had the wished-for results ; but the present. What do I care for immortality, gradually 'Paradise Lost' met with more adwhen the present does not care about us ? mirers and purchasers. Sir John Denham, a What does the future concern us? Posterity gentleman distinguished for his taste and will not pay me a penny for all your poetical learning, took the poem with him to Parliaworks."
ment, in order to read it in the intervals of “You must not grow impatient,” said Mil- the sessions. On being asked by his acquaintton, to comfort the dissatisfied bookseller. ances what book he was reading, he expressed
“Besides, the purchasers complain of the the most enthusiastic admiration for it. blank verse of 'Paradise Lost. This is, in “It is,” he said, “the best poem ever writdeed, a very serious fault of the work. Such ten in any language or in any age.” innovations should not be countenanced. We The Earl of Dorset, an influential courtier should always adhere to that which is well happened one day to enter with a friend the established and used by everybody else.” book-store of Milton's publisher. He inquired
“That is what I have done, for both Homer for the latest productions of literature, and and Virgil wrote their poems in blank verse." caused them to be shown to him. Among
“What do I care for Homer and Virgil ? them was Milton's “Paradise Lost.” The They did not know any better; but culture earl took up the book and read the title. has advanced since then, and as the public “A work by John Milton !” he exclaimed does not want any but rhymed poems, the eagerly. “Is that the same Milton who was poets should comply with its demands." foreign secretary to the Council of State dur
“But I am sure you do not want me to ing the time of the commonwealth ?” change the whole poem ?”
“The same," replied the bookseller: “I “Of course I do not, for in that event it bought the manuscript from compassion for would have to be printed anew; but some the poor blind man; but it was a bad bargain thing should surely be done. Hold on! I for me. If the public does know what you must do. You must write a mence buying the book, I shall lose heavily by preface to your work, and excuse in it, to the the transaction.” best of your ability, your having written 'While Simmons was giving vent to his com'Paradise Lost' in blank verse, and not in plaints, the earl had seated himself and begun rhyme."
to read the book. The book-stores at that “I think there is neither rhyme nor reason time were also reading-rooms, and no one purin your suggestion,” said Milton, sarcasti- chased a book without having thoroughly excally.
amined its contents. Already, after reading “Then you refuse to comply with it? Very the first pages, the earl perceived the rare well, sir; then nothing remains for me but to merits of the poem. write such a preface myself.”
“Magnificent ! magnificent !” he exclaimed “I cannot object to that,” said the poet, rapturously. “ This is a perfect gem.” shrugging bis shoulders.
“Good heavens !” sighed the bookseller. Milton relented, however, and added to the “For two weeks past, I believe, I have not