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sold a single copy. Shall I send a copy to “You should at least devote your attention your lordship's house ? "
to the drama," advised Dryden, kindly; "the "I will take one along."
stage holds out to you far better prospects The earl left, and his delight increased with than the book-trade." every page he read. He communicated his “If the stage is to fulfil its exalted task,” discovery to Dryden, the poet, who lived at replied Milton, “and be a school of life, it the court of Charles II., and was generally needs freedom before every thing else. At considered the greatest poet of his time, from present the theatre only serves to amuse ariswhose imperfections, it is true, he did not keep tocratic rakes and the low rabble, who digest himself entirely free, although he pursued a there comfortably, and desire to be diverted more «praiseworthy course than most of the by the obscene jests of the actors. Rather contemporary authors. Like Milton, John than stoop to write such things, I would starve Dryden had been an ardent adherent of the re to death. The drama, that noblest blossom public during the time of the commonwealth, of art, is affected by the general corruption and had sung hymns in honor of Cromwell. and decay; and no poet, however talented he When monarchy was restored, he went over may be, can restore it to its purity unless a with the tuneful throng to welcome in Charles change should take place in our whole moral II., and some time afterward he was appointed and political atmosphere. The putrid sap cirpoet-laureate. During the reign of James II. culating in the trunk produces rotten fruits ; he embraced the Roman Catholic faith. In only a healthy people and a moral age can direct contrast with Milton, he distinguished possess a true and great drama." himself by his want of principle; nevertheless, On receiving this reply, Dryden took his he had remained enough of a poet to fully leave, somewhat irritated and offended. When appreciate the vast importance and the ex be complained of Milton to Davenant, the lattraordinary beauties of “ Paradise Lost.” | ter burst into laughter. After reading the book, he was asked by the “My friend,” said the merry poet, “you Earl of Dorset what he thought of it.
must not wonder at this reply. Milton is like “ This man,” he said, in a tone of admira- an oak, which is bent neither by the violent tion, not entirely devoid of envy, "eclipses us storm nor by the gentle zephyr. On seeing all, and the ancients also."
him, I always feel as if I behold one of the Afterward he sought an opportunity to get old prophets, predicting the doom of Jerusaacquainted with Milton, of whom he begged lem or Babylon! Allow him this harmless permission to dramatize “Paradise Lost." pleasure, and come with me and drink a glass He also offered his protection at court to the of malmsey. At all events, we cannot change blind poet, whose pecuniary circumstances the world.” were then by no means brilliant.
“I am obliged to you,” said Milton. court is not a proper sphere for me.
CHAPTER XIV. opinion, a poet must be free above all things, and he cannot be free when his Muse is in the
SON'S INSURRECTION. service of a prince. I value my independent poverty much higher than all the splendor Milton thus lived in an age of general corwhich I might purchase at the expense of my ruption, one of the few men of that period
who remained faithful to their convictions, and
CHARLES II. OLD HENDER
whose names were unsullied by venality and bought up the votes of such parliamentary apostasy. The court had become the centre orators as were still to be feared. The perof the most disgraceful licentiousness. Amuse- secution of the republicans was carried on ment succeeded to amusement—now a play, as vindictively as ever; the triumphant party represented in the most lavish and extravagant had not yet satiated its resentment, although manner; and now a ball, resplendent with it had already shed rivers of blood to avenge flowers, lights, and frail beauties, or a tea- the execution of Charles I. The enthusiastic party, still at that time a rare and expen- Harrison, and the younger Vane, one of the sive entertainment. Splendid masquerades, at most eminent men of his time, suffered death which the ladies appeared in the most trans- for their convictions. Milton wept over the parent and lascivious costumes, alternated premature end of his friend, to whom he was with ballets and concerts, which Saint-Evre-chiefly indebted for his appointment to the mond and the Duchess de Mazarin had brought secretaryship, and for whose talents and ferover from France and rendered fashionable in vent zeal he entertained the highest respect. England. Charles occupied himself with feed. Profound grief gnawed at the poet's heart, and ing bis dogs and ducks, or was present at his soul revolted at this high-handed act of incock-fights and bear-baitings, wbile the blood- justice and tyranny. He himself was poor, thirsty Duke of York never failed to be pres- infirm, and blind; forsaken by nearly everyent at the executions, feasting his eyes on the body, and deeply afflicted by the ingratitude agony of the Puritans and republicans who of bis own children. Weary of life, he totwere put to death. To this laxity of morals tered through the streets of London, holding corresponded the evident decline of the na the hand of a boy who was employed to guide tional character; skepticism and indifference | his steps. A crowd was gathered at the cortook the place of the fanaticism and enthusi There stood a man with a livid face and asm which only a short time since had reigned wan, hollow cheeks. Covered with rags, be in England. A vain, flippant literature, to held in his band a broom, which he brandished which not wit, but depth of principle and con in the air. It was the visionary Harrington, viction, was wanting, supplanted the manly, the author of that Utopian work “Oceana." bold poetry and courageous prose of the past. Banished to a desert island without a lawful Instead of the intrepid spirit of investigation, trial, he had gone mad. The sufferings enwith which England had formerly ventured to dured in his captivity impaired his intellectual enter upon the solution of the most important faculties, and he sank into incurable insanity. questions, only frivolous subjects were treated “What!” cried the maniac, brandishing of, and French patterns were copied in a man- his broom in the air. “What! you will not ner alike servile and superficial. The great vanish, devouring thoughts? There they are and eternal principles, for which, during the coming again, chirping and humming like little Revolution, the most eminent men had entered birds and bees. How they sing and whistle, the lists, seemed to be forever forgotten and buzz and croak! Begone! Let me alone with relinquished ; freedom of thought, of con your horrible cries! I have fed you on my science, and of speech, reform of parliamen- life-blood, and you have feasted on it until I tary elections, and improvement of public in- became a mere skeleton ; and you are not yet struction, were stifled, and silence was im- satisfied! Air! air ! The vapor stifles me. posed on their friends and advocates. The . It smells of corpses ; my thoughts are the press groaned under new fetters, and bribery I worms creeping out of my petrified brain. A
plague upon the vermin devouring an honest | years. Such persecutions and cruelties could man while he is still alive! Oh, would I had not but drive the republicans to despair ;
but never thought, never thought!”
their courage was gone, and they lacked, above Such were the wails and ravings of the all things, a sagacious and prudent leader. madman, who, with his broom, incessantly Isolated insurrections, which broke out from sought to dispel his thoughts, which seemed time to time, were speedily suppressed. to him to be flying about him in the shape of After Cromwell's death, old Henderson had little birds and insects. A large crowd sur- returned to England. In vain did his former rounded him, and brutally derided the poor foster-daughter Lucy, and her husband, who man, whom his sister accompanied, and vainly were now living again at Ludlow Castle, offer sought to draw from the spot. Milton ap- bim an asylum; he preferred to wait with his proached her in profound emotion, as be had political friends for the rise of the fifth monformerly been intimately acquainted with Har-archy and the New Jerusalem. But when rington.
monarchy was restored, and the Puritans and “Poor friend,” he said to the maniac, in other dissenters were persecuted with extreme a tremulous voice,“ do you not know me?” rigor, Henderson joined a band of similar
On bearing Milton's voice, Harrington gave | fanatics who intended to establish the kinga start; his eyes beamed strangely, and his dom of God sword in hand. Although they reason seemed to return for a moment.
were only sixty strong, these madmen under“You?" asked the maniac. Why should took to overthrow the king and carry their I not know you? You are also dead and a hair-brained plans into execution ; they thought corpse. Every thing is dead--the republic, themselves invincible. liberty, the protector, and the king! The “It is not numbers,” said the Puritan, at grave swallows us all; we then moulder, and a meeting of the fanatics, “but our faith, that new thoughts arise from our putrefying re will enable us to achieve a brilliant victory. mains. There they are! Do you not see them ? The Saviour Himself will be our leader, and As yet they are as small as gnats; but they render our arms strong and our bodies invulare constantly growing larger and larger, until nerable. Therefore, never fear the odds of our they become eagles, and soar to the sun. Ah, enemies. Even though their number were how unfortunate we two are for having thought legion, we should vanquish them; for the too much! Thinking brings misfortune upon Lord is with us. He beckons, and they are us, and may drive a sensible man to the verge annihilated; He commands, and they disappear of insanity. Beware-beware!”
like chaff before the wind. Who can withProfoundly moved by this heart-rending stand His people, or injure the elect? Onward! spectacle, Milton went away; and at a distance The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” he still heard the cries of the maniac, “Why Such was the battle-cry with which the did we think, think ?"
fanatics rushed, sword in hand, into the street; Not less deplorable was the fate which befell every one fled before the infuriated men. Milton's most faithful friend, Major Overton. Among the fugitives was Billy Green, who Although he kept perfectly quiet when mon- hurriedly tried to escape. Henderson had recarchy was restored, yet the mere reputation ognized the hateful spy, and pursued him at of his love of liberty sufficed to make him sus a furious rate. pected. He was likewise imprisoned without “Stand and surrender, son of Belial !” he a trial, and kept in a dungeon for long, long I shouted to him.
Seized with indescribable terror, the villain mand. If you will let me go, I will communi rushed toward the nearest house, where he cate an important secret to you. The Duke thought he would find an asylum. Already of York has embraced the Catholic faith, and he had reached the door, and knocked loudly a French priest privately reads mass to King for admittance, when the Puritan's sinewy Charles II. I know a great many other things, hand seized him by the neck.
and will tell you all if you will let me go." “The judgment of the Lord,” cried Hen In his anguish, Billy Green had clasped the derson, savagely, “shall overtake all sinners! | Puritan's knees, and lay writhing at his feet, Confess your sins, villain, for your soul is as while Henderson was brandishing his sword black as that of the evil one."
over his head. “Mercy !” gasped Billy, while the fanatic's “Down with the traitor!" shouted the inhand clutched his throat so violently that his furiated fanatic, and his flashing sword cleft small, cunning eyes protruded om their the spy's skull. Billy Green died without ut, sockets. “I am innocent, and never wronged tering a groan, while Henderson coolly turned you in my life.”
from him. “You are innocent ? Then Satan in hell is “The Lord has judged him," he said, pusha saint! Have you not always served vice and ing aside the corpse, whose glazed eyes stared infamy? Have you not been the boon com after him. panion of the most black-hearted scoundrels ? At the head of his men, he marched triumYou see, I am not ignorant of your character. phantly from street to street, proclaiming the You have deserved death a hundred times, be kingdom of Jesus, the invisible leader of this cause you have always been an impudent, | pious and devout insurrection. The authoriHeaven-defying reprobate. Did you not strut ties attempted to disperse the insurgents by about in heathenisb costumes, an abomination main force, but the assailants were driven back in the eyes of the just ? Did you not serve by the irresistible valor of the fanatics, who the tyrant who, on account of his sins, lost his defended themselves with the most heroic inhead on the block ?"
trepidity. Many a member of the militia was “I perceived the error of my ways, and if killed or wounded by them, until the whole Mr. Pym were still alive, he would bear wit- force that had been sent to disperse them, ness to the zeal with which I afterward served seized with a panic, took to flight, although the cause of the republicans.”
its numerical strength was perhaps ten times “Miserable hypocrite! For the sake of superior to that of the insurgents. filthy lucre, you were intent, under the mask No sooner had the militia fled, than old of a saint, a wolf in sheep's clothing, only on Henderson intoned a triumphant hymn. Baring promoting your own interests. Did you not bis gray head, and brandishing his blood-stained turn your back on us as soon as young Stuart sword, he sang exultingly: returned to England ? You were his pointer, “Great is the Lord, and they who trust in and helped him to pursue the noble game of Him will be invincible. The enemies apthe pious Puritans. On your head is the blood proached in countless strength, like locusts de of the martyrs, which cries to heaven for ven- scending on a barvest-field; and yet we did geance.”
not succumb, for He is our shield. We struck “Mercy !” groaned the unfortunate spy. “I them, and they sank to the ground; with the will make amends for all the wrongs that I keen edges of our swords we mowed them have perpetrated; I will do all that you de- | down like stubble. The Lord be praised, the
God of Israel, who does not suffer His people ants, they advanced again and attacked the to perish in distress. Sing to Him, and give intrepid enthusiasts on all sides. praise to His glory!”
“In the Saviour's name," shouted HenderSinging a psalm, as they had done at Dun son to his men, “do not budge an inch! This bar and Worcester on rushing upon the enemy, is our last trial, and he who shall pass through the enthusiastic Puritans marched through all it will enter heaven and the new Jerusalem." London without meeting with any serious re A bullet pierced his breast and struck him sistance, so great was the cowardice of their down. Already darkness veiled his eyės. adversaries, and their own confidence in divine “Do you see?” murmured the mortally assistance. They firmly believed in the tri- wounded Puritan. “The day is ours.
The umph of their cause, and expected every mo- gates are unlocked, heaven opens to us, and ment the appearance of the Saviour, whom the Saviour descends from it. Legions of they proclaimed King of the world. It was saints, martyrs, and angels, surround Him; not until the following morning, when the they lift me up and carry me to heaven. Aldanger grew more and more alarming, that the ready I am floating in their midst. Ha, give royal guards were sent against the fanatics, me my sword! There stands then evil one, who had retired in good order and taken posi- the archfiend of mankind! I will—" tion in a remote part of the city. From thence He did not conclude. In his last struggle they made several sallies into the old city of he still convulsively grasped the hilt of his London, which was nowise prepared for their sword as if to redeem the world at a blow. attacks. They produced there not a little con And thus the fanatic departed this life. Most fusion, and the wealthy merchants believed of his men were killed; only a few surrendered, that the turbulent times of the commonwealth and were ignominionsly executed on the scafhad returned, and left in timid haste their fold. counting-houses and the riches stored in their Not far from Henderson lay Billy Green's warehouses. Finally, assailed from all quar- mutilated corpse: the stern, consistent Puritan, ters, and hemmed in, the fanatics threw them- and the unprincipled, fickle apostate; both selves into a neighboring house, where the productions of the same stormy commotion troops were obliged to enter upon a regular which carries virtue as well as vice to a colossiege against them. Their ranks were fear- sal development, far overstepping the ordinary fully thinned by the volleys of the soldiers, bounds of human nature. and at last only a few of them were left. In Such was the last flicker, the last desperate vain quarter was offered to them if they would attempt of a party wbich, at first persecuted surrender voluntarily. In their fanatical faith and oppressed, had gradually risen to almost in divine assistance, they rejected all the offers absolute power, which it was to wield only for of their adversaries.
a very short time.
The Puritans did not “ Stand firm,” cried old Henderson ; "the venture upon another rising, and left the field Lord cannot and will not forsake His people. to others, who afterward entered the list for Follow me, and nobody shall hurt a hair of liberty, and, during the reign of James II.,
achieved the final victory over despotism. The small band, headed by the Puritan, Milton shared the principles and aspirations rushed unhesitatingly upon the troops.
The of these political and religious fanatics only so soldiers at first fell back in dismay; but on long as they themselves groaned under the perceiving the small number of their assail- | grinding yoke of their oppressors, and met