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into the field, and to try to say a few dary stories of Arthur and the Knights of words about the new interest in a great the Round Table, and have added to the name which Mr. Masson has awakened. many forgotten epics of second-rate poets,
We have referred to the change which whose utterances have no connection with the English Revolution effected in Mil- the spirit of their own or any other age. ton's career; and we will endeavor to From the beginning of the Long Parliacarry the thought further and to suppose ment until the Restoration, Milton's pen that he had disregarded the call of duty was busy with the topics of the day or which came to him while in Italy, and had with the preparation of State papers and made literature and especially poetry the popular vindications of the acts of the sole work of his life. What poem, what great statesmen and soldiers of the Com“strains of an unknown strength,” such as monwealth. An occasional sonnet, worthy he promises in the “ Epitaphium Da: of its origin from the stirred affections monis” if life should be spared him, and or noble admirations of its author, broke which should be read by the dwellers be. now and then from the heart of the poet. side the English rivers, could even Mil. The pen was fertile in a series of contriton have produced if his literary ambition butions to the controversies of the time. had been the sole object of his life? In His earliest publications were concerning his “ Defensio Secunda,” he says: reformation, prelatical episcopacy, and
When I was preparing to pass over into ecclesiastical government. It has been Sicily and Greece, the melancholy intelligence objected to many of these writings that which I received of the civil commotions in they were disfigured by coarse personaliEngland made me alter my purpose ; for Ities and undignified terms of abuse. But thought it base to be travelling for amusement it is not by these portions of them that abroad while my fellow-citizens were fighting Milton's pamphlets ought to be judged. for liberty at home. ::., I returned to my na. They contain passages of the noblest elotive country when Charles was renewing the Episcopal War with the Scots, and the neces and encouragement of those who set pure
quence which must forever be the comfort sity of his affairs obliged him to convene a Parliament. I hired a spacious house in the religion above every attempt to degrade city for myself and my books; where I again and enslave it. Anti-sacerdotalism is the with rapture renewed my literary pursuits, and key-note of Milton's first effort to warn where I calmly awaited the issue of the con- and arm his fellow-citizens against the test. . . . I saw that a way was opening for the things that have hindered the cause of establishment of real liberty; that the founda- reformation in religion. Speaking of the tion was laying for the deliverance of man acts of the priest party, he says: from the yoke of slavery and superstition; that began to draw down all the divine interthe principles of our religion which were the course betwixt God and the soul — yea, first objects of our care would exert a salutary the very shape of God himself — into an influence on the manners and constitution of the republic; and as I had from my youth exterior and bodily form, urgently prestudied the distinctions between religious and tending a necessity and obligenent of civil rights, I perceived that if ever I wished joining the body in a formal reverence, to be of use, I ought at least not to be wanting and worship circumscribed; they hallowed to my country, to the Church, and to so many it, they fumed it, they sprinkled it, they of my fellow-Christians, in a crisis of so much bedecked it, not in robes of pure
innodanger. I therefore determined to relinquish cency, but of pure linen, with other de. the other pursuits in which I was engaged and formed and fantastic dresses, in palls and to transfer the whole force of my talents and mitres, gold and gew-gaws fetched from my industry to this one important object.
Aaron's old wardrobe or the flamens' ves. To be deaf to this high calling, to be try; then was the priest set to con bis unprepared to respond to it, was not pos- motions and his postures, his liturgies and sible to a spirit like that of Milton. He his lurries, till the soul by this means of who had from his youth studied "the overbodying herself, given up. justly to distinctions between religious and civil fleshly delights, bated her wing apace rights” was already equipped for the downward ; and finding the ease she had fight in which he determined to engage from ber visible and sensuous colleague A life withdrawn from the public life of the body, in performance of religious duhis country at such a time, and selfishly ties, her pinions now broken and Hagging, devoted to literary aims however high and shifted off from herself the labor of high praiseworthy, in themselves, could not soaring any more, forgot her heavenly have issued in the production of “ Para. Aight, and left the dull and droiling cardise Lost,” could at best but have pro- cass to plod on in the old road and drudz. duced an idle song even out of the legen-Ling trade of conformity.”
The second book of the “Treatise of phlets appeared, or to give the Reformation” in England concludes with names of those who engaged in them. a passage which is too well known to ren- The fight was sometimes a savage one, der it necessary to quote it here. It is and the “ Animadversions” are in some the promise of an offering of “high strains places rough, and even scurrilous, to a in new and lofty measures, to sing and degree which would not now be tolerated. celebrate the reign of Christ when he shall Our present object is to show that while judge the kingdoms of the world, and dis- engaged in them Milton never forgot the tribute national honors and rewards to higher purposes of his life and study, and religious and just commonwealths.” It also that from the earliest period of his is, in fact, a " high strain”. of inspired public efforts, he laid hold on first prinpoetry, and with a hundred others abound. ciples which could have but one outcome ing in all of Milton's political writings, -namely, the attainment of the highest shows that the poet never wholly put off ground, or, as we should say. now, the his singing robes, though the utterances most advanced ground, on which politiwere not clothed in verse, and were but cal and ecclesiastical liberty can rest. the ornaments and exuberances of a con. Consider the extract about ordination, troversial writer earnestly engaged in the and the essence of the ministerial funcpressing questions of the hour. The year tion. We can add nothing to-day to the 1641 saw the publication of the tracts force of such a statement. With his already referred to, and of two other very thoughts so based on eternal principles, important ones “ The Reason of Church what could the doctrines of the Churches Government urged against Prelaty," and be to Milton, even at the beginning of his “ Animadversions upon the Řemon career as a public writer? Episcopacy strants' Defence against Smectymnuus.” was being weighed in the scales of disThe former of these contains Milton's cussion, and Milton had long ago judged high estimate of the office of the poet, and it. When Episcopacy had fallen, came his." covenant with the knowing reader, the attempt to put Presbytery in its place. by labor and intense study, which I take Milton's fourth pamphlet, as Mr. Masto be my portion in this life, joined with son points out, is in favor of Presbyteri. the strong propensity of nature, to leave anism, but rather from the necessity of something so written to after times as the argument than from anything else. they should not willingly let it die.” And if we ask what are the permanent portions declares the question respecting Church Gov
At the very outset of his pamphlet Milton of these early prose works which can ernment to be whether it ought to be presbyinterest us to-day, and whether anything terial or prelatical; nay, shortly afterwards he can be drawn from them which shall suit has a sentence which shows that at this time our purposes in present controversies, we there was little dream either in his mind, or in shall have no difficulty in finding such that of the people around him, of the possithings in abundance. The ritualism of bility of any form of Church Government that Laud is still active in our religious world; should not be definable as one or the other of and the quotation made above from the these two (vol. ii., p. 376). tract on reformation needs no modifica. But was there not an element in the tion to adapt it to the present time. Take question which for the time shut out the also this passage, selected at random from possibility of any other form? We mean the “ Animadversions : " " It is the call-“ uniformity” in religion ; and in delibering of God that makes a minister, and his ating on behalf of a national establishown painful study and diligence that ma- ment, this element ruled in the minds of nures and improves his ministerial gifts. nearly all men. How earnestly the relig. In the primitive times many, before ever ious men who sat in the Long Parliament they had received ordination from the regarded “uniformity essential to apostles, had done the Church noble ser- national religion, we all know; and how vice. It is but an orderly form of receiv- much was expected from the Westmins. ing a mari already fitted, and committing ter Assembly of Divines we can learn to him a particular charge; the employ- more readily from Professor Masson's ment of preaching is as holy and far more second volume than we could possibly excellent; the care also and judgment learn elsewhere. If uniformity in relig. to be used in the winning of souls is an ion was necessary, and was to be secured, ability above that which is required in Presbyterianism seemed the likeliest form ordination.” It is impossible in a brief it could take. A most interesting list of review to set forth the particular contro all the persons who were chosen to sit in versies of the years in which these pam-I the Westminster Assembly will be found
on pages 515 to 524 of Masson, Vol. II. conditions that Independency seemed the preIn view of Milton's ultimate choice of tender and upstart, while Presbyterianism the principle of Independency, we will seemed the rightful heir. This arose partly pursue this question, with Mr. Masson's from the fact that Presbyterianism had mass assistance, a little more fully.
and respectability in her favor, was at home After describing the falling off or with Independency had been a wanderer on the
on the spot, and had her titles ready; whereas drawing of the bishops and other adhe. Continent and in the Colonies, had contracted rents of Episcopacy from the Assembly, an uncouth and sunburnt look, had been preProfessor Masson says: In respect of ceded by ugly reports of her behavior in fortheological doctrine, for example, the As- eign parts, had changed her name several sembly, as it was then left, was perfectly times, and was not at once prepared with her unanimous. They were almost to a man pedigree and vouchers. Partly, however, it Calvinists or Anti-Arminians, pledged by arose from the omnipotence at that moment their antecedents to such a revision of of Scottish example and advice in England. the Articles as should make the national Anyhow, for the moment, Independency was
at a disadvantage. She seemed even to doubt creed more distinctly Calvinistic than be. her chance of obtaining a hearing. Neverthefore. ... On the question of Church less, she was to be heard, and fully, in the government the Assembly knew itself course of time. Not a form of Independency, from the first to be divided into parties." not a variety in her development that has This division became of the utmost im- been described in the preceding narrative, portance, for on the result of the strug- from Brown's original English Separatism, on gle between Presbyterianism and Inde-through Robinson's Congregationalism or pendency depended the fate of England. Semi-Separatism antagonizing Smyth's exMr. Masson's section entitled, “ Presby- and so to the Consolidated Robinsonian In
treme Separatism and Se-Baptism in Holland, terianism and Independency in July, 1643; dependency of the New England Church, with their prospects in the Westminster As its outjets in Mrs. Hutchinson's Antinomiansembly," throws so much interest on this ism and Roger Williams's absolute Individtopic that we make no excuse for tran- ualism, but were to have their appearances or scribing a portion of it:
equivalents in the coming controversy in EnI regard the arrival of Roger Williams in gland, and to play into the current of English London about midsummer, 1643, as the impor-life (vol. ii., pp. 602–3). tation into England of the very quintessence or last distillation of that notion of Church In- This extract is enough for our present dependency which England had originated, but purpose, which is to show that very unHolland and America had worked out. Our expected "developments” besides those history of Independency in all its forms on to this quintessence or lasť distillation of it in the suggested in our extract were to come mind of a fervid Welsh New-Englander, who the Assembly might be expected; but
into play. That Milton should break with might now be seen, alone or in young Vane's company, hanging about the lobbies of the what actually did occur was a personal Houses of Parliament and the Westminster matter which is the most extraordinary Assembly, has not been without preconceived circumstance in the whole of Milton's and deliberate purpose. For, in most of our life. An unhappy marriage was the occaexisting studies and accounts of England's sion of Milton's personal conflict with the great Revolution in the middle of the seven- ecclesiastical leaders of the time. When teenth century, I know not a blunder more he became a “divorcer” the whole weight fatal, more full of causes of misapprehension of the religious indignation of England and unfair judgment, than that which consists was against him, and he was driven into in treating Independency as a sudden new phenomenon of 1643, or thereabouts, when the Independency by a kind of moral neces. Westminster Assembly met. Not so, as we
- a power sufficient for the purpose, have seen.
For sixty years before 1643 In- even supposing that the progress of his dependency had been a traditional form of inquiries and the turn of his mind had Anti-Prelacy in the English popular mind, not been leading him in the same direccompeting with the somewhat older Anti-Pre- tion. The disturbance in Milton's imaglatic theory of Presbyterianise, and though inary career of pure contemplation and not possessing the same respectability of num literary labor by political affairs is not a bers and of social weight, yet lodged inexpug- greater “interference” in his life than nably in native depths, and intense with mem- that which his marriage and its conseories of pain and wrong. It did happen, in 1643, when Prelacy was removed from the quences produced. The elevated tone nation, and the question was what was to be we might almost say superhuman or ansubstituted, that this native tradition of In- gelic character - of Milton's ideas in dependency found itself dashed against the regard to the relations of the sexes, and other tradition of Presbyterianism, in such | his grand doctrine of "the sublime notion
and high mystery” of personal purity - what Cromwell was in the broader and harder for the vindication whereof he deserves field of Army action, and what the younger eternal honor were put to a severe trial Vane was, in Cromwell's absence, in the House in his own unfortunate experience. In of Commons. While Cromweli was away in his thirty-fifth year, nine years after the the army, or occasionally when he appeared
in the House, and his presence was felt there in production of “ Comus,” he went into Oxfordshire to visit the Powells, old rest of a Presbyterian motion, there was no
some new Independent motion, or some arfriends of his family, but strong Royalists, man, outside of Parliament, who observed him and he returned to London with a bride more sympathetically than Milton, or would of seventeen - the girl Mary Powell, of have been more ready to second him with whom we really know nothing, personal tongue or with pen. Both were ranked among as to her character or abilities, but about the Independents, as Vane also was, but this whom much may be inferred from the was less because they were partisans of any conduct of her husband and from unmis- particular form of Church Government, than takable allusions in his writings. Pro- because they were agreed that, whatever form fessor Masson has given us the details there must be the largest possible liberty under
of Church Government should be established, with care and delicacy, and has brought it for nonconforming consciences. If this was out all the references which Milton's writ. Independency, it was a kind of large lay Inings can be made to yield on the subject dependency; and of Independency in this whether in prose or verse. Enough to sense Milton was, undoubtedly, the literary say here, that Milton's ideas of the mar- chief. Only when he was thought of by the ried state did not find themselves fulfilled Independents as one of their champions, it was in his experience, and that he did find the always with a recollection that his champion. materials out of which to lay down new ship of the common cause was qualified by a claims for personal liberty which found peculiar private crotchet. He figured in the vent in his pamphlets on the subject of list of the chiefs of Independency, if I may so divorce. By these publications he broke express it
, with an asterisk prefixed to his
That asterisk was his Divorce Docaltogether with the Presbyterian party; trine.
an Independent, with the and at the same time, and during the added peculiarity of being the head of the publication of the divorce tracts, be defied Sect of Miltonists or Divorcers (vol. iii., p. the ordinances of Parliament and the 434). principles of the Assembly by the publication of the most magnificent of his After Naseby there was a lull in the prose works, the “ Areopagitica, or speech strife; and this seems to have been acfor the liberty of unlicensed printing.” companied by a revival of interest in genIn six years from the time of his return eral literature. Milton took occasion of to England, Milton had placed himself this to put before the world those higher ahead of Assemblies and Parliaments, claims to distinction which were never and of the public opinion of his country: absent from his mind, and to show his By the close of the year 1645 he had countrymen that he was something more fought the battles of liberty in religion, in than a writer of pamphlets and a controdomestic life, and in public speaking and versialist. Mr. Masson gives a very inprinting, and had gained a victory in teresting account of Humphrey Moseley, every field as complete as that which the bookseller, whose judgment and taste Cromwell gained in the same year atsin pure literature seem to have been of Naseby over Episcopacy and absolute an unusual kind. Moseley looked out monarchy. As Cromwell stood first in for the best poetry that could be found, the rising republic as the representative and after publishing an edition of Waller's of statesmanship and military glory, Mil. poems, considered perhaps as the best ton stood by his side as the representa- lyrical verses of the time, he applied to tive of civil, social, and religious liberty: Milton for his unpublished verses to be The effects of the publication of the included in a volume with“ Comus,” which “ Areopagitica” are described by Masson had been published by Lawes in 1637, and in his third volume, and we borrow from “Lycidas,” which had appeared with other it a passage which sums up Milton's posi- poetical pieces in a memorial volume tion at the time of which we have just printed at Cambridge in 1637-8. The been speaking:
result of this application was the appear. On the whole, then, Milton's position among Milton, both English and Latin, compos'd
ance in 1645 of “The Poems of Mr. John his countrymen from the beginning of 1645 onwards may be defined most accurately by at several times." Mr. Masson's remarks conceiving him to have been, in the special on this volume, which had the following field of letters or pamphleteering, very much / Latin motto on the title-page,
Baccare frontem This ordinance was directed against the Cingite, ne vati noceat mala lingua futuro Independents by the efforts of a sudden
* (VIRGIL, Eclog. vii.), influx of Presbyterians.” It denounces will give our readers great pleasure.
death for heresies of doctrine concerning
the persons in the Godhead, or the canon Has the reader noticed the motto on the of Scripture; and imprisonment for minor title-page from Virgil's seventh Eclogue? It errors, such as “that man is bound to is peculiarly significant of the mood in which believe no more than by his reason he the volume was published. Milton, who has
;"> " that the baptizing of called himself Thyrsis in the Epitaphium Da
can comprehend," monis, here adopts in the happiest manner the infants is unlawful,” etc. - Imagine," words of the young poet-shepherd Thyrsis-in says Professor Masson, “ that going forth Virgil's pastoral. Thyrsis there, contending just as the second civil war bad begun, as with Corydon for the prize in poetry, begs the will and ordinance of Parliament! from his brother shepherds, if not the ivy of One wonders that the concordat between perfectly approved excellence, at least the Parliament and the army, arranged
some green thing round the brow, by Cromwell and the other army chiefs in Lest ill tongues hurt the poet yet to be.
the preceding November, was not snapped Could anything more gracefully express Mil on the instant. One wonders that the ton's intention in the volume? This collection
did not wheel in mass round West. of his poems, written between bis sixteenth year and his thirty-eighth, was a smaller collec- minster, haul the legislating idiots from iion by much, he seems to own, than he had their seats, and then undertake in their once hoped to have ready by that point in his own name both the war and the general manhood; but it might at least correct the im- business of the nation. The behavior of pression of him common among those who the army, however, was more patient and knew him only as a prose pamphleteer. Some. wise” (vol. iii., p. 601). thing green round his brow for the present, The ordinance might have been diwere it only the sweet field spikenard, would rected against Milton himself from what attest that he had given his youth to Poesy, we know of his opinions subsequently and would re-announce, amid the clamor of published; and it shows in its impotent evil tongues which his polemical writings had raised, that he meant to return to Poesy before rage and intolerance that the Indepenall was done, and to die, when he did die, a
dents were already associated with heresy great Poet of England (vol. iii., p. 453).
and free opinions by their opponents,
who, on their part, must have begun to The story of the portrait of Milton en. feel the breaking down of orthodox augraved for this edition of his poems by thority. Milton, at all events, was not William Marshall, and of the trick played afraid of the imputation of heresy, and upon the engraver by Milton in revenge was probably making an approach to for the badness of the likeness, is a very those principles of toleration which he amusing one, and is pleasantly told in pp: published twenty-five years later in his 456-9 of Vol. III. It is curious to find tract “Of true religion, heresy, etc.". Inthe author of " 11 Penseroso" engaged in deed, both along the religious and along a "practical joke."
the political track, he was advancing with The interval of "
f"pure literature was the times to an apprehension of the renot a long one. A mightier wave of the quirements and conditions of true liberty. Great Rebellion was rising with the con- Milton's supreme political utterance is flicts between the Presbyterians and the “ The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates;” Independents, and between the Parlia- and its importance, so far as we know, ment and the army, which was to end in has not hitherto been fully recognized. sweeping away the monarch and the mon- Professor Masson says of it: archy, and to lay them in the dust with Milton was the first Englishman of mark, the bishops and the Church. The history out of Parliament, that signified his unqualified of the last two years and a half of the adhesion to the Republic. This he did on the reign of Charles I. occupies the fourth 13th of February, 1648–9, by publishing that book of Vol. III. of Masson's “History," pamphlet on which we saw him engaged in his and extends over nearly two hundred and house in High Holborn during the king's trial. forty pages. There are many things in
The new pamphlet, like most of its prethis period which we should like particu- decessors, was unlicensed. It was published larly to notice; but one of the points exactly a fortnight after the king's death, and most interesting to us is the Ordinance exactly a week after the Republic had been
declared. The “Eikon Basilike," the supreme of Parliament of the end of May, 1648, publication on the other side, had preceded it “For the preventing of the growth and by four days. “The Tenure of Kings and spreading of Heresy and Blasphemy.” Magistrates” is not equal in richness of lit.