« PreviousContinue »
Sweden in September 1651, and died at the Spa in Germany, the year aftet, and same month, when he had just finished a most virulent reply.
This Reply was published by his son in the year of the restoration, and dedicated to Charles II. It was entitled “ Claudii Salmasii ad Joannem Miltonum Responsio, Opus posthumum ; Dijon, September 1, 1660 :-Answer of Claudius Salmasius to John Milton, a posthumous work," &e. “ This book (says Dr. Birch) is written with unexampled virulence. He treats Milton as an ordinary schoolmaster ; 'Qui Ludimagister in scholâ triviali Londinensi fuit ;' and charges him with divorcing his wife after a year's marriage, for reasons best known to himself, and defending the lawfulness of divorce for any causes whatso
He stiles him impura bellua, quæ nihil hominis sibi reliqui fecit præter lippientes oculos;' and charges him with some false quantities in his Latin juvenile poems; and throughout the whole book gives him the titles of Bellua, fanaticus latro, Homunculus, Lippulus, Cæculus, Homo perditissimus, Nebulo impurus, scelestus audax & nefarius Alastor, infandus Impostor, &c. and declares, that he would have him tortured with burning pitch or scalding oil till he expired: • Pro cæteris autem tuis factis dictisque dignum dicam videri, qui pice ardenti, vel oleo fervente
perfundaris, usque dum animam effles nocentem et carnifici jam pridem debitam.'”
Milton, while writing the First Defence, entirely lost the sight of one eye ; and that of the other soon after its completion—a loss he bore with the magnanimity which distinguishes his charac. ter. The beautiful sonnet he wrote on this occasion to his friend Cyriac Skinner, grandson of the great Lord Coke, cannot be transcribed too often.
TO CYRIAC SKINNER.
CYRIAC, this three years day, these eyes, though clear
To outward view of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot ;
Or man or woman :-yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied
Of which all Europe ri gs from side to side:
Content, though blind, had I no better guide.
The first reply to the Defence of the People of England appeared in 1651, of which the title was
" Apologia pro Rege et Populo Anglicano contra Johannis Polypragmatici (alias Miltoni, Angli) Defensionem Destructivam, &c.-An Apology for the King and People of England against the Destructive Defence of John Polypragmatic (alias John Milton, an Englishman,)” &c. This was ascribed by Milton to bishop Bramhal;“Since (says he) by his own confession, he is a doctor of divinity, and an Srish bishop.” It was likewise supposed by some to have been written by Jane, a lawyer, of Gray's Inn. This production was too insignificant for Milton to appear against it, and he therefore employed his nephew Philips, when under twenty, to write an answer to it. But it is well known, that the answer, being written under the immediate superintendance of Milton, was so much corrected by him, as to be justly considered as his own.
the getic characters of language throughout as mark the other compositions of Milton. I have accordingly. arranged it, without scruple, agreeably to its date, immediately after the First Defence. It contains, however, as might have been expected, little that is new in argument; though the same arguments are often newly and powerfully stated. Its vehemence is at least equal to that of any of the other pieces; and in personal abuse it perhaps surpasses them-abuse too, which may be thought less excuseable, as, I believe, it was
never certainly known that Bramhal was the author, though he is uniformly assailed by name. But it should be observed, that the piece itself, to which the one we are speaking of is an answer, was sufficiently offensive to justify Milton's invective.
A second answer to the Defence appeared in 1652, which was printed at the Hague, and entitled “Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum adversus Parricidas Anglicanos :- The Cry of the Royal Blood to Heaven against the English Parricides." The author of this, as afterwards appeared, was Peter du Moulin, a Frenchman, who after the restoration obtained a prebendal stall at Canterbury. The unfeeling and insolent character of this pamphlet may be conjectured from its motto; which is the line in Virgil which describes the eyeless Cyclops.
Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum.
A monster horrid, ugly, huge, and blind.
It was a production abounding in the foulest and most unfounded slanders. Such was the bitterness of its invective against the English people, and such its calumnies and scurrilities against Milton, that Du Moulin was, at first, afraid to acknowledge himself the author He therefore sent the MS. to Salmasius to print, who prevailed
upon Alexander More, or Morus, to publish it. More was by birth a Scotchman, but then settled in France, and principal of the protestant college of Castres iu Languedoc. He was a man of talents and learning, and of great celebrity as a preacher. More not only consented, without scruple, to publish the book, but undertook to write a dedication to the exiled Charles, ander the borrowed name, however, of Adrian Ulac, (Latine Vlaccus) the printer.
Milton now prepared himself for defence, and in 1654, produced “ Defensio Secunda
Populo Anglicano, &c.—A Second Defence of the People of England,” &c. This performance is peculiarly interesting and valuable, on many accounts, independently of its high merit as a composition. To repel the slanders of his adversaries he is necessarily led to speak much of himself. He even gives a brief history of himself from his earliest years to the period of his writing. He is inhumanly upbraided with his blindness, as the punishment of divine wrath; and the noble and magnanimous manner in which he speaks upon this melancholy subject cannot be read without deep sympathy and unmixed admiration. This piece therefore has furnished his biographers with more materials than all his other works put together; and it must be allowed that they have well gleaned it. In defending his countrymen