Imagens das páginas

And lest som should perswade ye, Lords and Commons ! that these arguments of lerned mens discouragement at this your Order, are meer flourishes, and not reall, I could recount what I have seen and heard in other countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes; when I have sat among their lerned men', for that honor I had, and bin counted happy to be born in such a place of Philosophic Freedom, as they suppos'd England was, while themselys did nothing but bemoan the servil condition into which Lerning amongst them was brought; that this was it which had dampt the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had bin there writt'n now these many years but flattery and fustian. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquisition', for thinking in Astronomy otherwise then the

still retained from the Greek.-Erasmus sports with this word in the same way : alluding to his work, intitled “ Enchiridion Mi“ litis Christiani,” he writes—" Dedi Enchiridion ille contra “ dedit gladiolum, quo non magis adhuc sum usus quam ille « libro." Life by Jortin. I. 358. (n.) 800.

5 I have sat among their lerned men, &c.] See ILLUSTRATION,

M. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquisition-] Mr. Hayley, from the interest Grotius appears to have taken in the fate of Galileo, ingeniously conjectures, that Grotius might have warmly recommended Milton on his departure from Paris for Italy to do every kind office in his power to the illustrious Precursor of Sir Isaac Newton, then suffering under Inquisitorial persecution. In the proportion that we scrutinize MILTON'S Writings with cri

Franciscan and Dominican Licencers thought. And though I knew that England then was groaning loudest under the Prelaticall yoak, neverthelesse I took it as a pledge of future happines, that other Nations were so perswaded of her Liberty. Yet was it beyond my hope that those Worthies were then breathing in her air, who should be her leaders to such a deliverance, as shall never be forgott'n by any revolution of time that this world hath to finish. When that was once begun, it was as little in my fear, that what words of complaint I heard among lerned men of other parts utter'd against the Inquisition, the same I shou'd hear by as lerned men at home utterd in time of Parlament against an Order of Licencing; and that so generally, that when I had disclos'd my self a compa

, nion of their discontent, I might say, if without envy, that He whom an honest Quæstorship had in

tical minuteness, the higher we shall set his punctual accuracy. It is the prevalent though an unfounded notion, that this Astronomer was immured in a dungeon of the Holy Office for imparting to mankind his discoveries relative to the diurnal revolution of our own planetary orb on its axis. To admonish us therefore how vain to its possessor is the superiority of intellectual qualifications, " Galileo's end” has been paralleled in misfortune with the life of an eminent Scholar who oppressed by want passed many of his days in a prison. Our Authour is strictly accurate. The “ Tuscan Artist” was, it is true, put into circumscription and confine for his heretical Philosophy; that is, he was “ a prisoner to the Inquisition;" but not actually imprisoned. See Mr. Todd's Account of the Life and Writ. "ings of MILTON;" p. 31. sec. edit.

deard to the Sicilians, was not more by them importun'd against Verres, then the favourable opinion which I had among many who honour ye, and are known and respected by ye, loaded me with entreaties and perswasions?, that I would not despair to lay together that which just reason should bring into my mind, toward the removal of an undeserved thraldom upon Lerning. That this is not therefore the disburdning of a particular fancie, but the common grievance of all those who had prepar'd their minds and studies above the vulgar pitch to advance Truth in others, and from

; I might say, if without envy, that He whom an honest Questorship had indear'd to the Sicilians, was not more by them importun'd against Verres, then the favourable opinion which I had among many who honour ye, and are known and respected by ye, loaded me with entreaties and perswasions, &c.] If without endy -after the Latin formulary—“ absit invidia verbo.”—Recourse was before had to Milton, when the faculties of an energetic and well-informed advocate were wanting to sustain the Antiprelatical Party on points of Learning against the defenders of our Hierarchy. Neither would the Commonwealthsmen, had he not stood high among the Writers of his time, have solicited the exertions of his pen to counteract the impression made on the public mind by the Icon Basilike; as they would also have sought some other vindicator of the trial and execution of Charles. These repeated applications to Milton for assistance on emergent occasions are unequivocal demonstrations of the powers of his Prose-writings, and that they were not on their first appearance neglected, as Mr. Warton was far from reluctant to suggest. Men do not voluntarily trust their cause in hands which are regarded as feeble or inefficient. Tracts, moreover, were ascribed to him which unquestionably were not of his production. This was unlikely to have happened if his name as an Authour had been slighted.

others to entertain it, thus much may satisfie. And in their name I shall for neither friend nor foe conçeal what the generall murmur is; that if it come to inquisitioning again, and Licencing, and that we are so timorous of our selys, and so suspicious of all men, as to fear each Book, and the shaking of every leaf, before we know what the contents are ; if some who but of late were little better then si. lenc't from preaching, shall come now to silence us from reading, except what they please, it cannot be guest what is intended by som but a second tyranny over Learning: and will soon put it out of controversie that Bishops and Presbyters are the same to us both name and thing. That those

* Put it out of controversie that Bishops and Presbyters are the same to us both name and thing. ] He had through his Treatise “ of Prelatical Episcopacy,” maintained it to be “ clear in

Scripture, that a Bishop and Presbyter is all one both in Name and Office." Pr. W. I. 37. ed. 1738. And now, while

reprehending the arbitrary tendency of the proceedings of the ruling Faction, he seizes the opportunity of touching with allusive pleasantry on the same doctrine.

Milton was never incited to write merely by a desire of depressing one set of men or of exalting another. He put himself early and earnestly into the work of ecclesiastical Reformation : no sooner did he find that “ new Presbyter was but old Priest " writ large,” than he broke off all further commerce with his coadjutors in the subversion of “Prelaty," and resolutely withstood their encroachments. He concurred with Ludlow's opinion, who complained that “ there was a sort of Men, who were contented “ to sacrifice all civil Liberties to the ambition of the Presbyte“rian Clergy, and to vest them with a power as great or greater “than that which had been declared intolerable in the Bishops “ before.Memoirs; p. 73. fol. 1751. For the same reason,

[ocr errors]


evills of Prelaty which before from five or six and twenty Sees were distributivly charg'd upon the whole People, will now light wholly upon Learning, is not obscure to us : whenas now the Pastor of a small unlearned Parish, on the sudden shall be exalted Archbishop over a large Dioces of Books, and yet not remove, but keep his other cure too, a mysticall Pluralist'. He who but of late cry’d down the sole ordination of every novice Batchelor

[ocr errors]


Selden and Whitelock opposed their application to Parliament for the power of Excommunication and of Suspension from the Sacrament. Both these eminent Laymen, though they favoured this Connection, knew too well the danger of power in a Priesthood, to lend their support on this occasion.

Milton's end was always one and the same. He carried himself very far above any idle or selfish attachment to the interest of this Sector of that Party: dedicating his Life to the investigation of Truth, he was anxious only for the advancement of the general welfare.

The detriment to the People's Cause which ensued greatly through the confined views of the Presbyterian Clergy, when their Party had gained the predominancy, is much to be deplored. Their conduct estranged the popular Leaders from each other, or set them at variance, to the manifest advantage of their common enemy. These unhappy feuds were the prelude to the unconditional Restoration.

The Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson exhibit a genuine and lively picture of the crosses and bickerings which the assertors of the Liberties of England, who did not belong to the prevailing Sect had to encounter. -How many while fighting by the side of the Roundheads, must have sighed to have lived in the quarters of the Cavaliers.

A mysticall Pluralist.] “A covert pluralist.” So Claren.

. don; “ The Earl wrote a Letter,-. in which he mystically ex

« AnteriorContinuar »