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repudiating his wife, who had left him and obstinately refused to return, he published, by way of justification, his treatise on The Doctrine and Discipline oj Divorce.
In this work he maintains that incompatibility of temper, or any irremovable cause of dissatisfaction or misunderstanding between husband and wife, is a good reason for dissolving the union. As might be expected, this treatise excited a great deal of angry controversy, and Milton defended his views in his Judgment of Martin Bucer, Tetrachordon, and Colasterion.
Immediately after the publication of these works on the subject of divorce, Milton wrote his Tractate on Education, addressed to his friend Hartlib, of whom little is known beyond the fact that he was Milton's friend. Our author's views of the nature and end of education are noble and exalted, and the scheme which he propounds is a very ambitious and comprehensive one. He justly finds fault with many of the methods of teaching which were in vogue in his day, and complains of the length of time spent in acquiring a knowledge of Greek and Latin, which he thinks may be taught much more easily and compendiously. It must not, however, be supposed that he is a supporter of the views of those who would banish the ancient languages from the school-room, or at least reduce them to a very subordinate position iu the work of education. On the contrary, his scheme recognises a classical education of the most elaborate character, and he advocates the study of authors whose names are scarcely heard at Eton or Rugby. One of his propositions is, to adopt as text-books the works of those ancient writers who have treated of different branches of science; such, for instance, as Titruvius, Pliny,*Celsus, and Columella. In this way he thinks that things will be learned along with words, phenomena as well as language. The objection to this is, that the writers whose style is fittest to be a model are not writers on science; while the science of those who have treated of such subjects is of little or no value. It deserves, however, to be noted that he urges the claims of physical science as an important branch of education ; and at the same time he is not unmindful to vindicate the right of the body to its share of culture and training.
In the same year with the Tractate on Education Milton published his Areopagitica, a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. This is one of the finest of his works, full of learning, eloquence, ardent feeling, lofty sentiments, and a generous faith in the stability and sovereignty of truth. Its design is to dissuade the Parliament from interfering with the liberty of the press, or attempting to restrain opinion by force. Beginning with a few manly and well-timed compliments to the Parliament, Milton, after stating his position, goes on to examine the policy of the most eminent nations of antiquity with respect to it. He then traces the*origin of the practice of book licensing; and lastly argues the question on its merits. In doing this he contends for the right of free inquiry; shows that it is desirable that every side of a question should be considered; and bravely maintains the position that " the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth." t He further argues that if printing is to be restricted and regulated, restrictions should also be imposed on all recreations and pastimes. On the same principle sumptuary laws might be enforced, and all freedom of action interfered with. Other arguments are adduced as to the irresponsible position of the licensers, the extravagant trust necessarily reposed in their judgment, the serious discouragements to learning, and the hinderance to the progress of truth.
After the execution of King Charles there appeared the famous Eikon Basiliie, or Portraiture of His Sacred Majesty in His Solitude and Sufferings; purporting, but without any truth, to be the work of his sacred majesty himself. The effect of this publication was remarkable. It did much to bring about a reaction of popular feeling, Milton was therefore deputed by the Parliament to answer it. This he did in his Eiconoclastes, or Image-Breaker; sternly and powerfully written, but with less violence and impetuosity, and also with less freedom and eloquence, thau characterize some of his other writings.
A few other short treatises, some letters and state papers, a fragment of a History of Britain, and a work in Latin on Christian Doctrine, complete the list of Milton's prose writings.
These writings generally abound with indications of that lofty genius which shines out so lustrously in Paradise Lost. The same splendid imagination which throws its varied colours over that grand poem irradiates the pages of Milton's prose. Passages of the highest eloquence are neither few nor far between. Everywhere may be found evidence of the author's diversified and multitudinous learning. His sentiments, too, are generally noble and elevated. He is the friend of liberty and the friend of truth; a lover of his country and a believer in the greatness of her destiny. To him all tyranny, priestcraft, misrule,;—whatever interferes with popular rights or the development of the national life,—is hateful. Few, perhaps, can unreservedly accept all his theories, or implicitly endorse his views, ecclesiastical or political. He had no experience of a really constitutional monarchy, nor of an Established Church in union with the most unqualified toleration of all forms of religious belief. Hence he was made, by the evil days on which he had fallen, a republican and an unrelenting enemy of Episcopacy. It must also be admitted that he is sometimes violent in his antipathies, and coarse in his vituperation. Demosthenes did not abuse Philip, or Cicero denounce Antony, in language more impetuous and unsparing than that which Milton occasionally applies to the party to which he was hostile. But it cannot at least be said that his attacks contain more abuse than argument. He is a powerful reasoner, as well as a brilliant rhetorician. If he is sometimes wanting in charity to his opponents, he maintains an attitude of manly inde> pendence towards the party with which he was most closely connected.
Milton's style is in harmony with his sentiments; it is stately, rounded, and forcible. The author's intimate acquaintance with classical writers, and want of native models on which to form himself, have led to the frequent introduction of Latinisms—a tendency not only to import new words from the Latin, but to naturalize Latin idioms. Still there is no scarcity of racy English idiom in its texture. Polished, indeed, it is not; there are passages that are somewhat rough and ungainly in form,—sentences that move, as it were, with heavy and cumbrous action. Milton did not, apparently, care to elaborate or refine his prose composition; but when a great thought or a bright image fills his mind, the wheels of his language begin to glow, and his words pour forth with a rapid, fiery, and at the same time sonorous movement.
I.—RESTRICTIONS ON THE PRESS HURTFUL TO THE PROGRESS OP
There is yet behind of what I purposed to lay open, the incredible loss and detriment that this plot of licensing puts us to, more than if some enemy at sea should stop up all our havens, and ports, and creeks; it hinders and retards the importation of our richest merchandise,—truth: nay, it was first established and put in practice by antichristian malice and mystery of set purpose to extinguish, if it were possible, the light of reformation, and to settle falsehood; little differing from that policy wherewith the Turk upholds his Alcoran, by the prohibiting of printing. It is not denied, but gladly confessed, we are to send our thanks and vows to heaven, louder than most oi nations, for that great measure of truth which we enjoy, especially in those main points between us and the pope, with his appurtenances the prelates; but he who thinks we are to pitch our tent here, and nave attained the utmost prospect of reformation that the mortal glass wherein we contemplate can show us, till we come to 'beatific vision, that man by this very opinion declares that he is yet far short of truth.
Truth, indeed, came once into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect shape most glorious to look on: but when he ascended, and his apostles after him were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked race of deceivers, who, as that story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, 2how they dealt with the good Osiris, took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear, imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down gathering up limb by limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor ever shall do, till her Master's second coming: he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal 3 feature of loveliness and perfection. Suffer not these licensing prohibitions to stand at every place of opportunity forbidding and disturbing them that continue seeking, that continue to do our obsequies to the torn body of our martyred saint.
We boast our light; but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it 4smites us into darkness. Who can discern those planets that are oft6 combust, and those stars of brightest magnitude that rise and set with the sun, until the opposite motion of their orbs bring them to such a place in the firmament, where they may be seen evening or morning'! The light which we have gained was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge. It is not the unfrocking of a priest, the unmitring of a bishop, and the removing him from off the Presbyterian shoulders, that will make us a happy nation: no; if other things as great in the church, and in the rule of life both economical and political, be not looked into and reformed, we have looked so long upon the blaze that Zuinglius and Calvin have beaconed up to us, that we are stark blind.
There be who perpetually complain of schisms and sects, and make it such a calamity that any man dissents from their maxims. It is their own pride and ignorance which causes the disturbing, who neither will hear with meekness, nor can convince, yet all must be suppressed which is not found in their 6 Syntagma. They are the troublers, they are the dividers of unity, who neglect and permit not others to unite those dissevered pieces which are yet wanting to the body of Truth. To be still searching what we know not by what we know, still closing up Truth to Truth as we find it, (for all her body is homogeneal, and proportional,) this is the golden rule in theology as well as in arithmetic, and makes up the best harmony in a church; not the forced and outward union of cold, and neutral, and inwardly divided minds.
II.—AN EAGER SPIRIT OF INQUIRY AWAKE IN ENGLAND.
Lords and Commons of England! consider what nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors: a nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit; acute to invent, subtile and sinewy 7to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human capacity can soar to. Therefore the studies of Learning in her deepest sciences have been so ancient and so eminent among us, that writers of good antiquity and able judgment have been persuaded, that even the school of Pythagoras, and the Persian wisdom, 8took beginning from the old philosophy of this island. 9And that wise and civil Roman, Julius Agricola, who governed once here for Gaesar, preferred the natural wits of Britain before the laboured studies of the French.
Nor is it for nothing that the grave and frugal Transylvanian sends out yearly from as far as the mountainous borders of Russia, and beyond the Hercynian wilderness, not their youth, but their staid men, to learn our language and our theological arts. Yet that which is above all this, the favour and the love of Heaven we have great argument to think in a peculiar manner propitious and "propending towards us. Why else was this nation chosen before any other, that out of her, as out of Zion, should be proclaimed and sounded forth the first tidings and trumpet of reformation to all Europe 1 And had it not been the obstinate perverseness of our prelates against the divine and admirable spirit of Wickliffe, to suppress him as a schismatic and innovator, perhaps neither the Bohemian Huss and Jerome, no, nor the name of Luther or of Calvin, had been ever known: the glory of reforming all our neighbours had been completely ours. But now, as our obdurate clergy have with violence