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fulness of the Greek orator and the splendid fervour of the English author there is not the slightest similarity. The “ Areopagitica ” is warm with Milton's heart-blood. It kindles with the fire of enthusiasm from the first line to the last. The trumpet-strain never falters; the wellpoised wings never droop or weary in their lofty flight. Whoever would know of what our English language is capable, to what heights it can reach, into how grand an organ-music it can swell, let him read the “ Areopagitica.” “ Though all the winds of doctrine," says Milton, “were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; whoever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing. He who hears what praying there is for light and clearer knowledge to be sent down among us, would think of other matters to be constituted beyond the discipline of Geneva, framed and fabrict already to 'our hands. Yet when the new light which we beg for shines in upon us, there be who envy, and oppose, if it come not first in at their casements. What a collusion is this, whereas we are exhorted by the wise man to use diligence, to seek for wisdom as for hidden treasures early and late, that another order shall enjoin us to know nothing but by statute. When a man hath been labouring the hardest labour in the deep mines of knowledge, hath furnished out his findings in all their equipage, drawn forth his reasons as it were a battle ranged, scattered and defeated all objections in his way, calls out his adversary into the plain, offers him the advantage of wind and sun if he please, only that he may try the matter
by dint of argument, for his opponents then to skulk, to lay ambushments, to keep a narrow bridge of licensing where the challenger should pass, though it be valour enough in soldiership, is but weakness and cowardice in the wars of Truth. For who knows not that Truth is strong next to the Almighty; she needs no policies, no stratagems, no licensings to make her victorious ; these are the shifts and defences that Error uses against her
Here is a fine passage which none but a poet could have written :
“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, how 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 pattern of loveliness and perfection.”
And this almost lyrical outburst in praise of Books :
“ Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a progeny of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And, yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book : who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image ; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.”
The “Areopagitica” was written in 1644. Early in 1649 its author was appointed Latin Secretary to the Council of State; a post he continued to hold under Cromwell, assisted, after his blindness in 1654, by Andrew Marvell. Milton's form of blindness was that now known as amaurosis, formerly called, from an altogether erroneous supposition of its cause, gutta serena (“drop serene ”). The fine clear brown eyes remained unimpaired, but the nerve of sight was irreparably injured, partly through excessive application, and partly through a gouty habit of body. In his domestic life Milton had not been wholly happy; from his first wife, Mary Powell, he had been divorced, separated by the wrongdoing of her family, and after her death, he married Catherine Woodcock, who was taken from him in a year at the birth of her first child. His sonnet “on his deceased wife" is an undying evidence of the love he bore her. One night after her death he had dreamed of her as coming to him with veiled face. ...
"And such as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in heaven without restraint-
Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight,
So clear, as in no face with more delight;
I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night."
At the Restoration Milton, though he knew himself to be obnoxious to the new Court, showed no sign of timidity, and made no attempt to escape its vengeance. He retired, with that quiet dignity which characterised all the actions of his life, to a friend's house in Bartholomew Close ; and looked on unmoved, while a Parliament of Cavaliers and fanatical Royalists voted his prosecution, and ordered that his “ Eikonoclastes” and his “Defensio Populi Anglicani” should be burnt by the hands of the common hangman. What powerful influence was exerted on his behalf is uncertain; some authorities give the credit to his friend and assistant, Andrew Marvell, who had been elected to Hull: others, to Sir William Davenant, who thus repaid an obligation he had incurred to the poet; but, at all events, he was fortunate enough not to be placed among the exceptions to the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion passed on the 29th of August. He was arrested; but the House of Commons ordered his release on the 15th December, and he was so confident in his security that he ventured to appeal against the excessive fees charged in connection with his brief imprisonment. For about a year he lived in Holborn, near Red Lion Square. Thence, in 1662, he removed to Jewin Street, Aldersgate, and afterwards to a small house in Artillery Walk, near Bunhill Fields, his residence for the remainder of his life. While in Jewin Street he took to himself, by the advice of Dr. Paget, his physician, a third wife ; Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edward Minshull, of Cheshire, a distant kinswoman of the doctor's. She devoted herself to her husband's happiness; but his three daughters, of whom Anne, the eldest, was sixteen-Mary, the second fifteen—and Deborah, the youngest, ten, did not relish the rule of a young step-mother. On the whole, however, his household, during his latter years, was peaceful and well-ordered. The method of his daily life was simplicity itself: he rose at four in the summer, and at five in the winter; heard a chapter of the Hebrew Bible, and was left to meditate until seven. After breakfast some one read to him, and he dictated to his amanuensis until noon. One hour, from twelve to one, was reserved for exercise, either walking or in a swing. He dined at one, and occupied himself with books, music, and composition until six. Two hours were given to conversation with his friends; and, as might be supposed, he was a fine talker. He supped at eight, smoked a pipe, and retired to bed at nine.
Among his readers was young Thomas Ellwood, the Quaker. Burning with a great desire for knowledge, be came up to London, shortly after the Restoration, and through a friend made the acquaintance of Dr. Paget, who, in 1662, introduced the young man (he was then twenty-three) to the blind poet. His reception was very favourable ; and he was invited to visit Milton at home, whenever he wished, “and to read to him what books he should appoint,” which was all that Ellwood desired. He tells us that Milton taught him the foreign pronunciation of Latin, and perceiving with what earnest desire he pursued learning, gave him not only all the