Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 by David Masson

Part 5 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

business to appoint a commission of learned and wise men from their body
for hearing us and considering the grounds of our design. They
communicate also beforehand their thoughts of assigning to us some
College with its revenues, whereby a certain number of learned and
illustrious men, called from all nations, might he honourably maintained,
either for a term of years or in perpetuity. There was even named for the
purpose _the Savoy_ in London; _Winchester College_ out of London was
named; and again, nearer the city, _Chelsea College_, inventories of
which and of its revenues were communicated to us; so that nothing seemed
more certain than that the design of the great Verulam, concerning the
opening somewhere of a Universal College, devoted to the advancement of
the Sciences, could be carried out. But the rumour of the Insurrection in
Ireland, and of the massacre in one night of more than 200,000 English
[Oct.-Nov.], and the sudden departure of the King from London [Jan. 10,
1641-2], and the plentiful signs of the bloody war about to break out,
disturbed these plans, and obliged me to hasten my return to my own
people. It happened, however, that letters came to me from Sweden, which
had been sent to Poland and thence forwarded to England, in which that
magnanimous and energetic man, Ludovicus de Geer, invited me to come to
him in Sweden, and offered immediate means of furthering my studies and
those of any two or three learned men I chose to associate with me.
Communicating this offer to my friends in London, I took my departure,
but not without protestations from them that I ought to let my services
be employed in nothing short of the Pansophic Design." [Footnote:
Autobiographic Introduction to the "Second Part" of the _Opera Didactica_
of Comenius (1657), containing his Didactic writings from 1642 to 1650.]
This is very interesting, and, I have no doubt, quite accurate.
[Footnote: I have not been able to find in the Lords or Commons Journals
for 1641 and 1642 any traces of those communications between Comenius and
the Parliament of which he speaks. There may be such, for the Indexes are
not perfect; and there is not the least reason to doubt the word of
Comenius.] And so, through the winter of 1641-2 and the spring of 1642,
we are to imagine Hartlib and Comenius going about London together,
Hartlib about forty years of age and Comenius about fifty, the younger
man delighted with his famous friend, introducing him to various people,
and showing him the chief sights (the law-chambers and house of the great
Verulam not omitted, surely), and all the while busy with Pansophic talk
and the details of the Pansophic College. We see now the reason of
Hartlib's publication in Jan. 1641-2 of Comenius's two treatises jointly
in a book called _A Reformation of Schools_. It was to help in the
business which had brought Comenius to London.

It was a great chagrin to Hartlib when the London plan came to an abrupt
end, and Comenius transferred himself to Sweden. Thither we must follow
him, for yet one other passage of his history before we leave him:--
"Conveyed to Sweden in August of the year 1642," proceeds Comenius, "I
found my new Mæcenas at his house at Nortcoping; and, having been kindly
received by him, I was, after some days of deliberation, sent to
Stockholm, to the most illustrious Oxenstiern, Chancellor of the Kingdom,
and Dr. Johannes Skyte, Chancellor of the University of Upsal. These two
exercised me in colloquy for four days; and chiefly the former, that
Eagle of the North (_Aquila Aquilonius_). He inquired into the
foundations of both my schemes, the Didactic and the Pansophic, so
searchingly that it was unlike anything that had been done before by any
of my learned critics. In the first two days he examined the Didactics,
with at length this conclusion: 'From an early age,' said he, 'I
perceived that our Method of Studies generally in use is a harsh and
crude one [_violentum quiddam_]; but where the thing stuck I could
not find out. At length, having been sent, by my King of glorious memory
[Gustavus Adolphus], as ambassador into Germany, I conversed on the
subject with various learned men. And, when I had heard that Wolfgang
Ratich was toiling at an amended Method, I had no rest of mind till I had
got that gentleman into my presence; who, however, instead of a talk on
the subject, offered me a big volume in quarto to read. I swallowed that
trouble; and, having turned over the whole book, I saw that he detected
not badly the maladies of our schools, but the remedies he proposed did
not seem sufficient. Yours, Mr. Comenius, rest on firmer foundations. Go
on with the work.' I answered that I had done all I could in those
matters, and must now go on to others. 'I know said he, 'that you are
toiling at greater affairs, for I have read your _Prodromus Pansophiæ_.
We will speak of that to-morrow: I must to public business now.' Next
day, beginning to examine, but with greater severity, my Pansophic
Attempts, he opened with this question, 'Are you a man, Mr. Comenius,
that can bear contradiction? [_Potesne contradicentem ferre_?]' 'I can,'
replied I, 'and therefore that _Prodromus_ or Preliminary Sketch was (not
by me either, but by friends) sent out first, that it might meet with
judgment and criticism. Which if we admit from all and sundry, why not
from men of mature wisdom and heroic reason?' He began, accordingly, to
discourse against the hope of a better state of things conceived as lying
in a rightly instituted study of Pansophia, first objecting political
reasons of deep import, and then the testimonies of the divine
Scriptures, which seem to foretell for the latter days of the world
rather darkness and a certain deterioration of things than light and
amended institutions. To all which he had such answers from me that he
closed with these words, 'Into no one's mind do I think such things have
come before. Stand upon these grounds of yours: either so shall we come
some time to agreement, or there will be no way at all left. My advice,
however, is (added he) that you proceed first to do a good stroke in the
School business, and to bring the study of the Latin tongue to a greater
facility, and so prepare a broader and clearer way for those bigger
matter.' The Chancellor of the University did not cease to urge the same;
and he suggested this as well: that, if I were unwilling to remove with
my family into Sweden, at all events I should come nearer to Sweden by
taking up my abode in Prussia, say in Elbing. As my Mæcenas, to whom I
returned at Nortcoping [Ludovicus de Geer], thought that both advices
ought to be acquiesced in, and earnestly begged me that nothing should be
done otherwise than had been advised, whether in respect of the place of
my abode, or of priority to be given to any other task, I agreed at
length, always with the hope that within a year or two there would be an
end of the hack-work."--In fact, Comenius went to Elbing in Prussia
(Hartlib's native place, as the reader may remember), to be supported
there by the generosity of Ludovicus de Geer, with subsidies perhaps from
Oxenstiern, and to labour on at a completion of his system of School
Education, with a view to its application to Sweden.--"But this good-
nature of mine in yielding to the Swedes vehemently displeased my English
friends; and they sought to draw me back from any bargain by a long
epistle, most full of reasons. 'A sufficient specimen,' they argued, 'had
been given in Didactics; the path of farther rectification in that
department was open enough: not yet so in Real Science. Others could act
in the former department, and everywhere there were rising up
Schoolmasters provoking each other to industry by mutual emulation;
whereas the foundations of Pansophia were not yet sufficiently laid bare.
Infinitely more profit would redound to the public from an explanation of
the ways of true Wisdom than from little trifles about Latin.' Much more
in the same strain; and S. H. [Samuel Hartlib] added, '_Quo, moriture,
ruis? minoraque viribus audes_?' in this poetical _solecism_ [Comenius
calls the hexameter a solecism, I suppose, on account of the false
quantity it contains in the word _minora_], reproaching my
inconsiderateness. Rejoiced by this recall into the road-royal, I sent
on this letter to Sweden; and, nothing doubting that they would come
round to the arguments there expressed, I gave myself up wholly to my
Pansophics, whether to continue in them, or that, at all events (if the
Swedish folk did wish me to dwell on in my Scholastics and it were my hap
to die in that drudgery), the foundations of Pansophia, of the
insufficient exposition of which I heard complaints, might be better dug
down into, so that they might no longer be ignored. But from Sweden the
answer that came was one ordering me to persevere in the proposal of
first finishing the Didactics; backed by saws to this effect: 'One would
rather the _better_, but the _earlier_ must be done first,' 'One doesn't
go from the bigger to the smaller, but _wicey warsey_,' and all the rest
of it. Nothing was left me but to obey, and plod on against my will in
the clay of logomachies for eight whole years. Fortunately this was not
till I had printed at Dantzic, in the year 1643, my already-made efforts
at a better detection of the foundations of Pansophia, under the title of
'_Pansophiæ Diatyposis Ichnographica et Orthographica_,' reprinted
immediately at Amsterdam and Paris." [Footnote: Introd. to Part II. of
_Opera Didactica_.]

Poor Comenius! He had a long life before him yet; but at this point we
must throw him off, shunted into his siding at Elbing, to plod there for
four years (1642-1646) at his Didactics, while he would fain have been
soaring among his Pansophics. [Footnote: Though, as he has told us, his
drudgery at the Didactics continued for _eight_ years in all, there
was a break of these eight years in 1646 when he returned to Sweden to
report proceedings to his employers.] Letters from his London friend,
Hartlib, would reach him frequently in Elbing, and would doubtless
encourage him in the humbler labour since he could not be at the higher.
For Hartlib himself, we find, also laid aside the Pansophics for a time,
seeing no hope for them in London without the presidency of Comenius, but
continued to interest himself in the Didactics. In fact, however, he was
never without interests of some kind or another. Thus, in Feb. 1642-3, or
when Comenius may have been about a year at Elbing, Hartlib was again at
the Durie business. "A Faithfull and Seasonable Advice, or the Necessity
of a Correspondence for the Advancement of the Protestant Cause: humbly
suggested to the Great Councill of England assembled in Parliament:
Printed by John Hammond, 1643," is the title of a new tract, of a few
pages, which we know to be Hartlib's. [Footnote: In the copy in the
King's Library, British Museum, there is the MS. note "Ex dono Authoris,
S. Hartlib" with the date "Feb. 6, 1642," (_i.e._ 1642-3).] Then, in
July 1643, the Westminster Assembly met; and what an accession of topics
of interest that brought to Hartlib may be easily imagined. There was the
excitement of _The Solemn League and Covenant_ (Aug.-Sept.), with
the arrival in London of the Scottish Commissioners, including Hartlib's
friend Henderson, to take part in the Assembly; there was the beginning
of the great debate between Independency and Presbyterianism; nay, in
Nov. 1643, Durie was himself appointed a member of the Assembly by the
Parliament (Vol. II. p. 517), and so drawn over from the Continent for a
long period of service and residence in England.

That Hartlib _was_ interested in all this, and led into new
positions and relationships by it, there is very varied proof.--For
example, he was one of the witnesses in Laud's trial, which began Nov.
13,1643, and straggled on through the rest of that year and the next. His
evidence was wanted by the prosecution in support of that one of the
charges against Laud which alleged that he had "endeavoured to cause
division and discord between the Church of England and other Reformed
Churches." In proof of this it was proposed to show that he had
discouraged and impeded Durie in his Conciliation scheme, on the ground
that the Calvinistic Churches were alien from the true faith, and that,
in particular, he had "caused letters-patent granted by the King for a
collection for the Palatinate ministers to be revoked after they had
passed the great seal"; and it was to the truth of both these statements
that Hartlib, with others, was required to testify. He was, as we know, a
most competent witness in that matter; and he gave his evidence duly,
though, as I should fancy, with no real ill-will to Laud. [Footnote: See
particulars in Prynne's _Canterburie's Doome_ (1646), pp.539-542.
Laud, in this part of his defence, names both Durie and Hartlib. He says
he did not discourage Durie, but rather encouraged him, as he could prove
by letters of Durie's which he had; to which the prosecution replied that
the contrary was notorious, and that Durie had "oft complained to his
friends" of Land's coldness.]--Now that Episcopacy was done with, and it
was to a Parliament and an Assembly mainly Presbyterian that England was
looking for a new system of Church-government, Hartlib's anxiety was, as
Durie's also was, to make the best of the new conditions, and to instil
into them as much of the Durie idea as possible. Might it not even be
that a Reformed Presbyterian Church of England would be a more effective
leader in a movement for the union of the Protestant Churches of Europe
than the Episcopal Church had been? This explains another short tract of
Hartlib's, put forth Nov. 9, 1644, and entitled, "The Necessity of some
nearer Conjunction and Correspondency amongst Evangelical Protestants,
for the Advancement of the National Cause, and bringing to passe the
effect of the Covenant." [Footnote: Though the tract, which consists of
but eight small quarto pages, is anonymous, it is verified as Hartlib's
by the inscription on the British Museum copy, "By Mr. Hartlib, Novemb.
9th." The tract itself bears only "London Printed 1644."]--Well, but how
did Hartlib stand in the great controversy between the Independents and
the Presbyterians? This too can be answered. As might be expected, he was
in sympathy with the Independents, in as far as their claim for a
Toleration was concerned. The reader will remember Edwards's famous
_Antapologia_, published in July 1644, in answer to the _Apologetical
Narration_ of the Five Independent Divines of the Assembly, and which all
the Presbyterian world welcomed as an absolutely crushing blow to
Independency and the Toleration principle. Here, then, is the title of a
smaller publication which that big one provoked: "A Short Letter modestly
entreating a Friend's judgment upon Mr. Edwards his Booke he calleth an
Anti-Apologia: with a large but modest Answer thereunto: London, Printed
according to order, 1644." Actually it was out on Sept. 14th, or about
two months after Edwards's book. The title exactly indicates the
structure of the publication. It consists of a short Letter and a longish
Reply to that Letter. The Letter begins, "Worthy Sir, I have heard of Mr.
Edwards's Anti-Apologeticall Book, as I needs must doe, for all the City
and Parliament rings with it," and it goes on to request from the person
addressed _his_ opinion of the hook. At the end of the letter we find the
writer's name "Sam Hartlib": and the dating "from my house in Duke's
Place in great haste, Aug. 5." And who was the friend addressed? He was a
Hezekiah Woodward, B.A. (Oxon.), preacher in or near Aldermanbury, about
fifty years of age, long a zealous Puritan, latterly a decided
Parliamentarian and champion of the Solemn League and Covenant, and
already known as an author by some Puritanic books, and one or two of a
pedagogic kind, referable to an earlier period of his life when he had
been a London schoolmaster. Hartlib had known him, he says in his letter,
for sixteen years, that is to say from his first coming to London in 1628
or 1629. It is this long friendship that justifies him in asking
Woodward's opinion of Edwards's book. The opinion is given in a reply to
Hartlib, signed "Hezekiah Woodward," and dated "from my house in
Aldermanbury, 13 Aug. 1644"; and it is, as far as I remember, quite
against Edwards, and a real, though hazy and perplexed, reasoning for
Toleration.[Footnote: The publication was duly registered, and has a long
appended _Imprimatur_ by Joseph Caryl; and the exact date of the
publication (Sept 14) is from a MS. note in the British Museum copy, For
a sketch of Woodward and a list of his writings see Wood, Ath. III, 1034-


It had been Hartlib's chance, he himself tells us, to be "familiarly
acquainted with the best of Archbishops, Bishops, Earls, Viscounts,
Barons, Knights, Esquires, Gentlemen, ministers, Professors of both
Universities, Merchants, and all sorts of learned or in any kind useful
men." This he wrote at a considerably later date in his life; [Footnote:
In Aug. 1660, See Letter in Dircks's Memoir, p. 4.] but, from what we
have already seen, we may vote it substantially true even in 1644. In
that year, we know for certain, the circle of Hartlib's friends included

The acquaintanceship may have begun some years before that. It may have
begun in 1639 when Milton, on his return from abroad, took lodgings in
St. Bride's Churchyard, or in 1640, when he first set up house in
Aldersgate Street. At all events, when Milton's Anti-Episcopal pamphlets
of the next two years made him a public man, he is not likely to have
escaped the cognisance of Hartlib. I should not wonder if Milton were one
of those "more forward spirits" whom Hartlib wanted to enlist in the
great scheme of a Pansophic University of London to be organized by
Comenius, and whom he tried to bring round Comenius personally during the
stay of that theorist in London in 1641-2, when the experiment of some
such University was really in contemplation by friends in Parliament, and
Chelsea had been almost fixed on as the site. But, if so, I rather guess,
for reasons which will appear, that Milton gave the whole scheme the cold
shoulder, and did not take to the great Comenius. Quite possibly,
however, it was not till Comenius was gone, and was fixed down at Elbing
in Prussia, that there was any intimacy between Milton and Hartlib. It
may have come about after Milton had been deserted by his wife in July
1643, and when a few pupils, besides the two nephews he had till then had
charge of, were received into his wifeless household. Would not this in
itself be an attraction to Hartlib? Was not Milton pursuing a new method
with his pupils, between which and the method of Comenius there were
points in common? Might not Comenius himself, in his retirement at
Elbing, be interested in hearing of an eminent English scholar and poet
who had views about a Reform of Education akin to his own?

This is very much fancy, but it is the exact kind of fancy that fits the
certainty. That certainty is that, before the middle of 1644, Milton and
Hartlib were well acquainted with each other, had met pretty frequently
at Milton's house in Aldersgate Street, or at Hartlib's in Duke's Place,
and had conversed freely on many subjects, and especially on that of
Education. Nay more, Hartlib, trying to indoctrinate Milton with the
Comenian views on this subject, had found that Milton had already certain
most positive views of his own upon it, in some things agreeing with the
Comenian, but in others vigorously differing. Hence, after various
colloquies, he had made a request to Milton. Would he put a sketch of his
views upon paper--no elaborate treatise, but merely a sketch, such as one
could read in half-an-hour or so, and, if permitted, show to a friend, or
print for more general use? Urged more and more pressingly, Milton
complied; and the result was the appearance, on June 5, 1644, on some
booksellers' counters, of a thin little quarto tract, of eight pages in
rather small type, with no author's name, and no title-page at all, but
simply this heading atop of the text on the first page, "OF EDUCATION: TO
MASTER SAMUEL HARTLIB." The publication had been duly registered, and the
publisher was the same Thomas Underhill, of Wood Street, who had
published Milton's first three Anti-Episcopal pamphlets. The inference is
that the thing was printed by Milton himself, and not by Hartlib. It
would be handier for Hartlib to have it in print than in manuscript.
[Footnote: "June 4, 1644: Tho. Underhill entered for his copy under the
hands of Mr. Cranford [the licenser] and Mr. Man, warden, a little tract
touching Education of Youth," is the entry in the Stationers' books;
without which we should not have known the publisher's name. The date of
the publication is fixed, and the fact that the authorship was known at
the time is proved, by this MS. note of Thomason on the copy among the
King's Pamphlets in the British Museum (Press mark 12. F. e. 12./160)
"By Mr. John Milton: 5 June, 1644."--Milton reprinted the tract in 1673,
at the end of the second edition of his Minor Poems, with the words
"Written above twenty years since" added to the original title.]

Hartlib must have been pleased, and yet not altogether pleased, with the
opening of the Tract. Here it is:--


"I am long since persuaded that to say or do aught worth memory and
imitation no purpose or respect should sooner move us than simply the
love of God and of Mankind. Nevertheless, to write now the Reforming of
Education, though it be one of the greatest and noblest designs that can
be thought on, and for the want whereof this Nation perishes, I had not
yet at this time been induced, but by your earnest entreaties and serious
conjurements; as having my mind for the present half diverted in the
pursuance of some other assertions, the knowledge and the use of which
cannot but be a great furtherance both to the enlargement of Truth and
honest living with much more peace. [Footnote: This passage, the wording
of which clearly implies that Milton was prosecuting his Divorce
speculation, with whatever else in addition, sets aside a hypothesis
(which may have occurred to the reader as well as to myself) that the
Tract on Education, though not published till June 1644, may have been
written, and in Hartlib's hands, as early as 1641-2, when Comenius was in
London. The hypothesis, which might have been otherwise plausible, will
not accord with the particular words of the tract now presented; and the
conclusion is that, whether Milton knew Hartlib or not as early as 1641-
2, when Comenius was with him, the tract was not written till shortly
before its publication in June 1644, when Comenius had been two years in
Elbing.] Nor should the laws of any private friendship have prevailed
with me to divide thus, or to transpose, my former thoughts, but that I
see those aims, those actions, which have won you with me the esteem of a
person sent hither by some good providence from a far country to be the
occasion and the incitement of great good to this Island. And, as I hear,
you have obtained the same repute with men of most approved wisdom, and
some of highest authority among us; not to mention the learned
correspondence which you hold in foreign parts, and the extraordinary
pains and diligence which you have used in this matter both here and
beyond the seas, either by the definite will of God so ruling, or the
peculiar sway of nature, which also is God's working, Neither can I think
that, so reputed and so valued as you are, you would, to the forfeit of
your own discerning ability, impose upon me an unfit and over-ponderous
argument, but that the satisfaction which you profess to have received
from those incidental discourses which we have wandered into hath
pressed, and almost constrained, you into a persuasion that what you
require from me in this point I neither ought nor can in conscience defer
beyond this time, both of so much need at once and of so much opportunity
to try what God hath determined. I will not resist, therefore, whatever
it is either of divine or human obligement that you lay upon me; but will
forthwith set down in writing, as you request me, that voluntary Idea
which hath long in silence presented itself to me of a better Education,
in extent and comprehension far more large, and yet of time far shorter
and of attainment far more certain, than hath been yet in practice. Brief
I shall endeavour to be; for that which I have to say assuredly this
Nation hath extreme need should be _done_ sooner than _spoken_.
To tell you, therefore, what I have benefited herein among old renowned
authors, I shall spare; and to search what many modern JANUAS and
DIDACTICS, more than ever I shall read, have projected, my inclination
leads me not. But, if you can accept of these few observations, which
have flowered off, and are as it were the burnishing of, many studious
and contemplative years altogether spent in the search of religious and
civil knowledge, and such as pleased you so well in the relating, I here
give you them to dispose of."

What must have pleased Hartlib in this was the tone of respectful
compliment to himself; what may have pleased him less was the slighting
way in which Comenius is passed over. "To search what many modern JANUAS
and DIDACTICS, more than ever I shall read, have projected, my
inclination leads me not," says Milton, quoting in brief the titles of
the two best-known works of Comenius. It is as if he had said, "I know
your enthusiasm for your Pansophic friend; but I have not read his books
on Education, and do not mean to do so." This was barely polite;
[Footnote: The manner of the allusion to Comenius rather forbids the idea
that Milton had met him during his London visit. Like most high-natured
men, Milton had a kindly side to the merits of those whom he personally
knew.] but Hartlib was a man of sense: and he would be glad, in reading
on, to find that, with whatever independence Milton had formed his views,
not even Comenius had outgone him in denunciations of the existing system
of Education. Thus:--

"Seeing every nation affords not experience and tradition enough for all
kind of learning, therefore we are taught chiefly the languages of those
people who have at any time been most industrious after wisdom; so that
Language is but the instrument conveying to us Things worthy to be known.
And, though a linguist should pride himself to have all the tongues that
Babel cleft the world into, yet, if he have not studied the solid things
in them as well as the words and Lexicons, he were nothing so much to be
esteemed a learned man as any yeoman or tradesman competently wise in his
mother-dialect only. Hence appear the many mistakes which have made
Learning generally so unpleasing and so unsuccessful. First, we do amiss
to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much
miserable Latin and Greek as might be learnt otherwise easily and
delightfully in one year. And that which casts our proficiency therein so
much behind is our time lost, partly in too oft idle vacancies given both
to Schools and Universities, partly in a preposterous exaction, forcing
the empty wits of children to compose themes, verses, and orations, which
are the acts of ripest judgment, and the final work of a head filled, by
long reading and observing, with elegant maxims and copious invention.
These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of
the nose, or the plucking of untimely fruit: besides the ill habit which
they get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek idiom with
their untutored Anglicisms, odious to read, yet not to be avoided without
a well-continued and judicious conversing among pure authors digested,
which they scarce taste; whereas, if, after some preparatory grounds of
speech by their certain forms got into memory, they were led to the
praxis thereof in some chosen short book lessoned thoroughly to them,
they might then forthwith proceed to learn the substance of good Things
and Arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into
their power. This I take to be the most rational and most profitable way
of learning _Languages_, and whereby we may best hope to give
account to God of our youth spent herein. And, for the usual method of
teaching _Arts_, I deem it to be an old error of Universities, not
yet well recovered from the scholastic grossness of barbarous ages, that,
instead of beginning with Arts most easy (and these be such as are most
obvious to the sense), they present their young unmatriculated novices at
first coming with the most intellective abstractions of Logic and
Metaphysics; so that they, having but newly left those grammatic flats
and shallows where they stuck unreasonably to learn a few words with
lamentable construction, and now on the sudden transported under another
climate to be tossed and turmoiled with their unballasted wits in
fathomless and unquiet deeps of controversy, do for the most part grow
into hatred and contempt of Learning, mocked and deluded ail the while
with ragged notions and babblements, while they expected worthy and
delightful knowledge; till poverty or youthful years call them
importunately their several ways, and hasten them, with the sway of
friends, either to an ambitious and mercenary or ignorantly zealous
Divinity: some allured to the trade of Law, grounding their purposes not
on the prudent and heavenly contemplation of justice and equity, which
was never taught them, but on promising and pleasing thoughts of
litigious terms, fat contentions and flowing fees. Others betake
themselves to State affairs, with souls so unprincipled in virtue and
true generous breeding that flattery and court-shifts and tyrannous
aphorisms appear to them the highest points of wisdom; instilling their
barren hearts with a conscientious slavery, if (as I rather think) it be
not feigned. Others, lastly, of a more delicious and airy spirit, retire
themselves, knowing no better, to the enjoyments of ease and luxury,
living out their days in feasts and jollity; which indeed is the wisest
and the safest course of all these, unless they were with more integrity
undertaken. And these are the errors, and these are the fruits of mis-
spending our prime youth at the Schools and Universities as we do, either
in learning mere Words, or such Things chiefly as were better unlearnt."

Having thus denounced the existing system of Schools and Universities,
Milton goes on to explain what he would substitute. As he poetically
expresses it, he will detain his readers no longer in the wretched survey
of things as they are, but will conduct them to a hill-side where he will
point out to them "the right path of a virtuous and noble education,
laborious indeed at the first ascent, but else so smooth, so green, so
full of goodly prospect and melodious sounds on every side, that the Harp
of Orpheus was not more charming." The rest of the tract is a redemption
of this promise. To represent it by mere continued quotation would be of
small use, and is perhaps unnecessary. We will, therefore, try a stricter

Milton does not formally concern himself in this tract with the complete
problem of National Education. In this respect the passion and the
projects of Comenius were a world wider than Milton's. Comenius aimed at,
and passionately dreamt of, a system of Education that should, in every
country where it was established, comprehend all born in that country, of
both sexes, and of every rank or class, and take charge of them from
their merest infancy on as far as they could go, from the first or
Mother's School through the subsequent routine of the Public Vernacular
School, the Latin School or _Ludus Literarius_, and the University.
This last stage of the complete routine might extend to the twenty-fourth
or twenty-fifth year of life; and, though few could proceed to that
stage, and the majority must, from sheer social necessity, drop off in
the earlier stages, yet all were to be carried through the stage of the
Vernacular Public School, and progress beyond that, where possible, was
not to be denied to girls any more than to boys. Compared with this, what
Milton contemplates, or at least discusses, is but an important fragment
struck off from the total mass. True, he gives a tolerably broad
definition of Education at the outset. "I call therefore a complete and
generous Education," he says, "that which fits a man to perform, justly,
skilfully, and magnanimously, all the offices, both private and public,
of Peace and War." This definition, if meant as verbally perfect, would
not have been satisfactory to Comenius, whose express notion of
Education, as we know, was that it included preparation for the life to
come as well as for that which now is. But, if he had known Milton, he
might have let the omission pass as certainly and most solemnly implied,
and might even have liked, for the sake of effect, the practical and
straightforward utilitarianism of the definition. But then, when Milton's
precise phrasing of the definition was examined, one could not but guess
limits in his mind. "That which fits a _man_ to perform" are the
words of the definition; and to perform what? "All the offices, both
private and public, of _Peace and War_," are the words that follow.
And, as one reads on, the conjecture suggested by this phrasing is
confirmed. By _man_ Milton did not mean _Homo_, but _Vir_. When he framed
his definition of Education, only one of the sexes was present to his
mind; and throughout the whole tract, from first to last, there is not a
single recognition of girl, woman, or anything in female shape, as coming
within the scheme proposed. But more than that. Not only is it the
education of one sex only that Is discussed in the tract, but it is the
education only of a portion of that sex, and of that portion only at a
particular period of life. There is nothing about the Infant Education,
or what we should now call the Primary Education, of male children; and
there is nothing about ways and means for the secondary or higher
education of any others than those whose parents could pay for such
education out of their own resources. In short, the tract is a proposal
of a new method for the education of English gentlemen's sons between the
ages of twelve and twenty-one. It is this, and nothing more, except in so
far as hints in the general philosophy of education may be implied in the
particular exposition. Milton himself was careful, ere the close of the
tract, to avow that he had so restricted himself. It was a "general
view," he said, such as Mr. Hartlib had desired, and meant also "for
light and direction" to "such as have the worth in them to make trial,"
but "not beginning as some have done [_e.g._ Comenius] at the cradle,
which might yet be worth many considerations," and omitting also "many
other circumstances" that might have been mentioned had not brevity been
the scope. All this it is necessary to remember in justice to the tract.
It is a tract on the education of gentlemen's sons, or of such boys and
youths as had hitherto been accustomed to go to the English Public
Schools and Universities.

Within his avowed limits, Milton is very like himself, _i.e._ very
grand and very bold. At the first start, for example, he tells us that he
would abolish Universities altogether, or roll Public Schools and
Universities into one. Here is his recipe: "First to find out a spacious
house and ground about it fit for an ACADEMY, and big enough to lodge 150
persons (whereof 20 or thereabout maybe attendants), all under the
government of one who shall be thought of desert sufficient, and ability
either to do all or wisely to direct and oversee it done. This place
should be at once both School and University, not needing a remove to any
other house of Scholarship, except it be some peculiar College of Law or
Physic, where they mean to be practitioners; but, as for those general
studies which take up all our time from Lilly to the commencing (as they
term it) Master of Art, it should be absolute. After this pattern, as
many edifices may be converted to this use as shall be needful in every
city throughout this land; which would tend much to the increase of
learning and civility everywhere." Milton clearly did not like the
deputation of all the higher education of England to two seats of
learning, like Oxford and Cambridge, but wanted his Academies to be
distributed all over England, in numbers proportionate to the population,
and chiefly in cities.

He takes one of these imagined Academies as a model, and shows how it
might be conducted. He divides the subject into the three heads of
STUDIES, EXERCISES AND AMUSEMENTS, and DIET. On this last, however, he is
extremely brief. "For their Diet there cannot be much to say, save only
that it would be best in the same house; for much time else would be lost
abroad, and many ill habits got; and that it should be plain, healthful,
and moderate, I suppose is out of controversy:" _i.e._ Milton would
prefer that all the pupils should be boarded in the Academy, and have
their meals there at a common table. It is to the Studies and the
Exercises and Amusements that most space is devoted.

I. THE STUDIES:--Here Milton appears decidedly as an innovator, but yet
with a curious mixture of what would now be called rank Conservatism. The
innovation consists in a total departure from the use and wont of his
time, in respect of the nature of the studies to be pursued and the order
in which they should be taken. There was to be an end of that wretched
torture of Latin and Greek theme-making and versifying, and that dreary
toiling amid obsolete subtleties of scholastic Logic and Metaphysics,
which he had denounced in a previous passage, and which had made
University Education, he says, nothing better than "an asinine feast of
sow-thistles and brambles." Instead of these he would have studies useful
in themselves and delightful to ingenuous young minds. Things rather than
Words; the Facts of Nature and of Life; Real Science of every possible
kind: this, together with a persistent training in virtuous and noble
sentiment, and a final finish of the highest literary culture, was to
compose the new Education. Here Milton and Comenius are very much at one;
here Milton and the modern advocates of the Real or Physical Sciences in
Education are very much at one. Given a lofty and varied idea of utility,
no man has ever been more strenuously utilitarian than Milton was in this
tract. The very novelty of the scheme it proposed consisted in the
proclamation of utility as the test of the studies to be pursued and as
ruling the order in which they should come.--What, then, was that "rank
conservatism," as some might call it now, which accompanied the novelty?
It was that the medium of liberal education should still be mainly Latin
and Greek. A sentence in one of the passages of the tract already quoted
has prepared us for this. Language, Milton had there admitted, is
valuable in education only as an instrument of real knowledge, a vehicle
of "things worthy to be known." But then all languages were not equally
fitted for this function, inasmuch as every people could put into its
language only what it had in its head or heart, and so different
languages had come down freighted with very different weights and worths
of matter. Now, what were the languages pointed out by this principle as
apt for the purposes of education? They were Greek, Latin, and Italian,
with (on religious grounds) Hebrew and one or two of its cognates. These
were the tongues to be taught, and to be taught in, and mainly, of these,
Latin and Greek. Of English there is not one word. This may partly be
accounted for. The acquisition of useful information in all kinds of
subjects was to be a great part of the education in each of the proposed
Miltonic Academies; and at that time information on all kinds of subjects
was locked up chiefly in Latin and Greek books. All modern or mediaeval
books of information, all the standard text-books in the Sciences and
Arts, that had been written by Englishmen themselves or by Continentals,
were in the common Latin; the library of such books, original or
translated, in the vernacular was yet but scanty. One could not be
_learned_ by means of English alone. Well, but Milton recognised a
culture of the feelings, the imagination, the sense of art and nobleness,
as also something needed in education, and to be helped by books; and in
this respect, if not in the other, were there not available materials and
means in the native English Literature? That Literature contained, at all
events, the poetry of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, and not a few
others, rated more or less highly by Milton himself. That Milton did not,
on this account, include some teaching and reading of the vernacular in
the curriculum of his Academy, may have arisen from the fact that the
best in English Literature was then all recent, and of such small bulk
collectively that acquaintance with it might be expected as a matter of
mere chance and delicious odd hours in window-corners. Here he but
followed the custom. All Public or Grammar Schools were Latin and Greek
Schools: English at that stage was, by common consent, to shift for
itself. And yet there were dissentients from the custom, and advocates of
the claims of the vernacular. Comenius, as we have seen, had blown a
blast on the subject for all lands; and in Milton's own school of St.
Paul's there had been a rather remarkable tradition of English. Not only
had the elder Gill, the Head-master of the school in Milton's time, been
a purist in English, and an inventor of new methods for teaching in and
through English (see Vol. I. pp. 60-64), but Gill's predecessor in the
school, Mulcaster, had pleaded for English. "Is it not a marvellous
bondage," he had written as early as 1582, "to become servants to one
tongue, for learning's sake, the most part of our time, whereas we may
have the very same treasure in our own tongue with the gain of most time:
our own bearing the joyful title of our liberty and freedom; the Latin
tongue remembering us of our thraldom and bondage? I love Rome, but
London better; I favour Italy, but England more; I honour the Latin, but
I worship the English." [Footnote: Richard Mulcaster's "First Part of the
Elementarie; which entreateth chiefelie of the Right Writing of our
English Ton.," (1582). My quotation, however, is not directly from the
book itself, but from an extract in the Appendix to Mr. Quick's "Essays
on Educational Reformers" (1868), pp. 301-2.] After this and the
tradition of English in St. Paul's, Milton's total omission of English
from the curriculum of his Academy is rather remarkable. There are proofs
that, when he wrote his Tract on Education, he had settled in a lower
estimate of the worth of all the previous English Literature than is
common now, and that he thought the greatness of English still to come.
This may have had something to do with the omission. Possibly, however,
he reserved a large daily use of English in his Academy which does not
appear in the programme.

What does appear in the programme is that the curriculum of eight years
or so was to be arranged, not rigidly but in a general way, in four
classes or stages, thus:--

(1) _First Class or Stage_ (ætat. l2-l3?):--The business here was to
be Latin, Arithmetic, and Elementary Geometry. The Latin rudiments and
rules were to be learnt from "some good Grammar, either that now used
[Lilly's], or any better," and the Italian or Continental mode of
pronouncing Latin, instead of the customary English, was to be carefully
taught from the first; but as to the first reading-books to be used along
with the Grammar, or any method for simplifying and accelerating entrance
into Latin, whether that of Comenius or any other, there is no hint as
yet. Neither is there any hint as to the manner of learning Arithmetic
and the Elements of Geometry, save that the latter might be picked up
"even playing, as the old manner was." On another part of the training of
this First Class, however, Milton is more specific. Most especially at
this stage, the boys were to be inured to noble and hardy sentiments and
a sense of the importance of the education they were beginning; they were
to be "inflamed with the study of Learning and the admiration of Virtue";
nay, they were to be "stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave
men and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages." This might
be done by reading to them aloud, from Greek or Latin, "some easy and
delightful Book of Education" not yet accessible to themselves. "CEBES,
[Footnote: The Pinax (Table) of CEBES of Thebes, a disciple of Socrates.
"This Pinax is a philosophical explanation of a table on which the whole
of human life, with its dangers and temptations, was symbolically
represented, and which is said to have been dedicated by some one to the
temple of Cronos at Athens or Thebes. The author introduces some youths
contemplating the table, and an old man who steps among them undertakes
to explain its meaning. The whole drift of the book is to show that only
the proper development of the mind and possession of real virtues can
make us truly happy" (Dr. L. Schmitz in Smith's Dict. of Greek and Roman
Biog.: Art. _Cebes_.) There were in Milton's time Latin translations
of Cebes, and at least one in English.] PLUTARCH, [Footnote: This must be
some such portion of PLUTARCH'S "Moral Works" as that relating to
Pedagogy. An English translation of the "Morals," by Philemon Holland,
had been published in 1603.] and other Socratic Discourses," are
mentioned as fit for the purpose in Greek; and, in Latin, "the two or
three first Books of QUINTILIAN." [Footnote: I do not find in Lowndes any
early English translation of QUINTILIAN'S "Institutes." The first two or
three Books of this work are an excellent dissertation on the importance
of Education and survey of what it ought to include; and it gives us an
idea of Milton's purpose that he wanted them to be read to pupils at the
outset. He wanted to fire them with high notions of that business of
education on which they were entering.] Most, however, would depend on
the explanations and precepts of the master himself at every opportunity,
and on the influence of his own example, "infusing into their young
breasts such an ingenuous and noble ardour as would not fail to make many
of them renowned and matchless men." Always, too, at evening, there was
to be Religious teaching and reading of the Bible.

(2) _Second Class or Stage_ (_ætat_. 13-16?):--This stage, it
must be presumed, was to be considerably longer than the first; for its
business was to consist in Latin continued, with Greek added, and in the
acquisition through these tongues, and otherwise, of a knowledge of all
the useful Sciences and Arts. Here, indeed, Milton's utilitarian bent,
his determination to substitute a pabulum of real knowledge for the
studies then customary in schools, asserts itself most conspicuously.
Here it is that he approaches most to Comenius in the substance, though
with a difference in the manner. For what were the books he would
exercise his pupils on at this stage, _i.e._ as soon as they had got
through the Latin Grammar, and could make out a bit of Latin? First,
CATO, VARRO, and COLUMELLA, the three Latin writers on Agriculture.
[Footnote: CATO is the famous "Cato the Censor" of Roman history, or M.
Porcius Cato (B.C. 231-141), among whose preserved writing, is an
agricultural treatise, _De Re Rustica_; VARRO is M. Terentius Varro
(B.C. 116-28), reputed the most learned of all the Romans, and among
whose various works is also one _De Re Rustica_; COLUMELLA, the
author of a systematic work on Agriculture, in twelve Books, lived in the
first century of the Christian era. I do not know that there were any
English translations of these Latin works on Agriculture in Milton's
time.] If the language of these unusual authors was difficult for the
pupils, "so much the better; it is not a difficulty beyond their years."
They would, at all events, find the matter useful and interesting, and
might, by these readings, and due modern comments, be "incited and
enabled" for the great work of "improving the tillage of their country"
when they should grow to be men. Hartlib, we may be sure, would like this
on its own account; but Milton had an additional reason for it. The
pupils, after having read these writers, would have a good grasp of the
Latin vocabulary, and would be masters of any ordinary Latin prose. They
might then, therefore, learn Geography, with "the use of the Globes and
all the Maps," through any good modern (Latin) treatise on that subject,
and also the elements of "Natural Philosophy" in the same way. Milton
does not specify any manual on either subject. But, about this time, he
says, the pupils would be learning Greek. This they would do "after the
same manner as was before prescribed in the Latin; whereby, the
difficulties of Grammar being soon overcome, all the historical
Physiology of ARISTOTLE and THEOPHRASTUS are open before them, and, as I
may say, under contribution." In other words, the first Greek readings of
the pupils would be in such works of Aristotle as his "History of
Animals," his "Meteorology," and parts of his general "Physics," and in
the "History of Plants" of Aristotle's disciple, Theophrastus; [Footnote:
Lowndes mentions no English translations of ARISTOTLE or THEOPHRASTUS as
early as Milton's time.] and the purpose of such readings would be to
enlarge their knowledge of the Physical Sciences at the same time that
they were breaking themselves into Greek. But now, Latin being thoroughly
in their possession, they might be ranging at large, in quest of the same
and analogous kinds of information, in VITRUVIUS (Architecture), SENECA's
"Natural Questions," MELA (Geography), CELSUS (Medicine), PLINY (Natural
History), and SOLINUS (Natural History and Geography). [Footnote:
VITRUVIUS and CELSUS do not seem to have been translated into English so
early as Milton's time; but there were translations of all the others.
The works of SENECA, both Moral and Natural, had been "done into English"
by Thomas Lodge (1614); PLINY'S "Natural Historie of the World,"
translated by Philemon Holland, Doctor of Physic (1601), was a well-known
book; and MELA and SOLINUS had been made accessible together in "The rare
and singular work of Pomponius Mela, that excellent and worthy
Cosmographer of the Situation of the World, most orderly prepared, and
divided every parte by it selfe; with the Longitude and Latitude of
everie kingdome, &c.; whereunto is added that learned worke of Julius
Solinus _Polyhistor_, with a necessarie table for this Booke, right
pleasant and profitable for Gentlemen, Merchants, Mariners, and
Travellers, Translated into Englyshe by Arthur Golding, gent." (1585-7.)]
What next? Why, "having thus passed the principles of Arithmetic,
Geometry, Astronomy, and Geography, with a general compact of Physics,
they may descend, in Mathematics, to the instrumental science of
Trigonometry, and from thence to Fortification, Architecture, Enginry, or
Navigation; and, in Natural Philosophy, they may proceed leisurely from
the History of Meteors, Minerals, Plants, and Living Creatures, as far as
Anatomy. Then also in course might be read to them out of some not
tedious writer the Institution of Physic; that they may know the tempers,
the humours, the seasons, and how to manage a crudity." Text-books are
not mentioned here; and, though some must have been in view for such
subjects as Trigonometry, Fortification, Engineering, and Navigation, yet
it is clear, from Milton's language, that he meant a good deal of the
miscellaneous instruction to be by lectures and digests of books by the
teacher. Nay, there were to be more than lectures. "To set forward all
these proceedings in Nature and Mathematics, what hinders but that they
may procure, as oft as shall be needful, the helpful experiences of
Hunters, Fowlers, Fishermen, Shepherds, Gardeners, Apothecaries, and, in
the other sciences, Architects, Engineers, Mariners, Anatomists; who,
doubtless, would be ready, some for reward, and some to favour such a
hopeful Seminary." Hartlib must here have rejoiced again. But there comes
in a Miltonic touch at the end. Hitherto he has debarred the pupils of
his Academy, it will have been noticed, from all the ordinary classics
read in schools. But, just about the end of this, the second stage of
their studies, devoted to the Real or Physical Sciences and their
applications, he would admit them to such classic readings as would
impart a poetic colouring to the knowledge so acquired. In Greek, they
and DIONYSIUS, and in Latin to LUCRETIUS, MANILIUS, and the Georgics of
VIRGIL. [Footnote: Of the ORPHIC POEMS Milton must here have intended
those relating to Nature and her phenomena. Of the "Works and Days" or
"Georgics" of HESIOD, there had been an English translation by George
Chapman (1618); and at least some of the Idylls of THEOCRITUS had been in
English since 1588. The _Phnomena_ and _Diosemeia_ of Aratus
(circ. B.C. 270) were, as we know, a favourite book with Milton, and he
had had a copy of the Paris edition of 1559 in his possession since 1631
(see Vol. I. p. 234, Note), with MS. notes of his own in the margin. In
looking at the specimens of these MS. notes facsimiled by the late Mr.
Leigh Sotheby in his Milton _Ramblings_ from the original book, now in
the British Museum, I can see, by my test of the shaping of the letter e
(Vol. II. p. 121, Note), that, while some of the notes were written
before the journey to Italy, or between 1631 and 1638, others were
written after the return from Italy, _i. e._ after 1639. This proves that
Milton kept using the book in his manhood. There was, I think, then no
English translation of it. Neither was there a translation of the
_Theriaca_ and _Alexipharmaka_ (Poems on Venomous Animals and Poisons) of
the Greek NICANDER (circ. B.C. 150); nor of the _Halieutics_ and
_Kynegetics_ (Poems on Fishing and Hunting) of OPPIAN (circ. A.D. 210).
There was, however, as early as 1572, an English translation "by Thomas
Irvine, gentl." of the _Periegetes_ or Geographical Poem of DIONYSIUS
AFER (third century after Christ). Of the Latin Poems mentioned--
LUCRETIUS _De Rerum Natura_, the _Astronomica_ of MANILIUS, and the
Georgics of VIRGIL--only the last had been Englished as yet. They had
been Englished in 1589 by an Abraham Fleming, and in 1628 by Thomas May.]

Some of these books which were "counted most hard" would be, in the
circumstances, facile and pleasant.

(3) _Third Class or Stage_ (_ætat_. 16-19?):--The work of this
stage was also to be very composite. It was to embrace Ethics, Economics,
Politics, Jurisprudence, Theology, Church History and General History,
together with Italian, Hebrew, and possibly Chaldee and Syriac, varied
throughout by such carefully-arranged readings in Latin and Greek
classics as would harmonize with those studies while they relieved them.
For by this stage the reason of the pupils would have been so far matured
that they might pass from the Physical to the Moral Sciences. For Ethics,
they might be led "through all the Moral Works of PLATO, XENOPHON,
was then no complete English translation of PLATO, but individual
Dialogues had been translated, and he had been accessible complete in
Latin since 1484. The _Cyropædia_ of XENOPHON had been twice translated
into English, the second translation (1632) being by Philemon Holland;
but Lowndes mentions no translation yet of the _Memorabilia_. The _De
Officiis_ of CICERO had been translated again and again, and others of
his writings. The Morals of PLUTARCH, as we have already seen, were
accessible in English. The book on the History of Philosophy by the Greek
DIOGENES LAERTIUS was not yet in English, but a Latin translation was
extant. By the LOCRIAN REMNANTS seem to be meant reputed remains of those
LOCRIAN philosophers from whom PLATO had derived instruction.] but still
to be reduced, in their nightward studies wherewith they close the day's
work, under the determinate sentence of DAVID or SOLOMON, or the EVANGELS
and APOSTOLIC SCRIPTURES." For Economics and Politics, to follow the
Ethics, no books are named; but the Greek and Latin books in view may be
guessed. In Jurisprudence, which was to come next, they would find the
substance "delivered first, and with best warrant, by MOSES"; and then,
"as far as human prudence can be trusted, in those extolled remains of
Grecian Lawgivers, LYCURGUS, SOLON, ZALEUCUS, CHARONDAS, and thence to
all the Roman Edicts and Tables, with their JUSTINIAN, and so down to the
this in other words, Milton, to ground his English students in the
Science of Law, would have begun first with the MOSAIC LAWS in the
Pentateuch, and would then have led them through a course of: I. _The
Greek Legislation_, so far as it could be recovered, of LYCURGUS the
Spartan (B.C. 884, according to Aristotle), SOLON the Athenian (_circ._
B.C. 600), ZALEUCUS, the Lawgiver of the Locrians (_circ._ B.C. 660), and
CHARONDAS, the Lawgiver of Catana and other Greek cities in Sicily and
Italy (_circ._ B.C. 500); II. _The Roman Law_, in all its ancient
fragments, and especially in its great compilation and completion by the
Emperor JUSTINIAN (A.D. 527-534); III. _Native English Law_, as
represented in the preserved codes of the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of
Kent, Wessex, &c., and in the traditional and written Laws of England
since the Conquest.] For History, General or Ecclesiastical, no manuals
are spoken of; and, as respects Theology, it is only indicated that this
might be the employment of Sundays, though not exclusively so.--The
Italian language was to be acquired "at any odd hour" in an early part of
this stage, and the Hebrew, with Chaldee and Syriac, farther on; but
there is no specification of means, or of the Grammars to be used.--The
poetical and oratorical readings interspersed with these various and
progressive studies were to be, in the earlier part of the stage, "some
choice Comedies, Greek, Latin, and Italian," selected "with wariness and
good antidote," and a Tragedy or two of the domestic kind, such as the
_Trachiniæ_ of SOPHOCLES, and the _Alcestis_ of EURIPIDES; and so
gradually to the chief Historians (HERODOTUS, THUCYDIDES, &c.), the
Heroic Poets (HOMER, VIRGIL, &c.), the "Attic Tragedies of stateliest and
most regal ornament" (more of SOPHOCLES and EURIPIDES), and "the most
famous Political Orations" (DEMOSTHENES and CICERO). [Footnote: Chapman's
translation of HOMER into English had been complete in 1616. Nothing of
ÆSCHYLUS, SOPHOCLES, or EURIPIDES, appears to have been translated into
English. Two Books of HERODOTUS had been translated into English as early
as 1584; and Hobbes' translation of THUCYDIDES had appeared in 1628.
There were English translations of some Orations of DEMOSTHENES and
CICERO; and of the Æneid of VIRGIL, or separate portions of it, there had
been many translations, including Caxton's (1480), Gawin Douglas's in
Scotch (1553), the Earl of Surrey's (1557), Phær and Irvine's (1573), and
Sandys's (1627).] Milton recommends that passages of the Orators and
Tragedians should be got by heart and solemnly recited aloud. He does not
name Æschylus among his Tragedians. Euripides, we know, was his

(4) _Fourth Class or Stage_ (_ætat._ 19-21?):--This was to be the
finishing stage, and was to be devoted to Logic, Rhetoric, and Poetics,
with practice in Composition. Such training in form and literary theory,
Milton argued, would come best after the pupils had acquired a
sufficiency of _matter_, or somewhat of "an universal insight into
_things_." As to the masters for Logic he says nothing in the tract; but
we know otherwise that he had a fancy for Ramus, as qualifying Aristotle.
For Rhetoric the masters were to be "PLATO, ARISTOTLE, PHALEREUS, CICERO,
HERMOGENES, LONGINUS." [Footnote: PLATO comes in here, I suppose, for his
style generally, and for disquisitions on Rhetoric in one or two of his
Dialogues; ARISTOTLE, of course, for his _Rhetoric_ (not then translated,
I think). PHALEREUS is Demetrius Phalereus, the Athenian orator (B.C.
345--283), and reputed author of a work "On Elocution" (not translated in
Milton's time, I think); CICERO is brought in, of course, for his _De
Oratore_, &c. (translated into English, I should think, before Milton's
time, but I am not sure); HERMOGENES (second century after Christ) is the
Greek author of a system of Rhetoric in several Books, all written in his
youth (not in English in Milton's time, if yet); and LONGINUS was
Longinus' "On the Sublime" (waiting to be put into English).] By Poetics
Milton did not mean mere Prosody, which he assumed the pupils to have
learnt long ago under the head of Grammar, but "that sublime Art which,
in ARISTOTLE'S _Poetics_, in HORACE, and the Italian Commentaries of
CASTELVETRO, TASSO, MAZZONI, and others, teaches what the laws are of a
true Epic Poem, what of a Dramatic, what of a Lyric, what decorum is,
which is the great masterpiece to observe. [Footnote: Lowndes does not
mention any very early translation of the _Poetics_ of ARISTOTLE. Of the
_De Arte Poetica_ of HORACE there had been at least two translations--one
by "Tho. Drant" in 1567, and one by Ben Jonson (published 1640). One work
of TASSO referred to in the text is, I suppose, his _La Cavaletta; overo
della Poesia Toscana;_ CASTELVETRO (1505--1571) and MAZZONI (_circa_
1590) were two Italian scholars who had written on Poetry. The omission
by Milton here of such English books as Sir Philip Sidney's _Apologie for
Poetrie_ (1595) and Puttenham's _Arte of English Poesie_ (1589) is a
striking instance of his resolute non-regard of everything English.] This
would make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our common
Rhymers and Play-writers be, and show them what religious, what glorious
and magnificent use, might be made of Poetry both in divine and human
things." Observe the contempt which Milton here expresses of the English
Literature of his age. It had by this time become one of his habitual
feelings. He goes on, however, to express the same contempt of the
contemporary English Pulpit. By that practice in speaking and writing
which he proposed as the final and crowning discipline in his Academy, he
hoped to turn out young men fitted to teach the English Pulpit a new
style of preaching, as well as to excel in public and Parliamentary life.

II. EXERCISES AND AMUSEMENTS:--These were to be of three kinds: (1)
_Gymnastics and Regular Military Drill._ Milton is most emphatic on
this subject. He would have the course of Education in his Academy to be
as good for war as for peace; and therefore he would blend the Spartan
discipline with the Athenian culture. The pupils were to be taught
Fencing, so that they might be excellent swordsmen, with "exact use of
their weapon, to guard, and to strike safely with edge or point." They
were also to be "practised in all the locks and gripes of Wrestling,
wherein Englishmen were wont to excel, as need may often be in fight to
tug or grapple, and to close." So much for their gymnastics individually.
But the main thing was to be their military drill collectively. There was
to be no mistake about this; it was to be no mere school-play. The 120 or
130 youths in each Academy, under its head-master, with his twenty
attendants, were to be treated sometimes as a single company of Foot, and
at other times as two troops of Horse; and they were to be regularly and
continually drilled in all the art both of Infantry and Cavalry. As we
have already quoted the substance of the passage where this is insisted
on (Vol. II. p. 480), we need here note only that portion of the passage
in which Milton points out how, by such a system of training, the pupils
of his Academy might be expected, "as it were out of a long war," to
"come forth renowned and perfect commanders in the service of their
country." "Commanders" observe; _i.e._, as we said before, the
contemplated Academy was one for gentlemen's sons only. (2) _Music_.
There was to be abundance of this in the Academy, both for recreation and
for the noble effects of music on the mind. The music was to be both
vocal and instrumental; and of the various instruments the organ is named
in chief. (3) _Excursions_. "In those vernal seasons of the year
when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness
against Nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her
rejoicing with Heaven and Earth. I should not therefore be a persuader to
them of studying much then, after two or three years that they have well
laid their grounds, but to ride out in companies, with prudent and staid
guides to all the quarters of the land, learning and observing all places
of strength, all commodities of building, and of soil for towns and
tillage, harbours and ports for trade; sometimes taking sea as far as to
our navy, to learn there also what they can in the practical knowledge of
sailing and of sea-fight."

Dr. Johnson's criticism of Milton's new Method of Education is well
known, and is perhaps the criticism most operative to the present day.
The scheme is a mere air-hung fancy, the _utinam_ of a sanguine
spirit, put forth as a possible institution! But the real question in
every such case is, Does the proposal contain some important improvement
which _is_ practicable? Does it move in the right direction? This is
the question to be asked respecting Milton's plan for a Reformed
Education, How does Dr. Johnson answer it? "The truth is that the
knowledge of external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge
requires or includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the
human mind. Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we
wish to be useful or pleasing, the first object is the religious and
moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an acquaintance with the
history of mankind, and with those examples which may be said to embody
truth, and prove by events the reasonableness of opinions. Prudence and
justice are virtues and excellences of all times and all places; we are
perpetually moralists, but are geometricians only by chance. Our
intercourse with Intellectual Nature is necessary; our speculations upon
Matter are voluntary, and at leisure. Physiological learning is of such
rare emergence that one man may know another half his life without being
able to estimate his skill in hydrostatics or astronomy; but his moral
and prudential character immediately appears. Those authors, therefore,
are to be read at schools that supply most axioms of prudence, most
principles of moral truth, and most materials for conversation; and these
purposes are best served by poets, orators, and historians."[Footnote:
Johnson's Life of Milton, in his _Lives of the Poets_ (Cunningham's
edit. I.91-93)] What an egregious misrepresentation this is of Milton's
project the reader, who already knows the project itself in its
completeness, will see at once. Milton included all that Johnson wanted
to have included, and more largely and systematically than Johnson would
have dared to dream of, and for the same reasons. The introduction of
Natural and Physical Science into schools was but a portion, though an
emphatic portion, of Milton's project. And, with respect to this portion
of his project--a novelty at the time, though Milton had Comenius and
Hartlib and all the Verulamians with him--subsequent opinion has more and
more pronounced, and is more and more and more pronouncing, for Milton
and against Johnson. The fairer criticism now would be as to the
_mode_ in which Milton proposed to teach Natural and Physical
Science, and knowledge generally. Milton, who himself possessed in really
encyclopædic extent all the scientific knowledge of his time, must have
been right in supposing that the knowledge _could_ then be taught
through Latin and Greek books. Even then, however, he perhaps overrated
the necessity of Latin and Greek for this particular business of
education, and underrated what could be done in sheer English. And, now
that Science has burst all bounds of Latin and Greek, and it would be
ludicrous to go merely to the Greek and Latin authors named by Milton for
our Geography, or Astronomy, or Natural History, or Physics, or
Chemistry, or Anatomy and Physiology, it is clear that the claims of
Latin and Greek in education must not rest on their instrumental value in
giving access to the stores of science, but on quite another basis. In
short, that in Milton's scheme which is now obsolete is its determinate
intertwining of the whole business of the acquisition of knowledge with
the process of reading in other languages than the vernacular. This taken
out of the Scheme, all the rest lasts, and is as good now, and perhaps as
needful, as it was in Milton's time. Above all, the noble moral glow that
pervades the _Tract on Education_, the mood of magnanimity in which
it is conceived and written, and the faith it inculcates in the powers of
the young human spirit, if rightly nurtured and directed, are merits

The plan of the tract was not speculative only. Since 1639, when he lived
in the St. Bride's Churchyard lodging, Milton had been teaching his two
nephews, and had had the younger nephew, Johnny Phillips, boarding with
him entirely; when he removed in 1640 to the house in Aldersgate Street,
the elder nephew, Edward Phillips, also came under his roof; and in 1643,
after his wife had deserted him, and his father had come to live with
him, he had received into his house, as boarders or day-boarders, a few
additional pupils. How many there were we do not know: probably, with the
two nephews, not more than eight or a dozen at most. Part of his daily
work, therefore, at the very time when he wrote the tract to Hartlib, was
the teaching of these few boys. Accordingly, it is at this point that we
may best quote Edward Phillips's account of his uncle's method with his
pupils. He had himself had four or five years' experience of the method,
and was now (1644) fourteen years of age. In his account, however, though
he inserts it as early as the year 1639 in his Memoir, he inweaves
recollections that must span from 1639 to 1646, so as to describe in one
passage his uncle's training of boys from the age of ten to that of
fifteen or sixteen:--

"And here, by the way, I judge it not impertinent to mention the many
authors both of the Latin and Greek which, through his excellent judgment
and way of teaching, far above the pedantry of common Public Schools
(where such authors are scarce ever heard of), were run over within no
greater compass of time than from ten to fifteen or sixteen years of
age:--Of the Latin, the four grand authors _De Re Rusticâ_, CATO, VARRO,
COLUMELLA, and PALLADIUS; a great part of PLINY'S 'Natural History';
VITRUVIUS his 'Architecture'; FRONTINUS his 'Stratagems'; with the two
egregious Poets, LUCRETIUS and MANILIUS: Of the Greek, HESIOD, a poet
equal to Homer; ARATUS his _Phænomena_ and _Diosemeia_; DIONYSIUS AFER
'_De Situ Orbis_'; OPPIAN'S 'Cynegetics' and 'Halieutics'; QUINTUS
CALABER his Poem of the Trojan War continued from Homer; APOLLONIUS
RHODIUS his 'Argonautics'; and, in prose, PLUTARCH'S '_Placita
Philosophorum_' and [Greek: Peri Paidon Agogias]; GEMINUS'S Astronomy,
XENOPHON'S _Cyri Institutio_ and _Anabasis_, ÆLIAN'S 'Tactics,' and
POLYÆNUS his 'Warlike Stratagems.' Thus, by teaching, he in some measure
increased his own knowledge, having the reading of all these authors as
it were by proxy.... Nor did the time thus studiously employed in
conquering the Greek and Latin tongues hinder the attaining to the chief
Oriental languages, viz. the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac, so far as to go
through the Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses, in Hebrew, to make a good
entrance into the Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase, and to understand
several chapters of St. Matthew in the Syriac Testament: besides an
introduction into several Arts and Sciences, by reading URSTISIUS his
Arithmetic, RIFF'S Geometry, PITISCUS his Trigonometry, JOANNES DE SACRO
BOSCO _De Sphæra_; and into the Italian and French tongues, by reading,
in Italian, GIOVAN VILLANI'S History of the Transactions between several
petty States of Italy, and, in French, a great part of PIEREE DAVITY, the
famous geographer of France in his time.----The Sunday's work was for the
most part the reading each day a chapter of the Greek Testament and
hearing his learned exposition upon the same (and how far this savoured
of Atheism in him I leave to the courteous backbiter to judge); the next
work after this was the writing from his own dictation some part, from
time to time, of a Tractate which he thought fit to collect from the
ablest of Divines who had written of that subject (AMESIUS, WOLLEBIUS,
&c.)--viz. A Perfect System of Divinity; of which more hereafter."
[Footnote: The books named in this extract from Phillips, but not in
Milton's tract, may be noted:--The PALLADIUS, who is here added to the
three Latin writers on Agriculture mentioned in the tract, lived probably
in the fourth century, and left a treatise _De Re Rustica_, very popular
through the Middle Ages. It had not been translated into English.
FRONTINUS (who had preceded Agricola as Roman Governor of Britain, and
died _circ_. A.D. 106) was the author of _Stratagematicon Libri IV._, a
kind of anecdotic treatise on the Art of War; ÆLIANUS (time of the
Emperor Hadrian) and POLYÆNUS the Macedonian (second century) were Greek
writers on the Military Art. Though Milton does not name them in his
tract, he doubtless had them in view among Military Books to be read. Two
of them had been translated into English--Frontinus, by "Richarde
Morysine" (1539), and Ælianus by "John Bingham" (1616-31). QUINTUS
CALABER, the nature of whose Poem in 14 Books is sufficiently described
in the text (really a native of Smyrna, but called "Calaber" because the
best known copy of his Poem was found in Calabria), lived late in the
fourth century; APOLLONIUS RHODIUS, so called because he lived long in
Rhodes, though born in Alexandria, is a much earlier and much better
known Greek poet (_circ._ B. C. 200). Neither of these Greek poets seems
to have been translated in Milton's time. GEMINUS was a Greek
mathematician of the first century, who seems to have lived in Rome, and
who left an [Greek: Pisagogæ kis ta phainomena], or treatise on the
Sphere. Lowndes mentions no English version of it. URSTISIUS, who is
mentioned for his Arithmetic, is CHRISTIAN WURZTICIUS, an Italian
mathematician (1544-1588); RIFF I have not farther identified; PITISCUS
is Bartholomew Pitiscus (1561-1613); and JOANNES DE SACRO BOSCO is the
famous Englishman John Holywood (died 1256), whose treatise _De Sphæra_,
often re-edited and re-published, was the most popular manual of
Astronomy in the Middle Ages. VILLANI, the Florentine historian, died
1348; DAVITY, the French geographer, is unknown to me; AMESIUS, author of
the _Medella Theo logia_ and other theological works, is the William Ames
(1576-1633), already known to us (Vol. II. p 579); and WOLLIBIUS (1536-
1626) was a Divine of Basle and author of _Compendium Theologiæ_.]

What a busy domicile the wifeless house in Aldersgate Street must have
been through the year 1644! Pupils and their lessons through the solid
part of the day; only a margin, morning and evening, for Milton's own
readings and meditations; the father sometimes with him for an hour or so
of music, but oftener in his own room, "retired to his rest and devotion,
without the least trouble imaginable;" every hour of the day crammed with
work; even on the Sundays those expositions of the Greek Testament to his
pupils, and those dictations to them in Latin of portions of a System of
Divinity which he had resolved to compile from the Scriptures and the
works of the best Protestant theologians! And yet it was out of this
quiet and industrious household that there had burst upon the English
public that thunderbolt of the Divorce heresy!


The Divorce idea still occupied Milton. On the 15th of July, 1644 (five
weeks after the publication of the _Tract on Education_ addressed to
Hartlib, and five months and a half after the publication of the Second
Edition of the _Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce_), there was
entered at Stationers' Hall another tract, which appeared on that day, or
immediately afterwards, with this title: "_The Judgement of Martin
Bucer concerning Divorce. Writt'n to Edward the Sixt, in his Second Book
of the Kingdom of Christ. And now Englisht. Wherein a late Book restoring
the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, is heer confirm'd and justify'd
by the authoritie of Martin Bucer. To the Parlament of England_. John
3, 10: Art thou a teacher in Israel, and know'st not these things?
_Publisht by Authoritie. London, Printed by Matthew Simmons_, 1644."
Martin Bucer [Footnote: The entry in the Stationers' Hall Registeris as
follows:--"_July 15, 1614: Matt. Symmons cut. for his copie, under
which, of Mr. Downham, and Mr. Parker, warden, the Judgment of Martin
Bucer concerning Divorce, written to King Edw. ye 6th in the 2nd Book of
the Kingdom of Xt.: Englished by Mr. Milton._"] The tract consists of
40 small quarto pages in all; of which, however, only 24 are numbered.
These numbered pages, forming the body of the tract, are abridged
translations by Milton of the passages from Martin Bucer which he wished
to introduce to the English public. They are preceded by six pages of
"Testimonies of the high approbation which learned men have given of
Martin Bucer" (viz. quotations by Milton from Calvin, Beza, Sturmius, and
others, to show what a man Bucer was), and then by eight pages of closer
type, addressed by Milton to the Parliament and signed with his name in
full. At the end, after the numbered pages, there is a postscript of two
pages, in which Milton again speaks directly, and winds up the tract.

The title-page of the tract indicates Milton's purpose in it, His
original Divorce treatise had been put forth as the result of his own
reasonings and meditations, without the knowledge that any had preceded
him in the same track to anything like the same extent. While preparing
the second edition he had become aware that strong support from learned
authorities might be adduced for his doctrine; in especial, he had become
aware that he had had a forerunner in the famous Reformer Paul Fagius.
Much of the added matter in the second edition consisted, accordingly, in
the citation of Fagius and other witnesses to strengthen his argument.
Strangely enough, however, he was still unaware that he might have the
benefit of a witness more renowned even than Paul Fagius. Not till May
1644 did he chance to learn this fact. "When the book," he says, "had
been now the second time set forth well-nigh three months, as I best
remember, I then first came to hear that Martin Bucer had written much
concerning Divorce: whom earnestly turning over, I soon perceived, but
not without amazement, in the same opinion, confirmed with the same
reasons, which in that published book, without the help or imitation of
any precedent writer, I had laboured out and laid together." The
particular writing of Bucer's in which Milton found this extraordinary
coincidence with his own views was the _De Regno Christi ad Edw.
VI._, written by Bucer about 1550, but first published at Basle in
1557. There was reason, Milton is careful to impress on his readers, why
Bucer, and Fagius along with Bucer, should be remembered with unusual
reverence by the Protestants of England. Coming over to England in 1549,
each with his great continental fame already won, they had been placed in
Cambridge by the young Edward VI., then desirous of completing and
perfecting the Reformation of his kingdom--Bucer as Professor of
Divinity, and Fagius of Hebrew. Fagius had died in Cambridge in the same
year, when he had barely begun to teach; Bucer, after he had taught for
about eighteen months, died in the same place, Feb. 28, 1550-51. Both had
thus breathed the last strength of their spirits into the Protestantism
of England. Nay, they might be reckoned among the martyrs of English
Protestantism; for, when Mary had succeeded Edward, had not their bodies
been dug up, as the bodies of heretics, and publicly burnt to ashes in
the Cambridge market-place? Let all this be remembered, and especially
let it be remembered that Bucer had addressed his _De Regno Christi_
to Edward VI., and intended its admonitions and instructions for the use
of that monarch and his people. In that writing Bucer, though he had been
dead a hundred years, was still speaking to the people of England, and
telling them what remained to be done before their national reformation
could be called thorough. Well, in that treatise there was a great deal
about Divorce. Bucer had evidently made a study of the topic, and
attached great importance to it. A large portion of the Second Book of
the treatise consisted of nothing else; and it was this portion of the
treatise only that Milton, partly in delight and partly in amazement at
its accordance with his own doctrine, proposed to recover out of the
neglected Latin, and present in plain English. Not that such drudgery of
translation was to his taste. "Whether it be natural disposition or
education in me, or that my mother bore me a speaker of what God made
mine own, and not a translator," is his proud phrase of explanation why
he could "never delight in long citations, much less in whole
traductions." Even in this case he would only digest and epitomize.
Beginning at Chap. XV. of the Second Book of Bucer's treatise, he would
go on to Chap. XLVII. inclusively, indicating the contents of the
successive chapters by headings, omitting what was irrelevant to his own
purpose, and translating the passages that were most relevant. This is
what is done in the 24 numbered pages which form the body of Milton's
tract. They are a concatenation of dryish morsels from Bucer, duly
labelled and introduced; but they make it clear that Bucer's notion of
marriage was substantially the same as Milton's.

As respects Milton himself, the portion of his new Tract which is of
greatest interest is the prefixed Address to the Parliament. It is
noteworthy that, whereas the Second Edition of his original Divorce
treatise is dedicated to "the Parliament of England _with_ the
Assembly," the new tract is dedicated to the Parliament only. The Address
makes the reason of this plain. It is here, in fact, that we first hear
from Milton himself of the obloquy to which his Divorce Doctrine had
subjected him. It had begun, he now tells us (and we have already used
the information), almost immediately after the publication of the first,
and anonymous, edition of his original treatise--his style then betraying
him to be the author, and some of the clergy opening loud cry against him
in consequence. This had induced him to bring out the second edition, not
anonymous, but openly acknowledged. Though aware of the declared
hostility among the clergy, he had not then deemed it proper to descant
on that subject, but had, in courtesy, dedicated the Second Edition to
the Assembly in conjunction with the Parliament. Even then he had no
doubt from which of the two bodies he would receive the fairer treatment.
"I was confident," he says in his present address of the Bucer tract to
the Parliament, "if anything generous, anything noble and above the
multitude, were yet left in the spirit of England, it could be nowhere
sooner found, and nowhere sooner understood, than in that House of
Justice and true Liberty where ye sit in Council." Here the Assembly is
ignored, and the insinuation is that, though he had included _them_
in the dedication, it was rather by way of form than in real trust. This
had been in Feb. 1643-4, and now, in July 1644, he knew his position so
precisely that there was no need for farther reticence. He had not been
disappointed in the Parliament. He had had hope in them; "nor doth the
event hitherto, _for some reasons which I shall not here deliver_,
fail me of what I conceived so highly." The words I have put in italics
can bear no other construction than that Milton had reason to know, from
private assurances, which he regarded as confidential, that some leading
men in Parliament thought him perfectly entitled to broach his doctrine,
and would take care that he should not be troubled for it. He was not
uninformed either, he adds, that "divers learned and judicious men," both
in and out of Parliament, had "testified their daily approbation" of his
treatise. With the Assembly, however, he knew it to be all over. Though
from them above all, by reason of "their profession and supposed
knowledge," his treatise had deserved a fair hearing, all that he had
received was to be "esteemed the deviser of a new and pernicious
paradox." He does not, indeed, name the Assembly while intimating this,
but only refers to the clergy generally and dispersedly. That he had the
Assembly distinctly in view, however, appears not only from the tenor of
the whole, but also from a passage in the Postscript, where he hints that
such action was at work against him that he might be stopped any day by
the official censorship and prevented from printing. If, therefore, this
new tract should be permitted to appear, only to the Parliament would he
dedicate it. But, while dedicated to the Parliament, it was intended for
the Assembly. It was a challenge to _them_. The Reverend gentlemen
had refused to consider the Doctrine of Divorce when propounded by their
contemporary, a private layman and reasoner. They had thought it worthy
only of denunciation as an impious paradox, destructive of morality and
social order. What would they now say to the same Doctrine exhibited to
them, chapter and verse, as the doctrine of one of the great European
Reformers and Divines, whose name was often in their mouths, though they
knew so little about him?

While the Address to Parliament thus makes clear Milton's consciousness
that the Assembly were watching him and might at any time denounce him,
there is yet another curious strain in it, interesting as an illustration
of the writer's character. Milton was evidently divided between delight
in having found Bucer his predecessor in the doctrine and a proud feeling
of his own self-earned property in the same. Not even to Bucer would he
yield the palm of this discovery; nay, generally, he did not care though
it should be known that, while he reverenced Bucer and such men of the
past, he did not think that God's power to create and endow exceptional
human spirits had so exhausted itself in that time and that group of men
but that work higher than aught of mere discipleship to any of them might
be reserved for himself. Here Milton is in one of his constitutional
moods; and it is interesting to observe with what constancy to it he
treats the small fact of a discovered coincidence in opinion between
himself and Bucer. The following passage will suffice in this respect,
and also as a specimen of the whole tract:--

"I may justly gratulate mine own mind with due acknowledgment of
assistance from above, which led me, not as a learner, but as a
collateral teacher, to a sympathy of judgment with no less a man than
Martin Bucer. And he, if our things here below arrive him where he is,
does not repent him to see that point of knowledge which he first, and
with an unchecked freedom, preached to those more knowing times of
England, now found so necessary, though what he admonished were lost out
of our memory, yet that God doth now again create the same doctrine in
another unwritten table [the _tabula rasa_ of Milton's mind], and
raises it up immediately out of his pure oracle to the convincement of a
perverse age, eager in the reformation of names and ceremonies, but in
realities as traditional and as ignorant as their forefathers. I would
ask now the foremost of my profound accusers whether they dare affirm
that to be licentious, new and dangerous, which Martin Bucer so often and
so urgently avouched to be moot lawful, most necessary, and most
Christian, without the least blemish. to his good name among all the
worthy men of that age and since who testify so highly of him. If they
dare, they must then set up an arrogance of their own against all those
churches and saints who honoured him without this exception. If they dare
not, how can they now make _that_ licentious doctrine in another
which was never blamed or confuted in Bucer or in Fagius? The truth is,
there will be due to them, for this their unadvised rashness, the best
donative that can be given them--I mean a round reproof [_a hint to
Parliament about the Assembly?_]; now that, where they thought to be
most magisterial, they have displayed their own want both of reading and
of judgment: first, to be so unacquainted in the writings of Bucer, which
are so obvious and so useful in their own faculty; next, to be so caught
in a prejudicating weakness as to condemn that for lewd which, whether
they knew or not, these elect servants of Christ commended for lawful,
and for new that which was taught by these, almost the first and greatest
authors of Reformation, who were never taxed for so teaching, and
dedicated without scruple to a royal pair of the first Reforming kings in
Christendom [Edward VI., for whom Bucer's _De Regno Christi_ was
written, and Christian III. of Denmark, to whom it was dedicated when
published at Basle in 1557], and confessed in the public Confession of a
most orthodoxal Church and State in Germany [the church and community of
Strasburg, in whose Confession, according to Milton, Bucer's Divorce
Doctrine had been adopted]. This is also another fault which I must tell
them--that they have stood now almost this whole year clamouring afar
off, while the Book [Milton's _Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce_]
hath been twice printed, twice bought up, and never once vouchsafed a
friendly conference with the author, who would be glad and thankful to be
shown an error, either by private dispute or public answer, and could
retract as well as wise men before him: might also be worth the gaining,
as one who heretofore hath done good service to the Church, by their own
confession. ... However, if we know at all when to ascribe the
occurrences of this life to the work of a special Providence, as nothing
is more usual in the talk of good men, what can be more like to a special
providence of God than in the first Reformation of England that this
question of Divorce, as a main thing to be restored to just freedom, was
written, and seriously commended to Edward the Sixth, by a man called
from another country to be an instructor of our nation, and now, in this
present renewing of the Church and Commonwealth, which we pray may be
more lasting, that same question should be again treated and presented to
this Parliament by one enabled to use the same reasons without the least
sight or knowledge of what was done before. It were no trespass, Lords
and Commons, though something of less note were attributed to the
ordering of a Heavenly Power. This question, therefore, of such prime
concernment to Christian and Civil welfare, in such an extraordinary
manner not recovered, but plainly twice-born to these latter ages, as
from a divine hand, I tender to your acceptance and most considerate


Whether up to this time (July 1644) there had been any open mention of
Milton and his Doctrine in the Westminster Assembly, anything more than
muttered thunder among the Divines in their private colloquies, can be
but guessed. It is quite possible that he _was_ publicly named, and
not by mere implication, among the Sects and Sectaries generally. There
may even be record of the fact somewhere, though I have found none in
Lightfoot's Notes of the Assembly, nor in Gillespie's, nor in Baillie's
Letters. But the peal was coming, and this daring challenge to the
Assembly in his Bucer tract may have helped to provoke it.

When the tract was published, the Assembly was about to break up for that
fortnight's vacation (July 23-Aug. 7) which we have represented as so
important a notch in its proceedings. Or, indeed, the Assembly may have
been _in_ its vacation when the tract appeared; for, though
registered at the Stationers' Hall July 15, it may not have been in
circulation till a week later. At all events, when the Assembly met
again, and when, as we have seen, it fell, as if by concert, on the
subject of the multiplication of the Sectaries and their insolences, then
Milton was among the first attacked. He was one of a batch of eleven
persons, including also Roger Williams, John Goodwin, Clement Wrighter,
and some Anabaptists and Antinomians, whom the Assembly denounced to
Parliament as prime offenders. This fact, already noticed in its place in
our general history, has now again to be presented more in detail.

The first publicly to blow the trumpet against Milton, the reader already
knows, was Mr. Herbert Palmer. He did so in his Sermon before the two
Houses of Parliament in St. Margaret's, Westminster, on the Extraordinary
Day of Humiliation, Tuesday, Aug. 13, six days after the Assembly had
resumed its sittings. Here is the particular passage in the Sermon:--

"But against a Toleration in general even the COVENANT itself, in that
very Article [Article II.], hath a reason suitable to the Text [Psalm
xcix, 8]. 'Lest we partake of other men's sins, and be in danger to
receive of their plagues.' saith the Covenant; which in the language of
the Text is 'Lest God take vengeance on their inventions' and ours
together. It is true that the name of Conscience hath an awful sound unto
a conscientious ear. But, I pray, judge but in a few instances whether
all pretence of Conscience ought to be a sufficient plea for Toleration
and Liberty:--1. There be those that say their conscience is against all
taking of an oath before a magistrate. Will you allow an universal
liberty of this? What then will become of all our legal and judicial
proceedings? which are confined to this way of proof: and so it was by
God appointed, and hath been by all nations practised. 2. There be some
that pretend Liberty of Conscience to equivocate in an oath even before a
magistrate, and to elude all examinations by mental reservations. Will
you grant them this liberty; or can you, without destroying all bonds of
civil converse, and wholly overthrowing of all human judicature? 3. If
any plead Conscience for the lawfulness of Polygamy; or for Divorce for
other causes than Christ and His Apostles mention (_of which a wicked
look is abroad and uncensured, though deserving to be burnt, whose Author
hath been so impudent as to set his name to it and dedicate it to
yourselves_); or for liberty to many incestuously--will you grant a
toleration for all this?"

Palmer goes on to instance four other opinions which might ask for
toleration, but which are in their nature so subversive of all authority
and all civil order that the bare imagination of their being tolerated
is, he thinks, a _reductio ad absurdum_ of the idea of a Universal
Toleration. What has been quoted, however, will show whereabouts among
the Sectaries he placed Milton. He cited him as the advocate of an
opinion so monstrous that no sane person could think of tolerating
_it_. And it is to be noted that, though he gives other instances of
such monstrous opinions tending to practical anarchy, Milton is the only
person openly referred to in this extreme category, and his book the only
book. On the same day, Mr. Hill, Palmer's fellow-preacher before
Parliament, referred by implication to Roger Williams's _Bloody
Tenent_, which had been burnt by the hangman a day or two before; and
here was Palmer mentioning with less reserve, Milton's _Doctrine and
Discipline of Divorce_ as richly deserving the same fate. Williams, we
know, was happily on his way back to America at the time; but Milton was
at hand, in his house in Aldersgate Street, whenever he should be wanted.

To be preached at before the two Houses of Parliament, on a solemn Fast
Day, by an eminent Divine of the Westminster Assembly, was, I should say,
a ten times greater trial of a man's equanimity in those days than it
would be in these to waken one morning and find oneself the subject of a
scathing onslaught in the columns of the leading newspaper. It was
positively the worst blast from the black trumpet of the wind-god Æolus
then possible for any inhabitant of England; and not even that poor
company of suitors to whom, in Chaucer's poem, fickle Queen Fame awarded
this black blast from the wind-god, instead of the blast of praise from
his golden trumpet which they were expecting, can have been more
discomfited than most persons would have been had they been in Milton's
place a day or two after Palmer's sermon. [Footnote: Cromwell was away
with the Arms, but Vane may have heard Palmer's sermon. Baillie was
certainly present, with the other Scottish Commissioners; and he was
delighted with Palmer's outspokenness. See _antè_, p 162]

What did this Æolus, but he
Took out his black trumpe of brass,
That fouler than the Devil was,
And gan this trumpe for to blow
As all the world should overthrow.
Throughout every regioun
Went this foule trumpe's soun,
As swift as pellet out of gun
When tire is in the powder run;
And such a smoke gan outwend
Out of the foule trumpe's end,
Black, blue, greenish, swartish, red,
As dote where that men melt lead,
Lo! all on high from the tewelle.
And thereto one thing saw I well--
That, the farther that it ran,
The greater waxen it began,
As doth the river from a well;
And it stank as the pit of Hell.
[Footnote: Chaucer's "House of Fame" III. 516-564. _Teaelle_ is the
trumpet's mouth (French _tuyau_, pipe or nozzle).]


Among the haunts and corners of London into which the smoke of Mr.
Palmer's pulpit-blast against Milton had penetrated, and where it had
whirled and eddied most persistently, was the Hall of the Stationers'
Company, the centre of the London book-trade. Actually, as the reader has
been informed Palmer's sermon, and the general frenzy of the Assembly on
the subject of the increase of heresy and schism, had so perturbed the
whole society of booksellers that, on Saturday the 24th of August, the
eleventh day after the sermon, they presented a petition to the Commons,
exonerating themselves from all responsibility in the growing evil, and
pointing out that the blasphemous and pernicious opinions complained of
were ventilated in unlicensed and unregistered pamphlets, grievous to the
soul of the regular book-trade, injurious to its pockets, and contrary to
the express ordinance of Parliament. That such was the tenor of the
Petition of the Stationers, and that they gave instances of illegal
pamphlets of the kind described, and laid stress on Milton's _Doctrine
and Discipline of Divorce_ as one most flagrant instance, appears from
the action of the House of Commons in consequence. Without a day's delay
(Aug. 26), the Commons referred the Petition to "the Committee for
Printing," with instructions to hear parties, consider the whole
business, consult the existing Parliamentary Ordinance for the regulation
of Printing, and bring in a new or supplementary Ordinance with all
convenient speed. They were likewise "diligently to inquire out" the
authors, printers, and publishers of the Divorce Pamphlet, and of
another, then in circulation, against the Immortality of the Soul. That
the Committee might have fresh energy in it for the purpose, four new
members were added, viz. Sir Philip Stapleton, Sir Thomas Widdrington,
Mr. Stephens, and Mr. Baynton. [Footnote: See the text of the order,
_antè_, pp. 1645, I now add the names of the new members of
Committee from the Commons Journal, Aug. 26, 1641.]

Here then, in the end of August 1644, Milton was not only within the
smoke of infamy blown upon him by Palmer's sermon, but also within the
clutches of a Parliamentary Committee. They might call him to account not
only for publishing dangerous and unusual opinions, but also for having
broken the Parliamentary Ordinance for the regulation of Printing. We
must now explain distinctly what that Ordinance was.

From the beginning of the Long Parliament, as we know sufficiently by
this time, there had been a relaxation, or rather a total breakdown, of
the former laws for the regulation of the Press. In the newly-found
liberty of the nation to think and to speak, all bonds of censorship were
burst, and books of all kinds, but especially pamphlets on the current
questions, were sent forth by their authors very much at their own
discretion. The proportion of those that went through the legal
ceremonial of being authorized by an appointed licenser, and registered
in the Stationers' books by the Company's clerk under farther order from
one of the Company's wardens, must, I should say, have been quite
inconsiderable in comparison with the number that flew about printed
anywhere and anyhow. Milton had been conspicuously careless or bold in
this respect. Not one of his five Anti-Episcopal pamphlets, published in
1641 and 1642, had been licensed or registered; nor did any one of them
bear his name, though he made no real concealment of that, and though
each of them bore the printer's or publisher's name, or the address of
the shop where it was on sale. Milton's friends, the Smectymnuans, had
attended to the legal punctualities in some of _their_ publications;
but Milton's practice seems to have been the more general one among
authors and pamphleteers. Nor did they need to resort any longer to
clandestine presses, or to printers and booksellers who, not being
members of the Stationers' Company, had no title to engage in such book-
commerce at all, and were liable to prosecution for doing so. Even
regular booksellers and printers who _were_ freemen of the Stationers'
Company had been infected by the general lawlessness, and had fallen into
the habit of publishing books and pamphlets without caring whether they
were licensed, and without taking the trouble of registering their
copyright; which, indeed, they could hardly do if the books were
unlicensed. All Milton's Anti-Episcopal pamphlets, I think, were
published by such regular printers or booksellers. But worse and worse.
Some of the less scrupulous members of the Stationers' Company had found
an undue advantage in this lax conduct of the book-business, and had
begun to reprint and vend books the copyright in which belonged to their
brethren in the trade. This last being the sorest evil, it was perhaps as
much in consequence of repeated representations of its prevalence by the
authorities of the Stationers' Company as on any grounds of public damage
by the circulation of political libels and false opinions, that the
Parliament still kept up the fiction of a law, and made attempt after
attempt to regain the control of the Press. That they did so is the fact.
Entries on the subject--sometimes in the form of notices of petitions
from the Stationers' Company, sometimes in that of injunctions by
Parliament to the Stationers' Company to be more vigilant--are found at
intervals in the Journals of both Houses through 1641 and 1642.
Particular books were condemned, and their authors inquired after or
called to account, and offending printers and publishers were also
brought to trouble. The Parliament had even tried to institute a new
agency of censorship in the form of Committees for Printing, and
licensers appointed by these Committees. Such licensers were either
members of Parliament selected for the duty, or Parliamentary officials,
or persons out-of-doors in whom Parliament could trust. Through 1641 and
1642 I find the following persons, among others. licensing books--John
Pym, Sir Edward Deering, the elder Sir Henry Vane, Mr. (Century) White,
and a Dr. Wykes, but I find evidence that the Parliament and its
Committees for Printing had really, in a great measure, to leave the
licensing of books to the Wardens of the Stationers' Company. [Footnote:
My MS notes from the Stationers' Register for the years named] In short,
the Press had escaped all effective supervision whatsoever. This is most
strikingly proved by the Stationers' Registers for 1642. While for the
previous year, ending Dec. 31, 1641, the total number of entries on the
Register had been 240, the total number in this year, ending Dec. 31,
1642, was only 76; of which 76 less than half fell in the second half of
the year, when the Civil War had just commenced. Actually, of all the
publications which came out this year in England, not more than at the
rate of three a fortnight regularly registered throughout the whole year,
and hardly more than one a week during the second half of the year!
Clearly, censorship and registration had then become an absolute farce.

The same state of things continued into the first half of the year 1643.
Between Jan. 1 of that year (Jan. 1, 1642-3, as we now mark it) and July
4, I find the number of entries to have been not more than 35--still a
preposterously small number in proportion to the crowd of publications
which these six months must have produced. But exactly at the middle of
this year the Registers exhibit a remarkable phenomenon. Although in the
first half of the year only 35 new publications had been registered, the
entries in the second half of the year swell suddenly to 333, or ten
times as many as in the first half. In the month of July alone there were
63 entries, or nearly twice as many as in the preceding six months
together; in August there were 57; in September 58; in October 48; in
November 56; and in December 51. Little wonder that, on going over the
Registers long ago, I made this note in connexion with the year 1643:
"Curious year: the swelling out in the latter half, so that only 35 in
first half and 333 in second: inquire into causes." I ought to have known
the chief cause at the time I made the note. It was the parsing, in June
1643, of a new, strict, and minutely framed Ordinance for Printing.

Forced by the public necessities of the case, including the necessity of
preventing the diffusion of Royalist tracts and sheets of intelligence,
or by the trade complaints of the Stationers' Company, or by both
combined, the Commons at last addressed themselves to the subject
resolutely. On June 10 an "Ordinance to prevent and suppress the Licence
of Printing" was read in their House, agreed to, and sent to the Lords;
on June 14 the Lords concurred, and signified their concurrence to the
Commons; and, certain farther arrangement of detail having been made by
the Commons on the 16th, the 20th, and the 21st of the same month, the
Ordinance forthwith came into operation. The Ordinance (with the omission
of clauses relative to printing of Parliamentary papers and to mere
piracy of copyrights) is as follows:--

"Whereas divers good orders have been lately made by both Houses of
Parliament for suppressing the late great abuses and frequent disorders
in printing many forged, scandalous, seditious, libellous and unlicensed
Papers, Pamphlets and Books, to the great defamation of Religion and
Government--which orders (notwithstanding the diligence of the Company of
Stationers to put them in full execution) have taken little or no effect,
by reason the Bill in preparation for the redress of the said disorders
hath hitherto been retarded through the present distractions, and very
many, as well Stationers and Printers, as others of sundry other
professions not free of the Stationers' Company, have taken upon them to
set up sundry private printing-presses in corners, and to print, vend,
publish and disperse Books, Pamphlets and Papers, in such multitudes that
no industry could be sufficient to discover or bring to punishment all
the several abounding delinquents.... It is therefore ordered that no ...
Book, Pamphlet, Paper, nor part of any such Book, Pamphlet or Paper,
shall from henceforth be printed, bound, stitched, or put to sale by any
person or persons whatsoever, unless the same be first approved of and
licensed under the hands of such person or persons as both or either of
the said Houses shall appoint for the licensing of the same, and entered
in the Register Book of the Company of Stationers according to ancient
custom, and the Printer thereof to put his name thereto.... And the
Master and Wardens of the said Company, the Gentleman-Usher of the House
of Peers, the Sergeant of the Commons House, and their Deputies ... are
hereby authorized and required from time to time to make diligent search
in all places where they shall think meet for all unlicensed printing
presses ... and to seize and carry away such printing-presses ... and
likewise to make diligent search in all suspected printing-houses,
warehouses, shops and other places ... and likewise to apprehend all
Authors, Printers, and other persons whatsoever employed in compiling,
printing, stitching, binding, publishing and dispersion of the said
scandalous, unlicensed and unwarrantable Papers, Books and Pamphlets ...
and to bring them, afore either of the Houses, or the Committee of
Examinations, that so they may receive such farther punishments as their
offences shall demerit.... And all Justices of the Peace, Captains,
Constables and other officers, are hereby ordered and required to be
aiding and assisting to the foresaid persons in the due execution of all
and singular the premises, and in the apprehension of offenders against
the same, and, in case of opposition, to break open doors and locks.--And
it is further ordered that this Order be forthwith printed and published,
to the end that notice may be taken thereof, and all contemners of it
left inexcusable."

Such was the famous _Ordinance for Printing_ of the Long Parliament,
dated June 14, 1643. Within a week afterwards it was brought into working
trim by the nomination of the persons to whom the business of licensing
was to be entrusted. For Books of Divinity a staff of twelve Divines was
appointed, the _imprimatur_ of any one of whom should be sufficient--to
BACHELER, and Mr. JOHN ELLLS, junior. The first seven of these, it will
be noted (if not also the eighth), were members of the Westminster
Assembly; the others were, I think, all parish-ministers in or near
London. For what we should call Miscellaneous Literature, including
Poetry, History, and Philosophy, the licensers appointed were Sir
NATHANIEL BRENT (Judge of the Prerogative Court), Mr. JOHN LANGLEY
(successor of Gill the younger in the Head-mastership of St. Paul's
School), and Mr. FARNABIE. The licensing of Law-Books was to belong to
certain designated Judges and Serjeants-at-law; of Books of Heraldry, to
the three Herald Kings at Arms; of Mathematical Books, Almanacks, and
Prognostications, to the Reader in Mathematics at Gresham College for the
time being, or a certain Mr. Booker instead; and for things of no
consequence--viz. "small pamphlets, portraitures, pictures and the like"
--the Clerk of the Stationers' Company for the time being was to be
authority enough.[Footnote: The Ordinance is printed in the Lords
Journals under date June 14, 1644. Rushworth prints it under the same
date (V. 335-6), and adds the names of the licensers, as appointed by the
Commons June 20 and 21.]

The effects of this new Ordinance of Parliament were immediately visible.
Whether because Parliament itself now seemed in earnest for the control
of the Press, or because the new staff of licensers were determined to
exercise their powers and earn their perquisites, or because the Master
and Wardens of the Stationers' Company then in. office felt their hands
strengthened and worked hard (Mr. Samuel Bourne was Master, and Mr.
Samuel Man and Mr. Richard Whittaker were Wardens), certain it is that
authors, printers, and publishers were brought at once into greater
obedience. Ten times as many books, pamphlets and papers, we have shown,
were duly licensed and registered in the second half of the year 1643, or
from the date of the new Ordinance onwards, as had been licensed and
registered in the preceding half-year.[Footnote: I ought to note,
however, that the swelling out is caused chiefly by the shoals of
_Mercuries, Diurnals, Scouts, Intelligencers_,&c. that were now
registered. These news-sheets of the Civil War, the infant forms of our
newspapers, had previously appeared at will; and there seems to have been
particular activity in bringing them under the operation of the
Ordinance, so as to deprive Royalism of the aid of the Press.]

Now, it so chanced that the first edition of Milton's _Doctrine and
Discipline of Divorce_ had been ready for the press exactly after the
new Ordinance had come into operation. What had been his behaviour? He
had paid no attention to the Ordinance whatever. He had been one of those
"contemners" of it whom the Ordinance itself had taken the precaution of
rendering inexcusable by the clause ordering its own publication! The
treatise had appeared on or about the 3rd of August, unlicensed and
unregistered, just as its predecessors, the Anti-Episcopal pamphlets, had
been. Nay, there was this difference, that there was no printer's full
name on the title-page of the Divorce treatise, but only the semi-
anonymous, declaration "Printed by T. P. and M. S. in Goldsmiths' Alley"
[Footnote: See full title-page, _antè_, p. 44. ] That Milton had
acted deliberately in all this there can be no doubt. Not that we need
suppose him to have made it a point of honour to outbrave the new law in
general by continuing to publish without a licence; but because, in this
particular case, he had no choice but to do so, and did not mind doing
so. He wanted to publish his new Doctrine of Divorce: was he to go the
round of the twelve Reverend Gentlemen who had just been appointed
licensers of all books of Theology and Ethics, and wait till he found one
of them sufficiently obtuse, or sufficiently asleep, to give his
_imprimatur_ to a doctrine so shocking? Clearly, nothing remained
but to get any printer to undertake the treatise that would print it in
its unlicensed state, the printer trusting the author and both running
the risk. Whatever hesitations the printer may have had, Milton had none.
He had taken no pains to conceal the authorship; and, when he found the
doctrine of the treatise in disrepute, he had disdained even the pretence
of the anonymous. The second edition, published in February 1643-4,
appeared, as the first had done, without licence or registration, and
indeed with no more distinct imprint at the foot of the title-page than
"_London, Imprinted in the yeare_ 1664"; but, to make up for this
informality, it contained Milton's dedication to the Parliament and the
Assembly signed with his name. It was as if he said, "I do break your
Ordinance for Printing, but I let you know who I am that do so." Since
then Milton had published two more pamphlets--his _Tract on Education_,
addressed to Hartlib (June 1644), and his _Bucer Tract_, continuing the
Divorce subject (July 1644). In both of these he had conformed to the
Ordinance. Both are duly registered in the Stationers' Books, the former
as having been licensed by Mr. Cranford (_antè_, p. 233), the latter by
Mr. Downham (_antè_, p. 255). In licensing the new Divorce Tract, even
though it did consist mainly of extracts from Bucer, Mr. Downham must
have been either off his guard or very good-natured.

Milton's carelessness or contempt of the Ordinance for Printing had now
found him out. The charge of heresy, or of monstrous and dangerous
opinion, preferred against him by Palmer and the clergy, was one about
which there might be much argument _pro_ and _con_, and with
which most Parliamentary men might not be anxious to meddle. But here, in
aid of that charge, another charge, much more definite, had been brought
forward. The officials of the Stationers' Company were chosen from year
to year; and the Master for the year beginning in the middle of 1644 was
Mr. Robert Mead, with Mr. John Parker and Mr. Richard Whittaker for
Wardens. It was these persons, if I mistake not, who thought themselves
bound, either by sympathy with the horror caused by Milton's doctrine, or
by sheer official duty, to oblige Mr. Palmer and his brethren of the
Assembly by pointing out that both the editions of Milton's obnoxious
pamphlet had been published in evasion of the law. There can be little
doubt that the Assembly divines and the London clergy generally were at
the back of the affair; but it was convenient for them to put forward
others as the nominal accusers. "The Stationers' Company," these accusers
virtually said, "knows nothing of these two publications, and has none of
the discredit of them; they are not registered in the Company's books,
and do not appear to have been ever licensed; and, if Mr. Milton, who has
avowed himself the author, is to be questioned for the doctrine advanced
in them, perhaps it would be well that he should at the same time have
the imprints on his two title-pages put before him--_'Printed by T. P.
and M. S. in Goldsmiths' Alley,'_ and _'London, Imprinted in the
yeare_ 1644'--and asked how he dared defy the law in that way, and who
the printers are that abetted him." Such, studying all the particulars,
is the most exact interpretation I can put on the Petition of the
Stationers' Company to the Commons, Aug. 24, as it affected Milton. There
was a trade-feeling behind it. There was a resentment against certain
printers and booksellers (probably quite well known to the Master and
Wardens) for their contempt of trade-discipline, as well as against
Milton for his part in the matter. It was really rather hard on Milton.
For, doubtless, the new Ordinance for Printing had been passed by
Parliament not with a view to any application of it to sound
Parliamentarians like him, but as a check upon writers of the other side;
and, doubtless, he was not singular in having neglected the Ordinance.
Probably scores of Parliamentarian writers had taken the same liberty.
Still, as he had offended against the letter of the law, and as those
whom his doctrine had shocked now chose to avail themselves of this
offence of his against the letter of the law, he found himself in an
awkward position. All depended on the discretion of that "Committee of
Printing," reinforced by four additional members, to which the Commons
(Aug. 26) had entrusted the delicate task of dealing with him, and the
farther task of revising the Ordinance of the previous year and seeing
whether it could be improved or extended. They might trouble him much, or
they might let him alone.

They let him alone. The Committee, I find, did indeed proceed so far in
the general business assigned to them. They must have even drafted some
new or supplementary Ordinance for the regulation of Printing, and
obtained the agreement of the House to the draft; for, though I am unable
to find any record of such proceeding in the _Commons' Journals_,
there is this distinct entry in the _Lords' Journals_ under date
Sept. 18, 1644: "A message was brought from the House of Commons by Mr.
Rous and others, to desire concurrence in two Ordinances--(1) Concerning
Ordination of Ministers, (2) Concerning Printing. The answer returned
was, That this House will send an answer to this message by messengers of
their own." The Lords, it appears in the sequel, did apply themselves to
the Ordination Ordinance, so that the Commons received it back amended,
and it passed, Oct. 1. But I find no farther mention of the new Printing
Ordinance. Cromwell's great Accommodation or Toleration motion, passed in
the Commons, in Solicitor St. John's modified form, on the 13th of
September, had, it may be remembered, caused a sudden pause among the
Presbyterian zealots. It may have helped indirectly to strangle many
things; and I should not wonder if among them was the prosecution of the
business prescribed to the Committee of Printing by the Order of Aug. 26.
The Accommodation Order was a demand generally for clearer air and
breathing-room for everybody, more of English freedom, and less of
Scottish inquisitorship. If there had been ever any real intention among
the Parliamentary people to proceed against Milton, it had now to be


One good effect the incident had produced. It had prescribed for Milton a
new piece of work. This Parliamentary Ordinance for Printing with which
it had been proposed to crush him; this whole system of Censorship and
licensing of books that had prevailed so long in England and almost
everywhere else; this delegation of the entire control of a nation's
Literature to a state-agency consisting of a few prejudiced parsons and
schoolmasters seated atop, to decide what should go into the funnel, and
a Company of Stationers seated below, to see that nothing else came out
of the funnel:-was not this a subject on which something might be said?
Would it not be more than a revenge if Milton were to express his
thoughts on this subject? Would it not be a service of moment to England?
What might not be hoped for from the Parliament if they were fitly
addressed on such a theme? It was the great question of Liberty in all
its forms that England was then engaged in. Civil Liberty, Liberty of
Worship, Liberty of Conscience, were the phrases ringing in the English
air. But in the midst of this general clamour for Liberty no one yet had
moved for one form of Liberty, which would be a very substantial
instalment of the whole, and yet was practicable and perhaps within
sight--the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. Let this then be Milton's new
undertaking! In the fact that it had been so clearly assigned to him,
nay, forced upon him by circumstances, he began to discern a certain
regulation, not quite dependent on his own forethought, of the recent
course of his life. "When the Bishops at length had fallen prostrate,
aimed at by the shafts of all, and there was no more trouble from
_them_," he afterwards wrote, reviewing this portion of his life,
"then I turned my thoughts to other matters--if I might in anything
promote the cause of true and solid liberty; which is chiefliest to be
sought for not without, but within, and to be gained not by fighting, but
by the right basing and the right administration of life. When,
therefore, I perceived that there are in all three sorts of liberty,
without the presence of which life can hardly anyhow be suitably gone
through--Ecclesiastical, Domestic or Private, and Civil--then, as I had
already written on the first, and as I saw that the Magistrate was
sedulously occupied with the third, I took to myself that which was left
second, viz. Domestic Liberty. That also appearing to consist of three
parts--whether Marriage were rightly arranged, whether the Education of
Children were properly conducted, and whether, finally, there were the
power of free Philosophising--I explained what I thought, not only
concerning the due contracting of Marriage, but also, if it were
necessary, the due dissolution of the same.... On that subject I put
forth some books, exactly at that time when husband and wife were often
the bitterest enemies, he at home with his children, and she, the mother
of the family, busy in the camp of the enemy, threatening death and
destruction to her husband.... Then I treated the Education Question
more briefly in one little book.... Finally, on the subject of the
liberation of the Press, so that the judgment of the true and the false,
what should be published and what suppressed, should not be in the hands
of a few men, and these mostly unlearned and of common capacity, erected
into a censorship over books--an agency through which no one almost
either can or will send into the light anything that is above the vulgar
taste--on this subject, in the form of an express oration, I wrote my
_Areopagitica_." [Footnote: The Latin of the passage will be found
in the _Defensio Secunda pro Popalo Anglicano._] In this passage,
written in 1654, there is a slight anachronism. _All_ Milton's
Marriage and Divorce tracts had not yet been published: two of them were
still to come. At the moment at which we have arrived, however, that
mapping out of his labours on the Domestic or Private form of the general
question of Liberty which the passage explains must have already been in
his mind. He had written largely on a Reform in Marriage and Divorce, and
more briefly on a Reform in Education. In the Marriage and Divorce
subject he had found himself met with an opposition which did not permit
him yet to lay it aside; but meanwhile, in consequence of that
opposition, nay, of the very form it had taken, there had dawned on him,
by way of interlude and yet of strictly continuous industry, a great
third enterprise. In any lull of war with the Titans what is Jove doing?
Fingering his next thunderbolt. Released from all trouble by the
Committee of the Commons, and left at leisure in Aldersgate Street,
through September, October, and November, 1644, what was Milton doing?
Preparing his _Areopagitica_.

It appeared November 24, a month after the Second Battle of Newbury, and
the very day before that outbreak by Cromwell, against the Earl of
Manchester for slackness in the battle, which led to the Self-Denying
Ordinance and the New-Modelling of the Army. It was a small quarto of 40
pages with this title:--


A Speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicens'd Printing, to
the Parlament of England.

[Greek: Touleutheron d'ekeino, ei tis thelei polei
Chræston ti bouleum eis meson pherein, echon.
Kai tauth o chræzon, lampros esth, o mæ thelon,
Siga ti touton estin isaiteron polei;]
_Euripid. Hicetid._

This is true Liberty, when free-born men
Having to advise the public may speak free,
Which he who can, and will, deserv's high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a State than this?
_Euripid. Hicetid_.
London, Printed in the yeare 1644.

There was no printer's or bookseller's name to the pamphlet; and it came
forth unlicensed and unregistered. It would have been indeed absurd to
ask one of the Censors to license a pamphlet cutting up the whole system
of Censorship. Still here was another deliberate breach of the law by
Milton. It was probably to soften and veil the offence that the pamphlet
was cast into the form of a continuous Speech or Pleading by Milton to
Parliament directly, without recognition of the public in preface or
epilogue. [Footnote: That Nov. 24, 1644, was the day of the publication
of the _Areopagitica_ I learn from Thomason's MS. note "Novemb. 24"
in the copy among the King's Pamphlets in the British Museum; Press Mark
12. G. e.9./182.]

The _Areopagitica_ is now by far the best-known of Milton's
pamphlets, and indeed the only one of his prose-works generally read.
Knowing his other prose-writings, I have sometimes been angry at this
choice of one of his pamphlets by which to recollect him as an English
prose-writer. I have ascribed it to our cowardly habit of taking delight
only in what we already agree with, of liking to read only what we
already think, or have been schooled into considering glorious,
axiomatic, and British. As there are parts of Milton's prose-writings
that would be even now as discomposing and irritating to an orthodox
Briton as to an orthodox Spaniard or Russian, a genuine British reader
might be expected perhaps to tend to those parts by preference. Hence
there is something not wholly pleasing in the exclusive rush in our
country now-a-days upon the _Areopagitica_ as representative of
Milton's prose. And yet the reasons for the fact are perhaps sufficient.
Though the doctrine of the Treatise is now axiomatic, one remembers, as
one reads, that the battle for it had then to be fought, that Milton was
the first and greatest to fight it, and that this very book did more than
any other to make the doctrine an axiom in Britain. But, besides this
historical interest, the book possesses an interest of peculiar literary
attractiveness. It is perhaps the most skilful of all Milton's prose-
writings, the most equable and sustained, the easiest to be read straight
through at once, and the fittest to leave one glowing sensation of the
power of the author's genius. It is a pleading of the highest eloquence
and courage, with interspersed passages of curious information, keen wit,
and even a rich humour, such as we do not commonly look for in Milton. He
must have taken great pains to make the performance popular.

After an exordium of respectful compliment to the Parliament, the
rhetorical skill of which is as masterly as the sincerity is obvious,
Milton announces his purpose. He thinks so highly of the Parliament that
he will pay them the supreme compliment of questioning the wisdom of one
of their ordinances and asking them to repeal it. He then quotes the
leading clause of the Printing Ordinance of June 14, 1643, enacting that
no Book, Pamphlet, or Paper should thenceforth be printed unless it had
previously been approved and licensed by the official censors or one of
them. He is to challenge, he says, only that part of the Ordinance. He is
not to challenge the part for preventing piracy of copyright; which he
thinks quite just, though he can see that it may be abused so as to annoy
honest men and booksellers. From a passage farther on we learn also that
Milton did not object to a prohibition of anonymous publication; for he
refers with entire approbation to a previous Parliamentary Ordinance,
enacting that no book should be printed unless the names of the author
and printer, or at least that of the printer, were registered. If
Parliament had stopped at that Order, they would have been well advised;
it is the licensing Enactment of the subsequent Order of June 1643 that
he is to reason against. Books, indeed, were things of which a
Commonwealth ought to take no less vigilant charge than of their living
subjects, "For Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a
potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they
are." All the more reason to beware of violence against books. "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." And how had this slaying of books, and even the prevention of
their birth, by a Censorship, grown up? After a historical sketch of the
state of the law and practice respecting books among the Greeks, the
Romans, and the early and mediaeval Christians, Milton arrives at the
conclusion that the system of Censorship and Licensing was an invention
of the worst age of the Papacy, perfected by the Spanish Inquisition. He
gives one or two specimens of the elaborate _imprimaturs_ prefixed
to old Italian books, and makes much fun of them. The Papal invention, he
continues, had passed on into Prelatic England. "These are the pretty
responsories, these are the dear antiphonies that so bewitched our late
prelates and their chaplains with the goodly echo they made, and besotted
us to the gay imitation of a lordly _imprimatur_, one from the
Lambeth House [the Archbishop of Canterbury's Palace, where MSS. had to
be left by their authors for revision by his chaplains], another from the
west end of Paul's [the site of Stationers' Hall]."

Yes! but, whoever were the inventors, might not the invention itself be
good? To this question Milton next proceeds, and it leads him into the
vitals of the subject.

He contends, in the first place, for the scholar's liberty of universal
reading at his own peril, his right of unlimited intellectual
inquisitiveness. What though there are bad and mischievous books? "Books
are as meats and viands are, some of good, some of evil substance, and
yet God in that unapocryphal vision said, without exception, 'Rise,
Peter, kill and eat.'" Good and evil are inextricably mixed up together
in everything in this world; and the very discipline to virtue and

Book of the day: