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

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

Part 12 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649 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.


We left the household in Barbican a rather overcrowded one, consisting
not merely of Milton, his wife, their newly-born little girl, his father,
and his two nephews, but also of his Royalist father-in-law Mr. Powell,
with Mrs. Powell, and several of their children, driven to London by the
wreck of the family fortunes at Oxford. For some months, we now find, the
state of poor Mr. Powell's affairs continued to be a matter of anxiety to
all concerned.

On the 6th of August, 1646, or as soon as possible after Mr. Powell's
arrival in London, he had applied, as we saw, to the Committee at
Goldsmiths' Hall for liberty to compound for that portion of his
sequestered Oxfordshire estates which was yet recoverable. Milton's
younger brother, Christopher, we saw, was at the same time engaged in a
similar troublesome business. Ho too was suing out pardon for his
delinquency on condition of the customary fine on his property; and,
according to his own representation to the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee,
the sole property he had consisted of a single house in the city of
London, worth 40_l._ a year.

The Goldsmiths' Hall Committee being then overburdened with similar
applications of Delinquents from all parts of England, the cases of Mr.
Powell and Christopher Milton had waited their turn.

The case of Christopher Milton came on first. His delinquency had been
very grave. He had actually served as one of the King's Commissioners for
sequestrating the estates of Parliamentarians in three English counties.
There seems, therefore, to have been a disposition at head-quarters to be
severe with him. On the 24th of September the Committee at Goldsmiths'
Hall did fix his fine for his London property at 80_l._ (_i.e._ a tenth
of its whole value calculated at twenty years' purchase), receiving the
first moiety of 40_l._ down, and accepting "William Keech, of Fleet
Street, London, goldbeater," as Christopher's co-surety for the payment
of the second moiety within three months. But they do not seem to have
been satisfied that the young barrister had given a correct account of
his whole estate; and it was intimated to him that, while the 80_l_.
would restore to him his London property, the House of Commons would look
farther into his case, and he might have more to pay on other grounds. In
fact, his case was protracted not only through the rest of 1646, but for
five years longer, the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee never letting him
completely off all that while, but instituting inquiries repeatedly in
Berks and Suffolk, with a view to ascertain whether he had not concealed
properties in those counties in addition to the small London property for
which he had compounded. [Footnote: It is rather difficult to follow
Christopher Milton's case through the Composition Records and other
notices respecting it; but here is the substance of the first of them:--
_Aug._ 7, 1646, Delinquent's Application to Compound, with statement of
his property, referred to Sub-Committee (Hamilton's Milton Papers, 128,
129); _Aug. and Sept._ 1646, Various proposals of the Committee as to the
amount of his fine--at 80_l._ or "a tenth," at 200_l._ or "a third"--
ending, ending Sept. 24, in the imposition of a fine of 80_l._ for his
London property, with a hint that there might be farther demand
(Hamilton, 62 and 129-30, and Todd. I. 162-3); _Undated, but seemingly
after Dec._ 1646, Note of Christopher Milton as a defaulter for the
latter moiety of his fine (Hamilton, 62). The case runs on through
subsequent years to 1652; nay, as late as Feb. 1657-8 there is trace of
it (Hamilton, 130, Document lxvi.).]

Mr. Powell's case, for different reasons, was more complex. On the 2lst
of Nov. 1646, or somewhat more than three months after he had petitioned
the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee for leave to compound, he sent in the
necessary "Particular of Real and Personal Estate" by which his
composition was to be rated. He had been living all the while in his son-
in-law's house in Barbican; and the delay may have arisen from those
circumstances of perplexity, already known to the reader (_antè_, pp.
473-483), which rendered it difficult for him to estimate what the amount
of his remaining property might really be. In the "Particular" now sent
in, though he still designates himself "Richard Powell of Forest-hill,"
the Forest-hill mansion and lands are totally omitted, as no longer his
property in any practical sense, but transferred by legal surrender to
his creditor Sir Robert Pye. All that he can put on paper as his own is
now (1) his small Wheatley property of 40_l._ a year; (2) his "personal
estate in corn and household stuff," left at Forest-hill before the siege
of Oxford, and estimated at 500_l._ if it could be properly recovered and
sold; (3) his much more doubtful stock of "timber and wood," also left at
Forest-hill, and worth 400_l._ on a similar supposition; and (4) debts
owing to him to the amount of 100_l._ Against these calculated assets, of
about 1,800_l._ altogether, he pleads, however, a burden of 400_l._, with
arrears of interest, due to Mr. Ashworth by mortgage of the Wheatley
property, and also 1,200_l._ of debts to various people, and a special
debt of 300_l._ "owing upon a statute" to his son-in-law Mr. John Milton.
As a reason for leniency, the fact is moreover stated that he had lost
3,000_l._ by the Civil War. Actually, if his account is correct, he was
insolvent; or, if his debt to his son-in-law were regarded as cancelled,
he had but about 200_l._ left in the world. In criticising his account,
however, the Committee would be sharp-sighted. They would remember that
it was his interest, on the one hand, to rate his debts and losses at the
highest figure, and, on the other hand, to represent at the lowest figure
all his remaining property, except those items of "corn and household
stuff," and "timber and wood," which he held to have been illegally
disposed of by Parliamentary officials, and for the recovery of which he
might bring forward a claim against Parliament. How the Committee, or the
sub-Committee to whom the case was referred Nov. 26, did proceed in their
calculations can only be conjectured; but the result was that they
charged Mr. Powell on his whole returned property, without any allowance
whatever for his debts. This appears from three documents in the State
Paper Office, all of date Dec. 1646. On the 4th of that month Mr. Powell
went through the two formalities required by law of every Delinquent
before composition. He subscribed the National Covenant in the presence
of "William Barton, minister of John Zachary" (the same clergyman who had
administered the Covenant to Christopher Milton seven months before); and
he took the so-called "Negative Oath" in presence of another witness. On
the same day, before a third witness, he took another and more special
oath, to the effect that the debts mentioned in his return to the
Goldsmiths' Hall Committee were genuine debts, "truly and really owing by
him," and that the estimate of his losses by the Civil War there set down
was also just. Nevertheless, in the paper drawn up on the 8th of December
by two of the Goldsmiths' Hall officials, containing an abstract of Mr.
Powell's case, in which his own statements are accepted, and notice is
taken of a request he had made for an allowance of 400_l._ off the value
of the Wheatley property on account of the mortgage to that amount with
which it was burdened, the fine is fixed by these ominous words at the
close: "Fine at 2 yeeres value, 180_l._" The officials had been strict as
Shylock. Taking the Wheatley property at Mr. Powell's own valuation of
40_l._ a year, without allowing his claim of a half off for the Ashworth
mortgage, they had added 50_l._ a year as the worth of the remaining
1,000_l._ made up by the three other capital items in his return, and
thus appraised him as worth 90_l._ a year in all. At the customary rate
of two years' value, his fine therefore was to be 180_l._ The debts of
the Delinquent might amount to more than his estimated property, as he
said they did; but that was a matter between himself and the world at
large, and not between him and the Commissioners for Compositions.
[Footnote: The documents the substance of which is here given will be
found in the Appendix to Hamilton's Milton Papers (pp. 76-78).--The Rev.
William Barton seems to be the person of that name already known to us as
author of that Metrical Version of the Psalms which the Lords favoured
against Rous's (_antè_, pp. 425 and 512). He may have been an
acquaintance of Milton's; at all events, as minister of a church in
Aldergate Ward, he was conveniently near to Barbican.]

Either the decision of the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee broke Mr. Powell
down unexpectedly, or he had been ailing before it came. It is possible,
indeed, that he had been confined to Milton's house during the
negotiation, signing the Covenant and other necessary documents there,
and unable to walk even the little distance between Barbican and
Goldsmiths' Hall. Certain it is that he died there on or about the 1st of
January, 1646-7, leaving the following will, executed but a day or two

"In the name of God, Amen!--I, Richard Powell, of Forresthill,
_alias_ Forsthill, in the countie of Oxon, Esquire, being sick and
weak of bodie, but of perfect minde and memorie, I praise God therefore,
this thirtieth daie of December in the yeare of our Lord God one thousand
six hundred fortie and six, doe make and declare this my will and
testament in manner and forme following:--First and principallie, I
comend my soule to the hands of Almighty God my Maker, trusting by the
meritts, death, and passion of his sonn Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, to
have life everlasting; and my bodie I comitt to the earth from whence it
came, to be decentlie interred according to the discretion of my Executor
hereafter named.--And, for my worldlie estate which God hath blessed rue
withall, I will and dispose as followeth:--_Imprimis_, I give and
bequeathe unto Richard Powell, my eldest son, my house at Forresthill,
_alias_ Forsthill, in the countie of Oxford, with all the household
stuffe and goods there now remaining, and compounded for by me since at
Goldsmiths' Hall, together with the woods and timber there remaining; and
all the landes to my said house of Forresthill belonging and heretofore
therewith used, together with the fines and profitts of the said landes
and tenements, to the said Richard Powell and his heires and assignes for
ever: to this intent and purpose, and it is the true meaning of this my
last will, that my landes and goods shalbe first employed for the
satisfieing of my debts and funerall expenses, and afterwards for the
raiseing of portions for his brothers and sisters soe far as the estate
will reach, allowing as much out of the estate abovementioned unto my
said sonn Richard Powell as shall equal the whole to be devided amongst
his brothers and sisters, that is to saie the one halfe of the estate to
himselfe and the other halfe to be devided amongst his brothers and
sisters that are not alredie provided for; in which devision my will is
that his sisters have a third parte more than his brothers.--My will and
desire is that my said sonn Richard doe, out of my said landes and
personall estate herein mentioned, satisfy his mother, my dearely-beloved
wife Ann Powell, that bond I have entered into for the makeing her a
joynture, which my estate is not in a condition now to dischardge.--And,
lastlie, I doe by this my last will and testament make and ordaine my
sonn Richard Powell my sole executor of this my last will, and I doe
hereby revoke all former wills by me made whatsoever. And my will farther
is that, in case my sonn Richard Powell shall not accept the
executorshipp, then I doe hereby constitute and appointe, and doe
earnestly desire, my dearely beloved wife Ann Powell to be my sole
executrix, and to take upon her the mannageing of my estate
abovementioned to the uses and purposes herein expressed. And, in case
she doe refuse the same, then I desire my loveing friend Master John
Ellston of Forresthill to take the executorshipp uppon him and to
performe this my will as is herebefore expressed; to whom I give twentie
shillings, to buy him a ring. And my earnest desire is that my wife and
my sonn have no difference concerning this my will and estate.--
_Item_, I give and bequeathe to my sonn Richard Powell all my houses
and landes at Whately in the countie of Oxford, and all other my estate
reall and personall in the kingdom of England and dominion of Wales, to
the use, intent, and purpose above herein expressed: And my desire is
that my daughter Milton be had a reguard to in the satisfieing of her
portion, and adding thereto in case my estate will beare it. And, for
this estate last bequeathed, in case my sonn take not upon him the
executorshipp, then my will is my beloved wife shall be sole executrix,
unto whom I give the landes and goods last abovementioned, to the uses
and purposes herein mentioned. In case she refuses, then I appoint Master
John Ellstone my executor, to the uses and purposes above-mentioned.--In
witness hereof I have hereto put my hand and seale the daie and yeare
first above-written.--For the further strengthening of this my last will,
I doe constitute and appoint my loveing friends, Sir John Curson and Sir
Robert Pye the elder, Knights, to be overseers of this my last will,
desireing them to be aiding and assisting to my executor to see my last
will performed, according to my true meaning herein expressed, for the
good and benefitt of my wife and children; and I give them, as a token of
my love, twentie shillings apiece, to buy them each a ring, for their
paines taken to advise and further my executor to performe this my will.

"Subscribed, sealed, and acknowledged to be his last will, in the
presence of

"JAMES LLOYD, JOHN MILTON, HENRY DELAHAY." [Footnote: Found by me at
Doctors' Commons.--The date assigned for Mr. Powell's death depends on
his widow's statement on oath, four years afterwards (Feb. 27, 1650-1),
that "said Richard Powell, her late husband, died near the first day of
January, in the year of our Lord 1646, at the house of Mr. John Milton
situate in Barbican, London." (Todd, I. 57.)]

While this is clearly the will of a dying man whose property is in such a
state of wreck and confusion that he knows not whether any provision
whatever will arise out of it for his wife and family, there are certain
suggestions in it of a contrary tenor. It is evident, for example, that
Mr. Powell had not given up all hope that his main property, the mansion
and lands of Forest-hill, might ultimately be recovered. Though these are
entirely omitted in the Particular of his Estate given in a month before
to the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee for Compositions, they figure in his
will so expressly that one sees the testator did not consider them quite
lost. This, followed by the kindly mention of Sir Robert Pye in the end
of the will, and the appointment of that knight as one of the overseers
to assist the executor in carrying out the will, confirms a guess which
we have already hazarded (_antè_, pp. 475-6): viz. that the entry of
Sir Robert Pye into possession of the Forest-hill estate during the siege
of Oxford was not the harsh exercise of his legal right to do so, nor
even only the natural act of a prudent creditor seeing no other way of
recovering a large sum lent to a neighbour, but in part also a friendly
precaution in the interests of that neighbour himself and his family.
That Forest-hill, if it were to be alienated from the Powells, should
pass into the possession of Sir Robert Pye, an old friend of the family,
might be for their advantage in the end. Though nominally proprietor, he
would regard himself as interim possessor for the Powells; and, should
they ever be able to reclaim their property, and to pay the 1,400_l._ and
arrears of interest for which it had been pledged, they would find Sir
Robert or his family more accommodating than strangers would have been.
Something of this kind must have been in Mr. Powell's mind when he made
his will. He clung to the Forest-hill property; it was worth much more
really than the sum for which it had been alienated; he looked forward to
some arrangement in that matter between his heir and Sir Robert Pye, in
which Sir Robert himself would advise and assist. Then, as the smaller
Wheatley property was also really worth more than the 40_l._ a year at
which it was rated, and as, besides other chances only vaguely hinted,
the family had immediate claims for 500_l._ on account of goods left at
Forest-hill, 400_l._ on account of timber, and l00_l._ in miscellaneous
debts, why, on the whole, with patience and good management, should there
not be enough to discharge all obligations, and still leave something
over for the heir, the widow, and the other eight or nine children, in
the proportions indicated? Alas! if this were the possibility, it had to
be arrived at, the testator foresaw, through a dense medium of present
difficulties. The very items of most importance in the meantime, if his
widow and children were to be saved from actual straits, were the items
of greatest uncertainty. The household goods, the timber, and the debts
due, were estimated together at 1,000_l._ of cash; but it was cash which
had to be rescued from the four winds. Nay, most of it had to be rescued
from worse than the four winds--from the Parliamentary Government itself,
and from its agents in Oxfordshire. The household stuff and goods at
Forest-hill! Had they not been sold in June last by the Oxfordshire
sequestrators to Matthew Appletree of London, carted off by that dealer,
and dispersed no one knew whither? The timber at Forest-hill! Had not
that also vanished, most of it voted in July last by the two Houses of
Parliament themselves to the people of Banbury for repairs of their
church and other buildings? To be sure, the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee,
by accepting these portions of Mr. Powell's property at his own valuation
and including them in their calculation of his fine for Delinquency, had
virtually pledged Government that they should be restored. But then the
fine had not been paid. Notwithstanding the statement in Mr. Powell's
will that he had compounded for his property, the case was not really so.
The Committee had fixed his composition at 180_l.,_ and so had admitted
him to compound; but, as he had not yet paid the usual first moiety, the
transaction was really incomplete at his death. Who was to pursue the
matter to completeness, undertaking on the one hand to pay the
composition to Government, and on the other obliging Government to
reproduce the value of the goods and timber that had been made away with
by itself or by its Oxfordshire agents? All this too was in the
testator's mind, and hence his difficulty in fixing on an executor. His
eldest son and heir, Richard, then a youth of five-and-twenty, was to
have the first option of this office; if he shrank from it, then the
widow was to be the sole executrix; but, if she also shrank from it, a
certain "Master John Ellston of Forest-hill," in whom Mr. Powell had
confidence, was entreated to take it up. This Ellston, it is implied,
understood the business, and, as acting for the family, might expect the
advice of Sir Robert Pye and Sir John Curzon. [Footnote: The "Ellston" of
the will may be the "Eldridge" mentioned in a previously quoted document
(_antè_, p. 478) as having 100_l._ worth of Mr. Powell's timber on his
premises. If so, Mr. Hamilton (92) has miscopied "Eldridge" for "Ellston"
or "Ellstone" in that document.]

The eldest son did shrink from the hard post of executor under the will;
but the widow did not. This appears from the probate of the will, dated
March 26, 1647, when she appeared as executrix before Sir Nathaniel Brent
of the Prerogative Court, took the oath, and had the administration
committed to her. [Footnote: Probate attached to the will in Doctors'
Commons. There is a _second_ Probate in the margin, dated May 10,
1662, showing that then the eldest son, Richard Powell, at the age of
forty-one, reclaimed the executorship, and was admitted to it, the former
Probate being set aside. This fact does not concern us at present.] It
was, as we shall find, a legacy of trouble and vexation to her, and
collaterally to Milton as her son-in-law, for many years; and, as we
shall also find, she fought in it perseveringly and bravely. The trouble
and vexation, however, so far as records revive it, do not begin within
our limits in this volume. For the present it is enough to add that, some
time after Mr. Powell's death and burial, his widow and children removed
from Milton's house in the Barbican, and quartered themselves elsewhere.
They can hardly have gone back to Oxfordshire. Not only was Forest-hill
no home for them now, but the smaller tenement and grounds at Wheatley in
the same county seem to have been equally unavailable. There is
documentary proof, at least, that immediately after Mr. Powell's death,
in the same month of January 1646-7, his relative Sir Edward Powell,
Bart., took formal possession of that property in consequence of his
legal title to it from non-payment of the sum of £300 which he had
advanced to Mr. Powell, on that security, five years before (see Vol. II.
p. 497). [Footnote: Document, dated Aug. 28, 1650, among the Composition
Papers given by Hamilton (86, 87).] This transaction, by a relative, may,
like the similar transaction by Sir Robert Pye, have had some meaning in
favour of the Powells; but, on the whole, though Mrs. Powell may have
managed to dispose of some of her children, especially the elder boys, by
appeal to relatives, the probability is that she remained in London and
kept most of them with her. There is evidence that she had to live on in
most straitened circumstances. Relatives probably did something for her;
and Milton, as we shall find, performed his part.

Little more than two months after the burial of Mr. Powell, and possibly
before the removal of his widow and children from the house in Barbican,
there was another funeral from that house. It was that of Milton's own
father. Father-in-law and father had gone almost together, and the house
was in double mourning.

Who can part with this father of one of the greatest of Englishmen
without a last look of admiration and regret? Nearly fifty years ago, in
the last years of Elizabeth's reign, we saw him, an "ingeniose man" from
Oxfordshire, detached from his Roman Catholic kindred there, and setting
up in London in the business of scrivenership, with music for his private
taste, and a name of some distinction already among the musicians and
composers of the time. Then came the happy days of his married life in
Bread Street, all through James's reign, his business prospering and
music still his delight, but his three surviving children growing up
about him, and his heart full of generous resolves for their education,
and especially of pride in that one of them on whose high promise
teachers and neighbours were always dilating. Then to Cambridge
University went this elder son, followed in time by the younger, the
father consenting to miss their presence, and instructing them to spare
no use of his worldly substance for their help in the paths they might
choose. It had been somewhat of a disappointment to him when, after seven
years, the elder had returned from the University with his original
destination for the Church utterly forsworn, and with such avowed
loathings of the whole condition of things in Church and State as seemed
to bar the prospect of any other definite profession. There had been the
recompense, indeed, of that son's graceful and perfected youth, of the
haughty nobleness of soul that blazed through his loathings, and of his
acquired reputation for scholarship and poetry. And so, in the country
retreat at Horton, as age was beginning to come upon the good father, and
he was releasing himself from the cares of business, how pleasant it had
been for him, and for the placid and invalid mother, to have their elder
son wholly to themselves, their one daughter continuing meanwhile in
London after her first husband's decease, and then younger son also
mainly residing there for his law-studies. What though the son so
domiciled with them was plowing up to manhood, still without a
profession, still absorbed in books and poetry, doing exactly as he
liked, and in fact more the ruler of them than they were of him? Who
could interfere with such a son, and why had God given them abundance but
that such a son might have the leisure he desired? All in all, one cannot
doubt that those years of retirement at Horton had been the most peaceful
on which the old man could look back. But those years had come to an end.
The sad spring of 1637 had come; the invalid wife had died; and he had
been left in widowhood. Little in the ten years of his life since then
but a succession of shiftings and troubles! For a while still at Horton,
sauntering about the church and in daily communion with the grave it
contained, his younger son and that son's newly-wedded wife coming to
keep him company while the elder was on his travels. Then, after the
elder son's return, the outbreak of the political tumults, and the sad
convulsion of everything. In this convulsion his two sons had taken
opposite sides, the elder even treasuring up wrath against himself by his
vehement writings for the Parliamentarians. How should an old man judge
in such a case? The Horton household now broken up, he had gone for a
time with Christopher and his wife to Reading, but only to be tossed back
to London and the safer protection of John. We have seen him under that
protection in Aldersgate Street, all through the time of Milton's
marriage--misfortune and the Divorce pamphlets. There was some comfort,
on the old man's account, in the picture given of him by his grandson
Phillips, then in the same house, as living through all that distraction
"wholly retired to his rest and devotion, without the least trouble
imaginable." All the same one fancies him having his own thoughts in his
solitary upper room, contrasting the now with the then, and feeling that
he had become feeble and superfluous. A cheerful change for him may have
been the larger house in Barbican, with his son's forgiven wife in her
proper place in it and more numerous pupils going in and out, and at last
the birth of the infant-girl that made his grandfatherhood complete in
all its three branches. He had been about eighteen months in this house.
The Civil War had come to an end, and the King had been surrendered by
the Scots at Newcastle and shifted to the second stage of his captivity
at Holmby House, and Christopher Milton had returned ruefully to London
from Exeter to sue out pardon for his delinquency, and the impoverished
Powells also had come to the house from Oxford. Old Mr. Powell and old
Mr. Milton had been a good deal together, and at length, when Mr. Powell
was dying, old Mr. Milton may have assisted, scrivener-like, in the
framing of his will. Only two months afterwards his own turn came. No
will of his has been found, and probably he had made a will unnecessary
by previous arrangements. His Bible and music-books left in his room may
have been the mementoes of his last occupations. He was buried, March 15,
1646-7, in the chancel of the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, not far
from Barbican; and the entry "John Milton, Gentleman, 15" among the
"Burialls in March 1646" may be still looked at with interest in the
Registers of that parish. [Footnote: To the courtesy of the Rev. P. P.
Gilbert, M.A., Vicar of the parish, I owe a certified copy of the burial-

Nothing came from Milton's pen on the occasion; but one remembers his
Latin poem "_Ad Patrem,_" written fifteen years before, and the
lines with which that poem closes may stand fitly here as the epitaph for
the dead:--

"At tibi, care Pater, postquam non aqua merenti
Posse referre datur, nec dona rependere factis,
Sit memorasse satis, repetitaque munera grato
Percensere animo, fidæque reponere menti.
Et vos, O nostri, juvenilia carmina, lusus,
Si modo perpetuos sperare audebitis annos,
Nec spisso rapient oblivia nigra sub Orco,
Forsitan has laudes decantatumque parentis
Nomen, ad exmplum, sero servabitis ævo."
[Footnote: It seems to me not improbable that the poem, as originally
written, ended at the word "menti." and that the last six lines,
beginning "Et vos," were an addition when Milton published his Poems in
1645 his father then residing with him.]


Since the removal from the Aldersgate Street house to that in Barbican,
Milton, as we know, had ceased from prose pamphleteering; and all that he
had done of a literary kind, besides publishing his volume of collected
Poems, had been his two Divorce Sonnets, his Sonnet to Henry Lawes, and
his Sonnet with the scorpion tail, entitled _On the Forcers of
Conscience_. To these have now to be added, as written since Aug.
1646, two other scraps--viz.: the Sonnet marked XIV. in most of our
modern editions of his Poems, and the Latin Ode to John Rous which
generally appears at or near the end of the Latin portion of these

Sonnet XIV., though printed without a heading by Milton himself in the
Second or 1673 edition of his Poems, and often so printed still, exists
fortunately in two drafts in his own hand (one of them erased) among the
Milton MSS. at Cambridge, and bears there this heading, also in his own
hand: "_On the Religious memory of Mrs. Catherine Thomson, my Christian
friend, deceased 16 Decemb._ 1646." We have no other information about
this Mrs. Catherine Thomson than is conveyed by these words and the
Sonnet itself; and the fact that we know of her existence only by chance
suggests to us how many friends and acquaintances of Milton there may
have been in London whose very names have perished. One may suppose her
to have been a neighbour of Milton's, and rather elderly. That he had no
ordinary respect for her appears from the fact that he felt moved to
write something in her memory. If written exactly at the time of her
death, it was while his house was full of the Powells, and Mr. Powell was
grieving over the state of his affairs and perhaps known to be dying.
There is a suggestion, however, in the wording, that it may have been
written later.

"When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,
Had ripened thy just soul to dwell with God,
Meekly thou didst resign this earthy load
Of death, called life, which us from Life doth sever.
Thy works, and alms, and all thy good endeavour,
Stayed not behind, nor in the grave were trod;
But, as Faith pointed with her golden rod,
Followed thee up to joy and bliss for ever.
Love led them on; and Faith, who knew them best
Thy handmaids, clad them o'er with purple beams
And azure wings, that up they flew so drest,
And speak the truth of thee on glorious themes
Before the Judge, who thenceforth bid thee rest
And drink thy fill of pure immortal streams."

Certainly written in Barbican between the death of Mr. Powell and that of
Milton's father, but in a very different strain from the foregoing, is
the Latin Ode to Rous, the Oxford Librarian. The circumstances were

Milton, we have had proof already, cared enough both about his opinions
and about his literary reputation to adopt the common practice of sending
presentation-copies of his books to persons likely to be interested in
them. He had sent out, we have seen, such presentation-copies of Lawes's
1637 edition of his "Comus," and of some of his pamphlets individually.
We find, however, that in 1645 or 1646, when he had published no fewer
than eleven pamphlets in all, and when moreover his English and Latin
Poems had been issued by Moseley, he must have taken some pains to secure
that copies of the entire set of his writings, as then extant, should be
in the hands of eminent book-collectors and scholars. Thus, in the
Library of Trinity College, Dublin, there is a small quarto volume
containing ten of the pamphlets bound together in this order--"Of
Reformation," "Of Prelatical Episcopacy," "The Reason of Church-
government," "Animadversions upon the Remonstrant's Defence," "An Apology
against a modest Confutation," "The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,"
"The Judgment of Martin Bucer," "Colasterion," "Tetrachordon,"
"Areopagitica;" and the volume exhibits (in a slightly mutilated form,
owing to clipping in the re-binding) this inscription in Milton's
autograph: "_Ad doctissimum virum, Patricium Junium, Joannes Miltonius
hæc sua, unum in fasciculum conjecta, mittit, paucis hujusmodi lectoribus
contentes_" ("To the most learned man, Patrick Young, John Milton
sends these things of his, thrown together into one volume, content with
few readers were they but of his sort") The volume, therefore, though it
has found its way to Dublin, originally belonged to the Scotchman Patrick
Young, better known by his Latinized name of Patricius Junius, one of the
most celebrated scholars of his time, especially in Greek, and for more
than forty years (1605?-1649) keeper of the King's Library in St.
James's, London. Milton, it is clear, did not intend the gift for the
Royal Library, unless Young chose to put it there. He meant it for Young
himself, with whom he had probably some personal acquaintance, and who
was of Presbyterian sympathies, and in fact then under the orders of
Parliament. [Footnote: There is a facsimile of the inscription to Young
in Sotheby's Milton Ramblings, p. 121; but I am indebted for a more
particular account of the volume, with a tracing of the inscription, to
the Rev. Andrew Campbell of Dublin. There is a memoir of Young in Wood's
Fasti, I. 308-9]

About the time when Milton sent this collection of his pamphlets to
Patrick Young, or perhaps a little later, he sent a similar gift to
another librarian, expressly in his official capacity. This was John
Rous, M.A., chief Librarian of the Bodleian at Oxford from 1620 to 1652,
Milton, there is reason to believe, had known Rous since the year 1635
(see Vol. I. p. 590); at all events an acquaintance had sprung up between
them, as could hardly fail to be the case between a reader like Milton
and the keeper of the great Oxford Library; and, as Rous's political
leanings, Oxonian though he was, were distinctly Parliamentarian, there
was no reason for coolness on that ground. Accordingly, Rous, it appears,
had asked Milton for a complete copy of his writings for the Bodleian,
and had even been pressing in the request. Milton at length had
despatched the required donation in the form of a parcel containing two
volumes--the Prose Pamphlets bound together in one volume, and the Poems
by themselves in the tinier volume as published by Moseley. On a blank
leaf at the beginning of the larger volume he had written very carefully
with his own hand a long Latin inscription, "_Doctissimo viro, proloque
librorum æstimatori, Joanni Rousio_" &c.; which may be given in
translation as follows: "To the most learned man, and excellent judge of
books, John Rous, Librarian of the University of Oxford, on his
testifying that this would be agreeable to him, John Milton gladly
forwards these small works of his, with a view to their reception into
the University's most ancient and celebrated Library, as into a temple of
perpetual memory, and so, as he hopes, into a merited freedom from ill-
will and calumny, if satisfaction enough has been given at once to Truth
and to Good Fortune. They are--'Of Reformation in England,' 2 Books; 'Of
Prelatical Episcopacy,' 1 Book; 'Of the Reason of Church-government,' 2
Books; 'Animadversions on the Remonstrant's Defence,' 1 Book; 'Apology
against the same,' 1 Book; 'The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,' 2
Books; 'The Judgment of Bucer on Divorce,' 1 Book; 'Colasterion,' 1 Book;
'Tetrachordon: An Exposition of some chief places of Scripture concerning
Divorce,' 4 Books; 'Areopagitica, or a Speech for the Freedom of the
Press;' 'An Epistle on Liberal Education;' and 'Poems, Latin and
English,' separately." Here, it will be seen, Milton sends to Rous the
same pamphlets he had sent to Patrick Young, and in the same order, only
adding the Letter on Education to Hartlib, and the Moseley volume of
Poems. Now, all the pieces so enumerated, with the inscription, had duly
reached Rous in the Bodleian, with one exception. In the carriage of the
parcel to Oxford the tiny volume of Poetry had somehow dropped out or
been abstracted; so that Rous, counting over the pieces by the inventory,
found himself in possession only of the eleven prose-pamphlets. He had
intimated this to Milton, and petitioned for another copy of the Poems to
make good the loss of the first. Milton complied; but, as the loss of the
first copy had amused him, he took the trouble of writing a mock-heroic
Latin ode on the subject to Rous, and causing this ode, transcribed on a
sheet of paper in a secretary hand of elaborate elegance, to be inserted
by the binder in the new copy, between the English and the Latin portions
of the contents. This is the _Ode to Rous_ of which we have spoken
as, with the exception of _Sonnet XIV.,_ the sole known production
of Milton's muse during those eight months of his Barbican life which
have brought us to our present point. When he printed it in the second or
1673 edition of his Poems, he prefixed the exact date, "Jan. 23, 1646"
(_i.e._ 1646-7). It was written, therefore, in the interval between
Mr. Powell's death and his father's--three weeks after the one, and six
or seven weeks before the other. The manuscript copy sent to Rous still
exists in the Bodleian in the volume into which it was inserted; and in
the same library they show also the volume of the eleven collected prose
pamphlets, with the previous inscription to Rous in Milton's autograph.
[Footnote: Warton's Note on the Ode to Rous (Todd's Milton, IV. 507-9);
Milton's Poems ed. 1678, Latin portion, p. 90; Sotheby's Milton
Ramblings, pp. 113-121, where there is a fac-simile of the inscription in
the Bodleian volume of the prose pamphlets, and also a fac-simile of a
considerable portion of the Latin Ode to Rous from the MS. copy in the
other Bodleian volume. The "inscription" is indubitably Milton's
autograph; Mr. Sotheby thinks the "ode" also to be in his penmanship,
though not in his usual hand, but in a "beautiful secretary hand" which
he assumed for the special purpose. Judging from the fac-simile, I doubt
this, and think the transcript may have been by some professional
scribe.--According to Warton's account, it is by accident that these two
precious volumes have been preserved in the Bodleian. In 1720 a number of
books, whether as being duplicates or as being thought useless, were
weeded out of the Library and thrown aside, and a Mr. Nathaniel Crynes,
one of the Esquire Bidels and a book collector, was permitted to have the
pick of these for himself on the understanding that he was to leave the
Library a valuable bequest. Fortunately Mr. Crynes did not care for the
Milton volumes, and so they went back to the shelves.]

The ode is headed "_Ad Joannem Rousium, Oxoniensis Academiæ
Bibliothecarium: de Libro Poematum amisso, quem ille sibi denuo mitti
postulabat, ut cum aliis nostris in Bibliothecâ publicâ reponeret,
Ode_" ("To John Rous, Librarian of the University of Oxford: An Ode on
a lost Book of Poems, of which he asked a fresh copy to be sent him, that
he might replace it beside our other books in the Public Library").

What strikes one first in reading the Ode is the strange metrical
structure. Evidently in a whim, and to suit his mock-heroic purpose,
Milton chose a peculiar form of mixed verse, distantly suggested by the
choruses of the Greek dramatists, and more closely by some precedents in
Latin poetry. There are three Strophes, each followed by an Antistrophe,
and the whole is wound up by a closing Epodos. In an appended prose note
Milton calls attention to this novelty, and explains moreover that he had
taken considerable liberties with the verse throughout, pleasing his own
ear, and regarding rather the convenience of modern reading than ancient
prosodic rules. Altogether, in this respect, the poem was a bold
experiment, for which Milton has been taken to task by purists among his
commentators down to our own time.

It is the _matter_, however, that interests us most here. The ode
opens half-humorously with an address to the little book he was sending
to Rous. It is described as a pretty little book enough, with two sets of
contents and a double arrangement of paging to match, neatly but simply
bound (_fronde licet geminâ, munditieque nitens non operosâ_), and
containing the juvenile productions of a certain Poet of no superlative
merit (_haud nimii poetæ_), written partly in Britain and partly in
Italy, partly in English and partly in Latin. [Footnote: Critics have
objected to Milton's volume, phrase "_fronde licet geminâ_," on the
ground that "_fronte_" would be the better Latin word for "title-
page." But Milton did not mean only that there were two title pages in
the volume, one to the English and one to the Latin poems; he meant also
that these two sets of poems were paged separately throughout. His phrase
"_fronde geminâ_," ("with double leafing") was therefore perfectly
exact.] Then the Antistrophe asks what had become of the former copy of
the same, on its way to the sources of the Thames and the great seat of
learning there established. The second Strophe and Antistrophe continue
the strain, with a hope that now at length the wretched civil tumults may
cease in England and Peace and Literature come back, but still with a
return of the query what could possibly have become of the missing volume
between London and Oxford, and into what clownish hands it might have
fallen. In the third Strophe and Antistrophe there is a compliment to
Rous as the faithful keeper of one of the most splendid libraries in the
world, with acknowledgment of his kindness in seeking to have the missing
volume replaced, so that it might have a chance of readers in such
glorious company and in all-famous Oxford. The closing Epode may be given
in the skilful, though rather lax, rendering of Cowper:--

"Ye, then, my Works, no longer vain
And worthless deemed by me,
Whate'er this sterile genius has produced,
Expect at last, the rage of envy spent,
An unmolested happy home,
Gift of kind Hermes and my watchful friend,
Where never flippant tongue profane
Shall entrance find,
And whence the coarse unlettered multitude
Shall babble far remote.
Perhaps some future distant age,
Less tinged with prejudice, and better taught,
Shall furnish minds of power
To judge more equally.
Then, malice silenced in the tomb,
Cooler heads and sounder hearts,
Thanks to Rous, if aught of praise
I merit, shall with candour weigh the claim."


Our next trace of Milton, through anything written by himself in his
Barbican abode, belongs to April 1647, the month after his father's
death. We owe it also perhaps to the fact that the publication of his
Poems by Moseley had given him an opportunity of distributing
presentation-copies of some of his former writings.

A feature in that volume, it may be remembered, was its richness in
Italian reminiscences. Not only were there included among the English
Poems the five Italian Sonnets and the Italian Canzone which Milton is
believed to have written in Italy; not only were the encomiums of his
Italian friends, Manso of Naples, Salzilli and Selvaggi of Rome, and
Francini and Dati of Florence, prefixed to the Latin Poems, with a note
of explanation; not only among these Latin poems did he print the three
pieces to the singer Leonora, the Scazontes to Salzilli, and the fine
farewell to Manso; but in the _Epitaphium Damonis_, or pastoral on
Charles Diodati's death, which ended the volume, and which had been
written immediately after his return to England, there were references
throughout to his Italian experiences, and passages of express mention of
Dati, Francini, the Florentine group generally, and the venerable Manso.
What more natural than to have sent copies of such a volume to the
various Italian friends named in it, to remind them of the Englishman to
whom they had been so kind. The venerable Manso, indeed, was by this time
dead; Salzilli seems to have been dead; the great Galileo, whom Milton
had at least once visited near Florence, had died in 1642; but most of
the Florentine group were still alive. To these last, all of them poets
themselves more or less, Milton might have been expected to send copies
of his volume. Or, if he did not trouble them with the English part,
which they could not read, he might have sent them at least the Latin
part, which had been separately paged, and provided with a separate title
and imprint, precisely in order that it might be so detached. For a
reason which will appear Milton did not even do this. He seems, however,
to have procured from the printer some copies of the last eleven pages of
the Latin part, which contained the _Epitaphium Damonis_ by itself,
and to have sent these to Florence. Either so, or by some prior
transmission of this particular poem to his Florentine friends,
unaccompanied by any letter, copies of it _had_ reached them. This
we learn from the sequel.

Of all Milton's Florentine friends none had remembered him more
faithfully than young Carlo Dati (see Vol. I. pp. 724-5). Only nineteen
years of age when Milton had visited Florence in 1638-9, but then a
leading spirit in the literary Academies of the city, and especially
enthusiastic in his attentions to strangers, he had outgone all the
others, except Francini, in his admiration of the Englishman who had come
among them, and in the extravagance of his parting adieu. The admiration
was real; and, after Milton had gone, young Dati had often thought of
him, often talked of him among his companions of the Delia Crusca and of
Gaddi's more private Academy of the Svogliati, often wondered what he was
doing in his native land. Three times at intervals he had written to
Milton; but all the letters had miscarried. Conceive, then, Dati's
pleasure, when, some time in 1646 (if that is the correct supposition), a
copy of the _Epitaphium Damonis_ reached him from London, and he
read the passage there in which Milton had made such affectionate mention
of his Florentine friends of 1638-9, and of himself and Francini in
particular. Immediately he wrote to Milton a fourth time; and this
letter, more fortunate than its predecessors, did arrive at its
destination. Milton, on his part, though the letter must have reached him
about the time of his father's death, had peculiar pleasure in receiving
it and returning an answer. The answer was in Latin, and may be
translated as follows:--

"To CHARLES DATI, Nobleman of Florence.

"With how great and what new pleasure I was filled, my Charles, on the
unexpected arrival of your letter, since it is impossible for me to
describe it adequately, I wish you may in some degree understand from the
very pain with which it was dashed, such pain as is almost the invariable
accompaniment of any great delight yielded to men. For, on running over
that first portion of your letter, in which elegance contends so finely
with friendship, I should have called my feeling one of unmixed joy, and
the rather because I see your labour to make friendship the winner.
Immediately, however, when I came upon that passage where you write that
you had sent me three letters before, which I now know to have been lost,
then, in the first place, that sincere gladness of mine at the receipt of
this one began to be infected and troubled with a sad regret, and
presently a something heavier creeps in upon me, to which I am accustomed
in very frequent grievings over my own lot: the sense, namely, that those
whom the mere necessity of neighbourhood, or something else of a useless
kind, has closely conjoined with me, whether by accident or by the tie of
law (_sive casu, sive lege, conglutinavit_), _they_ are the persons,
though in no other respect commendable, who sit daily in my company,
weary me, nay, by heaven, all but plague me to death whenever they are
jointly in the humour for it, whereas those whom habits, disposition,
studies, had so handsomely made my friends, are now almost all denied me,
either by death or by most unjust separation of place, and are so for the
most part snatched from my sight that I have to live well nigh in a
perpetual solitude. As to what you say, that from the time of my
departure from Florence you have been anxious about my health and always
mindful of me. I truly congratulate myself that a feeling has been equal
and mutual in both of us, the existence of which on my side only I was
perhaps claiming to my credit. Very sad to me also, I will not conceal
from you, was that departure, and it planted stings in my heart which now
rankle there deeper, as often as I think with myself of my reluctant
parting, my separation as by a wrench, from so many companions at once,
such good friends as they were, and living so pleasantly with each other
in one city, far off indeed, but to me most dear. I call to witness that
tomb of Damon, ever to be sacred and solemn to me, whose adornment with
every tribute of grief was my weary task, till I betook myself at length
to what comforts I could, and desired again to breathe a little--I call
that sacred grave to witness that I have had no greater delight all this
while than in recalling to my mind the most pleasant memory of all of
you, and of yourself especially. This you must have read for yourself
long ere now, if that poem reached you, as now first I hear from you it
did. I had carefully caused it to be sent, in order that, however small a
proof of talent, it might, even in those few lines introduced into it
emblem-wise, [Footnote: See the lines themselves in the translation of
the _Epitaphium Damonis_, Vol. II. p. 90.] be no obscure proof of my love
towards you. My idea was that by this means I should lure either yourself
or some of the others to write to me; for, if I wrote first, either I had
to write to all, or I feared that, if I gave the preference to any one, I
should incur the reproach of such others as came to know it, hoping as I
do that very many are yet there alive who might certainly have a claim to
this attention from me. Now, however, you first of all, both by this most
friendly call of your letter, and by your thrice-repeated attention of
writing before, have freed the reply for which I have been some while
since in your debt from any expostulation from the others. [Footnote:
Although I have supposed that the copies of the _Epitaphium Damonis_ sent
by Milton to Italy were from the sheets of the Moseley volume of 1645 as
it was passing through the press, the reader ought to note, with me, the
_possibility_ (already hinted, and now implied in this passage of the
letter to Dati) that Milton had sent copies in some form at an earlier
date--say immediately after the poem was written, and when his parting
from his Italian friends was quite recent.] There was, I confess, an
additional cause for my silence in that most turbulent state of our
Britain, subsequent to my return home, which obliged me to divert my mind
shortly afterwards from the prosecution of my studies to the defence
anyhow of life and fortune. What safe retirement for literary leisure
could you suppose given one among so many battles of a civil war,
slaughters, flights, seizures of goods? Yet, even in the midst of these
evils, since you desire to be informed about my studies, know that we
have published not a few things in our native tongue; which, were they
not written in English, I would willingly send to you, my friends in
Florence, to whose opinions I attach very much value. The part of the
Poems which is in Latin I will send shortly, since you wish it; and I
would have done so spontaneously long ago, but that, on account of the
rather harsh sayings against the Pope of Rome in some of the pages, I had
a suspicion they would not be quite agreeable to your ears. Now I beg of
you that the indulgence you were wont to give, I say not to your own
Dante and Petrarch in the same case, but with singular politeness to my
own former freedom of speech, as you know, among you, the same you, Dati,
will obtain (for of yourself I am sure) from my other friends whenever I
may be speaking of your religion in our peculiar way. I am reading with
pleasure your description of the funeral ceremony to King Louis, in which
I recognise your style (_Mercurium tuum_)--not that one of street bazaars
and mercantile concerns (_compitalem ilium et mercimoniis ad dictum_)
which you say jestingly you have been lately practising, but the right
eloquent one which the Muses like, and which befits the president of a
club of wits (_facundum ilium, Musis acceptum, et Mercurialium virorum
præsidem_). [Footnote: The production of Dati to which Milton refers, and
of which a copy had probably accompanied Dati's letter, was an Italian
tract or book, entitled "Esequie del la Maestà Christianiss: di Luigi
XIII. il Giusto, Re di Francia e di Navarra, celebrate in Firenze dall
altezza serenissima di Ferdinando Granduca di Tose., e discritte da Carlo
Dati: 1644." Louis XIII. of France had died May 14, 1643, and the Grand
Duke of Tuscany had ordered a celebration in his honour at Florence.--The
hint that Dati was now engaged in mercantile business is confirmed by
subsequent evidence.] It remains that we agree on some method and plan by
which henceforth our letters may go between us by a sure route. This does
not seem very difficult, when so many of our merchants have frequent and
large transactions with you, and their messengers run backwards and
forwards every week, and their vessels sail from port to port not much
seldomer. The charge of this I shall commit, rightly I hope, to
Bookseller James (_Jacobo Bibliopolæ_), or to his master, my very
familiar acquaintance (_vel ejus hero mihi familiarissimo_). [Footnote: I
have translated this as well as I can, but it is obscure. Did Milton
refer to some Florentine "Jacopo," a bookseller (the publisher of Dati's
_Esequie_?), and playfully entrust the arrangement of the future means of
correspondence to Dati himself, as master of the services of this
person?] Meanwhile farewell, my Charles; and give best salutations in my
name to Coltellini, Francini, Frescobaldi, Malatesta, Chimentelli the
younger, anyone else you know that remembers me with some affection, and,
in fine, to the whole Gaddian Academy. Again farewell!

London: April 21, 1617." [Footnote: This letter to Dati is the tenth of
Milton's _Epistolæ Familiares_, as published by himself in 1674, and
reprinted in the collected editions of his works. By a curious chance,
however, a MS. copy of it exists in Milton's own hand--either a draft
which Milton kept at the time, or perhaps the actual copy sent to Dati.
It is one of some valuable Milton documents in the possession of Mr. John
Fitchett Marsh of Warrington, who has described it in his _Milton
Papers_, printed for the Chetham Society in 1851, and given there a
fac-simile of the beginning and end of it. There is a copy of this fac-
simile in Mr. Sotheby's _Milton Ramblings_ (p. 122). Mr. Marsh, who
is inclined to think that the MS. is the actual letter as it reached
Dati, has favoured me with an exact list of some verbal variations in it
from the printed copy. They are slight, but rather confirm the idea that
the printed copy is from the draft which Milton kept and that the MS. was
the transcript actually dispatched to Italy. Thus, while the printed copy
is headed merely "_Carolo Dato, Patricio Florentino_," the MS. is
headed "Carolo Dato, Patricio Florentino, Joannes Miltonius, Londinensis,
S.P.D." Again, at the close, instead of the printed dating "_Londino,
Aprilis 21, 1647_," the MS. presents the dating "_Londini: Pascatis
feria tertia, MDCXLVII_," ("London: the third feast day of Easter,
1647.") On this Mr. Marsh, in a note to me, remarks ingeniously, "Dating
from the feast-day, according to the Roman Catholic usage, in writing to
an Italian friend, indicates a tolerance and politeness worth noticing."
Easter in 1647 fell on Sunday, April 18, so that the third day, or
Easter-Tuesday, was April 20. The printed copy is dated a day later.]

There are passages in this letter which we can interpret now better than
Dati can have done then. The sentences in which Milton speaks of his hard
fate in being tied by accident or law to the constant companionship of
people with whom he had no sympathy, while those whom he really cared for
were distant or dead, may have been read by Dati with only a vague
general construction of their meaning, and perhaps would not have been
written by Milton to any one capable of a more exact construction from
knowledge of the circumstances. We can now discern in them, however, a
reference by Milton to his domestic troubles, to the worry brought on him
by the whole Powell connexion, and perhaps also to the recent loss of his
father. Altogether the letter is a melancholy one. One sees Milton, as he
wrote it in Barbican in the spring of 1647, the gloomy master of an
uncomfortable household.


Yet precisely this spring of 1647, if we are to believe his nephew
Phillips, was Milton's busiest time with his pupils. "And now," says
Phillips, after mentioning the death of Milton's father, and the
departure at last of the Powell kindred from the house in Barbican, "the
house looked again like a house of the Muses only, though the accession
of scholars was not great. Possibly his proceeding thus far in the
education of youth may have been the occasion of some of his adversaries
calling him Pedagogue and Schoolmaster; whereas it is well known he never
set up for a public school to teach all the young fry of a parish, but
only was willing to impart his learning and knowledge to relations, and
the sons of some gentlemen that were his intimate friends, besides that
neither his converse, nor his writings, nor his manner of teaching ever
savoured in the least anything of pedantry; and probably he might have
some prospect of putting in practice his academical institution,
according to the model laid down in his sheet Of Education!" Taking this
passage in connexion with prior passages already quoted from the same
memoir, we are to conclude that, though Milton's practice in teaching had
begun as far back as 1639-40, when he gave lessons to his two nephews in
his lodgings in St. Bride's Churchyard, and although the practice had
been kept up all through the time of his residence in Aldersgate Street,
when his nephews boarded with him and other pupils were gradually added
(1640-45), yet it was in the Barbican house, and there more especially in
1647, that his employment in pedagogy was most engrossing. The house had
been taken expressly that there might be accommodation for additional
pupils, and such pupils had come in--not in any considerable number, nor
yet miscellaneously from the neighbourhood, but rather by way of favour
on Milton's part to select boys whose parents knew him well, and were
anxious that they should have the benefit of his instructions.

As to Milton's theories and methods of education we are already
sufficiently informed. This may be the place, however, for a list of
those who can be ascertained to have had the honour of being his pupils.
Perhaps that honour may have been shared by as many as twenty or thirty
youths in all, afterwards distributed through English society in the
seventeenth century, and some of them living even into the eighteenth;
but I have been able to recover only the following:--[Footnote: It is to
be understood that Milton may have continued the practice of pedagogy, in
individual cases at least, after the Barbican period of its fullest
force, and hence that one or two of the pupils in my present list may not
have been in the Barbican house, but may be strays afterwards undertaken
by him, on special request, in those later days and those other houses
into which we have yet to follow him. As it is not worth while, however,
to break up such a list, I present all Milton's known pupils, of whatever
date, in one cluster.]

EDWARD PHILLIPS (the elder nephew):--Not ten years old when he first
received lessons from Milton in the St. Bride's Churchyard lodging, this
elder nephew, after five years of board in Aldersgate Street, and about a
year and a half in Barbican, had reached his seventeenth year. He had
received the full benefit so far of his uncle's method of teaching; and,
if he were to go to the University, it was about time that he should be
preparing. About two years after our present date, or in March 1648-9, by
whatever management of his uncle, or of his mother and step-father, Mrs.
and Mr. Agar, he did enrol himself in Magdalen Hall, Oxford. The rest of
his life will concern us hereafter. [Footnote: Wood's Ath., IV. 760, and
Godwin's Lives of the Phillipses, p. 12.]

JOHN PHILLIPS (the younger nephew):--This nameson of Milton's, first
committed to his entire charge in the St. Bride's Churchyard lodging, had
been as long under training as his elder brother, and had now reached his
sixteenth year. He was to remain a more unmixed example of his uncle's
training, for he never went to any University. He also will reappear in
the subsequent course of his uncle's life. [Footnote: Wood's Ath., IV.
764, and Godwin.]

RICHARD HEATH, OR HETH:--That a person of this name was among Milton's
pupils, rests on the evidence of one of Milton's own _Epistolæ
Familiares_, dated Dec. 1652, and addressed "Richardo Hetho." As he
was then a minister of the Gospel somewhere, it is to be inferred that he
was one of the earliest pupils of the Aldersgate Street days. I have not
been able to identify him farther.

----PACKER:--"Mr. Packer, who was his scholar," is one of Aubrey's
Jottings about Milton, written in 1680 or thereabouts. This is a very
insufficient clue. A John Packer, who had taken the degree of Doctor of
Physic at Padua, was incorporated in the same degree at Oxford, Feb. 19,
1656-7. [Footnote: Aubrey's Notes on Milton's Life (Godwin's reprint, p.
349); Wood's Fasti, II. 196.]

CYRIACK SKINNER:--He was the third son of William Skinner, a Lincolnshire
squire (son and heir of Sir Vincent Skinner, Knt., of Thornton College,
co. Lincoln) who had married Bridget Coke, second daughter of the famous
lawyer and judge, Sir Edward Coke. As his father died in 1627, Cyriack
must have been at least twenty years of age in 1647: he had, therefore,
been one of the Aldersgate Street pupils. The fact that he was a grandson
of the great Coke was one of his distinctions through life; but he was to
become of some note in London society on his own' account. The connexion
formed between him and Milton continued, as we shall find, unbroken and
affectionate through future years. Indeed, there came to be associations,
presumably through Cyriack, between Milton and other persons of the name
of Skinner. A Daniel Skinner, and a Thomas Skinner, presumably relatives
of Cyriack's, are heard of as merchants in Mark Lane, London, from 1651
onwards. This Daniel Skinner, merchant, had a son, Daniel Skinner,
junior, whose acquaintance with Milton in the end of his life led to
curious and important results. Care must be taken, even now, not to
confound this far future Daniel Skinner, junior (not born till about
1650), with our present Cyriack, his senior, and probable kinsman.
[Footnote: Aubrey's Notes; Wood's Ath., III. 1119; Skinner's Pedigree in
Introd. to Bishop Sumner's Translation of Milton's Treatise on Christian
Doctrine (1825); Hamilton's Milton Papers, 29 _et seq._ and 131-2. Wood
(Fasti, I. 486) has confounded Cyriack Skinner in one particular with the
much later Daniel Skinner junior, and the mistake has been kept up.]

HENRY LAURENCE:--There is no positive attestation, as in the other cases,
that this person, certainly intimate with Milton in subsequent years,
began acquaintance with him as one of his pupils. The presumption is so
strong, however, that I risk including him. He was the second son of
Henry Laurence, of St. Ives, Hunts, member for Westmoreland in the Long
Parliament, known in 1647 as a thoughtful man, and author of "A Treatise
of our Communion and War with Angels," and afterwards a staunch
Oliverian, President of Cromwell's Council (1654), and one of his Lords
(1657). He had an elder son, Edward, who was fourteen years of age in
1647, and died in 1657, when Henry became the heir. Therefore, if we are
right in supposing Henry to have been Milton's pupil in the Barbican, he
cannot have been older than twelve or thirteen at the time. [Footnote:
Wood's Ath., IV. 63, 64; note by Bliss.]

SIR THOMAS GARDINER, OF ESSEX:--That a person of this name was among
Milton's pupils in the Barbican, either with the title already, or having
it to come to him, seems to be implied in a statement of Wood, quoted in
the next paragraph.

RICHARD BARRY, 2ND EARL OF BARRIMORE:--"To this end that he might put it
in practice," says Wood, after describing Milton's system of education as
explained in his Letter to Hartlib, "he took a larger house, where the
Earl of Barrimore sent by his aunt the Lady Ranelagh, Sir Thomas Gardiner
of Essex, to be there with others (besides his two nephews) under his
tuition." [Footnote: Wood's Fasti (edit. by Bliss), I. 483. The sentence
is exactly in the same form in earlier editions.] The pointing and
structure of the sentence make it obscure; but I take the meaning to be
that Wood had heard of two of Milton's pupils in the Barbican house
specially worth naming on account of their rank--the Earl of Barrimore
and Sir Thomas Gardiner--and that he had also been informed that it was
the Earl of Barrimore's aunt, the Lady Ranelagh, that had placed that
young Irish nobleman under Milton's charge. The full significance of this
was clear when Wood wrote, for Lady Ranelagh was then still alive, and
known as one of the most remarkable women of her century; but readers now
may need to be informed who Lady Ranelagh was.--Her husband was Arthur
Jones, 2nd Viscount Ranelagh in the Irish peerage; but that was not her
chief distinction. By birth she was a Boyle, one of the daughters of that
Richard Boyle, an Englishman of Kent, who, having gone over to Ireland in
1588, had risen there, by his prudence and integrity through three
reigns, to be successively Sir Richard Boyle, Lord Boyle of Youghall,
Viscount Dungarvan, and Earl of Cork, with the office of Lord High
Treasurer of Ireland, and with vast estates both in Ireland and England.
This great Earl, dying in good old age in 1643, after some final service
against the Irish Rebellion, left four sons mid six daughters surviving
out of a total family of fifteen. The eldest surviving son, Richard, till
then Viscount Dungarvan, succeeded to the Earldom of Cork, and was
afterwards created Lord Clifford of Lanesborough (1644) and Earl of
Burlington (1664) in the English peerage; the second, Roger, created
Baron Broghill in his father's lifetime, bore that title till the
Restoration, with a high character for wisdom and literary talent, which
he maintained afterwards as Earl of Orrery; the next, Francis, after
giving proof of his Royalism both in England and in exile, received a
place with his brothers in the Irish peerage as Viscount Shannon; and the
fourth and youngest, born Jan. 25, 1626-7, was called to the end of his
days merely "The Hon. Mr. Robert Boyle," but became the most famous of
them all as "the divine philosopher," and founder of English Chemistry.
So also, among the daughters, though all were "ladies of great piety and
virtue and an ornament to their sex," one was the paragon. This was
Catharine, Viscountess Ranelagh, born March 22, 1614-15, or twelve years
before her brother Robert. Of her reputation for "vast reach both of
knowledge and apprehension," "universal affability," and liberality both
of mind and of purse, there is the most glowing tradition, interspersed
with facts and anecdotes; and the singularly strong mutual affection that
subsisted between her and her brother Robert till the close of their
lives runs like a silver thread through that philosopher's biography. At
our present date she was yet a young woman, but her influence among the
members of her family was already recognised. Since the Irish Rebellion
the fixed residence of herself and her husband had been in (Pall Mall?)
London. Here her relatives from Ireland and elsewhere gathered round her;
and here in 1644 her youngest brother, the future chemist, turning up
brown and penniless, a foreign-looking lad of eighteen, after his six
years of travel abroad, had been received with open arms. He had remained
in her house about five months, and then had retired to his estate of
Stalbridge in Dorsetshire, where he continued mainly till 1650,
corresponding with her from amid his speculative studies and his
apparatus for chemical experiments.--One other service, if Anthony Wood's
information is correct, Lady Ranelagh must have rendered about the same
time to another member of her family. Most of her sisters had married
into noble English or Irish houses; but the eldest of them, Alice, Lady
Barrimore, had been left a widow with three young children by the death
of her husband, David, first Earl of Barrimore. This death had occurred
before that of her father the great Earl of Cork, and in that Earl's
will, dated Nov. 24, 1642, he had shown his concern for this unexpected
widowhood of his eldest daughter by special bequests to her three
children. Two of them, being daughters, were to receive 1,000_l._
apiece; and for the behoof of the only son there was this provision: "For
that I have ever cordially desired the restitution and recovery of the
Earl of Barrimore's noble and anciently honourable house, that his
posterity may raise the same to its former lustre and greatness again,
and in regard that in my judgment there is no way so likely and probable
(God blessing it) to redeem and bring home the encumbered and disjointed
estate of the said Earl, and his house and posterity, as by giving a
noble, virtuous, and religious education to the said now young Earl, my
grandchild, who, by good and honourable breeding, may (by God's grace)
either by the favour of the prince, or by his service to the King and
country, or a good marriage, redeem and bring home that ancient and
honourable house, which upon the marriage of my daughter unto the late
Earl I did with my own money freely clear: I do hereby, for his
lordship's better maintenance and accommodation in the premises, bequeath
unto my said grandchild, Richard, now Earl of Barrimore, from the time of
my decease, for, during, and until he shall attain the full age of 22
years, one yearly annuity of 200_l._" This was the boy who, a year
or two afterwards, was sent to Milton's in the Barbican for tuition. His
aunt Ranelagh had heard of Milton, or had come to know him personally;
and she thought he was the very man to give the boy the training which
his wise grandfather had desired for him.--There will be proof in time
that Lady Ranelagh did know Milton well, saw him often, and entertained a
high regard for him, which he reciprocated. Meanwhile we may anticipate
so far as to say that she was not content with having obtained Milton's
instructions for her nephew, the Earl of Barrimore, but secured them also
for her only son, Richard Jones, afterwards third Viscount and first Earl
of Ranelagh. This nobleman, who lived to as late as 1712 with
considerable distinction of various kinds, and on the site of whose last
house at Chelsea Ranelagh Gardens were established, is also to be
reckoned, we shall find, in the list of Milton's pupils. It is just
possible he may have begun his lessons, with his cousin Barrimore, in the
Barbican house; but, as he was but seven years of age in 1647, this is
hardly probable. [Footnote: Birch's Life of Robert Boyle, prefixed to the
1714 edition of Boyle's Works in five volumes folio (pp. 1-20); Collins's
Peerage by Brydges, VII. 134 _et seq. (Boyle, Lord Boyle)_, and VI.
l84; Irish Compendium or Rudiments of Honour (1756), for Barrimore
family, Debrett's Peerage, for Ranelagh family; Worthington's Diary, by
Crossley, I, 164-7; Cunningham's Handbook of London, 373 and 418;
Phillips' Memoir of Milton; and four letters "_Nobili Adolescenti
Richardo Jonslo_" in Milton's _Epistolæ Familiares._]


There may be something in Phillips's guess that his uncle, about 1647,
had some idea of putting in practice his system of Pedagogy on a larger
scale than a mere private house permitted, by becoming the head of some
such public Academy as that which he had described three years before in
his Letter to Hartlib.

The question of a Reform of the apparatus for national Education had
never quite vanished from the public mind even in the midst of the
engrossing struggle between the Presbyterians and the Independents, and a
fresh interest was imparted to the subject by the Ordinance of Parliament
in May 1647 for a Visitation and Purgation of the University of Oxford
(_antè_, pp. 545-6). Hartlib, for one, was again on the top of the
wave. The claims of this indefatigable man to some reward for his long
and various services had at length been brought before Parliament. On the
25th of June, 1646, on the report of a Committee, the House of Commons
had voted him 100_l._ and in April 1647 the two Houses farther
agreed in a resolution to pay him 300_l._ "in consideration of his
good deserts and great services to the Parliament," with a recommendation
that, on account of his special merits "from all that are well-wishers to
the advancement of learning," he should be provided with some post of
emolument at Oxford. [Footnote: Commons Journals of June 25, 1646, and
March 31, 1647; and Lords Journals of April 1, 1647.] Nothing came of the
last suggestion, and Hartlib lived on in London as before, still only
ventilating his ideas of Educational Reform in a general way, amid the
other novelties of all sorts which he patronized.

Hartlib's hero-in-chief on the Educational subject, the great Comenius,
though doubtless remembered, had practically gone out of view. Labouring
at Elbing on that piece of mere drudgery for which Oxenstiern and others
had persuaded him to lay aside his Pansophic dreams (_antè_, p.
228), he had indeed compiled, in four years, a large recast of his Latin
Didactics under the title of _Novissima Linguarum Methodus_, and had
returned to Sweden in 1646 to present the mass of manuscript to his
employer Ludovicus de Geer. The Swedish critics do not seem to have yet
been satisfied with the performance, and Comenius had carried it away
with him again for corrections and additions, not any longer in Elbing,
but in his old Polish home. [Footnote: Comenius's Preface to the Second
Part of his _Opera Didactica_, between 1627 and 1657.] No chance for
Hartlib, then, of co-operating again with Comenius in the foundation of a
Pansophic College in London! Hartlib's faculty of making new
acquaintances, however, was as versatile as his passion for new lights;
and a certain "_Invisible College_" which had already some habitat
in London, had become the substitute in his fancies for the unbuilt
Pansophic Temple of the distant Slavonian sage. Since 1645 there had been
held, sometimes in Wood Street, sometimes in Cheapside, and sometimes in
Gresham College, those humble weekly meetings of a few "worthy persons
inquisitive into Natural Philosophy," out of which there grew at length
the great Royal Society of London. Theodore Haak, a naturalized German,
had originated the club; and among the first members were Dr. John Wallis
(the clerk of the Westminster Assembly, but with other things in his head
than what went on there), the afterwards famous Wilkins, and the
physician Dr. Jonathan Goddard. If Hartlib, the fellow-countryman and
friend of Haak, was not an original member, he knew of the meetings from
the first; and the _Invisible College_ of his imagination seems to
have been that enlarged future association of all earnest spirits for the
prosecution of real and fruitful knowledge of which this club might be
the symbol and promise. The _Invisible College_, at all events, was
the temporary form of his ever-varying, and yet indestructible, zeal for
progress. It figures much in his correspondence at this time with one new
friend, who, though not more than twenty years of age, had that in him
which made his friendship as precious to Hartlib as any he had yet
formed. This was young Robert Boyle, recently returned to England from
his foreign travels, and dividing his time between philosophical
retirement at his house in Dorsetshire and occasional visits to London.
In a letter to a Cambridge friend written in Feb. 1646-7, during one of
those London visits, Boyle says: "I have been every day these two months
upon visiting my own ruined cottage in the country; but it is such a
labyrinth, this London, that all my diligence could never yet find my way
out on't.... The cornerstones of the _Invisible_, or, as they term
themselves, _Philosophical College_, do now and then honour me with
their company, which makes me as sorry for those pressing occasions that
urge my departure as I am at other times angry with that solicitous
idleness that I am necessitated to during my stay: men of so capacious
and searching spirits that school-philosophy is but the lowest region of
their knowledge, and yet, though ambitious to lead the way to any
generous design, of so humble and teachable a genius as they disdain not
to be directed by the meanest, so he can but plead reason for his
opinion,--persons that endeavour to put narrowmindedness out of
countenance, by the practice of so extensive a charity that it reaches
unto everything called man, and nothing less than an universal goodwill
can content it. ... I will conclude their praises with the recital of
their chiefest fault, which is very incident to almost all good things;
and that is that there is not enough of them." The first extant letters
of Boyle to Hartlib were written from his Dorsetshire retreat immediately
after this visit to London, and are in reply to letters received there
from Hartlib. A new system of Real characters or Universal Writing;
Pneumatical Engines or Wind-guns; Mr. Durie, his Church-conciliation
Scheme, and a Discourse on the Teaching of Logic he had brought out; the
ingenious Utopian Speculations of a certain young Mr. Hall; the
Copernican Astronomy (to which Mr. Boyle was "once very much inclined");
the French mathematicians, Mersenne and Gassendi; Oughtred's _Clavis
Mathematica_; a Cure for the Stone suggested by Hartlib, or rather by
Mrs. Hartlib: such are some of the topics of the correspondence, but with
the _Invisible College_ irradiating all. Thus, May 8, 1647, Boyle,
writing to Mr. Hartlib, to congratulate him on the 300_l._ he had
been voted by Parliament, says: "You interest yourself so much in the
_Invisible College_, and that whole society is so highly concerned
in all the accidents of your life, that you can send me no intelligence
of your own affairs that does not, at least relationally, assume the
nature of Utopian." In the same letter Boyle expresses his anxiety to
have a copy of a pamphlet of Hartlib's which had just appeared. He names
it rather vaguely; but I have ascertained it to be "_A Briefe Discourse
concerning the Accomplishment of our Reformation: tending to shew that by
an Office of Publicke Address in spirituall and temporall matters the
Glory of God and the Happiness of this Nation may be greatly
advanced._" It consisted of a preface, addressed by Hartlib to
Parliament, and 59 pages of text, explaining the said Office of Public
Address to be a kind of universal Register House "whereunto all men might
freely come to give information of the commodities they have to be
imparted to others." The pamphlet was out in May 1647. [Footnote: Birch's
Life of Boyle, pp. 20-25; Worthington's Diary by Crossley, 1. 313; and
copy of Hartlib's pamphlet in the British Museum, with MS. note of date
of publication.]

While Hartlib was writing on all things and sundry to young Boyle, the
Education subject included, there was another new acquaintance of his,
only three years older than Boyle, with whom he seems to have been
discussing the Education subject more expressly. William Petty,
afterwards so famous as "the universal genius, Sir William Petty," had
returned from France at the age of twenty-three. The considerable stock
of knowledge which he had taken abroad with him when he left his native
Hampshire, eight years before, a pushing boy of fifteen, had been
increased by his studies at foreign Universities, his readings with
Hobbes in Paris, his commercial dealings, and his inquisitiveness into
the processes of all trades and handicrafts by which men earn their
livings. He came back a tall, slender youth, with a very large head, to
be spoken of in London as an encyclopædia of information, a wonderful
mathematician and mechanician, teeming with schemes of all sorts, and yet
shrewd, practical, and business-like. He was an invaluable addition to
the Invisible College, and a delightful discovery for Hartlib; and he
took to Hartlib at once, as every one else did. What occupied him
especially at the moment was a machine for double writing, _i.e._
for making two copies of any writing at once. He hoped to obtain a patent
for this invention from Parliament; and such a patent, for seventeen
years, he did obtain in March 1647-8. While the thing was in progress,
however, Hartlib was his chief confidant. This appears from a tract of
his, of 26 pages, published Jan. 8, 1647-8, and entitled "_The Advice
of W. P. to Mr. Samuel Hartlib for the advancement of some particular
parts of Learning._" The invention for double writing is described in
the tract, but it also sets forth Petty's ideas on Hartlib's favourite
subject of a Reformation of Schools. In fact, in any collection of
seventeenth-century tracts on that subject, it ought to be bound up with
Hartlib's own older tracts in exposition of Comenius, and with the Letter
on Education which Hartlib had elicited from Milton in 1644. Petty's
notions, as may be supposed, differ considerably from Milton's. He is for
a universal education in what he calls _Ergastula Literaria_ or
Literary Workhouses, "where children may be taught as well to do
something toward their living as to read and write;" and, though he does
not undervalue reading and writing, or book-culture generally, he lays
the stress rather on mathematical and physical science, manual dexterity,
and acquaintance with useful arts and inventions. Besides reading and
writing, he would have all children taught drawing and designing; he
would rather discourage the learning of languages, both because people
may have all the books they want in their mother-tongue, and because the
use of real characters, or an ideographic system of writing, would lessen
the necessity of knowing foreign tongues; but, so far as languages might
have to be learnt, their acquisition, as well as that of the simple arts
of reading and writing, might be much facilitated by improved methods. In
short, in Petty's project of Education, with much of the same general
spirit of innovation, utilitarianism, contempt of tradition, as in
Milton's, there is a characteristic difference of detail and even of
principle. You are to be made expert in "graving, etching, carving,
embossing, and moulding in sundry matters," in "grinding of glasses
dioptrical and catoptrical," in "navarchy and making models for building
and rigging of ships," in "anatomy, making skeletons, and excarnating
bowels;" but you miss all that Milton would have taught you of Latin and
Greek, Poetry and Philosophy, Italian and Hebrew, moral magnanimity and
spiritual elevation, the History of Nations, and the ways of God to men.
[Footnote: Wood's Ath., IV. 214; Worthington's Diary by Crossley, I. 294-
8; and Pett's own Tract. On its title-page are the words "London: Printed
anno Dom 1648;" but a copy in the British Museum bears the MS. note
"London, 8 January, 1647-8."]


It would have been no surprise if Milton, on the skirts of the Invisible
College as he was, and in sympathy with many of their aims, had exerted
himself about this time in setting up a great Academy for young
gentlemen, embodying some of the new utilitarian fancies even to the
satisfaction of Petty, but fulfilling also his own higher ideal. He was
peculiarly fond of Pedagogy; and his notion of an institution combining
the School with the University, and so tending to the abolition of
Universities, seems to have been coming more and more into favour.

Not only, however, did Milton abandon the experiment of which Phillips
thinks there was then some prospect; but, precisely in 1647, he broke up
his actual pedagogic establishment in Barbican, and went into a new
house, where he either ceased to teach altogether, or had no pupils
remaining but his two nephews. What may have been his reasons for the
step we do not know; but it is not unlikely that the change of his
circumstances by his father's death had something to do with it. No will
of the ex-scrivener having been found, it is not known what property he
left; but there is reason to believe that he left something considerable,
and that, whatever it was, it came more completely to the two sons, and
their sister Mrs. Agar, than while the old man lived. [Footnote: We may
remember here Phillips's and Aubrey's hints as to the scrivener's
prosperity in business. Phillips's information is that he "gained a
competent estate, whereby he was enabled to make a handsome provision
both for the education and maintenance of his children;" and he adds such
particulars as that his mother, Mrs. Phillips, "had a considerable dowry
given her" on her first marriage, and that the lease of the scrivener's
house in Bread Street--the Spread Eagle, where he had carried on his
business, and where his children had been born (or at least of some house
in that street)--became in time part of the poet's estate. Aubrey
distinctly reckons the Spread Eagle house as the scrivener's property,
besides another house in the same street called The Rose," and other
houses in other places." Christopher Milton, as we know, owned a house in
London called the Cross Keys, worth 40_l._ a year, while his father
was alive.] At all events, the fact of Milton's change of residence
within a few months after his father's death is certified by Phillips.
"It was not long," says Phillips, "after the march of Fairfax and
Cromwell through the City of London, with the whole Army, to quell the
insurrections Browne and Massey, now malcontents also, were endeavouring
to raise in the City against the Army's proceedings, ere he left his
great house in Barbican, and betook himself to a smaller in High Holborn,
among those that open backward into Lincoln's-Inn Fields." The date of
that famous march of the Army through London, to tame the tumultuous
Presbyterianism of the City, rescue Parliament from its domination, and
compel a policy more favourable to Independency and Toleration, was
August 6 and 7, 1647 (see _antè,_ pp. 553-4). Milton's removal from
Barbican may be assigned, therefore, to September or October in the same

Change we, then, from those eastern purlieus of Aldersgate Street and
Barbican, where we have been observing Milton for seven years, to a scene
farther west, more within the cognisance of Londoners generally, and
nearer to those two Houses of Parliament which the Army had rescued for
the time from Presbyterian leadership within and Presbyterian mob-law
without. Holborn was not then the dense continuity of houses it is now;
there were more spaces in it of gardens and greenery, and the houses had
not crept as far as Oxford Street; but it was, as now, the familiar
thoroughfare of relief from the narrower and noisier Fleet Street and
Strand, and the part of it which Milton had chosen was the most
convenient. The actual house which he took may be still extant, wedged
somewhere in the labyrinthine block between Great Turnstile and Little
Turnstile; but one could judge but poorly from present appearances how
pleasant may have been its old outlook to the rear. The fine open area of
Lincoln's-Inn Fields was then only partly built round, and was used as a
lounge and bowling-green by the lawyers and citizens. The houses in the
neighbourhood were mostly new ones. [Footnote: Cunningham's London:
_Holborn_ and _Lincoln's-Inn Fields_.]


When Milton removed to High Holborn, with his wife, their infant
daughter, and the two nephews, the King was in the third and least
disagreeable stage of his captivity. His detention with the Scots at
Newcastle, and his subsequent residence under Parliamentary custody at
Holmby House, were affairs of the Barbican period; and, by Joyce's act of
the previous June, his Majesty had been for some months in the keeping of
the Army, very generously treated, and permitted at last to reside, with
much of restored state-ceremony, at his own palace of Hampton Court.
Fairfax, Cromwell, Ireton, and the other Army-chiefs, from their head-
quarters at Putney, were negotiating with him; and, the march of the Army
through London having disabled the ultra-Presbyterians for the moment and
transferred the ascendancy to the Independents, people were looking
forward to a settlement on the basis of an established Presbyterian
Church for the nation at large, but with liberty of conscience and of
worship for Dissenters. For Milton, among others, this was a pleasant
prospect. His sympathies, nay his personal interests, were wholly with
the Independents; all that the Army had done had his approbation; and,
whatever he might have had to say now (with the strong new lights he had
obtained since 1641) as to the propriety of a Presbyterian Establishment
on its own merits, he was probably prepared to accept such an
Establishment, if with a sufficient guarantee of Toleration. Now,
although he cannot have retained, more than other people, any strong
confidence in Charles personally, any real hope of his voluntary and
unreserved assent to a system of kingly government limited by great
constitutional checks, yet a Treaty with Charles by the Independents
rather than the Presbyterians must have seemed to him the most feasible
way of reaching the end in view. Hence, while the King was at Hampton
Court, and the Army-chiefs, with Cromwell most prominent among them, were
plying his royal mind with arguments to bring him round, there can have
been no private person more interested in their endeavours, more willing
to believe them in the right, than Milton. Hardly had he been settled in
his new house in High Holborn, however, when there came the snap of all
those negotiations by the King's flight from Hampton Court to the Isle of
Wight (Nov. 11, 1647). Then, I conceive, Milton's mood changed, in exact
unison with the change of mood at the same time among the Army-chiefs and
other leading Independents. For a month or two, indeed, there may have
been some interest, some faint prolongation of hope, in attending to the
proceedings of Parliament in pursuit of the King, and their attempt to
obtain his assent to the Four Bills. But, from the moment when that
attempt failed, and the two Houses passed their indignant resolutions
that there should be no more communications with the King (Jan. 1647-8),
all hesitation must have ceased. From that moment Milton was a Republican
at heart. From that moment he was one of those who, with Vane, Marten,
Cromwell, Ireton, and the Army officers generally, had forsworn all
future allegiance to the Man in the Isle of Wight, and looked forward,
through whatever intermediate difficulties, to his deposition and
punishment, and the conversion of England iinto some kind of free
Commonwealth. In such a matter, it could not, of course, be expected that
a private citizen like Milton, who had no ambition to rank with Lilburne
and other London Levellers of the coarser order, would anticipate
Cromwell, Vane, and Ireton. He expressly says himself that, though he had
been so prominent as a speculative politician, had made certain great
questions of the time more peculiarly his own, had written largely on
them and publicly identified his name with them, yet he had not hitherto
taken any direct part in the immediate practical question of the future
constitution of the State, but had left it to the appointed authorities
[Footnote: _Df. Sec. pro Pop. Angl._, published in 1654]. Not the
less are we to imagine that the time of his residence in High Holborn,
while the King was a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, was the time when
those high and semi-poetic Republican sentiments which seem always to
have been congenial to him, and which his classic readings may have
nurtured, took a definite shape applicable to England. From the end of
1647, I should say, Milton has to be reckoned as a foremost spirit in the
band of expectant English Republicans.

Whether the issue was to be a Republic or not was a question which Milton
had to leave in the hands of the Army and Parliament. While they were
slowly working it out, what could he do but occupy himself, as patiently
as possible, with his books and studies? There is evidence, accordingly,
that three pieces of work, already begun or projected by him in
Aldersgate Street or Barbican, were prosecuted with some increased
diligence in his house in High Holborn. One of these was the collection
of materials for a _Thesaurus Linguæ Latinæ_, or _Latin Dictionary_,
which he hoped some time to complete. Another was the composition of a
_History of England_, or _History of Britain_, from the earliest times to
the Norman Conquest:--nay, though that was the form it ultimately took,
the original project was nothing less than Hume anticipated, or a
complete _History of England_, brought down in a continuous thread from
the remotest origins of the nation to Milton's own time. The third was
the long-meditated _Body of Divinity_, or _Methodical Digest of Christian
Doctrine_. Here, surely, were three huge enough tasks of sheer hackwork
hung round the neck of a poet! Milton's liking all his life for such
labours of compilation, however, is as remarkable as his liking for
pedagogy. Nor, though we may regard the tasks as hackwork now, were they
so regarded by Milton. To amass gradually by readings in the Latin
classics a collection of idioms and choice references, with a view to a
Dictionary that should be an improvement even on that of Stephanus, was a
side-labour to which a scholar, who was also a poet, might well dedicate
a bit of each day or a week or two at intervals. To write a complete
History of England, or even to compile, from Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bede,
and the old chroniclers, a popular summary of the early legendary History
of Britain, and of the History of the Saxon Kings and Church, was a
blending of daily recreation with useful labour. Above all, the
compilation of a System of Divinity was no mere dry drudgery for Milton,
but a business of serious personal interest. From an early date he had
resolved on some such compendium for his own use; he had ever since kept
it in view and made notes for it; but his notions of the form it should
take had undergone a change. "I entered," he says, "upon an assiduous
course of study in my youth, beginning with the books of the Old and New
Testament in their original languages, and going diligently through a few
of the shorter Systems of Divines, in imitation of whom I was in the
habit of classing under certain heads whatever passages of Scripture
occurred for extraction, to be made use of hereafter as occasion might
require. At length I resorted with increased confidence to some of the
more copious Theological Treatises, and to the examination of the
arguments advanced by the conflicting parties respecting certain disputed
points of faith." Apparently he was still in this stage of his design in
the Aldersgate period; for then, as we have seen (_antè_, pp. 254-5), one
of his exercises with his pupils on Sundays was the dictation to them of
a Tractate on Christian Divinity digested from such approved Protestant
Divines as Amesius and Wollebius. But this method, he tells us, had
ceased to satisfy him. Often he had found the theologians quibbling and
sophistical, more anxious to "evade adverse reasonings" and establish
foregone conclusions than to arrive at the truth. "According to my
judgment, therefore," he adds, "neither my creed nor my hope of salvation
could be safely trusted to such guides; and yet it appeared highly
requisite to possess some methodical Tractate of Christian Doctrine, or
at least to attempt such a disquisition as might be useful in
establishing my faith or assisting my memory. I deemed it therefore
safest and most advisable to compile for myself, by my own labour and
study, some original treatise which should be always at hand, derived
solely from the Word of God itself, and executed with all possible
fidelity, seeing I could have no wish to practise any imposition on
myself in such a matter." In all probability the preparations for the
work on this new plan began in the house in High Holborn. For some years
England had been in such a state of theological ferment that it was
impossible not to inquire how much of the traditional Orthodoxy had real
warrant in the Bible and how much was mere matter of inveterate opinion;
in one important particular Milton, to his own surprise, had found
himself standing out publicly as the champion of what was thought a
horrible heresy; might it not be well to go over the whole ground, and
fix one's whole Christian creed so as to be able to give an account of
it, when called upon, in every other particular? The Westminster
Assembly, like other Assemblies before it, had laboured out a Confession
of Faith which it wished to impose on the entire community; but, as "it
was only to the individual faith of each man that God had opened up the
way of eternal salvation," was it not the duty of every Englishman to
examine that Confession before accepting it as his own, or even to
compile his own private Confession first and let the comparison follow at
leisure? [Footnote: Phillips's Memoir at several points; Milton's _Def.
Sec_.; and Preface to his posthumous "Treatise on Christian Doctrine"
(Sumner's Translation, 1825). Phillips mentions expressly the _History of
England_ as occupying Milton in High Holborn; but the most interesting
allusion to it is Milton's own in his _Def. Sec._, where the words are
"Ad historiam gentis, ab ultimâ origine repetitam, ad hæc usque tempora,
si possem, perpetuo filo deduoendam, me converti."]


Alas! Milton, busy with these occupations in his room looking out upon
Lincoln's-Inn Fields, could not shut out the continued hue and cry after
him on account of his Divorce heresy. It was more than two years since
his wife had returned to him; he had then closed the controversy so far
as it was a personal one; he was now respectably in routine, as a married
man with one child. But the world round about, more especially the
clerical part of it, had not forgiven him his Divorce Pamphlets. Were
they not still in circulation, doing infinite harm? Had not their
infamous doctrine become one of the heresies of the age, counting other
unblushing exponents, and not a few practical adherents? Keep silence as
he now might, move as he might from Aldersgate Street to Barbican and
from Barbican to High Holborn, would not his dark reputation dog him, sit
at his doorstep, and gaze in at his windows? Actually it did. The series
of attacks on Milton for his Divorce Doctrine, begun by Herbert Palmer
and other mouthpieces of the Westminster Assembly in 1644, and continued
in that and subsequent years by the Stationers' Company, Featley, Paget,
Prynne, Edwards, Baillie, and others, had not ceased at the close of
1647. One fresh attack, of some significance in itself, may be instanced
as a sample of the rest.

London, it is to be remembered, was now under Presbyterian Church-
government. In every parish there was the Parochial or Congregational
Court, consisting of the minister and lay-elders, charged with all the
ecclesiastical concerns of the parish, and with the right of spiritual
censure over the parishioners. The parishes were also grouped into
Classes of ministers and lay-elders. At last there had come into
operation even the crowning device of Provincial Synods for all London,
in which representative ministers and elders met to discuss metropolitan
Church affairs generally and to revise the proceedings of Classes and
Congregations. The first of these Provincial Synods, with Dr. Gouge for
Prolocutor, had met in St. Paul's in May 1647, and had continued its
sittings twice a week in Sion College till November 8, 1647, when its
half-year of office expired, and it was succeeded by the Second
Provincial Synod, under the Prolocutorship of Dr. Lazarus Seaman. Now,
had London been perfect in its Presbytery according to the extreme rigour
of the Scottish model, Milton could not possibly have escaped the clutch
of one or other of these Church-judicatories. As a resident in Barbican,
he had been, I think, in the parish of St. Botolph without Aldersgate;
and, when he removed to High Holborn, he came into the parish of St.
Andrew, Holborn. Had the Scottish strictness prevailed in London, the
minister of either of these parishes would have felt himself bound to
bring Milton before the parochial consistory for his Divorce heresy
[Footnote: From Newcourt's _Repertorium_ and Wood's Ath. III. 812, I
learn that the Curate or Vicar of St. Botolph's, Aldersgate, "in the late
rebellious times," was George Hall, a son of Bishop Hall and himself
promoted to the Bishopric of Chester after the Restoration; and the
Rector of St. Andrew's, Holborn, before the civil troubles was Dr. John
Hacket, already well known to us (Vol. II. 225-8), and also afterwards a
Bishop. Both of these, as strenuous Prelatists, must have been
dispossessed from their charges long before the time with which we are
now concerned; and I have not been able to ascertain who were their
Presbyterian successors at this exact date.--There may be some
significance in the fact that the parish minister before whom Milton's
brother Christopher and his father-in-law Mr. Powell performed the
necessary ceremony of taking the Covenant, with a view to their admission
to compound for their Delinquency, was William Barton, minister of John
Zachary (_antè_, p. 485 and p. 634). The parish of St. John Zachary
was one of the parishes of Aldersgate Ward, and the church stood at the
north-west corner of Maiden Lane, till it was burnt down in the Great
Fire of 1666; after which it was not rebuilt, and the parish of St. John
Zachary was united to that of St. Ann in the same ward. Had Milton found
Mr. Barton of John Zachary's a more convenient minister to have dealings
with than other ministers of the Aldersgate Street and Barbican
neighbourhood; and did he attend Mr. Barton's church when he attended
any? If so, and if we are right in identifying this William Barton with
the minister of the same name whose Metrical Version of the Psalms was
preferred by the Lords to Rous's (see _antè_, p. 425), their metrical
sympathies may have had something to do with the connexion.--The fact
that a son of Bishop Hall's was Curate or Vicar of St. Botolph's,
Aldersgate, at the time when the Bishop and another son of his were
attacking Milton for his part in the Smectymnuan controversy, and
speaking of him as then living in a "suburb sink about London," and
collecting gossip about him, was not known to me when I was engaged on
that part of the Biography (Vol. II. p. 390 et seq.); but it may be worth
remembering even now.]; or, if the duty had been neglected, Classis IV.,
to which the parish of St. Botolph belonged, or Classis VIII., to which
the parish of St. Andrew belonged, would have interfered; or, finally, in
the case of so notorious an offender, the Provincial Synod itself would
not have been asleep. True, the censure that could have been inflicted
would only have been spiritual; but, by zealous management, especially if
the culprit were obstinate, such spiritual censure might have led to
farther prosecution by the secular courts. Certainly, if Milton had been
in Scotland, this would have happened. Certainly it would have happened
in London if the English Presbyterians had succeeded in subjecting that
city to the grip of their absolute or ideal Presbytery. But they had not
succeeded, and it was their constant lamentation that they had not.
Though the Presbyterian organization of London had been voted on trial,
the Congregationalist principle still asserted itself in the existence of
many independent congregations and meeting-houses; though sometimes
interfering with the less respectable of these, Parliament and the law-
courts had taken no steps for their general suppression; and, by
belonging to one of them, a Londoner of peculiar opinions might have the
comfort and respectability of being a church-goer like his neighbours,
and yet avoid unpleasant inquisitorship. Then, again, through what the
ultra-Presbyterians regarded as the Erastian backwardness of Parliament,
those offences for which the parochial or other Church-judicatories might
inflict even spiritual censures had been very strictly defined. Only for
certain faults of ignorance or of scandalous life, enumerated and
specified by Act of Parliament, could the Presbyterian Church-
judicatories debar from the communion; in any case lying beyond that
range they could not act without reference to the superior authority of a
great Parliamentary Commission (_antè_, pp. 399, 405, 423). Sore had been
the complaints of the Presbyterians over this limitation of the powers of
Church discipline, as well as over the negligence of Parliament in not
having yet passed such an Act against Heresies and Blasphemies as might
enable the State to use the sterner discipline of fines, imprisonment,
scourging, and hanging, in aid of true Christianity. Even as things were,
however, it may be wondered that some zealot did not try to bring
Milton's case within the powers actually assigned to the Church-courts,
or to push it on the notice of the secular judges in virtue of such Acts
as did exist against Heresy. There was very good reason, however, for not
making the experiment. It had already been tried and bad failed. Twice
had Milton's case been brought before Parliament, and Parliament had
distinctly declined to trouble him. Evidently, whatever the hotter
Presbyterians desired, Milton was safe in the respect entertained for him
personally by some of those who were at the head of affairs, or in an
opinion prevailing in high quarters that the publication of a new
speculation on Divorce was not an offence for which a man otherwise
eminent ought to be questioned at law.

What cannot be done in one way, however, may sometimes be done in
another. Not only was London the central stronghold of English
Presbyterianism; the power of Presbyterianism there centralized was a
kind of Proteus. One of its forms was the Westminster Assembly, a large
nucleus of which consisted of ministers from London and the suburbs;
another, since May 1647, was the London Provincial Synod. But, in aid of
these two bodies, and including many that belonged to both, there was a
third, of vaguer character, in that Sion College conclave which the
London clergy had instituted of their own accord for the concoction of
notions that might take shape in the Assembly or the Synod (_antè_,
p. 394). Now, in December 1647, this Sion College conclave, "since they
could do no more," sent forth a Presbyterian manifesto of some magnitude.
It was "_A Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ, and to our Solemn
League and Covenant; as also against the Errors, Heresies, and
Blasphemies of these times, and the Toleration of them: wherein is
inserted a Catalogue of the said Errors, &c.: subscribed by the Ministers
of Christ within the Province of London, Dec. 14, 1647._"

This Testimony, which was immediately published, [Footnote: London:
Printed by A. M. for Tho. Underhill at the Bible in Wood Street: 1648.]
bore the signatures of 58 London ministers in all, of whom 41 signed to
the whole document, while 17, being members of Assembly, abstained from
signing to those parts that related particularly to the Confession of
Faith and the Directory of Worship, not because they did not thoroughly
approve of those parts, but because they thought themselves precluded, by
constitutional etiquette, from publicly affirming portions of the
Assembly's work which still waited full Parliamentary sanction. All the
58, however, subscribed to that main portion of the Testimony which
consisted in an enumeration, and condemnation of certain "abominable
errors, damnable heresies, and horrid blasphemies." Among the seventeen
members of Assembly so subscribing were Dr. Lazarus Seaman of Allhallows,
Bread Street (Milton's native parish), then Prolocutor of the London
Provincial Synod; Dr. Gouge of Blackfriars, ex-Prolocutor of the same;
Dr. Hoyle of Stepney, Dr. Tuckney, and Messrs. Gataker, Calamy, Ashe and
Case; and among the forty-one others were Samuel Clarke of Benetfink,
Christopher Love of Anne's, Aldersgate, John Downam of Allhallows, Thames
Street, Henry Roborough, one of the scribes of the Assembly and minister
of Leonard's, Eastcheap, and John Wallis, sub-clerk of the Assembly, now
uniting as well as he could the duties of that office and the parish-cure
of Gabriel's, Fenchurch Street, with his mathematical proclivities and
his association with the "physicists" of the Invisible College. And what
were the errors, heresies, and blasphemies, thus publicly certified
against by these London divines and the rest? They were classified with
great punctuality under nineteen heads, each head being subdivided into
specific varieties of error, and the chief heretics under each openly
named. First came Anti-Scripturism, or "Errors against the divine
authority of Holy Scriptures," associated with the names of John Goodwill
and Laurence Clarkson; then, in four heads and their subdivisions, came
Anti-Trinitarianism, or "Errors against the nature and essence of God,
against the Trinity, against the Deity of the Son of God, and against the
Deity and divine worship of the Holy Ghost," the culprits named for chief
condemnation in this department being Biddle and Paul Best; and so on the
catalogue proceeds through various forms of Arminianism, Antinomianism,
Seekerism, Anti-Sabbatarianism, Antipædobaptism, Anabaptism, Materialism
or Mortalism, ending in Tolerationism. Among the Arminians denounced as
notorious are Paul Best again, Paul Hobson, but especially John Goodwin
again, and the Episcopalian and Royalist Dr. Henry Hammond, whose
_Practical Catechism_, published in 1644, is cited as full of Arminian
error. Among the Antinomians are denounced Randall, Simson, Eaton, Crisp,
and Erbury; among the Seekers, Saltmarsh and Jos. Salmon; among the Anti-
Sabbatarians, Saltmarsh again; among the Antipædobaptists and
Anabaptists, Saltmarsh again, Tombes, and Webb. In a special group, as
opposing magistracy and lawful oaths, are mentioned Roger Williams,
Samuel Gorton, and Dr. Henry Hammond again; the chief representative of
the tremendous doctrine of Materialism or the Denial of the Immortality
of the Soul is R. O., the anonymous author of the tract on _Man's
Mortality_; and among the leading Tolerationists or representatives of
the grand error of Liberty of Conscience, "patronizing and promoting all
other errors, heresies, and blasphemies whatsoever," are named Roger
Williams again and Paul Best again.--One head or department in this long
black list we have reserved. It is the 17th in order, including "Errors
touching Marriage and Divorce." Here the anonymous author of a pamphlet
called _Little Nonsuch_, published in 1646, bears the brunt of the
obloquy, on account of the opinion that, as "that marriage is most just
which is made without any ambitious or covetous end," so, "if this liking
and mutual correspondency happen betwixt the nearest of kindred, then it
is also the most natural, the most lawful, and according to the primitive
(Patriarchal) purity and practice." But Milton comes in company with this
_Little Nonsuch_, as hardly less worthy of execration on account of his
Divorce Doctrine. The main proposition of his _Doctrine and Discipline of
Divorce_ is extracted textually from page 6 of the Second or 1644 Edition
of that treatise, to show what a dreadful doctrine had been there
maintained; but, in case this should not seem enough, the Testifying
Divines, in the marginal note where they give the reference, add the
words, "Peruse the whole book." They do not name Milton fully, but only
by his initials "J. M.," as on the title-page of his Treatise. [Footnote:
There is a general account of this _Testimony_ of the London ministers in
Dec. 1647 in Neal's Puritans, III. 359-363; but the account in the text
is from the published copy of the Testimony itself.]

Sold at the shop of that very Underhill in Wood Street who had been the
publisher of three of Milton's own pamphlets in the Smectymnuan
Controversy in 1641 (_antè_, p. 450), this _Testimony_ of the London
ministers had an extensive circulation. It was adopted, in fact, as the
authorized manifesto of all the English Presbyterianism then most
militant for that full right of ecclesiastical and civil control over
heresy and its dissemination which Parliament hitherto had refused to
recognise. In a short time, accordingly, it received the adhesion of 64
ministers in Gloucestershire, 84 in Lancashire, 83 in Devonshire, and 71
in Somersetshire. Nor was this subscription of the same printed document
by 360 of the most active Presbyterian ministers throughout England a
mere appeal to public opinion. It was intended as an aid to
Presbyterianism in its anxious endeavour to obtain even yet all it wanted
from Parliament. One observes, for example, that, within a month after
the manifesto of the London ministers had gone forth from Sion College,
_i.e._ on the 12th of January, 1647-8, a petition was presented to
Parliament by the London Provincial Synod itself, praying for various
extensions and amendments of the Presbyterian system in the City, among
which was the better establishment of Church censures for notorious and
scandalous offenders. [Footnote: Neal's Puritans, III. 359-363; and Lords
Journals, Jan. 12, 1647-8; but see also Halley's _Lancashire and its
Puritanism_ (1869), I. 467 _et seq._]

At least two of the heretics denounced in the Sion College manifesto
published replies. The Royalist Dr. Henry Hammond thought it worth while
to defend his _Practical Catechism_ in a tract called _Views of some
Exceptions, &c._ [Footnote: Wood's Ath. III. 494-5.] John Goodwin of
Coleman Street, who had been more largely attacked, and who indeed had
reason to believe that the manifesto was mainly directed against himself,
replied with his usual cool stoutness in a pamphlet called _Sion College
Visited_. He there rebukes his accusers for their uncharitableness,
unfairness, and malice in seeking to "exasperate the sword of the civil
magistrate" against pious and peaceable citizens who had done them no
injury. [Footnote: Jackson's Life of Goodwin. 172-175.] In effect, this
reply of Goodwin's answered for the others as well as for himself.
Milton, at all events, let the thing pass unnoticed. Entering his house
in High Holborn, it may have been enough for him to repeat to himself, by
way of comment, the lines he had already written--

"I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty,
When straight a barbarous noise environs me
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, arid dogs;"

or perhaps, by way of more determinate conclusion, his other and ever
famous line,

"New _Presbyter_ is but old _Priest_ writ large."


Exactly at this time, when the repeated attentions of _New Presbyter_ in
England must have been annoying Milton, he had a friendly gleam from the
land of the _Old Priest_. Carlo Dati had duly received his Latin Epistle
of the previous April, and had acknowledged it in a long Italian letter,
dated Nov. 1, 1647, but which may not have reached Milton till Jan. 1647-
8, or even later. The letter still exists in Dati's own hand, and the
following is a translation of as much of it as can interest us here:--

_All Illmo. Sig. Gio. Miltoni, Londra_ [meaning literally "To the
most illustrious Signor John Milton, London;" but this is merely the
polite Italian form of correspondence, and implies no more than "To Mr.
John Milton, London."]

When all hope of receiving letters from you was dead in me, most keen as
was my desire for such, lo! there arrives one to delight me more than I
can express with this most grateful pen. O what feelings of boundless joy
that little paper raise in my heart--a paper written by a friend so
admirable and so dear; bringing to me, after so long a time and from so
distant a land, news of the welfare of one about whom I was as anxious as
I was uncertain, and assuring me that there remains so fresh and so kind
a remembrance of myself in the noble soul of Signor John Milton! Already
I knew what regard he had for my country; which reckons herself fortunate
in having in great England (separated, as the Poet said, from our world)
one who magnifies her glories, loves her citizens, celebrates her
writers, and can himself write and discourse with such propriety and
grace in her beautiful idiom. And precisely this it is that moves me to
reply in Italian to the exquisite Latin letter of my honoured friend, who
has such a very singular faculty of reviving dead tongues and making
foreign ones his own; hoping that there may be something agreeable to him
in the sound of a language which he speaks and knows so well. I will take
the same opportunity of earnestly begging you to be please to honour with
your verses the glorious memory of Signor Francesco Rovai, a
distinguished Florentine poet prematurely dead, and, to the best of my
belief, well known to you: this having already been done at my request by
the very eminent Nicolas Heinsius and Isaac Vossius of Holland,
peculiarly intimate and valued friends of mine, and famous scholars of
our age. [Footnote: About Nicolas Heinsius (1620-1681) and his intimacy
with Dati and the other Florentine wits, see Vol. I. 721 2. Both he and
Isaac Vossius (1618-1688) will reappear in closer connexion with Milton
himself.] Signor Francesco was noble by birth, endowed by nature with a
genius of the highest kind, which was enriched by culture and by
unwearied study of the finest sciences. He understood Greek excellently,
spoke French, and wrote Latin and Italian wonderfully. He composed
Tragedies, and excelled also in lyrical Canzoni, in which he praised
heroes and discountenanced all vice, particularly in one set of seven
made against the seven capital sins. He was well-bred, courteous, a
favourite with our Princes, or uncorrupted manners, and most religious.
He died young, without having published his works: a splendid obituary
ceremonial is being prepared for him by his friends, faulty only in the
fact that the charge of the funeral oration has been imposed upon me.
Should you be pleased to send me, as I hope, some fruit of your charming
genius for such a purpose, you will oblige me not only, but all my
country; and, when the Poems of Signor Francesco are published, with the
eulogisms upon him, I will see that copies are sent you.--But, since I
have begin to speak of our language and our poets, let me communicate to
you one of the observations which, in the leisure-hours left me from my
mercantile business, I occasionally amuse myself with making on our
writers. The other day, while I was reflecting on that passage in
Petrarch's _Triomf' d'Amor_, C. 3:

"Dura legge d'Amor! mà benchè obliqua,
Servar conviensi, però ch' ella aggiunge
Di cielo in terra, universale, antiqua,"
[Footnote: "Hard law of Love! but, however unjust, it must be kept,
because it reaches from heaven to earth, universal, eternal."]

I perceived that already the gifted Castelvetro had noted in it some
resemblance to the lines in Horace, Ode I. 33:

"Sic visum Veneri; cui placet impares
Formas atque animos sub juga ahenea
Sævo mittere cum joco,"--
[Footnote: "So it seemed good to Venus; whose pleasure it is, in savage
jest, to bind unlike forms and minds in a brazen yoke of union."]

excellently imitated by the reviver of Pindaric and Anacreontic poesy,
Gabriello Chiubrera, in Canzonetta 18:

"Ah! che vien cenere
Penando un amator benche fedele!
Cosi vuol Venere,
Nata nell' ocean, nume crudele."
[Footnote: "Ah that there should be ashes from the torture of a lover,
though faithful! So Venus wills it, the ocean-born, a cruel deity."]

To me these verses look like a little bit taken from Horace, as the
remainder is taken from Tibullus, not without a notable improvement; for
in Tibullus, Eleg. I. 2, one reads this threat against the revealers of
Love's secrets:--

"Nam, fuerit quicumque loquax, is sanguine natam,
Is Venerem e rapido sentiet esse mari."
[Footnote: "For whosoever is indiscreet with his tongue, he shall feel
that Venus was born of blood and came from the rapid sea."]

[Dati then suggests the reading of _rabido_ in the last line and
discusses the subject in six folio pages, with passages from Catullus,
Ovid, Virgil, Horace, Seneca, Claudian, Homer, Tasso, &c.; and then
proceeds as follows]:

I communicate to you these considerations of mine, sure of being excused,
and kindly advised by your exquisite learning in such matters as I
submit, urgently begging you to pardon me if excess of affection, the
sense of being so long without you, and our great intimacy, have made me
exceed the limits proper for a letter.--It is an extreme grief to me that
the convulsions of the kingdom have disturbed your studies; and I
anxiously await your Poems, in which I believe I shall have large room
for admiring the delicacy of your genius, even if I except those which
are in depreciation of my Religion, and which, as coming from a friendly
mouth, may well be excused, though not praised. This will not hinder me
from receiving the others, conscious as I am of my own zeal for freedom.
Meanwhile I beg Heaven to make and keep you happy, and to keep me in your
remembrance, giving me proofs thereof by your generous commands. All
friends about me send you salutations and very affectionate respects.

Your most devoted,

Florence, 1st Nov. 1647. CARLO DATI [Footnote: The original of this
letter is in the possession of Mr. J. Fitchett Marsh of Warrington, who
has printed facsimiles of the opening and closing words ("_All' Illmo.
Sig. Gio. Miltoni, Londra_," and "_Ser. Devotino. Carlo Dati_")
in his Milton Papers. To Mr. Marsh's kindness I owe the transcript from
which I have made the translation; and the words within brackets,
describing the omitted portion in the middle, are Mr. Marsh's own.]

Circumstanced as Milton was when he received this letter, he can hardly
have been in a mood to respond sufficiently to its minute and overflowing
_dilettantismo._ The amiability and polite affectionateness,
perceptible even yet through the dilettantism, may have been pleasant to
him; and he may have noted the subtle and delicate expression of sympathy
with his domestic unhappiness which seems to be conveyed in the passages
quoted, as if by accident, from Petrarch, Horace, Chiabrera, and
Tibullus. Dati may have been there replying to that portion of Milton's
letter in which he had vaguely intimated his private melancholy in being
doomed to unfit companionship; or he may have heard more particular
rumours in Florence of Milton's marriage-mishap and its consequences. At
all events, there is no trace of any answer by Milton to this long
epistle from Dati, or of any poetical contribution sent by him, as Dati
had requested, to the exequies of the interesting Rovai.

About the time when Milton should have been answering Dati's epistle,
enclosing the requested tribute to the memory of Rovai, and also the
exquisite comments which Dati expected on his quotations from Petrarch,
Horace, Chiabrera, and Tibullus, his occupation, we find, was very
different. "_April_, 1648, _J. M. Nine of the Psalms done into
Metre, wherein all but what is in a different character are the very
words of the Text translated from the Original;_" such is the heading
prefixed by Milton himself to the Translations of Psalms LXXX.-LXXXVIII.
which are now included among his Poetical Works. [Footnote: The heading
stands so in the Second Edition of Milton's Miscellaneous Poems,
published by himself in 1678.] Through some mornings and evenings of that
month, therefore, we can see him, in his house in High Holborn, with the
Hebrew Bible before him, making it his effort to translate, as literally
as possible, these nine Psalms into English verse. On looking at the
result, as it now stands among his Poems, with Hebrew words printed
occasionally in the margin, and every phrase for which there is not a
voucher in the original printed carefully in italics, one has little
difficulty in perceiving one of the motives of Milton in this metrical
experiment. It was his knowledge of the interest then felt in the chance
of some English metrical version of the Psalms that should supersede, for
popular purposes and in public worship, the old version of Sternhold and
Hopkins. Rous's version, with amendments, had been recommended by the
Westminster Assembly, and approved by the Commons (_antè,_ 425); the
Lords were still standing out for Barton's competing version (_antè,_
512); other versions were in the background, but had been heard of. In
these circumstances, might not a true poet, attending to all the
essential conditions, and especially to the prime one of exactness to the
Hebrew original, exhibit at least a specimen of a better version than any
yet offered?

Unfortunately, if this was Milton's intention, it cannot be said that he
succeeded. By all the critics it is admitted that his version of those
Nine Psalms is inferior to what we should have expected from him; nor is
it, I think, the mere prejudice of habit that leads those that have been
accustomed to one particular revision of Rous's version--that which has
been the Scottish authorized Psalter since 1650--to prefer Psalms LXXX.-
LXXXVIII. as there given, rude though the versification is, to the
Translations of the same Psalms proposed even by Milton. Something of
this impression may have prevailed even in 1648, if, as is likely enough,
Milton took the trouble of showing his translations to some who were
interested in the question of the new Psalter, and wavering between
Rous's and Barton's. On the faith of dates, however, there is another
interest to us now in these careful translations by Milton of Psalms
LXXX.-LXXXVIII. in April 1648. Why did he choose those particular Psalms?
Not for metrical experiment only, but also because their mood fitted him.
He needed the strong Hebrew of those Psalms himself, and he drank it in
afresh from the text that he might reproduce it for himself and others.
Petrarch, Tibullus, Horace, Chiabrera! silence all such for the time, and
let the Hebrew Psalmist speak! Thus (Psalm LXXX.):--

"Turn us again; thy grace divine
To us, O God, vouchsafe;
Cause thou thy face on us to shine,
And then we shall be safe."

Or again, with reference to the dangers then gathering round
Parliamentary England (Psalm LXXXIII.):--

"For they consult with all their might,
And all as one in mind
Themselves against thee they unite,
And in firm union bind.
The tents of Edom, and the brood
Of scornful Ishmael,
Moab, with them of Hagar's blood
That in the desert dwell,
Gebal and Ammon, there conspire,
And hateful Amalec,
The Philistims, and they of Tyre,
Whose bounds the sea doth check.
With them great Asshur also bands
And doth confirm the knot
All these have lent their armed hands
To aid the sons of Lot.
Do to them as to Midian bold
That wasted all the coast,
To Sisera, and, as is told
Thou didst do to Jabin's host,
When at the brook of Kishon old

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest