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maintaining your liberty, as you have shown courage in freeing yourselves from slavery. These are the only arguments, by which you will be able to evince, that you are not such persons as this fellow represents you-traitors, robbers, murderers, parricides, madmen; that you did not put your king to death out of any ambitious design, or a desire of invading the rights of others; not out of any seditious principles or sinister ends; that it was not an act of fury or madness; but that it was wholly out of love to your liberty, your religion, to justice, virtue, and your country, that you punished a tyrant. But if it should fall out otherwise, (which God forbid); if as you have been valiant in war, you should grow debauched in peace, you that have had such visible demonstrations of the goodness of God to yourselves, and his wrath against your enemies; and that you should not have learned eminent, so remarkable an example before your eyes, to fear God, and work righteousness; for my part, I shall easily grant and confoss (for I cannot deny it), whatever ill men may speak or think of you, to be very true. And
will find in a little time, that God's displeasure against you will be greater than it has been against your adversaries, greater than his grace and favour has been to yourselves, which you have had larger experience of than any other nation under heaven.”
* Prose Works, vol. i. pp. 212, 213.
DOMESTIC CHANGES-BIRTH OF TWO CHILDREN TO MILTON-DEATH OF
HIS WIFE-SUFFERS THE LOSS OF SIGHT-HIS LETTER TO LEONARDI
THE “ Defence of the People of England," written as it was in Latin, was received with unbounded admiration by the learned world, both at home and abroad. The most eminent men of the Continent, imbued with the growing spirit of freedom, showered their praises upon the conqueror of Salmasius, and all the ambassadors of foreign states in London waited upon him, to offer the tribute of their congratulation.
It is necessary now to revert to Milton's private history. On his appointment to the office of Foreign Secretary, he removed to a lodging at Charing Cross, and subsequently to apartments in Scotland-yard. Here his family was increased by the birth of a son, who died in his infancy, on the 16th of March, 1650. In 1652 he took a residence in Petty France, a site now occupied by Charles Street, Westminster, where he resided for eight years, till the crisis of the Restoration ;
;-a handsome house opening into St. James's Park, and adjoining to the mansion of Lord Scudamore. On the 2nd of May, in this year, his wife gave birth to his third daughter, Deborah, and died in her confinement.
The eyesight of Milton had been defective from a very early period in his life. He himself states, in one of the
brief snatches of autobiography which occur in his prose writings, that it had received a lasting injury from the studies which he was suffered to prosecute at night, when not more than ten or twelve years of
When he was called upon to write his “ Defence of the People of England," he was distinctly warned by his physicians, that the prosecution of his design would involve the inevitable loss of his sight. To this condition he deliberately submitted, and the result unhappily justified the predictions of his medical advisers. The precise time at which he lost his sight is not ascertained,-a fact which is the less remarkable, as the decay of the organ was in all probability gradual. His own notices of the event, however, constitute a most interesting portion of his biography.
Among the distinguished men who sought the honour of his friendship, after the publication of his “ Defence of the People of England,” was Leonardi Philaras, then ambassador from the Duke of Parma to the Court of Paris. This gentleman having recommended, in a letter to Milton, the services of Thevenot, an eminent oculist in Paris, Milton addressed to him the following letter :
“ To LEONARD PHILARAS, the Athenian. “I HAVE always been devotedly attached to the literature of Greece, and particularly to that of your Athens; and have never ceased to cherish the persuasion that that city would one day make me ample recompense for the warmth of my regard. The ancient genius of your renowned country has favoured the completion of my prophecy in presenting me with your friendship and esteem. Though I was known to you only by my writings, and we were removed to such a distance from each other, you most courteously addressed me by letter; and when you unexpectedly came to London, and saw me who could no longer see, my affliction, which causes none to regard me with greater admiration, and perhaps many even with feelings
of contempt, excited your tenderest sympathy and concern. You would not suffer me to abandon the hope cf recovering my sight; and informed me that you had an intimate friend at Paris, Doctor Thevenot, who was particularly celebrated in disorders of the eyes, whom you would consult about mine, if I would enable you to lay before him the causes and symptoins of the complaint. I will do what you desire, lest I should seem to reject that aid which perhaps may
be offered me by Heaven. It is now, I think, about ten years since I perceived my vision to grow weak and dull; and at the same time I was troubled with pain in my kidneys and bowels, accompanied with flatulency. In the morning, if I began to read, as was my custom, my eyes instantly ached intensely, but were refreshed after a little corporeal exercise. The candle which I looked at, seemed as it were cncircled with a rainbow. Not long after, the sight in the left part of the left eye (which I lost some years before the other) became quite obscured, and prevented me from discerning any object on that side. The sight in my other eye has now been gradually and sensibly vanishing away for about three years. Some months before it had entirely perished, though I stood motionless, everything which I looked at seemed in motion to and fro. A stiff cloudy rapour seemed to have settled on my forehead and temples, which usually occasions a sort of somnolent pressure upon my eyes, and particularly from dinner till the evening. So that I often recollect what is said of the poet Phineas in the Argonauctics :
'A stupor deep his cloudy temples bound,
Or in a feeble trance he speechless lay.' I ought not to omit that while I had any sight left, as soon as I lay down on my bed and turned on either side, a flood of light used to gush from my closed eyelids. Then, as my sight became daily more impaired, the colours became more faint, and were emitted with a certain inward crackling
sound; but at present, every species of illumination being,
it were, extinguished, there is diffused around me nothing but darkness, or darkness mingled and streaked with an ashy brown. Yet the darkness in which I am perpetually immersed, seems always, both by night and day, to approach nearer to white than black; and when the eye is rolling in its socket, it admits a little particle of light, as through a chink. And though your physician may kindle a small ray of hope, yet I make up my mind to the malady as quite incurable; and I often reflect, that as the wise man admonishes, days of darkness are destined to each of us,—the darkness which I experience, less oppressive than that of the tomb, is, owing to the singular goodness of the Deity, passed amid the pursuits of literature and the cheering salutations of friendship. But if, as is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God,' why may not any one acquiesce in the privation of his sight, when God has so amply furnished his mind and his conscience with eyes ? While he so tenderly provides for me, while he so graciously leads me by the hand and conducts me on the way, I will, since it is his pleasure, rather rejoice than repine at being blind. And, my dear Philaras, whatever may be the event, I wish you adieu with no less courage and composure than if I had the eyes
of a lynx. “ Westminster, September 28, 1654."*
Nothing can be imagined more lofty or affecting than the occasional references to his loss of sight which are found in the later writings of Milton. The following occurs in his “Second Defence of the People of England:”—“Thus, therefore, when I was publicly solicited to write a reply to the Defence of the Royal Cause ; when I had to contend with the pressure of sickness, and with the apprehension of soon losing the sight of my remaining eye, and when my medical attendants clearly announced that if I did engage
* Prose Works, vol. iii. pp. 507, 508.