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in the work, it would be irreparably lost, their premonitions caused no hesitation and inspired no dismay. I would not have listened to the voice, even of Esculapius himself from the shrine of Epidaurus, in preference to the suggestions of the heavenly monitor within my breast: my resolution was unshaken, though the alternative was either the loss of my sight or the desertion of my duty, and I called to mind those two destinies which the oracle of Delphi announced to the son of Thetis :
'For, as the goddess spake who gave me birth,
I considered that many had purchased a less good by a greater evil, the meed of glory by the loss of life; I might procure great good by little suffering ; that though I am blind, I might still discharge the most honourable duties, the performance of which, as it is something more durable than glory, ought to be an object of superior admiration and esteem ; I resolved, therefore, to make the short interval of sight which was left me to enjoy, as beneficial as possible to the public interest. Thus it is clear by what motives I was governed in the measures which I took, and the losses which I sustained. Let, then, the calumniators of the Divine goodness cease to revile, or to make me the object of their superstitious imaginations. Let them consider, that my situation, such as it is, is neither an object of my shame or my regret, that my resolutions are too firm to be shaken, that I am not depressed by any sense of the Divine displeasure ; that, on the other hand, in the most momentous periods, I have had full experience of the Divine favour and protection ; and that, in the solace and the strength which have been infused into me from above, I have been enabled to do the will of God; that I may oftener
think on what he has bestowed, than on what he has withheld; that, in short, I am unwilling to exchange my consciousness of rectitude with that of any other person; and that I feel the recollection a treasured store of tranquillity and delight. But, if the choice were necessary, I would, sir, prefer my blindness to yours; yours is a cloud spread over the mind, which darkens both the light of reason and of conscience; mine keeps from my view only the coloured surfaces of things, while it leaves me at liberty to contemplate the beauty and stability of virtue and of truth. How many things are there besides which I would not willingly see; how many which I must see against my will; and how few which I feel any anxiety to see! There is, as the apostle has remarked, a way to strength through weakness. Let me, then, be the most feeble creature alive, as long as that feebleness serves to invigorate the energies of my rational and immortal spirit; as long as in that obscurity in which I am enveloped, the light of the Divine presence more clearly shines—then, in proportion as I am weak, I shall be invincibly strong; and in proportion as I am blind, I shall more clearly see. O! that I may thus be perfected by feebleness, and irradiated by obscurity! And, indeed, in my blindness, I enjoy in no inconsiderable degree the favour of the Deity, who regards me with more tenderness and compassion in proportion as I am able to behold nothing but himself. Alas! for him who insults me, who maligns and merits public execration! For the Divine law not only shields me from injury, but almost renders me too sacred to attack ; not indeed so much from the privation of my sight, as from the overshadowing of those heavenly wings which seem to have occasioned this obscurity; and which, when occasioned, he is wont to illuminate with an interior light, more precious and more pure.
To this I ascribe the more tender assiduities of my friends, their soothing attentions, their kind visits, their reverential
Thus, while both God and man unite
in solacing me under the weight of my affliction, let no one lament my loss of sight in so honourable a cause.
These matchless effusions of magnaminity and piety shall conclude with two sonnets composed in the same lofty strain :
TO CYRIAC SKINNER.
Cyriac! this three years' day, these eyes, though clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;
Or man or woman; yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask,
MILTON ON HIS BLINDNESS.
When I consider how my life is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
My true account, lest He, returning, chide ;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?"
Either man's work, or his own gifts ; who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best; His state
And post o'er land and ocean without rest :
The precise time at which Milton's disease arrived at the crisis which deprived him of sight, is not recorded; but we
* Prose Works, vol. i. pp. 238, 239..
know that it was two years after that event that he married Catharine, daughter of Captain Woodcock. This union appears to have been productive of unalloyed but short-lived happiness. Within a year of ber marriage, this lady gave birth to a daughter, and died in childbed, her infant child surviving her but a short time. Of this brief period of Milton's domestic history, we have no direct information; but every reader must be convinced of the depth of Milton's affection for his partner who peruses the following touching sonnet, inscribed
ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.
Methought I saw my late espousèd saint,
Brought to me, like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Purification in the old law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Came, vested all in white, pure as her mind :
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined
But, O, as to embrace me she inclined,
PUBLICATION OF THE "REGII SANGUINIS CLAMOR"-THE SECOND DEFENCE
OF THE PEOPLE OF ENGLAND-CHARACTER OF THE PURITANS-
WARDED WITH MONEY-VINDICATION OF THE PROTECTOREULOGY
Before the applause which had greeted Milton's " Defence of the People of England” had subsided, he was summoned by the Parliament to a second and similar exertion of his powers. The conspicuous' defeat of Salmasius had deterred all men of similar pretensions to his, from assailing the British government, and defending the cause of the exiled house of Stuart. The latter party, therefore, availed them. selves of the maxim of Celsus—Fiat experimentum in corpore rili—and put forward an obscure French clergyman, of the name of Dumoulin, who, to escape from the avenging Nemesis of British freedom, affiliated his venal work on a still more insignificant person, one Alexander More. It was entitled “Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum adversus Parricidas Anglicanos,” or “ The Cry of Royal Blood to Heaven against the English Parricides.” More was of Scotch extraction, but was settled in France, and, owing to this entire controversy having been conducted in the then universal language of Europe, is better known by the Latinized name of Morus. His character was deeply soiled with moral and domestic turpitude ; and the publication which he issued was filled with calumnious fabrications against Milton—to which