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last of Milton's London houses that had been left extant, and one of the most important of them, it is a pity that it was not preserved. Jeremy Bentham, whose residence was in the neighbourhood, was its proprietor in the beginning of this century, when it was still a house of respectable appearance and surroundings; and William Hazlitt lived in it from 1811 onwards as Bentham's tenant. Milton was to inhabit it for eight years, the longest term in which we have found him in any one house yet since he left his native Bread Street. This term of eight years, however, subdivides itself biographically into three portions :
LAST FIFTEEN MONTHS OF THE COMMONWEALTH (Jan. 1651-2- April 1653) :— As the Council of State was itself elected annually by the Parliament, with changes of its members every year, Milton's Latin Secretaryship, it will be understood, had also been renewed from year to year by express appointment of each Council. In 1652 he entered on his fourth year of office. There was more to do this year, in the way of drafting foreign despatches and attending at meetings with ambassadors, than there had been previously; and, accordingly, Milton's preserved Latin despatches of the year, as given in his printed works, are about as numerous as those for the three preceding years put together. Yet it was precisely in the midst of this increase of work that Milton became incapable, as one would suppose, of secretarial work of any kind. The blindness which had been gradually coming on for some years (one eye having failed before the other), and which had been accelerated by his persistence in his book against Salmasius in spite of the warnings of his physicians, had become serious before his removal to Petty France, and was total about the middle of 1652. With such a calamity added to his almost constant ill-health otherwise, one would have expected the resignation of the Secretaryship. But the Commonwealth had no disposition to part with its literary champion ; and arrangements were made for continuing him in office. Mr. Walter Frost, senior, having died in March 1652, Mr. John Thurloe had been appointed his successor in the General Secretaryship to the Council, with a salary of £600 a year (worth about £2000 a year now); a naturalised German, Mr. Weckherlin, formerly in the service of Charles I. and of Parliament, was brought in to assist Milton in the Foreign department; and for occasional service in translating documents Mr. Thurloe found other persons as they were wanted. Milton was distinctly retained with his full rank and title as Secretary for Foreign Tongues to the Council ; and there is positive evidence that he went on performing some portion of his old duties. What one sees, in fact, from the middle of 1652 onwards, is the blind Milton led across the Park every other day, when his health permitted, from his house in Petty France to Whitehall, sitting in the Council as before when he had to catch the substance of any resolution that had to be embodied in a Latin letter, or perhaps sometimes only receiving the necessary information from Mr. Thurloe, and then either dictating the required document on the spot, or returning home to compose it more at leisure. Whatever Weckherlin and others did to help, all the more important despatches were still expected from Milton himself, and at receptions of ambassadors and other foreign agents he was still the proper official.
Salmasius, who had been in Sweden when Milton's Answer to him appeared, had returned to Holland in no enviable state of mind. He had been vowing revenge, and was even rumoured to have a Reply ready for the press; but none was forthcoming. Meanwhile several attacks on Milton in his behalf by other persons were published abroad anonymously and in Latin. One of these, a very poor thing, attributed at the time to the Irish ex-Bishop Bramhall, but really by a refugee English preacher named Rowland, was handed over by Milton for answer to his younger nephew, John Phillips. The result was “ Johannis Philippi Angli Responsio ad Apologiam anonymi cujusdam tenebrionis” (1652), a pamphlet so revised and touched by Milton that it may be accounted partly his. He reserved wholly for himself the task of replying to a far more formidable and able attack made upon him by an anonymous friend of Salmasius under the title “Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum adversus Parricidas Anglicanos" 7" Cry of the King's Blood to Heaven against the English Parricides ”). Published at the Hague late in 1652, this book was so pungent, and contained such charges against Milton's personal character, that he could not let it pass; but the Answer was deferred. For the rest, the literary relics of the last fifteen
months of his Secretaryship to the Commonwealth consist only of three Latin Familiar Epistles, two of them to foreigners, and the following two Sonnets :
Sonnet “To the Lord General Cromwell” (Sonnet xvi.) May 1652. Sonnet “To Sir Henry Vane the younger" (Sonnet xv11.) Put into
Vane's hands July 3, 1652.
CROMWELL'S DICTATORSHIP AND PROTECTORATE (April 1653–Sept. 1658) :-. The Sonnets to Cromwell and Vane were written just at the time when these two chiefs of the Republic were coming to an irreconcilable difference. Cromwell, and the whole Army at his back, had made up their minds that the time had come for a more regular Government of the Commonwealth than the anomalous makeshift by the Rump of the Long Parliament, consisting of about a hundred and twenty persons at the utmost, surviving out of a House of five hundred that had been returned by English constituencies as far back as 1640. The question of a dissolution and the election of a new and complete Parliament on a reformed system of popular suffrage, including all that would be faithful to the Commonwealth, had again and again been discussed, and a rather distant day for a dissolution at last fixed. There were, however, misunderstandings on the subject, with signs that Vane and others were bent on a policy antagonistic to the views of Cromwell and the Army. On the 20th of April 1653 Cromwell concluded the business by going to the House with a company of musketeers, turning out Vane and the other fifty-two members who were then sitting, locking the doors, and giving the key and the mace into the keeping of one of his colonels. He dissolved the Council of State the same day. The Commonwealth proper being thus at an end, there ensued the five years and four months of Cromwell's supremacy. It was divided into (1) what may be called his Interim Dictatorship (April—Dec. 1653), when he governed, still as “Lord General Cromwell,” by the aid of a Council of his Officers, waiting the issue of the special convention of select persons from England, Scotland, and Ireland, which he had summoned for the emergency, and which is remembered now as the Little Parliament or Barebones Parliament ; and (2) his Protectorate (Dec. 1653–Sept. 1658), when he ruled with the title of “ Lord Protector.” The Protectorate itself passed through
two phases. Till May 1657 Cromwell was still in a manner but the elected head of a Republic ; but thence to his death, Sept. 3, 1658, he was virtually King.
Though all England, Scotland, and Ireland were obliged to acquiesce in Cromwell's supremacy, and though in the course of his powerful rule he succeeded in winning general respect, and especially in making the entire population of the British Islands proud of the position asserted for them in Europe by his magnanimous foreign policy, yet the Oliverians, as his more express and thorough adherents were called, were but a section of the former Army-men and Republicans. A considerable proportion of the old Republicans, with such men as Bradshaw and Vane as their chiefs, remained resolute in their objection to Single-Person Sovereignty of any kind, and resented privately, and publicly opposed on occasion, even Cromwell's assumption of such Single-Person Sovereignty, condemning it as an infidelity to the principles of pure Republicanism. Milton, whose admiration for Cromwell had all along been immense, was decidedly, on the whole, one of the Oliverians, though not without some friendly sympathy with Bradshaw and Vane, and not without some reserves and dissents of his own, appertaining chiefly to that part of Oliver's policy which refused an absolute separation of Church and State, and persisted in the preservation and extension of a Church Establishment and State-paid clergy. He had approved even of Cromwell's forcible dissolution of the Parliament and the Council of State which he himself served ; and he regarded Cromwell's Dictatorship and Protectorate as the best effective embodiment for the time of the principles of real Republicanism. It need be no matter for surprise, therefore, that Milton was continued in his Latin Secretaryship. There was conjoined with him, indeed, in 1653, a Philip Meadows, entitled also “ Latin Secretary”; Milton's friend Andrew Marvell was brought in at a later time (Sept. 1657) to give some assistance ; and there was some fluctuation of Milton's salary in the course of the Protectorate. In 1655, on a general reduction of official salaries, it was ordered that Milton's should be reduced to £ 150 per annum, but that the same should be settled on him for his life. Actually, however, this sum was raised to £200 a year (worth about £700 a year now); with which salary, and with Meadows, and latterly Marvell, as his coadjutor, doing all the routine work, Milton remained the Latin Secretary Extraordinary.
Among his preserved Latin State Letters, besides about half a dozen written in the latter part of 1653 for Cromwell's Council of Officers or the Barebones Parliament, there are as many as eighty belonging to the Protectorate itself, and despatched as Cromwell's own letters, with his signature, " OLIVERIUS, Anglia, Scotia, Hibernia, &c., Protector." Most famous, perhaps, among these now are the Letters written in 1655 on the subject of the massacre of the Vaudois Protestants. See an account of them in the Introduction to Sonnet XVIII. All in all, though Milton's secretarial services under the Protectorate must have been confined mainly to such eloquent expression in Latin of the Protector's more important messages to Foreign Powers, it is a memorable fact in the history of England that he was one of Cromwell's faithful officials to the last, often in colloquy with him, and sometimes in ceremonial attendance at his Court. For any colloquy, Milton, with his clear blind eyes, would be led into the room where Cromwell was; and at any Court concert or the like, Milton, if he came, would be conducted gently to a seat.More and more, however, there is evidence of Milton's continued dissatisfaction with Cromwell's very conservative Church policy. While Cromwell, who had set up a Church Establishment on the broad basis of a comprehension of all the English Evangelical sects, regarded the sustentation and perpetuation of such an Established Church in the nation as the very apple of his eye, though equally resolute also in his other principle that there should be an ample toleration of dissent from that Church and liberty beyond its bounds,—Milton had settled more and more into the theory of absolute religious voluntaryism, regarding a State Church with a toleration as only a deceptive compromise, and thinking real religious liberty incompatible with the existence of a State Church on any basis whatever. The Protector must have been aware of these differences from himself in the mind of his blind Latin Secretary, and they may have somewhat affected their personal relations.
In 1653 or 1654 Milton's wife died, still a very young woman, leaving him, at the age of forty-five, a widower with three daughters, Anne, Mary, and Deborah. The eldest,