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opinion was that it was neither “ready” nor 6. easy,” but a mere wild and inpracticable dream of blind Mr. Milton. In substance, Milton's plan was that the existing Parliament of mixed Rumpers and reinstated Presbyterians should declare itself perpetual, under the name of the Grand or General Council of the Nation, appointing a smaller number of its members to be a Council of State or Executive, and intimating that for the future there should be no dissolutions of Parliaments and no general elections, but only elections to supply incidental vacancies in the Grand Council by death or misdemeanour, or at the utmost to supply the places of a certain definite proportion of the members going out by rotation every second or third year,—this perpetual and indissoluble Grand Council to manage all supreme affairs, while local affairs should be left to the independent management of County Committees or Deliberative Assemblies in all the chief cities. Amid the Royalist pamphlets that were then flying about, some of the cleverest were in express · burlesque of this project of Milton's, with bitter attacks on himself, and predictions that he would soon have his deserts and be seen going to Tyburn in a cart. In fact, in April 1660, the torrent of Royalist enthusiasm, of popular clamour and impatience for the recall of the exiled Stuarts, had become irresistible and ungovernable : the Londoners and the multitude everywhere were shouting for King Charles. Not even then would Milton be silent. In that very month of April he still wrestled twice, though as at the last gasp, with what he called the “general defection" of his “misguided and abused” countrymen. In Brief Notes on a late Sermon, he replied to a Royalist oration recently preached and published by a Dr. Matthew Griffith ; and in a second edition of his Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth he sought another chance of a hearing for his derided project of a Republican Grand Council of the Nation in perpetuity. It contained new passages of frantic vehemence, in which he adjured his countrymen, unless they were fools and God-abandoned slaves, even yet to listen to him, and prophesied woes, and bloody revenges, and a long degradation of the British Islands, from the Restoration that was coming. His voice was drowned in hissing and laughter, the final answer to him being “No Blind Guides," a pamphlet by Roger L'Estrange. On the 25th of April
1660 the new “full and free Parliament,” called the Convention Parliament, met in Westminster ; on the ist of May, the negotiations between Monk and the exiled King Charles having been completed, Kingship was restored and the Commonwealth declared at an end; on the 25th of May Charles II., fetched over from Holland by the fleet that had been sent for his convoy, landed at Dover; and on the 29th of May he made his triumphant entry into London and Westminster.
No piece of verse of any kind came from Milton through this time of incessant vicissitude and political confusion intervening between Oliver's death and the Restoration. It contains, however, three of his Latin Familiar Epistles.
IN HIDING AND IN CUSTODY.
1660 : ætat. 52. The wonder is that, at the Restoration, Milton was not hanged. At a time when they brought to the scaffold all the chief living Regicides and their accomplices that were within reach, including even Hugh Peters, and when they dug up Cromwell's body and hanged it at Tyburn, and tore also from the earth at Westminster the body of Cromwell's mother and other “ Cromwellian bodies” that had been buried there with honour, the escape of Milton, the supreme defender of the Regicide through the press, the man who had attacked the memory of Charles I. with a ferocity which even some of the actual Regicides must have thought unnecessary and outrageous, is all but inexplicable.
He was for some time in real danger. Having absconded from his house in Petty France, just in time to avoid apprehension, he lay concealed, his nephew tells us, in a friend's house in Bartholomew Close, near Smithfield, during those months, from May to August 1660, in which the two houses of the Convention Parliament (first before the arrival of the King, but for the most part after he had arrived and had taken up his residence in Whitehall) were discussing the question of the vengeances to be inflicted on the Regicides and on other conspicuous Anti-Royalists of the late Interregnum. The question took the form of a protracted debate in the two Houses, with excited conferences between them, as to the precise persons, and the precise number of persons, that
should be excepted from a Bill of General Indemnity and Oblivion which had been brought into the Commons on the 9th of May, in conformity with a Declaration of the King's desire for clemency, sent over from Holland as early as April 4th. The main hue and cry in both Houses was after fiftyfour persons surviving of those seventy-seven “King's judges” who had constituted themselves Regicides in chief by taking an active part in the trial and condemnation of Charles I. in January 1648-9; but other persons, to the number of be. tween thirty and forty, were named and denounced in the course of the debates, some of them for close connection with the Regicide in one capacity or another, and the rest for general demerit and delinquency. Milton was one of those so named in the course of the debates. On the 16th of June 1660 there was an order of the Commons for his arrest and indictment by the Attorney-General, on account of his Eikonoklastes and Defensio pro Populo Anglicano contra Salmasium, with a resolution to petition his Majesty for the calling-in of all copies of those pamphlets, that they might be burnt by the common hangman; and on the 13th of August there came forth a royal proclamation calling in all copies of the books accordingly, and ordering them to be burnt. All the more strange it is that, when the Bill of Indemnity passed the two Houses complete, and received the King's assent on the 29th of August, Milton was not named in it from first to last as one of the excepted culprits. Twenty-three of the living Regicide Judges, with seven others, connected with the Regicide more or less closely, were excepted by name absolutely, and left for capital prosecution and punishment (ten of whom, then in custody, were actually hanged, drawn, and quartered within the next two months, while one was respited, and the rest had escaped their doom, for the present at least, by timely flight to the Continent or to America); nineteen more of the surviving Regicides, all in custody, were excepted capitally, but with a saving clause which practically commuted their sentence of death into perpetual imprisonment; there were still other exceptions from among the less guilty Regicides, involving penalties short of death; two nonregicide delinquents were excepted capitally, and one for every penalty short of death ; eighteen more delinquents of the non-regicide class were excepted by name for perpetual civil incapacitation ; and yet, from the beginning to the end of the Act of Indemnity, Milton was not mentioned for exception on any ground or to any extent whatsoever. From the 29th of August 1660, therefore, he was legally a free man, the Act of Indemnity protecting every person not specially named in itself for exception, and therefore quashing the previous procedure of the Commons against Milton. The manner of his escape suggests curious inquiries. It was effected by first black-marking him most strongly by a Parliamentary order for special prosecution and punishment, and then ignoring him altogether in a General Bill passing through the Parliament. It is worthy of note also that the two publications of his brought before the House of Commons and the country for incrimination were his Eikonoklastes and Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, while his recent Ready and Easy Way to establish a Free Commonwealth and his Tenure of Kings and Magistrates,—by the very date of which last, and by its terrible title, if read in full, he was legally implicated in the Regicide before the fact,— were somehow kept out of sight. All in all, the conclusion is inevitable that there must have been a very powerful combination of influences in favour of Milton and very cautious and dexterous Parliamentary management of his case. The tradition that Davenant exerted himself in Milton's behalf, in return for a similar service done by Milton to Davenant under the Commonwealth, is credible enough; but it was on the Parliament that Milton's fate depended, and Davenant was not in the Parliament. Andrew Marvell, who was in the Parliament, must have done all he could ; but Marvell was not an important member. The same tradition that attributes so much to Davenant mentions Monk's brother - in-law Sir Thomas Clarges, and Monk's intimate friend and follower Sir William Morrice, the new Secretary of State, both of them very important members of the Commons House, and both very active in the conduct of the Indemnity Bill through that House, as having taken up Milton's case warmly. If we add Mr. Arthur Annesley, also a most important member, who had been Monk's chief colleague in the preliminaries to the Restoration, and who is found afterwards, under his higher title of Earl of Anglesey, greatly admiring Milton and much in his society, the mystery of Milton's impunity so far as the Commons were concerned, and of the management necessary to secure that impunity in a House in which Prynne and other ruthless enemies of Milton were eagerly on the watch, will be considerably diminished. It has to be re. membered, however, that the Indemnity Bill had to pass through the Lords, with the strictest revision by that House of every arrangement made by the Commons, and so that, if Chancellor Hyde, as Prime Minister for Charles, or if Charles himself, had lifted a finger against Milton, his escape would have been impossible. There is no proof of any interference by either the King or the Chancellor, for or against; but, if the propriety of bringing Milton to punishment was ever discussed in any meeting of Charles's Privy Council, the conclusion must have been “ It is not worth while : let the blind blackguard live.” From and after August 29th, 1660, we repeat, Milton was legally a free man.
Emerging from his concealment in Bartholomew Close, he was beginning to be led about in the streets again, when, by some mistake, or by malice on the part of some one, he was arrested and taken into custody. This seems to have been either in September 1660, in which month there were several public burnings of his Eikonoklastes and Defensio pro Populo Anglicano by the hands of the hangman in London and elsewhere, as by the recent proclamation, or in October, which was the month of the executions of the condemned Regicides at Charing Cross and Tyburn. It is probable that the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons, who had fees to expect from his prisoners, thought himself still entitled to act on the order of the Commons of the preceding 16th of June for the arrest of Milton, notwithstanding the intervening Bill of Indemnity. At all events, the Journals of the House of Commons record that, on Saturday the 15th of December 1660, the Sergeant-at-Arms was ordered to release Mr. Milton forthwith on payment of his fees, and that, on the following Monday, December 17th, on a complaint from Mr. Milton that the fees demanded by the Sergeantat-Arms were exorbitant, the matter was referred to the Committee of Privileges, with powers to call Mr. Milton and the Sergeant-at-Arms before them and settle the dispute. From another authority we learn that the fees demanded were £150, worth about £500 now, and that the member who brought Milton's complaint before the House was Mr. Andrew Marvell.