« AnteriorContinuar »
in answer to the Humble Remonstrance of Dr. Jeseph Hall Bishop of Norwich, `under the title of Smectymnuus, a word consisting of the initial letters of their names, Stephen Marshal, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstow; and Archbishop Usher having published at Oxford a refutation of Smectymnuus, in a tract concerning the Original of Bishops and Metropolitans; Milton wrote his little piece Of Prelatical Episcopacy, in opposition chiefly to Usher, for he was for contending with the most powerful adverfary; there would be either less disgrace in the defeat, or more glory in the victory. He handled the subject more at large in his next performance, which was the Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty, in two books. And Bishop Hall having published a Defense of the Humble Remonstrance, he wrote Animadversions upon it. All these treatises he published within the course of one year, 1641, which show how very diligent he was in the cause that he had undertaken. And the next year he set forth his Apology for Smectymnuus, in answer to the Confutation of his Animadversions, written as he thought himself by Bishop Hall or his fon. And here very luckily ended a controversy, which detained him from greater and better writings which he was meditating, more useful to the public, as well as more suitable to his own genius and inclination : but he thought all this while that he was vindicating ecclefiaftical liberty.. : In the year 1643, and the 35th of his age, he married; and indeed his family was now growing fo numerous, that it wanted a mistress at the head of it. His father, who had lived with his younger son at Reading, was, upon the taking of that place by the forces under the Earl of Effex, neceffitated to come and live in London with this his elder son, with whom he continued in tranquillity and devotion to his dying day. Some addition too was to be made to the number of his pupils. But before his father or his new pupils were come, he took a journey in the Whitsuntide vacation, and after a month's absence returned with a wife, Mary the eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, of Foresthili near Shotover in Oxfordshire, a justice of the peace, and a gentleman of good repute and figure in that country. But she had not cohabited with her husband above a month, before she was earnestly folicited by her relations to come and spend the remaining part of the summer with them in the country. If it was not at her instigation that her friends made this request, yet at least it was 'agreeable to her in clination; and she obtained her husband's consent upon a promise of returning at Michaelmas. And in the mean while his studies went on very vigorously; and his chief diversion, after the business of the day, was now and then in an evening to visit the Lady Margaret Lee, daughter of the Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer of England, and President of the Privy Council to King James I. This Lady, being a woman of excellent wit and understanding, had a particular honor for our author, and took great delight in his conversation ; as likewise did her husband' Captain Hobson, a very accomplished gentleman. And what a regard Milton again had for her, he has left upon
record in a fonnet to her praise, extant among his other poems.
Michaelmas was now come, but he heard nothing of his wife's return. He wrote to her, but received no answer. He wrote again letter after letter, but received no answer to any of them. He then difpatched a messenger with a letter, defiring her to return; but the positively refused, and dismissed the mesfenger with contempt. Whether it was, that The had conceived any dislike to her husband's perfon or humor ; or whether the could not conform to his retired and philosophical manner of life, having been accustomed to a houfe of much gaiety and company; or whether being of a family strongly attached to the royal caufe, she could not bear her husband's republican principles ; or whether she was overpersuaded by her relations, who possibly might repent of having matched the eldeft daughter of the family to a man so distinguished for taking the contrary party, the King's head-quarters being in their neighbourhood at Oxford, and his Majesty having now some fairer prospect of success; whether any or all of these were the reasons of this extraordinary behaviour; however it was, it so highly incen fed her husband, that he thought it would be difhonorable ever to receive her again after such a repulse, and he determined to repudiate her as she had in effect repudiated him, and to consider her no honger as his wife. And to fortify this his resolution, and at the same time to justify it to the world, he wrote the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, wherein he endevors to prove, that indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind, proceeding from any
unchangeable cause in nature, hindering and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugal fociety, which are solace and peace, are greater reasons of divorce than adultery or natural frigidity, especially if there be no children, and there be mutual consent for feparation. He published it at first without his name, but the stile easily betrayed the author; and afterwards a second edition, much augmented, with his name; and he dedicated it to the Parlament of England with the Assembly of Divines, that as they were then consulting about the general reformation of the kingdom, they might also take this particular cafe of domestic liberty into their confideration. And then, as it was objected, that his do&rin was a novel notion, and a paradox that no body had ever afferted before, he endevored to confirm his own opinion by the authority of others, and published in
644 the Judgment of Martin Bucer 80: And as it was still objected, that his doctrin could not be reconciled to Scripture, he published in 1645 his Tetrachordon or Expositions upon the four chief places in Scripture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in marriage. At the first appearing of the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce the clergy raised a heavy outcry against it, and daily folicited the Parlament to pass fome cenfure upon it; and at laft one of them, in a sermon preached before the Lords and Commons on a day of humiliation in August 1644, roundly told them, that there was a book abroad which deserved to be burnt, and that among their other fans they ought to repent, that they had not yet branded it with some mark of their displeasure. And Mr. Wood informs us, that upon Milton's publishing
Fins theyouth come mark of the Milton's publikinis
his three books of Divorce, the Affembly of Divines, that was then fitting at Westminster, took special notice of them; and notwithstanding his former services in writing against the Bishops, caused him to be summoned before the House of Lords : but that House, whether approving his doctrin, or not favoring his accusers, soon dismified him. He was attacked too from the press as well as from the pulpit, in a pamphlet intitled Divorce at pleasure, and in another intitled an Answer to the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, which was licenced and recommended by Mr. Joseph Caryl, a famous Presbyterian Divine, and author of a voluminous commentary on the book of Job: and Milton in his Colafterion or Reply published in 1645 expostulates smartly with the licencer, as well as handles very roughly the nameless author. And these provocations, I suppose, contributed not a little to make him such an enemy to the Presbyterians, to whom he had before distinguished himself a friend. He composed likewise two of his sonnets on the reception his book of Divorce met with, but the latter is much the better of the two. To this account it may be added from Antony Wood, that after the King's restoration, when the subject of divorce was under consideration with the Lords upon the account of John Lord Ros or Roos his separation from his wife Anne Pierpoint eldest daughter to Henry Marquis of Dorchester, he was consulted by an eminent member of that House, and about the same time by a chief officer of state, as being the prime person who was knowing in that affair.