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first daughter, Anne, who, from some cause unknown, was lame either from her birth or from very early childhood. In the following year occurred the death of his aged and only surviving parent. About the same time his wife's family were restored to the possession of their patrimonial estates, and finally quitted the roof beneath which they had been so generously sheltered. While detailing the few particulars which we possess of Milton's private life at this time, it may be added, that in 1647 his family was increased by the birth of his second daughter, Mary; and that, in the same year, for what reason is not known, he removed from his house in Barbican to one in Holborn, the back part of which opened into Lincoln’s-inn-fields. Meanwhile, public events were occurring of sufficient magnitude to influence the complexion of this country's constitution and destiny, even to the days in which we live, but in which the privacy of Milton's position did not allow of his taking an active part. The civil war had been virtually terminated by the battle of Naseby, and the misguided monarch was from this time a captive; his condition being only varied by the different degrees of liberty which the caution of his victors, justified by a life of faithlessness and falsehood, inclined them to concede. “They had to deal with a man whom no tie could bind; a man who made and broke promises with equal facility; a man whose honour had been a hundred times pawned, and never redeemed.” The essential duplicity of his character marked every act of that brief period of probation which intervened between the final defeat of his arms and the termination of his career. The leaders of the Parliament and the army, alike wearied out and disgusted with his violation of every agreement which the public safety required him to enter into, arraigned him before the Parliament, and convicted and sentenced him to the death of a traitor. The presbyterians, now removed from power, in a spirit worthy of their recent history, endangered the public
tranquillity by their clamours against the execution of the king. During this time Milton had been silent; he had, indeed, written the work we have next to examine, entitled “The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates,” in the course of the year 1647, but it was not published until after the execution of the monarch, in January, 1648, and then only for the purpose of composing the public mind, and reconciling the disaffected to the new government. “Though we think, says Mr. Macaulay, “the conduct of the regicides blameable, that of Milton appears to us in a very different light. The deed was done. It could not be undone. The evil was incurred; and the object was to render it as small as possible. We censure the chiefs of the army for not yielding to the popular opinion; but we cannot censure Milton for wishing to change that opinion. The very feeling which would have restrained us from committing the act, would have led us, after it had been committed, to defend it against the ravings of servility and superstition. For the sake of public liberty, we wish that the thing had not been done, while the people disapproved of it. But, for the sake of public liberty, we should also have wished the people to approve of it when it was done.” Milton himself, at a subsequent period, when it was unnecessary for him to defend himself, declares, “Neither did I write anything respecting the regal jurisdiction, till the king, proclaimed an enemy by the senate, and overcome in arms, was brought captive to his trial, and condemned to suffer death. When, indeed, some of the presbyterian leaders, lately the most inveterately hostile to Charles, but now irritated by the prevalence of the Independents in the nation and the senate, and stung with resentment, not of the fact, but of their own want of power to commit it, exclaimed against the sentence of the Parliament upon the king, and raised what commotions they could, by daring to assert that the doctrine of the Protestant divines, and of all * Edinburgh Review, vol. xlii., p. 334.
the reformed churches, was strong in reprobation of this severity to kings, then at length I conceived it to be my duty publicly to oppose so much obvious and palpable falsehood. Neither did I then direct my argument or persuasion personally against Charles; but, by the testimony of many of the most eminent divines, I proved what course of conduct might lawfully be observed towards tyrants in general; and, with the zeal almost of a preacher, I attacked the strange ignorance or the wonderful impudence of these men, who had lately amused us with the promises of better things. This work was not published till after the death of the king; and was written rather to tranquillize the minds of men, than to discuss any part of the question respecting Charles—a question the decision of which belonged to the magistrate, and not to me, and which had now received its final determination.”
Although Milton had never actively interfered in the measures which led to the execution of Charles, he was no uninterested observer of the great drama of which England was the theatre. No man felt more deeply than he what the most eloquent of his analysts has written, that “he lived at one of the most memorable eras in the history of mankind; at the very crisis of the great conflict between Oromasdes and Arimanes, liberty and despotism, reason and prejudice. That great battle was fought for no single generation, for no single land. The destinies of the human race were staked on the same cast with the freedom of the English people. Then were first proclaimed those mighty principles which have since worked their way into the depths of the American forests, which have roused Greece from the slavery and degradation of two thousand years, and which, from one end of Europe to the other, have kindled an unquenchable fire in the hearts of the oppressed, and loosed the knees of the oppressors with a strange and unwonted fear !”
* Edinburgh Review, vol. xlii., pp. 324, 325.
What Milton's views were of the much-disputed act that interrupted the royal succession, is sufficiently manifest from the treatise presently to be noticed, and from his two Defences of the People of England. This, however, seems the appropriate place in which to present his opinions of the principal actors in that tragic scene. Dr. Johnson observes, with his accustomed injustice, that no man who has written so much as Milton has, is so seldom known to bestow praise. upon others. We have already noticed the cordial respect he repeatedly testified for his Italian friends: the catalogue in refutation of Dr. Johnson's remark will now be increased by the names of Sir Henry Vane, Fairfax, Bradshaw, and Cromwell. His eulogy upon the Protector will be most fitly introduced hereafter. Those upon Fairfax and Vane are contained in the following sonnets:–
“To THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAx.
“To sIR HENRY VanE THE YouNGER.
In all her equipage : besides to know
Both spiritual power and civil, what each means,
What severs each, thou hast learn'd, which few have done The bounds of either sword to thee we owe:
Therefore on thy firm hand Religion leans
In peace, and reckons thee her eldest son.” The historical panegyric upon Bradshaw is found in Milton's “ Second Defence of the People of England;” and as that work, like the “First Defence,” was written in Latin, it is presented in the following translation :-“ John Bradshaw* (a name which will be repeated with applause wherever liberty is cherished or is known) was sprung from a noble family. All his early life he sedulously employed in making himself acquainted with the laws of his country; he then practised with singular success and reputation at the bar: he showed himself an intrepid and unwearied advocate for the liberties of the people: he took an active part in the most momentous affairs of the State, and occasionally discharged the functions of a judge, with the most inviolable integrity. At last, when he was entreated by the Parliament to preside in the trial of the king, he did not refuse the dangerous office. To a profound knowledge
* An American monumental inscription to the memory of this extraordinary man should not be omitted here. It is said to have been dated from Anapolis, June 21st, 1773, and to have been engraven on a cannon, whence copies were taken and hung up in almost every house in the continent of America :
“STRANGER! ere thou pass, contemplate this cannon, nor regardless be told that near its base lies deposited the dust of John BRADSHAW, who, nobly superior to selfish regards, despising alike the pageantry of courtly splendour, the blast of calumny, and the terror of regal vengeance, presided in the illustrious band of heroes and patriots who fairly and openly adjudged CHARLES STUART, tyrant of England, to a public and exemplary death, thereby presenting to the amazed world, and transmitting down through applauding ages, the most glorious example of unshaken virtue, love of freedom, and impartial justice, ever exhibited on the blood-stained theatre of human action. Oh! reader, pass not on till thou hast blessed his memory, and never, never forget, that rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."