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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,
MILTON ON HIS BLINIDNESS.
When I consider how my life is spent “
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 her 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.
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,
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
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 vili—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
we are indebted for much of what we possess of his scanty autobiography—and with political sophisms and historical mis-statements which afforded little more than sport to the wit and learning of the statesman. The opening of the Second Defence is stately and eloquent to the last degree:–“A grateful recollection of the Divine goodness is the first of human obligations; and extraordinary favours demand more solemn and devout acknowledgments. With such acknowledgments I feel it my duty to begin this work. First, because I was born at a time when the virtue of my fellow-citizens, far exceeding that of their progenitors in greatness of soul and vigour of enterprise, having invoked Heaven to witness the justice of their cause, and been clearly governed by its directions, has succeeded in delivering the commonwealth from the most grievous tyranny, and religion from the most ignominious degradation. And next, because, when there suddenly arose many who, as is usual with the vulgar, basely calumniated the most illustrious achievements; and when one, eminent above the rest, inflated with literary pride and the zealous applauses of his partisans, had, in a scandalous publication, which was particularly levelled against me, nefariously undertaken to plead the cause of despotism, I, who was neither deemed unequal to so renowned an adversary nor to so great a subject, was particularly selected by the deliverers of our country, and by the general suffrage of the public, openly to vin. dicate the rights of the English nation, and consequently of liberty itself. Lastly, because in a matter of so much moment, and which excited such ardent expectations, I did not disappoint the hopes nor the opinions of my fellow-citizens; while men of learning and eminence abroad honoured me with unmingled approbation; while I obtained such a victory over my opponent, that, notwithstanding his unparalleled assurance, he was obliged to quit the field with his courage broken and his reputation lost; and for the three years which he lived afterwards, much as he menaced and furiously as he raved, he gave me no further trouble, except that he procured the paltry aid of some despicable hirelings, and suborned some of his silly and extravagant admirers to support him under the weight of the unexpected and recent disgrace which he had experienced. This will immediately appear. Such are the signal favours which I ascribe to the Divine beneficence, and which I thought it right devoutly to commemorate, not only that I might discharge a debt of gratitude, but particularly because they seem auspicious to the success of my present undertaking. For who is there who does not identify the honour of his country with his own? And what can conduce more to the beauty or glory of one's country, than the recovery, not only of its civil, but its religious liberty? And what nation or state ever obtained both by more successful or more valorous exertion? For fortitude is seen resplendent, not only in the field of battle and amid the clash of arms, but displays its energy under every difficulty and against every assailant. Those Greeks and Romans who are the objects of our admiration, employed hardly any other virtue in the extirpation of tyrants, than that love of liberty which made them promptin seizing the sword, and gave them strength to use it. With facility they accomplished the undertaking, amid the general shout of praise and joy; nor did they engage in the attempt so much as an enterprise of perilous and doubtful issue, as in a contest the most glorious in which virtue could be signalized; which infallibly led to present recompense; which bound their brows with wreaths of laurel, and consigned their memories to immortal fame. For as yet tyrants were not beheld with a superstitious reverence; as yet they were not regarded with tenderness and complaceney, as the vicegerents or deputies of Christ, as they have suddenly professed to be; as yet the vulgar, stupified by the subtle casuistry of the priest, had not degenerated into a state of barbarism, more gross than that which disgraces the most senseless natives of Hindostan. For these make mischievous demons,