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guished for taking the contrary party, the King's head-quarters being in their neighbourhood at Oxford, and his Majefty having now fome fairer profpect of fuccefs; whether any or all of these were the reafons of this extraordinary behaviour; however it was, it fo highly incenfed her husband, that he thought it would be difhonourable ever to receive her again after fuch a repulfe, and he determined to repudiate her, as fhe had in effect repudiated him, and to confider her no longer as his wife. To fortify this his refolution, and at the fame time to juftify it to the world, he wrote The doctrine and dicipline of divorce; wherein he endeavours to prove, that indifpofition, unfitnefs, 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 folace and peace, are greater reafons of divorce than adultery or natural frigidity, efpecially if there be no children, and there be mutual confent for feparation. He publifhed it at firft without his name; but the ftyle eafily betrayed the author; and afterwards a fecond edition, much augmented, with his name. This book he dedicated to the parliament of England, with the affembly of divines, that as they were then confulting about the general reformation of the kingdom, they might alfo take this particular cafe of domestic liberty into their confideration. And then, as it was objected that his doctrine was a novel notion, and a paradox that no body had ever afferted. before, he endeavoured to confirm his own opinion by the authority of others, and published, in 1644, The judgment of Martin Bucer, &c. And as it was still objected, that his doctrine could not be reconciled to Scripture, he published in 1645 his Tetrachordon; or, Expofitions upon the four chief places in Scripture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in marriage. At the first appearing of The doctrine and difcipline of divorce,. the clergy raifed a heavy outcry against it, and daily folicited the parliament to pafs fome cenfure upon it. At laft one of them, in a fermon preached before the Lords and Commons, on a day of humiliation, in Au
guft 1644, roundly told them, that there was a book abroad which deserved to be burnt; and that among their other fins they ought to repent, that they had not yet branded it with fome mark of their difpleafure. Mr Wood informs us, that upon Milton's publishing his three books of divorce, the affembly of divines, then fitting at Westminster, took special notice of them; and notwithstanding his former fervices in writing against the Bifhops, caufed him to be fummoned before the houfe of Lords: But that houfe, whether approving his doctrine, or not favouring his accufers, foon difmiffed him. He was attacked alfo from the prefs, in a pamphlet, intitled, Divorce at pleafure; and in another, intitled, An anfer to the doctrine and difcipline of divorce, which was licenfed and recommended by Mr. Jofeph Caryl, a famous Prefbyterian divine, and author of a voluminous commentary on the book of Job. Milton, in his Colafietion, or Reply, published in 1645, expoftulates fmartly with the licenfer, as well as handles very roughly the nameless author. Thefe provocations, I fuppofe, contributed not a little to make him fuch an enemy to the Prefbyterians, to whom he had before diftinguished himself a friend. He compofed likewife two fonnets on the reception his book of divorce met with, but the latter is much the better of the two. Mr. Wood fays, that after the King's restoration, when the fubject of divorce was under confideration with the Lords, upon account of John Lord Ros or Rocs's feparation from his wife Anne Pierpoint, eldest daughter to Henry Marquis of Dorchester, he was confulted by an eminent member of that house, and about the fame time by a chief officer of ftate, as being the prime perfon who was knowing in that affair:
But while he was fo clofely engaged in this controverfy of divorce, he nevertheless attended to other things. About this time he published his letter of education to Mr. Samuel Haartlib, who wrote fome things about husbandry, and was a man of confiderable learning. This letter, which has been ufually printed at the end of his poems, is, as I may fay, the B 6 theory
theory of his own practice; and by the rules which he has laid down for education, we fee in fome measure the method that he pursued in educating his own pupils. In 1644 he published his Areopagitica; or, Speech for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the parliament of England. It was written at the defire of feveral learned men, and is perhaps the best vindication that has been publifhed at any time, or in any language, of that liberty which is the bafis and fupport of all other liberties, the liberty of the prefs. But it had not the defired effect; for the Prefbyterians were as fond of exercifing the licenfing power, when they got it into their own hands, as they had been clamorous before in inveighing against it, while it was in the hands of the prelates. And Mr. Toland is mistaken in faying, "that fuch was the effect of this piece, that the fol"lowing year Mabol a licenfer offered reafons against
licenfing; and, at his own requeft, was discharged "that office." For neither was the licenfer's name Mabol, but Gilbert Mabbot; neither was he discharged from his office till May 1649, about five years afterwards; though probably he might be swayed by Milton's arguments, as every ingenious perfon muft, who perufes and confiders them. In 1645 was published a collection of his poems, Latin and English; and if he had left no other monuments of his poetical genius behind him, thefe would have been fufficient to have rendered his name immortal.
But without doubt his doctrine of divorce, and the maintenance of it, principally engaged his thoughts at this period; and whether others were convinced or not by his arguments, he was certainly convinced himfelf that he was in the right; and as a proof of it he determined to marry again, and made his addresses to a young lady of great wit and beauty, one of the daughters of Dr. Davis. But intelligence of this coming to his wife, and the then declining ftate of the King's caufe, and confequently of the circumstances of Juftice Powell's family, caufed them to fet all engines at work to restore the wife again to her husband. His friends too, for different reafons, feem to have
been as defirous of bringing about a reconciliation as her's; and this method of effecting it was concerted between them: He had a relation, one Blackborough, living in the lane of St. Martin's Le Grand, whom he often vifited; and one day, when he was visiting there, it was contrived that the wife fhould be ready in another room. Accordingly, as he was thinking. of nothing lefs, he was surprised to see her, whom he had expected never to have feen any more, falling down upon her knees at his feet, and imploring his forgiveness with tears*. At first he showed fome figns of averfion, but he continued not long inexorable; his wife's intreaties, and the intercellion of friends on both fides, foon wrought upon his generous nature, and procured a happy reconciliation, with an act of oblivion of all that was paft. But he did not take his wife home, till he had got a house he had hired in Barbican fitted up for his family, his house in Alderfgate-street not being large enough. The part that Milton acted in this whole affair, fhowed plainly that he had a spirit capable of the strongest refentment, but yet more inclinable to pity and forgivenefs. And neither in this was any injury done to the other lady whom he was courting; for the is faid to have been always averse from the motion, not daring, I suppose, to venture in marriage with a man
* It is not to be doubted (fays Mr. Fenton in his account of our author's life) but an interview of that nature, fo little expected, must wonderfully affect him: And perhaps the impreffions it made on his imagination, contributed much to the painting of that pathetic fcene in Paradife Loft, in which Eve addressed herfelf to Adam for pardon and peace. At the interceffion of his friends who were prefent, after a short reluctance, he generously facrificed all his refentment to her tears.
Soon bis heart relented.
Tow'rds her, his life fo late and fole delight,
P. L. x. 940.
Mr. Thyer thinks there is little room to doubt but that the particu lar beauties of this charming fcene are owing to an interview of the fame nature which he had with his own wife, and that he is only here defcribing those generous and tender fentiments which he then felt and experienced.
who was known to have a wife ftill living. He might not think himself too at liberty as before, while his wife continued obftinate; for his moft plaufible argument for divorce proceeds upon a fuppofition, that the thing be done with mutual confent.
After his wife's return, his family was increafed not only with children, but also with his wife's relations; her father and mother, her brothers and fifters, coming to live with him in the general distress and ruin of the royal party; and he was fo far from refenting their former ill treatment of him, that he generously protected them, and entertained them very hofpitably, till their affairs were accommodated through his intereft with the prevailing faction. Upon their removal, and the death of his own father, his houfe looked again like the house of the Mufes. But his ftudies had like to have been interrupted by a call to public business: For about this time there was a defign of conftituting him Adjutant-general in the army under Sir WilJiam Waller; but the new-modelling of the army focn following, that defign was laid afide. Not long after, his great houfe in Barbican being now too large for his family, he quitted it for a fmaller in High Holburn, which opened backward into Lincoln's-inn Fields, where he profecuted his ftudies till the King's trial and death; when the Prefbyterians declaiming tragically against the King's execution, and afferting that his perfon was facred and inviolable, provoked him to write The tenure of kings and magistrates, proving that it is lawful to call a tyrant to account, and to depofe or put him to death; and that they who of late fo much blame depofing, are the men who did it themselves. This book he published in the beginning of 1649, to fatisfy and compofe the minds of the people. Not long after, he wrote his Obfervations on the articles of peace between the Earl of Ormond and the Irish rebels. In these and all his writings, whatever others of different parties may think, he thought himfelf an advo cate for true liberty; for ecclefiaftical liberty in his treatifes against the bifhops, for domeftic liberty in his books of divorce, and for civil liberty in his writings