« PredošláPokračovať »
Heral Monk, being a brief Delineation of a Free Commonwealth, easy to be put in practice, and without delay. These two pieces were communicated in manuscript to Mr. Toland by a friend, who a little after Milton's death had them from his nephew; and Mr. Toland gave them to be printed in the edition of our author's prose-works in 1698. But Milton, still finding that affairs were every day tending more and more to the subversion of the commonwealth, and the restoration of the royal family, published his Ready and Easy Way to establish a Free Commonwealth, and the Excellence thereof, compared with the Inconveniencies and Dangers of re-admitting Kingship in this Nation. We are informed by Mr. Wood, that he published this piece in February 165960: and after this he published Brief Notes upon a late Sermon intitled, the Fear of God and the King, preached by Dr. Matthew Griffith at Mercers Chapel, March 25, 1660: so bold and resolute was he in declaring his sentiments to the last, thinking that his voice was the voice of expiring liberty.
A little before the King's landing he was discharged from his office of Latin Secretary, and was forced to leave his house in Petty France, where he had lived eight years with great reputation, and had been vi. sited by all foreigners of note, who could not go out of the country without seeing a man who did so much honour to it by his writings, and whose name was as well known and as famous abroad as in his own nation; and by several persons of quality of botla
sexes, particularly the pious and virtuous Lady Ranelagh, whose son for some time he instructed, the same who was Paymaster of the Forces in King William's time; and by many learned and ingenious friends and acquaintance, particularly Andrew Marvel, and young Lawrence, son to the President of Oliver's Council, to whom he has inscribed one of his sonnets, and Marchamont Needham the writer of Politicus, and above all Cyriac Skinner, whom he has honoured with two sonnets. But now it was not safe for him to appear any longer in public, so that by the advice of some who wished him well and were concerned for his preservation, he fled for shelter to a friend's house in Bartholomew Close near West Smithfield, where he lay concealed till the worst of the storm was blown over. The first notice that we find taken of him was on Saturday the 16th of June 1660, when it was ordered by the House of Commons, that his Majesty should be humbly nioved to issue his proclamation for the calling in of Milton's two books, his Defence of the People and Iconaclastes, and also Goodwyn's book intitled the Obstructors of Justice, written in justification of the murder of the late King, and to order them to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman. And at the same time it was ordered, that the Attorney General should proceed by way of indictment or ina formation against Milton and Goodwyn in respect of their books, and that they themselves should be sent for in custody of the Serjeant at Arms attending the
house. On Wednesday June 27th an order of Council was made agreeable to the order of the House of Commons for a proclamation against Milton's and Goodwyn's books; and the proclamation was issued the 13th of August following, wherein it was said that the authors were fled or did abscond; and on Monday August 27th Milton's and Goodwyn's books were burnt according to the proclamation at the Old Baily by the hands of the common hangman. On Wednesday August 29th the act of indemnity was passed, which proved more favourable to Milton than could well have been expected; for though John Goodwyn Clerk was excepted among the twenty perbons, who were to have penalties inflicted upon them, not extending to life, yet Milton was not excepted at all, and consequently was included in the general pardon. We find indeed that afterwards he was in custody of the Serjeant at Arms ; but the time when he was taken into custody, is not certain.
He was not in custody on the 12th of September, for that day a list of the prisoners in custody of the Serjeant at Arms was read in the House, and Milton is not among them ; and on the 13th of September the House adjourned to the 6th of November. It is most probable therefore that after the act of indemnity was passed, and after the House had adjourned, he came out of his concealment, and was afterwards taken into custody of the Serjeant at Arms by virtue of the former order of the House of Commons: but we cannot find that he was prosecuted by the Attorney General,
nor was he continued in custody very long: for on Saturday the 15th of December 1660, it was ordered by the House of Commons, that Mr. Milton now in custody of the Serjeant at Arms should be forthwith released, paying his fees; and on Monday the 17th of December, a complaint being made that the Serjeant at Arms had demanded excessive fees for his imprisonment, it was referred to the committee of privileges and elections to examine this business, and to call Mr. Milton and the Serjeant before them, and to determine what was fit to be given to the Serjeant for his fees in this case; so courageous was he at all times in defence of liberty against all the encroachments of power, and though a prisoner, would yet be treated like a freeborn Englishman. This appears to be the matter of fact, as it
be collected partly from the Journals of the House of Commons, and partly from Kennet's Historical Register: and the clemency of the government was surely very great towards him, considering the nature of his offences; for though he was not one of the King's judges and murderers, yet he contributed more to murder his character and reputation than any of them all: and to what therefore could it be owing, that he was treated with such lenity, and was so eașily pardoned ? It is certain, there was not wanting powerful intercession for him both in Council and in Parliament. It is said that Secretary Morrice and Sir Thomas Clargis greatly favoured him, and exerted their interest in his behalf; and his old friend Ah,
drew Marvel, member of Parliament for Hull, formed a considerable party for him in the House of Commons; and neither was Charles the Second (as Toland says) such an enemy to the muses, as to require his destruction. But the principal instrument in obtaining Milton's pardon was Sir William Dave. nant, out of gratitude for Milton's having procured his release, when he was taken prisoner in 1650. It was life fro life. Davenant had been saved by Milton's interest, and in return Milton was saved at Davenant's intercession. This story Mr. Richardson relates upon the authority of Mr. Pope; and Mr. Pope had it from Betterton the famous actor, who was first brought upon the stage and patronized by Sir William Davenant, and might therefore derive the knowledge of this transaction from the fountain.
Milton having thus obtained his pardon, and being set at liberty again, took a house in Holborn near Red Lion Fields; but he removed soon into Jewen-Street near Aldresgate-Street: and while he lived there, being in his 53d or 54th year, and blind and infirm, and wanting somebody better than servants to tend and look after him, he employed his friend Dr. Paget to choose a proper consort for him, and at his recommendation married his third wife, Elizabeth Minshul, of a gentleman's family in Cheshire, and related to Dr. Paget. It is said that an offer was made to Milton, as well as to Thurloe, of holding the same place of Secretary under the King,