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so that Milton's unfortunate opponent was utterly overwhelmed in the encounter. He possessed all the extravagant vanity of a pedant, and must have felt with proportionate acutness his humiliating overthrow. Even his own friends made it matter of complaint that his work was never heard of, while his antagonist's reply was the theme of interest to every court of Europe.
Europe, indeed, seemed to be astonished at the genius thus displayed by one unknown before, and whose work did not win its way to public estimation by the gradual steps of a literary fame, but burst upon it at once with a blaze of splendour. “The scholars of Europe,” says Symmons, “ actuated by a similar spirit with the spectators of the old Olympian games, threw garlands on the conqueror of Salmasius;" and the ambassadors then in London acknowledged the universal estimation of the author by official visits.
Salmasius laboured without success to produce an answer to this masterly defence. He died in 1653, the victim, as was generally believed, of wounded pride, leaving it unfinished; and when at length the fragment was published, the people of England had reversed their judgment by a “glorious restoration;" and it was as useless as it was dangerous for Milton to reply.
On the 2d of May 1652, Milton's family was increased by another daughter, at the cost of her mother's life. The account of his nephew affords abundant evidence that Milton, in receiving back his wife to that place in his home which she had so rashly forfeited, with the generosity of a noble mind, buried the past in oblivion, though she was probably no help-meet for such a man. Yet their domestic life had been the source of endearing ties; and now, when suddenly berest of her society, and left with three orphan daughters, his solitude was rendered the more painful by the rapid advances of blindHis mind must have been long prepared for this trying affliction. In a letter to a friend about this period, he says: “It is about ten years, I think, since I perceived my sight to grow weak and dim;" and he adds that the sight of one eye had almost entirely disappeared fully three years before the other was much affected. That which his physicians had foretold was now rapidly hastening to its fatal accomplishment, but he repined not at the irreparable loss. He had fallen as the good soldier falls, foremost in the battle-field in his country's cause, and he considered that no unworthy shrine whereon to lay so costly a sacrifice. As a Christian, he bore the privation with noble fortitude; as a patriot, with the just consciousness of having deserved well of his country—a debt still unpaid; for England, proud of the Poet whom the world reveres, has shrunk from the acknowledgment of the Patriot's claims; and the monument that bears his name in Westminster Abbey is more a memorial of its titled donor than a tribute to the memory of England's gifted son.
“It is not miserable to be blind,” says Milton, with calm dignity, in reply to one of his heartless antagonists. “He only is miserable who cannot acquiesce in his blindness with fortitude; and why should I repine at a calamity which every man's mind ought to be so prepared and disciplined as to be able to undergo with patience—a calamity to which every man by the condition of his nature is liable, and which I know to have been the lot of some of the greatest and best of my species?”
So completely unimpaired were his energies, that he continued till the Restoration to dictate all the most important foreign correspondence of the Commonwealth. In this high office he took an active share in the foreign policy of Cromwell, which, whatever be the opinion formed of the Protectorate as the government of a free people, is universally acknowledged to have elevated England to the highest rank among the kingdoms of Europe—to have made her respected and feared wherever she was known. Milton penned the indignant remonstrance that stayed the sword of persecution against the helpless Protestants of Piedmont, as well as the sonnet that records their sufferings. He conducted the bold correspondence that set at defiance the haughty bigotry of Spain ; and Johnson closes his narrative of this period of his life in these terms:-“His agency was considered as of great importance; for when a treaty with Sweden was artfully suspended, the delay was publicly imputed to Milton's indisposition; and the Swedish agent was provoked to express his wonder that only one man in England could write Latin, and that man blind."
Like other great geniuses, Milton appears to have sought relaxation only in a change of mental labour. His habit was to devote as many hours each day to intense study as his faculties could bear, and he now engaged in this manner on three great works:—a Latin Dictionary, which, though never published, served as the basis of one afterwards issued from the Cambridge press; a History of England; and his great epic poem.
The dependent situation in which he was now placed by the loss of his sight, and with a young family around him, which his studious habits were alone sufficient to have incapacitated him from taking any charge of, speedily induced him to marry again. He chose as his second wife, Catherine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, a zealous republican. She proved a most tender and affectionate wife, and Milton seems to have been devotedly attached to her; but their happiness was destined to be of very brief duration. Within the year of their marriage she gave birth to a daughter, and very soon followed her to the grave.
In 1657, he was joined in his office of Latin Secretary by his friend, Andrew Marvell; and after his severe affliction, he seems to have withdrawn into the closest retirement, only visiting the court or government offices when absolutely called thither by his public duties. He was equally silent as an author for several years. In a letter, written the year before Cromwell's death, to a young friend in Holland, who had besought his influence for him in some public matter, he says, “I have very few familiars with the gratiosi of the court, who keep myself almost wholly at home, and am willing to do so."
Milton seems to have felt at this period that the time for using his pen in behalf of the Commonwealth was past. Notwithstanding all that has been said on the subject by political opponents and injudicious apologists, there seems no reason to think that Milton disapproved of the general policy of Cromwell. He willingly lent his services till the close of the Protectorate, and he was not the man to co-operate in a government he deemed inimical to the true interests of his country. During the convulsions that succeeded, the probability of his wri:ing being productive of any benefit was still more doubtful, and he remarked on it in a letter to an old pupil, -“My country does not now stand in need of a person to record her intestine commotions, but of one qualified to bring them to an auspicious conclusion.”
The crisis that seemed rapidly approaching, at length urged him to make a last effort in the cause of liberty; and he published, almost immediately before the Restoration had been determined on by the leaders that now assumed the government, an eloquent remonstrance against abandoning “this goodly tower of a Commonwealth which they had begun to build,” fortelling in strong language what proved to be the consequences of restoring the hereditary claimant to the throne. But the courageous effort in behalf of his favourite scheme of a Republic was addressed to unwilling ears. General Monk had already taken his resolution, and this display of Milton's patriot zeal was made in vain.
GENERAL MONK having perfected his arrangements, and the parliament concluded their negotiations with Charles II. at Breda, Milton was discharged from his office as Latin secretary. He was compelled to secrete himself for a time in a friend's house in St. Bartholomew Close until the first burst of vindictive rage in the triumphant royalists was past; and the more effectually to screen him from the search that would otherwise have been instituted, his friends spread a report of his death, and, assembling in mournful procession, followed his supposed corpse to the grave. On the king afterwards learning of this device, it is said to have afforded him much mirth, and he commended his policy “in escaping death by a seasonable show of dying."
In this concealment he remained safe, while some of his old friends expiated their alleged offences by bloody execution, and other cruel indignities, as regicides. Even his public funeral did not stay the issue of a proclamation for his arrest, though it probably prevented any further search. The parliament endeavoured to testify their loyalty hy ordering the AttorneyGeneral to commence a prosecution against him ; and immediately before the passing of the general Act of Oblivion, his two books, the “Eiconoclastes," and the “Defence of the People,” were publicly burnt by the common hangman. The same had been done to the latter work long before at Paris; and now the unfinished reply of Salmasius was published, to crown the whole; it may well be believed only exciting a smile in him against whom these annoyances were directed.
Fortunately for the honour of England, the name of Milton was not included in the list of exceptions to the - Act of Oblivion ; and, accordingly, on its passing, he left his place of concealment, where he had continued nearly four months, only three days after the burning of his writings.
He was arrested on his appearance by the obsequious parliament, but released after a time on the payment of costly fees. From this time till his death, he interfered no more in politics, though ever faithful to his cause; he withdrew entirely into private life, content, like Bacon, to leave his reputation to the judgment of posterity.
He had on many occasions exercised his influence during the period of the Commonwealth, in acts of generosity and benevolence to the discomfited royalists. Sir William Davenant, the poet-laureate of Charles, owed his life to his intercession, and it became a grateful act of gratitude to use his influence in returning the favour. But from this period the few friends of the blind old man seem to have been found among those who, having sympathized with him in his high aspirations for the people's liberty, now mourned over the dissolute excesses in which every hope of it was being swept away.
The account furnished by Aubrey as to the periods at which