The Life of John Milton Vol. 3 1643-1649
by David Masson
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On the whole, then, Milton's position among his countrymen from the beginning of 1645 onwards may be defined most accurately by conceiving him to have been, in the special field of letters, or pamphleteering, very much what Cromwell was in the broader and harder field of Army action, and what the younger Vane was, in Cromwell's absence, in the House of Commons. While Cromwell was away in the Army, or occasionally when he appeared in the House and his presence was felt there in some new Independent motion, or some arrest of a Presbyterian motion, there was no man, outside of Parliament, who observed him more sympathetically than Milton, or would have been more ready to second him with tongue or with pen. Both were ranked among the Independents, as Vane also was; but this was less because they were partisans of any particular form of Church- government, than because they were agreed that, whatever form of Church- government should be established, there must be the largest possible liberty under it for nonconforming consciences. If this was Independency, it was a kind of large lay Independency; and of Independency in this sense Milton was, undoubtedly, the literary chief. Only, when he was thought of by the Independents as one of their champions, it was always with a recollection that his championship of the common cause was qualified by a peculiar private crotchet. He figured in the list of the chiefs of Independency, if I may so express it, with an asterisk prefixed to his name. That asterisk was his Divorce Doctrine. He was an Independent with the added peculiarity of being the head of the Sect of Miltonists or Divorcers.


In 1645 Milton still gloried in the asterisk. All the copies of the second and augmented edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce having been sold, there was a reprint of it in this year, forming substantially the third edition of the original treatise. None of his writings hitherto had been in such popular demand; and as, besides the three editions of the original Divorce treatise, there were also in circulation his Bucer Tract, his Tetrachordon, and his Colasterion, he had identified himself with the Divorce subject by a total mass of writing larger than he had yet devoted to any other. While his five Anti-Episcopal pamphlets, of 1641-42, make together 326 pages of his prose works in Pickering's edition, the four Divorce treatises, of 1643-45, make 378 pages of the same; so that, in mere quantity, Milton was 52 pages more a Divorcer than an Anti-Prelatist. He had now, however, as he had announced in his dedication of the Tetrachordon to Parliament, done all that he meant to do on the subject through the medium of mere pamphleteering. But he had hinted to Parliament, while making that announcement, that a man with his opinions might do more than write pamphlets in their behalf. "If the Law make not a timely provision," he had said, "let the Law, as reason is, bear the censure of the consequences." There was a covert threat here that Milton, if the Law would not allow him to marry again, might marry again in defiance of the Law.

Early in 1645, at all events, Milton did think of marrying again. His wife had been away from him for the better part of two years; and she was now nothing more in his memory than a girl who had been in his house in Aldersgate Street as his bride for a few weeks, whom he had found out in that short experience to be stupid and uncompanionable, who had then left him on some pretence, and gone back to her father's house, and whose only communications with him since had been a message or two of contempt and insult. Law or no law, it was all over between him and that girl! All the circumstances where known: his unfortunate position was the talk of neighbours; often, as we have imagined, kindly souls of women, young and older, must have had their colloquies and whispers about his pitiable bachelorhood caused by the shameful desertion of his wife. Kindly talk was all very well: but was there any unmarried lady willing to take the place of the deserter, if asked to do so? This was really the question in Aldergate Street, and in all the round of Milton's acquaintances. Candidates were not likely to be numerous, even among those freer Christian opinionists among whom Milton principally moved; and there was, moreover, a complication in the general difficulty. Milton, having blundered in his choice once, and having principled himself now with very high notions of feminine fitness, was very likely to be careful in a second choice. Was there accessible any lady in whom the two indispensable conditions of fitness and willingness could be found united? This was the problem for Milton, and it is on record that he tried to solve it. One remembers his sonnet "To a Virtuous Young Lady," written about the same time as that to the Lady Margaret Ley, and wonders whether the "virgin wise and pure" there commemorated for her excellencies of mind and character was thought of by him as the possible successor of Mary Powell. Can her name have been Miss Davis? That, at all events, was the name of the lady who was thought of as Mary Powell's probable successor. It is from Phillips that we have the particulars of the story:—

"Not very long after the setting forth of these treatises," says Phillips, referring to the Divorce Treatises, "having application made to him by several gentlemen of his acquaintance for the education of their sons, as understanding haply the progress he had infixed by his first undertakings of that nature, he laid out for a larger house, and soon found it out. But, in the interim, before he removed, there fell out a passage which, though it altered not the whole course he was going to steer, yet it put a stop, or rather an end, to a grand affair, which was more than probably thought to be then in agitation: it was indeed a design of marrying one of Dr. Davis's daughters, a very handsome and witty gentlewoman, but averse, as it is said, to this motion. However, the intelligence hereof, and the then declining state of the King's cause, and consequently of the circumstances of Justice Powell's family, caused them to set all engines on work to restore the late married woman to the station wherein they a little before had planted her. At last this device was pitched upon:—There dwelt in the Lane of St. Martin's-le- Grand, which was hard by, a relation of our author's, one Blackborough, whom it was known he often visited; and upon this occasion the visits were the more narrowly observed, and possibly there might be a combination between both parties, the friends on both sides concentring in the same action, though on different behalfs. One time above the rest, he making his usual visit, the wife was ready in another room, and on a sudden he was surprised to see one whom he thought to have never seen more, making submission and begging pardon on her knees before him. He might probably at first make some show of aversion and rejection; but partly his own generous nature, more inclinable to reconciliation than to perseverance in anger and revenge, and partly the strong intercession of friends on both sides, soon brought him to an act of oblivion, and a firm league of peace for the future; and it was at length concluded that she should remain at a friend's house, till such time as he was settled in his new house at Barbican, and all things for her reception in order. The place agreed on for her present abode was the Widow Webber's house in St. Clement's Churchyard, whose second daughter had been married to the other brother [Christopher Milton] many years before."

Phillips tells the story very clearly, and a little annotation is all that is wanted:—The lady whom Milton thought of, and had perhaps been thinking of for some time, as a possible substitute for Mary Powell, was "one of Dr. Davis's daughters." Who this Dr. Davis was, Phillips, writing at a time when the mere name was probably enough for Londoners, does not inform us; nor have I been able, with any certainty, to identify him. [Footnote: There had been a Thomas Davies, M.D., born about 1564, and educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he had graduated in medicine in 1591, and who was afterwards a medical practitioner in London, and Licentiate and Censor of the Royal College of Physicians there. As he had died in 1615, the youngest of any surviving daughters of his in 1645 must have been past her thirtieth year. But, on the whole, Phillips's words suggest that the Dr. Davis he means was alive in 1645 or had recently been alive; so that this is not likely to have been the one. There was a Nicholas Davis, or Davys, M.D., who had taken that degree at Leyden in 1638, had been incorporated in the same degree at Oxford in 1642, and may have been afterwards in practice in London (Munk's Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and Wood's Fasti, II. 9). The date of his graduation at Leyden, however, seems rather late for the hypothesis that he was Phillips's Dr. Davis. After all, there may have been some other conspicuous Dr. Davis among Milton's acquaintances, and he need not have been a medical doctor.] Dr. Davis, at all events, dead or living, had daughters, one of them "a very handsome and witty gentlewoman," between whom and Milton there was some attempt to arrange a marriage. She herself, however, was naturally "averse to this motion;" and, indeed, one can hardly understand what kind of proposition could have been made to her or her friends. That something was in agitation, nevertheless, and that it was talked of more particularly in the spring and early summer of 1645, Phillips had a positive recollection, more by token because at that very time, he also remembered, his uncle had offers of more pupils than he could accommodate in the house in Aldersgate Street. He had consequently been looking about for a larger house, and had found one suitable close at hand, in the street called Barbican.

Was Miss Davis to be persuaded to be mistress of this new house? Would the "several gentlemen" of Milton's acquaintance who meant to board or half-board their sons with him, or would the spouses of those gentlemen, have been satisfied with that arrangement? The experiment was not to be tried. The house in Barbican had been taken, but Milton had not yet removed into it, when, to Miss Davis's relief, another arrangement was brought about.

Rumours of what was going on, and of the new house in Barbican, had been borne to Oxford, and the Foresthill mansion of the Powells. In any case the news of the Miss Davis project, the "grand affair," as Phillips calls it, could not but have caused some excitement there. But the news came at a time when the family-fortunes were no longer what they had been when Mary Powell had left her Parliamentarian husband and taken refuge again under the maternal wing, amid her Royalist relatives and acquaintances, close to the King's head-quarters. Crippled already, like other Royalist families, by necessary contributions to the King's cause, the Powells had begun to be aware, and more poignantly than others because of their more straitened means, that their sacrifices were likely to be all in vain— that Parliament was to be master, and to have the power of pains and penalties over those whom it called Delinquents. Especially after the shattering blow to the King at Naseby (June 14, 1645), doubt on the subject was nearly at an end. What was then more natural than that distressed Royalist families should be looking forward anxiously to the amount of new distress which the final triumph of Parliament would inflict upon them? And so in the Foresthill mansion there had been grave consultations between Mr. and Mrs. Powell and between Mrs. Powell and her daughter, ending in a resolution, in which Mrs. Powell was perhaps the last to acquiesce—for the daughter afterwards pleaded that her mother all along had been "the chief promoter of her frowardness" [Footnote: Wood, Fasti, I. 482.]—that it would be best for the daughter to return to London and try to make it up with Mr. Milton. At least one member of the family would thus have a roof over her head in the hard time coming; and might not Milton, with his Parliamentarian connexions, be able to befriend the family generally when the time did come? Soon after Naseby, accordingly, we are to imagine the poor young wife taking the journey to London, accompanied by her mother or some other relative, on her humiliating and dubious errand.

How were they to manage when they were in London? It was not a simple matter of going straight to the house in Aldersgate Street and obtaining admission. Ingenuity was necessary, and preparation of a mode for approaching Milton. But that, too, had been thought of. Communications were opened or had already been opened, with those of Milton's friends who, it was supposed, would be willing to co-operate in the intended reconciliation, if not in the wife's interest, at least in his. And which of all Milton's friends was not willing? In such cases, it is in the man himself that the storm rages; he alone passionately feels: the friends that stand by, even most sympathisingly, are cool and collected, regarding the principal only as a difficult patient, who must be soothed and humoured till he can be brought to reason. To Milton's friends his Divorce notion may have seemed a just enough speculation, or one at least about which they would not quarrel with him; the real question with them was as to the continued practical implication of his own life and prospects with such a speculation, infamous as it seemed to respectable society and to the leaders of religious opinion. Let him hold it, if he would, and even write for it still; but was he, at the age of thirty-seven, to wrap up his whole future life in it, and proceed as if he and it must be dashed to pieces together? Was not this reconciliation between him and his wife, of which there seemed now to be a chance, the best thing that could happen for him as well as for her? If once it were brought about, would not things adjust themselves so that the public would hear no more of the perilous stuff of the Divorce Doctrine, or hear of it only in dying echoes? So reasoned Milton's friends then, just as people would reason now in a similar case; and the friendly plot was arranged. Milton, it appears, was in the habit of dropping in, almost daily, in his walk City-wards from Aldersgate Street, on a kinsman of his, named Blackborough, whose house was in St. Martin's-le-Grand Lane— i.e. in that bend of Aldersgate Street which was within the Gate, and where now the General Post-Office of London stands. Here, some day in July or August 1645, he was surprised into an interview with his girl-wife. The good Blackborough had consented to aid and abet, and had lent his house for the purpose; and, other friends being at hand to second him, he had opened, let us say, the door of the room in which Mary Powell was waiting, had ushered Milton in, and had left them together. Then, as Phillips imagines, had come Milton's two moods in succession,— the first his instinctive mood of anger and rejection, and the second that mood of his slow relenting which was witnessed and helped through by the in-bustling friends:—

Mood First.

Samson. My wife, my traitress! let her not come near me!

Chorus. Yet on she moves; now stands and eyes thee fixt, About to have spoke; but now, with head declined, Like a fair flower surcharged with dew, she weeps, And words addressed seem into tears dissolved, Wetting the borders of her silken veil: But now again she makes address to speak.

Dalila. With doubtful feet and wavering resolution I came, still dreading thy displeasure, Samson, Which to have merited, without excuse, I cannot but acknowledge: yet, if tears May expiate (though the fact more evil drew In the perverse event than I foresaw), My penance hath not slackened, though my pardon No way assured. But conjugal affection, Prevailing over fear and timorous doubt, Hath led me on desirous to behold Once more thy face, and know of thy estate; If aught in my ability may serve To lighten what thou suffer'st, and appease Thy mind with what amends is in my power, Though late, yet in some part to recompense My rash, but more unfortunate, misdeed.

Samson. Out, out! hyaena! Samson Agonistes, 725-747.

Mood Second.

She ended weeping, and her lowly plight, Immoveable till peace obtained from fault Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wrought Commiseration: soon his heart relented Towards her, his life so late and sole delight, Now at his feet submissive in distress, Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking, His counsel whom she had displeased, his aid; As one disarmed, his anger all he lost, And thus with peaceful words upraised her soon. Paradise Lost, X. 937-946.

Was this Milton's idealized history long afterwards of his own two moods in Blackborough's house in St. Martin's-le-Grand Lane some time in July or August 1645? So far as it was autobiography at all, I should not say that it was much idealized, except in so far as Dalila in the land of the Philistines, and Eve in Paradise, had to be represented poetically as beautiful, eloquent, and fascinating, while of poor Mary Powell's claims to beauty we know little, and our information as to her eloquence and fascination consists in our irremovable impression that it was of her that Milton had been thinking in that passage in his first Divorce Tract in which he described the hard fate of a man bound fast by marriage to "an image of earth and phlegm." From the side of Milton there was, I think, no idealizing: hardly else than as his own Samson, or his own Adam, in his poems, did Milton feel or speak on any important occasion of his own real experience. If, then, the second mood now prevailed, and he yielded, it was only, I believe, because despair for himself and pity for another overcame him jointly, and what was alone possible was accepted as disastrously fated. So much by way of necessary anticipation, and that there may not be a mistake, even for a moment, as to the real nature of the reconciliation that had been effected. Meanwhile, the friends of both wife and husband were delighted with their success; and, till the new house in the Barbican should be ready, young Mrs. Milton went to lodge in the house of the Widow Webber, Christopher Milton's mother-in-law, near St. Clement's Church in the Strand.


September 1645, when the New Model Army had stormed Bristol and was otherwise carrying all before it in the English South-west, when Montrose in Scotland had been extinguished by David Leslie at Philiphaugh, and when the Presbyterian system had been so far arranged for England that the first order of Parliament for the election of Elders in all the London parishes had gone out, and Triers of the competency of these Elders had been appointed in all the London Presbyteries: then it was, as near as one can calculate, that the interesting house in Aldersgate Street was left by Milton, and he, his wife, his father, the two boys Phillips, and the other pupils, entered together into the new house in Barbican.

It was no great remove. The street called Barbican derived its name, according to Stow, from the fact that at one time there had stood there "a burgh-kenning, or watch-tower of the city, called in some language a barbican;" and modern etymologists perfect Stow's observation by tracing the name, through the mediaeval Latin barbacana, to the Persian bala khaneh, meaning "upper chamber," whence our less corrupt form balcony, actually identical with barbican. [Footnote: Stow, as quoted in Cunningham's London, Art. "Barbican;" and Wedgwood's Dict. of English Etymology, Art. "Balcony."] There had, in short, been a barbican, or outer defence of the city, at this spot, a little beyond the particular gate called Aldersgate, just as there were such things beyond others of the city-gates; but the name had lingered only here as applied to the street or site where a barbican had been. The street, retaining its warlike name, still exists—a short street going off from Aldersgate Street at right angles on one side, and within a walk of not more than two or three minutes from the site of Milton's Aldersgate Street house. The house in Barbican was larger, and so much farther off from the city- gate; but that was all. There was no real change of neighbourhood or of street-associations. A dingy street now, dingier even than the main thoroughfare of Aldersgate Street, Barbican was then a fair enough bit of suburban London towards the north; and it boasted, as we already know, of at least one aristocratic mansion in which Milton had some interest—the town-house of the Earl of Bridgewater, ex-President of Wales, and the peer of Comus. The name "Bridgewater Gardens" still designates, without a shred of garden left there, but only grimy printing-offices and the like instead, the portion of the street which the mansion occupied. Nay more, till within a few years ago; Milton's own house in Barbican, with some modern change of frontage, and some filling-up of interstices right and left, was extant and known. Somehow, while the more important house in Aldersgate Street had perished from the memory of the neighbourhood (probably because the fabric itself had perished), the tradition of Milton still clung around this house in Barbican, I have passed it many a time, stopping to look at it, when it was occupied, if I remember rightly, by a silk-dyer, or other such tradesman, exhibiting on his sign the peculiar name of "Heaven," and using the lower part of it for his shop. Though jammed in with other houses and undistinguished in the line of bustling street, it had the appearance of having once been a commodious enough house in the old fashion; and I have been informed that some of the old windows, consisting of thick bits of dim glass lozenged in lead, still remained in it at the back, and that the occupants knew one of the rooms in it as "the Schoolroom" where Milton had used to teach his pupils. But alas! one of the city railways took it into its head that it required to run through this precise bit of Barbican, and the house, with others near it, was doomed to demolition. When I was last in Barbican part of the shell of the house was still standing, roofless, disfloored, diswindowed, and pickaxed into utter raggedness, as so much rubbish yet waiting to be removed from the new railway gap. The inscription yet remained on the front-door—"This was Milton's House," or to that effect—which had been very properly put there by the contractor or his workmen to lure people to a last look at the interior before the demolition was complete. [Footnote: My information about the interior of the house is from a friend who visited it just when it was doomed. Though I had passed it often when it was yet complete, I had unfortunately, not expecting its doom, deferred going in till it was too late; and my last homage to it had to be a lingering saunter near and in the railway gap behind, when there was only the remnant of it described in the text.]


Among Milton's first employments in his new and larger house in Barbican, while his wife was resuming her duties and the schoolroom was getting gradually into use, we are able to distinguish one of particular interest. It was nothing else than the revision for the press of the proof-sheets of the first collected edition of his Miscellaneous Poems.

By his dealings with the Press hitherto, it is to be remembered, Milton had made himself known to most people chiefly as a prose pamphleteer. Except his lines On Shakespeare, written in 1630, and prefixed anonymously to the Second Folio Shakespeare in 1632; his Comus, written and acted in 1634, and sent to the press, also without the author's name, by his friend Henry Lawes in 1637; and his Lycidas, written in 1637, and printed in 1638, in the Cambridge University volume of Verses on Edward King's death, but only with the initials "J.M.":— except these, and perhaps another scrap or two of Latin or English verse that had been printed in a semi-private manner, all Milton's poems, written at intervals over a period of more than twenty years, had remained in his own keeping in manuscript, and had been communicated to friends only in that form. In consequence of what had been thus printed, or privately circulated, a certain reputation for Milton as a poet had, indeed, been established; but the voice of this reputation was hardly heard amid the much louder uproar caused by his eleven prose-pamphlets between 1641 and 1645. Now, to a man who believed Poesy to be his true calling, who had consented reluctantly to put aside "his garland and singing robes" in order that he might engage in the work of politics, and who had announced while doing so that in that work it was but the strength of his left hand he could lend and not the nobler cunning of his right, this state of public opinion about himself must have begun to be a little disagreeable. It was the most natural thing in the world that, as soon as there should be a lull in the political tumult, the least leisure of the public for a return to purer and blander literature, Milton should make some sign of resuming his garland, so as to remind those about him of his original vocation. But, precisely in the year 1045, when Naseby had assured the victory of Parliament, there did come, for the first time since the war had begun, or indeed since the Long Parliament had met, such a lull of the polemical tumult. The statistics of the English book- trade, as they are presented in the Registers of the Stationers' Company, verify and illustrate this statement.

Even in the year 1640, when there was political agitation enough in England, but the Long Parliament had not yet met, there was still so much leisure for the purer forms of literature in English society that London publishers were bringing out such things as Masques and other remains of Ben Jonson, the Works of Thomas Carew, various Plays by Shirley, Glapthorne, Habington, Heywood, Killigrew, and Brome, an edition of Herrick's Poems, and Thomas May's Supplement to Lucan. As soon, however, as we pass beyond 1640, and the real work of the Long Parliament is begun, such books almost entirely cease to appear. The matter then provided for the reading of the English public consisted of a huge jumble of Pamphlets on the Church-question, Sermons, semi-controversial Treatises of Theology, Political Speeches, fragments of Ecclesiastical History, Prose Invectives and Satires, and latterly, when the Civil War was in progress, an abundance of Diurnals, Intelligencers, Mercuries, and other news-sheets. Between 1640 and 1645 one does indeed discern twinkling in this jumble some gems or would-be gems of the purer ray serene. The "Epigrams Divine and Moral" of Sir Thomas Urquhart, the translator of Rabelais, were published in April 1641; Howell's "Instructions for Foreign Travel" came out in September in the same year; Baker's "Chronicle of the Kings of England" in the following December; in April 1642 there was a London edition of Thomas Randolph's Poems, which had appeared originally at Oxford in 1638; and the publication of Denham's "Cooper's Hill" and his "Tragedy called The Sophy" is a rather notable event of August 1642, the very month in which the King raised his standard. In the same month one London publisher, Francis Smethwick, registered for his copies a number of books of the poetical kind which had been the property of his late father, including "Mr. Drayton's Poems," "Euphues's Golden Legacy," Meres's "Witt's Commonwealth," and also "Hamblett, a Play," "The Taming of the Shrew," "Romeo and Juliet," and "Love's Labour's Lost." This transaction, however, hardly implied that these books were in demand, but only that Smethwick wanted to secure his interest in them on succeeding to his father's business. Afterwards, while the war was actually raging, it is not till December 1644 that one comes upon anything of the finer sort worth mentioning. On the 14th of that month there was registered for publication the first edition of "Poems, &c., written by Mr. Edmund Waller, of Beckonsfield, Esq., lately a member of the Honourable House of Commons," but then, as we know, a disgraced plotter, who, having, by great favour, been permitted to carry his dear-bought life, and his remaining wealth, into exile in France, left this parting gift to his countrymen, that they might think of him meanwhile as kindly as they could. Except that I have not taken notice of a publication or two of the voluminous Scotchman Alexander Rosse, Chaplain to his Majesty, [Footnote: This Alexander Rosse, or "Dr. Alexander Ross," made famous in Hudibras, was one of the singular characters of the time, and a memoir of him, with a complete list of his writings, would be a not uninstructive curiosity. He was a native of Aberdeen, born about 1590, but had migrated to England, where he became Master of the Free School at Southampton, and Chaplain in Ordinary to King Charles. By a succession of publications of all kinds, in Latin and in English., he acquired the reputation of being "a divine, a poet, and an historian." He made a good deal of money, and, at his death in 1654, left bequests, for educational purposes, to Aberdeen, Southampton, Oxford, and Cambridge. ] the foregoing enumeration fairly represents, I believe, the amount of book-production of the purer or non-controversial kind that went on in London in the four loud-roaring years between 1640 and 1645.

In 1645, however, and especially after Naseby, there are symptoms of a slightly revived leisure for other kinds of reading than were supplied by Diurnals, Sermons, Pamphlets, and books of Polemical Theology, and of a willingness among the London booksellers to cater for this leisure. In that year, interspersed amid the still continuing tide of Pamphlets, Diurnals, Sermons, and other ephemerides, were such novel appearances in the London book-world as these—two Treatises, one physical, the other metaphysical, by Sir Kenelm Digby, then abroad; an edition of Buxtorf's Hebrew Grammar; an Essay by Lord Herbert of Cherbury; some metrical religious remains of Francis Quarles, then just dead; some attempts to introduce the mystic Jacob Bohme, by specimens of his works; a translation of AEsop's Fables and those of Phaedrus; the issue of the second and third parts of the Epistolae Hoelianae or James Howell's Letters, with a re-issue of his "Dodona's Grove;" and a re-issue of Randolph's comedy of "The Jealous Lovers." Clearly, as the Civil War was drawing to a close, the Muses of pure History, pure Speculation or Philosophy, Scholarship for its own sake, and even lighter Phantasy, did hover over England again, timidly seeking some spots where they might rest themselves in the all-prevailing controversy between Independency and Presbyterianism.

Almost always, in such cases, a social tendency is represented in the activity of some particular person. Nor is it otherwise here. So far as Poetry and so-called Light Literature are concerned, one has no difficulty in pointing to the particular London publisher who in 1645, and from that year onwards, stood out from all his fellows by his alertness in the trade. This was HUMPHREY MOSELEY, who had his shop at the sign of the Prince's Arms in St Paul's Churchyard. Something in his personal tastes, I am inclined to think, must have determined him to the line of business which he selected; so marked is his avoidance of all dealings in sermons, ephemeral treatises on theology, and pamphlets either way on the present crisis, and his preference for poetry and books of general culture. He had been in the trade, in partnership with a Nicholas Fussel, in St. Paul's Churchyard, as early as 1634, [ Footnote: Wood's Ath. II 503.] and shortly after that is heard of as in business for himself. I have a note of him as registering for his copyright, on March 16, 1639-40, Howell's "Dodona's Grove;" and thenceforward, in worse times, he stuck to Howell. He not only published Howell's "Instructions for Foreign Travel" in September 1641, and again the second and third parts of Howell's "Letters" in 1645, with a re-issue of "Dodona's Grove;" but he acquired, in the same year, the copyright of the first part of the "Letters," which had been originally brought out by another publisher. More significant still is the fact that it was Moseley that was the publisher of Waller's Poems in December 1644. [Footnote: "Poems &c. written by Mr. Ed. Waller of Beckonsfield, Esquire; lately a member of the Honourable House of Commons. All the Lyrick Poems in this Booke were set by Mr. Henry Lawes, Gent. of the King's Chappell, and one of his Majestie's Private Musick. Printed and Published according to Order. London. Printed by T.W. for Humphrey Mosley at the Princes Armes in Paul's Churchyard: 1645:" pp.96 small 8vo. My authority for the date of the publication of the volume—December 1644—is the Stationers' Registers.] After that date his tendency to trade-dealings in Poetry and the like is so manifest in the Stationers' records that I find appended to my MS. notes, from these records, for the London Bibliography of the year 1646, this memorandum:—"Poetry and Pure Literature looking up again this year, and chiefly through the medium of Moseley's shop." By that time Moseley had distinguished himself as the publisher of original editions of books, not only by Howell and Waller, but also by Milton, Davenant, Crashaw, and Shirley, and moreover as the ready purchaser of whatever copyrights were in the market of poems and plays by Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster, Ludwick Carlell, Shirley, Davenant, Killigrew, and other celebrities dead or living. To this group of Moseley's authors Cowley and Cartwright were soon added; and it was not long before he snapped out of the hands of duller men Denham's Poems, Carew's Poems, various things of Sir Kenelm Digby, and every obtainable copyright in any of the plays of Shakespeare, Massinger, Ford, Rowley, Middleton, Tourneur, or any other of the Elizabethan and Jacoban dramatists. For at least the ten years from 1644 onwards there was, I should say, no publisher in London comparable to Moseley for tact and enterprise in the finer literature.

Moseley was only on the way to make all this reputation for himself, and indeed Waller's volume of Poems, published in Dec. 1644, was yet the principal advertisement of his shop, when he and Milton came together. Pleased with the success of the Waller, it appears, Moseley thought of a collection of Mr. Milton's Poems as a likely second experiment of the same kind, and applied to Milton for the copy. The application was not disagreeable to Milton; and, accordingly, some time after the middle of 1645, or just while he was preparing to remove from Aldersgate Street to Barbican, and there came upon him the great surprise of his wife's re- appearance, Moseley and he were busy in arrangements for the new volume. Milton's acknowledged London publishers hitherto had been these three— "Thomas Underhill, of the Bible in Wood Street" (_Of Reformation_, 1641, _Of Prelatical Episcopacy_, 1641, and _Animadversions on Remonstrant's Defence_, 1641), "John Rothwell, at the sign of the Sun in Paul's Churchyard" (_Reason of Church Government_, 1641, and _Apology for Smectymnuus, 1642), and "Matthew Symmons" (the _Bucer Tract_, 1644); and this last-mentioned Symmons, who does not give the locality of his shop, had been probably the printer also of those pamphlets of Milton which bore no publisher's name (_Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce_, 1643, 1644, and 1645, _Of Education_, 1644, _Areopagitica_, 1644, and _Tetrachordon_ and _Colasterion_, 1645). Now, however, these were forsaken for the moment, and for bringing out the Volume of Poems the conjunction was Milton and Humphrey Moseley. The revisal of the proof- sheets may have been begun in Aldersgate Street, but it must mainly, as I have said, have been among Milton's first employments at the new house in Barbican. Here, at all events, is Moseley's entry of the new volume in the Stationers' Registers: "_Oct._ 6 [1645], _Mr. Moseley ent. for his copie, under the hand of Sir Nath. Brent and both the Wardens, a booke called Poems in English and Latyn by Mr. John Milton._" Usually the entry of a book in the Stationers' Registers was about simultaneous with its publication. In this case, however, there was a delay of nearly three months between the registration and the actual appearance. The precise day of the publication of the new volume was Jan. 2, 1645-6. [Footnote: This is ascertained by a MS. note of the collector Thomason's, or by his direction, on a copy among the King's Pamphlets in the British Museum; Press-mark E. 1126. "Jan. 2" is inserted before the word "London" in the title-page.] Either, therefore, Moseley had registered the volume before the printing had proceeded far, or after the sheets were printed there was some little cause of delay.

The following is the title-page of this interesting and now very rare volume:—

"Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, compos'd at several times. Printed by his true Copies. The Songs were set in Musick by Mr. Henry Lawes, Gentleman of the King's Chappel, and one of His Majestie's Private Musick.

'Baccare frontem Cingite, ne vati noceat mala lingua futuro.' VIRGIL, Eclog. vii.

Printed and publish'd according to Order. London, Printed by Ruth Raworth, for Humphrey Moseley; and are to be sold at the signe of the Princes Arms in Paul's Churchyard. 1645."

The volume is a very tiny octavo, divided into two parts in the paging. First come the ENGLISH POEMS, occupying 120 pages, and arranged thus:— On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, compos'd 1629; A Paraphrase on Psalm CXIV. ; Psalm CXXXVI. ; The Passion; On Time; Upon the Circumcision; At a Solemn Music; An Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester; Song on May Morning; On Shakespear, 1630; On the University Carrier who, &c. ; Another on the Same; L'Allegro; Il Penseroso; Sonnets, English and Italian—ten in number (I. "O Nightingale;" II. "Donna leggiadra;" III. "Qual in colle," with the attached "Canzone;" IV. "Diodati e te'l;" V. "Per certo i bei;" VI. "Giovane piano;" VII. "How soon hath Time;" VIII. "Captain or Colonel;" IX. "Lady that in the prime;" X. "Daughter to that good Earl");— Arcades; Lycidas; Comus. [Footnote: To this enumeration of the English pieces in the volume of 1645 I may append three bibliographical notes—(1) Of the 28 pieces the original drafts of 10 still exist in the volume of Milton MSS. in Trinity College, Cambridge—viz.: On Time, Upon the Circumcision, At a Solemn Music, Sonnets 7, 8, 9, and 10, Arcades, Lycidas, and Comus. All these drafts are in Milton's own hand, except that of Sonnet 8, only the heading of which is in his hand. Of the other 18 pieces, the most important of which are L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, the original MSS. have not come down to us. (2) It will be seen that two of the known early English Poems are omitted in the volume: viz. the piece On the Death of a Fail Infant dying of a Coughi.e. the poem on the death of his niece, the infant girl Phillips, written in 1626; and the College piece of 1628 entitled At a Vacation Exercise. These pieces first appeared in the Second Edition of the Poems in 1673. (3) It may also be noted that the latest written pieces which appear in the volume of 1645 are Sonnets 9 and 10—the one to the anonymous young lady, the other to the Lady Margaret Ley. We have assigned them to the year 1644, but they may have been as late as 1645.] As if to call attention to Comus as the longest and chief of the poems, it has a separate title-page, thus, "A Mask of the same Author, presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634, before the Earl of Bridgewater, then President of Wales, Anno Dom. 1645;" but, though there is this break of a new title-page, the paging runs on without interruption, Lycidas ending p. 65, and Comus taking up the rest to p. 120. Here, however, there is a complete break, as if it were intended that the English Poems, there ending, might be bound by themselves. The LATIN POEMS follow as a separate collection, paged separately from p. 1 to p. 88, and with this new title-page prefixed to them: "Joannis Miltoni Londinensis Poemata: quorum pleraque intra annum oetatis vigesimum conscripsit: nunc primum edita. Londini, Typis R.R., Prostant ad Insignia Principis, in Coemeterio D. Pauli, apud Humphredum Moseley, 1645." There is, however, a double arrangement of the Latin Poems, or a distribution of them into two classes. First come those which constitute the so-called ELEGIARUM LIBER; viz., the "Elegies" proper, numbered from I. to VII., as they now stand in all editions of Milton, together with the eight little scraps in the same elegiac verse (five of them on the subject of the Gunpowder Plot, and three on the Italian singer Leonora) which some modern editors have preferred to detach from the Elegies, and put under the separate heading of "Epigrams." This is contrary to Milton's intention; for the phrase "Elegiarum Finis" follows those scraps in the volume, showing that he meant them to go with the Elegies, and that, in fact, he thought it permissible to call anything an Elegy that was written in the ordinary elegiac verse of alternate Hexameter and Pentameter. Accordingly, all his Latin poems in that kind of verse having been included in the Elegiarum Liber, all his other Latin poems, not in that kind of verse, but either in Hexameter pure or in rarer metres, together with two fragments of Greek verse, are regarded as "Sylvae," and constitute the distinct SYLVARUM LIBER which ends the volume. First among the "Sylvae" come the six Latin poems of the Cambridge period—In obitum Procancellarii Medici, In Quintum Novembris, In obitum Praesulis Eliensis, Naturam non pati Senium, De Idea Platonica quemadmodum Aristoteles intellexit, and Ad Patrem; then, by way of typographic interruption, come the two scraps of Greek verse—viz. Psalm LXIV. and the scrap entitled Philosophus ad Regem Quendam, &c.; after which are the two Latin pieces, Ad Salsillum and Mansus, written in Italy, and the Epitaphium Damonis, written immediately after the return to England. This last stands a little apart from the body of the "Sylvae," as if Milton attached a peculiar sacredness to it.

Such is a general description of the First or 1645 Edition of Milton's Miscellaneous Poems. The volume, however, presents some points of additional interest:——Has the reader noticed the motto on the title- page from Virgil's seventh Eclogue? It is peculiarly significant of the mood in which the volume was published. Milton, who had called himself Thyrsis in the Epitaphium Damonis, here adopts in the happiest manner the words of the young poet-shepherd Thyrsis in Virgil's pastoral. Thyrsis there, contending with Corydon for the prize in poetry, begs from his brother shepherds, if not the ivy of perfectly approved excellence, at least

"Some green thing round the brow, Lest ill tongues hurt the poet yet to be."

Could anything more gracefully express Milton's intention in the volume? This collection of his Poems, written between his sixteenth year and his thirty-eighth, was a smaller collection by much, he seems to own, than he had once hoped to have ready by that point in his manhood; but it might at least correct the impression of him common among those who knew him only as a prose pamphleteer. Something green round his brow for the present, were it only the sweet field-spikenard, would attest that he had given his youth to Poesy, and would re-announce, amid the clamour of evil tongues which his polemical writings had raised, that he meant to return to Poesy before all was done, and to die, when he did die, a great Poet of England.

This feeling, which is the motive of the publication, appears curiously in all the details of its arrangement. The order in which the poems are printed, within each division or class, is, as nearly as possible, the order in which they were written; the deviations being only such as proper editorial art required. To almost every juvenile piece, too, whether in English or in Latin, there is prefixed some indication of the exact date of its composition; and the title-page of the Latin Poems distinctly solicits attention to the fact that most of them were composed before the author was twenty. Even more remarkable than this care in the dating is the introduction into the volume of all the eulogiums which Milton had already received from private friends on account of the Poems, or of any portion of them. To the Comus there is prefixed Henry Lawes's eulogistic Dedication of it, in the edition of 1637, to Viscount Brackley, and also Sir Henry Wotton's cordial letter to Milton, with its praise of the poem in that edition, when Milton was on the start for his continental tour in the spring of 1638. To the Latin Poems as a whole there is even a more formal vestibule of encomiums. First of all, there is a little preface by Milton in Latin apologizing to the reader for troubling him with them. "Though these following testimonies concerning the Author," he says, "were understood by himself to be pronounced not so much about him as over him, by way of subject or occasion— it being the general habit of men of brilliant genius, if they are at the same time one's friends, to fashion their praises too eagerly rather by the standard of their own excellencies than by truth—yet he was unwilling that the singular goodwill of such persons towards him should remain unknown, and the rather because others advised him strongly to the step he is now taking. While therefore he puts from him with all his strength the imputation of desiring overpraise, and would rather not have attributed to him more than is due, he cannot deny but he considers the opinion of him meantime by wise and celebrated men a very high honour." Accordingly there here follow the encomiums of his various Italian friends, known to us long ago, and which had been carefully preserved by him till now among his papers—the Latin distich by the famous Marquis Manso of Naples; the outrageously complimentary Latin verses of the two Romans, Salzilli and Selvaggi; and the more interesting Italian ode of compliment and Latin Dedication by the two Florentines, Francini and Carlo Dati. (See Vol. I. pp. 732-4, 753-4, and 768.) One has to remember that the insertion of such commendatory verses in new volumes of poetry was a fashion of the day. But, besides, there was really the anxiety for "something green round the brow." In short, it is as if Milton said to his countrymen—"Here is plenty of greenery, and to spare, with florid stuff intermixed, of which I am rather ashamed: pick out as much or as little of it as you like; only, at this date in my life, to prevent mistake, let me have some kind of garland."

The publisher, Humphrey Moseley, for one, was most willing to oblige Milton. Prefixed to the volume, on the blank space before the poems themselves begin, is this most interesting preface in Moseley's own name:—


"It is not any private respect of gain, gentle Reader—for the slightest Pamphlet is nowadays more vendible than the works of learnedest men—but it is the love I have to our own language, that hath made me diligent to collect and set forth such pieces, both in prose and verse, as may renew the wonted honour and esteem of our English tongue; and it's the worth of these both English and Latin Poems, not the flourish of any prefixed encomions, that can invite thee to buy them—though these are not without the highest commendations and applause of the learnedest Academicks, both domestick and foreign, and amongst those of our own country the unparalleled attestation of that renowned Provost of Eton, Sir Henry Wootton. I know not thy palate, how it relishes such dainties, nor how harmonious thy soul is: perhaps more trivial Airs may please thee better. But, howsoever thy opinion is spent upon these, that encouragement I have already received from the most ingenious men, in their clear and courteous entertainment of Mr. Waller's late choice pieces, hath once more made me adventure into the world, presenting it with these ever- green and not to be blasted laurels. The Author's more peculiar excellency in these studies was too well known to conceal his papers or to keep me from attempting to solicit them from him. Let the event guide itself which way it will, I shall deserve of the age by bringing into the light as true a birth as the Muses have brought forth since our famous Spenser wrote; whose poems in these English ones are as rarely imitated as sweetly excelled. Reader, if thou art eagle-eyed to censure their worth, I am not fearful to expose them to thy exactest perusal.

"Thine to command, HUMPH. MOSELEY."

This is most creditable to Moseley, and confirms the impression of him which is to be derived from all the known facts of his publishing life. One notices, with real respect, his introductory statement about himself, that, in an age when only pamphlets were thought vendible, he was resolved, from his own liking for good literature, to keep to a finer line of business; one observes with interest the admission that it was Moseley who had solicited the copy from Milton, and not Milton who had offered the copy; and one is struck with the justness of taste shown in the hint that, however choice Mr. Waller's late Pieces might be, here was a poet of "more peculiar excellency." Above all, nothing could be critically truer than the assertion that since Spenser's death there had been no English poetry of Spenser's kind equal to that contained in this volume.

Another feature of the volume, for which Moseley, without doubt, is also responsible, is a prefixed portrait of the Author. There was then living in London a certain William Marshall, an engraver and sketcher of designs for books. He had been some fourteen or fifteen years in this employment; and among the many heads he had done, separately, or as frontispieces to books, ere those of Richard Brathwayte the Poet, Dr. Donne, Archbishop Abbot, Laud, and Dr. Daniel Featley. Very probably Moseley had already had dealings with Marshall, as he had certainly had with the more celebrated engraver Hollar, who had done a frontispiece for him for Howell's "Instructions for Foreign Travel." At all events, Hollar being now out of the way and in trouble (he and Inigo Jones were in the Marquis of Winchester's house at Basing when it was taken by Cromwell), it was Marshall that came in for most such pieces of engraving work as Moseley and other London publishers required. The connexion between him and Moseley became, indeed, a permanent one, so that Marshall is perhaps best remembered now by Horace Walpole's description of him as "the graver of heads for Moseley's books of poetry." If the first head he did for Moseley was this for the edition of Milton's Poems in 1645, it was an unlucky beginning of the connexion. It turned out, at all events, to be an unfortunate piece of work for Marshall's own memory with posterity:— Moseley, we are to suppose, insisted on a portrait of Milton as a proper ornament to be prefixed to such a volume, chose Marshall to do it, and sent him to Milton. Now Milton, as we know, had some recollection of Marshall, and not a very respectful one. It was Marshall that had done not only Dr. Featley's portrait, but also the caricature of the different sorts of Anabaptists and Sectaries, including a river-scene with bathers of both sexes, which had been inserted in the Doctor's treatise entitled The Dippers Dipt. Milton, as we have seen (ante, p. 311), while administering punishment to Dr. Featley in his Tetrachordon on account of a passage in this treatise, had not allowed the vulgarity of the engraving in Featley's book to escape. "For which I do not commend his marshalling" had been Milton's punning notice of it in a parenthesis of the punishment. When, therefore, Mr. Marshall came to Milton from Moseley, Milton must have remembered him as the caricaturist for Dr. Featley's book. Nevertheless, he seems to have given him every facility for the portrait wanted. Marshall's habit, in such cases, was to take a sketch from the life when he could get it, but to assist himself with whatever was at hand in the shape of a picture or former engraving. Milton, therefore, may have given him a sitting or two, but perhaps avoided unnecessary trouble by referring to that portrait of himself at the age of 21, now celebrated as "the Onslow Portrait," which then hung in some room in the house in Barbican. As the forthcoming volume consisted largely of Milton's juvenile Poems, an engraving from that portrait, touched up a little, would be the very thing. And so Marshall set to work. His dilatoriness over the plate may have been the cause of the unusual delay in the publication of the volume after it had been registered. In due time, however, the result was presented to Moseley and to Milton. And what a result! How they must have both stared! The general design of the plate was, indeed, pretty enough—an oval containing the portrait, with a background partly of curtain and low wall or window- sill, partly of an Arcadian scene of trees and meadow beyond, in which a shepherd is piping under one of the trees, and a shepherd and shepherdess are dancing; and then, outside the oval, in the four corners, the Muses Melpomene, Erato, Urania, and Clio, with their names. All this was passable; it was the portrait within the oval that gave the shock. The face is that of a grim, gaunt, stolid gentleman of middle age, looking like anybody or nobody, with long hair parted in the middle and falling down on both sides to the lace collar round the neck; one shoulder is cloaked, and the other shown tight in the buttoned tunic or coat; and the arms meet clumsily across the breast, the left arm uppermost. Round the oval was the legend, "Joannis Miltoni Angli Effigies, anno aetatis vigess: pri. W. M. Sculp."—i.e. "Portrait of John Milton, Englishman, in the 2lst year of his age: W. M. Sculp." The legend said twenty-one years of age; the portrait looked somewhere about fifty. What was to be done? What ought to have been done was to cancel the plate and print the book without it. Perhaps not to vex Moseley, Milton did not insist on this, but allowed the engraving, just as it was, to be prefixed to the volume. But he took his revenge in one of the most malicious practical jokes ever perpetrated. "Mr. Marshall," he must have said to the unfortunate engraver, "here are a few lines of Greek which I should like to have carefully engraved on the plate under the portrait," at the same time handing him the following:—

[Greek: Amathei gegraphthai cheiri taende men eikona Phaiaes tach an, pras eidos autophues blepon. Ton d'ektupoton ouk epignontes, philoi, Gelate phaulou dusmimaema xographou.]

Away went Mr. Marshall, and duly, and with some pains, engraved these letters on the plate, utterly ignorant of their meaning. Accordingly, when the volume appeared (Jan. 2, 1645-6), purchasers of it did indeed find Marshall's portrait of Milton in it, but those among them who knew Greek could read, underneath it, inscribed by Marshall's own graving tool, this damning criticism of his handiwork:—

"That an unskilful hand had carved this print You'd say at once, seeing the living face; But, finding here no jot of me, my friends, Laugh at the botching artist's mis-attempt."

[Footnote: This was very savage in Milton; but really, as it turned out, it was a prudent precaution. For, till 1670, Marshall's botch prefixed to the Poems was the only published portrait of Milton-the only guide to any idea of his personal appearance for those, whether friends or foes, whether in Britain or abroad, who were not acquainted with himself. Especially among enemies on the Continent, as we shall find, both Marshall's portrait and Milton's sarcastic disavowal of it were eagerly scanned and interpreted for the worst. As late as 1655, Milton, in his Pro se Defendio contra Alexandrum Morion, had to refer to both portrait and disavowal as follows:—"Now I am a Narcissus with you, because I would not be the Cyclops you paint me from your sight of the most unlike portrait of me prefixed to my Poems. Really, if, in consequence of the persuasion and importunity of my publisher, I allowed myself to be clumsily engraved by an unskilful engraver, because there was not another in the city in that time of war, this argued rather my entire indifference in the affair than the too great care with which you upbraid me." The passage quite confirms the view taken in the text of the way in which the portrait came to be published. In justice to Marshall, it is right to say that he had done much better things, and did better things afterwards for Moseley, than this head of Milton. "Marshall," says Bliss (Wood's Ath. III. 518, Note), "though in general a coarse and hasty performer, is not to be despised, since his heads, though often very rough sketches, bear evident marks of authenticity and resemblance to the originals. The best head he ever engraved, in my opinion, is one of Dr. Donne when young." I can confirm this by saying that his head of Featley really gives one an idea of that obstinate and consequential old divine. I only wish he had done Milton half as well. About Marshall's engraving of Milton see Mr. J. F. Marsh's tract on the Engraved and Pretended Portraits of Milton (Liverpool, 1860). Mr. Marsh thinks, with me, that Marshall based his engraving partly on the Onslow picture, and that that picture suggested the date, aetat. 21, so absurdly given to the engraving.]


Moseley's precious little volume, with the engraver Marshall thus grimly immortalized in it, brings Milton to the beginning of 1646, or twelve months beyond his Tetrachordon and Colasterion. His wife having been for some months back with him, for better or worse, in the house at Barbican, he had dropped the Divorce argument, or at least its public prosecution. That he did so with a certain reluctance, and in no spirit of recantation, appears from two of his Sonnets, which must have been written about the time of the publication of his volume of Poems (Oct. 1645—Jan. 1645-6), but which are not included in that volume, either because they were too late to come in their places after the Ten Sonnets contained in it, or because Milton thought it better not then to print them. "On the Detraction which followed upon my writing certain Treatises" is the title given by Milton himself in MS. to the two Sonnets together; but they may have been written separately.


I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs, By the known rules of ancient liberty, When straight a barbarous noise environs me Of Owls and Cuckoos, Asses, Apes, and Dogs; As when those hinds that were transformed to frogs Railed at Latona's twin-born progeny, Which after held the sun and moon in fee. But this is got by casting pearl to hogs, That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood, And still revolt when Truth would set them free. Licence they mean when they cry Liberty; For who loves that must first be wise and good: But from that mark how far they rove we see, For all this waste of wealth and loss of blood.


A book was writ of late called Tetrachordon, And woven close, both matter, form, and style; The subject new. It walked the town a while Numbering good intellects; now seldom pored on. Cries the stall-reader "Bless us! what a word on A title-page is this!" and some in file Stand spelling false while one might walk to Mile- End Green. Why is it harder, Sirs, than Gordon, Colkitto, or Macdonnell, or Galasp? Those rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek, That would have made Quintilian stare and gasp. Thy age, like ours, O soul of Sir John Cheke, Hated not learning worse than toad or asp, When thou taught'st Cambridge and King Edward Greek.

The second of these Sonnets is printed first in all the editions of Milton, but there is proof that it was written second. [Footnote: It stands first in the Second or 1673 Edition of Milton's Poems; but in the Cambridge MSS, it comes second in Milton's own hand.] And, while the two together form what may be called Milton's poetical farewell to the Divorce subject, the mood in the second, it may be noted, is more humorous than in the first. In the first Milton, still angry, clenches his fist in the face of his generation, as a generation of mere hogs and dogs, unable to appreciate any real form of the liberty for which they are howling and grunting; in the second the spleen is less, and he is content with a rigmarole of rhyme about the queer effects among the illiterate of the Greek title of his last Divorce Pamphlet. And here what is chiefly interesting in the rigmarole is the evidence that Milton had been recently attending to the news from Scotland. The "Colkitto, or Macdonnell, or Galasp" of the Sonnet is no other than our friend Alexander MacDonnell, alias MacColkitto, alias MacGillespie, Montrose's gigantic Major-general; and the "Gordon" is either Lord Aboyne, the eldest son of the Marquis of Huntly, who adhered to Montrose till Philiphaugh, or it is a general name for the many Gordons who were with him (see ante, pp. 348, 358, 367). The odd Scottish and Gaelic names had amused Milton's delicate ear; Gordon rhymed aptly to Tetrachordon; and hence the notion of the Sonnet. [Footnote: Those annotators on Milton who have tried to identify Galasp at all have supposed him to be the Mr. George Gillespie who was one of the Scottish Divines in the Westminster Assembly. There may be a side-reference to him, for Milton must have heard much of him; but the primary reference is not to the Presbyterian minister, but to the huge Colonsay Highlander, recently heard of everywhere as Montrose's comrade in arms, and who was Colkitto, MacDonnell, and Galasp, all in one.]

A third Sonnet, written about the same time, shows even more distinctly the calming effect on Milton's mind produced by his changed mode of life in the house in Barbican, after his wife's return and the publication of his little Volume of Poems. It is the well-known Sonnet to his friend Henry Lawes, the musician.

So far as the two artists, William and Henry Lawes, concerned themselves in the politics of the time, they were, of course, Royalists. Officially attached to his Majesty's household and service, what else could they be? The elder of the two, indeed, William Lawes, had gone into the Royalist army, taken captain's rank there, and been slain quite recently at the siege of Chester (October 1645), much regretted by the King, who is said to have put on private mourning for him. Henry, the younger, and much the more celebrated as a composer, had remained in London, exercising his art as much as might be at such a time, and kept by it in acquaintance with many who, differing in other things, were at one in their love of music. Everybody liked and admired the gentle Harry Lawes, and he was welcome everywhere. But there was still no family with which he was on more intimate terms than with his old patrons of the accomplished Bridgewater group, and there can have been no house where his visits were more frequent than at their house in Barbican. True, the family was greatly reduced from what it had been in the old days of the Arcades and Comus, when Lawes was teacher of music to its budding girls and boys, and the master and stage-director of their tasteful masques and private concerts. The Countess had been ten years dead; Lord Brackley, the heir of the house, and the elder of the boy-brothers in Comus, had wedded, in July 1642, when only nineteen years of age, the Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, daughter of the powerful Royalist Earl, afterwards Marquis and Duke, of Newcastle; and one or two of his sisters, unmarried in the Comus year, had since found husbands. With the widower Earl, however, inhabiting now his town-house in Barbican, and visiting but seldom his country mansion at Ashridge, Herts, there still remained his youngest daughter, the Lady Alice of Comus, verging on her twenty-fifth year, and Mr. Thomas Egerton, the younger of the boy- brothers in Comus, now a youth of about twenty. Probably elder and married members of the family gave the Earl their occasional company; for he was now about sixty-five years of age, in an infirm state of health, sorely impoverished, and in the unfortunate condition of a Peer who would have been with the King if he could, and whom the King had expected to be with him, but who was obliged to plead his infirm health and his poverty for a kind of semi-submission to Parliament. He had reluctantly taken the Covenant (ante, pp. 39,40), and there are entries in the Lords Journals proving that his excuses for non-attendance in the House were barely allowed to pass. Music and books were among the invalid Earl's chief recreations; and some of his happiest moments in his old age may have been in listening to the Lady Alice, or another of his daughters, singing one of Lawes's songs, with Lawes, now the privileged artist- friend rather than the professional tutor, standing by or accompanying. What if it were the Lady Alice, and the song were that well-remembered one of Comus which she had sung, when a young girl, eleven years before, in the Hall of Ludlow Castle, before the assembled guests of her father's Welsh Presidency, her proud mother then among the listeners,—

"Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph that liv'st unseen Within thy airy shell"?

If so, the sound of her voice might have almost reached Milton in his house close by in the same street. At all events, here, in the street called Barbican, by a strange chance, were assembled, within a few yards of each other, at the very time when Comus was first published by Milton himself, and acknowledged among his other poems, at least five of the persons chiefly concerned in the masque on its first production—the Earl in whose honour it had been composed; the Lady Alice, and Mr. Thomas Egerton, two of the chief actors: the musician Lawes, who had directed all, composed the music, and sustained the parts of Thyrsis and the Attendant Spirit in the, performance; and the poet who had written the words.

When Lawes was in Barbican of an evening, it was but a step for him from the Earl's house to Milton's. And then would there not be more music, mingled with talk perhaps about the Bridgewater family, while Mrs. Milton sat by and listened? And would not the old Scrivener come down from his room to see Mr. Lawes, and bring out his choicest old music-books, and almost set aside his son in managing the visit for musical delight? So one fancies, and therefore keeps to the interrogative form as the safest; but the fancy here is really the most exact possible apprehension of the facts as they are on record. Lawes's friendship with Milton had been uninterrupted since 1634; but it so chances that the third point in Milton's life at which his intimacy with Lawes emerges into positive record is precisely the winter of 1645-6, when Milton was the Earl of Bridgewater's neighbour in Barbican, and his Volume of Poems was going through the press. Not only was there reprinted in this volume Lawes's Dedication of the Comus in 1637, "To the Right Honourable John, Lord Brackley, son and heir-apparent to the Earl of Bridgewater;" but in the very title-page of the volume, as arranged by Moseley, Lawes's name is associated with Milton's. "The Songs were set in musick by Mr. Henry Lawes, &c.," says the title-page; and this may mean that not only the songs in Arcades and Comus, but other lyrical pieces in the volume, had been set to music by Lawes. If so, a good deal more of Lawes's music to Milton's words may have been in existence about 1645 than his settings of the five songs in Comus, which are all that have come down to us in his own hand. Songs of Milton set by Lawes may have been in circulation in MS. copies, and may have been as well known in musical families as the numerous songs by Carew, Herrick, Waller and others, which had been set by the same composer; and it may be to this that Moseley alludes by the prominent mention of Lawes in the title-page of the collected Poems. And, if Lawes had done so much for Milton's verse, it was fitting that Milton should make some return in kind. He had indeed introduced skilful compliments to Lawes personally in his Comus; but something more express might be now appropriate. Accordingly, on the 9th of February, 1645-6, or five weeks after the publication of the Poems, Milton wrote the following:—


"Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured song First taught our English music how to span Words with just note and accent, not to scan With Midas ears, committing short and long, Thy worth and skill exempts thee from the throng, With praise enough for Envy to look wan: To after-age thou shalt be writ the man That with smooth air could humour best our tongue. Thou honour'st Verse, and Verse must lend her wing To honour thee, the priest of Phoebus' quire, That tun'st their happiest lines in hymn or story. Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher Than his Casella, whom he wooed to sing, Met in the milder shades of Purgatory."

The original draft of this Sonnet, entitled as above, and with the date "Feb. 9, 1645," attached, and a corrected transcript underneath, both in Milton's own hand, are in the Cambridge volume of Milton MSS. The Sonnet was prefixed by Lawes, with the same title, in 1648 to a publication of some of his own and his deceased brother's compositions, entitled Choice Psalmes put into Musick for Three Voices; but in the Second or 1673 Edition of Milton's Poems it reappeared with the title which it has retained in all subsequent editions: viz. "To Mr. Henry Lawes on his Airs." For biographical purposes it is well to remember the first title and the dating. The Sonnet is, in fact, a memorial of a time when Milton and Lawes must have been much together. [Footnote: The details about the state of the Bridge water family in the text are partly from Todd's Note prefixed to Comus (Todd's Milton, ed. 1852, IV 38-44), partly from entries in the Lords Journals already referred to in this volume. Todd has also (ibid. 45-54) an elaborate, though ill-digested, note on Lawes, with particulars of his continued connexion, to 1653 and beyond, with various members of the Bridgewater family. In the Stationers' Registers there is this entry:—"Nov. 16, 1647, Rich. Woodnoth entered for his copy under the hands of Mr. Downham and Mr. Bellamy, warden, a book called 'Compositions of Three Parts,' by Henry and William Lawes, servants to his Majesty." I suppose this was the book published in 1648 with the title "Choice Psalmes," &c.]


Altogether it was beginning to be a more placid time with Milton. With his book out, his wife restored to him, the Divorce argument dropped, and his pupils to teach, he might look about him quietly on the state of public affairs, and expect what should be the next call on him. There did not seem to be any immediate call. In the month when his volume of Poems appeared Presbyterianism was at its fullest tide in Parliament; but in the succeeding months, what with the increase of Recruiters in the Commons, what with the tramp of Independency in the field growing louder and nearer as the New Model ended its work, he could see the political power of the Presbyterians gradually waning, until, in April 1646, when Cromwell reappeared in London, Anti-Toleration was abashed and the Westminster Assembly itself under control. The spectacle must have been quite to Milton's mind; but, as he had already expressed himself sufficiently on the main question between the Independents and the Presbyterians, and as nobody doubted on which side he was to be ranked, he was disposed to take his ease on this subject too, and to leave the issue to the Parliament and the Army. He was too marked a man, however, to be quite let alone. The Presbyterian writers, true to their policy of publicly naming all prominent heretics and sectaries, and painting their opinions in the most glaring colours, with a view to disgust people with the idea of a Toleration, could not part with Milton and his Divorce Doctrine. After he and his wife were in the Barbican house together, he was still pursued by the hue and cry. Here are two specimens:—

Mr. Baillie on Milton.—"Mr. Milton permits any man to put away his wife upon his mere pleasure without any fault, and without the cognisance of any judge," writes Baillie in the Table of Contents to the First Part of his Dissuasive, published in November 1645; and in the text of the work (p. 116) the statement is amplified as follows:—"Concerning Divorces, some of them [the Independents] go far beyond any of the Brownists; not to speak of Mr. Milton, who in a large treatise hath pleaded for a full liberty for any man to put away his wife, whenever he pleaseth, without any fault in her at all, but for any dislike or dyssympathy of humour. For I do not certainly know whether this man professeth Independency, albeit all the heretics here whereof ever I heard avow themselves Independents. Whatever therefore may be said of Mr. Milton, yet Mr. Gorting and his company were men of renown among the New English Independents before Mistress Hutchinson's disgrace; and all of them do maintain that it is lawful for every woman to desert her husband when he is not willing to follow her in her church-way." In other words, Baillie is not sure that it is fair to charge Milton's extreme opinion upon Independency as such, inasmuch as it may be the crotchet of a solitary heretic; but he is inclined to think that Milton is an Independent, and he knows at least that Mr. Gorting and other Independents have broached a milder form of the same heresy. In his Notes (pp. 144,145) he quotes sentences to the amount of a page from Milton's Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce to prove that he does not misrepresent him.—The "Gorting" here mentioned by Baillie is the "Samuel Gorton" who had been such a sore trouble to the New Englanders, and even to Roger Williams at Providence, by his anarchical opinions and conduct (Vol. II. 601). He had returned or been ejected from America, and was making himself notorious in London. "This I am assured of from various hands," wrote Edwards (Gangr. Part II. p. 144), "that Gorton is here in London, and hath been for the space of some months; and I am told also that he vents his opinions, and exercises in some of the meetings of the sectaries, as that he hath exercised lately at Lamb's Church, and is very great at one Sister Stagg's, exercising there too sometimes." This will explain Baillie's allusion to Gorton in connexion with Milton's Divorce Doctrine. Strange that Gorton should be cited as holding a milder form of the heresy than Milton's!

Mr. Edwards on Milton.—Of course, Milton got into the Gangraena. Everybody that deviated in anything, to the right or left, from the path of Presbyterian orthodoxy, got into that register of scandals; and we have already availed ourselves of information incidentally supplied in the Second and Third Parts of it as to the horror caused by Milton's Divorce Doctrine among the Presbyterians (ante, pp. 189-192). We have still to present, however, Edwards's direct notice of Milton in the First Part of his scandalous medley. It was published in January or February 1645-6; so that, at the very time when Milton's volume of Poems was out, and he was writing his Sonnet to Lawes, he found himself pilloried again in the new book which all London was reading greedily. A leading portion of the book, as we know (ante, pp. 143-5), consisted of a catalogue of 176 "Errors, Heresies, and Blasphemies" that had been vented by divers Sectaries and were then distracting and corrupting the soul of England. Well, the 154th Error, Heresy, and Blasphemy in this catalogue is this:— "That 'tis lawful for a man to put away his wife upon indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangeable; and for disproportion and deadness of spirit, or something distasteful and averse in the immutable bent of nature; and man, in regard of the freedom and eminency of his creation, is a law to himself in this matter, being head of the other sex, which was made for him; neither need he hear any judge therein above himself." To this summary by Edwards of Milton's Doctrine, partly in Milton's own words, the reference is appended in the margin: "Vide Milton's Doctrine of Divorce." (Gangraena, Part I. p. 29.) And so for the moment Edwards dismisses Milton, very much as Baillie had done, to return to him again in the Second and Third Parts of his Gangraena, as Baillie was to do in the Second Part of his Dissuasive.

Milton was provoked. It was not in his nature to let any attack upon him, from whatever quarter, pass without notice; and attacks by persons of such popular celebrity as Baillie and Edwards could hardly be ignored. But, as he had given up the public prosecution of the Divorce argument, his punishment for Edwards and Baillie came in a different form from that which he had administered in the Tetrachordon and Colasterion to Herbert Palmer, Dr. Featley, Mr. Caryl, Mr. Prynne, and the anonymous attorney. It came in verse, thus—


"Because you have thrown off your Prelate lord, And with stiff vows renounced his Liturgy, To seize the widowed whore Plurality From them whose sin ye envied, not abhorred, Dare ye for this adjure the civil sword To force our consciences that Christ set free, And ride us with a Classic Hierarchy, Taught ye by mere A. S. and Rutherford? Men whose life, learning, faith, and pure intent Would have been held in high esteem with Paul, Must now be named and printed heretics By shallow Edwards and Scotch What d'ye call. But we do hope to find out all your tricks, Your plots and packing, worse than those of Trent, That so the Parliament May, with their wholesome and preventive shears, Clip your phylacteries, though baulk your ears, And succour our just fears, When they shall read this clearly in your charge— New PRESBYTER is but old PRIEST writ large."

Milton, we are to suppose, having already written two Divorce Sonnets, did not care to write a third, but preferred to punish Edwards and Baillie in a general Anti-Presbyterian Sonnet. It turned out, however, not a Sonnet proper, but a Sonetto con coda, as the Italians call it, or "Sonnet with a tail"—the Anti-Presbyterian rhythm prolonging itself beyond the fourteen lines that would have completed the normal Sonnet, and demanding the scorpion addition of six lines more. Into this peculiar "tailed Sonnet" Milton condenses metrically all the rage against Presbytery, the Westminster Assembly, and the Anti-Tolerationists, which had already broken forth at large in his later prose pamphlets. The piece is unusually full of historical allusions. It breathes throughout his acquired hatred of the Presbyterians for their opposition to Liberty of Conscience, and their determination that the "Classic Hierarchy," or system of Presbyterian classes which they were establishing in England, should be as compulsory on all as the Prelacy they had thrown off; and there is a palpable side-hit at the recent acquisition by some of the leading Presbyterian Divines in the Assembly of University posts and the like in addition to their previous livings, notwithstanding their outcries against Pluralities in the time of Episcopacy. In this side-hit not a few known Divines are slashed; and among them, I fear, Milton's old tutor Thomas Young, now Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, as well as Vicar of Stowmarket. But the open personal references are four. The "A. S." selected as one prominent expounder of Presbytery is the Scotchman, Dr. Adam Steuart, who, under his initials "A. S.," had been one of the first to rush into print in behalf of strict Presbytery and Anti- Toleration against the Apologetical Narrative of the Independents of the Assembly, and who had been replied to by John Good win, but had since gone into Holland (ante, p. 25). The "Rutherford" coupled with him is the celebrated Scottish divine, and Commissioner to the Assembly, Samuel Rutherford, who had set forth several expositions of strict Scottish Presbytery for the enlightenment of the English. "Shallow Edwards" is obvious enough: he is Mr. Edwards of the Gangraena, once far from a nobody in London, but who will now, through Milton's mention of him, be "Shallow Edwards" to the world's end. In Milton's draft of the Sonnet he was "hair-brained Edwards;" but "hair-brained" was erased, and "shallow" substituted. The "Scotch What d'ye call" has cost the commentators more trouble. Most of them have identified him with George Gillespie, whom they also, though erroneously, suppose to be the "Galasp" of one of the Divorce Sonnets. There can be little doubt now, I think, that I have detected the real "What d'ye call" in Gillespie's fellow- Commissioner from Scotland, our good friend Baillie, whose Dissuasive, with its reference to Milton as one of the heretics of the time, had just preceded Edwards's Gangraena. I am sorry for this, but it cannot be helped. There was, I ought to add, in the original draft of the Sonnet, a fifth personal allusion, which Milton saw fit, on second thoughts, to omit. Line 17, which now stands "Clip your phylacteries, though baulk your ears" (i.e." though pass over your ears and leave them undipped"), was originally "Crop ye as close as marginal P—'s ears." As Milton had already, in his Colasterion, said enough about Prynne and the heavy margins of his many pamphlets, and as the circumstances in which Prynne had lost his ears made the subject hardly a proper one for a public joke, it was but good taste in Milton to make the change.

It is from internal evidence that I assign this famous Anti-Presbyterian outburst of Milton to some early month of the year 1646. [Footnote: The lines were first published in the Second or 1673 Edition of Milton's Poems, and not there among the Sonnets, but as a piece apart, with the title, since always given to it, On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament. The draft of it among the Milton MSS. at Cambridge has the simpler title On the Forcers of Conscience. This draft, however, is not in Milton's own hand, but is a transcript by an amanuensis. Hence we have not the means of determining the date so exactly as if Milton's own draft had been preserved. I am pretty confident that the date cannot be later than 1646, and I fancy copies may have been in private circulation in that year.] It fits in exactly with the state of public affairs and of Milton himself at that time; all the motives to it, public and private, were in existence by the March of that year; and it is difficult to suppose that the composition was of much later date. Or, if it was a little later, the lines fairly represent Milton's feeling at the time to which I assign them. In March, April, and May, 1646, Milton was one of those Englishmen who had done for ever with Presbyterianism, who rejoiced over the curb imposed at length upon the Westminster Assembly by the Independents and Erastians of the Parliament, and who longed to see that conclave dismissed, and the Scots sent packing home.


That the Scots should be sent packing home, but that they should leave the King behind them in English custody, was the result for which all the Independents were anxious. Through May and June 1646, it was for Milton, among the rest, to watch the progress of the negotiations with the Scots at Newcastle round the person of the King, and at the same time to observe the surrender of one after another of the few remaining Royalist garrisons, including the great Royalist capital of Oxford. The siege of this city by Fairfax, begun May 1, a week after the King had left it, and continued for seven or eight weeks with the help of Cromwell and Skippon, must have been a matter of considerable personal interest to Milton, and of more interest to his wife. She was now in a state of health requiring as much freedom from anxiety as possible; but, while the siege was going on, there was good reason for anxiety in the fact that her father and mother, with the rest of her family, or some of them, were in the besieged city and undergoing its dangers. They had taken refuge there on the approach of the Parliamentarian troops into Oxfordshire, leaving their house at Forest-hill to take its chance. What might that chance be, and what worse chances might come of the siege itself? It was a relief when the news came of the actual surrender of the city (June 24), on terms exceedingly liberal to the garrison, the citizens, and all the resident Royalists. The terms, indeed, were thought far too liberal by the Presbyterians. "The scurvy base propositions which Cromwell has given to the Malignants at Oxford has offended many," writes Baillie, June 26; [Footnote: Baillie, II. 376] the reason for the offence being that it was but too clear that the Independents had been in haste to obtain Oxford on any terms whatever, in order that the army might be free to act, if necessary, against the Scots in the north. Anyhow the surrender had taken place. The Princes Rupert and Maurice had left the city with a retinue and promise of liberty to go abroad; the garrison, to the number of 7,000 men, had marched out honourably, with arms and baggage; security for the property of the citizens and the colleges had been guaranteed; and all the miscellaneous crowd of Royalists of various ranks that had been cooped up so long in Oxford were at liberty to disperse themselves on certain stipulated conditions. To one of the Articles of the Treaty of Surrender I must ask special attention, as it came to be of much domestic consequence to Milton in future years:—

"XI. That all lords, gentlemen, clergymen, officers, soldiers, and all other persons in Oxford, or comprised in this capitulation, who have estates real or personal under or liable to sequestrations according to the Ordinance of Parliament, and shall desire to compound for them (except persons by name excepted by Ordinance of Parliament from pardon), shall at any time within six months after the rendering of the garrison of Oxford be admitted to compound for their estates; which composition shall not exceed two years' revenue for estates of inheritance, and for estates for lives, years, and other real and personal estates, shall not exceed the proportion aforesaid for inheritances, according to the value of them: And that all persons aforesaid whose dwelling-houses are sequestered (except before-excepted) may after the rendering of the garrison repair to them, and there abide, convenient time being allowed to such as are placed there under the sequestrations for their removal. And it is agreed that all the profits and revenues arising out of their estates after the day of entering their names as Compounders shall remain in the hands of the tenants or occupiers, to be answered to the Compounders when they have perfected their agreements for their compositions; And that they shall have liberty, and the General's pass and protection, for their peaceable repair to and abode at their several houses or friends, and to go to London to attend their compositions, or elsewhere upon their necessary occasions, with freedom of their persons from oaths, engagements, and molestations during the space of six months, and after so long as they prosecute their compositions without wilful default or neglect on their part, except an engagement by promise not to bear arms against the Parliament, nor wilfully to do any act prejudicial to their [Parliament's] affairs so long as they remain in their quarters. And it is further agreed that, from and after their compositions made, they shall be forthwith restored to and enjoy their estates, and all other immunities, as other subjects, together with the rents and profits, from the time of entering their names, discharged from sequestrations, and from fifths and twentieth parts, and other payments and impositions, except such as shall be general and common to them with others." [Footnote: Whitlocke (ed. 1853), II. 38; also in Rushworth, VI. 282, 283.]

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