The eldest son did shrink from the hard post of executor under the will; but the widow did not. This appears from the probate of the will, dated March 26, 1647, when she appeared as executrix before Sir Nathaniel Brent of the Prerogative Court, took the oath, and had the administration committed to her. [Footnote: Probate attached to the will in Doctors' Commons. There is a second Probate in the margin, dated May 10, 1662, showing that then the eldest son, Richard Powell, at the age of forty-one, reclaimed the executorship, and was admitted to it, the former Probate being set aside. This fact does not concern us at present.] It was, as we shall find, a legacy of trouble and vexation to her, and collaterally to Milton as her son-in-law, for many years; and, as we shall also find, she fought in it perseveringly and bravely. The trouble and vexation, however, so far as records revive it, do not begin within our limits in this volume. For the present it is enough to add that, some time after Mr. Powell's death and burial, his widow and children removed from Milton's house in the Barbican, and quartered themselves elsewhere. They can hardly have gone back to Oxfordshire. Not only was Forest-hill no home for them now, but the smaller tenement and grounds at Wheatley in the same county seem to have been equally unavailable. There is documentary proof, at least, that immediately after Mr. Powell's death, in the same month of January 1646-7, his relative Sir Edward Powell, Bart., took formal possession of that property in consequence of his legal title to it from non-payment of the sum of L300 which he had advanced to Mr. Powell, on that security, five years before (see Vol. II. p. 497). [Footnote: Document, dated Aug. 28, 1650, among the Composition Papers given by Hamilton (86, 87).] This transaction, by a relative, may, like the similar transaction by Sir Robert Pye, have had some meaning in favour of the Powells; but, on the whole, though Mrs. Powell may have managed to dispose of some of her children, especially the elder boys, by appeal to relatives, the probability is that she remained in London and kept most of them with her. There is evidence that she had to live on in most straitened circumstances. Relatives probably did something for her; and Milton, as we shall find, performed his part.
Little more than two months after the burial of Mr. Powell, and possibly before the removal of his widow and children from the house in Barbican, there was another funeral from that house. It was that of Milton's own father. Father-in-law and father had gone almost together, and the house was in double mourning.
Who can part with this father of one of the greatest of Englishmen without a last look of admiration and regret? Nearly fifty years ago, in the last years of Elizabeth's reign, we saw him, an "ingeniose man" from Oxfordshire, detached from his Roman Catholic kindred there, and setting up in London in the business of scrivenership, with music for his private taste, and a name of some distinction already among the musicians and composers of the time. Then came the happy days of his married life in Bread Street, all through James's reign, his business prospering and music still his delight, but his three surviving children growing up about him, and his heart full of generous resolves for their education, and especially of pride in that one of them on whose high promise teachers and neighbours were always dilating. Then to Cambridge University went this elder son, followed in time by the younger, the father consenting to miss their presence, and instructing them to spare no use of his worldly substance for their help in the paths they might choose. It had been somewhat of a disappointment to him when, after seven years, the elder had returned from the University with his original destination for the Church utterly forsworn, and with such avowed loathings of the whole condition of things in Church and State as seemed to bar the prospect of any other definite profession. There had been the recompense, indeed, of that son's graceful and perfected youth, of the haughty nobleness of soul that blazed through his loathings, and of his acquired reputation for scholarship and poetry. And so, in the country retreat at Horton, as age was beginning to come upon the good father, and he was releasing himself from the cares of business, how pleasant it had been for him, and for the placid and invalid mother, to have their elder son wholly to themselves, their one daughter continuing meanwhile in London after her first husband's decease, and then younger son also mainly residing there for his law-studies. What though the son so domiciled with them was plowing up to manhood, still without a profession, still absorbed in books and poetry, doing exactly as he liked, and in fact more the ruler of them than they were of him? Who could interfere with such a son, and why had God given them abundance but that such a son might have the leisure he desired? All in all, one cannot doubt that those years of retirement at Horton had been the most peaceful on which the old man could look back. But those years had come to an end. The sad spring of 1637 had come; the invalid wife had died; and he had been left in widowhood. Little in the ten years of his life since then but a succession of shiftings and troubles! For a while still at Horton, sauntering about the church and in daily communion with the grave it contained, his younger son and that son's newly-wedded wife coming to keep him company while the elder was on his travels. Then, after the elder son's return, the outbreak of the political tumults, and the sad convulsion of everything. In this convulsion his two sons had taken opposite sides, the elder even treasuring up wrath against himself by his vehement writings for the Parliamentarians. How should an old man judge in such a case? The Horton household now broken up, he had gone for a time with Christopher and his wife to Reading, but only to be tossed back to London and the safer protection of John. We have seen him under that protection in Aldersgate Street, all through the time of Milton's marriage—misfortune and the Divorce pamphlets. There was some comfort, on the old man's account, in the picture given of him by his grandson Phillips, then in the same house, as living through all that distraction "wholly retired to his rest and devotion, without the least trouble imaginable." All the same one fancies him having his own thoughts in his solitary upper room, contrasting the now with the then, and feeling that he had become feeble and superfluous. A cheerful change for him may have been the larger house in Barbican, with his son's forgiven wife in her proper place in it and more numerous pupils going in and out, and at last the birth of the infant-girl that made his grandfatherhood complete in all its three branches. He had been about eighteen months in this house. The Civil War had come to an end, and the King had been surrendered by the Scots at Newcastle and shifted to the second stage of his captivity at Holmby House, and Christopher Milton had returned ruefully to London from Exeter to sue out pardon for his delinquency, and the impoverished Powells also had come to the house from Oxford. Old Mr. Powell and old Mr. Milton had been a good deal together, and at length, when Mr. Powell was dying, old Mr. Milton may have assisted, scrivener-like, in the framing of his will. Only two months afterwards his own turn came. No will of his has been found, and probably he had made a will unnecessary by previous arrangements. His Bible and music-books left in his room may have been the mementoes of his last occupations. He was buried, March 15, 1646-7, in the chancel of the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, not far from Barbican; and the entry "John Milton, Gentleman, 15" among the "Burialls in March 1646" may be still looked at with interest in the Registers of that parish. [Footnote: To the courtesy of the Rev. P. P. Gilbert, M.A., Vicar of the parish, I owe a certified copy of the burial- entry.]
Nothing came from Milton's pen on the occasion; but one remembers his Latin poem "Ad Patrem," written fifteen years before, and the lines with which that poem closes may stand fitly here as the epitaph for the dead:—
"At tibi, care Pater, postquam non aqua merenti Posse referre datur, nec dona rependere factis, Sit memorasse satis, repetitaque munera grato Percensere animo, fidaeque reponere menti. Et vos, O nostri, juvenilia carmina, lusus, Si modo perpetuos sperare audebitis annos, Nec spisso rapient oblivia nigra sub Orco, Forsitan has laudes decantatumque parentis Nomen, ad exmplum, sero servabitis aevo." [Footnote: It seems to me not improbable that the poem, as originally written, ended at the word "menti." and that the last six lines, beginning "Et vos," were an addition when Milton published his Poems in 1645 his father then residing with him.]
SONNET XIV, AND ODE TO JOHN ROUS.
Since the removal from the Aldersgate Street house to that in Barbican, Milton, as we know, had ceased from prose pamphleteering; and all that he had done of a literary kind, besides publishing his volume of collected Poems, had been his two Divorce Sonnets, his Sonnet to Henry Lawes, and his Sonnet with the scorpion tail, entitled On the Forcers of Conscience. To these have now to be added, as written since Aug. 1646, two other scraps—viz.: the Sonnet marked XIV. in most of our modern editions of his Poems, and the Latin Ode to John Rous which generally appears at or near the end of the Latin portion of these editions.
Sonnet XIV., though printed without a heading by Milton himself in the Second or 1673 edition of his Poems, and often so printed still, exists fortunately in two drafts in his own hand (one of them erased) among the Milton MSS. at Cambridge, and bears there this heading, also in his own hand: "On the Religious memory of Mrs. Catherine Thomson, my Christian friend, deceased 16 Decemb. 1646." We have no other information about this Mrs. Catherine Thomson than is conveyed by these words and the Sonnet itself; and the fact that we know of her existence only by chance suggests to us how many friends and acquaintances of Milton there may have been in London whose very names have perished. One may suppose her to have been a neighbour of Milton's, and rather elderly. That he had no ordinary respect for her appears from the fact that he felt moved to write something in her memory. If written exactly at the time of her death, it was while his house was full of the Powells, and Mr. Powell was grieving over the state of his affairs and perhaps known to be dying. There is a suggestion, however, in the wording, that it may have been written later.
"When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never, Had ripened thy just soul to dwell with God, Meekly thou didst resign this earthy load Of death, called life, which us from Life doth sever. Thy works, and alms, and all thy good endeavour, Stayed not behind, nor in the grave were trod; But, as Faith pointed with her golden rod, Followed thee up to joy and bliss for ever. Love led them on; and Faith, who knew them best Thy handmaids, clad them o'er with purple beams And azure wings, that up they flew so drest, And speak the truth of thee on glorious themes Before the Judge, who thenceforth bid thee rest And drink thy fill of pure immortal streams."
Certainly written in Barbican between the death of Mr. Powell and that of Milton's father, but in a very different strain from the foregoing, is the Latin Ode to Rous, the Oxford Librarian. The circumstances were these:—
Milton, we have had proof already, cared enough both about his opinions and about his literary reputation to adopt the common practice of sending presentation-copies of his books to persons likely to be interested in them. He had sent out, we have seen, such presentation-copies of Lawes's 1637 edition of his "Comus," and of some of his pamphlets individually. We find, however, that in 1645 or 1646, when he had published no fewer than eleven pamphlets in all, and when moreover his English and Latin Poems had been issued by Moseley, he must have taken some pains to secure that copies of the entire set of his writings, as then extant, should be in the hands of eminent book-collectors and scholars. Thus, in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, there is a small quarto volume containing ten of the pamphlets bound together in this order—"Of Reformation," "Of Prelatical Episcopacy," "The Reason of Church- government," "Animadversions upon the Remonstrant's Defence," "An Apology against a modest Confutation," "The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," "The Judgment of Martin Bucer," "Colasterion," "Tetrachordon," "Areopagitica;" and the volume exhibits (in a slightly mutilated form, owing to clipping in the re-binding) this inscription in Milton's autograph: "Ad doctissimum virum, Patricium Junium, Joannes Miltonius haec sua, unum in fasciculum conjecta, mittit, paucis hujusmodi lectoribus contentes" ("To the most learned man, Patrick Young, John Milton sends these things of his, thrown together into one volume, content with few readers were they but of his sort") The volume, therefore, though it has found its way to Dublin, originally belonged to the Scotchman Patrick Young, better known by his Latinized name of Patricius Junius, one of the most celebrated scholars of his time, especially in Greek, and for more than forty years (1605?-1649) keeper of the King's Library in St. James's, London. Milton, it is clear, did not intend the gift for the Royal Library, unless Young chose to put it there. He meant it for Young himself, with whom he had probably some personal acquaintance, and who was of Presbyterian sympathies, and in fact then under the orders of Parliament. [Footnote: There is a facsimile of the inscription to Young in Sotheby's Milton Ramblings, p. 121; but I am indebted for a more particular account of the volume, with a tracing of the inscription, to the Rev. Andrew Campbell of Dublin. There is a memoir of Young in Wood's Fasti, I. 308-9]
About the time when Milton sent this collection of his pamphlets to Patrick Young, or perhaps a little later, he sent a similar gift to another librarian, expressly in his official capacity. This was John Rous, M.A., chief Librarian of the Bodleian at Oxford from 1620 to 1652, Milton, there is reason to believe, had known Rous since the year 1635 (see Vol. I. p. 590); at all events an acquaintance had sprung up between them, as could hardly fail to be the case between a reader like Milton and the keeper of the great Oxford Library; and, as Rous's political leanings, Oxonian though he was, were distinctly Parliamentarian, there was no reason for coolness on that ground. Accordingly, Rous, it appears, had asked Milton for a complete copy of his writings for the Bodleian, and had even been pressing in the request. Milton at length had despatched the required donation in the form of a parcel containing two volumes—the Prose Pamphlets bound together in one volume, and the Poems by themselves in the tinier volume as published by Moseley. On a blank leaf at the beginning of the larger volume he had written very carefully with his own hand a long Latin inscription, "Doctissimo viro, proloque librorum aestimatori, Joanni Rousio" &c.; which may be given in translation as follows: "To the most learned man, and excellent judge of books, John Rous, Librarian of the University of Oxford, on his testifying that this would be agreeable to him, John Milton gladly forwards these small works of his, with a view to their reception into the University's most ancient and celebrated Library, as into a temple of perpetual memory, and so, as he hopes, into a merited freedom from ill- will and calumny, if satisfaction enough has been given at once to Truth and to Good Fortune. They are—'Of Reformation in England,' 2 Books; 'Of Prelatical Episcopacy,' 1 Book; 'Of the Reason of Church-government,' 2 Books; 'Animadversions on the Remonstrant's Defence,' 1 Book; 'Apology against the same,' 1 Book; 'The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,' 2 Books; 'The Judgment of Bucer on Divorce,' 1 Book; 'Colasterion,' 1 Book; 'Tetrachordon: An Exposition of some chief places of Scripture concerning Divorce,' 4 Books; 'Areopagitica, or a Speech for the Freedom of the Press;' 'An Epistle on Liberal Education;' and 'Poems, Latin and English,' separately." Here, it will be seen, Milton sends to Rous the same pamphlets he had sent to Patrick Young, and in the same order, only adding the Letter on Education to Hartlib, and the Moseley volume of Poems. Now, all the pieces so enumerated, with the inscription, had duly reached Rous in the Bodleian, with one exception. In the carriage of the parcel to Oxford the tiny volume of Poetry had somehow dropped out or been abstracted; so that Rous, counting over the pieces by the inventory, found himself in possession only of the eleven prose-pamphlets. He had intimated this to Milton, and petitioned for another copy of the Poems to make good the loss of the first. Milton complied; but, as the loss of the first copy had amused him, he took the trouble of writing a mock-heroic Latin ode on the subject to Rous, and causing this ode, transcribed on a sheet of paper in a secretary hand of elaborate elegance, to be inserted by the binder in the new copy, between the English and the Latin portions of the contents. This is the Ode to Rous of which we have spoken as, with the exception of Sonnet XIV., the sole known production of Milton's muse during those eight months of his Barbican life which have brought us to our present point. When he printed it in the second or 1673 edition of his Poems, he prefixed the exact date, "Jan. 23, 1646" (i.e. 1646-7). It was written, therefore, in the interval between Mr. Powell's death and his father's—three weeks after the one, and six or seven weeks before the other. The manuscript copy sent to Rous still exists in the Bodleian in the volume into which it was inserted; and in the same library they show also the volume of the eleven collected prose pamphlets, with the previous inscription to Rous in Milton's autograph. [Footnote: Warton's Note on the Ode to Rous (Todd's Milton, IV. 507-9); Milton's Poems ed. 1678, Latin portion, p. 90; Sotheby's Milton Ramblings, pp. 113-121, where there is a fac-simile of the inscription in the Bodleian volume of the prose pamphlets, and also a fac-simile of a considerable portion of the Latin Ode to Rous from the MS. copy in the other Bodleian volume. The "inscription" is indubitably Milton's autograph; Mr. Sotheby thinks the "ode" also to be in his penmanship, though not in his usual hand, but in a "beautiful secretary hand" which he assumed for the special purpose. Judging from the fac-simile, I doubt this, and think the transcript may have been by some professional scribe.—According to Warton's account, it is by accident that these two precious volumes have been preserved in the Bodleian. In 1720 a number of books, whether as being duplicates or as being thought useless, were weeded out of the Library and thrown aside, and a Mr. Nathaniel Crynes, one of the Esquire Bidels and a book collector, was permitted to have the pick of these for himself on the understanding that he was to leave the Library a valuable bequest. Fortunately Mr. Crynes did not care for the Milton volumes, and so they went back to the shelves.]
The ode is headed "Ad Joannem Rousium, Oxoniensis Academiae Bibliothecarium: de Libro Poematum amisso, quem ille sibi denuo mitti postulabat, ut cum aliis nostris in Bibliotheca publica reponeret, Ode" ("To John Rous, Librarian of the University of Oxford: An Ode on a lost Book of Poems, of which he asked a fresh copy to be sent him, that he might replace it beside our other books in the Public Library").
What strikes one first in reading the Ode is the strange metrical structure. Evidently in a whim, and to suit his mock-heroic purpose, Milton chose a peculiar form of mixed verse, distantly suggested by the choruses of the Greek dramatists, and more closely by some precedents in Latin poetry. There are three Strophes, each followed by an Antistrophe, and the whole is wound up by a closing Epodos. In an appended prose note Milton calls attention to this novelty, and explains moreover that he had taken considerable liberties with the verse throughout, pleasing his own ear, and regarding rather the convenience of modern reading than ancient prosodic rules. Altogether, in this respect, the poem was a bold experiment, for which Milton has been taken to task by purists among his commentators down to our own time.
It is the matter, however, that interests us most here. The ode opens half-humorously with an address to the little book he was sending to Rous. It is described as a pretty little book enough, with two sets of contents and a double arrangement of paging to match, neatly but simply bound (fronde licet gemina, munditieque nitens non operosa), and containing the juvenile productions of a certain Poet of no superlative merit (haud nimii poetae), written partly in Britain and partly in Italy, partly in English and partly in Latin. [Footnote: Critics have objected to Milton's volume, phrase "fronde licet gemina," on the ground that "fronte" would be the better Latin word for "title- page." But Milton did not mean only that there were two title pages in the volume, one to the English and one to the Latin poems; he meant also that these two sets of poems were paged separately throughout. His phrase "fronde gemina," ("with double leafing") was therefore perfectly exact.] Then the Antistrophe asks what had become of the former copy of the same, on its way to the sources of the Thames and the great seat of learning there established. The second Strophe and Antistrophe continue the strain, with a hope that now at length the wretched civil tumults may cease in England and Peace and Literature come back, but still with a return of the query what could possibly have become of the missing volume between London and Oxford, and into what clownish hands it might have fallen. In the third Strophe and Antistrophe there is a compliment to Rous as the faithful keeper of one of the most splendid libraries in the world, with acknowledgment of his kindness in seeking to have the missing volume replaced, so that it might have a chance of readers in such glorious company and in all-famous Oxford. The closing Epode may be given in the skilful, though rather lax, rendering of Cowper:—
"Ye, then, my Works, no longer vain And worthless deemed by me, Whate'er this sterile genius has produced, Expect at last, the rage of envy spent, An unmolested happy home, Gift of kind Hermes and my watchful friend, Where never flippant tongue profane Shall entrance find, And whence the coarse unlettered multitude Shall babble far remote. Perhaps some future distant age, Less tinged with prejudice, and better taught, Shall furnish minds of power To judge more equally. Then, malice silenced in the tomb, Cooler heads and sounder hearts, Thanks to Rous, if aught of praise I merit, shall with candour weigh the claim."
ITALIAN REMINISCENCES: LOST LETTERS FROM CARLO DATI OF FLORENCE: MILTON'S REPLY TO THE LAST OF THEM.
Our next trace of Milton, through anything written by himself in his Barbican abode, belongs to April 1647, the month after his father's death. We owe it also perhaps to the fact that the publication of his Poems by Moseley had given him an opportunity of distributing presentation-copies of some of his former writings.
A feature in that volume, it may be remembered, was its richness in Italian reminiscences. Not only were there included among the English Poems the five Italian Sonnets and the Italian Canzone which Milton is believed to have written in Italy; not only were the encomiums of his Italian friends, Manso of Naples, Salzilli and Selvaggi of Rome, and Francini and Dati of Florence, prefixed to the Latin Poems, with a note of explanation; not only among these Latin poems did he print the three pieces to the singer Leonora, the Scazontes to Salzilli, and the fine farewell to Manso; but in the Epitaphium Damonis, or pastoral on Charles Diodati's death, which ended the volume, and which had been written immediately after his return to England, there were references throughout to his Italian experiences, and passages of express mention of Dati, Francini, the Florentine group generally, and the venerable Manso. What more natural than to have sent copies of such a volume to the various Italian friends named in it, to remind them of the Englishman to whom they had been so kind. The venerable Manso, indeed, was by this time dead; Salzilli seems to have been dead; the great Galileo, whom Milton had at least once visited near Florence, had died in 1642; but most of the Florentine group were still alive. To these last, all of them poets themselves more or less, Milton might have been expected to send copies of his volume. Or, if he did not trouble them with the English part, which they could not read, he might have sent them at least the Latin part, which had been separately paged, and provided with a separate title and imprint, precisely in order that it might be so detached. For a reason which will appear Milton did not even do this. He seems, however, to have procured from the printer some copies of the last eleven pages of the Latin part, which contained the Epitaphium Damonis by itself, and to have sent these to Florence. Either so, or by some prior transmission of this particular poem to his Florentine friends, unaccompanied by any letter, copies of it had reached them. This we learn from the sequel.
Of all Milton's Florentine friends none had remembered him more faithfully than young Carlo Dati (see Vol. I. pp. 724-5). Only nineteen years of age when Milton had visited Florence in 1638-9, but then a leading spirit in the literary Academies of the city, and especially enthusiastic in his attentions to strangers, he had outgone all the others, except Francini, in his admiration of the Englishman who had come among them, and in the extravagance of his parting adieu. The admiration was real; and, after Milton had gone, young Dati had often thought of him, often talked of him among his companions of the Delia Crusca and of Gaddi's more private Academy of the Svogliati, often wondered what he was doing in his native land. Three times at intervals he had written to Milton; but all the letters had miscarried. Conceive, then, Dati's pleasure, when, some time in 1646 (if that is the correct supposition), a copy of the Epitaphium Damonis reached him from London, and he read the passage there in which Milton had made such affectionate mention of his Florentine friends of 1638-9, and of himself and Francini in particular. Immediately he wrote to Milton a fourth time; and this letter, more fortunate than its predecessors, did arrive at its destination. Milton, on his part, though the letter must have reached him about the time of his father's death, had peculiar pleasure in receiving it and returning an answer. The answer was in Latin, and may be translated as follows:—
"To CHARLES DATI, Nobleman of Florence.
"With how great and what new pleasure I was filled, my Charles, on the unexpected arrival of your letter, since it is impossible for me to describe it adequately, I wish you may in some degree understand from the very pain with which it was dashed, such pain as is almost the invariable accompaniment of any great delight yielded to men. For, on running over that first portion of your letter, in which elegance contends so finely with friendship, I should have called my feeling one of unmixed joy, and the rather because I see your labour to make friendship the winner. Immediately, however, when I came upon that passage where you write that you had sent me three letters before, which I now know to have been lost, then, in the first place, that sincere gladness of mine at the receipt of this one began to be infected and troubled with a sad regret, and presently a something heavier creeps in upon me, to which I am accustomed in very frequent grievings over my own lot: the sense, namely, that those whom the mere necessity of neighbourhood, or something else of a useless kind, has closely conjoined with me, whether by accident or by the tie of law (sive casu, sive lege, conglutinavit), they are the persons, though in no other respect commendable, who sit daily in my company, weary me, nay, by heaven, all but plague me to death whenever they are jointly in the humour for it, whereas those whom habits, disposition, studies, had so handsomely made my friends, are now almost all denied me, either by death or by most unjust separation of place, and are so for the most part snatched from my sight that I have to live well nigh in a perpetual solitude. As to what you say, that from the time of my departure from Florence you have been anxious about my health and always mindful of me. I truly congratulate myself that a feeling has been equal and mutual in both of us, the existence of which on my side only I was perhaps claiming to my credit. Very sad to me also, I will not conceal from you, was that departure, and it planted stings in my heart which now rankle there deeper, as often as I think with myself of my reluctant parting, my separation as by a wrench, from so many companions at once, such good friends as they were, and living so pleasantly with each other in one city, far off indeed, but to me most dear. I call to witness that tomb of Damon, ever to be sacred and solemn to me, whose adornment with every tribute of grief was my weary task, till I betook myself at length to what comforts I could, and desired again to breathe a little—I call that sacred grave to witness that I have had no greater delight all this while than in recalling to my mind the most pleasant memory of all of you, and of yourself especially. This you must have read for yourself long ere now, if that poem reached you, as now first I hear from you it did. I had carefully caused it to be sent, in order that, however small a proof of talent, it might, even in those few lines introduced into it emblem-wise, [Footnote: See the lines themselves in the translation of the Epitaphium Damonis, Vol. II. p. 90.] be no obscure proof of my love towards you. My idea was that by this means I should lure either yourself or some of the others to write to me; for, if I wrote first, either I had to write to all, or I feared that, if I gave the preference to any one, I should incur the reproach of such others as came to know it, hoping as I do that very many are yet there alive who might certainly have a claim to this attention from me. Now, however, you first of all, both by this most friendly call of your letter, and by your thrice-repeated attention of writing before, have freed the reply for which I have been some while since in your debt from any expostulation from the others. [Footnote: Although I have supposed that the copies of the Epitaphium Damonis sent by Milton to Italy were from the sheets of the Moseley volume of 1645 as it was passing through the press, the reader ought to note, with me, the possibility (already hinted, and now implied in this passage of the letter to Dati) that Milton had sent copies in some form at an earlier date—say immediately after the poem was written, and when his parting from his Italian friends was quite recent.] There was, I confess, an additional cause for my silence in that most turbulent state of our Britain, subsequent to my return home, which obliged me to divert my mind shortly afterwards from the prosecution of my studies to the defence anyhow of life and fortune. What safe retirement for literary leisure could you suppose given one among so many battles of a civil war, slaughters, flights, seizures of goods? Yet, even in the midst of these evils, since you desire to be informed about my studies, know that we have published not a few things in our native tongue; which, were they not written in English, I would willingly send to you, my friends in Florence, to whose opinions I attach very much value. The part of the Poems which is in Latin I will send shortly, since you wish it; and I would have done so spontaneously long ago, but that, on account of the rather harsh sayings against the Pope of Rome in some of the pages, I had a suspicion they would not be quite agreeable to your ears. Now I beg of you that the indulgence you were wont to give, I say not to your own Dante and Petrarch in the same case, but with singular politeness to my own former freedom of speech, as you know, among you, the same you, Dati, will obtain (for of yourself I am sure) from my other friends whenever I may be speaking of your religion in our peculiar way. I am reading with pleasure your description of the funeral ceremony to King Louis, in which I recognise your style (Mercurium tuum)—not that one of street bazaars and mercantile concerns (compitalem ilium et mercimoniis ad dictum) which you say jestingly you have been lately practising, but the right eloquent one which the Muses like, and which befits the president of a club of wits (facundum ilium, Musis acceptum, et Mercurialium virorum praesidem). [Footnote: The production of Dati to which Milton refers, and of which a copy had probably accompanied Dati's letter, was an Italian tract or book, entitled "Esequie del la Maesta Christianiss: di Luigi XIII. il Giusto, Re di Francia e di Navarra, celebrate in Firenze dall altezza serenissima di Ferdinando Granduca di Tose., e discritte da Carlo Dati: 1644." Louis XIII. of France had died May 14, 1643, and the Grand Duke of Tuscany had ordered a celebration in his honour at Florence.—The hint that Dati was now engaged in mercantile business is confirmed by subsequent evidence.] It remains that we agree on some method and plan by which henceforth our letters may go between us by a sure route. This does not seem very difficult, when so many of our merchants have frequent and large transactions with you, and their messengers run backwards and forwards every week, and their vessels sail from port to port not much seldomer. The charge of this I shall commit, rightly I hope, to Bookseller James (Jacobo Bibliopolae), or to his master, my very familiar acquaintance (vel ejus hero mihi familiarissimo). [Footnote: I have translated this as well as I can, but it is obscure. Did Milton refer to some Florentine "Jacopo," a bookseller (the publisher of Dati's Esequie?), and playfully entrust the arrangement of the future means of correspondence to Dati himself, as master of the services of this person?] Meanwhile farewell, my Charles; and give best salutations in my name to Coltellini, Francini, Frescobaldi, Malatesta, Chimentelli the younger, anyone else you know that remembers me with some affection, and, in fine, to the whole Gaddian Academy. Again farewell!
London: April 21, 1617." [Footnote: This letter to Dati is the tenth of Milton's Epistolae Familiares, as published by himself in 1674, and reprinted in the collected editions of his works. By a curious chance, however, a MS. copy of it exists in Milton's own hand—either a draft which Milton kept at the time, or perhaps the actual copy sent to Dati. It is one of some valuable Milton documents in the possession of Mr. John Fitchett Marsh of Warrington, who has described it in his Milton Papers, printed for the Chetham Society in 1851, and given there a fac-simile of the beginning and end of it. There is a copy of this fac- simile in Mr. Sotheby's Milton Ramblings (p. 122). Mr. Marsh, who is inclined to think that the MS. is the actual letter as it reached Dati, has favoured me with an exact list of some verbal variations in it from the printed copy. They are slight, but rather confirm the idea that the printed copy is from the draft which Milton kept and that the MS. was the transcript actually dispatched to Italy. Thus, while the printed copy is headed merely "Carolo Dato, Patricio Florentino," the MS. is headed "Carolo Dato, Patricio Florentino, Joannes Miltonius, Londinensis, S.P.D." Again, at the close, instead of the printed dating "Londino, Aprilis 21, 1647," the MS. presents the dating "Londini: Pascatis feria tertia, MDCXLVII," ("London: the third feast day of Easter, 1647.") On this Mr. Marsh, in a note to me, remarks ingeniously, "Dating from the feast-day, according to the Roman Catholic usage, in writing to an Italian friend, indicates a tolerance and politeness worth noticing." Easter in 1647 fell on Sunday, April 18, so that the third day, or Easter-Tuesday, was April 20. The printed copy is dated a day later.]
There are passages in this letter which we can interpret now better than Dati can have done then. The sentences in which Milton speaks of his hard fate in being tied by accident or law to the constant companionship of people with whom he had no sympathy, while those whom he really cared for were distant or dead, may have been read by Dati with only a vague general construction of their meaning, and perhaps would not have been written by Milton to any one capable of a more exact construction from knowledge of the circumstances. We can now discern in them, however, a reference by Milton to his domestic troubles, to the worry brought on him by the whole Powell connexion, and perhaps also to the recent loss of his father. Altogether the letter is a melancholy one. One sees Milton, as he wrote it in Barbican in the spring of 1647, the gloomy master of an uncomfortable household.
PEDAGOGY IN THE BARBICAN: LIST OF MILTON'S KNOWN PUPILS: LADY RANELAGH.
Yet precisely this spring of 1647, if we are to believe his nephew Phillips, was Milton's busiest time with his pupils. "And now," says Phillips, after mentioning the death of Milton's father, and the departure at last of the Powell kindred from the house in Barbican, "the house looked again like a house of the Muses only, though the accession of scholars was not great. Possibly his proceeding thus far in the education of youth may have been the occasion of some of his adversaries calling him Pedagogue and Schoolmaster; whereas it is well known he never set up for a public school to teach all the young fry of a parish, but only was willing to impart his learning and knowledge to relations, and the sons of some gentlemen that were his intimate friends, besides that neither his converse, nor his writings, nor his manner of teaching ever savoured in the least anything of pedantry; and probably he might have some prospect of putting in practice his academical institution, according to the model laid down in his sheet Of Education!" Taking this passage in connexion with prior passages already quoted from the same memoir, we are to conclude that, though Milton's practice in teaching had begun as far back as 1639-40, when he gave lessons to his two nephews in his lodgings in St. Bride's Churchyard, and although the practice had been kept up all through the time of his residence in Aldersgate Street, when his nephews boarded with him and other pupils were gradually added (1640-45), yet it was in the Barbican house, and there more especially in 1647, that his employment in pedagogy was most engrossing. The house had been taken expressly that there might be accommodation for additional pupils, and such pupils had come in—not in any considerable number, nor yet miscellaneously from the neighbourhood, but rather by way of favour on Milton's part to select boys whose parents knew him well, and were anxious that they should have the benefit of his instructions.
As to Milton's theories and methods of education we are already sufficiently informed. This may be the place, however, for a list of those who can be ascertained to have had the honour of being his pupils. Perhaps that honour may have been shared by as many as twenty or thirty youths in all, afterwards distributed through English society in the seventeenth century, and some of them living even into the eighteenth; but I have been able to recover only the following:—[Footnote: It is to be understood that Milton may have continued the practice of pedagogy, in individual cases at least, after the Barbican period of its fullest force, and hence that one or two of the pupils in my present list may not have been in the Barbican house, but may be strays afterwards undertaken by him, on special request, in those later days and those other houses into which we have yet to follow him. As it is not worth while, however, to break up such a list, I present all Milton's known pupils, of whatever date, in one cluster.]
EDWARD PHILLIPS (the elder nephew):—Not ten years old when he first received lessons from Milton in the St. Bride's Churchyard lodging, this elder nephew, after five years of board in Aldersgate Street, and about a year and a half in Barbican, had reached his seventeenth year. He had received the full benefit so far of his uncle's method of teaching; and, if he were to go to the University, it was about time that he should be preparing. About two years after our present date, or in March 1648-9, by whatever management of his uncle, or of his mother and step-father, Mrs. and Mr. Agar, he did enrol himself in Magdalen Hall, Oxford. The rest of his life will concern us hereafter. [Footnote: Wood's Ath., IV. 760, and Godwin's Lives of the Phillipses, p. 12.]
JOHN PHILLIPS (the younger nephew):—This nameson of Milton's, first committed to his entire charge in the St. Bride's Churchyard lodging, had been as long under training as his elder brother, and had now reached his sixteenth year. He was to remain a more unmixed example of his uncle's training, for he never went to any University. He also will reappear in the subsequent course of his uncle's life. [Footnote: Wood's Ath., IV. 764, and Godwin.]
RICHARD HEATH, OR HETH:—That a person of this name was among Milton's pupils, rests on the evidence of one of Milton's own Epistolae Familiares, dated Dec. 1652, and addressed "Richardo Hetho." As he was then a minister of the Gospel somewhere, it is to be inferred that he was one of the earliest pupils of the Aldersgate Street days. I have not been able to identify him farther.
——PACKER:—"Mr. Packer, who was his scholar," is one of Aubrey's Jottings about Milton, written in 1680 or thereabouts. This is a very insufficient clue. A John Packer, who had taken the degree of Doctor of Physic at Padua, was incorporated in the same degree at Oxford, Feb. 19, 1656-7. [Footnote: Aubrey's Notes on Milton's Life (Godwin's reprint, p. 349); Wood's Fasti, II. 196.]
CYRIACK SKINNER:—He was the third son of William Skinner, a Lincolnshire squire (son and heir of Sir Vincent Skinner, Knt., of Thornton College, co. Lincoln) who had married Bridget Coke, second daughter of the famous lawyer and judge, Sir Edward Coke. As his father died in 1627, Cyriack must have been at least twenty years of age in 1647: he had, therefore, been one of the Aldersgate Street pupils. The fact that he was a grandson of the great Coke was one of his distinctions through life; but he was to become of some note in London society on his own' account. The connexion formed between him and Milton continued, as we shall find, unbroken and affectionate through future years. Indeed, there came to be associations, presumably through Cyriack, between Milton and other persons of the name of Skinner. A Daniel Skinner, and a Thomas Skinner, presumably relatives of Cyriack's, are heard of as merchants in Mark Lane, London, from 1651 onwards. This Daniel Skinner, merchant, had a son, Daniel Skinner, junior, whose acquaintance with Milton in the end of his life led to curious and important results. Care must be taken, even now, not to confound this far future Daniel Skinner, junior (not born till about 1650), with our present Cyriack, his senior, and probable kinsman. [Footnote: Aubrey's Notes; Wood's Ath., III. 1119; Skinner's Pedigree in Introd. to Bishop Sumner's Translation of Milton's Treatise on Christian Doctrine (1825); Hamilton's Milton Papers, 29 et seq. and 131-2. Wood (Fasti, I. 486) has confounded Cyriack Skinner in one particular with the much later Daniel Skinner junior, and the mistake has been kept up.]
HENRY LAURENCE:—There is no positive attestation, as in the other cases, that this person, certainly intimate with Milton in subsequent years, began acquaintance with him as one of his pupils. The presumption is so strong, however, that I risk including him. He was the second son of Henry Laurence, of St. Ives, Hunts, member for Westmoreland in the Long Parliament, known in 1647 as a thoughtful man, and author of "A Treatise of our Communion and War with Angels," and afterwards a staunch Oliverian, President of Cromwell's Council (1654), and one of his Lords (1657). He had an elder son, Edward, who was fourteen years of age in 1647, and died in 1657, when Henry became the heir. Therefore, if we are right in supposing Henry to have been Milton's pupil in the Barbican, he cannot have been older than twelve or thirteen at the time. [Footnote: Wood's Ath., IV. 63, 64; note by Bliss.]
SIR THOMAS GARDINER, OF ESSEX:—That a person of this name was among Milton's pupils in the Barbican, either with the title already, or having it to come to him, seems to be implied in a statement of Wood, quoted in the next paragraph.
RICHARD BARRY, 2ND EARL OF BARRIMORE:—"To this end that he might put it in practice," says Wood, after describing Milton's system of education as explained in his Letter to Hartlib, "he took a larger house, where the Earl of Barrimore sent by his aunt the Lady Ranelagh, Sir Thomas Gardiner of Essex, to be there with others (besides his two nephews) under his tuition." [Footnote: Wood's Fasti (edit. by Bliss), I. 483. The sentence is exactly in the same form in earlier editions.] The pointing and structure of the sentence make it obscure; but I take the meaning to be that Wood had heard of two of Milton's pupils in the Barbican house specially worth naming on account of their rank—the Earl of Barrimore and Sir Thomas Gardiner—and that he had also been informed that it was the Earl of Barrimore's aunt, the Lady Ranelagh, that had placed that young Irish nobleman under Milton's charge. The full significance of this was clear when Wood wrote, for Lady Ranelagh was then still alive, and known as one of the most remarkable women of her century; but readers now may need to be informed who Lady Ranelagh was.—Her husband was Arthur Jones, 2nd Viscount Ranelagh in the Irish peerage; but that was not her chief distinction. By birth she was a Boyle, one of the daughters of that Richard Boyle, an Englishman of Kent, who, having gone over to Ireland in 1588, had risen there, by his prudence and integrity through three reigns, to be successively Sir Richard Boyle, Lord Boyle of Youghall, Viscount Dungarvan, and Earl of Cork, with the office of Lord High Treasurer of Ireland, and with vast estates both in Ireland and England. This great Earl, dying in good old age in 1643, after some final service against the Irish Rebellion, left four sons mid six daughters surviving out of a total family of fifteen. The eldest surviving son, Richard, till then Viscount Dungarvan, succeeded to the Earldom of Cork, and was afterwards created Lord Clifford of Lanesborough (1644) and Earl of Burlington (1664) in the English peerage; the second, Roger, created Baron Broghill in his father's lifetime, bore that title till the Restoration, with a high character for wisdom and literary talent, which he maintained afterwards as Earl of Orrery; the next, Francis, after giving proof of his Royalism both in England and in exile, received a place with his brothers in the Irish peerage as Viscount Shannon; and the fourth and youngest, born Jan. 25, 1626-7, was called to the end of his days merely "The Hon. Mr. Robert Boyle," but became the most famous of them all as "the divine philosopher," and founder of English Chemistry. So also, among the daughters, though all were "ladies of great piety and virtue and an ornament to their sex," one was the paragon. This was Catharine, Viscountess Ranelagh, born March 22, 1614-15, or twelve years before her brother Robert. Of her reputation for "vast reach both of knowledge and apprehension," "universal affability," and liberality both of mind and of purse, there is the most glowing tradition, interspersed with facts and anecdotes; and the singularly strong mutual affection that subsisted between her and her brother Robert till the close of their lives runs like a silver thread through that philosopher's biography. At our present date she was yet a young woman, but her influence among the members of her family was already recognised. Since the Irish Rebellion the fixed residence of herself and her husband had been in (Pall Mall?) London. Here her relatives from Ireland and elsewhere gathered round her; and here in 1644 her youngest brother, the future chemist, turning up brown and penniless, a foreign-looking lad of eighteen, after his six years of travel abroad, had been received with open arms. He had remained in her house about five months, and then had retired to his estate of Stalbridge in Dorsetshire, where he continued mainly till 1650, corresponding with her from amid his speculative studies and his apparatus for chemical experiments.—One other service, if Anthony Wood's information is correct, Lady Ranelagh must have rendered about the same time to another member of her family. Most of her sisters had married into noble English or Irish houses; but the eldest of them, Alice, Lady Barrimore, had been left a widow with three young children by the death of her husband, David, first Earl of Barrimore. This death had occurred before that of her father the great Earl of Cork, and in that Earl's will, dated Nov. 24, 1642, he had shown his concern for this unexpected widowhood of his eldest daughter by special bequests to her three children. Two of them, being daughters, were to receive 1,000l. apiece; and for the behoof of the only son there was this provision: "For that I have ever cordially desired the restitution and recovery of the Earl of Barrimore's noble and anciently honourable house, that his posterity may raise the same to its former lustre and greatness again, and in regard that in my judgment there is no way so likely and probable (God blessing it) to redeem and bring home the encumbered and disjointed estate of the said Earl, and his house and posterity, as by giving a noble, virtuous, and religious education to the said now young Earl, my grandchild, who, by good and honourable breeding, may (by God's grace) either by the favour of the prince, or by his service to the King and country, or a good marriage, redeem and bring home that ancient and honourable house, which upon the marriage of my daughter unto the late Earl I did with my own money freely clear: I do hereby, for his lordship's better maintenance and accommodation in the premises, bequeath unto my said grandchild, Richard, now Earl of Barrimore, from the time of my decease, for, during, and until he shall attain the full age of 22 years, one yearly annuity of 200l." This was the boy who, a year or two afterwards, was sent to Milton's in the Barbican for tuition. His aunt Ranelagh had heard of Milton, or had come to know him personally; and she thought he was the very man to give the boy the training which his wise grandfather had desired for him.—There will be proof in time that Lady Ranelagh did know Milton well, saw him often, and entertained a high regard for him, which he reciprocated. Meanwhile we may anticipate so far as to say that she was not content with having obtained Milton's instructions for her nephew, the Earl of Barrimore, but secured them also for her only son, Richard Jones, afterwards third Viscount and first Earl of Ranelagh. This nobleman, who lived to as late as 1712 with considerable distinction of various kinds, and on the site of whose last house at Chelsea Ranelagh Gardens were established, is also to be reckoned, we shall find, in the list of Milton's pupils. It is just possible he may have begun his lessons, with his cousin Barrimore, in the Barbican house; but, as he was but seven years of age in 1647, this is hardly probable. [Footnote: Birch's Life of Robert Boyle, prefixed to the 1714 edition of Boyle's Works in five volumes folio (pp. 1-20); Collins's Peerage by Brydges, VII. 134 et seq. (Boyle, Lord Boyle), and VI. l84; Irish Compendium or Rudiments of Honour (1756), for Barrimore family, Debrett's Peerage, for Ranelagh family; Worthington's Diary, by Crossley, I, 164-7; Cunningham's Handbook of London, 373 and 418; Phillips' Memoir of Milton; and four letters "Nobili Adolescenti Richardo Jonslo" in Milton's Epistolae Familiares.]
EDUCATIONAL REFORM STILL A QUESTION: HARTLIB AGAIN: THE INVISIBLE COLLEGE: YOUNG ROBERT BOYLE AND WILLIAM PETTY.
There may be something in Phillips's guess that his uncle, about 1647, had some idea of putting in practice his system of Pedagogy on a larger scale than a mere private house permitted, by becoming the head of some such public Academy as that which he had described three years before in his Letter to Hartlib.
The question of a Reform of the apparatus for national Education had never quite vanished from the public mind even in the midst of the engrossing struggle between the Presbyterians and the Independents, and a fresh interest was imparted to the subject by the Ordinance of Parliament in May 1647 for a Visitation and Purgation of the University of Oxford (ante, pp. 545-6). Hartlib, for one, was again on the top of the wave. The claims of this indefatigable man to some reward for his long and various services had at length been brought before Parliament. On the 25th of June, 1646, on the report of a Committee, the House of Commons had voted him 100l. and in April 1647 the two Houses farther agreed in a resolution to pay him 300l. "in consideration of his good deserts and great services to the Parliament," with a recommendation that, on account of his special merits "from all that are well-wishers to the advancement of learning," he should be provided with some post of emolument at Oxford. [Footnote: Commons Journals of June 25, 1646, and March 31, 1647; and Lords Journals of April 1, 1647.] Nothing came of the last suggestion, and Hartlib lived on in London as before, still only ventilating his ideas of Educational Reform in a general way, amid the other novelties of all sorts which he patronized.
Hartlib's hero-in-chief on the Educational subject, the great Comenius, though doubtless remembered, had practically gone out of view. Labouring at Elbing on that piece of mere drudgery for which Oxenstiern and others had persuaded him to lay aside his Pansophic dreams (ante, p. 228), he had indeed compiled, in four years, a large recast of his Latin Didactics under the title of Novissima Linguarum Methodus, and had returned to Sweden in 1646 to present the mass of manuscript to his employer Ludovicus de Geer. The Swedish critics do not seem to have yet been satisfied with the performance, and Comenius had carried it away with him again for corrections and additions, not any longer in Elbing, but in his old Polish home. [Footnote: Comenius's Preface to the Second Part of his Opera Didactica, between 1627 and 1657.] No chance for Hartlib, then, of co-operating again with Comenius in the foundation of a Pansophic College in London! Hartlib's faculty of making new acquaintances, however, was as versatile as his passion for new lights; and a certain "Invisible College" which had already some habitat in London, had become the substitute in his fancies for the unbuilt Pansophic Temple of the distant Slavonian sage. Since 1645 there had been held, sometimes in Wood Street, sometimes in Cheapside, and sometimes in Gresham College, those humble weekly meetings of a few "worthy persons inquisitive into Natural Philosophy," out of which there grew at length the great Royal Society of London. Theodore Haak, a naturalized German, had originated the club; and among the first members were Dr. John Wallis (the clerk of the Westminster Assembly, but with other things in his head than what went on there), the afterwards famous Wilkins, and the physician Dr. Jonathan Goddard. If Hartlib, the fellow-countryman and friend of Haak, was not an original member, he knew of the meetings from the first; and the Invisible College of his imagination seems to have been that enlarged future association of all earnest spirits for the prosecution of real and fruitful knowledge of which this club might be the symbol and promise. The Invisible College, at all events, was the temporary form of his ever-varying, and yet indestructible, zeal for progress. It figures much in his correspondence at this time with one new friend, who, though not more than twenty years of age, had that in him which made his friendship as precious to Hartlib as any he had yet formed. This was young Robert Boyle, recently returned to England from his foreign travels, and dividing his time between philosophical retirement at his house in Dorsetshire and occasional visits to London. In a letter to a Cambridge friend written in Feb. 1646-7, during one of those London visits, Boyle says: "I have been every day these two months upon visiting my own ruined cottage in the country; but it is such a labyrinth, this London, that all my diligence could never yet find my way out on't.... The cornerstones of the Invisible, or, as they term themselves, Philosophical College, do now and then honour me with their company, which makes me as sorry for those pressing occasions that urge my departure as I am at other times angry with that solicitous idleness that I am necessitated to during my stay: men of so capacious and searching spirits that school-philosophy is but the lowest region of their knowledge, and yet, though ambitious to lead the way to any generous design, of so humble and teachable a genius as they disdain not to be directed by the meanest, so he can but plead reason for his opinion,—persons that endeavour to put narrowmindedness out of countenance, by the practice of so extensive a charity that it reaches unto everything called man, and nothing less than an universal goodwill can content it. ... I will conclude their praises with the recital of their chiefest fault, which is very incident to almost all good things; and that is that there is not enough of them." The first extant letters of Boyle to Hartlib were written from his Dorsetshire retreat immediately after this visit to London, and are in reply to letters received there from Hartlib. A new system of Real characters or Universal Writing; Pneumatical Engines or Wind-guns; Mr. Durie, his Church-conciliation Scheme, and a Discourse on the Teaching of Logic he had brought out; the ingenious Utopian Speculations of a certain young Mr. Hall; the Copernican Astronomy (to which Mr. Boyle was "once very much inclined"); the French mathematicians, Mersenne and Gassendi; Oughtred's Clavis Mathematica; a Cure for the Stone suggested by Hartlib, or rather by Mrs. Hartlib: such are some of the topics of the correspondence, but with the Invisible College irradiating all. Thus, May 8, 1647, Boyle, writing to Mr. Hartlib, to congratulate him on the 300l. he had been voted by Parliament, says: "You interest yourself so much in the Invisible College, and that whole society is so highly concerned in all the accidents of your life, that you can send me no intelligence of your own affairs that does not, at least relationally, assume the nature of Utopian." In the same letter Boyle expresses his anxiety to have a copy of a pamphlet of Hartlib's which had just appeared. He names it rather vaguely; but I have ascertained it to be "A Briefe Discourse concerning the Accomplishment of our Reformation: tending to shew that by an Office of Publicke Address in spirituall and temporall matters the Glory of God and the Happiness of this Nation may be greatly advanced." It consisted of a preface, addressed by Hartlib to Parliament, and 59 pages of text, explaining the said Office of Public Address to be a kind of universal Register House "whereunto all men might freely come to give information of the commodities they have to be imparted to others." The pamphlet was out in May 1647. [Footnote: Birch's Life of Boyle, pp. 20-25; Worthington's Diary by Crossley, 1. 313; and copy of Hartlib's pamphlet in the British Museum, with MS. note of date of publication.]
While Hartlib was writing on all things and sundry to young Boyle, the Education subject included, there was another new acquaintance of his, only three years older than Boyle, with whom he seems to have been discussing the Education subject more expressly. William Petty, afterwards so famous as "the universal genius, Sir William Petty," had returned from France at the age of twenty-three. The considerable stock of knowledge which he had taken abroad with him when he left his native Hampshire, eight years before, a pushing boy of fifteen, had been increased by his studies at foreign Universities, his readings with Hobbes in Paris, his commercial dealings, and his inquisitiveness into the processes of all trades and handicrafts by which men earn their livings. He came back a tall, slender youth, with a very large head, to be spoken of in London as an encyclopaedia of information, a wonderful mathematician and mechanician, teeming with schemes of all sorts, and yet shrewd, practical, and business-like. He was an invaluable addition to the Invisible College, and a delightful discovery for Hartlib; and he took to Hartlib at once, as every one else did. What occupied him especially at the moment was a machine for double writing, i.e. for making two copies of any writing at once. He hoped to obtain a patent for this invention from Parliament; and such a patent, for seventeen years, he did obtain in March 1647-8. While the thing was in progress, however, Hartlib was his chief confidant. This appears from a tract of his, of 26 pages, published Jan. 8, 1647-8, and entitled "The Advice of W. P. to Mr. Samuel Hartlib for the advancement of some particular parts of Learning." The invention for double writing is described in the tract, but it also sets forth Petty's ideas on Hartlib's favourite subject of a Reformation of Schools. In fact, in any collection of seventeenth-century tracts on that subject, it ought to be bound up with Hartlib's own older tracts in exposition of Comenius, and with the Letter on Education which Hartlib had elicited from Milton in 1644. Petty's notions, as may be supposed, differ considerably from Milton's. He is for a universal education in what he calls Ergastula Literaria or Literary Workhouses, "where children may be taught as well to do something toward their living as to read and write;" and, though he does not undervalue reading and writing, or book-culture generally, he lays the stress rather on mathematical and physical science, manual dexterity, and acquaintance with useful arts and inventions. Besides reading and writing, he would have all children taught drawing and designing; he would rather discourage the learning of languages, both because people may have all the books they want in their mother-tongue, and because the use of real characters, or an ideographic system of writing, would lessen the necessity of knowing foreign tongues; but, so far as languages might have to be learnt, their acquisition, as well as that of the simple arts of reading and writing, might be much facilitated by improved methods. In short, in Petty's project of Education, with much of the same general spirit of innovation, utilitarianism, contempt of tradition, as in Milton's, there is a characteristic difference of detail and even of principle. You are to be made expert in "graving, etching, carving, embossing, and moulding in sundry matters," in "grinding of glasses dioptrical and catoptrical," in "navarchy and making models for building and rigging of ships," in "anatomy, making skeletons, and excarnating bowels;" but you miss all that Milton would have taught you of Latin and Greek, Poetry and Philosophy, Italian and Hebrew, moral magnanimity and spiritual elevation, the History of Nations, and the ways of God to men. [Footnote: Wood's Ath., IV. 214; Worthington's Diary by Crossley, I. 294- 8; and Pett's own Tract. On its title-page are the words "London: Printed anno Dom 1648;" but a copy in the British Museum bears the MS. note "London, 8 January, 1647-8."]
REMOVAL FROM BARBICAN TO HIGH HOLBORN.
It would have been no surprise if Milton, on the skirts of the Invisible College as he was, and in sympathy with many of their aims, had exerted himself about this time in setting up a great Academy for young gentlemen, embodying some of the new utilitarian fancies even to the satisfaction of Petty, but fulfilling also his own higher ideal. He was peculiarly fond of Pedagogy; and his notion of an institution combining the School with the University, and so tending to the abolition of Universities, seems to have been coming more and more into favour.
Not only, however, did Milton abandon the experiment of which Phillips thinks there was then some prospect; but, precisely in 1647, he broke up his actual pedagogic establishment in Barbican, and went into a new house, where he either ceased to teach altogether, or had no pupils remaining but his two nephews. What may have been his reasons for the step we do not know; but it is not unlikely that the change of his circumstances by his father's death had something to do with it. No will of the ex-scrivener having been found, it is not known what property he left; but there is reason to believe that he left something considerable, and that, whatever it was, it came more completely to the two sons, and their sister Mrs. Agar, than while the old man lived. [Footnote: We may remember here Phillips's and Aubrey's hints as to the scrivener's prosperity in business. Phillips's information is that he "gained a competent estate, whereby he was enabled to make a handsome provision both for the education and maintenance of his children;" and he adds such particulars as that his mother, Mrs. Phillips, "had a considerable dowry given her" on her first marriage, and that the lease of the scrivener's house in Bread Street—the Spread Eagle, where he had carried on his business, and where his children had been born (or at least of some house in that street)—became in time part of the poet's estate. Aubrey distinctly reckons the Spread Eagle house as the scrivener's property, besides another house in the same street called The Rose," and other houses in other places." Christopher Milton, as we know, owned a house in London called the Cross Keys, worth 40l. a year, while his father was alive.] At all events, the fact of Milton's change of residence within a few months after his father's death is certified by Phillips. "It was not long," says Phillips, "after the march of Fairfax and Cromwell through the City of London, with the whole Army, to quell the insurrections Browne and Massey, now malcontents also, were endeavouring to raise in the City against the Army's proceedings, ere he left his great house in Barbican, and betook himself to a smaller in High Holborn, among those that open backward into Lincoln's-Inn Fields." The date of that famous march of the Army through London, to tame the tumultuous Presbyterianism of the City, rescue Parliament from its domination, and compel a policy more favourable to Independency and Toleration, was August 6 and 7, 1647 (see ante, pp. 553-4). Milton's removal from Barbican may be assigned, therefore, to September or October in the same year.
Change we, then, from those eastern purlieus of Aldersgate Street and Barbican, where we have been observing Milton for seven years, to a scene farther west, more within the cognisance of Londoners generally, and nearer to those two Houses of Parliament which the Army had rescued for the time from Presbyterian leadership within and Presbyterian mob-law without. Holborn was not then the dense continuity of houses it is now; there were more spaces in it of gardens and greenery, and the houses had not crept as far as Oxford Street; but it was, as now, the familiar thoroughfare of relief from the narrower and noisier Fleet Street and Strand, and the part of it which Milton had chosen was the most convenient. The actual house which he took may be still extant, wedged somewhere in the labyrinthine block between Great Turnstile and Little Turnstile; but one could judge but poorly from present appearances how pleasant may have been its old outlook to the rear. The fine open area of Lincoln's-Inn Fields was then only partly built round, and was used as a lounge and bowling-green by the lawyers and citizens. The houses in the neighbourhood were mostly new ones. [Footnote: Cunningham's London: Holborn and Lincoln's-Inn Fields.]
MEDITATIONS AND OCCUPATIONS IN THE HOUSE IN HIGH HOLBORN: MILTON'S SYMPATHIES WITH THE ARMY CHIEFS AND THE EXPECTANT REPUBLICANS.
When Milton removed to High Holborn, with his wife, their infant daughter, and the two nephews, the King was in the third and least disagreeable stage of his captivity. His detention with the Scots at Newcastle, and his subsequent residence under Parliamentary custody at Holmby House, were affairs of the Barbican period; and, by Joyce's act of the previous June, his Majesty had been for some months in the keeping of the Army, very generously treated, and permitted at last to reside, with much of restored state-ceremony, at his own palace of Hampton Court. Fairfax, Cromwell, Ireton, and the other Army-chiefs, from their head- quarters at Putney, were negotiating with him; and, the march of the Army through London having disabled the ultra-Presbyterians for the moment and transferred the ascendancy to the Independents, people were looking forward to a settlement on the basis of an established Presbyterian Church for the nation at large, but with liberty of conscience and of worship for Dissenters. For Milton, among others, this was a pleasant prospect. His sympathies, nay his personal interests, were wholly with the Independents; all that the Army had done had his approbation; and, whatever he might have had to say now (with the strong new lights he had obtained since 1641) as to the propriety of a Presbyterian Establishment on its own merits, he was probably prepared to accept such an Establishment, if with a sufficient guarantee of Toleration. Now, although he cannot have retained, more than other people, any strong confidence in Charles personally, any real hope of his voluntary and unreserved assent to a system of kingly government limited by great constitutional checks, yet a Treaty with Charles by the Independents rather than the Presbyterians must have seemed to him the most feasible way of reaching the end in view. Hence, while the King was at Hampton Court, and the Army-chiefs, with Cromwell most prominent among them, were plying his royal mind with arguments to bring him round, there can have been no private person more interested in their endeavours, more willing to believe them in the right, than Milton. Hardly had he been settled in his new house in High Holborn, however, when there came the snap of all those negotiations by the King's flight from Hampton Court to the Isle of Wight (Nov. 11, 1647). Then, I conceive, Milton's mood changed, in exact unison with the change of mood at the same time among the Army-chiefs and other leading Independents. For a month or two, indeed, there may have been some interest, some faint prolongation of hope, in attending to the proceedings of Parliament in pursuit of the King, and their attempt to obtain his assent to the Four Bills. But, from the moment when that attempt failed, and the two Houses passed their indignant resolutions that there should be no more communications with the King (Jan. 1647-8), all hesitation must have ceased. From that moment Milton was a Republican at heart. From that moment he was one of those who, with Vane, Marten, Cromwell, Ireton, and the Army officers generally, had forsworn all future allegiance to the Man in the Isle of Wight, and looked forward, through whatever intermediate difficulties, to his deposition and punishment, and the conversion of England iinto some kind of free Commonwealth. In such a matter, it could not, of course, be expected that a private citizen like Milton, who had no ambition to rank with Lilburne and other London Levellers of the coarser order, would anticipate Cromwell, Vane, and Ireton. He expressly says himself that, though he had been so prominent as a speculative politician, had made certain great questions of the time more peculiarly his own, had written largely on them and publicly identified his name with them, yet he had not hitherto taken any direct part in the immediate practical question of the future constitution of the State, but had left it to the appointed authorities [Footnote: Df. Sec. pro Pop. Angl., published in 1654]. Not the less are we to imagine that the time of his residence in High Holborn, while the King was a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, was the time when those high and semi-poetic Republican sentiments which seem always to have been congenial to him, and which his classic readings may have nurtured, took a definite shape applicable to England. From the end of 1647, I should say, Milton has to be reckoned as a foremost spirit in the band of expectant English Republicans.
Whether the issue was to be a Republic or not was a question which Milton had to leave in the hands of the Army and Parliament. While they were slowly working it out, what could he do but occupy himself, as patiently as possible, with his books and studies? There is evidence, accordingly, that three pieces of work, already begun or projected by him in Aldersgate Street or Barbican, were prosecuted with some increased diligence in his house in High Holborn. One of these was the collection of materials for a Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, or Latin Dictionary, which he hoped some time to complete. Another was the composition of a History of England, or History of Britain, from the earliest times to the Norman Conquest:—nay, though that was the form it ultimately took, the original project was nothing less than Hume anticipated, or a complete History of England, brought down in a continuous thread from the remotest origins of the nation to Milton's own time. The third was the long-meditated Body of Divinity, or Methodical Digest of Christian Doctrine. Here, surely, were three huge enough tasks of sheer hackwork hung round the neck of a poet! Milton's liking all his life for such labours of compilation, however, is as remarkable as his liking for pedagogy. Nor, though we may regard the tasks as hackwork now, were they so regarded by Milton. To amass gradually by readings in the Latin classics a collection of idioms and choice references, with a view to a Dictionary that should be an improvement even on that of Stephanus, was a side-labour to which a scholar, who was also a poet, might well dedicate a bit of each day or a week or two at intervals. To write a complete History of England, or even to compile, from Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bede, and the old chroniclers, a popular summary of the early legendary History of Britain, and of the History of the Saxon Kings and Church, was a blending of daily recreation with useful labour. Above all, the compilation of a System of Divinity was no mere dry drudgery for Milton, but a business of serious personal interest. From an early date he had resolved on some such compendium for his own use; he had ever since kept it in view and made notes for it; but his notions of the form it should take had undergone a change. "I entered," he says, "upon an assiduous course of study in my youth, beginning with the books of the Old and New Testament in their original languages, and going diligently through a few of the shorter Systems of Divines, in imitation of whom I was in the habit of classing under certain heads whatever passages of Scripture occurred for extraction, to be made use of hereafter as occasion might require. At length I resorted with increased confidence to some of the more copious Theological Treatises, and to the examination of the arguments advanced by the conflicting parties respecting certain disputed points of faith." Apparently he was still in this stage of his design in the Aldersgate period; for then, as we have seen (ante, pp. 254-5), one of his exercises with his pupils on Sundays was the dictation to them of a Tractate on Christian Divinity digested from such approved Protestant Divines as Amesius and Wollebius. But this method, he tells us, had ceased to satisfy him. Often he had found the theologians quibbling and sophistical, more anxious to "evade adverse reasonings" and establish foregone conclusions than to arrive at the truth. "According to my judgment, therefore," he adds, "neither my creed nor my hope of salvation could be safely trusted to such guides; and yet it appeared highly requisite to possess some methodical Tractate of Christian Doctrine, or at least to attempt such a disquisition as might be useful in establishing my faith or assisting my memory. I deemed it therefore safest and most advisable to compile for myself, by my own labour and study, some original treatise which should be always at hand, derived solely from the Word of God itself, and executed with all possible fidelity, seeing I could have no wish to practise any imposition on myself in such a matter." In all probability the preparations for the work on this new plan began in the house in High Holborn. For some years England had been in such a state of theological ferment that it was impossible not to inquire how much of the traditional Orthodoxy had real warrant in the Bible and how much was mere matter of inveterate opinion; in one important particular Milton, to his own surprise, had found himself standing out publicly as the champion of what was thought a horrible heresy; might it not be well to go over the whole ground, and fix one's whole Christian creed so as to be able to give an account of it, when called upon, in every other particular? The Westminster Assembly, like other Assemblies before it, had laboured out a Confession of Faith which it wished to impose on the entire community; but, as "it was only to the individual faith of each man that God had opened up the way of eternal salvation," was it not the duty of every Englishman to examine that Confession before accepting it as his own, or even to compile his own private Confession first and let the comparison follow at leisure? [Footnote: Phillips's Memoir at several points; Milton's Def. Sec.; and Preface to his posthumous "Treatise on Christian Doctrine" (Sumner's Translation, 1825). Phillips mentions expressly the History of England as occupying Milton in High Holborn; but the most interesting allusion to it is Milton's own in his Def. Sec., where the words are "Ad historiam gentis, ab ultima origine repetitam, ad haec usque tempora, si possem, perpetuo filo deduoendam, me converti."]
STILL UNDER THE BAN OF THE PRESBYTERIANS: TESTIMONY OF THE LONDON MINISTERS AGAINST HERESIES AND BLASPHEMIES: MILTON IN THE BLACK LIST.
Alas! Milton, busy with these occupations in his room looking out upon Lincoln's-Inn Fields, could not shut out the continued hue and cry after him on account of his Divorce heresy. It was more than two years since his wife had returned to him; he had then closed the controversy so far as it was a personal one; he was now respectably in routine, as a married man with one child. But the world round about, more especially the clerical part of it, had not forgiven him his Divorce Pamphlets. Were they not still in circulation, doing infinite harm? Had not their infamous doctrine become one of the heresies of the age, counting other unblushing exponents, and not a few practical adherents? Keep silence as he now might, move as he might from Aldersgate Street to Barbican and from Barbican to High Holborn, would not his dark reputation dog him, sit at his doorstep, and gaze in at his windows? Actually it did. The series of attacks on Milton for his Divorce Doctrine, begun by Herbert Palmer and other mouthpieces of the Westminster Assembly in 1644, and continued in that and subsequent years by the Stationers' Company, Featley, Paget, Prynne, Edwards, Baillie, and others, had not ceased at the close of 1647. One fresh attack, of some significance in itself, may be instanced as a sample of the rest.
London, it is to be remembered, was now under Presbyterian Church- government. In every parish there was the Parochial or Congregational Court, consisting of the minister and lay-elders, charged with all the ecclesiastical concerns of the parish, and with the right of spiritual censure over the parishioners. The parishes were also grouped into Classes of ministers and lay-elders. At last there had come into operation even the crowning device of Provincial Synods for all London, in which representative ministers and elders met to discuss metropolitan Church affairs generally and to revise the proceedings of Classes and Congregations. The first of these Provincial Synods, with Dr. Gouge for Prolocutor, had met in St. Paul's in May 1647, and had continued its sittings twice a week in Sion College till November 8, 1647, when its half-year of office expired, and it was succeeded by the Second Provincial Synod, under the Prolocutorship of Dr. Lazarus Seaman. Now, had London been perfect in its Presbytery according to the extreme rigour of the Scottish model, Milton could not possibly have escaped the clutch of one or other of these Church-judicatories. As a resident in Barbican, he had been, I think, in the parish of St. Botolph without Aldersgate; and, when he removed to High Holborn, he came into the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn. Had the Scottish strictness prevailed in London, the minister of either of these parishes would have felt himself bound to bring Milton before the parochial consistory for his Divorce heresy [Footnote: From Newcourt's Repertorium and Wood's Ath. III. 812, I learn that the Curate or Vicar of St. Botolph's, Aldersgate, "in the late rebellious times," was George Hall, a son of Bishop Hall and himself promoted to the Bishopric of Chester after the Restoration; and the Rector of St. Andrew's, Holborn, before the civil troubles was Dr. John Hacket, already well known to us (Vol. II. 225-8), and also afterwards a Bishop. Both of these, as strenuous Prelatists, must have been dispossessed from their charges long before the time with which we are now concerned; and I have not been able to ascertain who were their Presbyterian successors at this exact date.—There may be some significance in the fact that the parish minister before whom Milton's brother Christopher and his father-in-law Mr. Powell performed the necessary ceremony of taking the Covenant, with a view to their admission to compound for their Delinquency, was William Barton, minister of John Zachary (ante, p. 485 and p. 634). The parish of St. John Zachary was one of the parishes of Aldersgate Ward, and the church stood at the north-west corner of Maiden Lane, till it was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666; after which it was not rebuilt, and the parish of St. John Zachary was united to that of St. Ann in the same ward. Had Milton found Mr. Barton of John Zachary's a more convenient minister to have dealings with than other ministers of the Aldersgate Street and Barbican neighbourhood; and did he attend Mr. Barton's church when he attended any? If so, and if we are right in identifying this William Barton with the minister of the same name whose Metrical Version of the Psalms was preferred by the Lords to Rous's (see ante, p. 425), their metrical sympathies may have had something to do with the connexion.—The fact that a son of Bishop Hall's was Curate or Vicar of St. Botolph's, Aldersgate, at the time when the Bishop and another son of his were attacking Milton for his part in the Smectymnuan controversy, and speaking of him as then living in a "suburb sink about London," and collecting gossip about him, was not known to me when I was engaged on that part of the Biography (Vol. II. p. 390 et seq.); but it may be worth remembering even now.]; or, if the duty had been neglected, Classis IV., to which the parish of St. Botolph belonged, or Classis VIII., to which the parish of St. Andrew belonged, would have interfered; or, finally, in the case of so notorious an offender, the Provincial Synod itself would not have been asleep. True, the censure that could have been inflicted would only have been spiritual; but, by zealous management, especially if the culprit were obstinate, such spiritual censure might have led to farther prosecution by the secular courts. Certainly, if Milton had been in Scotland, this would have happened. Certainly it would have happened in London if the English Presbyterians had succeeded in subjecting that city to the grip of their absolute or ideal Presbytery. But they had not succeeded, and it was their constant lamentation that they had not. Though the Presbyterian organization of London had been voted on trial, the Congregationalist principle still asserted itself in the existence of many independent congregations and meeting-houses; though sometimes interfering with the less respectable of these, Parliament and the law- courts had taken no steps for their general suppression; and, by belonging to one of them, a Londoner of peculiar opinions might have the comfort and respectability of being a church-goer like his neighbours, and yet avoid unpleasant inquisitorship. Then, again, through what the ultra-Presbyterians regarded as the Erastian backwardness of Parliament, those offences for which the parochial or other Church-judicatories might inflict even spiritual censures had been very strictly defined. Only for certain faults of ignorance or of scandalous life, enumerated and specified by Act of Parliament, could the Presbyterian Church- judicatories debar from the communion; in any case lying beyond that range they could not act without reference to the superior authority of a great Parliamentary Commission (ante, pp. 399, 405, 423). Sore had been the complaints of the Presbyterians over this limitation of the powers of Church discipline, as well as over the negligence of Parliament in not having yet passed such an Act against Heresies and Blasphemies as might enable the State to use the sterner discipline of fines, imprisonment, scourging, and hanging, in aid of true Christianity. Even as things were, however, it may be wondered that some zealot did not try to bring Milton's case within the powers actually assigned to the Church-courts, or to push it on the notice of the secular judges in virtue of such Acts as did exist against Heresy. There was very good reason, however, for not making the experiment. It had already been tried and bad failed. Twice had Milton's case been brought before Parliament, and Parliament had distinctly declined to trouble him. Evidently, whatever the hotter Presbyterians desired, Milton was safe in the respect entertained for him personally by some of those who were at the head of affairs, or in an opinion prevailing in high quarters that the publication of a new speculation on Divorce was not an offence for which a man otherwise eminent ought to be questioned at law.