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portion of the charge, we may safely cite the defensive statements of Milton himself, written at a time when, if false, they were open to a disgraceful refutation from a thousand quarters. In his Apology for Smectymnuus, which will hereafter be noticed in its proper place, the following declaration was extorted from him by the malice of his opponents :- :-" I must be thought, if this libeller (for now he shows himself to be so) can find belief, after an inordinate and riotous youth spent at the university, to have been at length vomited out thence. For which commodious lie, that he may
be encouraged in the trade another time, I thank him ; for it hath given me an apt occasion to acknowledge publickly, with all grateful mind, that more than ordinary favour and respect which I found above any of my equals at the hands of those courteous and learned men, the fellows of that college wherein I spent some years: who at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, signified many ways how much better it would content them that I would stay ; as by many letters full of kindness and loving respect, both before that time and long after, I was assured of their singular good affection towards me. Which being likewise propense to all such as were for their studious and civil life worthy of esteem, I could not wrong their judgments and upright intentions, so much as to think I had that regard from them for other cause, than that I might be still encouraged to proceed in the honest and laudable courses of which they apprehended I had given good proof. And to those ingenuous and friendly men, who were ever the countenancers of virtuous and hopeful wits, I wish the best and happiest things that friends in absence wish one to another.” In his “Second Defense,” published twelve years after the “ Apology for Smectymnuus,” he again asserts the purity of his college life; and affirms, in opposition to his adversary's calumnies, that he passed seven years at the university, pure from every blemish, and in possession of the esteem of the good, till he took with applause his degree
of Master of Arts: that he then retired to his father's house, and left behind him a memory which was cherished with affection and respect by the greater part of the fellows of his college, who had always been assiduous in cultivating his regard.
I have referred to the general conduct of the university at this time as offensive to Milton's moral tastes. In stating this dislike he specially observes upon the practice of acting plays, on the part of those who had entered, or were about to enter upon the duties of the Christian ministry;"writhing and unboning their clergy limbs to all the antick and dishonest gestures of Trincolos, buffoons, and bawds, prostituting the shame of that ministry which they had, or were near having, to the eyes of courtiers and court ladies, their grooms and mademoiselles.” This passage affords Dr. Johnson an opportunity of gratifying his splenetic prejudice in the treatise which, with much respect for that extraordinary man, I can only characterize as his infamous life of Milton. After noticing the pleasure which Milton states that he had enjoyed in early life from theatrical entertainments, Dr. Johnson closes his remarks with the following sneer : “Plays were therefore only criminal when they were acted by academics.” It is scarcely necessary to point out the disingenuous sophism into which Johnson's bigotry here betrayed him. It was not the circumstance that the plays were acted by academics that offended Milton's sense of propriety, but that they were acted by men ostensibly devoted to the ministry of the gospel. · If Dr. Johnson was unable to recognize this distinction, he is to be pitied; but it is hard to conceive that such language should have been written by a man who thoroughly appreciated the licentiousness of the stage in the time of the Stuarts, and who in a later and a purer day, was withheld confessedly by moral considerations from meeting his friend Garrick in the green-room.
That Milton quitted the university without gaining a fellowship, or taking orders, is also the subject of Dr. Johnson's
animadversion. “ He went to the university,” says the Doctor, “ with a design of entering into the Church, but in time altered his mind." The more correct statement would be, that his father desired that the great intellectual powers, of which he gave early promise, should be thus devoted; and it is easy to conceive that the deep religious sentiments of the youth were favourable to this design. But whatever may have been his tendencies at the early age at which he entered the university, more mature reflection induced him to abandon all intention of becoming a clergyman. For this he gives us his own motives in his Treatise entitled “ The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelacy,” in the following words :-" The Church, to whose service, by the intentions of my parents and friends I was destined of a child, and in mine own resolutions; till coming to some maturity of years, and perceiving what tyranny had invaded the Church, that he who would take orders must subscribe slave, and take an oath withal, which, unless he took with a conscience that would retch, he must either straight perjure or split his faith; I thought it better to prefer a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing."
It is recorded of Dr. Johnson, that when asked by a lady who was better instructed in such matters, why he had in his Dictionary given, as the meaning of the word “ pastern,” “ the knee of a horse," he proudly replied, “ Ignorance, madam, sheer ignorance.” This confession the learned lexicographer could well afford. But it is surprising he should have perilled so great a reputation by publishing the following remarks on this statement of Milton :-“These expressions are, I find, applied to the subscription of the Articles; but it seems more probable that they relate to canonical obedience. I know not any of the Articles which seem to thwart his opinions; but the thoughts of obedience, whether canonical or civil, raised his indignation."
It is obviously unnecessary to have recourse to the suppo
sition that it was only the canons of the Church of England that he refused to subscribe. It is altogether unsupposable that such a mind should have voluntarily subjected itself to such a yoke. It is sufficiently remarkable that Dr. Johnson should have seen nothing in the Articles which could thwart the maturer judgment of Milton. The 20th, to which we have already adverted, by its denial of the right of private judgment would be sufficient to vitiate the entire code in the view of such a mind as Milton's. It is equally surprising that Dr. Johnson should have forgotten the 37th, on the powers of civil magistrates, which not only asserts the ecclesiastical
supremacy of the reigning monarch, but, in immediate connection with this, declares his right to punish “ with the civil sword the stubborn and evil doers,” thus sanctioning the infliction of pains and penalties for religious faith and practice; a principle which the lofty and generous nature of Milton held in utter detestation. As little justice is there in the remark which follows that “ the thought of obedience, whether canonical or civil, raised his indignation.” So far from this, he pays throughout his writings, as he did throughout his life, a devout reverence to the authority of law both human and Divine. But his was a dignified submission. He could discern the distinction between rational obedience and the prostration of the whole nature before a tyranny which strove to lord it alike over the body and the soul. Indeed, an unworthy and disingenuous spirit pervades this performance; and he who would maintain a high opinion of Dr. Johnson's integrity and candour, will do well to avoid his Life of Milton.
MILTON'S RESIDENCE AT HORTON-COMPOSES THE COMUS-LYCIDAS
ARCADES-L'ALLEGRO-IL PENSEROSO-DEATH OF HIS MOTHER-
GREAT DISTINCTION-HIS ADDRESS TO MANSO-REMARKS OF MR.
MACAULAY ON HIS LATIN VERSIFICATION.
On leaving the university, in 1629, he spent five years, probably the happiest of his life, at Horton, in Buckinghamshire, whither his father had retired from business with a competent fortune. In his “Second Defence of the People of England," having been led, as before observed, by the slanders of his antagonist to a brief recapitulation of the events of his early life, he thus refers to this period of his history: “ Here (at Cambridge) I passed seven years in the usual course of instruction and study, with the approbation of the good, and without any stain upon my character, till I took the degree of Master of Arts. After this I did not, as this miscreant feigns, run away into Italy, but of my own accord retired to my father's house, whither I was accompanied by the regrets of most of the fellows of the college, who showed me no common marks of friendship and esteem. On my father's estate, where he had determined to pass the remainder of his days, I enjoyed an interval of uninterrupted leisure, which I entirely devoted to the perusal of the Greek and Latin classics; though I occasionally visited the metro