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men otherwise most wise, they neither were taken with her mitred hypocrisy, nor terrified with the push of her bestial horns, but breaking them, immediately forced her to unbend the pontifical brow, and recoil; which repulse only given to the prelates (that we may imagine how happy their removal would be) was the producement of such glorious effects and consequences in the Church, that if I should compare them with those exploits of highest fame in poems and panegyrics of old, I am certain it would but diminish and impair their worth, who are now my argument: for those ancient worthies delivered men from such tyrants as were content to enforce only an outward obedience, letting the mind be as free as it could; but these have freed us from a doctrine of tyranny, that offered violence and corruption even to the inward persuasion. They set at liberty nations and cities of men, good and bad mixed together; but these, opening the prisons and dungeons, called out of darkness and bonds the elect martyrs and witnesses of their Redeemer. They restored the body to ease and wealth; but these, the oppressed conscience to that freedom which is the chief prerogative of the gospel; taking off these cruel burdens imposed not by necessity, as other tyrants are wont, or the safeguard of their lives, but laid upon our necks by the strange wilfulness and wantonness of a needless and jolly persecutor, called Indifference. Lastly, some of these ancient deliverers have had immortal praises for preserving their citizens from a famine of corn.
But these, by this only repulse of an unholy hierarchy, almost in a moment replenished with saving knowledge their country, nigh famished for want of that which should feed their souls. All this being done while two armies in the field stood gazing on: the one in reverence of such nobleness quietly gave back and dislodged; the other, spite of the unruliness and doubted fidelity in some regiments, was either persuaded or compelled to disband and retire home.”* Towards the conclusion of his performance, Milton's
* Prose Works, vol. iii. pp. 145–148.
nameless antagonist was induced to interpolate into his calumnious attack a vaunting panegyric on the Liturgy, as "preserving unity and piety." This elicited the following animated reply with reference to unity and piety :-“Nor is unity less broken, especially by our Liturgy, though this author would almost bring the communion of saints to a communion of liturgical words. For what other reformed church holds communion with us by our Liturgy, and does not rather dislike it? And among ourselves, who knows it not to have been a perpetual cause of disunion ? Lastly, it hinders piety rather than sets it forward, being more apt to weaken the spiritual faculties, if the people be not weaned from it in due time; as the daily pouring in of hot waters quenches the natural heat. For not only the body and the mind, but also the improvement of God's Spirit, is quickened by using. Whereas they who will ever adhere to liturgy, bring themselves in the end to such a pass, by overmuch learning, as to lose even the legs of their devotion."
After some further references to the "errors, tautologies, and impertinences” of the Liturgy, he concludes with the following appeal:-“Hark ye, prelates, is this your glorious mother of England, who, whenas Christ hath taught her to pray, thinks it not enough unless she add thereto the teaching of Antichrist? How can we believe ye would refuse to take the stipend of Rome, when ye shame not to live upon the almsbasket of her prayers? Will ye persuade us that ye can curse Rome from your hearts, when none but Rome must teach
ye to pray ? Abraham disdained to take so much as a thread or shoe-latchet from the king of Sodom, though no foe of his, but a wicked king: and shall we receive our prayers at the bounty of our more wicked enemies, whose gifts are no gifts, but the instruments of our bane ? Alas! that the Spirit of God should blow as an uncertain wind, should so mistake his inspiring, so misbestow his gifts, promised only to the elect, that the idolatrous should find words acceptable to present to God with, and abound to their
neighbours, while the true professors of the gospel can find nothing of their own worth the constituting, wherewith to worship God in public! Consider if this be to magnify the Church of England, and not rather to display her nakedness to all the world.
“ If we have indeed given a bill of divorce to popery and superstition, why do we not say, as to a divorced wife, • Those things which are yours, take them all with you,
and they shall sweep after you! Why were we not thus wise at our parting from Rome? Ah! like a crafty adulteress, she forgot not all her smooth looks and enticing words at her parting: - Yet keep these letters, these tokens, and these few ornaments. I am not all so greedy of what is mine; let them
you the memory-of what I am? No, but—of what I was; once fair and lovely in your eyes.' Thus did those tender-hearted reformers dotingly suffer themselves to be overcome with harlot's language. And she, like a witch, but with a contrary policy, did not take something of theirs, that she still might have power to bewitch them, but for the same intent left something of her own behind her. They object that if we must forsake all that is Rome's, we must bid adieu to our creed; and I had thought our creed had been of the apostles, for so it bears title. But if it be hers, let her take it. WE CAN WANT NO CREED, SO LONG AS WE WANT NOT THE SCRIPTURES."
MILTON'S MARRIAGE-IS DESERTED BY HIS WIFE-PUBLISHES HIS DOC
TRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF DIVORCE EFFECT OF THE EXISTING LAWS
DIVORCE-THE TETRACHORDON-THE COLASTERION.
In the summer of 1643, occurred one of the few known events in Milton's private life. We are informed by Philips, his nephew and first biographer, that about Whitsuntide he took a journey into the country, which no one about him supposed to have any other object than that of recreation. After a month's absence, however, he returned with a wife, having married Mary Powell, the daughter of a gentleman residing at Forest Hill, near Shotover, in Oxfordshire, who held the commission of the peace. No information that has descended to us throws any light upon this extraordinary connexion. Not only were the Powells heartily attached to the cause of Charles I., but their general habits were as inconsistent with the notions of Milton as their political bias was with his principles ; for it would appear, from the brief accounts we have of them, that they indulged in all the gay festivity common among the cavaliers of that day. So ill-assorted a union was not likely to be productive of much happiness to either party. It is probable that the studious and religious habits of her husband were distasteful to the bride, and perhaps the general character of his household was not less so. Having taken a larger
and more commodious house in a court leading from Aldersgate-street, he consented to receive into his household some other pupils, in addition to his nephews. His aged father, also, who, until the spring of 1643, had resided with his younger son at Reading, had, on the taking of that town by the Earl of Essex, come to reside with the poet, in the enjoyment of whose affectionate attentions he spent the remaining four years of his life. Whatever may
have been the causes of the young wife's distaste, it is certain that at the expiration of one month from her entering on her new establishment, she obtained his permission to spend the remainder of the summer at her father's house. This voluntary separation of herself from her husband so soon after her marriage, is a sufficient proof of her unfitness for, and probably her unworthiness of, such a union. But though her leave of absence extended only to Michaelmas, there seems little reason to doubt that from the first she contemplated nothing less than the final desertion of her husband. At the expiration of the time limited for her absence, Milton wrote to remind her of her engagement, but to this, as to several other subsequent letters to the same purpose, she never replied. The temporary ascendancy of the monarch's fortunes, by his victories at Atherston Moor and Lansdowne, had revived the hopes of his adherents, and probably furnished motives to the Powell family for repudiating the connexion of one of its members with so eminent a champion of the Parliamentary party; and the consequence was the contemptuous dismission of a messenger whom Milton had sent to accompany his wife to her proper home. This outrage upon the natural claims and the just authority of a husband, at once wounded and incensed the mind of Milton, who, instead of the conjugal happiness he had anticipated, found himself left “with nothing belonging to matrimony but its chain.” These circumstances induced the injured husband to contemplate the ultima ratio of a divorce; and in order to vindicate his