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that I neither regret my lot nor repent my choice; that my opinions continue inflexibly the same, and that I neither feel nor fear for them the anger of God; but, on the contrary, experience and acknowledge, in the most momentous events of my life, his mercy and paternal kindness; in nothing more particularly, however, than in his having soothed and strengthened me into an acquiescence in his divine will; led me to reflect rather upon what he has bestowed than what he has withheld; and determined me to prefer the consciousness of my own achievements to the best deeds of my adversaries, and constantly to cherish the cheering and silent remembrance of them in my breast.” *

The result was as had been predicted; in 1651, the year in which he published his Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, he entirely lost the use of his left eye, and the total privation of his sight, by the failure of the other, took place, it would appear, early in 1652; for when Philaras, his Athenian friend, visited him in

* Wrangham's Version of the Defensio Secunda, a noble translation of a noble original. Vide Wrangham's Works,

vol. iii.

London, not many months after the publication of his celebrated work, he was completely blind, though but in his forty-fourth year.

With what fortitude and resignation he met and endured his misfortune, the preceding quotation has sufficiently proved; and that his sufferings during the composition of his "noble. task," as he has termed it, were only exceeded by the patience and perseverance which they called forth, appears evident from what he has apologetically stated concerning himself in the very impressive preface to his Defence, where, speaking of his delicate health and failing eyes, he tells us, that he was obliged, on account of his infirmities, to work only by starts, and that what required, and which he wished to prosecute with unbroken application, he was only able to attend to for very short periods of time, and those frequently and painfully interrupted.

We can scarcely conceive, indeed, a situation more unpropitious to intellectual pursuits, or more likely to induce a state of deep despondency, than that in which Milton was placed, during the period occupied in the production of

his eloquent. Defence of the People of England. Impressed with a thorough conviction of the vast importance of the duty which had been assigned him; conscious that the world was eagerly expecting the result of his labours, yet hourly sensible, at the same time, of broken health and failing eyes; and, above all, that the completion of his work was in all probability to be followed by the utter extinction of his sight, strong and peculiar must have been the support which could enable him to contend with and overcome disadvantages thus great and oppressive.

It was vouchsafed to him, however, beyond all the sons of men, in the most ample measure and degree; for, in the first place, nothing could exceed his attachment to, and enthusiasm for the cause of liberty; in whose behalf no sacrifice was deemed by him too dear or important. Of the exultation, indeed, with which he beheld the success of his endeavours in the vindication of what he conscientiously deemed just and right, notwithstanding the great personal calamity which had awaited him as its anticipated, consequence, an adequate idea may be

formed from his admirable Sonnet to Cyriac Skinner, in which the heroism of the sentiment is only to be rivalled by the vigour and energy of the language in which it is conveyed. It appears, from the import of the first line, to have been written in the year 1655, the era of the commencement of the Paradise Lost.

Cyriac, this three years' day, these eyes, though clear

To outward view of blemish or of spot,

Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,
Or man or woman: - yet I argue not

Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up, and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask? The conscience, friend, to have lost them over plied

In liberty's defence, my noble task,

Of which all Europe rings from side to side: This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask,

Content, though blind, had I no better guide.

Fortified as Milton felt himself to be in the

strength and integrity of the principles on which he acted as a member of the Commonwealth, it was to his profound adoration of, and humble submission to this "better guide," to the heartcheering conviction which he possessed, of being ever under the superintending care and love of his Almighty Father; and more peculiarly so, in consequence of his loss of sight, that we owe that cheerfulness and resignation, that sublime enthusiasm and unconquerable firmness of mind, which distinguished in so remarkable a manner the latter portion of his life.

Of his unshaken reliance on the protecting favour of Providence, as a full compensation for the misfortune which had befallen him; and of his gratitude for the mercies which he yet felt to be daily vouchsafed him, numerous and striking are the proofs which may be collected from his writings. Thus, at the close of his second epistle to Leonard Philaras, who had entreated him not to abandon all hopes of recovering his sight, after declaring that he had reconciled his mind to the calamity as to an evil admitting of no cure, he adds, in a strain of the most grate

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