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in answer to the Humble Remonftrance of Dr. Jofeph Hall Bishop of Norwich, under the title of Smectymnuus, a word confifting of the initial letters of their names, Stephen Marshal, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurftow; and Archbishop Ufher having published at Oxford a refutation of Smectymnuus, in a tract concerning the Original of Bishops and Metropolitans; Milton wrote his little piece Of Prelatical Epifcopacy, in oppofition chiefly to Ufher, for he was for contending with the moft powerful adverfary; there would be either lefs difgrace in the defeat, or more glory in the victory. He handled the fubject more at large in his next performance, which was the Reafon of Church Government urged against Prelaty, in two books. And Bishop Hall having published a Defense of the Humble Remonftrance, he wrote Animadverfions upon it. All thefe treatifes he published within the course of one year, 1641, which fhow how very diligent he was in the cause that he had undertaken. And the next year he fet forth his Apology for Smectymnuus, in anfwer to the Confutation of his Animadverfions, written as he thought himself by Bishop Hall or his fon. And here very luckily ended a controverfy, which detained him from greater and better writings which he was meditating, more useful to the public, as well as more fuitable to his own genius and inclination: but he thought all this while that he was vindicating ecclefiaftical liberty.
In the year 1643, and the 35th of his age, he married; and indeed his family was now growing fo numerous, that it wanted a mistress at the head of
it. His father, who had lived with his younger fon at Reading, was, upon the taking of that place by the forces under the Earl of Effex, neceffitated to come and live in London with this his elder fon, with whom he continued in tranquillity and devotion to his dying day. Some addition too was to be made to the number of his pupils. But before his father or his new pupils were come, he took a journey in the Whitfuntide vacation, and after a month's abfence returned with a wife, Mary the eldest daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, of Forefthill near Shotover in Oxfordshire, a juftice of the peace, and a gentleman of good repute and figure in that country. But fhe had not cohabited with her husband above a month, before fhe was earnestly folicited by her relations to come and fpend the remaining part of the fummer with them in the country. If it was not at her instigation that her friends made this request, yet at leaft it was agreeable to her inclination; and fhe obtained her husband's confent upon a promise of returning at Michaelmas. And in the mean while his ftudies went on very vigoroufly; and his chief diverfion, after the bufinefs of the day, was now and then in an evening to vifit the Lady Margaret Lee, daughter of the Earl of Marlborough, Lord High Treasurer of England, and Prefident of the Privy Council to King James I. This Lady, being a woman of excellent wit and understanding, had a particular honor for our author, and took great delight in his converfation; as likewife did her husband Captain Hobfon, a very accomplished gentleman. And what a regard Milton again had for her, he has left upon
record in a fonnet to her praife, extant among his other poems.
Michaelmas was now come, but he heard nothing of his wife's return. He wrote to her, but received no anfwer. He wrote again letter after letter, but received no answer to any of them. He then dif patched a messenger with a letter, defiring her to return; but the pofitively refused, and difmiffed the meffenger with contempt. Whether it was, that fhe had conceived any diflike to her husband's perfon or humor; or whether he could not conform to his retired and philofophical manner of life, having been accustomed to a houfe of much gaiety and company; or whether being of a family ftrongly attached to the royal caufe, fhe could not bear her husband's republican principles; or whether fhe was overperfuaded by her relations, who poffibly might repent of having matched the eldest daughter of the family to a man fo diftinguished for taking the contrary party, the King's head-quarters being in their neighbourhood at Oxford, and his Majefty having now fome fairer profpect of fuccefs; whether any or all of these were the reafons of this extraordinary behaviour; however it was, it fo highly incenfed her husband, that he thought it would be dif honorable ever to receive her again after fuch a repulfe, and he determined to repudiate her as she had in effect repudiated him, and to confider her no longer as his wife. And to fortify this his refolution, and at the fame time to juftify it to the world, he wrote the Doctrin and Difciplin of Divorce, wherein he endevors to prove, that indifpofition, unfitnefs, or contrariety of mind, proceeding from any unchangeable
unchangeable caufe in nature, hindering and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugal fociety, which are folace and peace, are greater reafons of divorce than adultery or natural frigidity, especially if there be no children, and there be mutual confent for feparation. He publifhed it at firft without his name, but the ftile eafily betrayed the author; and afterwards a fecond edition, much augmented, with his name; and he dedicated it to the Parlament of England with the Affembly of Divines, that as they were then confulting about the general reformation of the kingdom, they might alfo take this particular cafe of domeftic liberty into their confideration. And then, as it was objected, that his doctrin was a novel notion, and a paradox that no body had ever afferted before, he endevored to confirm his own opinion by the authority of others, and published in 1644 the Judgment of Martin Bucer &c: And as it was ftill objected, that his doctrin could not be reconciled to Scripture, he published in 1645 his Tetrachordon or Expofitions upon the four chief places in Scripture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in marriage. At the first appearing of the Doctrin and Difciplin of Divorce the clergy raised a heavy outcry against it, and daily folicited the Parlament to pafs fome cenfure upon it; and at laft one of them, in a fermon preached before the Lords and Commons on a day of humiliation in Auguft 1644, roundly told them, that there was a book abroad which deferved to be burnt, and that among their other fins they ought to repent, that they had not yet branded it with fome mark of their displeasure. And Mr. Wood informs us, that upon Milton's publishing
his three books of Divorce, the Affembly of Divines, that was then fitting at Westminster, took fpecial notice of them; and notwithstanding his former fervices in writing against the Bishops, caufed him to be fummoned before the House of Lords: but that House, whether approving his doctrin, or not favoring his accufers, foon difmiffed him. He was attacked too from the prefs as well as from the pulpit, in a pamphlet intitled Divorce at pleasure, and in another intitled an Answer to the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, which was licenced and recommended by Mr. Jofeph Caryl, a famous Presbyterian Divine, and author of a voluminous commentary on the book of Job: and Milton in his Colafterion or Reply published in 1645 expoftulates fmartly with the licencer, as well as handles very roughly the nameless author. And these provocations, I fuppofe, contributed not a little to make him fuch an enemy to the Presbyterians, to whom he had before diftinguished himself a friend. He compofed likewise two of his fonnets on the reception his book of Divorce met with, but the latter is much the better of the two. To this account it may be added from Antony Wood, that after the King's restoration, when the subject of divorce was under confideration: with the Lords upon the account of John Lord Ros or Roos his feparation from his wife Anne Pierpoint: eldest daughter to Henry Marquis of Dorchester, he was confulted by an eminent member of that House, and about the fame time by a chief officer of state, as being the prime perfon who was knowing in that affair.