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as a witness that I have always lived free and pure from all those crimes with which I am charged, that I have never wronged Claudia nor Pontia, nor any other woman whatsoever. You will not dare, I think, to follow me in these words.' '
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL PASSAGES FROM MILTON'S POETRY.
Methought I saw my late espoused saint,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
1 Authoris pro se Defensio. Birch, vol. ii. p. 427. I confess that I am thoroughly ashamed of Milton lending himself to write this coarse and tedious tirade against Alexander More. Had anyone
else than our great poet written it, I would not have raked up any portion of it from that deserved oblivion in which it has so long lain. Bohn, in his five-volume edition of Milton's Prose Works, omits it altogether. Still it seemed undesirable, and almost impossible, to leave out the above-quoted passages in constructing and compiling this Biography in his own words and from his own works. The solemn protestation, almost in the very same words, occurs in the Second Defence, and is quoted at page 59 of this work. Alas, for human inconsistency! Alas, for the littleness of all human greatness! Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit. "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?"
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight
I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.'
Hail, holy Light! offspring of Heav'n first-born,
May I express thee unblam'd? since God is Light,
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
1 Sonnet XXIII. On his deceased wife. This was Catharine Woodcock, his second wife, whom he lost within a year after their marriage. With her he was happy, and for this brief space experienced
'that blissful life,
That is betwixt a husband and his wife.'
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight,
Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to th' Orphean lyre
sung of Chaos and eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly muse to venture down
Those other two equall'd with me in fate,
HIS MANLY BEAUTY.
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Of Nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Godlike erect, with native honour clad,
His fair large front and eye sublime declar'd
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
1 Paradise Lost, iii. 1-55.
2 Ibid. iv. 289. Milton was eminently handsome, and wore his hair parted on the top, long and waving, not at all after the Puritan fashion. According to the account of his personal appearance which has come down to us, he must have resembled his own ideal Adam.
To hoarse or mute, though fall'n on evil days,
Thus I have told thee all my state, and brought
Which I enjoy; here passion first I felt;
here only weak
Against the charm of Beauty's powerful glance.
The thoughts, and heart enlarges, hath his seat
Adam was not deceived
But fondly overcome with female charm.2
1 Paradise Lost, vii. 23-31. Though no longer needing to hide in concealment since the passing of the Act of Indemnity in 1660, Milton was far from considering his position secure.
2 Ibid. viii. 521, 530, 589, and ix. 998. Never was there a more ardent lover- never was anyone more deeply imbued with the spirit of love and amorous delight '-than was our great poet. Married three times in love we cannot say how many times-in London, at Cambridge, in Italy-with Leonora, with Miss Davies, with an unknown face on a Mayday—he speaks here and elsewhere not as a novice but as a master in the divine art, and from the depths of his own bitter and sweet experience.