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while they acted and over-acted, among other


scholars I was a spectator; they thought themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools; they made sport, and I laughed; they mispronounced, and I misliked; and, to make up the Atticism,* they were out, and I hissed. Judge now whether so many good text-men were not sufficient to instruct me of false beards and vizards, without more expositors. And how can this Confuter take the face to object to me the seeing of that which his reverend prelates allow and incite their young divines to act ? For if it be unlawful to sit and behold a mercenary comedian personating that which is least unseemly for a hireling to do, how much more blameful is it to endure the sight of as vile things acted by persons either entered or presently to enter into the ministry, and how much more foul and ignominious for them to be the actors !

After a brief apology for the appearance of egotism, he then proceeds to give the following account of his studies.

I had my time, readers, as others have, who have good learning bestowed upon them, to be sent to those places where the opinion was it might be soonest attained ; and, as the manner is, was not unstudied in those authors which are most commended. Whereof some were grave orators and historians, whose matter methought I loved indeed, but as my age then was, so I understood them; others were the smooth elegiac poets, whereof the schools are not scarce,+ whom both for the pleasing sound of their numerous I writing, which in imitation I found most easy and most agreeable to Nature's part in me; and for their matter,—which what it is

in Pepys' Diary, that even his wife was accompanied to the theatre by her maid.

In the whole passage, he alludes to the custom of performing plays at the Universities, so common at the time. Even so late as 1747, a play named The Grateful Fair, by Christopher Smart, was, we are told, performed at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Plays used also to be performed at the Inns of Court. The practice is still continued in Har. row and Westminster schools.

* Because he is here imitating a well-known passage in Demosthenes' speech against Æschines.

+ i. e. which are much read in the schools.
I Numerosus, having numbers or harmony.

there be few who know not, -I was so allured to read, that no recreation came to me better welcome : for, that it was then those years with me which are excused, though they be least severe, * I may

be saved the labour to remember ye. Whence having observed them to account it the chief glory of their wit, in that they were ablest to judge, to praise, and by that could esteem themselves worthiest to love those high perfections which under one or other name they took to celebrate,t I thought with myself by every instinct and presage of nature, which is not wont to be false, that what emboldened them to this task might, with such diligence as they used, embolden me; and that what judgement, wit, or elegance was my share would herein best appear and best value itself, by how much more wisely and with more love of virtue I should chuse-let rude ears be absent—the object of not unlike praises. For, albeit these thoughts to some will seem virtuous and commendable, to others only pardonable, to a third sort perhaps idle, yet the mentioning of them now will end in serious.

Nor blame it, readers, in those years to propose to themselves such a reward as the noblest dispositions above other things in this life have sometimes preferred; whereof not to be sensible, when good and fair in one person meet, argues


and shallow judgement, and withal an ungentle and swainish breast. For, by the firm settling of these persuasions, I became, to my best memory, so much a proficient, that if I found those authors anywhere speaking unworthy things of themselves, or unchaste of those names which before they had extolled, this effect it wrought with me,—from that time forward their art I still applauded, but the men I deplored, and above them all preferred the two famous renowners of Beatrice and Laura, who never write but honour of them to whom they devote their verse, displaying sublime and pure thoughts, without transgression. And long it was not after when I was confirmed in this opinion, that he, who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem,—that is, a composition and pattern of the best and honourablest things,—not presuming to sing

* i. e. most inclined to love, and to light and amorous reading.

† It certainly must have been by a peculiar kind of mental alchemy, that he could extract such pure materials from Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid.

I Dante and Petrarca.


high praises of heroic men or famous cities, unless he have in himself the experience and the practice of all that which is praiseworthy. These reasonings, together with a certain niceness of nature, an honest haughtiness and self-esteem, either of what I was or what I might be,—which let envy call pride,—and lastly that modesty whereof, though not in the title-page,* yet here, I may be excused to make some beseeming profession,-all these, uniting the supply of their natural aid together, kept me still above those low descents of mind, beneath which he must deject and plunge himself that can agree to saleable and unlawful prostitutions.

Next-for hear me out now, readers, that I may tell whither my younger feet wandered,—I betook me among those lofty fables and romances which recount in solemn cantos the deeds of knighthood founded by our victorious kings, and from hence had in renown over all Christendom. There I read, in the oath of every knight, that he should defend to the expense of his best blood, or even of his life, if it so befell bim, the honour and chastity of virgin or matron; from whence even then I learned what a noble virtue chastity sure must be, to the defence of which so many worthies, by such a dear adventure of themselves, had sworn. And if I found in the story afterwards any of them by word or deed breaking that oath, I judged it the same fault of the poet as that which is attributed to Homer, to have written indecent things of the gods. Only this my mind gave me, that every free and gentle spirit, without that oath, ought to be born a knight, nor needed to expect the gilt spur or the laying a sword upon his shoulder to stir him


both by his counsel and his arms, to secure and protect the weakness of attempted chastity. So that even these books, which to many others have been the fuel of wantonness and loose living, t-I cannot think how, unless by divine indulgence, proved to me so many incitements, as ye have heard, to the love and steadfast observation of that virtue which abhors the society of bordelloes.

Thus from the laureat fraternity of poets riper years and the ceaseless round of study and reading led me to the shady spaces I of philosophy, but chiefly to the divine volumes of Plato and his equal (contemporary] Xenophon: where if I should tell ye what I learnt of chastity and love, I mean that which is truly so, whose charming-cup is only virtue, which she bears in her hand to those who are worthy; the rest are cheated with a thick intoxicating potion, which a certain sorceress, the abuser of love's name, carries about,—and how the first and chiefest office of love begins and ends in the soul, producing those happy twins of her divine generation, knowledge and virtue. With such abstracted sublimities as these, it might be worth your listening, readers, as I may one day hope to have ye, in a still time, when there shall be no chiding; not in these noises, the adversary, as ye know, barking at the door or searching for me at the bordelloes, where it may

* The title of his adversary's book was A Modest Refutation, etc. + He probably had Ariosto chiefly in view.

Spatia, courses or rounds of the circus.

be he has lost himself and raps up, without pity, the sage and rheumatic old prelatess, with all her young Corinthian laity, to inquire for such a one.

Last of all,-not in time, but as perfection is last,—that care was always had of me with my earliest capacity, not to be negligently trained in the precepts of the Christian religion. This that I have hitherto related hath been to show, that though seven if] Christianity had been but slightly taught me, yet a certain reservedness of natural disposition, and moral discipline learnt out of the noblest philosophy, was enough to keep me in disdain of far less incontinences than this of the bordello. But, having had the doctrine of Holy Scripture unfolding those chaste and high mysteries with timeliest care infused, that “the body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body;" thus also I argued with myself, that if unchastity in a woman, whom St. Paul terms the glory of man, be such a scandal and dishonour, then certainly in man, who is both the image and glory of God, it must, though commonly not so thought, be much more deflouring and dishonourable; in that he sins both against his own body, which is the perfecter

sex, and his own glory, which is in the woman, and, that which is worst, against the image and glory of God, which is in himself. Nor did I slumber over that place, expressing such high rewards of ever accompanying the Lamb, with those celestial songs, to others inapprehensible, but not to those who were not defiled with women; which doubtless means fornication,* for marriage must not be called a defilement.

* This is the opinion of the best modern commentators.


Milton commences this address to the Parliament with many compliments to their love of truth, justice, and liberty, which made them "as willing to repeal any act of their own setting forth, as any set forth by their predecessors." Emboldened by this, he calls on them to reconsider their late order “to regulate printing :—that no book, pamphlet, or paper shall be henceforth printed, unless the same be first approved and licensed by such, or at least one of such, as shall be thereto appointed.” With this view, he proceeds to inform them by whom this system of licensing was first invented; next, to show that it “ avails nothing to the suppressing of scandalous, seditious, and libellous books ;” and, finally, that “it will be primely to the discouragement of all learning and the stop of truth, not only by disexercising and blunting our abilities in what we know already, but by hindering and cropping the discovery that might be yet further made both in civil and religious wisdom.”

Having previously stated his opinion that books, like men, should be watched and punished as malefactors when they are found transgressing, he takes an historic view of the mode of procedure in ancient Greece and Rome, and under the Roman empire; in none of which appears any trace of examining books previous to publication. Even the reading of books that were condemned was not prohibited till the popes had obtained temporal authority, and even they used their power with moderation till the time of the Reformation, when the Council of Trent and the Inquisition devised, or developed, the Index Expurgatorius, and forbade anything to be published without the Imprimatur" of two or three glutton

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