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made his wife sing, who (he said) had a good voice ful temper; and yet I can easily believe, that he but no ear; and then he went up to study again had a sufficient sense of his own merits, and contill six, when his friends came to visit him and sattempt enough for his adversaries. with him perhaps till eight; then he went down to His merits indeed were singular; for he was a supper, which was usually olives or some light man not only of wonderful genius, but of immense thing; and after supper he smoked his pipe, and learning and erudition ; not only an incomparable drank a glass of water, and went to bed. He loved poet, but a great mathematician, logician, historithe country, and commends it, as poets usually do; an, and divine. He was a master not only of the but after his return from his travels, he was very Greek and Latin, but likewise of the Hebrew, little there, except during the time of the plague Chaldee, and Syriac, as well as of the modern lanin London. The civil war might at first detain guages, Italian, French, and Spanish. He was bim in town; and the pleasures of the country particularly skilled in the Italian, which he always were in a great measure lost to him, as they de- preferred to the French language, as all the men pend mostly upon sight, whereas a blind man of letters did at that time in England; and he not wants company and conversation, which is to be only wrote elegantly in it, but is highly commendhad better in populous cities. But he was led out ed for his writings by the most learned of the Itasometimes for the benefit of the fresh air, and in lians themselves, and especially by the members of warm sunny weather he used to sit at the door that celebrated academy called della Crusca, which of his house near Bunhill Fields, and there as well was established at Florence, for the refining and as in the house received the visits of persons of perfecting of the Tuscan language. He had read quality and distinction; for he was no less visited almost all authors, and improved by all, even by to the last both by his own countrymen and fo romances, of which he had been fond in his youngreigners, than he had been in his flourishing con- er years; and as the bee can extract honey out of dition before the Restoration.
weeds, so (to use his own words in his Apology Some objections, indeed, have been made to his for Smectymnuus) " those books, which to many temper; and I remember there was a tradition in others have been the fuel of wantonness and loose the university of Cambridge, that he and Mr. King living, proved to him so many incitements to the (whose death he laments in his Lycidas) were com- love and observation of virtue." His favourite aupetitors for a fellowship, and when they were both thor after the Holy Scriptures, was Homer. Hoequal in point of learning, Mr. King was prefer- mer he could repeat almost all without book; and ried by the college for his character of good nature, he was advised to undertake a translation of his which was wanting in the other; and this was by works, which no doubt he would have executed to Milton grievously resented. But the difference of admiration. But (as he says of himself in his their ages, Milton being at least four years older, postscript to the Judgment of Martin Bucer) “he renders this story not very probable; and besides, never could delight in long citations, much less in. Mr. King was not elected by the college, but was whole traductions.” And accordingly there are made fellow by a royal mandate, so that there can few things, and those of no great length, which he be no truth in the tradition; but if there was any, has ever translated. He was possessed too much it is no sign of Milton's resentment, but a proof of an original genius to be a mere copyer. “Wheof his generosity, that he could live in such friend-ther it be natural disposition,” says he,“ or educaship with a successful rival, and afterwards so pas- tion in me, or that my mother bore me a speaker sionately lament his decease. His method of writ- of what God made my own, and not a translator." ing controversy is urged as another argument of And it is somewhat remarkable, that there is scarce his want of temper: but some allowance must be any author, who has written so much, and upon made for the customs and manners of the times. such various subjects, and yet quotes so little from Controversy, as well as war, was rougher and more his contemporary authors, or so seldom mentions barbarous in those days, than it is in these. And any of them. He praises Selden, indeed, in more it is to be considered, too, that his adversaries first places than one, but for the rest he appears disposbegan the attack; they loaded him with much ed to censure rather than commend. After his more personal abuse, only they had not the ad-severer studies, and after dinner, as we observed vantage of so much wit to season it. If he had before, he used to divert and unbend his mind with engaged with more candid and ingenuous dispu- playing upon the organ or bass-viol, which was a tants, he would have preferred civility and fair ar- great relief to him after he had lost his sight; for gument to wit and satire: "to do so was my choice, he was a master of music, as was his father, and and to have done thus was my chance," as he ex- he could perform both vocally and instrumentally, presses himself in the conclusion of one of his and it is said that he composed very well, though controversial pieces. All who have written any nothing of this kind is handed down to us. It is accounts of his life agree, that he was affable and also said, that he had some skill in painting as well instructive in conversation, of an equal and cheer- as in music, and that somewhere or other there is
a head of Milton drawn by himself: but he was a judge's commission under the usurper: and in blessed with so many real excellences, that there the latter part of his life he frequently expressed is no want of fictitious ones to raise and adorn his to his friends his entire satisfaction of mind, that character. He had a quick apprehension, a sub- he had constantly employed his strength and falime imagination, a strong memory, a piercing culties in the defence of liberty, and in opposition judgment, a wit always ready, and facetious or to slavery. grave as the occasion required: and I know not In matters of religion too he has given as great whether the loss of his sight did not add vigour to offence, or even greater, than by his political printhe faculties of his mind. He at least thought so, ciples. But still let not the infidel glory: no such and often comforted himself with that reflection. man was ever of that party. He had the advan
But his great parts and learning have scarcely tage of a pious education, and ever expressed the gained him more admirers, than his political prin- profoundest reverence of the Deity in his words ciples have raised him enemies. And yet the dar- and actions, was both a Christian and a Protestant, Jing passion of his soul was the love of liberty; and studied and admired the Holy Scriptures above this was his constant aim and end, however he all other books whatsoever; and in all his writings might be mistaken in the means. He was indeed he plainly shows a religious turn of mind, as very zealous in what was called the good old cause, well in verse as in prose, as well in his works of an and with his spirit and his resolution, it is some earlier date as in those of later composition. When what wonderful, that he never ventured his person he wrote the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, in the civil war; but though he was not in arms, he appears to have been a Calvinist; but afterhe was not inactive, and thought, I suppose, that wards he entertained a more favourable opinion he could be of more service to the cause by his pen of Arminius. Some have inclined to believe, that than by his sword. He was a thorough republi- he was an Arian; but there are more express pascan, and in this he thought like a Greek or Ro- sages in his works to overthrow this opinion, than man, as he was very conversant with their writ- any there are to confirm it. For in the conclusion ings. And one day Sir Robert Howard, who was of his Treatise of Reformation he thus solemnly a friend to Milton, as well as to the liberties of his invokes the Trinity; “ Thou therefore that sittest country, and was one of his constant visiters to in light and glory unapproachable, parent of anthe last, inquired of him how he came to side with gels and men! next thee I implore Omnipotent the republicans. Milton answered, among other King, Redeemer of that lost remnant whose nature reasons, because their's was the most frugal go-thou didst assume, ineffable and everlasting love! vernment, for the trappings of a monarchy might And thou the third subsistence of divine infinitude set up an ordinary commonwealth. But then his illumining Spirit, the joy and solace of created attachment to Cromwell must be condemned, as things! one tri-personal Godhead! look upon this being neither consistent with his republican prin- thy poor, and almost spent and expiring Church, ciples, nor with his love of liberty. And I know &c.” And in his tract of Prelatical Episcopacy no other way of accounting for his conduct, but he endeavours to prove the spuriousness of some by presuming (as I think we may reasonably pre- epistles attributed to Ignatius, because they consume) that he was far from entirely approving of tained in them heresies, one of which heresies is, Cromwell's proceedings, but considered him as the that "he condemns them for ministers of Satan, only person who could rescue the nation from the who say that Christ is God above all.” And a tyranny of the Presbyterians, who he saw were little after in the same tract he objects to the auerecting a worse dominion of their own upon the thority of Tertullian, because he went about to ruins of prelatical episcopacy; and of all things“ prove an imparity between God the Father, and he dreaded spicitual slavery, and therefore closed God the Son.” And in the Paradise Lost we shall with Cromwell and the Independents, as he ex- find nothing upon this head, that is not perfectly pected under them greater liberty of conscience. agreeable to Scripture. The learned Dr. Trap, And though he served Cromwell, yet it must be who was as likely to cry out upon heresy as any said for him, that he served a great master, and man, asserts that the poem is orthodox in every served him ably, and was not wanting from time part of it; or otherwise he would not have been at to time in giving him excellent good advice, espe- the pains of translating it. Neque alienum ridetur cially in his second Defence: and so little being a studiis viri theologi poema magna ex parte theo. said of him in all Secretary Thurloe's state-papers, logicum; omni ex parte (rideant, per me licet, atque it appears that he had no great share in the secrets ringantur athei et in fideles) orthodoxum. Millon and intrigues of government: what he despatched was indeed a dissenter from the Church of Engwas little more than matters of necessary form, land, in which he had been educated, and was hy letters and answers to foreign states; and he may his parents designed for holy orders, as we related be justified for acting in such a station, upon the before; but he was led away by early prejudices same principle as Sir Matthew Hale, for holding against the doctrine and discipline of the Church,
and in his younger years was a favourer of the ton's genius are seldom expert in money matters. Presbyterians; in his middle age he was best And in the fire of London his house in Breadpleased with the Independents and Anabaptists, as street was burnt, before which accident, foreigners allowing greater liberty of conscience than others, have gone, out of devotion, (says Wood) to see the and coming nearest in his opinion to the primitive house and chamber where he was born. His gains practice; and in the latter part of his life he was were inconsiderable in proportion to his losses ; for not a professed member of any particular sect of excepting the thousand pounds, which were given Christians, he frequented no public worship, nor him by the government for writing his Defence of used any religious rite in his family. Whether so the people against Salmasius, we may conclude many different forms of worship as he had seen, that he got very little by the copies of his works, had made him indifferent to all forms; or whether when it does not appear that he received any more he thought that all Christians had in some things than ten pounds for Paradise Lost. Some time corrupted the purity and simplicity of the Gospel; before he died he sold the greatest part of his lior whether he disliked their endless and uncharita-brary, as his heirs were not qualified to make a ble disputes, and that love of dominion and inclina- proper use of it, and as he thought that he could tion to persecution, which he said was a piece of dispose of it to greater advantage than they could popery inseparable from all churches; or whether after his decease. And finally, by one means or he believed, that a man might be a good Christian other, he died worth one thousand five hundred without joining in any communion; or whether he pounds, besides his household goods, which was did not look upon himself as inspired, as wrapt up no incompetent substance for him, who was as in God, and above all forms and ceremonies, it is great a philosopher as a poet. not easy to determine: to his own master he stand- To this account of Milton it may be proper to eth or falleth: but if he was of any denomination, add something concerning his family. We said he was a sort of a Quietist, and was full of the in-before, that he had a younger brother and a sister. terior of religion though he so little regarded the His brother, Christopher Milton, was a man of exterior; and it is certain was to the last an enthu- totally opposite principles; was a strong royalist, siast rather than an infidel. Asenthusiasm made and after the civil war made his composition Norris a poet, so poetry might make Milton an through his brother's interest; had been entered enthusiast.
young a student in the Inner Temple, of which His circumstances were never very mean, nor house he lived to be an ancient bencher; and bevery great; for he lived above want, and was not ing a professed papist, was, in the reign of James intent upon accumulating wealth; his ambition 11, made a judge, and knighted; but soon obtained was more to enrich and adorn his mind. His fa- his quietus by reason of his age and infirmities, ther supported him in his travels, and for some and retired to Ipswich, where he lived all the lattime after. Then his pupils must have been of ter part of his life. His sister, Anne Milton, had some advantage to him, and brought him either a a considerable fortune given her by her father in certain stipend, or considerable presents at least; marriage with Mr. Edward Philips, (son of Mr. and he had scarcely any other method of improv- Edward Philips, of Shrewsbury,) who, coming ing his fortune, as he was of no profession. When young to London, was bred up in the Crown Ofhis father died, he inherited an elder son's share of fice in Chancery, and at length became secondary his estate, the principal part of which, I believe, of the office under Mr. Bembo. By him she had, was his house in Bread-street: And not long after, besides other children who died infants, two sens, he was appointed Latin Secretary, with a salary Edward and John, whom we have had frequent of two hundred pounds a year; so that he was now occasion to mention before. Among our author's in opulent circumstances for a man who had al-juvenile poems there is a copy of verses on the death ways led a frugal and temperate life, and was at of a fair infant, a nephew, or rather niece of his, little unnecessary expense besides buying of books. dying of a cough; and this being written in his
Though he was of the victorious party, yet he was seventeenth year, as it is said in the title, it may far from sharing in the spoils of his country. On naturally be inferred that Mrs. Philips was elder the contrary, (as we learn from his second De.than either of her brothers. She had likewise two fence) he sustained greater losses during the civil daughters, Mary, who died very young, and Anne, war, and was not at all favoured in the imposition who was living in 1694, by a second husband, Mr. of taxes, but sometimes paid beyond his due pro- Thomas Agar, who succeeded his intimate friend portion. And upon a turn of affairs he was not Mr. Philips in his place in the Crown Office, which only deprived of his place, but also lost two thou- he enjoyed many years, and left to Mr. Thomas sand pounds, which he had, for security and im- Milton, son of Sir Christopher before mentioned. provenent, put into the Excise Office. He lost, | As for Milton himself he appears to have been no likewise, another considerable sum for want of enemy to the fair sex by having had three wives. proper care and management, as persons of Mil- 'What fortune he had with any of them is no where
said, but they were gentlemen's daughters; and it sent abroad to learn things more proper for them, is remarkable that he married them all maidens, and particularly embroidery in gold and silver, for (as he says in his Apology for Smectymnuus, As Milton at his death left his affairs very much which was written before he married at all) he in the power of his widow, though she acknow" thought with them, who both in prudence and ledged that he died worth one thousand five hunelegance of spirit would choose a virgin of mean dred pounds, yet she allowed but one hundred fortunes, honestly bred, before the wealthiest pounds to each of his three daughters. Anne, widow.” But yet he seemeth not to have been the eldest, was decrepit and deformed, but had a very happy in any of his marriages; for his first very handsome face; she married a master-builder, wife had justly offended him by her long absence and died in childbed of her first child, who died and separation from him; the second, whose love, with her. Mary, the second, lived and died single. sweetness, and goodness he commends, lived not a Deborah, the youngest, in her father's life time twelvemonth with him; and his third wife is said went over to Ireland with a lady, and afterwards to have been a woman of a most violent spirit, and was married to Mr. Abraham Clarke, a weaver in a hard mother-in-law to his children. She died Spittle Fields, and died in August, 1727, in the very old, at Nantwich, in Cheshire: and from the seventy sixth year of her age. She is said to have accounts of those who had seen her, I have learn- been a woman of good understanding, and genteel ed, that she confirmed several things which have behaviour, though in low circumstances. As she been related before; and particularly that her hus- had been often called upon to read Homer and band used to compose poetry chiefly in winter, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses to her father, she could on his waking in a morning would make her write have repeated a considerable number of verses from down sometimes twenty or thirty verses; and be the beginning of both those poets, as Mr. Ward, ing asked whether he did not often read Homer Professor of Rhetoric in Gresham College, relates and Virgil, she understood it as an imputation upon his own knowledge ; and another gentleman upon bim for stealing from those authors, and an- has informed me, that he has heard her repeat seswered with eagerness, that he stole from no bodly veral verses likewise out of Euripides. Mr. Adbut the Muse who inspired him; and being asked dison, and the other gentlemen, who had opporby a ladly present who the Muse was, replied, it tunities of seeing her, knew her immediately to be was God's grace, and the Holy Spirit that visited Milton's daughter, by the similitude of her counhim nightly. She was likewise asked whom he tenance to her father's picture : and Mr. Addison approved most of our English poets, and answered, made her a handsome present of a purse of guineas Spenser, Shakspeare, and Cowley: and being with a promise of procuring for her some annual asked what he thought of Dryden, she said Dry- provision for her life; but his death happening den used sometimes to visit him, but he thought soon after, she lost the benefit of this generous de him no poet, but a good rhymist: but this was be- sign. She received presents likewise from several fore Dryden had composed his best poems, which other gentlemen, and Queen Caroline sent her made his name so famous afterwards. She was fifty pounds by the hands of Dr. Friend, the phywont, moreover, to say, that her husband was ap-sician. She had ten children, seven sons and three plied to by message from the King, and invited to daughters; but none of them had any children, write for the Court, but his answer was, that such except one of her sons named Caleb, and one of a behaviour would be very inconsistent with his her daughters named Elizabeth. Caleb went to former conduct, for he had never yet employed his Fort St. George, in the East Indies, where he marpen against his conscience. By his first wife he ried, and had two sons, Abraham and Isaac; the had four children, a son, who died an infant, and elder of whom came to England with the late govthree daughters, who survived him; by his second ernor Harrison, but returned upon advice of his wife he had only one daughter, who died soon after father's death, and whether he or his brother be her mother, who died in childbed ; and by his last now living is uncertain. Elizabeth, the youngest wife he had no children at all. His daughters were child of Mrs. Clarke, was married to Mr. Thomas not sent to school, but were instructed by a mis- Foster, a weaver in Spittle Fields, and had seven tress kept at home for that purpose: and he him-children who are all dead; and she herself is aged self, excusing the eldest on account of an impedi- about sixty, and weak and infirm. She seems to ment in her speech, taught the two others to read be a good, plain, sensible woman, and has conand pronounce Greek and Latin, and several other firmed several particulars related above, and inlanguages, without understanding any but Eng- formed me of some others, which she had often lish, for he used to say that one tongue was enough heard from her mother: and her granfather lost for a woman : but this employment was very irk- two thousand pounds by a money-scrivener, whom sorne to them, and this, together with the sharp- he had intrusted with that sum, and likewise ness and severity of their mother-in-law, made them an estate at Westminster of sixty pounds a year, very uneasy at home; and therefore they were all which belonged to the Dean and Chapter, and
was restored to them at the Restoration : that he stise on the Game of Whist, after having disposed was very temperate in his eating and drinking, but of all the first impression, sold the copy to the what he had be always loved to have of the best : bookseller, as I have been informed, for two hunthat he seldom went abroad in the latter part of his dred guineas. life, but was visited even then by persons of distinction, both foreigners and others: that he kept his As we have had occasion to mention more than daughters at a great distance, and would not allow once Milton's manuscripts preserved in the library them to learn to write, which he thought unnecessary of Trinity College in Cambridge, it may not be for a woman : that her mother was his greatest fa- ungrateful to the reader, if we give a more partivourite, and could read in seven or eight languages, cular account of them, before we conclude. There though she understood none but English: that her are, as we said, two draughts of a letter to a friend mother inherited his headachs and disorders, and who had importuned him to take orders, together had such a weakness in her eyes, that she was with a sonnet on his being arrived to the age of forced to make use of spectacles from the age of twenty-three; and by there being two draughts of eighteen; and she herself
, she says, has not been this letter with several alterations and additions, able to read a chapter in the Bible these twenty it appears to have been written with great care years: that she was mistaken in informing Mr. and deliberation; and both the draughts have been Birch, which he had printed upon her authority, published by Mr. Birch in his Historical and Crithat Milton's father was born in France; and a tical Account of the life and writings of Milton. brother of hers who was then living was very angry There are also several of his poems, Arcades, At with her for it, and, like a true born Englishman, a solemn music, On time, Upon the circumcision, resented it highly, that the family should be thought the Mask, Lycidas, with five or six of his sonnets, to bear any relation to France: that Milton's se- all in his own hand writing: and there are some cond wife did not die in childbed, as Mr. Philips others of his sonnets written by different hands, and Toland relate, but above three months after being most of them composed after he had lost his of a consumption ; and this too Mr. Birch relates sight. It is curious to see the first thoughts and upon her authority; but in this particular she subsequent corrections of so great a poet as Milmust be mistaken, as well as in the other, for our ton: but it is remarkable in these manuscript poems, author's sonnet on his deceased wife plainly implies that he does not often make his stops, or begin that she did die in childbed. She knows nothing his lines with great letters. There are likewise of her aunt Philips or Agar's descendants, but he in his own hand-writing different plans of Paralieves that they are all extinct: as is likewise Sir dise Lost in the form of a tragedy: and it is an Christopher Milton's family, the last of which, she agreeable amusement to trace the gradual progress says, were two maiden sisters, Mrs. Mary and Mrs. and improvement of such a work from its first Catharine Milton, who lived and died at Highgate; dawnings in the plan of a tragedy to its full lustre but unknown to her there is a Mrs. Milton living in an epic poem. And together with the plans in Grosvenor-street, the grand-daughter of Sir of Paradise Lost there are the plans or subjects of Christopher, and the daughter of Mr. Thomas several other intended tragedies, some taken from Milton before mentioned; and she herself is the the Scripture, others from the British or Scottish only survivor of Milton's own family, unless there histories: and of the latter the last mentioned is be some in the East Indies, which she very much Macbeth, as if is he had an inclination to try his questions, for she used to hear from them some- strength with Shakspeare; and to reduce the play times, but has heard nothing now for several years; more to the unities he proposes, “ beginning at the so that, in all probability, Milton's whole family arrival of Malcolm at Macduff; the matter of will be extinct with her, and he can live only in Duncan may be expressed by the appearing of his his writings. And such is the caprice of fortune, ghost." These manuscripts of Milton were found this grand-daughter of a man, who will be an ever- by the learned Mr. Professor Mason among some lasting glory to the nation, has now for some years other old papers, which, he says, belonged to Sir with her husband kept a little chandler's or gro- Henry Newton Puckering, who was a consideracer's shop for their subsistence, lately at the lower ' ble benefactor to the library: and for the better Holloway, in the road between Highgate and preservation of such truly valuable relics, they were London, and at present in Cock Lane, not far collected together, and handsomely bound in a thin from Shoreditch Church. Another thing let me folio by the care and at the charge of a person, mention, that is equally to the honour of the pre- 'who is now very eminent in his profession, and sent age. Though Milton received not above ten was always a lover of the Muses, and at that time pounds, at two different payments, for the copy of a fellow of Trinity College, Mr. Clarke, one of his Paradise Lost, yet Mr. Hoyle, author of the trea- Majesty's council.