The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets/Volume 1/Milton

THE Life of Milton has been already written in so many forms, and with such minute enquiry, that I might perhaps more properly have contented myself with the addition of a few notes to Mr. Fenton's elegant Abridgement, but that a new narrative was thought necessary to the uniformity of this edition.

JOHN MILTON was by birth a gentleman, descended from the proprietors of Milton near Thame in Oxfordshire, one of whom forfeited his estate in the times of York and Lancaster. Which side he took I know not; his descendant inherited no veneration for the White Rose.

His grandfather John was keeper of the forest of Shotover, a zealous papist, who disinherited his son, because he had forsaken the religion of his ancestors.

His father, John, who was the son disinherited, had recourse for his support to the profession of a scrivener. He was a man eminent for his skill in musick, many of his compositions being still to be found; and his reputation in his profession was such, that he grew rich, and retired to an estate. He had probably more than common literature, as his son addresses him in one of his most elaborate Latin poems. He married a gentlewoman of the name of Caston, a Welsh family, by whom he had two sons, John the poet, and Christopher who studied the law, and adhered, as the law taught him, to the King's party, for which he was awhile persecuted; but having, by his brother's interest, obtained permission to live in quiet, he supported himself so honourably by chamber-practice, that, soon after the accession of King James, he was knighted and made a judge; but his constitution being too weak for business, he retired before any disreputable compliances became necessary.

He had likewise a daughter Anne, whom he married with a considerable fortune to Edward Philips, who came from Shrewsbury, and rose in the Crown office to be secondary: by him she had two sons, John and Edward, who were educated by the poet, and from whom is derived the only authentic account of his domestic manners.

John, the poet, was born in his father's house, at the Spread-Eagle in Bread-street Dec. 9, 1608, between six and seven in the morning. His father appears to have been very solicitous about his education; for he was instructed at first by private tuition under the care of Thomas Young, who was afterwards chaplain to the English merchants at Hamburgh, and of whom we have reason to think well, since his scholar considered him as worthy of an epistolary Elegy.

He was then sent to St. Paul's School, under the care of Mr. Gill, and removed, in the beginning of his sixteenth year, to Christ's College in Cambridge, where he entered a sizar[1], Feb. 12, 1624.

He was at this time eminently skilled in the Latin tongue; and he himself, by annexing the dates to his first compositions, a boast of which Politian had given him an example, seems to commend the earliness of his own proficiency to the notice of posterity. But the products of his vernal fertility have been surpassed by many, and particularly by his contemporary Cowley. Of the powers of the mind it is difficult to form an estimate: many have excelled Milton in their first essays, who never rose to works like Paradise Lost.

At fifteen, a date which he uses till he is sixteen, he translated or versified two Psalms, 114 and 136, which he thought worthy of the publick eye; but they raise no great expectations; they would in any numerous school have obtained praise, but not excited wonder.

Many of his elegies appear to have been written in his eighteenth year, by which it appears that he had then read the Roman authors with very nice discernment. I once heard Mr. Hampton, the translator of Polybius, remark what I think is true, that Milton was the first Englishman who, after the revival of letters, wrote Latin verses with classick elegance. If any exceptions exceptions can be made, they are very few; Haddon and Ascham, the pride of Elizabeth's reign, however they have succeeded in prose, no sooner attempt verses than they provoke derision. If we produced any thing worthy of notice before the elegies of Milton, it was perhaps Alabaster's Roxana[2].

Of these exercises, which the rules of the University required, some were published by him in his maturer years. They had been undoubtedly applauded; for they were such as few can form: yet there is reason to suspect that he was regarded in his college with no great fondness. That he obtained no fellowship is certain; but the unkindness with which he was treated was not merely negative. I am ashamed to relate what I fear is true, that Milton was one of the last students in either university that suffered the publick indignity of corporal correction.

It was, in the violence of controversial hostility, objected to him, that he was expelled: this he steadily denies, and it was apparently not true; but it seems plain from his own verses to Diodati that he had incurred Rustication, a temporary dismission into the country, with perhaps the loss of a term.

Me tenet urbs refluâ quam Thamesis alluit undâ,
Meque nec invitum patria dulcis habet.
Jam nec arundiferum mihi cura revisere Camum,
Nec dudum vetiti me laris angit amor.—
Nec duri libet usque minas perferre magistri,
Cæteraque ingenio non subeunda meo.
Si sit hoc exilium patrias adiisse penates,
Et vacuum curis otia grata sequi,
Non ego vel profugi nomen sortemve recuso,
Lætus et exilii conditione fruor.

I cannot find any meaning but this, which even kindness and reverence can give to the term vetiti laris, "a habitation from which he is excluded," or how exile can be otherwise interpreted. He declares yet more, that he is weary of enduring the threats of a rigorous master, and something else, which a temper like his cannot undergo. What was more than threat was probably punishment. This poem, which mentions his exile, proves likewise that it was not perpetual, for it concludes with a resolution of returning some time to Cambridge. And it may be conjectured, from the willingness with which he has perpetuated the memory of his exile, that its cause was such as gave him no shame.

He took both the usual degrees; that of Batchelor in 1628, and that of Master in 1632; but he left the university with no kindness for its institution, alienated either by the injudicious severity of his governors, or his own captious perverseness. The cause cannot be known, but the effect appears in his writings. His scheme of education, inscribed to Hartlib, supersedes all academical instruction, being intended to comprise the whole time which men usually spend in literature, from their entrance upon grammar, till they proceed, as it is called, masters of arts. And in his Discourse on the likeliest Way to remove Hirelings out of the Church, he ingenuously proposes, that the profits of the land, forfeited by the act for superstitious uses, should be applied to such academies, all over the land where languages and arts may be taught together; so that youth may be at once brought up, to a competency of learning and an honest trade, by which means such of them as had the gift, being enabled to support themselves (without tithes) by the latter, may, by the help of the former, become worthy preachers.

One of his objections to academical education, as it was then conducted, is, that men designed for orders in the Church were permitted to act plays, writhing and unboning their clergy limbs to all the antick and dishonest gestures of Trincalos[3], buffoons and bawds, prostituting the shame of that ministry which they had, or were near having, to the eyes of courtiers and court-ladies, their grooms and mademoiselles.

This is sufficiently peevish in a man, who, when he mentions his exile from the college, relates, with great luxuriance, the compensation which the pleasures of the theatre afford him. Plays were therefore only criminal when they were acted by academicks.

He went to the university with a design of entering into the church, but in time altered his mind; for he declared that whoever became a clergyman must "subscribe slave and take an oath withal, which, unless he took with a conscience that could not retch, he must straight perjure himself. He thought it better to prefer a blameless silence before the office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing."

These expressions are, I find, applied to the subscription of the Articles; but it seems more probable that they relate to canonical obedience. I know not any of the Articles which seem to thwart his opinions; but the thoughts of obedience, whether canonical or civil, raised his indignation.

His unwillingness to engage in the ministry, perhaps not yet advanced to a settled resolution of declining it, appears in a letter to one of his friends who had reproved his suspended and dilatory life, which he seems to have imputed to an insatiable curiosity, and fantastick luxury of various knowledge. To this he writes a cool and plausible answer, in which he endeavours to persuade him, that the delay proceeds not from the delights of desultory study, but from the desire of obtaining more fitness for his task; and that he goes on, not taking thought of being late, so it give advantage to be more fit.

When he left the university, he returned to his father, then residing at Horton in Buckinghamshire, with whom he lived five years, in which time he is said to have read all the Greek and Latin writers. With what limitations this universality is to be understood, who shall inform us?

It might be supposed, that he who read so much should have done nothing else; but Milton found time to write the Masque of Comus, which was presented at Ludlow, then the residence of the Lord President of Wales, in 1634; and had the honour of being acted by the Earl of Bridgewater's sons and daughter. The fiction is derived from Homer's Circe[4]; but we never can refuse to any modern the liberty of borrowing from Homer:

———a quo ceu fonte perenni
Vatum Pieriis ora rigantur aquis.

His next production was Lycidas, an elegy written in 1637, on the death of

Mr. King, the son of Sir John King, secretary for Ireland in the time of Elizabeth, James, and Charles. King was much a favourite at Cambridge, and many of the wits joined to do honour to his memory. Milton's acquaintance with the Italian writers may be discovered by a mixture of longer and shorter verses, according to the rules of Tuscan poetry, and his malignity to the Church by some lines which are interpreted as threatening its extermination.

He is supposed about this time to have written his Arcades; for while he lived at Horton he used sometimes to steal from his studies a few days, which he spent at Harefield, the house of the countess dowager of Derby, where the Arcades made part of a dramatick entertainment.

He began now to grow weary of the country: and had some purpose of taking chambers in the Inns of Court, when the death of his mother set him at liberty to travel, for which he obtained his father's consent and Sir Henry Wotton's directions, with the celebrated precept of prudence, i pensieri stretti, ed il viso sciolto: "thoughts close, and looks loose." In 1638 he left England, and went first to Paris; where, by the favour of Lord Scudamore, he had the opportunity of visiting Grotius, then residing at the French court as ambassador from Christina of Sweden. From Paris he hasted into Italy, of which he had with particular diligence studied the language and literature; and, though he seems to have intended a very quick perambulation of the country, staid two months at Florence; where he found his way into the academies, and produced his compositions with such applause as appears to have exalted him in his own opinion, and confirmed him in the hope, that "by labour and intense study, which," says he, "I take to be my portion in this life, joined with a strong propensity of nature," he might "leave something so written to after-times, as they should not willingly let it die."

It appears in all his writings, that he had the usual concomitant of great abilities, a lofty and steady confidence in himself, perhaps not without some contempt of others; for scarcely any man ever wrote so much and praised so few. Of his praise he was very frugal; as he set its value high, and considered his mention of a name as a security against the waste of time, and a certain preservative from oblivion.

At Florence he could not indeed complain that his merit wanted distinction. Carlo Dati presented him with an encomiastic inscription, in the tumid lapidary style; and Francini wrote him an ode, of which the first stanza is only empty noise; the rest are perhaps too diffuse on common topicks, but the last is natural and beautiful.

From Florence he went to Sienna, and from Sienna to Rome, where he was again received with kindness by the Learned and the Great. Holstenius, the keeper of the Vatican Library, who had resided three years at Oxford, introduced him to Cardinal Barberini; and he, at a musical entertainment, waited for him at the door, and led him by the hand into the assembly. Here Selvaggi praised him in a distich, and Salsilli in a tetrastick: neither of them of much value. The Italians were gainers by this literary commerce; for the encomiums with which Milton repaid Salsilli, though not secure against a stern grammarian, turn the balance indisputably in Milton's favour.

Of these Italian testimonies, poor as they are, he was proud enough to publish them before his poems; though he says, he cannot be suspected but to have known that they were said non tam de se, quam supra se.

At Rome, as at Florence, he staid only two months; a time indeed sufficient, if he desired only to ramble with an explainer of its antiquities, or to view palaces and count pictures; but certainly too short for the contemplation of learning, policy, or manners.

From Rome he passed on to Naples, in company of a hermit, a companion from whom little could be expected; yet to him Milton owed his introduction to Manso, marquis of Villa, who had been before the patron of Tasso. Manso was enough delighted with his accomplishments to honour him with a sorry distich, in which he commends him for every thing but his religion: and Milton in return, addressed him in a Latin poem, which must have raised an high opinion of English elegance and literature.

His purpose was now to have visited Sicily and Greece; but, hearing of the differences between the king and parliament, he thought it proper to hasten home, rather than pass his life in foreign amusements while his countrymen were contending for their rights. He therefore came back to Rome, though the merchants informed him of plots laid against him by the Jesuits, for the liberty of his conversations on religion. He had sense enough to judge that there was no danger, and therefore kept on his way, and acted as before, neither obtruding nor shunning controversy. He had perhaps given some offence by visiting Galileo, then a prisoner in the inquisition for philosophical heresy; and at Naples he was told by Manso, that, by his declarations on religious questions, he had excluded himself from some distinctions which he should otherwise have paid him. But such conduct, though it did not please, was yet sufficiently safe, and Milton staid two months more at Rome, and went on to Florence without molestation.

From Florence he visited Lucca. He afterwards went to Venice; and, having sent away a colle&tion of music and other books, travelled to Geneva, which he probably considered as the metropolis of orthodoxy.

Here he reposed, as in a congenial element, and became acquainted with John Diodati and Frederick Spanheim, two learned professors of Divinity. From Geneva he passed through France; and came home, after an absence of a year and three months. At his return he heard of the death of his friend Charles Diodati; a man whom it is reasonable to suppose of great merit, since he was thought by Milton worthy of a poem, intituled, Epitaphium Damonis, written with the common but childish imitation of pastoral life.

He now hired a lodging at the house of one Russel, a tailor in St. Bride's Churchyard, and undertook the education of John and Edward Philips, his sister's sons. Finding his rooms too little, he took a house and garden in Aldersgate-street[5], which was was not then so much out of the world as it is now; and chose his dwelling at the upper end of a passage, that he might avoid the noise of the street. Here he received more boys, to be boarded and instructed.

Let not our veneration for Milton forbid us to look with some degree of merriment on great promises and small performance, on the man who hastens home, because his countrymen are contending for their liberty, and, when he reaches the scene of action, vapours away his patriotism in a private boarding-school. This is the period of his life from which all his biographers seem inclined to shrink. They are unwilling that Milton should be degraded to a school-master; but since it cannot be denied that he taught boys, one finds out that he taught for nothing, and another that his motive was only zeal for the propagation of learning and virtue; and all tell what they do not know to be true, only to excuse an act which no wise man will consider as in itself disgraceful. His father was alive; his allowance was not ample; and he supplied its deficiencies by an honest and useful employment.


It is told, that in the art of education he performed wonders; and a formidable list is given of the authors, Greek and Latin, that were read in Aldersgate-street, by youth between ten and fifteen or sixteen years of age. Those who tell or receive these stories should consider that nobody can be taught faster than he can learn. The speed of the horseman must be limited by the power of his horse. Every man, that has ever undertaken to instruct others, can tell what slow advances he has been able to make, and how much patience it requires to recall vagrant inattention, to stimulate sluggish indifference, and to rectify absurd misapprehension.

The purpose of Milton, as it seems, was to teach something more solid than the common literature of Schools, by reading those authors that treat of physical subjects; such as the Georgick, and astronomical treatises of the ancients. This was a scheme of improvement which seems to have busied many literary projectors of that age. Cowley, who had more means than Milton of knowing what was wanting to the embellishments of life, formed the same plan of education in his imaginary College.

But the truth is, that the knowledge o external nature, and the sciences which that knowledge requires or includes, are not the great or the frequent business of the human mind. Whether we provide for action or conversation, whether we wish to be useful or pleasing, the first requisite is the religious and moral knowledge of right and wrong; the next is an acquaintance with the history of mankind, and with those examples which may be said to embody truth, and prove by events the reasonableness of opinions. Prudence and Justice are virtues and excellences of all times and of all places; we are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance. Our intercourse with intellectual nature is necessary; our speculations upon matter are voluntary, and at leisure. Physiological learning is of such rare emergence, that one man may know another half his life without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostaticks or astronomy; but his moral and prudential character immediately appears.

Those authors, therefore, are to be read at schools that supply most axioms of prudence, most principles of moral truth, and most materials for conversation; and these purposes are best served by poets, orators, and historians.

Let me not be censured for this digression as pedantick or paradoxical; for, if I have Milton against me, I have Socrates on my side. It was his labour to turn philosophy from the study of nature to speculations upon life; but the innovators whom I oppose are turning off attention from life to nature. They seem to think, that we are placed here to watch the growth of plants, or the motions of the stars. Socrates was rather of opinion, that what we had to learn was, how to do good, and avoid evil.

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Of institutions we may judge by their effects. From this wonder-working academy, I do not know that there ever proceeded any man very eminent for knowledge: its only genuine product, I believe, is a small History of Poetry, written in Latin by his nephew Philips, of which perhaps none of my readers has ever heard[6]. That in his school, as in every thing else which he undertook, he laboured with great diligence, there is no reason for doubting. One part of his method deserves general imitation. He was careful to instruct his scholars in religion. Every Sunday was spent upon theology; of which he dictated a short system, gathered from the writers that were then fashionable in Dutch universities.

He set his pupils an example of hard study and spare diet; only now and then he allowed himself to pass a day of festivity and indulgence with some gay gentlemen of Gray's Inn.

He now began to engage in the controversies of the times, and lent his breath to blow the flames of contention. In 1641 he published a treatise of Reformation, in two books, against the established Church; being willing to help the Puritans, who were, he says, inferior to the Prelates in learning.

Hall, bishop of Norwich, had published an Humble Remonstrance, in defence of Episcopacy; to which, in 1641, five ministers[7], of whose names the first letters made the celebrated word Smectymnuus, gave their Answer. Of this Answer a Confutation was attempted by the learned Usher; and to the Confutation Milton published a Reply, intituled, Of Prelatical Episcopacy, and whether it may be deduced from the Apostolical Times, by virtue of those testimonies which are alledged to that purpose in some late treatises, one whereof goes under the name of James Lord Bishop of Armagh.

I have transcribed this title to shew, by his contemptuous mention of Usher, that he had now adopted the puritanical savageness of manners. His next work was, The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelacy, by Mr. John Milton, 1642. In this book he discovers, not with ostentatious exultation, but with calm confidence, his high opinion of his own powers; and promises to undertake something, he yet knows not what, that may be of use and honour to his country. "This," says he, "is not to be obtained but by devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit that can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his Seraphim with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases. To this must be added, industrious and select reading, steady observation, and insight into all seemly and generous arts and affairs; till which in some measure be compast, I refuse not to sustain this expectation." From a promise like this, at once fervid, pious, and rational, might be expected the Paradise Lost.

He published the same year two more pamphlets, upon the same question. To one of his antagonists, who affirms that he was vomited out of the university, he answers, in general terms; "The Fellows of the College wherein I spent some years, at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, signified many times how much better it would content that I should stay.— As for the common approbation or dislike of that place, as now it is, that I should esteem or disesteem myself the more for that, too simple is the answerer, if he think to obtain with me. Of small practice were the physician who could not judge, by what she and her sister have of long time vomited, that the worser stuff she strongly keeps in her stomach, but the better she is ever kecking at, and is queasy; she vomits now out of sickness; but before it will be well with her, she must vomit with strong physick. The university, in the time of her better health, and my younger judgement, I never greatly admired, but now much less."

This is surely the language of a man who thinks that he has been injured. He proceeds to describe the course of his conduct, and the train of his thoughts; and, because he has been suspected of incontinence, gives an account of his own purity: "That if I be justly charged," says he, "with this crime, it may come upon me with tenfold shame."

The style of his piece is rough, and such perhaps was that of his antagonist. This roughness he justifies, by great examples in a long digression. Sometimes he tries to be humorous: "Lest I should take him for some chaplain in hand, some squire of the body to his prelate, one who serves not at the altar only but at the Court-cupboard, he will bestow on us a pretty model of himself; and sets me out half a dozen ptisical mottoes, wherever he had them, hopping short in the measure of convulsion fits; in which labour the agony of his wit having scaped narrowly, instead of well-sized periods, he greets us with a quantity of thumb-ring posies.—And thus ends this section, or rather dissection of himself." Such is the controversial merriment of Milton; his gloomy seriousness is yet more offensive. Such is his malignity, that hell grows darker at his frown.

His father, after Reading was taken by Essex, came to reside in his house; and his school increased. At Whitsuntide, in his thirty-fifth year, he married Mary, the daughter of Mr. Powel, a justice of the peace in Oxfordshire. He brought her to town with him, and expected all the advantages of a conjugal life. The lady, however, seems not much to have delightted in pleasures of spare diet and hard study; for, as Philips relates, "having for a month led a philosophic life, after having been used at home to a great house, and much company and joviality, her friends, possibly by her own desire, made earnest suit to have her company the remaining part of the summer; which was granted, upon a promise of her return at Michaelmas."

Milton was too busy to much miss his wife: he pursued his studies; and now and then visited the Lady Margaret Leigh, whom he has mentioned in one of his sonnets. At last Michaelmas arrived; but the Lady had no inclination to return to the sullen gloom of her husband's habitation, and therefore very willingly forgot her promise. He sent her a letter, but had no answer; he sent more with the same success. It could be alledged that letters miscarry; he therefore dispatched a messenger, being by this time too angry to go himself. His messenger was sent back with some contempt. The family of the Lady were Cavaliers.

In a man whose opinion of his own merit was like Milton's, less provocation than this might have raised violent resentment. Milton soon determined to repudiate her for disobedience; and, being one of those who could easily find arguments to justify inclination, published (in 1644) The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce; which was followed by The judgement of Martin Bucer, concerning Divorce; and the next year, his Tetrachordon, Expositions upon the four chief Places of Scripture which treat of Marriage.

This innovation was opposed, as might be expected, by the clergy, who, then holding their famous assembly at Westminster, procured that the author should be called before the Lords; "but that House," says Wood, "whether approving the doctrine, or not favouring his accusers, did soon dismiss him."

There seems not to have been much written against him, nor any thing by any writer of eminence. The antagonist that appeared is styled by him, a Serving Man turned Solicitor. Howel in his letters mentions the new doctrine with contempt; and it was, I suppose, thought more worthy of derision than of confutation. He complains of this neglect in two sonnets, of which the first is contemptible, and the second not excellent.

From this time it is observed that he became an enemy to the Presbyterians, whom he had favoured before. He that changes his party by his humour is not more virtuous than he that changes it by his interest; he loves himself rather than truth.

His wife and her relations now found that Milton was not an unresisting sufferer of injuries; and perceiving that he had begun to put his doctrine in practice, by courting a young woman of great accomplishments, the daughter of one Doctor Davis, who was however not ready to comply, they resolved to endeavour a reunion. He went sometimes to the house of one Blackborough, his relation, in the lane of St. Martin's-le-Grand, and at one of his usual visits was surprised to see his wife come from another room, and implore forgiveness on her knees. He resisted her intreaties for a while: "but partly," says Philips, "his own generous nature, more inclinable to reconciliation than to perseverance in anger or revenge, and partly the strong intercession of friends on both sides, soon brought him to an act of oblivion and a firm league of peace." It were injurious to omit, that Milton afterwards received her father and her brothers in his own house, when they were distressed, with other Royalists.

He published about the same time his Areopagitica, a Speech of Mr. John Milton for for the liberty of unlicensed Printing. The danger of such unbounded liberty, and the danger of bounding it, have produced a problem in the science of Government, which human understanding seems hitherto unable to solve. If nothing may be published but what civil authority shall have previously approved, power must always be the standard of truth; if every dreamer of innovations may propagate his projects, there can be no settlement; if every murmurer at government may diffuse discontent, there can be no peace; and if every sceptick in theology may teach his follies, there can be no religion. The remedy against these evils is to punish the authors; for it is yet allowed that every society may punish, though not prevent, the publication of opinions, which that society shall think pernicious; but this punishment, though it may crush the author, promotes the book; and it seems not more reasonable to leave the right of printing unrestrained because writers may be afterwards censured, than it would be to sleep with doors unbolted, because by our laws we can hang a thief.

But whatever were his engagements, civil or domestic, poetry was never long out of his thoughts.

About this time (1645) a collection of his Latin and English poems appeared, in which the Allegro and Penseroso, with some others, were first published.

He had taken a larger house in Barbican for the reception of scholars; but the numerous relations of his wife, to whom he generously granted refuge for a while, occupied his rooms. In time, however, they went away; "and the house again," says Philips, "now looked like a house of the Muses only, though the accession of scholars was not great. Possibly his having proceeded to far in the education of youth may have been the occasion of his adversaries calling him pedagogue and school-master; whereas it is well known he never set up for a publick school, to teach all the young fry of a parish; but only was willing to impart his learning and knowledge to his relations, and the sons of gentlemen who were his intimate friends, and that neither his writings nor his way of teaching favoured in the least of pedantry." Thus laboriously does his nephew extenuate what cannot be denied, and what might be confessed without disgrace. Milton was not a man who could become mean by a mean employment. This, however, his warmest friends seem not to have found; they therefore shift and palliate. He did not sell literature to all comers at an open shop; he was a chamber-milliner, and measured his commodities to his friends.

Philips, evidently impatient of viewing him in this state of degradation, tells us that it was not long continued; and, to raise his character again, has a mind to invest him with military splendour: "He is much mistaken," he says, "if there was not about this time a design of making him an adjutant-general in Sir William Waller's army. But the new-modelling of the army proved an obstruction to the design." An event cannot be set at a much greater distance than by having been only designed, about some time, if a man be not much mistaken. Milton shall be a pedagogue no longer; for, if Philips be not much mistaken, somebody at some time designed him for a soldier.

About the time that the army was new-modelled (1645) he removed to a smaller house in Holborn, which opened backward into Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. He is not known to have published any thing afterwards till the King's death, when, finding his murderers condemned by the Presbyterians, he wrote a treatise to justify it, and to compose the minds of the people.

He made some Remarks on the Articles of Peace between Ormond and the Irish Rebels. While he contented himself to write, he perhaps did only what his conscience dictated; and if he did not very vigilantly watch the influence of his own passions, and the gradual prevalence of opinions, first willingly admitted and then habitually indulged; if objections, by being overlooked, were forgotten, and desire super-induced conviction; he yet shared only the common weakness of mankind, and might be no less sincere than his opponents. But as faction seldom leaves a man honest, however it might find him, Milton is suspected of having interpolated the book called Icon Basilike, which the Council of State, to whom he was now made Latin secretary, employed him to censure, by inserting a prayer taken from Sidney's Arcadia, and imputing it to the King; whom he charges, in his Iconoclastes, with the use of this prayer, as with a heavy crime, in the indecent language with which prosperity had emboldened the advocates for rebellion to insult all that is venerable or great: "Who would have imagined so little fear in him of the true all-seeing Deity—as, immediately before his death, to pop into the hands of the grave bishop that attended him, as a special relique of his saintly exercises, a prayer stolen word for word from the mouth of a heathen woman praying to a heathen god?"

The papers which the King gave to Dr. Juxon on the scaffold, the regicides took away, so that they were at least the publishers of this prayer; and Dr. Birch, who had examined the question with great care, was inclined to think them the forgers. The use of it by adaptation was innocent; and they who could so noisily censure it, with a little extension of their malice could contrive what they wanted to accuse.

King Charles the Second, being now sheltered in Holland, employed Salmasius, professor of Polite Learning at Leyden, to write a defence of his father and of monarchy; and, to excite his industry, gave him, as was reported, a hundred Jacobuses. Salmasius was a man of skill in languages, knowledge of antiquity, and sagacity of emendatory criticism, almost exceeding all hope of human attainment; and having, by excessive praises, been confirmed in great confidence of himself, though he probably had not much considered the principles of society or the rights of government, undertook the employment without distrust of his own qualifications; and, as his expedition in writing was wonderful, in 1649 published Defensio Regis.

To this Milton was required to write a sufficient answer; which he performed (1651) in such a manner, that Hobbes declared himself unable to decide whose language was best, or whose arguments were worst. In my opinion, Milton's periods are smoother, neater, and more pointed; but he delights himself with teazing his adversary as much as with confuting him. He makes a foolish allusion of Salmasius, whose doctrine he considers as servile and unmanly, to the stream of Salmacis, which whoever entered left half his virility behind him. Salmasius was a Frenchman, and was unhappily married to a scold. Tu es Gallus, says Milton, &, ut aiunt, nimium gallinaceus. But his supreme pleasure is to tax his adversary, so renowned for criticism, with vitious Latin. He opens his book with telling that he has used Persona, which according to Milton, signifies only a Mask, in a sense not known to the Romans, by applying it as we apply Person. But as Nemesis is always on the watch, it is memorable that he has enforced the charge of a solecism by an expression in itself grossly solecistical, when for one of those supposed blunders, he says, as Ker, and I think some one before him, has remarked, propino te grammatistis tuis vapulandum. From vapulo, which has a passive sense, vapulandus can never be derived. No man forgets his original trade: the rights of nations, and of kings, sink into questions of grammar, if grammarians discuss them.

Milton, when he undertook this answer, was weak of body and dim of sight; but his will was forwarded, and what was wanting of health was supplied by zeal. He was rewarded with a thousand pounds, and his book was much read; for paradox, recommended by spirit and elegance, easily gains attention; and he, who told every man that he was equal to his King, could hardly want an audience.

That the performance of Salmasius was not dispersed with equal rapidity, or read with equal eagerness, is very credible. He taught only the stale doctrine of authority, and the unpleasing duty of submission; and he had been so long not only the monarch but the tyrant of literature, that almost all mankind were delighted to find him defied and insulted by a new name, not yet considered as any one's rival. If Christina, as is said, commended the Defence of the People, her purpose must be to torment Salmasius, who was then at her court; for neither her civil station nor her natural charaćter could dispose them to favour the doctrine, who was by birth a queen, and by temper despotick.

That Salmasius was, from the appearance of Milton's book, treated with neglect, there is not much proof; but to a man so long accustomed to admiration, a little praise of his antagonist would be sufficiently offensive, and might incline him to leave Sweden, from which however he was dismissed, not with any mark of contempt, but with a train of attendance scarcely less than regal.

He prepared a reply, which, left as it was imperfect, was published by his son in the year of the Restoration. In the beginning, being probably most in pain for his Latinity, he endeavours to defend his use of the word personæ; but, if I remember right, he misses a better authority than any that he has found, that of Juvenal in his fourth satire;

—Quid agis cum dira & fœdior omni
Crimine persona est?

As Salmasius reproached Milton with losing his eyes in the quarrel, Milton delighted himself with the belief that he had shortened Salmasius's life, and both perhaps with more malignity than reason. Salmasius died at the Spa, Sept. 3, 1653; and, as controvertists are commonly said to be killed by their last dispute, Milton was flattered with the credit of destroying him. Cromwell had now dismissed the parliament by the authority of which he had destroyed monarchy, and commenced monarch himself, under the title of Protector, but with kingly and more than kingly power. That his authority was lawful, never was pretended; he himself founded his right only in necessity; but Milton, having now tasted the honey of publick employment, would not return to hunger and philosophy, but, continuing to exercise his office under a manifest usurpation, betrayed to his power that liberty which he had defended. Nothing can be more just than that rebellion should end in slavery; that he who had justified the murder of his king, for some acts which to him seemed unlawful, should now sell his services, and his flatteries, to a tyrant, of whom it was evident that he could do nothing lawful.

He had now been blind for some years; but his vigour of intellect was such, that he was not disabled to discharge his office of Latin secretary, or continue his controversies. His mind was too eager to be diverted, and too strong to be subdued.

About this time his first wife died in childbed, having left him three daughters. As he probably did not much love her, he did not long continue the appearance of lamenting her; but after a short time married Catharine, the daughter of one captain Woodcock of Hackney; a woman doubtless educated in opinions like his own. She died, within a year, of childbirth, or some distemper that followed it; and her husband honoured her memory with a poor sonnet.

The first Reply to Milton's Defensio Populi was published in 1651, called Apologia pro Rege & Populo Anglicano, contra Johannis Polypragmatici (alias Miltoni) defensionem destructivam Regis & Populi. Of this the author was not known; but Milton and his nephew Philips, under whose name he published an answer so much corrected by him, that it might be called his own, imputed it to Bramhal; and, knowing him no friend to regicides, thought themselves at liberty to treat him as if they had known what they only suspected.

Next year appeared Regii Sanguinis clamor ad Cælum. Of this the author was Peter du Moulin, who was afterwards prebendary of Canterbury; but Morus, or More, a French minister, having the care of its publication, was treated as the writer by Milton in his Defensio Secunda, and overwhelmed by such violence of inve&tive, that he began to shrink under the tempest, and gave his persecutors the means of knowing the true author. Du Moulin was now in great danger: but Milton's pride operated against his malignity; and both he and his friends were more willing that Du Moulin should escape than that he should be convicted of mistake.

In this second Defence he shews that his eloquence is not merely satirical; the rudeness of his invective is equalled by the grossness of his flattery. "Deserimur, Cromuelle, tu solus superes, ad te summa nostrarum rerum rediit, in te solo consistit, insuperabili tuæ virtuti cedimus cuncti, nemine vel obloquente, nisi qui æquales inæqualis ipse honores sibi quærit, aut digniori concessos invidet, aut non intelligit nihil esse in societate hominum magis vel Deo gratum, vel rationi consentaneum, esse in civitate nihil æquius, utilius, quam potiri rerum dignissimum. Eum te agnoscunt omnes, Cromuelle, ea tu civis maximus & [8]gloriosissimus, dux publici consilii, exercitum fortissimorum imperator, pater patriæ gesisti. Sic tu spontanea bonorum omnium & animitus missa voce salutaris."

Cæsar, when he assumed the perpetual dictatorship, had not more servile or more elegant flattery. A translation may shew its servility; but its elegance is less attain able. Having exposed the unskilfulness or selfishness of the former government, "We were left," says Milton, "to ourselves: the whole national interest fell into your hands, and subsists only in your abilities. To your virtue, overpowering and resistless, every man gives way, except some who, without equal qualifications, aspire to equal honours, who envy the distinctions of merit greater than their own, or who have yet to learn, that in the coalition of human society nothing is more pleasing to God, or more agreeable to reason, than that the highest mind should have the sovereign power. Such, Sir, are you by general confession; such are the things atchieved by you, the greatest and most glorious of our countrymen, the director of our publick councils, the leader of unconquered armies, the father of your country; for by that title does every good man hail you, with sincere and voluntary praise."

Next year, having defended all that wanted defence, he found leisure to defend himself. He undertook his own vindication against More, whom he declares in his title to be justly called the author of the Regii Sanguinis clamor. In this there is no want of vehemence or eloquence, nor does he forget his wonted wit. "Morus es? an Momus? an uterque idem est?" He then remembers that Morus is Latin for a Mulberry-tree, and hints at the known transformation;

— Poma alba ferebat
Quæ post nigra tulit Morus.

With this piece ended his controversies: and he from this time gave himself up to his private studies and his civil employment.

As secretary to the Protector he is supposed to have written the Declaration of the reasons for a war with Spain. His agency was considered as of great importance; for when a treaty with Sweden was artfully suspended, the delay was publickly imputed to Mr. Milton's indisposition; and the Swedish agent was provoked to express his wonder, that only one man in England could write Latin, and that man blind.

Being now forty-seven years old, and seeing himself disencumbered from external interruptions, he seems to have recollected his former purposes, and to have resumed three great works which he had planned for his future employment: an epick poem, the history of his country, and a dictionary of the Latin tongue.

To collect a dictionary, seems a work of all others least practicable in a state of blindness, because it depends upon perpetual and minute inspection and collation. Nor would Milton probably have begun it, after he had lost his eyes; but having had it always before him, he continued it, says Philips, almost to his dying day; but the papers were so discomposed and deficient, that they could not be fitted for the press. The compilers of the Latin dictionary, printed at Cambridge, had the use of those collections in three folios; but what was their fate afterwards is not known[9].

To compile a history from various authors, when they can only be consulted by other eyes, is not easy, nor possible, but with more skilful and attentive help than can be commonly obtained; and it was probably the difficulty of consulting and comparing that stopped Milton's narrative at the Conquest; a period at which affairs were not yet very intricate, nor authors very numerous.

For the subject of his epick poem, after much deliberation, long chusing, and beginning late, he fixes upon Paradise Lost; a design so comprehensive, that it could be justified only by success. He had once designed to celebrate King Arthur, as he hints in his verses to Mansus; but Arthur was reserved, says Fenton, to another destiny[10].

It appears, by some sketches of poetical projects left in manuscript, and to be seen in a library[11] at Cambridge, that he had digested his thoughts on this subject into one of those wild dramas which were anciently called Mysteries; and Philips had seen what he terms part of a tragedy, beginning with the first ten lines of Satan's address to the Sun. These mysteries consist of allegorical persons; such as Justice, Mercy, Faith. Of the tragedy or mystery of Paradise Lost there are two plans:

16o MILTON. The Persons. The Persons. Michael. Moses. Chorus of Angels. Divine Justice, Wis Heavenly Love. dom, Heavenly Love. Lucifer. TheEveningStar, Hes Adam, ) with the perus. Eve, }so Chorus of Angels. Conscience. Lucifer. Death. Adam. Labour, Eve. Sickness, | Conscience. Discontent, }Mutes. Labour, Ignorance, Sickness, withothers; Discontent, - - Mutes, Faith.* Ignorance, Hope. Fear, Charity. - Death ; Faith. Hope. Charity. Paradise Lost. The Persons. Moses, zooxcy&l, recounting how he as fumed his true body; that it corrupts not, because it is with God in the mount ; de clares MII,TON. 161 clares the like with Enoch and Elijah; be sides the purity of the place, that certain pure winds, dews, and clouds, preserve it from corruption; whence exhorts to the sight of God; tells they cannot see Adam in the state of innocence, by reason of their sin. - o debating what should become won of man, if he fall. Chorus of Angels singing a hymn of the Creation. . . . . - - ACT I I . Heavenly Love. Evening Star. Chorus fing the marriage-song, and de scribe Paradise. A CT III. Lucifer contriving Adam's ruin. Chorus fears for Adam, and relates Luci fer's rebellion and fall. A C T IV. Adam, 1 Eve, jfallen. Vol. I . M Conscience 162 MILTON. Conscience cites them to God’s examina tion. . . - Chorus bewails, and tells the good Adam has lost. ACTV. Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise. - - presented by an angel with Labour, Grief, Hatred, Envy, War, ) }*. Famine, Pestilence, Sickness, Dis content, Ignorance, Fear, Death; J To whom he gives their names. Likewise Winter, Heat, Tempest, &c. Faith, - Hope, }omon him and instrućt him. Charity, - - Chorus briefly concludes. Such was his first design, which could have produced only an allegory, or mystery. The following sketch seems to have attain cd more maturity. - -

Adam unparadised : The angel Gabriel, either descending or entering ; shewing, since this globe was created, his frequency as much on earth as in heaven; describes Paradise. Next, the

. . . •

  • -*

- - Chorus, Chorus, shewing the reason of his coming to keep his watch in Paradise, after Lucifer's rebellion, by command from God; and withal expressing his desire to see and know more concerning this excellent new creature, man, The angel Gabriel, as by his name signifying a prince of power, tracing Paradise with a more free office, passes by the station of the Chorus, and, desired by them, relates what he knew of man; as the creation of Eve, with their love and marriage. After this, Lucifer appears; after his overthrow bemoans himself, seeks revenge on man. The Chorus prepare resistance at his first approach. At last, after discourse of enmity on either side, he departs: whereat the Chorus sings of the battle and victory in heaven, against him and his accomplices: as before, after the first act, was sung a hymn of the creation. Here again may appear Lucifer, relating and insulting in what he had done to the destruction of man. Man next, and Eve having by this time been seduced by the Serpent, appears confusedly covered with leaves. Conscience, in a shape, accuses him; Justice cites him to the place whither Jehovah called for him. In the mean while, the Chorus entertains the stage, and is informed by some angel the manner of the fall. Here the Chorus bewails Adam's fall; Adam then and Eve return; accuse one another; but especially Adam lays the blame to his wife; is stubborn in his offence. Justice appears, reasons with him, convinces him. The Chorus admonishes Adam, and bids him beware Lucifer's example of impenitence. The angel is sent to banish them out of Paradise; but before causes to pass before his eyes, in shapes, a mask of all the evils of this life and world. He is humbled, relents, despairs; at last appears Mercy, comforts him, promises the Messiah; then calls in Faith, Hope, and Charity; instructs him; he repents, gives God the glory, submits to his penalty. The Chorus briefly concludes. Compare this with the former draught.

These are very imperfect rudiments of Paradise Lost; but it is pleasant to see great works in their seminal state, pregnant with latent possibilities of excellence; nor could there be any more delightful entertainment than to trace their gradual growth and expansion, and to observe how they are sometimes suddenly advanced by accidental hints, and sometimes slowly improved by steady meditation.

Invention is almost the only literary labour which blindness cannot obstruct, and therefore he naturally solaced his solitude by the indulgence of his fancy, and the melody of his numbers. He had done what he knew to be necessarily previous to poetical excellence; he had made himself acquainted with seemly arts and affairs; his comprehension was extended by various knowledge, and his memory stored with intellectual treasures. He was skilful in many languages, and had by reading and composition attained the full mastery of his own. He would have wanted little help from books, had he retained the power of perusing them.

But while his greater designs were advancing, having now, like many other authors, caught the love of publication, he amused himself, as he could, with little productions. He sent to the press (1658) a manuscript of Raleigh, called the Cabinet Council; and next year gratified his malevolence to the clergy, by a Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Cases, and the Means of removing Hirelings out of the Church.

Oliver was now dead; Richard was constrained to resign: the system of extemporary government, which had been held together only by force, naturally fell into fragments when that force was taken away; and Milton saw himself and his cause in equal danger. But he had still hope of doing something. He wrote letters, which Toland has published, and such men as he thought friends to the new commonwealth: and even in the year of the Restoration he bated no jot of heart or hope, but was fantistical enough to think that the nation, agitated as it was, might be settled by a pamphlet, called A ready and easy Way to establish a Free Commonwealth; which was, however, enough considered to be both seriously and ludicrously answered.

The obstinate enthusiasm of the commonwealthmen was very remarkable. When the King was apparently returning, Härrington, with a few associates as fanatical as himself, used to meet, with all the gravity of political importance, to settle an equal government by rotation; and Milton, kicking when he could strike no longer, was foolish enough to publish, a few works before the Restoration, Notes upon a sermon preached by one Griffiths, intituled, The Fear of God and the King. To these notes an answer was written by L'Estrange, in a pamphlet petulantly called

But whatever Milton could write, or men of greater activity could do, the King was now about to be restored with the irresistible approbation of the people. He was therefore no longer secretary, and was consequently obliged to quit the house which he held by his office; and proportioning his sense of danger to his opinion of the importance of his writings, thought it convenient to seek some shelter, and hid himself for a time in Bartholomew-Close, by West Smithfield.

I cannot but remark a kind of respect, perhaps unconsciously, paid to this great man by his biographers: every house in which he resided is historically mentioned, as if it were an injury to neglect naming any place that he honoured by his presence.

The King, with lenity of which the world has had perhaps no other example, declined to be the judge or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs: and promised to admit into the Act of Oblivion all, except those whom the parliament should except: and the parliament doomed none to capital punishment but the wretches who had immediately co-operated in the murder of the King. Milton was certainly not one of them; he had only justified what they had done.

This justification was indeed sufficiently offensive; and (June 16) an order was issued to seize Milton's Defence, and Goodwin's Obstructors of justice, another book of the same tendency, and burn them by the common hangman. The attorney general was ordered to prosecute the authors; but Milton was not seized, nor perhaps very diligently pursued.

Not long after (August 19) the flutter of innumerable bosoms was stilled by an act, which the King, that his mercy might want no recommendation of elegance, rather called an Act of Oblivion than of Grace. Goodwin was named, with nineteen more, as incapacitated for any publick trust; but of Milton there was no exception.

Of this tenderness shewn to Milton, the curiosity of mankind has not forborn to enquire the reason. Burnet thinks he was forgotten; but this is another instance which may confirm Dalrymple's observation, who says, "that whenever Burnet's narrations are examined, he appears to be mistaken."

Forgotten he was not; for his prosecution was ordered; it must be therefore by design that he was included in the general oblivion. He is said to have had friends in the house, such as Marvel, Morrice, and Sir Thomas Clarges: and undoubtedly a man like him must have had influence. A very particular story of his escape is told by Richardson in his Memoirs, which he received from Pope, as delivered by Betterton, who might have heard it from Davenant. In the war between the King and Parliament, Davenant was made prisoner and condemned to die; but was spared at the request of Milton. When the turn of success brought Milton into the like danger, Davenant repayed the benefit by appearing in his favour. Here is a reciprocation of generosity and gratitude so pleasing, that the tale makes its own way to credit. But if help were wanted, I know not where to find it. The danger of Davenant is certain from his own relation; but of his escape there is no account. Betterton's narration can be traced higher; it is not known that he had it from Davenant. We are told that the benefit exchanged was life for life; but it seems not certain that Milton's life ever was in danger. Goodwin, who had committed the same kind of crime, escaped with incapacitation; and as exclusion from publick trust is a punishment which the power of government can commonly inflict without the help of a particular law, it required no great interest to exempt Milton from a censure little more than verbal. Something may be reasonably ascribed to veneration and compassion; to veneration of his abilities, and compassion for his distresses, which made it fit to forgive his malice for his learning. He was now poor and blind; and who would pursue with violence an illustrious enemy, depressed by fortune, and disarmed by nature[12]?

The publication of the Act of Oblivion put him in the same condition with his fellow-subjects. He was, however, upon some pretence now not known, in the custody of the serjeant in December; and, when he was released, upon his refusal of the fees demanded, he and the serjeant were called before the House. He was now safe within the shade of oblivion, and knew himself to be as much out of the power of a griping officer, as any other man. How the question was determined is not known. Milton would hardly have contended, but that he knew himself to have right on his side.

He then removed to Jewin-street, near Aldersgate-street; and being blind and by no means wealthy, wanted a domestick companion and attendant; and therefore, by the recommendation of Dr. Paget, married Elizabeth Minshul, of a gentleman's family in Cheshire, probably without a fortune. All his wives were virgins; for he has declared that he thought it gross and indelicate to be a second husband: upon what other principles his choice was made, cannot now be known; but marriage afforded not much of his happiness. The first wife left him in disgust, and was brought back only by terror; the second, indeed, seems to have been more a favourite, but her life was short. The third, as Philips relates, oppressed his children in hi's life-time, and cheated them at his death.

Soon after his marriage, according to an obscure story, he was offered the continuance of his employment, and being pressed by his wife to accept it, answered, "You, like other women, want to ride in your coach; my wish is to live and die an honest man." If he considered the Latin secretary as exercising any of the powers of government, he that had shared authority, either with the parliament or Cromwell, might have forborn to talk very loudly of his honesty; and if he thought the office purely ministerial, he certainly might have honestly retained it under the king. But this tale has too little evidence to deserve a disquisition; large offers and sturdy rejections are among the common topicks of falsehood.

He had so much either of prudence or gratitude, that he forbore to disturb the new settlement with any of his political or ecclesiastical opinions, and from this time devoted himself to poetry and literature. Of his zeal for learning in all its parts, he gave a proof by publishing, the next year (1661), Accidence commenced Grammar; a little book which has nothing remarkable, but that its author, who had been lately defending the supreme powers of his country, and was then writing Paradise Lost, could descend from his elevation to rescue children from the perplexity of grammatical confusion, and the trouble of lessons unnecessarily repeated.

About this time Elwood the quaker, being recommended to him as one who would read Latin to him, for the advantage of his conversation, attended him every afternoon, except on Sundays. Milton, who, in his letter to Hartlib, had declared, that to read Latin with an English mouth is as ill a hearing as Low French, required that Elwood should learn and practise the Italian pronunciation, which, he said, was necessary, if he would talk with foreigners. This seems to have been a task troublesome without use. There is little reason for prefering the Italian pronunciation to our own, except that it is more general; and to teach it to an Englishman is only to make him a foreigner at home. He who travels, if he speaks Latin, may so soon learn the sounds which every native gives it, that he need make no provision before his journey; and if strangers visit us, it is their business to practise such conformity to our modes as they expect from us in their own countries. Elwood complied with the directions, and improved himself by his attendance, for he relates, that Milton, having a curious ear, knew by his voice when he read what he did not understand, and would stop him, and open the most difficult passages.

In a short time he took a house in the Artillery Walk, leading to Bunhill Fields; the mention of which concludes the register of Milton's removals and habitations. He lived longer in this place than any other.

He was now busied by Paradise Lost. Whence he drew the original design has been variously conjectured by men who cannot bear to think themselves ignorant of that which, at last, neither diligence nor sagacity can discover. Some find the hint in an Italian tragedy. Voltaire tells a wild and unauthorised story of a farce seen by Milton in Italy, which opened thus: Let the Rainbow be the Fiddlestick of the Fiddle of Heaven. It has been already shewn, that the first conception was a tragedy or mystery, not of a narrative, but a dramatick work, which he is supposed to have begun to reduce to its present form about the time (1655) when he finished his dispute with the defenders of the king.

He long had promised to adorn his native country by some great performance, while he had yet perhaps no settled design, and was stimulated only by such 176 MILTON. tions as naturally arose from the survey of his attainments, and the consciousness of his powers. What he should undertake, it was difficult to determine. He was long căusing, and began late. While he was obliged to divide his time between his private studies and affairs of state, his poetical labour must have been often interrupted ; and perhaps he did lit tle more in that busy time than construct the narrative, adjust the episodes, propor tion the parts, accumulate images and fen timents, and treasure in his memory, or preserve in writing, such hints as books or meditation would supply. Nothing par ticular is known of his intellectual opera tions while he was a statesman; for, ha ving every help and accommodation at hand, he had no need of uncommon ex pedients. - Being driven from a l l public stations, h e i s yet too great not t o b e traced b y curio sity t o his retirement: where h e has been found b y Mr. Richardson, the fondest o f his admirers, sitting before his door i n a grey coat o f coarse cloth, i n warm sultry wea ther, t o enjoy the fresh air; and s o , a s i n his 7 cwm. MILTON. 177 own room, receiving the visits of people of dis. tinguished parts as well as quality. His visi tors of high quality must now be imagined to be few ; but men of parts might reason ably court the conversation of a man so generally illustrious, that foreigners are re ported, by Wood, to have visited the house in Bread-street where he was born. According to another account, he was seen in a small house, neatly enough dressed in black clothes, sitting in a room hung with rusty green ; pale but not cadaverous, with chaloftones in h i s hand. He said, that i f i t were n o t for t h e gout, h i s blindness would b e tolerable. - - - - - - - - I n the intervals o f his pain, being made unable t o use the common exercises, h e used t o swing i n a chair, and sometimes played upon a n organ. He was now confessedly and visibly em ployed upon his poem, o f which the pro gress might b e noted b y those with whom h e was familiar; for h e was obliged, when h e had composed a s many lines a s his me mory would conveniently retain, t o em ploy some friend i n writing them, having, a t least for part o f the time, n o regular at Vol. I , N tendant. 178 MILTON. | tendant. This gave opportunity to ob servations and reports. Mr. Philips observes, that there was a very remarkable circumstance in the com posure of Paradise Loft, “which I have a “ particular reason,” says he, “to remem “ber : for whereas I had the perusal of it “from the very beginning, for some years, “ as I went from time to time to visit him, “in parcels of ten, twenty, or thirty ver “ses at a time (which, being written by “whatever hand came next, might possi “bly want correótion as to the orthogra “ phy and pointing), having, as the sum “mer came on, not been shewed any for “a considerable while, and desiring the “reason thereof, was answered, that his “vein never happily flowed but from the “Autumnal Equinox to the Vernal; and “that whatever he attempted atother times “ was never to his satisfaction, though he “courted his fancy never so much ; so “ that, in all the years he was about this “ poem, he may be said to have spent half “ his time therein.” Upon this relation Toland remarks, that in his opinion Philips has mistaken the time of MILTON. 179 of the year ; for Milton, in his Elegies, declares that with the advance of the Spring he feels the increase of his poetical force, redeunt in carmina vires. To this it is an fwered, that Philips could hardly mistake time so well marked ; and it may be added, that Milton might find different times of the year favourable to different parts of life. Mr. Richardson conceives it impossi b l e that such a work should b e suspended f o r six months, o r for one. I t may g o o n faster o r slower, but i t must g o o n . B y what necessity i t must continually g o on, o r why i t might not b e laid aside and resumed, i t i s not easy to discover. - - This dependance o f the soul upon the feasons, those temporary and periodical ebbs and flows o f intelle&t, may, I suppose, justly b e derived a s the fumes o f vain ima gination. Sapiens dominabitur astris. The -a uthor that thinks himself weather-bound will find, with a little help from hellebore, that h e i s only idle orexhausted. But while this notion has possession o f the head, i t produces the inability which i t supposes. . Our powers owe much o f their energy t o our hopes

possunt quia pose videntur. N 2 - When 180 MILToN. When success seems attainable, diligence is enforced ; but when it is admitted that the faculties are suppressed by a cross wind, or a cloudy sky, the day is given up with out resistance ; for who can contend with the course of Nature ? . - . From such prepossessions Milton seems not to have been free. There prevailed in his time an opinion that the world was in i t s decay, and that we have had the mis fortune t o b e produced i n the decrepitude o f Nature. I t was suspected that the whole creation languished, that neither trees nor animals had the height or bulk o f their predecessors, and that every thing was daily sinking b y gradual diminution*. Milton appears t o suspect that souls par take o f the general degeneracy, and i s not

This opinion i s , with goat eating and ingenuity, re futed i n a book now very little known, “An Apology o r De “claration o f the Power and Providence o f God i n the Go “vernment o f the World,” b y Dr. George Hakewill, London, folio, 1635. The first who ventured t o propagate i t i n this country was Dr. Gabriel Goodman, bishop o f Gloucester, a man o f a versatile temper, and the author o f a book entituled, “The Fall o f Man, o r the Corruption o f Nature proved b y “natural Reason.”. Lond. 1616 and 1624, quaito. He was plodered i n the Usu pation, turned Roman Catholic, and died i n obscurity. Wide Athen. Oxon, vol. I . 727. H. without MILT:ON. 181 without some fear that his book is to be written in an age t o o late for heroick poesy. Another opinion wanders about the world, and sometimes finds reception among wise men; a n opinion that restrains the opera tions o f the mind t o particular regions, and supposes that a luckless mortal may b e born i n a degree o f latitude too high o r too low for wisdom o r for wit. From this fancy, wild a s i t i s , h e had not wholly cleared his head, when he feared lest the climate o f his country might b e t o o cold for flights o f imagination. - - - Into a mind already occupied b y such fancies, another not more reasonable might easily find i t s way. He that could fear lest his genius had fallen upon too old a world, o r too chill a climate, might consistently magnify t o himself the influence o f the sea sons, and believe his faculties t o b e vigo rous only half the year. . . . . . . -- His submission t o the seasons was a t least more reasonable than his dread o f decaying nature, o r a frigid Zone; for general causes must operate uniformly i n a general abate ment o f mental power; i f less could b e performed by the writer, less likewise - N 3 would 182 MILTON. would content the judges of his work. Among this lagging race of frosty grovel lers he might still have risen into eminence by producing something which they should not willingly l e t die. However inferior t o the heroes who were born i n better ages, h e might still b e great among his contem poraries, with the hope o f growing every day greater i n the dwindle o f posterity. He might still b e a giant among the pyg mies, the one-eyed monarch o f the blind. , Of his artifices o f study, o r particular hours o f composition, w e have little ac count, and there was perhaps little t o b e told. Richardson, who seems t o have been very diligent i n his enquiries, but discovers always a wish t o find Milton dis criminated from other men, relates, that “he would sometimes l i e awake whole “nights, but not a verse could h e make

“ and o n a sudden his poetical faculty “would rush upon him with a n impetus “ o r affrum, and his daughter was imme “ diately called t o secure what came. At

other times h e would dićtate perhaps “forty lines i n a breath, and then reduce “ them t o half the number.” 4 . These MILTON. 183 These bursts of light, and involutions of darkness, these transient and involuntary excursions and retrocessions of invention, having some appearance of deviation from the common train of Nature, are eagerly caught by the lovers of a wonder. Yet sounething of this inequality happens to every man in every mode of exertion, ma nual or mental. The mechanick cannot handle his hammer and his file at a l l times with equal dexterity; there are hours, h e knows not why, when his hand i s out. By Mr. Richardson's relation, casually convey ed, much regard cannot b e claimed. That, i n his intelle&tual hour, Milton called for his daughter t o secure what came, may b e questioned; for unluckily i t happens t o be known that his daughters were never taught t o write; nor would h e have been obliged, a s i s universally confessed, t o have employ e d any casual visitor i n disburthening his memory, i f his daughter could have per formed the office. The story o f reducing h i s exuberance has been told o f other authors, and, though doubtless true o f every fertile and copious mind, seems t o have been gratuitously transferred t o Milton. N 4 What 184 M.I.LTO.N. What he has told us, and we cannot now know more, i s , that h e composed much o f his poem i n the night and morn ing, I suppose before his mind was disturb ed with common business

and that he poured out with great fluency his unpre meditated verse. Versification, free, like his, from the distresses o f rhyme, must, b y a work s o long, b e made prompt and habi tual

and, when his thoughts were once adjusted, the words would come a t his command. - - At what particular times o f his life the parts o f his work were written, cannot often b e known. The beginning o f the third book shews that h e had lost his sight; and the Introdućtion t o the seventh, that the return o f the King had clouded him with discountenance

and that he was offended b y the licentious festivity o f the Restora tion. There are no other internal notes o f time... Milton, being now cleared from a l l effe&ts o f his disloyalty, had nothing re quired from him but the common duty o f living i n quiet, t o b e rewarded with the common right o f protection

but this, which, when h e sculked from the approach ... . . . . . . . - - O -- - -

- - - , , - -

. MILTON. 185 of his King, , was perhaps more than he hoped, seems not to have satisfied him ; for no sooner is he safe, than he finds him self in danger, fallen on evil days and evil tongues, and with darknes; and with danger compass'd round. This darkness, had his eyes been better employed, had undoubtedly deserved compassion; but to add the men tion of danger was ungrateful and unjust. He was fallen indeed on evil days; the time was come in which regicides could no longer boast their wickedness. But of evil tongues for Milton to complain, required impudence at least equal to his other pow ers; Milton, whose warmest advocates must allow, that he never spared any asperity of reproach or brutality of insolence. - But the charge itself seems to be false; for it would be hard to recollect any re proach cast upon him, either serious or lu dicrous, through the whole remaining part of his life. He, pursued his studies or his amusements, without persecution, molesta tion, or insult. Such is the reverence paid to great abilities, however misused : they who contemplated in Milton the scholar and the wit, were contented to forget the reviler of his King. When i86 MILTON. When the plague (1665) raged in Lon don, Milton took refuge at Chalfont in Bucks; where Elwood, who had taken the house for him, first saw a complete copy of Paradise Loft, and, having perused i t , said t o him, “Thou hast said a great “deal upon Paradise Loft; what has thou “to s a y upon Paradise Found 2

Next year, when the danger o f infection had ceased, h e returned t o Bunhill-fields, and designed the publication o f h i s poem. A licence was necessary, and h e could ex pećt n o great kindness from a chaplain o f the archbishop o f Canterbury. He seems, however, t o have been treated with tender ness; for though objećtions were made t o particular passages, and among them t o the simile o f the sun eclipsed i n the first book, yet the licence was granted

and h e sold his copy, April 27, 1667, t o Samuel Simmons, for a n immediate payment o f five pounds, with a stipulation t o receive five pounds more when thirteen hundred should b e sold o f the first edition

and again, five pounds after the same number o f the second edition; and another five pounds after the same sale o f the third. None MILTON. 187 None of the three editions were to be ex tended beyond fifteen hundred copies. The first edition was ten books, in a small quarto. The titles were varied from year to year; and an advertisement and the ar guments of the books were omitted in some copies, and inserted in others. - The sale gave him in two years a right to his second payment, for which the re ceipt was figned April 26, 1669. The se cond edition was not given till 1674; it was printed in small oétavo ; and the num of books were increased to twelve, by a di-, vision of the seventh and twelfth ; and some other small improvements were made. The third edition was published in 1678; and the widow, to whom the copy was then to devolve, sold a l l her claims t o Sim mons for eight pounds, according t o her receipt given Dec. 21, 1680. Simmons had already agreed t o transfer the whole right t o Brabazon Aylmer for twenty-five pounds; and Aylmer sold t o Jacob Ton son half, August 17, 1683, half, March 24, 1690, a t a price considerably enlarged. I n the history o f Paradise Loft a dedućtion thus minute will rather gratify than fatigue. The s 188 M.I.LTON. The slow sale and tardy reputation of this poem have been always mentioned as evidences of negle&ted merit, and of the uncertainty of literary fame; and enquiries have been made, and conjectures offered, about the causes of i t s long obscurity and late reception. But has the case been truly stated Have not lamentation and wonder been lavished o n a n evil that was never felt . . . . . . . . That i n the reigns o f Charles and James the Paradise Loft received n o public accla mations i s readily confessed. Wit and lite rature were on the side o f the Court: and who that solicited favour o r fashion would venture t o praise the defender o f the regi cides All that h e himself could think his due, from evil tongues i n evil days, was that reverential silence which was generously preserved. But i t cannot b e inferred that his poem was not read, o r not, however unwillingly, admired. . . . . . . The sale, i f i t b e considered, will justify the publick. Those who have n o power t o judge o f past times but b y their own, should always doubt their conclusions. The call f o r books was not i n Milton's age what . . . 2 1t MILTON. 189 it is at present. To read was not then a general amusement; neither traders, nor often gentlemen, thought themselves dis graced by ignorance. The women had not then aspired to literature, nor was every house supplied with a closet of knowledge. Those, indeed, who professed learning, were not less learned than at any other time ; but of that middle race of students who read for pleasure or accomplishment, and who buy the numerous produćts of modern typography, the number was then comparatively small. To prove the pau city of readers, it may be sufficient to re mark, that the nation had been satisfied from 1623 to 1664, that i s , forty-one years, with only two editions o f the works o f Shakspeare, which probably did not toge ther make one thousand copies. The sale o f thirteen hundred copies i n two years, i n opposition t o s o much recent enmity, and t o a style o f versification new t o a l l and disgusting t o many, was a n un common example o f the prevalence o f ge nius. ' The demand did not immediately increase; for many more readers than were supplied a t first, the nation did not afford. - Only 190 MILTON. Only three thousand were sold in eleven years; for it forced i t s way without assist ance; i t s admirers did not dare t o publish their opinion; and the opportunities now given o f attracting notice b y advertisements were then very few

the means o f pro claiming the publication o f new books have been produced b y that general literature which now pervades the nation through all i t s ranks. But the reputation and price o f the copy still advanced, till the Revolution put a n end t o the secrecy o f love, and Paradise Loft broke into open view with sufficient security o f kind reception. Fancy can hardly forbear t o conjećture with whattemper Milton surveyed the silent progress o f his work, and marked i t s repu tation stealing i t s way i n a kind o f subterra neous current through fear and silence. I cannot but conceive him calm and confi dent, little disappointed, not a t a l l deječt ed, relying o n his own merit with steady consciousness, and waiting, without im patience, the vicissitudes o f opinion, and the impartiality o f a future geneation. In MILTON. 191

In the mean time he continued his stu dies, and supplied the want of fight by a very odd expedient, of which Philips gives the following account: t Mr. Philips tells us, . . . " that though our “author had daily about him one o r other “to read, some persons o f man's estate, “who, o f their own accord, greedily “ catched a t the opportunity o f being his “readers, that they might a s well reap “ the benefit o f what they read t o him, a s “oblige him b y the benefit o f their read “ing

and others o f younger years were “sent b y their parents t o the same end

“yet excusing only the eldest daughter, b y “reason o f her bodily infirmity, and diffi “cult utterance o f speech, (which, t o say “truth, I doubt was the principal cause “ o f excusing her,) the other two were “condemned t o the performance o f read “ing, and exactly pronouncing o f a l l the “languages o f whatever book h e should, “at one time o r other, think f i t t o peruse, “viz. the Hebrew (and I think the Syriac), “ the Greek, the Latin, the Italian, Spa

nish, and French. All which sorts o f “books t o be confined t o read, without “ under 192 MILTON. o “understanding one word, must needs be “a trial of patience almost beyond en “durance. Yet it was endured by both “for a long time, though the irksomeness “ of this employment could not be always “concealed, but broke out more and more “into expressions of uneasiness; so that at “ length they were all, even the eldest also, “sent out to learn some curious and inge “nious sorts of manufacture, that are pro “ per for women to learn; particularly “ embroideries in gold or filver.” o . . In this scene of misery which this mode of intelle&tual labour sets before our eyes, it is hard to determine whether the daugh ters or the father are most to be lamented. A language not understood can never be so read as to give pleasure, and very seldom so as to convey meaning. If few men would have had resolution to write books with such embarrassments, few likewise would have wanted ability to find some better ex pedient.

Three years after his Paradise Loft (1667), he published his History of England, com prising the whole fable of Geoffry of Mon mouth, and continued to the Norman inva sion. MILTON." 193 fion. Why he should have given the first. part, which he seems not to believe, and which is universally rejećted, it is difficult to conjecture. The style is harsh; but it has something of rough vigour, which per haps may often strike, though it cannot please. - On this history the licenser again fixed his claws, and before he could transmit it to the press tore out several parts. Some censures of the Saxon monks were taken away, lest they should be applied to the modern clergy; and a character of the Long Parliament, and Assembly of Divines, was excluded ; of which the author gave a copy to the earl of Anglesea, and which, being afterwards published, has been since inserted in i t s proper place. - The same year were printed Paradis. Re gained, and Sampson Agonises, a tragedy written i n imitation o f the Ancients, and never designed b y the author for the stage. As these poems were published b y another bookseller, i t has been asked, whether Simmons was discouraged from receiving them b y the slow sale o f the former. Why a writer changed h i s bookseller a hundred Vol. I O years I94 MILTON. years ago, I am far from hoping to dis cover. Certainly, he who in two years sells thirteen hundred copies of a volume in quarto, bought for two payments of five pounds each, has no reason to repent his purchase. When Milton shewed Paradise Regained to Elwood, “This,” said he, “is owing “ toyou; foryouputitinmyheadbythe “question you put to me at Chalfont, “which otherwise I had not thought of.” His last poetical offspring was his fa vourite. He could not, as Elwood relates, endure to hear Paradise Lost preferred to Paradise Regained. Many causes may vitiate a writer's judgement of his own works. On that which has cost him much labour he sets a high value, because he is unwil ling to think that he has been diligent in vain ; what has been produced without toilsome efforts is confidered with delight, as a proof of vigorous faculties and fertile invention; and the last work, whatever it be, has necessarily most of the grace of novelty. Milton, however it happened, had this prejudice, and had it to himself. TO MILTON. 195 To that multiplicity of attainments, and extent of comprehension, that entitle this great author to our veneration, may be added a kind of humble dignity, which did not disdain the meanest services to lite rature. The epic poet, the controvertist, the politician, having already descended to accommodate children with a book of rudi ments, now, in the last years of his life, composed a book of Logick, for the initia tion of students in philosophy; and pub lished (1672) Artis Logica plenior Institutio ad Petri Rami Methodum concinnata ; that is, “A new Scheme of Logick, according to “ the Method of Ramus.” I know not whether, even in this book, he did not in tend an act of hostility against the Univer sities; for Ramus was one of the first op pugners of the old philosophy, who dis turbed with innovations the quiet of the schools. - His polemical disposition again revived. He had now been safe so long, that he for got his fears, and published a Treatise of true Religion, Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and the best Means to prevent the Growth of Popery. - !. O2 But 196 MILTON. But this little tract is modestly written, with respectful mention of the Church of of England, and an appeal to the thirty nine articles. His principle of toleration i s , agreement i n the sufficiency o f the Scrip tures; and he extends i t t o all who, what ever their opinions are, profess t o derive them from the sacred books. The Papists appeal t o other testimonies, and are there- . fore, i n his opinion, not t o b e permitted the liberty o f either publick o r private wor ship; for, though they plead conscience, we have n o warrant, h e says, t o regard con science, which i s not grounded i n Scripture. Those who are not convinced b y his rea sons, may b e perhaps delighted with his wit. The term Roman Catholick i s , h e says, one o f the Pope's bull;

i t i s particular uni versal, o r catholick schismatick. He has, however, something better. As the best preservative against Popery, h e re commends the diligent perusal o f the Scrip tures, a duty, from which h e warns the busy part o f mankind not t o think them selves excused. He now reprinted his juvenile poems, with some additions. y - ^ -

In MHLTON. I97 In the last year of his life he sent to the press, seeming to take delight in publica tion, a colle&tion of Familiar Epistles in Latin : to which, being too few to make a volume, he added some academical exer cises, which perhaps he perused with plea sure, as they recalled to his memory the days of youth; but for which nothing but veneration for his name could now procure a reader. When he had attained his sixty-sixth year, the gout, with which he had been long tormented, prevailed over the en feebled powers of nature. He died by a quiet and filent expiration, about the tenth of November 1674, at his house in Bunhill fields; and was buried next his father in the chancel of St. Giles at Cripplegate. His funeral was very splendidly and nu merously attended. Upon his grave there is supposed to have been no memorial; but in our time a monument has been erected in Westmin ster-Abbey To the Author of Paradise Loft, by Mr. Benson, who has in the inscription bestowed more words upon himself than upon Milton. • , - - O3 When 198 MILTON. When the inscription for the monument - of Philips, in which he was said to be soli Miltono secundus, was exhibited to Dr. Sprat, then dean of Westminster, he re fused to admit it; the name of Milton was, in his opinion, too detestable to be read on the wall of a building dedicated to de votion. Atterbury, who succeeded him, being author of the inscription, permitted i t s reception. “And such has been the “change o f publick opinion,” said Dr. Gregory, from whom I heard this account, “ that I have seen erected in the church a “statue o f that man, whose name I once “knew considered a s a pollution o f i t s

Walls.” Milton has the reputation o f having been i n his youth eminently beautiful, s o a s t o have been called the Lady o f his college. His hair, which was o f a light brown, parted a t the fore-top, and hung down upon his shoulders, according t o the pic ture which h e has given o f Adam. He was, however, not o f the heroick stature, but rather below the middle size, accord ing t o Mr. Richardson, who mentions him a s having narrowly escaped from being short MILTON. I99 short and thick. He was vigorous and ac tive, and delighted in the exercise of the sword, in which he is related to have been eminently skilful. His weapon was, I be lieve, not the rapier, but the back-sword, of which he recommends the use in his book on Education. His eyes are said never to have been bright; but, if he was a dexterons fencer, they must have been once quick. His domestick habits, so far as they are known, were those of a severe student. He drank little strong drink of any kind, and fed without excess in quantity, and in his earlier years without delicacy of choice. In his youth he studied late at night; but afterwards changed his hours, and rested in bed from nine to four in the summer, and five in the winter. The course of his day was best known after he was blind. When he first rose, he heard a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and then studied till twelve ; then took some exercise for an hour; then dined, then played on the or gan, and sang, or heard another sing; then studied to six ; then entertained his visitors till eight; then supped, and, after - - O4 a pipe •,•w 2OO MILTON. a pipe of tobacco and a glass of water, went to bed. So is his life described ; but this even te nour appears attainable only in Colleges. He that lives in the world will sometimes have the succession of his practice broken and confused. Visitors, of whom Milton is represented to have had great numbers, will come and stay unseasonably ; business, of which every man has some, must be done when others will do i t . - When h e did not care t o rise early, h e had something read t o him b y his bedside; perhaps a t this time his daughters were employed. He composed much i n the morning, and dićtated i n the day, sitting obliquely i n a n elbow-chair, with his leg thrown over the arm. Fortune appears not t o have had much of his care. I n the civil wars he lent his personal estate t o the parliament; but when, after the contest was decided, h e solicited repayment, h e met not only with neglect, but sharp rebuke

and, having tired both himself and his friends, was given u p t o poverty and hopeless indignation, till h e shewed how able h e was t o do greater + - service, MILTON. ' 2C1 service. He was then made Latin secre tary, with two hundred pounds a year; and had a thousand pounds for his Defence of the People. His widow, who, after his death, retired to Namptwich in Cheshire, and died about 1729, is said to have report ed that he lost two thousand pounds by en trusting it to a scrivener; and that, in the general depredation upon the Church, he had grasped an estate of about fixty pounds a year belonging to Westminster-Abbey, which, like other sharers of the plunder of rebellion, he was afterwards obliged to re turn. Two thousand pounds, which he had placed in the Excise-office, were also lost. There is yet no reason to believe that he was ever reduced to indigence. His wants, being few, were competently supplied. He sold his library before his death, and left his family fifteen hundred pounds, on which his widow laid hold, and only gave one hundred to each of his daughters. His literature was unquestionably great. He read a l l the languages which are con sidered either a s learned o r polite; Hebrew, with i t s two dialeóts, Greek, Latin, Italian, - 5 - French, 202 . MILTON. French, and Spanish. In Latin his skill was such as places him in the first rank of writers and criticks ; and he appears to have cultivated Italian with uncommon diligence. The books in which his daugh ter, who used to read to him, represented him as most delighting, after Homer, which he could almost repeat, were Ovid's Meta morphoses and Euripides. His Euripides i s , b y Mr. Cradock's kindness, now i n my hands

the margin i s sometimes noted; but I have found nothing remarkable. Of the English poets h e set most value upon Spenser, Shakspeare, and Cowley. Spenser was apparently his favourite: Shak fpeare h e may easily b e supposed t o like, with every skilful reader; but I should not have expected that Cowley, whose ideas of excellence were different from his own, would have had much o f his approbation. His chara&ter o f Dryden, who sometimes visited him, was, that h e was a good rhy mist, but n o poet, - - His theological opinions are said t o have been first Calvinistical

and afterwards, perhaps when h e began t o hate the Presby terians, t o have tended towards Arminia nism. ! MILTON. 203 inism. In the mixed questions of theology and government, he never thinks that he can recede far enough from popery, or prelacy; but what Baudius says of Eras -mus seems applicable to him, magis habuit quod fugeret, quam quodsequeretur. He had determined rather what to condemn, than what to approve. He has not associated himself with any denomination of Protest ants : we know rather what he was not than what he was. He was not of the Church of Rome ; he was not of the Church of England. To be of no church is dangerous. Re ligion, of which the rewards are distant, and which is animated only by Faith and Hope, will glide by degrees out of the mind, unless it be invigorated and reim pressed by external ordinances, by stated calls to worship, and the salutary influence of example. Milton, who appears to have had a full convićtion of the truth of Chris tianity, and to have regarded the Holy Scriptures with the profoundestveneration, to have been untainted by any heretical peculiarity of opinion, and to have lived in a confirmed belief of the immediate and 4. occasional 204 MILTON. occasional agency of Providence, yet grew old without any visible worship. In the distribution of his hours, there was no hour of prayer, either solitary, or with his house hold; omitting publick prayers, he omit ted all. - Of this omission the reason has been sought, upon a supposition which ought never to be made, that men live with their own approbation, and justify their condućt to themselves. Prayer certainly was not thought superfluous by him, who repre sents our first parents as praying accep tably in the state of innocence, and effica- . ciously after their fall. That he lived without prayer can hardly be affirmed; his studies and meditations were an habi tual prayer. The neglect of it in his fa mily was probably a fault for which he con demned himself, and which he intended to correct, but that death, as too often happens, intercepted his reformation. His political notions were those of an acrimonious and surly republican, for which it is not known that he gave any better reason than that a popular government was the most frugal; for the trapping; of a monarchy MTLTON. 205 monarchy would s e t u p a n ordinary common wealth. I t i s surely very shallow policy, that supposes money t o b e the chief good; and even this, without considering that the support and expence o f a Court i s , for the most part, only a particular kind o f traffick, for which money i s circulated, without any national impoverishment. Milton's republicanism was, I am afraid, founded i n a n envious hatred o f greatness, and a fullen desire o f independence; i n petulance impatient o f controul, and pride disdainful o f superiority. He hated mo narchs i n the state, and prelates i n the church

for he hated all whom he was re quired t o obey. I t i s t o b e suspected, that his predominant desire was t o destroy ra ther than establish, and that he felt not s o much the love o f liberty a s repugnance t o authority. t I t has been observed, that they who most loudly clamour for liberty d o not most libe rally grant i t . What we know o f Milton's character, i n domestic relations, i s , that h e was severe and arbitrary. His family con fisted o f women; and there appears i n his books something like a Turkish contempt r of 206 MI,LTON. of females, as subordinate and inferior be ings. That his own daughters might not break the ranks, he suffered them to be depressed by a mean and penurious educa tion. He thought woman made only for obedience, and man only for rebellion. Of his family some account may be ex pećted. His sister, first married to Mr. Philips, afterwards married Mr. Agar, a friend of her first husband, who succeeded him in the Crown-office. She had by her first husband Edward and John, the two nephews whom Milton educated; and by her second, two daughters. - His brother, Sir Christopher, had two daughters, Mary and Catharine *; and a son Thomas, who succeeded Agar in the Crown-office, and left a daughter living in 1749 in Grosvenor-street.

  • Both these persons were living at Holloway about the year

1734, and at that time possessed such a degree of health and itrength as enabled them on Sundays and Prayer-days to walk a mile up a steep hill to Highgate chapel. One of them was Ninety-two at the time of her death. Their parentage was known to few, and their names were corrupted into Melton. By the Crown-office mentioned in the two last paragraphs, we are to understand the Crown-office of the Court of Chancery. H . Milton MILTON. 207 Milton had children only by his first wife; Anne, Mary, and Deborah. Anne, though deformed, married a master-buil der, and died of her first child. Mary died single. Deborah married Abraham Clark, a weaver in Spital-fields, and lived seventy six years, to August 1727. This is the daughter of whom publick mention has been made. She could repeat the first lines of Homer, the Metamorphoses, and some of Euripides, by having often read them. Yet here incredulity is ready to make a stand. Many repetitions are ne cessary to f i x i n memory lines not under stood

and why should Milton wish o r want to hear them s o often ? These lines were a t the beginning o f the poems. Of a book written i n a language not under stood, the beginning raises n o more atten tion than the end

and a s those that un derstand i t know commonly the beginning best, i t s rehearsal will seldom b e necessary. I t i s not likely that Milton required any passage t o b e s o much repeated a s that his daughter could learn it; nor likely that he desired the initial lines to be read a t all; nor that the daughter, weary o f the drudgery 208. MILTON. drudgery of pronouncing unideal sounds, would voluntarily committhem to memory. To this gentlewoman Addison made a present, and promised some establishment; but died soon after. Queen Caroline sent her fifty guineas. She had seven sons and three daughters ; but none of them had any children, except her son Caleb and her daughter Elizabeth. Caleb went to Fort St. George in the East Indies, and had two sons, of whom nothing is now known. Elizabeth married Thomas Fos ter, a weaver in Spital-fields ; and had seven children, who a l l died. She kept a petty grocer's o r chandler's shop, first a t Holloway, and afterwards i n Cock-lane near Shoreditch Church. She knew little o f her grandfather, and that little was not good. She told o f his harshness t o his daughters, and his refusal t o have them taught t o write

and, i n opposition t o other accounts, represented him a s deli cate, though temperate, i n his diet. I n 175c, April 5 , Comus was played for her benefit. She had s o little acquaintance with diversion o r gaiety, that she did not know what was intended when a benefit WaS MILTO.N. 289 was offered her. The profits of the night were only one hundred and thirty pounds, though Dr. Newton brought a large con tribution; and twenty pounds were given by Tonson, a man who is to be praised as - often as he is named. Of this sum one hundred pounds were placed in the stocks, after some debate between her and her husband in whose name it should be en tered; and the rest augmented their little stock, with which they removed to Isling ton. This was the greatest benefaction that Paradise Lost ever procured the au thor's descendents; and to this he, who has now attempted to relate h i s Life, had the honour o f contributing a Prologue. 1 N t h e examination o f Milton's poetical works, I shall pay s o much regard t o time a s t o begin with his juvenile produćtions. For his early pieces h e seems t o have had a degree o f fondness not very laudable: what h e has once written h e resolves t o preserve, Vol. I . • P and 2ro MILToN. and gives to the publick an unfinished poem, which he broke o f f because h e was nothing satisfied with what h e had done, sup posing h i s readers less nice than himself. These preludes t o his future labours are i n Italian, Latin, and English. O f the Ita lian I cannot pretend t o speak a s a critick; but I have heard them commended b y a man well qualified t o decide their merit. The Latin pieces are lusciously elegant; but the delight which they afford i s rather b y the exquisite imitation o f the ancient writers, b y the purity o f the dićtion, and the harmony o f the numbers, than b y any power o f invention, o r vigour o f senti ment. They are not a l l o f equal value; the elegies excell the odes; and some o f the exercises o n Gun-powder Treason might have been spared. - - - The English poems, though they make n o promises o f Paradise Loft, have this evidence o f genius, that they have a cast original and unborrowed. But their pecu Harity i s not excellence; i f they differ from verses o f others, they differ for the worse; for they a r e t o o often distinguished b y re pulsive harshness;, the combinations o f --" words 3 MILTQN. 21.1 . words are new, but they are not pleasing;. the rhymes and epithets seem to be labori ously sought, and violently applied. That in the iš parts of his life he wrote with much care appears from his manuscripts, happily preserved at Cam bridge, in which many of his smaller works are found as they were first written, with the subsequent correótions. Such re liques shew how excellence is acquired; what we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence. Those who admire the beauties of this great poet sometimes force their own judge ment into false approbation of his little pieces, and prevail upon themselves to think that admirable which is only singu lar. All that short compositions can com monly attain is neatness and elegance. Milton never learned the art of doing lit tle things with grace; he overlooked the milder excellence of suavity and softness; he was a Lion that had no skill in dandling the Kid. ' One of the poems on which much praise has been bestowed is Lycidas; of which the dićtion is harsh, the rhymes uncertain, P2. and 2#2 MILTON. and the numbers unpleasing. What beauty othere is we must therefore seek in the sen timents and images. e. It is not to be con sidered as the effusion of real passion; for passion runs not after remote allusions and obscure opinions. Passion plucks no ber ories from the myrtle and ivy, nor calls upon Arethuse and Mincius, nor tells of rough satyrs and fauns with cloven heel. ' Where there is leisure for fićtion there is little grief. In this poem there is no nature, for there is nothing new. I t s form i s that o f a pas toral, easy, vulgar, and therefore disgust ‘ing; whatever images i t can supply are long ago exhausted; and i t s inherent im probability always forces dissatisfaction o n the mind. When Cowley tells o f Hervey, that they studied together, i t i s easy t o sup pose how much h e must miss the compa nion o f his labours, and the partner o f his discoveries

but what image o f tenderness can b e excited b y these lines - We drove a field, and both together heard What time the grey f l y winds her sultry horn, Battening our flocks with the fresh dews o f night. We MILTON. 213. we know that they never drove a field, and that they had no flocks to batten ; and though it be allowed that the representa tion may be allegorical, the true meaning is so uncertain and remote, that it is never. sought because it cannot be known when it is found. -

- Among the flocks, and copses, and flow ers, appear the heathen deities; Jove and Phoebus, Neptune and Æolus, with a long train of mythological imagery, such as a College easily supplies. Nothing can less display knowledge, or less exercise inven tions, than to tell how a shepherd has lost his companion, and must now feed his flocks alone, without any judge of his skill in piping; and how one god asks another god what is become of Lycidas, and how neither god can tell. He who thus grieves will excite no sympathy; he who thus praises will confer no honour. This poem has yet a grosser fault. With these trifling fićtions are mingled the most awful and sacred truths, such as ought ne wer to be polluted with such irreverend combinations. The shepherd likewise is now a feeder of sheep, and afterwards an P3 eccle 2I4 MILTON. !. ecclesiastical pastor, a superintendant of a Christian flock. Such equivocations are always unskilful; but here they are inde cent, and at least approach to impiety, of which, however, I believe the writer not to have been conscious. . Such is the power of reputation justly acquired, that i t s blaze drives away the eye from nice examination. Surely n o man could have fancied that h e read Lycidas with pleasure, had h e not known i t s author. Of the two pieces, L'Allegro and I l Pen seroso, I believe opinion i s uniform

every man that reads them, reads them with pleasure. The author's design i s not, what Theobald has remarked, merely t o shew how objećts derive their colours from the mind, b y representing the operation o f the fame things upon the gay and the melan choly temper, o r upon the same man a s h e i s differently disposed

but rather how, among the successive variety o f appear ances, every disposition o f mind takes hold o n those b y which i t may b e gratified. The chearful man hears the lark i n the morning; the pensive man hears the night ingale i n the evening. The chearful man sees MILTON. 215 sees the cock strut, and hears the horn and hounds echo in the wood; then walks, not unseen, to observe the glory of the rising sun, or listen to the singing milk-maid, and view the labours of the plowman and the mower; then casts his eyes about him over scenes of smiling plenty, and looks up to the distant tower, the residence of some fair inhabitant; thus he pursues rural gaiety through a day of labour or of play, and delights himself at night with the fan ciful narratives of superstitious ignorance. The pensive man, at one time, walks un seen to muse at midnight; and at another hears the sullen curfew. If the weather drives him home, he sits in a room lighted only by glowing embers ; or by a lonely lamp outwatches the North Star, to dis cover the habitation of separate souls, and varies the shades of meditation, by con templating the magnificent or pathetic scenes of tragick and epick poetry. When the morning comes, a morning gloomy with rain and wind, he walks into the dark trackless woods, falls asleep by some mur muring water, and with melancholy en thusiasm expe&ts some dream of prognosti - P4 cation, 216 MILTON. h cation, or some musick played by aerial performers. Both Mirth and Melancholy are solitary, silent inhabitants of the breast, that nei ther receive nor transmit communication ; no mention is therefore made of a philoso phical friend, or a pleasant companion. The seriousness does not arise from any participation of calamity, nor the gaiety from the pleasures of the bottle. - - The man of chearfulness, having exhaust ed the country, tries what towered cities will afford, and mingles with scenes of splendor gay assemblies and nuptial festi vities; but he mingles a mere spectator, as, when the learned comedies of Jonson, or the wild dramas of Shakspeare, are ex hibited, he attends the theatre. The pensive man never loses himself in crowds, but walks the cloister, or frequents the cathedral. Milton probably had not yet forsåken the Church. - - Both h i s characters delight i n musick; but h e seems t o think that chearful notes would have obtained from Pluto a complete dismission o f Eurydice, o f whom solemn founds only procured a conditional release. - - For MI,LTON. 217 For the old age of Chearfulness he makes no provision ; but Melancholy he condućts with great dignity to the close of life. His Chearfulness is without levity, and his Pen fiveness without asperity. - - Through these two poems the images are properly selečted, and nicely distin guished ; but the colours of the dićtion seem not sufficiently discriminated. I know not whether the chara&ters are kept suffi ciently apart. No mirth can, indeed, be found in his melancholy; but I am afraid that I always meet some melancholy in his mirth. They are two noble efforts of imagination *.

- The greatest of hisjuvenile performances is the Mask of Comus, in which may very

  • Mr. Warton intimates (and there can be little doubt

of the truth of his conjcóture) that Milton borrowed many of the images in these two fine poems from “ Burton's “Anatomy of Melancholy,” a book published in 1624, and at fundry times fince, abounding in learning, curious information, and pleasantry. Mr. Warton says, that Mil ton appears to have been an attentive reader thereof; and to this assertion I add, of my own knowledge, that it was a book that Dr. Johnson frequently resorted to, as many others have done, for amusement after the fatigue of study. H. - - - - . . . . . - plainly 218 MI,LTON. plainly be discovered t h e dawn o r twilight o f Paradise Loft. Milton appears t o have formed very early that system o f dićtion, and mode o f verse, which his maturer judgement approved, and from which h e never endeavoured nor desired to deviate. Nor does Comus afford only a specimen o f his language

i t exhibits likewise his power o f description and his vigour o f sentiment, employed i n the praise and de £ence o f virtue. A work more truly poe. tical i s rarely found; allusions, images, and descriptive epithets, embellish almost every period with lavish decoration. As a series o f lines, therefore, i t may b e consi dered a s worthy o f all the admiration with which the votaries have received i t . As a drama i t i s deficient. The aëtion i s not probable. A Masque, i n those parts where supernatural intervention i s admit ted, must indeed b e given u p t o a l l the freaks o f imagination; but, s o far a s the aćtion i s merely human, i t ought t o b e reasonable, which can hardly b e said o f the condućt o f the brothers; who, when their sister sinks with fatigue i n a pathless wilderness, wander both away together i n search MILTON. 219 ) ! fancy, search of berries too far to find their way back, and leave a helpless Lady to a l l the fadness and danger o f solitude. This how ever i s a defe&t overbalanced b y i t s con venience. - What deserves more reprehension i s , that the prologue spoken i n the wild wood b y the attendant Spirit i s addressed t o the au dience

a mode o f communication s o con trary t o the nature o f dramatick represen tation, that n o precedents can support i t . The discourse o f t h e Spirit i s t o o long; ' a n objećtion that may b e made t o almost a l l the following speeches; they have not the spriteliness o f a dialogue animated b y reciprocal contention, but seem rather de clamations deliberately composed, and for mally repeated, o n a moral question. The auditor therefore listens a s t o a le&ture, without passion, without anxiety. The song o f Comus has airiness and jol lity; but, what may recommend Milton's morals a s well a s his poetry, the invita tions t o pleasure are s o general, that they excite n o distinét images o f corrupt enjoy ment, and take n o dangerous hold o n the The 22O MILTON. The following soliloquies of Comus and the Lady are elegant, but tedious. The song must owe much to the voice, if it ever can delight. At last the Brothers enter, with too much tranquillity; and when they have feared left their sister should be in danger, and hoped that she is not in dan ger, the Elder makes a speech in praise of chastity, and the Younger finds how fine it is to be a philosopher. - Then descends the Spirit in form of a Íhepherd; and the Brother, instead of be ing in haste to ask his help, praises his singing, and enquires his business in that place. It is remarkable, that at this in terview the brother is taken with a short f i t o f rhyming. The Spirit relates that the Lady i s i n the power o f Comus; the Brother moralises again

and the Spirit makes a long narration, o f n o use because i t i s false, and therefore unsuitable t o a good Being. - - I n a l l these parts the language i s poetical, and the sentiments are generous; but there i s something wanting t o allure attention. The dispute between the Lady and Co mus i s the most animated and affecting - scene MILTO.N. 221 scene of the drama, and wants nothing but a brisker reciprocation of objećtions and replies to invite attention, and detain i t . The songs are vigorous, and full o f ima gery; but they are harsh i n their dićtion, and not very musical i n their numbers. Throughout the whole, the figures are too bold, and the language too luxuriant for dialogue. I t i s a drama i n the epick style, inelegantly splendid, and tediously instrućtive. . . . . The Sonnets were written in different parts o f Milton's life, upon different occa sions. They deserve not any particular criticism; for o f the best i t can only b e said, that they are not bad

and perhaps only the eighth and twenty-first are truly entitled to this slender commendation. . The fabrick o f a sonnet, however adapted t o the Italian language, has never succeed e d i n ours, which, having great variety o f termination, requires, the rhymes t o b e often changed. --. - - Those little pieces may b e dispatched

without much anxiety; a greater work - calls for greater care. I am now t o exa mine Paradise Los

a poem, which, con

. sidered 222 MILTON. fidered with respect to design, may claim the first place, and with respect to perfor mance, the second, among the produćtions of the human mind. - By the general consent of criticks, the first praise of genius is due to the writer of an epick poem, as it requires an assemblage of all the powers which are singly sufficient for other compositions. Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth, by calling imagination to the help of reason. Epick poetry undertakes to teach the most impor tant truths by the most pleasing precepts, and therefore relates some great event in the most affecting manner. History must supply t h e writer with t h e rudiments o f narration, which h e must improve and exalt b y a noble art, must animate b y dra matick energy, and diversify b y retrospec tion and anticipation; morality must teach him the exačt bounds, and different shades, o f vice and virtue; from policy, and the practice o f life, h e has t o learn the discri minations o f chara&ter, and the tendency o f the passions, either single o r combined; and physiology must supply him with illus trations and images. To put these mate rials f MILTON. 223 rials to poetical use, is required an imagi nation capable of painting nature, and realizing fićtion. Nor is he yet a poet till he has attained the whole extension of his language, distinguished a l l the delicacies o f phrase, and a l l the colours o f words, and learned t o adjust their different sounds t o all the varieties o f metrical modulation. Bossu i s o f opinion that the poet's first work i s t o find a moral, which his fable i s afterwards t o illustrate and establish. This seems t o have been the process only o f Mil ton; the moral o f other poems i s inciden tal and consequent; i n Milton's only i t i s essential and intrinsick. His purpose was the most arduous; t o vindicate the ways o f God t o man; t o shew the reasonableness of religion, and the necessity o f obedience t o the Divine Law. - To convey this moral, there must b e a fable, a narration artfully constructed, s o a s t o excite curiosity, and surprise expecta tion. I n this part o f his work, Milton must b e confessed t o have equalled every other poet. He has involved i n his account “of the Fall o f Man the events which pre ceded, and those that were t o follow it: . he 224 MILTON. - he has interwoven the whole system of theology with such propriety, that every part appears to be necessary; and scarcely any recital is wished shorter for the sake of quickening the progress of the main action. The subjećt of an epick poem is naturally an event of great importance. That of Milton is not the destruction of a city, the condućt of a colony, or the foundation of an empire. His subjećt is the fate of worlds, the revolutions of heaven and of earth; rebellion, against the Supreme King, raised by the highest order of created be ings; the overthrow of their host, and the punishment of their crime; the creation of a new race of reasonable creatures; their original happiness and innocence, their forfeiture of immortality, and their restora tion to hope and peace. -- Great events can be hastened or retarded only by persons of elevated dignity. Be fore the greatness displayed in Milton's . poem, a l l other greatness shrinks away. The weakest o f his agents are the highest and noblest o f human bcings, the original parents o f mankind; with whose ačtions the elements consented

on whose reëti 5 - - tude, MILTON. 225 tude, or deviation of will, depended the state of terrestrial nature, and the condi tion of a l l the future inhabitants o f the globe. - Of the other agents i n the poem, the chief are such as i t i s irreverence to name o n slight occasions. The rest were lower powers

— of which the least could wield Those elements, and arm him with the force Of a l l their regions; powers, which only the controul o f Om nipotence restrains from laying creation waste, and filling the vast expanse o f space with ruin and confusion. To display the motives and actions o f beings thus supe riour, s o far a s human reason can examine them, o r human imagination represent them, i s the task which this mighty poet has undertaken and performed. I n the examination o f epick poems much speculation i s commonly employed upon the charaćiers. The charaćters i n the Para dise Loft, which admit o f examination, are those o f angels and o f man; o f angels good and evil; of man i n his innocent and sin ful state. Vol. I , - Q_ Among 226 MILTON. Among the angels, the virtue of Raphael is mild and placid, of easy condescension and free communication; that of Michael is regal and lofty, and, as may seem, at tentive to the dignity of his own nature. Abdiel and Gabriel appear occasionally, and ačt as every incident requires ; the so litary fidelity of Abdiel is very amiably painted. - Of the evil angels the charaćters are more diversified. To Satan, as Addison observes, such sentiments are given as suit the most exalted and most depraved being. Milton has been censured by Clarke *, for the impiety which sometimes breaks from Satan's mouth. For there are thoughts, as he justly remarks, which no observation of character can justify, because no good man would willingly permit them to pass, how ever transiently, through his own mind. To make Satan speak as a rebel, without any such expressions as might taint the reader's imagination, was indeed one of the great difficulties in Milton's under taking, and I cannot but think that he has extricated himself with great happi

  • Author of the “Essay on Study.”

Dr. J. ness. MI-LTON. 227 ness. There is in Satan's speeches little that can give pain to a pious ear. The language of rebellion cannot be the same with that of obedience. The malignity of Satan foams in haughtiness and obsti nacy; but his expressions are commonly general, and no otherwise offensive than as they are wicked. The other chiefs of the celestial rebel lion are very judiciously discriminated in the first and second books; and the fero cious charaćter of Moloch appears, both in the battle and the council, with exact consistency. To Adam and to Eve are given, during their innocence, such sentiments as inno cence can generate and utter. Their love is pure benevolence and mutual venera tion; their repasts are without luxury, and their diligence without toil. Their ad dresses to their Maker have little more than the voices of admiration and gratitude. Fruition left them nothing to ask; and Innocence left them nothing to fear. But with guilt enter distrust and discord, mutual accusation, and stubborn self-de fence; they regard each other with alienated - Q_2 minds, 223 M.J.LTON. minds, and dread their Creator as the aven ger of their transgression. At last they seek shelter in his mercy, soften to repentance, and melt in supplication. Both before and after the Fall, the superiority of Adam is diligently sustained. Of the probable and the marvellous, two parts of a vulgar epick poem, which im merge the critick in deep confideration, the Paradise Lost requires littlé to be said. It contains the history of a miracle of Creation and Redemption ; it displays the power and the mercy of the Supreme Be ing ; the probable therefore is marvellous, and the marvellous is probable. The sub stance of the narrative is truth ; and, as truth allows no choice, it i s , like necessity, superior t o rule. To the accidental o r ad ventitious parts, a s t o every thing human, some slight exceptions may b e made. But the main fabrick i s immovably supported. I t i s justly remarked b y Addison, that this poem has, b y the nature o f i t s subjećt, the advantage adove a l l others, that i t i s universally and perpetually interesting. All mankind will, through all ages, bear the same relation t o Adam and t o Eve, and - must MILTON. 229

must partake of that good and evil which extend to themselves. - Of the machinery, so called from es'; aro poweric, by which is meant the occa fional interposition of supernatural power, another fertile topick of critical remarks, here is no room to speak, because every thing is done under the immediate and visible direétion of Heaven; but the rule is so far observed, that no part of the aëtion could have been accomplished by any other IIlCallS. Of episodes, I think there are only two, contained in Raphael's relation of the war in heaven, and Michael's prophetic ac count of the changes to happen in this world. Both are closely connected with the great ačtion ; one was necessary to Adam as a warning, the other as a con solation. - To the completeness or integrity of the design nothing can be objećted ; it has distinétly and clearly what Aristotle re quires, a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is perhaps no poem, of the same length, from which so little can be taken without apparent mutilation. Here are no Q3 funeral 23o MILTON. funeral games, nor is there any long-de feription of a shield. The short digressions at the beginning of the third, seventh, and ninth books, might doubtless be spared; but superfluities, so beautiful, who would take away ? or who does not wish that the author of the Iliad had gratified succeeding ages with a little knowledge of himself? Perhaps no passages are more frequently or more attentively read than those extrin s i c paragraphs

and, since the end o f poe try i s pleasure, that cannot b e unpoetical with which a l l are pleased. The questions, whether the ačtion o f the poem b e strićtly one, whether the poem can b e properly termed heroick, and who i s the hero, are raised b y such readers a s draw their principles o f judgement rather from books than from reason. Milton, though h e intituled Paradise Lost only a poem, yet calls i t himself heroick song. Dryden, pe tulantly and indecently, denies the heroism o f Adam, because he was overcome

but there i s n o reason why the hero should not b e unfortunate, except established practice, since success and virtue d o not g o necessa rily together. Cato i s the hero o f Lucan

but MILTON. 231 but Lucan's authority will not be suffered by Quintilian to decide. However, if suc cess be necessary, Adam's deceiver was at last crushed ; Adam was restored to his Maker's favour, and therefore may securely resume his human rank. After the scheme and fabrick of the poem, must be considered i t s component parts, the sentiments and the dićtion. The sentiments, a s expressive o f manners, o r appropriated t o charaćters, are, for the greater part, unexceptionably just. Splendid passages, containing lessons o f morality, o r precepts o f prudence, occur seldom. Such i s the original formation o f this poem, that, a s i t admits n o human manners till the Fall, i t can give little assistance to human condućt. Its end i s to raise the thoughts above sublunary cares o r pleasures. Yet the praise o f that fortitude, with which Abdiel maintained his fingula rity o f virtue against the scorn o f multi tudes, may b e accommodated t o a l l times; and Raphael's reproof o f Adam's curiosity after the planetary motions, with the an swer returned b y Adam, may b e confident l y opposed t o any rule o f life which any poet has delivered. Q 4 The 232 MILTON. The thoughts which are occasionally called forth in the progress, are such as could only be produced by an imagination in the highest degree fervid and active, to which materials were supplied by incessant study and unlimited curiosity. The heat of Milton's mind might be said to subli mate his learning, to throw off into his work the spirit of science, unmingled with i t s grosser parts. He had considered creation i n its whole extent, and h i s descriptions are therefore learned. He had accustomed his imagina tion t o unrestrained indulgence, and his conceptions therefore were extensive. The charaćteristick quality o f his poem i s sub limity. He sometimes descends t o the ele gant, but his element i s the great. He can occasionally invest himself with grace; but his natural port i s gigantick lofti ness

. He can please when pleasure i s re quired

but i t i s his peculiar power t o aftonish. - He seems t o have becn well acquainted with his own genius, and t o know what i t was that Nature had bestowed upon him

Algarotti terms i t gigantosca sublimità Miltoniana. Dr. J . more MILTON. 23 more bountifully than upon others; the powers of displaying the vast, illuminating the splendid, enforcing the awful, darken ing the gloomy, and aggravating the dread-' ful; he therefore chose a subject on which too much could not be said, on which he might tire his fancy without the censure of extravagance. e The appearances of nature, and the oc currences of life, did not satiate his appe tite of greatness. To paint things as they are, requires a minute attention, and em ploys the memory rather than the fancy. Milton's delight was to sport in the wide regions of possibility; reality was a scene too narrow for his mind. He sent his fa culties out upon discovery, into worlds where only imagination can travel, and delighted to form new modes of existence, and furnish sentiment and action to supe rior beings, to trace the counsels of hell, or accompany the choirs of heaven. But he could not be always in other worlds; he must sometimes revisit earth, and tell of things visible and known. When he cannot raise wonder by the sub limity of his mind, he gives delight by i t s fertility. - Whatever f 234 MILTON. Whatever be his subjećt, he never fails to f i l l the imagination. But his images and descriptions o f the scenes o r operations o f Nature d o not seem t o b e always copied from original form, nor t o have the fresh ness, raciness, and energy o f immediate observation. He saw Nature, a s Dryden expresses i t , through the spečiacles o f books; and o n most occasions calls learning t o his assistance. The garden o f Eden brings t o his mind the vale o f Enna, where Proser pine was gathering flowers. Satan makes his way through fighting elements, like Argo between the Cyanean rocks, o r Ulysses between the two Sicilian whilpools, when he shunned Charybdis o n the larboard. The mythological allusions have been justly cen sured, a s not being always used with no tice o f their vanity; but they contribute variety t o the narration, and produce a n alternate exercise o f the memory and the fancy. His similies are less numerous, and more various, than those o f his predecessors. But he dos not confine himself within the li mits o f rigorous comparison; h i s great ex cellence i s amplitude, and h e expands the adven MILTON. 235 adventitious image beyond the dimensions which the occasion required. Thus com paring the shield of Satan to the orb of the Moon, he crowds the imagination with the discovery of the telescope, and a l l the wonders which the telescope discovers. Of his moral sentiments i t i s hardly praise t o affirm that they excel those of all other poets

for this superiority h e was indebted t o his acquaintance with the sa cred writings. The ancient epick poets, wanting the light o f Revelation, were very unskilful teachers o f virtue; their princi pal characters may b e great, but they are not amiable. The reader may rise from their works with a greater degree o f ac tive o r passive fortitude, and sometimes o f prudence

but h e will b e able t o carry away few precepts o f justice, and none o f mercy. From the Italian writers i t appears, that the advantages o f even Christian know ledge may b e possessed i n vain. Ariosto's pravity i s generally known

and though the Deliverance o f jerusalem may b e consi dered a s a sacred subject, the poet has been very sparing o f moral lnstruction. In 236 MILTON. • In Milton every line breathes sanctity of thought, and purity of manners, except when the train of the narration requires the introdućtion of the rebellious spirits; and even they are compelled to acknow ledge their subjećtion to God, in such a manner as excites reverence, and confirms piety. - Of human beings there are but two; but those two are the parents of mankind, venerable before their fall for dignity and innocence, and amiable after it for repen tance and submission. In their first state their affection is tender without weakness, and their piety sublime without presump tion. When they have sinned, they shew how discord begins in mutual frailty, and how it ought to cease in mutual forbear ance, how confidence of the divine favour is forfeited by fin, and how hope of par don may be obtained by penitence and prayer. A state of innocence we can only conceive, if indeed, in our present misery, it be possible to conceive it; but the senti ments and worship proper to a fallen and offending Being, we have a l l t o learn, a s we have a l l t o praćtise, o The MILTON. 237 - The poet, whatever be done, is always great. Our progenitors, in their first state, conversed with angels ; even when folly and sin had degraded them, they had not in their humiliation the port of mean sui tors; and they rise again to reverential re gard, when we find that their prayers were heard. As human passions did not enter the world before the Fall, there is in the Pa radise Lost little opportunity for the pathe tick; but what little there is has not been lost. That passion which is peculiar to rational nature, the anguish arising from the consciousness of transgression, and the horrors attending the sense of the Divine Displeasure, are very justly described and forcibly impressed. But the passions are moved only on one occasion; sublimity is the general and prevailing quality of this poem ; sublimity variously modified, some times descriptive, sometimes argumenta tlve. The defe&ts and faults of Paradise Loft, for faults and defects every work of man must have, it is the business of impartial criticism to discover. As, in displaying the 238 MILTON. the excellence of Milton, I have not made long quotations, because of sele&ting beau ties there had been no end, I shall in the fame general manner mention that which feems to deserve censure ; for what En glishman can take delight in transcribing passages, which, if they lessen the reputa tion of Milton, diminish in some degree the honour of our country The generality of my scheme does not admit the frequent notice of verbal inac curacies; which Bentley, perhaps better skilled in grammar than poetry, has often found, though he sometimes made them, and which he imputed to the obtrusions of a reviser, whom the author's blindness ob liged him to employ ; a supposition rash and groundless, if he thought it true, and vile and pernicious, i f , a s i s said, h e i n private allowed i t t o b e false. The plan o f Paradise Lost has this incon venience, that i t comprises neither human aćtions nor human manners. The man and woman who ačt and suffer, are i n a state which no other man or woman can ever know. The readers find no transac tion i n which h e can b y any effort o f ima - gination MILTON. 239 gination place himself; he has, therefore, little natural curiosity or sympathy. We all, indeed, feel the effects of Adam’s disobedience; we all sin like Adam, and like him must all bewail our offences; we have restless and infidious enemies in the fallen angels, and in the blessed spirits we have guardians and friends; in the Re demption of mankind we hope to be in cluded; in the description of heaven and hell we are surely interested, as we are all to reside hereafter either in the regions of horrour or bliss. - But these truths are too important to be new ; they have been taught to our in fancy; they have mingled with our soli tary thoughts and familiar conversation, and are habitually interwoven with the whole texture of life. Being therefore not new, they raise no unaccustomed emotion in the mind; what we knew before, we cannot learn ; what is not unexpe&ted, cannot surprise. - Of the ideas suggested by these awful scenes, from some we recede with reve rence, except when stated hours require their association; and from others we shrink 6 with 24o MILTON. with horrour, or admit them only as falu tary inflićtions, as counterpoises to our in terests and passions. Such images rather obstruct the career of fancy than incite i t . Pleasure and terrour are indeed the ge nuine sources o f poetry; but poetical plea sure must b e such a s human imagination can a t least conceive, and poetical terrourS such a s human strength and fortitude may combat. The good and evil o f Eternity are too ponderous for the wings o f wit; the mind sinks under them i n passive help lessness, content with calm belief and hum ble adoration. - Known truths, however, may take a dif ferent appearance, and b e conveyed t o the mind b y a new train o f intermediate images. This Milton has undertaken, and performed with pregnancy and vigour o f mind peculiar t o himself. Whoever con siders the few radical positions which the Scriptures afforded him, will wonder b y what energetic operation h e expanded them t o such extent, and ramified them t o s o much variety, restrained a s h e was by religious reverence from licentiousness o f fićtion. z Here, . MILTON. 241 | o Here is a full display of the united force of study and genius; of a great accumu lation of materials, with judgement to di gest, and fancy to combine them : Milton was able to select from nature, or from story, from an ancient fable or from mo dern science, whatever could illustrate or adorn his thoughts. An accumulation of knowledge impregnated his mind, fer mented by study, and exalted by imagi nation. It has been therefore said, without an indecent hyperbole, by one of his enco miasts, that in reading Paradise Lost we read a book of universal knowledge. But original deficience cannot be sup plied. The want of human interest is al ways felt. VParadise Loft is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it i s . Its pe rusal i s a duty rather than a pleasure. We read Milton for instruction, retire har rassed, and overburdened, and look else where for recreation; we desert our master, and seek for companions. Another inconvenience o f Milton's de sign i s , that i t requires the description o f Vol. I .

R what

  • MILTON.

what cannot be described, the agency of spirits. He saw that immateriality supplied no images, and that he could not show angels ačting but by instruments of a&tion; he therefore invested them with form and matter. This, being necessary, was there fore defensible; and he should have secured the consistency of his system, by keeping immateriality out of sight, and enticing his reader to drop it from his thoughts. But he has unhappily perplexed h i s poetry with his philosophy. His infernal and ce lestial powers are sometimes pure spirit, and sometimes animated body. When Sa tan walks with h i s lance upon the burning marse, h e has a body; when, i n his passage between hell and the new world, h e i s i n danger o f sinking i n the vacuity, and i s supported b y a gust o f rising vapours, h e has a body; when h e animates the toad, h e seems t o b e mere spirit, that can pene trate matter a t pleasure; when h e starts u p i n Ais own shape, h e has a t least a deter mined form

and when h e i s brought be fore Gabriel, h e has a spear and a shield, which h e had the power o f hiding i n the toad, though the arms o f the contending angels are evidently material. - The MILTON. 243 The vulgar inhabitants of Pandæmo nium, being incorporeal spirits, are at large, though without number, in a limited space: yet in the battle, when they were over whelmed by mountains, their armour hurt them, crushed in upon their substance, now grown gros; by sinning. This likewise hap pened to the uncorrupted angels, who were overthrown the sooner for their arms, for unarmed they might easily as spirits have evaded by contračlion or remove. Even as spirits they are hardly spiritual; for con tračiion and remove are images of matter; but if they could have escaped without their armour, they might have escaped from i t , and left only the empty cover t o b e battered. Uriel, when h e rides o n a sun-beam, i s material; Satan i s material when h e i s afraid o f the prowess o f Adam. The confusion o f spirit and matter, which pervades the whole narration o f the war o f heaven, fills i t with incongruity; and the book, i n which i t i s related, i s , I be lieve, the favourite o f children, and gra dually neglected a s knowledge i s increased. After the operation o f immaterial agents, which cannot b e explained, may b e confi R 2 dered 244 MILTON. dered that of allegorical persons, which have no real existence. To exalt causes into agents, to invest abstraćt ideas with form, and animate them with ačtivity, has always been the right of poetry. But such airy beings are, for the most part, suffered only to do their natural office, and retire. Thus Fame tells a tale, and Vićtory ho vers over a general, or perches on a stand ard; but Fame and Vićtory can do more. To give them any real employment, or ascribe to them any material agency, is to make them allegorical no longer, but to shock the mind by ascribing effects to non entity. In the Prometheus of Æschylus, we see Violence and Strength, and in the Ascesis of Euripides, we s e e Death, brought upon the stage, a l l a s active persons o f the drama; but n o precedents can justify absurdity. - - Milton's allegory o f Sin and Death i s undoubtedly faulty. Sin i s indeed the mo - ther o f Death, and may b e allowed t o b e the portress o f hell; but when they stop the journey o f Satan, a journey described a s real, and when Death offers him battle, the allegory i s broken. That Sin and Death - - should i 1 MILTON. 245 {hould have shewn the way to hell, might have been allowed; but they cannot faci litate the passage by building a bridge, be cause the difficulty of Satan's passage is de scribed as real and sensible, and the bridge ought to be only figurative. The hell as signed to the rebellious spirits is described as not less local than the residence of man. It is placed in some distant part of space, separated from the regions of harmony and order by a chaotick waste and an unoccu pied vacuity; but Sin and Death worked up a mole of aggravated soil, cemented with asphaltus ; a work too bulky for ideal ar chite&ts. This unskilful allegory appears to me one of the greatest faults of the poem; and to this there was no temptation, but the author's opinion of i t s beauty. To the condućt o f the narrative some obječtion may b e made. Satan i s with great expectation brought before Gabriel i n Pa radise, and i s suffered t o go away unmo lested. The creation o f man i s represented a s the consequence o f the vacuity left i n heaven b y the expulsion o f the rebels; yet Satan mentions i t a s a report rife i n heaven before his departure. R 3 To 246 MILTON. To find sentiments for the state of inno cence, was very difficult; and something of anticipation perhaps is now and then dis covered. Adam’s discourse of dreams seems not to be the speculation of a new-created being. I know not whether his answer to the angel’s reproof for curiosity does not want something of propriety; it is the speech of a man acquainted with many other men. Some philosophical notions, especially when the philosophy is false, might have been better omitted. The an gel, in a comparison, speaks of timorous deer, before deer were yet timorous, and before Adam could understand the com parison. - Dryden remarks, that Milton has some flats among his elevations. This is only to say, that a l l the parts are not equal. I n every work, one part must b e for the sake o f others; a palace must have passages; a poem must have transitions. I t i s no more - t o b e required that wit should always b e blazing, than that the sun should always stand a t noon. I n a great work there i s a vicissitude o f luminous and opaque parts, a s there i s i n the world a succession o f day and 7 MILTON. 247 . . } and night, Milton, when he has expatia ted in the sky, may be allowed sometimes to revisit earth; for what other author ever soared so high, or sustained his flight so long Milton, being well versed in the Italian poets, appears to have borrowed often from them ; and, as every man catches something from h i s companions, h i s desire o f imitating Ariosto's levity has disgraced his work with the Paradise o f Fools; a fic tion not i n itself ill-imagined, but too l u dicrous for i t s place. His play o n words, i n which h e delights too often

his equivocations, which Bent ley endeavours t o defend b y the example o f the antients; his unnecessary and un graceful use o f terms o f art; i t i s not neces - sary t o mention, because they are easily re marked, and generally censured, and a t last bear s o little proportion t o the whole, that they scarcely deserve the attention o f a critick. - Such are the faults of that wonderful performance Paradise Lost

which h e who can put i n balance with i t s beauties must b e considered not a s nice but a s dull, a s R 4 - less 248 MILTON. less to be censured for want of candour, than pitied for want of sensibility. . Of Paradise Regained, the general judge ment seems now to be right, that it is in many parts elegant, and every-where in structive. It was not to be supposed that the writer of Paradise Lost could ever write without great effusions of fancy, and ex alted precepts of wisdom. The basis of Paradise Regained is narrow ; a dialogue without ačtion can never please like an union of the narrative and dramatic pow ers. Had this poem been written not by Milton, but by some imitator, it would have claimed and received universal praise. If Paradise Regained has been too much depreciated, Sampson'Agonises has in re quital been too much admired. It could only be by long prejudice, and the bigotry of learning, that Milton could prefer the ancient tragedies, with their encumbrance of a chorus, to the exhibitions of the French and English stages ; and it is only by a blind confidence in the reputation of Milton, that a drama can be praised in which the intermediate parts have neither cause nor consequence, neither hasten nor retard the catastrophe. - In MILTON. 249 . W p In this tragedy are however many parti cular beauties, many just sentiments and striking lines; but it wants that power of attracting the attention which a well-con neéted plan produces. - Milton would not have excelled in da matic writing; he knew human nature only in the gross, and had never studied the shades of charaćter, nor the combina tions of concurring, or the perplexity of contending passions. He had read much, and knew what books could teach ; but had mingled little in the world, and was deficient in the knowledge which experi ence must confer. Through a l l his greater works there pre vails a n uniform peculiarity o f Dićtion, a mode and cast o f expression which bears little resemblance t o that o f any former writer, and which i s s o far removed from common use, that an unlearned reader, when h e first opens his book, finds himself surprised b y a new language. o This novelty has been, b y those who can find nothing wrong i n Milton, imputed t o his laborious endeavours after words suit able t o the grandeur o f his ideas. Our lan guage, 25o MILTON. guage, says Addison, sunk under him. But the truth i s , that, both i n prose and verse, h e had formed his style b y a perverse and pedantic principle. He was desirous t o use English words with a foreign idiom. This i n a l l his prose i s discovered and con demned

for there judgement operates freely, neither softened b y the beauty, nor awed b y the dignity o f his thoughts; but such i s the power o f his poetry, that his call i s obeyed without resistance, the rea der feels himself i n captivity t o a higher and a nobler mind, and criticism sinks i n admiration. - Milton's style was not modified b y his subjećt; what i s shown with greater extent i n Paradise Loft, may b e found i n Comus. One source o f his peculiarity was his fami liarity with the Tuscan poets

the dispo sition o f his words i s , I think, frequently Italian; perhaps sometimes combined with other tongues. Of him, a t last, may b e said what Jonson says o f Spenser, that h e wrote n o language, but has formed what Butler calls a Babylonish Dialeči, i n itself harsh and barbarous, but made, b y exalted genius and extensive learning, the vehicle of + MILToN. a s

• o f s o much instrućtion and s o much plea sure, that, like other lovers, we find grace i n i t s deformity. Whatever b e the faults o f his dićtion, h e cannot want the praise o f copiousness and variety; h e was master o f his language i n its full extent; and has sele&ted the melo dious words with such diligence, that from his book alone the Art o f English Poetry might b e learned. - - After his dićtion, something must b e said o f his versification. The measure, h e says, i s the English heroick verse without rhyme. Of this mode h e had many examples among the Italians, and some i n his own country. The Earl o f Surrey i s said t o have transla ted one o f Virgil's books without rhyme; and, besides our tragedies, a few short poems had appeared i n blank verse, parti cularly one tending t o reconcile the nation t o Raleigh's wild attempt upon Guiana, and probably written b y Raleigh himself. These petty performances cannot b e sup posed t o have much influenced Milton, who more probably took his hint from Triffino's Italia Liberata; and, finding blank verse easier than rhyme, was desirous o f persuading himself that i t i s better. - Rhyme, 252 MILTON. Rhyme, he says, and says truly, is no me cessary adjunéï of true poetry. But, perhaps, of poetry as a mental operation, metre or musick is no necessary adjunct : it is how ever by the musick of metre that poetry has been discriminated in a l l languages; and, i n languages melodiously constructed with a due proportion o f long and short sylla bles, metre i s sufficient. But one language cannot communicate its rules to another: where metre i s scanty and imperfeót, some help i s necessary. The musick o f the Eng lish heroick line strikes the ear s o faintly, that i t i s easily lost, unless a l l the syllables o f every line co-operate, together

this co operation can b e only obtained b y the pre servation o f every verse unmingled with another a s a distinét system o f sounds; and this distinétness i s obtained and preserved b y the artifice o f rhyme. The variety o f pauses, s o much boasted b y the lovers o f blank verse, changes the measures o f a n English poet t o the periods o f a declaimer; and there are only a few happy readers o f Milton, who enable their audience t o per ceive where the lines end o r begin. Blank verse, said a n ingenious critick, seems t o b e verse only t o the eye. - Poetry

Poetry may subsist without rhyme, but English poetry will not often please; nor can rhyme ever be safely spared but where the subject is able to support itself. Blank verse makes some approach to that which is called the lapidary style; has neither the easiness of prose, nor the melody of numbers, and therefore tires by long continuance. Of the Italian writers without rhyme, whom Milton alleges as precedents, not one is popular; what reason could urge in its defence has been confuted by the ear.

But, whatever be the advantage of rhyme, I cannot prevail on myself to wish that Milton had been a rhymer; for I cannot wish his work to be other than it is; yet, like other heroes, he is to be admired rather than imitated. He that thinks himself capable of astonishing may write blank verse; but those that hope only to please must condescend to rhyme.

The highest praise o genius is original invention. Milton cannot be said to have contrived the structure of an epick poem, and therefore owes reverence to that vigour and amplitude of mind to which all considerations must be indebted for the art of poetical narration, for the texture of the fable, the variation of incidents, the interposition of dialogue, and all the stratagems that surprise and enchain attention. But, of all the borrowers from Homer, Milton is perhaps the least indebted. He was naturally a thinker for himself, confident of his own abilities, and disdainful of help or hindrance: he did not refuse admission to the thoughts or images of his predecessors, but he did not seek them. From his contemporaries he neither courted nor received support; there is in his writings nothing by which the pride of other authors might be gratified, or favour gained; no exchange of praise, nor solicitation of support. His great works were performed under discountenance, and in blindness, but difficulties vanished at his touch; he was born for whatever is arduous; and his work is not the greatest of heroick poems, only because it is not the first.

  1. In this assertion Dr. Johnson was mistaken. Milton was admitted a pensioner, and not a sizar, as will appear by the following extract from the College Register: "Johannes Milton Londinensis, filius Johannis, institutus fuit in literarum Elementis sub Mag'ro Gill Gymnasii Paulini præfecto, admissus est Pensionarius Minor Feb. 12°, 1624, sub M'ro Chappell, solvitq pro Ingr. £.0 10s, 0d," R .
  2. Published 1632.R.
  3. By the mention of this name, he evidently refers to Albumazar, acted at Cambridge in 1614. Ignoramus and other plays were performed at the same time. The practice was then very frequent. The last dramatick performance at either university was The Grateful Fair, written by Christopher Smart, and represented at Pembroke College, Cambridge, about 1747. R.
  4. It has nevertheless its foundation in reality. The earl of Bridgewater being President of Wales in the year 1634, had his residence at Ludlow-castle in Shropshire, at which time lord Brackly and Mr. Egerton, his sons, and lady Alice Egerton, his daughter, passing through a place called the Haywood forest, or Haywood in Herefordshire, were benighted, and the lady for a short time lost: this accident being related to their father upon their arrival at his castle, Milton, at the request of his friend Henry Lawes, who taught music in the family, wrote this masque. Lawes set it to music, and it was acted at Michaelmas night; the two brothers, the young lady, and Lawes himself, bearing each a part in the representation.
    The lady Alice Egerton became afterwards the wife of the earl of Carbury, who, at his seat called Golden-grove, in Cærmarthenshire, harbored Dr. Jeremy Taylor in the time of the Usurpation. Among the doctor's sermons is one on her death, in which her character is finely portrayed. Her sister, lady Mary, was given in marriage to lord Herbert of Cherbury.
    Notwithstanding Dr. Johnson's assertion, that the fiction is derived from Homer's Circe, it may be conjectured, that it was rather taken from the Comus of Erycius Puteanus, in which, under the fiction of a dream, the charaćters of Comus and his attendants are delineated, and the delights of sensualists exposed and reprobated. This little tract was published at Louvain in 1611, and afterwards at Oxford in 1634, the very year in which Milton's Comus was written.H.
    Milton evidently was indebted to the Old Wives Tale of George Peele for the plan of Comus.R.
  5. This is inaccurately expressed: Philips, and Dr. Newton after him, say a garden house, i.e. a house situate in a garden, and of which there were, especially in the north suburbs of London, very many, if not few else. The term is technical, and frequently occurs in the Athen. and Fast. Oxon. The meaning thereof may be collected from the article Thomas Farnabe, the famous schoolmaster, of whom the author says, that he taught in Goldsmith's Rents, in Cripplegate parish, behind Redcross-street, where were large gardens and handsome houses. Milton's house in Jewin-street was also a garden-house, as were indeed most of his dwellings after his settlement in London.H.
  6. "We may be sure at least, that Dr. Johnson had never seen the book he speaks of; for it is entirely composed in English, though its title begins with two Latin words, 'Theatrum Poetarum; or, A complete Collection of the Poets, &c. a circumstance that probably missed the biographer of Milton." European Magazine, June 1787, p. 388.R.
  7. Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, William Spinstow.R.
  8. It may be doubted whether gloriosissimus be here used with Milton's boasted purity. Res gloriosa is an illusorious thing; but vir gloriosus is commonly a braggart, as in miles gloriosis.Dr. J.
  9. The Cambridge Dictionary, published in 4to 1693, is no other than a copy, with some small additions, of that of Dr. Adam Littleton in 1685, by sundry persons, of whom, though their names are concealed, there is great reason to conjecture that Milton's nephew, Edward Philips, is one; for it is expressly said by Wood, Fasti, vol. I. p. 266, that Milton's "Thesaurus" came to his hands; and it is asserted, in the preface thereto, that the editors thereof had the use of three large folios in manuscript, collected and digested into alphabetical order by Mr. John Milton. It has been remarked, that the additions, together with the preface abovementioned, and a large part of the title of the "Cambridge Dictionary," have been incorporated and printed with the subsequent editions of "Littleton's Dictionary," till that of 1735. Vid. Biogr. Brit. 2985;, in not. So that, for aught that appears to the contrary, Philips was the last possessor of Milton's MS.H.
  10. Id est, to be the subject of an heroic poem, written by Sir Richard Blackmore.H.
  11. Trinity College.R.
  12. A different account of the means by which Milton secured himself is given by an historian lately brought to light. "Milton, Latin secretary to Cromwell, distinguished by his writings in favour of the rights and liberties of the people, pretended to be dead, and had a publick funeral procession. The King applauded his policy in escaping the punishment of death, by a seasonable shew of dying." Cunningham's History of Great-Britain, Vol. I. p. 14.R.