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neglect naming any place that he honoured by / appearing in his favour. Here is a reciprocahis presence.
tion of generosity and gratitude so pleasing, that The King, with lenity of which the world has the tale makes its own way to credit. But, if had perhaps no other example, declined to be the help were wanted, I know not where to find it. judge or avenger of his own or his father's The danger of Davenant is certain from his own wrongs; and promised to admit into the Act of relation; but of his escape there is no account.* Oblivion all, except those whom the parliament Betterton's narration can be traced no higher; it should except; and the parliament doomed none is not known that he had it from Davenant. to capital punishment but the wretches who had We are told that the benefit exchanged-was life immediately co-operated in the murder of the for life; but it seems not certain that Milton's King. Milton was certainly not one of them ; life ever was in danger. Goodwin, who had he had only justified what they had done. committed the same kind of crime, escaped with
This justification was indeed sufficiently of- incapacitation; and, as exclusion from public fensive; and (June 16) an order was issued to trust is a punishment which the power of goseize Milton's “ Defence,” and Goodwin's “ Ob-vernment can commonly inflict without the help structors of Justice," another book of the same of a particular law, it required no great interest tendency, and burn them by the common hang- to exempt Milton from a censure little more than man. The attorney-general was ordered to pro verbal. Something may be reasonably ascribed secute the authors; but Milton was not seized, to veneration and compassion-to veneration of nor perhaps very diligently pursued.
his abilities, and compassion for his distresses, Not long after (August 19) the flutter of which made it fit to forgive his malice for his innumerable bosoms was stilled by an act, learning. He was now poor and blind: and which the King, that his mercy might want no who would pursue with violence an illustrious recommendation of elegance, rather called an enemy, depressed by fortune, and disarmed by Act of Oblivion than of Grace. Goodwin was nature ?t named, with nineteen more, as incapacitated for The publication of the Act of Oblivion put any public trust; but of Milton there was no him in the same condition with his fellow-subexception. *
jects. He was, however, upon some pretence Of this tenderness shown to Milton, the curi- now not known, in the custody of the sergeant osity of mankind has not forborn to inquire the in December; and when he was released, upon
Burnet thinks he was forgotten; but his refusal of the fees demanded, he and the serthis is another instance which may confirm Dal- geant were called before the House. He was rymple's observation, who says, that “whenever now safe within the shade of oblivion, and knew Burnet's narrations are examined, he appears to himself to be as much out of the power of a be mistaken."
griping officer as any other man. How the Forgotten he was not; for his prosecution was question was determined is not known. Mil. ordered; it must be therefore by design that be ton would hardly have contended, but that he was included in the general oblivion. He is knew himself to have right on his side. said to have had friends in the House, such as He then removed to Jewin-street, near AlMarvel, Morrice, and Sir Thomas Clarges : and, dersgate-street; and, being blind and by no undoubtedly, a man like him must have had in- means wealthy, wanted a domestic companion Huence. A very particular story of his escape is and attendant; and therefore, by the recomtold by Richardsont in his Memoirs, which he mendation of Dr. Paget, married Elizabeth received from Pope, as delivered by Betterton, Minshul, of a gentleman's family in Cheshire, who might have heard it from Davenant. In probably without a fortune. All his wives the war between the King and parliament, Da- were virgins; for he has declared that he thought venant was made prisoner, and condemned to it gross and indelicate to be a second husband : die; but was spared at the request of Milton. upon what other principles his choice was made When the turn of success brought Milton into the like danger, Davenant repaid the benefit by
* That Milton saved Davenant is attested by Au.
brey and by Wood from him ; but none of them say * Philips says expressly, that Milton was excepted that Davenant saved Milton. This is Richardson's and disqualified from bearing any office: but Toland assertion merely.—MALONB. says, he was not excepted at all, and consequently + A different account of the means by which Mil. excluded in the General Pardon, or Act of Indem- ton secured himself is given by an historian lately nity passed the 29th of August, 1660. Toland is brought to light. Milton, Latin secretary to Cromright; for I find Goodwin and Ph. Nye the minister well, distinguished by his writings in favour of the excepted in the Act, but Milton not named. How rights and liberties of the people, pretended to be ever, he obtained a special pardon in December, dead, and had a public funeral procession. The 660, which passed the privy-seal, but not the great King applauded his policy in escaping the punishseal.-MALONE.
ment of death, by a seasonable show of dying." † It was told before by A. Wood in Ath. Oxon, Cuuningham's History of Great Britain, vol. i. p. 14. sol. i. p. 412, 2d edit.-C.
raimot now be known'; bat marriage afforded tin, may so soon learn the sounds which every not much of his happiness. The first wife left native gives it, that he need make no provision him in disgust, and was brought back only by before his journey; and if strangers visit us, it terror the second, indeed, seems to have been is their business to practise such conformity to more a favourite, but her life was short. The our modes as they expect from us in their own third, as Philips relates, oppressed his chil- , countries. Elwood complied with the direc dren in his lifetime, and cheated them at his tions, and improved himself by his attendance death.
for he relates, that Milton, having a curious ear, Soon after his marriage, according to an ob- knew by his voice when he read what he did scure story, he was offered the continuance of not understand, and would stop him, “and his employment, and, being pressed by his wife open the most difficult passages.' to accept it, answered, “ You, like other wo- In a short time he took a house in the Artilmen, want to ride in your coach ; my wish is lery-walk, leading to Bunhill-fields; the mento live and die an honest man. If he consi- tion of which concludes the register of Milton's dered the Latin secretary as exercising any of removals and habitations. He lived longer in the powers of government, he that had shared this place than any other. authority, either with the parliament or Crom- He was now busied by “ Paradise Lost." well, might have forborn to talk very loudly of Whence he drew the original design has been his honesty; and if he thought the office purely variously conjectured by men who cannot bear ministerial, he certainly might have honestly re- to think themselves ignorant of that which, at tained it under the King. But this tale has too last, neither diligence nor sagacity can discover. little evidence to deserve a disquisition ; large Some find the hint in an Italian tragedy. Voloffers and sturdy rejections are among the most taire tells, a wild and unauthorized story of a common topics of falsehood.
farce seen by Milton in Italy, which opened He had so much either of prudence or grati- thus : Let the rainbow be the fiddle-stick of the fidtude, that he forbore to disturb the new settle- dle of Heaven. * It has been already shown, that ment with any of his political or ecclesiastical the first conception was a tragedy or mystery, opinions, and from this time devoted himself to not of a narrative, but a dramatic work, which poetry and literature. Of his zeal for learning in he is supposed to have begun to reduce to its preall its parts, he gave a proof by publishing, the sent form about the time (1655) when he finished next year (1661), “ Accidence commenced Gram- his dispute with the defenders of the King. mar;" a little book wbich has nothing remark- He long before had promised to adorn his naable, but that its author, who had been lately tive country by some great performance, while defending the supreme powers of his country, he had yet, perhaps, no settled design, and was and was then writing “ Paradise Lost," could stimulated only by such expectations as natudescend from his elevation to rescue children rally arose from the survey of his attainments, from the perplexity of grammatical confusion, and the consciousness of his powers. What be and the trouble of lessons unnecessarily repeat- should undertake, it was difficuit to determine.
He was “ long choosing, and began late.” About this time, Elwood, the quaker, being While he was obliged to divide his time berecommended to him as one who would read
tween his private studies and affairs of state, his Latin to him for the advantage of his conver- poetical labour must have been often interrupsation, attended him every afternoon except ted; and perhaps he did little more in that busy on Sundays. Milton, who, in his letter to time than construct the narrative, adjust the Hartlib, bad declared, that “to read Latin with episodes, proportion the parts, accumulace images an English mouth is as ill a hearing as Law and sentiments, and treasure in his memory, or French,” required that Elwood should learn and preserve in writing, such hints as books or mepractise the Italian pronunciation, which, he ditations would supply. Nothing particular is said, was necessary, if he would talk with fo- known of his intellectual operations while he reigners. This seems to have been a task trouble- was a statesman; for, having every help and acsome without use. There is little reason for commodation at hand, he had no need of uncompreferring the Italian pronunciation to our own, mon expedients. except that it is more general; and to teach it Being driven from all public stations, he is to an Englishman is only to make him a foreign- yet too great not to be traced by curiosity to er at home. He who travels, if he speaks La- his retirement: where he has been found by
Mr. Richardson, the fondest of his admirers, sit
• Yelden in his continuation of Langbaine's account of the Dramatic Poets, 8vo. 1693, says, that he had * It is scarcely necessary to inform the reader, that been told that Milton, after the Restoration, kept a this relation of Voltaire's was perfectly true, as far school at or near Greenwich. The publication of an as relates to the existence of the play which he Accidence at that period gives some countenance to speaks of, namely, the Adams of Andraini; but it is this tradition.-MALONE
stin a question whether Milton ever saw it.-J. B.
ting “ before his door in a gray coat of coarse be laid aside and resumed, it is not easy to dis.
But while this notion has possession of the According to another account, he was seen in head, it produces the inability which it supposes. a small house, “neatly enough dressed in black | Our powers owe much of their energy to our clothes, sitting in a room hung with rusty hopes ; possunt quia posse videntur. When sucgreen ; pale but not cadaverous, with chalk-cess seems attainable, diligence is enforced ; but stones in his hands. He said, that, if it were not when it is admitted that the faculties are supfor the gout, his blindness would be tolerable.” pressed by a cross wind, or a cloudy sky, the
In the intervals of his pain, being made unable day is given up without resistance, for who can to use the common exercises, he used to swing contend with the course of nature? in a chair, and sometimes played upon an organ. From such prepossessions Milton seems not
He was now confessedly and visibly employed to have been free. There prevailed in his time upon his poem, of which the progress might be an opinion, that the world was in its decay, noted by those with whom he was familiar; for and that we have had the misfortune to be prohe was obliged, when he had composed as many duced in the decrepitude of Nature. It was lines as his memory would conveniently retain, suspected that the whole creation languished, to employ some friend in writing them, having, that neither trees nor animals had the height or at least for part of the time, no regular attend- bulk of their predecessors, and that every thing ant. This gave opportunity to observations and
was daily sinking by gradual diminution. * reports.
Milton appears to suspect that souls partake of Mr. Philips observes, that there was a very the general degeneracy, and is not without some remarkable circumstance in the composure of fear that his book is to be written in “an age « Paradise Lost, which I have a particular too late” for heroic poesy.t reason,” says he, “to remember; for whereas I
Another opinion wanders about the world, had the perusal of it from the very beginning, and sometimes finds reception among wise men; for some years, as I went from time to time to an opinion that restrains the operations of the visit him, in parcels of ten, twenty, or thirty mind to particular regions, and supposes that a verses at a time (which, being written by what-luckless mortal may be born in a degree of latiever hand came next, might possibly want cor- tude too high or too low for wisdom or for wit. rection as to the orthography and pointing,) From this fancy, wild as it is, he had not wholly having, as the summer came on, not being cleared his head, when he feared lest the climate showed any for a considerable while, and desir- of his country might be too cold for flights of ing the reason thereof, was answered, that his imagination vein never happily flowed but from the Autum- Into a mind already occupied by such fancies, nal Equinox to the Vernal; and that whatever another not more reasonable might easily find its he attempted at other times was never to his way. He that could fear lest his genius had satisfaction, though he courted his fancy never fallen upon too old a world, or too chill a cliso much; so that, in all the years he was about mate, might consistently magnify to himself the this poem, he may be said to have spent half his time therein."
* This opinion is, with great learning and ingenuUpon this relation Toland remarks, that in ity, refuted in a book now very little known, “An his opinion Philips has mistaken the time of Apology or Declaration of the Power and Providence the year; for Milton, in his elegies, declares, of God in the Government of the World,” by Dr. that with the advance of the spring he feels the George Hakewill, London, folio, 1635. The first who increase of his poetical force, redeunt in carmina ventured to propagate it in this country was Dr.
Gabriel Goodman, bishop of Gloucester, a man of vires. To this it is answered, that Philips could
a versatile temper, and the author of a book entitled, hardly mistake time so well marked ; and it
“ The Fall of Man, or the Corruption of Nature may be added, that Milton might find different proved by Natural Reason." Lond. 1616 and 1624, times of the year favourable to different parts 4to. He was plundered in the Usurpation, tarned of life. Mr. Richardson conceives it impossible Roman Catholic, and died in obscurity.-See Athen that such a work should be suspended for six Oxon. vol. i. p. 727.-H. months, or for one. It may go on faster or
-Unless an age too late, or cold slower, but it must go on. By what necessity Climate, or years damp my intended wing. it must continually go on, or why it might not
Par. Lost, b. ix. l. 41.-J. B.
influence of the seasons, and believe his faculties unpremeditated verse. Versification, free, like to be vigorous only half the year.
his, from the distresses of rhyme, must, by a His submission to the seasons was at least work so long, be made prompt and habitual ; more reasonable than his dread of decaying na- and, when his thoughts were once adjusted, the ture, or a frigid zone, for general causes must words would come at his command. operate uniformly in a general abatement of At what particular times of his life the parts mental power; if less could be performed by the of his work were written, cannot often be writer, less likewise would content the judges known. The beginning of the third book shows of his work. Among this lagging race of that he had lost his sight; and the introduction frosty grovellers, he might still have risen into to the seventh, that the return of the King had eminence by producing something which they clouded him with discountenance, and that he should not willingly let die. However inferior was offended by the licentious festivity of the to the heroes who were born in better ages, he Restoration. There are no other internal notes might still be great among his contemporaries, of time. Milton, being now cleared from all with the hope of growing every day greater in effects of his disloyalty, had nothing required the dwindle of posterity. He might still be a from him but the common duty of living in giant among the pigmies, the one-eyed monarch quiet, to be rewarded with the common right of of the blind.
protection ; but this, which, when he skulked Of his artifices of study, or particular hours of from the approach of his King, was perhaps composition, we have little account, and there more than he hoped, seems not to have satisfied was perhaps little to be told. Richardson, who him; for no sooner is he safe, than he finds himseems to have been very diligent in his inquiries, self in danger, “ fallen on evil days and evil but discovers always a wish to find Milton dis- tongues, and with darkness and with danger criminated from other men, relates, “ that he compass'd round.” This darkness, had his would sometimes lie awake whole nights, but eyes been better employed, had undoubtedly denot a verse could he make; and on a sudden his served compassion ; but to add the mention of poetical faculty would rush upon him with an
danger was ungrateful and unjust. He was impetus or æstrum, and his daughter was imme- fallen indeed on evil days; the tiine was come in diately called to secure what came. At other
which regicides could no longer boast their times he would dictate perhaps forty lines in a
wickedness. But of evil tongues for Milton to breath, and then reduce them to half the num
complain required impudence at least equal to ber.”
his other powers; Milton, whose warmest adThese bursts of light, and involutions of dark
vocates must allow that he never spared any asness, these transient and involuntary excursions perity of reproach, or brutality of insolence. and retrocessions of invention, having some ap- would be hard to recollect any reproach cast
But the charge itself seems to be false ; for it pearance of deviation from the common train of nature, are eagerly caught by the lovers of a
upon him, either serious or ludicrous, through wonder. Yet something of this inequality hap- sued his studies, or his amusements, without
the whole remaining part of his life. pens to every man in every mode of exertion, manual or mental. The mechanic cannot handle the reverence paid to great abilities, however
persecution, molestation, or insult. Such is his hammer and his file at all times with equal misused : they who contemplated in Milton the dexterity; there are hours, he knows not why, scholar and the wit were contented to forget the when his hand is out. By Mr. Richardson's re
reviler of his King. lation, casually conveyed, much regard cannot
When the plague (1665) raged in London, be claimed. That in his intellectual hour Milton Milton took refuge at Chalfont, in Bucks ; called for his daughter “to secure what came,
where Elwood, who had taken the house for may be questioned ; for unluckily it happens to him, first saw a complete copy of “ Paradise be known that his daughters were never taught Lost ;” and, having perused it, said to him, to write ; nor would he have been obliged, as is « Thou hast said a great deal upon
« Paradise universally confessed, to have employed any | Lost;" what bast thou to say upon Paradise casual visitor in disburthening his memory, if found ?” his daughter could have performed the office. Next year, when the danger of infection had
The story of reducing his exuberance has been ceased, he returned to Bunhill-fields, and detold of other authors, and, though doubtless true signed the publication of his poem.
A license of every fertile and copiocs mind, seems to have was necessary,
and he could expect no great been gratuitously transferred to Milton. kindness from a chaplain of the Archbishop
What he has told us, and we cannot now of Canterbury. He seems, however, to have know more, is, that he composed much of this been treated with tenderness; for though objecpoem in the night and morning, I suppose before tions were made to particular passages, and his mind was disturbed with common business; among them to the simile of the sun eclipsed in and that he poured out with great fluency his/ the first book, yet the license was granted ; and
he sold his copy, April 27, 1667, to Samuel had not then aspired to literature, nor was every Simmons, for an immediate payment of five house supplied with a closet of knowledge. pounds, with a stipulation to receive five pounds Those, indeed, who professed learning, were no more when thirteen hundred should be sold of less learned than at any other time; but of that the first edition; and again, five pounds after middle race of students who read for pleasure or the sale of the same number of the second edi- accomplishment, and who buy the numerous tion; and another five pounds after the same products of modern typography, the number sale of the third. None of the three editions was then comparatively small. To prove the were to be extended beyond fifte hundred paucity of readers, it may be sufficient to recopies.
mark, that the nation had been satisfied from The first edition was of ten books, in a small 1623 to 1664, that is, forty-one years, with only quarto. The titles were varied from year to two editions of the works of Shakspeare, which year : and an advertisement and the arguments probably did not together make one thousand of the books were omitted in some copies, and copies. inserted in others.
The sale of thirteen hundred copies in two The sale gave him in two years a right to his years, in opposition to so much recent enmity, second payment, for which the receipt was and to a style of versification new to all, and dissigned April 26, 1669. The second edition was gusting to many, was an uncommon example of not given til 1674; it was printed in small oc- the prevalence of genius. The demand did not tavo; and the number of books was increased immediately increase ; for many more readers to twelve, by a division of the seventh and than were supplied at first the nation did not twelfth ; and some other small improvements afford. Only three thousand were sold in eleven were made. The third edition was published years; for it forced its way without assistance ; in 1678; and the widow, to whom the copy was its admirers did not dare to publish their opinthen to devolve, sold all her claims to Simmons ion; and the opportunities pow given of attractfor eight pounds, according to her receipt given ing notice by advertisements were then very Dec. 21, 1680. Simmons had already agreed to few; the means of proclaiming the publication transfer the whole right to Brabazon Aylmer, of new books have been produced by that general for twenty-five pounds ; and Aylmer sold to literature which now pervades the nation Jacob Tonson half, August 17, 1683, and half, through all its ranks. March 24, 1690, at a price considerably enlarged. But the reputation and price of the copy still In the history of “ Paradise Lost” a de- advanced, till the Revolution put an end to the duction thus minute will rather gratify than secrecy of love, and “ Paradise Lost” broke into fatigue.
open view with sufficient security of kind reThe slow sale and tardy reputation of this ception. poem have been always mentioned as evidences Fancy can hardly forbear to conjecture with of neglected merit, and of the uncertainty of what temper Milton surveyed the silent progress literary fame ; and inquiries have been made, of his work, and marked its reputation stealing and conjectures offered, about the causes of its its way in a kind of subterraneous current long obscurity and late reception. But has the through fear and silence. I cannot but conceive case been truiy stated ? Have not lamentation him calm and confident, little disappointed, not and wonder been lavished on an evil that was at all dejected, relying on his own merit with never felt ?
steady consciousness, and waiting without imThat in the reigns of Charles and James, the patience the vicissitudes of opinion, and the im“ Paradise Lost” received no public acclama- partiality of a future generation. tions, is readily confessed. Wit and literature In the mean time he continued his studies, were on the side of the court : and who that and supplied the want of sight by a very odd solicited favour or fashion would venture to
expedient, of which Philips gives the following praise the defender of the regicides? All that account: he himself could think his due, from evil tongues Mr. Philips tells us, “ that though our Author in evil duys, was that reverential silence which had daily about him one or other to read, some was generously preserved. But it cannot be persons of mau's estate, who, of their own accord, inferred, that his poem was not read, or not, greedily catched at the opportunity of being his however unwillingly, admired.
readers, that they might as well reap the benefit The sale, if it be considered, will justify the' of what they read to him, as oblige him by the public. Those who have no power to judge of benefit of their reading; and others of younger past times but by their own, should always years were sent by their parents to the same doubt their conclusions. The call for books was end; yet excusing only the daughter by reason not in Milton's age what it is in the present. of her bodily infirmity and difficult utterance of To read was not then a general amusement; speech (which, to say truth, I doubt was the Deither traders, nor often gentlemen, thought principal cause of excusing her) the other two themselycs. disgraced by ignorance. The women
were condemned to the performance of reading