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Chefhire, probably without a fortune. All his vives were virgins; for he has declared that he thought it grofs and indelicate to be a fecond hufband: : upon what other principles his choice was inade, cannot now be known; but marriage aff›rded not, much of his happinefs. The first wife left him in difguft, and was brought back only by terror; the fecond, indeed, feems to have been more a favourite, but her life was fhort. The third, as Philips relates, oppreffed his children in his life-tine, and cheated them at his death.

Soon after his marriage, according to an obfcure ftory, he was offered the continuance of his employment; and, being preffed by his wife to accept it, anfwered, "You, like other women, want to ride ,,in your coach; my wifh is to live and dies an ,,honeft man." If he confidered the Latin fecretary as exercifing any of the powers of government, he that had fhared authority either with the parliament or Cromwell, might have forborn to talk very loudly of his honefty; and if he thought the office purely ministerial, he certainly might have honeftly retained it under the king. But this tale has too little evidence to deferve a difquifition; large offers and fturdy rejections are among the most common topicks of falsehood.

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He had fo much either of prudence or gratitude, that he forbore to disturb the new fettlement with any of his political or ecclefiaftical opinions, and from this time devoted himself to poetry and litera

ture.

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ture: 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 fupreme powers of his country, and was then writing Paradife Loft, could defcend from his elevation to refcue children from the perplexity of grammatical confufion, and the trouble of leffons unneceffarily repeated.

About this time Elwood the quaker, being recommended to him as one who would read Latin to him, for the advantage of his converfation, atten ded 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 bearing as Law French, required that Elwood fhould learn and practise the Italian pronunciation, which, he faid, was necefiary, if he would talk with foreigners. This feems to have been a talk troublesome without use. There is little reafon for prefer 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 fpeaks Latin, may fo foon learn the founds which every native gives it, that he need make no provifion before his journey; and if strangers vifit us, it is their bufinels to practife fuch 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,

relates, that Milton, having a curions ear, knew by his voice when he read what he did not uns derstand, and would ftop him, and open the most 'difficult paffages.

In a fhort time he took a houfe 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 in any other.

He was now bufied by Paradife Loft. Whence he drew the original defign has been variously conjectured, by men who cannot bear to think themfelves ignorant of that which, at lait, neither diligence nor fagacity can difcover. Some find the hint in an Italian tragedy. Voltaire tells a wild and unauthorifed ftory of a farce feen by Milton in Italy, which opened thus: Let the Rainbow be the Fiddlestick of the Fiddle of Heaven. It has been already fhewn, that the first conception was 2 tragedy or mystery, not of a narrative, but a dra matick work, which he is fuppofed to have begun to reduce to its prefent form about the time (1655) when he finished his difpute with the defenders of the king.

He long before had promifed to adorn his native country by fome great performance, while he had yet perhaps no settled defign, and was ftimulated only by fuch expectations as naturally arofe from the furvey of his attainments, and the confciousness of his powers. What he fhould undertake, it was

difficult

difficult to determine. He was long chufing, and began late.

While he was obliged to divide his time between his private ftudies and affairs of state, his poetical labour must have been often interrupted; and perhaps he did little more in that bufy time than cons struct the narrative, adjust the epifodes, proportion the parts, accumulate images and fentiments, and treasure in his memory, or preferve in writing, fuch hints as books or meditation would fupply. Nothing particular is known of his intellectual operations while he was a ftatefman; for, having every help and accommodation at hand, he had no need of uncommon expedients.

Being driven from all publick ftations, he is yet too great not to be traced by curiofity to his retirement; where he has been found by Mr. Richardson, the fondest of his admirers, fitting before his door in a grey coat of coarfe cloth, in warm fultry weather, to enjoy the fresh air; and fo, as well as in his own room, receiving the vifits of people of distinguished parts as well as quality. His vifitors of high quality must how be imagined to be few; but men of parts might reasonably court the converfation of a man fo generally illuftrious, that foreigners are reported, by Wood, to have visited the house in Bread-street where he was born.

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According to another account, he was feen in a fmall house, neatly enough dressed in black cloaths, fitting in a room hung with rufty-green; pale but not VOL. I. d cadaverous,

cadaverous, with chalkstones in his hands.

He faid, that if it were not for the gout, his blindness would be tolerable.

In the intervals of his pain, being made unable to use the common exercises, he used to fwing in a chair, and fometimes played upon an organ.

He was now confeffedly and visibly employed upon his poem, of which the progrefs might be noted by thofe with whom he was familiar; for he was obliged, when he had compofed as many lines as his memory would conveniently retain; to employ fome friend in writing them, having, at least for part of the time, no regular attendant. This gave

opportunity to obfervations and reports.

Mr. Philips obferves, that there was a very remarkable circumftance in the compofure of Paradise Loft, "which I have a particular reafon," fays he, "to remember; for whereas I had the perufal of it ,,from the very beginning, for fome years, as I ,,went from time to time to vifit him, in parcels ,,of ten, twenty, or thirty verfes at a time (which, ,,being written by whatever hand came next, might ,,poffibly want correction as to the orthography and pointing), having, as the fummer came on, not ,,been fhewed any for a confiderable while, and ,,defiring the reason thereof, was answered, that ,,his vein never happily flowed but from the Au,,tumnal Equinox to the Vernal; and that whatever ,,he attempted at other times was never to his fatis,,faction, though he courted his fancy never so ,,much;

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