페이지 이미지

mitted alfo to cite a defence of the poet's conduct towards his children, in the language of a lady, who is an honour to her fex and country, and who is an elegant advocate for the subordination of domestick manners. Speaking of the modern revolutionary Spirit in families, fhe obferves " that, Pamong the faults with which it has been too much the fashion of recent times to load the memory of the incomparable Milton, one of the charges brought against his private character (for with his political character we have here nothing to do) has been, that he was fo fevere a father as to have compelled his daughters, after he was blind, to read aloud to him, for his fole pleasure, Greek and Latin authors of which they did not understand a word. But this is in fact nothing more than an inftance of the strict domeftick regulations of the age in which Milton lived; and should not be brought forward as a proof of the severity of his individual temper. Nor indeed in any cafe fhould it ever be confidered as an hardship for an affectionate child to amuse an afflicted parent, even though it should be attended with a heavier facrifice of her own pleasure than in the present inftance.'

[ocr errors]

From Milton's laft wife, (whofe good name> also has been calumniated,) the early admirers of

P Strictures on the Modern Syftem of Female Education, by Hannah More, vol. i. p. 147, 6th edit. 1799.

the poet learned that he used to compofe his poetry chiefly in winter, and on his waking in a morning dictated to her fometimes twenty or thirty verses; that Spenfer, Shakspeare, and Cowley, were his favourite English poets; and that he pronounced Dryden to be a rhymift rather than a poet. Dryden's best poems had not yet appeared. To Dryden, who often vifited him, Milton acknowledged that Spenfer was his original.

From Aubrey's manufcript it appears that Milton's familiar learned acquaintance" were Andrew Marvell, Cyriack Skinner, and Dr.Paget. I have often wondered that Milton, who has affectionately recorded the good qualities of many friends, fhould have omitted to grace his pages with a tribute of refpect to the name of Henry More, the celebrated Platonift, his fellow-collegian; by whom Mr. Warton fuppofes him to have been led to the ftudy of the divine philofophy, and of whofe poetry, I am perfuaded, he was fond.

I muft not close this humble account of Milton, without venturing to obferve, that Dr. Johnfon, in ridiculing the notion that a writer fhould fuppofe himself influenced by times or feafons, has perhaps too haftily decided on the intellectual impulfes of the great poet.







MEMORANDUM, that JOHN MILTON, late of the parish of St. Giles Cripplegate in the Countie of Middlefex gentleman, deceased, at feverall times before his death, and in particular, on or about the twentieth day of July, in the year of our Lord God 1674, being of perfect mind and memorie, declared his Will and intent as to the difpofall of his eftate after his death, in these words following, or of like effect: "The portion due to me from Mr. Powell, my former wife's father, I leave to the unkind children I had by her, having received no parte of it: but my meaning is, they fhall have no other benefit of my eftate than the faid portion, and what I have befides done for them; they having been very undutifull to me. All the refidue of my

[From Mr. Warton's 2d edit. of Milton's Smaller Poems, 1791.]

As propounded in the Prerogative Court.

[blocks in formation]

eftate I leave to [the] difpofall of Elizabeth my loving wife." Which words, or to the fame effect, were spoken in the presence of CHRISTOPHER MILTON. b


Nov. 23, 1674.

JOHN MILTON's younger brother: a ftrong royalist, and a profeffed papift. After the civil war, he made his compofition through his brother's intereft. Being a practitioner in the law, he lived to be an ancient Bencher of the Inner Temple: was made a judge of the Common Pleas, and knighted by king James the fecond; but, on account of his age and infirmities, he was at length difmiffed from business, and retired to Ipswich, where he refided all the latter part of his life.

A fervant-maid of JOHN MILTON.

Regiftr. Cur. Prærog. Cant. This Will was contested by Mary, Deborah, and Anne Milton, daughters of the poet's first wife Mary, daughter of Mr. Richard Powell, of Forefthill in Oxfordshire. The cause came to a regular fentence, which was given against the Will; and the widow, Elizabeth, was ordered to take Adminiftration instead of a Probate. I muft add here, that this cause, the subject of which needed no additional luftre from great names, was tried by that upright and able ftatefman, Sir Leoline Jenkins, Judge of the Prerogative Court, and Secretary of State; and that the depofitions were taken in part before Dr. Trumbull, afterwards Sir William Trumbull, Secretary of State, and the celebrated friend of Pope. As a circumftantial and authentick history of this procefs, the following inftruments, which were otherwife thought too curious to be fuppreffed, are subjoined.


The Allegation propounding the IVill, on which Allegation the Witneffes be examined. *


Negotium Teftamentarium, five probacionis Testamenti nuncupativi, five ultimæ Voluntatis, JOHANNIS MILTON, nuper dum vixit parochiæ S. Ægidii Cripplegate London generofi, defuncti, habent. &c. promotum per Elizabetham MILTON f Relictam, et Legatariam principalem no

Viz. Chriftopher MILTON, and JOHN MILTON's two fervant-maid's Elizabeth and Mary Fisher. Witneffes on the part 'of the widow.

This was his third wife, Elizabeth Minfhull, of a gentle. man's family in Cheshire. He married her at the recommendation of his friend, and her relation, Dr. Paget, about the year 1661, and in his fifty-fourth year, foon after he had obtained his pardon from the restored king; being now blind and infirm, and wanting fome more conftant and confidential companion than a fervant to attend upon his perfon. The elder Richardfon infinuates, that this lady, being no poet or philofopher like her husband, used frequently to teaze him for his careleffness or ignorance about moneymatters, and that he was a termagant. He adds, that foon after their marriage, a royal offer was made to Milton of the resumption of his old department of Latin Secretary, and that, being ftrongly preffed by his wife to an acceptance, he fcornfully replied, "Thou art in the right; you, as other women, would ride in your Coach. My aim is to live and die an honest man.” LIFE, &c. p. xcix. feq. edit. 1734. From thefe papers, however, it appears, that the confulted her husband's humours, and treated his infirmities with tenderness. After his death in 1674, fhe retired to Namptwich in Chefhire, where fhe died about 1729. Mr. Pennant fays, her father, Mr. Minfhull, lived at Stoke in that

« 이전계속 »