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Grant of Letters of Adminiftration to the widow Elizabeth.
Die 25to. Februarii 1673.
quinto Die Februarii ema-
bethæ MILTON Relictæ
JOHANNIS MILTON nuper ult. Julii.
Cripplegate in Com. Mid.
TON. Allegato, nondum
▾ The reader will compare thefe evidences with the printed accounts of Milton's biographers on this fubject; who say, that he fold his library before his death, and left his family fifteen hundred pounds, which his widow Elizabeth feized, and only
gave one hundred pounds to each of his three daughters. Of this widow, Philips relates, rather harshly, that the perfecuted his children in his life time, and cheated them at his death.
Milton had children, who furvived him, only by his firft wife, the three daughters fo after named. Of thefe, Anne, the firft, deformed in ftature, but with a handfome face, married a master builder, and died of her firft childbirth, with the infant. Mary, the fecond, died fingle. Deborah, the third, and the greatest favourite of the three, went over to Ireland as companion to a lady in her father's life time; and afterwards married Abraham Clarke, a weaver in Spital-fields, and died, aged feventy-fix in August 1727. This is the daughter that used to read to her father; and was well known to Richardson, and Profeffor Ward: a woman of a very cultivated understanding, and not inelegant of manners. She was generously patronised by Addison; and by queen Caroline, who sent her a prefent of fifty guineas. She had feven fons and three daughter, of whom only Caleb and Elizabeth are remembered. Caleb migrated to Fort Saint George, where perhaps he died. Elizabeth, the youngest daughter, married Thomas Fofter a weaver in Spittle-fields, and had feven children, who all died. She is faid to have been a plain fenfible woman; and kept a petty grocer's or chandler's fhop, firft at lower Holloway, and afterwards in Cock-lane near Shoreditch church. In April, 1750, Comus was acted for her benefit: Doctor Johnson, who wrote the Prologue, fays, "fhe had fo little acquaintance with diverfion or gaiety, that she did not know what was intended when a benefit was offered her." The profits of the performance were only one hundred and thirty pounds; although Doctor Newton contributed largely, and twenty pounds were given by Jacob Tonfon the bookfeller. On this trifling augmentation to their small stock, she and her husband removed to Iflington, where they both foon died. So much greater is our taste, our charity, and general national liberality, at the distance of forty years, that I will venture to pronounce, that, in the present day, a benefit at one of our theatres for the relief of a poor and an infirm grand-daughter of
From the information of my friend, Ifaac Reed, Efq., I am enabled to add, to Mr. Warton's account, that the Receipts of the Houfe were 147 £. 14s 6d from which the Expences deducted were 80 £.
the author of Comus and Paradife Loft, would have been much more amply and worthily supported.
THESE feem to have been the grounds, upon which Milton's Nuncupative Will was pronounced invalid. First, there was wanting what the Civil Law terms a rogatio teftium, or a folemn bidding of the perfons prefent, to take notice that the words he was going to deliver were to be his Will. The Civil Law requires this form, to make men's verbal declarations operate as Wills; otherwise, they are to be prefumed to be words of common calling or loofe conversation. And the Statute of the twentyninth of Charles the Second [c. iii.] has adopted this Rule; as may be seen in the 19th claufe of that Statute, ufually called the Statute of Frauds, which paffed in the year 1676, two years after Milton's death. Secondly, the words, here attefted by the three witnesses, are not words delivered at the fame time; but one wit ness speaks to one declaration made at one time, and another to another declaration made at another time. And although the declarations are of fimilar import, this circumftance will not fatisfy the demands of the Law; which requires, that the three witnesses who are to support a Nuncupative Will, must speak to the identical words uttered at one and the fame time. There is yet ano. ther requifite in Nuncupative Wills, which is not found here; namely, that the words be delivered in the last sickness of a party: whereas the words here attefted appear to have been delivered when the party was in a tolerable state of health, at least under no immediate danger of death, On these principles we may prefume Sir Leoline Jenkins to have acted in the rejection of Milton's Will: although the three witneffes apparently told the truth in what they depofed. The Judge, deciding against the Will, of courfe decreed administration of the Inteftate's effects to the widow.
For an investigation of these papers in the Prerogative Regiftry, for an explanation of their nature and purport, and of other
technical difficulties which they present to one unacquainted with the records and more ancient practice of the Prerogative court in teftamentary proceedings, I muft confefs myself indebted to the kind attention and friendship of SIR WILLIAM SCOTT. There are other papers in the Commons belonging to this bufinefs: but as they are mere forms of law, as they throw no new light on the caufe, and furnish no anecdotes of Milton and his family, they are here omitted. WARTON,
A LIST of fuch Editions of Milton's POETICAL WORKS as have hitherto been met with by the editor of thefe volumes.
1. A Maske presented at Ludlow Caftle, 1634, &c. Printed for H. Robinson, 1637. 4°. This is Lawes's edition of Comus. See vol. v. p. 180.
II. Lycidas, in the Cambridge Verses, 1638. 4°. See vol. v.
III. Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, composed at feveral times. Printed by his true copies. The Songs were fet in mufick by Mr. Henry Lawes, gentleman of the Kings Chappel, &c. Printed and published according to order. London, Printed by Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Mofeley, &c. 1645. fmall 8vo. with his portrait by Marshall. See vol. vi. p. 295.
IV. Paradife Loft, a Poem written in ten books, by John Milton. Licensed and Entred according to order. London, Printed and are to be fold by Peter Parker under Creed Church neer Aldgate; And by Robert Boulter at the Turks Head in Bishopfgate-ftreet; And Matthias Walker under St. Dunstons Church in Fleet-ftreet. 1667. 4°. This is the first title page of the first edition. The poem immediately follows the title-page, without any arguments or lift of errata.
2d Title-page, &c. Paradife Loft, a Poem in ten books. The Author J. M. Licensed and Entred according to order. London, Printed and are to be fold by Peter Parker, &c. [as before] 1668.
3d Title-page, &c. Paradife Loft, a Poem in ten books. The Author John Milton. London, Printed by S. Simmons, and to be fold by S. Thomson at the Bishops-head in Ducklane, H. Mortlack at the White Hart in Westminster Hall, M. Walker under St. Dunstans Church in Fleet-street, and R. Boulter at the Turks-Head in Bishopfgate street, 1668.