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and philosophy. “At length,” says Philips, "they were all sent out to learn some curious and ingenious sorts of manufacture that are proper for women to learn, particularly embroidery in gold and silver.” Deborah, the youngest, was her father's favourite and amanuensis; but even she, according to her daughter's testimony—and this is the strongest point against the stepmother—was eventually obliged to leave the house on account of the ill-treatment she received.
Before Milton left Jewin Street he became acquainted with a young Quaker named Thomas Ellwood, who for some time read to him daily “ books in the Latin tongue,” and was taught by the poet to pronounce the vowels after the Italian manner. Perceiving with what earnest desire I pursued learning, he gave me not only all the encouragement but all the help he could; for, having a curious ear, he understood by my tone when I understood what I read and when I did not, and accordingly would stop me, examine me, and open the most difficult passages to me.” In the spring of 1665 he removed to a small house in “ Artillery Walk, leading into Bunhill Fields;" “ which,” says Philips, was his last stage in this world.” When the plague broke out, in the beginning of the summer, Milton quitted London, and went to live at Chalfont in Buckinghamshire, where Ellwood had taken “a pretty box” for him, and was presented with the manuscript of Paradise Lost for his perusal. * If the work was only then finished, and commenced at the time Aubrey states, its composition extended over seven or eight years; but in the introduction to the notes on this poem it is shown that Milton had been revolving the subject in his mind nearly twenty years before. On the cessation of the pestilence he returned to town, where he began to make arrangements for the publication of his great epic. It was sold to Samuel Simmons, bookseller, for £5 in hand; the same sum to be paid the author on the sale of 1300 copies of the first edition, a third £5 on the sale of an equal number of the second edition, and a fourth £5 after the same number of a third edition - each edition to consist of 1500 copies. Milton was thus to receive £20 as his share of the profits of three editions. The first edition of Paradise Lost appeared in 1667, and contained only ten books; the second, which was printed in 1674, divided the seventh and tenth books each into two_thus making twelve, the number ever since retained.
Though the poem of Milton was above the age on which it was bestowed (for such greatness of invention, such harmony of numbers, and such majesty of style, had not then been seen united), yet admirers among men of learning and genius it undoubtedly had. Andrew Marvell and Barrow the physician wrote some manly and spirited verses in its praise. Dryden's lines of commendation are known to all; and praise in other books, by authors of lower fame, has been discovered by the diligence of the commentators. In 1688 the handsome folio edition was published, under the patronage of Lord Somers, and with the assistance of Atterbury and Dryden ; in 1682 it was translated into Dutch, and into Latin in 1685.”I It cannot, however, be
* See Introduction to the Notes on Paradise Regained.
+ On the 29th of April 1681, some three years after the publication of the third edition, Milton's widow sold the copyright to Simmons for £8.
Mitford, Life of Milton, Aldine edition, p. 77.
said that Paradise Lost struck the world with admiration or awe on its first appearance. Dr. Johnson has, indeed, proved from the sale that it did not positively suffer neglect; but whether political enmity hardened the public heart * after the Restoration, or the degradation of taste and the disappearance of heroic virtue and idealism rendered the nation incapable of exalted sentiment, it is clear that England failed to realize the fact that she had produced a poet whose name would be inseparably associated in later ages with those of Homer and Dante. The Revolution may have “put an end to the secrecy of love," where love existed, but not till Addison, inspired by nobler feelings and a purer sense of the beautiful than the wits who were his contemporaries, reverently unveiled the glories of the poem in the Spectator, did it excite any genuine enthusiasm or pride in the breasts of his countrymen. Since then there has been no lack of appreciative criticism; and whatever minor differences of opinion have found expression, the whole world of English letters has invariably paid homage to the genius of Milton, as the most august of which modern ages can boast. Three years after the publication of Paradise Lost appeared his History of England, which does not proceed farther than the Norman Conquest. The licenser expunged several passages in which the author severely censured the pride and superstition of the English monks, under the notion that they were designed as a covert satire on the bishops of the Restoration; but a copy of the suppressed portions having been presented by the poet to the Earl of Anglesey, they have since been inserted in their proper places. Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes were published in 1671. The former was begun, probably completed, at Chalfont; the latter after his return to the city. They w
were the last poems that he wrote, and both exhibit a certain rigour, tone, and style that would lead us to believe age had somewhat stiffened his imagination, and misfortune added sternness to his thought. The colouring is less bright, the argument more didactic; but if the music of Comus or the pictorial splendours of Eden no longer enchant our spirits, there is still a powerful charm in the sculpturesque severity of Samson Agonistes. One reads, moreover, with peculiar emotion a drama which symbolizes the fate of the poet and his party. In the blind Hebrew giant struggling under the ignominy of thraldom, and compelled to “make sport for the Philistines,” we can see not only the aged bard himself,
Fall'n on evil days and evil tongues,
In darkness and with dangers compass'd round,” but that generation of austere heroes whom the world knows as Puritans, and whose calamities were the jest of the uncircumcised wits of the Restoration.
Milton worked steadily on to the end. In 1672 he sent to the press his Artis Logicae plenior Institutio, -a work on logic according to the method of Ramus : in 1673, a new edition of his poems, English and Latin, with some additional pieces; and his treatise Of True Religion, Heresie, Schism, Toleration, and what best Means may be used against the Growth of Popery,—in which he argues that toleration should be accorded to all sects that acknowledge the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, and to none others : in 1674 (the last year of his life), his Epistolae Familiares, Lib. I., a collection of Latin
* Lord Lyttleton, Dialogues of the Dead, XIV.
letters, written to friends between 1625 and 1666; to which he added his Prolusiones quaedam Oratoriae in Collegio habitae. Keightley remarks that “he seems to have set a high value on everything he wrote, and therefore carefully to have kept copies of all his compositions.” Nothing else was published by him during the remainder of his life, except a translation from the Latin of the Declaration of the Poles in favour of John Sobieski as their King. But two posthumous works may here be mentioned, viz., A Brief History of Moscovia and of other less-known Countries lying eastward of Russia as far as Cathay, which was printed in 1682; and the De Doctrina Christiana, first discovered in 1823 by Mr. Lemon, Deputy-Keeper of the State Papers, while making some researches in the Old State Paper Office, and translated into English in 1825 by the Rev. C. Sumner, afterwards Bishop of Winchester. The De Doctrina Christiana is an attempt to compile a theology exclusively from Scripture. It has not much literary or philosophical value, but it settles the question of the poet's faith, proving him to be (like Newton and Locke) an Arian in his conception of the Godhead.
Milton had long suffered from the gout, and finally succumbed to its violence. “He died,” according to Aubrey, “of the goute struck in,” on Sunday the 8th of November, at his house in Bunhill Fields; and was buried by the side of his father in the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate. “The funeral,” says Toland, was attended by all the author's learned and great friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the vulgar.” Though Milton had lost £2000 at the Restoration, he left his widow property worth £1500. As the will, however, was merely nuncupative, it was contested by her three step-daughters, to whom he had assigned only their mother's marriage portion, which had never been paid. The result of the litigation was that each of the daughters obtained £100. Anne and Mary Milton died unmarried; Deborah, the youngest, went to Ireland, and married in Dublin
one Mr. Clarke, a mercer, sells silk.” * In the reign of James II. she returned to England with her husband, who, it is probable, commenced business as a silk-manufacturer in Spitalfields. Her death took place in 1727, at the age of seventy-six. Deborah had a family, but it became extinct in the next generation. The last of whom we know anything was a daughter named Elizabeth, who married Thomas Foster, a weaver in Spitalfields, and died at Islington, May 9, 1754. Her children, seven in number, had all predeceased her. Christopher, the poet's younger brother, rose to be a Judge of the Common Pleas in the reign of James II.; became a Roman Catholic in his seventieth year; and died at his house near Ipswich in 1692.
Milton had an open, pure, and beautiful face. At Cambridge, Aubrey informs us, he was called the Lady of his college,+ on account of the exceeding fairness of his complexion; even in old age his cheeks retained a ruddy tinge. His hair was light-brown, parted in front, and hung down over his shoulders; his eyes a dark-gray-even when he was totally deprived of sight, they retained their lustre. “His deportment was affable, and his gait erect and manly, bespeaking courage and undauntedness." # “He had a delicate,
“Tu quem olim Itali pro foemina habuerunt.”
tunable voice,"* and could play skilfully on the organ and bass-viol. Richardson has given a sketch of the poet in his declining years : “An ancient clergyman of Dorsetshire, Dr. Wright, found John Milton in a small chamber hung with rusty green, sitting in an elbow-chair, and dressed neatly in black; pale, but not cadaverous; his hands and feet gouty and with chalk-stones. He used also to sit in a gray coarse cloth coat at the door of his house in Bunhill Fields, in warm sunny weather, to enjoy the fresh air; and so, as well as in his room, received the visits of people of distinguished parts as well as quality.” In his manner of living he was exceedingly temperate. In summer he rose at four, in winter at five, in the morning. A chapter of the Hebrew Bible was read to him, after which he studied, with the intervention of breakfast, till noon. He then took garden-exercise for an hour, dined, played on the organ, either sung himself or made his wife sing, and continued his studies till six in the evening. From six to eight he entertained visitors. After a light supper, followed by a pipe of tobacco and a glass of water, he retired to rest. His daughter Deborah told Richardson that her father was “delightful company, the life of the conversation, and that on account of a flow of subject and an unaffected cheerfulness and civility.” Richardson himself says that " he had a gravity in his temper, not melancholy,...... not morose, or ill-natured, but a certain -severity of mind—a mind not condescending to little things." Aubrey notes that he was “satyrical."
On the whole, the picture is a pleasant one. No doubt the wreck of Puritanism and the restoration of the Stuarts cast a shadow over Milton's spirit. The political exultation that inspired his prose had passed away with the triumphs of which it was begotten, and a dreary sense of failure and defeat must have weighed sadly on his soul. The sacred theocracy had vanished like a dream; the majestic character of Cromwell had become the theme of scurvy jests; in place of those earnest fanatics who had once invested Whitehall with a sombre dignity, there was gathered round the Merry Monarch "a loathsome herd, which could be compared to nothing so fitly as to the rabble of Comus-grotesque monsters, half bestial, half human, dropping with wine, bloated with gluttony, and reeling in obscene dances.”+ But the poet, who had ceased to hope for his country, did not give way to a cynical despair. Amidst the wide-spreading impurity and insincerity of the time, he piously remembered his duty to his Creator, and led a life of cheerful godliness to the end. By nature he was serenely serious; a heroic trust in Heaven made him superior to the accidents of life: and so, when we think of his old age, enwrapped in darkness, and assailed with evil tongues, the vision that rises before us is not that of a soured and disappointed politician, but of a seraphic bard who finds a holy joy in the perennial inspirations of his own lofty genius.
ON THE MORNING OF CHRISTS NATIVITY.
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
Say, Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
20 And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright ?