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ting out, the scheme was projected. At Paris*, the Lord Viscount Scudamore, ambaffador from King Charles I. at the court of France, introduced him to the acquaintance of Grotius, who, at that time, was honoured with the fame character there by Chriftina, Queen of Sweden. In Rome, Genoa, Florence, and other cities of Italy, he contracted a familiarity with those who were of highest reputation for wit and learning; feveral of whom gave him very obliging teftimo nies of their friendship and efteem, which are printed before his Latin poems. The first of them was written by Manfo, Marquis of Valla, a great patron of Taffo, by whom he is celebrated in his poem on the Conquefl of Jerufalemt. It is highly probable, that to his converfation with this noble Neapolitan we owe the firft defign which MILTON conceived, of writing an epick poem; and it appears by fome Latin verfes, addreffed to the Marquis, with the title of Manfus, that he intended to fix on King Arthur for his hero; but Arthur was reserved to another deftiny!

Returning from his travels, he found England on the point of being involved in blood and confufion.

An. atat. 32.

It seems wonderful, that one of fo warm and daring a fpirit, as his certainly was, should be restrained from the camp, in thofe unnatural commotions. I fuppofe we may impute it wholly to the great deference he paid to paternal authority, that he retired to lodgings provided for him in the city; which being commodious for the reception of his fifter's fons, and fome other young gentlemen, he undertook their education; and is faid to have formed them on the fame plan which he afterwards publifhed, in a fhort tractate, infcribed to his friend Mr. Hartlib.

In this philofophical course he continued without a

wife, till the year 1643; when he mar An. atat. 35.

ried Mary, the daughter of Richard

Powel of Foresthill in Oxfordfhire, a gentleman of eftate and reputation in that county, and of principles fo * Defenfio fecunda. Pag. 96. fol.

+ Fra Cavalier' magnanimi, e cortefi,
Rejplende il Manjo.

Lib. 20.

very oppofite to his fon-in-law, that the marriage is more to be wondered at than the feparation which enfued, in little more than a month after she had cohabited with him in London. Her defertion provoked him, both to write feveral treatifes concerning the doctrine and difcipline of divorce, and alfo to make his addresses to a young lady of great wit and beauty; but, before he had engaged her affections to conclude the marriagetreaty, in a vifit at one of his relations, he found his wife proftrate before him, imploring forgiveness and reconciliation. It is not to be doubted, but an interview of that nature, fo little expected, must wonderfully affect him; and perhaps the impreffions it made on his imagination, contributed much to the painting of that pathetick scene in Paradife Loft*, in which Eve addreffeth herself to Adam for pardon and peace.

At the

interceffion of his friends who were prefent, after a short reluctance, he generously facrificed all his refentment to her tears:

Soon his heart relented

Towards her, his life fo late, and fole delight,
Now at his feet fubmissive in diftrefs.

And after this re-union, fo far was he from retaining an unkind memory of the provocations which he had received from her ill conduct, that when the King's caufe was entirely oppreffed, and her father, who had been. active in his loyalty, was expofed to fequeftration, MILTON received both him and his family to protection, and free entertainment, in his own houfe, till their affairs were accommodated, by his intereft in the victorious faction.

Mr. MILTON was now grown famous An etat. 41. by his polemical writings of various kinds, and held in great favour, and efteem by thofe who had power to difpofe of all preferments in the ftate. Tis in vain to diffemble; and far be it fror me to defend his engaging with a party combined in the destruction of our church and monarchy. Yet, leaving.

* Book X. 1. 909.

the juftification of a mifguided fincerity, to be debated in the fchools, may I prefume to obferve in his favour, that his zeal, diftempered and furious as it was, does not appear to have been infpirited by felf-interested views. For, it is affirmed, that though he lived always in a frugal retirement, and, before his death, had dif pofed of his library, (which we may suppose to have been a valuable collection), he left no more than 1500l. behind him for the support of his family: And whoever confiders the pofts to which he was advanced, and the times in which he enjoyed them, will, I believe, confess he might have accumulated a much more plentiful fortune. In a dispaffionate mind, it will not require any extraordinary meafure of candour to conclude, that though he abode in the heritage of oppreffors, and the fpoils of his country lay at his feet, neither his confcience nor his honour could stoop to gather them.

A commiffion to conftitute him adju- ́An. ætat. 42. tant-general to Sir William Waller was

promifed; but foon fuperfeded, by Waller's being laid afide, when his mafters thought it proper to new-model their army. However, the keennefs of his pen had fo effectually recommended him to Cromwell's esteem, that when he took the reins of government into his own hand, he advanced him to be Latin fecretary, both to himself and the parliament; the former of these preferments he enjoyed both under the ufurper and his fon, the other till King Charles II. was reftored. For fome time, he had an apartment for his family in Whitehall; but his health requiring a freer acceffion of air, he was obliged to remove from thence to lodgings which opened into St. James's Park. Not long after his fettlement there, his wife died in child-bed; and much about the time of her death, a gutta ferena, which had for feveral years been gradually increafing, totally extinguished his fight. In this melancholick condition, he was eafily prevailed with to think of taking another wife, who was Catharine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock of Hackney; and she too, in lefs than a year after their marriage, died in the fame unfortunate manner as the

former had done; and in his 23d fonnet, he does honour to her memory.

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These private calamities were much heightened by the different figure he was likely to make in An. atat. 52. the new fcene of affairs which was going to be acted in the ftate. For, all things now confpir ing to promote the King's reftoration, he was too confcious of his own activity during the ufurpation, to expect any favour from the Crown; and therefore, he prudently abfconded, till the act of oblivion was publifhed; by which he was only rendered incapable of bearing any office in the nation. Many had a very just efteem of his admirable parts and learning, who detefted his principles, by whofe interceffion his pardon paffed the feals; and I wish the laws of civil hiftory could have extended the benefit of that oblivion to the memory of his guilt, which was indulged to his perfon; ne tanti facinoris immanitas aut extitiffe, aut non vindicata fuifle, videatur.

Having thus gained a full protection from the government, (which was, in truth, more than he could have reasonably hoped), he appeared as much in publick as he formerly used to do; and employing his friend Dr. Paget to make choice of a third confort, on his recommendation, he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Mr. Minthul, a Chefhire gentleman, by whom he had no iffue. Three daughters by his firft wife were then living; the two elder of whom are faid to have been very serviceable to him in his ftudies: For, having been inftructed to pronounce not only the modern, but also the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, they read in their respective originals whatever authors he wanted to confult, though they understood none but their mothertongue. This employment, however, was too unpleafant to be continued for any long procefs of time; and therefore, he difmiffed them, to receive an education more agreeable to their fex and temper.

We now come to take a furvey of him in that point of view, in which he will be looked on by all fucceeding ages with equal delight and admiration. An interval of



† 26.

above twenty years had elapfed fince he
wrote the Mask of Comus +, L'Allegro, An. atat. 29.
11 Penferofo, and Lycidas *; all in fuch

an exquifite ftrain, that though he had left no other mo-
numents of his genius behind him, his name had been
immortal: but neither the infirmities of age and con-
ftitution, nor the viciffitudes of fortune, could deprefs
the vigour of his mind, or divert it from executing a de-
fign he had long conceived of writing an heroick poem *.
The fall of man was a subject which he had fome years
before fixed on for a tragedy, which he intended to
form by the models of antiquity; and fome, not with-
out probability, fay, the play opened with that speech
in the fourth book of Paradife Loft, 1. 32, which is
addreffed by Satan to the fun. Were it material, I be-
lieve I could produce other paffages, which more plain-
ly appear to have been originally intended for the fcene:
But, whatever truth there may be in this report, it is
certain, that he did not begin to mould his fubject in the
form which it bears now, before he had concluded his
controverfy with Salmafius and More, when he had
wholly loft the ufe of his eyes, and was forced to em-
ploy in the office of an amanuenfis any friend who acci-
dentally paid him a vifit. Yet, under all thefe difcou-
ragements, and various interruptions, in
An. ætat. 61.
the year 1669 †, he published his Para-
dife Loft, the nobleft poem (next to thofe of Homer
and Virgil) that ever the wit of man produced in any
age or nation. Need I mention any other evidence of
its ineftimable worth, than that the first geniufes who
have fucceeded him, have ever esteemed it a merit to re-
lifh and illuftrate its beauties? whit the critick who
gazed, with so much wanton malice, on the nakednefs
of Shakespear when he flept, after having formally de-
clared war againft it ‡, wanted courage to make his at-
tack; flushed though he was with his conquefts over Ju-

* Paradife Loft, Book IX. 1. 26.

+ Milton's contract with his bookfeller S. Simmons for the copy, bears date April 27. 1667.

The tragedies of the last age considered, p. 143.

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