Imatges de pÓgina

nute observance of all the flexibilities, ductilities, and windings of the human character: he did not forgive or consider its littlenesses, its petty passions, and mean and ignorant thoughts.

It seems to me to be a biographer's duty thus to analyse the character of a great man, if it be done with a conscientious desire of explaining the truth. Mere facts, uncommented on, are neither interesting nor instructive: better omit the comment than do it frivolously or affectedly; still less, maliciously. I myself have no doubt that the poet was wrong in his political opinions; but I have still less doubt that he was strictly conscientious in them. To call in question the sincerity of his protestations and aspirations,-his magnificent effusions of holy hope and enthusiasm, would be not only stupid, but wicked.



THERE are certain minor points which it is very useful to ascertain, but which, when once established, do not require to be repeated; such are many of the particulars verified with the most exemplary labour by Todd. If any thing were wanting, Mitford has gone over the ground again with acute and discriminate taste and judgment: a poet himself, of deep feeling, and eloquent originality.

I will however just mention, that the poet did not entirely abandon literary production after having published the two magnificent poems last noticed. In 1672 he put forth his Artis Logicæ Plenior Institutio;' and in 1673 his Treatise of True Religion, Heresy,' &c.


In the year of his death he published his 'Familiar Letters in Latin,' with some 'Academical Exercises.'

In the preceding year he reprinted his 'Juvenile Poems,' with additions, among which is the Tractate on Education,' published in 1644.

His health now gave way fast, and his fits of the gout became violent; but such was the firmness of his mind, that Aubrey says, even in the paroxysms of this fell disease," he would be very cheerful, and sing." He died quietly at his house in Bunhill-fields, on Sunday, November 8th, 1674; wanting only a month of completing his sixty-sixth year. Thus departed the greatest epic poet of England,—and, in my opinion, of any country or age. He was buried near his father, in the chancel of St. Giles, Cripplegate.

His person was beautiful in youth, but his face too delicate he was of middle height, active, and a good swordsman; temperate in his food, and all his habits of life, except in study, in which he indulged to excess even from his childhood. His evenings were usually passed in music and conversation: his chief time of composition appears to have been the night; and by the aid of a most retentive memory, he dictated in the morning to an amanuensis what he had thus composed.

His biographers say that he was of an equal and placid temper: but this is not the character given by Mrs. Powell, the mother of his first wife; who, however, was an angry and prejudiced witness. Todd has printed a full account of his nuncupative will, which was first discovered by T. Warton, and which, being contested, furnishes several curious particulars of his domestic habits. He had an humble establishment, consisting of two maid-servants and a man-servant: he dined

He never was a man of

usually in his kitchen.* worldly ostentation, and always despised money: he seems to have been stern to his daughters, and exacted too much from them; they accordingly did not steadily love him. It must have been an irksome task to them to read to him in languages which they did not understand.


As to the poet's religious tenets, a treatise has been lately recovered from the State-Paper Office, which has made a great noise among the theologists: the title is, De Doctrina Christiana, ex Sacris duntaxat Libris petita, Disquisitionum Libri duo posthumi.' The late King put it into the hands of Dr. Sumner, (now Bishop of Winchester,) to be edited and translated. It is said that the poet, being dissatisfied with the Bodies of Divinity then published, was thus induced to compile one for himself. This treatise is considered to prove that Milton was finally an Arian. It is calmly and moderately written; not with the animosity of a controversialist, but it wants the author's former or usual recondite learning and argumentative force.

Bishop Burgess, considering that this work disproves the poet's orthodoxy, has disputed its genuineness; but it is generally admitted that its authenticity cannot be doubted. This extra

*This was long afterwards, in Geneva, the custom of the highest and most opulent Genevan families. See Picot, 'Histoire de Genève.'

+ 8vo. 1826.

See discussions on Milton's tenets here let out, in 'Edin

ordinary treatise contains many singular opinions, which none but theologists will take the trouble to discuss.*

Milton left three daughters :-Anne, who was deformed, and died in childbed; Mary, who died single; and Deborah, who married Abraham Clarke, a weaver in Spitalfields, and died, aged seventy-six, in August, 1727. Her daughter married Thomas Foster, also a weaver in Spitalfields, and died at Islington, May 9th, 1754, in her sixty-sixth year.†

Sir Christopher Milton, the poet's only brother, was knighted and made a judge by James II., but soon retired from the bench. He retired to Ipswich, and afterwards to the village of Rushmere, about two miles distant, where he died; and was buried in the church of St. Nicholas, Ipswich, March 22nd, 1692. He left children. ‡

Milton had also two nephews by his sister Philips, John Philips and Edward Philips, both authors. §

burgh Review,' No. cvII, September, 1831; and see Mitford's note, 'Life,' p. cx.

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* See the American, Dr. Channing's Remarks on the Character and Writings of Milton.'

Sir James Mackintosh found the last descendant of Milton parish-clerk at Madras.

See Pedigrees of Knights made by Charles II. and James II., collected by De Neve, inter Mss. Brit. Mus.

§ See their lives by Godwin. See also 'Theatrum Poetarum,' Canterbury, 1800, and again Geneva, 1824.

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