« PreviousContinue »
Whitbread. The honourable example had been given by Mr. Benson, one of the auditors of the imprest, who, in 1737, introduced a similar memorial of Milton into Westminster Abbey, to the walls of which venerable building his very name had been considered, only a few years before, as a species of pollution. The lines," which Dr. George, the provost of King's college, Cambridge, wrote for the inscription on this monument, are elegant and nervous: but the apology, which they intimate, could derive its propriety only from that illiberal and impotent
n Some of these verses I have inserted in my title-page, but I will here give them entire. They are by no means faultless, and they have certainly received their full share of praise.
Augusti regum cineres, sanctæque favillæ
Ashes of regal and of holy fame,
And Death, the great composer, calm your strife!
Lo! now the king's and people's rights agree:
malice which had previously been exerted against the name and memory of MILTON.° A few months before his decease, sometime in the preceding july, Milton had requested the attendance of his brother, Christopher, and, in his presence, had made a disposition of his property by a formal declaration of his will. This mode of testament, which is called nuncupative and, under certain precise regulations, is admitted by the ecclesiastical courts, was, in the present instance, ineffectual. After a full hearing of the cause, on a suit instituted against it by the daughters, the nuncupative will of Milton was found destitute of some of the essential requisites for the establishment of its va
• In august, 1790, the grave, as it was imagined, of the great poet, was opened; and his remains exposed for some time to the public view. The popular respect for Milton was, on this occasion, discovered to be approaching to religious veneration. The people pressed from all quarters for a sight of the bones; and happy was the man, who, availing himself of the mercenary spirit of the parish-officers, could become the possessor of any portion of the sacred reliques. This profanation of the ashes of the illustrious dead was warmly resented by some of the writers of the day; but, much curiosity having been excited. on the subject, the skeleton was subjected to a very accurate inspection, and proved to be that of a female; a fact, which, showing that the coffin of Milton was yet unyiolated, relieved the uneasiness of his admirers, whose fondness for the man extended itself to the smallest piece of dead matter, which had once contributed to form his mortal residence,
lidity; and was accordingly set aside by a decree of Sir Leoline Jenkins, the judge, at that time, of the Prerogative Court. This will gave the whole of the testator's actual possessions to his widow, assigning nothing to his daughters but their mother's marriage portion, which had not yet been paid; and the sums which he had expended on their education. The property, besides the goods, which was thus bequeathed to the widow, is said to have been about fifteen hundred pounds.
Disinterestedness, and a contempt of money had uniformly distinguished the elevated mind of Milton. It is, at least, doubtful whether he received any pecuniary compensation from his pupils; and of his small patrimony he is stated to have lost two thousand pounds by an injudicious confidence. Of an equal sum, which he had saved from the emoluments of his office and had placed on government security, he was deprived by the change of things at the restoration; and his paternal house in Bread Street was con
P In some of the depositions attached to his will, it is stated that he had frequently declared, "that he had made provision for his children in his life-time, and had spent the greatest part of his estate in providing for them." The depositions were made before Doctor afterwards Sir William Trumbull, who was Secretary of State, and the friend of Pope.
posed to hav large part, if which he be an Euripides Cradock, of Lycophron, of a Mr. Wa the library
sumed in the great fire of London in 1666. But, with his paucity of wants, it was difficult to sink him into indigence; and, after all his losses, he was enabled, as we have seen, to leave nearly three thousand pounds, (including the 10001. still remaining in the hands of the Powells,) for the subsistence of his family.
We are not told, and it would be idle to conjecture what sum was raised by the sale of his books, a measure which was taken previously to his decease, and to which he was probably induced by the persuasion that his executrix would be less likely than himself to obtain their just value. In his days the purchasers of books were few, when compared with those in our's, and the number of the affluent who expended large sums in literary curiosities was still, perhaps, proportionably less. The sale, in the present times, of such a library, as Milton's may reasonably be supposed to have been, would alone produce a large part, if not the whole of the property which he bequeathed. Of this collection, an Euripides is now in the possession of Mr. Cradock, of Gumly in Leicestershire; and a Lycophron, (as Mr. Todd, on the authority of a Mr. Walker, informs us,) is preserved in the library of the Earl of Charlemont. The
with which he was early afflicted, confined him, in a great degree, to his house, he contrived a swing for the purposes of exercise; and to exercise, in one form or other, as the essential preservative of health, he regularly allotted one hour in the day.
Having injured his constitution in his youth by night studies, whence immediately proceeded those pains in his head of which we have before spoken, and that weakness in his eyes which terminated in the loss of sight, he corrected this erroneous practice as he advanced in years, and retired to his bed at the early hour of nine. The moments, however, which he gave to sleep in the beginning of the night, he took from the drowsy power in the morning, rising in summer generally at four o'clock, and in winter at five. When, contrary to his usual custom, he indulged himself with longer rest, he employed a person to read to him from the time of his awaking to that of his rising.
The opening of his day was uniformly consecrated to religion. A chapter of the Hebrew scriptures being read to him as soon as he was up, he passed the subsequent in
and I suspect that gentlemen, who were not of the military profession, very seldom, if ever, wore any weapon but the small
terval till seven
From seven ti
while some aut
tated as some
with its pen.
hour of exercis
wards, for the early and frugal it was finished creation of m
mind at once music he was with its science
"In relation to the effect it had upon a friend, I was hap
talk of Milton, as he Now will I swear ears were now eyes
In his Tractate d
vises, for the studen peculiarly salutary that the same indulg Jones, from his own
tion, and producing vantages of sleep.
I feel gratified b name of the great a life, like that of Mil
for the acquisition
all his species to t perpetually strainin