Page images

His own

was disliked by the Italians, for the severity of his and there his third child, a son was born, and manners, and for the freedom of his discourses named John, who through the ill usage or bad against popery. And in others of his letters to constitution of the nurse died an infant. Vosssius and to J. Fr. Gronovius from Holland, Heinsius mentions how angry Salmasius was with him for commending Milton's book, and says that Graswinkelius had written something against Milton, which was to have been printed by Elzever, but it was suppressed by public authority.

Woodcock, of Hackney: and she too died in childbed within a year after their marriage, and her child, who was a daughter, died in a month after her; and her husband has done honour to her

health was too greatly impaired; and for the benefit of the air, he removed from his apartment in Scotland-Yard to a house in Petty-France Westminster, which was next door to Lord Scudamore's, and opened into St. James' Park; and there he remained eight years, from the year 1652 The first reply that appeared was published in till within a few weeks of the King's restoration. 1651, and entitled an Apology for the king and In this house he had not been settled long, before people, &c. Apologia pro rege et populo Angli- his first wife died in child-bed; and his condition cano contra Johannis Polipragmatici (alias Mil-requiring some care and attendance, he was easily toni Angli) Defensionem destructivam regis et induced after a proper interval of time to marry a populi Anglicani. It is not known, who was the second, who was Catharine, daughter of Captain author of this piece. Some attribute it to one Janus, a lawyer of Gray's Inn, and others to Dr. John Bramhall, who was then Bishop of Derry, and was made Primate of Ireland after the restoration: but it is utterly improbable, that so mean a memory in one of his sonnets. performance, written in such barbarous Latin, and Two or three years before this second marriage so full of solecisms, should come from the hands he had totally lost his sight. And his enemies of a prelate of such distinguished abilities and triumphed in his blindness, and imputed it as a learning. But whoever was the author of it, Mil- judgment upon him for writing against the King: ton did not think it worth his while to animadvert but his sight had been decaying several years beupon it himself, but employed the younger of his fore, through his close application to study, and nephews to answer it; but he supervised and cor- the frequent head-aches to which he had been rected the answer so much before it went to the subject from his childhood, and his continual tampress, that it may in a manner be called his own. pering with physic, which perhaps was more perIt came forth in 1652 under this title, Johannis nicious than all the rest: and he himself has inPhilippi Angli Responsio ad Apologiam anony- formed us in his second Defence, that when he mi cujusdam tenebrionis pro rege et populo An- was appointed by authority to write his Defence glicano infantissimam; and it is printed with of the people against Salmasius, he had almost Milton's works; and throughout the whole Mr. lost the sight of one eye, and the physicians dePhilips treats Bishop Bramhall with great severity clared to him, that if he undertook that work, he as the author of the Apology, thinking probably would also lose the sight of the other: but he was that so considerable an adversary would make the answer more considerable.

nothing discouraged, and chose rather to lose both his eyes than desert what he thought his duty. It Sir Robert Filmer likewise published some ani- was the sight of his left eye that he lost first: and madversions upon Milton's Defence of the people, at the desire of his friend Leonard Philaras, the in a piece printed in 1652, and entitled Observa- Duke of Parma's minister at Paris, he sent him a tions concerning the original of government, upon particular account of his case, and of the manner Mr. Hobbes' Leviathan, Mr. Milton against Sal- of his growing blind, for him to consult Thevenot masius, and Hugo Grotius de Jure belli: but I do the physician, who was reckoned famous in cases not find that Milton or any of his friends took any of the eyes. The letter is the fifteenth of his faminotice of it; but Milton's quarrel was afterwards liar epistles, is dated September 28th, 1654; and sufficiently avenged by Mr. Locke, who wrote is thus translated by Mr. Richardson. against Sir Robert Filmer's principles of government, more I suppose in condescension to the prejudices of the age, than out of any regard to the weight or importance of Filmer's arguments.

"Since you advise me not to fling away all hopes of recovering my sight, for that you have a friend at Paris, Thevenot the physician, particuIt is probable that Milton, when he was first larly famous for the eyes, whom you offer to conmade Latin Secretary, removed from his house in sult in my behalf if you receive from me an account High Holborn to be nearer Whitehall: and for by which he may judge of the causes and sympsome time he had lodgings at one Thomson's, next toms of my disease, I will do what you advice me door to the Bull-head tavern at Charing Cross, to, that I may not seem to refuse any assistance opening into Spring-garden, till the apartment, that is offered, perhaps from God.

appointed for him in Scotland-Yard, could be got "I think it is about ten years, more or less, since ready for his reception. He then removed thither; I began to perceive that my eye-sight grew weak

and dim, and at the same time my spleen and immoderately addicted to women, hasty, ambibowels to be oppressed and troubled with flatus; tious, full of himself and his own performances, and in the morning when I began to read, accord- and satirical upon all others. He was however ing to custom, my eyes grew painful immediately, esteemed one of the most eminent preachers of that and to refuse reading, but were refreshed after a age among the Protestants; but as Monsieur moderate exercise of the body. A certain iris be- Bayle observes, his chief talent must have consistgan to surround the light of the candle if I looked ed in the gracefulness of his delivery, or in those at it; soon after which, on the left part of the left sallies of imagination and quaint turns and allueye (for that was some years sooner clouded) a sions, whereof his sermons are full; for they retain mist arose which hid every thing on that side; and not those charms in reading, which they were said looking forward if I shut my right eye, objects ap- to have formerly in the pulpit. Against this man, peared smaller. My other eye also, for these last therefore, as the reputed author of Regii sanguinis three years, failing by degrees, some months before Clamor, &c., Milton published by authority his all sight was abolished, things which I looked upon Second Defence of the people of England, Defenseemed to swim to the right and left; certain in- sio Secunda pro populo Anglicano, in 1654, and verate vapours seem to possess my forehead and treats Morus with such severity as nothing could temples, which after meat especially, quite to eve- have excused, if he had not been provoked to it ning, generally, urge and depress my eyes with a by so much abuse poured upon himself. There sleepy heaviness. Nor would I omit that whilst is one piece of his wit, which had been published there was as yet some remainder of sight, I no before in the newspapers at London, a distich sooner lay down in my bed, and turned on my upon Morus for getting Pontia the maid-servant side, but a copious light dazzled out of my shut of his friend Salmasius with child.

Galli ex concubitu gravidam te, Pontia, Mori
Quis bene moratam morigeramque neget?

eyes; and as my sight diminished every day, colours gradually more obscure flashed out with vehemence; but now that the lucid is in a manner Upon this Morus published his Fides Publica in wholly extinct, a direct blackness, or else spotted, answer to Milton, in which he inserted several and, as it were, woven with ash-colour, is used to testimonies of his orthodoxy and morals, signed by pour itself in. Nevertheless the constant and the consistories, academies, synods, and magissettled darkness that is before me as well by night trates of the places where he had lived; and disownas by day, seems nearer to the whitish than the ed his being the author of the book imputed to blackish; and the eye rolling itself a little, seems to admit I know not what little smallness of light as through a chink."

But it does not appear what answer he received; we may presume, none that administered any relief.

His blindness however did not disable him entirely from performing the business of his office. An assistant was allowed him, and his salary as secretary still continued to him.

him, and appealed to two gentlemen of great credit with the Parliament party, who knew the real author. This brought Du Moulin, who was then in England, into great danger; but the government suffered him to escape with impunity, rather than they would publicly contradict the great patron of their cause. For he still persisted in his accusation, and endeavoured to make it good in his Defence of himself, Autoris pro se Defensio, which was published in 1655, wherein he opposed to the testimonies in favour of Morus other testimonies against him; and Morus replied no more.

And there was farther occasion for his service besides dictating of letters. For the controversy with Salmasius did not die with him, and there After this controversy was ended, he was at was published at the Hague, in 1652, a book en- leisure again to pursue his own private studies, titled the Cry of the King's Blood, &c., Regii san- which were the History of England before menguinis Clamor ad cœlum adversus Parricidas An- tioned, and a new Thesaurus of the Latin tongue, glicanos. The true author of this book was Peter intended as an improvement upon that by Robert du Moulin, the younger, who was afterwards pre- Stephens; a work which he had been long colbendary of Canterbury: and he transmitted his lecting from the best and purest Latin authors, papers to Salmasius; and Salmasius intrusted and continued at times almost to his dying day: them to the care of Alexander Morus, a French but his papers were left so confused and imperminister; and Morus published them with a dedi- fect, that they could not be fitted for the press, cation to King Charles II. in the name of Adrian though great use was made of them by the comUlac, the printer, from whence he came to be re- pilers of the Cambridge Dictionary, printed in puted the author of the whole. This Morus was 1693. These papers are said to have consisted the son of a learned Scotsman, who was president of three large volumes in folio; and it is a great of the college, which the Protestants had formerly pity that they are lost, and no account is given at Castres in Languedoc; and he is said to have what is become of the manuscript. It is commonly been a man of a most haughty disposition, and said too that at this time he began his famous

poem of Paradise Lost; and it is certain, that he his blindness, proceeded slower in business, and was glad to be released from those controversies, had not yet put the articles of the treaty into Latin. which detained him so long from following things Upon which the ambassador was greatly surprised, more agreeable to his natural genius and inclina- that things of such consequence should be ention, though he was far from ever repenting of his trusted to a blind man, for he must necessarily writings in defence of liberty, but gloried in them employ an amanuensis, and that amanuensis to the last. might divulge the articles; and said that it was The only interruption now of his private stu- very wonderful, that there should be only one man dies was the business of his office. In 1655, there in England who could write Latin, and he a was published in Latin a writing in the name of blind one. But his blindness had not diminished, the Lord Protector, setting forth the reasons of the but rather increased the vigour of his mind; and war with Spain: and this piece is rightly ad- his state-letters will remain as authentic memojudged to our author, both on account of the pe- rials of those times, to be admired equally by culiar elegance of the style, and because it was his critics and politicians; and those particularly about province to write such things as Latin secretary; the sufferings of the poor Protestants in Piedmont, and it is printed among his other prose works in who can read without sensible emotion? This the last edition. And for the same reasons I am was a subject he had very much at heart, as he inclined to think, that the famous Latin verses to was an utter enemy to all sorts of persecution; Christina, Queen of Sweden, in the name of and among his sonnets there is a most excellent Cromwell, were made by our author rather than one upon the same occasion. Andrew Marvel. In those days they had admi- But Oliver Cromwell being dead, and the gorable intelligence in the secretary's office; and vernment weak and unsettled in the hands of RiMr. Philips relates a memorable instance or two chard and the Parliament, he thought it a seasonupon his own knowledge. The Dutch were send-able time to offer his advice again to the public; ing a plenipotentiary to England to treat of peace; and in 1659 published a Treatise of Civil Power but the emissaries of the government had the art in Ecclesiastical causes; and another tract entitled to procure a copy of his instructions in Holland, Considerations touching the likeliest Means to rewhich were delivered by Milton to his kinsman, move Hirelings out of the Church; both addressed who was then with him, to translate them for the to the Parliament of the commonwealth of Enguse of the Council, before the said plenipotentiary land. And after the parliament was dissolved, he had taken shipping for England; and an answer wrote a letter to some statesman, with whom he to all that he had in charge was prepared, and lay had a serious discourse the night before, concernready for him before he made his public entry into ing the ruptures of the commonwealth; and anoLondon. Another time a person came to London ther, as it is supposed, to General Monk, being a with a very sumptuous train, pretending himself brief delineation of a free commonwealth, easy to an agent from the Prince of Conde, who was then be put in practice, and without delay. These two in arms against Cardinal Mazarine: but the go- pieces were communicated in manuscript to Mr. vernment suspecting him, set their instruments to Toland by a friend who a little after Milton's work so successfully, that in a few days they re- death had them from his nephew; and Mr. Toceived intelligence from Paris, that he was a spy land gave them to be printed in the edition of our employed by Charles II.: whereupon the very author's prose-works in 1698. But Milton, still next morning Milton's kinsman was sent to him finding that affairs were every day tending more with an order of Council, commanding him to de- and more to the subversion of the commonwealth, part the kingdom within three days, or expect the and the restoration of the royal family, published punishment of a spy. This kinsman was in all his Ready and Easy Way to establish a Free Comprobability Mr. Philips or his brother, who were monwealth, and the excellence thereof, compared Milton's nephews, and lived very much with him, with the inconveniences and dangers of readinitand one or both of them were assistant to him in ting kingship in this nation. We are informed by his office. His blindness no doubt was a great Mr. Wood that he published this piece in Februhindrance and inconvenience to him in his busi- ary 1659-60; and after this he published Brief ness, though sometimes a political use might be Notes upon a late Sermon, entitled, The Fear of made of it; as men's natural infirmities are often God and the King, preached by Dr. Matthew pleaded in excuse for not doing what they have Griffith at Mercer's Chapel, March 25, 1660: so no great inclination to do. Thus when Crom- bold and resolute was he in declaring his sentiwell, as we may collect from Whitlock, for some ments to the last, thinking that his voice was the reasons delayed artfully to sign the treaty con- voice of expiring liberty. cluded with Sweden, and the Swedish ambassa- A little before the King's landing, he was disdor made frequent complaints of it, it was ex- charged from his office of Latin Secretary, and was cused to him, because Mr. Milton, on account of forced to leave his house in Petty France, where

he had lived eight years with great reputation, and prisoners in custody of the Serjeant-at-arms was had been visited by all foreigners of note, who read in the House, and Milton is not among them; could not go out of the country without seeing a and on the 13th of September the House adjournman who did so much honour to it by his writings, ed to the 6th of November. It is most probable, and whose name was as well known and as famous therefore, that after the act or indemnity was passabroad as in his own nation; and by several per- ed, and after the House had adjourned, he came sons of quality of both sexes, particularly the pious out of his concealment, and was afterwards taken and virtuous Lady Ranelagh, whose son for some into custody of the Serjeant-at-arms by virtue of time he instructed, the same who was paymaster the former order of the House of Commons, but of the forces in King William's time; and by many we can not find that he was prosecuted by the Atlearned and ingenious friends and acquaintance, torney General, nor was he continued in custody particularly Andrew Marvel, and young Laurence, very long: for on Saturday the 15th of December, son to the President of Oliver's Council, to whom 1660, it was ordered by the House of Commons, he has inscribed one of his sonnets, and Marcha- that Mr. Milton now in custody of the Serjeantmont Needham, the writer of Politicus, and above at-arms, should be forthwith released, paying his ail, Cyriac Skinner, whom he has honoured with fees; and on Monday the 17th of December, a two sonnets. But now it was not safe for him to complaint being made that the Serjeant-at-arms appear any longer in public, so that by the advice had demanded excessive fees for his imprisonment, of some who wished him well and were concerned it was referred to the committee of privileges and for his preservation, he fled for shelter to a friend's elections to examine this business, and to call Mr. house in Bartholomew Close, near West Smith- Milton and the Serjeant before them, and to defield, where he lay concealed till the worst of the termine what was fit to be given to the Serjeant storm was blown over. The first notice that we for his fees in this case; so courageous was he at find taken of him was on Saturday the 16th of all times in defence of liberty against all the enJune, 1660, when it was ordered by the House of croachments of power, and though a prisoner, Commons, that his Majesty should be humbly would yet be treated like a freeborn Englishman. moved to issue his proclamation for the calling in This appears to be the matter of fact, as it may be of Milton's two books, his Defence of the People, collected partly from the Journals of the House of and Iconoclastes, and also Goodwyn's book entitled Commons, and partly from Kennet's Historical the Obstructors of Justice, written in justification Register: and the clemency of the government was of the murder of the late king, and to order them surely very great towards him, considering the to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman. nature of his offences; for though he was not one At the same time it was ordered that the Attorney of the King's judges and murderers, yet he contriGeneral should proceed by way of indictment or buted more to murder his character and reputation information against Milton and Goodwyn in re-than any of them all: and to what therefore could spect of their books, and that they themselves it be owing, that he was treated with such lenity, should be sent for in custody of the Serjeant-at- and was so easily pardoned? It is certain, there arms attending the House. On Wednesday, June was not wanting powerful intercession for him 27th, an order of Council was made agreeable to both in Council and in Parliament. It is said the order of the House of Commons for a procla- that Secretary Morrice and Sir Thomas Clargis mation against Milton's and Goodwyn's books; greatly favoured him, and exerted their interest and the proclamation was issued the 13th of Au- in his behalf; and his old friend Andrew Marvel, gust following, wherein it was said that the au- member of Parliament for Hull, formed a consithors had fled or did abscond: and on Monday, derable party for him in the House of Commons; August 27th, Milton's and Goodwyn's books were and neither was Charles the Second (as Toland burnt, according to the proclamation, at the Old says) such an enemy to the Muses, as to require Bailey, by the hands of the common hangman. his destruction. But the principal instrument in On Wednesday, August 29th, the act of indem- obtaining Milton's pardon was Sir William Danity was passed, which proved more favourable venant, out of gratitude for Milton's having proto Milton than could well have been expected; for cured his release, when he was taken prisoner in though John Goodwyn Clerk was excepted among 1650. It was life for life. Davenant had been the twenty persons who were to have penalties in- saved by Milton's interest, and in return Milton flicted upon them, not extending to life, yet Mil- was saved at Davenant's intercession. This story ton was not excepted at all, and consequently was Mr. Richardson relates upon the authority of Mr. included in the general pardon. We find indeed Pope; and Mr. Pope had it from Betterton the that afterwards he was in custody of the Serjeant-famous actor, who was first brought upon the at-arms; but the time when he was taken into stage and patronised by Sir William Davenant, custody is not certain. He was not in custody on and might therefore derive the knowledge of this the 12th of September, for that day a list of the transaction from the fountain.

Milton having thus obtained his pardon, and began to rage in London in 1665, he removed to being set at liberty again, took a house in Holborn, a small house at St. Giles Chalfont, in Buckingnear Red Lion Fields; but he removed soon into hamshire, which Elwood had taken for him and Jewen street, near Aldersgate street, and while he his family; and there he remained during that lived there, being in his 53d or 54th year, and blind dreadful calamity; but after the sickness was over, and infirm, and wanting somebody better than and the city was cleansed and made safely habitaservants to attend and look after him, he employ-ble again, he returned to his house in London. ed his friend Dr. Paget to choose a proper consort His great work of Paradise Lost, had princifor him; and at his recommendation married his pally engaged his thoughts for some years past, third wife, Elizabeth Minshul, of a gentleman's and was now completed. It is probable, that his family in Cheshire, and related to Dr. Paget. It first design of writing an epic poem was owing to is said that an offer was made to Milton, as well his conversations at Naples with the Marquis of as to Thurloe, of holding the same place of Secre- Villa, about Tasso, and his famous poem of the tary under the king, which he had discharged with Delivery of Jerusalem; and in a copy of verses so much integrity and ability under Cromwell; but presented to that nobleman before he left Naples, he persisted in refusing it, though the wife pressed he intimated his intention of fixing upon king Arhis compliance. "Thou art in the right," said thur for his hero. And in an eclogue, made soon he; "you, as other women, would ride in your after his return to England, upon the death of his coach; for me, my aim is to live and die an honest friend and school-fellow Deodati, he proposed the man." What is more certain is, that in 1661 he same design and the same subject, and declared published his Accedence commenced Grammar, his ambition of writing something in his native and a tract of Sir Walter Raleigh, entitled, Apho- language, which might render his name illustrious risms of State; as in 1658 he had published ano- in these islands, though he should be obscure and ther piece of Sir Walter Raleigh, entitled, The inglorious to the rest of the world. And in other Cabinet Council discabinated, which he printed parts of his works, after he had engaged in the from a manuscript, that had lain many years in controversies of the times, he still promised to prohis hands, and was given him for a true copy by duce some noble poem or other at a fitter season; a learned man at his death, who had collected se- but it does not appear that he had then determined veral such pieces: an evident sign, that he thought upon the subject, and king Arthur had another it no mean employment, nor unworthy of a man fate, being reserved for the pen of Sir Richard of genius, to be an editor of the works of great Blackmore. The first hint of Paradise Lost is authors. It was while he lived in Jewen street, said to have been taken from an Italian tragedy; that Elwood, the quaker, (as we learn from the and it is certain, that he first designed it a tragedy history of his life written by his own hand) was himself, and there are several plans of it in the first introduced to read to him; for having wholly form of a tragedy still to be seen in the author's lost his sight, he kept always somebody or other to own manuscript preserved in the library of Triperform that office, and usually the son of some nity College, Cambridge. And it is probable, that gentleman of his acquaintance, whom he took in he did not barely sketch out the plans, but also kindness, that he might at the same time improve wrote some parts of the drama itself. His nehim in his learning. Elwood was recommended phew, Philips, informs us, that some of the verses to him by Dr. Paget, and went to his house every at the beginning of Satan's speech, addressed to afternoon, except Sunday, and read to him such the sun, in the fourth book, were shown to him books in the Latin tongue, as Milton thought pro-and some others as designed for the beginning of per. And Milton told him, that if he would have the tragedy, several years before the poem was bethe benefit of the Latin tongue, not only to read gun: and many other passages might be produced, and understand Latin authors, but to converse with which plainly appear to have been originally inforeigners either abroad or at home, he must learn tended for the scene, and are not so properly of the foreign pronunciation; and he instructed him the epic, as of the tragic strain. It was not till how to read accordingly. And having a curious after he was disengaged from the Salmasian conear, he understood by my tone, says Elwood, when troversy, which ended in 1655, that he began to I understood what I read, and when I did not; mould the Paradise Lost in its present form; but and he would stop me, and examine me, and open after the Restoration, when he was dismissed-from the most difficult passages to me. But it was not public business, and freed from controversy of long after his third marriage, that he left Jewen every kind, he prosecuted the work with closer street, and removed to a house in the Artillery application. Mr. Philips relates a very remarkaWalk, leading to Bunhill Fields: and this was ble circumstance in the composure of this poem, his last stage in this world; he continued longer which he says he had reason to remember, as it in this house than he had done in any other, and was told him by Milton himself, that his vein nelived here to his dying day: only when the plague ver happily flowed but from the autumnal equinox

« PreviousContinue »