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An. Etat. 35. ter of Richard Powel, of Forest Hill, in Ox-· fordshire, a gentleman of estate and reputation in that county, and of principles so very opposite to his son in law, that the marriage is more to be wondered at than the separation which ensued in a little more than a month after she had cohabited with him in London. Her desertion provoked him both to write several treatises concerning the doctrine and discipline of divorce, and also to make his addresses to a young lady of great wit and beauty; but before he had engaged her affections to conclude the marriage treaty, in a visit to one of his relations he found his wife prostrate before him imploring forgiveness and reconciliation. It is not to be doubted but an interview of this nature, so little expected, must wonderfully affect him; and perhaps the impressions it made on his imagination contributed much to the painting of that pathetic scene in paradise Lost,* in which Eve addresseth herself to Adam for pardon and peace. At the intercession of his friends who were present, after a short reluctance, he generously sacrificed all his resentment to her tears,

-Soon his heart relented

Toward's her, his life so late, and sole delight,
Now at his feet submissive in distress!

And after this reunion, so far was he from retaining an unkind memory of the provocations which he had received from her ill conduct, that when the King's cause was entirely oppressed, and her father, who had been active in his loyalty, was exposed to sequestration, Milton received, both him and his family to protection and free entertainment in his own house, till their affairs were accommodated by his interest in the victorious faction.

For he was now grown famous by his Polemical writings of various kinds, and held in (An. Ætat. 41.) great favor and esteem by those who had power to dispose of all preferments in the state. 'Tis in vain to dissemble, and far be it from me to defend, his engaging with a party. combined in the destruction of our Church and Monarhy. Yet, leaving the justification of a misguided sincer

*Book x. ver, 609.

ity to be debated in the schools, may I presume to observe in his favor, that his zeal, distempered and furious as it was, does not appear to have been inspirited by self interested views, for it is affirmed, that though he lived always in a frugal retirement, and before his death had disposed of his library, (which we may suppose to have been a valuable collection) he left no more than fifteen hundred pounds behind him for the support of his family: And whoever considers the posts 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 dispassionate mind it will not require any extraordinary measure of candor to conclude, that though he abode in the heritage of oppressors, and the spoils of his country lay at his feet, neither his conscience nor his honor could stop to gather them.

A commission to constitute him adjutant general to Sir William Waller was promised, but An. Etat. 42. soon superseded by Waller's being laid aside, when his masters thought it proper to new model their army. However, the keenness of his pen had so effectually recommended him to Cromwell's. esteem, that when he took the reigns of government into his own hand, he advanced him to be Latin secretary both to himself and the Parliament: The former of these preferments he enjoyed both under the Usurper and his son, the other till king Charles II.. was restored. For some time be had an apartment for his family in Whitehall; but his health requiring a free accession of air, he was o bliged to remove from thence to lodgings which opened into St. James's Park. Not long after his settlement: there, his wife died in childbed: And much about the time of her death a gutta serena, which had for several years been gradually increasing, totally extinguished his sight.* In this melancholy condition he was easily prevailed with

*It was the sight of his left eye that he lost first; and it was at the desire of his friend Leonard Philaras, the Duke of Parma's minister at Paris, that he sent him a particular account of his case, and of the manner of his growing blind, for him to consult They-enot the Physician, who was reckoned famous in cases of the eyes. The letter is the fifteenth of his Familiar Epistles, is dated Septem ber 23, 1654, and is thus translated by Mr. Richardson..

to think of taking another wife, who was Catharine the daughter of Capt. Woodcock of Hackney and she too, in less than a year after their marriage, died in the same unfortunate manner as the former had done; to whose memory he does honor in one of his sonnets.

These private calamities were much heightened by the different figure he was likely to make An. Etat. 52. in the new scene of affairs which was going to be acted in the state: For all things now conspiring to promote the King's restoration, he was too conscious of his own activity during the usurpation to expect any favor from the Crown; and therefore he prudently absconded, till the act of Oblivion was published; by which he was only rendered incapable of bearing any office in the nation. Many had a very just esteem of his

"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, particularly famous for the eyes, whom you offer to consult in my behalf, if you receive from me an account by which he may judge of the causes and symptoms of my disease, I will do what you advise me to, that I may not seem to refuse any assistance that is offered, perhaps from God.

"I think 'tis about ten years, more or less, since I began to perceive that my eye sight grew weak and dim, and at the same time my spleen and bowels to be opprest and troubled with flatus ; and in the morning when I began to read, according to custom, my eyes grew painful immediately, and to refuse reading, but were refreshed after a moderate exercise of the body. A certain iris began to surround the light of the candle if I looked at it; soon after which, on the left part of the left eye (for that was some years sooner clouded) a mist arose which hid every thing on that side; and poking forward, if I shut my right eye objects appeared smaller. My other eye also, for the last three years failing by degrees, some months before all sight was abolished, things which I looked upon seemed to swim to the right and left; certain inveterate vapors seem to possess my forehead and temples, which after meat, especially quite to evening, generally urge and depress my eyes with a sleepy heaviness: Nor would I omit, that whilst there was as yet some remainder of sight, I no sooner lay down in my bed, and turned on my side, but a copious light dazzled out of my shut eyes; and as my sight diminished every day, colors gradually more obscure flashed out with vehemence; but now that the lucid is in a manner wholly extinct, a direct blackness, or else spotted, and, as it were woven with ash color, is used to pour itself in. Nevertheless, the constant and settled darkness that is before me, as well by night as by day, seems nearer to the whitish than the blackish; and the eye rolling itself a little, seems to admit I know not what, little smallness of light as through a chink."

admirable parts and learning, who detested his principles by whose intercession his pardon passed the seals : And L wish the laws of Civil history could have extended the benefit of that oblivion to the memory of his guilt, which was indulged to his person; Ne tanti facinoris immanitas aùt non extitisse aut vindicata fuisse, vide atur.

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 public as he formerly used to do; and employing his friend Dr. Paget to make choice of a third consort, on his recommendation he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Mr. Minshul, a cheshier gentleman, by whom he had no issue. Three daughters by his first wife were then living, two of whom are said to have been very serviceable to him in his studies: For having been instructed to pronounce not only the mcdern, but also the Latin, Greek and Hebrew languages, they read in their respective originals whatever authors he wanted to consult, though they understood none but their mother tongue. This employment, however, was too unpleasant to be continued for any longer process of time; and therefore he dismissed them to receive an education more agreeable to their sex and temper.

We come now to take a survey of him in that point of view in which he will be looked on by all succeeding ages with equal delight and admiration. An interval of above twenty years had elapsed since he wrote the Mask of

* 26. Comus,* L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, and. An. Etat. Lycidas; all in such an exquisite strain,

† 29. that though he had left no other monuments of his genius behind him, his name had been immortal. But neither the infirmities of age and constitution, nor the vicisitudes of fortune, could depress the vigor of his mind, or divertit from executing a design he had long conceived of writing an heroic poem.* The Fall of Man was a subject which he had some years before fix-ed on for a tragedy, which he intended to form by the models of antiquity; and some, not without probability, say the play opened with that speech in the fourth Book of Paradise Lost, ver. 32, which is addressed by Satan to

* Paradise Lost, B. IX. v. 25.

the Sun. Were it material, I believe I could produce other passages which more plainly appear to have been originally intended for the scene. But whatever truth there may be in this report, 'tis certain that he did begin to mould his subject in the form which it bears now before he had concluded his controversy with Salmasius and More; when he had wholly lost the use of his eyes, and was forced to employ in the office of an amanuensis any friend who accidentally paid him a visit. Yet, under all these discouragements and various interruptions, in the

year 1669 he published his Paradise Lost;* An. Etat. 61, the noblest Poem, next to those of Homer and Virgil, that ever the wit of man produc⚫ ed in any age or nation. Need I mention any other evidence of its inestimable worth, than that the finest geniuses who have succeeded him have ever esteemed it a merit to relish and illustrate its beauties? Whilst the critic who gazed with so much wanton malice on the nakedness of Shakespeare when he slept, after having formally † declared war against it, wanted courage to make his attack, though he was flushed with his conquests over Julius Cæsar and the Moor; which insolence his muse, like the other assassins of Cæsar, ‡ severely revenged-on herself; and not long after her triumph, became her own executjoner. Nor is it unworthy our observation, that though, perhaps, no one of our English poets hath excited so many admirers to imitate his manner yet I think never any was known to aspire to emulation: Even the late ingenious Mr. Phillips, who, in the colors of style, came the nearest of all the copiers to resemble the great original, made his distant advances with a filial reverence, and restrained his ambition within the same bounds which Lucretius prescribed to his own imitation :

Non ita certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem

Quod TE imitari aveo: Quid enim contendat hirundo
Cycnis ?

And now, perhaps, it may pass for fiction what with great veracity I affirm to be fact, that Milton, after having,

Milton's contract with his bookseller, S. SIMMONS, for the copy, bears date April 27, 1667.

The tragedies of the last age considered, p. 143. i Vide Edgar.

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