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ting out, the scheme was projected. At Paris *, the Lord Viscount Scudamore, ambassador from King Charles I. at the court of France, introduced him to the acquaintance of Grotius, who, at that time, was honoured with the same character there by Christina, 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; several of whom gave him very obliging testimo nies of their friendship and eiteem, which are printed befure his Latin poems. The first of them was writ. ten by Manso, Marquis of Valla, a great patron of Taf: fo, by whom he is celebrated in his poem on the Conquest of Jerusalem t. It is highly probable, that to his conversation with this noble Neapolitan we owe the first design which MILTON conceived, of writing an e. pick poem ; and it appears by some Latin verfes, ad. dreffed to the Marquis, with the title of Mansus, that he intended to fix on King Arthur for his hero ; but Are thur was reserved to another destiny !
Returning from his travels, he found Ani ætat. 32. England on the point of being involved in blood and confufion. It seems wonderful, that one of so warm and daring a spirit, as his certainly was, should be restrained from the camp, in thofe unnatural commotions. I suppose we may impute it wholly to the great deference he paid to paternal authority, that he retired to lodgings provided for tim in the city ; which being commodious for the reception of his lifter's sons, and some other young gentlemen, he undertook their education ; and is said to have formed them on the same plan which he afterwards published, -in a short tractate, inscribed to his friend Mr. Hartlib.
In this philosophical course he continued without a wife, till the year 1643 ; when he ried Mary, the daughter of Richard An. ætat. 35. Powel of Foresthill in Oxfordshire, a gentleman of eftate and reputation in that county, and of principles so
* Defenfio fecunda. Pag. 96. fol.
Refplende il Manso.
very opposite to his son-in-law, that the marriage is more to be wondered at than the separation which enfued, in little more than a month after she had cohabite ed with him in London. Her defertion 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 marriagetreaty, in a visit at 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 that nature, so little expected, must wonderfully affect him; and perhaps the impressions it made on his imagination, contributed much to the painting of that pathetick scene in Paradise Loft*, in which Eve addresseth herself to Adam for pardon and peace. At the interceffion of his friends who were present, after a short . reluctance, he generously sacrificed all his resentment to her tears :
Soon his heart relented
Wow at his feet submissive in distress, And after this re-union, 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. Mr. Milton was now grown
famous * Ano betät. 41. by, his polemical writings of various kinds, and held in great favour, and esteem by those who Land power to dispose: of all preferinents in the state. Tis in vain to diffemble; and far be it frora me to defend his engaging with a party combined in the deítruction of our church and monarchy. Yet, leaving
* Book X. l. 9a.
the justification of a misguided sincerity, to be debated in the schools, may I presume to observe in his favour, that his zeal, diftempered and furious as it was, does not appear to have been inspirited by self-intereited 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 1500 1. behind him for the support of his family: And whoever confiders 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. În a dispasuonate mind, it will not require any extraordinary measure of candour to conclude, that though he abode in the heritage of oppreffors, and the spoils of his country lay at his feet, neither his conscie ence nor his honour could ftoop to gather them,
A commiffion to constitute him adju. An. ætat. 42. tant.general to Sir William Waller was, promised ;, but foon fuperseded, by Waller's being laid afide, 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 reins 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 song the other till King Charles II. was restored. For some time, he had an apartment for his family in Whitehall; but his health requiring a freer acceßion of air, he was obliged to remove from thence to lodgings which opened into St. James's Park. Not long after his settlement there, his wife died in child-bed; and much about the time of her death, a gutta serena, which had for feveral years been gradually increasing, totally extinguish. ed 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 the too, in less than a year after their marriage, died in the same unfortunate manner as the: former had done ; and in his 2 3d fonnet, he does ho. nour to her memory.
These private calamities were much heightened by the in. ætat. 52. the new scene of affairs which was going
different figure he was likely to make in 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 expedt any favour from ihe Crown; and therefore, he prudently abfcoaded, till the act of oblivion was pub. lished; by which he was only rendered incapable of bearing any office in the nation. Many had a very just esteem of his admirable parts and learning, who detefted his principles, by whose interceflion his pardon palsed the seals ; and I 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 aut extitisse, aut non vindicata fuile, videatur.
Having thus gained a full protection from the vernment, (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 Cheshire gentleman, by whom he had no issue. Three daughters by his first wife were then living; the two elder of whom are said to have been very serviceable to him in his ftudies : For, having been instructed 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 consult, though they understood none but their mothertongue. This employment, however, was too unpleafant to be continued for any long process of time; and therefore, he dismissed them, to receive an education more agreeable to their sex and temper.
We now come 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 † 26.
above twenty years had elapsed fince he
29. Il Penseroso, and Lycidas *; all in such an exquisite strain, 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 conftitution, nor the viciffitudes of fortune, could depress the vigour of his mind, or divert it from executing a defign 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 some, not without probability, say, the play opened with that speech in the fourth book of Paradise Loft, 1. 32, which is addreffed by Satan to the fun. 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, it is certain, that he did not begin to mould his subject in the form which it bears now, before he had concluded his controversy with Salmafius 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
An. ætat. 61. the year 1669 t, he published bis Paradife Loft, the nobleft poem (next to those of Homer and Virgil) that ever the wit of man produced in any age or nation.
Need I mention any other evidence of its inestimable worth, than that the first geniuses who have fucceeded him, have ever esteemed it à merit to relish and illustrate its beauties? whilst the critick who gazed, with so much wanton malice, on the nakedness of Shakespear when he fept, after having formally declared war againft it ļ, wanted courage to make his attack; fushed though he was with his conquests over Ju
* Paradise Lost, Book IX. I. 26.
+ 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.