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him about, lending a guiding hand' to his 'dark steps.' Thence he removed to a small house in 'Artillery Walk, leading to Bunhill Fields. This was his last permanent residence. On the appearance of the Plague (1665), Ellwood found a temporary retreat for him in a pretty box' near Chalfont St. Giles. It was there that he gave Ellwood the manuscript of Paradise Lost for his perusal and judgment. When Ellwood returned the poem, and had ‘modestly but freely' told its author how he liked it, after some further discourse, he added pleasantly, 'Thou hast said much here of Paradise Lost, what hast thou to say of Paradise Found?' Milton 'made no answer, but sate some time in a muse, then brake off the discourse and fell upon another subject.'
On his return to town, the poem was published, the copyright having been sold to Samuel Simmons (April 27, 1667,) by an agreement, under which Milton received £10 for two editions, and his widow £8, in discharge of that and all other claims. In the second edition (1674) the poem was divided into twelve instead of ten Books.
The licenser Tomkins (Chaplain to Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury) had made some difficulty in according the requisite permission to publish Paradise Lost, on account of a passage (11. 598, 599) in the First Book. The same timid official mutilated Milton's next production, the History of England (1670); but as the author gave the Earl of Anglesea a copy of the suppressed portions, they have since been inserted in their proper places.
The next year (1671) appeared Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. The former poem Milton acknowledged was owing to Ellwood's question at Chalfont, and he could not “hear with patience' any censure of it as inferior to Paradise Lost.
These, the last of his poetical works, were succeeded (1672) by a treatise on Logic according to the Method of Ramus, whom he had already followed in his Scheme of Education, In a tract on True Religion, Heresy, Schism and Toleration (1673), he exhorts Protestants to avoid contentions among themselves, and to unite against Popery. Punishment
for religion in person or property he supposes 'not to be agreeable to the clemency of the Gospel ;' but he declares against any toleration of the rites of Roman Catholic worship, whether performed publicly or in private. He speaks of the Church of England as 'our Church,' and adduces its authority in his argument.
Milton reprinted his early poems (with some additions) in 1673; and the next year (the last of his life) he sent to the press his Familiar Epistles in Latin, the Academical Exercises of his college days, and a translation of the declaration of the Poles on the election of John Sobieski. With these closes the list of his works published in his lifetime. They have been enumerated above in their order, with the exception of a Latin Accidence, 1661. A compilation, the Brief History of Muscovy, was published in 1686, and the Letters of State not till 1743.
His posthumous Latin treatise on Christian Doctrine was discovered in 1823, and translated in 1825 by the present Bishop of Winchester. This work, 'compiled from the Scriptures alone,' is of theological rather than of literary interest. Its relation to Milton's other works has been generally adverted to in support or refutation of the charge of Arianism brought against the author of Paradise Lost.
Milton was long afflicted with the gout, but for which (he used to say) his blindness would have been tolerable. Yet ' in his gout fits he would be very cheerful, and would sing.' The disease 'struck in;' and Sunday, November 8, 1674, he died 'by a quiet and silent expiration.'
In person he was eminently handsome; his face was oval, of a somewhat feminine type. At Cambridge he was called the ‘Lady' of his college. His complexion was fair, of a delicate white and red;' his hair of a light brown, parted in the middle and hanging down upon his shoulders. Rather below the middle size, he was active and vigorous, delighting in all manly exercises. His deportment was affable, his 'gait erect and manly, bespeaking courage and undauntedness.' His daughter Deborah spoke of him as 'delightful company the soul of the conversation, on account of a flow of subject
and an unaffected cheerfulness and civility. He is described as 'grave, though not melancholy, or not until the later part of his life,' with a'certain serenity of mind—a mind not condescending to little things.'
An ancient clergyman of Dorsetshire, Dr. Wright,' found John Milton, 'then growing old, in a small chamber, hung with rusty green, sitting in an elbow chair, and dressed neatly in black; pale but not cadaverous; his hands and fingers gouty, and with chalk-stones. He used also to sit in a gray coarse cloth coat, at the door of his house near Bunhill Fields, in warm sunny weather, to enjoy the fresh air. And so, as well as in his room, he received the visits of people of distinguished parts, as well as quality.'
His course of life was strict and methodical. As he grew older, he gave up his youthful luxury of late hours. He rested in bed from nine till four in summer, and till five in winter. After rising, he heard a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and studied till twelve. He then took exercise for an hour, dined, played on the organ, sang or heard his wife sing ; studied again till six ; entertained visitors till eight; and after a light supper, with a pipe and a glass of water, went to bed.
He was buried next his father, in the chancel of St. Giles, Cripplegate. The exact spot is not known. His funeral was attended by all his learned and great friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the vulgar.'
Milton's property at his death (amounting to about £1500) he left to his widow. He had lost £2000 (invested in the excise) at the Restoration, and the house in Bread Street (all his real estate) was burnt in the Great Fire.
His will was contested by his daughters, to whom he had left only the portion due to him from Mr. Powell, his first wife's father, they having,' he says, 'been very undutiful to me.' This charge is supported by, or rather supports the evidence of a servant, that when Mary Milton was told of her father's. intended marriage, she replied that it was no news to hear of his wedding, but if she could hear of his death, that would be something.'
On the other hand, it is stated by Phillips that Milton
condemned his daughters, when they lived with him, to the reading and exactly pronouncing the language of whatever book he thought fit to peruse, viz. the Hebrew (and I think the Syriac), the Latin, the Italian, Spanish, and French.' The eldest daughter having been excused, 'the two younger endured this for a long time, but ... broke out more and more into expressions of uneasiness; so they were all sent out to learn some curious and ingenious sorts of manufacture proper for women to learn, particularly embroideries in gold or silver.' They lived apart from their father for some years before his death.
With this brief outline of the facts, we pass lightly over a delicate subject, on which we have too scanty evidence to warrant the positive decision of Johnson, that 'Milton's character in his domestic relations was severe and arbitrary.' We should remember the great acts of generosity of which Milton was capable, and that his mind was one not condescending to (and probably not very tolerant of) little things. As little things make up the sum of household life, and as his habits were those of a bookish recluse, it may well have been that petty domestic detail, as effectually as noises' of political strife, irritated him by the interruption of his enjoyment of the 'quiet and still air of delightful studies.'
Milton's nuncupative will was contested by his daughters, and, after a trial before Sir Leoline Jenkins, Judge of the Prerogative Court, it was set aside. Letters of administration were granted to the widow, who eventually enjoyed the bulk of the property. The daughters only obtained £100 each, invested for their benefit in rent-charges or annuities, with the approbation of their uncles, Richard Powell and Christopher Milton. The two elder died without issue, and Deborah, the youngest, married Abraham Clarke, a Spitalfields weaver. She was known to Richardson, and to Vertue the engraver, and was visited by Addison, whose intention to provide for her was frustrated by his death. Queen Caroline once sent her fifty guineas. Of her fami only her son Caleb and her daughter Elizabeth had any children. Caleb went to Madras, and his descendants cannot be traced beyond the year 1727. Elizabeth married Thomas Foster, and kept a small chandler's shop in Holloway, and afterwards in Cock Lane, near Shoreditch Church. For her benefit Comus was acted (April 5, 1750) at Drury Lane, to which performance Dr. Johnson ' had the honour of contributing a prologue.' She died at Islington, May 9, 1754.
Milton's brother Christopher became a Roman Catholic, or at least quitted the communion of the Church of England. He was knighted by James II, April 25, 1686, the day after his appointment as Baron of the Exchequer, from which post he was dismissed by reason of his incapacity or infirmity. He died at or near Ipswich, and was buried in the porch of St. Nicholas Church, March 22, 1692.
John Milton is but little noticed in the writings of his English contemporaries. Their remarks are sometimes mere abuse. Hacket apostrophizes him as 'Serpent,' and exclaims 'Get thee behind me, Milton.' (Life of Williams.) South calls him 'blind adder,' and accuses him of pride and arrogance.
Of the merits of Paradise Lost, Dryden spoke warmly, and he followed up his praise by an imitation of it in his State of Innocence. But the general reception of the great poem was indifferent. Here and there we find a tribute (generally anonymous) in the verses of the time, but we have the testimony of Dennis (confirmed by that of Blackmore) that the book had been printed forty years before its existence was known to the greater part of Milton's countrymen. From this apathy and ignorance they were roused by the criticism of Addison to the perusal of a work so repeatedly and prominently brought before them in the pages of their favourite Spectator.