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of Shakespeare, of Spenser? Almost nothing. Of Torquato Tasso and a few others we know somewhat more, yet still comparatively little. And perhaps—though we are far from asserting it of Milton—it is better for the fame of great writers that their history should be involved in a kind of mythic envelope, and that thus, like superior beings, they should be known to the after-world only by the products of their creative genius. We say this, knowing no human being to be exempt from imperfection, and judging by the effects of some of the copious biographies of modern times.



The eldest child of John Milton of Bread-street of whom we have any account was a daughter named Anne. Of the date of her birth we are not informed,* but as she had a child before her brother John had completed his seventeenth year, she was probably at least two or three years older than he was; and we may therefore venture to place her birth in the year 1605 or 1606. Her father gave her in marriage, with a handsome fortune,-probably in the year 1624,-to Mr. Edward Phillips, a native of Shrewsbury; who, having come up young to London, as his son tells us, had obtained in process of time the lucrative office of Secondary in the Crown Office in the Court of Chancery. Of his age at that time we have no information, but he was probably not very young, as he did not survive his marriage many years. Beside the daughter who died soon after her birth, and whose memory has been embalmed by the genius of her youthful uncle, they had two sons, named Edward and John; the former born in 1630, the latter about a year later, of whom we will presently treat more at large; and it is not improbable that in the interval between 1625 and 1630 they lost another child or two. We are completely in the dark also as to the time of the death of Mr. Phillips ; but in 1639, when our poet returned from his travels, his sister was, and may have been for some time, married to Mr. Agar, a friend of her first husband's, and his successor in the Crown Office. By him she had two daughters,—Mary, who died young, and Anne, who was living in 1694 when her brother Edward was writing the life of his illustrious kinsman. It is from this narrative that we have derived all our information respecting his mother, and here his communications end. Perhaps we might infer from her brother's verses on the death of her child that Mrs. Phillips was an amiable woman.

* Todd informs us that her birth is not to be found in the register of Allhallows, and assigns as a reason that she may have been born before her father settled in Bread-street. See above, p. 3.


The only surviving child of John Milton, beside his daughter Anne and his son John, was a son named Christopher, born, as it would appear,* toward the end of November, in the year 1615, and therefore seven years younger than his brother John. His father, who, as we have seen, had destined his elder son for the Church, put his younger to the legal profession, and he became a barrister-at-law. He was, like most of his profession, a Royalist in principle. He established himself in the town of Reading in Berkshire ; and, probably soon after the departure of his brother John for

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* Todd quotes from the register of Allhallows :-“The third daye of December, 1615, was baptized CHRISTOPHER, the sonne of John Mylton of this pishe, scrivenor."

the Continent, his father, averse to loneliness, went to reside with him. When Reading surrendered in 1643, to the troops of the Parliament, the old gentleman went up to the house of his son John in London, where he spent his few remaining years. Christopher, who it appears was by no means inactive in the Royal cause, went then to Exeter , and was in it when it surrendered, on the 13th of April, 1646, on which occasion he was obliged to compound for his delinquency. The following is his composition-paper, preserved in the State Paper Office :-

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Christopher Milton, of Reddinge, in the County of Berks, Esq., Councellor at Lawe. His Delinquency, that he was a Commissioner for the Kinge, under the Great Seale of Oxford, for sequestringe the Parliament's friends of three Counties; and afterwards went to Excester and lived there, and was there at the tyme of the surrender, and is to have the benefitt of those Articles, as by the Deputy Governor's Certificate of that place of the 16th of May, 1646, doth appeare. He hath taken the Nationall Covenant before William Barton, Minister of John Zacharies, the 20th of April, 1646, and the Negative Oath heere the 8th August, 1646. He compounds upon a Perticular delivered in under his hand, by which he doth submit to such fine, etc., and by which it doth

appeare :

“ That he is seized in fee, to him and his heirs in possession, of and in a certain Messuage or Tenement scituate in St. Martin's Parish, Ludgate, called the Signe of the Crosse Keys, and was of the Yeerly Value, before theis troubles, £40. Personal estate he hath none.


Fine at 3d. is £200. 25th August, 1646,


“ Signed {

Signed {

We may see from this that the conscience of Christopher Milton was not a very rigid one. He took the Covenant without much apparent hesitation; yet it did


not secure him from what seems to be rather a heavy fine,-five years' income at what had been the value of his property before the war, and which must have been then somewhat reduced. Phillips tells us that his

composition was made by the help of his brother's interest ;” but this appears to us to be an unwarranted assertion. Phillips was rather prone to exalting the political consideration of his more distinguished uncle, and we are not aware that Milton had any interest in 1646, and no extraordinary favour seems to have been shown to the delinquent. As Exeter was surrendered, not taken, it was of course agreed, that the Royalists of property in it should be allowed to compound for their estates.

A question arises,—how did Christopher Milton get this property in Ludgate? The simplest solution seems to be, that his father purchased it and gave it to him, either when commencing his law studies, or at the time of his marriage, intending to leave the bulk of his property to his eldest son. That Christopher was early in good circumstances is clear; for, as we have seen, in 1645, when he was only in his thirtieth year, he is said to have been married many years before.*

The last mention of his case in the public documents of those times is, that "it was reported, 21 December, 1649, and that [as already noticed] the fine was £200.” In exacting so large a sum, it is very likely that a view was had to his professional gains.

We hear nothing further of Christopher Milton for the next five-and-twenty years. In the summer of 1674, as we have seen, he called to take leave of his brother, previous to his going down to the country; and in his

* See above, p. 41.

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