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learned foreigners, the scheme of life, which we have noticed, could, at this juncture, have been very imperfectly followed. During the fourteen years, which intervened between his dismission from office and his death, the arrangement of his time would experience little disturbance; though his solitude was far from complete, and he was still followed by the attentions of the world.
When he was, in a great degree, deserted by his thankless countrymen, he continued to be gratified with the notices of illustrious strangers; to whom, on their visits to our island, he still formed the principal object of curiosity and regard. Under the usurpation of Cromwell, many had been allured from the continent by the sole wish of seeing the
Several of these visits of persons, eminent for their talents or their quality, he is said to have received, as he was sitting before his door, in a grey coat of coarse cloth, in warm sultry weather to enjoy the fresh air: and Richardson, who relates this circumstance, proceeds to tell us." And very lately I had the good fortune to have another picture of him from an ancient clergyman in Dorsetshire, Dr. Wright. He found him in a small house, he thinks but one room on a floor; in that, up one pair of stairs, which was hung with rusty green, he found John Milton, sitting in an elbow chair, black cloaths, and neat enough, pale but not cadaverous, his hands and fingers gouty, and with chalk stones. Among other discourse he expressed himself to this purpose, that was he free from the pain this gave him, his blindness would be tolerable." Richard. Remarks, &c. p.iv.
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two extraordinary, but unequal and dissimilar characters who held, with so much ability and effect, the sceptre and the Britain; and some, as Wood assures us, had visited, with a feeling almost of religious veneration, the house in Bread Street, which had been hallowed as it were, by the birth of the renowned literary defender of the republic."
Of this great man the manners are universally allowed to have been affable and graceful, the conversation, chearful, instructive and engaging. In his whole deportment, however, there was visible a certain dignity of mind; and a something of conscious superiority, which could not, at all times, be suppressed or wholly withdrawn from observation. His temper was grave, without any taint of melancholy: sanguine
* Fasti Oxon. p. 266. His youngest daughter, Deborah, (Mrs. Clark,) when speaking of him, many years after his death, to the numerous euquirers, whom his fame brought to her, affirmed that “ he was delightful company; the life of the conversation, not only on account of his flow of subject but of his unaffected cheerfulness and civility.”* Francis Junius, the author of De Picturâ Veterum, says, as we have already noticed, t that Milton, with whom he was intimate, was affable and polite; and N.Heinsius mentions the general report of his being a man of a mild and courteous disposition, « Virum esse miti comique ingenio, aiunt." 1
in it, could
might well |
of his oppor
* Richard. Remarks, p. xxxvi.
I P. Burman. Syloge Episto. tom, iii. p. 618.
to his cause
† P. 342.
and bold in the conception of his purposes, impetuous yet persevering in their execution. Ardent in kindness and vehement in l'esentment, he was inflexible only in the former; and his friendships were permanent while his enmities were transitory. Of the facility and the heartiness with which he could forgive, his conduct to the Powells exhibits a memorable instance; and no circumstance of his life can be adduced to convict him of that severity and moroseness of which he has been rashly or maliciously accused. The brutal ferocity of his political assailants offers a full justification of the means which he employed in his defence; and if his
weapons were more sharp or were wielded by a more vigorous arm, their's were aimed with all the deadliness and were infected with all the venom which their inferior powers supply. In a contest with the insolent Salmasius, with the dastardly and scurrilous Du Moulin, the common war of polemics “seemed but a civil game," and the man who, involved in it, could content himself with the arms of the legitimate controversy of the present day, might well be regarded as not less ignorant of his opponents, than wanting to himself and to his cause.
In his domestic intercourse, Milton has
not been suspected of deficient tenderness to his wives: to his first his conduct seems at least to have been exempt from blame; to his two last to have been distinguished by uniform kindness and affection. His
supposed rigour to his daughters, which has always been asserted on very defective or very questionable testimony, has of late, been entirely disproved by the attestations, attached to the nuncupative will of which we have already spoken. From the whole of the evidence, old and new, which is now before us, we know that z two of Milton's daughters were taught to read several languages, without un: derstanding what they were reading, for the purpose of being useful to him, and that one of them was frequently employed as his amanuensis: that, on their expressing their dislike of theseoccupations in the serviceof their blind father, he dispensed with their assistance, and, expending a large part of his moderate income on their education,"he dismissed them
spoke of her
and, on being! resembled hi
port, “ 'Tis n
an expressio not likely to sensible of in severity. Sh been her fath perhaps, beet sisters; but it testimony of
z The eldest, Anne, was excused from reading on account of an imperfection in her speech.
a « Further this deponent saith, that she hath several times heard the said deceased, (John Milton) since the time deposed, declare and say, that he had made provision for his children in his life-time, and had spent the greatest part of his estate in providing for them, &c." (See Nunc. Will of Milton, Appen, to Warton's ed. of M. Juvenile Poems, p. xxxvii.)
b The working on this occasion one of the chief
Warton's AF Wart, Appe
to tasks better adapted to their inclinations and their sex:that with peculiar inhumanity
they neglected him in his blindness, and were been compte capable even of defrauding or robbing “ him: 20
that, with all these provocations, the injured father complained, it is true, of his children, but complained of them without passion;' and seems never to have treated them with harsh
After the intervention of many years the youngest of these ladies, Mrs. Clarke, ? spoke of her father with great tenderness, COMO and, on being shown a portrait which strongly
resembled him, she exclaimed with transport, “ 'Tis
56 "Tis my father! 'tis my dear father!” an expression of affectionate remembrance not likely to break from the lips of a child sensible of injuries, and irritated by causeless severity. She is reported, indeed, to have been her father's favourite, and, she had not, perhaps, been so deep in undutifulness as her sisters; but it must be recollected that on the testimony of this daughter's daughter alone, Mrs. Foster I mean, has been supported all that charge of domestic tyranny, with which
" che per og
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b The working of embroidery in gold and silver is specified on this occasion by Philips :--an art which, at that time, formed one of the chief employments of females of rank and fortune.
c Warton's Appendix, p. xxxiii. d Wart. Append. p. xxxix. • Wart. Append. p. xxxiii. f Richards. Remarks, &c.