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In the idea of Milton liberty was associated with the perfection of his species; and he pursued the great object with the enthusiasm of benevolence, and with the consciousness of obedience to a high and imperious duty. Against tyranny, or the abuse of power, wherever it occurred and by whatever party it was attempted, in the church or the state, by the prelate or the presbyter, he felt himself summoned to contend. From his continuance in office under the usurpation of Cromwell he has been arraigned of inconsistency, and a dereliction of principle. But, not to repeat what has already been advanced upon the subject, his office did not, in any way,
blend him with the usurpation; he had no connexion with the confidence or the counsels of the Protector; and he conceived, with the most perfect truth, that he was the servant of his country when he acted as the organ of her intercourse with foreign states. We have seen his magnanimous address to the usurper; and from some of his private letters we may collect his acute feelings of mortification and disappointment in consequence of the afflicted state of the commonwealth, and the abandonment of that cause which was always the most near to his heart.
the usefulnes ship; and in criminal: bu
must be mea
som of the
The greater part of the premises, from which these conclusions are not, after all, very fairly drawn, rests upon nothing more than the weakness of negative evidence.
The fact of Milton's not frequenting, in the latter period of his life, any place of public worship, may possibly, though still with caution, be admitted on the single testimony of Toland: but the cause of this fact may more properly be sought in the blindness and infirmities which, for some of his last years, confined the great author to his house, than in any disgust, with which he had been affected by 'a nearer insight into the imperfections of the contending sects. On any determination of this question, narrow must be the mind of that man who can suspect the devotion of Milton merely because it was not exercised within the consecrated precincts of a church.' We are fully aware of
good man 1 with as stro in the Lybial Paul's.
For Mill family or by but what res graphers; ar no evidence out that ad closet, whic privileged f
I When I speak of the diffidence with which Toland's testimony, in this instance, ought to be received, I refer to those unhappy prepossessions on the subject of religion, with which this respectable biographer is known to have been biassed; and which would naturally induce him to lessen the distance, as much as he possibly could, in this essential respect, between Milton and himself. If it could be proved that Milton in his latter days had contracted a general indifference for religion, a great point would be carried for the cause of infidelity.
day were re sured, to re and of the tion, it is b part was as ing immed ther of Me we know t pils into the
and we ca selves to b his childi
the usefulness and the duty of public worship; and in us the omission of it would be criminal: but the degree of the obligation must be measured by the standard in the bosom of the individual; and we know that a good man may offer his homage to God, with as strong an assurance of acceptance, in the Lybian desert as in the cathedral of St. Paul's.
For Milton's disuse of all prayer, in his family or by himself, no evidence is pretended but what results from the silence of his biographers; and for a part of the alledged fact, no evidence could have been obtained without that admission to the privacies of his closet, which would be denied to the most privileged friendship. The first hours of his day were regularly devoted, as we are assured, to religious reading and meditation; and of the time, thus appropriated to devotion, it is but reasonable to conclude that a part was assigned to petition and thanksgiving immediately addressed to the great Father of Mercies. With respect to his family, we know that he carefully initiated his pupils into the principles of Christian theology; and we cannot, without violence, bring ourselves to believe that he would withhold from his children that momentous instruction,
idea of the hu
in moral and and distingui vourites and
terest to ever him; and na the fortunes d daughters, w his first wife handsome fal
which he so sedulously imparted to persons, more remotely connected with him. On the supposition, therefore, which is by no means supported by sufficient testimony, of his neglecting to summon his family to regular and formal prayer, I am far from certain that he can be convicted of any violent omission of duty; for, having impressed their minds with a just sense of the relation in which they stood to their Creator, he might allowably withdraw his interference, and leave them to adjust their homage and their petitions to their own feelings and their own wants.
From the materials, which have been left to us on the subject, we have now completed the history of John MILTON,-a man in whom were illustriously combined all the qualities that could adorn, or could elevate the nature to which he belonged ;--a man, who at once possessed beauty of countenance, symmetry of form, elegance of manners, benevolence' of temper, magnanimity and loftiness of soul, the brightest illumination of intellect, knowledge the most various and extended, virtue that never loitered in her career nor deviated from her course:a man, who, if he had been delegated as the representative of his species to one of the superior worlds, would have suggested a grand
ter builder, first lying-in nothing moi least affectio single state; ing her fat some disagre
or four years
a lady, oft and afterwa Weaver in which she imperfect re son, and t Queen Car
she receive promise, accomplish
idea of the human race, as of beings affluent in moral and intellectual treasure-raised and distinguished in the universe as the favourites and heirs of Heaven.
The greatness of Milton imparts an interest to every thing, which is connected with him; and naturally points our curiosity to the fortunes of his descendants. Of the three daughters, whom he left, and who were by his first wife, Anne the eldest, who with a handsome face was deformed, married a master builder, and died, with her child, in her first lying-in: of Mary, the second, we know nothing more than that she discovered the least affection for her father, and died in a single state; and Deborah the youngest, leaving her father's house, in consequence of some disagreement with herstep-mother, three or four years before his decease, accompanied a lady, of the name of Merian, to Ireland, and afterwards married Abraham Clarke, a weaver in Spittlefields. The distress, into which she fell, experienced some late and imperfect relief from the liberality of Addison, and the less splendid munificence of Queen Caroline, from the former of whom she received a handsome donation, with a promise, which death prevented him from accomplishing, of a permanent provision;
a ter at