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On his return, he took a house in Aldersgate Street, where he superintended the education of nephew by his sister, and also received other young gentlemen to be boarded and instructed.
In his 35th year, he married Mary the daughter of Richard Powel, Efq; but a 'paration, or rather desertion on the wife's part, took place in a month after the ceremony. On her refusing to return, in defiance of repeated requisitions, Milton was fo provoked, that lie was induced to publish several Tresa tifes on the doctrine of Divorce; and also to pay his adfretles to a young lady of great wit and beauty. A reconciliation was the consequence; for his wifu, in an unexpected interview, throwing herself wat his feet, implored and obtained forgiveness. Impreffud with this event, he is fuid to have conceived the pathetic scene in Paradise Loft, in which live addresiuth berfulí to Adam for pardon and peace.
From this period to the restoration, our Author was so deeply engaged in the controverlies of the times, that he found no leisure for polite learning. The Allegro and Pensuroso however appeared in a collection of Latin and English Poems published in 1645. These delightful pieces are undoubtedly the two best descriptive poems that ever were written. Had he left no other monuments but Comus, Lycidas, and this matchless pair, yet would they alone be sufficient to render his name immortal. They were however little noticed on their publication, and remained for near a century disregarded, oc at least scarcely knownt, while his Polemical Tracts, now only in their titles remembered, made their Author's fortane, and spread his fame over Europe. Of these, the most celebrated is his Deferfia pre Populo Anglicano, in anfwer to Salmasius, Professor of Police Learning at Leyden, who was employed by Charles II. when in exile, to write the Defenfio Regis. Milton's piece was fo fevere, and so much admired, that it is faid to have killed his antagonist with vexation. For this Tract, he was rewarded with a thousand pounds, a sum twenty times greater than he made by all his poetical works put together! and was also promoted to be Latin Secretary to the Protector. But for his intellectual acquifitions he paid dear; a gutta serena for some time affected his fight, and he now became totally blind. At this period too, he lost his wife in child-bed, who left him three daughters. He soon, however, married again, Catharine daughter of a Captain Woodcock; but the also died in child-bed, within a year after they were married.
On the Restoration, he was obliged to quit his house, together with his employment, and to secrete himself in an obscure abode in Bartholomew Close. His friends had some difficulty to prevent him from being excepted in the act of oblivion ; to lull research, and to gain time, třey used the expedient of a mock funeral. By the act of oblivion he was at length freed from danger; his Polemical writings only were burnt by the hands of the common hangman.
From Bartholomew Close he removed to Jewrio Street, and married a third wife, Elizabeth Minsur, of a gentleman's family in Cheshire.
He was now in his 52d year, blind, infirm, and poor; for he loft bis paternal property by the civil wars, and his acquired by the Restoration. But neither his infirmities, nor the vicissitudes of Fortune, could depress the vigour of his mind, or prevent him from executing a design he had long conceived, of writing an Heroic Poem,
The great work of Paradise Loft was finished in 1665, at Chalfont in Backs, where the Author hail taken refuge from the plague, and published in 1667, when he returned to London.. He told the copy to Samuel Simmons for Five Pounds in hand, Five Pounds more when 1300 should be fold, and the same fum on the publication of the second and third Editions, for each edition. Of this agreement Milton received in all Fifteen Pounds; and his widow afterwards sold her claims for Eight.
Such was the first reception of a Work that constitutes the glory and boast of English Literature ;a Work that, notwithstanding the severity of criticism, may be ranked among the nobleft efforts of human genius; for though in variety of character and choice of subject, it may yield to some, yet in grandeur and sublimity it is confessedly superior to all. The nreasure of this Divine Poem is blank verse; between which and rhyme there are endless disputes for pre-eminence : but surely the essential qualities of Poetry can no more depend on either, than those of a man on the fashion of his clothes,
Doctor Johnson, who could not endure blank verse, yet confefses, that “ He could not prevail on himself to wish that Milton had been a rhymer."
Paradise Lost, however, is not without faults; perfection in this life is unattainable. The attempt of the Author to give language and sentiments to the Deity, is where he fecnus to have mofs
failed in the execution : But in such an attempt, what mortal could have succeeded? Other excepsoas it has also endured in passing the fiery ordeal of Dr. Johnson's criticism, who seems to have extended his abfurd dislike the man to his writings. Yet every reader capable of relishing true Poetry will agree with him in concluding, “ That this work is not the greatest of Heroic Poems,
only because it is not the first.”
Three years after the publication of Paradise Lost, the author published Sampson Agonistes, a Tragedy, in the purelt stile of the Greek Drama, and Paradise Regained, which he is said to have preferred to his great work, but in which preference he remains alone.
Paradise Regained hath suffered much in the comparison; it is obscured by the splendour of Paradise Loft, as the lustre of the morning star is absorbed in the ineridian blaze; but had any other than Milton been the author, it would have claimed and received universal praise.
Our great author, now quite worn out with the gout, paid the debt of nature on the roth of November 1674, in his 66th year, at his house in Bunhill-Fields, and was buried in St. Giles's, Cripplegate; his funeral was splendidly and numerously attended. He left 1500 1. to his family; a proof, notwithstanding his great losles, that he never was in indigence.
A imali monument, with his bust, has been erected, not long since, to his memory, in Westminster Abbey.
Milton, in ftature, did not exceed the middle íze, but was formed with perfect symmetry, and was, moreover, in his youth, eminently beautiful; of which many portraits yet to be seen, as well as the following epigram of the Marquis of Villa, are incontestible proofs:
Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, fi Pietas sic;
Non Anglus, verum hercle Angelus ipse fores. Taich (omitting the exception of his religion) may be thus rendered :
So perfect thou, in mind, in forni and face ;
Thou'rt not of English, but Angelic race. of his habits-he was abitemious in his diet, and naturally difiked all strong liquors : In his youth te studied late, but afterwards reversed his hours. His amusements consisted in the conversation of His friends, and in music, in which he was a proficient. After he became blind, he was aslisted in his studies by his daughters, whom he taught to read Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, without their underlanding any of them; and for transcribing, he employed any casual acquaintance.
His literature was great; he was a perfect master of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish ; of the English Poets, he preferred Spencer, Shakespeare and Cowley. His political principles were republican, and his theological opinions tended to Arminianism. His deportment was erect, spen, affable; his conversation casy, cheeríul, and instructive ; his wit, on all occasions, at command, facetious, grave, or satirical, as the subject required; his judgment just and penetrating ; his apprekenfion quick; his memory tenacious of what he read; his reading only not so extensive as his stils, for that was universal. With so many accomplishments, not to have faults and missortunes to be laid in the balance, with the fame and felicity of writing Paridite Loft, would have been too great a portion for humanit;.
PARADISUM AMISSA M
Dum ferus hic stellas protegit, ille rapit !
Dam vulsos montes seu tela reciproca torquent, Et fata, et fines continet ifte liber.
Et non mortali defuper igne pluunt : Intima panduntur magni penctralia mundi,
Stat dubius cui se parti concedat Olympus, Scribitur et toto quicquid in orbe latet :
Et metuit pugnæ non superesse suæ. Terræque, tradufque maris
, cælemque profundum, At simul in cælis Melliz insignia fulgent,' Sulphureumque Erebi, flammivomusque fpecus : Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo, Quæque colunt terras, potumque et Tartara cæca, Horendumque rotæ strident, et læva rotarum Quæque colunt summi lucida regna poli:
Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Admistis flammis insonuere polo :
Excidit attonitis mens omnis, et impetus omnis, In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Et callis dextris irrita tela cadunt; Hæc qui speraret quis crederet efle futura ? Ad pænas fugiunt, et ceu foret Orcus asylum, Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
Infernis certant condere se tenebris. O quantos in bella duces! quæ protulit arma! Cedite Romani scriptores, cedite Graii, Qux canit, et quanta prælia dira tuba!
Et quos fama recens vel celebravit annus. Calcites acies! atque in certamine cælum! Hæc quicunque leget tantum cecinilse putabit Et quæ cæleftes pugna deceret acros!
Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.
SAMUEL BARROW, M. D.
ON PARADISE LOST.
TREN I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
Yet as I read, full growing less severe,
Or if a work so infinite he spann'd,
Pardon me, mighty poet! nor despise
So that no room is here for writers left,
That majesty whichthrough thy work dothreign,
Where couldst thou wordsof such a compass find?
Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure
THE measure is English heroic verse without rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek, and Virgil in Latin ;
ryhme being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre ; grac'd indeed since by the use of fome famous modern poets, carried away by cislom, but much to tbeir own vexation, bindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and for the most part, worse tban else they would bave expressed them. Not without cause, therefore, some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note, bave rejected rhyme both in longer and sborter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judio sious ears, trivial, and of no true mufical delight; whicb confifts only in apt numbers, fit quantity of Jyllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect, then, of rhyme, fa little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be efecte ed an example fet, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to beroic poem, from tbe troublesome and modern bondage of rbyming.