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poetry chiefly in winter, and on his waking in a morning would make her write down sometimes twenty or thirty verses: and being asked whether he did not often read Homer and Virgil, she understood it as an imputation upon him for stealing from those authors, and answered with eagerness that he stole from nobody but the Muse who inspired him; and being asked by a lady present who the Muse was, replied it was God's grace, and the Holy Spirit that visited him nightly. She was likewise asked whom he approved most of our English poets, and answered Spenser, Shakespeare, and Cowley: and being asked what he thought of Dryden, she said Dryden used sometimes to visit him, but he thought him no poet, but a good rhymist: but this was before Dryden had composed his best poems, which made his name so famous afterwards. She was wont moreover to say, that her husband was applied to by message from the King, and invited to write for the Court, but his answer was,
a Richardson collected still “ ter to secure what came. I more minute information re “ have been also told, he would specting Milton's habits of coin “ dictate many, perhaps forty position.
“ When he dictated, lines, as it were in a breath; “ he sat leaning backward ob “ and then reduce them to half “ liquely in an easy chair, with “ the number. I would not omit “his leg flung over the elbow of “ the least circumstance. These “it; he frequently composed " indeed are trifles; but even
lying in bed in a morning; I “ such contract a sort of great“ have been well informed, that ness,
when related to what is « when he could not sleep, but great.” Remarks, &c. p. cxiv.
lay awake whole nights, he Milton's grand-daughter, in“ tried; not one verse could he deed, asserted, that he would not “ make; at other times flowed allow his daughters to be taught “easy his unpremidated verse, to write; but Aubrey, who was “ with a certain inipetus and personally acquainted with the “ æstro, as himself seemed to Poet, expressly mentions that his “ believe. Then, at what hour youngest daughter was his ania. “ soever, he
rung for his daugh- nuensis, E.
that such a behaviour would be very inconsistent with his former conduct, for he had never yet employed his pen against his conscience. By his first wife he had four children, a son who died an infant, and three daughters who survived him; by his second wife he had only one daughter, who died soon after her mother, who died in childbed; and by his last wife he had no children at all". His daughters were not sent to school, but were instructed by a mistress kept at home for that purpose: and he himself, excusing the eldest on account of an impediment in her speech, taught the two others to read and pronounce Greek and Latin, and several other languages, without understanding any but English, for be used to say that one tongue was enough for a woman; but this employment was very irksome to them, and this together with the sharpness and severity of their mother-in-law made them very Uneasy at home; and therefore they were all sent abroad to learn things more proper for them, and particularly embroidery in gold and silver. As Milton at his death left his affairs very much in the power of his widow, though she acknowledged that he died worth one thousand five hundred pounds, yet she
The births of his children by “ about six of the clock, 1648. his first wife are thus registered My son John was born on Saby himself in the blank leaf of “turday, March the 16th, about his wife's Bible, whence I tran “ half an hour past nine at night, scribed the account. “ Anne, my “ 1650. My daughter Deborah “ daughter, was born July the was born the 2d of May, being 29th, the day of the monthly “Sunday, somewhat before three
fast, between six and seven, or “ of the clock in the morning, " about half an hour after six in “ 1652." Birch. "the evening, 1646. Mary, my • See below, the Nuncupative “ daughter, was born on Wed- Will, and the depositions of the "nesday, October the 25th, on witnesses annexed to it. E. "the fast-day in the morning,
allowed but one hundred pounds to each of his three daughters. Anne the eldest was decrepit and deformed, but had a very handsome face; she married a master-builder, and died in childbed of her first child, who died with her. Mary the second lived and died single. Deborah the youngest in her father's life time went over to Ireland with a lady, and afterwards was married to Mr. Abraham Clarke, a weaver in Spital Fields, and died in August 1727, in the 76th year of
She is said to have been a woman of good understanding and genteel behaviour, though in low circumstances. As she had been often called upon to read Homer and Ovid's Metamorphosis to her father, she could have repeated a considerable number of verses from the beginning of both these poets, as Mr. Ward, Professor of Rhetoric in Gresham College, relates upon his own knowledge: and another gentleman has informed me, that he has heard her repeat several verses likewise out of Euripides. Mr. Addison, and the other gentlemen, who had opportunities of seeing her, knew her immediately to be Milton's daughter by the similitude of her countenance to her father's picture: and Mr. Addison made her a handsome present of a purse of guineas, with a promise of procuring for her some annual provision for her life ; but his death happening soon after, she lost the benefit of his generous design. She received presents likewise from several other gentlemen, and Queen Caroline sent her fifty pounds by the hands of Dr. Freind the physician. She had ten children, seven sons and three daughters ; but none of them had any children, except one of her sons named Caleb, and one of her daughters named
Elizabeth. Caleb went to Fort St. George in the East Indies, where he married, and had two sons, Abraham and Isaac; the elder of whom came to England with the late governor Harrison, but returned upon advice of his father's death, and whether he or his brother be now living is uncertain. Elizabeth, the youngest child of Mrs. Clarke, was married to Mr. Thomas Foster a weaver in Spital Fields, and had seven children who are all dead; and she herself is aged about sixty, and week and infirm. She seemeth to be a good plain sensible woman, and has confirmed several particulars related above, and informed me of some others, which she had often heard from her mother: that her grandfather lost two thousand pounds, by a money-scrivener, whom he had intrusted with that sum, and likewise an estate at Westminster of sixty pounds a year, which belonged to the Dean and Chapter, and was restored to them at the Restoration; that he was very temperate in his eating and drinking, but what he had he always loved to have of the best: that he seldom went abroad in the latter part of his life, but was visited even then by persons of distinction, both foreigners and others: that he kept his daughters at a great distance, and would not allow them to learn to write, which he thought unnecessary for a woman: that her mother was his greatest favourite, and could read in seven or eight languages, though she understood none but English: that her mother inherited his head-aches and disorders, and had such a weakness in
that she was forced to make use of spectacles from the age of eighteen; and she herself, she says, has not been able to read a chapter in the Bible these
twenty years: that she was mistaken in informing Mr. Birch, what he had printed upon her authority, that Milton's father was born in France; and a brother of hers who was then living was very angry with her for it, and like a true-born Englishman resented it highly, that the family should be thought to bear any relation to France: that Milton's second wife did not die in childbed, as Mr. Philips and Toland relate, but above three months after of a consumption; and this too Mr. Birch relates upon her authority; but in this particular she must be mistaken as well as in the other, for our author's sonnet on his deceased wife plainly implies, that she did die in childbed. She knows nothing of her aunt Philips or Agar's descendants, but believes that they are all extinct: as is likewise Sir Christopher Milton's family, the last of which, she says, were two maiden sisters, Mrs. Mary and Mrs. Catharine Milton, who lived and died at Highgate; but unknown to her, there is a Mrs. Milton living in Grosvenor street, [A. D. 1749,] the granddaughter of Sir Christopher, and the daughter of Mr. Thomas Milton before mentioned: and she herself is the only survivor of Milton's own family, unless there be some in the East Indies, which she very much questions, for she used to hear from them sometimes, but has heard nothing now for several years; so that in all probability Milton's whole family will be extinct with her, and he can live only in his writings. And such is the caprice of fortune, this granddaughter of a man, who will be an everlasting glory to the nation, has now for some years with her husband kept a little chandler's or grocer's shop for their subsistence, lately at the lower Holloway in the