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Grant of Letters of Administration to the widow Elizabeth'.
Die 25. Februarii 1678.
JOHANNES MILTON. Vicesimo quinto
Die Februarii emanavit Commissio
The reader will compare these dow Elizabeth seized, and only evidences with the printed ac gave one hundred pounds to counts of Milton's biographers each of his three daughters. Of on this subject; who say, that this widow, Philips relates, rather he sold his library before his harshly, that she persecuted his death, and left his family fifteen children in his life time, and hundred pounds, which his wi- cheated them at his death.
These seem to have been the grounds upon which Milton's Nun. cupative Will was pronounced invalid. First, there was wanting what the Civil Law terms a rogatio testium, or a solemn bidding of the persons present, to take notice that the words he was going to deliver were to be his Will. The Civil Law requires this form, to make men's verbal declarations operate as Wills; otherwise, they are to be presumed to be words of common calling or loose conversation. And the Statute of the twenty-ninth of Charles the Second [c. iii.] has adopted this rule; as may be seen in the 19th clause of that Statute, usually called the Statuie of Frauds, which passed in the year 1676, two years after Milton's death. Secondly, the words here attested by the three witnesses, are not words delivered at the same time; but one witness speaks to one declaration made at one
time, and another to another declaration made at another time. And although the declarations are of similar import, this circumstanice will not satisfy the demands of the Law; which requires, that the three witnesses who are to support a Nuncupative Will
, must speak to the identical words uttered at one and the same time. There is yet another requisite in Nuncupative Wills, which is not found here ; namely, that the words be delivered in the last sickness of a party: whereas the words here attested appear to have been delivered when the party was in a tolerable state of health, at least under no immediate danger of death. On these principles we may presume Sir Leoline Jenkins to bave acted in the rejection of Milton's Will: although the three witnesses apparently told the truth in what they deposed. The Judge, deciding against the Will, of course decreed administration of the Intestate's effects to the widow
For an investigation of these papers in the Prerogative Registry, for an explanation of their nature and purport, and of other technical difficulties which they present to one unacquainted with the records and more ancient practice of the Prerogative Court in testamentary proceedings, I must confess myself indebted to the kind attention and friendship of Sir William Scott.
There are other papers in the Commons belonging to this business: but as they are mere forms of law, as they throw no new light on the cause, and furnish no anecdotes of Milton and his family, they are here omitted.
QUI legis Amissam Paradisum, grandia magni
Carmina Miltoni, quid nisi cuncta legis? Res cunctas, et cunctarum primordia rerum,
Et fata, et fines continet iste liber. Intima panduntur magni penetralia mundi,
Scribitur et toto quicquid in orbe latet: Terræque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum,
Sulphureumque Erebi, flammivomumque specus: Quæque colunt terras, pontumque, et Tartara cæca,
Quæque colunt summi lucida regna poli:
Et sine fine Chaos, et sine fine Deus:
In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
Quæ canit, et quanta prælia dira tuba!
cælestes pugna deceret agros ! Quantus in æthereis tollit se Lucifer armis !
Atque ipso graditur vix Michaele minor!
Quantis, et quam funestis concurritur iris,
Dum ferus hic stellas protegit, ille rapit!
Et non mortali desuper igne pluunt:
Et metuit pugnæ non superesse suæ.
Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Admistis flammis insonuere polo:
Et cassis dextris irrita tela cadunt;
penas fugiunt, et ceu foret Orcus asylum, Infernis certant condere se tenebris. Cedite Romani Scriptores, cedite Graii, Et quos
fama recens vel celebravit anus. Hæc quicunque leget tantum cecinisse putabit
Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.
SAMUEL BARROW, M. D.
WHEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
Yet as I read, still growing less severe,
Or if a work so infinite he spann'd, Jealous I was that some less skilful hand (Such
as disquiet always what is well,
Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor despise