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in his middle age he was best pleased with the Independents and Anabaptists, as allowing greater liberty of conscience than others, and coming nearest in his opinion to the primitive practice; in the latter part of his life he was not a professed member of any particular sect of Christians, he frequented no public worship, nor used any religious rite in his family. Whether so many different forms of worship as he had seen, had made him indifferent to all forms; or whether he thought that all Christians had in some things corrupted the purity and simplicity of the Gospel ; or whether he disliked their endless and uncharitable disputes, and that love of dominion and inclination to persecution, which he said was a piece of popery inseparable from all churches ; or whether he believed, that a man might be a good Christian without joining in any communion; or whether he did not look upon himself as inspired, as wrapt up in God, and above all forins and ceremonies, it is not easy to determine : to his own master he standeth or falleth: but if he was of any denomination, he was a sort of a Quietist, and was full of the interior of religion though he so little regarded the exterior; and it is certain was to the last an enthusiast rather than an infidel. As enthusiasm made Norris a poet, so poetry might make Milton an enthusiast.
His circumstances were never very mean, nor very great; for he lived above want, and was not intent upon accumulating wealth ; his ambition was more to enrich and doin his mind. His father supported
him in his travels, and for some time after. Tien his pupils must have been of some advantage to him, and brought him either a certain stipend or considerable presents at least; and he had scarcely any other method of improving his fortune, as he was of no profession. When his father died, he inherited an elder son's share of his estate, the principal part of which I believe was his house in Bread-Street: and not long after, he was appointed Latin Secretary with a salary of 2001. a year; so that he was now in
opulent circumstances for a man, who had always led a frugal and temperate life, and was at little unnecessary expence besides buying of books. Though he was of the victorious party, yet he was far from sharing in the spoils of his country. On the contrary, (as we learn from his second Defence) he sustained great losses during the civil war, and was not at all favoured in the imposition of taxes, but sometimes paid beyond his due proportion. And upon a turn of affairs he was not only deprived of his place, but also lost 20001. which he had for security and improvement put into the Excise Office. He lost likewise another considerable sum for want of proper care and management, as persons of Milton's genius are seldom expert in money matters. In the fire of London his house in Bread-Street was burnt, before which accident foreigners have gone out of devotion (says Wood) to see the house and chamber where he was born. His gains were inconsiderable in proportion to his losses; for excepting the thousand
pounds, which were given him by the government for writing his Defence of the people against Salmasius, we may conclude that he got very little by the copies of his works, when it doth not appear that he received any more than ten pounds for Paradise Lost. Some time before he died he sold the greatest part of his library, as his heirs were not qualified to make a proper use of it, and as he thought that he could dispose of it to greater advantage than they could after his decease. Finally, by one means or other he died worth one thousand five hundred pounds besides his household goods, which was no incompes tent subsistence for him, who was as great a philosopher as a poet.
To this account of Milton it may be proper to add something concerning his family. We said before,. that he had a younger brother and a sister. His brother Christopher Milton was a man of totally oppo. site principles ;
was a strong royalist, and after the civil war made his composition through his brother's interest; had been entered young a student in the Inner Temple, of which house he lived to be an ançient bencher; and being a professed papist, was in the reign of James II. made a judge and knighted; but scon obtained his quietus by reason of his age. and infirmities, and retired to Ipswich, where he lived all the latter part of his life. His sister Anne Milton had a considerable foitune given her by her father in marriage with Nir. Edward Philips (son of Mr. Edward Philips of Shrewsbury) who coming
young to London was bred up in the Crown Office in Chancery, and at length became seconday of the office under Mr. Bembo. By him she liac, besides other children who died infants, two sons, Edward and John, whom we have had frequent occasion to mention before. Anong our author's juvenile poems there is a copy
verses on the death of a fair infant, a nephew, or rather niece of his, dying of a cough; and this being written in his 17th year, as it is said in the title, it may be naturally inferred that Mrs. Philips was elder than either of her brothers. She had like. wise two daugliters, Mary who died very young, and Anne who was living in 1694, by a second husband Mr. Thomas Agar, who succeeded his intimate friend Mr. Philips in his place in the Crown Office, which he enjoyed many years, and left to Mr. Thomas Milton, son of Sir Christopher before mentioned.
As for Milton himself he appears to have been no enemy to the fair sex by having had three wives. What fortune he had with any of them is no wliere said, hut they were gentlemen's daughters; and it is remarkable that he married them all maidens, for (as he says in his Apology for Smectymnuus, which was written before he married at all) he“ thought with them, who both in prudence and elegance of spirit would choose a virgin of mean fortunes honestly bred before the wealthiest widow.” But yet he seemeth not to have been very happy in any of his marriages; for his first wife had justly offended
tim by her long absence and separation from himn; the second, whose love, sweetness and goodness he coiniends, lived not a twelvemonth with him; and his third wife is said to have been a woman of a most sizlent spirit, and a hard mother-in-law to his chil. dren. She died very old, about twenty years ago, at Nantwich in Cheshire ; and from the accounts of those who had seen her, I have learned, that she confirined several things which have been related before; and particularly that her husband used to compose his poetry chiefy 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, Shakespear, 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 rimist: 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, that