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no memorial ; but in our time a monument has been erected in Westminster-Abbey To the Author of Paradise Lost, by Mr. Benson, who has in the inscription bestowed more words upon himself than
When the inscription for the monument of Philips, in which he was said to be soli Miltono secundus, was exhibited to Dr. Sprat, then dean of Westminster, he refused to admit it; the name of Milton was, in his opinion, too detestable to be read on the wall of a building dedicated to devotion. Atterbury, who succeeded him, being author of the inscription, permitted its reception. . And such has been the change of public opinion,' said Dr. Gregory, from whom I heard this account, that I have seen erected in the church a
statue of that man, whose name I once knew considered as a pollution of its walls.'
Milton has the reputation of having been in his youth eminently beautiful, so as to have been called the Lady of his college. His hair, which was of a light brown, parted at the fore-top, and hung down upon his shoulders, according to the picture which he has given of Adam. He was, however, not of the heroic stature, but rather below the middle size, according to Mr. Richardson, who mentions him as having narrowly escaped from being short and thick. He was vigorous and active, and delighted in the exercise of the sword, in which he is related to have been eminently skilful. His weapon was, I believe, not the sapier, but the back-sword, of which he recommends the use in his book on Education.
His eyes are said never to have been bright; bue, if he was a dexterous fencer, they must have been once quick.
His domestic habits, so far as they are known, were those of a severe student. He drank little strong drink of any kind, and fed without excess in quantity, and in his earlier years without deli cacy of choice. In his youth he studied late at night; but afterwards changed his hours, and rested in bed from nine to four in the summer, and five in the winter. The course of his day was best known after he was blind. When he first rose, he heard a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and then studied till twelve; then took some exercise for an hour; then dined, then played on the organ, and sang, or heard another sing; then studied to sis; then entertained his visitors till eight; then supped, and, after a pipe of tobacco and a glass of water, went to bed.
So is his life described; but this even tenor appears attainable only in Colleges. He that lives in the world will sometimes have the succession of bis practice broken and confused. Visitors, of whom Milion is represented to have had great numbers, will come and stay unseasonably; business, of which every man has some, must be dore when others will do it.'
When he did not care to rise early, he had something read to him by his bedside; perhaps at this time his daughters were employed. He composed much in the morning, and dictated in the day, sitting obliquely in an elbow-chair, with his leg thrown over the arm. Fortune appears not to have had much of his
In the civil wars he lent his personal estate to the parliament; but when, after the contest was decided, he solicited re-payment, he met not only with neglect, but sharp rebuke ; and, having tired both himself and his friends, was given up to poverty and hopeless indignation, till he shewed how able he was to do greater service. He was then made Latin secretary, with two hundred pounds a year; and had a thousand pounds for his Defence of the People. His widow, who, after his death, retired to Namptwich in Cheshire, and died about 1729, is said to have reported that he lost two thousand pounds by entrusting it to a scrivener ; and that, in the general depredation upon the Church, he had grasped an estate of about sixty pounds a year belonging to Westminster-Abbey, which, like other sharers of the plunder of rebel lion, he was afterwards obliged to return. Two thousand pounds, which he had placed in the Excise office, were also lost. There is yet no reason to believe that he was ever reduced to indigence. His wants, being few, were competently supplied. He sold his library before his death, and left his
family fifteen hundred pounds, on which his widow laid hold, and only gave one hundred to each of his daughters.
His literature was unquestionably great. He read all the languages which are considered either as learned or polite; Hebrew, with its cwo dialects, Greek, Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish. In Latin his skill was such as places him in the first rank of writers and critics; and he appears to have cultivated Italian with uncommon diligence. The books in which his daughter, who used to read to him, represented him as most delighting, after Homer, which he could almost repeat, were Ovid's Metamorphoses and Euripides. His Euripides is, by Mr. Cradock's kindness, now in my hands: the margin is sometimes noted : but I have found nothing remarkable.
Of the English poets he set most value upon Spenser, Shakspeare, and Cowley. Spenser was apparently his favorite: Shakspeare he may easily be supposed to like, with every other skilful reader ; but I should not have expected that Cowley, whose ideas of excellence were so different from his own, would have had much of his approbation. His character of Dryden, who sometimes visited him, was, that he was a good rhymist, but no poet.
His theological opinions are said to have been first Calvinistical; and afterwards, perhaps when ke began to hale the Presbytesians, to bave tended towards Arminianism. In the mixed questions of theology and govemment, he never thinks that he can recede far enough from popery, or prelacy; but what Baudius says of Erasmus seems applicable to him, magis habuit quod fugeret,' quam quod sequeretur. He had determined rather what to condemn, than what to approve. He has not associated himself with any denomination of Pro. testants : we know rather what he was not than what he was.
He was not of the Church of Rome; he was not of the Church of England.
To be of no church is dangerous. Religion, of which the rewards are distant, and which is animated only by Faith and Hope, will glide by degrees out of the mind, unless it be invigorated and reimpressed by external ordinances, by stated calls to worship, and the salutary influence of example. Milton, who appears to have had a full conviction of the truth of Christianity, and to have regarded the Holy Scriptures with the profoundest veneration, to have been untainted by any heretical peculiarity of opinion, and to have lived in a confirmed belief of the immediate and occasional agency of Providence, yet grew old without any visible worship. In the distribution of his hours, there was no hour of prayer, either solitary, or with his household; omitting public prayers, he omitted all.
Of this omission the reason has been sought, upon a supposition which ought never to be made;