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but their mother tongue. This employment, however, was too unpleasant to be continued for any long process of time; and therefore He dismiss'd them to receive an education more agreeable to their sex, and temper.
We come now to take a survey of him in that point of view, in which He will be look'd on by all succeeding ages with equal delight, and admiration. An interval of a. bove twenty years had elaps'd since He wrote the Mask of * Comus, L'Al
* 26. legro, Il Penseroso, and + Ly- An. Æt. cidas; all in such an exquifite strain! that though He had left no other monuments of his Genius behind him, his name had been immortal. But, neither the infirmities of age and constitution, nor the viciffitudes of fortune, cou'd depress the via gor of his mind; or divert it from executing a design 'He had * long conceiv'd of writing an Heroic Poem. The Fall of Man was a subject which He had some years before fix'd on for a Tragedy, which He intended to form by the models of Antiquity: and fome, not without probability, say the Play open'd with that Speech in the fourth Book of PARADISE Lost, ver 32, which is address'd
* Par. Loft. B. 9. V. 26.
by Satan to the Sun. Were it material, I believe I cou'd produce other passages which more plainly appear to have been originally intended for the scene. But whatever truth there
may be in this report, 'tis certain that He did not begin to mold his Subject in the form which it bears now, before He had concluded his controversy with Salmafius and More; when He had wholly loft the use of his eyes; and was forc'd to employ in the office of an Amanuensis any friend who accidentally paid him a visit. Yet, under all these discouragements, and various interrup
tions, in the * Year 1669 He An. Ætat. 61. publish'd his PARADISE Lost ;
the noblest Poem, next to those of Homer and Virgil, that ever the wit of man produc'd in any age or nation. Need I mention any other evidence of its inestimable worth, than that the finest Geniuses who have succeeded him have ever efteem'd it a merit to relish, and illustrate its beauties? Whilst the Critic who gaz’d, with so much wanton malice, on the nakedness of ShakeSpear when he slept, after having + formally declar'd war against it, wanted courage to
* Milton's Contrakt with his Bookseller S. Simmons for the Copy bears Date April 27, 1667.
+ The Tragedies of the laft age confider'd, p. 143.
make his attack; Auth'd though he was with his conquests over Julius Cæfar, and The Moor: which insolence his Muse, like the other affaffines of Cæfar, * feverely revenged on herself; and not long after her triumph became her own executioner. Nor is it unworthy our observation, that though, perhaps, no One of our English Poets hath excited so many admirers to imitate his Manner, yet I think never any was known to aspire to emulation: even the late ingenious Mr. Philips, who, in the colors of style, came the nearest of all the Copiers to resemble the great Original, made his diftant advances with a filial reverence; and restrain'd his ambition within the same bounds which Lucretius prefcrib'd to his own imitation :
Non ita certandi cupidus, quàm propter amorem Quòd TE imitari aveo: quid enim contendar
And now perhaps it may pass for fiction, what with great veracity I affirm to be fact, that MILTON, after having with much dif. ficulty prevail'd to have this Divine Poem li
cens'd for the Press, cou'd sell the Copy for no more than Fifteen Pounds: the payment of which valuable confideration depended on the sale of three numerous impressions. So unreasonably may personal prejudice. affect the moft excellent performances !
years after, toAn. Ætat. 63. gether with Samson AGONI
STES (a Tragedy not unworthy the Grecian Stage when Athens was in her glory) He publish'd PARADISE REGAIN'D. But, Oh! what a falling-off was there! Of which I will say no more, than that there is scarcely a more remarkable instance of the frailty of human reason, than our Author gave in prefering this Poem 'to PARADISE LOST; nor a more instructive caution to the best writers, to be very diffident in deciding the merit of their own productions.
And thus having attended him to the Sixty Sixth year of his age, as closely as such im. perfect lights as men of Letters, and retirement, usually leave to guide our inquiry wou'd allow; it now only remains to be re
corded, that in the Year An. £tat. 66-7. 1674 the Gout put a pe
riod to his life at Bunbill * They were Licensed July 2, 1670, but not prảnted before the year ensuing,
near London; from whence his body was convey'd to St. Giles's Church by Cripplegate, where it lyes interr'd in the Chancel; but neither has, nor wants, a Monument to perpetuate his memory.
In his youth he is said to have been extremely handsome : the color of his hair was a light-brown; the symmetry of his features exact; enliven'd with an agreeable air, and a beautiful mixture of fair and ruddy: which occasion'd the Marquifs of Villa to give his
Epigram the same Turn of Thought, which Gregory Arch-Deacon of Rome had employ'd above a thousand years before, in praising the amiable complexions of some English Youths, before their conversion to Christianity. His ftature (+ as we find it measur’d by himself) did not exceed the middle-size ; neither too lean, nor corpulent: his limbs well propora tion'd, nervous, and active : serviceable in all respects to his exercising the sword, in which He much delighted ; and wanted neither skill, nor courage, to resent an affront from men of the most athletic constitutions. In his diet He was abstemious; not delicate in the choice of his dishes ; and strong liquors of all kinds * Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, fi pietas fic,
Non Anglus, verùm berclè Angelus iple fores.