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ders this story not very probable; and besides Mr. King
His merits indeed were fingular; for he was a man not only of wonderful genius, but of immense learning and erudition; not only an incomparable poet, but a great mathematician, logician, historian, and divine. He was a master not only of the Greek and Latin, but likewise of the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac, as well as of the modern languages, Italian, French, and Spanish. He was particularly skilled in the Italian, which he always preferred to the French language, as all the men of letters did at that time in England; and he not only wrote elegantly in it, but is highly commended for his writings by
the most learned of the Italians themselves, and especially
tho' nothing of this kind is handed down to us. It is also said that he had some skill in painting as well as in music, and that somewhere or other there is a head of Milton drawn by himself: but he was blessed with so many real excellences, that there is no want of fictitious ones to raise and adorn his character. He had a quick apprehension, a sublime imagination, a strong memory, a piercing judgment, a wit always ready, and facetious or grave as the occasion required: and I know not whether the loss of his fight did not add vigor to the faculties of his mind. He at least thought so, and often comforted himself with that reflection.
But his great parts and learning have fcarcely gained him more admirers, than his political principles have raised him enemies. And yet the darling passion of his soul was the love of liberty; this was his constant aim and end, however he might be mistaken in the means. He was indeed very zealous in what was called the good old cause, and with his spirit and his resolution it is somewhat wonderful, that he never ventured his person in the civil war; but tho' he was not in arms, he was not unactive, and thought, I suppose, that he could be of more service to the cause by his pen than by his sword. He was a thorough republican, and in this he thought like a Greek or Roman, as he was very conversant with their writings. And one day Sir Robert Howard, who was a friend to Milton as well as to the liberties of his country, and was one of his constant visitors to the last, inquired of him how he came to side with the republicans. Milton answered among other reasons, because theirs was the most frugal government, for the trappings of a monarchy might set up an ordinary commonwealth. But then his attachment to Cromwell must be condemned, as being neither consistent with his republican principles, nor with his love of liberty. And I know no other way of accounting for his conduct, but by presuming (as I
think we may reasonably presume) that he was far from entirely approving of Cromwell's proceedings, but considered him as the only person who could rescue the nation from the tyranny of the Presbyterians, who he saw were erecting a worse dominion of their own upon the ruins of prelatical episcopacy; and of all things he dreaded spiritual slavery, and therefore closed with Cromwell and the Independents, as he expected under them greater liberty of conscience. And tho' he served Cromwell, yet it must be said for him, that he served a great master, and served him ably, and was not wanting from time to time in giving him excellent good advice, especially in his second Defense: and so litile being said of him in all Secretary Thurloe's state-papers, it appears that he had no great share in the secrets and intrigues of government; what he dispatched was little more than matters of necessary form, letters and answers to foreign states; and he may be justified for acting in such a station, upon the same principle as Sir Matthew Hale for holding a Judge's commission under the usurper: and in the latter part of his life he frequently expressed to his friends his entire satisfaction of mind, that he had constantly employed his strength and faculties in the defense of liberty, and in opposition to slavery.
In matters of religion too he has given as great offense, or even greater, than by his political principles. But still let not the infidel glory: no such man was ever of that party. He had the advantage of a pious education, and ever expressed the profoundest reverence of the Deity in his words and actions, was both a Christian and a Protestant, and studied and admired the Holy Scriptures above all other books whatsoever; and in all his writings he plainly showeth a religious turn of mind, as well in verle as in prole, as well in his works of an earlier date as in those of later composition. When he wrote the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, he appears to have
been a Calvinist; but afterwards he entertained a more favorable opinion of Arminius. Some have inclined to
believe, that he was an Arian; but there are more exi. press passages in his works to overthrow this opinion,
than any there are to confirm it. For in the conclusion