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rians; 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; and 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 fimplicity of the Gospel; or whether he disliked their end- . less and uncharitable disputes, and that love of dominion and inclination to persecution, which he said was a piece of Popery inseperable 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 forms and ceremonies, it is not easy to determin: 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 adorn his mind. His father supported him in his travels, and for some time after. Then 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 BreadItreet: And not long after, he was appointed Latin Se
cretary 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 expense besides buying of books. Tho'he was of the viciorious party, yet he was far from sharing in the spoils of his country. On the contrary (as we learn from his second Defense) he sustained great losses during the civil war, and was not at all favored 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 2000l. which he had for security and im. provement 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. And in the fire of London his house in Bread-Itreet 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 Defense 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 Loft. 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 ofit to greater advantage than they could after his decease. And finally by one means or other he died worth one thousand five hundred pounds besides his houshold goods, which was no incompetent 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 opposit princi
ples; ples; was a strong royalist, and after the civil war made his composition throʻ his brother's interest; had been entered young a student in the Inner Temple, of which house he lived to be an ancient bencher; and being a professed papist, was in the reign of James II. made a judge and knighted; but soon 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 fifter Anne Milton had a considerable fortune given her by her father in marriage with Mr.Edward Philips (son of Mr. Edw. Philips of Shrewsbury) who coming young to London was bred up in the Crown Office in Chancery, and at length became secondary of the office under Mr. Bembo. By him she had, besides other children who died infants, two sons Edward and John, whom we have had frequent occalion to mention before. Among our author's juvenile poems there is a copy of 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 naturally be inferred that Mrs. Philips was elder than either of her brothers. She had likewise two daughters, 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 where said, but 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 spi“ rit 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 him by her long absence and separation from him; the second, whose love, sweetness, and goodness he commends, lived not a twelvemonth with him; and his third wife is said to have been a woman of a most violent spirit, and a hard mother in law to his children. 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 confirmed several things which have been related before; and particularly that her husband used to compose his poetry chiefly 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 no body 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 such a behavior would be very inconsistent with his former.conduct, for he had never yet employed his pen against his conscience. By his first wife he had four children, a son who died an infant, and three daughters who survived him; by his second wife he had only one daughter, who died soon after her mother, who died in childbed; and by his last wife he had no children at all.
His daughters were not sent to school, but were inftruc. ed by a mistress kept at home for that purpose: and he himself, excusing the eldest on account of an impedimen in her speech, taught the two others to read and pronounce Greek and Latin and several other languages without understanding any but English, for he used to say that one tongue was enough for a woman: but this employment was very irksome to them, and this together with the sharpness and severity of their mother in law made them very uneasy at home; and therefore they were all sent abroad to learn things more proper for them, and particularly imbroidery in gold and filver. As Milton at his death left his affairs very much in the power of his widow, tho' she acknowledged that he died worth one thousand five hundred pounds, yet she allowed but one hundred pounds to each of his three daughters. Anne the eldest was decrepit and deformed, but had a very handsome face; she married a master-builder, and died in childbed of her first child, who died with her. Mary the second lived and died single. Deborah the youngest in her father's life time went over to Ireland with a lady, and afterwards was married to Mr. Abraham Clarke, a weaver in Spittle Fields, and died in August 1727 in the 76th year of her age. She is said to have been a woman of good understanding and genteel behavior, though in low circumstances. As she had been often called upon to read Homer and Ovid's Metamorphosis to her father, she could have repeated a considerable number of verses from the beginning of both those poets, as Mr. Ward Professor of Rhetoric in Gresham College, relates upon his own knowledge: and another Gentleman has informed me, that he has heard her repeat several verses likewise out of Euripides. Mr. Addison and the other gentlemen, who had opportunities of seeing her, knew her immediately to be Milton's daughter by the · fimilitude of her countenance to her father's picture: and