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stepmother's oppression of his two daughters, who were employed to read to him in languages they did not comprehend. When, however, the poet discovered how great this infliction was on his children, he released them from their detested task, and sent them to learn embroidery in gold and silver, so that they should be able to support themselves by a trade if required to do so. The youngest, Deborah, spoke with great affection of him after his ath.
In July, 1674, he felt so ill that he sent for his brother Christopher, a Bencher of the Inner Temple, to explain his last wishes to him.
• Brother,” said he," the portion due to me from Mr. Powel, my first wife's father, I leave to the unkind children I had by her. But I have received no part of it; and my will and meaning is that they. shall have no other benefit of my estate than the said portion, and what I have besides done for them; they having been very undutifulto me. And all the residue of my estate I leave to the disposal of Elizabeth, my loving wife.”? Such was the brief testament of the great poet. He sold his books before his death, and left £1,500 to, his widow. The daughters received from their stepmother £100; each.
On the 15th November, 1674, on Sunday night, quietly and silently, John Milton passed away from earth. He was buried in, the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, attended by a numerous concourse of friends.
Of his family, Anne, the eldest daughter, who was deformed, married a master-builder, and died in childbirth. , Mary, died singleDeborah married Abraham Clark, a weaver in Spitalfields, and died in August, 1727. She had seven children, but all died childless except Caleb and Elizabeth. The latter married Thomas Foster, a weaver in Spitalfields, and had seven children, who all died. Caleb went to India and had two sons; it is said that the last descendant of Milton died a parish clerk at Calcutta, but we know, of no authority for the assertion beyond an East Indian rumour. Milton's brother took the opposite side in the politics of the time, and when the Republican Party was in the ascendant, his brother's infuence enabled him to live quietly. He supported himself so honourably by chamber practice, that soon after the accession of James II. he was knighted and made a judge, but retired shortly
1 Literary Miscellany, 1812.
afterwards into private life, on account of bad health. He was thus saved from the difficulties which beset the path of conscientious judges when Jeffreys was head of the law. Both the nephews of Milton became authors : one his biographer.
The judgment of two centuries and of all Europe has decided as to the merits of Milton. A word from us on the subject of his poems is therefore superfluous. But of his prose, few general readers know much. His controversial writings were chiefly in Latin, and of those in English many would be objectionable and tedious in the present day; nevertheless, he wrote English prose with as masterly a pen as he wrote poetry, and when the subject was wortliy of his genius, his style was as charming as it is in the "Allegro” or in “Comus,” and as noble as in the “Paradise Lost.” We believe we shall be satisfying a want in giving our readers a specimen of it; and we select a portion of his fine pamphlet on the Liberty of the Press :16." I deny not but that it is of the greatest concernment in the church and commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, im, prison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors; for books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them, to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve, as in a vial, the purest efficacy and extraction of that-living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as rigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down may chance to spring up armed men. And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as killa
good book: who kills a man kills at reasonable creature, God's- image ; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye. Many à-man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a-life beyond life. \'Tis true no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft! recover the loss of a rejeeted truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse. We should be wary, therefore, what persecution we raise-against the living labours of public men, how spill that seasoned life of maŋ, preserved and stored up in books ; 'since we see a-kind-of-humicide may be thus committed; "sometimes kind of martyrdomi; and if it extended to the whole impression, a
kind of massacre, whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at that ethereal and soft essence, the breath of reason itself; slays an immortality rather than a life.
“ Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomach differ little or nothing from unwholesome; and best books to a naughty mind are not unapplicable to occasions of evil. Bad meats will scarce breed good nourishment in the healthiest concoction; but herein the difference is of bad books, that they to a discreet and judicious reader serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate. . . . . Good and evil, we know, in the field of this world, grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted, that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is to say, of knowing good by evil. As therefore the state of man now is, what wisdom can there be to choose, what continence to forbear, without the knowledge of evil ? He that can apprehend and consider Vice, with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the trne war-faring Christian. I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary. That virtue, therefore, which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her whiteness is but an excremental whiteness: which was the reason why our sage and serious poet, Spenser (whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas), describing true temperance under the person
of Guion, brings him in with his Palmer through the cave of Mammon and the bower of earthly bliss, that he might see and know, and yet abstain. Since, therefore, the knowledge and survey of vice is
in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity, than by reading all manner of tractates, and hearing all manner of reason?.
I lastly proceed, from the no good it can do, to the manifest hurt it causes, in being first the greatest discouragement and affront that can be offered to learning and to learned men. It was a complaint and lamentation of prelates, upon every least breath of a motion to remove pluralities, and distribute more equally church revenues, that then all learning would be for ever dashed and discouraged. But as for that opinion, I never found cause to think that the tenth part of learning stood or fell with the clergy; nor could I ever but hold it for a sordid and unworthy speech of any churchman who had a competency left him. If, therefore, ye be loth to dishearten utterly and discontent, not the mercenary crew and false pretenders to learning, but the free and ingenuous sort of such as evidently were born to study and love learning for itself, not for lucre, or any other end, but the service of God and of truth, and perhaps that lasting fame and perpetuity of praise which God and good men have consented shall be the reward of those whose published labours advance the good of mankind; then know, that so far to distrust the judgment and honesty of one who hath but a common repute in learning, and never yet offended, as not to count him fit to print his mind without a tutor and examiner, lest he should drop a schism, or something of corruption, is the greatest displeasure and indignity, to a free and knowing spirit, that can be put upon him. What advantage is it to be a man, over it is to be a boy at school, if we have only escaped the ferula to come under the fescue of an imprimatur 2-if serious and elaborate writings, as if they were no more than the theme of a grammar lad under his pedagogue, must not be uttered without the cursory eyes of a temporizing and extemporizing licenser? He who is not trusted with his own actions, his drift not being known to be evil, and standing to the hazard of law and penalty, has no great argument to think himself reputed in the commonwealth wherein he was born for other than a fool or a foreigner. When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious friends; after all which is done, he takes
himself to be informed in what he writes, as well as any that writ before him ;'if in this, the most consummate act of his fidelity and ripeness, no years, no industry, no former proof of his abilities can bring him to that state of maturity, as not to be still mistrusted and suspected, unless he carry all his considerate diligence, all his midnight watchings, and expense of Palladian oil, to the hasty view of an unleisured licenser, perhaps much his younger, perhaps far his inferior in judgment, perhaps one who never knew the labour of book-writing; and if he be not repulsed, or slighted, must appear in print like a puny with his guardian, and his tensor's hand on the back of his title, to be his bail and surety that he is no idiot or seducer; it cannot be but a dishonour and derogation to the author, to the book, to the privilege and dignity of learning. .... And how can a man (teach with authority, which is the life of teaching; how can he be a doctor in his book, as he ought to be, or else had better be silent, whenas all'he teaches, all he delivers, is but under the tuition, under the correction of his patriarchal licensér, to blot or alter what precisely accords 'not with the hide-bound humour which he calls his judgment? When every acute reader, upon the first sight of a pedantic license, will be ready with these like words to ding the book a quoit's distance from him, I hate a pupil teacher, I endure not an instructor that comes to me under the worship of an overseeing fist...i.
“And lest» some should persuade ye, Lords and Commons, that these arguments of learned men's discouragement at this your
order are mere flourishes, and not real, I could recount what I have seen and heard in other countries, where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes; when I have sat among their learned men (for that honour I had), and been counted happy to be born in such a place of philosophic freedom, as they supposed England was, while themselves did nothing but bemoan the servile condition into which learning amongst them was brought; that this was it which had damped the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had been there written now these many years but flattery and fustian. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner to the inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought. And though I knew that England then was groaning loudest under the prelatical yoke, nevertheless I took it as a pledge of future happiness that other nations were so persuaded of her liberty. Yet it was beyond my hope that those