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the condition of the prophet Phineus in the Argonautics :
Him vapours dark
But I should not omit to say, that while I had some little sight remaining, as soon as I went to bed, and reclined on either side, a copious light used to dart from
closed eyes; then, as my sight grew daily less, darker colours seemed to burst forth with vehemence, and a kind of internal noise; but now, as if every thing lucid were extinguished, blackness, either absolute or chequered, and interwoven as it were with alh-colour, is accustomed to pour itself on my eyes ; yet the darkness perpetually before them, as well during the night as in the day, seems always approaching rather to white than to black, admitting, as the eye rolls, a minute portion of light as through a crevice.
“ Though from your physician such a portion of hope also may arise, yet, as under an evil that admits no cure, I regulate and tranquilize my mind, often reflecting, that since the days of darkness allotted to each, as the wise man reminds us, are many, hitherto
darkness, by the singular mercy of God, with the aid of study, leisure, and the kind conversation of my friends, is much less oppressive than the deadly darkness to which he alludes. For if, as it is written, man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, why should not a man acquiesce even in this ? not thinking that he can derive light from his eyes
alone, but esteeming himself sufficiently enlightened by the conduct or providence of God.
“ As long, therefore, as he looks forward, and provides for me as he does, and leads me backward and forward by the hand, as it were, through my whole life, shall I not cheerfully bid my eyes keep holiday, since such appears to be his pleasure ? But, wliatever may be the event of your kindness, my dear Philaras, with a mind not less resolute and firm than if I were Lynceus himself, I bid you fare . well.
“ Westminster, Sept. 28, 1654."
We have no reason to imagine that Milton received any kind of medical benefit from the friendly intention of this amiable foreigner.
Strange as the idea may at first appear, perhaps it was better for him, as a man and as a poet, to remain without a cure; for his devout tenderness and energy of mind had so far converted his calamity into a blessing, that it seems rather to have promoted than obstructed both the happiness of his life and the perfection of his genius. We have seen, in the admirable sonnet on his blindness, how his reflections on the conscientious labour by which he lost his eyes gave a dignified satisfaction to his fpirit. In one of his prose works he expresses a sentiment on the same subject, that shews, in the most striking point of view, the meekness and sublimity of his devotion. He exults in his misfortune, and feels it endeared to him by the persuasion, that to be blind is to be placed more immediately under the conduct and
providence of God *: when regarded in this man-
It has been frequently remarked, that the blind
* Sed neque ego cæcis amictis mærentibus imbecillis tametsi vos id miferum ducitis aggregari me discrucior; quando quidem fpes est, eo me propriùs ad misericordiam fummi patris atque tutelam pertinere. Eft quoddam per imbecillitatem præeunte apoftolo ad maximas vires iter : fim ego debiliffimus ; dummodo in mea debilitate immortalis ille et melior vigor eo fe efficacius exerat; dummodo in meis tenebris divini vultus lumen eo clarius eluceat, tum enim infirmiffimus ero fimul et validissimus cæcus eodem tempore et perspicacissimus ; hac poffim ego infirmitate consummari, hac perfici poffim in hac obfcuritate fic ego irradiari. Et fane haud ultima Dei cura cæci fumus ; qui nos quo minus quicquam aliud præter ipfum cernere valemus, eo clementius atque benignius refpicere dignatur.-Profe Works, vol. 2. p. 376.
From the very eloquent preface to his Defence we learn, that while he was engaged on that com. position, and eager to throw into it all the force of his exalted mind, “ his infirmity obliged him to “ work only by starts, and scarce to touch, in short “ periods of study broken by hourly interruptions, 66 what he wished to pursue with continued applia s "
cation *.” In this most uneasy and perilous labour he exerted his failing eyes to the utmost, and, to repeat his own triumphant expression,
His left eye became utterly blind in 1651, the year in which the book that he alludes to was published, and he lost the use of the other in 1654, the year in which he wrote concerning his blindness to his Athenian friend. In this interval he repeatedly changed his abode. As every spot inhabited by such a man acquires a sort of confecration in the fancy of his admirers, I shall here transcribe from his nephew the particulars of his residence.
“ First he lodged at one Thomson’s, next door
Quod fi quis miretur fortè cur ergò tam diu intactum et ovantem, noftroque omnium filentio inflatum volitare paffi fumus de aliis fane nescio, de me audacter poffum dicere, non mihi verba aut argumenta quibus causam tuerer tam bonam diu quærenda aut investiganda fuifle fi otium et valetudinem (quæquidem fcribendi laborem ferre poflit) nactus effem. Quâ cum adhuc etiam tenui admodum utar carptim hæc
cogor et intercisis
pene fingulis horis vix attingere, quæ continenti ftylo atque ftudio perfequi debuiffem.-Profe Works, vol. 2. p. 278.
6 to the Bull Head tavern at Charing Cross, open: so ing into the Spring Garden, which seems to “ have been only a lodging taken till his designed
apartment in Scotland Yard was prepared for " him ; for hither he soon removed from the afore“ said place, and here his third child, a son, was " born, which, through the ill-usage or bad con. 5 ftitution of an ill-chofen nurse, died an infant. " From this apartment, whether he thought it not ¢ healthy or otherwise convenient for his use, or “ whatever else was the reason, he soon after' took
a pretty garden-house in Petty France, in West6 minster, next door to the Lord Scudamore's, “ and opening into St. James's Park, where he re“ mained no less than eight years, namely, from “ the year 1652 till within a few weeks of King “ Charles the Second's restoration."
Philips also informs us, that while his uncle lodged at Thomson's he was employed in revising and polishing the Latin work of his youngest nephew John, who, on the publication of a fevere attack upon Milton, ascribed to Bramhall, Bishop of Derry, vindicated his illustrious relation, and fatirized his supposed adverfary with a keenness and vehemence of invective, which induced, perhaps, some readers to suspect that the performance was written entirely by Milton. The traces, however, of a young hand are evident in the work; and John Philips, at the time it appeared, 1652, was a youth of nineteen or twenty, eager (as he declares) to engage unsolicited in a composition, which, however abound