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letters which he wrote, in the name of Cromwell, to redress the injuries of the persecuted protestants, who suffered in Piedmont, were highly calculated to promote, in equal degrees, his zeal for the purity of religion, and his attachment to the pro. tector.
Yet great as the powers of Cromwell were to dazzle and delude, and willing as the liberal mind of Milton was to give credit to others for that pure public spirit, which he possessed himself, there is great reason to apprehend, that his veneration and esteem for the protector were entirely destroyed by the treacherous despotism of his latter days. But however his opinion of Oliver might change, he was far from betraying liberty, according to Johnson's ungenerous accusation, by continuing to exercise his office; on the contrary, it ought to be esteemed a proof of his fidelity to freedom, that he condescended to remain in an office, which he had received from no individual, and in which he justly considered himself as a servant of the state. From one of his familiar letters, written in the year preceding the death of Cromwell, it is evident that he had no secret intimacy.or influence with the protector; and that, instead of engaging in ambitious machinations, he confined himself as much as pofsible to the privacy of domestic life. Finally, on a full and fair review of all the intercourse between Milton and Cromwell, there is not the smallest ground to suspect, that Milton ever spoke or acted as a sycophant or a slave; he bestowed, indeed, the most liberal eulogy, both in prose and rhyme, upon
the protector; but at a period when it was the ge-
generous hopes were disappointed; the despotic proceedings of Cromwell convinced his independent monitor, that he deserved not the continued applause of a free spirit; and though the atchievements of the protector were so fascinating, that poetical panegyrics encircled even his grave, yet Milton praised him no more, but after his decease fondly hailed the revival of parliamentary independence, as a new dawning of God's providence on the nation. In contemplating these two extraordinary men together, the real lover of truth and freedom can hardly fail to observe the striking contrast of their characters; one was an absolute model of false, and the other of true, grandeur. Mental dignity and public virtue were in Cromwell fi&titious and delusive; in Milton they were genuine and unchangeable; Cromwell shews the formidable wonders that courage and cunning can perform, with the assistance of fortune; Milton, the wonders, of a superior kind, that integrity and genius can accomplish, in despight of adversity and aflliction.
folicitude to vindicate a moft noble mind from a very base and injurious imputation has led me to anticipate fome public events. From these obfervations on the native and incorruptible independence of Milton's niind, let us return to the incidents of his domestic life.
Soon after his removal to his house in Westminster, his fourth child, Deborah, was born, on the ad of May, 1652. The mother, according to Philips, died in child-bed. The situation of Milton at this period was such as might have depressed the mind of any ordinary man: at the age of forty-four he was left a widower, with three female orphans, the eldest about six years old, deformed in her person, and with an impediment in her speech ; his own health was very delicate; and with eyes that were rapidly sinking into incurable blindness, he was deeply engaged in a literary contest of the highest importance. With what spirit and success he triumphed over his political and personal enemies the reader is already informed. When these, in 1654, were all filenced and subdued by the irresistible power of his superior talents and probity," he had “ leisure again (says his nephew) for his own “ studies and private designs.”
It seems to have been the habit of Milton to devote as many hours in every day to intense study as the mental faculties could bear, and to render such constant exertion less oppressive to the mind, by giving variety to the objects of its application, engaging in different works of magnitude at the same time, that he might occasionally rclieve and
147 inspirit his thoughts by a transition from one fpecies of composition to another. If we may rely on the information of Philips, he now began to employ himself in this manner on three great works; a voluminous Latin Dictionary, a history of England, and an Epic poeni; of the two last I shall speak again, according to the order of their publication. The first and least important, a work to which blindness was peculiarly unfavourable, was never brought to maturity, yet ferved to amuse this most diligent of authors, by a change of literary occupation, almost to the close of his life. His collection of words amounted to three folios; but the papers, after his decease, were fo discomposed and deficient (to use the expression of his nephew) that the work could not be made fit for the press. They proved serviceable, however, to future compilers, and were used by those who published the Latin Diâionary at Cambridge, in 1693.
Though he had no eyes to chufe a second wife, Milton did not long continue a widower. He married Catherine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, a rigid fectarist, says Mr. Warton, of Hackney. This lady appears to have been the most tender and amiable of the poet's three wives, and she is the only one of the three whom the muse of Milton has immortalized with an affectionate memorial. Within the year of their marriage she gave birth to a daughter, and very soon followed her infant to the grave. “ Her husband” (says Johnson) “ has ho“ noured her memory with a poor fonner;" an expression of contempt, which only proves that the
rough critic was unable to sympathise with the tenderness that reigns in the pathetic poetry of Milton: in the opening of this sonnet ;
Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
and in the latter part of it,
Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
But O, as to embrace me she inclin'd
Milton has equalled the mournful graces of Pe . trarch and of Camoens, who have each of them left a plaintive composition on a similar idea. The curious reader, who may wish to compare the three poets on this occision, will find the similarity I speak of in the 79th sonnet of Petrarch, and the 7ad of Camoens.
The loss of a wife so beloved, and the severe inthralment of his country under the increasing despotism of Cromwell, must have wounded very deeply the tender and patriotic feelings of Milton. His variety of affliction from these sources might probably occasion his being filent, as an author, for fome years. In 1655 he is supposed to have written a na. tional maanifesto in Latin, to justify the war against Sorin. From that time, when his defence of himflf also appeared, we know not of his having been