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cere friend to such kings as merited the benediction of their people *.
* The attractive merit of Alfred, and the affectionate zeal, with which Milton appears to have delineated his character, form a double motive for inserting it in a note, as a specimen of the great author's style in historical compofition.
“ After which troublesome time Alfred enjoying three years of peace, by him spent, as his manner was, not idly or voluptuously, but in all virtuous employments both of mind and body, becoming a prince of his renown, ended his days in the year nine hundred, the fifty-first of his age, the thirtieth of his reign, and was buried regally at Winchester : he was born at a place called Wanading, in Berkshire, his mother Ofburga, the daughter of Ollac the king's cup-bearer, a Goth by nation, and of noble descent. He was of person comelier than all his brethren, of pleasing tongue, and graceful behaviour, ready wit and memory; yet, through the fondness of his parents towards him, had not been taught to read till the twelfth year of his age: but the great desire of learning which was in him soon
apo peared, by his conning of Saxon poems day and night, which, with great attention, he heard by others repeated. He was befides excellent at hunting, and the new art then of hawking, but , more exemplary in devotion, having collected into a book certain prayers and pfalms, which he carried ever with him in his bofom to use on all occasions. He thirsted after all liberal knowledge, and oft complained, that in his youth he had no teachers, in his middle age so little vacancy from wars and the cares of his kingdom; yet leisure he found sometiines, not only to learn much himself, but to communicate thereof what he could to his people, by translating books out of Latin into Englith, Orofius, Boethius, Beda's history, and others; permitted none unlearned to bear office, either in court or commonwealth. At twenty years of age, not yet reigning, he took to wife Egelswitha, the daughter of Ethelred, a Mercian earl. The extremities which befel him in the fixth of his reign, Neothan Abbot told him were justly come upon him for neglecting, in
In 1671, the year after the first appearance of his history, he published the Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes.
no man can
his younger days, the complaint of such as, injured and oppressed, repaired to him, as then second person in the kingdom, for redress; which neglect, were it such indeed, were yet excusable in a youth, through jollity of mind, unwilling perhaps to be detained long with fad and sorrowful narrations; but from the time of his undertaking regal charge no man more patient in hearing causes, more inquisitive in examining, more exact in doing justice, and providing good laws, which are yet extant; more severe in punishing unjust judges or obstinate offenders, thieves especially and robbers, to the terror of whom in crossways were hung upon a high poft certain chains of gold, as it were daring any one to take them thence; so that justice seemed in his days not to flourish only, but to 'triumph : be more frugal of two precious things in man's life, his time and his revenue ; no man wiser in the disposal of both. His time, the day and night, he distributed by the burning of certain tapers into three equal portions; the one was for devotion, the other for public or private affairs, the third for bodily refreshment; how each hour past he was put in mind by one who had that office. His whole annual revenue, which his first care was should be justly his own, he divided into two equal parts; the first he employed to secular uses, and subdivided those into three; the first to pay his foldiers, household servants, and guards, of which, divided into three bands, one attended monthly by turn; the second was to pay his architects and workmen, whom he had got together of several nations, for he was also an elegant builder, above the custom and conceit of Englishmen in those days; the third he had in readiness to relieve or honour strangers, according to their worth, who came from all parts to fee him, and to live under him. The other equal part of his yearly wealth he dedicated to religious uses; those of four forts; the first to relieve the poor, the second to the building and inain
who speaks of Milton's esteem for his latter poem ;
Many groundless remarks have been made on the supposed want of judgment in Milton to form a proper estimate of his own compositions. “ His last poetical offspring (says Johnson) was his favourite; he could not, as Ellwood relates, endure to have Paradise Lost preferred to Paradise Regain: ed.” In this brief passage, there is more than one misrepresentation. It is not Ellwood, but Philips,
and instead of saying that the author preferred it to his greater work, he merely intimates, that Milton was offended with the general censure, which condemned the Paradise Regained as infinitely inferior to the other. Instead of supposing, therefore, that the great poet was under the influence of an abfurd predilection, we have only reason to conclude, that he heard with lively fcorn such idle witticism as we find recorded by Toland, “ That Milton might
tenance of two monasteries, the third of a school, where he had persuaded many noblemen to study sacred knowledge and liberal arts, some say at Oxford; the fourth was for the relief of foreign churches, as far as India to the shrine of St. Thomas, fending thither Sigelm bishop of Sherburn, who both returned fafe and brought with him many rich gems and spices ; gifts also, and a letter, he received from the patriarch at Jerusalem ; fent many to Rome, and from them received reliques. Thus far, and much more, might be said of his noble mind, which rendered him the mirror of princes. His body was diseased in his youth with a great foreness in the seige, and that ceasing of itself, with another inward pain of unknown cause, which held him by frequent fits to his dying day; yet not difenabled to sustain those many glorious labours of his life both in peace and war. Profe Works, Vol. II. p. 97.
be feen in Paradise Lost, but not in Paradise Re . gained.” His own accomplished mind, in which sensibility and judgment were proportioned to extraordinary imagination, most probably assured him what is indisputably true, that uncommon energy of thought and felicity of composition are apparent in both performances, however different in design, dimension, and effect. To censure the Paradise Regained, because it does not more resemble the preceding poen, is hardly less absurd than it would be to condemn the moon for not being a fun, instead of admiring the two different luminaries, and feeling that both the greater and the less are visibly the work of the same divine and inimitable power.
Johnson has very liberally noticed one peculiarity in Milton, and calls it, with a benevolent happiness of expression, “a kind of humble dignity, which “ did not disdain the meanest services to literature. “ The epic poet, the controvertist, the politician, hav« ing already descended to accommodate children Go with a book of rudiments, now, in the last years “ of his life, composed a book of Logic, for the " initiation of students in philosophy, and publish$ed, 1672, Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio ad Pe55 tri Rami Methodum concinnata, that is, a new s scheme of Logic, according to the inethod of $6 Ramus.??
It is so pleasing to find one great author speaking of another in terms, which do honour to both, that I transcribe, with singular satisfaction, the preceding passage of the eminent biographer, whole frequent and injurious afperity to Milton I have lo
repeatedly noticed, and must continue to notice, with reprehension and regret.
In the very moment of delivering the just encomium I have commended, the critic discovers an intemperate eagerness to revile the object of his praise; for he proceeds to say of Milton, " I know
not whether, even in this book, he did not in“ tend an act of hostility against the universities, " for Ramus was one of the first oppugners of the s old philosophy, who disturbed with innovations " the quiet of the schools.” Is there not a visible want of candour in shewing so wildly a wish to impute a very inoffensive and meritorious work of science to a malevolent motive?
Ramus was a man, whose writings and memory were justly regarded by Milton ; for he resembled our great countryman in temperance, in fortitude, in passion for study, and, above all, in a brave and inflexible opposition to ignorance, tyranny, and superstition ; his life was a continued struggle with these merciless enemies, and he perished at last with circumstances of peculiar barbarity, in the atrocious mafsacre of St. Bartholomew.
A desire of rendering justice to the talents and virtues of such a sufferer in the cause of learning might surely be ascribed to Milton, as a more pro. bable and becoming motive on this occasion, than dark intentions of hostility against the universities. It is but a forry compliment to those universities to insinuate, that he engaged in warfare against them, who republished a simple and seasonable treatise on the management of human reason. Milton with