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death communicated by his nephew to Toland, who imparted them to the public.

Milton gave yet another proof of his unwearied attention to public affairs, by publishing brief notes on a fermon preached by Dr. Griffith, at Mercer's Chapel, March 25th, 1660, " wherein (says' the annotator) many notorious

wrestings of scripture, and other falsities, are observed.”

When the repeated protestations of Monk to support the republic had ended in his introduction of the king, the anxious friends of Milton, who thought the literary champion of the parliament might be exposed to revenge from the triumphant royalists, hurried him into concealment. The solicitude of those who watched over his fafety was, so great, that, it is said, they deceived his enemies by a report of his death, and effectually prevented a search for his person (during the first tumultuary and vindi&tive rage of the royalists) by a pretended funeral.. A few weeks before the restoration (probably in April) he quitted his house in Westminster, and did not appear in public again till after the act of oblivion, which passed on the 29th of August. In this important interval fome events occurred, which greatly affected both his security and reputation. The House of Commons, on the 16th of June, manifested their resentment agaiņst his person as well as his writings, by ordering the attorney general. to commence a pro-' secution against him, and petitioning the king, that his two books, the Defence of the People, and his Answer to Eikon Basilike, might be publicly burnt.



Happily for the honour of England, the perfon of the great author was more fortunate than his writings in escaping from the fury of persecution. Within three days after the burning of his books, he found himself relieved from the necessity of concealment, and sheltered under the common protection of the law by. the general act of indemnity, which had not included his name in the list of exceptions. It has been thought wonderful by many, that a writer, whose celebrated compositions had rendered him an object of abhorrence to the royal party, could elude the activity of their triumphant revenge, and various conjectures have been started to account for the safety of Milton, after his enemies had too plainly discovered an inclination to crush him. One of these conjectural causes of his escape represents two contemporary poets in so amiable a light, that though I am unable to confirm the anecdote entirely by any new evidence, I shall yet dwell with pleasure. Richardson, whose affectionate veneration for the genius and virtue he celebrates makes ample amends for all the quaintness of his style, has the following passage on the subject in question :

Perplexed and inquisitive as I was, I at length found “ the secret, which he from whom I had it thought he “ had communicated to me long ago, and wondered he had I will no longer keep you in expectation :-

--'twas « Sir William Davenant obtained his remission, in return “ for his own life procured by Milton's interest, when " himself was under condemnation, anno 1650-a life was

owing to Milton (Davenant's) and 'twas paid nobly ; “ Milton's for Davenant's, at Davenant's intercession.-It


< it me.

“ will now be expected I should declare what authority I “ have for this story;---my fuft answer is, Mr. Pope told

Whence had he it? From Mr. Betterton-Sir “ William was his patron-Betterton was prentice to a “ bookseller, John Holden, the fame who printed Dave« nant's Gondibert. There Sir William saw him, and, “ persuading his master to part with him, brought him « first on the stage. Betterton then may be well allowed

to know this transaction from the fountain head.”

On this interesting anecdote Johnson makes the following remark : " Here is a reciprocation of generosity and “ gratitude so pleasing, that the tale makes its own way to “ credit, but if help were wanted I know not where to “ find it; the danger of Davenant is certain from his own “ relation, but of his escape there is no account.”

This passage of the critical biographer atfords a singular proof, that he is sometimes as inaccurate in narration as he is defective in sentiment. Impressed as I am with the clearest conviction of his repeated endeavours to depreciate the character of Milton, I will not suppose that Johnson could designedly suppress an evidence of the poet's generosity, which, while he is speaking of it in terms of admiration, he still endeavours to render problematical ; jet certain it is, that of Milton's protection of Davenant a very obvious evidence exists in Antony Wood, who says, under the article Davenant, “ he was carried prisoner to the Isle “ of Wight, anno 1650, and afterwards to the Tower of “ London, in order to be tried for his life in the High Court ".. of Justice, anno 1657; but upon the mediation of John

U 2

" Milton,

" Milton and others, especially two godly aldermen of York “ (to whom he had shewn great civility when they had been “ taken prisoners in the north by some of the forces under “ William Marquis of Newcastle) he was faved, and had

liberty allowed him as a prisoner at large.”

Thus far the pleasing story is fufficiently proved to the honour of Milton.' That Davenant endeavoured to return the favour is highly probable, from the amiable tenderness and benevolent activity of his character. Perhaps this probability may, seem a little strengthened by the following verses of Davenant, in a poem addressed to the king on his happy return :

Your clemency has taught, us to believe
It wise as well as virtuous to forgive;
And now the inost offended shall proceed
In great forgiving, till no laws we need;
For laws flow progresses would quickly end
Could we forgive as fast as men offend.

If Davenant was in any degree instrumental to the security of Milton, it is probable that he served him rather from gratitude than affection, as no two writers of the time were more different from each other in their religious and political opinions. That the poet-laureat of Charles was utterly unconscious of those inestimable poetic powers, which the blind secretary of the republic was providentially reserved to display, we may infer from a very remarkable couplet, towards the close of a second poem, addressed by


Davenant to the King, where, speaking of Homer, he ventures to affert that

Heav'n ne'er made but one, who, being blind,
Was fit to be a painter of the mind.

It is however very possible that Davenant might doubly conduce to the production of Paradise Lost; first, as one of those who exerted their influence to secure the author from molestation ; and secondly, as affording by his Gondibert an incentive to the genius of Milton to shew how infinitely he could surpass a poem which Hobbs (whose opinions he despised) had extravagantly extolled as the most exquisite production of the epic muse. In Aubrey's manuscript anecdotes of Milton it is said, that he began his Paradise Loft about two years before the return of the king, and finished it about three years after that event; the account appears the more probable, as the following lines in the commencement of the seventh book pathetically allude to his present situation :

More safe I sing with mortal voice unchang'd
To hoarse or mute, though fall’n on evil days,
On evil days though fall’n and evil tongues,
In darkness and with dangers compass’d round
And solitude, yet not alone, while thou

my Numbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east, fill


thou my song, Urania, and fit audience find though few ; But drive far off the barbarous dissonance


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