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of the long parliament and assembly of divines, contrasting their situation and their misconduct, after the death of Charles the First, with those of the ancient Britons, when, by the departure of the Roman power, they were left (according to the expression of the historian) to the sway of their own councils.' The author gave a copy of this unlicenced parallel to the celebrated Earl of Anglesey, a man distinguished by erudition, with a liberal respect for genius, and though a minister of Charles the Second, a frequent visiter of Milton. This curious fragment was published in 1681, with a short preface, declaring, that it originally belonged to the third book of Milton's History; and in the edition of his prose works, in 1738, it was properly replaced. The poet would have succeeded more eminently as an historian, had his talents been exercised on a period more fayourable to their exertion. We have reason to regret his not having executed the latter part of his original intention, instead of dwelling on the meagre and dark annals of Saxon barbarity. In his early history, however, there are passages of great force and beauty ; his character of Alfred in particular is worthy that engaging model of an accomplished monarch, and verifies a sentiment, which Milton professed, even while he was defending the commonwealth, that although a resolute enemy to tyrants, he was a fincere 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, forni a double motive for inserting it in a note, as a speci
men of the great author's style in historical composition.
"After which troublefome time Alfred enjoying three years of peace, by hun spent, as въ
In 1671, the year after the first appearance of his history, he published the Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes.
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 fiftyfirst of his age, the thirtieth of his reign, and was buried regally at Winchester : he was bornat a place called Wanading, in Berkshire, his mother Ofburga, the daughter of Onac the king's cup-bearer, a Goth by nation, and of noble defcent. 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 ap-. peared, by his conning of Saxon poems day and night, which, with great attention, he heard by others repeated. He was besides excellent at hunting, and the new art then of hawking, but more exemplary in devotion, having collected into a book certain prayers and psalms, which he carried ever with him in his bosom to use on all occasions. He thirsted after all liberai knowledge, and oft complained, that in his youth' he ‘had no teachers, in his middle age so little yacancy from wars and the cares of his kingdom ; yet leisure he found sometimes, not only to learn much himself, but to communicate thereof what he could to his people, by translating books out of Latin into English, 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 Egellwitha, the daughter of Ethelred, a Mercian eart. The extremities which befcl him in the fixth of his reign, Ncothan Abbot told him
were justly come upon him for neglecting, in his younger days, the complaint of fuch as, in jured and oppresled, repaired to him, as then fecond 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 patientin 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 cross-ways were hung upon a bigh post certain chains of gold, as it were daring any one to take them thence; so that justice seemed in his days nct to flourish only, but to triumph : no man can 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 paft 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 fecular uses, and subdivided those into three; the first to pay his soldiers, household fervants, 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 shird he had
Many groundless remarks have been made on the supposed want of judgment in Milton' to form a proper estimate of his own 'compositions. 6. His last poetical offspring (fays" Johnson) was his · favourite; he could not, as Ellwood relates, 'endure to have Paradise Lost preferred to Paradise Regained.” In this brief passage, there is more than one mifrepresentation, It is not Ellwood, but Philips, who speaks of Milton's esteem for his latter poem; and inftead 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 fupposing, therefore, that the great poét was under the influence of an absurd 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 be seen in Paradise Lost, but not in Paradise Regained.” His own accomplished mind, in which sensibility and judgment were proportioned to extraordinary imagination, most pro
in readiness to relieve or honour ftrangers, many rich gems and spices; gifts also, and a according to their worth whin'cahie from all - Better, he received from the patriotch at Jeruparts to see him, and to Mycunder him. The faleml; sent many to Rome, and from them other equal part of his yearly wealth he dedia received reliques. Thus far, and inuch morc, cated to religious uses; tiofe of four forts; might be said of his noble mind, which renderthe first to relieve the poor, the second to the ed hin the mirror of princey. His body was building and maintenance of two nonaiteries, i difeared in his youth with a great foreness in the third of a fchool, where he had persuaded the feige, and that ceating of itself, with another niany noblemen to study sacred knowledge inward pain of unknown cause, which held and liberal arts, fuma fay at Oxford; the him by frequent fits to his dying day; yet not fourth was for the relief of foreign churches, : disenabled to luitain those many glorious l'ac as far as India to the shrine of St. Thomas, bours of his life both
) in peace and war. sending thitlier Sigelm bifhop.of Shef burni, Prose Works): Vol. II. p. 97. who both returned safe and brought with him, B b 2
bably 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 poem, 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 fame divine and inimitable power.
Johnson has very liberally noticed one peculiarity in Milton, and calls it, with a benevolent happiness of expresfion, kind of humble dignity, which did not disdain " the meanest services to literature. The epic poet, the “ controvertist, the politician, having already descended to so accommodate children with a book of rudiments, now, “ in the last years of his life, composed a book of Logic, o for the initiation of students in philosophy, and pub“ lished, 1672, Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio ad Petri “ Rami Methodum concinnata, that is, a new scheme of
Logic, according to the method of Ramus.”
It is so pleasing to find one great author fpeaking of another in terms, which do honour to both, that I transcribe, with singular satisfaction, the preceding passage of the eininent biographer, whose frequent and injurious asperity to Milton I have so 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 eager
ness 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 intend an act of hostility against the universi“ ties, for Ramus was one of the first oppugners of the “ old philosophy, who disturbed with innovations the quiet " of the schools.” Is there not a visible want of candour in Thewing 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 massacre 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 afscribed to Milton, as a more probable 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 great judgment augmented the logic of Ramus, and added to his system an abridgment of the Latin life, which Fregius had written, of its unfortunate author.