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he forgave and received again his disobedient and long-alier nated wife, since their re-union not only disquieted his
gave birth to daughters, who seem to have inherited the perversity of their mother :
The wisest and best men full oft beguild
These pathetic lines, in a speech of his Sampson Agonistes, Itrike me as a forcible allusion to his own connubial infelicity. If in his first marriage he was eminently unhappy, his success in the two last turned the balance of fortune in his favour. That his second wife deserved, possessed, and retained his affection, is evident from his sonnet occasioned by her death ; of the care and kindness which he had long experienced from the partner of his declining life, he spoke with tender gratitude to his brother, in explaining his teftamentary intention ; and we are probably indebted to the care and kindness, which the aged poet experienced from this affectionate guardian, for the happy accomplishment of his inestimable works. A blind and defolate father must be utterly unequal to the management of disobedient daughters conspiring against him; the anguish he endured from their filial ingratitude, and the base deceptions, with which they continually tormented him, must have rendered even the strongest mind very unfit for poetical application. The
marriage, which he concluded by the advice and the aid of his friend Dr. laget, seems to have been his only resource against a most exasperating and calamitous species of domestic disquietude ; it appears, therefore, not unreasonable to regard those immortal poenis, which recovered tranquillity enabled him to produce, as the fruits of that marriage. As matrimony has, perhaps, annihilated many a literary design, let it be remembered to its honour, that it probably gaye birth to the brightest offspring of literature.
The two eldest daughters of Milton appear to me utterly unworthy of their father ; but those who adopt the dark prejudices of Johnson, and believe with him, that the great poet was an austere domestic tyrant, will find, in their idea of the father, an apology for his children, whose destiny in the world I shall immediately mention, that I may have occasion to speak of them no more. Anne, the eldest, who with a deformed person had a pleasing face, married an architect, and died, with her first infant, in child-bed. Mary, the second, and apparently the most deficient in affe&tion to her father, died urinarried. Deborah, who was the favourite of Milton, and who, long after his decease, discovered, on a casual sight of his genuine portrait, very affecting emotions of filial tenderness and enthusiasm, even Deborah deserted him without his knowledge, not in consequence of his paternal severity, of which she was very far from complaining, but, as Richardson intimates, from a disgust she had conceived against her mother-in-law. On quitting the house of her father, she went to Ireland with a lady, and afterwards became the wife of Mr. Clarke, a weaver, in
Spital-fields. As her family was numerous, and her circumstances not affluent, the liberal Addison made her a prefent, from his regard to the memory of her father, and intended to procure her fome decent establishment, but died before he could accomplish his generous design. From Queen Caroline, she received fifty guineas, a donation as ill proportioned to the rank of the donor as to the mental dignity of the great genius, whose indigent daughter was the object of this unprincely munificence.Mrs. Clarke had ten children, but none of them appear to have attracted public regard, till Dr. Birch and Dr. Newton, two benevolent and respectable biographers of the poet, discovered his grand-daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Fofter, keeping a little chandler’s-shop in the city, poor, aged, and infirm ; they publicly spoke of her condition; Johnson was then writing as the coadjutor of Lauder in his attempt to sink the glory of Milton; but as the critic's charity was still greater than his spleen, he seized the occasion of recommending, under Lauder's name, this necessitous descendant of the great poet to the beneficence of his country; Comus was represented for her benefit, in the year 1750, and Johnfon, to his honour; contributed a prologue on the occasion, in which noble sentiments are nobly expressed.
The poor grand-daughter of Milton gained but one hundred and thirty pounds by this public benefaction ; this fum, however, small as it was, afforded peculiar comfort to her declining age, by enabling her to retire to Illington with her husband : she had seven children, who died before her, and by her own death it is probable that the line of
the poet became extinct. Let us hasten from this painful survey of his progeny to the more enlivening contemplation of his rare mental endowments. The most diligent researches into all that can elucidate the real temper of Milton only confirm the opinion, that his native characteristics were mildness and magnanimity. In controversy his mind was undoubtedly overheated, and passages may be quoted from his prose works, that are certainly neither mild nor magnanimous; but if his controversial asperity is compared with the outrageous insolence of his opponents, even that asperity will appear moderation
moderation ; in social intercourse he is represented as peculiarly courteous and engaging. When the celebrity of his Latin work made him esteemed abroad, many enquiries were made concerning his private character among his familiar acquaintance, and the result of such enquiry was, that mildness and affability were his distinguishing qualities. « Virum effe miti comique ingenio aiunt," fays the celebrate Heinsius, in a letter that he wrote concerning Milton, in the year 1651, to Gronovius. Another eminent foreigner represents him in the fame pleasing light, and from the best information. Voffius, who was at that time in Sweden, and who mentions the praise, which his royal patroness Christina bestowed on Milton's recent defence of the English people, informs his friend Heinsius, that he had obtained a very particular account of the author from a relation of his own, the learned Junius, who wrote the elaborate and interesting history of ancient painting, resided in England, and particularly cultivated the intimacy of Milton. Dd 2
Indeed, when we reflect on the poet's uncommon tenderness towards his parents, and all the advantages of his early life, both at home and abroad, we have every reason to believe, that his manners were fingularly pleafing. He was fond of refined female society, and appears to have been very fortunate in two female friends of distinction, the Lady Margaret Ley, whose society consoled him when he was mortified by the defertion of his first wife, and the no less accomplished Lady Ranelagh, who had placed her son under his care, and who probably affifted him, when he was a widower and blind, with friendly directions for the management of his female infants. A passage in one of his letters to her son suggests this idea ; for he condoles with his young correspondent, then at the University, on the loss they would both sustain by the long absence of his most excellent mother, passing at that time into Ireland ; “ her departure must grieve us both,” says Milton, “ for to me also she supplied the place of every friend * ;” an expression full of tenderness and regret, highly honourable to the lady, and a pleasing memorial of that sensibility and gratitude, which I am persuaded we should have seen most eminent in the character of Milton, if his English letters had been fortunately preserved, particularly his letters to this interesting lady, whose merits are commemorated in an eloquent sermon, preached by bishop Burnet, on the death of her brother, that mild and accomplished model of virtue and of learning, Robert Boyle. Lady Ranelagh must have been one of the