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grave. Mr. Fenton in his short but elegant account of the life of Milton, speaking of our author's having no monument, fays that "he defired a friend to inquire at St. Giles's Church; where the fexton showed him a small " monument, which he said was supposed to be Milton's; "but the inscription had never been legible fince he was employed in that office, which he has poffeffed about forty years. This fure could never have happened in "fo fhort a space of time, unless the epitaph had been induftriously erased: and that fuppofition, fays Mr. Fenton, carries with it fo much inhumanity, that I think "we ought to believe it was not erected to his memory." It is evident that it was not erected to his memory, and that the fexton was miftaken. For Mr. Toland in his account of the life of Milton fays, that he was buried in the chancel of St. Giles's church, "where the piety of "his admirers will fhortly erect a monument becoming "his worth and the encouragement of letters in King "William's reign." This plainly implies that no monument was erected to him at that time, and this was written in 1698: and Mr. Fenton's account was first publifhed, I think, in 1725; fo that not above twenty seven years intervened from the one account to the other; and confequently the sexton, who it is said had been poffeffed of his office about forty years, must have been mistaken, and the monument must have been defigned for some other person, and not for Milton. A monument indeed has been erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey by Auditor Benson in the year 1737; but the best monument of him is his writings.
In his youth he was efteemed extremely handsome, fo that while he was a student at Cambridge, he was called the Lady of Chrift's College. He had a very fine skin and fresh complexion; his hair was of a light brown, and parted on the foretop hung down in curls waving upon his shoulders; his features were exac and regular; his
voice agreeable and mufical; his habit clean and neat; his deportment erect and manly. He was middle fized and well proportioned, neither tall nor fhort, neither too lean nor too corpulent, ftrong and active in his younger years, and though afflicted with frequent head-akes, blindness, and gout, was yet a comely and well-looking man to the laft. His eyes were of a light blue color, and from the first are said to have been none of the brightest; but after he lost the fight of them, (which happened about the 43d year of his age) they fill appeared without spot or blemish, and at first view and at a little distance it was not eafy to know that he was blind. Mr. Richardfon had an account of him from an ancient clergyman in Dorsetshire, Dr. Wright, who found him in a fmall house, which had (he thinks) but one room on a floor; in that, up one pair of ftairs, which was hung with a rufty green, he faw John Milton fitting in an elbow chair, with black clothes, and neat enough, pale but not cadaverous, his hands and fingers gouty, and with chalk ftones; among other difcourfe he expreffed himself to this purpose, that was he free from the pain of the gout, his blindness would be tolerable. But there is the less need to be particular in the defcription of his perfon, as the idea of his face and countenance is pretty well known from the numerous prints, pictures, bufts, medals, and other representations which have been made of him. There are two pictures of greater value than the reft, as they are undoubted originals, and were in the poffeffion of Milton's widow: the firft was drawn when he was about twenty one, and is at prefent in the collection of the Right Honorable Arthur Onflow Efq; Speaker of the House of Commons; the other in crayons was drawn when he was about fixty two, and was in the collection of Mr. Richardfon, but has fince been purchased by Mr. Tonfon. Several prints have been made from both thefe pictures; and there is a print done, when he was
about fixty two or fixty three, after the life by Faithorn, which tho' not so handsome, may yet perhaps be as true a refemblance, as any of them. It is prefixed to fome of our author's pieces, and to the folio edition of his profe works in three volumes printed in 1698.
In his way of living he was an example of fobriety and temperance. He was very sparing in the use of wine or ftrong liquors of any kind. Let meaner poets make use of such expedients to raise their fancy and kindle their imagination. He wanted not any artificial spirits; he had a natural fire, and poetic warmth enough of his own. He was likewife very abftemious in his diet, not faftidiously nice or delicate in the choice of his difhes, but content with any thing that was most in feafon, or easiest to be procured, eating and drinking, (according to the diftinction of the philofopher) that he might live, and not living that he might eat and drink, So that probably his gout defcended by inheritance from one or other of his parents; or if it was of his own acquiring, it must have been owing to his ftudious and fedentary life. And yet he delighted fometimes in walking and ufing exercife, but we hear nothing of his riding or hunting; and having early learned to fence, he was fuch a master of his fword, that he was not afraid of resenting an affront from any man; and before he loft his fight, his principal recreation was the exercise of his arms; but after he was confined by age and blindness, he had a machine to fwing in for the preservation of his health. In his youth he was accustomed to fit up late at his fludies, and feldom went to bed before midnight; but afterwards, finding it to be the ruin of his eyes, and looking on this custom as very pernicious to health at any time, he used to go to reft early, feldom later than nine, and would be stirring in the fummer at four, and in the winter at five in the morning; but if he was not difpofed to rise at his usual hours, he ftill did not lie fleeping, but
had some body or other by his bed fide to read to him. At his first rising he had ufually a chapter read to him out of the Hebrew Bible, and he commonly ftudied all the morning till twelve, then used fome exercife for an hour, afterwards dined, and after dinner played on the organ, and either fung himself or made his wife fing, who (he faid) had a good voice but no ear; and then he went up to study again till fix, when his friends came to vifit him and fat with him perhaps till eight; then he went down to fupper, which was ufually olives or fome light thing; and after fupper he fmoked his pipe, and drank a glass of water, and went to bed. He loved the country, and commends it, as poets ufually do; but after his return from his travels, he was very little there, except during the time of the plague in London. The civil war might at first detain him in town; and the pleafures of the country were in a great meafure loft to him, as they depend moftly upon fight, whereas a blind man wanteth company and converfation, which is to be had better in populous cities. But he was led out fometimes for the benefit of the fresh air, and in warm funny weather he used to fit at the door of his house near Bunhill Fields, and there as well as in the houfe received the vifits of perfons of quality and diflinction; for he was no lefs vifited to the laft both by his own countrymen and foreigners, than he had been in his florishing condition before the Restoration.
Some objections indeed have been made to his temper; and I remember there was a tradition in the university of Cambridge, that he and Mr. King (whofe death he laments in his Lycidas) were competitors for a fellowship, and when they were both equal in point of learning, Mr. King was preferred by the college for his character of good nature, which was wanting in the other; and this was by Milton grievoufly refented. But the difference of their ages, Milton being at leaft four years elder, ren
ders this story not very probable; and besides Mr. King was not elected by the college, but was made fellow by a royal mandate, fo that there can be no truth in the tradition; but if there was any, it is no fign of Milton's resentment, but a proof of his generosity, that he could live in fuch friendship with a fuccessful rival, and afterwards fo paffionately lament his decease. His method of writing controversy is urged as another argument of his want of temper: but fome allowance must be made for the customs and manners of the time. Controversy, as well as war, was rougher and more barbarous in those days, than it is in these. And it is to be confidered too, that his adversaries first began the attack; they loaded him with much more personal abuse, only they had not the advantage of so much wit to season it. If he had If he had engaged with more candid and ingenuous disputants, he would have preferred civility and fair argument to wit and satir: "to do fo was my choice, and to have done thus was my chance," as he expreffes himself in the conclufion of one of his controverfial pieces. All who have written any accounts of his life agree, that he was affable and inftructive in conversation, of an equal and chearful temper; and yet I can easily believe, that he had a fufficient fense of his own merits, and contempt enough for his adverfaries.
His merits indeed were fingular; for he was a man not only of wonderful genius, but of immenfe learning and crudition; not only an incomparable poet, but a great mathematician, logician, hiftorian, and divine. He was a master not only of the Greek and Latin, but likewise of the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac, as well as of the modern languages, Italian, French, and Spanish. He was particularly skilled in the Italian, which he always preferred to the French language, as all the men of letters did at that time in England; and he not only wrote elegantly in it, but is highly commended for his writings by