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the most learned of the Italians themfelves, and efpecially by the members of that celebrated academy called della Crufca, which was established at Florence for the refining and perfecting of the Tufcan language. He had read almost all authors, and improved by all, even by romances, of which he had been fond in his younger years; and as the bee can extract honey out of weeds, fo (to ufe his own words in his Apology for Smecymnuus) "those books, which to many others have been the “fuel of wantonness and loose living, proved to him so "many incitements to the love and obfervation of virtue." His favorite author after the Holy Scriptures was Homer. Homer he could repeat almoft all without book; and he was advised to undertake a tranflation of his works, which no doubt he would have executed to admiration. But (as he says of himself in his postscript to the Judgment of Martin Bucer) "he never could delight in long citations, "much lefs in whole traductions" And accordingly there are few things, and thofe of no great length, which he has ever tranflated. He was poffeffed too much of an original genius to be a mere copyer. "Whether it be "natural difpofition, fays he, or education in me, or that my mother bore me a speaker of what God made my own, and not a tranflator." And it is fomewhat remarkable, that there is scarce any author, who has written fo much, and upon fuch various fubjects, and yet quotes fo little from his contemporary authors, or fo feldom mentions any of them. He praises Selden indeed in more places than one, but for the reft he appears difposed to cenfure rather then commend. After his feverer fludies, and after dinner as we obferved before, he ufed to divert and unbend his mind with playing upon the organ or bafs-viol, which was a great relief to him after he had loft his fight; for he was a master of mufic as was his father, and he could perform both vocally and inftrumentally, and it is faid that he compofed very well,
tho' nothing of this kind is handed down to us. It is also said that he had fome skill in painting as well as in music, and that fomewhere or other there is a head of Milton drawn by himself: but he was blessed with so many real excellences, that there is no want of fictitious ones to raise and adorn his character. He had a quick apprehenfion, a fublime imagination, a ftrong memory, a piercing judgment, a wit always ready, and facetious or grave as the occafion required: and I know not whether the lofs of his fight did not add vigor to the faculties of his mind. He at least thought fo, and often comforted himself with that reflection.
But his great parts and learning have fcarcely gained him more admirers, than his political principles have raised him enemies. And yet the darling paffion of his foul was the love of liberty; this was his constant aim and end, however he might be mistaken in the means. He was indeed very zealous in what was called the good old cause, and with his fpirit and his refolution it is fomewhat wonderful, that he never ventured his person in the civil war; but tho' he was not in arms, he was not unactive, and thought, I suppose, that he could be of more service to the cause by his pen than by his fword. He was a thorough republican, and in this he thought like a Greek or Roman, as he was very converfant with their writings. And one day Sir Robert Howard, who was a friend to Milton as well as to the liberties of his country, and was one of his conftant vifitors to the laft, inquired of him how he came to fide with the republicans. Milton answered among other reasons, because theirs was the most frugal government, for the trappings of a monarchy might set up an ordinary commonwealth. But then his attachment to Cromwell must be condemned, as being neither confiftent with his republican principles, nor with his love of liberty. And I know no other way of accounting for his conduct, but by prefuming (as I think we
may reasonably prefume) that he was far from entirely approving of Cromwell's proceedings, but confidered him as the only person who could rescue the nation from the tyranny of the Presbiterians, who he saw were erecting a worse dominion of their own upon the ruins of prelatical epifcopacy; and of all things he dreaded fpiritual flavery, and therefore closed with Cromwell and the Independents, as he expected under them greater liberty of confcience. And tho' he served Cromwell, yet it must be faid for him, that he served a great master, and served him ably, and was not wanting from time to time in giving him excellent good advice, especially in his second Defense: and fo little being faid of him in all Secretary Thurloe's ftate-papers, it appears that he had no great fhare in the fecrets and intrigues of government; what he dispatched was little more than matters of necessary form, letters and answers to foreign ftates; and he may be juftified for acting in such a station, upon the fame principle as Sir Matthew Hale for holding a Judge's commiffion under the ufurper: and in the latter part of his life he frequently expreffed to his friends his entire fatiffaction of mind, that he had constantly employed his ftrength and faculties in the defense of liberty, and in oppofition to flavery.
In matters of religion too he has given as great offense, or even greater, than by his political principles. But ftill let not the infidel glory: no fuch man was ever of that party. He had the advantage of a pious education, and ever expreffed the profoundest reverence of the Deity in his words and actions, was both a Christian and a Proteftant, and studied and admired the Holy Scriptures above all other books whatsoever; and in all his writings he plainly showeth a religious turn of mind, as well in verse as in profe, as well in his works of an earlier date as in those of later compofition. When he wrote the Doctrin and Disciplin of Divorce, he appears to have
been a Calvinift; but afterwards he etertained a more favorable opinion of Arminius. Some have inclined to believe, that he was an Arian; but there are more express paffages in his works to overthrow this opinion, than any there are to confirm it. For in the conclufion of his treatise of Reformation he thus folemnly invokes the Trinity; "Thou therefore that fitteft in light and glory unapproachable, Parent of Angels and Men! next thee "I implore Omnipotent King, Redeemer of that loft remnant whose nature thou didst affume, ineffable and everlasting Love! And thou the third fubfiftence of divine infinitude illumining Spirit, the joy and folace "of created things! one Tri-perfonal Godhead! look up"on this thy poor, and almost spent and expiring Church "&c." And in his tract of Prelatical Epifcopacy he endevors to prove the spuriousness of fome epiftles attributed to Ignatius, because they contained in them herefies, one of which herefiesis, that " he condemns them for mini❝fters of Satan, who fay that Chrift is God above all." And a little after in the fame tract he objects to the authority of Tertullian, because he went about to "prove an 'imparity between God the Father, and God the Son." And in the Paradise Loft we fhall find nothing upon this head, that is not perfectly agreeable to Scripture. The learned Dr. Trap, who was as likely to cry out upon heresy as any man, afferts that the poem is orthodox in every part of it; or otherwise he would not have been at the pains of tranflating it. Neque alienum videtur a ftudiis viri theologi poema magna ex parte theologicum; omni ex parte (rideant, per me licet, atque ringantur athei et infideles) orthodoxum. Milton was indeed a diffenter from the Church of England, in which he had been educated, and was by his parents defigned for holy orders, as we related before; but he was led away by early prejudices against the doctrin and disciplin of the Church; and in his younger years was a favorer of the Prefbyte
rians; in his middle age he was best pleased with the Independents and Anabaptifts, as allowing greater liberty of confcience than others, and coming nearest in his opinion to the primitive practice; and in the latter part of his life he was not a professed member of any particular sect of Chriftians, he frequented no public worship, nor used any relgious rite in his family. Whether so many different forms of worship as he had feen, had made him indifferent to all forms; or whether he thought that all Criftians had in fome things corrupted the purity and fimplicity of the Gofpel; or whether he difliked their endless and uncharitable difputes, and that love of dominion and inclination to perfecution, which he faid was a piece of Popery infeparable from all Churches; or whether he believed, that a man might be a good Chriftian without joining in any communion; or whether he did not look upon himself as inspired, as wrapt up in God, and above all forms and ceremonies, it is not eafy to determin: to his own mafter he flandeth or falleth: but if he was of any denomination, he was a fort of a Quieteft, and was full of the interior of religion tho' he so little regarded the exterior; and it is certain was to the laft an enthufiaft rather than an infidel. As enthusiasm made Norris a poet, fo poetry might make Milton an enthusiast.
His circumftances were never very mean, nor very great; for he lived above want, and was not intent upon accumulating wealth; his ambition was more to enrich and adorn his mind. His father supported him in his travels, and for fome time after. Then his pupils must have been of fome advantage to him, and brought him either a certain ftipend or confiderable prefents at least; and he had scarcely any other method of improving his fortune, as he was of no profeffion. When his father died, he inherited an elder fon's fhare of his eftate, the principal part of which I believe was his houfe in BreadStreet: And not long after, he was appointed Latin Se