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wanted courage to 'make his attack; flushed though he was with his conquests over Julius Cæsar, and The Moor: which insolence his Muse, like the other assassins of Cæsar *, severely revenged on herself; and not long after her triumph, became her own executioner. Nor is it unworthy our observation, that though, perhaps, no one of our English Poets hath excited so many admirers to imitate his manner, yet I think never any was known to aspire to emulation : even the late ingenious Mr. Philips, who in the colours of style, came the nearest of all the copiers to resemble the great original, made his distant advances with a filial reverence; and restrained his ambition within the same bounds which Lucretius prescribed to his own imitation.
Non ita certandi cupidus, quàm propter amorem
And now perhaps it may pass for fiction, what with great veracity I affirm to be a fact, that Milton, after having with much difficulty prevailed to have this Divine Poem licenced for the Press, could scarcely find a purchaser for the Copy! At length, however, he sold it for five pounds; but was to receive five pounds more
* Vide EDGAR.
after the sale of 1300 of the first impression, FIVE more after the sale of as many of the second, and FIVE more after the sale of as many of the third. The number of each impression was not to exceed 1500. What a poor consideration was this for so inestimable a performance! and how much more do others get by the works of great authors, than the authors themselves! The original contract with Samuel Simmons, the printer, is dated April 27, 1667. Notwithstanding the superexcellence of the piece, two years almost elapsed before 1300 copies could be sold, or before the author was entitled to his second FIVE pounds; for which his receipt, Bishop Newton informs us, is still in being, and is dated April 26, 1669. This is probably all he received; for he lived not to enjoy the benefits of the second edition, which was not published till 1674, in which year he died: but it appears that Milton had left his remaining right in the copy to his widow, who agreed with Simmons the printer to accept EIGHT pounds in full of all demands ! and her receipt for the money is dated December 21, 1680 !
About * two years after, together with Samson Agonistes (a tragedy not unworthy the Grecian Stage when Athens was in her glory)
* They were licenced July 2, 1670, but not printed before the year ensuing
he published PARADISE REGAINED. But it is not equal to PARADISE Lost; though, to be more admired, it needs only to be better known *.
* Concerning the origin of Paradise Regained we may just observe, that when Milton had lent Elwood the manuscript of Paradise Lost, at St. Giles Chalfont, in Buckinghamshire, whither he had retired during the raging of the plague in London, and having asked him how he liked it? and what he thought of it? Elwood said, “which I modestly but freely told him; and after some farther discourse about it, I pleasantly said to him, Thou hast said much of Paradise Lost, but what hast thou to say of Paradise found? He made me no answer, but sat some time in a muse; then broke off that discourse, and fell upon another subject.” When Elwood afterwards waited on him in London, Milton shewed him his Paradise Regained, and in a pleasant tone of voice said to him, “This is owing to you; for you put it into my head by the question you put to me at Chalfont, which before I had not thought of.” “It is commonly reported (says Bishop Newton) that Milton himself preferred this poem to Paradise Lost; but all that we can assert upon good authority is, that he could not endure to hear this poem cried down so much as it was, in comparison with the other : for, certainly it is very worthy of the author; and, contrary to what Mr. Toland relates, Milton may be seen in Paradise Regained as well as in Paradise Lost: if it is inferior in poetry, I know not whether it is not superior in sentiment; if it is less descriptive, it is more argumentative; if it does not sometimes rise so high, neither doth it ever sink so low; and it has not met with the approbation it deserves, only because it has not been more read and considered. His subject indeed is confined, and he has a narrow foundation to build upon; but he has raised as noble a superstructure as such little room and such scanty materials would allow. The great beauty of
In 1672 he published “ Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio ad Petri Rami methodum concinnata;” and the year following, “ A Treatise of True Religion, and the best Means to prevent the Growth of Popery." In 1674 were printed, · Epistolarum Familiarum, Lib. I. et Prolusiones quædam Oratoriæ in Collegio Christi habitæ ;" as was also his translation of the “ Declaration of the Poles concerning the Election of their King John 11. setting forth the Merits and Virtues of that Prince.” He also wrote “ A Brief History of Muscovy, collected from the Relations of several Travellers ;” but it was not printed till 1682. His State Letters, which he caused to be transcribed at the request of the Danish ambassador, at that time resident at the court of London, were likewise not printed till 1676; a translation of them into English appeared in 1694; to which translation a Life of Milton was prefixed by his nephew, Mr. Edward Philips.
And thus having attended him to the sixtysixth
year of his age, as closely as such imperfect lights as men of letters and retirement usually leave to guide our inquiry, would allow, it now only remains to be recorded, that about the roth of November, 1674, the gout put a period to his life, at his house in Bunhill Row, near Lon
it is, the contrast between the Tempter and our Saviour : the artful sophistry and specious insinuations of the one, refuted by the strong sense and manly eloquence of the other.” VOL. I.
don; whence his body was conveyed to St. Giles's Church, Cripplegate, where it lies interred in the Chancel, near that of his father, who died very aged about the year 1646.
Notwithstanding the greatness of Milton's character, and the public life which he led, no monument was erected to his memory till, in the
year 1737, one was put up in Westminster Abbey, at the expence of Auditor Benson. A small neat monument was likewise set up in the middle aisle of St. Giles's Church, Cripplegate, to his memory, in September 1793. It consists of a bust, as animated as the chissel of the artist could make it, the sculpture of Bacon. There is no “storied urn,” but underneath is a plain tablet, with the following inscription:
JOHN MILTON, Author of PARADISE Lost, born December, 1608, died November, 1674. His father, John Milton, died March, 1646.
They were both interred in this Church.” The Poet is said to have been in his youth extremely handsome: the colour of his hair was a light brown; the symmetry of his features exact, enlivened with an agreeable air, and a beautiful mixture of fair and ruddy; which occasioned the Marquis of Villa to give his Epigram (“Ut mens, forma,”&c. above cited) the same turn of thought, which Gregory Arch-Deacon of Rome had employed above a thousand years before, in prais