Page images
PDF
EPUB

such a beliaviour wculd be very inconsistent with his former conduct, for he had never yet employed his

pen against his conscience. By his first wife lie had four children, a son who died an infant, and three daughters who survived him ; by his second wife he had only one daughter, who died soon after her mother, who died in childbed; and by his last wife he had no children at all. His daughters were not sent to school, but were instructed by a mistress kept at home for that purpose : and he himself, excusing the eldest on account of an impediment in her speech, taught the two others to read and pronounce Greek and Latin, and several other languages, without understanding any but English, for he used to say that one tongue was enough for a wonian ; but this employment was very irksome to them, and this, together with the blarpness and severity of their mother-in-law, made

very uneasy at home; and therefore they were all sent abroad to learn things more proper for thenii, and particularly embroidery in gold and silver.

As Milton at his death left his affairs very much in the power of his widow, though she acknowledged that he died worth one thousand five hundred pounds, yet she allowed but one hundred pounds to each of his three daughters. Anne the eldest was decrepit and deformed, but had a very handsome face; she married a master-builder, and died in child-bed of her first child, who died with her. Mary the second lived and died single. Deborah the youngest in her

them

father's life-time went over to Ireland with a lady, and afterwards was married to Mr. Abrahamn Clarke, a weaver in Spittal Fields, and died in August 1727, in the 76th year of her age. She is said to have been a woman of good understanding and genteel behaviour, though in low circumstances. As she had been often called upon to read Homer and Ovid's Metamorphosis to her father, she could have repeated a considerable number of verses from the beginning of both these poets, as Mr. Ward, Professor of Rhetoric in Gresham College, relates upon his own knowledge: and another gentleman has informed me, that he has heard her repeat several verses likewise out of Euripides. Mr. Addison, and the other gentlemen, who had opportunities of seeing her, knew her immediately to be Milton's daughter by the similitude of her countenance to her father's picture: and Mr. Addison made her a handsome present of a purse of guincas, with a promise of procuring for her some annual provision for her life; but his death happening soon after, she lost the benefit of his generous design. She received presents likewise from several other gentlemen, and Queen Caroline sent her fifty pounds by the hands of Dr. Friend the plıysician. She had ten children, seven sous and three daugliters; but none of them had any children, except one of her sons namech Calel), and one of her daughters named Elizabeth. Caleb went to Fort St. George in the East Indies, where he married, and had two sons, Abraham and Isaac; the elder of whom came to England with the

late governor Harrison, but returned upon advice of his father's death, and whether he or his brother be now living is uncertain. Elizabeth, the youngest child of Mrs. Clarke, was married to Mr. Thomas Foster a weaver in Spittal Fields, and had seven children who are all dead; and she herself is aged about sixty, and weak and infirm. She seemeth to be a good plain sensible woman, and has confirmed several particulars related above, and informed me of some others, which she had often heard from her mother : that her grand-father lost two thousand pounds by a money-scrivener, whom he had entrusted with that sum, and likewise an estate at Westminster of sixty pounds a year, which belonged to the Dean and Chapter, and was restored to them at the Restoration; that he was very temperate in his eating and drinking, but what he had he always loved to have of the best: that he seldom went abroad in the latter

part of his life, but was visited even then by persons of distinction, both foreigners and others : that he kept his daughters at a great distance, and would not allow them to learn to write, which he thought unnecessary for a woman : t!at her mother Was his greatest favourite, and could read in seven or eight languages, though she understood none but English: that her mother inherited his head-akes and disorders, and had such a weakness in her eyes, that she was forced to make use of spectacles from the

age of eigliteen; and she herself, she says, has not been able to real a chapter in the Bible these twenty years: that she was mistaken in informing

Mr. Birch, what he had printed upon her authority, that Milton's father was born in France; and a bro.. ther of hers who was then living was very angry

with her for it, and like a true-born Englishman resented it highly, that the family should be thought to hear any relation to France: that Milton's second wife did not die in child-bed, as Mr. Philips and Toland relate, but above three months after of a consumption; and this too Mr. Birch relates upon her authority; but in this particular she must be mistaken as well as in the other, for our author's sonnet on his deceased wife plainly implies, that she died in childbed. She knows nothing of her aunt Philips or Agar's descendants, but believes that they are all extinct : as is likewise Sir Christopher Milton's family, the last of which, she says, were two maiden sisters, Mrs. Mary and Mrs. Catharine Milton, who lived and died at Highgate; but unknown to her, there is a Mrs. Milton living in Grosvenor-street, the grand-daughter of Sir Christopher, and the daughter of Mr. Thomas Milton before-mentioned : and she herself is the only survivor of Milton's own family, unless there be some in the East Indies, which she

very much questions, for she used to hear fion) them sometimes, but has heard nothing now for several years; so that in all probability Milton's whole family will be extinct with her, and he can live only in his writings. And such is the caprice of fortune, this grand-daughter of a man, who will be an everlasting glory to the nation, has now for some years with her husband kept a little chandler's or grocer's

[ocr errors]

shop for their subsistence, lately at the lower Halloway, in the road between Highgate and London, and at present in Cock-lane, not far from Shoreditch Church. Another thing let me mention, that is equally to the honour of the present age. Though Milton received not above ten pounds, at two different payments for the copy of Paradise Lost, yet Mr. Hoyle, author of the treatise on the Game of Whist, after having disposed of all the first impression, sold the copy to the bookseller, as I have been informed, for two hundred guineus.

As we have had occasion to mention more than once Milton's manuscripts, preserved in the library of Trinity College in Cambridge, it may not be ungrateful to the reader, if we give a more particular account of them before we conclude. There are, as we said, two draughts of a letter to a friend who had importuned him to take orders, together with a sonnet on his being arrived to the age of twenty-three ; and by there being two draughts of this letter, with several alterations and additions, it appears to have been written with great care and deliberation ; and both the draughts have been published by Mr. Birch in his Historical and Critical Account of the Life and Writings of Milton. There are also several of his poems, Arcades ; At a Solemn Music; On Time; Upon the Circumcision; the Mask; Lycidas; with five or six of his son ets, all in his own hand-writing; and there are some others of his sonnets written by different hands, being most of them composed after he had lost his sight.

It is curious to see the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »