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intended for the scene: būt whatever truth there may be in this report, it is certain that he did not begin to mould his subject, in the form which it bears now, before he had concluded his controversy with Salmasius and More, when he had wholly lost the use of his eyes, and was forced to employ, in the office of an amanuensis, any friend who acci. dentally paid him a visit. Yet, under all ese discouragements and various interruptions, in the year 1669 he published his Paradise Lost, the noblest poem (next to those of Ho. mer and Virgil) that ever the wit of man produced in any age or nation. Need I mention any other evidence of its inestimable worth, than that the finest geniuses who have succeeded him have ever esteemed it a merit to relish and illustrate its beauties?
And now perhaps it may pass for a fiction, what with great veracity I affirm to be fact, that Milton, after having with much difficulty prevailed to have this divine poem licensed for the press, could sell the copy for no more than fifteen pounds; the payment of which valuable consideration, depended upon the sale of three numerous impressions. So unreasonably may personal prejudice affect the most excel. lent performances ?
About two years after, he published Paradise Regained; but, Oh! what a falling off was there !--of which I will say no more, than that there is scarcely a more remarkable in stance of the frailty of human reason, than our author gave in preferring this poem to Paradise Lost.
And thus having attended him to the sixty-ninth year of his age, as closely as such imperfect lights, asmen of letters and retirement usually leave to guide our inquiry, would allow, it now only remains to be recorded, that in the year 1674, the gout put a period to his life, at Bunhill, near London ; from whence his body was conveyerl to St. Giles. church, by Cripplegate, where it lies interred
the chancel and a neat monument has lately been erected to perpetuate his memory;
In his youth he is said to have been extremely handsoine. The color 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. His stature (as we find it measured by him self) did not exceed the middle size, his person neither too lean nor corpulent; his limbs well proportioned, nervous, and active, serviceable in all respects to his exercising the sword, in which he much des lighted ; and wanted neither skill nor courage to resent an affront from men of the most athletic constitutions. In his djet he was abstemious; not delicate in the choice of his.
dishes; and strong liquors of all kinds were his aversion. His deportment was erect, open, affable; his conversation easy, cheerful, instructive; his wit on all occasions at command, facetious, grave, or satirical, as the subject required. His judgment, when disengaged from religious and political speculations was just and penetrating, his apprehension quick, bis memory tenacious of what he read, his reading only not so extensive as his genius, for that was universal. And having treasured up, such immense stores of science, perhaps the faculties of his soul grew more vigorous after he was deprived of sight; and his imagination (naturally sublime and enlarged by reading romances, of which he was much enamoured in his youth,) when it was wholly abstracted from material objects, was more at liberty to make such amazing excursions into the ideal world, when, in composing his divine work, he was tempted to range
“Beyond the visible diurnal sphere.” With so many accomplishments, not to have had some faults and misfortunes to be laid in the balance with the fame and felicity of writing Paradise Lost; would have been too great a portion for humanity.
When I beheld the Poet blind yet bold,
Yet, as I read, soon growing less severe,
Or if a work so infinite he spann'd,
Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor despise
So that no room is here for writers left,
That majesty which through thy work doth reign,
Where could'st thou words of such a compass find ? Whence furnish such a vast expanse of mind ? Just heaven thee like Tiresias to requite, Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.
Well migh’st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rhyme of thy own sense secure; While the town-bays writes all the while and spells, And like a pack-horse, tires without his bells, Their fancies like our bushy points appear, The poets tag them, we for fashion wear, I, too, transported by thy mode commend, And while I mean to praise thee, must offend. Thy verse created, like thy theme sublime, In number, weigh and measure, needs not rhyme.