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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 rest early, felt dom later than nine, and would be stirring in the summer at four, and in the winter at five in the morning ; but if he' was not disposed to rise at his usual hours, he still did not lie Neeping, but had some body or other by his bed fide to read to him, At his first rising he had usually a chapter read to him out of the Hebrew Bible, and he commonly ftudied all the morning till twelve, then used fome exercise for an hour, afterwards dined, and after dinner played on the organ, and either sung himself or made his wife fing, who (he said) had a good voice but no ear; and then he went up to Study again' till fix, when his friends came to visit him and fat with him perhaps till eight; then he went down to supper, which was usually olives or some light thing; and after fupper he smoked his pipe, and drank a glass of water, and went to bed. He loved the country, and commends it, as poets usually do ; but after his return from his travels, he was very little there, except during the time of the plugue in London. The civil war might at first detain himn in town; and the pleasures of the country were in a great measure lost to him, as they depend mostly upon sight, whereas a blind man wanteth
company and conversation, which is to be had better in populous cities. But he was led out sometimes for the benefit of the fresh air, and in warm funny weather he used to sit at the door of his house near Bunhill Fields, and there as well as in the house received the visits of persons of
quality and distinction; for he was no less visited to the last 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 (whose 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 grievously resented. But the difference of their ages, Milton being at least four years elder, renders this story not very probable; and besides Mr. King was not elected by the college, but was made fellow by a royal mandate, so that there can be no truth in the tradition; but if there was any, it is no sign of Milton's resentment, but a proof of his generosity, that he could live in such friendthip with a successful rival, and afterwards so passionately lament his decease. His method of writing controversy is urged as another argument of his want of temper: but some allowance must be made for the customs and manners of the time. Controverfy, 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 engaged with more candid and ingenuous disputants, he would have preferred civility and fair argument to wit and fatir :
equal and chearful temper; and yet I can easily Ixx The LIFE of MILTON. « to do so was my choice, and to have done thus
was my chance," as he expresses himself in the conclusion of one of his controversial pieces. An who have written any accounts of his life agree, that he was affable and instructive in conversation, of an
believe, that he had a sufficient sense of his own meríts, and contempt enough for his adversaries.
His merits indeed were fingular; for he was a man not only of wonderful genius, but of immense learning and erudition; not only an incomparable poet, but a great mathematician, logician, historian, and divine. He was a mafter 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 fkilled 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 the most learned of the Italians themselves, and especially by the members of that celebrated academy called della Crusca, which was established at Florence for the refining and perfecting of the Tuscan language. He had read almoft 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 use his own words in his Apology for Smectymnuus) " 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 ob" fervation of virtue." His favorite author after
the Holy Scriptures was Homer. Homer he could repeat almost all without book; and he was advised to undertake a translation 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 less in whole traductions." And accordingly there are few things, and those of no great length, which he has ever tranflated. He was possessed too much of an original genius to be a merę copyer.
“ Whether it be natural disposition, " says he, or education in me, or that my mother " bore me a speaker of what God made my own, “ and not a translator.” And it is somewhat remarkable, that there is scarce any author, who has written so much, and upon such various subjects, and yet quotes so 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 disposed to censure rather than commend. After his feverer ftudies, and after dinner as we observed before, he used to divert and unbend his mind with playing upon the organ or bass-viol, which was a great relief to him after he had lost his fight; for he was a master of music as was his father, and he could perform both vocally and instrumentally, and it is said that he composed very well, tho' nothing of this kind is handed down to us. It is also said that he had some skill in painting as well as in music, and that somewhere or other there is a head of Milton drawn by himself: but he was blessed with so
real excellences, that there is no want of fictitious ones to
raise and adorn his character. He had a quick apprehension, a sublime imagination, a strong memory, a piercing judgment, a wit always ready, and facetious or grave as the occasion required: and I know not whether the loss of his fight did not add vigor to the faculties of his mind. He at least thought so, and often comforted himself with that reflection.
But his great parts and learning have scarcely gained him more admirers, than his political principles have raised him enemies. And yet the darling pasfion of his soul 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 spirit and his resolution it is somewhat 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 fervice to the cause by his pen than by his sword. He was a thorough republican, and in this he thought like a Greek or Roman, as he was very conversant 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 visitors to the last, inquired of him how he came to side 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 consistent with his republican principles, nor with his love of liberty.