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Petty France, Westminster; then in Holborn; then in Jewin Street; and, lastly, in Artillery Walk, Bunhill Fields. They might, therefore, enthusiasm, and with a rush of fondness as she looked at the portrait of him which she thought likest ; and she impressed them as “a woman of good understanding and genteel behaviour, though in low circumstances.” She told Mr. Ward that “she and her sisters used to read to their father in eight languages ;
which, by practice, they were capable of doing with great readiness and accuracy, " though they understood what they read in no other language but English ; and “ their father used often to say in their hearing that one tongue was enough for a
None of them were ever sent to school, but all taught at home by a “ mistress kept for that purpose.” Addison, Mr. Ward, and others, received a singular corroboration of this story, by hearing her repeat, even after such a distance of time, passages from the beginning of Homer and some verses of Euripides in Greek, and a little of Ovid's Metamorphoses in Latin. On Addison's recommendation, the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline, had, in or about 1719, sent her a present of fifty guineas ; and, just before her death, there was a larger general subscription on her behalf. It may be taken as a sign of her affection for her father that, along with her £100 in 1675, she had secured “several goods” that had belonged to him : among which was the second silver seal, mentioned ante, p. 10, and also a Bible that had belonged to her mother, and on a blank leaf of which Milton had entered the births of his children. Through her alone, at all events, was the poet's lineage continued for more than one generation. Besides six sons and two daughters, who had all died young, and without issue, she had a son, Caleb Clarke, and a daughter, Elizabeth. This Elizabeth Clarke married a Thomas Foster, described also as “a Spitalfields weaver.” She was living, in 1738, in Pelham Street, Spitalfields, but afterwards kept a small chandler's shop in Lower Holloway; whence she removed, in 1748 or 1749, to Cock Lane, near Shoreditch Church. She lived till May 9, 1754, and, like her mother, was much visited by persons of note on Milton's account, and, among them, by two of Milton's biographers, Dr. Birch and Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Newton. To Dr. Birch, whose acquaintance with her had begun in 1738, she showed, in Jan. 1749-50, the Bible above mentioned, which had come to her from her mother. Newton's account of her, in 1749, is as follows : “She “ 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 he [Milton] kept his daughters at a great distance, and would not allow “ them to learn to write, which he thought unnecessary for a woman (Mrs. Foster “ is not quite correct here] ; that 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 headaches and disorders, and had such a weakness “ in her eyes that she was forced to make use of spectacles at the age of eighteen “[i.e. almost from the time when she left her father's house]; and she hersell, " she says, has not been able to read a chapter in the Bible these twenty years." The poor circumstances of this granddaughter of Milton having been made known, a performance of Comus for her benefit took place in Drury Lane Theatre on the
have been his amanuenses, if they had the requisite ability. But the eldest could not write, and she, therefore, is excluded. The second could write tolerably, and the youngest still better; and they may, therefore, have helped occasionally,-more especially the youngest ; in whose favour we have also Aubrey's note, for whatever it is worth, “Deborah was his amanuensis.” Before the poem was completed,
5th of April 1750, Dr. Johnson writing a Prologue, and Bishop Newton and the
It is con
however, there was at hand a fitter amanuensis than either in Milton's third wife. “Her husband,” she told people afterwards in her widowhood, "used to compose his poetry chiefly in winter, and on his “ waking in the morning would make her write down sometimes
twenty or thirty verses.”l Here, however, is a passage from Phillips, still more distinct :—“There is another very remarkable passage in “the composure of this poem, which I have a particular occasion to “ remember; for, whereas I had the perusal of it from the very begin
ning, for some years as I went from time to time to visit him, in a “parcel of ten, twenty, or thirty verses at a time, which, being " written by whatever hand came next, might possibly want correction " as to the orthography and pointing,—having, as the summer came “on, not been shewed any for a considerable while, and desiring the
reason thereof,  was answered, that his vein never happily flowed “ but from the Autumnal Equinoctial to the Vernal (i.e. from the end “of September to the end of March), and that whatever he attempted
[at other times] was never to his satisfaction, though he exerted his fancy never so much : so that, in all the years he was about this
be said to have spent but half his time therein." What has been most generally noted in this passage is the interesting information that Milton believed his vein of invention to be happier in the winter than in the summer half of the year, and did actually produce most of his Paradise Lost in late autumn, winter, and early spring. But the information respecting the amanuenses is also worthy of notice. The poem was committed to paper, says Phillips, in parcels of ten, twenty, or thirty verses at a time, by any hand that happened to be near. This might be that of either of the two younger daughters ; latterly, it might be that of the third wife; but, quite as often, it may have been that of a hired amanuensis, or one of the numerous young men who came to his house at stated times to read to him for their own benefit. That he used such casual help in writing is otherwise known. In the volume of Milton MSS. in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, of which an account has been given at pp. 102-7 of vol. i. and pp. 43-47 of this volume, there are several scraps in other hands than Milton's own. These are either the first drafts or transcripts of some of his sonnets, written between 1642
Newton's Life of Milton, edit. 1761, p. lxxv. 2 The same fact is stated by Aubrey ; to whom Phillips had mentioned it verbally (1680) many years before printing it himself.
and 1658, inclusively. At least six different hands may be counted in these scraps : not one of them his daughter Deborah's, or his daughter Mary's, or his third wife's. Indeed, if the scraps were written at the dates to which they refer, it is impossible that any of them should have been written by the third wife, since he was not married to her till 1662-3. It is equally impossible that they should have been written by either of his youngest daughters, since neither of them was born at the date of the earliest, and at the date of the latest Mary was but nine, and Deborah not six, years of age. But, whether they were written at the dates to which they refer or were transcripts afterwards, it is clear that they were written by various persons, and each by whatever hand chanced to be at Milton's service for the moment. And so till Milton's death. In the last of his private letters extant,—dated London, Aug. 15, 1666, and addressed to the Peter Heimbach already mentioned as one of his foreign acquaintances-he asks his correspondent to excuse any faults in the writing or punctuation, on the ground that the letter has been written for him by a boy knowing nothing of Latin, and to whom he has been obliged therefore, in dictating, to spell out the words letter by letter. We can conceive Milton dictating parts of his Paradise Lost even to so unlikely an amanuensis as this; to whom, after all, neither of his writing daughters can have been much superior.
To whomsoever he dictated, one would like to know anything that is to be known of his manner of dictating. On this point we have no additional information more authentic than that which the painter Richardson had been able to collect from tradition when he wrote his sketch of Milton's Life in 1734. “Other stories I have “heard,” says Richardson, “concerning the posture he was usually in " when he dictated : that he sat leaning backward obliquely in an easy “chair, with his leg flung over the elbow of it. That he frequently “composed lying in bed on a morning ('twas winter, sure, then), I “ have been well informed; that, when he could not sleep, but lay “ awake whole nights, he tried [and] not one verse could he make,
[but) at other times flowed 'easy his unpremeditated verse,' with a “certain impetus and æstro, as himself seemed to believe. Then, “ at what hour soever, he rung for his daughter to secure what
I have also been told he would dictate many, perhaps forty, lines, as it were in a breath, and then reduce them to half
“ the number."1 We can believe part of this at least, though it would have been better if Richardson had given his authorities.
Yet one final inquiry respecting these mechanical matters :-By whatever instalments, at the hands of various amanuenses, day by day and week by week through five or seven years, and especially the winters of those years, Milton succeeded in transferring his epic to paper in its first continuous rough copy, that copy, we may would not satisfy him. He must have changed his habits very
much if it did. Of Shakespeare the earliest editors of his Plays say, “ His “mind and hand went together; and what he thought he uttered “ with that easiness that we have scarce received from him a blot in “ his papers.” With Milton it was different. His mind and hand, indeed, also went together, and what he thought he uttered nobly at first; but he was always re-thinking, and compelling his hand to consequent modifications of what it had already executed. The drafts of his earlier poems, yet extant in his own hand in Trinity College, Cambridge, are a revelation in this respect. They prove him to have been a most fastidious corrector of his own productions. They, and especially some of them, abound with erasures, marginal corrections, interlineations, re-insertions of words once erased, and even re-obliterations of these in favour of new changes. Almost uniformly, too, every correction is for the better, and the last form of a phrase or passage is the most perfect, both in meaning and in music. Now we cannot suppose that there was no corresponding process during the composition of Paradise Lost. Only we may suppose that much of the process was transacted mentally : that the poet, before he dictated a passage or instalment of his poem, had in many cases kept it sounding in his mind for a while and assuming the shape that satisfied him. Similarly, we must suppose him, --carrying as he doubtless did the whole poem, as far as it was composed, in his memory,—not unfrequently going back upon portions of it, and here and there improving expressions, or adding lines and passages for the sake of increased strength or beauty, or indeed making modifications that had become necessary in consequence of some new idea that had struck him farther on as to some part of the conduct of the story. Hence there would be changes, by his direction, in the aggregate copy that had grown out of his first piecemeal dictations. We have also Edward
Explanatory Notes and Remarks on Milton's Paradise Lost. By J. Richard-