« AnteriorContinuar »
questration, Milton received both him and his family to protection, and free entertainment, in his own house, till their affairs were accommodated by his interest in the victorious faction. A commission to constitute him adjutant general to sir William Waller was promised, but soon superceded, by Waller's being laid aside, when his masters thought it proper to new model their army. However, the keenness of his pen had so effectually recommended him to Cromwell's esteem, that, when he took the reins of govenment into his own hand, he advanced him to be Latin secretary, both to himself and the parliament; the former of these preferments he enjoyed both under the usurper and his son, the other until king Charles II was restored. For some time he had an apartment for his family at Whitehall: but his health requir. ing a freer accession of air, he was obliged to remove from thence to lodgings which opened into St. James' Park. Not long after his settlement there, his wife died in childbed; and much about the time of her death, a guttaserena, which had for several years been gradually .."; totally extinguished his sight. In this melancholy condition, he was easily prevailed with to think of takin another wife, who was Catharine, the daughter of captain Woodcock, of Hackney; and she too, in less than a year after their marriage, died in the same unfortunate manner as the former had done; and in his twenty-third sonnet he does honour to her memory. Being a second time a widower, he employed his friend Dr. Paget to make choice of a third consort, on whose recommendation he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Mr. Minshul, a Cheshire o by whom he had no issue. Three daughters, by his rst wife, were then living; the two elder of whom are said to have been very serviceable to him in his studies; for having been instructed to pronounce not only the modern, but also the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, they read in their respective origimals, whatever authors he wanted to consult, though they understood none but their mother tongue. We come now to take a survey of him in that point of view, in which he will be looked upon by all succeeding ages with equal delight and admiration. An interval of about twenty years had elapsed since he wrote the Mask of Comus, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, and Lycidas, all in such an exquisite strain, that though he had left no other monuments of his genius behind him, his name had been immortal; but neither the infirmities of ". and constitution, nor the vicissitudes of fortune, could depress the vigour of his mind, or divert it from executing a design he had long conceived of writing an heroic poem.” The fall of man was a subject that he had some years before fixed on for a tragedy, which he intended to form by the models of antiquity; and some, not without probability say, the play opened with that speech in the fourth book of Para
• Paradise Lost, Book IX, page 213.