« ZurückWeiter »
MEMORANDA RELATING TO THE FAMILY OF POWELL OF FOREST-HILL, OXFORDSHIRE.
• Milton married in 1643, a daughter of Justice Powell of Sandford, in the vicinity of Oxford, and lived in a house at Forest-hill, about three miles from Oxford."
TODD'S LIFE OF MILTON, vol. i. p. 25, ed. 1809.
NOTHING can possibly be more erroneous. The families of Powell, alias ap Howell, of Sandford, and Powell of Forest-hill, were not in the remotest degree connected: the former were Roman Catholics. Milton's first wife was Mary, daughter of Richard Powell of Forest-hill. About twenty years ago, the writer, being strongly impressed with the incorrectness of the above statement, and residing for a few months at Oxford, compiled a pedigree of the family of Powell of Sandford, by which the fact is proved to demonstration. There were then no memorials of the family in the church of Forest-hill; and the earliest register commencing A. D. 1700, no notice respecting them could be gleaned from that source. It is probable they came gradually into prosperity under the wings of the Bromes. One Richard Powell is "remembered " as a "servant" (perhaps bailiff or steward) under the will of George Brome of Halton, and is mentioned before the testator's armourer. Richard Powell of Forest-hill, and Sir Edward Master of Ospringe, in Kent, were executors under the will of George Brome's widow, Eliz. (made 8th September, 1629) proved February 6th, 1634-5.
The will of Edmund Brome of Forest-hill, made November 8th, 1625, was proved August 12th, 1628, by Richard Powell, (sole executor,) Milton's father-in-law. There is no pedigree of the family to be met with; but the following are some memoranda respecting the will of Richard Powell of Forest-hill, Esq., made December 30th, 1646, proved March 26th 1647, by his widow, Anne; and on May 10th, 1662, by his son Richard; by which act the effect of the power so given to the mother was done away with. One of the attesting witnesses was John Milton his son-in-law; but the original will not being now (1831) at Doctors' Commons, curiosity will be disappointed in the expectation of seeing the poet's handwriting. The testator names as executor, in the first place, his eldest son Richard; and in the second, in case of said Richard's unwillingness to act, his wife Anne; and in the third place, in case of said Anne being unwilling to do so, his friend Mr. John Ellstone of Forest-hill, to whom he gives twenty shillings for a ring. He appoints as overseers his loving friends Sir John Curson and Sir Robert Pye, Knights, and gives to them twenty shillings each for a ring.
He devises his house, &c., at Forest-hill, (alias Forsthall) and alludes to his recently compounding for the same at Goldsmiths' Hall, to his eldest son Richard, subject, however, to as follows:-Payment of debts and funeral expenses, &c., satisfying a bond to Anne his, the testator's, wife, in reference to her jointure, and which the testator was not able at that period (1646) to discharge out of his personal property; and the remainder was then to be divided into two parts: one of them to belong to the said Richard, and the other to be divided among such of his brothers and sisters as might not have been already, at the time of the testator's decease, provided for; and the sisters to have one-third more apiece than their brothers.
The testator desires that his daughter, Milton, may be had regard to, as to the sufficiency of her portion; and more, if his, the testator's estate will bear it.
His houses and lands at Wheatley, and all other properties of the testator, not so above specifically bequeathed, &c., are given to his said son Richard.
The marriage portion, £1000, promised to John Milton by his father-in-law, was never paid, according to the biographies of the poet. His distresses in the royal cause prevented, probably, the payment of it.
[I am indebted for this information to the kindness of Mr. Frederick Holbrooke of Parkhurst, Bexley.-Er.]
DESCENDANTS OF MILTON *.
"MILTON'S direct descendants can only exist, if they exist at all, among the posterity of his youngest and favourite daughter Deborah, afterwards Mrs. Clarke, a woman of cultivated understanding, and not unpleasing manners, known to Richardson and Professor Ward, and patronised by Addison, who intended to have procured a permanent provision for her, and presented with fifty guineas by Queen Caroline. Her affecting exclamation is well known, on seeing her father's portrait for the first time more than thirty years after his death :-Oh, my father, my dear father! She spoke of him,' says Richardson, with great tenderness; she said he was delightful company, the life of the conversation, not only by a flow of subject, but by unaffected cheerfulness and civility.' This is the character of him whom Dr. Johnson represents as a morose tyrant, drawn by one of the supposed victims of his domestic oppression.
"Her daughter, Mrs. Foster, for whose benefit Dr. Newton and Dr. Birch procured Comus to be acted, survived all her children. The only child of Deborah Milton, of whom we have any accounts besides Mrs. Foster, was Caleb Clarke, who went to Madras in the first years of the eighteenth century, and who then vanishes from the view of the biographers of Milton. We have been enabled, by accident, to enlarge a very little this appendage to his history. It appears from an examination of the parish register of Fort St. George, that Caleb Clarke, who seems to have been parish-clerk of that place, from 1717 to 1719, was buried there on the 26th of October of the latter year. By his wife Mary, whose original surname does not appear, he had three children born at Madras :-Abraham, baptized on the 2nd of June, 1703; Mary baptized on the 17th of March, 1706, and buried on December the 15th of the same year; and Isaac, baptized the 12th of February, 1711. Of Isaac no further account appears. Abraham, the greatgrandson of Milton, in September, 1725, married Anna Clarke; and the baptism of his daughter, Mary Clarke, is registered on the 2nd of April, 1727. With her all notices of this family cease. But as neither he nor any of his family, nor his brother Isaac, died at Madras, and as he was only twenty-four years of age at the baptism of his daughter, is probable that the family migrated to some other part of India, and that some trace of them might yet be discovered by examination of the parish registers of Calcutta and Bombay. If they had returned to England, they could not have escaped the curiosity of the admirers and historians of Milton. We cannot apologise for the minuteness of this genealogy, or for the eagerness of our desire that it should be enlarged. We profess that superstitious veneration for the memory of that greatest of poets, which regards the slightest relic of him as sacred; and we cannot conceive either true poetical sensibility, or a just sense of the glory of England, to belong to that Englishman, who would not feel the strongest emotions at the sight of a descendant of Milton, discovered in the person even of the most humble and unlettered of human beings †."
MILTON'S AGREEMENT WITH MR. SYMONS FOR "PARADISE LOST,"
"THESE Presents made the 27th of day April 1667, between John Milton, Gent. of the one part, and Samuel Symons, printer, of the other part, wittness That the said John Milton in consideration of five pounds to him now paid by the said Samuel Symons, and other the consideracōns herein mentioned, hath given, granted and assigned, and by these pñts doth give, grant and assign unto the said Samll Symons, his executors and assignees, All that Booke, Copy, or Manuscript of a Poem intituled Paradise Lost, or by whatsoever other title or name the same is or shall be called or distinguished, now lately licensed to be printed, together with the full benefitt, *From a critique on Godwin's Lives of Milton's Nephews,' in Edinburgh Review, No. L. While the grandson of Milton resided at Madras, in a condition so humble as to make the office of parish-clerk an object of ambition, it is somewhat remarkable that the elder brother of Addison should have been the governor of that settlement. The Honourable Galston Addison died there in the year 1709.
profit, and advantage thereof, or weh shall or may arise thereby. And the said John Milton for him, his ex and adms, doth covenant with the said Sam" Symons, his ex" and ass', that he and they shall at all times hereafter have, hold and enjoy the same and all impressions thereof accordingly, without the lett or hindrance of him the said John Milton, his ex or ass, or any person or persons by his or their consent or privity. And that he the said John Milton, his ex's or adm's, or any other by his or their meanes or consent, shall not print or cause to be printed, or sell, dispose or publish the said book or manuscript, or any other book or manuscript of the same tenor or subject, without the consent of the said Sam" Symōns, his ex" or ass*: In concideracōn whereof the said Samell Symōns for him,-his ex's and adm", doth covenant with the said John Milton, his exrs and ass, well and truly to pay unto the said John Milton, his ex's and adm's, the sum of five pounds of lawfull english money at the end of the first Impression, which the said Sam" Symōns, his ex or ass, shall make and publish of the said copy or manuscript, which impression shall be accounted to be ended when thirteen hundred books of the said whole copy or manuscript imprinted, shall be sold and retailed off to particular reading customers. And, shall also pay other five pounds, unto the said John Milton or his ass', at the end of the second impression to be accounted as aforesaid, And five pounds more at the end of the third impression, to be in like manner accounted. And that the said three first impressions shall not exceed fifteen hundred books or volumes of the said whole copy or manuscript, a piece. And further, that he the said Samuel Symōns and his ex", adm", and ass shall be ready to make oath before a Master in Chancery concerning his or their knowledge and belief of or concerning the truth of the disposing and selling the said books by retail, as aforesaid, whereby the said Mr. Milton is to be entitled to his said money from time to time, upon every reasonable request in that behalf, or in default thereof shall pay the said five pounds agreed to be paid upon every impression, as aforesaid, as if the same were due, and for and in lieu thereof. In witness whereof, the said parties have to this writing indented, interchangeably sett their hands and seales the day and yeare first above written. JOHN MILTON. (Seal).
Sealed and delivered in
Reel then of Samuel Simmons five pounds, being the Second five pounds to be paid-mentioned in the Covenant. I say reed by me,
Witness, Edmund Upton.
I do hereby acknowledge to have received of Samuel Symonds Cittizen and Statoner of London, the Sum of Eight pounds: which is in full payment for all my right, title or interest, which I have or ever had in the Coppy of a Poem Intitled Paradise Lost in Twelve Bookes in 8vo-By John Milton Gent. my late husband. Wittness my hand this 21st day of December 1680. Wittness, William Yopp, Ann Yopp. Know all men by these pssents that I Elizabeth Milton of London Widdow, late wife of John Milton of London Gent: deceased-have remissed released and for ever quitt claimed And by these pssents doe remise release & for ever quitt clayme unto Samuel Symonds of London, Printer-his heirs Executrs and Administrators All and all manner of Accoñ and Accoñs Cause and Causes of Accon Suites Bills Bonds writinges obligatorie Debts dues duties Accompts Summe and Sumes of money Judgments Executions Extents Quarrells either in Law or Equity Controversies and demands-And all & every other matter cause and thing whatsoever which against the said Samuel Symonds-I ever had and which I my heires Executers or Administrators shall or may have clayme & challenge or demand for or by reason or means of any matters cause or thing whatsoever from the beginning of the World unto the day of these pssents. In witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and seale the twenty-ninth day of April in the thirty-third Year of the Reigne of our Sovereign Lord Charles by the grace of God of England Scotland france and Ireland King defender of the ffaith & Anno Dni. 1681. ELIZABETH MILTON.
Signed and delivered in the pssence of Jos. LEIGH W. WILKINS.
COWLEY'S PREFACE TO HIS POEMS, 1656.
Ir has been already observed that Cowley had scarcely opportunity to become acquainted with the early poems of Milton; and his party attachments prevented even a wish for personal intimacy; he was engaged besides on active, sometimes foreign service, and, if he read the "Defensio" of the great republican, in all probability read it with horror.
Yet we find on authority not to be questioned, that Milton spoke of Cowley as a poet whom he valued, and named him with Spenser and Shakspeare. This is the more surprising, as Cowley was by ten years the younger man, and his writings had never appeared in body till 1656, when he returned to England from the Continent, and published them in folio. This volume was, there can be no question, read to Milton in his blindness: the congeniality of their studies, and their religious feelings, led him to estimate highly the only rival that Cambridge had bred to him in Latin verse; and though unnoticed in the volume upon his table, the PREFACE spoke to him, as by the inspiration of Urania herself. Let the reader imagine the blind bard listening to the following exquisite admonitions, which he alone fully comprehended; and the expectations which of all mankind he only could gratify; and upon which he was then earnestly and silently meditating:
"When I consider how many bright and magnificent subjects the holy Scripture affords and proffers, as it were, to poesy, in the wise managing and illustrating whereof, the glory of God Almighty might be joined with the singular utility and noblest delight of mankind; it is not without grief and indignation that I behold that divine science employing all her inexhaustible riches of wit and eloquence, either in the wicked and beggarly flattery of great persons, or the unmanly idolizing of foolish women, or the wretched affectation of scurril laughter, or at best on the confused antiquated dreams of senseless fables and metamorphoses. Amongst all holy and consecrated things, which the devil ever stole and alienated from the service of the Deity; as altars, temples, sacrifices, prayers, and the like; there is none that he so universally, and so long usurped, as poetry. It is time to recover it out of the tyrant's hands, and to restore it to the kingdom of God, who is the father of it. It is time to baptize it in Jordan, for it will never become clean by bathing in the water of Damascus. There wants, methinks, but the conversion of that, and the Jews, for the accomplishment of the kingdom of Christ. And as men, before their receiving of the faith, do not without some carnal reluctancies apprehend the bonds and fetters of it, but find it afterwards to be the truest and greatest liberty; it will fare no otherwise with this art, after the regeneration of it it will meet with wonderful variety of new, more beautiful, and more delightful objects; neither will it want room, by being confined to heaven. There is not so great a lie to be found in any poet, as the vulgar conceit of men, that lying is essential to good poetry. Were there never so wholesome nourishment to be had (but alas, it breathes nothing but diseases) out of these boasted feasts of love and fables; yet, methinks, the unalterable continuance of the diet should make us nauscate it for it is almost impossible to serve up any new dish of that kind. They are all but the cold meats of the ancients, new-heated, and new set forth. do not at all wonder that the old poets made some rich crops out of these grounds; the heart of the soil was not then wrought out with continual tillage: but what can we expect now, who come a gleaning, not after the first reapers, but after the very beggars? Besides, though those mad stories of the gods and heroes seem in themselves so ridiculous; yet they were in the whole body (or rather chaos) of the theology of those times. They were believed by all but a few philosophers, and perhaps some atheists, and served to good purpose among the vulgar (as pitiful things as they are), in strengthening the authority of law with the terrors of conscience, and expectation of certain rewards, and unavoidable punishments. There was no other religion; and therefore that was better than none at all: but to us, who have no need of them; to us, who deride their folly, and are wearied with their impertinencies; they ought to appear no better arguments for verse, than those of their worthy successors, the knights errant. What can we imagine more proper for the ornaments of wit or learning in the story of Deucalion than in that
of Noah! Why will not the actions of Samson afford as plentiful matter as the labours of Hercules? Why is not Jephthah's daughter as good a woman as Iphigenia and the friendship of David and Jonathan more worthy celebration than that of Theseus and Pirithous? Does not the passage of Moses and the Israelites into the Holy Land yield incomparably more poetical variety than the voyages of Ulysses or Eneas! Are the obsolete thread-bare tales of Thebes and Troy half so stored with great, heroical, and supernatural actions (since verse will needs find or make such) as the wars of Joshua, of the Judges, of David, and divers others? Can all the transformations of the gods give such copious hints to flourish and expatiate on, as the true miracles of Christ, or of his prophets and apostles? What do I instance in these few particulars? All the books of the Bible are either already most admirable and exalted pieces of poesy, or are the best materials in the world for it. Yet, though they be in themselves so proper to be made use of for this purpose; none but a good artist will know how to do it: neither must we think 1 to cut and polish diamonds with so little pains and skill as we do marble: for if any man design to compose a sacred poem, by only turning a story of the scripture, like Mr. Quarles's, or some other godly matter, like Mr. Heywood of angels, into rhyme; he is so far from elevating of poesy, that he only abases divinity. In brief, he who can write a profane poem well, may write a divine one better; but he who can do that but ill, will do this much worse. The same fertility of inven the same wisdom of disposition; the same judgment in observance of decencies; the same lustre and vigour of elocution; the same modesty and majesty of number; briefly, the same kind of habit is required to both only this latter allows better stuff, and therefore would look more deformedly ill dressed in it. I am far from assuming to myself to have fulfilled the duty of this weighty undertaking but sure I am, there is nothing yet in our language (nor perhaps in any) that is in any degree answerable to the idea that I conceive of it. And I shall be ambitious of no other fruit from this weak and imperfect attempt of mine, but the opening of a way to the courage and industry of some other persons, who may be better able to perform it thoroughly and successfully."
Such were the suggestions of that amiable and excellent writer, and such the soil on which this broad-cast of celestial seed was thrown. What a subject of regret that he should have died, without seeing the work he was so modest as to expect from another and superior Muse! He died on the 28th of July, 1667, in the 49th year of his age; and the" Paradise Lost" was then just issuing from the press.
SELECTED ENCOMIASTIC LINES.
Qut legis Amissam Paradisum, grandia magni
Intima panduntur magni penetralia mundi,
Et sine fine magis, si quid magis est sine fine,
* In Paradisum Amissam Summi Poetæ Johannis Miltoni.