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himself disencumbered from external interruption, he seems to have recollected his former purposes, and to have resumed three great works which he had planned for his future employment; ar epic poem, the history of his country, and a dictionary of the Latin tongue.

To collect a dictionary, seems a work of all others least practicable in a state of blindness, because it depends upon perpetual and minute inspection and collation. Nor would Milton probably have begun it after he had lost his eyes; but, having had it always before him, he continued it, says Philips, "almost to his dying day; but the papers were so discomposed and deficient, that they could not be fitted for the press." The compilers of the Latin dictionary printed at Cambridge, had the use of those collections in three folios; but what was there fate afterwards is not known.*

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To compile a history from various authors, when they can only be consulted by other eyes, is not easy, nor possible, but with more skilful and attentive help than can be commonly obtained; and it was probably the difficulty of consulting and comparing that stopped Milton's narrative at the Conquest; a period at which affairs were not very intricate, nor authors very


For the subject of his epic poem, after much deliberation, long choosing, and beginning late, he fixed upon Paradise Lost ;" a design so comprehensive, that it could be justified only by success. He had once designed to celebrate King Arthur, as he hints in his verses to Mansus; but "Arthur was reserved," says Fenton, "to another destiny."†

It appears, by some sketches of poetical projects left in manuscript, and to be seen in a library at Cambridge, that he had digested his thoughts on this subject into one of those wild dramas which were anciently called Mysteries:§ and Philips had seen what he terms part of a tragedy, beginning with the first ten lines of Satan's address to the sun. These mysteries consist of allegorical persons; such as Justice, Mercy, Faith. Of the tragedy or mystery of "Paradise Lost" there are two plans:

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The Cambridge Dictionary," published in 4to. 1603, is no other than a copy, with some small additions, of that of Dr. Adam Littleton in 1635, by sundry persons, of whom, though their names are concealed, there is great reason to conjecture that Milton's nephew, Edward Philips, is one; for it is expressly said by Wood, Fasti, vol. i. p. 256, that "Milton's Thesaurus" came to his hands; and it is asserted, in the preface thereto, that the editors thereof had the use of three large folios in manuscript, collected and digested into alphabetical order by Mr. John Milton.

It has been remarked, that the additions, together with the preface above mentioned, and a large part of the title of the "Cambridge Dictionary," have been incorporated and printed with the subsequent editions of Littleton's Dictionary," till that of 1735. Brit. 2995, in not.-So that, for aught that appears to Vid. Biog. the contrary, Philips was the last possessor of Milton's

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Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise.
presented by an angel with
Labour, Grief, Hatred, Envy, War, Fa-
mine, Pestilence, Sickness, Discon- Mutes.
tent, Ignorance, Fear, Death,

To whom he gives their names.

Heat, Tempest, &c.




Likewise, Winter,

comfort him and instruct him

Chorus briefly concludes.

Such was his first design, which could have produced only an allegory, or mystery. The following sketch seems to have attained more maturity,

Adam unparadised ;

The angel Gabriel, either descending or entering; showing, since this globe was created, his frequency as much on earth as in heaven: describes Paradise. Next the Chorus, showing the reason of his coming to keep his watch in ParaGod: and withal expressing his desire to see and dise, after Lucifer's rebellion, by command from know more concerning this excellent new creature, man. The angel Gabriel, as by his name signifying a prince of power, tracing Paradise The dramas in which Justice, Mercy, Faith, &c. with a more free office, passes by the station of ware introduced, were Moralities, not Mysteries. the Chorus, and, desired by them, relates what he Malone knew of man: as the creation of Eve, with then


Id est, to be the subject of an heroic poem, written by Sir Richard Blackmore.-H.

Trinity College-R.

Love and marriage. After this, Lucifer appears; | friends to the new commonwealth; and even in after his overthrow, bemoans himself, and seeks revenge on man. The Chorus prepares resistance on his first approach. At last, after discourse of enmity on either side, he departs: whereat the Chorus sings of the battle and victory in heaven, against him and his accomplices: as before, after the first act, was sung a hymn of the creation. Here again may appear Lucifer, relating and exulting in what he had done to the destruction of man. Man next, and Eve, having by this time been seduced by the Serpent, appears confusedly covered with leaves. Conscience in a shape accuses him; Justice cites him to a place whither Jehovah called for him. In the mean while, the Chorus entertains the stage, and is informed by some angel the manner of the fall. Here the Chorus bewails Adam's fall. Adam then and Eve return: accuse one another; but especially Adam lays the blame to his wife; is stubborn in lhis offence. Justice appears, reasons with him, convinces him. The Chorus admonisheth Adam, and bids him beware Lucifer's example of impenitence. The angel is sent to banish them out of Paradise: but before causes to pass before his eyes, in shapes, a mask of all the evils of this life and world. He is humble, relents, despairs; | at last appears Mercy, comforts him, promises the Messiah; then calls in Faith, Hope, and Charity; instructs him; he repents, gives God the glory, submits to his penalty. The Chorus briefly concludes. Compare this with the former draught.

the year of the Restoration he bated no jot of heart or hope, but was fantastical enough to think that the nation, agitated as it was, might be settled by a pamphlet, called "A ready and easy Way to establish a free Commonwealth;" which was, however, enough considered to be both seriously and ludicrously answered.

The obstinate enthusiasm of the commonwealth-men was very remarkable. When the King was apparently returning, Harrington, with a few associates as fanatical as himself, used to meet, with all the gravity of political importance, to settle an equal government by rotation; and Milton, kicking when he could strike no longer, was foolish enough to publish, a few weeks before the Restoration, "Notes upon a sermon preached by one Griffiths, entitled The Fear of God and the King."" To these notes an answer was written by L'Estrange, in a pamphlet petulantly called “ No Blind Guides."

These are very imperfect rudiments of "Paradise Lost;" but it is pleasant to see great works in their seminal state, pregnant with latent possibilities of excellence; nor could there be any more delightful entertainment than to trace their gradual growth and expansion, and to observe how they are sometimes suddenly improved by accidental hints, and sometimes slowly improved by steady meditation.

Invention is almost the only literary labour which blindness cannot obstruct, and therefore he naturally solaced his solitude by the indulgence of his fancy, and the melody of his numbers. He had done what he knew to be necessarily previous to political excellence; he had made himself acquainted with seemly arts and affairs: his comprehension was extended by various knowledge, and his memory stored with intellectual treasures. He was skilful in many languages, and had by reading and composition attained the full mastery of his own. He would have wanted little help from books, had he retained the power of perusing them.

But while his greater designs were advancing, having now, like many other authors, caught the love of publication, he amused himself, as he could, with little productions. He sent to the press (1659) a manuscript of Raleigh, called "The Cabinet Council;" and next year gratified his malevolence to the clergy, by a "Treatise of Civil power in Ecclesiastical Cases, and the Means of removing Hirelings out of the Church."

Oliver was now dead, Richard was constrained to resign: the system of extemporary government, which had been held together only by force, naturally feil into fragments when that force was taken away; and Milton saw himself and his cause in equal danger. But he had still hope of doing something. He wrote letters, which Toland has published, to such men as he thought

But whatever Milton could write, or men of greater activity could do, the King was now about to be restored, with the irresistible approbation of the people. He was therefore no longer secretary, and was consequently obliged to quit the house, which he held by his office; and, proportioning his sense of danger to his opinion of the importance of his writings, thought it convenient to seek some shelter, and hid himself for a time in Bartholomew-close, by West Smithfield.

I cannot but remark a kind of respect, perhaps unconsciously, paid to this great man by his biographers: every house in which he resided is historically mentioned, as if it were an injury to neglect naming any place that he honoured by his presence.

The King, with a lenity of which the world has had perhaps no other example, declined to be the judge or avenger of his own or his father's wrongs; and promised to admit into the Act of Oblivion all, except those whom the parliament should except; and the parliament doomed none to capital punishment but the wretches who had immediately co-operated in the murder of the King. Milton was certainly not one of them; he had only justified what they had done.

This justification was indeed sufficiently offensive, and (June 16) an order was issued to seize Milton's "Defence," and Goodwin's "Obstructors of Justice," another book of the same tendency, and burn them by the common hangman. The attorney-general was ordered to prosecute the authors; but Milton was not seized, nor perhaps very diligently pursued.

Not long after (Angust 19) the flutter of innumerable bosoms was stilled by an act, which the King, that his mercy might want no recommendation of elegance, rather called an Act of Oblivion than of Grace. Goodwin was named, with nineteen more, as incapacitated for any public trust; but of Milton there was no exception.*

Of this tenderness shown to Milton, the curiosity of mankind has not forborne to inquire the

disqualified from bearing any office: but Toland says, Philips says expressly, that Milton was excepted and he was not excepted at all, and consequently excluded in the General Pardon, or Act of Indemnity, passed the 29th of August, 1660. Toland is right; for I find Goodwin and Ph. Nye, the minister, excepted in the Act, but Milton not named. However, he obtained a special par don in December, 1660, which passed the privy-seal, but not the great-seal.—Malone



Burnet thinks he was forgotten; but tendant; and therefore, by the recommendation of Dr. Paget, married Elizabeth Minshul, of a gentleman's family in Cheshire, probably without a fortune. All his wives were virgins; for he has declared that he thought it gross and indelicate to be a second husband: upon what other prin ciples his choice was made cannot now be known: but marriage afforded not much of his happiness. The first wife left him in disgust, and was brought back only by terror; the second, indeed, seems to have been more a favourite, but her life was short. The third, as Philips relates, oppressed his children in his lifetime, and cheated them at his death.

this is another instance which may confirm Dalrymple's observation, who says, that "whenever Burnet's narrations are examined, he appears to be mistaken."

Forgotten he was not; for his prosecution was ordered; it must be therefore by design that he was included in the general oblivion. He is said to have had friends in the House, such as Marvel, Morrice, and Sir Thomas Clarges: and, undoubtedly, a man like him must have had influence. A very particular story of his escape is told by Richardson,* in his Memoirs, which he received from Pope, as delivered by Betterton, who might have heard it from Davenant. In the war between the King and parliament, Davenant was made prisoner, and condemned to die; but was spared at the request of Milton. When the turn of success brought Milton into the like danger, Davenant repaid the benefit by appearing in his favour. Here is a reciprocation of generosity and gratitude so pleasing, that the tale makes its own way to credit. But, if help were wanted, I know not where to find it. The danger of Davenant is certain from its own relation; but of his escape there is no account. Betterton's narration can be traced no higher; it is not known that he had it from Davenant. We are told that the benefit exchanged was life for life; but it seems not certain that Milton's life ever was in danger. Goodwin, who had committed the same kind of crime, escaped with incapacitation; and, as exclusion from public trust is a punishment which the power of government can commonly inflict without the help of a particular law, it required no great interest to exempt Milton from a censure little more than verbal. Something may be reasonably ascribed to veneration and compassion to veneration of his abilities, and compassion for his distresses, which made it fit to forgive his malice for his learning. He was row

poor and blind and who could pursue with violence an illustrious enemy, depressed by fortune, and disarmed by nature ?

The publication of the Act of Oblivion put him in the same condition with his fellow-subjects. He was, however, upon some pretence now not known, in the custody of the sergeant in December; and when he was released, upon his refusal of the fees demanded, he and the sergeant were called before the House. He was now safe within the shade of oblivion, and knew himself to be as much out of the power of a griping officer as any other man. How the question was determined is not known. Milton would hardly have contended, but that he knew himself to have right on his side.

He then removed to Jewin-street, near Aldersgate-street; and, being blind and by no means wealthy, wanted a domestic companion and at

It was told before by A. Wood, in Ath. Oxon, vol. ii. p. 412, 2d edit.-C.

That Milton saved Davenant is attested by Aubrey and by Wood from him; but none of them say that Davenant saved Milton. This is Richardson's assertion merely. Malone.

A different account of the means by which Milton secured himself is given by an historian lately brought to light. Milton, Latin secretary to Cromwell, dis tinguished by his writings in favour of the rights and liberties of the people, pretended to be dead, and had a public funeral procession. The King applauded his policy in escaping the punishment of death, by a seasonable show of dying."-Cunningham's History of Great Britain, vol. i. p. 14.-R.

Soon after his marriage, according to an obscure story, he was offered the continuance of his employment, and, being pressed by his wife to accept it, answered, "You, like other women, want to ride in your coach; my wish is to live and die an honest man." If he considered the Latin secretary as exercising any of the powers of government, he that had shared authority, either with the parliament or Cromwell, might have forborne to talk very loudly of his honesty; and if he thought the office purely ministerial, he certainly might have honestly retained it under the King. But this tale has too little evidence to deserve a disquisition; large offers and sturdy rejections are among the most common topics of falsehood.

He had so much either of prudence or gratitude, that he forbore to disturb the new settlement with any of his political or ecclesiastical opinions, and from this time devoted himself to poetry and literature. Of his zeal for learning in all its parts, he gave a proof by publishing, the next year, (1661,)" Accidence commenced Grammar;" a little book, which has nothing remarkable, but that its author, who had been lately defending the supreme powers of his country, and was then writing "Paradise Lost," could descend from his elevation to rescue children from the perplexity of grammatical confusion, and the trou ble of lessons unnecessarily repeated.*

About this time, Elwood, the quaker, being recommended to him as one who would read Latin to him for the advantage of his conversation, attended him every afternoon except on Sundays. Milton, who, in his letter to Hartlib, had declared, that "to read Latin with an English mouth is as ill a hearing as Law French," required that El wood should learn and practise the Italian pro nunciation, which, he said, was necessary, if he would talk with foreigners. This seems to have been a task troublesome without use. There is little reason for preferring the Italian pronunciation to our own, except that it is more general; and to teach it to an Englishman is only to make him a foreigner at home. He who travels, if he speaks Latin, may so soon learn the sounds which every native gives it, that he need make no provision before his journey; and if strangers visit to our modes as they expect from us in their own us, it is their business to practise such conformity countries. Elwood complied with the directions, and improved himself by his attendance; for he relates, that Milton, having a cuntous ear, knew

* Yelden, in his continuation of Langbaine's account of the Dramatic Poets, 8vo. 1693, says, that he had been told that Milton, after the Restoration, kept a school at or near Greenwich. The publication of an Accidence at that period gives some countenance to this tradition.



by his voice when he read what he did not under-
stand, and would stop him, "and open the most
difficult passagos."

In a short time he took a house in the Artillery-
walk, leading to Bunhill-fields; the mention of
which concludes the register of Milton's removals
and habitations. He lived longer in this place
than any other.

He was now busied by "Paradise Lost."
Whence he drew the original design has been va-
riously conjectured by men who cannot bear to
think themselves ignorant of that which, at last,
neither diligence nor sagacity can discover. Some
find the hint in an Italian tragedy. Voltaire tells
a wild and unauthorized story of a farce seen by
Milton in Italy, which opened thus: Let the rain-
bow be the fuldle-stick of the fiddle of Heaven.*
It has been already shown, that the first concep-
tion was a tragedy or mystery, not of a narrative,
but a dramatic work, which he is supposed to
have begun to reduce to its present form about
the time, (1655) when he finished his dispute with
the defenders of the King.

He long before had promised to adorn his na-
tive country by some great performance, while he
had yet, perhaps, no settled design, and was sti-
mulated only by such expectations as naturally
arose from the survey of his attainments, and the
consciousness of his powers. What he should
undertake, it was difficult to determine. He was
long choosing, and began late."

While he was obliged to divide his time between his private studies and affairs of state, his poetical labour must have been often interrupted; and perhaps he did little more in that busy time than construct the narrative, adjust the episodes, proportion the parts, accumulate images and sentiments, and treasure in his memory, or preserve in writing, such hints as books and meditations would Supply. Nothing particular is known of his intellectual operations while he was a statesman; for, having every help and accommodation at hand, he had no need of uncommon expedients.

Being driven from all public stations, he is yet too great not to be traced by curiosity to his retirement: where he has been found by Mr. Richardson, the fondest of his admirers, sitting "before his door in a gray coat of coarse cloth, in warm sultry weather, to enjoy the fresh air; and so, as in his own room, receiving the visits of the people of distinguished parts as well as quality." His visiters of high quality must now be imagined to be few; but men of parts might reasonably court the conversation of a man so generally illustrious, that foreigners are reported, by Wood, to have visited the house in Bread-street, where he was born.

According to another account, he was seen in * small house, "neatly enough dressed in black clothes, sitting in a room hung with rusty green; pale, but not cadaverous, with chalk-stones in his hands. He said, that, if it were not for the gout, his blindness would be tolerable."

In the intervals of his pain, being made unable to use the common exercises, he used to swing in a chair, and sometimes played upon an organ.

He was now confessedly and visibly employed upon his poem, of which the progress might be

It is scarcely necessary to inform the reader, that this relation of Voltaire's was perfectly true, as far as relates to the existence of the play which he speaks of, namely, the Adams of Andraini; but it is still a question whether Mon ever saw it-J. B.

noted by those with whom he was familiar; for
he was obliged, when he had composed as many
lines as his memory would conveniently retain,
to employ some friend in writing them, having,
at least for part of the time, no regular attend-
ant. This gave opportunity to observations and

Mr. Philips observes, that there was a very re-
markable circumstance in the composure of "Pa-
radise Lost," which I have a particular reason,"
says he, "to remember; for whereas I had the
perusal of it from the very beginning, for some
years, as I went from time to time to visit him, in
parcels of ten, twenty, or thirty verses at a time,
(which, being written by whatever hand came
next, might possibly want correction as to the or-
thography and pointing,) having, as the summer
came on, not been showed any for a considerable
while, and desiring the reason thereof, was an
swered, that his vein never happily flowed from
the Autumnal Equinox to the Vernal; and that
whatever he attempted at other times was never
to his satisfaction, though he courted his fancy
never so much; so that, in all the years he was
about this poem, he may be said to have spent half
his time therein."

Upon this relation Toland remarks, that in his opinion Philips has mistaken the time of the year; for Milton, in his elegies, declares, that with the advance of the spring he feels the increase of his poetical force, redeunt in carmina vires. To this. it is answered, that Philips could hardly mistake time so well marked; and it may be added, that Milton might find different times of the year fa vourable to different parts of life. Mr. Richardson conceives it impossible that such a work should be suspended for six months, or for one. It may go on faster or slower, but it must go on. By what necessity it must continually go on, or why it might not be laid aside and resumed, it is not easy to discover.

This dependance of the soul upon the seasons, those temporary and periodical ebbs and flows of intellect, may, I suppose, justly be derided as the fumes of vain imagination. Sapiens dominabitur astris. The author that thinks himself weatherbound will find, with a little help from hellebore, that he is only idle or exhausted. But while this Our powers owe notion has possession of the head, it produces the inability which it supposes. much of their energy to our hopes; possunt quia posse videntur. When success seems attainable, diligence is enforced; but when it is admitted that the faculties are suppressed by a cross wind, or a cloudy sky, the day is given up without resistance, for who can contend with the course of nature?

From such prepossessions Milton seems not to have been free. There prevailed in his time an opinion, that the world was in its decay, and that we have had the misfortune to be produced in the decrepitude of Nature. It was suspected that the whole creation languished, that neither trees nor animals had the height or bulk of their predecessors, and that every thing was daily sinking by gradual diminution.* Milton appears to sus


*This opinion is, with great learning and ingenuity, refuted in a book now very little known," An Apology or Declaration of the Power and Providence of God in the Government of the world," by Dr. George Hakewill. London, flio, 1635. The first who ventured to propsof Gloucester, a man of a versatile temper, and the augate it in this country was Dr. Gabriel Goodman, bishop


The story of reducing his exuberance has been told of other authors, and, though doubtless true of every fertile and copious mind, seems to have been gratuitously transferred to Milton.

pect that souls partake of the general degeneracy | burthening his memory, if his daughter could have and is not without some fear that his book is to be performed the office. written in "an age too late" for heroic poesy.* Another opinion wanders about the world, and sometimes finds reception among wise men; an opinion that restrains the operations of the mind to particular regions, and supposes that a luckless mortal may be born in a degree of latitude too high or too low for wisdom or for wit. From this fancy, wild as it is, he had not wholly cleared his head, when he feared lest the climate of his country might be too cold for flights of imagination. Into a mind already occupied by such fancies, another not more reasonable might readily find its way. He that could fear lest his genius had fallen upon too old a world, or too chill a climate, might consistently magnify to himself the influence of the seasons, and believe his faculties to be vigorous only half the year.

What he has told us, (and we cannot now know more,) is, that he composed much of this poem in the night and morning, I suppose before his mind was disturbed with common business; and that he poured out with great fluency his unpremeditated verse. Versification, free, like his, from the distresses of rhyme, must, by a work so long, be made prompt and habitual; and, when his thoughts were once adjusted, the words would come at his command.

At what particular times of his life the parts of his work were written, cannot often be known. The beginning of the third book shows that he His submission to the seasons was at least had lost his sight; and the introduction to the more reasonable than his dread of decaying na-seventh, that the return of the King had clouded ture, or a frigid zone, for general causes must him with discountenance, and that he was offendoperate uniformly in a general abatement of men-ed by the licentious festivity of the Restoration. tal power; if less could be performed by the There are no other internal notes of time. Milwriter, less likewise would content the judges of ton, being now cleared from all effects of his dishis work. Among this lagging race of frosty loyalty, had nothing required from him but the grovellers, he might still have risen into eminence common duty of living in quiet, to be rewardby producing something which they should not ed with the common right of protection; but willingly let die. However inferior to the heroes this, which, when he skulked from the approach who were born in better ages, he might still be of his King, was perhaps more than he hoped, great among his contemporaries, with the hope of seems not to have satisfied him; for no sooner is growing every day greater in the dwindle of pos- he safe, than he finds himself in danger, “fallen on terity. He might still be a giant among the pig- evil days and evil tongues, and with darkness and mies, the one-eyed monarch of the blind. with danger compass'd round." This darkness, had his eyes been better employed, had undoubtedly deserved compassion; but to add the mention of danger was ungrateful and unjust. He was fallen indeed on evil days; the time was come in which regicides could no longer boast their wickedness. But of evil tongues for Milton to complain required impudence at least equal to his other powers; Milton, whose warmest advocates must allow that he never spared any asperity of reproach, or brutality of insolence.


Of his artifices of study, or particular hours of composition, we have little account, and there was rhaps little to be told. Richardson, who seems to have been very diligent in his inquiries, but discovers always a wish to find Milton discriminated from other men, relates, "that he would sometimes lie awake whole nights, but not a verse could he make; and on a sudden his poetical faculty would rush upon him with an impetus or astrum, and his daughter was immediately called to secure what came. At other times he would dictate perhaps forty lines in a breath, and then reduce them to half the number."

Such is the reverence

But the charge itself seems to be false; for it would be hard to recollect any reproach cast upon him, either serious or ludicrous, through the These bursts of light and involutions of dark-whole remaining part of his life. He pursued his ness, these transient and involuntary excursions studies, or his amusements, without persecution, and retrocessions of invention, having some ap- molestation, or insult. pearance of deviation from the common train of paid to great abilities, however misused; they nature, are eagerly caught by the lovers of a won- who contemplated in Milton the scholar and the der. Yet something of this inequality happens wit were contented to forget the reviler of his to every man in every mode of exertion, manual King. or mental. The mechanic cannot handle his hammer and his file at all times with equal dexterity; there are hours, he knows not why, when his hand is out. By Mr. Richardson's relation, casually conveyed, much regard cannot be claimed. That, in his intellectual hour, Milton called for his daughter "to secure what came," may be questioned; for unluckily it happens to be known that his daughters were never taught to write; nor would he have been obliged, as is universally confessed, to have employed any casual visiter in dis

When the plague (1665) raged in London, Mil ton took refuge at Chalfont, in Bucks; where Elwood, who had taken the house for him, first saw a complete copy of "Paradise Lost ;" and, having perused it, said to him, "Thou hast said a great deal upon 'Paradise Lost;' what hast thou to say upon Paradise found?"

Next year, when the danger of infection had ceased, he returned to Bunhill-fields, and designed the publication of his poem. A license was necessary, and he could expect no great kindness from a chaplain of the Archbishop of Canter

thor of a book entitled, "The Fall of Man, or the Cor-bury. He seems, however, to have been treated ruption of Nature proved by Natural Reason." Lond. 16 6 and 164, 4to. He was plundered in the Usurpation, turned Roman Catholic, and died in obscurity.-See Athen Oxon. vol. i. p. 727.—H.

* Unless an age oo late, or cold
Climate, or years damp r y intended wing.
Par Lost, b. ix. 1. 44.—J. B.

with tenderness; for though objections were made to particular passages, and, among them, to the simile of the sun eclipsed in the first book, yet the license was granted; and he sold his copy, April 27, 1667, to Samuel Simmons, for an immediate payment of five pounds, with a stipulation to re

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