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LIFE AND WRITINGS
DERIVED PRINCIPALLY FROM
Documents in his Majesty's State-paper Ottice,
NOW FIRST PUBLISHED.
REV. H. J. TODD, M.A. F.S.A. & R.S.L.
CHAPLAIN IN ORDINARY TO HIS MAJESTY,
PRINTED FOR C. AND J. RIVINGTON; J. CUTHELL; J. NUNN; J. AND W. T.
CLARKE; LONGMAN AND CO.; T. CADELL ; JEFFERY AND SON; J. RICHARD-
An Account of the Life and Writings of Milton, brief indeed, and with no other pretension than that of being drawn from authentick sources, has accompanied two editions which I have published of Milton's Poetical Works. To a third edition, now in circulation, some of that account is prefixed, greatly augmented with original documents illustrating the private and publick character of Milton, which have long been hidden among other literary curiosities, and till now have never been published. It is believed, that to many readers of the poet this enlarged biography might be acceptable in a separate volume. Of the important materials, therefore, which compose it, further information shall here be given.
In his Majesty's State-Paper Office they are preserved; and my knowledge of them, in the first instance, I owe to the friendly communication of Mr. Evans, bookseller, in PallMall. It occurred some time since to the
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deputy keeper of the State-Papers, Robert Lemon, Esq., that as the official life of Milton was known only as to the fact of his having been Latin Secretary to the Council of State during the Usurpation, an investigation of the Orders of Council might discover new facts relating to the secretary. His searches were repaid with ample success. And his Extracts from the Council-Books were transmitted to me, with the kind approbation of the Right Hon. Mr. Secretary Peel, early in 1825. These Books, from which so much curious information is derived, contain the daily transactions of the Executive Government in England from February 1648-9 to September 1658, in uninterrupted succession ; and are particularly valuable from the dissolution of the Long Parliament in 1653 to the death of Cromwell, as, during the greater part of that period, the Council of State combined the executive and legislative functions of government; and these Order-Books, Mr. Lemon adds, are the authentick but hitherto unknown records of their proceedings. But besides these, in the same Office there exist other documents, entitled Royalists' Composition-Papers. They comprehend, Mr. Lemon says, two distinct series; the first consisting of petitions of Royalists to the Commissioners for Sequestration, of the orders of those Commissioners respecting the sequestration of Estatės: of the reports of their subordinate officers, and of the correspondence with sub-commissioners and other agents in every part of the kingdom : The second series exhibits the original particulars of property and estates, for which Royalists were permitted to compound on the payment of a fine. These papers are peculiarly valuable in illustrating the family history as well as the various property of individuals, throughout the kingdom, during the time of the Great Rebellion. Of these, by the continued industry and accurate attention of Mr. Lemon, no less than one hundred and sixty seven folio volumes had been recovered and arranged, when (in 1825 also) he transmitted to me from this invaluable collection, the sequestration-papers relating to Mr. Powell, the father of Milton's first wife, in which Milton himself is particularly concerned ; and to Sir Christopher Milton, the brother of the poet. Other papers and letters, from the same office, alike unknown till now, and of the greatest service to the biography of Milton, have since, at various times, been sent to me by this gentleman ; empowered as he was at all times so to do, from the very first exertion of his kindness, by the permission