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figure, he facetiously declares that thus he spoke, lest any person, relying on the adversary who had
was her father's amanuensis : at her death was sold to sir W. Davenant's family. It was painted by Mr. Samuel Cooper, who was painter to Oliver Cromwell, at the time Milton was Latin Secretary to the Protector. The painter and poet were near of the same age; Milton was born in 1608, and died in 1674, and Cooper was born in 1609, and died in 1672, and were companions and friends till death parted them. Several encouragers and lovers of the fine arts at that time wanted this picture; particularly Lord Dorset, John Somers, esquire, sir Robert Howard, Dryden, Atterbury, Dr. Aldrich, and sir John Denham. Lord Dorset was probably the lucky man ; for this seems to be the very picture for which, as I have before observed, Vertue wished Prior to search in Lord Dorset's collection. Sir Joshua Reynolds says, “ The picture is admirably painted, and with such a character of nature, that I am perfectly sure it was a striking likeness. I have now a different idea of the countenance of Milton, which cannot be got from any of the other pictures that I have seen. It is perfectly preserved, which shows that it has been shut up in some drawer; if it had been exposed to the light, the colours would long before this have vanished.' It must be owned, that this miniature of Milton, lately purchased by sir Joshua Reynolds, strongly resembles Vandyke's picture of Selden in the Bodleian library at Oxford: and it is highly probable that Cooper should have done a miniature of Selden as a companion to the heads of other heroes of the commonwealth. For Cooper painted Oliver Cromwell, in the possession of the Frankland family; and another, in profile, at Devonshire house : Richard Cromwell at Strawbery-hill: Secretary Thurloe, belonging to Lord James Cavendish : and Ireton, Cromwell's general, now or late in the collection of Charles Polhill, esq. a descendant of Cromwell. The inference, however, might be applied to prove, that this head is Cooper's miniature of Milton. It has been copied by a female artist, in a style of uncommon elegance and accuracy.”—
The genuineness of this miniature, as the portrait of Milton, has been both asserted, and denied, with considerable warmth. See the Gentleman's Magazine for 1791, pp. 399. 603. 806. misrepresented him, might deem him a kind of rhinoceros, or a monster with a dog's head! He had a very fine skin and fresh complexion. His hair was of a light brown; and, parted on the foretop, hung down in curls upon his shoulders. His features were regular; and when turned of forty, he has himself told us, he was generally allowed to have had the appearance of being ten years younger. He has also represented himself as a man of moderate stature, neither too lean nor too corpulent; and so far endued with
Masos bequest, howReynolds, who dielae portrait to be
The disputants are Lord Hailes and Sir Joshua himself. Most connoisseurs are inclined to believe the portrait to be that of Selden. Sir Joshua Reynolds, who died in 1792, makes the following bequest, however, in his Will, to the Rev. William Mason : “ The miniature of Milton by Cooper.” See Malone's Life of Sir. J. Reynolds, prefixed to the Works of Sir. J. R. vol. i. p. cxviii. 2d edit.
Two miniatures of the poet, and of his mother, were sold, at the sale of the Portland Museum in 1786, for 341. See Gent. Mag. 1786, p. 527. In 1792 Mr. Elderton submitted to the publick the outlines of a supposed miniature of the poet in his possession. See Gent. Mag. 1792, p. 17. In 1797 a masterly engraving, from an original picture in the possession of Capel Lofft, esq. believed also to be that of Milton, was made by G. Quinton. At West Wycombe Manor-house, in Buckinghamshire, there is a fine portrait of Milton, supposed to be an original. See Langley's Hist. and Antiq. of the Hundred of Desborough, Co. of Bucks, 1797, p. 417. I have been indebted to the kindness of the late John Charnock jun, esq. of Greenwich, for an excellent original painting, conjectured by some to have been a portrait of Milton by Riley. Others have supposed it may be a head of his brother Christopher. It is, however, remarkable, that Mr. Greenslade, a collecter of paintings, who resided in Bond-street, London, had a copy of this very painting, which was exhibited as a portrait of the poet.
strength and spirit, that, as he always wore a sword, he wanted not, while light revisited his eyes, the skill or the courage to use it. His eyes were of a grayish colour; which, when deprived of sight, did not betray their loss : At first view, and at a small distance, it was difficult to know that he was blind. The testimony of Aubrey respecting the person of Milton is curiously expressed : “His harmonicall and ingeniose soul did lodge in a beautifull and well proportioned body.” Milton's voice was musically sweet, as his ear was musically correct. Wood describes his deportment to have been affable, and his gait erect and manly, bespeaking courage and undauntedness. Of his figure in his declining days Richardson has left the following sketches. “e An ancient clergyman of Dorsetshire, Dr. Wright, found John Milton in a small chamber hung with rusty green, sitting in an elbow chair, and dressed neatly in black, pale but not cadaverous, his hands and fingers gouty and with chalk stones.—He used also to sit in a gray coarse cloth coat, at the door of his house near Bunhill-fields, in warm sunny weather, to enjoy the fresh air; and so, as well as in his room, received the visits of people of distinguished parts as well as quality."
His domestick habits were those of a sober and temperate student. Of wine, or of any strong liquours, he drank little. In his diet "he was rarely
1b Aubrey 'says that “ he had a delicate tunable voice,” and that “ he pronounced the letter R very hard.” Life of Milton, 1734, p. iv.
influenced by delicacy of choice ; illustrating his own admirable rule, Par. Lost, B. xi. 530.
“ The rule of Not too much ; by temperance taught
• In what thou eat'st and drink'st; seeking from thence :" Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight.”
· He once delighted in walking and using exercise; and appears to have amused himself in botanical pursuits : but, after he was confined by age and blindness, he had a machine to swing in for the preservation of his health. In summer he then rested in bed from nine to four, in winter to five. If, at these hours, he was not disposed to rise, he had a person by his bed-side to read to him. When he first rose, he heard a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and commonly studied till twelve; then used some exercise for an hour ; then dined ; · afterwards played on the organ or bass-viol, and either sung himself or made his wife sing, who, he said, had a good voice bụt no ear. It is related that, when educating his nephews, “ e he had made them songsters, and sing from the time they were with him.” No poet, it may be observed, has more frequently or more powe
d See his own observations, in his treatise Of Education. “ The interim of unsweating themselves regularly, and convenient rest before meat, may both with profit and delight be taken up in recreating and composing their travailed spirits with the solemn and divine harmonies of musick heard or learned, &c. The like also would not be unexpedient after meat, to assist and cherish nature in her first concoction, and send their minds back to study in good tune and satisfaction.”
• Aubrey's Life of Milton.
erfully commended the charms of musick than Milton. He wished perhaps to rival, and he has successfully rivalled, the sweetest descriptions of a fam vourite bard, whom the melting voice appears to have often enchanted; the tender Petrarch. After his regular indulgence in musical relaxation, he studied till six; then entertained his visitors till eight; then enjoyed a light supper; and, after a pipe of tobacco and a glass of water, retired to bed.
It has been remarked by Dr. Newton that all, who had written any accounts of the life of Milton, agreed that he was affable and instructive in conversation, of an equal and cheerful temper. I. Vossius and N. Heinsius have borne their testimony also to this engaging part of his character. And Richardson has recorded the saying of the poet's youngest daughter, that her father“ was delightful company, the life of the conversation, and that on account of a flow of subject, and an unaffected cheerfulness and civility." Richardson too relates, that Milton had also " a gravity in his temper, not melancholy, or not till the latter part of his life, not sour, not morose or illnatured; but a certain severity of mind; a mind, not condescending to little things.” Dr. Newton adds his opinion “ that the poet had a sufficient sense of his own merits, and contempt enough for his adversaries.” Milton indeed acknowledges his own “f honest haughtiness and self-esteem; with
i Prose-Works, vol. i. p. 177, ed. 1698.