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Statute of Frauds, which passed in the year 1676, two years after Milton's death. Secondly, the words, here attested by the three witnesses, are not words delivered at the same time; but one witness speaks to one declaration made at one time, and another to another declaration made at another time. And although the declarations are of similar import, this circumstance will not satisfy the demands of the Law; which requires, that the three witnesses who are to support a Nuncupative Will, must speak to the identical words uttered at one and the same time. There is yet another requisite in Nuncupative Wills, which is not found here; namely, that the words be delivered in the last sickness of a party: whereas the words here attested appear to have been delivered when the party was in a tolerable state of health, at least under no immediate danger of death. On these principles we may presume Sir Leoline Jenkins to have acted in the rejection of Milton's Will: although the three witnesses apparently told the truth in what they deposed. The Judge, deciding against the Will, of course decreed administration of the Intestate's effects to the widow.
For an investigation of these papers in the Prerogative Registrý, for an explanation of their nature and purport, and of other technical difficulties which they present to one unacquainted with the records and more ancient practice of the prerogative court in testamentary proceedings, I must confess myself indebted to the kind attention and friendship of Sir WILLIAM Scott. There are other papers in the Commons belonging to this business : but as they are mere forms of law, as they throw no new light on the cause, and furnish no anecdotes of Milton and his family, they are here omitted. Warton.
To what is said, at the beginning of the preceding note, of Milton's having sold his library, and of his personal property, some additions are requisite; since his daughters in this will are said, by a seryant woman, as repeating it from Milton, to have made away some of his books, and to have intended selling the rest to the dunghill women ; a story of the highest improbability: as if the dunghill women understood a traffick of this kind, as if those who visited Milton should never have heard of such a spoliation, and as if his brother Christopher could have been wholly ignorant of it. What is the evidence of this brother as to these slandered nieces ? He says, “ that touching his deceased brother's displeasure with them, he only heard him say at the time of declaring his Will, that they were undutiful and unkind to him, not expressing any particulars :" as if Milton would have forborne to particularize the plunder of what had been collected with great expense perhaps as well as taste, and through the instrumentality of those who read to him or conversed with him could still be the solace of age and blindness. Toland indeed notices a diminution of his books made by himself. “ Towards the latter part of his life he contracted his library, both because the heirs he left could not make a right use of it, and that he thought he might sell it more to their advantage than they could be able to do themselves.” A provident determination, and a very probable account.
Whatever might be the sum he left at his death, three receipts bearing the signatures of the three daughters, on each receiving 1001. from their step-mother Elizabeth, were brought before the publick in 1825 at the sale of the books and manuscripts of my friend, the late James Boswell, Esq. of Lincoln's Inn. These payments were made as portions to them of the estate of their father; and were to be vested in rent-charges or annuities for their respective benefit with the approbation of their paternal and maternal uncles, Richard Powell and Sir Christopher Milton. Besides these receipts a copy of the Will of Elizabeth Milton; the poet's widow, together with some legal papers relating to her property, was at the same dispersion of literary curiosities sold. The Will is dated Aug. 27, 1727; and the probate appears to have been granted Oct. 10, 1727, by which her death in that year is established.
The profits for the grand-daughter by the performance of Comus appear to have been too highly rated by Mr. Warton ; for I was informed by the late Isaac Reed, Esq. that the receipts of the House were only 1471. 14s. 6d. from which the expences deducted were 801. TODD.
Of Compositions left by Milton in Manuscript, and particularly of his Treatise of Theology lately discovered.
To Aubrey we are first indebted for information upon this interesting part of Milton's history. He tells us, that the widow of the poet gave all his. papers, among which was the dictionary already noticed, to his nephew; and that she had “ a great many letters by her from learned men of his acquaintance, both of England, and beyond sea.” But from this nephew, who has told us too so much of his uncle's friends as well as writings, we have derived no information of a correspondence so important. Aubrey also seems to have looked for what is elsewhere unnoticed, of which a discovery indeed would be to literature an acquisition of highest value, “ a Mr. J. Milton's Life, writt by himselfe.”
a The whole passage in Aubrey is this : “ Qu. Mr. Allam, of Edm. Hall. Oxon, of Mr. J. Milton's Life writt by himselfe.”
Phillips relates that Milton had ( prepared for the press an answer to some little scribbling quack in London, who had written a scurrilous libel against him; but whether by the dissuasion of his friends, or for what other cause he knew not, this answer was never published.”
Toland, after reciting many publications of Milton, informs us, that “the daily expected more pieces of this accomplished gentleman from James Tyrrel, who has the manuscript copies in his hands, and will not envy such a blessing to the nation." But to what was known this seeming goodly promise added nothing
"Of the Letters of State published after the death of Milton, and of his Dictionary in manuscript, accounts have been d already given.
The Brief History of Moscovia, and of other less known countries lying eastward of Russia as far as Cathay, Milton had evidently designed for the press before he died. '“e What was scattered in many volumes," he says, “ and observed at several times by eye-witnesses, with no cursory pains I laid toge
Life of Milton, ed. Hollis, p. 132.
A professed and very learned Whig, who published a History of England, 1696—1704, which is extremely curious and valus able, and now also not of frequent occurrence. : " See before, pp. 171, 181.
• Pref. to the Hist.
ther. This essay, such as it is, was thought by some, who knew of it, not amiss to be published.” But it appeared not till about eight years after his death.
We come now to the information, given also by Aubrey, of Milton's “ IDEA THEOLOGIÆ, in manuscript, in the hands of Mr. Skinner, a merchants sonne, in Marke Lane.” From Aubrey, and from Milton's relations, Wood repeats it, with mentioning Cyriack Skinner, as the depositary of this relick; and what the one calls Idea Theologiæ, the other indeed adopts, but also terms it, The Body of Divinity ; at that time, “or at least lately,” he adds, “ in the hands of Milton's acquaintance, Cyr. Skinner.” Aubrey seems to speak with hesitation, as if there was another Mr. Skinner to whom the manuscript might have been entrusted; for he says, after naming the existence of it, “ Mem. There was one Mr. Skinner of the Jerkers' Office, up two paire of stayres at the Custom House;" which however he might have noticed, with a view perhaps only to obtain further information respecting the manuscript he had merely mentioned. But it will certainly be seen, that into the hands of Mr. Daniel Skinner, f supposed to be the son of a merchant too in Mark Lane, this manuscript had passed. Yet from the hands of
* By Mr. Pulman of the Heralds' College, who is inclined to believe that he was the eldest son of Daniel Skinner, merchant, of the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street; which parish comprises a considerable part of Mark Lane. Communicated to me by Dr. Sumner.