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which he entered at the beginning of the struggle into political affairs : this contribution being really a strong manifestation against the King. The persons whose names follow his, Mr. Matthews and Auditor Povey, contributed only £1. each, nor did the contribution of any person in the whole precinct except his exceed £2.
VII. MILTON'S FIRST MARRIAGE. THE POWELS.He was an inhabitant of this Garden-house when he married. He went into the country, was absent a month, and, to the surprise of his friends, returned home, bringing with him a wife. This was at Whitsuntide, 1643. Whitsuntide was in that year very early, not later than the 14th of May. It was during the height of the Civil Wars, and though Milton had already appeared as a champion of the party who sought Church-reform, the family with whom he thus connected himself were of different sentiments from his, both political and ecclesiastical. Such marriages are not unusually amongst the most happy, and the unhappiness which at first attended this connection is attributable to other causes than to the want of community of opinion on public questions. Nor is it difficult to account for Milton's introduction to the family of the Powels. They were principal persons in the vicinity of Shotover, living at Forest Hill, and we can hardly conceive of Milton having had so little of the love of the natal soil of his family, as not to have sometimes visited the neighbourhood of Shotover while he lived at Horton, if there may not even have been persons still residing there to whom he was linked by ties of consanguinity. There is, I fear, no solid basis of fact to sustain the agreeable speculations in Sir William Jones's letter to Lady Spencer. The speculations, however, are very pleasing, and pleasingly presented to us.
The latest of the biographers of Milton has devoted many leaves of his work to the Powels and their affairs; and rightly, since their history is closely bound up with the history of the poet's life. I shall supply a few additional particulars.
All the biographers concur in representing Richard Powel, whose daughter Milton married, as a Justice of the Peace for the county of Oxford, and as residing at Forest Hill, in the vicinity of Shotover. Of this there is ample proof in innumerable contemporary documents. But when, as hath been sometimes the case, it is added that he was Powel of Sandford, there is a confusion and an error; and if it be said that he was of the family seated at Sandford, that would, it is believed, be a statement which could not be supported by evidence, however probable it may appear, considering that Sandford is but three or four miles distant from Forest Hill, and that Powel is a rare name in that part of the country. The Powels of Sandford, however, were a Roman Catholic family, which the Powels of Forest Hill were not; and the Powels of Sandford were of superior rank, better wealth, and better alliance than the Forest Hill family. Their pedigree will be found on record in Philipot's Visitation of Oxfordshire, 1634. In that Visitation there is no account of the Powels of Forest Hill. There is some peculiarity, and perhaps some mystery about this. We find the following note made by the Heralds :-“ Memorandum, that Ric. Powel, of Forest Hill, in Com. Oxon. Justice of the Peace in Com. predict. being upon business in that quality, when he should have appeared at Oxford, sent the King of Arms' fee, desiring respit to perfect those matters that concern his arms and descent at the Herald's Office, in Michaelmas Term next, which was granted at Tame, 21 August, 1634.” There are not many such entries in the Heralds' books, else they would go far to determine the question whether absence from the Visitation Books is to be taken as decisive evidence of the want of gentility in families not found in them. He had then been living fourteen years, at least, at Forest Hill, for we find him assessed there in 1620.
He became a person of principal sway and influence in the Forest country, in virtue of the provisions of an indenture which bears date July 8, 1636, which gave him the entire management and controul of the Forest affairs of Shotover and Stow-wood, upon easy terms. The indenture contains some interesting particulars, beside throwing light on the position in his country of Milton's father-in-law and his family, and may therefore admit of a somewhat extended notice. It is made between the King, on the one part, and John Bancroft, D.D. Bishop of Oxford, Bryan Duppa, D.D. Dean of Christ Church, Henry King, John King, and Gilbert Sheldon, Doctors of Divinity of the University of Oxford, and Richard Powel of Forest Hill, Esquire, on the other; and recites in the preamble that his Majesty had been informed that the coppices in his Forest of Shotover and Stow-wood have been much spoiled and decayed, and many of the stems and stowells dead and worn out, so that in truth they did not bear the name of coppices, but were generally very thin and mean shere-wood, and had of late years received much detriment by reason of ill fences and the daily trespasses of the keepers and by the fall of trees and other abuses, so that they will not be fit to be fallen again this eight or ten years at least, and that during that time it will be a great charge to repair and preserve the woods and fences thereof; and also that his Majesty had taken notice that the Bishop of Oxford, considering that there was no house at all belonging to the said bishoprick for the residence of the Bishop, hath built a fair house of stone at Cuddesden, five miles from Oxford, and but half-amile from the said forest of Shotover, with garden and outhouses, suitable to the dignity of a bishop, and had expended £2,400 at least, his intention being that the house should be appropriated to the bishoprick for the residence of the Bishop and his successors ; and that his Majesty for the better enabling the Bishop to bear the charge of the said work, gave unto him 50 ton of timber out of the said forest of Shotover, which was employed in and about the said building, and had remitted to him the first-fruits, which amounted to £343. 78. 11ļd. ; and, still further, that a proposition had been lately made to his Majesty in behalf of the said Bishop and the said Richard Powel, that his Majesty should grant to the Bishop and his successors a lease of the said decayed coppices for 60 years, paying for the first 10 years no rent at all, and for the residue of the term £100 a year, and Powel should forthwith take a lease from the Bishop of the premises for 59 years of the said term, paying after the expiration of the first ten years £100 a year to the Bishop, over and above the £100 a year to the King, and that he would also quicksett the mounds of the said coppices, having stake-boote, gate-boote, and stile-boote allowed nim, and the keeper being prohibited from intermeddling with the underwood.-His Majesty does therefore grant such a lease to Duppa, King, King and Sheldon, persons nominated and trusted therein for the benefit of the Bishop
and his successors, reserving all great trees, timber trees, and all mines, the first payment of the rent to be at Michaelmas, 1646. The coppices are 17 in number, and in area 1474 acres 1 rood. .
This indenture was surrendered, and another with the same recitals and with variations in the provisions, not material, was entered into on March 30, 1637, and enrolled on the 10th of June following.
It is some confirmation of the deranged state of the affairs of Mr. Powel at the time of his decease, concerning which we hear so much in Mr. Todd's Life of Milton, that in the accompts of the Receiver General for the County of Oxford ending at Michaelmås, 1649, it is returned that three years and a half of this rent of £100 to the King was then due and unpaid. It was ordered, therefore, that process should issue against his heirs.
Mr. Todd has probably, in the opinion of those who do not advert to the circumstance how much the Powels had to do with the private history of the poet's life, said enough and perhaps more than enough concerning the affairs of Richard Powel, his father-in-law. Yet I shall venture to add one other document to those which Mr. Todd has printed, illustrative of the state of the family at the period of which we are speaking. It is taken from a MS. book entitled “The Certificate of the Solicitor for Sequestration in the County of Oxford,” and is as follows :
Richard Powel of Forest Hill, Esq. his estate sequestered for Delin
quency, 17th June 1646. The Goods, besides the Crop and Tithe, with £100 in Mr. Elridge's
hands, valued at £410. Sold the Goods and Timber (except that in Mr. Elridge's hands, and