Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

ness.

The text here given follows in general the edition of 1645 for the poems covered by that edition, that of 1667 for Paradise Lost, that of 1671 for Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. Occasional rcadings from the other early editions have been preferred. In the matter of spelling and capitalization a compromise has been attempted between complete modernization and complete adherence to the originals. Generally speaking, the old spelling has been retained where the frequency of its occurrence entitled it to the rank of usage, or where it may

be judged to have some special value in the verse.

In regard to the prose translations of the Latin poems a word may be prefaced. With the verse translations of Cowper, Strutt, and Masson already in existence, the chief justification of a prose rendering is naturally to be looked for in its litera).

The present translator has nevertheless taken occasional liberties with the original, in order to make clear, without resort to notes, the allusive passages. Iere and there, also, an epithet has been omitted, or an unimportant phrase suppressed, in order to avoid a cumbersome effect in the prose.

The dates attached to each poem are in some cases certain, in others conjectural. An attempt has been made to justify the assumption of dates only in the few cases where the usual and accepted chronology has been departed from. Io the English poems, the chronological order of arrangement has been followed, except in the case of the Nativity Ode, which has been given a more conspicuous position than it is chronologically entitled to, and in the case of two or three short poems of the Horton period, transposed for mechanical reasons. In the Latin poems, the ar. rangement made by Milton has been preserved; but several short pieces of minor interest, and three bits of Greek verse, have been transferred to the Appendix.

Much of the matter usually given in notes has been incorporated in the introductions and headnotes. The notes proper have been made as brief and as strictly explanatory as possible. No notes have been furnished for the Latin poems, as an effort has been made in the prose renderings to meet all important difficulties of interpretation.

Milton has been so much written about that it is next to impossible for an editor to acknowledge specifically the aid which he has received from his predecessors in the field. No editor or biographer, however, can well omit mentioning his indebtedness to the researches of Professor Masson, though to do so is to be guilty of obviousness.

vi

EDITOR'S NOTE

The portrait which fronts the title-page is that known as the Onslow portrait, from its having belonged to Speaker Onslow, but it has disappeared since the sale of Lord Onslow's pictures in 1828. It had originally belonged to Milton's widow. This photogravure is after Vertue's engraving made in 1731 from the portrait the in Speaker Onslow's possession.

W. V. M. New YORK, February 13, 1899.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ix

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

5

[ocr errors]

7
10
11

12

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

HENRY VANE, THE YOUNGER 17

ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIE-

MONT

77

ON HIS BLINDNESS

77

To MR. LAWRENCE

77

To CYRIACK SKINNER .

78

TO THE SAME

78

ON HIS DECEASED WIFE

78

TRANSLATIONS:

THE FIFTH ODE OF HORACE LIB. I. , 79

NINE OF THE PSALMS DONE INTO METRE:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

.

[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

THE LIFE OF MILTON

I

YOUTH AND COLLEGE LIFE, 1608-1632

We are aided in the study of Milton's life by the sharpness of line which separates the three main epochs of his history: his life of student ease, during which he was preparing himself with consecration for his poetic vocation; his life of public service, when he put behind him his poetic ambitions and threw himself with fanatical ardor into the struggle for liberty; and his old age, when, blind and discredited, he sat down amid the wreck of everything for which he had given his best twenty years, to write the poem which from early youth he had felt it his mission to leave to the nation.

Milton's youth was singularly sweet and sheltered. He was born in London on the 9th of December, 1608, the son of John Milton, a scrivener or solicitor doing business at the sign of the Spread Eagle in Bread Street. It is worth noting that for two generations at least the Miltons had exhibited intense partisanship in the religious disputes which agitated the nation. Richard Milton, the poet's grandfather, had been a stubborn Catholic recusant under Elizabeth, and John Milton, the poet's father, had broken with his family in order to join the Puritans. The Puritanism of the home in Bread Street was not, however, of an ascetic or unlovely type. The father was an accomplished musician, of some note as a composer, and could even on occasion try his hand at poetry. This mellow atmosphere of taste and cultivation, spiritualized by a sincere piety, united with larger circumstances to enrich life for the young poet. We must remember that in Milton's childhood Shakespeare was still alive, that at the Mermaid Tavern, probably in the very street where the scrivener's house stood, Ben Jonson held his “ merry meetings,” and that most of the stalwart figures which had made the reign of the Virgin Queen illustrious were still to be seen about the streets of London. There was as yet hardly a hint of the passing away of those " spacious times," of the spirit of romance and adventure, which had filled Elizabethan England. His nature, there fore, was in no danger of being starved at the outset, as it must have been if his birth had fallen a few decades farther on in the struggle between the old and the new, when Puritanism had narrowed and hardened itself in order to project itself more forcibly against its enemies.

Yet perhaps it is not fanciful to see an adumbration of the new spirit soon to darken over England, in the unchildlike devotion with which the boy Milton gave himself to his studies. First under a private tutor, one Thomas Young, a Presby.

« PreviousContinue »