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principle bad, good, or naturall, it could not have held out thus long against so strong opposition on the other side of every kind. For if it be bad, why should not all the fond hopes, that forward youth and vanitie are fledge with, together with gaine, pride, and ambition, call me forward more powerfully, then a poor regardlesse and unprofitable sin of curiosity should be able to withhold me, whereby a man cutts himselfe off from all action, and becomes the most helpless, pusillanimous, and unweaponed creature in the world, the most unfit and unable to doe that, which all mortals most aspire to, either to be usefull to his friends, or to offend his enemies. Or if it be to be thought a naturall pronenesse, there is against that a much more potent inclination inbred, which about this tyme of a man's life sollicits most, the desire of house and family of his owne, to which nothing is esteemed more helpful then the early entring into credible employment, and nothing hindering then this affected solitarinesse. And though this were anough, yet there is to this another act, if not of pure, yet. of refined nature, no lesse availeable to dissuade prolonged obscurity, a desire of honour and repute and immortall fame seated in the brest of every true scholar, which all
make hast to by the readiest ways of publishing and divulging conceived merits, as well those that shall, as those that never shall obtain it. Nature therefore would præsently work the more prævalent way, if there were nothing but this inferior bent of herself to restraine her. Lastly, the love of learning, as it is the pursuit of something good, it wou'd sooner follow the more excellent and supream good known and præsented, and so be quickly diverted from the emptie and fantastic chase of shadows and notions, to the solid good flowing from due and tymely obedience to that command in the gospell sett out by the terrible seasing of him, that hid the talent. It is more probable therefore, that not the endlesse delight of speculation, but this very consideration' of that great commandment, does not presse forward, as soon as many do, to undergoe, but keeps off with a sacred reverence and religious advisement how best to undergoe; not taking thought of beeing late, so it give advantage to be more fit; for those, that were latest, lost nothing, when the maister of the vineyard came to give each one his hire. And here I am come to a streame-head, copious enough to disburden itself like Nilus at seven mouthes into an ocean. But then I should
also run into a reciprocall contradiction of ebbing and flowing at once, and do that, which I excuse myself for not doing, ' preach and not preach.' Yet that you may see, that I am something suspicious of myselfe, and doe take notice of a certaine belatednesse in me, I am the bolder to send you some of my nightward thoughts some while since, because they come in not altogether unfitly, made up in a Petrarchian stanza, which I told you of.
“How soon hath time, the suttle theefe of youth,
Stolne on his wing my three and twentieth yeere !
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
That I to manhood am arrived so neere,
That some more tymely-happie spirits indu'th.
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however meane or high,
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
“ By this I believe you may well repent of having made mention at all of this matter; for if I have not all this while won you to this, I have certainly wearied you of it. This therefore alone may be a sufficient reason for me to keepe me as I am, least having thus tired you singly, I should deal worse with a whole congregation, and spoyle all the patience of a parish; for I myselfe doe not only see my own tediousnesse, but now grow offended with it, that has hindered me thus long from coming to the last and best period of my letter, and that which must now chiefely worke my pardon, that I am your true and unfained friend.”
On his taking the degree of master of arts in 1632, having taken that of bachelor, as we have already observed, in 1628, he left Cambridge to reside at Horton in Buckinghamshire, where his father lived on a competent fortune, which he had acquired by his business. That Milton quitted the University without obtaining a fellowship has been suggested as a proof of the disapprobation of his college. But let it be recollected that, in his time, there was only one fellowship, in his college tenable by a layman, and that, as he had now determined against entering into the church for reasons," which, hallowed by conscience, are entitled to our respect, the attainment of a common fellowship, to be held only for a very limited term, could not be among the objects of his life. The competence also of which he was assured from his father, would place him above the wish of any thing to be obtained by solicitation; and it is not impossible that, associating the idea of a fellow of a college, or of a governor of a community, with that of some duty to be discharged by residence, he would
ir In a little poem “ De Idea Platonica," written by our au.. thor wbile he was at the University, there is a most striking pero sonification of Eternity
- Quæque in immenso procul
And the high structures of his glorious hand.
In our author's poem to his father there is a very noble lipe in which he speaks with equal sublimity of Eternity:
Æternæque moræ stabunt immobilis ævi.
The eternal pause of age for ever fix’d. The poem which he wrote about this time, 1628, for one of the Fellows of his college, on the subject of the unimpaired vigour of nature, Naturam non pati senium, possesses the merit, in a most uncommon degree, of poetic fancy, and of poetic diction.' Vide Milton's letter to Alexander Gill, July 2, 1628.
Founded by Edward VI. Two other lay-fellowships have since been founded by sir John Finch, and sir Thomas Baines.
*"perceiving, that he who would take orders must subseribe slave, and take an oath withall, which unless he took with a conscience that could retch, he must either strain perforce or split his faith ; I thought it better to prefer a blameless silence before the office of speaking bought and begun with servitude and forswearing."
Reasons of Church Gov. P.W. v.i. p. 123.