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proofs of his poetic genius before he went to the university, and there he excelled more and more, and distinguished himself by several copies of verses upon oceasional subjects, as well as by all his academical exerci >es, many of which are printed among his other works, and show him to have had a capacity above hia years: and by his obliging behaviour, added to his great learning and ingenuity, he deservedly gained the affection of many, and admiration of all. We do not find, however, that he obtained any preferment in the university, or a fellowship in his own college; which seems the more extraordinary, as that society has always rncouraee,l learning and learned men, had the most excellent Mr. Mede, at that time a fellow, and afterwards boasts the great names of Cudworth, and Burnet,.author of the Theory of the Garth, and several others. And this, together with some Latin verses of his to a friend, reflecting upon the university seemingly on this aceount, might probably have given oceasion to the reproach which was afterwards cast upon him by his adversaries, that he was expelled from the university for irregularities committed there, and forced to fly to Italy: but he sufficiently refutes this calumny in more places than one of his works; and indeed it is no wonder, that a person so engaged in religious and political controversies as he was, should be calumniated and abused by the contrary party.
He was designed by his parents for holy orders; and among the manuseripts of Trinity College, in Cambridge, there are two draughts in Milton's own hand, of a letter to a friend, who had importuned him to take orders, when he had attained the age of twenty-three: but the truth is, he had conceived early prejudices against the doctrine and discipline of the church, and subscribing to the articles was in his opinion subscribing slave. This, no doubt, was a disappointment to his friends, who, though in comfortable, were yet by no means in great circumstances: and neither does he seem to have had any inclination to any other profession; he had too free a spirit to be limited and confined; and was for comprehending all sciences, but professing none. And therefore after he had left the university in 1632, he retired to his father's house in the country; for his father had by this time quitted business, and lived at an estate which he had purchased at Horton, near Cole''rooke, in Buckinghamshire. Here he resided with his parents for the space of five years, and, as he hunself has informed us, (in his.gecond, DsI'ence, and the seventh of his'familia,C Epistles) tead over all the Greek and Lfftin auttSors, partin.'jj-lv the historians; but now and 1hen made an excursion to London, sometimes to buy books, or ui meet his friends from Cambridge, and al other
times to learn something new in the mathematics or musie, with which he was extremely delighted.
His retirement, therefore, was a learned retirement, and it was not long before the world reaped the fruits of it. It was in the year 1634 that his Mask was presented at Ludlow-Castle. There was formerly a president of Wales, and a sort of a court kept at Ludlow, which has since been abolished ; and the president at that time was the Earl of Bridgewater, before whom Milton's Mask was presented on Michaelmas night, and the principal parts, those of the two brothers, were performed hy his Lordship's sons, the Lord Brackly, and Mr. Thomas Egerton, and that of the lady by his Lordship's daughter, the Lady Alice E«#rton. The oceasion of this poem seems to have hren merely an aceident of the two brothers and the lady having lost one another on their way to the castle: and it is \vritten very much in imitation of Shakspeare's Tempest, and the Faithful S!iPpherdess of Beaumont and Fleteher; and though one of the first, is yet one of the most beautiful of Milton's compositions. It was for some time handed about only in manuscript; but afterwards to satisfy the importunity of friends, and to save the trouble of transcribing, it was printed at London, though without the author's name, in 1637, with a dedication to the Lord Brackly by Mr. H. Lawes, who composed the musie, and played the part of the attendant Spirit. It was printed likewise at Oxford at the end of Mr. R.'s poems, as we learn from a letter of Sir Henry Wotton to our author; but who that Mr. R. was, whether Randolph, the poet, or who else, is uncertain. It has lately, though with additions and alterations, been exhibited on the stage several tunes.
In 1637, he wrote another excellent piece, his Lyeidss, wherein he laments the untimely fate of a friend, who was unfortunately drowned that same year in the month of August, on the Irish seas, in his passage from Chester. This friend was Mr. Edward King, son of Sir John King, Secretary of Ireland under Clueen Elizabeth, King James I and Charles I.; and was a fellow of Christ's College, and was so well beloved and esteemed al Cambridge, that some of the greatest names in the University have united in celebrating his obsequies, and published a collection of poems, Greek and Latin and English, saered to his memory. The Greek by H. More, &c.; the Latin by T. Farnaby, J. Pearson, &c.; the English by H. King, J. Beaumont, J. Cleaveland, with several other.*; and judiciously the last of all as the beat of ;ajl^ is Milton's Lyeidas. "On such saerifices the* Gods themselves straw incense;" and one would almost wish so to have died, for the sake of having been so lamented But this poem is nut all made up of sorrow and tenderness; there is .> mixtun
of satire and indignation; for in part of it the poet | Mr. R. in the very close of the late R.'s poems, takes oceasion to inveigh against the corruptions printed at Oxford; whereunto it is added, an 1 of the clergy, and seems to have first discovered', now suppose, that the aceessory might help nul bis acrimony against Archbishop Laud, and to the principal, aceording to the art of stationers, hare threatened him with the loss of his head,' and leave the reader con la boeca dolee. which afterwards happened to him through the | "Now, Sir, concerning your travels, wherein I fury of his enemies. At least I can think of no may challenge a little more privilege of discourse cense so proper to be given to the following verses with you; I suppose, you will not blat.ch Paris in in Lyeidas. . your way. Therefore I have been bold to trouble
| you with a few lines to Mr. M. B. whom you shall easily find attending the young Lord S. as his governor; and you may surely receive from him good : directions for shaping of your farther journey into Italy, where he did reside by my choice some About this time, as we learn from some of his time for the king, after mine own recess from ttmiliar epistles, he hod some thoughts of taking ,Venice.
thambers at one of the Inns of Court, for he was I "I should think that your best line will be not very well pleased with living so obscurely in through the whole length of France to Marseilles, .he country: but his mother dying, he prevailed and thence by sea to Genoa, whence the passage with his father to let him indulge a desire, which into Tuscany is as diurnal as a Gravesend barge. nc had long entertained, of seeing foreign coun- I hasten, as you do, to Florence or Sienna, the •.ricn, and particularly Italy: and having commu- rather to tell you a short story, from the interest nicated his design to Sir Henry Wotton, who had you have given me in your safety, formerly been ambassador at Venice, and was I "At Sienna I was tabled in the house of one then Provost of Eton College, and having also Alberto Scipione, an old Roman courtier, in dan
what the grim wolf with privy paw
sent him his Mask, of which he had not yet publicly acknowledged himself the author, he received from him the following friendly letter dated from the College the 10th of Apnl,
"It was a special favour, when you lately bestowed upon me here the first taste of your acquaintance, though no longer than to make me know, that 1 wanted more time to value it, and to enjoy it rightly. And in truth, if I could then havo imagined your farther stay in these parts, which I understood afterwards by Mr. H., I would have been bold, in our vulgar phrase, to mend my dmutrht, for you left me with an extreme thirst, antl to have lx-gge,l your conversation again jointI- with your said learned friend, at a poor meal or two, tlutt \fe might have banded together some good authors of the ancient time, among which I observed you to have been familiar.
"Since your going, you have charged me with new obligations, both for a very kind letter from you, dated the sixth of this month, and for a liaintv piece of entertainment, that came therewith; wherein 1 should much commend the tragical part, if the lyrical did not ravish with a certain done delicacy in your songs and odes, wherein I must plainly confess to have seen yet nothing |wrallel in our language, ipsa mollilies. But I must not omit to tell you, that I now only owe you thanks for intimating unto me, how modestly soever, the true artificer. For the work itself I had viewed some good while before with singular delight, having received it from our common friend
gerous times, having been steward to the Duca dj Pagliano, who with all his family were strangled, save this only man, that escaped by foresight of the tempest. With him 1 had often much chat of those affairs; into which he took pleasure to look back from his native harbour; and at my departure toward Rome, which had been the centre of his experience, I had won confidence enough to beg his advice, how 1 might carry myself securely there, without offence of others, or of my own conscience: Signer Arrigo meo, says he, i pensicri stretti, it vim sciolto, that is, your thoughts close, and your countenance luose, will go safely over the whole world. Of which Delphian oracle (for so I found it) your judgment doth need no commentary; and therefore, Sir, 1 will commit you with it to the best of all securities, God's dear love, remaining your friend, as much at command as any of longer date.
"P. S. Sir, I have expressly sent this by my foothoy to prevent your departure, without some acknowledgment from me of the receipt of vour obliging letter, having myself through some business, I know not how, neglected the ordinary conveyance. In any part where I shall understand you fixed, I shall be glad and diligent to entertain you with home-novelties, even for rome fomentation of our friendship, too soon inl ••. niptod in the eradle."
Soon after this he set out upon his travels, being of an age to make the proper impro'.emet.tt, m«I
not barely to see sights and to Icarn the languages, like most of our modern travellers, who go out boys, and return such as we see, but such as I do not choose to name. He was attended by only one •ervant, who aceompanied him through all his travels; and he went first to France, where he had recommendations to the Lord Scudarnore, the English tmbassador there at that time; and as soon as he came to Paris, he waited upon his Lordship, and was received with wonderful civility; and having an earnest desire td visit the learned Hugo Grotius, he was by his Lordship's means introduced to that great man, who was then ambassador at the French court from the famous Christina Queen of Sweden; and the visit was to their mutual satisfaction; they were each of them pleased to see a person, of whom they had heard such commendations. But at Paris he stayed not long; his thoughts and his wishes hastened into Italy; and so after a few days he took leave of the Lord Scudamore, who very kindly gave him letters to the English merchants, in the several places through which he was to travel, requesting them to do him all the good offices which lay in their power.
From Paris he went directly to Nice, where he took shipping for Genoa, from whence he went to Leghorn, and thence to Pisa, and so to Florence, in which city he found sufficient inducements to make a stay of two months. For besides the curios ilies and other beauties of the place, he took great delight in the company and conversation there, and frequented their academies as they are called, the meetings of the most polite and ingenious persons, which they have in this, as well as in the other principal cities of Italy, for the exercise and improvement of wit and learning among them. And in these conversations he bore so good a part, and produced so many excellent compositions, that he was soon taken notice of, and was very much courted and caressed by several of the nobility and prime wits of Florence. For the manner is, as he says himself in the preface to his second book of the Reason of Church-government, that every one must give some proof of his wit and reading there, and his productions were received with written encomiums which the Italian is not forward to bestow nn men of this side the Alps. Jacomo Gaddi, Antonio Francini, Carlo Dati, Beneditto Bonmatthei, Cultellino, Frescobaldi, Clementilli, are reckoned among his particular friends. At Gnddi's house the academies were held, which he constantly frequented. Antonio Francini composed an Italian «lo tn his commendation. Carlo Dati wrote a Lat,n eulogium of him, and corresponded with him after his return to England. Bonmatthei was at that time about publishing an Italian grammar; mil the eighth of our author's familiar epistles, dated at Florence, September 10, 1638, is addressed to hun upon that oceasion .commending his de
sign, and advising him to add some observation! concerning the true pronunciation of that language for the use of foreigners.
So much good acquaintance would probably have detained him longer at Florence, if he had not been going to Rome, which to a curious traveller is certainly the place the most worth seeing of any in the world. And so he took leave of his friends at Florence, and went from thence to Sienna, and from Sienna to Rome, where he stayed much about the same time that he had continued at Florence, feasting both his eyes and his mind, and delighted with the fine paintings and sculptures, and other rarities and antiquities of the city, as well as with the conversation of several learned and ingenious men, and particularly of Lucas Holstenius, keeper of the Vatican library, who received him with the greatest humanity, and showed him all the Greek authors, whether in print or in manuseript, which had passed through his correction; and also presented him to Cardinal Barberini, who at an entertainment of musie, |ierfbrmed at his own expense, waited for him at the door, and taking him by the hand brought him into the assembly. The next morning he waited upon the Cardinal to teturn him thanks for his civilities, and by the means of Holstenius was again introduced to his Eminence, and spent some time in conversation with him. It seems that Holstenins had studied three years at Oxford, and this might dispose him to be more friendly to the English, but he took a particular liking and affection to Milton: and Milton. to thank him for all his favours, wrote to him afterwards from Florence the ninth of his familiar epistles. At Rome too Selvaggi made a Latin distich in honour of Milton, and Salfilli a Latin tetrastich,celebrating him for his Greek and Latin and Italian poetry; and he in return presented to Salfilli in his sickness those fine Scazons, or Iambic verses having a spondee in the last foot, which are inserted among his juvenile poems.
From Rome he went to Naples, in company with a certain hermit; and by his means was introduced to the acquaintance of Giovanni Baptists Manso, Marquis of Villa, a Neapolitan nobleman, of singular merit and virtue, to whom Tasso addresses his dialogue of friendship, and whom hn mentions likewise in his Gierusalemme Liberatn with great honour. This nobleman was particularly civil to Milton, frequently visited him at his lodgings, and went with him to show him the Viceroy's palace, and whatever was curious or worth notice in the city; and moreover he honoured him so far as to make a Latin distich in his praise, which is printed before our author's Latin poems, an is likewise the other of Selvaggi, and the Latin tetrastich of Salfilli together with the Italian ode and the Latin eulogium before mentioned. Wa may suppose that Milton was not a little pleased with tiie honours conferred upon him by so many persons of distinction, and especially by one of such quality and eminence as the Marquis of Villa; and as a testimony of his gratitude he present:d to the Marquis at his departure from Naples •is eclogue intitled Mansus, which is well worth nading among his Laiin poems. So that it may be reckoned a peculiar felicity of the Marquis of Villa's life, to have been celebrated both by Tasso and Milton, the one the greatest modern poet of hu own, and the other the greatest of foreign nations.
Having seen the finest parts of Italy, Milton was now thinking of passing over into Sicily and Greece, when he was diverted from his purpose by the news from England, that things were tending to a civil war between the King and Parliament: for he thought it unworthy of himself to be taking his pleasure abroad, while his countrymen were contending for liberty at home. He resolved therefore to return by the way of Rome, though he was advised to the contrary by the merchants, who had received intelligence from their correspondents, that the English Jesuits there were forming plots against him, in case he should return thither, by reason of the great freedom which he hnd used in all his discourses of religion. For he had by no means observed the rule, recommended to him by Sir Henry Wotton, of keeping his thoughts close and his countenance open. He had visited Galileo, a prisoner to the Inquisition, for asserting the motion of the earth, and thinking otherwise in astronomy than the Dominicans and Franciscans thought. And though the Marquis of Villa had shown him such distinguishing marks of favour at Naples, yet he told him at his departure that he would have shown him much greater, if he had been more reserved in matters of religion. But he had a soul above dissimulation and disguise; he was neither afraid nor ashamed to vindicate the truth; and if any man had, he had in him the spirit of an old martyr. He was so prudent indeed, that he would not of his own aceord begin any discourse of religion; but at the same time he was so honest, that if he was questioned at all about his faith, t,c would not dissemble his sentiments, whatever was the consequence. And with this .esolution he went to Rome the second tune, and stayed t?,erc two months more, neith1jr concealing his name, nor declining openly to defend the truth, if my thought proper to attack him: and yet, God's good providence protecting him, he came safe to his kind friends at Florence, where he was received with as much joy and affection as if he had returned into his own country.
Here likewise he stayed two months, as he had done before, excepting only an excursion of a few days to Lucea; and then erossing the Appenine, tnd Massing through Bologna and Ferrara, he
came to Veince, in which city he spent a month; and having shipped off the books which he had I collected during his travels, and particularly a chest or two of choice music tmoks of the best masters flourishing about that time in Italy, he took his | course through Verona, Milan, and along the lake Leman to Geneva. In this city he tarried some time, meeting here with people of his own principles, and contracted an intimate friendship with Giovanni Deodati, the most learned professor of divinity, whose annotations upon the Bible are published in English. And from thence returning through France, the same way that he had gone before, he arrived safe in England, after a peregrination of one year and about three months, having seen more, and learned more, and conversed with more famous men, and made more real improvements, than most others in double the time.
His f,rst business after his return was to pay his duty to his father, and to visit his other friends; but this pleasure was much diminished by the loss of his dear friend, and schoolfellow Charles Deodati in his absence. While he was abroad, he !H'.,,.I it reported that he was dead; and upon hit coming home he found it but too true, and lamented his death in an excellent Latin eclogue entitled Epitaphium Damonis. This Deodati had a fathe . originally of Lucea, but his mother was English, and he was born and t,red in England, and studied physie, and was an admirable scholar, and no less remarkable for his sobriety and other virtues than for his great learning and ingenuity. One or two of Milton's familiar epistles arc addressol to him; and Mr. Toland says that he had in his hands two Greek letters of Deodati to Milton, very handsomely written. It may be right for scholars now and then to exercise themselves in Greek and Latin; but we have much more frequent oceasion to write letters in our own native language, and in that therefore we should principally endeavour to excel.
Milton soon after his return, had taken a lodging at one Russel's, a taylor. in St. Bride's Churchyard; but he continued not long there, having not sufficient room for his library and furniture; and therefore determined to take a house, and aceordingly took a handsome garden-house in Aldersgato street, situate at the end of an entry, which was the more agreeable to a studious man for its privacy and freedom from noise and disturbance. And in this house he continued several years, and his suter's two sons were put to board with him. finu the younger and afterwards the elder: and sonw other of his intimate friends requested of hun tne same favour for their sons, especially since thet* was little more trouble tn tnstructtng half a doieu than two or three: and he, who could not eattly deny anything to his friends, and who knew ttu' the greatest men in oil ages bad delighted in teachmg others the principles of knowledge and virtue, undertook the office, not out of any sordid and mereenary views, but more from a benevolent disposition, and a desire to do good. And his method of education was as much above the pedantry and jargon of the common schools, as his genius was superior to that of a common school-master. One of his nephews has given us an aecount of the many authors both Latin and Greek, which (besides those usually read in the schools) through his excellent judgment and way of teaching were run over within no greater compass of time, than from ten to fifteen or sixteen years of age. Of the Latin the four authors concerning husbandry, Cato, Varro, Columella, and Palladius, Cornelius Celsus the physician, a great part of Pliny's Narurnl History, the Arehitecture of Vitruvius, the Stratagems of Frontinus, and the philosophical poets Lueretius and Manilius. Of the Greek Hesiod, Aratus' Phenomena aml Diosemeia, Dionysius Afer de situ orbis, Oppian's Cynegeties and Halicuties, Quintus Calaber's poem of the Trojan war continued from Homer, Apollonius Rhodius' Argonauties, and in prose, Plutareh's Placita philosophorum, and of the education of children. Xenophon's Cyroptedia and Anabasis, jElian's Tacties, and the stratagems of Polytenus. Nor did this application to I he Greek and Latin tongues hinder the attaining to the chief oriental languages, the Hebrew, Chaldee and Syriae, so far as to go through the Pentateuch or five books of Moses in Hebrew, to make a good entrance into the Targum or ChaKIee paraphrase, and to understand several chapters of St. Matthew in the Syriac Testament 1 besides the modern languages, Italian and French, and a competent knowledge of the mathematies and astronomy. The Sunday's exereise for his pupils was for the most part to read a chapter of Greek Testament, and to hear his learned exposition of it. The next work after this was to write from his dictation some part of a system of divinity, which he had rnllectqd from the ablest divines, who had written upon that subject. Such were his academic institutions; and thus by teaching others he in some measure enlarged his own knowledge; and having the readlug of so many authors as it were by proxy, he might possibly have preserved his sight, if he had not moreover been perpetually busied in reading or writing something himself It was certainly a •ery recluse and studious life, that both he and his tiupds led; but the young men of that age were of a dim-rent turn from those of the present; and tie lumself gave an example to thone under him of hanl •) in I > and spare diet; only u .* and then, miee in three weeks or a month, he made a gaudy •.ny with some young gentlemen of his acquaintsng- the chief of whom, rays Mr. Philips, were
Mr. Alphry and Mr. Miller, both of Gray's Inn, and two of the greatest beaus of those times.'
But he was not so fond of this academical life. as to be an indiflerent spectator of what was acted upon the public stage of the world. The nation was now in a great ferment in I64I, and the clamour run high against the bishops, when he joined loudly in the ery, to help the puritan ministers, (u he says himself in his second Defence) they being inferior to the bishops in learning and eloquence; nd published his two books, Of Reformation in England, written to a friend. About the same time certain ministers having published a treatise against episcopacy, in answer to the Humble Remonstrance of Dr. Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich, under the title of Smectymnuus, a word consisting of the initial letters of their names, Stephen Marshal, Edmund Calomy, Thomas Young, Matthew Ncweomen, and William Spur.-rtow; and Arehbishop Usher having published at Oxford a refutation of Smectymnuus, in a tract concerning the original of Bishops and Metropolitans; Milton wrote his litlle piece Of Prelatical Episcopacy, in opposition chiefly to Usher, for he was foi contending with the most powerful adversary; there would be cither less disgrace in the ds feat, or mare glory in the victory. He handled the subject more at large in his next performance which was the Reason of Chureh Govemmeis urged against Prelacy, in two books. And Bishoj Hall having published a Defence of the Humble Remonstrance, he wrote Animadversions upon it. All these treatises he published within the course of one year, I64I, which show how very diligent he was in the cause that he had undertaken. And the next year he set forth his Apology for Smectymnuus, in answer to the Confutation of his Animadversions, written ns he thought himself liy Bishop Hall, or his son. And here very lurktly ended a controversy, which detained him from greater and better writings which he was meditating, more useful to the publie, as well as more suitable to his own genius and inclination: but he thought all this while that he was vindicating eeclesiastical liberty.
In the year l6l3, and the thirtj'-fifth year of hu age, he married; and indeed his family was now growing so numerous, that it wanted a mistreM at the head of it. His father, who had lived with his younger son at Reading, was, upen the Uskinff of that place by the forees under the L'arl of Essex, necessitated to come and live in London with this his elder son, with whom he continued in tranquillity and devotion to his dying day. Same addition too was to be made to the number of his pupils. But before his father or his new pupils were come, he took a journey in the Whitsuntide vacation, and after a month's absence returned with a wife, Mary the cldot daughter of Mr