Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

A few instances will serve to thew the probability of this surmise.

All the writers of Milton's Life before Dr. Johnson speak of the esteem with which Milton was honoured by his fellow-members of Christ's College at Cambridge. Milton values himself upon it at a time when the under-workers of the royalists, who sent different accounts to the defenders of Salmafius abroad, might have effectually confuted him. Let us now.observe the contrast.,

. « Of the exercises which the rules of **the university required, some were “ published by him in his maturer 5 years. They had been undoubtedly "applauded, for they were such as few “ can perform; yet there is reason to

in suf

Wer

as

< suspect, that he was regarded in his -“ college with no great fondness. That " he obtained no fellowship is certain; 66 but the unkindness with which he was “ treated was not merely negative. I am 56 ashamed to relate what I fear is true; * that Milton was the last ftudent in ** either university that suffered the pub66 lic indignity of corporal correction "

This filly tale is taken from Warton's “ Life and Remains of Dean Bathurst,” and retailed by Warton from some manuscripts of Aubrey the antiquarian in the Afhmolean Museum, whose anile credulity has disabled him from being a writer of any authority. In what manner, and with what circumstances, this corporal

* Milton's Life, po 7o 8.

cor

correction was inflicted in either univerfity, we are not informed. Warton's words are, that “ Milton was actually “ whipped by Dr. Thomas Bainbrigge, “ Master of Christ's College, while he “ was at Cambridge.” Dr. Johnson calls it a public indignity, which is an improvement upon Aubrey, and renders the fact still more improbable. There. is no specification of the offence, or of the time of the correction; and we inay presume, that when this wholesome severity was most in vogue in either university, the head of a college would hardly make himself so ridiculous as to condescend to execute the office of a parifh-beadle *.

There

* We have been informed, that the manner

of

There is another presumption against this anecdote. Warton observes, that Wood, who, according to him, compiled his account of Milton from Aubrey's manufeript, kas omitted some cir-cumstances, particularly this of his flagellation. Aubrey pretends he had his information from Milton's own mouth; or from kis relations after his death; at least so he told Wood, who could not be supposed to omit this circumstance from any good-will he bore to Milton's memory. We may then reasonably suspect that Wood did not believe it, and that ke was convinced Aubrey was misinforma ed; and fuppose the story should be one of whipping young unlucky academics was, to hoist them upon the college buttery hatch, where the discipline was inflicted by the butler.

of

of those which Aubrey had from Milton's own mouth, Milton would hardly give him an account of the punishment, without fignifying what was the fault."

Dr. Johnson says, “Milton was the “ laft student in either university that suf« fered this corporal correction.” Now Mr. Warton tells us, that “the whip was « an instrument of academical correc“ tion, not entirely laid aside in the old“ age of Dr. Bathurst* ; but Bathurst furvived Milton thirty years, and the time of Milton's admiffion above eighty. If Milton therefore was the last sufferer by thiş illiberal punishment in Cam. bridge, that university got the start of

[ocr errors]

..* Life of Bathurst, p. 202.

« VorigeDoorgaan »