1608 - 1674.

JOHN MILTON - clarum et venerabile nomen – was born in London in December, 1608, and died November, 1674. He was the son of John Milton, a respectable scrivener. The younger John entered Christ's College, Cambridge, at the age of sixteen, and became distinguished during his University career for his brilliant poetical abilities. He was destined for the service of the Church; but, on arriving at manhood, he found - to quote his own words — “what tyranny had invaded the Church, and that he who would take orders must subscribe Slave.” He therefore turned his thoughts to the law, but soon abandoned it, and gave his undivided attention to literature. The death of his mother, in 1637, affected his health, and he sought to restore it hy travel. He visited several continental countries, and, while in Italy, made the acquaintance of Galileo. Returning to England in 1639, he found the nation in a fever of political excitement, and lost no time in declaring himself with reference to the momentous questions then under discussion. In 1641 and 1642 he published his first polemical treatises, which made a profound impression. In 1643 he was married to Mary Powell; but the union, like Shakespeare's, proved a rather unhappy one. The lady was volatile, and fond of gayety, and her family were enthusiastic Royalists, while Milton was a stern Puritan. Soon after the marriage a separation took place; but last a reconciliation was effected, and the partnership was renewed. Several of his political pamphlets brought Milton into prominence, and led to his being appointed, in 1649, Latin Secretary to the Council of State, which office he held eight years. During that period he wrote his famous Eikonoklastes, and several other books. In 1653 his wife died, and three years later he married again, finding, it is believed, real happiness in his new relation. In 1660 the monarchy was re-established, and thenceforward he took no conspicuous part in politics. Having lost his second wife, he took a third in 1664, who survived him nearly fifty years, dying in 1727.

His most famous composition, Paradise Lost, was written after he had become totally blind, which happened in 1652, it being dictated to his daughter. It is worthy of note that the whole remuneration received by the poet and his family for this poem, which ranks among the grandest in the world, was only twenty-eight pounds, about one hundred and forty dollars.

Paradise Lost represents the only successful attempt ever made to construct a drama whose principal personages are supernatural; in this character it stands above others unapproached. To the student it offers a field whose exploration never ceases to be delightful and remunerative. It is the finest flower of one of the greatest minds that ever commanded the reverence of the world; and in design, if not in execution, is the noblest poetical product of human genius.


Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning how the Heavens and Earth
Rose out of Chaos : or, if Sion hill


Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad’st it pregnant : what in me is dark
Illumine; what is low raise and support ;
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert' eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to man.

Say first, for Heaven hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of Hell; say first, what cause
Moved our grand parents, in that happy state,
Favored of Heaven so highly, to fall off
From their Creator, and transgress his will,
For one restraint, lords of the world besides?
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?
The infernal serpent; he it was, whose guile,
Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels ; by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equaled the Most High,
If he opposed ; and, with ambitious aiin
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven, and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition ; there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.

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These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almighty! Thine this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair ; Thyself how wondrous then!
Unspeakable, who sit’st above these heavens
To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works ; yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.
Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,
Angels ; for ye behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, day without night,
Circle his throne rejoicing; ye, in Heaven :
On Earth join, all ye creatures, to extol
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.
Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,
If better thou belong not to the dawn,
Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling Morn
With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,
While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,
Acknowledge him thy greater ; sound his praise
in thy eternal course, both when thou climb’st,
And when high noon hast gained, and when thou fall’st.
Moon, that now meet'st the orient Sun, now fly’st,
With the fixed stars, fixed in their orb that flies;


five other wandering fires, that move
In mystic dance not without song, resound
His praise, who out of darkness called up light.
Air, and ye elements, the eldest birth
Of Nature's womb, that in quaternion run,
Perpetual circle, multiforın ; and mix
And nourish all things ; let your ceaseless change
Vary to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye mists and exhalations, that now rise
From hill or steaming lake, dusky or gray,
Till the Sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honor to the world's great Author rise ;
Whether to deck with clouds the uncolored sky,

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Or wet the thirsty Earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling still advance his praise.
His praise, ye winds, that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye pines,
With every plant, in sign of worship, wave.
Fountains, and ye that warble as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.
Join voices, all ye living souls : ye birds,
That singing up to Heaven-gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye

that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep ;
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill or valley, fountain or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.
Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still
To give us only good ; and if the night
Have gathered aught of evil or concealed,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark !


Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her,
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip, and the pale primrose.

Hail bounteous May! that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,

Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee and wish thee long.

How charming is divirte philosophy !
Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.



JONATHAN SWIFT, commonly known as Dean Swift, was born in Dublin, in November, 1667, and died in October, 1745. He was not proud of his native land, but emphatically declared that his birth in Ireland was a "perfect accident," and lost no opportunity of reviling that country. At Dublin University, where he was matriculated, Swift distinguished himself by his contempt for college laws, and neglect of his studies; and only by special grace did he receive his degree of B. A., in 1685. He entered the family of Sir William Temple in the capacity of secretary; in the same household" Stella," immortalized in Swift's books, was a waiting-maid. King William took a fancy to Swift on account of the latter's services in making the sovereign acquainted with asparagus, and offered him the command of a troop of horse. But the favor was declined. In 1691 Swift was admitted to deacon's orders, and a few years later went to Ireland as chaplain to Lord Berkeley. Here he occupied various ecclesiastical offices, and in 1713 was made Dean of St. Patrick's. He began his career in literature as a writer of political tracts, and was secretly employed by the government to write in its behalf. In 1704 he published The Tale of a Tub. From that time till 1725 he was a resident of England, and mainly engaged in political controversy. In 1726 appeared Gulliver's Travels, and at frequent intervals thereaf ter, his other writings, prose and poetry. In 1740 he evinced the first symptoms of the madness which clouded his closing years. The story of his life is a sad one, and goes far to encourage the belief that sometimes, if not always, retribution comes in this life upon the wrong-doer. Swift's career was supremely selfish; nothing was suffered to stand in the way of his interest and gratification; everybody feared him, and nobody, save the three women whose names he has linked with his own, and whose unfaltering affection he requited so brutally, with these exceptions, nobody loved him. His life furnishes an impressive lesson, the gist of which is, that a man cannot make himself happy by exclusive devotion to himself.

As to Swift's rank as a writer it is not easy to define it; but of his extraordinary abilities there is no chance for doubt. He was, perhaps, the greatest master of satire that has ever written the English language. His originality is remarkable; no writer of his time, probably, borrowed so little from his predecessors; and his versatility for he succeeded in every department of literature that he attempted - is not less wonderful. All things considered, his Gulliver's Travels must be regarded as his greatest work, though several eminent critics, including Hallam, have found it inferior to The Tale of a Tub. Perhaps these words of Lord Jeffrey best embody the general estimate of Dean Swift as a literary man: "In humor and in irony, and in the talent of debasing and defiling what he hated, we join with the world in thinking the Dean of St. Patrick's without a rival." We give an extract from Gulliver's Travels, which illustrates his best manner as a satirist.


I was received very kindly by the warden, and went for many days to the academy. Every room hath in it one or more projectors, and I believe I could not be in fewer than five hundred rooms.

The first man I saw was of a meager aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin were all of the same color. He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put into vials hermetically sealed, and let out to

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