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rich, and retired to an estate. He had probably more tlıan common literature, as his son addresses him in one of his most elaborate Latin poems. He married a gentlewoman of the name of Caston, & Welsh family, by whom he had two sons, John, the poet, and Christopher, who studied the law, and adhered, as the law taught him, to the King's party, for which he was a while persecuted, but having, by his brother's interest, obtained permission to live in quiet, he supported himself so honourably by chamber-practices, that, soon after the accession of King James, he was knighted and made a judge ; but, his constitution being too weak for business, he retired before any disreputable compliances became neceffary.
He had likewise a daughter Anne, whom he married with a considerable fortune to Edward Philips, who came from Shrewsbury, and rose in the Crownoffice to be secondary : by him she had two sons, John and Edward, who were educated by the poet, and from whom is derived the only authentic account of his domeitic manners.
John, the poet, was born in his father's house, at me spread-Eagle in Bread-street, Dec. 9, 1608, between fix and leven in the morning. His father apa , pears to have been very folicitous about his educa
l; for he was instructed at first by private tuition mer the care of Thomas Young, who was afterwards chaplain to the English merchants at Hamburgh.
gh, and of whom we have reason to think well, ... his fcholar considered him as worthy of an
He was then sent to St. Paul's School, under the care of Mr. Gill; and removed, in the beginning of hiş fixteenth year, to Christ's College in Cainbridge, where he entered a fizar *, Feb. 12, 1624.
He was at this time eminently skilled in the Latin tongue; and he himself, by annexing the dates to his first compositions, a boast of which the learned Politian had given him an example, seems to commend the earliness of his own proficiency to the no. tice of posterity. But the products of his vernal fertility have been surpassed by many, and particularly by his contemporary Cowley. Of the powers of the mind it is difficult to form an estimate : many have excelled Milton in their first essays, who never rose to works like Paradise Loft.
At fifteen, a date which he uses till he is fixteen, he translated or versified two Psalms, 114 and 136, which he thought worthy of the publick eye ; but they raise no great expectations : they would in any numerous school have obtained praise, but not excited wonder.
Many of his elegies appear to have been written in his eighteenth year, by which it appears that he had then read the Roman authors with very nice discernment. I once heard Mr. Hampton, the translator of Polybius, remark, what I think is true, that
* In this assertion Dr. Johnson was mistaken. Milton was admitted a pensioner, and not a sizar, as will appear by the following extract from the College Register : “ Johannes Milton “ Londinensis, filius Johannis, institutus fuit in literarum ele“ mentis sub Magro Gill Gymnafii Paulini præfecto, admissus eft “ Penfonarius Minor Feb. 12°, 1624, sub M'ro Chappell, folvita, “pro Ingr. £.0 ios od.” R.
Milton was the first Englishman who, after the revival of Letters, wrote Latin verses with claffick elegance. If any exceptions can be made, they are very few : Haddon and Ascham, the pride of Elizabeth's reign, however they have succeeded in prose, no sooner attempt verse than they provoke derision. If we produced any thing worthy of notice before the elegies of Milton, it was perhaps Alabaster's Roxana *.
Of the exercises, which the rules of the Univerfity required, some were published by him in his maturer years. They had been undoubtedly applauded; for they were such as few can perforın; yet there is reason to suspect that he was regarded in his college with no great fondness. That he obtained no fellowship is certain ; but the unkindness with which he was treated was not merely negative. I am ashamed to relate what I fear is true, that Milton was one of the last students in either university that suffered the publick indignity of corporal correction.
It was, in the violence of controversial hoftility, objected to him, that he was expelled: this he steadily denies, and it was apparently not true; but it seems plain, from his own verses to Diodati, that he had incurred Rustication, a temporary dismission into the country, with perhaps the loss of a term. Me tenet urbs refluâ quam Thamefis alluit undâ,
Meque nec invitum patria dulcis habet.
Nec dudum vetiti me laris angit amor.
Nec duri liber usque minas perferre magiftri,
Cæteraque ingenio non fubeunda meo. ,
Et vacuum curis otia grata sequi,
Lætus et cxilii conditione fruor.
· I cannot find any meaning but this, which even kindness and reverence can give the term, vetiti laris, a habitation from which he is excluded ;" or how exile can be otherwise interpreted. He declares yet more, that he is weary of enduring the threats of a rigorous masier, and something else, which a temper like bis cannot undergo. What was more than threat was probably punishment. This poem, which mentions his exili, 'proves likewise that it was not perpetual ; for it concludes with a resolution of returning some time to Cambridge. And it may be conjectured, from the willingness with which he has perpetuated the memory of his exile, that its cause was such as gave himn no shame.
He took both the usual degrees ; that of Batche. lor in 1628, and that of Master in 1632; but he left the university with no kindness for its institution, alienated either by the injudicious severity of his governors, or his own captious perverseness. The cause cannot now be known, but the effect appears in his writings. His scheme of education, inscribed to Harilib, supersçdęs all academical instruction, being intended to comprise the whole time which men usually spend in literature, from their entrance upon grammar, till they proceed, as it is called, Najters of Arts. And in his Discourse on the likeliejt Way to remove Hirelings out of the Church, he inge
niously nioufly proposes, that the profits of the lands for. feited by the act for superstitious ufis should be applied to such academies all over the land where languages and arts may be taught together ; so that youth may be at orce brought up to a competency of learning and an honest trade, by which means such of them as bid the gift, being enabled to support themselves (without tithes by the latter, may, by the help of the former, become worthy preachers.
One of his objections to academical education, as it was then conducted, is, that men designed for orders in the Church were permitted to act plays, writhing and unboning their clergy limbs 10 all the antick and dishonest gestures of Trincalos *, buffoons, and bawds, prosituring the foame of that ministry which they had, or were near having, to the eyes of courtiers and court-ladies, their grooms and mademoiselles.
This is sufficiently peevish in a man, who, when he mentions his exile from the college, relates, with great luxuriance, the compensation which the pleasures of the theatre afford him. Plays were therefore only criminal when they were acted by academicks.
He went to the university with a design of entering into the church, but in time altered his mind; for he declared, that whoever became a clergyman must * subscribe slave, and take an oath withal,
* By the mention of this name, he evidently refers to Albumazar, acted at Cambridge in 1614. Ignoramus and other plays were performed at the same time. The practice was then very frequent. The last dramatick performance at either university was The Grateful Fair, written by Chritopher Smart, and repreJented at Pembroke College, Cambridge, about 1747. R.