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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

783818A ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

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FROM a family and town of his name in Oxford

fhire, our Author derived his descent; but he was born at London in the year 1608. The publisher * of his works in prose, (on whose veracity some part of this narrative must entirely depend,) dates his birth two years earlier than this: but contradicting himself afterwards in his own computation, I reduce it to the time that Monsieur Bayle hath assigned; and for the same reason which prevailed with him to assign it. His father John Milto, by profeffon a scrivener, it ved in a reputable manner on a comptant whate, tie tirely his own acquisition, having been early disinherited by his parents for renouncing the communion of the church of Rome, to which they were zealously devoted. By his wife Sarah Caston he had likewise one daughter named Anna, and another son, Christopher, whom he trained to the practice of the common law, who in the great rebellion adhered to the royal cause; and in the reign of King James II. by too easy a compliance with the doctrines of the court, both re-, ligious and civil, he attained to the dignity of being made a judge of the common pleas; of which he died divested not long after the Revolution.

But John, the subject of the present essay, was the favourite of his father's hop..., who, to cultivate the great genius which early displayed itself, was at the

expenca * Mr Toland.

WOR 2CJUN 34

expence of a domestic tutor; whose care and capacity

his pupil hath gratefully celebrated in An. wtat. 12. an excellent Latin elegy *. At his ini.

tiation he is said to have applied himself to letters with such indefatigable industry, that he rarely was prevailed upon to quit his studies before midnight; which not only made him frequently subject to severe pains in his head; but likewise occafioned that weakness in his eyes, which terminated in a total privation of fight. From a domestic education he was removed to St Paul's school, to complete his acquaintance with the classics, under the care of Dr

Gill; and after a short stay there, was An. ætat. 15. transplanted to Christ's college in Cam

bridge, where he distinguished himself in all kinds of academical exercifes. Of this society he continued a member till he commenced master of

arts; and then, leaving the university, An. ætat. 23. he returned to his father, who had

quitted the town, and lived at Horton in Buckinghamshire, where he pursued his studies with unparalleled assiduity and success.

After fome years spent in this ftudious retirement liis mother died, and then he prevailed with his father io gratify an inclination he had long entertained of fee

ing foreign countries. Sir Henry WotAn. ætat. 30. ton, at that time provost of Eaton col

lege, gave him a letter of advice for the direction of his travels; but by not observing an excellent maxim in it t, he incurred great danger, by difputing against the Superftition of the church of Rome, within the verge of the vatican. Having employed his curiosity about two years I in France and

Italy,
* See the fourth in his collection of poems.
+ I pensieri stretti, ed il viso fciolto.

| Et jam bis viridi furgebat culmus arista,
Et totidem flavas numerabant borrea melles -----
Nec dum aderat Thryfis; paftorem fcilicet illum
Dulcis amor Mufæ Thusca ritincbat in urbe.

Epitaph, Dam.

Italy, on the news of a civil war breaking out in England, he returned, without taking a survey of Greece and Sicily, as at his setting out the scheme was projected. At Paris * the Lord Viscount Scudamore, ambassador from King Charles I. at the court of France, introduced him to the acquaintance of Grotius, wlo at that time was honoured with the same character there by Christiana queen of Sweden. In Rome, Genoa, Florence, and other cities of Italy, he contracted a familiarity with those who were of highest reputation for wit and learning, several of whom gave him very obliging testimonies of their friendship and efteem, which are printed before his Latin poems. The first of them was written hy Manso marquis oi Villa, a great patron of Tasso, by whom he is celebrated in his poem on the conquest of Jerusalemt. It is highly propable, that to his conversation with this noble Ncco politan we owe the first design which Milton conceia ved of writing an epic poem; and it appears by fome Latin verses addressed to the Marquis, with the title of Mansus, that he intended to fix on King Arthur for his hero; but Arthur was reserved to another destiny.

Returning from his travels, he found England on the point of being involved An. ætat. 32. in blood and confusion. It feems wonderful that one of so warm and daring a spirit, as his certainly was, should be restrained from the camp in those unnatural commotions. I suppose we may impute it wholly to the great deference he paid to paternal authority, that he retired to lodgings provided for him in the city, which being commodious for the reception of his fifter's fons, and some other young gentlemen, he undertook their education, and is said to have formed them on the fame plan which he afterwards published, in a sort tractate, infcribed to his friend Mr Hartlib. In this philosophical course he continued without a

wife

A 3

* Defenfio fecunda. Pag. 96. fol.
+ Fra Cavalier magnanimi, e corteh,
Replende il Mapfo.---.

Lib. 20.

wife till the year 1643; when he mar. An. ætat. 35. ried Mary, the daughter of Richard

Powell of Forest-hill in Oxfordshire, a gentlemen of estate and reputation in that county, and of principles so very opposite to his son-in-law, that the marriage is more to be wondered at than the feparation which ensued, in little more than a month after she had cohabited with him in London. Her de.. fertion provoked him both to write several treatises concerning the doctrine and discipline of divorce, and also to make his addresses to a young lady of great wit and beauty; but before he had engaged her affections to conclude the marriage treaty, in a visit at one of his relations he found his wife proftrate before him, imploring forgiveness and reconciliation. It is not to be doubted but an interview of that nature, so little expected, must wonderfully affect him; and perhaps the impressions it made on his imagination contribu. ted much to the painting of that pathetic scene in Paradise Loft", in which Eve addresseth herself to Adam for pardon and peace. At the intercession of his friends who were present, after a short reluctance, he genea. roully sacrificed all his resentment to her tears:

-Soon his heart relenied
Towards her, his life fo late, and fole delight,

Now at his feet fubmiffive in distress. And after this re-union, so far was he from retaining any unkind memory of the provocations which he had received from her ill conduct, that when the king's. sayse was entirely suppressed, and her father, who had been active in his loyalty, was exposed to sequeftration, MILTON received both him and his family to protection, and free entertainment, in his own house, till their affairs were accommodated by his interest in the victorious faction. Mr MILTON Was now grown famous by his polemi

cal writings of various kinds, and held. Ano atat. 41. in great fc. "r and esteem by those. who haur ur to dispofe of all pre

ferments * Book X. line 99.

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