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IN TWELVE BOOKS,
BY JOHN MILTON:
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND A LIFE OF THE
REV. H. STEBBING, A. M.
STEREOTYPED BY J. A. JAMES.
JAMES KAY, JUN. & BROTHER, 122 CHESTNUT ST.
MILTON'S LIFE AND WRITINGS.
The celebrated subject of this Memoir was born Dec. 9, 1608. His father, who was a scrivener, soon after obtained a sufficient fortune to retire from his profession, but resided, at the birth of the poet, in Bread-street, London. After having received considerable advantage from the instructions of private tutors, Milton was sent to St. Paul's school, where he made a remarkable progress in classical literature; and from whence he was sent to Christ's College, Cambridge. In 1628 he took his B. A., and in 1632 his M. A. degree; after receiving which, and declining to take holy orders, he retired to his father's house at Horton, near Colebroke, in Buckinghamshire. During the five years he resided here, he pursued his studies with an ardor and diligence which have seldom been equalled ; and besides making many acquisitions in learning, he produced his exquisite poems of Comus, Lycidas, and some other minor pieces.
About the year 1638 his mother died, and he obtained the consent of his father to make a tour on the continent; he accordingly set forth, and very few travelers could be found possessing the qualifications for profiting by their journey which Milton had acquired in his retirement. In the different parts of the continent, therefore, which he visited, he was received with the greatest attention by the most celebrated men of the age, and he returned to England, after an absence of fifteen months, with the acquisition of many honorable friendships, and an important addition to his stock of knowledge and accomplishments. It had been his intention to prolong his tour by a visit to Greece, but the civil commotions which preceded the establishment of the Commonwealth, were commencing, and he conceived it his duty to lift up his voice in a struggle to which his love of liberty gave the highest interest.
Almost immediately after Cromwell had obtained an established ascenda: cy, Milton was appointed Latin secretary to the government, and in this situation, besides performing the proper duties of his office, he distinguished himself by several works written in defence of republican principles, and of the conduct of the men who had rendered themselves most conspicuous in the late contest. Before, however, he acquired this situation, he passed through some troubles of a domestic nature, which, it is probable, materially influm