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JOHN MILTON.

J on N MILton, a poet of the first rank in eminence, was descended from an ancient family, settled at Milton, in Oxfordshire. His father, whose desertion of the Roman Catholic faith was the cause of his disinheritance, settled in London as a scrivener, and marrying a woman of good family, had two sons and a daughter. John, the eldest son, was born in Bread-street, on December 9. 1608. He received the rudiments of learning from a domestic tutor, Thomas Young, afterwards chaplain to the English merchants at Hamburg, whose merits are gratefully commemorated by his pupil, in a Latin elegy. At a proper age he was sent to St. Paul's school, and there began to distinguish himself by his intense application to study, as well as by his poetical talents. In his sixteenth year he was removed to Christ's college, Cambridge, where he was admitted a pensioner, under the tuition of Mr. W. Chappel. Of his course of studies in the university little is known; but it appears, from several exercises preserved in his works, that he had acquired extraordinary skill in writing Latin verses, which are of a purer taste than any preceding compositions of the kind by English scholars. " He took the degrees both of Bachelor and Master of Arts; the latter in 1632, when he left Cambridge. He renounced his original intention of entering the church, for which he has given as a reason, that, “ coming to some maturity of years, he had perceived what tyranny had invaded it;” which denotes a man early habituated to think and act for himself. He now returned to his father, who had retired from business to a residence at Horton, in Buckinghamshire; and he there passed five years in the study of the best Roman and Grecian authors, and in the composition of some of his finest miscellafoedals This was the period of his Allegro and Penseroso, his Comus and Lycidas. That his learning and talents had at this time attracted considerable notice, appears from an application made to him from the Bridgewater family, which produced his admirable masque of “Comus,” performed in 1634, at Ludlow Castle, before the Earl of Bridgewater, then Lord President of Wales; and also by his “Arcades,” part of an entertainment presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby, at Harefield, by some of her family. In 1638, he obtained his father's leave to improve himself by foreign travel, and set out for the contiment. Passing through France, he proceeded to Italy, and spent a considerable time in that seat of the arts and of literature. At Naples he was kindly received by Manso, Marquis of Villa, who had long before deserved the gratitude of poets by his of Tasso; and, in return for a laudatory

distich of Manso, Milton addressed to him a Latin

poem, of great elegance. He left Italy by the way of Geneva, where he con an intance with two learned divines, John Diodati and Frederic Spanheim; and he returned through France, having been absent about a year and three months. On his arrival, Milton found the nation agitated by civil and religious disputes, which threatened a crisis; and as he had expressed himself impatient to be present on the theatre of contention, it has been thought extraordinary that he did not immediately place himself in some active station. But his turn was not military; his fortune precluded a seat in parliament; the pulpit he had declined; and for the bar he had made no preparation. His taste and habits were altogether literary; for the present, therefore, he fixed himself in the metropolis, and undertook the education of his sister's two sons, of the name of Philips. Soon after, he was applied to by several parents to admit their children to the benefit of his tuition. He therefore took a commodious house in Aldersgate-street, and opened an academy. Disapproving the plan of education in the public schools and universities, he deviated from it as widely as possible. He put into the hands of his scholars, instead of the common classics, such Greek and Latin authors as treated on the arts and sciences, and on philosophy; thus expecting to instil the knowledge of things with that of words. We are not informed of the result of his plan; but it will appear singular that one who had himself drunk so deeply at the muse's fount, should withhold the draught from others. We learn, however, that he performed the task of instruction with great assiduity. Milton did not long suffer himself to lie under the reproach of having o the public cause in his private pursuits; and, in 1641, he published four treatises relative to church-government, in which he gave the preponderance to the presbyterian form above the episcopalian. Resuming the same controversy in the following year, he numbered among his antagonists such men as Bishop Hall and Archbishop Usher. His father, who had been disturbed by the king's troops, now came to live with him; and the necessity of a female head of such a house, caused Milton, in 1643, to form a connection with the daughter of Richard Powell, Esq., a magistrate of Oxfordshire. This was, in several respects, an unhappy marriage; for his father-inlaw was a zealous royalist, and his wife had accustomed herself to the jovial hospitality of that party. She had not, therefore, passed above a month in her husband's house, when, having procured an invitation from her father, she went to pass the summer in his mansion. Milton's invitations for her return were treated with contempt; upon which, regarding her conduct as a desertion which broke the nuptial contract, he determined to punish it by repudiation. In 1644 he published a work on “The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce;” and, in the next year, it was followed by “Tetrachordon, or Expositions upon the four chief Places in Scripture which treat of Marriage.” He further reduced his doctrine into practice, by paying his addresses to a young lady of great accomplishments; but, as he was paying a visit to a neighbour and kinsman, he was surprised with the sudden entrance of his wife, who threw herself at his feet, and implored forgiveness. After a short struggle of resentment, he took her to his bosom; and he sealed the reconciliation by opening his house to her father and brothers, when they had been driven from home by the triumph of the republican arms. In the progress of Milton's prose works, it will be right to mention his “Areopagitica; aSpeech of Mr. John Milton, for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing,”—a work, published in 1644, written with equal spirit and ability, and which, when reprinted in 1738, was affirmed by the editor to be the best defence that had ever then appeared of that essential article of public liberty. In the following year he took care that his poetical character should not be lost to the world, and published his juvenile poems, Latin and English. Milton's principles of the origin and end of government carried him to a full approbation of the trial and execution of the king ; and, in order to conciliate the minds of the people to that act, he published, early in 1649, a work entitled, “The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates; proving that it is lawful, and hath been so held through all ages, for any who have the power, to call to account a tyrant or wicked king; and, after due conviction, to depose and put him to death, if the ordinary magistrate have neglected or denied to do it.” Certainly, it would not be easy to express, in stronger terms, an author's resolution to leave no doubts concerning his opinion on this important topic. His appointment to the Latin Secretaryship to the Council of State was, probably, the consequence of his decision. The learned Frenchman, Sal , or Sal F. having been hired by Charles II., while in Holland, to write a work in favour of the royal cause, which he entitled, “Defensio Regia,” Milton was employed to answer it; which he did in 1651, by his celebrated “ Defensio pro Populo Anglicano,” in which he exercised all his powers of Latin rhetoric, both to justify the republican party, and to confound and vilify the famous scholar against whom he took up the pen. By this piece he acquired a high reputation, both at home and abroad; and he received a present of a thousand pounds from the English government. His book went through several editions; while, on the other hand, the work of Salmasius was suppressed by the States of Holland, in whose service he lived as a professor at Leyden. Milton's intense application to study had, for some years preceding, brought on an affection of the eyes, which gradually impaired his sight; and, before he wrote his “Defensio,” he was warned by his physicians that the effort would probably end in total blindness. This opinion was soon after justified by a gutta serena, which seized both his eyes, and subjected the remainder of his life to those privations which he has so feelingly described in some

however, suffered no eclipse from this loss of Ili sensitive faculties; and he pursued, without inter mission, both his official and his controversial occupations. Cromwell, about this time, having assumed the supreme power, with the title of Protector, Milton acted with a subservience towards this usurper which is the part of his conduct that it is the most difficult to justify. It might have been expected, that when the wisest and most conscien— tious of the republicans had become sensible of his arts, and opposed his ambitious projects, the mind of Milton would neither have been blinded by his hypocrisy, nor overawed by his power. Possibly the real cause of his predilection for Cromwell, was that he saw no refuge from the intolerance of the Presbyterians, but in the moderation of the Protector. And, in fact, the very passage in which he addresses him with the loftiest encomium, contains a free and noble exhortation to him to respect that public liberty, of which he appeared to be the ardian. Cromwell at length died; and so zealous and sanguine was Milton, to the very last, that one of his latest political productions was, “A ready and easy Way to establish a free Commonwealth.” It was in vain, however, to contend, by-pamphlets, with the national inclination; and Charles II. returned in triumph. Milton was discharged from his office, and lay for some time concealed in the house of a friend. The House of Commons desired that his Majesty would issue a proclamation to call in Milton's Defences of the People, and Iconoclastes, together with a book of Goodwyn's. The books were accordingly burnt by the common hangman; but the authors were returned as having absconded; nor, in the act of indemnity, did the name of Milton appear among those of the excepted persons. He now, in reduced circumstances, and under the discountenance of power, removed to a private habitation near his former residence. He had buried his first wife; and a second, the daughter of , a Captain Woodcock, in Hackney, died in childbed. . To solace his forlorn condition, he desired his friend, , Dr. Paget, to look out a third wife for him, who rec ded a relation of his own, named Eliza- beth Minshull, of a good family in Cheshire. His . powerful mind, now centered in itself, and un- disturbed by contentions and temporary topics, opened to those great ideas which were continually filling it, and the result was, Paradise Lost. Much discussion has taken place concerning the original conception of this grand performance; but whatever hint may have suggested the rude outline, it is certain that all the creative powers of a strong imagination, and all the accumulated stores of a life devoted to learning, were expended in its completion. Though he appears, at an early age, to have thought of some subject in the heroic times of English history, as peculiarly calculated for English verse, yet his religious turn, and assiduous study of the Hebrew Scriptures, produced a final preference of a story derived from the Sacred Writings, and giving scope to the introduction of his theological system. It would be superfluous, at this time, to weigh the merits of Milton's great work, which stands so much beyond competition; but it may be affirmed, that whatever his other poems can exhibit of beauty in some parts, or of grandeur in others, may all be referred to Paradise Lost as

passages of his poems. His intellectual powers,

the most perfect model of both,

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Milton, not exhausted by this great effort, followed it in 1670 by “Paradise Regained,” written upon a suggestion of the Quaker Elwood's, and apparently regarded as the theological completion of the Paradise Lost. Although, in point of invention, its inferiority is plainly apparent, yet modern criticism has pronounced that there are passages in it by no means unworthy of the genius of Milton, allowance being made for the small compass of the subject, and his purpose in writing it. Together with it appeared his tragedy of “Sampson Agonistes,” composed upon the model of antiquity, and never intended for the stage.

L’ALLEGRO.

H-ser, loathed Melancholy,
Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born,
In Stygian cave forlorn, (holy
"Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights un-
Find out some uncouth cell, [wings,
Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous
And the night-raven sings;
There under ebon shades, and low-brow'd rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
In Heaven yelep'd Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing Mirth;
Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,
With two sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore :
or whether (as some sager sing)
The frolic wind, that breathes the spring,
Zephyr, with Aurora playing,
As he met her once a-maying;
There on beds of violets blue,
And fresh-blown roses wash'd in dew,
Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,
So buxom, blithe, and debonair.
Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,
Nods, and Becks, and wreathed Smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it, as you go,
On the light fantastic toe ;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty;
And, if Ligive thee honour due,
Mirth, it me of thy crew,
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free.
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And singing startle the dull Night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled Dawn doth rise;

With this work his poetical account closes; and a few pieces in prose can scarcely claim particular notice. He sunk tranquilly under an exhaustion of the vital powers in November, 1674, when he had nearly completed his 66th year. His remains were carried from his house in Bunhill-Fields to the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, with a numerous and splendid attendance. No monument marked the tomb of this great man, but his memory was honoured with a tomb in 1737, in Westminster Abbey, at the expense of Auditor Benson. The only family whom he left were daughters.

Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good morrow,
Through the sweet-brier, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine:
While the cock, with lively din,
Scatters the rear of Darkness thin.
And to the stack, or the barn-door
Stoutly struts his dames before:
Oft listening how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering Morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill:
Some time walking, not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the easterm-gate
Where the great Sun begins his state,
Rob'd in flames, and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o'er the furrow'd land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his sithe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Whilst the landscape round it measures;
Russet lawns, and fallows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
Mountains, on whose barren breast,
The labouring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim with daisies pide,
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide :
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosom'd high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The Cynosure of neighbouring eyes.
Hard by, a cottage chimney smoaks,
From betwixt two aged oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis, met,
Are at their savoury dinner set
Of herbs and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phillis dresses;
And then in haste her bower she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tann'd haycock in the mead.

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Sometimes with secure delight
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks sound
To many a youth, and many a maid.
Dancing in the chequer'd shade;
And young and old come forth to play
On a sun-shine holiday,
Till the live-long day-light fail:
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How faery Mab the junkets eat;
She was pinch'd, and pull'd, she sed;
And he, by friars lantern led,
Tells how the drudging goblin swet,
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath thresh'd the corn,
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down the lubbar fiend,
And, stretch'd out all the chimney's length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength;
And crop-full out of doors he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering winds soon lull'd asleep.
Tower'd cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit, or arms, while both contend
To win her grace, whom all commend.
There let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask, and antique pageantry;
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson's learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse;
Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
In notes, with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning;
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heap'd Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regain'd Eurydice.
These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.

IL PENSEROSO. Hence, vain deluding Joys, The brood of Folly, without father bred How little you bested, Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys!

Dwell in some idle brain,

And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,

As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sun-beams;
Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.
But hail, thou goddess, sage and holy,
Hail, divinest Melancholy
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And therefore to our weaker view -
O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue;
Black, but such as in esteem
Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
Or that starr'd Ethiop queen that strove
To set her beauty's praise above
The sea-nymphs, and their powers offended:
Yet thou art higher far descended :
Thee bright-hair'd Vesta, long of yore,
To solitary Saturn bore;
His daughter she, in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a stain:
Oft in glimmering bowers and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
Whilst yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure,
Sober, stedfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
And sable stole of Cyprus lawn,
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With even step, and musing gait;
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes:
There, held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
With a sad leaden downward cast
Thou fix them on the earth as fast:
And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring
Aye round about Jove's altar sing:
And add to these retired Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure :
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring,
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of Night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o'er the accustom'd oak:
Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chantress, oft, the woods among,
I woo, to hearthy even-song;
And, missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering Moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the Heaven's wide pathless way;
And oft, as if her head she bow’d,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off Curfeu sound,

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