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Tis agreed among all writers, that the family of Milton came originally from Milton in OxfordThire; but from which of the Miltons is not altogether fo certain. Some fay, and particularly Mr. Philips, that the family was of Milton near Abington in Oxfordshire, where it had been a long time feated, as appears by the monuments still to be seen in Milton-church. But that Milton is not in Oxfordshire, but in Barkshire; and upon inquiry I find, that there are no fuch monuments in that church, nor any remains of them. It is more probable therefore that the family came, as Mr. Wood fays, from Milton near Halton and Thame in Oxfordfhire: where it florished several years, till at last the eftate was fequefter'd, one of the family having taken the unfortunate fide in the civil wars between the houses of York and Lancaster. John Milton, the poet's grand-father, was, according to Mr. Wood, an under-ranger or keeper of the forest of Shotover, near Halton in Oxfordshire; he was of the religion of Rome, and fuch a bigot that he difinherited his fon only for being a proteftant. Upon this the fon, the poet's father, named likewife John Milton, fettled in London, and became a scrivener by the advice of a friend eminent in that profeffion: but he was not fo devoted to gain and to bufinefs, as to lofe all taste of the politer arts, and was particularly skilled in mufic, in which he was not only a fine performer,

but is alfo celebrated for feveral pieces of his compofition and yet on the other hand he was not fo fond of his music and amusements, as in the leaft to neglect his bufinefs, but by his diligence and economy acquired a competent eflate, which enabled him afterwards to retire, and live in the country. He was by all accounts a very worthy man; and married an excellent woman, Sarah of the ancient family of the Bradshaws, fays Mr. Wood; but Mr. Philips, our author's nephew, who was more likely to know, fays, of the family of the Caftons derived originally from Wales. Whoever fhe was, fhe is faid to have been a woman of incomparable virtue and goodness; and by her her husband had two fons and a daughter.

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The elder of the fons was our famous poet, who was born in the year of our Lord 1608, on the 9th of December in the morning between 6 and 7 o'clock, in Bread-ftrect London, where his father lived at the fign of the fpread eagle, which was alfo the coat of arms of the family. He was named John, as his father and grand-father had been before him; and from the beginning difcovering the marks of an uncommon genius, he was defigned for a fcholar, and had his education partly under private tutors, and partly at a public fchool. It has been often controverted whether a public or private education is beft, but young Milton was fo happy as to fhare the advantages of both. It appears from the fourth of his Latin elegies, and from the firft and fourth of his familiar epiftles, that Mr. Thomas Young, who was afterwards paftor of the company of English merchants refiding at Hamburg, was one of his private preceptors and when he had made good progrefs

in his ftudies at home, he was fent to St. Paul's school to be fitted for the univerfity under the care of Mr. Gill, who was the mafter at that time, and to whofe fon are addreffed fome of his familiar epiftles. In this early time of his life fuch was his love of learning, and fo great was his ambition to furpafs his equals, that from his twelfth year he commonly continued his ftudies till midnight, which (as he fays himself in his fecond Defenfe) was the firft ruin of his eyes, to whofe natural debility too were added frequent head-akes: but all could not extinguish or abate his laudable paffion for letters. It is very feldom feen, that fuch application and fuch a genius meet in the fame perfon. The force of either is great, but both together muft perform wonders.

He was now in the 17th year of his age, and was a very good claffical fcholar and mafter of feveral languages, when he was fent to the univerfity of Cambridge, and admitted at Chrift's College (as appears from the register) on the 12th of February 1624-5, under the tuition of Mr. William Chappel, afterwards Bishop of Cork and Rofs in Ireland. He continued above feven years in the university, and took two degrees, that of Bachelor of Arts in 1628-9, and that of Mafter in 1632. It is fomewhat remarkable, that tho' the merits of both our univerfities are perhaps equally great, and tho' poetical exercifes are rather more encouraged at Oxford, yet most of our greatest poets have been bred at Cambridge, as Spenfer, Cowley, Waller, Dryden, Prior, not to mention any of the leffer ones, when there is a greater than all, Milton. He had given early proofs of his poetic genius before he went to the univerfity, and

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there he excelled more and more, and diftinguished himself by several copies of verses upon occafional fubjects, as well as by all his academical exercises, many of which are printed among his other works, and thow him to have had a capacity above his years and by his obliging behaviour added to his great learning and ingenuity he defervedly gained the affection of many, and admiration of all. We do not find however that he obtained any preferment in the university, or a fellowship in his own college; which feemeth the more extraordinary, as that fociety has always encouraged learning and learned men, had the most excellent Mr. Mede at that time a fellow, and afterwards boafteth the great names of Cudworth, and Burnet author of the Theory of the Earth, and feveral others. And this together with fome Latin verfes of his to a friend, reflecting upon the univerfity feemingly on this account, might probably have given occafion to the reproach which was afterwards caft upon him by his adversaries, that he was expelled from the univerfity for irregularities committed there, and forced to fly to Italy: but he fufficiently refutes this calumny in more places than ons of his works; and indeed it is no wonder, that a perfon fo engaged in religious and political controverfies as he was, fhould be calumniated and abused by the contrary party.

He was defigned by his parents for holy orders. ; and among the manufcripts of Trinity College in Cambridge there are two draughts in Milton's own hand of a letter to a friend, who had importuned him to take orders, when he had attained the age of twenty three but the truth is, he had conceived


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