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malice, nor brib'd by favor, and as well daring to fay all that is true, as fcorning to write any falfhood, I shall not conceal what may be thought against my author's honor, nor add the leaft word for his reputation: but three things I would have you fpecially obferve. First, I fhall not be too minute in relating the ordinary circumftances of his life, and which are common to him with all other men. Writings of this nature should, in my opinion, be defign'd to recommend virtue, and to expose vice; or to illuftrat hiftory, and to preferve the memory of extraordinary things. That a man, for example, was fick at fuch a time, or well at another, should never be mention'd; except in the causes or effects, cure or continuance, there happens fomething remarkable, and for the benefit of mankind to know. I had not therfore related MILTON's headachs in his youth, were it not for the influence which this indifpofition had afterwards on his eys; and that his blindness was rafhly imputed by his enemies to the avenging judgment of God. Secondly, In the characters of fects, and parties, books or opinions, I fhall produce his own words, as I find 'em in his works; that those who approve his reafons, may ow all the obligation to himself, and that I may escape the blame of such as may dislike what he fays. For it is com


monly feen, that hiftorians are fufpected rather to make their hero what they would have him to be, than fuch as he really was; and that, as they are promted by different paffions, they put those words in his mouth which they might not fpeak themselves without incurring som danger, and being accus'd perhaps of flattery or injuftice but I am neither writing a fatyr, nor a panegyric upon MILTON, but publishing the true biftory of his actions, works, and opinions. In the third place, I would not have it expected that when I quote a few verfes or paffages in a different language, I should always pretend to tranflate 'em, when the whole turn or fancy abfolutely depends upon the force of the original words; for the Ignorant could be nothing the wiser, and the best translation would spoil their beauty to the Learned. But this happens so rarely, and almost only during his travels abroad, that it scarce deferv'd an advertisement.

The amplest part of my materials I had from his own books, where, conftrain'd by the diffamations of his enemys, he often gives an account of himself. I learnt fom particulars from a person that had bin once his amanuenfis, which were confirm'd to me by his daughter now dwelling in London, and by a letter written to one at my defire from his laft wife, who is ftill alive. I perus'd the papers of one of

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his nephews; learnt what I could in difcourfe with the other; and laftly confulted such of his acquaintance, as, after the best inquiry, I was able to discover. Thus completely furnish'd, I undertook, moft ingenious Sir, the following work, as well to oblige you, as to inform poflerity and perform'd what I knew would be acceptable to my friend with as much pleasure as ever you perus'd our author's excellent sheets.

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OHN MILTON, the fon likewife of JOHN MILTON, and SARAH CASTON, a woman exemplary for her liberality to the Poor, was born in London, in the year of Chrift 1608, a gentleman by his edu cation and family, being defcended from the MILTONS of Milton in Oxfordshire; tho if you confider him in his admirable works or genius, he was truly and eminently noble. But he had too much good fenfe to value himfelf upon any other quali ties except those of his mind, and which only he could properly call his own: for all external and adventitious titles, as they may at the pleasure of a tyrant, or by an unfortunat attemt against his government, be quite abolifh'd; fo we often find in hereditary honors, that thofe diftinctions which the Brave and the Wife had juftly obtain'd from their country, defcend indifferently to cowards, traytors, or fools, and fpoil the industry of better fouls from indeavoring to equal or excede the merits of their ancestors. His father was a polite


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man, a great mafter of mufic, and by profession a fcrivener, in which calling, thro his diligence and honesty, he got a competent estate in a small time: for he was difinherited by his bigotted parents for imbracing the proteftant religion, and abjuring the popish idolatry. He had two other children, ANNA marry'd to EDWARD PHILIPS; and CHRISTOPHER bred to the common law, who, more resembling his grandfather than his father or brother, was of a very superstitious nature, and a man of no parts or ability. After the late civil wars, tho he was intirely addicted to the royal caufe, no notice was taken of him, till the late king JAMES, wanting a fet of judges that would declare his will to be fuperior to our legal conftitution, created him the fame day a ferjeant and one of the barons of the Exchequer, knighting him of course, and making him next one of the judges of the Common Pleas but he quickly had his quietus eft, as his master not long after was depos'd for his maladministration by the people of England, reprefented in a convention at Westminster. To return now to the person who makes the subject of this difcourfe, JOHN MILTON was deftin'd to be a fcholar, and partly under domeftic teachers (whereof one was THOMAS YOUNG, to whom the first of his familiar letters is infcribed) and partly under Dr. GILL, the chief master of Paul's school (to whom likewife the fifth of the fame letters is written) he made an incredible progrefs in the knowlege of words and things, his diligence and inclination outftripping the care of his inftructors. After the twelfth year of his age, fuch was his infatiable B 2


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thirst for learning, he feldom went to bed before midnight. This was the firft undoing of his eys, to whose natural debility were added frequent headachs, which could not retard,or extinguifh his laudable paffion for letters. Being thus initiated in feveral tongues, and having not flightly tafted the inexpreffible sweets of philofophy, he was fent at fifteen to Chrift's College in Cambridg* to purfue more arduous and folid ftudies. This fame year he gave feveral proofs of his early genius for poetry, wherin he afterwards fucceded fo happily, that to all ages he'l continue no lefs the ornament and glory of England, than HOMER is own'd to be that of Greece, and VIRGIL of Italy. He firft tranflated fom Pfalms into English verfe, wherof the 114th begins in this manner.

When the bleft feed of TERAH's faithful fon,
After long toil, their liberty had won,
And past from Pharian fields to Canaan land,
Led by the strength of the Almighty's hand;
Jehovah's wonders were in Ifrael fhown,
His praise and glory was in Ifrael known.

In his feventeenth year he wrote a handfom copy of verfes on the death of a fifter's child that dy'd of a cough; and the fame year a Latin elegy on the death of the bishop of Winchester, with another on

*It was not till his feventeenth year, that he was entered there, as is evident from the register of that college, into which he was admitted penfionarius minor, February 12, 1624-5, under the tuition of Mr. WILLIAM CHAPPEL, &c. a divine highly diftinguished for his politenefs, and extenfive learning.

Dr. BIRCH's Life of MILTON, printed for A. Millar, 1753,

page 3.


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