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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 whose 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 furpass his equals, that from his twelfth year he commonly continued his studies till midnight, which (as he fays himself in his fecond Defenfe) was the firft ruin of his eyes, to whofe natural debility were added too frequent head-akes: but all could not extinguifh or abate his laudable paffion for letters. It is very feldom seen, 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 scholar and mafter of feveral languages, when he was fent to the univerfity of Cambridge, and admitted at Chrift's College (as appears from the regifter) 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 at the univerfity, 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 exercises are rather more encouraged at Oxford, yet most of our greateft 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,
the Lord Brackly and Mr. Thomas Egerton, and that of the lady by his Lordship's daughter the Lady Alice Egerton. The occafion of this poem feemeth to have been merely an accident of the two brothers, and the lady having loft one another in their way to the caftle and it is written very much in imitation of Shakespear's Tempeft, and the Faithful Shepherdefs of Beaumont and Fletcher; and though one of the firft, is yet one of the most beautiful of Milton's compofitions. It was for fome time handed about only in manufcript; but afterwards to fatisfy the importunity of friends and to fave the trouble of tranfcribing, it was printed at London, though without the author's name, in 1637, with a dedication to the Lord Brackly by Mr. H. Lawes, who compos'd the mufic, and played the part of the attendent Spirit. It was printed likewife at Oxford at the end of Mr. R's poems, as we learn from a letter of Sir Henry Wotton to our author; but who that Mr. R. was, whether Randolph the poet or who elfe, is uncertain. It has lately, tho' with additions and alterations, been exhibited on the ftage feveral times; and we hope the fine poetry and morality have recommended it to the audience, and not barely the authority of Milton's name; and we wish for the honor of the nation, that the like good tafte prevailed in every thing.
In 1637 he wrote another excellent piece, his Lycidas, wherein he laments the untimely fate of a friend, who was unfortunately drowned that fame year in the month of Auguft, on the Irifh feas, in his paffage from Chester. This friend was Mr. Edward King, fon of Sir John King, Secretary of Ireland
Ireland under Queen Elizabeth, King James I, and King Charles I; and was a fellow of Chrift's College, and was fo well beloved and efteemed at Cambridge, that fome of the greatest names in the univerfity have united in celebrating his obfequies, and published a collection of poems, Greek and Latin and English, facred to his memory. The Greek by H. More &c; the Latin by T. Farnaby, J. Pearfon &c; the English by H. King, J. Beaumont, J. Cleaveland with feveral others; and judiciously the laft of all, as the best of all, is Milton's Lycidas. "On fuch facrifices the Gods themselves ftrow in"cenfe;" and one would almost wish fo to have died, for the fake of having been fo lamented. But this poem is not all made up of forrow and tendernefs; there is a mixture of fatir and indignation; for in part of it the poet taketh occafion to inveigh against the corruptions of the clergy, and feemeth to have first discovered his acrimony against Archbishop Laud, and to have threaten'd him with the lofs of his head, which afterwards happened to him thro' the fury of his enemies. At least I can think of no fense fo proper to be given to the following verfes in Lycidas,
Befides what the grim wolf with privy paw
About this time, as we learn from one of his familiar epiftles, he had fome thoughts of taking chambers at one of the Inns of Court, for he was
not very well pleafed with living fo obfcurely in the Country: but his mother dying, he prevailed with his father to let him indulge a defire, which he had long entertained, of feeing foreign countries, and particularly Italy: and having communicated his defign to Sir Henry Wotton, who had formerly been embaffador at Venice, and was then Provost of Eton College, and having also sent him his Mask of which he had not yet publicly acknowledged himself the author, he received from him the following friendly letter dated from the College the 10th of April 1638.
"It was a special favor, when You lately bestowed upon me here the first taste of Your acquaintance, "tho' no longer than to make me know, that I "wanted more time to value it, and to enjoy it " rightly. And in truth, if I could then have imagined Your farther ftay in these parts, which I "understood afterwards by Mr. H., I would have "been bold, in our vulgar phrafe, to mend my "draught, for You left me with an extreme thirst, "and to have begged your converfation again jointly "with Your faid learned friend, at a poor meal or two, that we might have banded together fome "good authors of the ancient time, among which I "obferved You to have been familiar.
"Since Your going, You have charged me with new obligations, both for a very kind letter from "You, dated the fixth of this month, and for a dainty piece of entertainment, that came therewith; wherein I fhould much commend the tragical part, if the lyrical did not ravish with a
"certain Doric delicacy in Your fongs and odes, "wherein I must plainly confefs to have seen yet "nothing parallel in our language, Ipfa mollities. "But I muft not omit to tell You, that I now only owe You thanks for intimating unto me, how "modeftly foever, the true artificer. For the work " itself I had view'd fome good while before with fingular delight, having received it from our common friend Mr. R. in the very close of the late "R's poems printed at Oxford; whereunto it is "added, as I now fuppofe, that the acceffory might help out the principal, according to the art of ftationers, and leave the reader con la bocca dolce. "Now, Sir, concerning Your travels, wherein I may challenge a little more privilege of difcourfe " with You; I fuppofe, You will not blanch Paris "in Your way. Therefore I have been bold to "trouble You with a few lines to Mr. M. B. whom "You fhall eafily find attending the young Lord S. "as his governor; and You may furely receive from "him good directions for fhaping of Your farther journey into Italy, where he did refide by my "choice fome time for the king, after mine own re"cefs from Venice.
"I should think, that Your beft line will be "thro' the whole length of France to Marseilles, " and thence by fea to Genoa, whence the paffage "into Tuscany is as diurnal as a Gravefend barge. I "haften, as You do, to Florence or Sienna, the ra"ther to tell you a fhort ftory, from the interest "You have given me in Your fafety.
"At Sienna I was tabled in the houfe of one Alberto Scipione, an old Roman courtier in dangerous VOL. I. с