« PreviousContinue »
of fight. From a domeftic education He was remov'd to St. Paul's School, to com→ plete his acquaintance with the Claffics under the care of Dr. Gill and after a short stay there, was transplanted to Chrift's College in Cambridge, An. Ætát. 15. where He diftinguish'd himself
in all kinds of Academical Exercifes. Of this Society He continued a Member. 'till He commenc'd Master of Arts: and then leaving the Univerfity, He return'd to his father; who had quitted the
town, and liv'd at Horton in An. Ætat. 23: Buckinghamshire; where He purfu'd his ftudies with unparallel'd affiduity and fuccefs.
After fome years spent in this ftudious retirement, his mother dy'd: and then he prevail'd with his father to gratify an inclination He had long entertain'd of feeing foreign countries. Sir Henry Wotton, at that time Provost of Eaton College, gave him a letter of advice for the direction of his travels: but by not observing* an excellent Maxim in it, He incurr'd great danger by difputing against the fuperftition of the Church of Rome, within the verge of the
An. Ætar. 30.
*1 penfieri ftretti, ed il vifo fciolto.
Vatican. Having employ'd his curiofity about (a) two years in France and Italy, on the news of a civil war breaking out in England, He return'd; without taking a furvey of Greece and Sicily, as at his fetting out the scheme was projected. (b) At Paris the Lord Viscount Scudamore, Ambassador from King Charles I. at the Court of France, introduc'd him to the acquaintance of Grotius; who at that time was honor'd with the fame character there by Chriftiana Queen of Sweden. In Rome, Genoa, Florence, and other cities of Italy, He contracted a familiarity with those who were of higheft reputation for wit and learning: feveral of whom gave him very obliging teftimonies of their friendship, and efteem, which are printed before his Latin Poems. The first of them was written by Manfo Marquis of Villa, a great patron of Taffo, by whom he is celebrated in his (€) Poem
(a) Et jam bis viridì furgebat culmus aristâ,
Et totidem flavas numerabant horrea meffes,
(b) Defenfio Secunda. Pag. 96. Fol.
on the Conqueft of Jerufalem. It is highly probable that to his conversation with this noble Neapolitan we owe the firft defign which MILTON conceiv'd of writing an Epic Poem: and it appears by fome Latin verfes addrefs'd to the Marquis with the title of Manfus, that He intended to fix on King Arthur for his heroe : but Arthur was referv'd to another destiny!
Returning from his travels An. Erat. 326 He found England on the point of being involv'd in blood and confufion. It feems wonderful that one of so warm, and daring a fpirit, as his certainly was, shou'd be reftrain'd from the camp in thofe unnatural commotions. I fuppose we may impute it wholly to the great deferen ce He paid to paternal authority, that He retired to lodgings provided for him in the city: which being commodious for the re ception of his fifter's fons, and fome other young Gentlemen, He undertook their edu cation: and is faid to have form'd them on the fame plan which He afterwards publish'd, in a short tractate infcrib'd to his friend Mr. Hartlib.
In this philofophical courfe He conti nued without a wife to the year 1643; when He marry'd Mary the Daughter of Richard Powell of Fo
An. Etat. 35.
reft-hill in Oxfordshire: a Gentleman of esta te and reputation in that county; and of principles fo very oppofite to his Son-inLaw, that the marriage is more to be wonder'd at, than the feparation which enfu'd, in little more than a month after she had to habited with him in London. Her defertion provok'd him both to write several treatises concerning the doctrine, and discipline, of Divorce; and alfo to make his addrefles to a young Lady of great wit and beauty but before he had engag'd her affections to conclude the marriage-treaty, in a vifit at one of his relations He found his Wife proftate before him, imploring forgiveness and reconciliation. It is not to be doubted but an interview of that nature, fo little expected, muft wonderfully affect him and perhaps the impreffions it made on his imagination contributed much to the painting of that pathetic Scene in * PARADISE LOSE, in which Eve addreffeth herself to Adam for pardon, and peace. At the interceffion of his friends who were prefent, after a short reluctance. He generoufly facrific'd all his resentment to her
Book X. page 33. ver. 29.
Soon his heart relented Tow'rds her, his life fo late, and fole delight Now, at his feet fubmissive in diftrefs!
And after this re-union, fo far was He from retaining an unkind memory of the provocations which He had receiv'd from her ill conduct, that when the King's cause was entirely opprefs'd, and her father, who had been active in his loyalty, was expos'd to fequeftration; MILTON receiv'd both him and his family to protection, and free entertainment, in his own house, till their affairs were accommodated by his interest in the victorious faction. C. For He was now grown famous by his polemical writtings of various kinds, and held in great favor, and efteem, by those who had power to difpofe of all preferments in the State. Tis in vain to dif femble, and far be it from me to defend, his engaging with a Party combin'd in the deftruction of our Church and Monarchy. Yet, leaving the juftification of a mif guided fincerity to be debated in the Schools, may I prefume to observe in his favor, that his zeal, diftemper'd and furious as it was, does not appear to have been infpirited by felf-interefted views? For it is affirm'd
An. Etat, 413