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The history of Milton has been so frequently written, and under so many diversified forms, that a biographer finds it difficult to escape from occasional identity both of thought and expression; but I have advanced no opinion which has not been suggested and confirmed by a careful perusal of the works of the poet.
Of the remaining lives it is unnecessary to speak; but I may be allowed to refer to the account of Young, because it contains more evidence than had been previously adduced to sustain the truth of his piety, and the general excellence of his character. It would, indeed, have been a theme for melancholy reflection, if he, who, to charm the thoughtless, had arrayed our Holy Faith in such beautiful apparel, had himself passed by, indifferent, on the other side; if he, who so anxiously laboured to impress the hearts of others, had been insensible in his own to the voice of Truth and the exhortations of the Gospel.
I have briefly indicated the same sentiments respecting Young's sincerity, in an article upon the Character and Progress of Religious Poetry, to which allusion has been made in
the following pages.
KENSINGTON, October 9th, 1838.
LIVES OF SACRED POETS.
It is not only in the character of our sublimest poet, that the history of Milton attracts and demands our attention; while sorrowing over the darker pages of his life, we may admire the lofty composure of his genius, his resignation under suffering, and his unshaken confidence in the sacred promise of a holier, a serener, and a happier existence.
JOHN MILTON was born on the 9th of December, 1608, in Bread Street, Allhallows, London, and baptized the 20th of the same month in the church of that parish. His father, having been disinherited for his attachment to the reformed religion, embraced the lucrative profession of a scrivener, and succeeded in realizing, by the honourable exercise of his abilities, a respectable competence. He had been educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and united to other acquirements a considerable proficiency in music. The poet's mother was descended, according to Wood, from the ancient family of the Bradshaws, although her grandson Philips says that she was a Castor. The point is of minor importance. We have the more valuable and interesting assurance of her son that she was distinguished by her charity and virtues. Under the watchful care of such parents, the talents of their gifted child were rapidly developed. His first preceptor was Thomas Young, a puritan minister of great learning and probity; to whom he always manifested a warm attachment. His studies were chiefly poetical; Aubrey says that he was a poet before he was ten years old. Fortunately for the gratification of his boyish taste, Humphrey Lownes, the puritan