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To which is prefixed
THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
Cadell; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and
By T. Davison, Whitefriars.
JOHN MILTON, the son of a father of both names, who was a scrivener in the city of London, was born in Bread-street, December 9, 1608. His early education was superintended by a private tutor, and pursued at St. Paul's school, until he arrived at his sixteenth year, when he was entered of Christ's College, Cambridge, as a sizar. He was at this time eminently skilled in the Latin tongue, and was one of the first Englishmen who, after the revival of letters, wrote Latin verses with classic elegance. But although he took his bachelor's degree in 1628, and his master's in 1632, he became impatient to leave the university, and dissatisfied with the usual plan of education. It is certain that he relinquished the design he once entertained of entering into the church, and, when he left college, resided for five years with his father at Horton, in Buckinghamshire, devoting his time to the study of the Greek and Roman writers; but not so entirely as not to cultivate his native muse. In 1634, he produced the mask of Comus,' and, in 1637, his * Lycidas.'
In 1638, he began his travels to France and Italy, where his abilities procured him the respect of the learned and great; and returned, after a year and three months, to England, which he found a prey to civil discord. Milton, it is well known, took part against the monarchy and hierarchy, and proved a very able writer in favour of the republican party; although his writings on such a subject cannot be supposed to create much interest in our times. Immediately on his return he hired a lodging in St. Bride's Church-yard, where he undertook the education of his two nephews, John and Edward Phillips ; and being induced to extend his plan, he hired a house in Aldersgate-street, and admitted more boys to be boarded and instructed. It is supposed he adopted a new plan in education, and more successful than had hitherto been practised; but what that was is not known. In 1641, however, he emerged from this comparative obscurity, by commencing a writer against the church and government; and continued supporting the republicans by his pen as long as they could afford him protection. One of his most singular attempts was in favour of divorces, which was occasioned by a circumstance that happened to himself. He had married, in his thirty-fifth year, the daughter of Mr. Powel, a justice of peace in Oxfordshire. Her family were loyalists; and after a time she left his house, and refused to return. On this he wrote three pamphlets on the subject of divorce, and was so persuaded of his own doctrine, that he began to court another lady, which coming to the ears of his wife, she returned to him with every appearance of penitence, and he forgave her cordially; and was ever after a friend to her relations, by screening them from the violence of his party.
About the year 1645, he published a collection of his Latin and English smaller poems, including the Allegro' and Penseroso. After the king's death he was made Latin Secretary to the Council of State; and with what facility he could convey the bitterness of controversial language into elegant Latin, appears sufficiently from his vindication of the king's murder.
to Salmasius, one of the Leyden professors, who wrote, in, 1649, his * Defensio Regisg Soon after this, Milgon became