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feldom retiring from his books before midnight, that the fource of his blindness may be traced to his early paffion for letters. In his twelfth year, as he tells us, this literary devotion began; from which he was not to be deterred either by the natural debility of his eyes, or by his frequent head-aches. The union of genius and application in the fame perfon was never more. confpicuous.
In 1623 he produced his firft poetical attempts, the Tranflations of the 114th and 1 36th Pfalms, to which, as to fome other juvenile productions, he has annexed the date of his age. It has been uncandidly fuppofed, that he intended, by this method, to obtrude the earlinefs of his own proficiency on the notice of pofterity. Dr. Johnfon calls it "a boaft, of which Politian
"Pater me puerulum humaniorum literarum ftudiis deftinavit; quas ità avidè arripui, ut ab anno ætatis duodecimo vix unquam ante mediam noctam à lucubrationibus cubitum difcederem; quæ prima oculorum pernicies fuit, quorum ad naturalem debilitatem accefferant et crebi capitis dolores; quæ omnia cùm difcendi impetum non retardarent, et in ludo literario, et fub aliis domi magiftris erudiendum quotidiè curavit." Def. fec. ut fupr.
Aubrey also relates, that "when Milton went to schoole, and when he was very younge, he ftudied very hard, and fate up very late, commonly till twelve or one o clock; and his father ordered the maid to fett up for him." MS. Afhmal. Muf. ut fupr. His early reading was in poetical books. See the Notes on the Tranflations of the 114th and 136th Pfalms in the fixth volume of this edition. Humphry Lownes, a printer, living in the fame street with his father, supplied him at least with Spenfer and Syl. vefter's Du Bartas.
has given him an example." But both Milton and Politian have followed claffical authority. Lucanthus fpeaks of himself;
"Eft mihi, crede, meis animus conftantior annis,
“ Quamvis nunc juvenile decus mihi pingere malas "Cœperit, et nondum vicefima venerit æftas." However, in thefe Tranflations may furely be difcerned the dawning of real genius. And in his poem, On the death of a fair Infant, written foon after, how finely has that genius grown even with his little growth! For, as a poetical compofition, it displays the vigour and judgement of maturer life; while, by its sensibility, it powerfully affects the feeling mind, The verfes alfo, At a Vacation Exercife in the College, written at the age of nineteen, have been repeatedly and justly noticed as containing indications of the future bard," whofe genius was equal to a subject that carried him beyond the limits of the world."
Few readers will be inclined to admit that Cowley and other poets have furpassed, in “ products of vernal fertility," the efforts of Milton. Few will regard, without averfion, the unfair, I had almost faid (confidering the age in which Milton lived) the ridiculous, comparison of
Lucanus de feipfo, in Panegyrico ad Calpurnium Pifonem. Epigr. & Poem. Vet. Paris, 1590. p. 121.
In the Biograph, Brit. vol. iv. p. 591. edit. Kippisa
Milton's juvenile effufions with those of Chatterton. Milton, as he is the most learned of modern poets, may perhaps retain his princely rank alfo in the lift of those who have written valuable pieces at as early or an earlier age; and Politian, Taffo, Cowley, Metaftafio, Voltaire, and Pope, may bow to him, "as to fuperiour Spirits is due."
In the 17th year of his age, diftinguished as a claffical fcholar, and converfant in feveral languages, he was fent, from St. Paul's School, to Cambridge; and was admitted a Penfioner at Chrift's College on the 12th of February, 1624-5, under the tuition of Mr. William Chappel, afterwards Bishop of Cork and Rofs in Ireland. Here he attracted particular notice by his acade mical exercifes, as well as by feveral copies of verfes, both Latin and English, upon occafional fubjects. He neglected indeed no part of literature, although his chief object feems to have been the cultivation of his poetical abilities.
"This good hap I had from a careful education," he fays; "to be inured and feafoned be times with the best and elegantest authors of the learned tongues; and thereto brought an ear that
t ( Johannes Milton, Londinenfis, filius Johannis, inftitutus fuit in Literarum elementis fub Magro, Gill, Gymnafii Paulini Præfecto, admiffus eft Penfionarius Minor Feb. 12°, 1624, fub Mr. Chappell, folvitque pro Ingi. o. 10, 8." Extract from the College Regifler
could measure a just cadence, and scan without articulating; rather nice and humorous in what was tolerable, than patient to read every drawling verfifier."
To his eminent skill, at this time, in the Latin tongue Dr. Johnson affords his tribute of commendation. Many of his elegies appear to have been written in his eighteenth year; by which it appears that he had then read the Roman authors with nice difcernment. I once heard Mr. Hampton, the translator of Polybius, remark, what I think is true, that Milton was the firft Englishman who, after the revival of letters, wrote Latin verses with claffic elegance." Milton's Latin exercises, which he recited publickly, are also marked with characteristick animation. From fome remarkable paffages in these, as Mr. Hayley obferves, it appears that he was firft an object of partial severity, and afterwards of general admiration, in his college. He had dif fered in opinion concerning a plan of academical studies with fome perfons of authority in his College, and thus excited their displeasure. He speaks of them as highly incenfed against him but expreffes, with the most liberal sensibility, his furprife, delight, and gratitude, in finding that his enemies forgot their animosity to honour him with unexpected applaufe."
But incidents unfavourable to the character of Milton, while a student at Cambridge, have been
pofitively afferted to be contained in his own words; and the poet has been fummoned to prove his own flagellation and banishment in the following verses, in his first elegy:
"Jam nec arundiferum mihi cura revisere Camum,
On these lines Mr. Warton obferves, that "the words vetiti laris, and afterwards exilium, will not fuffer us to determine otherwise, than that Milton was fentenced to undergo a temporary removal or ruftication from Cambridge. I will not fuppofe for any immoral irregularity. Dr. Bainbridge, the Master, is reported to have been a very active disciplinarian: and this lover of liberty, we may prefume, was as little difpofed to fubmiffion and conformity in a college as in a ftate. When reprimanded and admonished, the pride of his temper, impatient of any fort of reproof, naturally broke forth into expreffions of contumely and contempt against his governour. Hence he was punished.
"He is alfo faid to have been whipped at Cambridge. See Life of Bathurft, p. 153. This has been reprobated and difcredited, as a most