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THE LIFE OF MILTON.

BY DAVID MASSON.

JOHN MILTON was born at his father's house in Bread Street, in the city of London, on the 9th of December, 1608. Nothing of the material fabric of the street in which he was born now remains, the great fire of 1666 having destroyed that with so much of the rest of old London. But the present Bread Street, which is one of the streets striking off from the great thoroughfare of Cheapside towards the river, occupies the exact site of the old Bread Street; and the spot in which Milton was born may be yet identified as being that occupied by the third or fourth house on the left, going from Cheapside. Here, as one of a line of very respectable shops, and dwellinghouses over them, inhabited chiefly by merchants, and all, as was then the custom, distinguished by signs over the doors and not by numbers as at present, there stood, prior to the great fire, a house and shop known as the Black Spread Eagle. Milton's father, whose name was also John, had occupied this house since 1603, and carried on in it the business of a scrivener or a copying lawyer. The story is, that he had betaken himself to that profession some fifteen or twenty years before, on being disinherited by his father, a substantial yeoman in Oxfordshire, for having abandoned the Catholic faith. He had prospered well, and had

become possessed of considerable property, including the house in Bread Street; and the sign of the Spread Eagle affixed to the house was no other than the armorial device of his family. Before removing to this house, and when verging on forty years of age, he had married a lady considerably younger than himself, whose name, according to one account, was Sarah Bradshaw, but according to another, Sarah Caston. Five children were the issue of the marriage, of whom only three attained to mature years, a daughter, Anne, a year or two older than the poet; the poet himself; and a son named Christopher, ex-. actly seven years younger than the poet.

In Milton's case there is less trace of the effect of that rude, though powerful kind of education which is afforded to all children by the mere miscellany of external circumstances amid which they live, than of the effect of the more express education of orderly domestic training. Here, to use a common phrase, he had every advantage. Peace, piety, and comfort reigned in the home in Bread Street. Like most of the substantial London citizens of the time, the scrivener was of Puritan leanings in the matter of religion, and his household was regulated on Puritan principles. But he was also a man of liberal culture and taste. He was especially skilled in music; and specimens of his skill in this art may be seen in various musical publications of the day. It was from him that Milton derived his musical ear, and his first tuition in music as an art and a science. This excellent man discerned the genius of his son from the first, and found the chief pleasure and pride of his life in fostering it and watching its growth. Of Milton's mother we hear less. She was, accord

ing to Milton himself, "a most amiable woman, particularly noted for her charities in the neighborhood; " and Aubrey adds that she had such weak eyes, that before she was thirty years old she had to wear spectacles.

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It was in his father's house that Milton received his earliest literary education. His first teacher was Thomas Young, a Scotehman, who, after having been educated at one of the Scottish universities, had migrated into England. His connection with the Milton family may have begun as early as 1618, when his pupil was ten years of age; and it must have closed by 1623, when Young went abroad as chaplain to the British merchants at Hamburg, from which exile he returned in 1628 to be settled as vicar of Stowmarket in Suffolk. While still under Young's care, Milton was sent to St. Paul's School a public grammar school of as high celebrity as any in London, and convenient as being situated within a minute's walk of Bread Street. The head-master of the school was Alexander Gill, a Lincolnshire man, whose reputation as a teacher was then great; and the usher, or undermaster, was his son, the Rev. Alexander Gill, junior, who had recently left Oxford with a considerable name as a scholar. With him Milton contracted an acquaintance, which was continued afterwards; and he also formed a friendship with a fellow-pupil at the school, named Charles Diodati, the son of an Italian physician settled in London. Diodati left school for Oxford in 1621; but Milton remained at school three or four years longer. At school, according to Aubrey, "he studied very hard and sat up very late, commonly till twelve or one o'clock, and his father ordered the maid to sit up for him; and

in these years he composed many verses which might well become a riper age." Of these early poetical exercises, the only remaining specimens are his English paraphrases of Psalms cxiv. and cxxxvi., which bear to have been done in his sixteenth year. Milton himself, however, confirms Aubrey's account of his excessive studiousness from his earliest boyhood; and he says that when he was sent to the university he was already "instructed in various tongues,” and had no mean apprehension of the sweetness of philosophy."

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Cambridge has the honor of counting Milton among her eminent sons. He was entered as a lesser pensioner at Christ's College, Cambridge, on the 12th February, 1624–5, when he was sixteen years and two months old; and he continued his studies in the college for the full academic period of seven years. Concerning his collegelife there has been much difficulty among his biographers. Johnson was the first to hint the belief that while at college he sustained some punishment at the hands of the college authorities, if not the indignity of corporal chastisement. The original authority, however, for such a statement is Aubrey, whose memoir of Milton, accessible in print since 1813, Johnson had probably seen in MS. at Oxford. Aubrey says that Milton, having received some unkindness" from his first tutor at college, left him for another; and over the words " some unkindness there are inserted in the MS. the words "whipt him." On this, taken in connection with Milton's first Latin elegy, in which, writing to his friend Diodati, he seems to refer to some difference with the college authorities, which was occasioning his temporary absence from college, the whole controversy has

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been raised. From the investigation we have been able to bestow on the subject, the facts seem to be these: That about the second or third year of his residence at college Milton did have some difference with his first tutor, Mr. William Chappell, then one of the most distinguished tutors in the university, and afterwards Bishop of Cork and Ross; that this difference did involve some interference on the part of the master of the college, Dr. Bainbridge, in consequence of which Milton left college for a time; but that eventually the difference was adjusted by his being transferred from Chappell's tutorship to that of the Rev. Nathaniel Tovey, afterwards a parish clergyman in Leicestershire. It is certain, at least, that any "rustication” to which Milton was subjected did not involve the loss of a single term of his academic course. He took both his degrees exactly at the proper time; his B. A. degree in January 1628-9, and his M. A. degree in July 1632. Apart, however, from the controversy as to his rustication, it is certain, from Milton's own statements, that at first, owing to a certain haughtiness of manner, and also to a certain obstinacy in pursuing his own course of study, he was unpopular within the walls of the college. His college-fellows, he tells us, used to nickname him "The Lady," in allusion partly to the delicacy of his personal appearance, and partly to his moral fastidiousness. He informs us distinctly, however, that this unpopularity was but temporary, and that long before he left college he had won the respect not only of the college, but of the whole university. He speaks in one place of "that more than ordinary favor and respect which he found above any

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