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fome maturity of years, and perceiving what tyranny had invaded the church, that he who would take orders must fubfcribe Slave, and take an oath withal, which unless he took with a confcience that he would relish, he must either perjure or split his faith; I thought better to prefer a blameless filence before the facred office of fpeaking, bought and begun with fervitude and forfwearing."

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In whatever line his objections lay, his youthful decifions seem to have been but little controlled by the exercise of parental authority; for in the beautiful lines which he addresses to his father, in the Latin language, he fays,

Neque enim, Pater, ire jubebas,
Qua via lata patet, qua pronior area lucri
Certaque condendi fulget fpes aurea nummi,
Nec rapis ad leges, male cuftoditaque gentis
Jura, nec infulfis damnas clamoribus aures.
Sed magis excultam cupiens ditefcere mentem,
Me procul urbano ftrepitu, feceffibus altis
Abductum, Aoniæ jucunda per otia Ripa,
Phœbæo lateri comitem finis ire beatum ?'

In 1632 he left the University, and retired to his father's house at Horton," in Buckinghamshire, making

20 On his intention of going into the Law. See Hunter on ShakSpeare, p. 337.

27 This house at Horton was pulled down about fourteen years ago. See Symons's Life, p. 93. Milton's father had fome country house

besides this, nearer to London, of which we have had no notice. Milton's letter to A. Gill, is dated E nostro Suburbano,' Dec. 4, 1634. And fee his Elegy i. ver. 50.

Nos quoque locus habet vicinâ confitus ulmo,
Atque Suburbani nobilis umbra loci.'

and in Prolufiones (p. 136) he says, Testor ipfe lucos, et flumina, et dilectas villarum ulmos, fub quibus æftate proxime præterita (fi dearum arcana eloqui liceat), fummam cum mufis gratiam habuiffe me jucunda

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occafional vifits to London to meet his friends, to buy books, or to learn fomething new in mathematics or mufic. Here he refided five years, paffing his time in regular and severe ftudy; for he is faid to have read over all the Greek and Latin writers: Johnson fays, 'that this account must be received with limitations; but five years well employed would leave few of the ancient authors unperused: I think Wyttenbach has mentioned his having read through Athenæus in fourteen days; and Jofeph Scaliger has left on record the short time in which he finished both the Homeric Poems. What then might not Milton's enthusiastic pursuit of knowledge, and his unwearied industry perform? He says of himself at this time,

Et totum rapiunt, me, mea vita, libri.'

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29

In this ftudious retirement, and under the shelter of his -paternal roof, it is believed that he wrote his Arcades, Comus, L'Allegro, Il Penferofo, and Lycidas. In the neighbourhood of Horton, the Countefs Dowager of Derby refided, and the Arcades was performed by her grandchildren at their feat, called Harefield Place.30 Was ever

memoria recolo, ubi et ego inter rura, et femotos faltus velut occulto ævo crefcere mihi potuiffe vifus fum.'

28 Dr. Ireland remarks "a fimilarity between the cadences, as well as in the measure and folemnity of thoughts, of the Penferofo, and the speech of Paulo, in Maflinger's Maid of Honor." See Gifford's ed. vol. iii. p. 107.

29 Milton was a courtier, when he wrote the Masque at Ludlow Castle, and still more a courtier when he wrote the Arcades.' See C. Lamb's Elia, vol. ii. p. 138.

30 Milton was not the only great poet who has celebrated the Countess Dowager of Derby. She was alfo the patronefs of Spenfer. The Prayer Book of this Countess, is the poetry of her times. See Brydges' Life of Milton, p. 62. For this celebrated Lady, fays Mr. Gifford, alfo appears greatly to have delighted in that elegant and fplendid exhibition. Milton wrote his Arcades, the fongs of which are a mere cento from our author's Mafques, of which, certainly, it is a very humble imitation. v. Jonfon's

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lady on her return to the hall of her ancestors, crowned with fuch poetic garlands, or greeted by a welcome fo elegant as this? Some of his letters to Charles Deodati give us interesting particulars of his ftudies and habits of life. You well know (he fays) that I am naturally flow in writing, and averfe to write. It is alfo in my favour, that your method of ftudy is such as to admit of frequent interruptions, in which you vifit your friends, write letters, or go abroad, but it is my way to fuffer no impediment, no love of ease, no avocation whatever, to chill the ardor, to break the continuity, or divert the completion of my literary pursuits;'--in a fubfequent letter, the honourable ambition of his youthful mind opens itself without referve to his familiar friend.—' Hear me,' he writes, ' my Deodati, and suffer me, for a moment, to speak without blushing in a more lofty strain. Do you ask what I am meditating? by the help of heaven, an immortality of. fame, but what am I doing? TTEpoquw. I am letting my wings grow and preparing to fly, but my Pegasus has not yet feathers enough to foar aloft in the fields of air. You fhall likewife have fome information respecting my studies. I went through the perusal of the Greek authors to the time when they ceased to be Greeks. I was long employed in unravelling the obfcure history of the Italians under the Lombards, the Franks, and Germans, to the time when they received their liberty from Rodolphus, King of Germany.'

To B. Bonmatthaei he writes of his proficiency in the richest and most melodious of modern tongues. 'I who certainly have not merely wetted the tip of my lips in the

Works, v. vii. p. 18. See alfo p. 78 and p. 89. "The Arcades, with the exception of three trifling fongs, is made up of the speech of the genius" (in the Barriers). "Milton is indebted for fomething more than a hero (Favonius) to this beautiful speech," (in the Vifion of Delight), p. 306.

ftream of these languages, but, in proportion to my years, have swallowed the moft copious draughts, can yet sometimes retire with avidity and delight to feast on Dante, Petrarch, and many others; nor has Athens itself been able to confine me to the tranfparent wave of its Iliffus, nor ancient Rome to the banks of its Tiber, fo as to prevent my visiting with delight the stream of the Arno, and the hills of Fæfolæ.' 31

The Mafque of Comus was prefented at Ludlow, in 1634, then the refidence of the Lord Prefident of Wales, and was acted by the Earl of Bridgewater's fons,33 and his young daughter the Lady Alice Egerton. The ftory

31 Milton feems to have been a folitary exception in the records of that day, of an eminent English scholar, being imbued with a relish for Italian Letters." See Prefcott's Mifcellanies, p. 532. But fee Mr. Gifford's Note in his edition of B. Jonson, vol. vi. p. 491. "The Italian writers, of whom he (Milton) probably knew nothing at the time, he is fufpected of copying them from line to line, and from word to word."

32 The original manuscript of Comus is in Trin. Coll. Library; it was found among other papers that once belonged to Sir Henry Newton Puckering, a benefactor to the library, and was printed at London in 1637, 4to. Oldys fays it was often bound up with the first edit. of Randolph's Poems. Warton fays, 'It was with great difficulty and reluctance that Milton first appeared as an author.' Some account of Sir N. Puckering may be read in Warton's Milton, p. 578, and the original various readings to the Lycidas, Comus, and fmaller poems from the Manuscript, p. 578 to 590. On a few variations not noticed by Warton, fee Claff. Journal, No. xxiii. p. 211. There is one rather curious:

'While all the starry rounds, and arches blue
Refound, and echo Hallelu!'

a manuscript copy of Comus is alfo in the Bridgewater library, at Ashridge, (See Todd's Comus, p. 165) before it was corrected.

Milton loft the friendship of the Bridgewater family by his Defenfio. In a copy of it in Lord Stafford's library, the Earl (who performed the part of the firft brother) wrote Liber igne, autor furcâ digniffimi.' On this account Lawes' dedication is supposed to have been withdrawn from the fubfequent editions. See Todd's Comus, p. 2.

is faid to have been founded on a circumftance that took place in the family of the Earl not long before; and Milton wrote his Mafque at the request of Henry Lawes, the celebrated musician.3 Dr. Johnson obferves that the fiction is derived from Homer's Circe, but later investigations have difcoveted a clofer refemblance in the Comus of Erycius Puteanus, and the Old Wives' Tale of George Peele. 35 It is one of the most beautiful and, with the exception of a few paffages, one of the most finished Poems in our language.36 It has the sweetness of Fletcher, with a richer ftructure of verfification, more foreign idioms, more learned allufions, and a higher reach of fancy. It does not rife into all the wildness of the romantic fable, only because it is guarded and fubdued by a chafte and elegant judgment. Sir Henry Wotton was

34 "We are reminded of the brotherly love between Milton and H. Lawes, fo celebrated in the beautiful Lycidas." See Mr. Ward's De Clifford, v. i. p. 17.

35 See G. Peele's Works by the Rev. A. Dyce, vol. i. p. 204. ed. 1829. If. Reed first directed attention to this play, then almost unknown. For extracts from Puteanus, fee Todd's ed. of Comus, p. 57. 62. The Comus of Puteanus was republished at Oxford in 1634, the year in which Milton's Comus was written. There is a curious reading in the first edition of Comus not noticed by the Commentators. Line ftands thus in the common editions.

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Thou hovering Angel girt with golden wings.'

In the first ed. Thou flitting Angel,' &c.

36 It is to the credit of Milton's tafte that he has borrowed largely from this entertainment (The Pirates): his obligations to Jonfon are indeed inceflant. v. Gifford's Jonson, vol. vi. p. 491. "The Commentators on Milton, after spending twenty or thirty pages in conjectures on the origin of Milton's Comus, without the flightest reference to Jonfon, condescend in the courfe of their fubfequent annotations, to obferve that Jonson's Mafque of Pleasure, might perhaps afford fome hint to Milton. Perhaps it might, and so I suspect might some others." Ibid, vol. vii. p. 314.

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