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ruin of his eyes, to whose natural debility too were added frequent head-aches: but all could not extinguish or abate his laudable passion for letters. It is very seldom seen, that such application and such a genius meet in the same person. The force of either is great, but both together must perform wonders. He was now in the 17th year of his age, and was a very good classical scholar, and master of several languages, when he was sent to the University of Cambridge, and admitted at Christ's College (as appears from the register) on the 19th of February 1624-5, under the tuition of Mr. William Chappel, afterwards Bishop of Cork and Ross in Irelands. He continued above seven years at the University, and took two degrees, that of Bachelor of Arts in 1628-9, and that of Master in 1632". It is somewhat remarkable, that though the merits of both our Universities are perhaps equally great, and though poetical exercises are rather more encouraged at Oxford, yet most of our greatest poets have been bred at Cambridge, as Spenser, Cowley, Waller, Dryden, Prior, not to mention any of the lesser ones, when there is a greater
* In the Biographia, p. 3106, Milton is said to have been entered at Cambridge a Sizar, which denominates the lowest rank of academics. But his admission thus stands in the register at Christ's College. “Johannes “Milton, filius Johannis, institu“tus fuit in literarum elementis “sub magistro Gill Gymnasii “Paulini praefecto, et admissus “est Pensionarius minor. 12” “ Feb. 1624.” But Pensionarius minor is a Pensioner, or Com
moner, in contradistinction to a Fellow-Commoner. And he is so entered in the Matriculation book of the University. T. Warton.
Mr. Chappel is called by Dr. Henry More, “a learned, vigi“lant, skilful, prudent, and “ pious tutor." See the Biogr. Brit. note on the Life of Lightfoot, who was also at Christ's College under Mr. Chappel. E.
" He was admitted to the same degree at Oxford, in 1635. Wood.
than all, Milton. He had given early proofs of his poetic genius before he went to the University, and there he excelled more and more, and distinguished himself by several copies of verses upon occasional subjects, as well as by all his academical exercises, many of which are printed among his other works, and show him to have had a capacity above his years; and by his obliging behaviour, added to his great learning and ingenuity, he deservedly gained the affection of many, and admiration of all. We do not find, however, that he obtained any preferment in the University, or a Fellowship in his own college; which seemeth the more extraordinary, as that society has always encouraged learning and learned men, had the most excellent Mr. Mede at that time a Fellow, and afterwards boasteth the great names of Cudworth, and Burnet author of the Theory of the Earth, and several others'. And this, together with some Latin verses of his to a friend, reflecting upon the University seemingly on this account, might probably have given occasion to the reproach which was afterwards cast upon him by his adversaries, that he was expelled from the University for irregularities committed there, and forced to fly to Italy: but he sufficiently refutes this calumny in more places than one of his works; and indeed it is no wonder, that a person so engaged in religious and political controversies as he was, should be calumniated and abused by the contrary party".
'In his time, however, there against entering the Church. was but one Fellowship in his Symmons. College tenable by a layman, “See the notes, El. i. 12, 15. and Milton had now determined E.
He was designed by his parents for holy orders; and among the manuscripts of Trinity College in Cambridge there are two draughts in Milton's own hand of a letter to a friend, who had importuned him to take orders, when he had attained the age of twenty-three'; but the truth is, he had conceived early prejudices against the doctrine and discipline of the Church, and subscribing to the Articles was in his opinion subscribing slave. This no doubt was a disappointment to his friends, who though in comfortable were yet by no means in great circumstances: and neither doth he seem to have had any inclination to any other profession"; he had too free a spirit to be limited and confined; and was for comprehending all sciences, but professing none. And therefore after he had left the University in 1632, he retired to his father's house in the country; for his father had by this time quitted business, and lived at an estate which he had purchased at Horton near Colebrooke in Buckinghamshire". Here he resided with his parents for the space of five years, and, as he himself has informed us, (in his second Defence, and the 7th of his familiar epistles,) read over all the Greek and Latin authors, particularly the historians; but now and then made an excursion to London, sometimes to buy books or to meet his friends from Cambridge, and at other times to learn something new in the mathe
'See this letter in the notes on Sonnet vii. E.
* See v. 71 of the poem Ad Patrem, and the note there, on Milton's dislike of the profession of the Law. E.
"See the Mansus, v. 149, and Mr. Warton's note. Mr. Todd mentions, that the house in which Milton lived at Horton was pulled down about the year 1800. E.
matics or music, with which he was extremely delighted. His retirement therefore was a learned retirement, and it was not long before the world reaped the fruits of it. It was in the year 1634 that his Mask was presented at Ludlow-castle. There was formerly a president of Wales, and a sort of a court kept at Ludlow, which has since been abolished ; and the president at that time was the Earl of Bridgwater, before whom Milton's Mask was presented on Michaelmas night, and the principal parts, those of the two brothers, were performed by his Lordship's sons the Lord Brackly and Mr. Thomas Egerton, and that of the lady by his Lordship's daughter the Lady Alice Egerton. The occasion of this poem seemeth to have been merely an accident of the two brothers and the lady having lost one another in their way to the castle: and it is written very much in imitation of Shakespeare's Tempest, and the Faithful Shepherdess of Beaumont and Fletcher; and though one of the first, is yet one of the most beautiful of Milton’s compositions”. It was for some time handed about only in manuscript; but afterwards, to satisfy the importunity of friends and to save the trouble of transcribing, it was printed at London, though
“ fiction of a dream, the cha
* Milton appears to have partly sketched the plan of Comus from the Old Wives' Tale of George Peele; see T. Warton's introductory note on Comus. A note signed H on Johnson's Life of Milton, Lives the Poets, ed. 1794, suggests that it was taken less from Homer's Circe than from “the Comus of Erycius “Puteanus, in which, under the
“racters of Comus and his at“tendants are delineated, and “ the delights of sensualists ex“ posed and reprobated. This “little tract was published at “Louvain in 1611, and after“wards at Oxford in 1634, the “very year in which Milton's “Comus was written.” E.
without the author’s name, in 1637, with a dedication to the Lord Brackly by Mr. H. Lawes, who composed the music, and played the part of the attendant Spirit. It was printed likewise at Oxford at the end of Mr. R.'s poems, as we learn from a letter of Sir Henry Wotton to our author; but who that Mr. R. was, whether Randolph the poet or who else, is uncertain P. It has lately, though with additions and alterations, been exhibited on the stage several times; and we hope the fine poetry and morality have recommended it to the audience, and not barely the authority of Milton's name; and we wish for the honour of the nation, that the like good taste prevailed in every thing. In 1637 he wrote another excellent piece, his Lycidas, wherein he laments the untimely fate of a friend, who was unfortunately drowned that same year in the month of August on the Irish seas, in his passage from Chester. This friend was Mr. Edward King, son of Sir John King, Secretary of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth, King James I. and King Charles I. and was a Fellow of Christ's College, and was so well beloved and esteemed at Cambridge, that some of the greatest names in the University have united in celebrating his obsequies, and published a collection of
* Mr. Warton determines that Mr. R. was Thomas Randolph, M. A. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who died March 17, 1634. His poems were printed at Oxford in 1638. But neither to this edition, nor to a second printed in 1640, was Comus attached. Warton imagines that Rouse had stitched Lawes's cdi
tion of Comus to the copy of Randolph's poems which he sent to Sir Henry Wotton. Oldys, however, in a MS. note on Langbaine's sketch of Milton's Life, preserved among the late Mr. Malone's books in the Bodleian Library, mentions that Comus was often bound up with the first edition of Randolph's poems. E.