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a number of suggestive interpretative notes. Professor Corson has recently published an Introduction to Milton which conveniently brings together the more important autobiographical passages from the prose works, but its value is lessened by the lack of exact references to the sources of the texts quoted. Discussions of Milton's versification will be found in the thirà volume of Masson's large edition of the poems, and in Milton's Prosody by Robert Bridges (Clarendon Press). It is, perhaps, unnecessary to refer to the well known essays on Milton by Macaulay and Lowell.
In the preparation of the introduction and notes I have freely consulted the work of previous editors, especially Masson, Verity, Browne, and Trent, and detailed acknowledgment of obligations to these and others will be found in the appropriate places. To Professor Masson, as author of the Life of Milton, every modern student of Milton owes an immense debt, and I have to add to this general recognition that of the more personal obligation which a student owes to an inspiring teacher. I also wish to thank, for suggestions in connection with the treatment of the masque, my friends Dr. A. H. Thorndike of Western Reserve University, and Dr. John Lester, recently of Harvard, and, for helpful criticisms throughout, Mr. L. T. Damon of the University of Chicago.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY, September, 1900.
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I. ENGLAND IN MILTON'S YOUTH Among English men of letters there is none whose life and work stand in more intimate relation with the history of his times than those of Milton. Not only was he for a long period immersed in political controversy and public business, but there are few of his important works which do not become more significant in the light of contemporary events, and in turn help the understanding of these events themselves. Both by temperament and by circumstances he was destined to be much more than an interested onlooker during the momentous struggles which had begun to trouble the peace of England at the time he reached manhood; and it is by no accident that his most adequate biography is at the same time a history of his country for three-quarters of a century.
At the time of Milton's birth in 1608, England was passing through a period of transition. Much of that remarkable vigor and abundance of life which had characterized the age of Elizabeth still remained; and the drama, the most typical expression of that age in literature, had hardly begun
to decline. Yet, with the change of dynasty at the union of the crowns of England and Scotland in 1603, there had appeared a tendency to depart from the policy of toleration which had made possible the united patriotism of the preceding reign. The new King, James I., had definite pref. erences in religious matters, and insisted on making them felt. Lines of cleavage, which had before been only vaguely traceable, broadened into dividing gulfs, and the religious world began more and more to break up into sects and parties. The antagonisms between these, already in many cases present during the reign of Elizabeth, were strengthened when, in the time of Charles I., political issues were added to ecclesiastical; and the hostility and intolerance grew more and more acute, until in 1642 difference of opinion culminated in the horrors of civil war.
Theoretically, all Englishmen were members of the Established Church. But in practice there were two important groups outside the Anglican fold, the Roman Catholics and the Protestant Separatists. Under Elizabeth, the persecution of the Roman Catholics had varied in intensity according to the requirements of the political situation. Thus, when a Catholic power like Spain threatened the national safety, considerable rigor was used to prevent Catholic risings at home. Similarly, in the reign of James, the alarm caused