صور الصفحة
PDF

M1LTON'S AUTOGEAPH.

Sinee the fifth edition was published, I have seen, in the hands of the Hon. Charles Sumner, the Album Amieorum of a Neapolitan nobleman, Camillus Cordoyn, at Geneva, who was wont to get the autographs of distinguished men who passed through that eity on their way to or from Italy. There are many names of great interest in it, but that whieh outweighs them all is Milton's, of whieh I have had a faesimile taken, through the kindness of Mr, Sumner, and now present it here, as a gem of the rarest value:

Verh^e J-eellt were, ., eaten "^fttfi Wf.d.ljkQfi h> Air,

^jtlum tun cLtvln£Vk/o hurt rw& Purr*

It will be observed that Milton ehanges the qnotation from Horaee from the third to the first person, whieh gives an inereased interest to the beautiful lines of Comus,—published just before he eommeneed his travels:—" The sky, not the mind, I ehange when / eross the sea;" thus showing, in the language of the late William Ellery Ohanning, I1. D., "That to Milton the words from Comus were something more than poetry—that they wore a prineiple of life."

C. D. C.

rhiieuklphia, July lst, 1805.

A SKETCH

OF THE

LlFE OF MlLTON.

Jonx Milton, "the greatest of great men," was born at his father"s honse in Bread street, London, Deeember 0th, 1608.n The poet's grandfather was a rigid Papist, and disinherited his son, whom he had edueated at Christ Chureh College, Oxford, beeause he embraeed the Protestant faith. Thus deprived of his patrimony, the poet's father had reeourse, for his support, to the profession of serivener or writer, in the praetiee of whieh he proved so sueeessful that he was enabled to give his ehiidren the advantages of a good edueation, and at length to retire with eomfort to the eonntry.

It is to be regretted that we have so little information respeeting the early life of our immortal poet . His first instruetor was Thomas Young, a Puritan minister of Essex, to whose worth Miiton has borne testimony in an elegy and two Latin epistles. On Mv. Young's going to the Continent, Milton was sent to 8t. Paul's sehool, then under the direetion of Dv. Gill, where he distingnished himself by almost ineredible progress, and gave numerous indieations of that gigantie intelleet, the energies of whieh afterwards more fully developed themselves. Thenee he was removed to Christ's College, Cambridge, whieh he entered on the 12th of Febrnary, 1024. Already, or abont this time, he had eommeneed his poetieal eareer, by paraphrasing two of the Psalms, lthe 114th and 130th,l in whieh may be diseerned the dawning of real genins. The next year, 1025, he wrote his poem "On the Death of a Fair^Infant dying of a Cough."f Of this poem Warton remarks—" On the whole, from a hoy of seventeen, it is an extraordinary effort of faney, expression, and versifieation." Whiie at Cambridge he wrote also many other poems, both Latin and English: among the latter is his "Address to his Native Langnage," at a '' Vaeation Exereise" in the eollege, written at the age of nineteen ; and his grand and inimitable "Hymu on the Nativity," in his twenty-first year, and of whieh Hir Egerton Rrydges remarks—'' I eaunot doubt that this Hymu was the eongenial prelude of that holy and inspired imagination whieh produeed the ' Paradise Lost' nearly forty years afterwards."

Milton was designed by his parents for the profession of divinity; but during his residenee at the University he ehanged his intention. His own aeeount is as follows :—"By the intention of my parents and friends I was destined, of a ehild, to the serviee of the ehureh, and in mine own resolutions. Till, eoming to some maturity of years, ami pereeiving what tyrauny hod invaded the ehureh, that he who would take orders must Tubseribe 8lave, and take an oath withal, whieh, unless he took with a eonseienee that he would reteh, he must either straight perjure or split

s Bread street runs from Cheapaide sonth, near 8t. Paul's Chureh. Old Anthony Woed tells us that the house and ehamber lu whieh the poet wus born were often vi.ited by foreitrnera, even in the poet's iifetime The house, however, was destroyed in the great fire of lI.00.

f Miiton's only sister, Aune, was married to a gentleman by the name of Phiiiips, and had by him, besides the infant danghter immortaiized by this poem, two soos, John and Ldward. who wtre edueated by the poet.

his faith; I thought better to prefer a blameless silenee before the saered offiee of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and forswearing." This honest and ardent love of truth and freedom was his predominant eharaeteristie through life.

Miiton remained seven years in Cambridge, where he took the usnal degrees, that of haehelor in 1028, and that of master of arts in 1032. He then left the University, and retired to his father's house in Horton, Buekinghamshire, where he wrote the most eelebrated of what are ealled bis "Juvenile Poems,"—his Areades, Comus, L'Allegre, I1 Penserose, and Lyeidas. In 1037, having lost his mother, he felt himself at liberty to earry into effeet a projeet whieh he had long meditated,—to visit foreign parts; and having obtained his father's permission, he set ont for Italy. The aeeount is, of eourse, best given in his own words. In his "8eeond Defenee of the People of England," to refute the ealumnies of his enemies, who had represented him as vieious in his yonth, he thus gives a too brief antobiography:—

"I will now mention who and whenee I am. I was born at London, of an honest family: my father was distingnished by the undeviating integrity of his life; my mother, by the esteem in whieh she was held, and the alms whieh she bestowed. My father destined me from a ehild to the pursnits of literature; and my appetite for knowledge was so voraeious, that from twelve years of age I hardly ever left my studies, or went to bed before midnight. This primariiy led to my loss of sight: my eyes were naturally weak, and I was subjeet to freqnent headaehes, whieh, however, eould not ehiil the ardour of ray euriosity, or retard the progress of my improvement . My father had me daily instrueted in the grammar sehool, and by other masters at home. He then, after I had aeqnired a profieieney in various langnages, and had made a eonsiderable progress in phiiosophy, sent me to the university of Cambridge. Here I passed seven years in the usnal eonrse of instruetion and study, with the approhation of the good, and withont any stain upon my eharaeter, till I took the degree of Master of Arts.

"After this I did not, as this misereant feigns, run away into Italy, but of my own aeeord retired to my father's house, whither I was aeeompanied by the regrets of most of the fellows of the eollege, who showed me no eommon marks of friendship and esteem. On my father's estate, where ho had determined to pass the remainder of his days, I enjoyed an interval of uninterrupted leisure, whieh I devoted entirely to the perusal of the Greek and Latin elassies,-—though I oeeasionally visited the metropolis, either for the sake of purehasing books or of learning something new in mathematies or in musie, in whieh I, at that time, found a souree of pleasure and amusement. In this mauner I spent five years, till my mother's death. I then beeame anxious to visit foreign parts, and partieularly Italy. My father gave me his permission, and I left home with one servant. On my departure, the eelebrated Henry Wotton, who had long been King James's amhassador at Veniee, gave me a signal proof of his regard, in an elegant letter whieh ho wrote, breathing not only the warmest friendship, bnt eontaining some maxims of eonduet whieh I found very useful in my travels. The noble Thomas 8eudamore, King Charles's amhassador, to whom I earried letters of reeommendation, reeeived me most eourteously ot Paris. His lordship gave me a eurd of introduetion to the learned Hugo Grotins, at that time amhassador from ths qneen of 8weden to the Freneh eourt . A few days after, when I set ont for Italy, he gave me letters to the English merehants on my ronte, that they might show me any eiviiities in their powev.

"Taking ship at Niee, I arrived at Genoa, and afterwords visited Leg horn, Pisa, and Florenee. In the latter eity, whieh I have always more partieularly esteemed for the eleganee of its dialeet, its genins, and its taste, I stopped abont two months; when I eontraeted an intimaey with many persons of rank and learning, and was a eonstant attendant at their literary parties',—a praetiee whieh prevails there, and tends Bo mueh to the diffusion of knowledge and the preservation of friendship.

"From Florenee I went to 8ieuna, thenee to Rome, where, after I had spent about two months in viewing the antiqnities of that renowned eity, —where I experieneed the most friendly attentions from Lueas Hnlstein and other learned and ingenious men,—I eontinned my route to Naples. When I was preparing to pass over into 8ieily and Greeee, the melaneholy intelligenee whieh I reeeived of the eivil eommotions in England made me alter my purpose; for I thought it hase to be travelling fur amusement abroad, while my fellow-eitizens were fighting for liberty nt home.

"While I was on my way haek to Rome, some merehants informed me that the English Jesnits had formed a plot against me if I returned to Rome, beeause I had spoken too freely of religion: for it was a rule whieh I laid down to myself, in those plaees never to be the first to begin any eonversation on reiigion, bnt, if any qnestions were put to me eoneerning my faith, to deelare it withont any reserve or feav. I nevertheless returned to Rome. I took no 8teps to eoneeal either my person or my eharaeter, and for abont the spaee of two months I again openly defended, as I had done before, the reformed religion in the very metropolis of Popery.

"Ry the favour of God I got haek to Florenee,n where I was reeeived with as mueh aIfeetion as il I had returned to my native eountry. There I stopped as many months as I had done before ; then, erossing the Apennines, I passed through Bologna and Ferrara to Veniee. After I had spent a month in surveying the euriosities of this eity, and had put on board a ship the books whieh I had eolleeted in Italy, I proeeeded through Verona and Milan, and along the Le)nan Lake to Genevs. The mention of this eity brings to my reeolleetion the slandering More,"f" and makes me again eall the Deity to wituess, that in all those plaees, in whieh viee meets with so little diseouragement and is praetised with so little shame, I never onee deviated from the paths of integrity and virtne; and perpetnally refleeted that, though my eonduet might eseape the notiee of men, it would not elude the inspeetion of God.

"Then, pursning my former ronte through Franee, I returned to my native eountry, after an absenee of one year and about three months. As soon as I was able. I hired a spaeious house in the eity for myself and my books, where I again with rapture renewed my literary pursuits, and where I ealmly awaited the issne of the eontest, whieh I trusted to tho wise eonduet of Providenee and to the eourage of the people.

"The vigour of the parliament had begun to humble the pride of tho bishops. As long as the liberty of speeeh was no longer subjeet to eontrol, all months began to be opened against the bishops; some eomplained of the viees of the individnals, others of those of the ordev. They said that it was unjust that they alone should diner from the model of other reformed ehurehes, and partieularly the word of God.

"This awakened all my attention and my zeal: I saw that a way was opening for the establishment of real liberty; that the foundation was laying for the deliveranee of man from the yoke of slavery and superstition; that the prineiples of religion, whieh were the first objeets of our eare, would exert a salntary inflnenee on the mauners and eonstitution of the republie; and as I had from my youth studied the distinetions between religious and eivil rights, I pereeived that, if I ever wished to be of use, I ought at least not to be wanting to my eountry, to the ehureh, and to so many of my fellow Christians, in a erisis of so mueh dangev. I therefore determined to relinqnish the other pursnits in whieh I was engaged, and to transfer the whole foree of my talents and my industry to this one

n At Florenee ho also visited the great ond injured Galiiee, to whom ho refers in Parwliee Lost, book i. iine 288. t Alexander More.

« السابقةمتابعة »