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copies by degrees, and advancing towards å better practice, as he gains more confidence in him
felf. en In his translation of Virgil, written when he was
about twenty-one years old, may be still found the old
" Then all those
Did and deserv'd no less, my fate to find.”
This passage exhibits one of those triplets which are not infrequent in this first essay, but which it is to be supposed his maturer judgement disapproved, since in his latter works he has totally forborn them.
His rhymes are such as seem found without difficulty, by following the sense; and are for the most part as
exact at least as those of other poets, though now and then the reader is shifted off with what he can get.
"O how transform'd! “ How much unlike that Hector, who return'd
“ Clad in Achilles' spoils ! And again :
" From thence a thousand lesser poets sprung,
“ Like petty princes from the fall of Rome.” Sometimes the weight of rhyme is laid upon a word too feeble to sustain it:
" Troy confounded falls
“ Nor ten years conflict, nor a thousand sail.”
Most of these petty faults are in his first productions, when he was less skilful, or at least less dexterous in the use of words; and though they had been inore frequent they could only have lessened the grace, not the strength of his composition. He is one of the writers that improved our taste, and advanced our language, and whom we ought therefore to read with gratitude, though, having done much, he left much to do.
T HE Life of Milton has been already written in
1 so many forms, and with such minute enquiry, that I might perhaps more properly have contented myself with the addition of a few notes to Mr. Fenton's elegant Abridgement, but that a new narrative was thought necessary to the uniformity of this edition.
JOHN MILTON was by birth a gentleinan, descended from the proprietors of Milton near Thame in Oxfordshire, one of whom forfeited his estate in the times of York and Lancaster. Which fide he took I know not; his descendant inherited no veneration for the White Rose. . ; His grandfather John was keeper of the forest
of Shotover, a zealous papist, who disinherited · his son, because he had forsaken the religion of his ancestors.
His father, John, who was the son disinherited, had recourse for his support to the profession of a scrivenet.
He He was a man eminent for his skill in musick *, many of his compositions being still to be found; and his reputation in his profession was such, that he grew rich, and retired to an estate. He had probably more than common literature, as his son addresses him in one of his most elaborate Latin poems. He married a gentlewoman of the name of Caston, a Welsh family, by whom he had two sons, John the poet, and Christopher who studied the law, and adhered, as the law taught him, to the King's party, for which he was awhile perfecuted; but having, by his brother's interest, obtained permission to live in quiet, he supported himself so honourably by chamber-practice, that soon after the accession of King James, he was knighted and made a Judge; but, his constitution being too weak for business, he retired before any disreputable compliances became necessary f.
He had likewise a daughter Anne, whom he married with a considerable fortune to Edward Philips, who came from Shrewsbury, and rose in the Crown-office to be secondary: by him she had two sons, John and Edward I, who were educated by the poet, and froin
* Indeed so eminent as to rank among the first practical com posers in his time, Philips, mentioned in the next page, says, that for a composition of his he was presented by a Polish prince with a gold medal and chain. An anthem of his composing may be seen in " The General History of the Science and Practice of " Music, 4to." 1776, vol. III. page 369.
+ As a judge he was not eminent; not a single dictumn of his is recorded in any report book of his time; nor does his name appear, save among those of the other judges to the allowance of Carter's, and another volume or two of contemporary reports.
It is from the latter of these two persons alone, that we derive the particulars of Milton's domestic manners, and there are cxG2
whom is derived the only authentick account of his domestic manners. · John, the poet, was born in his father's house, at the Spread-Eagle in Bread-street, Dec. 9, 1608, between fix and feven in the morning. His father ap- . pears to have been very solicitous about his education; for he was instructed at first by private tuition under the care of Thomas Young, who was afterwards chaplain to the English merchants at Hamburgh; and of whom we have reason to think well, since his scholar considered him as worthy of an epistolary Elegy. . He was then sent to St. Paul's Scool, under the care of Mr. Gill; and removed, in the beginning of his
hibited in a life of him prefixed to a translation of his "State Let"' ters, 1694, 12mo." The two persons abovementioned were men of literature, and are noticed by Wood. Edward, after having been a student of Magdalen hall, Oxford, became tutor to the fon of Mr. John Evelyn, of Say's court, and after that to the fons of sundry persons of quality, and also to Ifabella, the daughter of lord Arlington, afterwards duchess of Grafton ; but at length he
vards duchaised of a faison pour formaliteli took up the trade of a writer and translator of books for a livelihood. Among other works he compiled a Dictionary, entitled, “ A “ new World of Words," which, till the publication of Bailey's, mnight be deemed the best in our language : he was also the corrtinuator of “Sir Richard Baker's Chronicle" to the restoration of Charles II. and, having the use of the duke of Albemarle's papers, has related the occurrences of that great event, but in a way that gave great offence to bishop Nicolson, who, with his usual afperity, afferts that ambition and flattery carried him beyond truth and his copy. He appears to have been a friend to the royal canle ; but his brother John inherited the political, though not the religious principles of his uncle: he wrote “ Maronides, or two so books of Virgil translated into burlesque verse," pamphlets, and fundry things of small account at this day, and is thus defcribed by Wood: “A man of very loose principles, atheistical, forsakes * his wife and children, makes no provision for them.” Athen. Oxon, 2d edit. vol. II, 1116, et seq.