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ENGLISH CLASSICS

MILTON

R. C. BROWNE

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MILTON, LIKE A SERAPH, STRONG,

Tennyson.

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JOHN, son of John and Sara Milton, was born in Bread Street, Cheapside, on the 9th of December 1608, and was baptized on the 20th at Allhallows Church. The elder John Milton was a scrivener, who had been disinherited by his father, the ranger of Shotover Park, for turning Protestant. Having settled in London, he acquired 'a plentiful estate' by his profession, in which was then included all work now done by law stationers, with the simpler branches of an attorney's business, such as drafting wills and leases. He also took rank as a musician, with such composers as Byrd, Bull, Dowland (whom Shakespeare has immortalized), Gibbons and Ford. By his instructions his son became a skilful organist. Of the poet's mother scarcely anything is recorded. Her maiden name is variously given as Haughton, Bradshaw and Castor. That her sight was weak and her charity abounding are the two facts regarding her which have come down to us.

We are told by Aubrey that Milton was a poet at ten years old; and his portrait at that age by Cornelius Jansen was subsequently engraved with the lines from Paradise Regained (201–203) beneath it. His father destined him from a child to the study of letters, and superintended his education both at the grammar-school and under masters at home. His first tutor was Thomas Young, 'a Puritan in Essex who cut his hair short. Young was a Scotchman of St. Andrew's University, afterwards Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, and a conspicuous Puritan divine. Milton has recorded his reverence for him in a Latin poem, wherein he is said to be dearer to his pupil than was Socrates to Alcibiades, Aristotle to Alexander, or Chiron

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