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ture how it first caught the sparks, and gradually mounted to a blaze of unrivalled vehemence and splendor.
His education, as Dr. Newton has well observed, united the opposite advantages of private and public instruction. Of his early passion for letters he has left the following record, in his second defence*: “My father destined me from my infancy to the study of polite literature, which I embraced with such avidity, that from the age of twelve, I hardly ever retired from my books before midnight. This proved the first source of injury to my eyes, whose natural weakness was attended with frequent pains of the head; but as all these disadvantages could not repress my ardour for learning, my father
* Pater me puerulum humaniarum literarum studiis destinavit; quas ita avide arripui, ut ab anno ætatis duodecimo vix unquam ante mediam noctem a lucuhrationibus cubitum discederem ; quæ prima oculorum pernicies fuit, quorum ad naturalem deblilitatem accesserant et crebri capitis dolores; quæ omnia cum discendi impetum non retardarent, et in ludo literario, et sub aliis domi magistris erudiendum quotidie curavit.
took care to have me instructed by various preceptors both at home and at school.' His domestic tutor was Thomas Young, of Essex, who being obliged to quit his country on account of religious opinions, became minister to the English merchants at Hamburgh. It was probably from this learned and conscientious man, that Milton caught not only his passion for literature, but that steadiness and unconquerable integrity of character, by which he was distinguished through all the vicissitudes of a tempestuous life. His reverential gratitude and affection towards this preceptor are recorded in two Latin epistles*, and a Lain elegy addressed
* The high opinion, which Milton entertained of his preceptor, is so gracefully expressed in one of these letters, that I select it as a specimen of his epistolary style in the early period of life.
Thomæ Junio. Inspectis literis tuis (preceptor optime) unicum hoc mihi supervacaneum occurrebat, quod tardæ scriptionis excusationem attuleris; tametsi enim literis tuis nihil mihi queat optabilius accedere, qui possim tamen aut debeam sperare otii tibi tantum a rchus scriis, et sanctioribus esse, ut mihi semper
to him: they suggest a most favorable idea of the poet's native disposition, and furnish
respondere vacet; præsertim cum illud humanitatis omnino sit, officii minime. Te vero oblitum esse mei ut suspicer, tam multa tua de me recens merita nequaquam sinunt. Neque enim video quorsum tantis onustum be- ' neficiis ad oblivionem dimitteres. Rus tuum accercitus, simul ac ver adoleverit, libenter adveniam, ad capessendas anni tuique non minus colloquii delicias, et ab urbano strepitu subducam me paulisper, ad stoam tuam Icenorum, tanquam ad celeberrimam illam Zenonis porticum aut Ciceronis Tusculanum, ubi tu in re modica regio sane animo veluti Serranus aliquis aut Curius in agello tuo placide regnas, deque ipsis divitiis, ambitione, pompa, luxuriâ, et quicquid vulgus hominum miratur et stupet, quasi triumphum agis fortunæ contemptor. Cæterum qui tarditatis culpam deprecatus es, hanc mihi vicissim, ut spero, præcipitantiam indulgebis ; cum enim epistolam hanc in extremum distulissem, malui pauca, eaque rudiuscule scribere, quam nihil.-Vale vir observande.
Cantabrigia. Julii 21, 1628.
In perusing your letters, my excellent preceptor, this only appeared to me superfluous, that you apologize for a delay in writing; for although nothing can be more desirable to me than your letters, yet what right have I to hope, that your serious and sacred duties can allow you such leisure, that you can always find time
an effectual antidote to the poison of that most injurious assertion, that“ he hated all, whom he was required to obey.”—Could untractable pride be the characteristic of a mind, which has expressed its regard for a
enough to answer me, especially when your writing is entirely an act of kindness, and by no means of duty. The
many and recent favors I have received from you will by no means suffer me to suspect that you can forget me; nor can I conceive it possible that, having loaded me with such benefits, you should now dismiss me from your remembrance. I shall willingly attend your summons to your rural retirement on the first appearance of Spring, to enjoy with equal relish the delights of the season and of your
conversation. I shall withdraw myself for a little time from the bustle of the city, to your porch in Suffolk, as to the famous portico of the Stoic, or the Tusculum of Cicero, where, ennobling a moderate estate by an imperial mind, you reign contentedly in your little field, like a Serranus or a Curius, and triumph, as it were, over opulence, ambition, pomp, luxury (and whatever is idolized by the herd of men) by looking down upon fortune: but as you excuse yourself for delay, let me hope that you will forgive me for haste, since, having deferred this letter to the last moment, I chose to send a few lines, though not very accurately written, rather than to be silent. Farewell my reverend friend.
disciplinarian sufficiently rigid, with a tenderness so conspicuous in the following verses of the fourth Elegy?
Vivit ibi antiquæ clarus pietatis honore,
Præsul, christicolas pascere doctus oves ;
Dimidio vitæ vivere cogor ego.
Me faciunt aliâ parte carere mei!
Cliniadi, pronepos qui Telamonis erat;
Quem peperit Lybico Chaonis alma Jovi. Qualis Amyntorides, qualis Philyreius heros Myrmidonum regi, talis et ille mihi.
Aonios illo præunte recessus Lustrabam, et bifidi sacra vireta jugi, Pieriosque hausi latices, Clioque favente,
Castalio sparsi læta ter ora mero.
There lives, deep learn’d, and primitively just,