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WE have no prose compositions of Milton's, of an earlier date than that which stands first in these volumes, except some of his college exercises and five of his familiar letters. Four of the letters and the college exercises are in Latin, and were not published till 1674, the last year of his life.” The fifth letter, of which Dr Birch has printed the rough and the corrected draught, from the author's own manuscripts, is in English, and was written to excuse himself to a friend for having so long delayed to enter the service of the church. It is so characteristic of Milton’s noble mind and principles, that the reader will doubtless be pleased to possess it. The corrected copy is as follows:
‘SIR,--Besides that in sundry other respects I must acknowledge me to profit by you, whenever we meet, you are often to me, and were yesterday especially, as a good watchman to admonish, that the hours of the night pass on, (for so I call my life as yet obscure and unserviceable to mankind,) and that the day with me is at hand, wherein Christ commands all to labor, while there is light. Which because I am persuaded you do to no other purpose than out of a true desire, that God should be honored in every one, I therefore think my
* He was born on the ninth of December, 1608.