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tical Dictionary, by Mr. Fenton before the edition of our author's poetical works printed in 1725, by Mr, Richardson in the Preface to his Explanatory Notes and Remarks
Milton's Paradise Lost, and by the reve. rend and ingenious Mr. Thomas Ģirch in the General Dictionary, and more largely before the edition of our author's prose works in two volumes folio printed in 1738. And I have not only read and compared these accounts together, and made the best extracts out of thern which I possibly could; but have also collected some other particulars from Milion's own works as well as from other authors, and from credible tradition as well as from written testimonies; and all these, like so many different threds, I have woven into one piece, and formed into a continued narration, of which, whether it affords more or less satisfaction and entertainment than former accounts, the reader must judge and determine: but it has been my study and endeavour, as in the no:cs to comprise the flower of all other notes, so in the life to include the substance of all former lives, and with improvements and additions.
In the conclusion are added copions indexes, one of the principal matters, and another of the words. The man, who is at the pains of making indexes, is really to be pitied;
but of their great utility there is no need to say any thing, when several persons, who pass in the world for profound scholars, know little more of books tban title pages and indexes, but never catch the spirit of an author, which is sure always to evaporate or die in such hands. The former of these indexes, if not
drawn up by Mr. Tickell, was I think first inserted in his quarto
edition of Milton's poetical works printed in 1720; and for the latter, which was much more laborious, it was composed at the desire and encouragement of Mr. Auditor Benson by Mr. Cruden, who hath also published a very useful Concordance to the Bible,
It is agreed among all writers, that the family of Milton came originally from Milton in Oxfordshire; but from which of the Miltons is not altegether so certain. Some say, and particularly Mr. Philips, that the family was of Milton near Abington in Oxfordshire, where it had been a long time seated, as appears by the monuments still to be seen in Milton church. But that Milton is not in Oxfordshire, but in Berkshire; and upon enquiry I find, that there are no such monuments in that church, nor any remains of them. It is more probable therefore that the family came, as Mr. Wood says, from Milton ñear Halton and Thame in Oxfordshire: where it flourished several years, till at last the estate was sequestered, one of the family having taken the unfortunate side in the civil wars between the houses of York and Lancaster. John Milton, the poet's grandfather, was, according to Mr. Wood, an underranger or keeper of the forest of Shotover near Halton in Oxfordshire; he was of the religion of
Rome, and such a bigot that he disinherited his son only for being a protestant. Upon this the son, the poet's father, named ļikewise John Milton, settled in London, and became a scrivener by the advice of a friend eminent in that profession; but he was not so devoted to gain and to business, as to lose all taste of the politer arts, and was particularly skilled in music, in which he was not only a fine performer, but is also celebrated for several pieces of his composition: and yet on the other hand he was not so fond of his music and amusements, as in the least to neglect his business, but by his diligence and economy acquired a competent estate, which enabled him af terwards to retire and live in the country. He was by all accounts a very worthy man; and married an excellent woman, Sarah, of the ancient family of the Bradshaws, says Mr. Wood; but Mr. Philips, our author's nephew, who was more likely to know, says, of the family of the Castons derived originally from Wales. Whoever she was, she is said to have been a woman of incomparable virtue and goodness; and by her husband had two sons and a daughter.
The elder of the sons was our famous poet, who was born in the year of our Lord 1608, on the ninth of December, in the morning, between six and seven, o'clock, in Bread-Street, London, where his father lived at the sign of the Spread Eagle, which was also the coat of arms of the family. He was named John, as his father and grand father had been before him; and from the beginning discovering the marks of an
uncommon genius, he was designed for a scholar, and had his education partly under private tutors, and partly at a public school. It has been often controverted whether a public or private education best, but
young Milton was so happy as to share the advantages of both. It appears from the fourth of his Latin elegies, and from the first and fourth of his familiar epistles, that Mr. Thomas Young, who was afterwards pastor of the company of English merchants residing at Hamburg, was one of his private preceptors: and when he had made good progress in his studies at home, he was sent to St. Paul's school, to be fitted for the university under the care of Mr. Gill, who was the master at that time, and to whose son are addressed some of his familiar epistles. In this early time of his life such was his love of learning, and so great was his ambition to surpass his equals, that from his twelfth
year he commonly continued his studies till midnight, which, (as he says himself in his second Defence) was the first ruin of his eyes, to whose natural debility too were added frequent head-akes : but all could not extinguish or abate his laudable passion for letters. It is very
seldom seen, that such application and such a genius meet in the same person. The force of either is great, but both together must perform wonders.
· He was now in the seventeenth year of his age, and was a very good classical scholar and master of several languages, when he was sent to the university of Cambridge, and admitted at Christ's College (as