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Life of John Milton   By: (1835-1906)

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First Page:

"Great Writers." EDITED BY PROFESSOR ERIC S. ROBERTSON, M.A.

LIFE OF MILTON.

LIFE

OF

JOHN MILTON

BY

RICHARD GARNETT, LL.D.

LONDON WALTER SCOTT, 24, WARWICK LANE 1890 ( All rights reserved. )

NOTE.

The number of miniature "Lives" of Milton is great; great also is the merit of some of them. With one exception, nevertheless, they are all dismissed to the shelf by the publication of Professor Masson's monumental and authoritative biography, without perpetual reference to which no satisfactory memoir can henceforth be composed. One recent biography has enjoyed this advantage. Its author, the late Mark Pattison, wanted neither this nor any other qualification except a keener sense of the importance of the religious and political controversies of Milton's time. His indifference to matters so momentous in Milton's own estimation has, in our opinion, vitiated his conception of his hero, who is represented as persistently yielding to party what was meant for mankind. We think, on the contrary, that such a mere man of letters as Pattison wishes that Milton had been, could never have produced a "Paradise Lost." If this view is well founded, there is not only room but need for yet another miniature "Life of Milton," notwithstanding the intellectual subtlety and scholarly refinement which render Pattison's memorable. It should be noted that the recent German biography by Stern, if adding little to Professor Masson's facts, contributes much valuable literary illustration; and that Keighley's analysis of Milton's opinions occupies a position of its own, of which no subsequent biographical discoveries can deprive it. The present writer has further to express his deep obligations to Professor Masson for his great kindness in reading and remarking upon the proofs not thereby rendering himself responsible for anything in these pages; and also to the helpful friend who has provided him with an index.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. 11

Milton born in Bread Street, Cheapside, December 9, 1608; condition of English literature at his birth; part in its development assigned to him; materials available for his biography; his ancestry; his father; influences that surrounded his boyhood; enters St. Paul's School, 1620; distinguished for compositions in prose and verse; matriculates at Cambridge, 1625; condition of the University at the period; his misunderstandings with his tutor; graduates B.A., 1629, M.A., 1632; his relations with the University; declines to take orders or follow a profession; his first poems; retires to Horton, in Buckinghamshire, where his father had settled, 1632

CHAPTER II. 35

Horton, its scenery and associations with Milton; Milton's studies and poetical aspirations; exceptional nature of his poetical development; his Latin poems; "Arcades" and "Comus" composed and represented at the instance of Henry Lawes, 1633 and 1634; "Comus" printed in 1637; Sir Henry Wootton's opinion of it; "Lycidas" written in the same year, on occasion of the death of Edward King; published in 1638; criticism on "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," "Lycidas" and "Comus"; Milton's departure for Italy, April, 1638.

CHAPTER III. 57

State of Italy at the period of Milton's visit; his acquaintance with Italian literati at Florence; visit to Galileo; at Rome and Naples; returns to England, July, 1639; settles in St. Bride's Churchyard, and devotes himself to the education of his nephews; his elegy on his friend Diodati; removes to Aldersgate Street, 1640; his pamphlets on ecclesiastical affairs, 1641 and 1642; his tract on Education his "Areopagitica," November, 1644; attacks the Presbyterians... Continue reading book >>




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