« AnteriorContinuar »
great genius which early displayed itself, was at the expence of a domestic tutor; whose care and capacity
his pupil hath gratefully celebrated in An. ætat. 12.
an excellent Latin elegy*. At his i
nitiation he is said to have applied him. self to letters with such indefatigable industry, that he Tarely was prevailed with to quit his ftudies before midnight ; which not only made him frequently subject to severe pains in his head, but likewise occasioned that weakness in his eyes, which terminated in a total privation of sight. From a domestic education he was removed to St. Paul's school, to complete his acquaintance with the classics under the care of Dr. Gill; and
after a short stay there, was transplantAn. ætat. 15. ed to Christ's College in Cambridge,
where he distinguished himself in all kinds of academical exercises. Of this fociety he continued a member till he commenced master of arts;
and then, leaving the university, he reAn. ætat. 23. turned to his father, who had quitted
the town, and lived at Hornton in Buckinghamshire, where he pursued his studies with unparalleled affiduity and success.si
After fome months spent in this studious retirement his mother died, and then he prevailed with his father to gratify an inclination he had long entertained of
seeing foreign countries." Sir Henry An. ætat. 30. Wotton, at that time provost of Eaton
college, gave him a letter of advice for the direction of his travels; but not observing an ex. cellent maxim in itt, he incurred great danger, by difputing against the superstition of the church of Rome, within the verge of the vatican. Having em. ployed his curiosity about two years in France and
See the fourth in his collection of poems. + I pensieri stretti, ed il viso sciolto.
Ei jam bis viridi furgebat cö'mus arista,
Italy, on the news of a civil war breaking out in England, he returned without taking a survey of Greece and Sicily, as at his setting out the scheme was projected. At Paris * the Lord Viscount Scudamore, am. baffador from King Charles I. at the court of France, introduced him to the acquaintance of Grotius, who at that time was honoured with the same character there by Christina, queen of Sweden. In Rome, Genoa, Florence, and other cities of Italy, he contracted a familiarity with those who were of highest reputation for wit and learning, several of whom gave
him bliging testimonies of their friendthip and esteem, which are printed before his Latin poems. The first of them was written by Manso, marquis of Villa, a great pa. tron of Tasso, by whom he is celebrated in his poem on the conquest of Jerusalemt. It is highly probable that to his conversation with this noble Neopolitan we owe the first defign which Milton conceived, of writ. ing an epic poem ; and it appears by fome Latin verses addressed to the Marquis, with the title of Mansus, that he intended to fix on King Arthur for his hero; but Arthur was reserved for another destiny.
Returning from his travels he found England on the point of being involved An. ætat. 32. in blood and confusion. It seems wonderful, that'one of fo warm and daring a spirit, as his certainly was, should be restrained from the
ini thofe unnatural commotions. I suppose we may impute it wholly to the great deference he paid to paternal authority, that he retired to lodgings provided for him in the city which being commodious for the reception of his sister's sons, and some other young gen. tlemen, he undertook their education, and is said to have formed them on the same plan which he afterwards published, in a short tractate, inscribed to his friend Mr. Hartlib.
In this philosophical course he continued without a
• Defensio secunda. Page 96. fol.
Resplende il Maulo
in the state.' It is in vain to dissemble, and far be it from me to defend his engaging with a party como bined in the destruction of our church and monarchy. Yet, leaving the justification of a misguided sincerity to be debated in the schools, may I presume to observe in his favour, that his zeal, diltempered and furious as it was, does not appear to have been inspirited by self-interested views. For it is affirmed, that though he lived always in a frugal retirement, and before his death had disposed of his library (which we may suppose to have been a valuable collection), he left not more than fifteen liundred pounds behind him for the fupport of his family ; and whoever considers the posts to which he was advanced, and the times in which he enjoyed them, will, I believe, confess he might have accumulated a much more plentiful fortune. In a difpassionate mind it will not require any extraordinary measure of candour to conclude, that though he abode in the heritage of oppressors, and the spoils of his country lay at his feet, neither his conscience nor his honour could stoop to gather them.
A commission to constitute him ad. jutant-general to Sir William Waller An. ætat. 42. was promised, but soon superseded by Waller's being laid aside, when his masters thought it proper to new model their army. However, the keenness of his pen had fo effectually recommended him to Cromwell's esteem, that when he took the reins of government into his own hand, he advanced him to be Latin secretary, both to himself and the parliament; the former of these preferments he enjoyed both under the usurper and his son, the other till King Charles II. was restored. For some time he had an apartment for his family at Whitehall ; but his health requiring a freer accession of air, he was obliged to remove from thence to lodgings which opened into St. James's park. Not long after his settlement there, his wife died in child bed,
and much about the time of her death, a gutta serena, which had for several years been gradually increasing, totally extinguished his fight. In this melancholic condition he was easily
Ι prevailed with to think of taking another wife, who was Catherine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock of Hackney; and she too, in less than a year after their marriage, died in the fame unfortunate manner as the former had done ; and in his twenty.third fonnet he docs honour to her memory. These private calamities were much heightened by
the different figure he was likely to make An. «tat. 52. in the new scene of affairs which was
going to be acted in the state. For all things now conspiring to promote the king's restoration, he was too conscious of his own inactivity during the ufurpation to expect any favour from the crown ; and therefore he prudently abfconded till the act of oblivion was publithed, by which he was only rendered incapable of bearing any office in the nation. Many had a very just esteem of his admirable parts and learning, who detested his principles, by whose intercellion bis pardon passed the seals; and I wish the laws of civil history could have extended the benefit of That oblivion to the memory of his guilt, which was indulged to his perfon ; ne tanti facinoris immanitas extitiffe, aut non vindicato fuiffe, videatur.
Having thus gained a full protection from the government (which was in truth more than he could have reasonably hoped) be appeared as much in public as he formerly used to do ; and employing his friend Dr. Paget to make choice of a third confort, on his recommendation he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Mr. Minshul, a Cheshire gentleman, by whom he had no issue. Three daughters by his first wife were then living, the two elder of whom are said to have been very serviceable to him in his studies : for having been instructed to pronounce not only the modern, but also the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, they read in their respective originals whatever authors he wanted to consult, tho' they understood none but their mother tongue. This employment, however, was too unpleasant to be continued for any long process of time; and therefore he dismissed them to receive an educatim more agreeable to their sex and temper.