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was it that bent the twig, or taught the how to shoot? Who was it, that, to his incessant importunities for information on casual topics of conversation, and which were so watchfully stimulated, used then kindly and constantly to reply, “ Read, and you will know ?” Who was it that cultivated his mind, so that, in his fourth year, he was able to read any English book, and stored his mind from his birth to his ninth and tenth years ? When, in his ninth year, he had the misfortune to break his thigh-bone, which detained him at home more than a year, who was it that was his constant companion, and amused him daily with the perusal of such English books as were adapted to his taste and capacity? For all this, and much more than this, we are referred to only one individual, and that was his dear Mother; an extraordinary woman, then a solitary widow, his father having died when William was only three years
old! By nature Mrs Jones possessed a strong understanding, which had been improved by her husband's conversation and instruction, an eminent mathematician, who had raised himself, by his own industry, till he was the intimate friend of Sir Isaac Newton and others. Under the tuition of her husband, Mrs Jones became a considerable proficient in algebra; and, with a view to qualify herself for the office of preceptor to her sister's son, who was destined to a maritime profession, made herself perfect in trigonometry, and the theory of navigation. After the death of her husband, she was urgently and repeatedly solicited, by the Countess of Macclesfield, to remain at Sherborn Castle; but having formed a plan for the education
of her son, with an unalterable determination to pursue it, she politely, but firmly, declined the invitation, and sat down to her work.
With regard to religious instruction, we are informed, that she had taught him the creed and the ten commandments ; but one effect of her daily maxim is too remarkable to be passed over in silence. “ One morning, as he was turning over the leaves of a Bible, in his mother's closet, his attention was forci. bly arrested by the sublime description of the angel, in the tenth chapter of Revelation ; and the impression which his imagination received from it was never effaced. At a period of mature judgment, he considered the passage as equal in sublimity to any in the inspired writings, and far superior to any that could be produced from mere human compositions; and he was fond of retracing and mentioning the rapture which he felt when he first read it. This remarkable incident took place before he had completed his fifth year. In one word, to this maxim of his mother's, “ Read, and you will know," Sir William Jones himself “always acknowledged himself indebted for all his future attainments;" so that, while it has been asked, 66 Who can estimate the beneficial purposes, literary, political, and religious, to which his labours may hereafter possibly be applied ?" I only add, at the same moment, let not the maternal heart and hand, which trained up the man when yet a child, ever be forgotten !
JOHN MILTON.-Of Milton's greatness of mind, it is superfluous here to say one word ; but he has taken especial care that posterity should know to whom he considered himself almost entirely indebted for all his eminence as a man and a poet. He evidently expected to live in future times, at least in his own country; and in various compositions, especially poetic, aimed after something which he thought posterity would not willingly suffer to perish. In prose, however, as well as in verse, he resolved that he should so stand in connexion with his parents, as, if possible, to animate the fathers of a future age.
His father, who had renounced the communion of the church of Rome, and thus forfeited the favour of his parents, and all his earthly prospects, had enjoyed, notwithstanding, the benefit of a liberal education at Oxford. He was particularly distinguished for his musical abilities, and is said to have been, not only a voluminous composer, but equal in science, if not in genius, to the best musicians of his age. Disinherited by his father, he began business, in London, as a scrivener; from which, in consequence of upright and assiduous application, he retired, in comfortable circumstances, to his country-house, at Horton, near Colnebrook, in Buckinghamshire.
“My father,” says Milton, “ was a man of the highest integrity ; my mother, an excellent woman, was particularly known throughout the neighbourhood for her charitable donations. My father destined me from a child for the pursuits of polite learning, which I prosecuted with such eagerness, that, after I was twelve years old, I rarely retired to bed from my lucubrations till midnight. This was the first thing which proved pernicious to my eyes, to the natural weakness of which were added frequent headachs. But as all this could not abate my instinctive ardour for learning, he provided me, in addition to the ordinary instructions of the grammar-school, with masters to give me daily lessons at home. Being thus instructed in various languages, and having gotten no slight taste of the sweetness of philosophy, he sent me to Cambridge, one of our two national colleges. There, aloof from all profligate conduct, and with the approbation of all good men, I studied seven years, according to the usual course of discipline and of scientific instruction, till I obtained, and with applause, the degree of master, as it is called ;. when, of my own free will, I returned home, leaving behind me, among most of the fellows of the college, who had shewn me no ordinary attention, even an affectionate regret. At my father's country-house, to which he had retired to pass the remainder of his days, being perfectly at my ease, I gave myself up entirely to reading the Greek and Latin_writers; exchanging, however, sometimes, the country for the town, either for the purchase of books, or to learn something new in the mathematics, or in music, which at that time furnished the sources of my amusement. After passing five years in this way, I had the curiosity, after the death of my mother, to see foreign countries, and above all Italy ; and having obtained permission of my father, (observe how he speaks of him even at this age !) I set out, attended by one servant.”
These five years were among the most important as well as the happiest in Milton's life. There the father vigilantly still watched over his son, prompting and advising him in all his pursuits ; and there this son composed several of his finest minor poems. Some of his college companions seemed to have imagined that he was losing his time in thus retiring again to the roof of his parent in the country; but Milton thought very differently.
Distinguished as he was in early life for several very strong personal attachments to his companions in study, they could not draw him from his retreat. To one of these, Charles Diodati, whose early death he lamented so deeply, and, on returning from Italy, celebrated with so much tenderness, he
says, ference to this residence with his parents,
" If peaceful days, in letter'd leisure spent,
Then call me banish'd, I will ne'er refuse
And here my books—my life-absorb me whole."
prose ; and if the reader wishes for additional information in poetry, Milton himself will give it. He is again addressing his friend Diodati :
Wouldst thou, perhaps 'tis hardly worth thine ear,
This theme on reeds of Albion I rehearse :
Milton's parents had destined him for the ministry,ếan idea in which he himself once indulged. This destination of his parents probably accounts for the tender and judicious caution of his father, in regard to the danger of his cultivating to excess his
* Oh! would that Milton had never dictated any sentiments inconsistent with these beautiful lines, as well as other passages in his prose writings! He, however, as well as a few others, it will be remembered, are introduced here, not as patterns of scriptural sentiment, but as specimens of mental greatness.