Page images

“ Jam nec arundiferum mihi cura revisere Camum,

“ Nec dudum vetiti me laris angit amor.“ Nec duri libet usque minas perferre Magistri,

Cæteraque ingenio non subeunda meo.“ Si sit hoc exilium patrias adiise penates,

“ Et vacuum curis otia grata sequi, Non ego vel profugi nomen sortémve recuso,

“ Lætus et exiliï conditione fruor."

On these lines I must introduce Mr. Warton's observation.

• The words vetiti laris, and afterwards exilium, will not suffer us to determine otherwise, than that Milton was sentenced to undergo a temporary removal or rustication from Cambridge. I will not suppose for any immoral irregularity. Dr. Bainbridge, the Master, is reported to have been a very active disciplinarian : and this lover of liberty, we may presume, was as little disposed to submission and conformity in a college as in a state. When reprimanded and admonished, the pride of his temper, impatient of any sort of reproof, naturally broke forth into expressions of contumely and contempt against his governour. Hence he was punished. He is also said to have been whipped at Cambridge. See Life of Bathurst, p. 153. This has been reprobated and discredited, as a most extraordinary and improbable piece of severity. But in those days of simplicity and subordination, of roughness and rigour, this sort of punishment was much more common, and consequently by no means so disgraceful

[ocr errors]


and unseemly for a young man at the university, as it would be thought at present. We learn from Wood, that Henry Stubbe, a Student of Christ Church, Oxford, afterwards a partisan of Sir Henry Vane, shewing himself too forward, pragmatical, and conceited,' was publickly whipped by the Censor in the college-hall. Ath. Oxon. vol. ii. p. 560. See also Life of Bathurst, p. 202. I learn from some manuscript papers of Aubrey the antiquary, who was a student of Trinity college Oxford, four years from 1642, “ that at Oxford, and, I believe, at Cambridge, the rod was frequently used by the tutors and deans : and Dr. Potter, while a tutor of Trinity college, I knew right well, whipt his pupil with his sword by his side, when he came to take his leave of him to go to the inns of court. In the Statutes of the said college, given in 1556, the Scholars of the foundation are ordered to be whipped by the Deans, or Censors, even to their twentieth year. In the University Statutes at Oxford, compiled in 1635, ten years after Milton's admission at Cambridge, corporal punishment is to be inflicted on boys under sixteen. We are to recollect, that Milton, when he went to Cambridge, was only a boy of fifteen ". The author of an old pamphlet, Regicides no Saints nor Martyrs, says that Hugh Peters, while at Trinity college, Cambridge, was publickly and

u Mr. Warton is mistaken in this assertion. Milton, when he went to Cambridge, was in his seventeenth year. But this will presently be more largely considered.

officially whipped in the Regent-walk for his insolence, p. 81.

" The anecdote of Milton's whipping at Cambridge, is told by Aubrey. MS. Mus. Ashm. Oxon. Num. X. P. iii. From which, by the way, Wood's Life of Milton in the Fasti Oxonienses, the first and the ground-work of all the lives of Milton, was compiled. Wood says, that he draws his account of Milton ‘from his own mouth to my Friend, who was well acquainted with and had from him, and from his relations after his death, most of this account of his life and writings following.' Ath. Oxon. vol. i. Fasti, p. 262. This Friend is Aubrey; whom Wood, in another place, calls credulous, roving and magotie-headed, and sometimes little better than crased. Life of A. Wood, p. 577. edit. Hearne, Th. Caii Vind. &c. vol. ii. This was after a quarrel. I know not that Aubrey is ever fantastical, except on the subjects of chemistry and ghosts. Nor do I remember that his veracity was ever impeached. I believe he had much less credulity than Wood. Aubrey's. Monumenta Britannica is a very solid and rational work, and its judicious conjectures and observations have been approved and adopted by the best modern antiquaries. Aubrey's manuscript Life contains some anecdotes of Milton yet unpublished. [Since published in 1815 by Mr. Godwin in his Lives of Milton's Nephews.] .

[ocr errors]

“ But let us examine if the context will admit some other interpretation. Ceteraque, the most indefinite and comprehensive of descriptions, may be thought to mean literary tasks called impositions, or frequent compulsive attendances on tedious and unimproving exercises in a college-hall. But cætera follows minas, and perferre seems to imply somewhat more than these inconveniences, something that was suffered, and severely felt. It has been suggested, that his father's economy prevented his constant residence at Cambridge; and that this made the college lar dudum vetitus, and his absence from the university an exilium. But it was no unpleasing or involuntary banishment. He hated the place. He was not only offended at the college-discipline, but had even conceived a dislike to the face of the country, the fields about Cambridge. He peevishly complains, that the fields have no soft shades to attract the Muse; and there is something pointed in his exclamation, that Cambridge was a place quite incompatible with the votaries of Phæbus. Here a father's prohibition had nothing to do. He resolves, however, to forget all these disagreeable circumstances, and to return in due time. The dismission, if any, was not to be perpetual. In these lines, ingenium is to be rendered temper, nature, disposition, rather than genius.

“ Aubrey says, from the information of our author's brother Christopher, that Milton's ' first tutor there [at Christ's college] was Mr. Chappell, from whom receiving some imkindnesse, (he whipt him)

he was afterwards, though it seemed against the rules of the college, transferred to the tuition of one Mr. Tovell“, who dyed parson of Lutterworth. MS. Mus. Ashm. ut supr. This information, which stands detached from the body of Aubrey's narrative, seems to have been communicated to Aubrey, after Wood had seen his papers; it therefore does not appear in Wood, who never would otherwise have suppressed an anecdote which contributed in the least degree to expose the character of Milton. I must here observe, that Mr. Chappell, from his original Letters, many of which I have seen, written while he was a fellow and tutor of Christ's College, and while Milton was there, and which are now in the possession of Mr. Moreton of Westerham in Kent, by whom they have been politely communicated, appears to have been a man of uncommon mildness and liberality of manners.”

To the authority of the preceding remarks Dr. Johnson has implicitly subscribed; not without adding, however, that it may be conjectured, from the willingness with which the poet has perpetuated the memory of his exile, that its cause was such as gave him no shame.

That flagellation might be performed upon offenders at Cambridge, (as well as at Oxford,) the Statutes of that university will show : That Milton

* It should be Tovey. I have seen the signature of his name to some resolutions of his college.

« PreviousContinue »