Page images
PDF
EPUB

those whom he must serve in his way of education." His younger nephew has related the method of his instruction, and the books employed. Of the Latin, the four authors concerning husbandry, Cato, Varro, Columella, and Palladius; Cornelius Celsus, the physician; a great part of Pliny's Natural History; the Architecture of Vitruvius; the Stratagems of Frontinus; and the philosophical poets, Lucretius and Manilius. Of the Greek, Hesiod; Aratus's Phænomena and, Diosemeia; Dionysius Afer de situ orbis; Oppian's Cynegeticks and Halieuticks; Quintus Calaber's poem of the Trojan war, continued from Homer; Apollonius Rhodius's Argonauticks; and in prose Plutarch's Placita philosophorum, and of the Education of Children; Xenophon's Cyropædia and Anabasis; Ælian's Tacticks; and the Stratagems of Polyænus. Nor did this application to the Greek and Latin tongues impede the cultivation of the chief oriental languages, the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriack, so far as to go through the Pentateuch, to make a good entrance into the Targum or Chaldee paraphrase, and to understand several chapters of St. Matthew in the Syriack Testament; besides the modern languages, Italian and French; and a knowledge of mathematicks and astronomy. The Sunday exercise of his pupils was, principally, to read a chapter of the Greek Testament, and to hear his learned exposition of it: to which was added the writing, from his dictation, some part of a system of divinity, which he had collected from the ablest divines who had written upon the subject. From the rigid attention which such a system required he occasionally relaxed; and once in three or four weeks the hard study and spare diet, of which he was an eminent example to his pupils, gave way to the regale of a gaudy day with some young gentlemen of his acquaintance; “ the chief of whom, his nephew says, were Mr. Alphry and Mr. Miller, the beaus of those times, but nothing near so bad as those now-a-days!” These were the seasons in which Milton “ resolved to. drench in mirth that, after, no repenting draws," and in which he would not forfeit his pretensions of admission into the train of the true Euphrosyne:

- "In thy right hand lead with thee
“ The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty ;
And, if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew;
“ To live with her, and live with thee,
“ In unreproved pleasures free.”

Use

an

It seems uncandid in Dr. Johnson to have ridiculed the academick institutions of Milton with the title of the “wonder-working academy," because no man very eminent for knowledge proceeded from it, and because Phillips's small history of poetry, as he' inaccurately states, is its only genuine product. The merit of Milton's intention cannot be denied, however the mode of education, which he pursued, may perhaps be justly thought impracticable. His nephew, with great spirit and affection, observes that, if his

* See this point further discussed in the present Account.

pupils S “ had received his documents with the same acuteness of wit and apprehension, the same industry, alacrity, and thirst after knowledge, as the Instructor was endued with, what prodigies of wit and learning might they have proved! The scholars might in some degree, have come near to the equalling of the Master, or at least have in some sort made good what he seems to predict in the close of an elegy he made in the seventeenth year of his age, upon the death of one of his sister's children, a daughter, who died in her infancy :

“ Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
“ Her false-imagin'd loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild ;.

“ This if thou do, he will an offspring give, “ That, to the world's last end, shall make thy name to live.”

But, though thús employed in the education of youth, Milton now began to sacrifice his time to the harsh and crabbed employment of controversy. In 1641 the clamour ran high against the bishops, and in that clamour he joined, by publishing a treatise Of Reformation, in two books; being willing to assist the Puritans in their designs against the established Church, who, as he informs us in his Second Defence, were inferiour to the bishops in learning. We are to recollect that Milton had before attacked the episcopal clergy, and had even anticipated the execution of Archbishop Laud, in his Lycidas, written before he was twenty-nine years

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

s Life of Milton, p. xix. .

old. The antipathy, then clothed in an allegorick veil, now burst into 'expressions of elaborate and undisguised invective. Of the innovations, caused in the ceremonies of the Church by Laud, and which excited the animadversion of Milton, it may not be improper here to observe, that it has been * said by a great scholar, and most excellent historian in ecclesiastical no less than in civil matters, that every ceremony, of which Laud enforced the observation, is to be found in the ritual of Andrewes, bishop of Winchester, who was styled the antipapistical prelate. Laud, in his speech delivered at the Star-Chamber when he passed judgement on Bastwick, Burton, and Prynne, and published in 1637, thus vindicates himself, p. 4, &c. “I can say it clearly and truly as in the presence of God, I have done nothing, as a prelate, to the uttermost of what I am conscious, but with a single heart, and with a sincere intention for the good government and honour of the Church, and the maintenance of the orthodox truth and religion of Christ professed, established, and maintained in this Church of England. For my care of this Church, the reducing of it into order, the upholding of the externall worship of God in it, and the settling of it to the rules of its first reformation, are the causes (and the sole causes, whatever are pretended) of this malicious storme, which hath lowered. so black upon me, and some of my brethren. And in the meane time they, which are the only or the chief

See the Europ. Magazine, vol. xxviii. p. 379.

innovators of the Christian world, having nothing to say, accuse us of innovation ; they themselves and their complices in the meane time being the greatest innovators that the Christian world hath almost ever known. I deny not but others have spread more dangerous errours in the Church of Christ; but no men, in any age of it, have been more guilty of innovation than they, while themselves cry out against it: Quis tulerit Gracchos ? And I said well, Quis tulerit Gracchos ? For 'tis most apparent to any man that will not winke, that the intention of these men, and their abettors, was and is to raise a sedition; being as great incendiaries in the State (where they get power) as they have ever been in the Church; Novatian himselfe hardly greater. Our maine crime is (would they all speake out, as some of them do,) that we are bishops; were we not so, some of us might be as passable as other men.” To those, who would examine attentively the ecclesiastical controversy of this period, I recommend the perusal of the whole speech.

In 1641, the eloquent Hall, bishop of Norwich, having published an Humble Remonstrance in favour of Episcopacy, five ministers, under the title of Smectymnuus, a word formed from the first letters of their names, wrote an Answer; of which Arch

u Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young (Milton's preceptor), Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurstow, · the initial letter of whose Christian name is quaintly divided, in

« PreviousContinue »