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the appearance of the “lady of Christ's,” we have some means of judging for ourselves in a yet extant portrait of him, taken (doubtless to please his father) while he was still a Cambridge student. There could scarcely be a finer picture of pure and ingenuous English youth; and if Milton had the portrait beside him when, later in life, he had to allude, in reply to his opponents, to the delicate subject of his personal appearance, there must have been a touch of slyness in his statement that “so far as he knew he had never been thought ugly by any one who had seen him.” In short, the tradition of his great personal beauty in youth requires no abatement.”
And so let us pass on to his Life.
Milton was born in Bread-street, Cheapside, at half-past six in the morning, on Friday, the 9th of December, 1608, when James I. was king. His father, we all know, was a notary or scrivener, and hung out of his office or shop the sign of the Spread Eagle, the Milton arms being ‘Argent, a spread eagle with two heads gules, legg'd and beak’d sable.” “Walk down Bread-street on the left hand from Cheapside; single out the now anonymous little court which lies at the depth of three houses from that thoroughfare; realize that as having been Strype's “Black Spread Eagle-court” of 1720 and 1754; then again demolish in imagination this little court, and rear in its room an edifice chiefly of wood and plaster; finally, fancy this house with its gable end to the street, ranging with others of similar form and materials on one side, and facing others of similar form and materials opposite; and you have the old Spread-Eagle in which Milton was born as vividly before you as it is ever likely to be.” So says Mr. Masson; but he omits the sign-board; which is unpardonable in a critic who is so grotesquely minute as to emphasize poor Milton's cockneyism by saying that if Bow bells had fallen ‘ they might have crushed the infant in his cradle?”—A hint which will, we fear, suffice to give readers who think in pictures a vision of the whole peal swooping down with one consent upon the hapless baby (just out of his measles), in the full determination that—Mr. Masson's Life should never be written. Less likely to provoke a smile is the author's suggestion that Shakspere, on the occasion of his last visit to London, in 1614, may have paid a visit, with his old comrades, to the Mermaid, and, walking down Bread-street, along with Ben Jonson, have patted young John Milton, fair child of six, on the head, as he sat at his father's door.
Milton's father is known to have been “an ingeniose man,’ a composer of madrigal and other music, of sufficiently good quality to give him rank among the harmonious pundits of his own time. “York’ was actually a common nurse's lullaby, and church tune, all over England when Milton was young, and of course we all know it still keeps its place in the tune-book. But Milton senior was, save the mark, a “poet,” and one of his compositions in verse, addressed to another “poet’ of the day, John Lane, is given in the present volume as follows:—
“If virtue this be not, what is? Tell quick!
Love, war, and lusts quelled by arm heroic,
Quoting which Mr. Masson says, “In excuse for the quality of this sonnet, we may charitably suppose that it was the scrivener's first and last.' We may; and, to pursue the same vague line of comment, we may, also, be earnestly thankful that if the child inherited his father's musical vein in less force, he very much improved upon the poetical.
During the childhood of Milton, political and other “heresies’ were brewing, and from a catalogue given by Mr. Masson of the topics of that day (including the death of Shakspere and the beheading of Raleigh), we take one item. Bartholomew Legate is a name not quite new to our readers, we dare say:—
* 1611 (the Poet aged 3). The present authorized version of the Bible published, superseding the version called the Bishops' Bible . . . . . 1613-14. March 13 (the Poet aged over 5). Bartholomew Legate, an Essex man, aged about forty, “person comely, complexion black, of a bold spirit, confident carriage, fluent tongue, excellently skilled in the Scriptures,” was burned to death at Smithfield for Arianism. He had been in prison two years, during which the clergy and the King himself had reasoned with him in vain. Once the King, meaning to surprise him into an admission involving the Divinity of Christ, asked him whether he did not every day pray to Christ. Legate's answer was that “indeed he had prayed to Christ in the days of his ignorance, but not for these last seven years;” which so shocked James that he “spurned at him with his foot.” At the stake he still refused to recant, and was so burnt to ashes amid a vast conflux of people—“the first,” says Fuller, “that for a long time suffered death in that manner, and oh, that he might be the last to deserve it !” The very next month another Arian, named Whiteman, was burnt at Burton-upon-Trent.”
The italics in Fuller's pious reflection are our own; it is worth while to note anything so amiably cool.
It has been said that Milton went to school to ‘a Puritan that cut his hair short’ in Essex; but it appears rather that he was instructed at home by a Mr. Young, a Scotchman, who was afterwards a Puritan minister in Suffolk, and of whom he always wrote and spoke with much regard. Afterwards, he went to St. Paul's School, and studied hard, often sitting up till past midnight. French and Italian he had added to his Latin and Greek before he went to Cambridge, and he was not illread in English literature, while yet a lad. At that time everybody was reading Sylvester's Du Bartas, which (as is generally known) had much influence upon Milton's very early style, and probably had something to do with his choice of a subject in Paradise Lost. The boy, however, would not neglect his Spencer, and would soon come to find Du Bartas the ‘fastian’ Dryden ealled it. He wrote verse himself, at least, as early as ten, and his psalms “done” at fifteen, the last year oy" St. Paul's School, are published with the rest of his - o Puritanism was possessing itself of more and more of the hearts of the English people; and even within the bounds of Parliament men had begun to distinguish themselves into the Court Party, who thought of the King, and the County Party, who thought of the nation—when Milton was admitted a pensioner of Christ's College, Cambridge, being exactly sixteen years and two months old. The ‘rooms’ which Milton shared with other students “are in the older part of the building, on the left side of the court as you enter through the street-gate—the first-floor rooms on the first stair on that side; and in them Wordsworth confessed to having, for the one time in his life, exceeded bounds a little in the matter of wine! In Milton's days, discipline was strict. Students were enjoined to talk Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, during all hours of study. They were not to bathe in the Cam, or to wear gay clothes, to smoke, or to keep “fierce birds, to loiter in the street, or play at cards, “except for twelve days at Christmas!” Pupils might, if disobedient, be fined, confined, or flogged; and “there was a regular serviee of eorporal punishment in Trinity College every Thursday evening at seven o’elock!' . . . . “During the Easter Term of 1625, which was Milton's first effective term at the University, there was still a good deal of bustle there in connexion with the death of the old and the accession of the new King. It was difficult for the Dons and the Scholars, accustomed as they had been so long to the formula Jacobum Regem in their prayer and graces at meat, to bring their mouths at once round to Carolum Regem. Meade tells of one poor Bachelor of his College who was so bent on remembering that “Jacobus” had gone out, and “Carolus' had come in, that when, in publicly reading the Psalms, he came to the phrase ‘Deus Jacobi’ (God of Jacob) he altered it, before he was aware, into ‘Deus Caroli,' and then stood horrorstruck at his own mistake! Now came the plague in London, but Cambridge, taking, of course, the most ridiculous precautions in the spirit of the time, escaped for the present with only a fright. There were also some college troubles; but Mr. Masson makes it plain that Milton was not disliked at the University, at least not to the extent which has been supposed; and he also reduces the authority for the ‘flogging” story to a mere surmise or query of Aubrey—who was only a gossip, given to marginal notes that meant little. However, that the lad had a quarrel, and that his tutor was changed, are facts clearly made out. We have some plea. sant traces of the friendship with Charles Diodati, translations of some of the letters and exercises, and an account of the composition of the Ode on the Nativity, on Christmas-day 1629, or thereabout. In 1630, the plague reached Cambridge, the colleges broke up in a fright, and Milton went to London, until the end of the year. During the whole of his stay he was a student of extraordinary diligence, vol. IX. G
and perfect purity of life. In 1632 he took his degree of M.A., and quitted Cambridge. That he had never loved the university, we have his own authority for saying. Wordsworth, too, disliked Cambridge; and it is difficult to acquit both students of some hardness and unyouthful geniality of nature; explain the dislike as we may to the disadvantage of tutors and fellow-students, and the curriculum and discipline. One thing, however, is certain,-that Milton, though a malcontent, won the respect of the heads of the university for his character and acquirements; and Mr. Masson winds up the account of his collegiate career in these words:—‘Having read much in the writings, both in prose and in verse, both in Latin and in English, that remain to show what kind of men were the most eminent of reputation, and the highest of place among Milton's academic contemporaries from 1625 to 1632, I have no doubt whatever left, that not in promise merely, but in actual faculty and acquisition while he yet moved amidst them, Milton was without an equal in the whole university.’
The subjects which now lie before us are—Mr. Masson's comments upon the implied Miltonic theory of the Poetic Character, with especial reference to Milton's own account of his youth—the Politics, Literature, and Religion of the country from 1632 to 1638—Milton's stay at Horton—and his continental journey. And as it would be impossible to deal even hastily (and we can, at best, do no more) with these, within our immediate limits, we beg to defer their treatment to the next number.
WE suppose we must regard this work as a new sign of life on the part of the modern American school of Biblical exposition, of which Moses Stuart, so long as he lived, was the acknowledged head. Its most eminent representatives at present are, along with our author and his colleague at the Princeton Theological Seminary, Professor Hodge, Albert Barnes, of Philadelphia, and Professor Robinson, who still piously tends at Andover the sacred fire kindled there by Stuart and himself many years ago. Robinson, indeed, so far as our knowledge extends, has written no complete commentary on any book of Scripture, unless we regard in that light his ‘Harmony of the Gospels,' with its learned and suggestive, though brief explanatory notes. But apart from this, and even taking no account of his numerous and
* The Gospel according to Mark, explained by Joseph Addison Alexander. New York. 1858.
valuable exegetical monographs in the “American Biblical Repository,’ and other similar periodicals, it would be impossible to set aside the claims of the author of the ‘Biblical Researches in Palestine to be recognised as the legitimate successor of his illustrious departed friend and fellow-labourer, the true founder of the school. Professor Hodge is best known in this country by his excellent work on “Romans,’ although he has also written commentaries on several others of the Pauline epistles, which are equally well spoken of by his countrymen. Of Barnes and his ‘Notes’ on the New Testament, as well as on several books of the Old, it is needless to say anything to English readers, who know quite as much of them as the Transatlantic public, and probably appreciate them even more highly. We, at least, have heard a Philadelphian or two—perhaps, because a prophet hath no honour in his own country—speak of them as only third-rate productions—an estimate which appears to us rather too disparaging, although we ourselves should be far from awarding them a first-class certificate. It is rather the praise of indefatigable industry and dogged perseverance than that of profound learning, genius, and originality, to which Barnes is entitled. He has very freely and assiduously availed himself of the labours of better scholars than himself, and, we must grant, in such a way as to make them legitimately his own. But we find in him but few traces of a hard wrestling for himself with the Greek and Hebrew texts, and students who read him soon find out that his erudition is almost always second-hand. Such, at all events, is the impression which we have mostly carried away from a perusal of his *Notes.” It is mainly in this important respect that Dr. Alexander contrasts favourably with the Philadelphian commentator. His copious exposition of Isaiah is already in many English hands. We are not aware of his having expounded any other Old Testament book except the Psalms. The New Testament he and his colleague, Professor Hodge —so, at least, we have been informed—have mapped out between themselves the historical books falling to our author's share. In fulfilment of this compact he some time since published on the Acts, and now we find him breaking ground on the Gospels with the work before us on Mark. In these various productions there can be no doubt that he displays a creditable acquaintance with the originals, and that so far, as we have said, he stands on a higher level than Barnes; what is more, he endeavours most assiduously to place his unlearned readers as far as may be on the same vantage ground with himself, and to afford them a glimpse of the idiomatic turns and windings of the inspired writer's own tongue. His pages are sprinkled with but few Greek and Hebrew words and phrases, such as made the publishers of Stuart's ‘Romans’ and “Hebrews’ groan under the apprehension of becoming serious losers by such ‘heavy’ works; yet our author is quite staunch to the traditions of the Andover philology, only he has the tact to put his grammatical quirks and quiddities into good homely Saxon. In this way, besides steering clear of the disgust