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These corrections are in two distinct hand-writings, different from the body of the manuscript, but the greater part of them undoubtedly written by the same person who transcribed the first part of the volume. Hence it is probable that the latter part of the MS. is a copy transcribed by Philipps, and finally revised and corrected by Mary and Deborah Milton from the dictation of their father, as many of the alterations bear a strong resemblance to the reputed hand-writing of Deborah, the youngest daughter of Milton, in the manuscripts preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge; who is stated by Wood (Fasti Oxonienses, Part I, 1635. col. 483.) to have been trained up by her father in Latin and Greek, and made by him his amanuensis.' A lithographic fac-simile has been taken of two of the Sonnets in the Trinity manuscript, and is prefixed to this volume, by the permission of the Master and Seniors of that Society. The other plate is an accurate representation of the three hand-writings alluded to in the preceding statement.
Independently, however, of other considerations, the readers of the volume now published will find the best proofs of its authenticity in the resemblance of its language and opinions to the printed works of Milton. Some striking specimens of this agreement are frequently given in the notes, and these illustrations might have been multiplied. to a much greater extent, had it not seemed desirable, on account of the bulk of the volume, only to select such as were most remarkable for similarity of style or sentiments.
It must be acknowledged that the disqualifications of Milton for such a work as the present, were neither few nor unimportant. They
were owing partly to the unhappy circumstances of the period at which he lived, and partly to that peculiar disposition of mind which led him to view every surrender of individual opinion, whether in morals or politics, as an infringement on the rights of natural liberty. In his time power was abused, under pretence of religion, in a degree to which, happily for genuine Christianity, the ecclesiastical annals can scarcely afford a parallel; and the universal prevalence of an intolerant spirit, from which his own connexions as well as himself had suffered severely, disposed him to look with an unfavourable eye, not only upon the corruptions, but on the doctrine itself and discipline of the church. His father had been disinherited for embracing the Protestant faith. He himself had been brought up under a Puritan who was subsequently obliged to leave England on account of his religious opinions, Thomas Young of Essex, one of the six answerers of Hall's Humble Remonstrance. Hence there is some foundation for the remark of Hayley, that Milton wrote with the indignant enthusiasm of a man resenting the injuries of those who are most entitled to his love and veneration. The ardour of his affections conspired with the warmth of his fancy to inspire him with that puritanical zeal which blazes so intensely in his controversial productions." Thus it was that, like Clarke, though on different grounds, he was biassed against the authority of the church, and predisposed by the political constitution of his mind to such unbounded freedom as can hardly consist, as has been truly said, with any established system of faith whatever.' His love of Christian liberty began indeed to manifest itself at a very early period of his life, for though
'Hayley's Life of Milton, p. 66.
1 Bp. Van Mildert's Review of Waterland's Life and Writings. Works, I. 48.
destined to the church from his childhood, he refused to enter it from a religious scruple, thinking that he who took orders must subscribe, slave.'
There were, however, other circumstances of a different nature, which in some degree counterbalanced these defects. His epic poems afford sufficient evidence not only of extensive biblical knowledge, but of singular judgement in availing himself of the language of Scripture itself, without addition or alteration, in particular parts of his subject. There is no topic to which he recurs more frequently or with more apparent satisfaction than to the serious turn of his early studies. In his Apology for Smectymnuus he speaks of the 'wearisome labours and studious watchings wherein he had spent and tired out almost a whole youth." Again, care was ever had of me with my earliest capacity, not to be negligently trained up in the precepts of Christian religion.' In his treatise on education he mentions his
many studious and contemplative years altogether spent in the search of religious and civil knowledge,' to which allusion is again made with much feeling in the Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano.3 He was a proficient in the Hebrew tongue, which he strongly recommends should be gained at a set hour,' that the Scriptures may be 'read in their own original." His own knowledge of this language was probably acquired in his early youth, for in a letter to Young, written in 1625, he thanks him for his acceptable present of a Hebrew Bible; ‘Biblia Hebræa, pergratum sane munus tuum, jampridem accepi.' Aubrey and others, who obtained their information from his widow, have
2 Prose Works, I. 208.
Ibid. I. 281.
3 Ibid. I. 225, 274. V. 199, 230, 233.
related that as long as he lived it was his custom to begin the day with hearing a portion of the Hebrew Scriptures, which a person was employed to read to him; and during every period of his life his Sundays were wholly devoted to theology. The importance which he attached to these pursuits is further confirmed by what Birch relates of the system pursued by him with his pupils. 'The Sunday's work for his pupils was for the most part to read a chapter of the Greek Testament, and hear his exposition of it. The next work after this was to write from his dictation some part of a system of divinity which he collected from the most eminent writers upon that subject, as Amesius, Wollebius, &c. Some account of the treatises to which he is said to have been indebted for this compilation, will be found in p. 602, note 9.
Nourished with these studies, and imbued with a salutary abhorrence of indolence and licentious excess, the ordinary failings of youth, Milton's mind acquired from his earliest years that reverential and devotional cast which is perceptible in all his writings. In the sonnet written on attaining his three and twentieth year he unfolds the principle on which he acted.
Be it less or more, or soon or slow,
To that same lot, however mean or high,
The pious language in which, at a later period of his life, he speaks of his blindness, is not more affecting as a display of the mental
Account of the Life and Writings of Mr. J. Milton, p. xxiii. 4to. London, 1753.
consolations whereby he was supported under his personal infirmities,