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ADVERTISEMENT.

The text followed in this edition is, with a few exceptions, that of Mr. R. C. Browne's edition, published by the Clarendon Press. For the convenience of those who come to the poem for the first time, a short running argument has been added. The Notes have been framed with a view of meeting the requirements of students of various ages; this must excuse what may appear the over-hardness of some and the oversimplicity of others. As a guide to the young student the poetical elisions are marked in the text by an apostrophe. I have to thank my friend Mr. J. W. Mackail, Fellow of Balliol College, for his kindness in revising the proof-sheets.

H. C.B.

YATTENDON, Oct. 1887.

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INTRODUCTION.

IN these few pages no life of Milton can be attempted. The student who wishes to know the substance of what is known about him cannot do better than read the short study by Mark Pattison (MoMillan). Here it will suffice to set down briefly a few biographical facts, noticing more particularly those which have a special bearing upon Paradise Lost.

John Milton was born in London, 9th December, 1608. His father was a scrivener by profession, a Protestant in faith-disinherited indeed on that account,--and a skilled musician and composer. From him the son may have derived his hatred of intolerance and his taste for music. He was educated at St. Paul's School and Christ's College, Cambridge. Of his devotion to study from the first, we have his own assurance from the twelfth year of my age I scarce ever went to bed before midnight'; and this is supported by the testimony of his biographer. At college his ‘niceness of nature,' i.e. his fastidious purity of life, earned him the name of the ‘lady of Christ's.' When he left Cambridge in 1632, in his twenty-fourth year, he carried with him a mind made and set wholly on the accomplishment of greatest things, though of what nature the 'greatest things' were to be he was as yet uncertain. (See Sonnet ii.) His father, who had by this time retired from business, had sufficient means, and sufficient faith in his son's promise, not to urge him against his will into a profession : accordingly the next five years of his life were spent in quiet study in the little village of Horton in Buckinghamshire.

a noble poem.

one.

The years at Horton form the first period of Milton's life as a poet. Of the way in which they were spent we have no information beyond his own general description of them as 'many studious and contemplative years altogether spent in the search of religious and civil knowledge.' The remarkable characteristic of these years of study is that they were spent in 'self-cultivation with the definite object of producing hereafter

Milton's idea of the poet's calling was a lofty He must be himself “a true poem, that is, a composition and pattern of the best and honourablest things.' And in addition, he must have insight into all seemly and generous acts and affairs,' to be obtained by 'steady observation, and by 'industrious and select reading.' To this ideal he had already determined to devote himself, 'not taking thought of being late so it give advantage to be more fit.' As a firstfruits of this dedication we have L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, Comus, and Lycidas, all written at Horton.

The next period opens with the journey through France and Italy, begun in 1638. In Paris Milton made the acquaintance of Grotius, the finest scholar of his age. In Florence he was well received and complimented by the Academies; Manso, the patron of Tasso, entertained him at Naples; the sight of Rome with the bodily eye helped him to imagine the still greater city of Tiberius (P. R. iv. 44); on his return through Florence he visited Galileo, now old and blind. The journey to Italy, besides all that such a journey must have meant to such a spirit as Milton's, had this particular effect which it concerns us here to note, that it deepened in him the resolution to produce a literary masterpiece. We learn this from a famous passage in the Reason of Church Government (1641), a tract written shortly after his return, while he was still living his retired life, though no longer at Horton but in London, and spending his leisure in the education of his nephews and certain other pupils.

'In the private 'academies of Italy, whither I was favoured to resort, perceiving that some trifles which I had in memory,

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