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The Family of Milton was descended from the Proprietors of Milton near Thame in Oxfordshire, one of whom forfeited his estate in the times of York and Lancaster.
The Grandfather of the Poet, a zealous Papist, disinherited his son John for having renounced the Religion of his Ancestors; who, in consequence, had recourse for his support to the profeflion of a Scrivener, in which he was so successful, that he was enabled to retire from business on a competent estate. He married a Lady of the name of Cafton, of Welsh descent, by whom he had issue, John the Poet, Christopher bred to the law, (afterwards knighted and made a Judge by James II.), and Anne, married to Edward Phillips, who enjoyed a lucrative post in the Crown Office.
John Milton was born in London at his father's house in Bread Street, December 9th 1608. He was first instructed by private tuition, under the care of Thomas Young a Clergyman, whose attention and capacity were celebrated by his pupil in an elegant Latin Elegy, written in his 12th year.
He was then sent to St. Paul's School, from whence, in his 16th year, he was removed to Christ's College, Cambridge.
During his residence in the University, he composed most of his Latin Poems, in a stile exquisitely imitative of the best models of antiquity. Milton is said to be the first Englishman who wrote Latin
fe with classical elegance.
On leaving the University, after having taken out his degree of Master of Arts, in 1632, he returned ! his father, then residing at Horton in Buckinghamshire, where he pursued his studies with unparalI 'led aflıduity and success. They did not however so entirely absorb his attention as not to afford him tide to produce the Masque of Comus, a Work adorned with all the ornaments of diction; where alla lions, images, and beautiful epithets, embellish every period with lavish decoration : For though it is a Drama, too much in the Epic stile to please on the stage, yet, in whatever light it is viewed, whether us a series of Lines, a Masque, or a Poem, it can be considered as inferior only to Paradise Lost. ,
His dest production was Lycidas; a Pocm no less beautiful of its kind than the last, being a Monody *d the death of his friend Edward King, son of Sir John King, Secretary for Ireland, who was lost in his paflage to that country.
Milton having now remained with his father for about five years, on the death of his mother, obtained the liberty which he so ardently defired, to travel. He left England in 1638, went first to Paris, where he visited the celebrated Grotius, and from thence hasted into Italy, whose language and literasure he had studied with uncommon diligence. There he was received with marked attention by the karned and the great; for, notwithstanding the undiffembled openness of his political and religious opinions, he was introduced to a musical entertainment by Cardinal Barberini (afterwards Pope Urban the VIII.) in person, who waited for him at the door, and led him by the hand into the Assembly. From Rome he went to Naples, where he was received with no less respect by Manso, Marquis of Villa, * 20 had been before the Patron of 'Tasso; after which, he visited the rest of Italy, caressed and hotoared by every one conspicuous for high rank or distinguished abilities. Among the last was the great Gahlzo, whom he did not omit to visit, although at that time a prisoner in the Inquisition, for having taught the annual and diurnal motions of the earth.
After having spent two years in his travels, which were designed to be extended to Sicily and Greece, on hearing of the troubles in his native country, hie hasted home, judging it criminal to remain Ediferent, or to indulge in amusements; while his countrymen were contending for their liberties: