« 前へ次へ »
Law, and this gives an importance to the fact I am about to mention, in its bearing on this critical period of the poet's life, and which seems to leave unquestionable, that the poet did at one time seriously intend to enter upon the study in a formal and regular manner.
There exists a copy of Fitz-Herbert's “ Natura Brevium," the edition of 1584, in the title page of which is written in Milton's beautiful hand-writing
Johes Milton : me possidet.
Det Christus studiis vela secunda meis. But this is not all, for a little lower on the same page we find, in another hand,
Det Christus studiis vela secunda tuis. We can hardly doubt that this was written by the father, with whose hand-writing I am not acquainted.
It is remarkable, that this copy of Fitz-Herbert appears to have been in the possession of another poet of the time, these words appearing on a later fly-leaf, “ John Marston oeth this book.”
This interesting volume is still in its original binding of dark brown calf, with an ornament impressed in the centre. The hand-writing of Milton authenticates itself: but the volume has a satisfactory pedigree. In 1830, it was the property of the Rev. Dr. Stedman, son of the Rev. Mr. Stedman, Vicar of St. Chad's, Shrewsbury, to whom it had been presented as a curiosity by Mr. Joshua Eddowes, a bookseller and printer of that town, who was born in 1724, and who informed Mr. Stedman that it came to him out of
books which had belonged to Mrs. Milton, the poet's widow, who died in 1727 at Nantwich, where Mr. Eddowes had relations living at the time of her death.
V. THE POET'S TRAVELS.—When all idea of placing him in a profession was abandoned, his father allowed him to travel abroad. Of this period of his life the accounts which have been given are too general, that is, they are too deficient of specific notes of time and place. It does not appear that more letters than two exist which were written by him during the time he was abroad. All that is said respecting him is, that he set out in 1638 ; yet dates give a feeling of confidence in the statement of facts, so that it will not be wholly without its use to future writers on the life of this eminent person, to say that there exists evidence which seems to shew that he was at Geneva on June 10, 1639. The kind of evidence is like that which we have just adduced for another fact. It is his own hand-writing in an Album which was brought to England a few years ago and sold by public auction. It had belonged to the Cardouins, a Neapolitan family settled at Geneva, where they taught the Continental languages to Englishmen staying in that city. Milton writes thus :
If virtue feeble were
Junii 10°, 1639. Joannes Miltonius Anglus. It would seem that he was on his return to England, where he is said to have arrived in the month of August 1639.
Nearly half the names in this album are of Englishmen,
Amongst them are Thomas Wentworth, who was afterwards Earl of Strafford; Lord Cranburn, 1609, Henry Clifford, Sir Andrew Kniveton, who writes as if he were an unwilling exile from his native land; George Thomason, probably the person who collected what are called the King's Pamphlets in the Museum ; Daniel Boughton, who inscribed his name on the day following that on which Milton inscribed his.
VI. His SETTLEMENT IN LONDON.—Milton had by this time reached his thirty-second year, and had probably begun to perceive that his life was too purposeless to be either useful or happy, and that the state of the fortunes of his family would not justify him in keeping himself free from the restraints which necessarily attend regular and gainful employment. He had been so far in life apparently his own master, devoted to desultory reading, study, and the Muse, and to whatever might gratify his taste or feed his imagination. He had already produced many short poems of exquisite finish and beauty. We may wish that there were more of them. He saw, moreover, at this period of his life, that evil times were coming, when there would be no ear to listen to even the sweetest warblings, and when no writings but those of political and religious controversy would be heeded. He now, therefore, looked abroad for gainful employment, and the course which seemed at first best open to him was the instruction of youth. And with this purpose, soon after his return to England, he took a lodging in St. Bride's Churchyard, Fleet Street, and began with his two nephews, John and Edward Philips, sons of a sister who was older than himself, and who both shewed themselves in after life not unworthy pupils of so eminent a master. Doubtless
much was to be learned from him, though there is probably sufficient ground for the strong objections which have been taken to his system of education. He did not continue long near that great thoroughfare, and when he removed it was to a house which appears to have been, in point of situation at least, well adapted to his purpose, a Gardenhouse in Aldersgate Street, near to the gardens and those open spaces which had formed the precincts of the Charter House.
Ths exact time of his removal to this house is not shewn by his biographers, and all that I am able to do is to fix a period before which he must have become an inhabitant of his Garden-house. This I am able to do from a record in the Exchequer, entitled “ A Book of the Names and Surnames, Degrees, Ranks and Qualities of all the Inhabitants of the Ward of Aldersgate, London, July, 1641.” It was made for the purpose of levying the poll-tax of that year. We find Milton in the part which relates to what is called “ The Second Precinct of St. Botolf parish,” and the reader may not be displeased to see in this contemporary notice, Milton with his small establishment of one maid-servant, and the names also of the families who occupied the houses on the right and left of his.
Richard Musckle and his wife, a weaver.
Jane Yates, his servant.
Justinian Povey and wife, Auditor; Ann Povey, his
daughter, and 4 servants. Jo. Birch and his wife, gent. Sir Thomas Cecil, out of town.
Dr. Alexander Gill, who had formerly been Master of St. Paul's School, the renowned foundation in which Milton studied, lived in the same second precinct, as did also Mr. Vernon, a counsellor, so that Milton's house was situated in what in modern phrase would be called a genteel part of the town.
Milton did not pay the tax at the time when it was expected from him, for in another paper entitled “The names of those who have not paid us of the Gentry in the Second Precinct,” we find his name as well as the names of Dr. Gill and Mrs. Pallavicini. Gill is a known friend of Milton, and the Pallavicinis were connected with the Cromwells by three several marriages.
He had also another near neighbour at this period of his life, whose name is often mentioned in connection with that of Milton – Theodore Deodati, a Doctor of Physic. He did not live in the same precinct with Milton, being an inhabitant of Little Saint Bartholomew. He also, like Milton, is returned as one of those who had not paid their poll-tax in 1641.
We find not, indeed, the name of Milton, for the record is damaged in that place, and yet enough remains, when compared with the list before given, to shew that Milton is there intended, in another list of inhabitants of that Second Precinct, made in January the next year. It is a list of those who contributed to the “ Collection for Ireland.” Milton's contribution was four pounds, a large sum when compared with the contributions of his neighbours : and this contribution may be taken as some proof of the zeal with