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public affairs than poets ufually are. And it has happened that more accounts have been written of his life, than of almost any author's, particularly by Antony Wood in his Fafti Oxonienfes, by our author's nephew Mr. Edward Philips before the English translation of Milton's State-letters printed in 1694, by Mr. Toland before the edition of our author's profe works in three volumes folio printed in 1698, by Monfieur Bayle in his Hiftorical and Critical Dictionary, by Mr. Fenton before the edition of our author's poetical works printed in 1725, by Mr. Richardfon in the preface to his Explanatory Notes and Remarks upon Milton's Paradife Loft, and by the reverend and ingenious Mr. Thomas Birch in the General Dictionary, and more largely before the edition of our author's profe works in two volumes folio printed in 1738. And I have not only read and compared these accounts together, and made the best extracts out of them which I poffibly could; but have alfo collected fome other particulars from Milton's own works as well as from other authors, and from credible tradition as well as from written testimonies: and all thefe, like fo many different threds, I have woven into one piece, and formed into a continued narration, of which, whether it affords more or lefs fatisfaction and entertainment than former accounts, the reader must judge and determin: but it has been my study and endevor, as in the notes to comprise the flower of all other notes, fo in the life to include the fubftance of all former lives, and with improvements and additions.
In the conclufion are added copious indexes, one of the principal matters, and another of the words. The
The man, who is at the pains of making indexes, is really to be pitied; but of their great utility there is no need to fay any thing, when several perfons, who pafs in the world for profound scholars, know little more of books than title-pages and indexes, but never catch the spirit of an author, which is fure always to evaporate or die in fuch hands. The former of these indexes, if not drawn up by Mr. Tickell, was I think firft inferted in his quarto edition of Milton's poetical works printed in 1720; and for the latter, which was much more laborious, it was compofed at the defire and encouragement of Mr. Auditor Benfon by Mr. Cruden, who hath also published a very useful Concordance to the Bible.
LIFE OF MILTON.
T is agreed among all writers, that the family of Milton came originally from Milton in Oxfordfhire; but from which of the Miltons is not al
together fo certain. Some fay, and particularly Mr. Philips, that the family was of Milton near Abington in Oxfordshire, where it had been a long time feated, as appears by the monuments ftill to be feen in Milton-church. But that Milton is not in Oxfordshire, but in Barkfhire; and upon inquiry I find, that there are no fuch monuments in that church, nor any remains of them. It is more probable therefore that the family came, as Mr. Wood fays, from Milton near Halton and Thame in Oxfordshire: where it florished several years, till at last the estate was fequefter'd, one of the family having taken the unfortunate fide in the civil wars between the houses of York and Lancafter. John Milton, the poet's grand-father, was, according to Mr. Wood, an under-ranger or keeper of the foreft of Shotover near Halton in Oxfordshire; he was of the religion of Rome, and fuch a bigot that he difinherited his fon only for being a proteftant. Upon this the fon, the poet's father, named likewife John Milton, fettled in London, and became a fcrivener by the advice of a friend eminent in that profeffion: but he was not fo devoted to gain and to business, as to lose all tafte of the politer arts, and was particularly skilled in mufic, in which he was not only a fine performer,
but is alfo celebrated for several pieces of his compofition: and yet on the other hand he was not fo fond of his mufic and amufements, as in the leaft to neglect his business, but by his diligence and œconomy acquired a competent eftate, which enabled him afterwards to retire, and live in the country. He was by all accounts a very worthy man; and married an excellent woman, Sarah of the ancient family of the Bradshaws, fays Mr. Wood; but Mr. Philips, our author's nephew, who was more likely to know, fays, of the family of the Caftons derived originally from Wales. Whoever fhe was, fhe is faid to have been a woman of incomparable virtue and goodness; and by her her husband had two fons and a daughter.
The elder of the fons was our famous poet, who was born in the year of our Lord 1608, on the 9th of December in the morning between 6 and 7 o'clock, in Bread-street London, where his father lived at the fign of the fpread eagle, which was alfo the coat of arms of the family. He was named John, as his father and grand-father had been before him; and from the beginning discovering the marks of an uncommon genius, he was defigned for a scholar, and had his education partly under private tutors, and partly at a public school. It has been often controverted whether a public or private education is best, but young Milton was fo happy as to fhare the advantages of both. It appears from the fourth of his Latin elegies, and from the first and fourth of his familiar epiftles, that Mr. Thomas Young, who was afterwards paftor of the company of English merchants refiding at Hamburg, was one of his private preceptors: and when he had made good progrefs