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FORMERLY LECTURER ON ENGLISH AT TNÉ TRAINING COLLEGE, CHESTER.

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WITH THE PUBLISHERS COMPLIMENTS

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LONDON AND GLASGOW:
WILLIAM COLLINS, SONS, AND CO.

1 8 74.

f. 3.

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INTRODUCTION.

JOHN MILTON was born in Bread Street, London, on the 9th of December 1608. The surname was derived from the town of Milton, in Oxfordshire, where the family at one time had flourished. The father of the poet, by profession a scrivener, was a man of high character and attainments, and eminently skilled in music : the well-known church tunes of Norwich and York were his compositions.

Milton received his early education at St. Paul's school. Of this period he himself says : 'So eager was I at my studies, that from my twelfth year I rarely left them till midnight.'* In fact, this application weakened both his eyesight and his health. His well-known version of the 136th Psalm was written during his last school year.

In February 1625 he proceeded to Christ's College, Cambridge, where he spent seven years. At the age of twentyone he wrote the Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity, a production which showed that he was already smit with the love of sacred song,' as well as gifted with imagination of the highest order. Having taken the degree of M.A., he quitted the University, and at the same time resigned all idea of entering the Church, for which his parents had destined him. The five following years were spent at his father's house, Horton, Buckinghamshire. There, in tranquil leisure, he nourished his mind with the learning of the ancients, and cultivated the mathematics and music, studies he then delighted in. During this period he produced his inimitable Comus, as well as the Lycidas, L'Allegro, and Il Penseroso.

In the spring of 1638 he set out for a foreign tour. At Paris he was entertained by the celebrated Grotius, then ambassador from the Court of Sweden; and on reaching

* Defensio Secunda, vol. ü.

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