« ПретходнаНастави »
MEMOIR OF MILTON.
THE Introductions to the Poems in these volumes contain necessarily a considerable quantity of biographical matter. All that is needed here, therefore, by way of general memoir, is a map or chronology of the life as a whole. A very sure Topography of the life may be blended with such a Chronology.
BREAD STREET, CHEAPSIDE, OLD LONDON.
1608—1625 : ætat. 1–17. Born in Bread Street, Cheapside, on Friday, December 9, 1608, in a house known as “ The Spread Eagle,” and baptized in Allhallows Church in the same street on the 20th of the same December, Milton was for the first sixteen years of his life a denizen of the very heart of Old London.
His father, John Milton, originally from Oxfordshire, was a prosperous London scrivener, and owner of the Spread Eagle, which served him both as residence and as place of business. (See Introduction to Ad Patrem.) As to the name of Milton's mother there has hitherto been some uncertainty. One tradition calls her Sarah Bradshaw, and another Sarah Caston ; and yet in the register of Allhallows parish, Bread Street, there is this distinct record : “ The xxiind daye of February, A°. 1610 [1610-11), was buried in this parishe Mrs. Ellen Jefferys, the mother of Mr. John Mylton's wyffe of this parishe.” The Mrs. Ellen Jefferys who seems
thus to have lived with the scrivener and his wife till two years after the birth of her grandchild, the future poet, is ascertained to have been the widow of a Paul Jeffray or Jeffreys, citizen and Merchant Taylor of London, who had lived in St. Swithin's parish, but was dead in 1602. She had another daughter, Margaret Jeffray or Jeffreys, who was married in 1602, at the age of twenty, to a William Truelove, gentleman, of the parish of Hatfield Peverell, in the county of Essex, widower,” afterwards designated as of Blakenham upon the Hill, co. Suffolk," and heard of as owning various properties in Essex and Herts. At the time of that marriage the widow's consent to it was signified through her son-in-law, the bride's brother-in-law, John Milton, of Allhallows, Bread Street."
At the death of the widowed grandmother Jefferys in February 1610-11, the Bread Street household consisted of the scrivener, his wife, and two childrenAnne and John. Three children were subsequently born ; of whom only one, Christopher, seven years younger than John, outlived infancy. Anne, John, and Christopher, therefore, are to be remembered, and in that order, as the surviving children.
The first sixteen years of Milton's life were the last sixteen of the reign of James I. Amid the events of those sixteen years, and the growing discontent of the mass of the English people with the rule of James and his minister Buckingham, Milton passed his boyhood. He was most carefully educated, on the principles of a pious Puritan household of superior means and tastes, the head of which was himself distinguished as a musical composer. To be remembered, as having shared with this excellent father the honour of Milton's early education, are the Scottish preacher Thomas Young, his first domestic tutor, and the two Alexander
With the exception of the burial entry of Mrs. Ellen Jefferys in the register of Allhallows, the documents that have yielded the above particulars of Milton's maternal pedigree have been recently discovered by the research of Colonel J. L. Chester, a distinguished American antiquary and genealogist, living in London.