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the time of his first admission: viz. William Chappell, afterwards Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and Bishop of Cloyne and Ross; and it is farther known that, in consequence of this disagreement—in the course of which Dr. Thomas Bainbrigge, the Master of the College, may have been called in, or may have interfered-Milton was transferred from the tutorship of Chappell to that of another of the Fellows of the College: viz. Nathaniel Tovey, afterwards parson of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. The probable date of this incident (which was magnified by Dr. Johnson, rather unnecessarily, on the faith of a mere MS. jotting of the old gossip, Aubrey, into the well-known, but disagreeable, myth of Milton's disgrace at Cambridge by corporal punishment) was the Lent or Easter term of Milton's second academic year, i.e. of the year 1625-6. The present Elegy was probably written during Milton's absence or rustication from College that summer; and in the passage indicated he speaks of this absence or rustication (exilium is the word he uses) as not such a bad thing after all. Is he not again in his father's house, with all its comforts? Is he not master of his own time and of his own movements? Is he not in busy and liberal London, away from dull Cambridge, with its reedy river, and its shadeless fields, and out of the range of the sour looks of Chappell, the threats (minas) of Bainbrigge, and other indignities not to be borne by a temper like his (cæteraque ingenio non subeunda meo)? If this be exile, may he never have a worse! Nevertheless, as he says in the end of the Elegy, it is arranged that he shall return to Cambridge. Actually, as we know, he did return, to finish his undergraduate course, under Tovey's tutorship. His temporary absence, we also know, counted for nothing against him; for he did not lose a term, but took his B.A. degree at exactly the proper time.
Anno ætatis 17. 1
In obitum Præconis Academici Cantabrigiensis.
"On the death of the Cambridge University Bedel" is the translation of the heading of this Elegy; and a few words will suffice to
explain both the heading and the Elegy itself:-Beadle (otherwise Bedel) is, as all know, the name for that officer of a Court, or other body, who delivers its messages, or cites persons to appear before it. The word, in old English, meant "a crier," from the word "bid" (to cry, or publish); and hence the Latin equivalent is "Praco" (herald or crier), though "Viator" (messenger) was an alternative name. Now, the English Universities have officers called Esquire Bedels, who carry the mace before the Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor on public occasions, attend at other solemnities, collect fines, summon to meetings, &c. These Esquire Bedels, of whom there are three at Cambridge, have an inferior Bedel under them, who is called the Yeoman-Bedel. The Bedelship is a life-office, and the Senior Esquire Bedel is usually a venerable man of some note in the University, acquainted with its forms, and full of its anecdotes. Such a man seems to have been Richard Ridding, M.A. of St. John's, who was Senior Esquire Bedel when Milton went to Cambridge. Through two University sessions Milton had been familiar with his venerable figure; but about the beginning of Milton's third University session (1626-7) Ridding died. I have not ascertained the exact day, but the probate of his will is dated Nov. 8, 1626. The death of a University personage so conspicuous naturally gave occasion for versifying; and Milton's Elegy was one of the results. It ought to be noted that Milton's own dating of the Elegy "Anno ætatis 17" is either wrong by a year, or must be translated laxly as meaning "at seventeen years of age." Milton was close on the end of his eighteenth year, but could still call himself "seventeen years of age," when Ridding died.
Anno ætatis 17.
In obitum Præsulis Wintoniensis.
(Editions of 1645 and 1673.)
On the 21st of September 1626, just before the beginning of Milton's third academic year at Cambridge, there died, at Winchester House, Southwark, the learned and eloquent Dr. Lancelot
Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, at the age of seventy-one. Milton's ecclesiastical opinions in his later life led him to be rather critical in his estimate of this famous Bishop, and indeed of Bishops generally; but in his Cambridge undergraduateship his anti-prelatic feelings were less pronounced, and he willingly joined in the chorus of regret over the loss of one of the brightest intellects in the English Church. Moreover, Bishop Andrewes was a Cambridge man, educated at Pembroke Hall, and had been Master of that College before he had been made a Bishop. Cambridge was bound to celebrate him in Elegies. The reader of Milton's ought to note the historical allusions which it contains. The year of Bishop Andrewes's death had been one of great mortality by the Plague in England and of the deaths of several men of note abroad. Here again (see Introd. to Elegia Secunda) we must translate the heading "Anno ætatis 17" as meaning not "in his seventeenth year," but "at seventeen years of age.”
Anno ætatis 18.
Ad Thomam Junium, præceptorem suum, apud mercatores Anglicos Hamburga agentes Pastoris munere fungentem.
(Editions of 1645 and 1673.)
In this Elegy, written in 1627, or in Milton's third year at Cambridge, we are introduced to another interesting person with whom the poet had close personal relations: viz. Thomas Young, who had been his preceptor in his childhood, but had now been for some time in Hamburg, in the post of chaplain or minister to the English merchants of that city.
Thomas Young was a Scotchman. He was born at Luncarty in Perthshire in or about 1588, was educated at the University of St. Andrews, and took his M.A. degree there. Perhaps because the accession of James to the English throne in 1603 had opened up for many Scots prospects of a better livelihood in England than their own country afforded, Young had migrated thither while still a young man; and there are indistinct traces of him in the capacity of curate or assistant to Puritan parish-ministers in
London and its neighbourhood before 1618. He seems, however, to have employed himself chiefly in teaching; and, in the course of that employment, it was his good fortune to happen upon one pupil who was to be immortal. It cannot be determined with certainty whether Milton had been boarded under Young's charge somewhere near London before he went to St. Paul's School, or whether Young had only been his first domestic preceptor, and had continued to be his private preceptor while he was at St. Paul's School, coming daily to his father's house in Bread Street, Cheapside, close to the School, and adding to the education which he was receiving from Mr. Alexander Gill, the head-master of the School, and his son and assistant, Mr. Alexander Gill the younger. The latter, perhaps, is the more probable supposition. In that case, however, Young's tutorship of Milton did not extend over the whole period of his training under the two Gills. Milton, so far as is known, went to St. Paul's School in 1620, when he was eleven years of age, and he remained there till the winter or spring of 1624-5, when he left for Cambridge at the age of sixteen. But Young had left England for his chaplaincy to the English merchants at Hamburg at least as early as 1622. He was then a married man, with children, and matters had not been so prosperous with him in England but that a foreign chaplaincy was acceptable. Many English and Scottish ministers, especially of Puritan opinions, were then scattered through the towns of Holland and adjacent countries, as pastors of the little congregations of British colonists there; and the chaplaincy of the wealthy German city of Hamburg may have been one of the best.
Milton, it appears, had cherished a warm recollection of Young in his exile, and occasional communications had passed between them. The first of Milton's Latin Familiar Epistles is addressed to Young (Thomæ Junio, præceptori suo). It is dated "London, March 26, 1625," and was written, therefore, after Milton had been admitted at Christ's College, Cambridge, but before his residence at Cambridge had fairly commenced. It is expressed in terms of the most ardent affection and gratitude, with apologies for having been remiss in his correspondence, and especially for having allowed three years to elapse since his last letter; and
there is an acknowledgment also of the gift of a Hebrew Bible which Young had sent to him. Two years more had passed since that Epistle was written, and Milton had again been remiss. The present Elegy is his atonement. He takes shame to himself for his long silence, but assures Young that he never has been and never can be forgotten. The messages of affection and respect conveyed are quite enthusiastic, with a tone of tenderness in them which wins from the reader a real liking for Young, and a conviction that he must have been a man of no ordinary merit. It is distinctly intimated (lines 19-32) that Milton owed to Young his first literary impulses, his first lessons and tastes in classic literature and poetry. It seems also to be conveyed (lines 33-38) that Young's tutorship of him had lasted between two and three years. Why, the Elegy asks, had he been so infrequent in his messages of duty to one to whom he owed so much? Let the Elegy itself make his excuses at Hamburg. It will find the good and learned man there, kind as he always was, sitting beside his sweet wife, or dandling his children on his knee, or perhaps turning over large volumes of the Fathers, or reading God's own Bible. But what news is this that one is hearing from Hamburg? The great Continental war, known afterwards as The Thirty Years' War, was then in its second stage, when Christian IV. of Denmark was the leader of the Protestant Alliance against the Imperialists under Tilly and Wallenstein. Saxony, to which Hamburg was attached, was inextricably involved; and actually, while Milton wrote, the rumour was that the Imperialist soldiery were all round Hamburg and threatening it with siege. What might befall poor Young and his family? On this cause of alarm Milton dilates, not without a touch of anger at the stupidity and cold-heartedness of Britain, which had driven such a man as Young abroad for bare subsistence, to live poorly and obscurely amid strangers, when he might have been a noted minister of the Gospel at home. But he bids Young take courage. God will protect him through all the dangers of war; nay more (and with this prediction the Elegy closes), better times are in store for him, and he will not remain much longer in exile.
"Nec dubites quandoque frui melioribus annis,