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him in imagination from his boyhood, so sweet and full of promise, through the radiant dawn of his studious youth, along the conflicts and sorrows of his vexed and checkered life, into the chill evening of his darkened old age. He gathers the scattered records of autobiography which were casually dropped in his writings, and weaves them into tales of beauty and heroism. His youthful beauty is said to have charmed a strange lady, who sees him sleeping by the way side, and leaves behind a token of her love, which lures him over the continent in the vain hope to find the angel of his dreams. His residence in Italy is thought of as including exalted converse with heroic men, and charming intercourse with ladies fair and noble. His hasty return at the call of duty to his troubled country, the harsh and bitter conflicts that awaited him there, his blind and feeble old age, are all invested with heroic associations.
We doubt not it was the fascination of thoughts and fancies like these that impelled Prof. Masson to the noble effort of writing a life of Milton, which should be worthy of his name, and of the esteem in which he is held by every earnest English heart. In the prosecution of his work he has spared no labor and been deterred from no research. He has followed every clue which was placed in bis hands, and traced out every path that opened before him, and, in the volume before us, has begun a work which, when finished, will remain a perfect encyclopædia on Milton, and everything that pertains to his life and times. It is impossible to describe the wealth of lore which he has lavished
Milton's life and works. He has out-done the most labori. ous German of them all, in the Gründlichkeit with which he bas delved and wrought at his work. There may be different judgments in respect to the wisdom of attempting so much in connection with a single life. But there can be done as to the faithful research with which the materials have been collected, the skill with which they have been recast, or the force and order in which these results are presented to the reader.
Chapter I gives us the ancestry and kindred of Milton, in which all that needs to be said, or that can possibly be suggested on this fruitful theme, is placed at our disposal.
Chapter II is entitled " The Spread Eagle, Bread Street, Old London.” It seeks to revive to us Milton's home from 1608 to 1620. London as it was in those times, in its street and in-door life, is resuscitated and made to live again before our eyes. The streets and courts in the neighborhood of Bread street are all mapped out for our inspection, and the Spread Eagle, which was the device that Milton the elder emblazoned over his office door, is distinctly painted to the eye. With these materials he has wrought an interesting, and we believe a faithful picture of Milton's early home.
Chapter III—“Early education-St Paul's School, 1620-1625”gives Milton's life at school. The interest of the story begins now to increase. The early promise of his childhood is noticed and verified by evidence. The history of the portrait of the child of ten years is given and incidentally thereto a full and not unacceptable sketch of Jansen, the painter. Then occurs a full life-history of Thomas Young, bis house teacher—then we are introduced to St. Paul's School, with an extended narrative of its foundation and its founder, and connected therewith is a birdseye view of the other public schools of London. The life of the master in Milton's time—Alexander Gill-is also given, with that of his wayward and luckless son, the usher. To explain his first inspiration to poetry, a sketch is given of the contemporary literature and the popular authors of the day, and a detailed, but not displeasing view of Sylvester’s Du Bartas. Milton's first poetical attempts are also duly noticed.
Chapter IV-Cambridge, 1625-1632—occupies one hundred and sixty-nine solid pages, with a little of Milton's university life, and a great deal of the universities and the university men in those years, during which Milton's Ode to the Nativity was composed, that gem of promise in which the critic will see all of Milton's future greatness prefigured.
Chapter V—Church and Government-Bishop Laud, 1632—fills eighty pages with the political state of England in a judicious and candid estimate of the parties of those times, of the men that led them and the principles which gave them importance and interest. This chapter is in the highest degree honorable to the author, and is an actual contribution to the abundant, and, as it would seem at first, the superabundant materiel upon that period of English history. It is a fit introduction to the story of Milton's public life, and satisfactorily answers the question why Milton did not enter the church.
Chapter VI-Survey of English Literature-extends over more than a hundred heavy pages of solid learning, interspersed with critical sketches of rare justice, on the various leading authors. This is required also for our Miltonic encyclopædia, and is another part of the introduction to his public career.
Chapter VII-Horton, Buckinghamshire, 1632-1638-takes us into the country into which Milton's father had retired, and where Milton
himself. spent the golden time of his life, after his university course was finished, in reading the best works of ancient and modern literature, and gathering into his fancy those pictures of nature which were to serve such splendid uses when his eyesight was taken from him. It was during this period that the l'Allegro and Il Penseroso were written, and that most perfect thing of its kind, Comus, a Masque. Apropos to the composition of Comus, we have a full historical account of the masque, its origin and uses, and a pleasant picture of Ludlow Castle, its occupants and surroundings in the lifetime of Milton; also a sketch of its ruins as they now appear to the devotee who makes a pilgrimage thither for Milton's sake.
Chapter VIII-Continental Journey, 1638-1639—concludes the volume. Herein is matter of the most various interest—first, a picture of the political state of Europe, including a sketch of the events which brought it to that condition. Then a picture of Paris, of Florence, Rome, and Naples, as they were when Milton saw then—with views of the statesmen, philosophers, and poets who were then living, and with whom Milton chanced to meet, making in all, perhaps, the best and most complete sketch of Europe as it then was, which Las ever been written for English readers.
Two volumes of this historical work are yet to be published. We trust the life of the laborious and eloquent writer may be spared to enrich the history of English literature with a just and complete view of the times when Milton lived, and an ample commentary on the works of her sublimest poet, who was also one of her greatest
Arago's BIOGRAPHIES.* -I and II Series. Frenchmen have always excelled in writing biography. They have the happy faculty of transferring their natural sprightliness and bonhomie to their “Memoirs ” in such a way as to interest every reader. Their superiority is more conspicuous, however, when they attempt autobiogrophy. The Frenchman who writes the story of his own life, seems to set himself to the task with the conviction that he is every wbit a hero, and that every reader is a friend who will be ready to acknowledge him as such. He is not restrained by any feeling of reserve, but, taking the whole world
Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men. By Francois Arago. Translated by Admiral W. H. Smyth, D. C. L., F. R. S, the Rev. Baden Powell, M. A., F. R. S., and Robert Grant, Esq., M. A., F. R. A. S. First and Second Series. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1859. 12mo. Pp. 444, 486. Price, $1.00 per Vol.
into the fullest and most friendly confidence, he details the different incidents of his life with such evident self-satisfaction, and throws around them such an air of importance, and such a halo of romance and glory, as cannot fail to charm.
This characteristic of his countrymen was possessed to a remarkable degree by Francois Arago, the celebrated astronomer. Biography had a special interest for him. Many years before his death he gave to the public the history of his youth. It is full of anecdote and of stirring incident, and is related with a vivacity that is most engaging. Perhaps there has never been a man so devoted to science, whose whole career has had so much in it that wears the semblance of romance. Arago wrote, however, only the story of his youth, bringing his history down to the year 1830, when be was elected Perpetual Secretary of the Academy for the Mathematical Sciences in Paris. The account of Arago bimself is therefore incomplete, and perhaps the least valuable of any of the biographies in the two volumes, although it surpasses them all, with the exception of that of Bailly, in what will attract the general reader.
The other biographies, or rather eulogies, for they were most of them prepared to be read as such before the Academy, are of Bailly, Herschel, La Place, Joseph Fourier, Carnot, Malus, Fresnel, Thomas Young, and James Watt. These are only a portion of the contributions which Arago made to this department of literature, and were probably selected by the English editors and translators as best calculated to interest English readers. They are in the main reliable, although in some cases the biographer's sympathies or prejudices seem to have influenced him in his criticisms. They give a popular account of the discoveries of each one of these distinguished individuals, of such a kind as constitutes a brief history of the particular branch of science to which each was devoted. The English edition is even more valuable than the French, as the translators, who are men of the highest scientific ability, have added very copious notes. These volumes will be found exceedingly useful to those who are desirous of tracing the progress of modern scientific discovery.
LIFE OF Bishop ASBURY.*—No man has done more to promoto the progress and shape the whole polity of the Methodist Episcopal
* The Pioneer Bishop: or the Life and Times of Francis Asbury. By W. P. STRICKLAND. With an introduction by Nathan Bangs, D. D. New York: Carlton & Porter. 1859. 12mo. pp. 496.
Church in the United States than Bishop Asbury—the "Pioneer Bishop," as he has been so long familiarly called. He was born in Staffordshire, England, in 1746. At a conference held in Bristol in 1771, when he was twenty-six years of age, Mr. Wesley called for volunteers
for the work in America, and having for some time been strongly impressed with a desire to go as a missionary to America, he responded to the call and soon sailed for Philadelphia. At tho close of the Revolutionary War, though half bis life had been spent in preaching and he had been for years superintendent of the Methodist societies in America, he was still an unordained man. No ordinances of the church had ever yet been administered by his hands. With the rest of his brethren in the ministry he had received the sacrament at the hands of Episcopal clergymen. In 1784, “The Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States” was formally established, and Dr. Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury were elected bishops of the church. From that day till his death, in 1816, no preacher in the Methodist connection was so indefatigable. The Methodist church in America owes its present form to him. He stamped his powerful mind upon the whole denomination. No name, unless it is that of Wesley himself, is so honored among the masses of Methodism all over the continent.
In the prefatory letter we find quoted the old remark of one of the renowned ancients, who said that he would rather posterity should inquire wby a monument was not erected to him, than ask why one had been erected to him. It is certainly a matter for our surprise that no memoir of Bishop Asbury has been prepared till now.
LIFE OF John H. W. Hawkins.*— The name of Hawkins is one of the most prominent and best known of those who were active in the "great temperance reformation" of 1840. He was not one of the original "six" who formed the “Washington Total Abstinence Society," in the drinking room of Chase's tavern in Baltimore, but he was one of the very first who joined it in that city. From that time till almost the day of his death, in August, 1858, he was a most enthusiastic, popular, and successful lecturer on temperance, in all parts of the United States. He had good common sense, made no attempt at display, was sincere, expressed himself with ease, and possessed a kind of eloquence which went to the heart of every hearer. His son has prepared a good memoir of his life ; one which cannot fail to do much to extend the in
* Life of John H. W. Hawkins. By his son, Rev. William George HAWKINS, A. M. Boston: John P. Jewett & Co. 1859. 8vo. pp. 433. 1