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While at St Paul’s, Milton also had a tutor at home, Thomas Young, a Scotchman, afterwards an eminent Puritan divine—the inspirer, doubtless, of much of his pupil’s Puritan sympathies.

And Milton enjoyed the signal advantage of growing up in the stimulating atmosphere of cultured home-life. The popular view of Milton’s connection with the University will be coloured for all time by Johnson’s unfortunate story that for some unknown offence he “suffered the public indignity of corporal correction.” For various reasons this story is now discredited by the best judges.

An edition based upon Sir Richard Jebb’s lectures at Cambridge in 1872, with extensive notes and commentaries on this famous work: Milton’s famous defense of freedom of speech.

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Four of them have great autobiographic value as an indirect commentary, written from Milton’s coign of seclusion, upon the moral crisis through which English life and thought were passing, the clash between the careless hedonism of the Cavalier world and the deepening openly “foretells the ruine” of the Established Church.

The latter poem is the final utterance of Milton’s lyric genius.

Here he reaches, in Mr Mark Pattison’s words, the highwater mark of English verse; and then—the pity of it—he resigns that place among the may be assigned to the year 1637.

In the spring of the next year Milton started for Italy.

It was natural that he should seek inspiration in the land where many English poets, from Chaucer to Shelley, have found it. Originally he had intended to include Sicily and Greece in his travels, but news of the troubles in England hastened his return.

He was brought face to face with the question whether or not he should bear his part in the coming struggle; whether without self-reproach he could lead any longer this life of learning and indifference to the public weal.

The poet’s father had been educated at an Oxford school, possibly as a chorister in one of the College choir-schools, and imbibing Anglican sympathies had conformed to the Established Church.

For this he was disinherited by his Roman Catholic father.

Milton issued his oration in an unlicensed form and courageously put his own name, but not that of his printer, on the cover. This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Jebb specially to was its wealth of classical and historical allusions, and this, obviously, is the aspect of the treatise which received his particular attention.

Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. here printed (Introduction, Analysis and Notes) was privately printed by Sir R. Jebb for the use of a course of lectures given at Cambridge in the Lent Term of 1872. A few trifling misprints have been corrected: otherwise, the commentary is reproduced as it was originally printed. It was thought by the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press that the Commentary should be made accessible to students; and that it might be made more helpful, and be brought more directly into line with the other Pitt Press editions of Milton, if some notes were added on points of directly Miltonic interest, such as the language, parallel passages and so forth; and, at the request of the Syndics, Mr Verity has compiled a short appendix of comments, drawn mainly from his own editions of Milton published by the University Press, and has added the brief life falls into these clearly defined divisions.

John Milton was born on December 9, 1608, in London.

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