1699 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

Charles Gildon, in Lives and Characters of the English Dramatick Poets (1699) 100.



An Author of that Excellence of Genius and Learning, that none of any Age or Nation, I think, has excell'd him: during the Civil Wars, and after the Death of King Charles the First, he was advanced to considerable Posts in the Government, as Under Secretary of State, &c. and he was a strenuous Defender of the Power and Liberty of the People, upon which that Government immediately stood. His Controversy with Salmatius was very famous all over Europe, and his Victory cost his Adversary his Life, tho' he himself lost his Eyes. I have been told, that after the Restauration of King Charles the Second, he taught School at, or near, Greenwich. The Time or Place of his Birth, Education, or Death, I am ignorant of. He writ two Dramatick Pieces, viz.

Samson Agonistes, a Tragedy, 8vo. 1680. Mr. Dryden Sen. has, in his Aureng-zebe, borrowed some Thoughts from this Poem, which is founded on Scripture. Consult the Thirteenth Chapter of Judges, &c. also Tornier, Salian, and Joseph. Antiq. lib. 5.

A Masque presented at Ludlow-Castle, 1634. Printed 4to. 1687. It was published by Mr. Lawes, who composed the Musick, dedicating it to the Right Honourable, John, Lord Viscount Brackley, Son and Heir Apparent to John, Earl of Bridgewater, Viscount Brackley, Lord President of Wales, and one of his Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council; before whom it was presented. He writ besides, divers Pieces in Poetry and History, as Paradise Lost, 8vo. and Fol. with Sculptures; Paradise Regain'd, 8vo. Hist. of Britain, 4to. Pro populo Anglicano defensio, 12mo. The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, 4to. &c.