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Dunwich in 1557. Though one of the most considerable territorial families in the Eastern Counties, from the Conquest to the death of Charles I., the members, or younger sons, were of such active, adventurous, and fearless spirit, that they took service, not only in the British army and navy, whose annals are illustrated by their exploits, but under various foreign Princes. They served in the wars of Gascony in the reign of Edward II., and in Flanders, and one of them achieved such military renown by his skill as a leader at the battle of Poictiers, that he was created Earl of Suffolk and Knight of the Garter about 1356. In his last will, amongst other bequests, he leaves to his son William, 5 the sword, wherewith the King girt him, when he created him Earl; and also his bed with the eagle entire: and his summer vestment, powdered with Leopards.”
The subject of this sketch was born in that rank of life which of all others is best calculated to produce men, the blessing of their generation, and the glory of their country, and seems to have been remarkable for the sweetness of his temper and the kindness and unselfishness of his nature. Having studied at the schools of Royston, under the eye of his father, who is described as a man of literary tastes and much learning, and who possessed a valuable library, he attended the classes and completed his education at the University of Cambridge. He now proceeded, in the year 1613, to London for the study of the law, and, as the following extracts from the records of Lincoln's Inn show, was admitted to that Society.*
* Lincoln's Inne, Cantab, S.S. Thomas Peyton filius et heres Thome Peyton, nup de Roystone in com. p'dct Gen. admissus est in societatem istius Hospicis xxiiii die Novembris Anno R. Rs, Jacobi xip im quoznoia hic subscr ppr et soluit ad vsum hospicis p'dct iij ti íiij s iiij d quia numquam fuit de vlla domo cancellar,
ont Tho. WODWARDE, Many
HUMFRYE CHAMBERS. admissus p Jacobu Ley.
TRANSLATION. Lincoln's Inn, Cambridge, to wit: Thomas Peyton, son and
It was at the early age of eighteen that our author thus commenced the study of the law, and not long afterwards his father died. This event having at once freed him from all control, and placed him in possession of an independent fortune, he was enabled to exchange the study of law for higher and graver pursuits more congenial to his tastes. No doubt he had reached a conviction of sin before God-sin worthy of eternal punishment—and felt a desire to enter on a state of preparedness for death and eternity. His profound acquaintance with the Scriptures indicate plainly that they had been for years the subjects of his deep study before the appearance of his epic. The decided bent of his mind had evidently always been towards the ancient classics, and to the study of these and the Scriptures he returned. The first fruit of his application was the first volume of The Glasse of Time, published in 1620, which was followed by a second volume, published in 1623.
We shall proceed to give, in the language of the North American Review, a slight glimpse of each, but sufficient to show the resemblance of “Paradise Lost" to the “Glasse of Time," pointing out wherein they differ, and in how much the genius of Milton surpasses the effort of the earlier poet; but demonstrating that to him belongs the glory of the original conception.
The first volume commences with the beginning of human existence, and treats mainly of
heir of Thomas Peyton, late of Roystone, in the County aforesaid, Gentleman, was admitted into the Society of this Inn on the 24th day of November, in the year of the Reign of King James, (A. D. 1613.) by the security of those whose proper names are subscribed hereto. And he paid to the use of the Inn aforesaid, £3.4.4 because he was never of another house of Chancery.
Sureties, HUMFRYE CHAMBERS. admitted by James Ley.
These extracts were taken from the records of Lincoln's Inu in the year 1870, by an American gentleman then in Londen, and the following certificate is appended to them:
"I hereby certify that the above entries are a true extract taken from the records of the Honourable Society of Lin. coln's Inn,
the fall of man; the second takes a wider range, and follows the descendants of Adam to the time of Noah. The North American Review of October, 1860, thus speaks:
In contemplating the grandeur of those few minds which beam upon our world of thought as the sun among the stars, the results of whose labors are placed by history and the judgment of a daily increasing wisdom high above competition, we are apt to lose sight of the gradual fric. tion, the constant strife, which gave those minds development. We forget that the sun, whose regal power we so easily recognize, is acted upon no less subtilely and surely by all inferior influences,-that to climb to any glorious height, we must have assistance and guides. We are prone to regard a great genius as gifted already with wings full grown, able to float entirely out of the reach of our baser associations and to receive his inspirations from a purer element. We say of a poet that he is born, not made; and we, many of us, fail to see any connection between the things and facts of material existence, and the beautiful order and law which philosophy creates.
The world of literature, and all that company of earnest and pious souls who best love this life, as foreshadowing and promising the more perfect existence, were startled not many months ago, by the discovery that the Pilgrim's Progress was not originally conceived by John Bunyan, but was adapted by him from the reverent dreamings of an ancient monk, whose manuscript had, by some means fallen into the prisoner's possession. But though we may regret to give to the memory of another than Bunyan a single thrill of the gratitude with which this little book inspires us,—though we may dread to regard its author as a little less the inspired saint we have always believed him,-still let justice be done, though the heavens fall, and at the same time let him who was a victim of tyranny, both in body and soul, have due meed of praise, in that he saw so clearly, through the gloom of superstition, the heavenly light and the narrow path. Nor need Bunyan be considered as a plagairist, because he made use of the material thrown in his way. Doubtless he improved much upon his model. Doubtless He who“ fashioneth their hearts alike" gave to him also the spirit of prophesy and exhortation. At most, only the credit of the first idea belongs to the forgotten monk: while the development of plan, the perfection of detail, the declaration of thought and doctrine suited to the needs of a people justified by faith, are due to the world-renowned Bunyan still.
We are now to see, by the added light of a more recent discovery, the dim outline of a shadowy hand directing the pen of a far nobler writer. We are to recognize the spirit of another unknown one, influencing the brain of a more glorious thinker. We are forced to question the originality of him who stands at the very head of epic poets, -John Milton. For not only did nature, more beautifully than in old Arcadia, speak to him in a thousand persuasive tones,-not only did the wise and gifted of old time hold torches to his studious path, and “attune his soul to the stately melody of Homeric and Virgilian verse,” but the risen sun of English literature shone bright and clear all round him. Among the poets within his reach, one was gifted to the same exalted theme which gave to Milton his sublimest musing and his best reward.
A long time back in 1620-about forty years before the Paradise Lost was given to the world --one “ Thomas Peyton, of Lincoln's Inn, Gent." having been moved to treat
Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
wrote The Glasse of Time in the First and Second Age, Divinely Handled.
We find no record of the man beyond this work. The Encyclopedias do not contain his name, and even Hallam makes no mention of him.* A copy of this book, elaborately bound in vellum, ornamented with gold, with coat of arms and regal device, illustrated with curious cuts, and quaintly printed, had been kept in the possession of some English family, and was buried in the chest of an illiterate descendant until his recent death created a train of circumstances, which in the end placed the treasure before our eyes.. We are convinced that the subject is worthy of attention and inquiry, and we herewith offer the result of our own research and comparison with the immortal poem which it so much resembles, and which we cannot help thinking was suggested by it.
Like the Paradise Lost, this work begins with the beginning of human existence, and treats mainly of the fall of man; but it takes a wider range, follows the descendants of Adam to the time of Noah, and promises a continuation of the story, which promise was, probably, not fulfilled. It would seem, from many allusions, to his personal sorrows as connected with political troubles, as well as from severe strictures upon the Puritans (or Puritents, as he calls them), that the author was a Churchman, a Royalist, and a sufferer in those growing disturbances which led to the overthrow of the monarchy. In his closing lines he makes the renewal of his theme contingent on the return of peace and safety, and perhaps, for him, that period never came. At any rate this is all that has come down to us, and it is enough, since it contains his thought upon Milton's great topic, in which connection we find its chief interest and importance.
The work shows some power of comparison and illustration, a good knowledge of classical lore, and profound familiarity with the Scrip
* For more than a century and a half no knowledge existed of the book which turned up about eighty years ago, and how could Hallam or the Encyclopedist mention either it or the author.