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he broke out like the Irish rebellion, threescore for Wood says, that he got by this place seven thousand strong, when nobody was aware, or in thousand pounds. the least suspected it; an observation which After the restoration, he wrote the poem on could have had no propriety, had his poetical Prudence and Justice, and perhaps some of his abilities been known before.
other pieces: and, as he appears, whenever any He was after that pricked for sheriff of Surry, serious question comes before him, to have been and made governor of Farnham Castle for the a man of piety, he consecrated his poetical powKing ; but he soon resigned that charge, and re ers to religion, and, made a metrical version of treated to Oxford, where, in 1643, he published the Psalms of David. In this attempt he has “Cooper's Hill."
failed; but in sacred poetry who has succeeded? This poem had such reputation as to excite It might be hoped that the favour of his masthe common artifice by which envy degrades ex- ter, and esteem of the public, would now make cellence.-A report was spread, that the per- him happy. But human felicity is short and formance was not his own, but that he had uncertain; a second marriage brought upon him bought it of a vicar for forty pounds. The same so much disquiet, as for a time disordered his attempt was made to rob Addison of Cato, and understanding; and Butler lampooned him for Pope of his Essay on Criticism.
his lunacy. I know not whether the malignant In 1647, the distresses of the royal family re- lines were then made public, nor what provocaquired him to engage in more dangerous em- tion incited Butler to do that which no provoployments. He was entrusted by the Queen cation can excuse. with a message to the King; and, by whatever His frenzy lasted not long ;* and he seems means, so far softened the ferocity of Hugh to have regained his full force of mind; for he Peters, that by his intercession admission was wrote afterwards his excellent poem upon the procured. Of the King's condescension he death of Cowley, whom he was not long to surhas given an account in the dedication of his vive; for on the 19th of March, 1668, he was works.
buried by his side. He was afterwards employed in carrying on Denham is deservedly considered as one of the the King's correspondence; and, as he says, fathers of English poetry. “Denham and Waldischarged this office with great safety to the ler,” says Prior, improved our versification, and royalists: and, being accidentally discovered Dryden perfected it.” He has given specimens of by the adverse party's knowledge of Mr. Cow various composition, descriptive, ludicrous, didacley's hand, he escaped happily both for himself | tic, and sublime. and his friends.
He appears to have had, in common with alHe was yet engaged in a greater undertaking. most all mankind, the ambition of being upon In April, 1648, he conveyed James the duke of proper occasions “a merry fellow," and in comYork from London into France, and delivered mon with most of them, to have been by nature, him there to the queen and prince of Wales. or by carly habits, debarred from it. Nothing is This year he published his translation of “Cato less exhilarating than the ludicrousness of DenMajor.”
ham; he does not fail for want of efforts: he is He now resided in France as one of the fol- familiar, he is gross; but he is never merry, unlowers of the exiled king; and, to divert the less the “Speech against Peace in the close melancholy of their condition, was sometimes Committee” be excepted. For grave burlesque, enjoined by his master to write occasional ver- however, his imitation of Davenant shows him ses; one of which amusements was probably his to be well qualified. ode or song upon the embassy to Poland, by Of his more elevated occasional poems, there is which he and Lord Crofts procured a contribu- perhaps none that does not deserve commendation of ten thousand pounds from the Scotch tion. In the verses to Fletcher, we have an that wandered over that kingdom. Poland was image that has since been often adopted : at that time very much frequented by itinerant
But whither am I stray'd ? I need not raise traders, who, in a country of very little com Trophies to thee, from other men': dispraise ; merce and of great extent, where every man re Nor is thy fame on lesser ruins built, sided on his own estate, contributed very much
Nor need thy juster title the foul guilt
of Eastern kings, who, to secure their reign, to the accommodation of life, by bringing to Must have their brothers, sons, and kindred slain. every man's house those little necessaries which After Denham, Orrery, in one of his prologues, it was very inconvenient to want, and very troublesome to fetch. I have formerly read, Poets are sultans, if they had their will;
For every author would his brother kill.
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, the success of this negotiation gives sufficient Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne. evidence. About this time, what estate the war and the excelled by his poem to Fanshaw, and his Elegy
But this is not the best of his little pieces: it is gamesters had left him, was sold by order of the
on Cowley: parliament; and when, in 1652, he returned to
His praise of Fanshaw's version of Guarini England, he was entertained by the earl of Pembroke.
* In Grammont's Memoirs, many circumstances are Of the next years of his life there is no ac
related, both of his marriage and his frenzy, very little count. At the restoration he obtained that favourable to his character.-R. which many missed-the reward of his loyalty ; It is remarkable that Johnson should not have re. being made surveyor of the king's buildings, and collected, that this image is to be found in Bacon. Aris
toteles more othomannoram, regna ; re se haud tuto dignified with the order of the Bath. He seems
posse putabat, nisi fratres suos, omnes contra udasset. now to have learned some attention to monoy ; . De augment. scient. lib. iii.
ON THE THAMES.
contains a very sprightly and judicious charac- | lation from the drudgery of counting lines and ter of a good translator:
interpreting single words. How much this ser. That servile path thou nobly dost decline,
vile practice obscured the clearest and deformed of tracing word by word and line
the most beautiful parts of the ancient authors, Those are the labour'd birth of slavish brains, may be discovered by a perusal of our earlier Not the effect of poetry, but pains;
versions; some of them are the works of men Cheap vulgar aris, whose narrowness affords No fight for thoughts, but poorly sticks at words.
well qualified, not only by critical knowledge, A new and nobler way thou dost pursue,
but by poetical genius, who yet by a mistaken To make translations and translators too.
ambition of exactness, degraded at once their They but preserve the ashes; thou the flame, originals and themselves. True to his sense, but truer to his fame.
Denham saw the better way, but has not purThe excellence of these lines is greater, as the sued it with great success. His versions of truth which they contain was not at that time Virgil are not pleasing; but they taught Dry. generally known.
den to please better. His poetical imitation of His poem on the death of Cowley was his last, Tully on “Old Age” has neither the clearness and, among his shorter works, his best perform- of prose, nor the sprightliness of poetry. ance: the numbers are musical, and the thoughts The “strength of Denham,” which Pope so are just.
emphatically mentions, is to be found in many “Cooper's Hill” is the work that confers lines and couplets, which convey much meaning upon him the rank and dignity of an original in few words, and exhibit the sentiment with author. He seems to have been, at least among more weight than bulk. us, the author of a species of composition that may be denominated local poetry, of which the fundamental subject is some particular land
Though with those streams he no resemblance hold
Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold; scape, to be poetically described, with the addition of such embellishments as may be supplied
His genuine and less guilty wealth i' explore,
Search not his bottom, but survey his shore. by historical retrospection or incidental meditation.
ON STRAFFORD. To trace a new scheme of poetry, has in itself His wisdom such, at once it did appear a very high claim to praise, and its praise is yet
Three kingdoms' wonder, and three kingdoms' fear,
While single he stood forth, and seem'd, although more when it is apparently copied by Garth and Each had an army, as an equal foe, Pope ;* after whose names little will be gained Such was his force of eloquence, to make by an enumeration of smaller poets, that have
The hearers more concern'd than he that spake: left scarcely a corner of the island not dignified
Each seem'd to act that part he came to see,
And none was more a looker-on than he ; either by rhyme or blank verse.
So did he move our passions, some were known “Cooper's Hill,” if it be maliciously inspect To wish, for the defence, the crime their own. ed, will not be found without its faults. "The
Now private pity strove with public hate, digressions are too long, the morality too fre
Reason with rage, and eloquence with sate. quent, and the sentiments sometimes such as
ON COWLEY. will not bear a rigorous inquiry.
To him no author was unknown, The four verses, which, since Dryden has Yet what he wrote was all his own; commended them, almost every writer for a cen
Horace's wit, and Virgil's state,
He did not steal, but emulate ! tury past has imitated, are generally known:
And when he would like them appear, 0, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
Their garb, but not their clothes, did wear.
As one of Denham's principal claims to the Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.
regard of posterity arises from his improvement The lines are in themselves not perfect: for of our numbers, his versification ought to be conmost of the words, thus artfully opposed, are to arises from the observation of a man of judg
It will afford that pleasure which be understood simply on one side of the campai ment, naturally right
, forsaking bad.copies by there be any language that does not express in- tice as he gains more confidence in himself. tellectual operations by material images, into
In his translation of Virgil, written when he that language they cannot be translated. But so much meaning is comprised in so few words; found the old manner of continuing the sense
was about twenty-one years old, may be still the particulars of resemblances are so perspicaciously collected, and every mode of excellence ungracefully from verse to verse:
-Then all those separated from its adjacent fault by so nice a
Who in the dark our fury did escape, line of limitation; the different parts of the sen
Returning, know our borrow'd arms, and shape, tence are so accurately adjusted ; and the flow And differing dialect ; then their numbers sweil of the last couplet is so smooth and sweet ; that And grow upon us; first Choræbeus sell the passage, however celebrated, has not been
Before Minerva's altar: next did bleed
Just Ripheus, whom no Trojan did exceed praised above its merit. It has beauty peculiar
In virtue ; yet the gods his fate decreed. to itself, and must be numbered among those fe Then Hypanis and Dymas, wounded by licities, which cannot be produced at will by wit Their friends ; nor thee, Pantheus, thy piety, and labour, but must arise unexpectedly in some
Nor consecrated mitre, from the same
III fate could save, my country's funeral flam hour propitious to poetry.
And Troy's cold ashes I attest, and call He appears to have bren one of the first that To witness for myself, that in their fall understood the necessity of emancipating trans No foes, no death, nor danger, I deciin'd,
Did, and deserv'd no less, my fate to find.
From this kind of concatenated metre he * By Garth, in his "Poern on Claremont;" and by Pope, in his " Windsor Forest."
afterwards refrained, and taught his followers
the act of concluding their sense in couplets ;
-Troy confounded falls which has perhaps been with rather too much
From all her glories : if it might have stood
By any power, by this right hand it should. constancy pursued.
- And though my outward state misfortune hath This passage exhibits one of those triplets Deprest thus low, it cannot reach my faith. which are not unfrequent in this first essay; but
-Thus, by his fraud and our own faith o'ercome, which it is to be supposed his maturer judgment
A feigned tear destroys us, against whom
Tydides nor Achilles could prevail, disapproved, since in his latter work's he has
Nor ten years conflict, nor a thousand sail totally forborne them.
His rhymes are such as seem found without He is not very careful to vary the ends of his difficulty, by following the sense; and are for verses; in one passage the word die rhymes the most part as exact at least as those of other three couplets in six. poets, though now and then the reader is shifted Most of these petty faults are in his first prooff with what he can get :
ductions, where he was less skilful, or at least O how transform'd !
less dexterous in the use of words; and though How much unlike that Hector, who return'd they had been more frequent, they could only Clad in Achilles' spoils !
have lessoned the grace, not the strength, of his And again :
composition. He is one of the writers that imFrom thence thousand lesser poets sprung
proved our taste, and advanced our language; Like peuy princes from the fall of Rome.
and whom we ought therefore to read with graSometimes the weight of rhyme is laid upon a titude, though, having done much, he left much word too feeble to sustain it.
The life of Milton has been already written in Philips, who came from Shrewsbury, and rose so many forms, and with such minute inquiry, in the Crown-office to be secondary: by him, that I might perhaps more properly have con- she had two sons, John and Edward, who were tented myself with the addition of a few notes on educated by the poet, and from whom is derived Mr. Fenton's elegant Abridgment, but that a the only authentic account of his domestic mannew narrative was thought necessary to the uni- ners. formity of this edition.
John, the poet, was born in his father's house, John Milton was by birth a gentleman, de- at the Spread Eagle, in Bread-street, Dec. 9, scended from the proprietors of Milton, near 1608, between six and seven in the morning
Thame, in Oxfordshire, one of whom forfeited His father appears to have been very solicitous his estate in the times of York and Lancaster. about his education; for he was instructed at Which side he took I know not; his descend- first by private tuition, under the care of Tho ant inherited no veneration for the White Rose. mas Young, who was afterwards chaplain to the
His grandfather, John, was keeper of the English merchants at Hamburg, and of whom forest of Shotover, a zealous papist, who disin- we have reason to think well, since his scholar herited his son because he had forsaken the re-considered him as worthy of an epistolary elegy. ligion of his ancestors.
He was then sent to St. Paul's School, under His father, John, who was the son disinherit the care of Mr. Gill; and removed, in the begined, had recourse for his support to the profession ning of his sixteenth year, to Christ's College, in of a scrivener. He was a man eminent for his Cambridge, where he entered a sizar,* Feb. 12, skill in music, many of his compositions being 1624. still to be found; and his reputation in his pro He was at this time eminently skilled in the fession was such, that he grew rich, and retired Latin tongue; and he himself, by annexing the to an estate. He had probably more than com- dates to his first compositions, a boast of which mon literature, as his son addresses him in one the learned Politian had given him an example, of his most elaborate Latin poems. He married seems to commend the earliness of his own proa gentlewoman of the name of Caston, a Welsh ficiency to the notice of posterity. But the profamily, by whom he had two sons, John, the ducts of his vernal fertility have been surpassed poet, and Christopher, who studied the law, and by many, and particularly by his contemporary adhered, as the law taught him, to the King's Cowley. Of the powers of the mind it is difficult party, for which he was a while persecuted ; but to form an estimate : many have excelled Milton having, by his brother's interest, obtained per- in their first essays, who never rose to works like mission to live in quiet, he supported himself so Paradise Lost. honourably by chamber-practice, that, soon after the accession of King James, he was
* In this assertion Dr. Johnson was mistaken. Milion knighted, and made a judge ; but, his constitution being too weak for business, he retired be- by the following extract from the College Register,
was admitted a pensioner, and not a sizar, as will appear fore any disreputable compliances became ne "Johannes Milton Londinensis, filius Johannis, institus cessary.
tus suit in literarum elementis sub Mag'ro Gill Gymnasii He had likewise a daughter, Anne, whom he Feb. 12°, 1624, sub M'ro Chappell, solvitq. pro Ingr.
Paulini, præfecto ; admissus, est Pensionarius Minor married with considerable fortune to Edward 01. 108, Ód."-R.
At fifteen, a date which he uses till he is six- of education, inscribed to Hartlib, supersedes all teen, he translated or versified two Psalms, 114 academical instruction, being intended to comand 136, which he thought worthy of the public prise the whole time which men usually spend in eye; but they raise no great expectations; they literature, from their entrance upon grammar, would in any numerous school have obtained" till they proceed, as it is called, masters of arts." praise, but not excited wonder.
And in his discourse “ on the likeliest way to reMany of his elegies appear to have been writ- move hirelings out of the church,” he ingeniously ten in his eighteenth year, by which it appears proposes, that “the profits of the lands forfeited that he had then read the Roman authors with by the act for superstitious uses should be applied very nice discernment. I once heard Mr. Hamp: to such academies, all over the land, where lanton, the translator of Polybius, remark, what Iguages and arts may be tanght together; so that think is true, that Milton was the first Englishman youth may be at once brought up to a competency who, after the revival of letters, wrote Latin verses of learning and an honest trade, by which means, with classic elegance. If any exceptions can be such of them as had the gift, being enabled to made, they are very few : Haddon and Ascham, support themselves (without tithes) by the latter, the pride of Elizabeth's reign, however they have may, by the help of the former, become worthy succeeded in prose, no sooner attempt verse than preachers.” they provoke derision. If we produced any thing One of his objections to academical education, worthy of notice before the elegies of Milton, it as it was then conducted, is, that men designed was perhaps Alabaster's Roxana. *
for orders in the church were permitted to act Of the exercises which the rules of the Univer- plays, “writhing and unboning their clergy sity required, some were published by him in his limbs to all the antic and dishonest gestures of maturer years. They had been undoubtedly Trincalos, * buffoons, and bawds, prostituting the applauded, for they were such as few can per- shame of that ministry which they had, or were form; yet there is reason to suspect that he was near having, to the eyes of the courtiers and court regarded in his college with no great fondness. ladies, their grooms and mademoiselles.” That he obtained no fellowship is certain ; but This is sufficiently peevish in a man who, the unkindness with which he was treated when he mentions his exile from the college, rewas not merely negative. I am ashamed to lates, with great luxuriance, the compensation relate, what I fear is true, that Milton was one which the pleasures of the theatre afford him. of the last students either University that suf- Plays were therefore only criminal when they fered the public indignity of corporal correction. were acted by academics.
It was, in the violence of controversial hostility, He went to the University with a design of objected to him, that he was expelled: this he entering into the church, but in time altered his steadily denies, and it was apparently not true; mind; for he declared, that whoever became a but it seems plain, from his own verses to Diodati
, clergyman must "subscribe slave, and take an that he had incurred rustication, a temporary dis- oath withal, which, unless he took with a conmission into the country, with perhaps the loss science that could not retch, he must straight perof a term:
jure himself. He thonght it better to prefer a Me tenet urbs refluè quam Thamesis allust unde,
blameless silence before the office of speaking, Meque nec invitum, patria dulcis habet.
bought and begun with servitude and forswearJam nec arundiferum mihi cura revisere Camum, ing."
Nec dudum veliti me laris angit amor.-Nec duri liber usque minas perferre magistri,
These expressions are, I find, applied, to the Cæteraque ingenio non subeunda meo.
subscription of the Articles; but it seems more Si sit hoc erilium patrios adilisse penales,
probable that they relate to canonical obedience. Et vacuum curis otia grata sequi,
know not any of the Articles which seem to Non ego vel profugi nomen cortemve recuso Lætus et exilii conditione fruor.
thwart his opinions: but the thoughts of obedience,
whether canonical or civil, raised his indigI cannot find any meaning but this, which even nation. kindness and reverence can give the term vetiti
His unwillingness to engage in the ministry, laris, “a habitation from which he is excluded;" perhaps not yet advanced to a settled resolution or how exile can be otherwise interpreted. He of declining it, appears in a letter to one of his declares yet more, that he is weary of enduring friends, who had reproved his suspended and the threats of a rigorous master, and something else, dilatory life, which he seems to have imputed to which a temper like his cannot undergo. What an insatiable curiosity, and fantastic luxury of was more than threat was probably punishment. various knowledge. To this he writes a cool and This poem, which mentions his erile, proves plausible answer, in which he endeavours to perlikewise that it was not perpetual : for it con- suade him, that the delay proceeds not from the cludes with a resolution of returning some time delights of desultory study, but from the desire of to Cambridge. And it may be conjectured from obtaining more fitness for his task ; and that he the willingness with which he has perpetuated goes on, not taking thought of being late, so it the memory of his exile, that its cause was such gives advantage to be more fit.”. as gave him no shame.
When he left the University, he returned to his He took both the usual degrees; that of father, then residing at Horton, in Buckinghambachelor in 1628, and that of master in 1632 ; but shire, with whom he lived five years, in which he left the University with no kindness for its institution, alienated either by the injudicious seve
* By the mention of this name, he evidently refers to rity of his governors, or his own captious per- Albemazor, acted at Cambridge in 1614. Ignoramus and
The cause cannot now be known, other plays were performed at the same time. The but the effect appears in his writings. His scheme practice was then very frequent. The last dramaric per.
formance at either University was " The Grateful Fair,"
written by Christopher Smart, and represented at Pem. * Published 1632.-R.
broke College, Cambridge, about 1747.-R.
time he is said to have read all the Greek and residing at the French court as ambassador from Latin writers. With what limitations this uni- Christiana of Sweden. From Paris ne hasted versality is to be understood, who shall inform into Italy, of which he had with particular dilius ?
gence studied the language and literature; and It might be supposed, that he who read so though he seems to have intended a very quick much should have done nothing else; but Mil- perambulation of the country, stayed two months ton found time to write the mask of “Comus,” at Florence; where he found his way into the which was presented at Ludlow, then the resi- academies, and produced his compositions with dence of the Lord President of Wales, in 1634; such applause as appears to have exalted him in and had the honour of being acted by the Earl of his own opinion, and confirmed him in the hope, Bridgewater's sons and daughter. The fiction is that,“ by labour and intense study, which,” says derived from Homer's Circe ;* but we never can he, “I take to be my portion in this life, joined refuse to any modern the liberty of borrowing with a strong propensity of nature,” he might from Homer:
“leave something so written to aftertimes, as they
should not willingly let it die.”
It appears in all his writings that he had the
usual concomitant of great abilities, a lofty and His next production was “Lycidas,", an ele- steady confidence in himself, perhaps not without gy, written in 1637, on the death of Mr. King, some contempt of others; for scarcely any man the son of Sir John King, secretary for Ireland ever wrote so much, and praised so few. Of his in the time of Elizabeth, James, and Charles. praise he was very frugal; as he set its value King was much a favourite at Cambridge, and high, and considered his mention of a name as a many of the wits joined to do honour to his me security against the waste of time, and a certain mory. Milton's acquaintance with the Italian preservative from oblivion. writers may be discovered by a mixture of longer At Florence he could not, indeed, complain that and shorter verses, according to the rules of Tus- his merit wanted distinction. Carlo Dati pre can poetry, and his malignity to the church, by sented him with an encomiastic inscription, in the some lines which are interpreted as threatening tumid lapidary style ; and Francini wrote him an its extermination.
ode, of which the first stanza is only empty noise; He is supposed about this time to have written the rest are perhaps too diffuse on common his “ Arcades ;" for, while he lived at Horton, he topics : but the last is natural and and beautiful. used sometimes to steal from his studies a few
From Florence he went to Sienna, and from days, which he spent at Harefield, the house of Sienna to Rome, where he was again received the Countess-dowager of Derby, where the “Ar- with kindness by the learned and the great. cades” made part of a dramatic entertainment. Holstenius, the keeper of the Vatican Library,
He began now to grow weary of the country, who had resided three years at Oxford, introduand had some purpose of taking chambers in the ced him to Cardinal Barberini: and he, at a muInns of Court, when the death of his mother set sical entertainment, waited for him at the door, him at liberty to travel, for which he obtained his and led him by the hand into the assembly father's consent, and Sir Henry Wotton's direc- Here Selvaggi praised him in a distich, and tions; with the celebrated precept of prudence, Salsilli in a tetrastic; neither of them of much i vensieri stretti, ed il viso, sciolto ; " thoughts value. The Italians were gainers by this liteclose, and looks loose.”
rary commerce ; for the encomiums with which In 1638 he left England, and went first to Milton repaid Salsilli, though not secure against Paris; where, by the favour of Lord Scudamore, a stern grammarian, turn the balance indispuhe had the opportunity of visiting Grotius, then tably in Milton's favour.
of these Italian testimonies, poor as they are, * It has, nevertheless, its foundation in reality. The he was proud enough to publish them before his 1631, had his residence at Ludlow Castle, in Shropshire, poems; though he says, he cannot be suspected at which time Lord Brackly and Mr. Egerton, his sous, but to have known that they were said non tam and Lady Alice Egerton, his daughter, passing through a de se, quam supra se. place called the Haywood forest,or Haywoud, in Hereford. shire, were benighted, and the lady for a short time lost :
At Rome, as at Florence, he stayed only two this accident being related to their father, upon their ar- months; a time indeed sufficient, if he desired rival at his castle, Milton, at the request of his friend, only to ramble with an explainer of its antiquiHenry Lawes, who taught music in the family, wrote ties, or to view palaces and count pictures; but this mask. Michaelmas night; the two brothers, the young lady, certainly too short for the contemplation of learnand Lawes himself, bearing each a part in the represen ing, policy, or manners.
From Rome he passed on to Naples, in comThe Lady Alice Egerton became afterwards the wife of the Earl of Carbury, who at his seat called Golden pany of a hermit, a companion from whom little grove, in Caermarthenshire, harboured Dr. Jeremy I could be expected; yet to him Milton owed his Taylor in the time of the usurpation. Among the Doc- introduction to Manso, Marquis of Villa, who tor's sermons is one on her death, in which her character had been before the patron of Tasso. Manso is finely portrayed. Her sister, Lady Mary, was given was enough delighted with his accomplishments in marriage to Lord Herbert, of Cherbury.
Notwithstanding Dr. Johnson's assertion, that the fic to honour him with a sorry distich, in which he tion is derived from Homer's Circe, it may be conjec commends him for every thing but his religion: tured, that it was rather taken from the Comus of Erycius and Milton, in return, addressed him in a Latin character of Comus and his attendants is delineated, poem, which must have raised a high opinion of and the delights of sensualists exposed and reprobated. English elegance and literature. This little tract was published at Louvain in 1611, and afterwards at Oxford in 1634, the very year in which and Greece; but, hearing of the differences be.
His purpose was now to have visited Sicily Milton evidently was indebted to the “Old Wives tween the King and Parliament, he thought it Tale” of George Peele for the plan or “ Comus.”-R. proper to hasten home, rather than pass his life