This is a poetry book. Milton’s social position can be inferred from the fact that his father was what was then called a scrivener, — that is, he kept an office in his dwelling, and was employed to draw up contracts, wills, and other legal documents. This occupation [xii] implied knowledge at least of the forms of the law, though not of its history or principles. It did not imply liberal education, though it brought its practitioner, doubtless, more or less into contact with men of really professional standing in the science of jurisprudence. Perhaps the elder Milton cherished a deeper conviction of the value of classic culture than do those who simply inherit, and take as a matter of course, the custom of devoting years to the study of ancient languages and literatures. Evidently the father thought he saw in his son that promise of intellectual vigor and of sound moral stamina which justified the innovation, in his family, of sending his boy to the university. His preparation for college Milton got under private masters and at the famous public school of St. Paul’s, which was near his home. This preparation consisted chiefly in exercises in Latin composition and literature, and was both thorough and effectual. At sixteen, when he went to college, he had already composed Latin verse, and he read and wrote Latin with facility.