« AnteriorContinuar »
“ in the midst of his martial toil confessed, that he “ laboured but to gain an eulogy from Athens, I
may think myself fortunate indeed, and esteem it
as the highest honour, to be thus commended by " the man in whom alone the genius and virtue of “ the ancient Athenians seem, after so long an in“ terval, to revive and flourish. As your city has “ produced many most eloquent men, I am per
fectly willing to confess, that whatever proficiency I have made in literature is chiefly owing to
my long and incessant study of their works. Had “ I acquired from them such powers of language
as might enable me to stimulate our fleets and “ armies to deliver Greece, the native seat of elo
quence, from the tyranny of the Turks (a splen“ did enterprize, for which you almost seem to im
plore our assistance) I would assuredly do what “ would then be among the first objects of my
de. “ fire ; for what did the bravest or most eloquent
men of antiquity consider as more glorious or “ more worthy of themselves, than by persuasive
eloquentiffimi gloriofius aut fe dignius effe duxerunt, quam vel
“ language or bold exploits to render the Greeks “ free, and their own legislators.” He closes his letter by observing very justly, that “ it is first “ neceflary to kindle in the minds of the modern “ Greeks the spirit and virtue of their ancestors,” (politely adding) that “ if this could be accomplish“ ed by any man, it might be most reasonably exso
pected from the patriotic enthusiasm, and the ex
perience, civil and military, of his accomplished “ correspondent." This letter is dated June, 1652. Milton had foon afterwards the gratification of a visit from this liberal Athenian, who took so tender an interest in the blindness of his friend, that, on his return to Paris, he wrote to him on the subject, The following answer of Milton relates the particulars of his disorder, and shews at the same time with what cheerful magnanimity he supported it.
* To Leonard Philaras.
“ As I have cherished from my childhood (if ever mortal did) a reverential fondness for the
* Leonardo Philaræ Athenienfi. Cum fim a pueritia totius Græci nominis, tuarumque in primis Athenarum cultor, fi quis alius, tum una hoc semper mihi perfuafiffimum habebam, fure ut illa urbs præclaram aliquando redditura vicem esset benevolentiæ erga fe meæ. Neque defuit fane tuæ patriæ noblisfimæ antiquus ille genius augurio meo : deditque te nobis et germanum Atticum et noftri amantiffimum ; qui me, scriptis duntaxat notum, et locis ipse disjunctus, humaniffime per literas compellens et Londinum poftea inopinatuş adveniens, visensque non videntem, etiam in ea calamitate, propter quam conspectior nemini, despectior multis fortassis fim, eadem
Grecian name, and for your native Athens in par-
benevolentiâ prosequaris. Cum itaque aüthor mihi fis, ut visus recuperandi spem omnem ne abjiciam, habere te amicum ac neceffarium tuum Parifis Tevenotum medicum, in curandis præfertim oculis præftantiffimum, quem sis de meis luminibus consulturus, fi modo acceperis a me unde is caufas morbi et symtomata poffit intelligere ; faciam equidem quod hortaris, ne oblatam undecunque divinitus fortaffis opem repudiare videar. Decennium, opinor, plus minus eft, ex quo debilitari atque, hebefcere visum sensi, eodemque tempore lumen, visceraque omnja gravari, flatibufque vexari; et mane quidem, fi quid pro more legere cæpiffem, oculi ftatim penitus dolere, lectionemque refugere, poft mediocrem deinde corporis exercitationem recreari ; quam aspexiffem lucernam, iris quædam vifa eft redimere; haud ita multo poft finiftrâ in parte oculi finiftri (is enim oculus aliquot annis prius altera nubilavit) caligo oborta, quæ ad latus illud fita erant, omnia eripiebat. Anteriora quoque, fi dexterum forte oculum claufiffem, minora visa sunt. Deficiente per hoc fere triennium sensim atque paulatim altero quoque lumine, aliquot ante mensibus quam visus omnis aboleretur, quæ immotus ipse cernerem, vifa funt omnia nunc dextrorfum nunc finiftrorsum natare ; frontem totam atque tempora inveterati quidem vapores videntur insediffe ; qui fomnolentâ quadam gravitate oculos, a cibo "præfertim usque ad vefperam, plerumque urgent atque deprimunt ; ut mihi haud raro veniat irr mentem Salmydesfii vatis Phinei in Argonauticis :
κάρος δέ μιν αμφεχάλυψεν
Sed neque illud omiferim, dum adhuc visûs aliquantulum fupere-
at some period I should receive from that city a very signal return for my benevolent regard: nor has the ancient genius of your most noble country failed to realize my presage; he has given me in you an At. tic brother, and one most tenderly attached to me. Though I was known to you only by my writings, and though your residence was far distant from mine, you first addressed me in the most engaging terms by letter; and afterwards coming unexpected. ly to London, and visiting the stranger, who had no eyes to see you, continued your kindness to me under that calamity, which can render me a more eligible friend to no one, and to many, perhaps, may make me an object of disregard. impetu et fragore quodam intimo exilire ; nunc autem, quafi extincto lucido, merus nigror, aut cineraceo distin&us, et quafi intextus folet fe affundere: caligo tamen quæ perpetuo observatur, tam noctu, quam interdiu albenti semper quam nigricanti proprior videtur ; et volvente se oculo aliquantulum lucis quafi per rimulam admittit. Ex quo tametfi medico tantundem quoque Spei possit elucere, tamen ut in re plane infanabili ita me paro atque compono; illudque fæpe cogito, cum deftinati cuique dies tenebrarum, quod monet sapiens multi fint, meas adhuc tenebras, fingulari numinis benignitate, inter otium et studia, vocesque amicorum, et salutationes, illis lethalibus multo effe mitiores. Quod fi, ut scriptum est, non solo pane vivit homo, fed omni verbo prodeunte per os Dei, quid est, cur quis in hoc itidem non acquiescat, non folis fe oculis, sed Dei ductu an providentiæ fatis oculatum esse. Sane dummodo ipfe mihi profpicit, ipse mihi providet, quod facit, meque per omnem vitam quafi manu ducit atque deducit, ne ego meos oculos, quandoquidem ipfi fic Fisum est, libens feriari jussero. Teque, mi Philara, quocunque res cecidit, non minus forti et confirmato animo, quam ft Lynceus essem, valere jubeo. Weftmonafterio, Septemb. 28, 1654.
Profe Works, Vol. II. p. 577
“ Since, therefore, you request me not to reject all hope of recovering my fight, as you have an intimate friend at Paris, in Thevenot the physician, who excels particularly in relieving ocular complaints, and whom you wilh to consult concerning my eyes, after receiving from me such an account as may enable him to understand the source and symptoms of my disorder, I will certainly follow your kind suggestion, that I may not appear to reject alfistance thus offered me, perhaps providentially.
“ It is about ten years, I think, fince I perceived my fight to grow weak and dim, finding at the fame time my intestines afflicted with flatulence and oppression.
“ Even in the morning, if I began as usual to read, my eyes immediately suffered pain, and seemed to shrink from reading, but, after some moderate bodily exercise, were refreshed; whenever I looked at a candle I saw a sort of iris around it. Not long afterwards, on the left side of
eye (which began to fail some years before the other) a darkness arose, that hid from mé all things on that side ;If I chanced to close my right eye, whatever was before me seemed diminished. In the last three years, as my remaining eye failed by degrees some months before my fight was utterly gone, all things that I could discern, though I moved not myself, appeared to fluctuate, now to the right, now to the left. Obstinate vapours seem to have settled all over my forehead and my temples, overwhelming my eyes with a sort of sleepy heaviness, especially after food, till the evening ; so that I frequently recollect I 2