Imágenes de páginas

querable integrity of character, by which he was distinguished through all the vicissitudes of a tempestuous life. His reverential gratitude and affection towards this preceptor are recorded in two Latin epistles *, and a Latin elegy addressed to him : they


* The high opinion, which Milton entertained of his preceptor, is so gracefully expressed in one of these letters, that I félect it as a specimen of his epiftolary style in the early period of life.

Thomæ Junio. Inspectis literis tuis (preceptor optime) unicum hoc mihi supervacaneum occurrebat, quod tardæ fcriptionis excufationem attuleris ; tametfi enim literis tuis nihil mihi queat optabilius accedere, qui poffim tamen aut debeam sperare otii tibi tantum à rebus feriis, et fanctioribus effe, ut mihi femper respondere vacet ; præfertim cum illud humanitatis omnino fit, officii minime. Te vero oblitum effe mei ut fufpicer, tam multa tua de me recens merita nequaquam finunt. Neque enim video quorsum tantis onuftum beneficiis ad oblivionem dimitteres. Rus tuum accerfitus, fimul ac ver adoleverit, libenter adveniam, ad capessendas anni tuique non minus colloquii delicias, et ab urbano ftrepitu subducam me paulifper, ad ftoam tuam Icenorum, tanquam ad celeberrimam illam Zenonis porticum aut Ciceronis Tusculanum, ubi tu in re modica regio sane animo veluti Serranus aliquis aut Curius in agello tuo placide regnas, deque ipfis divitiis, ambitione, pompa, luxuriâ, et quicquid vulgus hominum miratur et stupet, quasi triumphum agis fortunæ contenptor. Cæterum qui tarditatis culpam deprecatus es, hanc mihi viciflim, ut spero, præcipitantiam indulgebis ; cum enim epistolam hanc in extremum diftuliffem, malui pauca, eaque rudiuscule fcribere, quam nihil.- Vale vir observande.

Cantabrigia, Julii 21, 1628.

[ocr errors]

In perusing your letters, my excellent preceptor, this only appeared to me superfluous, that you apologize for a delay in writing; for although nothing can be more desirable to me B


[ocr errors]

suggest a most favourable idea of the poet's native
disposition, and furnish an effectual antidote to the
poison of that most injurious assertion, that " he
hated all whom he was required to obey."-Could
untractable pride be the characteristic of a mind,
which has expressed its regard for a disciplinarian
sufficiently rigid, with a tenderness fo conspicuous
in the following verses of the fourth Elegy?
Vivit ibi antiquæ clarus pietatis honore,

Præful, chrifticolas pascere doctus oves;
Ille quidem eft animæ plusquam pars altera noftræ,

Dimidio vitæ vivere cogor ego.
Hei mihi quot pelagi, quot montes interjecti,
Me faciunt aliâ parte carere mei!


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

than your letters, yet what right have I to hope, that your ferious and facred duties can allow


such leisure, that you can always find time enough to answer me, especially when your writing is entirely an act of kindness, and by no means of duty, The many and recent favours I have received from

will by

you no means suffer me to fufpe&t that you can forget me; nor can I conceive it possible that, having loaded me with such benefits, you should now dismiss me from your remembrance. I shall willingly attend your fummons to your rural retirement on the first appearance of spring, to enjoy with equal relish the delights of the season and of your conversation. I shall withdraw myself for a little time from the bustle of the city to your porch in Suffolk, as to the famous portico of the Stoic, or the Tusculum of Cicero, where, ennobling a moderate estate by an imperial mind, you reign contentedly in your little field, like a Serranus or a Curius, and triumph, as it were, over opulence, ambition, pomp, luxury (and whatever is idolized by the herd of men) by looking down upon fortune : but as you excufe yourself for delay, let me hope that you will forgive me for hafte, fince, having deferred this letter to the last moment, I chose to send a few lines, though not very accurately written, rather than to be filent. Farewell my revered friend.

Charior ille mihi, quam tu, doctiffime Graium,

Cliniadi, pronepos qui Telamonis erat;
Quamque Stagyrites generoso magnus alumno,

Quem peperit Lybico Chaonis alma Jovi.
Qualis Amyntorides, qualis Phylirëius heros

Myrmidonum regi, talis et ille mihi.
Primus ego Aonios illo præunte recessus

'Lustrabam, et bifidi facra vireta jugi,
Pieriofque hausi latices, Clioque favente,

Castalio fparfi læta ter ora mero.
There lives, deep learn'd, and primitively just,
A faithful steward of his Chriftian trust;
My friend, and favourite inmate of my heart,
That now is forc'd to want its better part.
What mountains now, and seas, alas ! how wide !
Me from my other, dearer self divide !
Dear as the fage, renown'd for moral truth,
To the prime spirit of the Attic youth !
Dear as the Stagyrite to Ammon's fon,
His pupil, who disdain’d the world he won!
Nor so did Chiron, or fo Phoenix shine,
young Achilles'

eyes, as he in mine :
First led by him, thro' sweet Aonian fhade,
Each sacred haunt of Pindus I survey'd;
Explor'd the fountain, and the Mufe my guide,
Thrice steep'd my lips in the Caftalian tide.

And again, in expressing his regret upon the length of their separation : Nec dum ejus licuit mihi lumina pascere vultu,

Aut lingua dulces aure bibiffe fonos.
Nor yet his friendly features feast my fight,
Nor his sweet accents my fond ear delight.

As the tenderness of the young poet is admirably displayed in the beginning of this Elegy, his more



acknowledged characteristic, religious fortitude, is not less admirable in the close of it.

At tu sume animos, nec spes cadat anxia curis,

Nec tua concutiat decolor offa metus.
Sis etenim quamvis fulgentibus obfitus armis,

Intententque tibi millia tela necem,
At nullis vel inerme latus violabitur armis,

Deque tuo cuspis nulla cruore bibet ;
Namque eris ipse dei radiante sub ægide tutus,

Ille tibi custos, et pugil ille tibi :
Et tu (quod fupereft miferis) fperare memento,

Et tu magnanimo pectore vince mala;
Nec dubites quandoque frui melioribus annis,

Atque iterum patrios pofle videre lares.
But thou, take courage, strive against despair,
Shake not with dread, nor nourish anxious care.
What tho' grim war on every fide appears,
And thou art menac'd by a thousand spears,
Not one shall drink thy blood, not one offend
Ev'n the defenceless bofom of my friend;
For thee the ægis of thy God shall hide;
Jehovah's self shall combat on thy fide;
Thou, therefore, as the most afflicted may,
Still hope, and triumph o'er thy' evil day;
Trust thou shalt yet behold a happier time,
And yet again enjoy thy native clime.

The reader, inclined to fympathise in the joys of Milton, will be gratified in being informed, that his preceptor, whose exile and poverty he pathetically lamented, and whose prosperous return he predicted, was in a few years restored to his country, and beeame Master of Jesus College, in Cambridge.


[ocr errors]

As the year in which he quitted England (1623) corresponds with the fifteenth year of his pupil's age, it is probable that Milton was placed, at that time, under the care of Mr. Gill and his son; the former, chief master of St. Paul's school, the latter, his assistant, and afterwards his successor. It is remarkable, that Milton, who has been so uncandidly represented as an uncontroulable fpirit, and a spurner of all just authority, seems to have contracted a tender attachment to more than one disciplinarian concerned in his education. He is said to have been the favourite scholar of the younger Gill; and he has left traces of their friendship in three Latin epistles, that express the highest esteem for the literary character and poetical talents of his in. structor.

On the 12th of February, 1624, he was entered, not as a fizer, which some of his biwgraphers have erroneously asserted, but as a pensioner of Christ's College, in Cambridge.

66 At this time," says Doctor Johnson, “ he was eminently skilled in the “ Latin tongue, and he himself, by annexing the $6 dates to his first compositions, a boast of which “ the learned Politian had given him an example, $6 seems to commend the earliness of his own prosa ficiency to the notice of posterity; but the pro“ ducts of his vernal fertility have been surpassed

by many, and particularly by his contemporary,

Cowley. Of the powers of the mind it is diffi“ cult to form an estimate; many have excelled 56 Milton in their first essays, who never rose to 4 works like Paradise Loft."


« AnteriorContinuar »