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many of his opinions, which must have had considerable influence on his moral character.

His fixth Elegy, addressed to his bofom friend, Charles Diodati, seems to be founded on the idea, which he may be said to have verified in his own conduct, that stri& habits of temperance and virtue are highly conducive to the perfection of great poetical powers. To poets of a lighter class he recommends, with graceful pleasantry, much convivial enjoyment; but for those who aspire to Epic renown, he prescribes even the simple regimen of Pythagoras.

Ille quidem parce, Samii pro more magistri,

Vivat, et innocuos præbeat herba cibos;
Stet prope fagineo pellucida lympha catillo,

Sobriaque e puro pocula fonte bibat.
Additur huic scelerisque vacans, et casta juventus,

Et rigidi mores, et sine labe manus.
Qualis vefte nitens facra, et luftralibus undis,

Surgis ad infensos, augur, iture Deos.
Simply let these, like him of Samos, live;
Let herbs to them a bloodless banquet give;
In beechen goblets let their beverage shine;
Cool from the crystal spring their sober wine ;
Their youth should pass in innocence, secure
From stain licentious, and in manners pure;
Pure as Heaven's minister, arrayed in white,
Propitiating the gods with luftral rite.

In his Elegy on the spring, our poet expresses the fervent emotions of his fancy in terms, that may be almost regarded as a prophetic defcription of his fublimest work:

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Jam mihi mens liquidi raptatur in ardua cæli,

Perque vagas nubes corpore liber eo; Intuiturque animus toto quid agatur Olympo,

Nec fugiunt oculos Tartara cæca meos.

I mount, and, undepressed by cumbrous clay,
Thro' cloudy regions win my easy way;
My spirit searches all the realms of light,
And no Tartarean depths elude my fight.

.

With these verses it may be pleasing to compare a fimilar passage in his English vacation exercise, where, addressing his native language, as applied to an inconsiderable purpose, he adds,

Yet I had rather, if I were to chuse,
Thy service in some graver subject use ;
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound ;
Such, where the deep transported mind may foar
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heay'n's door
Look in, and see each blissful deity,
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie.

" It is worth the curious reader's attention to obferve how much the Paradise Lost corresponds with this prophetic wish,” says Mr. Thyer, one of the most intelligent and liberal of English commentators. The

young poet, who thus expressed his ambition, was then in his nineteenth year. At the

At the age of twenty-one (the period of his life when that pleafing portrait of him was executed, which the Speaker Onslow obtained from the executors of his widow)

he

he composed his Ode on the Nativity; a poem that surpaffes in fancy and devotional fire a composition on the same subject by that celebrated and devout poet of Spain, Lopez de Vega.

The most trifling performances of Milton are so singular, that we may regret even the loss of the verses alluded to by Aubrey, as the offspring of his childhood. Perhaps no juvenile author ever displayed, with such early force,

• The spirit of a youth Who means to be of note.”

His mind, even in his boyish days, seems to have glowed, like the fancy and furnace of an alchymist, with incessant hope and preparation for astonishing productions.

Such austerity and moroseness have been falsely attributed to Milton, that a reader, acquainted with him only as he appears in the page of Johnson, must fuppose him little formed for love; but his poetry in general, and especially the compositions we are now speaking of, may convince us, that he felt, with the most exquisite fenfibility, the magic of beauty, and all the force of female attraction. His seventh Elegy exhibits a lively picture of his first passion; he represents himself as captivated by an unknown fair, who, though he saw her but for a moment, made a deep impression on his heart.

Protinus insoliti subierunt corda furores,

Uror amans intus, flammaque totus eram. Interea misero quæ jam mihi fola placebat.

Ablata est oculis non reditura meis.

Aft

Aft ego progredior tacite querebundus, et excors,

Et dubius volui fæpe referre pedem.
Findor et hæc remanet : fequitur pars altera votum,

Raptaque tam subito gaudia flere juvat.
A fever, new to me, of fierce desire
Now seiz'd my soul, and I was all on fire ;
But she the while, whom only. I adore,
Was gone, and vanish'd to appear no more :
In filent forrow I pursue my way;
I pause, I turn, proceed, yet wish to stay;
And while I follow her in thought, bemoan
With tears my soul's delight so quickly flown.

The juvenile poet then addresses himself to love, with a request that beautifully expresses all the inquietude, and all the irresolution, of hopeless attachment.

Deme meos tandem, verum nec deme, furores ;

Nescio cur, miser eft fuaviter omnis amans.

Remove, no, grant me still this raging woe;
Sweet is the wretchedness that lovers know.

After having contemplated the youthful fancy of Milton under the influence of a sudden and vehement affection, let us survey him in a different point of view, and admire the purity and vigour of mind, which he exerted at the age of twenty-three, in me. ditation on his past and his future days.

To a friend, who had remonstrated with him on his delay to enter upon active life, he afcribes that delay to an intense defire of rendering himself more fit for it. “ Yet (he says) that you may see that I am fomething suspicious of myselfe, and doe take

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you some of my night-ward “ thoughts, fome while since, becaufe they come in 65"

not altogether unfitly, made up in a Petrarchian “ stanza, which I told :

you of;"

How soon hath time, the fubtle thief of youth,

Stol’n on his wing my three and twentieth year!

My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom fhew'th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
That I to manhood am arriv'd so near,

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely happy spirits indu'th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or flow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even

To that same lot, however mean or high,
Towards which time leads me, and the will of heav'n ;

All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great task master's eye.

This fonnet may be regarded, perhaps, as a refutation of that injurious criticism, which has afferted, “ the best fonnets of Milton are entitled only to this negative commendation, that they are not bad ;” but it has a superior value, which induced me to introduce it here, as it seems to reveal the ruling principle, which gave bias and energy to the mind and conduct of Milton; I mean the habit, which he so early adopted, of considering himself

“ As ever in his great task master's eye.”

It was, perhaps, the force and permanency with which this persuasion was impressed on his heart,

that

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