Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rents; in friendship, ardent and steady; in love, though tender not intemperate; as a poet, sensible of his rare mental endowments, yet peculiarly modest in regard to his own productions ; enamoured of glory, yet as ready to bestow as anxious to merit praise; in his person and manners so fashioned to prepossess all men in his favour, that even fo‘reigners gave him credit for those high literary atchievements, which were to shed peculiar lustre on his latter days, and considered him already as a man, of whom his country might be proud.

With such accomplishments, and such expectations in his behalf, Milton returned to England. The subsequent portion of his life, however gloomy and tempestuous, will be found to correspond, at least in the close of it, with the radiant promise of his youth. We shall see him deferting his favourite haunts of Parnassus to enter the thorny paths of ecclesiastical and poetical dissention: his principles as a disputant will be condemned and approved, according to the prevalence of opposite and irreconcilable opinions, that fluctuate in the world ; but his upright consistency of conduct deserves applause from all honest and candid men of every persuasion. The muse, indeed, who had blessed him with fingu. lar endowments, and given him fo lively a sense of his being constituted a poet by nature, that when he wrote not verse, he had the use (to borrow his own forcible expression)" but of his left hand;" the Muse alone might have a right to reproach him with having acted against inward conviction; but

could

[ocr errors]

could his muse have visibly appeared to reprove his desertion of her service in a parental remonstrance, he might have answered her, as the young Harry of Shakespear answers the tender and keen reproof of his royal father,

« I will redeem all this,
« And in the closing of some glorious day
" Be bold to tell

you
that I

son."

am your

END OF THE FIRST PART.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

PART II.

INCONCUSSÅ TENENS DUBIO VESTIGIA MUNDO.

LUCAN.

THE

HE narrative may proceed from the information of Milton himself. On his return he procured a residence in London, ample enough for himself and his books, and felt happy in renewing his interrupted studies *. This first establishment (as we learn from his nephew) was a lodging in St. Bride's Church-yard, where he received, as his disciple, the two sons of his sister, John and Edward Philips ; the latter is his biographer; but although he has written the life of his illustrious relation with a degree of laudable pride and affectionate fpirit, he does not communicate that abundance of information, which might have been expected from the advantage he possessed. In one article his pride has a ludicrous effect, as it leads him into an awkward attempt to vindicate his uncle from the fancied opprobrium of having engaged professionally in the

* Ipse, ficubi poffem, tam rebus turbatis & fluctuantibus, locum confiftendi circumspiciens mihi librisque meis, fat amplam in urbe domum conduxi; ibi ad intermiffa ftudia beatulus me recepi; rerum exitu deo imprimis & quibus id muneris populus dabat, facilè permiffo.

E

education

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

education of youth ; a profession which, from its utility and importance, from the talents and virtues it requires, is unquestionably entitled to respect. Philips will not allow that his uncle actually kept a school, as he taught only the sons of his particular friends. Johnson ridicules this distinction, and seems determined to treat Milton as a profest schoolmaster, for the sake of attempting to prove, that he did not sustain the character with advantage, but adopted a vain and preposterous plan of education.

“ Let me not be censured,” says the Doctor, " as pedantic or paradoxical; for if I have Milton “ against me, I have Socrates on my fide: it was “ his labour to turn philosophy from the study of “ nature to speculations upon life; but the inno .

vators, whom I oppose, are turning off attention “ from life to nature; they seem to think that we

are placed here to watch the growth of plants, or 66 the motions of the stars; Socrates was rather of “ opinion, that what we had to learn was, how to “ do good and avoid evil.”

[ocr errors]

Οτιι τοι εν μεγάροισι κακόντ’ αγαθόνε τέτυκλαι.

This insidious artifice of representing Milton and Socrates as antagonists is peculiarly unfortunate, since no man appears to have imbibed the principles of Socratic wisdom more deeply than our poet ; his regard and attachment to them is fervently expressed, even in his juvenile letters; the very maxims. of moral truth, which he is accused of counteracting, never shone with more lustre than in the following passage of the Paradise Lost:

But

« AnteriorContinuar »