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expected from the patriotic enthusiasm, and the expe“ rience, civil and military, of his accomplished correspon" dent.”
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.
66* To Leonard Philaras.
“ As I have cherished from my childhood (if ever mortal did) a reverential fondness for the Grecian name,
# Leonardo Philarze Atheniensi. Cum fim a pueritia totius Græci nominis, tuarumque in primis Athenarum cultor, si quis alius, tum una hoc semper mihi persuasiffimum habebam, fore ut illa urbs præclaram aliquando redditura vicem effet benevolentiæ erga se meæ. Neque defuit fane tuæ patriæ nobiliffime antiquus ille genius augurio meo ; deditque te nobis et gernianum Atticum et nostri amantiffimum ; qui me, scriptis duntaxat notuin, et locis ipse disjunctus, humaniffime per literas compellens et Londinum poftea inopinatus adveniens, visensque non videntem, etiam in ca calanitate, propter quam co:fpectior nemini, despectior multis fortassis sim, cadem benevolentiâ prosequaris. Cum itaque author mihi fis, ut visus recuperandi fpem omnem ne abjiciam, habere te amicum ac neceffarium tuum Parisiis Tevcnotum medicum, in curandis præfertim oculis præftantiffmum, qucm fis de meis luminibus con
sulturus, fi modo acceperis ame unde is causas
for your native Athens in particular, so have I continually persuaded myself, that 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
he has given me in you an Attic 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 unexpectedly to London, and visiting the stranger, who had no eyes to see yoù, continued your kindness to me under that calamity, which can render me a more eligible friend
immotus ipse cernerem, visa sunt omnia nunc dextrorsum, nunc finiftrorsum natare; frontem totam atque tempora inveterati quidem vapores videntur infediffe ; qui fomnolentâ quadam gravitate oculos, a cibo præfertim ulque ad vesper, m, plerunque urge nt atque deprimunt; ut mihi haud raro veniat in mentem Salıydeslii vatis Phinei in Argonauticis :
κάρος δέ μιν αμφιχάλυψεν Πορφύρεος. γαίαν δε πέριξ εδοκησε φερεσθαι Νειόβεν, αβληχρώ δ' επι κώματι κέκλί7' άναυδος.
oculo aliquantulum lucis quasi per rimulam
Profe Works, Vol. II. p. 577.
Sed neque illud omiferim, dum adhuc visus aliquantuluin superrat, ut primum in lecto decubuisiem meque in alterutrum latus reclinarfem, consuevisse copiosum lumen claufis oculis emicare; deinde, imminuto indies visu, colores perinde obscuriores cum impetu et fragore quodam intimo exilire; nunc autem, quasi extincto lucido, merus nigror, aut cineraceo diftinctus, et quasi intextus folei se affundere: caligo tamen quæ perpetuo observatur, tam noctu, quam interdiu albenti semper quam nigricanti proprior videtur; et volvente se
to no one, and to many, perhaps, may make me an object of disregard.
“ Since, therefore, you request me not to reject all hope of recovering my sight, as you have an intimate friend at Paris, in Thevenot the physician, who excels particularly in relieving ocular complaints, and whom you wish 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 assistance thus offered me, perhaps providentially.
“ It is about ten years, I think, since I perceived my fight to grow weak and dim, finding at the same time my intestines afflicted with Aatulence 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 my left eye (which began to fail fome years before the other) a darkness arose, that hid from me 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 sight was utterly gone, all things that I could discern, though I moved not myself, appeared to fluctate, now to the right, now to the left. Obstinate vapours seern to have settled all
forehead and my temples, overwhelming my eyes with a fort of sleepy heaviness, especially after food, till the
evening; so that I frequently recollect the condition of the prophet Phineus in the Argonautics :
Him vapours dark
But I should not omit to say, that while I had some little fight remaining, as soon as I went to bed, and reclined on either side, a copious light used to dart from my closed eyes; then, as my light grew daily less, darker colours seemed to burst forth with vehemence, and a kind of internal noise ; but now, as if every thing lucid were extinguished, blackness, either abfolute or chequered, and interwoven as it were with ash-colour, is accustomed to pour itself on my eyes; yet the darkness perpetually before them, as well during the night as in the day, seems always approaching rather to white than to black, admitting, as the eye rolls, a minute portion of light as through a crevice.
Though from your physician such a portion of hope also may arise, yet, as under an evil that admits no cure, I regulate and tranquilize my mind, often reflecting, that fince the days of darkness allotted to each, as the wise man reminds us, are many, hitherto my darkness, by the singular mercy of God, with the aid of study, leisure, and the kind conversation of my friends, is much less oppressive than the deadly darkness to which he alludes. For if, as it is written, man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, why should not a
man acquiesce even in this ? not thinking that he can derive light from his eyes alone, but esteeming himself fufficiently enlightened by the conduct or providence of God.
“ As long, therefore, as he looks forward, and provides for me as he does, and leads me backward and forward by the hand, as it were, through my whole life, shall I not cheerfully bid my eyes keep holiday, since such
appears to be his pleasure? But whatever may be the event of your kindness, my dear Philaras, with a mind not less resolute and firm than if I were Lynceus himself, I bid you farewell.
“ Westminster, Sept. 28, 1654.”
We have no reason to imagine that Milton received any kind of medical benefit from the friendly intention of this amiable foreigner. Strange as the idea may at first appear, perhaps it was better for him, as a man and as a poet, to remain without a cure ; for his devout tenderness and energy of mind had so far converted his calamity into a blessing, that it seems rather to have promoted than obstructed both the happiness of his life and the perfection of his genius. We have seen, in the admirable sonnet on his blindness, how his reflections on the conscientious labour. by which he lost his eyes gave a dignified satisfaction to his spirit. In one of his prose works he expresses a sentiment on the same subject, that shews, in the most striking point of view, the meekness and sublimity of his devotion. He exults in his misfortune, and feels it endeared to him by the persuasion, that to be blind is to be placed more imme