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most exemplary and engaging characters that ever existed, fince we find she was the darling sister of this illustrious philosopher, and the favourite friend of a poet still more illustriOus. Four of Milton's Latin letters are addressed to her fon, and they blend with moral precepts to the young student respectful and affectionate praise of his mother *.
In the Latin correspondence of Milton we have some veftiges of his sentiments concerning the authors of antiquity; and it is remarkable, that in a deliberate opinion on the merits of Sallust t, he prefers him to all the Roman historians. Milton, however, did not form himself as a writer on any Roman model : being very early most anxious to excel * In the quarto edition of Boyle there
ferit, eum animo non minus magno rerumque are a few letters from his favourite sister, ufu præditum fcribere oportere: quam is qui Lady Ranelagh; one very interesting, in eas gefferit: ut vel maximas pari animo comwhich she speaks of the poet Waller ; but she prehendere atque metiri poflit, et compredoes not mention the name of Milton in hensas fermone puro atque casto distincte the whole collection. Her son (the first and gravitèrque narrare : nam ut ornate non adlast Earl of Ranelagb) who was in his child modum laboro; historicum enim, non orahood a disciple of the great poet, proved a torem requiro. Crebras etiain sententias, et man of talents, business, and pleasure.
judicia de rebus geftis interjecta prolixe nol+ De Sallustio quod scribis, dicam libere ; lem, ne, interrupta rerum serie, quod politici quoniam ita vis plane ut dicam quod fentio, scriptoris munus est historicus invadat; qui Sallustium cuivis Latino historico me quidem
fi in confiliis explicandis, factisque enarrananteferre; quæ etiam conftans fere antiquo dis, non fuum ingenium aut conjecturam, fed rum sententia fuit. Habet fuas laudes tuus veritatem potiffimum fequitur, suarum proTacitus, fed eas meo quidem judicio maxi. fecto partium fatagit. Addiderim et illud mas, quod Sallustium nervis omnibus fit imi Sallustianum, qua in re ipfe Catonem maxtatus. Cum hæc tecum coram difererein ime laudavit, poffe multa paucis absolvere; perfeciffe videor quantum ex eo quod scribis id quod fine acerrimo judicio, atque etiam conjicio, ut de illo cordatissimo fcriptore ipse temperantiâ quadam neminem posse arbitror. jam idem prope sentias : adeòque ex me Sunt multi in quibus vel fermonis elegantiam quæris, cum is in exordio belli Catilinarii
vel congeftarum rerum copiam non desideres, perdifficile esse dixerit hiftoriam fcribere, qui brevitatem cum copia conjunxerit, id est, propterea quod faeta dictis exæquanda fint qui multa paucis abfolverit, princeps meo qua potissimum ratione id affequi bistoriarum judicio est Sallustius.--Prose Works, vol. 2. scriptorem posle existimem. Ego vero fic p. 582. existimo ; qui gestas res dignas digne serip
in literature, he wisely attached himself to those prime examples of literary perfection, the Greeks; among the poets he particularly delighted in Euripides and Homer ; his favourites in profe seem to have been Plato and Demosthenes; the first peculiarly fit to give richness, purity, and lustre to the fancy; the second, to invigorate the understanding, and inspire the fervid energy of public virtue. It is a very just remark of Lord Monboddo, that even the poetical speeches in Paradise Loft derive their consummate propriety and eloquence from the fond and enlightened attention with which the poet had studied the most perfect orator of Athens : the studies of Milton, however, were very extensive; he appears to have been familiar not only with all the best authors of antiquity, but with those of every refined language in Europe; Italian, French, Spanish, and Portugueze. Great erudition has been often supposed to operate as an incumbrance on the finer faculties of the mind; but let us observe to its credit, the sublimest of poets was also the most learned : of Italian literature he was particularly fond, as we may collect from one of his letters to a professor of that language, and from the ease and spirit of his Italian verses. To the honour of modern Italy it may be said, that she had a considerable share in forming the genius of Milton. In Taffo, her brightest ornament, he found a character highly worthy of his affectionate emulation, both as a poet and as a man ; this accomplished personage had, indeed, ended his illustrious and troubled life several years before Milton visited his country; but he was yet living in the memory of his ardent friend Manso, and through the medium of Manso's,
conversation his various excellencies made, I am persuaded, a forcible and permanent impression on the heart and fancy of our youthful countryman. It was hardly. the example of Trissino, as Johnson fupposes, that tempted Milton to his bold experiment of blank verse; for Trissino's epic poem is a very heavy performance, and had funk into such oblivion in Italy, that the literary friend and biographer of Tasso confiders that greater poet as the first person who enriched the Italian language with valuable blank verse : " our early works of that kind,” says Manso, “ are translations from the Latin, and those not successful.” The poem in blank verse, for which this amiable biographer applauds his friend, is an extensive work, in seven books, on the Seven Days of the Creation, a subject that has engaged the poets of many countries. The performance of Tasso was begun at the house of his friend Manso, and at the suggestion of a lady, the accomplished mother of the Marquis. As this poem is formed from the Bible, and full of religious enthusiasm, it probably influenced the English visiter of Manso in his choice of blank verse. Taffo was a voluminous author, and we have reason to believe that Milton was familiar with all his compofitions, as the exquisite eulogy on connubial affection, in the Paradise Lost, is founded on a profe composition in favour of marriage, addressed by the Italian poet to one of his relations *; but Milton, who was perhaps of all authors the * Tasso begins this interesting discourse,
affumes the defence of both, and in the close by informing his kinsman Ercole, that he first of a learned and eloquent panegyric, indulges heard the news of his having taken a wife, his heart and fancy in a very animated and and then was surprised by reading a compo
beautiful address to wedded love, which Milsition of his, in which he inveighs not only ton has copied with his usual dignity and against the ladies, but against matrimony.
sweetness of expression. The poet, with great politeness and spirit,
lcast addicted to imitation, rarely imitates even Taffo in composition : in life, indeed, he copied him more closely, and to his great poetical compeer of Italy he discovers a very striking resemblance in application to study, in temperance of diet, in purity of morals, and in fervency of devotion. The Marquis of Villa, in closing his life of Taffo, has enumerated all the particular virtues by which he was distinguished; these were all equally conspicuous in Milton; and we may truly say of him, what Manso says of the great Italian poet, that the preference of virtue to every other consideration was the predominant passion of his life.
Enthusiasm was the characteristic of his mind; in politics, it made him sometimes too generously credulous, and sometimes too rigorously decisive ; but in poetry it exalted him to such a degree of excellence as no man has hitherto surpassed ; nor is it probable that in this province he will ever be excelled ; for although in all the arts there are un
doubtedly points of perfection much higher than any mor: tal has yet attained, still it requires such a coincidence of so many advantages depending on the influence both of nature and of destiny to raise a great artist of any kind, that the world has but little reason to expect productions of poetical genius superior to the Paradise Loft. There was a bold yet refined originality of conception, which characterised the mental powers of Milton, and give him the highest claim to distinction: we are not only indebted to him for having extended and ennobled the province of epic poetry, but he has another title to our regard, as the founder of that recent and enchanting English art, which has em
bellished our country, and, to speak the glowing language of a living bard very eloquent in its praise,
Made Albion smile,
The elegant historian of modern gardening, Lord Osford, and the two accomplished poets, who have celebrated its charms both in France and England, De Lille and Mason, have, with great justice and felicity of expression, paid their homage to Milton, as the beneficent genius, who bestowed upon
the world this youngest and most lovely of the arts.
As a contrast to the Miltonic garden, I may point out to the notice of the reader, what has escaped, I think, all the learned writers on this engaging subject, the garden of the imperious Duke of Alva, described in a poem of the celebrated Lope de Vega. The sublime vision of Eden, as Lord Orford truly calls it, proves indeed, as the same writer observes, how little the poet suffered from the loss of fight. The native disposition of Milton, and his personal infirmity, conspired to make contemplation his chief business and chief enjoyment : few poets have devoted so large a portion of their time to intense and regular study; yet he often made a pause of some months in the progress of his great work, if we may confide in the circumstantial narrative of his nephew. “ I had the perusal of it from the very beginning,” says Philips, “ for some years, as I went from time to time to visit him, in parcels of ten, twenty, or thirty verses at a time (which, being written by whatever hand came next,