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I tranfcribe with pleasure this honest and simple eulogy; it does credit to the intelligence and affection of the poet's disciple, and it in fome meafure vindicates the good sense of our country, by shewing that, in the very year of Milton's decease, when some writers have supposed that his poetical merit was almost utterly unknown, there were persons in the nation, who understood his full value.

Let us return to the author in his little academy, and the fecond sarcastic insult, which his biographer has beftowed upon him as the mafter of a school. The lodging in which he settled, on his arrival from the continent, was foon exchanged for a more spacious house and garden, in 'Aldersgate-street, that supplied him with conveniencies for the reception of scholars : on this occasion Johnson exclaims, « let not our veneration for Milton forbid us to look with « some degree of merriment on great promifes and small " performance ; on the man who haftens home, because his

countrymen are contending for their liberty, and, when “ he reaches the scene of action, vapours away his patriotism “ in a private boarding-school.”

To excite merriment by rendering Milton ridiculous for having preferred the pen to the sword was an enterprise that surpassed the powers of Johnson; the attempt affords a melancholy proof how far prejudice may mislead a very vigorous understanding. What but the blind hatred of bigotry could have tempted one great author to deride another, merely for having thought that he might ferve his country more essentially by the rare and highly cultivated faculties of his mind, than by the ordinary service of a


foldier. But let us hear Milton on this subject. We have this obligation to the malice of his contemporaries, that it led him to speak publicly of himself, and to relate, in the most manly and explicit' manner, the real motives of his conduct.

Speaking of the English people, in the commencement of his Second Defence, he says *, " it was the juft vindication of «s their laws and their religion, that necessarily led them “ into civil war; they have driven servitude from them by « the moft honourable arms; in which praise, though I can " claim no personal share, yet I can easily defend myself « from a charge of timidity or indolence, should any “ fuch be alledged against me; for I have avoided the “ toil and danger of military life only to render my coun

try assistance more useful, and not less to my own peril,

exerting a mind never dejected in adversity, never influ*** enced by unworthy terrors of detraction or of death; since “ from my infancy I had been addicted to literary pursuits,

and was stronger in mind than in body, declining the

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* Quos non legum contemptus aut violatio in effrænatam licentiam effudit; non virtutis & gloriæ falfa fpecies, aut ftulta veterun æmulatio inani nomine libertatis incendit, fed innocentia vitæ, morumque fanctitas rectum atque folum iter ad libertatem veram docuit, legum et religionis juftislima defenfio necesfariò armavit. Atque illi quidem Deo perinde confis, servitutem honeftiffimis armis pepulere: cujus laudis etsi nullam partem mibi vendico, a reprehensione tamen vel timiditatis vel ignaviæ, fi qua-infertur, facile me tueor. Neque enim militiæ labores & pericula fic defugi, ut non alia ratione, & operam,

multo-utiliorem, nec minore cum periculo meis civibus navarim, & animum dubiis in robus neque demissuin unquam, neque ullius invidiæ, vel etiam mortis plus æquo metuen-tem præftiterim. Nam cum ab adolescentulo humanioribus effem ftudiis, ut qui maxime deditus, & ingenio semper quam corpore validior, pofthabitâ caftrensi operâ, quâ me gregarius quilibet robustior facile superatiet, ad ca me contuli, quibus plus potui ; ut parte mei meliore ac potiore, si saperem, non deteriore, ad rationes patriæ, caulamque hanc præftantiffimam, quantum inaxime posiem momentum accederem.

66 duties

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* duties of a camp, in which every muscular common man 5 must have surpassed me, I devoted myself to that kind of * service for which I had the greatest ability, that, with the so better portion of myself, I might add all the weight I “ could to the pleas of my country and to this most excel" lent cause.”

He thus justifies, on the noblest ground, the line of life he pursued. In the fame' composition he frankly states the motives which prompted him to execute each particular work that raised him to notice in his new field of controversy; but before we attend to the order in which he treated various public questions that he considered of high moment to his country, it is just to observe his fidelity and tendernefs in first discharging, as a poet, the duties of private friendship. : -: Before he quitted Florence, Milton received intelligence of the loss he had to sustain, by the untimely death of Charles Diodati, the favourite associate of his early studies. On his arrival in England, the bitterness of such a loss was felt with redoubled sensibility by his affectionate heart, which relieved and gratified itself by commemorating the engaging character of the deceased, in a poem of considerable length, entitled, Epitaphium Damonis, a poem mentioned by Johnson with supercilious contempt, yet possessing such beauties as render it pre-eminent in that species of composition.

Many poets have lamented a friend of their youth, and a companion of their studies, but no one has surpassed the affecting tenderness with which Milton {peaks of his loft Diodati.

Quis mihi fidus. Hærebit lateri comes, ut tu sæpe solebas, Frigoribus duris, et per loca fæta pruinis, Aut rapido sub sole, fiti morientibus herbis ?

Pectora cui credam ? Quis me lenire docebit
Mordaces 'curas, quis longam fallere noctem
Dulcibus alloquiis, grato cum sibilat igni
Molle pyrum, et nucibus ftrepitat focus, et malus Auster
Miscet cuncta foris, et desuper intonat ulmo?

Aut æstate, dies medio dum vertitur axe,
Cum Pan æfculea somnum capit abditus umbra,
Quis mihi blanditiasque tuas, quis tum mihi risus,
Cecropiosque sales referet, cultofque lepores?

Who now my pains and perils shall divide
As thou was won't, for ever at my side,
Both when the rugged frost annoy'd our feet,
And when the herbage all was parch'd with heat?

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In whom shall I confide, whose counsel find
A balmy medicine to my troubled mind?
Or whose discourse with innocent delight
Shall fill me now, and cheat the wintry night?
While hisses on my hearth the pulpy pear,
And black’ning chesnuts start and crackle there ;
While storms abroad, the dreary scene o'erwhelm,
And the wind thunders thro' the riven elm?


Or who, when summer suns their summit reach,
And Pan sleeps hidden by the shelt'ring beech,
Who then shall render me thy Attic vein
Of wit, tóo polish'd to inflict a pain ?

With the spirit of a man most able to feel, and most worthy to enjoy, the delights of true friendship, he describes the rarity of that inestimable blessing, and the anguish we suffer from the untimely loss of it.

Vix sibi quisque parem de millibus invenit unum;
Aut si sors dederit tandem non afpera votis,
Illum inopina dies, qua non speraveris hora,
Surripit, æternum linquens in sæcula damnum.

Scarce one in thousands meets a kindred mind;
And if the long-fought good at last he find,
When least he fears it, death his treasure steals,
And gives his heart a wound that nothing heals.

There is, indeed, but one effectual lenitive for wounds of this nature, which Milton happily posseffed in the fincerity and fervour of his religion. He clofes his lamentation for his favourite friend, as he had clofed his Lycidas, with just and soothing reflections on the purity of life, by which the object of his regret was distinguished, and with a sublime conception of that celestial beatitude, which he confidently regarded as the infallible and immediate récompence of departed virtue.



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