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rest, and flings out stray'crimes at a renture, which he could never, though he be a serpent, suck from any thing that I have written.”
Notwithstanding this strong assertion, the hostility of the present generation has again brought the evidence of Milton to convict Milton, and to establish the charges of his calumniator. In opposition to this pretended evidence stand the register of our author's college, and his own positive assertions. By the first of these we are satisfied that Milton lost no term, having been entered in 1624-5, and having taken his bachelor's degree in 1628; and by the latter we are assured, that he was not only exempled from punishment at the University,
Hither, 'tis thought, came wafted by her doves,
From the "Animadversions" no suspicion of a charge against their writer could by any process be extracted.
but, in that seat of learning, was an object of affection and respect. The passage, whiclı I shall cite as worthy of the reader's attention, is in the “ Apology for Smectymnuus." After mentioning the charge which we have already noticed, our author proceeds:“ ' For which commodious lie, that he may be encouraged in the trade another time, I thank him; for it hath given me an apt occasion to acknowledge publicly with all grateful mind, that more than ordinary favour and respect, which I found above any of my equals at the hands of those courteous and learned men, the fellows of that college wherein I spent some years: who at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, signified many ways how much better it would content them that I would stay: as by many letters full of kindness and loviny respect, both before that time and long after, I was assured of their singular good affection towards me. Which, being likewise propense to all such as were for their studious and civil life worthy of esteem, I could not wrong their judgments and upright intentions so much as to think I had that regard from them, for other cause than that I might be still encouraged to proceed in
· P. W. v. i, 219.
the honest and laudable courses, of which they apprehended I had given good proof.”
The evidence now before us seems to be conclusive; for I know not to what tribunal an appeal can be carried from the authority of a college register, and from that of assertions, publicly made and uncontradicted at a time when their falsehood would be jealously watched and might easily be detected. What interpretation thien are we to assign to those expressions in the elegy to Deodati, which certainly refer to some compulsive absence of the young student from his college, and which discover no fondness in the poet for the society or the country of Cambridge? As we find, from some lines in the conclusion of the same elegy, that it was his intention to return to bis college, we may fairly, as I think, impute the banishment, of which he speaks, to the want of pecuniary supplies for his maintenance at the University; and the example of Gray may instruct us, that it is possible for a man of genius and of taste to
? The slander was repeated, with some additional circumstancss, by Du Moulin in his “ Clamor Regii sanguinis ad cælum.” “ Aiunt hominem Cantabrigiensi academiâ ob flagitia pulsum, dedecus et flagitium fugisse, et in Italiam commigrasse," &c. This is the vague and baseless echo of the author of the “ Modest Confutation." We may soon bave occasion te cite our author's reply to this revived calumng.
dislike the conversation of a college, or the naked vicinity of the Cam, without being impelled to that dislike by unpopularity or injurious treatment.
The absurd story of the corporal punishment, which Milton is asserted to have suffered, may be regarded as undeserving of notice." It was told, as we are informed, with the pretence that it came from himself or from some of his near relations, by Aubrey to Wood; but with Wood, ill-disposed as he is known to have been to the fame of Milton, it obtained so little credit as not to find admission into his page. Can the authority, then, of Aubrey be received in this instance as possessing any weight? On the value of that confirmation of this tale, which Mr. Warton, with dry positiveness, and Dr. Johnson, with the insult of affected concern, have pretended to discover in that expression of the last cited verses,
“ Cæteraque," &c.
and other things besides threats, I shall leave to the reader to determine; suggesting only that Dr. Johnson, for the purpose of concealing the weakness of his inference, has intimated a false translation of the
u Warton's Life of Dean Bathurst.
passage, or rather has drawn a conclusion not warranted by his premises. He Milton declares himself weary of enduring “ the threats of a rigorous master, and something else, which a temper like his cannot undergo.” Here indeed he translates with sufficient correctness; but in the following sentence, this something else is changed into something more; and we are told that what was more than threat was evidently punishment!!! The story then of the corporal correction, which has been raised into so much false importance, seems to rest on too airy a foundation to be worthy of our regard.
Of its admission, however, as true, we cannot perceive that any injury to the reputation of our author would be the necessary result. While the rod continued to be an instrument of punishment at our Universities, its infliction would be followed by no more disgrace than it is at present in our schools; and, in either place, it must be the offence, and not the chastisement, which can properly be considered as the occasion of dishonour. With respect to Milton, we may be
* Even Mr. Warton, averse as he is from any favourable mention of Milton as a nian, is forced to say on the subject of the punishment, that he will not suppose that it was for any immoral irregularity. See note in the ed. of Milton's Juvenile Poems.