« AnteriorContinuar »
What loitering here? unless some cause dissuade, “ Haste and enjoy with me the whispering shade; « Or where his course the lucid Colnus bends; “ Or where Cassibelan's domain extends. • There show what herbs in vale or upland grow; “ The barebell's ringlet, and the saffron's glow: “ There teach me all the physic of the plains, " What healing virtues swell the floret's veins." Ah! perish all the healing plants, confest Too weak to save the swain who knew them best! As late a new-compacted pipe I found, It gave beneath my lips a loftier sound: Too high indeed the notes, for as it spoke, The waxen junctures in the labour broke. Smile as you may,-I will not hide from you The ambitious strain :-ye woods, awhile adieu!
Hence! home my lambs, unfed! more powerful cares
Usurp my thought, and make it wholly theirs.
d He expresses the same generous and patriotic sentiment in one of his prose tracts. “For which cause, and not only for that I knew it would be hard to arrive at the second rank among the Latins, I applied myself to that resolution, which
If yellow tressed Usa read my lays;
Hence! lambs! nor wait for care I cannot give:
Ah! now for grief, and grief alone I live.
Ariosto followed, against the persuasions of Bembo, to fix all the industry and art, I could unite, to the adorning of my native tongue; not to make verbal curiosities the end, (that were a toilsome vanity,) but to be an interpreter and relater of the best and sagest things among mine own citizens throughout this island in the mother dialect. That what the greatest and choicest wits of Athens, Rome, or modern Italy, and those Hebrews of old did for their country, I in my proportion, with this over and above of being a christian, might do for mine; not caring to be once pamed abroad, though perhaps I could attain to that, but content with these British islands as my world; whose fortune hath hitherto been, that if the Athenians, as some say, made their small deeds great and renowned by their eloquent writers, England hath had her noble achievements made small by the unskilful handling of monks and me. chanics." P. W. i, 119.
Himself a kind, beholds with flamy sight
With these is Damon now my hope is sure-
One passage in this poem is of peculiar importance, as it shows its author to be resolute in his intentions respecting epic com: position, and determined to consecrate his Muse to the entertainment and the fame of his country. Arthur and the heroes of British fable were still the favourites of his poetic contemplation. But Arthur, having been vainly promised the lofty song of Dryden, was reserved for the mortal Muse of Blackmore; and a subject was to be chosen by Milton which was better adapted to the sublime enthusiasm of his soul, and of a far more elevated, if not of a more interesting nature. The idea, as we have observed, of some great epic work was early conceived by him, and he cherished it amid the hoarse confusion of his subsequent occupations. In the turbulent scenes in which he is now im. mediately to be engaged we find him lamenting that he was violently drawn from the bias of his genius to “ a manner of writing, wherein he knew himself to be inferior to himself, led by the genial power of nature to another task, and wherein he had the use, as he might account, only of his left hand;" and we hear him complaining that he was
e Reasons of C. Govern, P. W. i. 118.
forced“ to interrupt the pursuit of his hopes; and to leave a calm and pleasing solitariness, fed with cheerful and confident thoughts, to embark on a troubled sea of noises and hoarse disputes, from beholding the bright countenance of truth in the quiet and still air of delightful studies.” We see him however, under the oppression of all this cheerless and foreign matter, indulging in the dear “ hope of having them” (his poetic studies, and his poetic audience) “ again in a still time when there shall be no chiding."
Milton was a student and a poet by the strong and almost irresistible impulse of his nature: he was a polemic only on the rigid requisition of duty, and in violation of all his more benign and refined propensities.
Surely,” he says, to every good and peaceable man it must in nature be a hateful thing to be the displeaser and molester of thousands: much better would it like him, doubtless, to be the messenger of gladness and contentment, which is his chief intended business, to all mankind, but that they resist and oppose their own true happiness. But when God commands to take the trumpet
f Reas. of Church Gov. P. W. i. 123.
& Apol. for Smect. P. W. i. 225.