Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

favourable to literary attention. Here he gave the example to his young students of close application with abstinent diet; and the only peculiar indulgence, which he allowed himself, was that of a day of temperate festivity once in three weeks or a month. This day, which his nephew, adopting his uncle's college expression, calls “ a gaudy day,”" was allotted to the society of some young and gay friends. Of these, Philips names Mr. Alphry and Mr. Millar, and remarks that " they were the beaux of those times; but that they were nothing near so bad as those now a days.” The gay men of the puritan age were indeed mere babies in excess to the revellers of the succeeding one; when the profligacy of a shameless court, propagated rapidly and strongly through the country, had nearly driven modesty and temperance from Britain.

Abstinence in diet was one of Milton's favourite virtues; which he practised invariably through life, and availed himself of every opportunity to recommend in his writings. In his second beautiful elegy to his

in the northern suburbs. Our author's house in Petty France was a garden-house.

Philips's Life of Milton, xxi.-A gaudy day at Cambridge is a day on wbich the commons are increased.

ras.

friend, Deodati, he admits of the use of wine and good cheer to the lyric and the elegiac poet; but to the lofty and ambitious epic, who requires the higher and more continued exertion of the more comprehensive intellect, he will allow only the diet of Pythago

I will give the whole passage to which I refer; and I persuade myself that the reader will not regard it as too long in consequence not only of its own beauty, but of that of the translation with which the kindness of my friend, the Rev. Francis Wrangham, has enabled me to accompany it; a translation, which unites the rare qualities of fidelity and elegance, of concise yet ornamented diction.

Quid quereris refugam vino dapibusq; poesin?

Carmen amat Bacchum, carmina Bacchus amat.
Nec puduit Phæbum virides gestâsse corymbos,

Atq; hederam Jauro præposuisse suæ.
Sæpius Aöniis clamavit collibus, Eue!

Mista Thyoneo turba novena choro.
Naso Corallæis inala carmina misit ab agris ; i

Non illic epulæ, non sata vitis erat.
Quid nisi vina, rosasq; racemiferumq; Lyaum,

Cantavit brevibus Teïa Musa modis?
Pindaricosq; inflat numeros Teumesius Euan;

Et redolet sumptum pagina quæq; merum;
Dum gravis everso currus crepat axe supinus;

Et volat Eleo pulvere fuscus eques.
Quadrimoq; madens lyricen Romanus laccho,

Dulce canit Glyceram, flavicomamq; Chloen.
Jam quoq; lauta tibi generoso mensa paratu

Mentis alit vires, ingeniumq; fovet.

[ocr errors]

Massica fecundam despumant pocula venam,

Fundis et ex ipso condita metra cado. Addimus his artes, fusumque per intima Phæbum

Corda; favent uni Bacchus, Apollo, Ceres. Scilicet haud mirum, tam dulcia carmina per te,

Numine composito, tres peperisse Deos. Nunc quoque Thressa tibi cælato barbitos auro

Insonat argutâ molliter icta manu: Auditurque chelys suspensa tapetia circum,

Virgineos tremulâ quæ regat arte pedes. Illa tuas saltem teneant spectacula Musas,

Et revocent, quantum crapula pellit iners.
Crede mihi dum psallit ebur, comitataque plectrum

Implet odoratos festa chorea tholos,
Percipies tacitum per pectora serpere Phoebum,

Quale repentinus permeat ossa calor;
Perque puellares oculos, digitumque sonantem,

Irruet in totos lapsa Thalia sinus.
Namque elegia levis multorum cura Deorum est;

Et vocat ad numeros quemlibet illa suos.
Liber adest elegis, Eratoque Ceresque Venusque

Et cum purpureâ matre tenellus Amor.
Talibus inde licent convivia larga poëtis,

Sæpius et veteri commaduisse mero.
At qui bella refert, et adulto sub Jove cælum,

Heroasque pios, semideosque duces;
Et nunc sancta canit superum consulta deorum;

Nunc latrata fero regna profunda cane;
Ille quidem parcè, Samii pro more magistri,

Vivat, et innocuos præbeat herba cibos: Stet prope fagineo pellucida lympha catillo,

Sobriaque è puro pocula fonte bibat.
Additur huic scelerisque vacans et casta juventus,

Et rigidi mores, et sine labe manus.
Qualis veste nitens sacrâ et lustralibus undis,

Surgis, ad infensos augur iture Deos.
Hoc ritu vixisse ferunt post rapta sagacem

Lumina Tiresian, Ogygiumque Linon;

P

Et lare devoto profugum Calchanta, senemque

Orpheon,o edomitis sola per antra feris.
Sic dapis exiguus, sic rivi potor Homerus

Dulichium vexit per freta longa virum;
Et per monstrificam Perseiæ Phoebados aulam;

Et vada fæmineis insidiosa sonis;
Perque tuas, rex ime, domos, ubi sanguine nigro

Dicitur umbrarum detinuisse greges.
Diis etenim sacer est vates, divůmque sacerdos;

Spirat et occultum pectus et ora Jovem,

Then why of wine's enfeebling cup complain?
Beloved of verse, young Bacchus loves the strain.
Placed in fond preference o'er his laurel bough,
Oft has the ivy clasp'd Apollo's brow;
And oft Aönia's hills have heard the Nine
With frantic shouts the maddning orgies join.
Weak was the lay from Tomi's vineless coast,
When Naso wept his feasts and friendships lost.
The flowing bowl with many a rose o'erhung,
In fancy's sprightliest lay Anacreon sung.
The Theban god inspires his Pindar's line;
And each bright hymn is redolent of wine :

• Milton and Virgil disagree on the subject of Orpheus's. age.

Spreto Ciconum quo munere matres
Inter sacra Deûm, nocturnique orgia Bacchi
Decerptum latos juvenem sparsere per agros.

Georg. lib. iv. 522.

But each poet had a view perhaps in this instance, to his own particular purpose. Milton wished to insinuate that his diet had a tendency to promote longevity; and Virgil was aware that he could not with any probability make the women of Thrace so outrageous with an old man for his neglect of them as to tear him to pieces.

Whether o'erwhelm'd the groaning axle lie,
Or dark with Eliac dust the impetuous courser fly.
« Hot with the Tuscan grape," his bright-hair'd maid
The Roman lyrist sang beneath the shade.
Nay thou, whose thankless strain the boon disowns,
Owest to the vine that strain's harmonious tones:
Bright as from casks where Massic juices glow,
And strong and pure thy sparkling stanzas flow.
Thine are the arts, in thee with Delphi's God
Bacchus and Ceres fix their loved abode:
Hence triply fed, thy dulcet accents roll,
Which melt and swell by turns the ravish'd soul,
And now, light sweeping o'er the golden wire,
The thrilling touch awakes the Orphëan lyre;
Now round the dome the tabret's echoes play,
That teach the virgin's foot its mazy way.
These gorgeous shows the Muse

may

well detain,
When wine's strong fumes would chase her from the brain.
Trust me, when Music strikes her festive string,
And Dance, accordant, weaves the frolic ring;
Stealthy and soft, as warmth's pervading glow,
Through all thy veins the inspiring God will flow;
And from the finger snapt and beaming eye,
Thalia's self infuse the tuneful sigh.
For many a God o'er elegy presides,
Its spirit kindles, and its numbers guides.
There Bacchus, Ceres, Erato are seen,
And, with her beauteous boy, the Idalian queen:
And thence the chiefs of elegiac song
Drain the full bowl, and join the jocund throng.

But he, whose verse records the battle's roar,
And heroes feats, and demigods of yore;
The Olympic senate with their bearded king;
Or howls, that loud through Pluto's dungeons ring;
With simpler stores must spread his Samian board,
And browse well-pleased the vegetable hoard:
Close at his side the beechen cup be placed;
His thirst by Nature's limpid beverage chased;

« AnteriorContinuar »