Imatges de pÓgina
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They name the virgins, who arrived of yore
With British offerings on the Delian shore:
Loxo, from giant Corineus sprung;

Upis, on whose bless'd lips the future hung;
And Hecaërge, with the golden hair,

All deck'd with Pictish hues, and all with bosoms bare.
Thou, therefore, happy sage, whatever clime
Shall ring with Tasso's praise in after-time,
Or with Marino's, shalt be known their friend,
And with an equal flight to fame ascend.
The world shall hear, how Phoebus and the Nine
Were inmates once, and willing guests of thine.
Yet Phoebus, when of old constrain'd to roam
The earth, an exile from his heavenly home,
Enter'd, no willing guest, Admetus' door,
Though Hercules had ventured there before.
But gentle Chiron's cave was near, a scene
Of rural peace, clothed with perpetual green;
And thither, oft as respite he required
From rustic clamours loud, the god retired :
There many a time, on Peneus' bank reclined
At some oak's root, with ivy thick entwined,
Won by his hospitable friend's desire,
He soothed his pains of exile with the lyre.
Then shook the hills, then trembled Peneus' shore,
Nor Eta felt his load of forests more;

The upland elms descended to the plain,
And soften'd lynxes wonder'd at the strain.
Well may we think, O dear to all above!
Thy birth distinguish'd by the smile of Jove;
And that Apollo shed his kindliest power,
And Maia's son, on that propitious hour;
Since only minds so born can comprehend
A poet's worth, or yield that worth a friend.
Hence, on thy yet unfaded cheek appears
The lingering freshness of thy greener years;
Hence in thy front and features we admire
Nature unwither'd, and a mind entire.
O, might so true a friend to me belong,
So skill'd to grace the votaries of song,
Should I recall hereafter into rhyme
The kings and heroes of my native clime;

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Arthur the chief, who even now prepares,
In subterraneous being, future wars,
With all his martial knights, to be restored
Each to his seat, around the federal board;
And, O! if spirit fail me not, disperse
Our Saxon plunderers in triumphant verse!
Then, after all, when with the past content,
A life I finish, not in silence spent,
Should he, kind mourner, o'er my death-bed bend,
I shall but need to say, "be yet my friend!"
He too, perhaps, shall bid the marble breathe
To honour me, and with the graceful wreath,
Or of Parnassus, or the Paphian isle,

Shall bind my brows,-but I shall rest the while.
Then also, if the fruits of Faith endure,
And Virtue's promised recompense be sure,
Born to those seats, to which the blest aspire
By purity of soul, and virtuous fire,

These rites, as Fate permits, I shall survey
With eyes illumined by celestial day;

And, every cloud from my pure spirit driven,
Joy in the bright beatitude of Heaven!

We may conceive what delight Milton had in talking with Manso about Tasso, and how it encouraged his own desire of poetical immortality. The honours paid to Tasso as a poet were of a kind of which the cold northern clime of England gave no example. Spenser had died in poverty, ruined and neglected: Shakspeare seems to have been little personally known in his lifetime; for nothing is recorded of his habits and private character.

But though Tasso was cruelly used by his inglorious and base prince, his countrymen worshipped him, and bore with all his eccentricities. In England, except by Chaucer and Spenser, there had been no great epics of fiction. The

metrical narratives were, for the most part, dull chronicles that fiery force, where life breathes in every line and every image, was almost unknown. It is by the invention of grand fables that poets must stand high: little patches of flowers a style of similes and metaphors, will not do. The manners and credences of Europe, from the commencement of the crusades, afforded inexhaustible subjects of heroic poetry: fictions improved upon the romantic tales of the Provençal bards could never be wanting to the imagination or the lyre.

Milton returned by Venice, where he made a large collection of music for his father; and thence passed through Geneva, at which he made a short sojourn with John Deodate, a learned theologian and professor, the relation of his friend Charles Deodate, and became acquainted with Frederic Spanheim. Here he is supposed to have renewed his Calvinistic and puritanical prejudices. It is somewhat strange that this small place should have been the focus of all that troubled the governments of Europe for more than a century. They were not content with forming a republican government for their own petty canton, for which it was well suited, but struggled to turn all the great monarchies into republics.

The poet must have been delighted with the lake-scenery and Alpine summits of this magnificent country: yet, after the pomp of Italy, its splendid arts, its princely societies, its genial

skies, its imaginative delights, men must have seemed here to have dwindled into formal and dull automatons. Here might be learning; but it was dry and tasteless : here was now no Beza, or D'Aubigné; nor any anticipation of the eloquent and passionate Rousseau, or spiritual De Stael, or historic and philosophical Sismondi.

I have endeavoured to find some traces of Milton's visit in Geneva; but have yet discovered none. I am told it is a mistake that the Deodate campagne at the adjoining village of Cologny on the Savoy side, which Byron inhabited in 1816, was that which belonged to the Deodate family when Milton was here. In the

Livre des Anglais,' preserved in the statearchives at the Hotel de Ville, are registers of the English (including John Knox), who took refuge here from 1554 to 1558, and had an English chapel in Geneva.

CHAPTER IX.

ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF MILTON'S PROSE

WORKS.

IN 1639 Milton returned to England: he had the grief of finding that his friend Charles Deodate was already dead: on that occasion he wrote the Latin pastoral entitled Epitaphium Damonis.' He now undertook the tutorship of his two nephews, John and Edward Phillips, and added to them some other pupils. Having professed to have been drawn back to England to take a part in the cause of liberty, then breaking out into open contest, Johnson considers this occupation a falling off from his boasted high intentions, and utters a growling sort of merriment at the failure. This is in the tone of the biographer's usual insults on the great bard: he is on these occasions coarse, pompous, and unjust. Milton did not come home to take a part by the sword, but by the pen: if therefore he endeavoured to aid an incompetent income by taking pupils, what inconsistency was there in this? The sneer comes doubly ill from one who had been himself a schoolmaster.

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