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skilful pleading it is. "Do not despise Poetry, my dear fatheryou of all men," is the substance of it; but the expression is rich and varied. There is an express reference to his father's talent and distinction in Music, as in itself a reason why he should think well of Poetry. Might not Phoebus in this case have divided himself between two of one family, giving one set of his choicest gifts, the strictly musical, to the sire, and the other, the poetical and verbal, to the son? Nay, in his inner heart, his father does not despise Poetry, whatever he may pretend. His whole conduct hitherto towards the very son who is addressing him proves the contrary, proves his carelessness of wealth, and of all that baser minds prize, in comparison with mental cultivation and ideal good. Had ever a father been so thoughtful for a son, lavished so much on his education? By his desire, and at his expense, had not that education included not only Latin and Greek and the more ordinary studies of school and university, but French, Italian, Hebrew, and even all the kinds of special science accessible in London in addition to what the University could supply? Was it not owing to his father's kindness and forbearance that even now he was not driven into the Law or any other immediate market for his talents, but was walking about at leisure in a rustic retirement, free to choose his own occupations and follow his own fancies? Let his father have faith even in the direction these occupations and these fancies were taking! What if his career were to be that of a Poet? Was not that a career in which something worthy might be done? Even in that career might he not partly repay his filial debt? Nay, might not the very lines he was then writing survive to posterity, and keep alive to a far future age the memory of so excellent and generous a father?
“Well, John, I have faith in you: take your own way, whatever it is; God has given me enough of means, my son, for all immediate needs; and, while I live, what I have is yours." As surely as if we had heard these words spoken, they were the response of Milton's father to the pleading of this Poem. They were his response not in words only, but in fact:-Until Milton was thirtytwo years of age, if even then, he did not earn a penny for himself. From his twenty-fourth to his thirtieth year he remained at
Horton, under his father's roof, studying and dreaming. Then, his mother having died in 1637, and his younger brother, Christopher, who was a student of law, having married and come to reside with his wife at Horton, he set out, with his father's consent, and at his expense, on his Italian tour (1638-9), taking a man-servant with him. On his return from Italy, he found his widowed father still at Horton, with Christopher and his wife. Leaving him there, he took up his own residence in London, first in lodgings in St. Bride's Churchyard, Fleet Street (1639-40), and then in a house in Aldersgate Street (1640), where his two young nephews, Edward and John Phillips, boarded with him, and where he began to receive other pupils. Here, after the meeting of the Long Parliament (Nov. 3, 1640), he began his career as a controversialist on the Parliamentarian and revolutionary side by his series of Anti-Episcopal Pamphlets. In one of these pamphlets, The Reason of Church Government, in the course of a sketch of his own life till then, there is an affectionate mention of his father, very much in the strain of the poem under notice. "After I had, 'from my first years, by the ceaseless diligence and care of my "father, whom God recompense, been exercised to the tongues and "some sciences, as my age would suffer, by sundry masters and "teachers both at home and in the schools," are the words of this passage; and similar references, less express, may be discerned in other places of the same series of pamphlets. Meanwhile, his younger brother Christopher having been called to the Bar, and having taken the Royalist side in politics, there was a migration of him and his young wife, and of the old man with them, from Horton to Reading. They were in that town when it was besieged and taken by the Parliamentarian General, Essex, in 1643. Then, Christopher and his wife shifting for themselves, the old man came to reside in London with his son John. He was in the house in Aldersgate Street through the sad episode of Milton's marriage with his first wife and her desertion of him; and his grandson Phillips describes him here as "living wholly retired to his rest and devotion, without the least trouble imaginable.” After the return of Milton's wife and Milton's reconciliation with her (1645) the father continued to live with them in their larger house in the Barbican, where also some of the wife's relatives,
driven from their home near Oxford by the ruin of the King's cause, were guests for some time. Here he saw Milton's eldest child, Anne, born July 29, 1646, and here he died eight months afterwards, March 1646-7. He was buried in St. Giles's, Cripplegate. According to Aubrey, he "read without spectacles at 84," and it was not from him that Milton inherited weakness of eyesight. As we have seen, however, Aubrey is probably wrong in making Milton's father to have lived to such extreme old age. It is more likely that he was not quite seventy years of age when he died.
(Editions of 1645 and 1673.)
Milton, though an assiduous and enthusiastic reader of the Greek classics, did not give much time to the practice of Greek composition. He has left but three pieces of Greek verse; and the verdict upon them by the critic of subsequent times who has published the minutest examination of them (Dr. Charles Burney, 1757-1817), is that they show imperfect Greek scholarship. He finds lax construction in them, questionable usages of words, and even false quantities.
PSALM CXIV.-This seems to have been a favourite Psalm with Milton, for it is one of the two which he had paraphrased in English when he was fifteen years of age (see antè, p. 186). The present version of it in Greek Hexameters was done in 1634, as appears by a Latin letter of Milton to Gill the younger, of date Dec. 4 in that year. Sending Gill a copy of the version, in return
some verses which he had received from Gill, he explains that it had been done on a sudden impulse, before getting up, at daybreak one morning of the preceding week. "Should anything occur to you in it," he adds, "not coming up to your usual opinion of our productions, understand that, since I left your school, this is the first and only thing I have composed in Greek, -employing myself, as you know, more willingly in Latin and English matters; inasmuch as whoever spends study and pains in this age on Greek composition runs a risk of singing mostly to the deaf." Nevertheless Dr. Burney pronounces the version superior
to the Greek version of the same Psalm by James Duport, Milton's contemporary, and Professor of Greek at Cambridge. "It has more vigour," he says, "but is not wholly free from inaccuracies.”
PHILOSOPHUS AD REGEM QUENDAM, ETC.-As these Hexameters appear in the Edition of 1645, and as their tenor suggests that they were done after the Civil War had begun, we may date them between 1642 and 1645. Milton probably imagined himself coming, by some possibility, into the situation of the "Philosophus," and the imaginary "Rex" in that case might be Charles I. The piece has a touch in it of the peculiar spirit of Sonnet VIII., beginning "Captain or Colonel." The Greek is very much found fault with by Dr. Burney, whose criticism of the five lines extends mercilessly over a greater number of closelyprinted pages.
IN EFFIGIEI EJUS SCULPTOREM.-These satirical Iambics appeared in the Edition of 1645, engraved under Marshall's portrait of Milton; in the Edition of 1673, which did not contain that portrait, they were put into the text. The Epigram, according to Dr. Burney, is “far inferior to those on Bad Painters which are preserved in the Greek Anthologia: it has no point." One may differ from Dr. Burney here. The Epigram is a savage practical joke, and the point of it lies in that fact. (See the story, antè, pp. 168-9.) But Dr. Burney takes exception also to the Greek. For example, the antepenultimate of the word dvoμiunua in the last line is long, so that Milton either did not know that, or he was guilty of the impropriety of making the fourth foot of an Iambic trimeter a spondee. "The Poet does not appear to have suspected," says Dr. Burney, "that, while he was censuring the Effigiei Sculptor, he was exposing himself to the severity of criticism by admitting into his verses disputable Greek and false metre." The moral is that, when one makes a practical joke, it is dangerous to do it in Greek.
AD SALSILLUM, POETAM ROMANUM, ÆGROTANTEM.-SCAZONTES. (Editions of 1645 and 1673.)
This was written at Rome, either in 1638 or in 1639, in one of Milton's two visits to that city. The person addressed is Joannes
Salsillus, or Giovanni Salzilli, a Roman poet, whose acquaintance Milton had made in these visits. The phrase "a Roman Poet" might now mislead us. Rome then swarmed with wits and men of letters, meeting together in clubs or academies, of which there may have been about twenty in all. There must have been at least 500 authors of one kind or another in Rome then, of whom the majority were "poets" habitually or on occasion. Only a selection of these figure now in the standard Histories of Italian Literature, and of these Salzilli is not one. He must have been of considerable note in Roman society in his day, however; for I find him a leading contributor to a volume published at Rome in 1637 and dedicated to Cardinal Cesarini under the title of "Poesie de' Signori Accademici Fantastici," i.e. Poems by members of the Academy of the Fantastics. There are fifty-one contributors to this volume; but Salzilli's contributions occupy twenty-two pages out of a total of 272, and consist of eleven Sonnets, two Canzoni, one Canzonetta, and one descriptive poem. Probably he was a young man and habitually an invalid. He was in bad health, at all events, when Milton addressed to him these Scazontes, i.e. verses written in the "limping measure" employed by the Greek poet Hipponax, the peculiarity of which is that the verse is regular Iambic trimeter until the last foot, where, by the substitution of a spondee or trochee for the expected Iambus, an effect is given as of coming to the last step of a stair with the wrong emphasis. To bring out this effect fully, the fifth or penultimate foot ought always to be an Iambus, but Milton has not attended strictly to this rule. In the verses Milton expresses his wishes for Salzilli's recovery, pays him a compliment on his poetry, and refers to the four lines of Latin elegiac verse in which Salzilli had, with Italian politeness, so hyperbolically praised Milton, on slight acquaintance, extolling him above Homer, Virgil, and Tasso. See the lines among the Testi monies to Milton by Italians, prefixed to the Latin Poems. There are some pleasant allusions in the Scazontes to Milton's delight in the Italian climate and to his walks about Rome.