« ZurückWeiter »
'Quis expedivit psittaco suum xaîpe,
IN SALMASIUM.-This is from the Defensio Secunda, where it is introduced in a passage in reply to an immense eulogy on Salmasius occurring in the Sanguinis Clamor. The writer of that book, assumed by Milton to be Alexander More, had anticipated the tremendous castigation that would be given to Milton in the forthcoming "impression" of the answer to the Defensio Prima that had been written by the divine Salmasius himself, that prodigy of erudition and of genius. Milton professes to be very easy under the expectation of this posthumous reply, which he knew Salmasius had been busy with at the time of his death. People know that he has his own opinion of the genius and erudition of the famous deceased. "You, therefore, it seems," he says, addressing More, "are like the little client-fish in advance " of Whale Salmasius, who is threatening 'impressions' on these "shores: we are sharpening our irons so as to be ready to squeeze out whatever may be in the 'impressions' and 'castigations,' whether of oil or pickle. Meanwhile we shall admire the "more than Pythagorean goodness of the great man, who, in his "pity for the animals, and especially for the fishes, which are not "spared even in Lent, poor things, has provided so many volumes "for decently wrapping them up in, has bequeathed by will, I
may say, to so many thousands of poor sprats and herrings paper coats individually." After this ponderous piece of Latin prose-fun comes the Epigram. It simply prolongs the joke, in verse which is a cross between Catullus and Martial, by calling on all the herrings and other fishes to rejoice in their prospect of abundant paper wrappages from the books of Salmasius. Milton was rather fond of this particular scurrility; for, as Warton pointed out, he had already used it in his Apology for Smectymnuus against his antagonist in that pamphlet: "whose best folios are predestined to no better purpose than to making winding-sheets in Lent for pilchards."
POEMS, ENGLISH AND LATIN, ETC.
The title-pages of the two original Editions, of 1645 and 1673, have been given in the General Introduction (p. 166 and pp. 172-3). The Second Edition had no Preface; but the First had the following, by the publisher, Humphrey Moseley :
"THE STATIONER TO THE READER.
"It is not any private respect of gain, Gentle Reader (for the slightest Pamphlet is nowadays more vendible than the works of learnedest men), but it is the love I have to our own Language that hath made me diligent to collect and set forth such Pieces, both in Prose and Verse, as may renew the wonted honour and esteem of our English tongue; and it's the worth of these both English and Latin Poems, not the flourish of any prefixed encomions, that can invite thee to buy them-though these are not without the highest commendations and applause of the learnedest Academicks, both domestic and foreign, and, amongst those of our own country, the unparalleled attestation of that renowned Provost of Eton, SIR HENRY WOOTTON. I know not thy palate, how it relishes such dainties, nor how harmonious thy soul is: perhaps more trivial Airs may please thee better. But, howsoever thy opinion is spent upon these, that encouragement I have already received from the most ingenious men, in their clear and courteous entertainment of MR. WALLER'S late choice Pieces, hath once more made me adventure into the world, presenting it with these ever-green and not to be blasted laurels. The Author's more peculiar excellency in these studies was too well known to conceal his Papers, or to keep me from attempting to solicit them from him. Let the event guide itself which way it will, I shall deserve of the age by bringing into the light as true a birth as the Muses have brought forth since our famous SPENSER wrote; whose Poems in these English ones are as rarely imitated as sweetly excelled. Reader, if thou art eagle-eyed to censure their worth, I am not fearful to expose them to thy exactest perusal.
"Thine to command,