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brought with him from England, or could remember; for it does not seem that any of his Florentine friends could read English, so as to appreciate his Comus, his Lycidas, or his other English pieces.
134, 135. nam sunt et apud me, munera vestra,” &c. Richardson refers to Virgil, Ed. 111. 62, 63, where Menalcas says :
“ Et me Phoebus amat : Phoebo sua semper apud me
Munera sunt, lauri, et suave rubens hyacinthus." I do not doubt, however, that Milton had actually received little gifts, or tokens of remembrance, from his Florentine friends, and that, to be in pastoral keeping, he names these "fiscelle, calathique, et cerea vinca cicuta.”
136-138. “Quin et nostra . . . et Datis et Francinus . . . Lydorum sanguinis ambo." Milton here, after having referred to his Florentine friends generally as “pastores Thusci," or " Tuscan shepherds," mentions two of them, Carlo Dati and Antonio Francini, with particular regard, and expressly by their own names, on account of the encomiums they had bestowed upon him.-Francini in an elaborate Italian ode, and Dati in a Latin address (see both performances among the De Auctore Testimonia, antè, pp. 35-38). They are called “ of the blood of the Lydians,” in allusion to the story in Herodotus, universally accepted in the ancient world, that the Etruscans came from Lydia in Asia Minor. Doubtless, too, there is an allusion to Horace (Sat. 1. vi. 1, 2) where he says of Mæcenas that no one was generosior than he of all who inhabited 'Lydorum Etruscos fines.”—It may be again mentioned that Milton's affectionate remembrance of his Tuscan friends accompanied him through life. Among his Latin Familiar Epistles is one to Carlo Dati, dated “London, April 21, 1647,” in which messages are sent to Coltellini, Francini, Frescobaldi, Malatesti, and Chimentelli, and “the rest of the Gaddian Academy”; the correspondence with Dati did not then cease; and in Milton's Defensio Secunda, published in 1654, he made honourable mention of seven of the group by name, acknowledging his obligations to them, and to “not a few others” in Florence. 142. “cum te cinis ater habebat.” Traced to Virgil, Æn. IV. 633 :
Namque suam patria antiqua cinis ater habebat." 144. “ Vimina nunc texit, varios sibi quod sit in usus.” Traced to Virgil, Ed. 11. 71, 72 3
Quin tu aliquid saltem potius, quorum indiget usus,
Viminibus mollique paras detexere junco ? 149. “ Aut ad aquas Colni, aut ubi jugera Cassibelauni.” The “aquæ Colni” sufficiently designate the neighbourhood of Horton in Bucks, the country-residence of Milton's father, where Milton had mainly lived from 1632 to 1638; and it has been ingeniously suggested to me by a
correspondent that the apposition of the "jugera Cassibelauni," as an alternative place for the meeting of the two friends, may imply that these "jugera Cassibelauni"-viz. the neighbourhood of St. Albans in Herts, where, according to Camden, the British king Cassibelaunus, who opposed Cæsar, had his head-quarters were the place of Diodati's usual residence when Milton took farewell of him to go abroad. In that case, the present passage would mean that Milton, when abroad, often anticipated the renewal of his walks with Diodati, on the old understanding that sometimes Diodati should come to Horton, and sometimes Milton should go to St. Albans. The distance between the two places is about twenty miles. It is possible that the conjecture of my correspondent may yet be verified by the discovery of some traces of Diodati in the neighbourhood indicated. At present the place of his death is unknown. There has been a vague idea among Milton's commentators that it may have been near Chester ; but this rests only on the fact that Diodati was at Chester in 1626, and the tenor of all the evidence is that his habitual residence afterwards, to his death in 1638, was much nearer London.
150-154. “ Tu mihi percurres medicos," &c. The reference is to Diodati's profession of medicine and his botanical knowledge. See Comus, 619-628, and note there. 155-160. " Ipse etiam,” &c. Observe the subtle connexion here
, with what has preceded. Milton has been speaking of Diodati's profession, of his botanical pursuits, of the topics of conversation these furnished in their walks, and now of the close of all this by death. Then he goes on to remember that he himself has a profession, if it may be so called,—that of letters and poetry,—and how often and how naturally, in exchange for Diodati's medical chat, he had talked with him about his own literary doings and plans. Well
, if Diodati had been still alive, to welcome him back to England, what would have been one of his first communications to that beloved friend? Would it not have been about a great English Poem he had been meditating while in Italy, and of which his mind was still so full that actually but a few days ago-eleven nights and a day, says Milton, with his usual exactness-he had been trying to make a beginning? It had not been successful; the theme was too grave for one whose poetical exercises hitherto had been of a lighter kind; well might he hesitate! Would he have ventured, after all, to tell even Diodati ? And now, with no Diodati to hear, shall he risk putting his bold intention on paper ? Observe the studied breaks in the syntax, the jerks of short clauses, with which he conveys his doubts whether it will be prudent to do so, whether he may not incur the charge of boastfulness if he does; and then the sudden resolution " tamen et referam: vos cedite, sylve." (" Yes, I will tell it : ye Woods, give place.") By “sylvice" or
woods Milton here means Pastoral Poesy; and it is as if he had said,
" Pastoral Poesy! listen to that scheme of mine which is to withdraw me from your service and transfer me to one higher and more difficult!"
162–168. " Ipse ego Dardanias,” &c. In this famous passage Milton divulges in greater detail that scheme of an Epic on the subject of King Arthur and Legendary British History which he had announced a year before in his poem to Manso (see Mansus, 80–84, and note there). All the proper names in the passage are significant. The “ Dardania Rutupina per æquora puppes ” of which he is to speak are the Trojan ships along the Kentish coasts, bringing Brutus and his wandering Trojan followers to their new home in Britain (Rutupinus being from Rutupa or Rutupie, now Richborough in Kent, famous among the Romans for its oyster-beds, and reckoned one of the most convenient ports in southern Britain). The “ Pandrasidos regnum vetus Inogenie" is the realm which Brutus established in Britain, called, in poetical gallantry, not his, but that of his wife Inogen, or Imogen, the daughter of the Grecian king Pandrasus, with whom Brutus and his Trojans had fought in the course of their Mediterranean wanderings, though at length there was an agreement, and a handsome parting dowry of ships and money from Pandrasus to Inogen and her adventurous husband. In the line " Brennumque Arviragumque duces, priscumque Belinum" we are led farther on in British legendary history, and touch it at two longseparated points. Brennus and Belinus are two famous British brothers, sons of Dunwallo Molnutius, the second founder of the British nation, more than six hundred years after its first foundation by Brutus; and the legends tell nothing less of them than that, after mutual wars in Britain, they joined forces and led that famous expedition of so-called Gauls into Italy by which infant Rome had nearly perished (B.C. 390)the so-called Gauls of that invasion being in reality Britons, and the Brennus who flung his broadsword into the scale, and said " Væ victis !!" to the trembling Romans who were weighing out their ransom in gold, being the younger of the two brothers. For Arviragus, again, though he is wedged into the line with the two brothers, and indeed separates them, we must come down to the time of the Roman occupation of Britain ; for he was one of the sons of the British king Cunobelin (Shakespeare's Cymbeline), and fought against the Roman invaders about A.D. 45. In the succeeding line “Et tandem Armoricos Britonum sub lege colonos we overleap several centuries more, and arrive at the period of the supposed colonization of Armorica in France by refugee Britons escaping from the cruelties of Hengist, Horsa, and their Pagan Saxons (A.D. 450 et seq.). Thus at last we reach the main subject =
“ Tum gravida in Arturo, fatali fraude, Tögernen ;
Mendaces vultus, assumptaque Gorlois arma,
Merlini dolus :" i.e. the birth of the great Arthur, whose mother was Igraine, wife of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall, but whose father was not this Gorlois, but
Uther Pendragon, King of all Britain, introduced into the lady's castle, in the likeness of her dead husband, by the craft of the magician Merlin.--How Milton was to weld into one Epic all these masses of legend, straggling over some sixteen hundred years of imagined time, cannot be known. Probably, while making Arthur his immediate hero, and using Malory's Morte D'Arthur, or the original Arthurian poems, as his material for that story, he might, by some device of magical reflection or doubling-back in the narrative, have included a retrospect of the British Legendary History back to Brutus, as told in Geoffrey of Monmouth, and summarized poetically by Spenser in sixty-four stanzas of his Faery Queene (see F. Q., Book 11. Canto x. stanzas 5—68 ; and note the mention there of Brutus and Inogen, 9–13, Brennus and Belinus, 40, Arvirage or Arviragus, 51, and the Armorican settlers, 64). As it happened, he was never to carry his project into effect; and all we have from him as a substitute for it is his prose compilation of the British Legends in his History of England, published in 1670. Within a year after the Epitaphium Damonis was written, the notion of an Arthurian Epic was abandoned by Milton and other subjects were occupying his mind. See Introd. to Par. Lost, I. 42 et seq., and General Introd. to Minor Poems, II. 162 et seq.
168–171. "O, mihi tum si vita supersit ... Brittonicum strides." If Milton had carried out his great Arthurian project, then, as he here says, the simpler pastoral pipe which he had hitherto used most in his poetry would have been hung up and forgotten, and, as he also says, the Latin verse, which he had so much practised, would have been exchanged for native strains and the British war-screech.
171-178. “ Quid enim ? omnia non licet uni.” In this passage, in the opening of which there is a trace of Virgil's “non omnia possumus omnes" (Ed. vii. 63), Milton still pursues the idea of his great intended Epic, and emphasizes the fact that it would be in English. In that fact there was certainly a drawback, for it would limit his constituency of readers to his own countrymen. What then? He would be content with that constituency! Yes! let him be unknown all through the foreign world, if he should be read along all the rivers and all the shores of his own native island ! For the importance of this concession in Milton's mode of thinking, and a re-expression of it shortly afterwards in one of his prose-pamphlets, see Introd. to Par. Lost, I. 40, 41; see also Introd. to the Latin Poems, II. 318-321. The enumeration of British rivers and coasts in the present passage is very poetical, and may be compared with that in At a Vacation Exercise, 91–100. Whether the Usa is the Ouse of the Eastern Counties or the Ouse of Yorkshire may remain doubtful; but the former may be preferred, as the river nearest Cambridge (see Spenser, F. Q. iv. xi. 34). The Alaunus may be the Denbighshire Allen or Alyn, flowing into the Dee. The “ vorticibus frequens Abra," where the epithet “vorticibus frequens" is from Ovid,
Met. IX. 106, is supposed by Warton to be probably the Humber (“storming Humber" Spenser calls it, F. Q. iv. xi. 30); but Abra, Latinized from Aber a river's mouth, was a name of various rivers, and sometimes especially designated the Severn. The Treanta is, of course, the Trent; then, above all, Milton names Thamesis meus, his own Thames ; after which the Tamara or Tamar, dividing Devon from the mining county of Cornwall, is the only river mentioned, and the eye then glances swiftly to the extreme north of the island, catching no more rivers, but only the sea round the Orcades, or Orkneys.-In all these places, and not least in the last, Milton is now read.
180. “ Hæc tibi servabam lentâ sub cortice lauri.” Probably this is a mere metaphorical expression for "I was keeping all this to be told you"; but the image is that of something packed up in tough laurel bark, and one can discern the significance of that image for the occasion.
181—197. “tum quæ mihi pocula Mansus ... bina dedit, mirum artis opus," &c. I do not see any other possible interpretation of this passage than that which accepts it, as Warton was inclined to do, as a description of an actual pair of cups or goblets, with designs painted or engraved on them, which the Neapolitan Manso had given to Milton as a keepsake at parting, and which Milton had hoped to show to Diodati. True, it may be argued that the whole is but a fiction in the manner of the pastoralists. Thus Virgil, following precedents in Theocritus, makes the two shepherds, Damætas and Menalcas, who contend in his Third Eclogue for the superiority in singing, name as their stakes, respectively, a young heifer and a pair of beechen cups. Damotas, who has staked the heifer, asks Menalcas to name his stake; and Menalcas replies
“ De grege non ausim quidquam deponere tecum :
Est mihi namque domi pater, est injusta noverca ;
Necdum illis labra admovi, sed condita servo." To this Damcetas answers that the cups will do, but they are no great bargain against the heiser, as he has two cups of his own by the same maker
“ Et nobis idem Alcimedon duo pocula fecit,
Et molli circum est ansas amplexus acantho;
Si ad vitulam spectas, nihil est quod pocula laudes." VOL. III.