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Despite this coincidence, however (and Milton certainly had those passages in his mind, and takes phrases from them), it is impossible to conceive the present from Manso to be a pure fiction, and difficult to conceive that the two clips are a mere allegorical substitute, in the poem, for a real present of some quite different article. Save for this passage, we know of no present of Manso to Milton except the Latin distich of compliment
“ Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, si pietas sic,
Non Anglus, verum herclè Angelus ipse, fores ;" and surely not even Milton's imagination could have converted that into two cups, a mirum artis opus, which Manso “circum gemino cælaverat argumento.” For, though the designs on the cups in the poem are described in most gorgeous language, one can still see what the subjects might be on two actual cups. On one side of each was an oriental scene of the Red Sea, the Arabian shores, palm-trees, and the divine bird Phoenix looking back at Aurora surmounting the green waters; on the obverse was a scene from Greek mythology, representing Olympus and the gods, with Cupid underneath, his torch, his quiver, and his eyes all ablaze, shooting his arrows right upwards through the celestial ranks. Now, if, as Milton seems to say, the designs were Manso's own,
present was a very graceful one for the old nobleman to make to his young English visitor. Nor, if he did, when Milton was going away, take such a pair of cups from his cabinet, and beg Milton to accept them in addition to the Latin distich of compliment he had already written, would there have been much inconsistency in the act with what Erythræus, in his sketch of Manso (see note to Mansus, line 76), tells us of the old nobleman's habits at last : viz. that the only fault found with him was that he seemed to be too careful of his goods (quod nimis ad rem attentus videretur), and that people did not understand this till after his death, when it appeared that he had been saving all he could that he might leave a more handsome endowment for a college for the education of young noblemen which he had founded in Naples, and from which he expected great things.—Milton's pleasure in the regard Manso had shown for him is conspicuous throughout the passage. He calls him (line 182) “ Manso, not the last glory of the Chalcidic, i.e. Neapolitan, shore
i.e. Neapolitan, shore” (for Chalcidicus, see note, Ad Leon. III. 4).
198–219. “ Tu quoque in his—nec me fallit spes lubrica, Damon
Tu quoque in his certe es," &c. This closing passage is in a strain of noble and surprising phrenzy. Observe the transition from the preceding description of one of the designs on the cups--the Heaven of the gods, and Love not absent even there, but shooting his darts right up among the gods themselves. “Thou too art among them,” he exclaims, addressing the dead Danion, “I know for certain that thou also art among them ;” and then, once on the track of his favourite idea of a mystic or divine Love active even in heavenly bearts among the heavenly hierarchies (see note, Comus, 999, et seq.), he remains in that idea to the end. Damon-or let him be called at last by his own dear name of DIODATI—is not among the dead. He is living above the skies: he has spurned back the rainbow; amid the souls of heroes and the gods everlasting, he is drinking the joys that await the blessed! Nay for him, virgin as his life on earth had been, were there not reserved the highest honours of Apocalyptic promise (Rev. xiv. 2-4)? Yes, there in Heaven, his head encircled with the glittering crown, and walking with palm-branches in the glad procession, he was partaking already in the eternal nuptial-feast, joining his voice in the unutterable marriage-song, and mixing in a revel beatific beyond all Bacchic orgies, because ruled by the thyrsus of Sion itself (Rev. vii. 9-17, and xix. 5-9). Compare lines 165-181 of Lycidas and note there. But the phrenzy here, though with latent Biblical support, is more daringly wild. The last line especially breaks all customary bounds.
AD JOANNEM ROUSIUM: ODE.
Milton's Note on the Verse.—In this note, Milton, in a manner which is obviously apologetic, explains the irregularities of form in his Ode. In the first place, he explains that, though he has divided it into seven pieces, or three Strophes, as many Antistrophes, and an Epode, yet in ihis division he has attended rather to the habits of modern reading than to the ancient arrangement for singing, and so has made the pieces neither all of the same length, nor quite correspondent in the metres employed. Hence perhaps, in strictness, the whole Ode ought, he says, to have been printed monostrophically, or as one continuous run of varied verse, without break into parts. Next, however, in the measures of the individual lines great liberties have been taken, some conforming to rule, but others being quite loose and arbitrary, or guided by no rule but that of the poet's own ear. Among the first kind will be found some Phaleucians (otherwise called Phalacians or Hendecasyllabics, and strictly of this formula --I-uul-ul-ul-); and, should it be objected that in two of these Phaleucians a spondee has been admitted as the third foot, Milton would justify himself by the example of Catullus, who has admitted a spondee at his pleasure, if not for the third foot, at least for the second.—The substance of all this is that the Ode is a metrical whim of Milton's, outraging all the traditions of Latin prosody, and falling back rather on that boundless license of the easy Greeks which Martial envied. In one of Martial's Epigrams to Earinus, a favourite servant of the Emperor Domitian (IX. 12), he comments humorously on the strictness of the Latin prosody, which would not permit him to get such a pretty, sweet-sounding name as Earinus into his verse, though the Greeks managed it,
“Nomen nobile, molle, delicatum,
Versu dicere non rudi volebam :
As Milton in this Ode was less scrupulous than Martial, and used that Greek ense on a large scale which Martial could not risk even in the quantity of a syllable, the critics have, almost unanimously, condemned his experiment. Thus the Rev. Dr. Symmons, one of Milton's greatest admirers, calls the Ode to Rous "a wild chaos of verses and no verses heaped together confusedly and licentiously.” While admitting that some of the irregular individual lines might be defended as rhythmical and “not wholly contrary to the genius of the Latin language,” he will not give the benefit of even this chance to others; two of Milton's so-called Phalæcians he declares to be “not Phalæcians, whatever Milton may call them ;” and he specifies thirteen lines as so bad that “to reject them disdainfully” does not require the judgment of fastidious ears, inasmuch as long-eared King Midas himself (see Milton's Sonnet to Lawes) would have done so.-For our part, we have faith enough in Milton's own ear and scholarship to believe that he had passed all Dr. Symmons's objections through his mind before venturing on the Ode, or at least before printing it, and thought them no bar to the whim in which he had chosen to indulge, if only he guarded himself by a due note of explanation. We believe also that anyone who will read the Ode continuously, with Milton's explanation in mind rather than the rules of Latin prosody, will find in it the full arbitrary rhythm which Milton intended. Cowper, who acknowledged that the translation of this Ode had cost him more labour than that of any other of Milton's Latin pieces, contrived to render the rhythm into what he considered might pass as an English equivalent. See specimen in Introduction, II. 380, 381.
“ Gemelle cultu simplici gaudens liber,
Fronde licet geminâ,
Munditieque nitens non operosa." An exact description of the missing copy of the Moseley, or 1645, edition of Milton's Poems, which had been sent to Rous at Oxford (see Introd., II. 377–380). It was a double book, consisting of the English Poems and the Latin, separately paged, and with a separate title-page to the Latin Poems in addition to the general one at the beginning, but the two parts bound together in one neat, plain volume. Compare Martial's address Ad Librum Suum (111. 2):
“ Cedro nunc licet ambules perunctus,
Et frontis gemino decens honore
6. “haud nimii poeta”: said in semi-humorous modesty.
“ Dum vagus Ausonias nunc per umbras,
Nunc Britannica per vireta lusit.” The poems had been composed partly in “ Ausonian shades," i.e. in Italy, partly in “ British green fields," i.e. in England. This I take to be the meaning, and not that the poems were partly in Latin and partly in English. The sequel seems to forbid that metaphorical interpretation.
mox itidem pectine Daunio," &c. Both Warton and Mr. Keightley understand this as a reference to the Italian Sonnets in the volume; but this would presuppose the metaphorical interpretation of the preceding phrase “ Ausonias per umbras,” which I question in last note. Milton's meaning, by the syntax, is “While, now in Italy, now in England, I amused myself, innocent as yet of any concern in popular disputes, and indulged at random in my native lute (English verse), or anon would strike up a distant melody for my neighbours with Daunian quill.” - Now, though this last phrase would certainly include the Italian Sonnets, and might be wholly appropriated to them if the Latin Poems had been previously mentioned, it seems more natural, in the context, to take Daunian as comprehending the Latin Poems with the Italian. The word Daunia applied strictly to a portion of Apulia in Southeastern Italy; and its extension either to ancient Italy generally or to modern Italy seems to be a poetic license. Possibly, in selecting the term, Milton may have remembered Horace's reference (Od. 111. 30) to Daunia as a rather barbaric and sterile part of Italy :
“ Dicar qua violens obstrepit Aufidus,
Et qua pauper aquæ Daunus agrestium
and he may have implied that neither was his Latin offered as the classical Latin of ancient Rome, nor his Italian as the right modern Tuscan.—If the Italian Sonnets are specially referred to, then the context would favour the hypothesis that these Sonnets were written in England, and not in Italy (see Introduction to Italian Sonnets, II.
283-285); for it would be too great a strain to translate, with Mr. Keightley, “longinquum” “distant from England,” and “vicinis” “to those who were near him, the Italians.”
18. “ Thamesis ad incunabula.” The true sources or cradle of the Thames are not at or near Oxford, but either much farther west, in Gloucestershire (if the Isis is taken as the main head), or considerably to the north-east, in Buckinghamshire (if the Thame is taken as the head); but Milton condescends to the popular fancy that the Thames begins to be the true Thamesis a little below Oxford, where the longer Isis (Celtic ouse or "water") after being reinforced by the Cherwell precisely at Oxford, receives also the Thame as its tributary, and so starts afresh Londonwards as the Thame-Isis. The poets were fond of this fancy and of its association with Oxford. Thus, Spenser (F.Q., IV. xi. 24–26), in his assembly of all the waters and rivers of the earth to the marriage of the completed Thames with the Medway in the open sea far below London, makes the Thame and Isis come first of all the English rivers, as being the father and mother of the now full-grown bridegroom =
“ But him before there went, as best became,
His auncient parents ; namely th' auncient Thame :
He goes on to tell that the Isis was a “weak and crooked creature" that could scarce see her way, and required the support of her two attendants the Churne and the Cherwell, but that Thame was stronger, though also old and grey-bearded, and also somewhat bowed forward in his gait
" by reason of the load
21. “ Aonidum”: of the Muses, called Aonides, from Aonia, the old name of Bootia.
29. “ Tollat nefandos," &c. The civil wars had lasted since 1642; and, as Oxford had been the King's head-quarters, the University there had especially suffered. Most of the Colleges had been broken up, or
, turned into barracks; and all the studious routine of the place had been interrupted. Milton, in Jan 1646-7, sighs for an end of this state of things in Oxford, and throughout England.
33–36. “ Immundasque volucres ... figat Apollineâ pharetra, Phineamque abigat pestem,” &c. Milton has in view those who in England, in 1646-7, might be likened to the Harpies, or unclean and infectious birds