Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

had gathered from the " Animadversions;"
"He blunders at me for the

and Milton

says,

Nor always do I lose, 'mid walls and streets,
Spring's painted blossoms, and refreshing sweets.
Sometimes beneath my suburb grove I stray,
Where blending elms dispense a chequer'd day:
Where passing beauties often strike my sight,
Diurnal stars, that shoot a genial light.
With raptured gaze, ah! often have I hung
On forms of power to make old Saturn young:
Ah! often have I seen the radiant eye
Outblaze the gem, or Zembla's nightly sky;
The neck, more white than Pelops' ivory arm;
The nectar'd lip, with dewy rapture warm;
The front's resplendent grace; the playful hairs,
Compell'd by Love to weave his golden snares;
And the sweet power of cheek, where dimples wreath,
And tints, beyond the blush of Flora breathe.
Yield, famed Heroides! yield nymphs, who strove
With heaven's great empress for the heart of Jove!
Stoop, Persian dames! your structured foreheads low!
Ye Grecian, Dardan, Roman damsels, bow!
And thou, Tarpeian poet,* cease to boast
Thy Pompey's porch, and theatre's bright host.
Let foreign nymphs the fruitless strife forbear:
Beauty's first prize belongs to Britain's fair.
Imperial London! built by Trojan hands,
With towery head illustrious o'er the lands,
Happy-thrice happy!—what the sun beholds
Of female charms, thy favour'd wall infolds,
Not more the stars, whose beams illume thy night,

(Gay homagers of Luna's regent light,)

Than lovely maids, of faultless form and face,
Who o'er thy crowded paths diffuse a golden grace.

* Ovid.

Apol. for Smectymnuus, P.W. v. i. 213.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

rest, and flings out stray' crimes at a venture, which he could never, though he be a serpent, suck from any thing that I have written."

Notwithstanding this strong assertion, the hostility of the present generation has again brought the evidence of Milton toconvict Milton, and to establish the charges of his calumniator. In opposition to this pretended evidence stand the register of our author's college, and his own positive assertions. By the first of these we are satisfied that Milton lost no term, having been entered in 1624-5, and having taken his bachelor's degree in 1628; and by the latter we are assured, that he was not only exempted from punishment at the University,

Hither, 'tis thought, came wafted by her doves,
With all her smiles and war, the Queen of loves:
For this her Gnidos, Paphos, Ida scorn'd,
And Cyprus, with her rosy blush adorn'd.
But I, ere yet her sovereign power enthralls,
Prepare to fly these fascinating walls:
To shun with moly's aid, divine and chaste,
The courts hy Circe's faithless sway disgraced;
And, (fix'd my visit to Cam's rushy pools,)
To bear once more the murmur of the schools.

But thou accept, to cheat the present time,

My pledge of love, these lines constrain'd to rhyme.

From the "Animadversions" no suspicion of a charge against

their writer could by any process be extracted,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

but, in that seat of learning, was an object of affection and respect. The passage, which I shall cite as worthy of the reader's atten¬ tion, is in the "Apology for Smectymnuus." After mentioning the charge which we have already noticed, our author proceeds:"For which commodious lic, that he may be encouraged in the trade another time, I thank him; for it hath given me an apt occasion to acknowledge publicly with all grateful mind, that more than ordinary favour and respect, which I found above any of my equals at the hands of those courteous and learned men, the fellows of that college wherein I spent some years: who at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, signified many ways how much better it would content them that I would stay: as by many letters full of kindness and loving respect, both before that time and long after, I was assured of their singular good affection towards me. Which, being likewise propeuse to all such as were for their studious and civil life worthy of esteem, I could not wrong their judgments and upright intentions so much as to think I had that regard from them, for other cause than that I might be still encouraged to proceed in

P. W. v. i. 219.

the honest and laudable courses, of which they apprehended I had given good proof."

The evidence now before us seems to be conclusive; for I know not to what tribunal an appeal can be carried from the authority of a college register, and from that of assertions,' publicly made and uncontradicted at a time when their falsehood would be jealously watched and might easily be detected. What interpretation then are we to assign to those expressions in the elegy to Deodati, which certainly refer to some compulsive absence of the young student from his college, and which discover no fondness in the poet for the society or the country of Cambridge? As we find, from some lines in the conclusion of the same elegy, that it was his intention to return to his college, we may fairly, as I think, impute the banishment, of which he speaks, to the want of pecuniary supplies for his maintenance at the University; and the example of Gray may instruct us, that it is possible for a man of genius and of taste to

[ocr errors]

The slander was repeated, with some additional circumstancss, by Du Moulin in his " Clamor Regii sanguinis ad colum." "Aiunt hominem Cantabrigiensi academiâ ob flagitia pulsum, dedecus et flagitium fugisse, et in Italiam commigrasse," &c. This is the vague and baseless echo of the author of the "Modest Confutation." We may soon have occasion to site our author's reply to this revived calumny.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

dislike the conversation of a college, or the naked vicinity of the Cam, without being impelled to that dislike by unpopularity or injurious treatment.

1.

The absurd story of the corporal punishment, which Milton is asserted to have suffered, may be regarded as undeserving of notice. It was told, as we are informed, with the pretence that it came from himself or from some of his near relations, by Aubrey to Wood; but with Wood, ill-disposed as he is known to have been to the fame of Milton, it obtained so little credit as not to find admission into his page. Can the authority, then, of Aubrey be received in this instance as possessing any weight? On the value of that confirmation of this tale, which Mr. Warton, with dry positiveness, and Dr. Johnson, with the insult of affected concern, have pretended to discover in that expression of the last cited verses,

Cæteraque," &c.

"

and other things besides threats, I shall leave to the reader to determine; suggesting only that Dr. Johnson, for the purpose of concealing the weakness of his inference, has intimated a false translation of the

* Warton's Life of Dean Bathurst.

« PreviousContinue »