페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

"

tranflator of Polybius, remark what I think is true, that Milton was the firft Englishman who, after the revival of letters, wrote Latin verfes with claf fick elegance. If any exceptions can be made, they are very few: Haddon and Afcham, the pride of Elizabeth's reign, however they may have fucceeded in profe, no fooner attempt verfes than they provoke derifion. if we produced any thing worthy of notice before the elegies of Milton, it was perhaps Alabaster's Roxana.

Of thefe exercifes which the rules of the Uni verfity required, fome were published by him in his maturer years. They had been undoubtedly applauded; for they were fuch as few can per form; yet there is reafon to fufpect that he was regarded in his college with no great fondnets. That he obtained no fellowship is certain; but the unkindnefs with which he was treated was 110t merely negative. I am ashamed to relate what I fear is true, that Milton was one of the laft ftudents in either univerfity that fuffered the publick in diguity of corporal correction.

It was, in the violence of controverfial hoftility, objected to him, that he was expelled: this he fteadily denies, and it was apparently not true; but it feems plain from his own verfes to Diodati, that he had incurred Ruftication; a temporary dismiffion into the country, with perhaps the lofs of a term:

Me

Me tenet urbs refluâ quam Thamefis alluit undâ,
Meque nec invitum patria dulcis habet.
Jam nec arundiferum mihi cara revifere Camum,
Nec dudum vetiti me laris angit amor
Nec duri libet ufque minas perferre magiftri,
Cæteraque ingenio non fubeunda meo.as
Si fit hoc exilium patrias adiiffe penates,
ed Et vacuum curis otia grata fequi,

Non ego vel profugi nomen fortemve recufo,
Lætus et exilii conditione fruor.

I cannot find any meaning but this, which even kindness and reverence can give to the term, ve titi laris, "a habitation from which he is excluded;" or how exile can be otherwife interpreted. He des clares yet more, that he is weary of enduring the threats of a rigorous master, and fomething else, which a temper like his cannot undergo. What was more than threat was probably punishment. This poem, which mentions his exile, proves likewife that it was not perpetual; for it concludes with a refolution of returning fome time to Cambridge: And it may be conjectured from the willingness with which he has perpetuated the memory of his exile, that its caufe was fuch as gave him no

[ocr errors]

He took both the ufual degrees; that of Batche lor in 1628, and that of Mafter in 1632; but he left the univerfity with no kindness for its inftitu tion, alienated either by the injudicious feverity of his governors, or his own captious perverfenefs. a 4

Thé

[ocr errors]

The cause cannot now be known, but the effect appears in his writings. His fcheme of education, infcribed to Hartlik, fuperfedes all academical inftruction, being intended to comprise the whole, time which men ufually spend in literature, from their entrance upon grammar, till they proceed, as it is called, masters of arts. And in his Difcourfe

[ocr errors]

on the likeliest Way to remove Hirelings out of the Church, he ingeniously propofes, that the profits of the lands forfeited by the act for fuperftitious uses, fhould be applied to fuch academies all over the land, where languages and arts may be taught together; so that youth may be at once brought up to a competency of learning and an honest trade, by which means fuch of them as had the gift, being enabled to support themselves (without tithes) by the latter, may, by the help of the former, become worthy preachers.

[ocr errors]

One of his objections to academical education, as it was then conducted, is, that men defigned for orders in the Church were permitted to act plays, writhing and unboning their clergy limbs to all the antick and difhoneft gestures of Trincalos, buffoons and bawds, proftituting the Shame of that miniftry which they had, or were near having, to the eyes of courtiers and court-ladies, their grooms and 'mademoifellesstade je vhod

This is fufficiently peevifh in a man who, when he mentions his exile from the college, relates with great luxuriance, the compenfation which the pleasures of the theatre afford him. Plays were

there

therefore only criminal when they were acted by academicks,

He went to the univerfity with a defign of entering into the church, but in

but in time altered his mind; for or he declared, that whoever became a clergyman muft "fubfcribe flave, and take an Take an oath withal, which, unless he took with a coufcience ,,that could retch, he muft ftraight perjure himself, ,,He thought it better to prefer a blameless filence ,,before the office of fpeaking, bought and begun ,,with fervitude and forfwearing."

ན་སོ་སྐེམ།

Thefe expreffions are, I find, applied to the fubfcription of the Articles; but it feems more probable that they relate to canonical obedience, I know not any of the Articles which feem to thwart his opinions: but the thoughts of obedience, whether canonical or civil, raised his in

dignation,

His unwillingness to engage in the miniftry, 'perhaps not yet advanced to a fettled refolution of declining it, appears in a letter to one of his friends, who had reproved his fufpended and dilatory life, which he seems to have imputed to all infatiable curiofity, and fantaftick luxury of various knowledge, To this he writes a cool and plaufible anfwer, in which he endeavors to perfuade him that the delay proceeds not from the delights of defultory study, but from the defire of obtaining more fitnels for his, tafk; and that he goes on,

[ocr errors][merged small]

not taking thought of being late, fa it give avantage to be more fit.

When he left the univerfity, he returned to his father, then refiding at Horton in Buckinghamshire, with whom he lived five years; in which time he is faid to have read all the Greek and Latin wri -ters. With what limitations this univerfality is to

be understood, who fhall inform us?

It t might be fuppofed that he fhould have done nothing elfe;

fo much

who read so mu but Milton found time to write the Mafque of Comus, which was

prefented at Ludlow, then the refidence of the

Lord Prefident of Wales, in 1634; and had the honour of being acted by the Earl of Bridgewater's fons and daughter. The fiction is derived from Homer's Circe; but we never can refufe to any modern the liberty of borrowing from Homer:

a quo ceu fonte perenni

Vatum Pieriis ara rigantur aquis.

His next production was Lycidas anmelegy, written iu 1637, on the death of Mr. King, the fon of Sir John King, fecretary for Ireland in the time of Elizabeth, James, and Charles. King was much a favourite at Cambridge, and many of the wits joined to do honour to his

tance with the Italian Milton's acquain

may be discovered by

a mixture of longer and fhorter verfes, according to the rules of Tufcan poetry, and his malignity to

the

« 이전계속 »