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mane, and eye of carbuncle, gliding among the myrtle thickets of Eden, we should have jousts and tournaments, the streaming of gonfalons, the glitter of dancing plumes, the wailing of barbaric trumpets, and the sound of silver clarions; battles fiercer than that of Fontarabia, and fields more gorgeous than that of the cloth of gold. What crowds of pilgrims and of palmers should we not have beheld journeying to and fro with shell, and staff of ivory, filling the port of Joppa with their gallies? What youthful warriors, the flowers of British chivalry, should we not have seen caparisoned, and in quest of the holy Sangreal? The world of reality, and the world of vision, would have been equally exhausted to supply the materials. The odors would have been wafted from the "weeping woods" of Araby: the dazzling mirrors would have been of solid diamond: and the flowers would have been amaranths, from the Land of Faery. Every warrior would have been clothed in pyropus and in adamant. We should have watched in battle not the celestial sword of Michael, but the enchanted Caliburn; we should have had not the sorrows of Eve, and the fall of Adam, but the loves of Angelica, or the exploits of Arthur.
P. xxv. Life.
MILTON Confines himself to praise of the fellows, but he makes not the slightest mention of the Master, Doctor Bainbridge, who is recorded to have been a most rigid disciplinarian, and that on those very points which Milton particularly disliked. He admits that his disposition could not brook the threats of a rigorous master, by whom it is most reasonable to suppose he meant Dr. Bainbridge, the head of his college. Walker's Lit. Anecdotes, p. 202.
P. xxvii. Gaddius (de Scriptoribus non Ecclesiasticis) mentions that 1. Scaliger read the two poems of Homer in twenty-one days; and the remainder of the Greek poets in four months.
P. xxxii. 'That the manner and genius of that place (Paris) being not agreeable to his mind, he soon left it.' Wood's Fast. Ox. vol. ii. 1635, col. 481.
P. xxxiii. Leo Holsten, who received Milton kindly at Rome, had resided some time in England, making researches in the libraries. He maintained a friendly correspondence with N. Heinsius, to whom he had shown much civility when Heinsius was at Rome. I read through the collection of Holsten's letters, with the hope of finding some addressed to Milton, but in vain; Milton did not maintain a correspondence with the scholars on the continent.
P. xxxv. I have heard it confidently related, that for his said resolutions, which out of policy and for his own safety might have been then spared, the English priests at Rome were highly disgusted, and it was questioned whether the Jesuits, his countrymen there, did not design to do him mischief. Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. col. 481.
P. xxxviii. Took a larger house, where the earl of Barrimore sent, by his aunt the lady Ranelagh, Sir Thomas Gardiner of Essex, to be there with others (besides his nephew) under his tuition; but whether it were that the tempers of our gentry would not bear the strictness of his discipline, or for what other reasons I cannot tell, he continued that course but a while. Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. col. 483.
P. xlv. Wherefore though be sent divers pressing invitations, yet he could not prevail with her to come back, till about four years after, when the garrison of Oxford was surrendered (the nighness of her father's house
to which having for the most part of the mean time hindered any communications between them); she of her own accord returned, and submitted to him, pleading that her mother had been the chief promoter of her forwardness. Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. col. 481.
P. lv. Bishop Gauden addressed three letters, Jan. 25, Feb. 20, March 6, 1661, to Lord Clarendon, in which he lays claim for services in the royal cause: in one of his letters he says, 'Nor do I doubt but I shall, by yr Lordship's favor, find the fruits as to something extraordinary, since the service was soe; not as to what was known to the world under my name, in order to vindicate the crowne and the church, but what goes under the late blessed king's name, the Eixov, or portraiture of hys majesty in hys solitudes and sufferings. This book and figure was wholly and only my invention, making and designe; in order to vindicate the King's wisdome, honor, and piety. My wife indeed was conscious to it, and had an hand in Disguising the letters of that Copy which I sent to the King in the Isle of Wight, by favour of the late Marquise of Hertford,' &c. In answer to which, Lord Clarendon writes, March 13, 1661, I do assure you I am more afflicted with you, and for you, than I can expresse; and the more sensibly, that it is the only charge of that kind is laid upon me, which in truth I do not think I do deserve. The particular which you often renewed, I do confesse was imparted to me under secrecy, and of which I did not take myself to be at liberty to take notice; and truly when it ceases to be a secret, I know nobody will be gladd of it but Mr. Milton; I have very often wished I had never been trusted with it.' Edinb. Rev. vol. xliv.
P. lix. It was the usual practice of Marchmont Nedham, a great crony of Milton, to abuse Salmasius in his public Mercury, called Politicus (as Milton had done before him in his Defensio), by saying, among other things, that Christiana, Queen of Sweden, had cashiered him her favour, by understanding that he was a pernicious parasite and promoter of tyranny. Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. col. 484.
P. lxviii. Mrs. Katharine Milton, wife to John Milton, Esq. was buried in St. Margaret's Church, in Westminster, Feb. 10, 1657. Reg. Book. Milton then lived in a new house in Petty France, when Mr. Harvey, son of Dr. Harvey, of Petty France, Westminster, told me, Nov. 14, 1770, that old Mr. Lownde assured him, that when Mr. Milton buried his wife, he had the coffin shut down with twelve several locks, that had twelve several keys, and that he gave the keys to twelve several friends, and desired the coffin might not be opened till they all met together. Kennet. Wood's Ath. Or. vol. ii. col. 486.
P. lxviii. The late Reverend Mr. Thomas Bradbury, an eminent dissenting minister, used to say, that Jer. White, who had been chaplain to O. Cromwell, and whom he personally knew, had often told him that
Milton was allowed by the Parliament a weekly table for the entertainment of foreign ministers and persons of learning, such especially as came from Protestant states, which allowance was also continued by Cromwell. Hollis's Note; see Newton's Life, p. lvi.
P. lxxvi. There has not one great poet appeared in France since the beginning of Cardinal Richelieu's ministry, but he has been protected and encouraged, and his merit as fast as it could spread has been generally acknowledged. I wish I could as truly affirm the same thing of England. The great qualities of Milton were not generally known among his countrymen till the Paradise Lost had been published more than thirty years; but when that admirable poet was among the Italians, the greatness of his genius was known to them in the very bloom of his youth, even thirty years before that incomparable poem was written. Dennis's Letters, p. 78. More people comprehend the excellency of Homer, and Virgil, and Milton, than the beauties of Martial and Cowley, though perhaps there are not ten persons living who know all the merit of Virgil; and Milton's Paradise Lost had been printed forty years before it was known to the greatest part of England that there barely was such a book. Dennis's Letters, p. 173.
P. lxxvii. Nor can I believe that several who pretend to be passionate admirers of Milton would treat him if living in any other manner, for the following reasons.
Because they are so fond of nothing as of that soft and effeminate rhyme, which makes the very reverse of the harmony, and of the manly and powerful and noble enthusiasm of Milton.
Because the generality of poets and wits his contemporaries did not estcem him, though they were by no means inferior in understanding to his pretended living admirers. Willmott, Earl of Rochester, never so much as mentioned him in his Imitation of the Tenth Satire of the First Book of Horace. When he came to imitate that passage,' Forte epos acer ut nemo Varius ducit,' instead of Milton he names Waller; and when that noble peer was some years afterwards asked by Dr. Burnet, since Bishop of Salisbury, for which of the modern poets he had most esteem, he answered without the least hesitation, for Boileau among the French, and Cowley among the English poets. Mr. Rymer, in his First Book of Criticism, treated the Paradise Lost with contempt, and the generality of the readers of poetry, for twenty years after it was published, knew no more of that exalted poem than if it had been written in Arabic. Mr. Dryden, in his Preface before the State of Innocence, appears to have been the first, those gentlemen excepted whose verses are before Milton's poem, who discovered in so public a manner an extraordinary opinion of Milton's extraordinary merit. And yet Mr. Dryden, at that time, knew not half the extent of his excellence, as, more than twenty years after
wards, he confessed to me, as is pretty plain from his writing the State of Innocence; for Mr. Dryden in that poem, which is founded on the Paradise Lost, falls so infinitely short of those wonderful qualities, by which Milton has distinguished that noble poem from all other poems, that one of these two things must be granted; either that Mr. Dryden knew not the extent of Milton's great qualities, or that he designed to be a foil to him. But they who knew Mr. Dryden know very well that he was not of a temper to design to be a foil to any one. Dennis's Letters, p. 76.
P. lxxxi. For my part I have no notion, that a suffering Hero can be proper for epic poetry. Milton could make but very little even of a suffering God, who makes quite another impression with his lightning and his thunder in Paradise Lost, than with his meekness and his stoicism in Paradise Regained. That great spirit which heroic poetry requires, flows from great passions, and from great actions. If the suffering Hero remains insensible, the generality of readers will not be much concerned for one who is so little concerned for himself. Dennis's Letters, p. 11.
P. lxxxix. The estate which his father left him was but indifferent; yet by his frugality he made it serve him and his. Out of his secretary's salary he had saved two thousand pounds, which being lodged in the excise, and that bank failing at his majesty's restoration, he utterly lost that sum. By the great fire which happened in London in the beginning of September, 1666, he had a house in Bread Street burnt, which was all the real estate he had then left. Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. col. 486.
To what does Fielding allude when he says, 'It is to be hoped heedless people will be more cautious what they burn, or use to other vile purposes, especially when they consider the fate which had like to have befallen the divine Milton'? v. Journ. to the Next World, p. 331.