ePub 版

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 prosepamphlets, see Introd. to Par. Lost, II. pp. 40, 41; and see also Introd. to the Latin Poems, I. pp. 248–252. 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, Latinised 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," etc. 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, Damotas 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 ;

Bisque die numerant ambo pecus, alter et hædos.
Verum, id quod multo tute ipse fatebere majus,
(Insanire licet quoniam tibi) pocula ponam
Fagina, cælatum divini opus Alcimedontis;
Lenta quibus torno facili superaddita vitis
Diffusos hedera vestit pallente corymbos.
In medio duo signa, Conon, et, quis fuit alter,
Descripsit radio totum qui gentibus orbem,
Tempora quæ messor, quæ curvus arator haberet.

Necdum illis labra admovi, sed condita servo." To this Damætas answers that the cups will do, but they are no great bargain against the heifer, 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 ;
Orpheaque in medio posuit, sylvasque sequentes.
Necdum illis labra admovi, sed condita servo.

Si ad vitulam spectas, nihil est quod pocula laudes.” 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 cups 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, the 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

[ocr errors]


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 (for Chalcidicus, see note, Ad Leon. III. 4). 198—219. “Tu quoque in his nec me fallit spes lubrica, Damon

Tu quoque in his certè es,etc. 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 Damon; “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 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 real 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 the note there. But the phrenzy here, though with latent Biblical support, is more daringly wild.

The last line especially breaks all conventional bounds.


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 this 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,

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 the formula | -uu-u-u-u); and, should it be


| -ul 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 licence 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, sweetsounding name as Earinus into his verse, though the Greeks managed it

“ Nomen nobile, molle, delicatum,

Versu dicere non rudi volebam :
Sed tu syllaba contumax repugnas.
Dicunt 'Eap.vdy tamen poetæ,
Sed Græci, quibus est nihil negatum,
Et quos "Apes "Apes decet sonare ;
Nobis non licet esse tam disertis,

Qui Musas colimus severiores." As Milton in this Ode was less scrupulous than Martial, and used that Greek licence 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

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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 any one 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, I. pp. 332, 333. I-3

Gemelle cultu simplici gaudens liber,

Fronde licet geminâ,

Munditieque nitens non operosâ.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. I. pp. 88—94). 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 (III. 2) :

“ Cedro nunc licet ambules perunctus,

Et frontis gemino decens honore

Pictis luxurieris umbilicis."
6. haud nimiï poeta: said in semi-humorous modesty.
7, 8. 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,etc. 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

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »