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Thusci," or "Tuscan shepherds," mentions two of them, Carlo Dati and Antonio Francini, with particular regard, and expressly by their own names, on account of the encomiums they had bestowed upon him: see I. 252-255. They are called "of the blood of the Lydians," in allusion to the ancient belief that the Etruscans came from Lydia in Asia Minor.
From Virgil, Æn.
142. cum te cinis ater habebat." IV. 633.
149. "Aut ad aquas Colni, aut ubi jugera Cassibelauni.” The " aquæ Colni" sufficiently designate the neighbourhood of Horton in Bucks, the country-residence of Milton's father, where Milton had mainly lived from 1632 to 1638. The "jugera Cassibelauni" were the neighbourhood of St. Albans in Herts, where the British king Cassibelaunus, who opposed Cæsar, had his headquarters.
150-154. "Tu mihi percurres medicos," etc. The reference is to Diodati's profession of medicine and his botanical knowledge. See Comus, 619-628, and note there.
155-160. "Ipse etiam," etc. Observe the subtle connexion here with what has preceded. Milton has been speaking of Diodati's profession, of his botanical pursuits, of the topics of conversation these furnished in their walks, and now of the close of all this by death. Then he goes on to remember that he himself has a profession, if it may be so called, that of letters and poetry,—and how often and how naturally, in exchange for Diodati's medical chat, he had talked with him about his own literary doings and plans. If Diodati had been still alive, to welcome him back to England, what would have been one of his first communications to that beloved friend? Would it not have been about a great English Poem he had been meditating while in Italy, and of which his mind was still so full that actually but a few days ago-eleven nights and a day, says Milton, with his usual exactness-he had been trying to make a beginning? Would he have ventured, after all, to tell even Diodati? And now, with no Diodati to hear, shall he risk putting his bold intention on paper? Observe the studied breaks in the syntax, the jerks of short clauses, with which he conveys his doubts whether it will be prudent to do so, and then the sudden resolution "tamen et referam: vos cedite, sylva."
162-168. "Ipse ego Dardanias," etc. In this famous
passage Milton divulges in greater detail that scheme of an Epic on the subject of King Arthur and Legendary British History which he had announced a year before in his poem to Manso (see Mansus, 80-84, and note there). All the proper names in the passage are significant. The "Dardania Rutupina per æquora puppes" are the Trojan ships along the Kentish coasts, bringing Brutus and his wandering Trojan followers to their new home in Britain (Rutupinus being from Rutupa or Rutupiæ, now Richborough in Kent). The "Pandrasidos regnum vetus Inogenia" is the realm which Brutus established in Britain, called, in poetical gallantry, not his, but that of his wife Inogen, or Imogen, the daughter of the Grecian king Pandrasus, with whom Brutus and his Trojans had fought in the course of their Mediterranean wanderings. In the line 66 Brennumque Arviragumque duces, priscumque Belinum" we are led farther on in British legendary history, and touch it at two long-separated points. Brennus and Belinus are two famous British brothers, sons of Dunwallo Molmutius, the second founder of the British nation, more than six hundred years after its first foundation by Brutus. For Arviragus, though he is wedged into the line with the two brothers, and indeed separates them, we must come down to the time of the Roman occupation of Britain; for he was one of the sons of the British king Cunobelin (Shakespeare's Cymbeline), and fought against the Roman invaders about A.D. 45. In the succeeding line "Et tandem Armoricos Britonum sub lege colonos" we overleap several centuries more, and arrive at the period of the supposed colonization of Armorica in France by refugee Britons escaping from the cruelties of Hengist, Horsa, and their Pagan Saxons. Thus at last we reach the main subject: i.e. the birth of the great Arthur, whose mother was Igraine, wife of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall, but whose father was not this Gorlois, but Uther Pendragon, King of all Britain, introduced into the lady's castle, in the likeness of her dead husband, by the craft of the magician Merlin.-How Milton was to weld into one epic all these masses of legend, straggling over some sixteen hundred years of imagined time, cannot be known. Within a year after the Epitaphium Damonis was written, the notion of an Arthurian Epic was abandoned and other subjects were occupying his mind. See Introd. to Par. Lost, pp. 16-19.
168-171. "O, mihi tum si vita supersit . Brittonicum strides." If Milton had carried out his great Arthurian project, then, as he here says, the simpler pastoral pipe which he had hitherto used most in his poetry would have been hung up and forgotten, and, as he also says, the Latin verse, which he had so much practised, would have been exchanged for native strains and the British war-screech.
171-178. "Quid enim? omnia non licet uni," etc. this passage Milton still pursues the idea of his great intended Epic, and emphasizes the fact that it was to be in English. In that fact there was certainly a drawback, for it would limit his constituency of readers to his own countrymen. What then? He would be content with that constituency! Yes! 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! 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.
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 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, and which Milton had hoped to show to Diodati.
198-219. "Tu quoque in his," 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; and then, once on the track of his favourite idea of a mystic or divine Love active even in heavenly hearts among the heavenly hierarchies (see note, Comus, 999, et seq.), he remains in that idea to the end. Compare lines 165-181 of Lycidas and note there.
AD JOANNEM ROUSIUM: ODE.
Milton's Note on the Verse. The substance is that the Ode is a metrical whim, outraging all the traditions of Latin
prosody, and falling back rather on that boundless license of the easy Greeks which Martial had envied.
"Gemelle cultu simplici gaudens liber,
Munditieque nitens non operosâ.”
An exact description of the missing copy of the Moseley, or
"Dum vagus Ausonias nunc per umbras,
The poems had been composed partly in “Ausonian shades,”
18. "Thamesis ad incunabula." Milton here adopts the popular fancy that the Thames begins to be the true Thamesis a little below Oxford, where the longer Isis, after being reinforced by the Cherwell, receives also the Thames as its tributary, and so starts afresh Londonwards as the Thame-Isis. The English poets were fond of this fancy and of its association with Oxford. See Spenser, F. Q., IV. xi.
29. "Tollat nefandos," etc. The civil wars had lasted since 1642; and, as Oxford had been the King's headquarters, the University there had especially suffered.
33-36. "Immundasque volucres • figat Apollinea pharetra, Phineamque abigat pestem,” etc. As it was not Apollo that delivered Phineus from the Harpies, the phrase "Apollined pharetra" is used with reference to the quiver which the deity who will perform the like service for England will bear. It will be the quiver of that monster-killing god who is also the God of Poetry. So also Thames, the seat of Oxford, is the "amnis Pegaseus," the river of the winged
Pegasus, the horse of the Muses, at the stroke of whose hoof sprang up the sacred Hippocrene.—Who, in 1646-7, were the harpies and unclean birds of England, in Milton's estimation, one can easily guess (see Sonnets XI. and XII., and On the New Forcers of Conscience, and Introductions and Notes to those pieces). Some of them had fastened especially on Oxford. But Milton must have had in view also the Royalists and Prelatists.
73-87. "Vos tandem Roüsio favente." Warton and Mr. Keightley think that this Epode has in view chiefly the future fate of those of Milton's prose - writings that had been sent to Rous (see Introd.); but, though these are included, I do not see that he distinguishes between them and the poems he was now replacing in their companionship.
IN SALMASII HUNDREDAM: IN SALMASIUM.
On these two scraps see Introd.—Salmasius ranked as an Eques or Knight on the continent, having, as Todd notes, been presented with the Order of St. Michael by Louis XIII. of France. - Of "Mungentium cubito virorum" Warton notes that this was a cant name among the Romans for fishmongers.
TWO RECOVERED SCRAPS OF LATIN VERSE ON
Some years ago, Mr. Alfred J. Horwood, when examining the family papers of Sir Frederick U. Graham, of Netherby, Cumberland, Bart., for the purposes of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, came upon an old Latin Common-Place Book of Milton's, a good deal of it in his own handwriting, containing jottings of books he had read, and notes and suggestions from them at various times of his life. Together with this Common-Place Book there was found a single loose leaf of foolscap paper, "much damaged by damp," on which was a short Latin prose-essay,