« EdellinenJatka »
that he seems also to have read in his early days another English romance, namely, the Seven Champions of Christendom; for the following passage in The Reason of Church Government, seems derived from that romance, rather than from the last cantos of the Legend of Holiness in the Faerie Queen.
More like that huge dragon of Egypt, breathing out waste and desolation to the land, unless he were daily fattened with virgin's blood.” Him our old patron St. George by his matchless valour slew, as the Prelate of the Garter that reads his collect can tell. And if our princes and knights will imitate the fame of that old champion, as by their order of knighthood solemnly taken they vow, far be it that they should uphold and side with this English dragon; but rather, to do as indeed their oaths bind them, they should make it their knightly adventure to pursue and vanquish this mighty sail-wingedt monster that menaces to swallow up the land, unless her bottomless gorge may be satisfied with the blood of the King's daughter, the Church; and may, as she was wont, fill her dark and infamous den with the bones of the saints.
where he got this; for we recollect nothing of the kind in the Mort d'Arthur, and we have not the book in our possession. * “If he be not every day appeased with the body of a true virgin.” —Seven Champions. + His flaggy wings, when forth he did display, Were like two sails.-F. Q. i. 11, 10.
THE Writings of Milton are now to come under consideration. These are both in English and in Latin: of the former we will treat in some detail, while on the latter we will content ourselves with making merely a few observations. As we have no English prose of Milton's of so early a date as the greater part of his poetry anterior to Paradise Lost, we will commence with an account of his earlier poems. In treating of Milton's poetry, we will not venture, in imitation of Johnson and others, to erect ourselves into critics and sit in judgement on it, pronouncing authoritatively on the merits and demerits of the pieces that come under consideration. For this purpose a mind nearly equal to the poet's own would be required; and few, we apprehend, can lay claim with justice to a possession of such eminence. For our own part, we frankly declare that, conscious of our immense inferiority to the poet in mental power, we would not presume to sit in judgement on what bears the stamp of his own approval; for it should always be remembered that these poems were not—as is but too much the case nowadays—given to the world immediately after they had been composed, but were, for the most part, retained in the poet's desk for many years, and were not published till the time when his judgement was in its full maturity and vigour. In our eyes they are, we may say, all beauty and perfection, bating that compliance with the false taste of the age, to be discerned in some of the earlier pieces, but from which he speedily emancipated himself. The other apparent faults all vanish when we obey that primary but too often neglected law of criticism, of placing ourselves, as far as possible, in the position of the poet, and bring to our mind the opinions that prevailed, and the meaning that words bore in his time. All then that we propose to do is to offer such illustrations of the various pieces as will enable the reader to enter into their meaning, and enjoy their manifold beauties. The explanation of particular terms and passages must of course be reserved for the annotations on the respective poems. We will here notice them in the order in which they appear to have been written.
PARAPHRASES OF PSALMS CXIV. AND CXXXVI.
These paraphrases, as the poet himself informs us, were executed “at fifteen years old,” i. e. in his sixteenth year, and therefore while he was at St. Paul's School. The versification is vigorous and elegant, and the ideas which he has introduced are correct and poetical. Warton has noticed with praise the expressions, “the goldentressed sun,” “God’s thunder-claspiny hand,” and “above the reach of mortal eye.” At a subsequent period, namely while residing at Horton, Milton translated the former of these psalms also into Greek.