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the Reformation, or pure religion, after which they languished.* At the close of the twelfth century, this style of poetry was transferred to Italy, and was adopted by the Ghibellines, who made it political as well as religious, seeking a reform in politics also, and the establishment of the Imperial power in Italy. All the Italian poetry of the thirteenth century is of this kind; but at the beginning of the next century, as the clergy had discovered the true nature of this pretended love, Dante gave it a new form, and invested his Commedia in the garb of religion. A return to love was however made by Petrarca and Boccaccio. These various sects and parties were, in the opinion of Rossetti, a secret society, with signs, a conventional language, etc. From comparing the ritual books of the Free Masons with Dante's poem and other works, and finding a marvellous similarity, he infers that these last are only a continuation of the former, all descended from the original Manicheism. He also sees in the various works on alchemy and astrology of the Middle Ages, only different forms of the same doctrine.t Our space does not permit us to trace the subject any further; but we again require the reader to believe that we could not be convinced if there were not some weight in the evidence, and not to reject without careful examination.f * It is very remarkable that the Sûfees of Persia, the country of Manes, take a similar view of the poetry of Hāfeez, and the other Persian poets the contemporaries of the Troubadours. We first discovered and directed Rossetti's attention to this coincidence. Of the Italian Cantori d'Amore Ginguené says, “Ils sont tous occupés du mème sujet, qui est l'Amour, et l'on pourrait, en quelque sorte, les croire tous amoureur du méme objet.” This is exactly what Rossetti says. t Rossetti terms Swedenborg the Dante of the eighteenth century, regarding his works as Masonic; and certainly, with the key which he gives, the interpretation of them is easy. f E quel che più ti graverale spalle Sara la compagnia malvagia e scempia, Colla qual tu cadrai in questa valle, Chè tutta ingrata, tutta matta ed empia
Si farā contrate.—Par. xvii. v. 61. Rossetti's most inveterate, most envenomed opponent, both in conversation
Rossetti was not merely a most sagacious critic, he was a man of true genius; in our opinion, the greatest lyric poet, perhaps the greatest general poet, that Italy has produced since Torquato Tasso. He was even an Improvisatore, as we can testify of our own knowledge; and in his Veggente in Solitudine will be found one of his improvisations in Malta, taken down in short-hand. He was also a man of the purest virtue, and every region of his mind was pervaded by the spirit of true religion, as appears in all his writings, especially his last work, L'Arpa Evangelica, a collection of sacred poems, the production of his declining years.” His mind was rather too sensitive, and he let the silly and ignorant or malignant attacks made on him give too much disturbance to his equanimity: he also suffered from infirmities and a partial loss of sight; but he attained a good old age, and he enjoyed what rarely falls to the lot of an exile—that greatest of blessings, domestic felicity.t To ourselves it is a matter of grateful recollection, that we were so happy as to enjoy for many years the friendship and intimacy of a man of such eminent genius, and we feel a melancholy pleasure in thus paying even this slight tribute to his memory;
Purpureos spargam flores, animamque beati
and in writing, was one of his “fellows in exile”! When we call to mind the genius, the virtues, the patriotism of Rossetti, and the uniform courtesy and urbanity of his language, we confess we wonder how his compatriot could, as he did, and in the coarsest terms, charge him with imposture, with ignorance of the poem he was commenting on and of the history of those times—and all without a shadow of proof; mere reckless and confident assertion, which Rossetti amply confuted. But, “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
* He also published Versi and Il Tempo ovvero Dio e l’Uomo, Salterio.
+ Shortly after his arrival in England he married the daughter of his friend Polidori, a woman possessed of every mental, moral, and personal advantage, the best of wives and best of mothers. With her he passed seven-and-twenty years of uninterrupted harmony; he lived to see his children attain to maturity, all possessed of superior talent, dutiful and affectionate to their parents and attached to each other.
ERRORS IN PARADISE LOST.
MILTON undoubtedly had a strong memory, like every other man of genius; but he does not seem to have possessed one of that extreme fidelity which at times is given to inferior men. This, combined with his loss of sight, caused him occasionally to fall into errors; venial ones no doubt, but still such as should be noted. Such are the following.
As when to them who sail
What is here asserted is an impossibility. Any one who will look on a map of the world will see that when a vessel going to India has passed Mozambic, the coast of Arabia is due north to her, and at an immense distance, with a portion of the east coast of Africa interposed. In no case then, and in no part, could those who had sailed by the Cape of Hope and Mozambic meet with Sabean odours wafted by north-east winds. Milton's blindness amply excuses this mistake; but surely his commentators who had their sight might have looked at a map and so have discerned the error.
To the same cause may be assigned the error in the following passage:–
Or pilot from amidst the Cyclades,
Delos, or Samos, first appearing, kens
Samos is not one of the Cyclades.
We cannot offer the same excuse for the following error, which we can only ascribe to the incuria which comes at times on even the most vigilant. Meanwhile, in utmost longitude where heaven With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun Slowly descended, and with right aspect Against the eastern gate of Paradise Leveled his evening rays.-iv. 539. Here no critic seems ever to have asked himself the question, how the sun who was sinking in the west could level his rays directly against the eastern gate of Paradise? It might be said, that it was against the inner side of the gate, and that the rays came over Paradise; but this is contrary to all analogy; for no one but Satan entered the garden except at the gate, and Uriel came on one of these beams. Besides, it is refuted by the following passage:— And Uriel to his charge Returned on that bright beam, whose point now raised,
Bore him slope downwards, to the sun now fallen
When describing the Serpent, Milton says,
Never since of serpent-kind
No ancient writer whatever names the wife of Cadmus Hermione, always Harmonia. The two names were evidently confounded in Milton's mind; and as Ovid does not mention the name, and he was perhaps no great reader of Apollodorus, and did not recollect the passage in the Rhodian poet in which the true name occurs, he fell into this error. It did not of course escape Bentley, but not one of the subsequent critics notices it. The following are mere slips of memory:
Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned
Scylla is nowhere called a whirlpool. But perhaps what
Ovid tells of her being changed by Circe when bathing, was
Hid Amalthea and her florid son,
In the narrative of Diodorus Siculus, whom Milton here follows, they are not hidden.
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
Charlemain was not among the fallen on that fatal day; but it had probably been many years since Milton had read the
Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day,
Warping is a technical term, and Milton appears to have misunderstood it. A ship is warped to get her out of port, when there is no wind, or it is contrary. It is performed thus: —an anchor, with a cable attached, is carried out ahead in a boat to some distance from the ship and there cast; the ship then, by means of the capstan, is brought up to that place; the anchor is then raised and carried out as before, and so on, till the vessel is got out sufficiently. Now this will not apply by any means to the progress of the swarm of locusts, whose motion seems rather to answer to what he afterwards (xi. 840) calls hulling, undulating with the wind. In the first edition, the text stood thus:—
In Gibeah, when the hospitable doors
And though this might pass as a poetic license, yet in the second he gave it as it stands in the text at present.
Milton's errors are sometimes only apparently so. For instance :