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TO THE LATIN POEMS
The Latin Poems were distinctly divided by Milton himself, in both editions, into two Books or sets, “ ELEGIARUM LIBER,” or “ BOOK OF ELEGIES”; and a " SYLVARUM LIBER,” or “ BOOK OF SYLVÆ.” The word Sylva (literally “a Wood”) was the name given by the Latin authorcraft of the Empire, as we learn from Quintilian, to any rough thing written off at a heat ; and hence the Miscellanies of many poets are printed in their works under the title of Sylva. The distinction made by Milton between his ELEGIÆ or ELEGIES and his SYLVÆ or MISCELLANIES seems to have been one of metrical form merely, and not of matter. Among the ELEGIES he put all pieces, of whatever kind, and whether properly
elegiac” or not in the sense of “pensive” or “mournful,” that were written in the elegiac metre, of alternate Hexameters and Pentameters, so much used by Tibullus, Propertius, and his favourite Ovid. Among the Sylvæ or MISCELLANIES, on the other hand, he put all pieces written in other kinds of verse, whether in Hexameters only, or in such more complex Horatian measures as Alcaics and varied Iambics. Later editors, indeed, have taken the liberty of cutting off a few of the smaller pieces from the end of the Book of Elegies, and combining them with two or three scraps of Latin verse from the prose-pamphlets, so as to constitute a third brief book, called EPIGRAMMATUM Liber, or BOOK OF EPIGRAMS. But, though the few pieces thus thrown together are of the nature of Epigrams, and some of them like Martial's Epigrams, the liberty seems unwarrantable. Milton made the distinction into ELEGIES and SYLVÆ suffice, and we must do the same.
ELEGIA PRIMA :
Ad Carolum Diodatum.
The person addressed in this Elegy was Charles Diodati, the dearest and most intimate friend of Milton in his boyhood, and through his youth and early manhood, and for whose memory he entertained a singular affection in still later life, after he had lost him by death. He will be mentioned again in the course of these Introductions. At present we shall trace what is known of him as far as to the date of this Elegy, i.e. to the year 1626.
The family of Diodati (pronounce it Diodăti) was Italian, belonging originally to Lucca. One of the family, who had migrated from Lucca to France on commercial business, and had turned Protestant, had been driven from France by the St. Bartholomew Massacre of 1572, and had settled in Geneva, where he lived to as late as 1625, and where, by his second wife, also of an Italian family of Protestant refugees, he was the father of four sons and three daughters. One of the sons, named Giovanni Diodati, born in 1576, had become very eminent in Geneva, as a scholar and theologian, and was Professor of Hebrew and one of the ministers of that city. He was the author of various Calvinistic writings, much esteemed in their day by foreign Protestants and by the Puritans of England ; he took a leading part in the famous Synod of Dort in 1618-19; and he would be yet remembered, if for nothing else, at all events for his Italian Version of the Scriptures, published in 1607, and known
“ Diodati's Version." An elder brother of his, named Theodore Diodati, born at Geneva in 1574, and educated for the medical profession, had made England his home, and, having married an English lady of some means, acquired a good practice and some celebrity as a physician, first at Brentford, and afterwards in London, where he resided in the parish of Little St. Bartholomew, not far from St. Paul's and Milton's native Bread Street. Of two sons of this naturalised London physician, by his English wife, one was called John, probably after his uncle, the Genevese divine,