Page images
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Would but some heavenly power, ,

In pity of our prostrate fame,

(If sorrow yet hath purged our name And woe's atoning pang hath had its hour,)

Quell the fierce crowd's unhallow'd roar,
And back to their loved haunts restore
The banish'd Nine, who drooping roam

Without a comforter or home;
Wing his keen shaft against the noisome race,
And far from Delphi's stream the harpy mischief chase.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

But thou rejoice, dear book;

Though late purloin'd by pilfering hand,

Or wandering from thy brother-band,
Thou lurkest now in some inglorious nook:

In some vile den thy honours torn,
Or by some palm mechanic worn;
Rejoice' for lo! new hopes arise,

That thou again may'st view the skies ;
From Lethe's pool oblivious burst to day,
And win on sail-broad vans” to highest heaven thy way.


Ergo tu visere lucos
Musarum ibis amenos ;

[ocr errors]

Diamque Phobi rursus ibis in domum,
Oxonia quam valle colit,
Delo posthabitâ
Bifidoque Parnassi jugo:
Ibis honestus,
Postquam egregiam tu quoque sortem
Nactus abis, dextri prece sollicitatus amici.
Illic legeris inter alta nomina
Authorum, Graiæ simul et Latinæ
Antiqua gentis lumina et verum decus.


'Tis thine to hail the groves,

Her vale's green charms where Oxford spreads,

Thine her fair domes and velvet meads,
Which more than his own Delos Phebus loves,
Than Pindus more : and thine, proud choice !
(Since thou by friendship's partial voice
Art call'd to join the immortal band,)

'Midst many an honour'd bard to stand ;
Bards of old Greece and conquering Rome the pride,
Whose names shall float for aye on time's o’erwhelming tide.


Vos, tandem, haud vacui mei labores,
Quicquid hoc sterile fudit ingenium,
Jam serò placidam sperare jubeo
Perfunctam invidiâ requiem sedesque beatas,
Quas bonus Hermes
Et tutela dabit solers Roüsi;
Quo neque lingua procax vulgi penetrabit, atque longè
Turba legentûm prava facesset :
At ultimi nepotes
Et cordatior ætas
Judicia rebus æquiora forsitan
Adhibebit, integro sinu.
Tum, livore sepulto,
Si quid meremur sana posteritas sciet,
Roüsio favente.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

And ye my other toils,

Not toil'd in vain-some distant day

From envy's fang shall speed your way,
Where Rouse protects and favouring Hermes smiles :

There nor the rabble shall revile,
Nor factious critics pour their bile;
But, hoarded to a happier age,

A purer race shall scan the page ;
With heart unwarp'd your humble worth regard,
Trample on Spleen's wan corse, and bless the patriot-bard.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Mr. Warton has favoured us with only one critical remark on any part of the structure of this ode. On the seventy-eighth line, “ Et tutela dabit solers Rousi," the critic observes, “ If he meant this verse for an hendecasyllable, there is a false quantity in solers. The first syllable is notoriously long." This single observation, which would lead us to suspect that Mr. Warton's" acquaintance with the Greek and Roman metres was not very profound, has induced me to offer, in



v Mr.Warton's observations, on our author's latin prose composition, discover the critic to be qualified only by presumption for the office, which he has undertaken, and his dogmatic censure of all Milton's prose writings, (with a gracious exception, indeed, in favour of the “ Tractate on Education" and the “Areopagitica,") betrays the want of taste in nearly as great a degree as it does the predominancy of prejudice. Of the opinions, which in the circle of his college-admirers and elated by partial applause, Mr.W. has thus ventured to hazard, I will pot abuse the reader's or my own time by condescending to take any

further notice. They are to be found p. 571 of the ed, of Milton's Juvenile Poems,


a note," a more extensive piece of criticism on this wild and lawless composition.

* In passing judgment on this ode it would be the safer, as well as the more easy method to pronounce in universum ; 10 commend the genius of the poet, while we censure the irregularity of his metre. Such brevity, however, might appear un. satisfactory and dogmatic; and might be construed into the detrectation of indolence or imbecillity. Tuleuéwww dycywe negóφασις αρεταν ές αιπόν έβαλε σκότον. On the other hand, to advance a step further, and to investigate the causes and modifications of this irregularity, to classify anomalies and to invent distinctions, where there may exist no differences, would be difficult and dangerous.

Nam mens tenditur acriùs
Ne contenta sit obviis,
Rimantemve recondita
Subtiles fugiant notæ,
Neu discretio falsa sit
Rerum, &c.

The criticism, therefore, which I now offer, will, probably, be condemned as preposterous in the design if not as unhappy in the execution. While to the many the rugged and intricate paths of criticism are altogether unpleasant, the scholar will deride the vain consumption of oil ;--will dissent and will censure, He will cry out

Ωφιλότης ποιόν σε έπος φύγεν έρκος οδόντων;
Και κοσμεις τα άκοσμα και ο φίλα τοι φίλα εστιν

to which sentence I will add one, of the general force of which, as well as of its particular application in the present place, I am not unmindful. Qaod præclarè facere non poteras, melius erat non attingere. But the difficulties, in which I


have entangled myself, have not been of my own seeking, (for who would willingly enter a labyrinth to fight with such a Mino

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

taur as this ode?) but have resulted from a duty, which would be but imperfectly discharged if I were to choose only the more casy and agreeable subjects of critical remark, and to decline the more difficult and dry.

When he constructed this ode to Rouse, which is now a wild chaos of verses and no verses heaped together confusedly and licentiously, Milton must be regarded as imprudent for not taking any one model of acknowledged authority, by a perfect assimilation to which, in the construction and the combination of his metres, he might have secured himself from error and reprehension. Inattentive or lawless he must certainly be deemed, either for not noticing or for not following the rule of systematizing, which the moderation of the Latin poets chose to affect, rather than to indulge in that inexhaustible variety, that rapid interchange of numbers, which enchants and astonishes in the tragic solemnity of the chorus of the Grecian Muse, or in the wild roll of her dithyrainbic. This preference of a system may be observed amongst all, even the latest of the Roman poets; though exceptions to it will be found in two or three choruses in Seneca's plays (Agam. 590. 810. (Edip. 403), which at the same time exhibit transgressions of every rule of metre and of rhythm. To disapprove, then, of the general plan and construction of this ode is only to admit that, in matters of this nature, innovation is dangerous and to be avoided; for, in compositions in the classical languages, what is without precedent may be contrary to principle: and, in every art, science, and department of knowa ledge, the vague surmises of probability, which are doubtful, must not be balanced against the conclusions of necessity, which are certain. Next in order to be regarded is the execution of the ode; which need not have followed the licentiousness of the plan: and it would have been more becoming in our poet to adhere to authority in the former, than it was censurable to depart from it in the latter; for to deviate from authority in the former was to produce new fabrics of verse, and thus to indulge in a violence of innovation at which sound judgment must necessarily revolt. It was to be expected, then, that Milton would

« PreviousContinue »