« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
own mind a perpetual source of tranquility and satisfaction.”
Whenever he is induced to mention himself, the purity and vigor of Milton's mind, appear in full lustre, whether he speaks in verse or in prose: the preceding passage from his Second Defence, is consonant to the sonnet on his blindness, addressed to Cyriac Skinner, which, though different critics have denied the author to excel in this minute species of composition, has hardly been surpassed ; it deserves double praise for energy of expression and heroism of sentiment.
Cyriac, this three-years day these eyes, tho' clear
Nor to their idle orbs does day appear,
Or man or woman ; yet I argue not
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
This thought might lead me thro' the world's vain
The ambition of Milton was as pure as his genius was sublime; his first object on every occasion was to merit the approbation of his conscience and his God; when this most important point was secured, he seems to have indulged the predominant passion of great minds, and to have exulted, with a triumph proportioned to his toil, in the celebrity he acquired : he must have been insensible indeed to public applause, had he pot felt elated by the signal honors which were paid to his name in various countries, as the eloquent defender of the English nation. • *This I can truly affirm,” (says Milton, in mentioning the reception of his great political performance) “ that as soon as
* Hoc etiam vere possum dicere, quo primum tempore nostra defensio est edita, et legentium studia incaluere, nullum vel principis vel civitatis legatum in urbe tum fuisse, qui non vel fortè obvio mihi gratularetur, vel conventum apud se cuperet vel domi inviseret. - Prose. Works, vol. 2. p. 394.
my defence of the people was published, and read with avidity, there was not, in our metropolis, any ambassador from any state or sovereign, who did not either congratulate me if we met by chance, or express a desire to receive me at his house, or visit me
Toland relates, that he received from the parliament a present ofa thousand pounds for the defence. The author does not include this circumstance among the many particulars he mentions of himself; and if such a reward was ever bestowed upon him, it must have been after the publication of his Second Defence, in which he affirms, that he was content with having discharged what he considered as an honorable public duty, without aiming at a pecuniary recompence; and that instead of having acquired the opulence with which his adversary reproached him, he received not the slightest gratuity for that production.* Yet he appears to
* Contentus quæ honesta factu sunt, ea propter se solum appetisse, et gratis persequi ; id alii viderint tuque
have been perfectly satisfied with the kindness of his associates ; for, in speaking of his blindness, he says, that “ far from being neglected on this account, by the highest characters in the republic, they constantly regarded him with indulgence and favor, not seeking to deprive him either of distinction or emolument, though his powers of being useful were diminished;" hence he compares himself to an ancient Athenian, supported by a decree of honor at the expence of the public.* Among the foreign compli
scito me illas "opimitates," atque "opes," quas mihi exprobas, non atti gisse neque eo nomine quo maxime accusas obolo factum ditiorem. -Prose Works, vol. ii. p. 378.
* Quin et summi quoqne in republica viri quandoquidem non otio torpentem me, sed impigrum et summa discrimina pro libertate inter primos adeuntem oculi dcseruerunt, ipsi non deferunt; verum humana qualia sint secum reputantes, tanquam emerito favent, indulgent vacationem atque otium faciles concedunt; si quid publici muneris, non adimunt; si quid ex ea re commodi, non minuunt; et quamvis non æque nunc utili, præbendum nihilo minus benignè censent; eodem plane honore ac si, ut olim Atheniensibus mos erat, in Prytaneo alendum decrevissent.-Prose Works, vol. ii. p. 376.
ments he received, the applause of Christina afforded him the highest gratification ; for he regarded it as an honorable proof of what he had ever affirmed, that he was a friend to good sovereigns, though an enemy to tyrants: he understood that the queen of Sweden had made this distinction in commending his book, and in the warmth of his gratitude he bestowed on the nothern princess a very splendid panegyric, of which the subsequent conduct of that singular and fantastic personage too clearly proved her unworthy ; yet Milton cannot fairly be charged with servile adulation. Christina, when he appeared as her eulogist, was the idol of the literary world. The candour with which she spake as a queen on his defence of the people would naturally strike the author as an engaging proof of her discernment and magnanimity; he was also gratified in no common degree by the coolness with which she treated his adversary; for Salmasius, whom she invited to her court for his erudition, was known to have lost her favor, when his literary arrogance and imbecility were ex.