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rent through fear and silence.” “I cannot,” he continues, “ but conceive him calm and confident, little disappointed, not at all dejected, relying on his own merit with steady consciousness, and waiting without impatience the vicissitudes of opinion and the impartiality of a future generation.” There can be little doubt that he was supported by this “ sober certainty" of future fame. Milton was not the man to be easily disheartened, even though he had fallen on evil days, and was “ with dangers and afflictions compassed round.” The fortitude of Milton was sublime. Let him speak for himself, in his own noble and immortal numbers.

“Cyriack, this three year's day these eyes, though clear
To outward view of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot :
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun or moon or star, throughout the year,
Or man or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope ; but still bear up and steer
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied
In liberty's defence, my noble task
Of which all Europe rings from side to side :
This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask,

Content though blind, had I no better guide.” There is something particularly impressive and affecting in the fact, that with the dignity of a prophet Milton always prepared himself for any great intellectual task by devout prayer to that eternal Spirit

“ Who touched Isaiah's hallowed lips with fire." He reminds us of that period alluded to by Cowper, when

“ The sacred name Of Poet and of Prophet was the same." In one of his prose works, Milton has the following reference to his poetical powers.

These abilities, wheresoever they be found, are the inspired gift of God rarely bestowed, but yet to some, though most abuse, in every nation; and are of power,-to inbreed and cherish in a great people the seeds of virtue, and public civility, to allay the perturbations of the mind, and set the affections in right tune; to celebrate in glorious and lofty hymns the throne und equipage of God's almightiness," 8c.

When I once enter upon these quotations it is difficult to know where to stop; and though it is somewhat apart from the main purpose of this essay, I cannot resist the temptation of adding the following exquisite sentence, in which Milton alludes to his unwilling entrance upon bitter controversies. His prose is as poetical and vigorous as his verse :

“ I trust hereby to make it manifest with what small willingness I endure to interrupt the pursuit of no less hopes than these" (alluding to his poetical schemes), “ and leave a calm and pleasing solitariness, fed with cheerful and confident thoughts, to embark in a troubled sea of noises and hoarse disputes, put from beholding the bright countenance of truth in the quiet and still air of delightful studies.

Such a writer as Milton might well essay the height of some great argument,

“ Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme,”

and demand the respect and gratitude of mankind. He could hardly form too high an estimate of his powers. An affectation of modesty in a writer of such vast intellect would be almost as ridiculous as the presumption of a poetaster. A powerful man is necessarily conscious of his strength, unless he is sunk in an eternal lethargy or slumber. To suppose a strong mind utterly unconscious of the force which it exerts is as absurd as to suppose a similar unconsciousness in the case of physical energy.

The sin of egotism is more frequently laid to the charge of literary men than any other class of people, but perhaps with little reason. There is not much difference between egotism in print and egotism in conversation. Nor is it more surprising that authors should interest themselves in the merits and fortunes of the offspring of their brain than that parents should cherish a blind partiality for their children. The affection seems natural and instinctive in either case.

If authors (like other men) are egotists, they are not to be too indiscriminately condemned on that account. There is a great variety of egotism, and only that kind is disgusting or ridiculous which is either unsupported by correspondent excellence, or is connected with selfishness, envy and detraction. Chaucer, the venerable father of English poetry, in his “ Testament of Love," a work which chiefly consists of a dialogue between a prisoner* (Chaucer himself) and Love, does not hesitate to do full justice to his own merits. He makes Love thus speak of him :

“Myne owne true servaunte, the noble philosophicall poete in Englishe (whiche evermore hyme busieth and travaileth right sore my name to increse ; wherefore all that willen me gode, owe to do him worship and reverence both; truly his better ne his pere in schole of my rules could I never finde)—He quod she, in a tretise that he made of my servaunte Troilus, hath this matter touched, and at the full this question assoited t. Certainly his noble sayings can I not emend : in godeness of gentil manlich spech without any maner of nicitie of storieres imaginacion, in wit, and in gode reason of sentencet, he passeth al other makersg."

Dryden confesses his own self-esteem, and after observing that he has “grown old in seeking so barren a reward as fame," he adds :—“The same parts and application which have made me a poet, might have raised me to the highest honours of the gown." To whom is such a truth as this offensive? When some one congratulated him on the merit of his celebrated Ode, You are right,” he replied; a “nobler ode was never produced, and never will be.” Self-confidence, as Johnson justly observes, is the first requisite to great undertakings. It was the felicity of Pope, says the same writer,

A reference to his own condition as a prisoner in the Tower, where he was confined, it is believed, for two or three years for a political offence. + Solved. # Judgment.

§ Poets.

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to rate himself at his real value. Pope was not, however, always a candid egotist, but would endeavour to escape from the imputation of vanity by some miserable subterfuge, such as affecting an indifference to poetical reputation, though he was beyond all doubt a fool to fame" from his early childhood to the latest hour of his life. He would sometimes also pretend an indifference to criticism, an affectation which his actions so glaringly contradicted that a child could have seen his insincerity. If Pope had been interdicted the use of the press, and prevented from reading his productions to his friends, he would have written fewer verses. His public egotism forms the most delightful feature in his writings. He is singularly happy in his allusions to himself and his own friends. Lord Bacon was an egotist of the boldest order, and never doubted his immortality for a moment. Buffon said that of the great geniuses of modern times there were but five, “ Newton, Bacon, Leibnitz, Montesquieu, and himself." "When I am dead you will not easily meet with another John Hunter," said that celebrated anatomist to his friends. These instances are alluded to by D’Israeli, who quotes also the bold avowal of Kepler :--"I dare insult mankind by confessing that I am he who has turned science to advantage. If I am pardoned, I shall rejoice ; if blamed, I shall wendure it. The die is cast; I have written this book, and whether it be read by posterity or by my contemporaries, is of no consequence; it may well wait for a reader during one century, when God himself during six thousand years has waited for an observer like myself.” We learn from Burney's History of Music that the fiddler Veracini said with impious arrogance, that there was but one God and one Veracini. Shenstone has recorded his thoughts and feelings, and frankly entitled them Egotisms, from my own sensations.” Walter Savage Landor has promised the public an historical work, and is persuaded, he says, that he will not be “ founded by posterity with the Coxes and Foxes of the age.”


Rousseau was a daring and yet a delightful egotist. His passionate eloquence hurries us along with such breathless rapidity over his burning pages, that we have no time to dwell upon his faults. Montaigne is one of the happiest writers on the delicate theme of self that we are yet acquainted with. Addison quotes the caustic attack of the younger Scaliger on the lively old Gascon. “For my part,” says Montaigne, “I am a great lover of your white wines.” “ What in the world signifies it to the public,”. says Scaliger,

“ whether he was a lover of white wines or red ?" Addison, who owed something to the father of modern Essayists, ought not to have quoted this taunt without softening it down with a kind word or two of explanation or defence. If Montaigne had talked about nothing but his taste in wine, and entered into disquisitions on such trivial matters only, he would long ago have been forgotten. Montaigne talks on to the public with the same unaffected ease as he would have conversed with his most familiar friends, and the great charm of his essays is their free and unaffected alternation

“ From grave to gay, from lively to severe.”

Addison is rather hard in one of his papers on the whole tribe of egotists, forgetting the egotistical character of all Essayists and his own individual foibles. His indiscriminate censure of egotism is inconsistent with his often quoted remarks in the first number of the Spectator, in which he explains how much more we are interested in a work when we know something of the author. “I have observed,” says he, that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black man or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of a like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author.”

It is certain that if Montaigne had written less about him. self, he would have been less amusing and instructive. He was

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