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of Greek mythology, who were sent to punish the Thracian king and soothsayer Phineus, in his blindness, by continually attending him and spoiling and tainting all the food that came to his table. As it was not Apollo that delivered Phineus from the Harpies, the phrase " Apollineâ pharetrâ" is used with reference to the quiver which the deity who will perform the like service for England will bear. It will be the quiver of that monster-killing god who is also the God of Poetry. So also Thames, the seat of Oxford, is the “amnis Pegaseus," the river of the winged Pegasus, the horse of the Muses, at the stroke of whose hoof sprang up the sacred Hippocrene.—Who, in 1646-7, were the Harpies and unclean birds of England, in Milton's estimation, one can easily guess (see Sonnets XI. and XII., and on the New Forcers of Conscience, and Introductions and Notes to those pieces). Some of them had fastened especially on Oxford. But Milton must have had in view also the Royalists and Prelatists.
42. "institoris insulsi." Mr. Keightley translates "the ignorant keeper of a bookstall”; but it may be any "tasteless huckster” that could make use of the paper of the book.
46. “ remige pennâ.” Mr. Keightley quotes Virgil, Æn. I. 301, “ Remigio alarum”; and Warton compares Par. Lost, II. 927, broad vans."
56–60. “ Quam cui præfuit Ion ... Actæå genitus Creusâ.” Ion, the mythical ancestor of the whole Ionian race, was the son of Apollo by Creusa, the daughter of Erechtheus, king of Athens. He was therefore Erechtheides, or grandson of Erechtheus, just as his mother Creusa was Actæa, i.e. Attic or Athenian (from Acte, “promontory,” an old name for Attica). The story about Ion was that his mother, ashamed of his birth, exposed him in a cave, but that Apollo caused Hermes to carry him to Delphi, where he was brought up, as a child of unknown parentage, in Apollo's own temple. "He, therefore, a youth, would wander in play about the altars which fed him ; but, when he grew to manhood, the Delphians made him guardian of the treasures of the God, and trustworthy keeper of all." So says Euripides in the beginning of his Ion, and the rest of that play continues the story. It is to Ion, when he was keeper of the rich temple of Delphi, with its furniture of golden tripods and other gifts, that Milton compares Rous of the Bodleian.
65. “ Delo posthabitâ”: adapted from Virgil's words about Juno (Æn. I. 16), "posthabitâ . . . Samo." 73–87. “ Vos tandem
“ Vos tandem . .. Roüsio favente." Warton and Mr. Keightley think that this Epode has in view chiefly the future fate of those of Milton's prose-writings that had been sent to Rous (see list of them, Introd., II. 378, 379); but, though these are included, I do not
see that he distinguishes between them and the poems he was now replacing in their companionship. In 1646-7, when this Ode was written, Milton, whether as poet or as prose-writer, was under that cloud of abuse, and in some quarters even infamy, which his Anti-Episcopal pamphlets and Divorce pamphlets, but especially the latter, had occasioned. There probably was some discrimination already among his contemporaries between the merits of his poetry and the demerits or disputed merits of his prose-pamphlets; for the public beginnings of his poetical reputation might date from as far back as 1634, when his Comus was acted and heard of, whereas his controversial prosepamphlets and the conflict of judgments about them dated only from 1641. But in the conflict of judgments about his prose-pamphlets any poetical reputation he had previously acquired had been swallowed up. Even the collected volume of his poems which he had let Moseley publish for him in 1645, partly with a view to compel people to remember that he was not a prose-pamphleteer only, had failed of that effect; and some fourteen months afterwards, when the present Ode was written, Milton might well look forward to a very dubious verdict from his countrymen on the worth of all he had done. Still he had faith in at least the rectitude of what he had done, whether as poet or as prose-writer; and hence he could say, half sadly, “ Si quid meremur sana posteritas sciet,” and could expect those “ultimi nepotes," that “cordatior ætas," that should understand him thoroughly and do him justice. Alas! the “cordatior ætas” was long in coming! Milton himself hardly lived to see it. New fame, but also new infamy, in England and through Europe, grew round him for thirteen years more, in consequence of his Regicide pamphlets and his connexion with the Commonwealth and Cromwell ; at the Restoration he was “blind Milton," one of the “damnable Cromwellian crew," whom even respectable people wanted to see hanged, or consented to see live on unhanged only because God had already put the mark of his own vengeance upon him, and punished him with blindness; and, though Paradise Lost in 1667, and Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes in 1671, recalled attention to the blind monster, and revived the distinction that might be made between his poetical genius and his political and prose enormities, only a brave Dryden among the greater critics, with here and there a following among the lesser, neglected this distinction in their general estimate, and saluted the yet living Milton with adequate reverence. Thirteen years after Milton's death (1687) a scribbler called Winstanley could venture to dismiss him thus in a book called Lives of the most famous English Poets : “He is one whose natural parts might deservedly give him a place among the principal of our English poets ; but his fame is gone out like a candle in a snuff, and his memory will always stink.” Through the subsequent century, as we know, this conclusion was resented and reversed, and the poet Milton became for England all that he has since been. But still there was the inevitable
distinction. The Poet Milton was one being, high in heaven ; Milton the Prose-writer was quite another being, down irrecoverably in Tartarus. Hear, for example, how the able and scholarly Warton, who was the first to do editorial justice to Milton's Minor Poems, could speak of Milton's Prose-writings as late as 1791, in a note to this very passage in the Ode to Rous. Upon the whole,” wrote Warton, “and with “regard to his political writings at large, even after the prejudices of “party have subsided, Milton, I believe, has found no great share of “ favour, of applause, or even of candour, from distant generations. “ His Si quid meremur, in the sense here belonging to the words, has “been too fully ascertained by the mature determination of time.
Toland, about thirty years after the Restoration, thought Milton's prose-works of sufficient excellence and importance to be collected “and printed in one body. But they were neglected and soon for“gotten. Of late years, some attempts have been made to revive them, " with as little success. At present they are almost unknown. If they “are ever inspected, it is perhaps occasionally by a commentator on “ Milton's verse, as affording materials for comparative criticism, or “from motives of curiosity only, as the productions of the writer of “ Comus and Paradise Lost, and not so much for any independent value " of their own. In point of doctrine, they are calculated to annihilate
foundations of our civil and religious establishment, as it now subsists : they are subversive of our legislature, and our species “of government. In condemning tyranny, he strikes at the bare “ existence of Kings; in combating superstition, he decries all public
Religion. These discourses hold forth a system of government at
present as unconstitutional, and almost as obsolete, as the nonsense “of passive obedience; and, in this view, we might just as well think “ of republishing the pernicious theories of the Kingly bigot James as " of the Republican usurper Oliver Cromwell. Their style is per“plexed, pedantic, poetical, and unnatural, abounding in enthusiastic “ effusions which have been mistaken for eloquence and imagination. “ In the midst of the most solemn rhapsodies, which would have shone “in a Fast Sermon before Cromwell, he sometimes indulges a vein of “jocularity; but his witticisms are as awkward as they are unsuitable, “and Milton never more misunderstands the nature and bias of his “ genius than when he affects to be arch either in prose or verse. His "want of deference to superiors teaches him to write without good
manners; and, when we consider his familiar acquaintance with the
elegancies of antiquity, with the orators and historians of Greece and " Rome, few writers will be found to have made so slender a sacrifice to “the Graces.” Clearly, when this was written by one of the truest admirers of Milton's Poetry, the cordatior ætas which Milton had anticipated for his writings in general had not come. Has it come even yet? Less decisively than before, but decisively enough, we still distinguish the poetry from the prose. About Milton's Poems we know what it VOL. III.
is right to say; but Oh! his opinions, Oh! his pamphlets! To be sure, there is his Areopagitica ; we will make that an exception, we will call that noble, for its doctrine is now axiomatic; but Oh! for the rest ! Well, it cannot be denied that there is something valid in the distinction theoretically, and that practically we do find it necessary to make such distinctions in our criticism of writers. We like one production of a writer, and we do not like, or we do not equally like, another production of the same writer. Besides, poems are poems, and opinions are opinions. We desire only to be stirred and roused and charmed and elevated by a poem ; but, if an opinion concerns any matter of morals or politics still in discussion, how can we avoid hating it, and even any presentation of it, if we do not agree with it? With all this, however, the distinction, as it has been applied to Milton, may be challenged at its roots, and will more and more be challenged. It is the author of Paradise Lost that is the author of those Prose Pamphlets; and it is the author of the Prose Pamphlets that is the author of Paradise Lost. They sprang from one life; they are but diverse manifestations of one and the same soul; they are organically related ; neither could have come into the world from any other mind than precisely that which exulted in the other; there is an interfusion between the two of the same sap, the same ruling ideas, the same Miltonism, the same lifeblood. What God and Nature, and Milton's own meditations and determinations about himself through fifty years, thus organically united, and transmitted as a conjoint bequest from one man's life to those who in future times might care to know how he figured things and with what thoughts he walked the world, what right have we, because of our temporary Shibboleths, to break so positively into two parts, declaring that the one must be accepted, but the other condemned or ignored ? To prefer the one to the other is within our right; to find fault with either is within our right; but not to adore the one and bury or deride the other as an accidentally connected monstrosity. Perhaps, in this respect, a cordatior ætas than even the present still awaits Milton. Perhaps to the total body of his writings, prose and verse together, one may yet learn to address, with full significance, the two opening lines of his Ode to Rous, addressed by himself only to his volume of Poems, as partly English and partly Latin :
"Gemelle cultu simplici gaudens liber,
Fronde licet gemina.”
IN SALMASII HUNDREDAM: IN SALMASIUM.
On the subjects of these two scraps see Introd., II. 382, 383.-It may be added, in explanation of phrases in the second piece, that Salmasius ranked as an Eques, or Knight, on the continent, having, as Todd notes, been presented with the Order of St. Michael by Louis XIII. of France. -Of“ Mungentium cubito virorum” in the same piece Warton notes that this was a cant name among the Romans for fishmongers.
LONDON: R. CLAY, SONS, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS, BREAD STREET HILL.