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year of his college:life that he wrote his elegy “ On the death of a Fair Infant,” which is too long for insertion, but which indicates a great advance upon his earlier productions in : maturity of mind and in facility of management. It cannot be said of Milton that he ever set any author before him as a model. It is, however, evident that Ovid was the reigning, favourite of the youthful poet, and, even amidst the multifarious learning which, as if by a necessity he could not : control, crowded the productions of his after life, it is easy": to trace the frequent reminiscences of his first love.

At college he was particularly admired for his academical exercises, both in Latin and English verse. The former language he wrote through life with as much ease and force as if it had been his vernacular tongue. In his prose writings, indeed, he never affected a pedantic conformity to the classic models, though in Latin verse his resemblance to them was at once so close and so natural, that Mr. Macaulay justly applies to him a tasteful criticism on Cowley, that he wore the garb but not the clothes of the ancients."

In the year 1627 he produced a “vacation exercise in the College," of which Todd remarks that, written at the age of nineteen, it has been repeatedly and justly noticed as containing indications of the future bard, “whose genius was equal to a subject that carried him beyond the limits of the world.” In the following lines the reader will discern the twilight that heralded the undeclining day of Comus, Il Penseroso, and the Paradise Lost. Addressing the personification of the English language, he writes:

Yet I had rather, if I were to chuse,
Thy service in some graver subject use,
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round, í
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound: -
Such where the deep transported mind may soar
Above the wheeling poles, and at heaven's door
Look in, and see each blissful deity;
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,

Listening to what unshorn Apollo sings
To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Immortal nectar to her kingly sire:
Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
And misty regions of wide air next under,
And hills of snow, and lofts of piled thunder,
May tell at length how green-eyed Neptune raves,
In heaven's defiance mustering all his waves ;
Then sing of secret things that came to pass
When beldam Nature in her cradle was;
And last of kings, and queens, and heroes old,
Such as the wise Demodocus once told
In solemn songs at King Alcinous' feast,
While sad Ulysses' soul, and all the rest,
Are held, with his melodious harmony,

In willing chains and sweet captivity. Two years afterwards he produced his “Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity.” A hypercritical analysis has detected some fancied faults in this exquisite poem. But if the writers referred to had recollected the age in which (not to say at which) it was written, or the canon of candour which a great poetical critic* of antiquity left for the guidance of his successors, they might, perhaps, have spared their ingenuity. It bears a stamp of premature, but conscious, majesty in every verse; while in the very music of such stanzas as the following, there reigns a spirit of silence which is charmingly appropriate, and irresistibly impressive :

No war, or battle's sound,

Was heard the world around :
The idle spear and shield were high uphung;

The hooked chariot stood

Unstain’d with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;

And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their soy'ran Lord was by.

* Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis

Offendar maculis quas aut incuria fudit,
Aut humana parum cavit natura.

Horace : De Arte Poetica.

But peaceful was the night,

Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:

The winds, with wonder whist,

Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the wild ocean,

Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The stars, with deep amaze,

Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;



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The oracles are dumb;

No voice or hideous hum
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.

Apollo, from his shrine,

Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.

No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetick cell.

The lonely mountains o'er,

And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;

From haunted spring and dale,

Edged with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent:

With flower-inwoven tresses torn,
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

In consecrated earth,

And on the holy hearth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint

In urns and altars round,

A drear and dying sound
Affrights the flamens at their service quaint;

And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar power foregoes his wonted seat.

About the same time he produced the verses written at a “Solemn Musick,” which have been made far better known to the present generation by the harmony of Handel than even by the fame of their author. The student who desires

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to trace the mental history of Milton, will be interested by
the evidences they show of the ripening of his poetic genius,
and of that tendency of his mind to the sublimity of sacred
subjects, to which we, doubtless, owe the Paradise Lost.
This is chiefly evinced in the lines in which, speaking of
Voice and Verse personified as sisters, he says, that they are

Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce,
And to our high raised phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure concent
Aye sung before the sapphire-coloured throne,

To Him that sits thereon,
With saintly shout and solemn jubilee:
Where the bright Seraphim, in burning row,
Their loud uplifted angel-trumpets blow;
And the cherubic host in thousand quires

Touch their immortal harps of golden wires.
In this passage, as Dr. Symmons observes, we acknow-
ledge some touches prelusive to the Paradise Lost.

The prose compositions which have descended to us, produced in the retirement of Milton's college life, are chiefly academical exercises; and five letters, four of which are addressed in Latin to the tutors of his earlier youth, and one in English, the manuscript of which is still preserved in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, written to a friend who had exhorted him to quit the pursuits of literature for the more active occupations of life. Some passages in the latter require to be reproduced here as beautiful indications of the singular loftiness of his sentiments. After designating that time of his life which was “as yet obscure and unserviceable to mankind," and declaring of his present studies that they were “according to the precept of my conscience, which I firmly trust is not without God,” he proceeds thus: “If you think, as you said, that too much learning is in fault, and that I have given up myself to dream away my years in the arms of studious retirement, like Endymion with the Moon, as the tale of Latmus goes ; yet consider, that if it were no more but the mere love of

learning, whether it proceeds from a principle bad, good, or natural, it could not have held out thus long against so strong opposition on the other side of every kind. For if it be bad, why should not all the fond hopes that forward youth and vanity are fledged with, together with gain, pride, and ambition, call me forward more powerfully than a poor, regardless, and unprofitable sin of curiosity should be able to withhold me, whereby a man cuts himself off from all action, and becomes the most helpless, pusillanimous, and unweaponed creature in the world; the most unfit and unable to do that which all mortals most aspire to, either to be useful to his friends, or to offend his enemies. Or if it be to be thought a natural proneness, there is against that a much more potent inclination inbred, which about this time of a man's life solicits most, the desire of house and family of his own, to which nothing is esteemed more helpful than the early entering into creditable employment, and nothing hindering than his affected solitariness. And though this were enough, yet there is to this another act, if not of pure, yet of refined nature, no less available to dissuade prolonged obscurity, a desire of honour, and repute, and immortal fame, seated in the breast of every true scholar, which all make haste to by the readiest ways of publishing and divulging conceived merits, as well those that shall as those that never shall obtain it. Nature, therefore, would presently work the more prevalent way, if there were nothing but this inferior bent of herself to restrain her. Lastly, the love of learning, as it is the pursuit of something good, it would sooner follow the more excellent and supreme good known and presented, and so be quickly diverted from the empty and fantastic chase of shadows and notions to the solid good flowing from due and timely obedience to that command in the gospel set out by the terrible seizing of him that hid the talent. It is more probable, therefore, that not the endless delight of speculation, but this very consideration of that great command

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