Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

REMARKS ON MILTON.

329 Persia-a water, called golden ; that it consists of seventy streams; that none drink of it except the King, and his eldest son ; and that if any other perfon does, death is the punishment. See Herodot. Edit. Gronov. p. 594. where this passage is to be found.

IV. It appears not that the golden water, and Choaspes, were the fame. Eustathius, transcribing froin Agathocles, says, on Homer, Il. T. p. 1301. Ed, Basil.

Το σαρα Περσαις χρυσαν καλυμενον υδωρ, όπερ ην λιβαδες εβδομηκούλα, άπερ εδεις, φασιν, επινεν ότι μη βασιλευς, και TWY waidw aulx weper bulalos • των δ' αλλων ει τις σιη, θαναλος ή ζημια. - Ζήλοθεον δε ει και το Χοασπειον ύδωρ, έπερ επινε τραλευομενο ο Περσων βασιλευς, τοιαυλην επίλιμιου, κηρα εφειλκέλο. .

“ The Perfians had a water called golden, &c. It is doubted whether the water of Choaspes, which the Persian king drank in his expeditions, was forbidden to all others, under the same capital penalty.”

V. It may be granted, and it is not at all improbable, that none besides the king might drink of that water of Choaspes, which was boiled and barrelled

up

for his ufe in bis military expeditions. VI. Solinus indeed, who is a frivolous writer, says, “ Choaspes ita dulcis est, ut Perfici reges quamdiu intra ripas Perfidis fuit, folis fibi ex eo pocula vendicărint."

VII. Milton,

---; VII. Milton, confidered as a poet, with whofe purpose the fabulous suited beft, is by no means to be blamed for what he has advanced ; and even the authority of Solinus is sufficient to justify him.

From his calling Choafpes 56 amber stream," be feems to have had in view the golden water of Agathocles, and of his transcribers.

)

2. B. IV, 15. Or as a swarm of flies in vintage time, About the wine-press where sweet must is pour'd, Beat off, returns as oft with hunming sound ;So Satan Yet gives not o’er, though desperate of success, And his vain importunity pursues:

The comparison is very just, and also in the manper of Homer. Il. 'II. 641.

Οι δ' αιεί επί νεκρών ομίλεον, ως ότε μυίας
Σταθμό ένα βρομέωσι περιγλαγέας καλα σέλλας

27 ότε τε γλάγ© άγδεα δεύει. Illi affiduè circa mortuum versabantur, ut quum mufca

In caula fufurrant lačte plenas ad mulētras
Tempore in verno, quando lac vafa rigat.

So likewise, Il. P. 570.
Και οι μείης θέρG- ενισήθεσσιν ενήκεν, ,
“Ητε και εργομενη μάλα σερ κρούς ανδρομέδιο,
Ιχανία δαπέδου

1

Et

Et ei mufcæ audaciam peEtoribus immisit,
Qua licet abazla crebro a corpore humano,
Appetit mordere.

v. 67.

Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits on the Appian road,
Or on th’Emilian ; some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotic Ille.

Syene, farthest south. How can that be? when Meroe, mentioned in the next line (to say nothing of other places) was farther south. Milton knew it, and thought of it too, as appears from his saying,

and where the shadow both way falls, Meroe, Nilotic isle.

Syene being situate under the Tropic of Cancer, the shadow falls there always one way; except at the suinmer Solstice, when the Sun is vertical; and then, at noon, the shadow falls no way: Umbras nufquam flettente Syene.

Lucan, II. 587. But in Meroe the shadow falls both ways, at different times of the year; and therefore Meroe must be farther south than Syene, and nearer the Æquator.

To this I say, that Milton had in view what he had read in Pliny and other authors, that Syene was the limit of the Roman Empire, and the remoteft place to the south that belonged to it; and to that he alludes.

Or, it may be said, that poets have not scrupled to give the epithets extremi, ultimi, farthest, remoteft, to any people that lived a great way off; and that poffibly Milton intended that farthes fouth should be so applied, both to Syene and to Meroe.

v. 130.

Christ says of Tiberius,
Let his tormentor Conscience find him out.

Milton had in view what Tacitus and Suetonius have related of this imperial monster.

« Tiberius, that complete pattern of wickedness and tyranny, had taken as much pains to conquer ihese fears (of conscience] as any man, and had as many helps and advantages towards it, from great splendor and power, and a perpetual succession of new business, and new pleasures; and yet, as great a master of the art of diffimulation as he was, he could not diffemble the inward sense of his guilt, nor prevent the open eruptions of it, upon very improper occasions.

Witness that Letter,

which he wrote to the Senate, from his impure retreatment at Capred. Tacitus has preserved the first lines of it; and there cannot be a livelier image of a mind, filled with wild distraction and despair, than what they afford us.” (Annal. VI. 6. p. 163. Insigne visum est earum Cæfaris literarum initium; nam his verbis exorsus est,] Quid fcribam vobis, P. C. aut quomodo fcribam, aut quid oinninò

non scribam hoc tempore, Dii me Deæque pejùs,

perdant quàm perire quotidiè fentio, îi scio!" [Adeo facinora atque flagitia sua ipfi quoque in supplicium verterant.] That is, “What, or how, at this time, I shall write to you, Fathers of the Senate, or what indeed I shall not write to you, may all the powers of heaven confound me yet worse than they have already done, if I know, or can imagine.” And his observation upon it, is well worthy of ours.-" In this manner, says he, was this emperor punished, by a reflection on his own infamous life and guilt; nor was it in vain thar the greatest master of Wisdom (he means Plato,) affirmed, that were the breast of tyrants once laid open to our view, we should see there nothing but ghaftly wounds and bruises; the consciousness of their own cruelty, lewdness and ill conduct, leaving as deep and bloody prints on their minds, as the strokes of the scourge do on the back of a flave. Tiberius (adds he) confessed as much, when he uttered these words; nor could his high station, or even privacy and retirement itself, hinder him

from

« VorigeDoorgaan »