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Diodati, e te 'l dirò con maraviglia,
Quel ritroso io ch'amor spreggiar soléa
Gia caddi, ov' huom dabben talhor s' impiglia.
M' abbaglian sì, ma sotto novo idea
Portamenti alti honesti , e nelle ciglia
Parole adorne di lingua piu d'una,
E’l cantar che di mezzo l'hemispero
Per certo i bei vostr' occhi, Donna mia
Esser non puo che non sian lo mio sole
Per l'arene di Libia chi s' invia,
Da quel lato si spinge ove mi duole,
Chiaman sospir; io non so che si sia :
Scosso mi il petto, e poi n' uscendo poco
Quivi d' attorno o s' agghiaccia, o s' ingiela ;
Tutte le notti a me suol far piovose
Giovane piano, e semplicetto amante
Poi che fuggir me stesso in dubbio sono,
Farò divoto; io certo a prove tante
De pensieri leggiadro, accorto, e buono;
e Portamenti alti honesti. So before “Son." ji. 8. “ Vezzosamente altera.” Portamento expresses the lofty dignified deportment, by which the Italian poets constantly describe female beauty; and which is strikingly characteristic of the composed majestic carriage of the Italian ladies, either as contrasted with the liveliness of the French, or the timid delicacy of the English. T. WARTON.
i Colma di rose. The forced thoughts at the close of this sonnet are intolerable : but he was now in the land of conceit, and was infected by writing in its language. He had changed his native Thames for Arno, “Son.” iii. 9.
Canto, dal mio buon popol non inteso,
WEEN THE ASSAULT WAS INTENDED TO THE CITY.
CAPTAIN, or Colonel, or Knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms.
That call fame on such gentle acts as these,
Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms.
The great Emathian conquerour bid spare whether it proceed from a principle bad, good, or naturall, 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 youthe and vanitie are fledged with, together with gaine, 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 himselfo off from all action, and becomes the most helplesse, pusillanimous, and unweaponed creature in the world ; the most unfit and unable to do that, which all mortals most aspire to; either to be usefull to his friends, or to offend his enemies. Or, if it be to be thought a natural proneuesse, there is against that a much more potent inclination inbred, which about this time of a man's life sollicits most the desire of house and family of bis owne, to which nothing is esteemed more helpful, than the early entering into credible employment, and nothing more hindring than this affected solitarinesse ; and tho this were enough, yet there is to this another act, if not of pure, yet of refined nature, no lesse availeable 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 would presently work the more prevalent way, if there were nothing but this inferiour bent to restraine 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 exempted from the emptie and fantastic chase of shadows and notions, to the solid good flowing from due and tyinely obedience to that command in the Gospel, sett out by the terrible seasing of him that hid the talent. It is more probable therefore that, not the endlesse delight of speculation, but this very consideration of that great commandinent, does not presse forward as soon as many doe to undergoe, but keeps off with a sacred reverence and religious advisement how best to undergoe; not taking thought of being late, so it give advantage to be more fit; for those that were latest lost nothing when the maister of the vineyard came in to give each one his hire. And here I am come to a stream-head, copious enough to disburthen itself like Nilus at seven mouths into an ocean : but then I should also run into a reciprocall contradiction of ebbing and flowing at once, and do that which I excuse myself for not doing, preach and not preach. Yet that you may sce I am something suspicious of myselfe, and do take notice of a certain belatednesse in me, I am the bolder to send you some of my nightward thoughts, some while since, because they come in not altogether unfitly, made up in a Petrarchian stanza, which I told you of :
How soon hath Time, &c. By this I believe you may well repent of having made mention at all of this matter; for if I have not all this while won you to this, I bave certainly wearied you of it. This therefore alone may be a sufficient reason for me to keep me as I am; least, having thus tired you singly, I should deal worse with a whole congregation, and spoyle all the patience of a parish; for I myself do not only see my own tediousnesse, but now grow offended with it, that has hindered me thus long from coming to the last and best period of my letter, and that wbich must now chiefly work my pardon ;-that I am your true and unfained friend,
TO THE LADY MARGARET LEY.
DAUGHTER to that good earl”, once president
Broke him, 'as that dishonest victory,
Kill'd with report that old man eloquent".
Wherein your father flourish'd, yet by you,
Madam, methinks I see him living yet;
That all both judge you to relate them true,
OY THE DETRACTION WOICH FOLLOWED UPON MY WRITING CERTAIN
A BOOK was writ of late call’d“ Tetrachordon,"
And woven close, both matter, form, and style ;
m Daughter to that good earl. She was the daughter of Sir James Ley, whose singular learning and abilities raised him through all the great posts of the law, till he came to be made Earl of Marlborough, and Lord High Treasurer, and Lord President of the Council to King James I. He died in an advanced age ; and Milton attributes his death to “ the breaking of the parliament;" and it is true that the parliament was dissolved the 10th of March, 1628-9, and he died on the 14th of the same month. He left several sons and daughters; and the Lady Margaret was married to Captain Hobson, of the Isle of Wight. It appears, from the accounts of Milton's life, that in 1643 be used frequently to visit this lady and her husband; about which time We may suppose this Sonnet to have been composed.-Newton.
n Kill'd with report that old man eloquent. Isocrates, the orator. The victory was gained by Philip of Macedon over the Athenians. -T. WARTON.
• Dr. Johnson says of this and the next Sonnet, that “the first is contemptible, and the second not excellent;" and yet he had unfairly selected the contemptible Sonnet as a specimen, in his Dictionary, of this species of verse in English. But Milton wrote this Sonnet in sport. — Todd.
After this proved fact, who can doubt Johnson's malignity and dishonesty towards Milton ?
P A book was writ of late call'd Tetrachordon. This elaborate discussion, unworthy in many respects of Milton, and in which much acutene88 of argument and comprehension of reading were idly thrown away, was received with contempt, or rather ridicule, as we learn from Howell's “Letters. A better proof that it was treated with neglect is, that it was attacked by two nameless and obscure writers only; one of whom Milton calls, “ a serving-man turned solicitor.” Our author's divorce was on Platonic principles : he held, that disagreement of mind was a better cause of separation than adultery or frigidity : here was a fair opening for the laughers. This and the following Sonnet were written soon after 1645. For this doctrine Milton was summoned