Academic journal article Leviathan

The Poetical Works of John Milton

Academic journal article Leviathan

The Poetical Works of John Milton

Article excerpt

Volume I

ANNOTATION [front end paper]: C. Horn 1860

ANNOTATION [front fly leaf]: H. Melville, N.Y. 1849

ANNOTATION [front fly leaf]: 1868

ANNOTATION [back fly leaf]: In Bartas

The Life of Milton

   The beautiful
   monody of Lycidas shows an intimate acquaintance with the Italian
   metres; and to one poem, the Alcon (23) of Balth. Castiglione,
   it is more peculiarly indebted for some of its imagery. It
   discovers also Milton's familiarity with our elder poets, and
   supported by the authority of his `Master Spenser,' (24) in similar
   allusions; it has mixed up with its pastoral beauties a stern and
   early avowal of his hostility to the church. (25)

   (23) See Class. Journal, No lxiii, p. 356, by G. N. Ogle.

   (24) There is among Spenser's Poems a Pastoral AEglogue on Sir P.
   Sydney's death, by L. B. which Milton had read when he wrote
   Lycidas. v. Todd's Spenser, vol. viii.p.76.

   (25) Mr. Peck thinks that the manner in which Milton has dispersed
   his rhymes in Lycidas, is an attempt, though secretly, to give a
   poetical image or draught of the mathematical canon of music: he
   informs us how to make this out, `by drawing a bow line from rhyme
   to rhyme,' he considers the whole poem as a lesson of music
   consisting of such a number of bars. The rhymes are the several
   chords in the bar: the odd dispersion of the rhymes may be compared
   to the beautiful way of sprinkling the keys of an organ. He says,
   Dryden imagined the rhymes fell so, because Mister Milton could
   not help it. I think they lie so, because Mr. Milton designed it. v.
   New Memoirs, 4to. p.32.


   From Rome he passed to Naples, in company with a hermit,
   to whom he owed his introduction to Manso, Marquis of
   Villa, a nobleman of distinguished rank and fortune (who had
   supported a military character with high reputation,) of unblemished
   morals, a polite scholar, and Known to posterity as the
   friend, the patron, and the biographer of Tasso. (31) To him Milton
   addressed a beautiful Latin poem, in which he expresses
   his hope, if he could find such a friend and patron as Manso,
   of celebrating in verse the exploits of King Arthur and his

   (31) Tasso mentions Manso in the twentieth book of his Gierusal.
   Liberata, among other princes of Italy. He addressed to him five
   sonnets. Manso was also the patron of Marino; and was the biographer
   of both these illustrious poets. Mr. Walker, when at Naples,
   endeavoured to discover the villa where Manso had received the
   visits of Milton and Tasso. See Hist. Mem. 1799; App. p. xxvi. xxxi.


   He returned by way of Rome,
   though some merchants had informed him of the enmity of the
   Jesuits on account of his freedom of conversation; and Manso
   was withheld from showing him some favours by the opinions
   which Milton had too openly expressed on religious questions.


   Mr. Capel Lofft
   thinks that Milton began this poem in his forty-eighth year, *
   and finished it in his fifty-seventh. Philips says that he had the
   perusal of it from the very beginning, for some years, in parcels
   of ten, twenty, or thirty verses at a time;

   * v. Preface to Lofft's Milton, p. xxviii. The Aubrey Letters, (vol.
   iii. p. 447.) `His verse began at the autumnal equinoctial, and
   ceased at the vernal, or thereabouts (I believe about May;) and this
   was four or five years of his doing it.. He began about two years
   before the king came in, and finished about three years after the
   king's restoration.'

   A friend of Milton's also informed Toland that Milton could never
   compose well but in the spring and autumn. He then poured out with
   great ease and fluency his unpremeditated verses.


   I shall here take the opportunity
   of mentioning the volumes published by Lauder, `Auctorum
   Miltono facem praelucentium;' and of remarking (after having
   perused the poems which they contain) that little doubt can be
   entertained, but that Milton was acquainted with the Adamus
   Exsul of Grotius, and probably with the poetry of Ramsay
   and Masenius. … 
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