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taire's Gr. L. Dialecti p. 327. 8. I shall be happy to see the subject, which I have attempted to discuss, argued by abler pens than mine; and I claim no other merit than that of a pioneer, in clearing the ground for a future adventurer.
E. H. BARKER. Thetford, May, 1824.
ORIGIN OF MILTON'S LYCIDAS.
Since the days of the impostor Lauder no one has dared to accuse Milton of plagiarism. It is far from the intention of the writer of the following pages to fasten that charge on the immortal poet. If we look to the essay of Dr. Farmer on the learning of Shakspeare, or consult any of his numerous commentators, we find that all his draniatic and poetical works are built on some tale or history, yet we do not presume to consider him as a plagiary: therefore if we discover a monody on the same subject as that on Lycidas, treated in the same allegorical manner, similar in structure, containing the same imagery, and often the same expressions, we may conclude, that it was the model on which Lycidas was formed, without accusing Milton of intended plagiarisrn.
It is singular that neither Warburton, Hurd, Warton, Johnson, Todd, nor any other acute and able commentators, discovered the source from which this monody was derived,
Milton's profound knowlege of the language of Italy and of her Latin writers is too well authenticated to require farther remark.
Among the most celebrated of the Latin poets of Italy is BALTHASAR CASTIGLIONI, a Mantuan, born in 1468, who was made Bishop of Avila by the Emperor, when sent by Clement the Seventh on an embassy to that monarch,
Castiglioni was distinguished for his learning and for his works in prose and verse. Some of his poetical compositions have been highly lauded by Julius Scaliger. Among bis poems is an elegy entitled Alcon. Serrasius speaking of this poem says :
Castilionius (scilicet Iolas) deflet poetæ Falconis Mantuani juvenis mortem, quem secum domi ab ætate ineunte aluerat, habueratque comitem et socium studiorum ac vigiliarum suarum omnium.
Milton in his monody laments, under the name of Lycidas, his friend and fellow-student Edward King, who was shipwrecked on his passage to Ireland in a crazy vessel, which foundered during a calm, not far from the coast of England.
The similarity in the subjects of the Elegy of Alcon and the Monody of LYCIDAS is evident. Let us now examine the manner in which both the poets bave composed their poems. Milton allegorically says of Lycidas :
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Fed'the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill. lolas, i. e, Castiglioni, tells of Alcon :
Nos etenim a teneris simul usque huc viximus annis,
Communique simul sunt pasta armenta labore. In the above quotations both are allegorically represented in the characters of shepherds, each pursuing with his friend their pastoral avocations. Dunster acutely conjectured that the lines
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude;
leaves before the mellowing yearwere derived from these words of Cicero :
Et quasi poma ex arboribus, cruda si sint, vi avelluntur; si matura et cocta, decidunt; sic vitam adolescentibus vis aufert, senibus maturi
The mind of Milton was so imbued with classic lore, that Dunster's suggestion bears the air of probability; particularly as the word cruda is used by Cicero: but as the Elegy of Alcon contains the following lines, and since, as will be seen, the structure of the poem is throughout the same, I am inclined to consider the idea as emanating from
Non metit ante diem lactentes messor aristas,
Immatura rudis non carpit poma colonus.
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his primne,
Castiglioni commences his poem with
Ereptum fatis primo sub flore juventæ,
Alconem nemorum decus, et solatia amantum. Lycidas' love for the Muses is celebrated; and the eleg.it latinism from the first epistle of Horace,
Seu condis amabile carmen, is made to adorn the beautiful apostrophe
Who would not sing for Lycidas? He knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme. Castiglioni thus speaks of his friend :
Alcon deliciæ Musarum et Apollinis, Alcon
Pars animæ, &c. When the following lines from both the poets are considered together, it is presumed that the association of ideas will be evident to require any metaphysical elucidation,
Milton under the fictitious images of rural employments describes his studies with his friend :
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
And old Damætas loved to hear our song.
Quem toties Fauni et Dryades sensere canentem,
Fauns with cloven heel.
-Capripedes Satyriscos. Milton in the following words conveys a poetical and touching thought:
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays, the origin of which is found in
Non tecum posthac molli resupinus in umbra
tua vicinos mulcebit fistula montes,
Even the line
Ay me! I fondly dream has a thought responsive to it in
Vana mihi incassum fingebam somnia demens.
Were it not better done, as others use
Or with the tangles of Neæra's bair?' These lines contain a sarcastic allusion to Buchanan, who often wandered from his severer studies to sport with Amaryllis, or sing of Neæra :
Cum das basia, nectaris Neæra
Siquid altius est, beatiusve. Milton was residing in the country when he wrote the monody on his friend, consequently his mind was alive to every rural image; yet even this lament,
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves
Such Lycidas thy loss to shepherds' earhas a passage so responsive to it in feeling and imagery, that, wben considered with the other similarities, it leads us, at least, to conclude that he remembered it: Arboribus cecidere
spoliataque honore est
Squalor tristis habet pecudes, pecudumque magistros. Those who are accustomed to watch the operations of their minds, to trace with patient care their ideas to their sources,
and to observe accurately the various associations arising from the same origin, and spreading into various ramifications unconnected in their details, will readily perceive that the following passage, (with the circumstance of his friend being a churchman)
Impastus stabulis sævit lupus, ubere raptos
Perque canes prædam impavidus pastoribus aufert gave rise to the prophetic insinuation of the execution of Archbishop Laud, whom he considered as the cause of all the schisms then existing in the church
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more. The opinion almost receives confirmation from the fact, that both the poets make a sudden transition to rural imagery of a more tender character: Milton in his beautiful invocation
Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past,
To strew the laureat herse where Lycid lies. This invocation has one in the Alcon so nearly responsive to it in the names of the Aowers and the scope of the
passage, the spring from which it flowed is clearly seen :
Vos mecum, o pueri, beneolentes spargite flores,