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primitive Christians, was their neglect of bestowing garlands on the dead, in which they are very rationally defended by their apologist in Minutius Felix. "We lavish no flowers nor odours on the dead," says he, "because they have no sense of fragrance or of beauty." We profess to reverence the dead, not for their sake, but for our own. It is therefore always with indignation or contempt that I read the epitaph on Cowley, a man whose learning and poetry were his lowest merits.
Aurea dum late volitant tua scripta per orbem,
Hic placida jaceas requie, custodiat urnam
To pray that the ashes of a friend may lie undisturbed, and that the divinities that favoured him in his life, may watch for ever round him, to preserve his tomb from violation, and drive sacrilege away, is only rational in him who be lieves the soul interested in the repose of the body, and the powers which he invokes for its protection able to preserve it. To censure such expressions as contrary to religion, or as remains of heathen superstition, would be too great a degree of severity. I condemn them only as uninstructive and unaffecting, as too ludicrous for reverence or grief, for Christianity and a temple.
That the designs and decorations of monuments ought likewise to be formed with the same regard to the solemnity of the place, cannot be denied; it is an established principle, that all ornaments owe their beauty to their propriety. The same glitter of dress that adds graces to gayety and youth, would make age and dignity contemptible. Charon with his boat is far from heightening the awful grandeur of the universal judgment, though drawn by Angelo himself; nor is it easy to imagine a greater absurdity than that of gracing the walls of a Christian temple with the figure of Mars leading a hero to battle, or Cupids sporting round a virgin. The pope who defaced the statues of the deities at the tomb of Sannazarius, is, in my opinion, more easily to be defended, than he that erected them.
It may seem very superfluous to lay it down as the first rule for writing Epitaphs, that the name of the deceased is not to be omitted; nor should I have thought such a precept necessary, had not the practice of the greatest writers shown that it has not been sufficiently regarded. In most of the poetical Epitaphs, the names for whom they were composed, may be sought to no purpose, being only prefixed on the monument. To expose the absurdity of this omission, it is only necessary to ask how the Epitaphs, which have outlived the stones on which they were inscribed, would have contributed to the information of posterity, had they wanted the names of those whom they celebrated.
In drawing the character of the deceased, there are no rules to be observed which do not equally relate to other compositions. The praise ought not to be general, because the mind is lost in the extent of any indefinite idea, and cannot be affected with what it cannot comprehend. When we hear only of a good great man, we know not in what class to place him, nor have any notion of his character, distinct from that of a thousand others; his example can have no effect upon our conduct, as we have nothing remarkable or eminent to propose to our imitation. The Epitaph composed by Ennius for his own tomb, has both the faults last mentioned.
It is for the same reason improper to address the Epitaph to the passenger, a custom which an injudicious veneration for antiquity introduced again at the revival of letters, and which, among many others, Passeratius suffered to mislead him in his Epitaph upon the heart of Henry king of France, who was stabbed by Cle-instructed by what methods this boasted reputament the monk; which yet deserves to be in- tion is to be obtained. serted, for the sake of showing how beautiful even improprieties may become in the hands of a good writer.
The reader of this Epitaph receives scarce any idea from it; he neither conceives any veneration for the man to whom it belongs, nor is
Nemo me decoret lacrumis, nec funera, fletu
Though a sepulchral inscription is professedly a panegyric, and, therefore, not confined to historical impartiality, yet it ought always to be
written with regard to truth. No man ought to be commended for virtues which he never possessed, but whoever is curious to know his faults must inquire after them in other places; the monuments of the dead are not intended to perpetuate the memory of crimes, but to exhibit patterns of virtue. On the tomb of Mæcenas his luxury is not to be mentioned with his munificence, nor is the proscription to find a place on the monument of Augustus.
The best subject for Epitaphs is private virtue; virtue exerted in the same circumstances in which the bulk of mankind are placed, and which, therefore, may admit of many imitators. He that has delivered his country from oppression, or freed the world from ignorance and error, can excite the emulation of a very small number; but he that has repelled the temptations of poverty, and disdained to free himself from distress at the expense of his virtue, may animate multitudes, by his example, to the same firmness of heart and steadiness of resolution.
Of this kind I cannot forbear the mention of two Greek inscriptions; one upon a man whose writings are well known, the other upon a person whose memory is preserved only in her Epitaph, who both lived in slavery, the most calamitous estate in human life;
Ζωσιμη ή πριν εουσα μονῳ τῷ σώματι δουλή, Και τῷ σώματι νυν εὗρεν ελευθερίην.
Zosima, quæ solo fuit olim corpore serva, Corpore nunc etiam libera facta fuit. "ZOSIMA, who in her life could only have her body enslaved, now finds her body likewise set at liberty."
It is impossible to read this Epitaph without being animated to bear the evils of life with constancy, and to support the dignity of human nature under the most pressing afflictions, both by the example of the heroine, whose grave we behold, and the prospect of that state in which, to use the language of the inspired writers, "The poor cease from their labours, and the weary be
Ir is now more than half a century since the "Paradise Lost," having broke through the
The other is upon Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher:
"It is to be hoped, nay, it is expected, that the elegant and nervous writer, whose judicious sentiments, and inimitable style, points out the author of Lauder's Preface and Postscript, will no longer allow one to plume himself with his feathers, who appears o little to have deserved his assistance; an assistance which I am persuaded would never have been communicated, had there been the least suspicion
Δουλος Επίκτητος γενόμην, και σωμί αναπηρος, Και πενίην Ιρος, και Φιλος Αθανατες.
Servus Epictetus, mutilatus corpore, vixi Pauperieque Irus, curaque prima Deûn.
"EPICTETUS, who lies here, was a slave and a crip. ple, poor the beggar in the proverb, and the favourite of Heaven."
TO AN ESSAY ON MILTON'S USE AND IMITATION OF THE MODERNS IN HIS PARADISE LOST.
In this distich is comprised the noblest panegyric, and the most important instruction. We may learn from it that virtue is impracticable in no condition, since Epictetus could recommend himself to the regard of Heaven, amidst the temptations of poverty and slavery; slavery, which has always been found so destructive to virtue, that in many languages a slave and a thief are expressed by the same word. And we may be likewise admonished by it, not to lay any stress on a man's outward circumstances, in making an estimate of his real value, since Epictetus, the beggar, the cripple, and the slave, was the favourite of Heaven.
FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE YEAR 1750.
cloud with which the unpopularity of the author, for a time, obscured it, has attracted the
of those facts which I have been the instrument of conveying to the world in these sheets."-Milton vindicated from the charge of plagiarism brought against him by Mr. Lauder, and Lauder himself convicted of several forgeries and gross impositions on the public. By John Douglas, M. A., Rector of Eaton Constantine, Salop. 8vo. 1751, p. 77.
general admiration of mankind; who have en- than a memorial or catalogue of plays, which, deavoured to compensate the error of their first for some reason, the writer thought worthy of neglect, by lavish praises and boundless venera- his attention. When, therefore, I had observed tion. There seems to have arisen a contest, that "Adam in Exile" was named amongst among men of genius and literature, who should them, I doubted not but, in finding the original most advance its honour, or best distinguish its of that tragedy, I should disclose the genuine beauties. Some have revised editions, others source of "Paradise Lost." Nor was my exhave published commentaries, and all have en- pectation disappointed; for, having procured the deavoured to make their particular studies, in Adamus Exul of Grotius, I found, or imagined some degree, subservient to this general emula-myself to find, the first draught, the prima station. mina of this wonderful poem.
Among the inquiries, to which this ardour of criticism has naturally given occasion, none is more obscure in itself, or more worthy of rational curiosity, than a retrospection of the progress of this mighty genius, in the construction of his work; a view of the fabric gradually rising, perhaps from small beginnings, till its foundation rests in the centre, and its turrets sparkle in the skies; to trace back the structure, through all its varieties, to the simplicity of its first plan; to find what was first projected, whence the scheme was taken, how it was improved, by what assistance it was executed, and from what stores the materials were collected, whether its founder dug them from the quarries of nature, or demolished other buildings to embellish his own.
This inquiry has been, indeed, not wholly neglected, nor, perhaps, prosecuted with the care and diligence that it deserves. Several critics have offered their conjectures; but none have much endeavoured to enforce or ascertain them. Mr. Voltaire tells us without proof, that the first hint of "Paradise Lost" was taken from a farce called Adamo, written by a player; Dr. Pearce, that it was derived from an Italian tragedy, called Il Paradiso Perso; and Mr. Peck, that it was borrowed from a wild romance. Any of these conjectures may possibly be true, but, as they stand without sufficient proof, it must be granted, likewise, that they may all possibly be false; at least they cannot preclude any other opinion, which without argument has the same claim to credit, and may perhaps be shown, by resistless evidence, to be better founded.
It is related, by steady and uncontroverted tradition, that the "Paradise Lost" was at first a Tragedy, and therefore, amongst tragedies, the first hint is properly to be sought. In a manuscript, published from Milton's own hand, among a great number of subjects for tragedy, is, "Adam unparadised," or " Adam in Exile;" and this, therefore, may be justly supposed the embryo of this great poem. As it is observable that all these subjects had been treated by others, the manuscript can be supposed nothing more
Having thus traced the original of this work, I was naturally induced to continue my search to the collateral relations, which it might be supposed to have contracted, in its progress to maturity and having, at least, persuaded my own judgment that the search has not been entirely ineffectual, I now lay the result of my labours before the public; with full conviction, that in questions of this kind, the world cannot be mistaken, at least cannot long continue in error.
I cannot avoid acknowledging the candour of the author of that excellent monthly book, the "Gentleman's Magazine," in giving admission to the specimens in favour of this argument; and his impartiality in as freely inserting the several answers. I shall here subjoin some ertracts from the xviith volume of this work, which I think suitable to my purpose. To which I have added, in order to obviate every pretence for cavil, a list of the authors quoted in the following Essay, with their respective dates, in comparison with the date of "Paradise Lost."
WHEN this Essay was almost finished, the splendid Edition of "Paradise Lost," so long promised by the Rev. Dr. Newton, fell into my hands; of which I had, however, so little use, that as it would be injustice to censure, it would be flattery to commend it: and I should have totally forborne the mention of a book that I have not read, had not one passage at the conclusion of the life of Milton, excited in me too much pity and indignation to be suppressed in silence.
"Deborah, Milton's youngest daughter," says the Editor, "was married to Mr. Abraham Clarke, a weaver, in Spitalfields, and died in August, 1727, in the 76th year of her age. had ten children. Elizabeth, the youngest, was married to Mr. Thomas Foster, a weaver in Spitalfields, and had seven children, who are all dead; and she herself is aged about sixty, and weak and infirm. She seemeth to be a good, plain, sensible woman, and has confirmed several particulars related above, and informed me of some others, which she had often heard from her mother." These the doctor enumerates, and
New Memoirs of Mr. John Milton. By Francis then adds, "In all probability, Milton's whole
Peck. 4to. 1740. p. 52.
family will be extinct with her, and he can live
only in his writings. And such is the caprice of fortune, this grand-daughter of a man, who will be an everlasting glory to the nation, has now, for some years, with her husband, kept a little chandler's or grocer's shop, for their subsistence, lately at the lower Holloway, in the road between Highgate and London, and at present in Cock Lane, not far from Shoreditch Church."
That this relation is true, cannot be questioned: but, surely, the honour of letters, the dignity of sacred poetry, the spirit of the English nation, and the glory of human nature, require -that it should be true no longer.-In an age in which statues are erected to the honour of this great writer, in which his effigy has been diffused on medals, and his works propagated by translations, and illustrated by commentaries; in an age, which amidst all its vices, and all its follies, has not become infamous for want of charity; it may be, surely, allowed to hope, that the living remains of Milton will be no longer suffered to languish in distress. It is yet in the power of a great people, to reward the poet whose name they boast, and from their alliance to whose genius, they claim some kind of superiority to every other nation of the earth; that poet, whose works may possibly be read when every other monument of British great
ness shall be obliterated; to reward him-not with pictures, or with medals, which if he sees, he sees with contempt, but-with tokens of gratitude, which he, perhaps, may even now consider as not unworthy the regard of an immortal spirit. And, surely, to those who refuse their names to no other scheme of expense, it will not be unwelcome, that a subscription is proposed, for relieving, in the langour of age, the pains of disease, and the contempt of poverty, the granddaughter of the author of "Paradise Lost." Nor can it be questioned, that if I, who have been marked out as the Zoilus of Milton, think this regard due to his posterity, the design wili be warmly seconded by those, whose lives have been employed in discovering his excellences, and extending his reputation.
A LETTER TO THE REV. MR. DOUGLAS,
OCCASIONED BY HIS
TO THE REV. MR. DOUGLAS.
VINDICATION OF MILTON.
TO WHICH ARE SUBJOINED, SEVERAL CURIOUS ORIGINAL LETTERS, FROM THE AUTHORS OF THE UNIVERSAL HISTORY, MR. AINSWORTH, MR. MACLAURIN, &c. BY WILLIAM LAUDER, A. M.
Quem pœnitet peccasse pane est innocens.
Corpora magnanimo satis est prostrasse Leoni.
SIR, CANDOUR and tenderness are in any relation, and on all occasions, eminently amiable; but when they are found in an adversary, and found so prevalent, as to overpower that zeal which his cause excites, and that heat which naturally increases in the prosecution of argument, and which may be in a great measure
FIRST PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1751.
GROTII Adamus Exsul.
justified by the love of truth, they certainly appear with particular advantages; and it is impossible not to envy those who possess the friendship of him, whom it is even some degree of good fortune to have known as an enemy.
I will not so far dissemble my weakness, or my fault, as not to confess that my wish was to have passed undetected; but since it has bect my fortune to fail in my original design, to have
the supposititious passages which I have inserted | Ora rigat lacrimis, et cœlum questibus implet. Talia voce rogans. Magni Deus arbiter orbis ! Qui rerum momenta tenes, solusque futuri Præscius, elapsique memor: quem terra po
in my quotations made known to the world, and the shade which began to gather on the splendour of Milton totally dispersed, I cannot but count it an alleviation of my pain, that I have been defeated by a man who knows how to use advantages with so much moderation, and can enjoy the honour of conquest without the insolence of triumph.
It was one of the maxims of the Spartans, not to press upon a flying army, and therefore their enemies were always ready to quit the field, because they knew the danger was only in opposing. The civility with which you have thought proper to treat me, when you had incontestible superiority, has inclined me to make your victory complete, without any further struggle, and not only publicly to acknowledge the truth of the charge which you have hitherto advanced, but to confess, without the least dissimulation, subterfuge, or concealment, every other interpolation I have made in those authors, which you have not yet had opportunity to examine.
On the sincerity and punctuality of this confession I am willing to depend for all the future regard of mankind, and cannot but indulge some hopes, that they whom my offence has alienated from me, may by this instance of ingenuity and repentance, be propitiated and reconciled. Whatever be the event, I shall at least have done all that can be done in reparation of my former injuries to Milton, to truth, and to mankind, and intreat that those who shall continue implacable, will examine their own hearts, whether they have not committed equal crimes without equal proofs of sorrow, or equal acts of atonement.*
! PASSAGES INTERPOLATED IN
The word pandæmonium in the marginal notes of Book I. Essay, page 10.
CITATION VI. Essay, page 38.
Adnuit ipsa dolo, malumque (heu ! longa dolendi
Territus erubuit: simul adgemuere dolentes
CITATION VII. Essay, page 41.
The interpolations are distinguished by Italic
Imperio, cœlique tremunt; quem dite superbus
Infaustas epulas, nosque omnes prodidit hosti.
CITATION VIII. Essay, page 42, the whole
Quadrupedi pugnat quadrupes, volucrique volucris ;
CITATION IX. Essay, page 43. l'atibus antiquis numerantur lumine cassis, Tiresias, Phineus, Thamyrisque, et magnus
The above passage stands thus in Masenius, in one line.
Tiresias cæcus, Thamyrisque, et Daphnis,
N. B. The verse now cited is in Masenius's
CITATION X. Essay, page 46.
In medio, turmas inter provectus ovantes
PASSAGES INTERPOLATED IN
CITATION I. Essay, page 55.