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but as the daughter of memory, coming with fragments of ancient melodies, the voice of Euripides, and Homer, and Tasso; sounds that he had loved in youth, and treasured up for the solace of his age. They who, though not enduring the calamity of Milton, have known what it is, when afar from books, in solitude or in travelling, or in the intervals of worldly care, to feed on poetical recollections, to murmur over the beautiful lines whose cadence has long delighted their ear, to recall the sentiments and images which retain by association the charm that early years once gave them-they will feel the inestimable value of committing to the memory, in the prime of its power, what it will easily receive and indelibly retain. I know not, indeed, whether an education that deals much with poetry, such as is still usual in England, has any more solid argument among many in its favour, than that it lays the foundation of intellectual pleasures at the other extreme of life."*

Such is the opinion of one of the most judicious minds of the day-a mind trained in the most exact and laborious historic research; and I quote it because I apprehend that among us the tendency of late years has been to neglect this excellent discipline of the memory, which enabled our

* Literature of Europe, vol. 3. p. 425. The late Mr. Gallatin (at the time I refer to more than eighty years old) once told me that one of the purest pleasures and consolations of his advanced years was the recullection of his earliest studies, his Latin and Greek which he had learned at school, and passages of the ancient poets, that, without conscious effort, were constantly presenting themselves to his mind. The memories of intermediate politics, and finance, and business, active and unremitted, were fading away, but what he learned by rote when a boy came back fresh to cheer him. W. B. R.

elders to keep that possession in their minds of long passages of poetry, which astonishes their feebler descendants.

To return to Milton: he whose delight it had once been to roam through woods, and over the green fields, was now chained by blindness to the sunny porch of a suburban dwelling. He whose heart's pulse was a love of independence, was now a helpless dependent for every motion, for all communion with books; every step of him, who had walked through all the ways of life so firmly, was at the mercy of another. His spirit was darkened, too, with disappointment in his countrymen, and with bitter memories of domestic discords. As the Comus was a beautiful reflection of happy youth, the Samson Agonistes shadows forth the gloomy grandeur of the poet's old age. In some passages there is the breaking out of a bitter agony; but a stern magnanimity pervades the poem-a high-souled pathos befitting the sorrows of a vanquished, captive giant. With our thoughts of the hero of the tragedy mingle thoughts of the poet himself, for what was John Milton in the degenerate days of Charles the Second, but a blind Samson in the citadel of the Philistines? In the words the hero speaks, we seem to hear the voice of Milton's own spirit, subdued to a gentle melancholy:

"I feel my genial spirits droop,

*

My race of glory run, and race of shame;

And I shall shortly be with them that rest."

Before passing from this subject, let me briefly notice the service which Milton rendered to English poetry in that short series of short poems-his English Sonnets, which

Doctor Johnson was disposed to dismiss with contempt.* Heretofore that form of verse had been appropriated almost exclusively to the expression of love or some tender emotion; but Milton showed that it could be made a high heroic utterance, as in that one on the massacre of the Piedmontese, which is a solemn cry to Heaven for vengeance that seems to echo over the Alps. This service in disclosing the hidden powers of the sonnet has been acknowledged by Wordsworth:

"When a damp

Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand

The Thing became a trumpet, whence he blew
Soul-animating strains-alas, too few!"†

And Landor has finely put this page of literary history into three lines, (so much can a few words do in a master's hand!) when speaking of Milton, he says,

"Few his words, but strong,

And sounding through all ages and all climes;

He caught the sonnet from the dainty hand

Of Love, who cried to lose it; and he gave the notes

To Glory."

Within the same twelve months in which Milton died, occurred the death of the Earl of Clarendon, who, like Milton in this, that in a season of political adversity he sought employment in letters, gave to English prose what may be considered the first of the great English histories-that wondrous portrait gallery, the "History of the Rebellion."

To the English prose of the same period belongs a very

"They deserve not any particular criticism, for of the best it can only be said they are not bad." Life of Milton, p. 234. W. B. R. + Wordsworth's Miscellaneous Sonnets, p. 187.

different work-associated also with the calamities of authors-the "Pilgrim's Progress," the great sacred prose fiction of our literature, which justifies the title given to John Bunyan by D'Israeli, who calls him "the Spenser of the people." It is one of the few books which, translated into the various languages of Europe, has gained an audience as large as Christendom. In his own country, he caught the ear of the people by using the people's own speech-genuine, homely, hearty English-at the time when the language was becoming vitiated, his simple rhetoric being as he describes it in rude verse:

"Thine only way,

Before them all, is to say out thy say

In thine own native language, which no man
Now useth, nor with ease dissemble can."*

But the author who is most truly to be looked on as the representative of the latter part of the seventeenth century is Dryden, the laureate of the court of Charles the Second. That degenerate era is reflected both in the character of Dryden's writings and in their quick-earned popularity. Content to write for his own age alone, rather than for all after-time, a brief popularity has been followed by the utter neglect—a wise neglect— of a very large portion of his voluminous productions. His genius did not raise itself above his times, but dwelling there, a habitation steaming with a thousand vices, his garland and singing-robes were polluted by the contagion.

For wellnigh fifty years Dryden was contemporary with Milton, living in the same city much of that time, and

* Quoted in Southey's Life of Bunyan, prefixed to his edition of the Pilgrim's Progress, p. 29.

in occasional intercourse; and I cannot but picture to myself how different might have been the career of the young poet, how much purer and nobler the issues of his imagination, how much happier and more genial his life, and how far more honoured his memory, if, instead of setting himself in sympathy with the dominant influences and fashions of the day, and serving them, he had sought communion with the solemn solitude of Milton! How noble a spectacle it would have been for after ages to contemplate the older bard, blind, poor, neglected, and with a grieved but unconquered spirit, the younger poet seated at the old man's feet, making himself a partner in his fallen fortunes, honouring and cherishing him, and at the same time fortifying his own heart, and enriching his own imagination! It would have been a filial piety, such as Milton gladly would have rendered to Spenser-homage such as Spenser would have paid to Chaucer.

But the soul of Dryden was not cast in heroic mould, nor was it susceptible of that purity, and innocence, and ardour of affection which is often associated with heroism. Dazzled by the prize of a speedy popularity, and losing sight of the poet's high spiritual ministry of "allaying the perturbations of the mind, and setting the affections in right tune," he turned to the base office of pampering the vices of an adulterate generation. Even when his youthful enthusiasm was fired with the ambition of composing an epic poem on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, (the same subject which had attracted Milton's young imagination,) the high design was swept from his thoughts by the corruption of the times-sacrificed to the ignominious thraldom he was held in by patrons who, exacting unworthy service, would not suffer

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