« PreviousContinue »
Dixerat, insequitur fremitus, trepidantiáque inter
* The simile, which here follows this speech, resembles, in some degree, that of Milton in his poem on the fifth of November. See In Quint. Nov. ver. 176, &c. See also Par. Lost, B. i. 768. To which we might add the assembly of devils, summoned before Lucifer in the old French morality of The Assumption, 1527.
Ung grand tas de dyables plus drus
Milton's Latin poem is dated at the age of seventeen, namely in 1625. Fletcher's was published in 1627. The subjects of both are certainly similar. See the first Note on In Quint. Nov, vol. vi. p. 302. Fletcher, whose diction and imagery are often extremely beautiful, was educated at Eton, whence he was sent to King's College, Cambridge, in 1600; became B. A. in 1604, and M. A. in 1608.; was afterwards beneficed at Hilgay in Norfolk, and died in 1649.
IV. Hitherto what had been mentioned as hints, to which the active mind of Milton might not be insensible, had been mentioned without betraying a wish to tear the laurels from the brow of the great poet. Not such was the intelligence conveyed to the public by the malicious Lauder. He, unfortunate man, scrupled not to disgrace the considerable learning which he possessed, and to forfeit all pretensions to probity, by an audacious endeavour to prove that Milton was “ the worst and greatest of all plagiaries.” He acquired, indeed, a temporary credit, and engaged a powerful advocate in his cause, by the speciousness of his charge. But he “ played most foully for it.” He corrupted the text of those poets, whom he produced as evidences against the originality of Milton, by interpolating ? several verses either of his own fabrication, or from the Latin translation of Paradise Lost by William Hog. His enmity to Milton first discovered itself, on Dr. Newton's publishing his proposals for printing a new edition of the Paradise Lost with Notes of va. rious Authors; which appeared in 1749. He affirmed that “ he could prove," says Dr. Newton, (giving an account of his interview with Lauder,) “ that Mil. ton had borrowed the substance of whole books together, and that there was scarcely a single thought or sentiment in his poem which he had not stolen from some author or other, notwithstanding his vain pretence to things unattempted yet in prose or rhime. And then, in confirmation of his charge he recited a long roll of Scotch, German, and Dutch poets, and affirmed that he had brought the books along with him which were his vouchers; and appealed particularly to Ramsay, a Scotch divine, and to Masenius, a German Jesuit: but, upop producing his au. thors, he could not find Masenius; he had dropped the book somewhere or other
: These interpolations are given in the Appendix to this edition, No. II.
in the way, and expressed much surprise and concern for the loss of it; Ramsay he left with me, and my opinion of Milton's imitations of that author I have giv. en in a note on B. ix. 513. I knew very well that Milton was an universal scholar, as famous for his great reading as for the extent of his genius; and I thought it not improbable, that Mr. Lauder, having the good fortune to meet with these German and Dutch poems, might have traced out there some of his imitations and illusions, which had escaped the researches of others : and it was my advice to him then, and as often as I had opportunities of seeing him afterwards, that if he had really made such notable discoveries as he boasted, he would do well to communicate them to the public; an ingenious countryman of his had published an Essay upon Milton's Imitations of the Ancients, and he would equally deserve the thanks of the learned world by writing an Essay upon Milton's imitations of the moderns; but at the same time I recommended to him a little more modesty and decency, and urged all the arguments I could to persuade him to treat Milton's name with more respect, and not to write of him with the same. acrimony and rancour with which he spoke of him; it would weaken bis cause instead of strengthening it, and would hurt himself more than Milton in the opini. on of all candid readers. He began with publishing some specimens of his work in the Gentleman's Magazine: and I was sorry to find that he had no better regarded my advice in his manner of writing; for his papers were much in the same strain and spirit as his conversation; his assertions strong, and his proofs weak. However, to do him justice, several of the quotations which he had made from Adamus Exul, a tragedy of the famous Hugo Grotius, I thought so exactly par. allel to several passages in the Paradise Lost, that I readily adopted them, and inserted them without scruple in my Notes; esteeming it no reproach to Milton, but rather a commendation of his taste and judgment, to have gathered so many of the choicest flowers in the gardens of others, and to have transplanted them with improvements into his own. At length, after I had published my first edition of the Paradise Lost, came forth Mr. Lauder's Essay on Milton's Use and Imi. tation of the Moderns; but except the quotations from Grotius, which I had already inserted in my first edition, I found in Mr. Lauder's authors not above half a. dozen passages, which I thought worth transferring into my second edition; not but he had produced more passages somewhat resembling others in Milton; but when a similitude of thought or expression, of sentiment or description, occurs in Scripture and we will say in Staphorstius, in Virgil and perhaps in Alexander Ross, in Ariosto and perhaps in Taubmannus, I should rather conclude that Milton had borrowed from the former whom he is certainly known to have read, than from the latter whom it is very uncertain whether he had ever read or not. We know that he had often drawn, and delighted to draw, from the pure foun. tain; and why then should we believe that he chose rather to drink of the stream, after it was polluted by the trash and filth of others? We know that he had thoroughly studied, and was perfectly acquainted with, the graces and beauties of the great originals; and why then should we think that he was only the servile copier of perhaps a bad copy, which perhaps he had never seen ?"
If Lauder had traced the marks of imitation in Milton with truth and candour; if he had modestly noted images or sentiments apparently transferred from other
Writers, yet still perhaps fortuitous coincidences ; he would have gratified rational curiosity. But he was intent on blackening the fame of Milton. He published, besides his Essay, Delectus Auctorum Sacrorum Miltono Facem Prælucen. tium 3,” in two volumes; of which the first contained Andræx Ramsæi Poe. mata Sacra , & Hugonis Grotii Adamus Exul, Tragedia 5: the second, Jacobi Masenii Sarcotidos Libri tres ,” – Odorici Valmaranæ Dæmonomachiæ Liber unus', Casparis Barlæi Paradisus , & Frederici Taubmanni Bellum Angelicum: Libri tres ?." But, as Mr. Hayley finely observes, Milton “ by the force and opulence of his own fancy was exempted from the inclination, and the necessity, of borrowing and retailing the ideas of other poets; but, rich as he was in his own proper fund, he chose to be perfectly acquainted not only with the wealth, but even with the poverty of others." Indeed I may venture to strengthen this observation by Milton's own words, in which he seems to promise the production of some great poetical work. 66 Neither do I think it shame to covenant with any knowing reader, that for some few years yet I may go on trust with him towards the payment of what I am now indebted, as being a work not to be rais'd from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine ; like that which flows at waste from the pen of some vulgar amorist, or the trencher fury of some riming parasite; nor to be obtain’d by the invocation of dame Memory and her Siren daughters, but by devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his Seraphim, with the hallow'd fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases; to this must be added industrious and select reading, steady observation, insight into all seem., ly and generous arts and affairs 1.” Mr. Hayley therefore may be justified in his opinion, that Milton read, in different languages, authors of every class ; " and I doubt not,” he adds, but he had perused every poem collected by Lauder, though some of them hardly afford ground enough for a conjecture, that he remembered any passage they contain, in the course of his nobler composition."
V. We are next presented with the following information of a learned and ingenious traveller, well known to the literary world by his eminent services in the cause of Christianity. 66 During my short stay at Dusseldorf, I became ac. quainted with a baron de Harold, an Irishman, who is colonel of the regiment of Koningsfeld, &c.—But my reason for mentioning the baron, was to inform you, that he is now employed in translating, into English verse, a Latin poem, entitled
3 In 1752, and 1753. 4 From the Edinburg. edit of 1633. s From the edition of the Hague, 1601. 6 From the edition of Cologne, 1644. The fourth and fifth books are printed in Barbou's edin tion of the Sarcotis, printed at Paris, in 1781: to which are prefixed two Letters Aux RR. PP. Jesnites Autuers des Memoires de Trevoux, où l'on compare le Paradis Perdu de Milton avec le Poème intitulé Sarcotis du R. P. Jacques Masenius, Jésuite Allemand. The liberal writer of the article, Masenius, in the Nouveau Dict. Hist. à Caen, 1785, considers the pretended obligations of Milton to Masenius too trilling to be mentioned.
7 From the Vienna edit. 1627. See Dr. Newton's note on Par. Lost. B. v. 689.
8 This is a translation from the Paradise of Catsius, originally written in Dutch. It is an epithalamium on the nuptials of Adam and Eve : and Mr. Hayley pronounces it to be spirited and graceful. Many of Catsius's Dutch poems were translated into Latin verse à Caspare Barlæo, et Cornelio Boyo, and first published in their new dress at Dordrecht in 1643.
9 This poem, consisting of two books, and a fraginent of a third, Mr. Hayley says, was originally printed in 1604.
"Of Reformation, &c. B. ii. Prose-Works, vol. I. p. 223. edit. 16.9. This was first published ie 1641.
The Christiad, written by Robert Clarke, a Carthusian monk, of the content of Nieuport, near Ostend ; from which he asserts that our great poet has borrowed largely. The poem, which is on the Passion of Christ, in seventeen books, con. tains, indeed, many ideas and descriptions, strikingly similar to those of Milton in his Paradise Lost. But, unless the baron can produce an edition previous to that which he possesses, which was prioted at Bruges in 1678, it will be difficult to convict Milton of plagiarism in this instance; for Johnson, if I recollect rightly, informs us, that Elwood saw a complete copy of the Paradise Lost at Milton's house, at Chalfont, in 1665; that Milton sold the copy in 1667, and that the third edition was printed in 1678, when it is probable that many copies had passed over to the continent, and contributed to increase the reputation which his name had gained abroad; and therefore we have a right to suppose, that Clarke, and not Milton, was the copyist : the poem, however, appears to have much merit. The baron has finished ten or eleven books, with what fidelity I know not, but certainly with much animation. Milton has often been accused of plagiarism, it is to be feared sometimes with truth; for though bishop Douglas, with great acute. ness, detected Lauder's interpolations in the works of different writers, which were designed to disparage Milton's reputation, he by no means undertook to prove, that Milton's claim to originality might not, in other instances, be impeached; and Lauder, though persuaded by Dr. Johnson to give up, in a hasty fit of shame, his whole Essay as an imposition, afterwards, in part, recanted his recantation, and attempted, with some success, to prove the charge of forgery against Milton. But it is time to put an end to this digression designed to vindicate Milton, as every Englishman must wish to do, where he can be vindicated without injury to truth.2"
To the latter part of this remark it will be proper to subjoin the words of bishop Douglas. "Grown desperate by his disappointment, this very man, [Lauder,] whom but a little before we have seen as abject in the confession of his forgeries as he had been bold in the contrivance of them, with an inconsistence, equalled only by his impudence, renewed his attack upon the author of the Paradise Lost; and in a pamphlet }, published for that purpose, acquainted the world, that the true reason which had excited him to contrive his forgery was, because Milton had attacked the character of Charles the first, by interpolating Pamela's prayer from the Arcadia, in an edition of the Eicon Basiliké; hoping, no doubt, by this curious key to his conduct, to be received into favour, if not by the friends of truth, at least by the idolaters of the royal martyr: the zeal of this wild party. man against Milton having at the same time extended itself against his biographer, the very learned Dr. Birch, for no other reason but because he was so candid as to express his disbelief of a tradition unsupported by evidence.”
I have been unable to discover whether there is any edition of Clarke's book, prior to that which is mentioned.
· Letters during the course of a tour through Germany in 1791 and 1792, by Robert Gray, M. A published in 1794, pp. 19-21.
3 Entitled, King Charles J. vindicated from the charge of plagiarism, brought against him by Milton, and Milton himself convicted of forgery, and a gross imposition on the public. Not content with this title, he begins the two first pages with all the consequence of a keeperof wild beasts, when he exhibits a more celebrated monster than usual; “ The Grand Impostor detected!"
VI. We are now to be again gratified with the very curious researches, and in. genious deductions of Mr. Hayley. Having observed it to be highly probable, that Andreini turried the thoughts of Milton from Alfred to Adam, as the subject of a dramatic composition, he thinks it possible that an Italian writer, less known than Andreini, first threw into the mind of Milton the idea of converting Adam into an epic personage. “ I have now before me,” he proceeds, 6 a literary curiosity, which my accomplished friend, Mr. Walker, to whom the literature of Ireland has many obligations, very kindly sent me, on his return from an excur. sion to Italy, where it happened to strike a traveller, whose mind is peculiarly awakened to elegant pursuits. The book I am speaking of is intitled La Scena Tragica d’Adamo ed Eva, Estratta dalli primi tre capi della Sacra Genesi, e ri. dotta a significato Morale da Troilo Lancetta, Benacense. Venetia 1644. This little work is dedicated to Maria Gonzaga, dutchess of Mantua, and is nothing more than a drama in prose, of the ancient form, entitled a morality, on the expulsion of our first parents from Paradise. The author does not mention Andreini, nor has he any mixture of verse in his composition ; but, in his address to the reader, he has the following very remarkable passage: after suggesting that the Mosaic history of Adam and Eve is purely allegorical, and designed as an incentive to vir. tue, he says,
Una notte sognai, che Moisè mi porse gratiosa espositione, e misterioso significato con parole tali apunto:
Dio fà parte all' Huom di se stesso con l'intervento della ragione, e dispone con infallibile sentenza, che signoreggiando in lui la medesma sopra le sensuali voglie, preservato il pomo del proprio core dalli appetiti disordinati, per guiderdone di giusta obbedienza li trasforma il mondo in Paradiso.- Di questo s'io parlassi, al sicuro formarei heroico poema convenevole a semidei. • One night I dreamt that Moses explained to me the mystery, almost in these words:
God reveals himself to Man, by the intervention of reason, and thus infallibly ordains that reason, wbile she supports her sovereignty over the sensual inclinations in Man, and preserves the apple of his heart from licentious appetites, in reward of his just obedience transforms the world into Paradise.-Of this were I to speak,assuredly I might form an heroic poem worthy of denii-gods.'
" It strikes me as possible that these last words, assigned to Moscs in his rision by Troilo Lancetta, might operate on the mind of Milton like the question of Ell. wood, and prove, in his prolific fancy, a kind of rich graft on the idea he derived from Andreini, and the germ of his greatest production.
" A sceptical critic, inclined to discountenance this conjecture,might indeed ob. serve, it is more probable that Milton never saw a little volume not published un. til after his return from Italy, and written by an author so obscure, that his name does not occur in Tiraboschi's elaborate history of Italian literature; nor in the patient Italian chronicler of poets, Quadrio, though he bestows a chapter on early dramatic compositions in prose. But the mind that has once started a conjecture of this nature, must be weak indeed, if it cannot produce new shadows of argument in aid of a favourite hypothesis. Let me therefore be allowed to advance, as a pre. suniptive proof of Milton's having scen the work of Lancetta, that he makes a si. milar use of Moses, and introduces him to speak a prologue in the sketch of his various plans for an allegorical drama. It is indeed possible that Milton might never see the performances either of Lancetta or Andreini; yet conjecture has ground enough to conclude very fairly, that he was acquainted with both; for