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the study of the Iliad the Eneid, and the Bible." The Preface is followed by a Memoir of Milton's Life. In it Mr Prendeville tells us he has compressed whatever he could find of interest or advantage to the reader in the numerous biographies, from the Sketches of his Nephew to the elaborate Life by Symmons; and that he has endeavoured to combine, with the chief incidents of his life, a correct exposition of his views, principles, and feelings. For that purpose, he has very properly quoted a good many passages from his prose works. "These quotations," says Mr Prendeville, “ I have adopted from the best accredited translations, (for most of the passages are taken from his Latin prose works,) although these translations I think ob. jectionable in point of style and fideli. ty." They are so indeed; and pray, what is the use of an editor if he have not the sense and spirit to give good translations? Mr Prendeville tells us that he has been engaged on this edition of Milton for many years: and yet he foists upon the rising generation translations, which he thinks objectionable in point of style and fidelity, of some of the most interesting passages, in which Milton has spoken of himself, his cha, racter, and his condition. For such stupid laziness Mr Prendeville de serves to be soundly whipped,
But we are in a good humour, and there fore content ourselves with remark ing, that his own version of the character and vindication of Cromwell, in which he says he has preserved, as far as possible, the character and spirit of the original, while at the same time it is more correct than any former one, is immeasurably inferior to Wrangham's in Symmons' Life Thus he translates" Tu igitur, Cromuelle, magnitudine illa animi macte esto." "Success, then, O Crom, well, in that greatness of soul."—" Reverere de te spem patriæ unicam," he calls "Revere the main hope which your country entertains of you.' "Quæ si tam cito quasi aborta evanuerit," he translates," Which if it per ish abortively so soon." Besides such weaknesses, inaccuracies, and vulgar ities as these, we could quote a dozen from this much vaunted version. Yet it is not without merit. He deserves praise for his manifest efforts to be literal; and his failure proceeds less from an
imperfect knowledge of the Latin, than from his circumscribed command of the English tongue. The Memoir
is very poorly written indeed, and cannot be read with patience after the animated and accurate works, all published within these very few years, of Mitford, Bell, and Brydges. As to
"correct exposition of the views, principles, and feelings" of John Milton, Mr Prendeville must be satisfied, on a moment's reflection, that he has given none at all. His political prin ciples he is afraid either to praise or blame, and speaks of them mawkishly thus:- "It is vulgarly imagined that his republicanism tended to inculcate a system of general equality. Nothing can be more erroneous. He has left living records in his writings that he contemplated no such absurdity. No: he only wished for constitutional freedom such as we now enjoy; and, had he lived in these times, he would have been a bold defender of our limited monarchy, if not of our now more tolerant Church. He opposed the hierarchy and monarchy of his time, because he conceived both hostile to civil and religious liberty. It was against their abuse of power he contended and it cannot be denied that there were abuses. If he advocated the abolition of those institutions, it was because he did not imagine they could be brought under control through the independence of Parlia ment. However, hear himself. At the opening of his Areopagitica, he says, when complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed, there is the utmost bound of civil liberty that wise men look for.' There is nothing extravagant in this, Whig and Tory say the same. This liberty we now enjoy; but his contemporaries did not. So he also says in Paradise Lost :
- for orders and degrees jar not With liberty, but well consist',Indeed the subject and scope of Paradise Lost present a moral, that revolt against a just monarch is an act of high guilt, and that nothing but high misdemeanour on the part of the sove reign ruler could warrant it."
Pappy stuff, indeed! But has Mr Prendeville read Milton's political writings? We suspect not. He says of the "Defensio pro populo Angli.
cano," that it was every where read and admired for the great learning, genius, logical reasoning, and eloquence it showed. Yes, we know that all Europe rang with it from side to side; but we again ask, has Mr Prendeville himself read it up to this day? A first-rate writer in the last Number of the Quarterly Review says justly, "Never, perhaps, was a great cause more unworthily pleaded, than in the 'Arraignment and Defence of the People of England for the Execution of Charles the First.' Milton could not write for a long time without flashes of his nobility of thought and language; but in general his victory over his antagonist Salmasius is obtained solely by his more perfect command of Latin Billingsgate. The controversy is more like that of two schoolmasters quarrelling about points of grammar and expression, and lash ing each other into the coarsest personalities, than the advocates of two great conflicting principles debating a solemn question before astonished Europe.' Mr Prendeville, of course, believes that the mortification Salmasius felt at his overthrow accelerated his death. If he had looked into Ro bert Bell's excellent Life of Milton, in the Cabinet Cyclopædia, he would have learned that there is no ground for supposing that it had the least effect even upon his spirits; and that his posthumous answer is as strongly marked with exultation as his original treatise was with confidence. He could have had no fear that the glory of a long life was to be extinguished by a single blow; and though Milton unquestionably was the more powerful controversialist, Salmasius was justly proud of his own matchless erudition; and if, shortly before his decease, he met with contumely from any quarter, he no doubt treated it with scorn.
Mr Prendeville afterwards says, when speaking of Milton's life and condition after the Restoration-" He was not directly involved in the murder of the late King; he never took arms against him; never by speech or writing recommended his execution."" How does he know that? Can he be ignorant, that though Milton's justification of Charles' execution was not published till after the King's death, much of it was written in anticipation
of that atrocious crime? Does Mr Prendeville deny that Milton was a regicide? But in all matters, great and small alike, where it was possible to be inaccurate or erroneous, Mr Prendeville is so. As, for example, he pronounces the well-established fact, that Milton had incurred severe academical censure, a pure fiction. He speaks, in a note, of Milton's "intimacy with Galileo," whereas it seems certain that they met but once. He twice mentions that Dryden was a "constant visitor" of his, which nobody can believe. He tells us indirectly that Milton's first wife died in childbed in 1652; but he will not tell us when the poet married his secondabsurdly saying, that it was after a proper interval. It was, we believe, in 1655. And he did right to marry again, having been for three years stone-blind, with three infant daughters. Neither will Mr Prendeville give us the date of Milton's third marriage. After his pardon, at the close of 1660,"he removed into Jewin Street, where his infirm state of health requiring some better attention than that of servants, he married, by the advice of his friend Dr Paget, Elizabeth Minshull, of a respectable family in Cheshire, and a relation of that gentleman. Mr Prendeville then says, "He soon left Jewin Street, and removed to a small house in the Artillery Walk, leading to Bunhillfields, where he continued till his death." “In 1661, he published his Accidence Commence Grammar, and a Tract of Sir Walter Raleigh's, entitled "Aphorisms of State." Who would not suppose from this that Milton must have married Elizabeth Minshull immediately after his pardon? But he did not do so before 1664. He says that Milton's youngest daughter, Deborah, was his amanuensis for Par adise Lost. It was finished, we know, in the summer of 1665, and few will believe it possible that it could have been written in less than five or six years. Suppose the first words, “ Of man's first disobedience," were put on paper on the 1st of January, 1660, Deborah at that time was seven years and a half old, rather too tender an age to be called out of bed in the middle of the night, and employed as an amanuensis. Mr Prendeville says, "Milton had, no doubt, been preparing
the materials of Paradise Lost, even during the twenty years he was so hotly engaged in polemical and political controversy, and most probably only began to reduce them to order some three or four years before he brought the work to such immortal completion.' What does he mean by collecting materials during twenty years? He quotes Milton himself immediately after, to prove that he had not selected his subject till he was far advanced in life. Be it so; what then is the meaning of saying that a poet had been preparing materials, during the twenty years of the prime of life, for a poem of which he had not then chosen the subject? And what is the meaning of, "probably only begun to reduce them to order?" Does it mean inditing to Deborah the Paradise Lost, as we now have it, from materials prepared before the poet knew whether the hero of his poem was to be Adam or Arthur-its heroine Eve or Ginevra? He gives a most unsatisfactory reason for believing, that this reduction to order occupied but three or four years. "From one of his letters to Deodati," says Mr Prendeville," it appears that after he had arranged his plan, his execution in all his works was brisk, vigorous, methodical, and untiring,-never losing sight of his purpose,-never distracted by illness, or worldly care." Why, the letter he refers to was written in early manhood, and can prove nothing respecting Milton's habits in advanced life: besides, Mr Prendeville appears never to have read the letter he quotes from; for there is not a single syllable in it about his method or habits of composition,-merely a fine earnest sentence or two about his studies. This comes of trusting to "translations I think objectionable in point of style and fidelity." Mr Prendeville believes, that in his description of Adam is sketched off his own picture.
"His fair large front and eyes sublime declared
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad."
The reasons assigned for this belief are not very satisfactory. "In his youth his hair was auburn." Milton
says that Adam's hair was hyacinthine, Beautiful colours both, but opposite. "Milton," says Mr Prendeville, "was considered very handsome; but his beauty, from the regularity of his features, their general harmony, and the modesty and composure of his demeanour and look, was thought to be of the feminine order. Hence he was called in the University The Lady of Christ Church.'" Why not say at once that he sketched off his own picture in his description of Eve? Adam's shoulders are said to have been broad; and Mr Prendeville ob serves in a note, that broad shoulders are always assigned to the ancient heroes by the poets. Now Milton's shoulders were not broad, for he tells himself, that he was very thin. Adam is said to have been erect and tall; and Milton says of himself, "my stature certainly is not tall." These Mr Pren deville may consider but trifling discrepancies; but they serve to show, that though Adam no doubt had a sort of general resemblance to Milton, he would have run a greater risk of being spoken to by Satan for Christopher North. But why had not Adam a beard? Bishop Newton thinks that it was because Raphael and the prin cipal painters, from whose works Milton frequently fetches his ideas, represent him without one. ay," says Mr Prendeville, "but why did they?" and then, stretching himself up to his full height, giving the collar of his shirt a twitch, and gracefully stretching out his right arm, he ex claims to his fair hearers, enamoured of their bachelor, “I think, because Adam, before the fall, and before he became subject to death, was supposed to be in a state of perpetual youth." Good! He was in a state of beardless inno cence; but alas! had you seen him the morning after the expulsion, you would have sworn he had not shaved for a week.
Let any contemporary sumph give vent to a sillyism respecting a great man, and it is sure to be transmitted to the latest posterity, from hand to hand along the line of biographers, occasionally embellished by a touch of genius, and accredited by the mul titude as a characteristic truth. We can easily understand how Milton, when insulted by his adversaries, should, in the ardour of manhood,
while chastising their brutal calumnies, have written with dignified complacency of his own person, on which nature had lavished her most beautiful gifts; but we can never bring ourselves to believe that in what may be called his old age, (though little above fifty,) John Milton pleased his imagination with a picture of his own physical endowments, in his description of the sire of mankind. Most assuredly, at that hour he thought not at all of his own outward man. It was right that Adam should be pictured as a being but a little lower than the angels; and we can look on him with undiminished admiration"in that celestial colloquy sublime," sitting by Raphael's side. But though Milton, in the hour of inspiration, forgot that he had a body at all, it is delightful to think of him in vernal adolescence, "with a fair and soft complexion, and light brown hair parted over his forehead, and floating down his shoulders, almost realizing one of those fine creations of spiritual shapes which he has described in the Paradise Lost." So says finely Robert Bell, who afterwards speaks I in the same spirit of Milton's last wife, who probably with her own = hand closed his eyes.
"She had golden tresses, and Milton is supposed to have designed her portrait in the picture of Eve, as he is suspected of having drawn himself in Adam; but much of that beautiful delineation must have derived its charm from his imagination, as he was blind when he married her, and must therefore have formed his outlines from description. But blind men have a miraculous sense of beauty, which is hardly intelligible to others. They have a thousand ways of estimating it: their ideal is composed of a multitude of exquisite associations, and if they do not produce accurate resemblances, they create, at all events, delightful images that have a refined affinity to truth. The tone of voice, the laugh, the footstep, modes of expres sion, energy or languor of thought and utterance, and a multitude of exquisite types that escape all other observers, convey an eloquent and perfect language to them."
There is no such writing as that in James Prendeville; yet we benignantly ask Mr Bell how Elizabeth Minshull could possibly have been painted by Milton in the picture of Eve, seeing
that Dr Paget did not select her to be the poet's wife till 1664, and that the Paradise Lost was seen in its finished state by Ellwood the Quaker in 1665 ?
It is sometimes not easy to understand Mr Prendeville, even when he appears to be writing about something sufficiently simple. "We are not,' says he, "to consider the perhaps obs jectionable character of the polemic and the politician, in our consideration of his work, which ought to be judged of as he intended it, as an esa xona, as Herodotus says, a legacy to his country for all future ages. What is it to the admirers of the Iliad and the Odyssey whether Homer, the mendi cant singer, was the original author of these admired poems, or only a collector of the songs and rhapsodies on the subject of the Theban and Trojan wars, embellishing these stories, and adding many of his own? We know the Eneid to be in a great measure a chaste and judicious compilation from the Iliad and Odyssey, yet we do not the less admire it on that account. But this charity is not extended to Milton-a far greater name than either. The man is often remembers ed in his great work."
By whom, it may be asked, is the man often remembered in his great work ? By none now to his disparagement. But were it otherwise, still the above about Homer is drivel. No man, deserving the name, would give up the existence of Homer, though barked at by a whole pack of wolves. All admirers of the Iliad and the Odyssey must scoff at Mr Prendeville for asking what is it to them such a question about Homer. A mendicant singer Homer never was. And he who believes the Iliad to be but "a collection of songs and rhapsodies about the Theban and Trojan wars," must be an ass fourteen hands high without his shoes. What can the above stuff about the Iliad possibly have to do with the Paradise Lost, and the personal character of Milton? If it could be shown that the Paradise Lost were in " a great measure a chaste and judicious compilation," as the Eneid is said to be from the Iliad and Odyssey, unquestionably all people of common sense would admire it the less on that account. But this warns us to con
clude with that anonymous wiseacre,
a friend of Mr Prendeville's, who may be safely set down, now that You Know Who is dead, as the chief blockhead of the age.
His doctrine is said to be founded on that of Aristotle; but to our eyes it appears original. It is as follows:Poetry originating in the pleasure we take in imitation, it is evident that when one good poet imitates another, we have a double pleasure; the first proceeding from a comparison of the description with its object; and the second from comparing the one de scription with the other. From this principle the great unknown author of the short anonymous essay draws some important conclusions: First, that when a poet imitates a descrip tion from another poet, which had been imitated from a third, our plea sure is still the greater; therefore the imitations in Milton are, in this re. spect, beyond those of Virgil, because he has imitated some places of Virgil which are imitations of Homer. condly, That the passages a poet is to imitate ought to be selected with great care, and should ever be the best parts of the best authors, and always ought to be improved in imitation, so that vastly less invention and judgment are required to make a good original than a fine imitation. Thirdly, That such imitations cost the author more pains, and give the reader greater pleasure, than an original composition. Fourthly, That in all such secondary imitations, as they may be called, a considerable alteration from the original has a very agreeable effect; for we have in our nature a principle to be delighted with what is new, to which
it is plain these secondary or tertiary imitations are not very conformable, on which account they ought to have, as well as a likeness, a due variation, that at one and the same time they may gratify our several dispositions for being pleased with what is imitated, and with what is new. Fifthly, That in these imitations there ought generally to be observed a medium betwixt a literal translation and a distant allusion; as the first destroys the pleasure we have from what is new, and the latter encroaches on that which we receive from imitation. Sixthly, That a great original poet does not confine himself, in an imitation, to the passage he principally takes it from, but renders it more complete by hints taken from other places of the same author, or from another author. Seventhly, That the merit of ordinary poets consists in the difficulty of imitating, and the more literal they are the better. The name of the author of this short anonymous essay must be discovered, and the short anonymous essay itself stereotyped, that it may never get out of print again. We devoutly trust that the author, though anonymous, is yet alive, and may be long spared to us to illuminate his kind. If he turn out to be dead, no pains nor expense must be grudged to ascertain his spot of sepulture, and there, to his immortal memory, must be erected a transitory granite monument. If no trace can be discovered of his name or his dust, a cenotaph must be erected somewhere in Ireland's capital city, with a suitable inscription from the pen of Mr Pren deville.
Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.