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Org. Muskets and cannons !---eat it?
Aor. Sir, be patient.
Aor. To what purpose is this impertinent madness?
Org. Your mother was a whore, and I will not put it up.
Aor. When reason doth in equal balance poise
Org. But I will raise it;
Aor. I know it, and shall I
for a truth?
Aor. So are my betters, sir.
Org. I cannot move him-O my spleen, it rises;
your thumb, all's one to me.
Aor. 'Tis my wife's fault, not mine; I have no reason
The whole of this play is particularly well worth reading; and as we can thus recommend the whole (a rare instance in Randolph), we feel less compunction at leaving much that is good behind, and in closing our article with the proud Lady Philotimia, “ of too great nicety in her attire," and her sluggish and indolent husband.
“ Phil. What mole drest me to day? O patience!
Luparus. I would the tailor had been hang’d for me,
Calves come into the world with doublets on,
Phil. To see her negligence ! she hath made this cheek
Lup. Rise, and make you ready!
Phil. Beshrew her for't, this wrinkle is not fill’d.
Lup. Our sow ne'er washes, yet she has a face,
Colax. Madam Superbia,
Above her master-piece. You are the image
Phil. I see it to my grief, pray counsel him.
Colax. This vanity in your nice lady's humours,
Lup. To clothe the soul? must the soul too be cloth'd ?
History of Britain, that part especially now called England. From the first Traditional Beginning, continued to the Norman Conquest, collected out of the Ancientest and best Authors thereof. By John Milton. London, 1677.
Some apology may be thought necessary for making a work so accessible as the present the subject of criticism. The truth is, however, that it is a work which very few read, and which has for the greater part no attractions for the generality of readers ; there are, nevertheless, a few passages of story and sentiment, which are calculated to be universally interesting ; and it is with the purpose of separating these from the other matter, and presenting them to the reader in a collected form, that we have adopted it as the subject of an article.
In reading the latter works of Milton, it is impossible not to be struck with the different view there given of the author's feelings and state of mind, from that exhibited in his earlier
publications. At the former period, we see him moving forward “ with thoughts inflamed of highest resolve,” in the strength of youth and hope, conscious of unrivalled genius and extraordinary acquirements, and confident in the truth of his yet untried speculations. But the scene was now changed; his public hopes were defeated; the friends of his youth and partners of his expectations, separated from him by death and calamity; himself oppressed with poverty and blindness, bodily suffering, and domestic disquietude ; seeking, in the pursuits of literature, like Cicero of old, at once a refuge from personal affliction, and a means of service to his country, and supporting himself with the hope, that his past exertions, if unsuccessful as to their immediate objects, had not been wholly unacceptable to the “ Great Task-Master,” in whose eye he laboured. Hence his early works are redolent of promise, of lofty design, and confident expectation ; while, in his latter, we see the bitterness of disappointed hope, a desire of explaining the confounding events of the time, by causes, which no individual virtue could obviate, and a frequent recurrence to the great unchangeable maxims of political and moral truth, as if to strengthen and support himself amidst the numerous and disheartening misapplications of the former, and violations of both. Such is the character of Samson Agonistes, Paradise Regained, and the prophetic parts of Paradise Lost; and the same strain of feeling is visible throughout this history. He writes evidently with a view to his own and succeeding times; and in the events of his country's early history, he reads a perpetual comment upon his favourite maxims of a visible providential superintendance in the affairs of nations, and the inseparable connection of public liberty with private virtue and religion ; a truth, his constant inculcation of which, distinguishes him as widely from those spurious advocates of liberty, who degrade his name by associating it with their own profligate tenets, as his unwearied zeal for the advancement of freedom and public knowledge separates him from those who would confound the cause of bigotry and servility with that of public morals. But we are wandering from our subject : our intention was not so much to draw the attention of our readers to a work, by which the greater portion of them would most probably be disappointed, as to place before them a set of extracts, which might save them the trouble of perusing the original work; we shall, therefore, be excused from making more than a very few remarks on the manner of its execution. The style of narration is neat, concise, and clear, modelled on that of the classical historians, and in the more important and interesting parts rises to a degree of animation. There is not much display of deep philosophical research; but the author's characteristic freedom of judgement is every where apparent. It would not be easy to point out a better executed précis of early English history, considering its conciseness. The diction is impregnated with classical idioms, to a degree utterly inconsistent with the purity of English style.
The first book, containing the legendary history of Britain from the earliest ages to the invasion of Cæsar, is by far the most entertaining. The author's motives for telling over again the tales of the old chroniclers, are thus stated in the exordium.
“The beginning of nations, those excepted' of whom sacred books have spoken, is to this day unknown. Nor only the beginning, but the deeds also of many succeeding ages, yea, periods of ages, either wholly unknown, or obscured and blemished with fables. Whether it were that the use of letters came in long after, or were it the violence of barbarous inundations, or they themselves at certain revolutions of time, fatally decaying, and degenerating into sloth and ignorance, whereby the monuments of more ancient civility have been some destroyed, some lost : perhaps dis-esteem and contempt of the public affairs then present, as not worth recording, might partly be in cause. Certainly ofttimes we see that wise men, and of best ability, have forborne to write the acts of their own days, while they beheld with a just loathing and disdain, not only how unworthy, how perverse, how corrupt, but often how ignoble, how petty, how below all history the persons and their actions were; who, either by fortune, or some rude election, had attained, as a sore judgement and ignominy upon the land, to have chief sway in managing the common wealth.
“ Nevertheless there being others besides the first supposed author, men not unread, nor unlearned in antiquity, who admit that for approved story, which the former explode for fiction, and seeing that oft-times relations heretofore accounted fabulous, have been after found to contain in them many footsteps, and relics of something true, as what we read in poets of the flood, and giants little believed, till undoubted witnesses taught us, that all was not fained; I have therefore determined to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales; be it for nothing else but in favour of our English poets and rhetoricians, who by their art will know how to use them judiciously.
" I might also produce example, as Diodorus among the Greeks, Livy and others of the Latins, Polydore and Virunnius accounted among our own writers. But I intend not with controversies and quotations to delay or interrupt the smooth course of history; much less to argue and debate long who were the first inhabitants, with what probabilities, what authorities each opinion hath been upheld, but shall endeavour that which hitherto hath been needed most, with plain and lightsome brevity, to relate, well and orderly, things worth the noting, so as may best instruct and benefit them that read. Which, imploring