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Si sit hoc exilium patrios adiise penates
Et vacuum curis otia grata sequi:
ego vel profugi nomen sortemve recuso
Here he pours contempt enough upon the“naked Cam," and his “lately forbidden college;" but what follows sufficiently marks an irritated mind, ull of resentment at having been ill-treated. He simpatient of the “threats of a hard master, and other things, not to be endured by a temper like his ;" and he “exults at being an exile in his father's house."
Now though these lines do not prove that he was absolutely expelled, or as one of his antagonists coarsely enough expresses it, “ vomited out of the university,” they plainly indicate that he had undergone some academical censure and was rusticated from college.
It has been even asserted that Milton underwent the discipline still inflicted on school boys, that of being publicly whipped in the college.
The latter biographers and apologists of Milton have exerted their zeal to disprove this charge, which rests, to be sure, on the single authority of Aubrey, aud the keen allusions to college discipline in the above Latin lines. But against both, a quotation has been produced from one of Milton's controversial pieces. In his "Apology for Smectymnuus,” in reply to an anonymous writer, (supposed to have been a son of Bishop Hall),
Milton says i
" I must
“I must be thought, if this libeller can find belief, after an inordinate and riotous youth spent at the University, to have been at length vomited out there. For which commodious lie, that he may be encouraged in the trade another time; I thank him; for it hath given me an apt occasion to acknowledge publicly, with all grateful mind, that more than ordinary favour and respect, which I found above many of my equals at the hands of those courteous and learned men, the fellows of that college, wherein I spent some years, who, at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is, signified many ways how much better it would content them that I would stay, as by many letters full of kindness and loving respect, both before that time and long after, I was assured of their singular good affection towards me. Which, being likewise propense to all such as were for their studious and civil life, wor. thy of esteem, I could not wrong their judgments and upright intentions so much as to think I had that regard for them for other cause than that I might be still encouraged to proceed in the honest and laudable cause, of which they apprehended I had given good proof. And to these ingenious and friendly men, who were ever the countenancers of virtuous and hopeful wits, I wish the best and happiest things that friends in absence wish one another."
If this passage be carefully and coolly examined, there will be found little in it to confute what Au
brey brey has asserted. The flagellation of Milton is not said to have been in consequence of any criminal act, and as this remnant of barbarous discipline lasted in our universities till after his time, it could only confer a momentary disgrace. Milton, in his vindication from the false accusation of having been vomited out of the university, confines himself to the praise " of the fellows of his college ;" but he makes not the slightest mention of the master, Dr. Bainbridge, who is recorded to have been a most rigid disciplinarian, and that on those very points which Milton particularly disliked. The latter had been puritanically educated, and was moreover of a temper impatient of controul : all his compositions prove, that he was vain and confident of himself, and of the opinions which he adopted. His early epistles and poems exhibit this feature of his character too strongly to be overlooked ; and in the very poem already men. ționed, he admits that his “disposition could not brook the threats of a rigorous master," by whom, as is most reasonable to be supposed, he meant Dr. Bainbridge, the head of his college.
It is remarkable, that in his Latin epistle he speaks of the pleasure he experienced from theatrical amusements.
Excipit hinc fessum sinuosi pompa theatri,
Yet in his “ Apology for Smectymnuus,” he makes the universities the objects of his coarsest abuse,
for permitting the students to act plays. Thus; as Dr. Johnson aptly reinarks, plays were therefore only criminal when they were acted by academicks.”
It was his father's intention, as we have already observed, that he should enter into the church, but the principles he had imbibed from Young, and the course of studies which he afterwards pursued, alienated his mind from that profession which he not only renounced, but treated with a virulence peculiar to, himself, saying, that whoever became a clergyman must
subscribe slave, and take an oath withal, which, unless he took with a conscience that could not retch, he must straight perjure himself. I thought it better therefore, (he adds,) to prefer a blameless silence before the office of speaking, bought and begun with servitude and foreswearing."
This, if it means any thing, can have an allusion only to the oaths of civil and canonical obedience, required to be taken by all persons who enter on the ministry of the church ;--so early then may we fix the antimonarchical and puritanical principles of Milton.
In 1088, he set out on his travels, passing through France to Italy, where he was treated with marks of uncommon respect, which he repaid by attacking the established religion in his conversation, contrary to the wholesome advice he had received from Sir Henry Wotton,
to“ keep his thoughts close, and his countenance loose."
This fervid zeal of Milton can admit of no excuse; for it was only calculated to irritate the inhabitants of the country where he resided, and to make his own religion more hated by them,' as being unfavourable to good manners. Of bis imprudence in this respect we have the following anecdote.
The famous Giovanni Baptista Manso, to whom he was recommended by a hermit that had travelled with him from Roine, having received him with great respect, and waited upon him several times at his own lodgings, told bim at his departure, that he would have gladly done him more good offices, if he had been more reserved in matters of religion : and he dismissed bim with the following distich, alluding to that indiscretion, and Pope Gregory's remark upon the beauty of the English youths :
Ut meus forma, decor, facies, mos, si pietas sic,
During his residence at Florence, Milton visited Galileo, the celebrated astronomer, who for asserting the motion of the earth and the antipodes, was persecuted by the inquisition, and obliged to recant his heretical opinions. One of Milton's biographers conjectures that, from this intercourse, he obtained more correct ideas re