صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

1624.15 He was there early distinguished for the elegance of his verfification, and his unufual skill in the Latin tongue. A well known paffage in his first Elegy certainly betrays fome displeasure which he felt, or alludes to fome indignities which he fuffered from the severity of Collegiate discipline: this was probably occafioned by the freedom of his cenfures on the established system of education,16 and his reluctance to conform to it. In his Reason of Church Government, he says, 'their honest and ingenuous nature coming to the Universities to store themfelves with good and folid learning, are there unfortunately fed with nothing else but the scragged and thorny lectures of monkish and miferable fophiftry; were fent home again with such a scholaftical bur in their throats, as hath ftopped and hindered all true and generous philofophy from entering; cracked their voices for ever with metaphyfical gargarifms, hath made them admire a fort of formal outside men, prelatically addicted, whose unchastened and over wrought minds were never yet initiated, nor fubdued under the true love of moral or religious virtue, which two are the best, and greatest points of learning but either slightly trained up in a kind of hypo

15 He was admitted Penfionarius minor, under Mr. William Chappell, afterwards provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and Dean of Caffels, and at laft bishop of Cork, to whom among others, the celebrated treatise of the Whole Duty of Man has been imputed. See Birch's Life, p. 111. Henry More calls Chappell a learned, vigilant, skilful, pious, and prudent Tutor. v. Biog. Britannica. note. Lightfoot. Milton took his first degree in Jan. 1628-9, and that of Master of Arts, in 1632. Symmons's Pref. to Life, p. 5-7. He was transferred from Mr. Chappell, (though contrary to the rules of the college), to Mr. Tovell. (Tovey) v. Aubrey Lett. iii. p. 445, he was admitted A. M. at Oxford, in 1635, v. Wood's Fafti, i. p. 262.

See

16 The author of A modest confutation against a slanderous and scurrilous libel' first charged him with being vomited out of the univerfity, after an inordinate and riotous youth spent there, and the author of

critical and hackney course of literature to get their living by, and dazzle the ignorant, or elfe fondly over ftudied in useless controverfies, except those which they use, with all the spacious and delusive subtlety they are able, to defend their prelatical Sparta.'-And in his Apology for Smectymnus, he fays,That fuburb wherein I dwell shall be in my accounts a more honourable place, than his University; which as in the time of her better health, and mine own younger judgment, I never greatly admired, fo now much lefs;1-and in his third letter to his friend and tutor Alexander Gil, he expreffes the fame opinion, concerning the fuperficial and smattering learning of the University and of the manner in which the clergy engage with raw, and untutored judgments in the study of theology, patching together a fermon with pilfered scraps, without any acquaintance with criticism or philofophy; again, in his Animadverfions on the Remonftrant's Defence, he says,-" What should I tell how you the universities that men look fhould be the fountains of learning and knowledge, have been poisoned and choked under your governance?"

Milton's natural genius, cultivated by the care of those excellent scholars, who had conducted his education, and enriched by his own indefatigable study, had doubtless made great advances in those branches of knowledge at

Regii Sanguinis Clamor,' repeated the calumny. Aiunt hominem Cantabrigienfi academia ob flagitia pulfum, dedecus, et patriam fugiffe et in Italiam commigraffe.' The former tract,' Milton fays in his Apology for Smectymnus, was reported to be written by the fon of Bishop Hall.'

6

[ocr errors]

17 See his tractate on Education, where he speaks against the prepofterous exaction of compofing Themes and Orations, and the ill habit they got of wretched barbarizing against the Greek and Latin idioms, and then having really left grammatical flats and shallows, to be presented with the most intellectual abstractions of logic and metaphyfics, to be toffed and turmoiled in the fathomlefs deeps of contro

[ocr errors]

once congenial to his mind, and conducive to its improvement; and he might feel unwilling to be diverted from them, into the barren and unprofitable pursuits, which the old fyftem of collegiate education too often required;18

verfy, to be deluded with ragged notions and brabblements, to be dragged to an afinine feast of sow-thistles and brambles.'-With these opinions, when called upon by the college for Latin themes on logical and metaphyfical fubjects (fee his Prolufiones) cannot we eafily conceive the rebellion or discontent, the out-breaks and flashes of his fiery mind?

18 The following paffage in Milton's Prolufiones has been overlooked, which throws fome light on the subject of his difcuffion with the college, and his renewed union. (v. p. 115.) He difliked some parts of their studies, probably their logical and metaphyfical Thefes (fpecimens of which may be feen in Cleaveland's Works, p. 132), and expreffed his opinion too freely, or perhaps did not perform the tasks that were required. I feel convinced that the whole ground of offence, fo much difputed, is to be found in this point.

⚫ Tum nec mediocriter me pellexit, et invitavit ad has partes fubeundas veftra, (vos qui ejufdem eftis mecum Collegii) in me nuperrime comperta facilitas, cum enim ante præteritos menfes, aliquam multos oratorio apud vos munere perfuncturus effem, putaremque lucubrationes meas qualefcunque etiam ingratas propèmodum futuras, et mitiores habituras judices. Æacum et Minoa, quam e vobis fere quemlibet, fane præter opinionem meam, præter meam fi quid, erat fpeculæ, non vulgari ficuti ego accepi, imo ipfe fenfi omnium plaufu exceptæ funt immo eorum qui in me alias propter ftudiorum diffidia essent prorfus infenfo, et inimico animo; generofum utique fimultatis exercendæ genus, et regio pectore non indignum, fiquidem cum ipfa amicitia plerumque multa inculpate facta detorquere foleat, tunc profectio acris et infefta inimicitia errata forfitan multa, et baud pauca sine dubio indiferte dicta, leniter et clementius quam meum erat meritum interpretari non gravabatur. Jam femel unico hoc exemplo vel ipfa demens ira mentis compos fuiffe videbatur, et hoc facto furoris infamiam abluiffe. At vero fummopere oblector, et mirum in modum voluptate perfundor, cum videam tantâ doctiffimorum hominum frequentia circumfufum me, et undique ftipatum,' &c. Confult alfo on this fubject Glanville's Ne plus ultra, p. 119, and on Ariftotle, p. 78, and Epiftolæ obfcurorum virorum, p. 108, ed. 1757, and on the fcholaftic ftudies then in vogue, and the fubtleties of the Dialectic Art, Knox's Life by Macrie, p. 7. Even fo late as the time of Swift, it is faid in his Life, that he paffed his time in reading books of hiftory

that which he disliked or despised, his love of freedom on all fubjects, and in every fituation forbade him to conceal. It is probable that he underwent a temporary rustication.

and poetry, instead of Keckerman, and other old treatises on logic, a branch of learning then in high eftimation, and held effentially neceffary for taking a degree. See alfo Prof. Powell's remarks on this subject in his Natural Philofophy, p. 108; on the strictures passed on the Univerfities of Europe in early times, and which were not much better in later; but he adds, in regard to Oxford, the fcholaftic forms were in a great measure broken up under the reign of Cromwell, but the old fyftem was re-established with the return of the Stuarts, p. 264.

It is curious that more than a century fubfequent, we find another eminent scholar, almoft repeating the fame complaints on the continued existence of the fame fyftem, keeping so far behind the advanced spirit of the age.

"Sir W. Jones's active imagination had anticipated the forms and regulations of the University rather incorrectly; and the facilities provided them for learning did not coincide with his first hafty expectations. He had calculated on a Sumner or an Afkew in every Master of Arts, and on an order of literature in the students generally equal to his own. But his disappointment was not entirely owing to extravagant expectations. The Public Lectures were really below the standard of his attainments, and in fact were confidered as merely formal. He complained, that inftead of having his understanding interefted by a fyftematic exhibition of the principles of elegant arts and ufeful knowledge, he was compelled to hear dull comment on artificial Ethics and Logic, expressed in such barbarous Latin, that he profeffed to recognife in it no more meaning than in Arabic, of which he had but just touched the furface. The only logic then in fashion was that of the schools. An anecdote is preserved in one of Jones's Memorandums of a Fellow of a College, who, while he affifted to read Locke with his pupils, carefully fuppreffed every paffage in which that great metaphyfician derides the fcholaftic logic." v. Life prefixed to Poems, p. 27. On the fubject, "That from the Univerfities and the Church in any country, no improvement in philofophy can be expected," see Hallam's Hift. of Literature, vol. iii. p. 138. In the Memoir of Barrow, prefixed to Hughes's edition, is a sketch of studies pursued at Cantab. from the 12th to the 17th century. No alteration in the statutes as far as related to study was made after the time of Henry the Eighth or Edward the Sixth. See do. vol. iv. p. 110.

This however is certain,—that all misunderstanding was removed, and that he foon acquired the kindness and respect of the fociety with which he lived: he fays,-"It hath given me an apt occafion to acknowledge publicly with all grateful mind that more than ordinary favour and refpect, which I found above any of my equals at the hands of these courteous and learned men, the fellows of the college wherein I spent fome years; who, at my parting, after I had taken two degrees, as the manner is fignified many ways, how much better it would content them, if I would stay, as by many letters full of kindness, and loving respect, both before that time and long after, I was affured of their fingular good affection towards me :" -and in another place he speaks of himself as

[ocr errors]

Procul omni flagitio, bonis omnibus probatus.'

In 1628 he wrote fome lines on the subject, Naturam non pati senium,' as an Academical exercise, to oblige one of the fellows of the college; and T. Warton fays of it, that it is replete with fanciful and ingenious allufions, it has also a vigour of expreffion, a dignity of fentiment, and elevation of thought rarely found in very young writers.' This praise is juft: but its Latinity is not fo flowing, or elegant, as that of his later poems. To this account, as the fubject is of much intereft, I now add the refult of a fuller inquiry which I fubfequently gave to it :

"The first point in Milton's life, which has been the fubject of debate, is his fuppofed quarrel with the authorities of his college at Cambridge, and the ignominious confequences conjectured to have refulted from it. I think, however, that the conclufions which Johnson first invidiously advanced, have been rejected; and that the truth has been gradually brought to light. To any

« السابقةمتابعة »