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FRIENDSHIP BLISS WITHOUT ALLOY.
bitter sorrow and regret, which I could find no more easy way to mitigate than by recalling the memory of those times when, with those persons,' and particularly with you, I tasted bliss without alloy. This you would have known long since, if you received my poem on that occasion.' (The Epitaphium Damonis,' 1639). 'I had it carefully sent, that whatever poetical merit it might possess, the few verses which are included in the manner of an emblem might afford no doubtful proof of my love for you' (lines 136-138). 'I thought that by this means I should entice you or some other persons to write; for if I wrote first, it seemed necessary that I should write to all, as, if I wrote to one exclusively, I feared that I should give offence to the rest; since I hope that many are still left who might justly claim the performance of this duty. But you, by first addressing me in a manner so truly friendly, and by a triple repetition of epistolary kindness, have laid me under an obligation to write to you, and have exonerated me from the censure of those to whom I do not write. Though I must confess that I found other reasons for silence in
1 His friends in Florence.
these convulsions which my country has experienced since my return home, which necessarily diverted my attention from the prosecution of my studies to the preservation of my property and my life. For can you imagine that I could have leisure to taste the sweets of literary ease while so many battles were fought, so much blood shed, and while so much ravage prevailed among my fellow-citizens? But even in the midst of this tempestuous period, I have published several works in my native language, which if they had not been written in English, I should have pleasure in sending to you, whose judgment I so much revere. My Latin poems' (published in 1645) I will soon send, as you desire; and this I should have done long ago without being desired, if I had not suspected that some rather harsh expressions which they contained against the Roman Pontiff' (In Quintum Novembris,' Sylv. ii. 74, 'Interea regum domitor,' &c., i.e. the Pope) 'would have rendered them less pleasing to your ears. Now I request, whenever I mention the rites of your religion in my own way, that you will prevail on your friends (for I am under no apprehension from you) to show me the same indulgence not only which they did to Aligerius and
to Petrarch on a similar occasion, but which you did formerly with such singular benevolence to the freedom of my conversation on topics of religion. Present my kind wishes to Cultellino, Francisco, Trescobaldo, Maltatesto, the younger Clementillo, and every other enquiring friend, and to all the members of the Gaddian Academy.'1
'I must crave the indulgence of the reader, if I have said already, or shall say hereafter, more of myself than I wish to say; that, if I cannot prevent the blindness of my eyes, the oblivion or the defamation of my name, I may at least rescue my life from that species of obscurity which is the associate of unprincipled depravity. This it will be necessary for me to do on more accounts than one; first, that so many good and learned men among the neighbouring nations who read my works may not be induced by this fellow's (Salmasius) calumnies to alter the favourable opinion which they have formed of me; but may be persuaded that I am not one who ever disgraced beauty of sentiment by deformity of conduct, or the maxims of a freeman by the actions of a slave; and that the
1 Letter X. To Charles Diodati, a Florentine noble, 1647.
whole tenour of my life has, by the grace of God, hitherto been unsullied by enormity or crime. Next, that those illustrious worthies, who are the objects of my praise, may know that nothing could afflict me with more shame than to have any vices of mine diminish the force or lessen the value of my panegyric upon them; and, lastly, that the people of England, whom fate, or duty, or their own virtues, have incited me to defend, may be convinced from the purity and integrity of my life, that my defence, if it do not redound to their honour, can never be considered as their disgrace.'1
"Ode to John Rouse, Librarian of Oxford University,2 on a
lost volume of my poems, which he requested me to replace, that he might add them to my other works in the public library.
"O twofold book! single in appearance, but double in reality, neatly and plainly bound, which a youthful bard, no lofty one, in truth, although an
1 The Second Defence, vol. i. p. 252.
2 This ode, written in Latin, and dated January 23, 1646, in Milton's own handwriting, was inserted between the Latin and English poems in the copy of the edition printed in 1645, which he forwarded to the Bodleian, as stated in the text. It is not elaborately
APPEALS TO POSTERITY.
earnest wooer of the Muse, gave, while he roamed in Italian shades or through British woods, guiltless of all political controversy, striking in turn his native or Italian lyre: my little book, say who stole thee from thy brother-books, thee whom, at the request of my learned friend, I sent from the city to the source of the Thames. Through that request, thou mayest yet hope to escape oblivion. Resume, then, thy station in Apollo's divine home, who prefers the Oxonian vale to Delos or Par
but neatly bound, in a single volume, with a title-page to each part, as he himself says
'Gemelle cultu simplici gaudens liber,
Munditieque nitens non operosa.'
He is evidently thinking of Horace's phrase, in his Ode to Pyrrha, 'simplex munditiis,' which Milton translates 'plain in thy neatness.' It was a 'double book,' being in two parts, Latin and English. Cowper translated this ode, as well as the rest of Milton's Latin and Italian poems, with the exception of that on the Fifth of November, omitted on account of its 'asperity and unpleasant matter.' He says it cost him more labour than any other piece in the whole collection. The entire ode is eminently autobiographical, showing his extreme carefulness and ambitious aspirations as an author, the consciousness that he was unpopular and unappreciated, that posterity, a cordatior atas, would do him justice, livore sepulto—a prophecy which has indeed, though tardily, been fulfilled.
1 Insons Populi. He had written his religious tracts on Episcopacy and Divorce, but his political and polemical tracts date four or five years after this ode.