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bestowed upon me ? I will, therefore, take my
seat, the lowest and least of those who are crowned with ivy and laurel; and shall not pass all my days in obscurity.' '
'Me at present that city contains which the Thames washes with its ebbing wave; and me, not unwilling, my father's house now possesses. At present it is not my care to revisit the reedy Cam; nor does the love of my forbidden rooms yet cause me grief. Nor do naked fields please me, where soft shades are not to be had.2 How ill that place suits the votaries of Apollo! Nor am I in the humour still to bear the threats of a harsh master, and other things not to be submitted to by my genius. If this be exile, to have gone to my father's house, and, free from cares, to be pursuing agreeable relaxations, then certainly I refuse neither the name nor the lot of a fugitive, and gladly I enjoy the condition of exile. For it is in
Ad Patrem. Sylv. vi. 66, &c.
2 He alludes to the country around Cambridge.
3 Was Milton rusticated? was he flogged at Cambridge? To the last question, no, as may be argued from his own words; to the first also, no, he did not lose a term. We know he disliked Cambridge, and the then system of education; he was at first unpopular,
VACATION IN LONDON.
my power to give my leisure up to the placid Muses; and books, which are my life, have me all to themselves. When I am wearied, the pomp of the winding theatre takes me hence, and the garrulous stage calls me to its noisy applauses. not always within doors do we mope; the grove also, planted with thick elms,1 has our company; and very often here you may see troops of maidens passing by. Ah! how often have I seen eyes surpassing all gems, and necks twice whiter than the way which flows tinged with pure nectar; and the exquisite grace of the forehead; and the trembling hair, which cheating Love spreads as his golden nets; and the inviting cheeks, compared with which hyacinthine purple is poor. But for me, while the forbearance of the blind boy allows it, I prepare as soon as possible to leave these happy walls, and flee far from the sorceress Circe. It is fixed that I go back to the rushy marshes of Cam, and once more
afterwards not; he further had a disagreement with his tutor Chappel, and withdrew for part of a term, but was not 'rusticated' in the proper and usual sense of the word. On his return he became the pupil of Tovey.
Milton's favourite tree.
approach the murmur of the hoarse-murmuring school.'1
'When your letter arrived I was strenuously engaged in that work (Sylv. iv., Naturam non pati senium: "That nature is not subject to old age") concerning which I had given you some obscure hints, and the execution of which could not be delayed. One of the fellows of our college, who was to be the respondent in a philosophical disputation for his degree, engaged me to furnish him with some verses, which are annually required on this occasion, since he himself was then intent on more serious studies. Of these verses I sent you a printed copy, since I knew both your discriminating taste in poetry, and your candid allowances for poetry like mine.' 2
'Often I scorned the arrows of Cupid as but boyish darts, and derided thy deity, most great Love. The Cyprian boy could not bear this. It was spring, and the first of May. Love stands by my bed, and said, "Better hadst thou been wise by the example of others; now thou shalt thyself be a Masson's translation in Life of
1 Elegy I. To Charles Diodati. Milton, vol. i.
Letter III. To Alexander Gill.
witness what my right hand can do." Anon I am taking my pleasure now in those places in the city where our citizens walk. A frequent crowd-in appearance, as it might seem, a crowd of goddesses -is going and coming splendidly along the middle of the ways. I do not austerely shun those agreeable sights. Too imprudent, I let my eyes' meet their eyes, and am unable to master them. chance I beheld pre-eminent above the rest, and that glance was the beginning of my malady. Not far off was the sly god himself lurking. Immediately unaccustomed pains were felt in my heart. Being in love, I inly burn; I am all one flame. Meanwhile she who alone pleased me was snatched away from my eyes never to return. What shall I, unfortunate, do? O would it were given me once to behold the beloved countenance, and to speak a sad word or two in her presence! Perchance she is not made of adamant; perchance she might not be deaf to my prayers. Spare me, I pray, thou winged god of love. Take away, at length, and yet take not away my pains. I know not why, but every lover is sweetly miserable. But do thou kindly grant, if ever hereafter I and
my love meet, one arrow may transfix the two and make us lovers.' 1
'Having been invited by you (his tutor, Thomas Young) to your part of the country, as soon as spring is a little advanced, I will gladly come to enjoy the delights of the year, and not less of your conversation; and will then withdraw myself from the din of town for a little to your Stoa of the Iceni (these were the ancient inhabitants of Suffolk, &c., and the phrase Stoa Icenorum is a pun on Young's living of Stowmarket, in Suffolk), as to that most celebrated porch of Zeno, or the Tusculan villa of Cicero.' 2
'How can I hope for your good will, when in this so great concourse, as many heads as I behold with my eyes, almost the same number do I see of visages bearing malice against me; so that I seem to have come as an orator to persons not exorable? Of so much efficacy in producing private grudges
Milton is said to
1 Elegy VII. (Masson). Anno ætatis 19. 2 Letter IV. (Masson). To Thomas Young. have planted a mulberry-tree in the Vicarage garden. 'No fact is better attested than that great men, wherever they go, plant mulberry-trees.'-Masson's Life of Milton.