« PreviousContinue »
Be the stillness life-destroying
That could make me slow to feel,
To be zealous with your zeal.
Music for my faltering tongue :
Such as Heaven might well supply!
R. MONCKTON MILNES.
There was once living in Naples, in the days of Tasso and of Milton, a noble-hearted old manManso, Marquis of Villa-of princely character and position, "a venerable friend and patron of the Muses," who most hospitably entertained the poet of "Paradise Lost," when young in years and new to fame, and at that time on a visit to Naples. The old Italian nobleman and the young English poet were charmed with each other; only the difference of religion a little disturbed the old man, who wrote in Latin this very complimentary epigram on the beautiful and gifted "Angle":
With mind, mien, temper, face, did faith agree, No Angle, but an angel, thou wouldst be.
And Milton responded (also in Latin) with the following learned and prophetic poem addressed to his entertainer :—
Once more the Muses to your praise aspire,
O Manso! dear to the Phœbean choir;
Since his own Gallus and Mecenas died.
My Muse would throne you, were her power so
With bays and ivy clustering round your state;
Hail, then! from Clio and your Phœbus, hail! Crown'd be your locks with wreaths that never fail!
Hail, honour'd sire! in homage to your worth, A youth salutes you from the distant north: Nor you this offering of a Muse despise, Who, scarcely nursed beneath her Arctic skies, With hasty step has traced the Hesperian shore, Your towns, your arts, your manners to explore. We too can boast our swans, whose liquid throats Cheer the dull darkness with their dulcet notes; Where silver Thames, in proud diffusion spread, Pours his full flood on Ocean's azure head. We too can boast that Tityrus of yore,* To your gay clime the muse of Britain bore.
Phoebus avows us, and not rude our strain, Though our night pause beneath the stormy wain; We too have vow'd to Phoebus, and of old Our blushing orchards, and our fields of gold, If ancient lore be true, have heap'd his shrine, Brought by the fathers of the Druid line. (The hoary Druids, in harmonious praise, Hymn'd the blest gods, and sung heroic lays.)
Blest sire! where'er Torquato's victor muse
* Chaucer, who travelled into Italy, is named Tityrus in Spenser's pastorals.
Where'er extends Marino's* mild renown,
Your name, and worth, and honours shall be known.
In the same car of triumph as you ride,
Still shall you share the plaudit and the pride, Deck'd with their crowns, in all their pomp of
Shall pass with them through fame's eternal gate.
Heaven-loved old man! to gild your natal day Jove, sure, and Phoebus, shot their purest ray With Maia's son; for no less honour'd birth Could suit the soul that grasp'd Torquato's worth.
Manso was the biographer of his two friends, Torquato Tasso, and Marino.
+ Milton here refers to the fable of Apollo, driven by Jupiter from heaven, and compelled to tend the flocks of Admetus, King of Thessaly.
There, while a purple glory veils my face,
A friendly Highland chief, at the age of seventyone, was thus honoured by Robert Burns :
TO TERRAUGHTY, ON HIS BIRTHDAY.
This natal morn :
I see thy life is stuff o' prief*
Scarce quite half worn.
This day thou metes threescore eleven,
(The second sight, ye ken, is given
To ilka poet)
On thee a tack o' seven times seven
But for thy friends, and they are monie
Wi' mornings blythe and e'enings funny,
Bless them and thee!
love, your faes aye fear ye; For me, shame fa' me,
heart I dinna wear ye
While Burns they ca' me!