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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

John Milton

  • [Born in London, Dec. 9, 1608; educated at Cambridge; wrote his first poems, 1632–37; travelled on the Continent; Latin secretary to the Council of State, 1648–49; published “Paradise Lost,” 1667; “Paradise Regained,” 1671; died November, 1674.]
  • It is my way to suffer no impediment, no love of ease, no avocation whatever, to chill the ardor, to break the continuity, or to divert the completion, of my literary pursuits.

  • Letter to a friend, some years after leaving college; as in “Lycidas” he says,—
  • “Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
  • (That last infirmity of noble minds)
  • To scorn delights, and live laborious days.”
  • Our country is wherever we are well off.

  • Letter to P. Heinbach, Aug. 15, 1666; a translation of the Latin, “Patria est, ubicunque est bene,” quoted by Cicero (“Tusculan Disputations,” V. 37) from the poet Pacuvius, 220 B.C. The words “ubi bene, ibi patria,” serve as a refrain to Hückstädt’s song, “Ueberall bin ich zu Hause.” Aristophanes (“Plutus”) and Euripides (“Fragmenta Incerta”) express the idea in nearly similar terms. Philiskus said to Cicero (“Dion Cassius,” i. 171), “Nowhere do countries confer fortune or misfortune: each man for himself makes his own country as well as his own fortune.” Algernon Sidney’s motto was, “Where liberty is, there is my country.”
  • “Well may your hearts believe the truths I tell:
  • ’Tis virtue makes the bliss, where’er we dwell.”
  • COLLINS: Eclogue I. 5.
  • But compare Goldsmith—
  • “Such is the patriot’s boast, where’er we roam,
  • His first, best country ever is at home.”
  • Traveller, 73.
  • Voltaire said, “Our country is the spot to which our affections cling.”
  • “I do not call the sod under my feet my country,” said Coleridge; “but language, religion, laws, government, blood,—identity in these makes men of one country.”
  • Ovid, who bore with so little fortitude his banishment to Sarmatia, wrote during his exile (“Fasti,” I. 501): “The whole earth is the brave man’s country” (Omne solum forti patria est). Nature, however, uttered a truer cry when she forced from him the confession of the indescribable attraction of one’s native land, which no man can forget—
  • “Nescio quâ natale solum dulcedine cunctos
  • Ducit, et immemores non sinit esse sui.”
  • One tongue is sufficient for a woman.

  • The answer attributed to Milton when asked if he would instruct his daughters in foreign languages.