Page images
PDF
EPUB

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,

That some more timely-happy spirits endueth. Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still, in strictest measure, even

To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven,

All is, if I have grace to use it so
As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.

VIII.

WHEN THE ASSAULT WAS INTENDED TO THE CITY. "
CAPTAIN, or Colonel, or Knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenceless doors

may

seize, If deed of honour did thee ever please,

Guard them, & him within protect from harms. He can requite thee, for he knows the charms

That call fame on such gentle acts as these, And he can spread thy name o'er lands & seas,

Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms. Lift not thy spear against the Muses' bower :

The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
Went to the ground : and the repeated air

Of sad Electra's poet had the power
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.

IX.

TO A VIRTUOUS YOUNG LADY.
LADY, that in the prime of earliest youth

Wisely hast shunnid the broad way & the green,
And with those few art eminently seen,

That labour up the hill of heavenly truth;
The better part with Mary and with Ruth

Chosen thou hast ; and they that overween,
And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
No

anger find in thee, but pity and ruth. Thy care is fix'd, and zealously attends

To fill thy odorous lamp, with deeds of light,

And hope, that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure, Thou, when the bridegroom, with his feastful friends,

Passes to bliss, at the mid hour of night,
Hast gain'd thy entrance, virgin wise and pure.

* In 1642; the King's army having arrived at Brentford.

X.

TO THE LADY MARGARET LEY.*
DAUGHTER to that good Earl, once president

Of England's council, and her treasury,
Who lived in both, unstain'd with gold or fee,

And left them both, more in himself content,
Till the sad breaking of that parliament

Broke him, as that dishonest victory,
At Chæronea, fatal to liberty,

Kill’d, with report, that old man eloquent. +
Though later born than to have known the days

Wherein your father flourish'd, yet by you,

Madam, methinks I see him living yet ; So well

your

words his noble virtues praise, That all both judge you to relate them true, And to possess them, honour'd Margaret.

XI.

ON THE DETRACTION WHICH FOLLOWED UPON MY

WRITING CERTAIN TREATISES. 1645.

[ocr errors]

A BOOK was writ, of late, call’d Tetrachordon, #

And woven close, both matter, form, & style; The subject new : it walk'd the town awhile, Numbering good intellects; now seldom pored on. Cries the stall-reader, « Bless us! what a word on

A title page is this !" and some, in file,
Stand spelling false, while one might walk to Mile-

End Green. Why, is it harder, sirs, than Gordon, Colkitto, or Macdonnel, or Galasp?$

• The daughter of Sir James Ley, whose singular learning and abilities raised him through all the great posts of the law, till he came to be made Earl of Marlborough, and Lord High Treasurer, and Lord President of the Council to King James I. He died in an advanced age ; and Milton attributes

his death to the breaking of the Parliament: and it is true that the Parliament was dissolved the 10th of March 1628-9, and he died on the 14th of the same month.--Newton.

+ Isocrates, the orator. The victory was gained by Philip of Macedon over the Athenians. Warton.

1 This was one of Milton's books published in consequence of his divorce from his first wife. Tetrachordon signifies Expositions on the four chief places in Scripture which mention marriage or nullities in marriage.- Warton.

§ Milton is here collecting, from his hatred to the Scots, what he thinks Scottish nanies of an ill sound. Colkitto and Macdonnel, are one and the same person ; a brave officer on the royal side, an Irishman of the Antrim family, who served un

Those rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek,

That would have made Quintilian stare and gasp, Thy age, like ours, O Soul of Sir John Cheek, *

Hated not learning worse than toad or asp, When thou taught'st Cambridge, and king Edward

Greek.

XII.

ON THE SAME.

I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs,

By the known rules of ancient liberty,
When straight a barbarous noise environs me,

Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, and dogs :
As when those hinds, that were transform’d to frogs,

Rail'd at Latona's twin-born progeny,
Which after held the sun and moon in fee.

But this is got by casting pearls to hogs;
That bawl for freedom, in their senseless mood

And still revolt when truth would set them free,

License they mean, when they cry liberty;
For who loves that, must first be wise and good;

But from that mark, how far they rove we see,
For all this waste of wealth, and loss of blood.

XIII.

TO MR. H. LAWES, ON THE PUBLISHING HIS AIRS.

Written 1645.

HARRY, whose tuneful and well measured song

First taught our English music how to span
Words, with just note and accent, not to scan

With Midas' ears, committing short and long; Thy worth and skill exempts thee from the throng,

With praise enough for Envy to look wan;

To after age thou shalt be writ the man, That with smooth air, could'st humour best our tongue. Thou honour'st verse, and verse must lend her wing

der Montrose. The Macdonalds of that family are styled, by way of distinction, Mac Collcittock,—that is, descendants of lame Colin. Galasp is a Scottish writer against the Independents ; for whom see Milton's verses On the Forcers of Conscience, &c. He is George Gillespie, one of the Scotch members of the Assembly of Divines.- Warton.

* The first professor of the Greek tongue in the university of Cambridge, and was afterwards made one of the tutors to Edward VI. See Life by Strype, or in the Biographia Britannica.Newton.

To honour thee, the priest of Phæbus' quire,

That tunest their happiest lines in hymn, or story. Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher

Than his Casella, whom he woo'd to sing,
Met in the milder shades of Purgatory.

XIV.

ON THE RELIGIOUS MEMORY OF MRS. CATHARINE

THOMSON, MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND,

Deceased December 16, 1646.* When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,

Had ripen'd thy just soul to dwell with God,

Meekly thou didst resign this earthly load
Of death, callid life; which us from life doth sever.
Thy works and alms, and all thy good endeavour,

Staid not behind, nor in the grave were trod;
But as Faith pointed, with her golden rod,

Follow'd thee up to joy and bliss for ever.
Love led them on, and Faith who knew them best,

Thy hand-maids, clad them o'er with purple beams,

And azure wings, that up they flew so dress’d, And spake the truth of thee, on glorious themes,

Before the Judge; who thenceforth bid thee rest, And drink thy fill of pure immortal str ms.

XV.

TO THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX.

Written 1648.

FAIRFAX, whose name in arms through Europe rings,

Filling each mouth with envy or with praise, And all her jealous monarchs with amaze, And rumours loud, that daunt remotest kings, Thy firm unshaken virtue ever brings

Victory home, though new rebellions raise Their hydra heads, and the false North displays

Her broken league, to imp their serpent wings. O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand,

For what can war, but endless war still breed?

Till truth and right from violence be freed, And public faith clear’d from the shameful brand

* Dr. Newton found, in the accounts of Milton's life, that when he was first made Latin Secretary, he lodged at one Thomson's, next door to the Bull Head Tavern, at Charing Cross. This Mrs. Thomson was in all probability one of that family.

Of public fraud. In vain doth valour bleed,
While avarice and rapine share the land.

XVI.

TO THE LORD GENERAL CROMWELL.

Written 1652.

CROMWELL, our chief of men, who, through a cloud

Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith, and matchless fortitude,

To peace & truth thy glorious way hast plough’d, And on the neck of crowned fortune proud,

Hast rear'd God's trophies, and his work pursued; While Darwen stream, with blood of Scots imbrued,

And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureat wreath. Yet much remains

To conquer still ; peace hath her victories

No less renown'd than war: new foes arise, Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains : Help us to save free conscience from the

paw Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.

XVII.

TO SIR HENRY VANE THE YOUNGER.* VANE, young

in

years, but in sage counsel old, Than whom a better senator ne'er held The helm of Rome, when gowns, not arms, repellid

The fierce Epirot, and the African bold,
Whether to settle peace, or to unfold

The drift of hollow states, hard to be spellid ;
Then to advise how war may, best upheld,
Move by her two main nerves,

iron and gold, In all her equipage: besides, to know

Both spiritual power & civil, what each means,

What severs each, thou hast learn’d, which few have The bounds of either sword to thee we owe : [done.

Therefore, on thy firm hand Religion leans
In peace, and reckons thee her eldest son.

• Sir Henry Vane the younger was the chief of the Independents, and therefore Milton's friend. He was the contriver of the Solemn League and Covenant. In the pamphlets of that age he is called Sir Humorous Vanity. He was beheaded in 1662.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »