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On his being arrived to the age of 23.*
How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,

Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth year!


I am

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markable air of gravity and dig. " as yet obscure and unservicenity. They are free from the “ able to mankind) and that the metaphysics of Petrarch, and day is at hand, wherein Christ are more in the manner of Dante. commands all to labour while Yet he calls his seventh Sonnet, " there is light: which because in a Letter printed from the “ I am persuaded you do to no Cambridge manuscript by Birch, “ other purpose than out of a a composition in the Petrarchian “ true desire that God should be stanza.

" honoured in every one, In 1762, the late Mr. Thomas “ ever ready, you know, when Hollis examined the Laurentian

" occasion is, to give you aclibrary at Florence, for six Ita- count, as I ought, though unlian Sonnets of Milton, addressed “ asked, of my tardy moving to his friend Chimentelli; and,

according to the precept of my for other Italian and Latin com

“ conscience, which I firmly positions and various original 6 trust is not without God. Yet letters, said to be remaining in

I will not strain for any manuscript at Florence. He “set apology, but only refer searched also for an original myself to what my mind shall bust in marble of Milton, sup- “ have at any time to declare posed to be somewhere in that “ herself at her best ease. Yet city. But he was unsuccessful “ if you think, as you said, that in his curious enquiries. T. “ too much love of learning is Warton.

“ in fault, and that I have given

up myself to dream away my * This Sonnet was made in years in the arms of studious 1631, and was sent in a letter to “ retirement, like Endymion a friend, who had importuned “ with the moon on Latmus hill; the author to take orders; of yet consider, that if it were no which letter there two

“ more but this, to overcome draughts in his own Manuscript, this, there is on the other side and the former runs thus. “ both ill more bewitchful to

66 entice


and natural years more swaying,

and good more • Besides that in sundry re- " available to withdraw to that “ spects I must acknowledge me 66 which


wish to profit by you whenever we “ all the fond hopes which for

meet, you are often to me, and “ ward youth and vanity are “ were yesterday especially, as “ fledged with, none of which

a good watchman to admonish can sort with this Pluto's hel. “ that the hours of the night met, as Homer calls it, of obpass on (for so I call

my scurity, and would soon cause

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me; as first


My hasting days fly on with full career,

my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.

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« stanza.

“me to throw it off, if there good, and more prone affec

were nothing else in it but an « tions of nature to incline and « affected and fruitless curiosity dispose, not counting outward “ of knowing; and then a na- “ causes, as expectations and " tural desire of honour and re- murmurs of friends, scandals

nown, which I think possesses “ taken, and such like, than the “ the breast of every scholar, as « bare love of notions could re66 well of him that shall, as of o sist. So that if it be that « him that never shall obtain it, “ which you suppose, it had by

(if this be altogether bad,) " this been round about begirt “ which would quickly oversway " and overmastered, whether it " this phlegm and melancholy of “had proceeded from virtue,

“ " bashfulness, or that other hu- vice, or nature in me. Yet

mour, and prevail with me to " that you may see that I am prefer a life, that had at least some time suspicious of mysome credit in it, some place “ self, and do take notice of a given it, before a manner of “ certain belatedness in me, I living much disregarded and am the bolder to send you

discountenanced. There is be- some of my nightward thoughts “ sides this, as all well know, some while since, since they

about this time of a man's life, come in fitly, in a Petrarchian a strong inclination, be it good or no, to build up a house and

" How soon hath Time, &c." family of his own in the best manner he may; to which no- The latter draught is as follows. thing is more helpful than the

early entering into some cre“ dible employment, and no- “ Besides that in sundry other

thing more cross than my.“ respects I must acknowledge “ way, which my wasting youth me to profit by you whenever we “ would presently bethink her meet, you are often to me, and

of, and kill one love with an- were yesterday especially, as a

other, if that were all. But good watchman to admonish “ what delight or what peculiar " that the hours of the night

conceit, may you in charity pass on, (for so I call my life

think, could hold out against as yet obscure and unservice“the long knowledge of a con- “able to mankind,) and that the

trary command from above, day with me is at hand, wherein

and the terrible seisure of him “ Christ commands all to labour " that hid his talent? Therefore “ while there is light: which “ commit grace to grace, or na

because I am persuaded you ture to nature, there will be “ do to no other


than “ found on the other way more " out of a true desire that God

obvious temptations to bad, o should be honoured in every as gain, preferment, ambition, one, I therefore think myself more winning presentments of “bound, though unasked, to

“ SIR,

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Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,

That I to manhood am arriv'd so near,

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« But if


give you account, as oft as " that a much more potent in« occasion is, of this my tardy “ clination inbred, which about

moving, according to the pre- - this time of life solicits most,

cept of my conscience, which - the desire of house and family "I firmly trust is not without “ of his own, to which nothing God. Yet now I will not “ is esteemed more helpful than “ strain for any set apology, but “the early entering into credible

“ only refer myself to what my employment, and nothing more “mind shall have at any time to hindering than this affected “ declare herself at her best ease. “ solitariness. And though this

you think, as you said, “ were enough, yet there is to that too much love of learning

“ this another act, if not of pure, “is in fault, and that I have “ yet of refined nature no less

given up inyself to dream available to dissuade prolonged away my years in the arms of obscurity, a desire of honour

studious retirement, like Endy- " and repute and immortal fame “ mion with the moon as the

or seated in the breast of every “ tale of Latmus goes; yet con- “ true scholar, which all make “ sider that if it were no more “ haste to by the readiest ways

but the mere love of learning, “ of publishing and divulging “ whether it proceed from a conceived merits, as well those “principle bad, good, or natural, “ that shall, as those that never

it could not have held out « shall obtain it. Nature there“thus long against so strong “fore would presently work the

opposition on the other side “ more prevalent way, if there " of every kind; for if it be bad, “ were nothing but this inferior

why should not all the fond « bent of herself to restrain her. hopes that forward youth and “ Lastly, the love of learning, as

vanity are fledge with, together “it is the pursuit of something “ with gain, pride, and ambi- good, it would sooner follow

tion, call me forward more “the more excellent and supreme

powerfully, than a poor re- good known and presented, "gardless and unprofitable sin “ and so be quickly diverted “of curiosity should be able to “ from the empty and fantastic “ withhold me, whereby a man - chase of shadows and notions " cuts himself off from all “ to the solid good flowing from

action, and becomes the most « due and timely obedience to “ helpless, pusillanimous, and - that command in the Gospel

unweaponed creature in the o set out by the terrible seizing

world, the most unfit and os of him that hid the talent. « unable to do that which all It is more probable therefore “ mortals most aspire to, either o that not the endless delight of “ to be useful to his friends, or “ speculation, but this very conor to offend his enemies. Or if sideration of that great com“ it be to be thought a natural - mandment,

does not press “proneness, there is against « forward, as soon as many do


And inward ripeness doth much less appear,

That some more timely-happy spirits indu’th.
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,


“ to undergo, but keeps off with me as I am, lest having thus

a sacred reverence and religi- “tired you singly, I should deal ous advisement how best to

worse with a whole

congrega" undergo ; not taking thought " tion, and spoil all the patience “ of being late, so it give advan- of a parish: for I myself do

tage to be more fit; for those “ not only see my own tedious" that were latest lost nothing, ness, but now grow offended " when the master of the vine- “ with it, that has hindered me

yard came to give each one “ thus long from coming to the « his hire. And here I am “ last and best period of my

letcome to a stream-head copious • ter, and that which must now

enough to disburthen itself chiefly work my pardon, that rs like Nilus at seven mouths “ I am your true and unfeigned into an ocean; but then I

“ friend.” o should also run into a recipro- cal contradiction of ebbing 2. Sioľn on his wing my three “ and flowing at once, and do and twentieth year!) Mr. Bowle " that which I excuse myself for cites Shakespeare, All's well that or not doing, preach and not ends well, act v. s. 2. “preach. Yet that you may see « that I am something suspicious

-On our quick'st decrees

The inaudible and noiseless foot of “ of myself, and do take notice

Time o of a certain belatedness in me, Steals, ere we can effect them, "I am the bolder to send

And Mr. Warton, Juvenal, Sat. you of my nightward

ix. 128. thoughts some while since, o because they come in not -dum bibimus, dum serta, unguenta, " altogether unfitly, made up in puellas - a Petrarchian stanza, which I

Poscimus, obrepit non intellecta se. told you of.

But the application of steal in “ How soon hath Time, &c.

this sonnet, as Mr. Warton reBy this I believe you may marks, is different. In Shake“ well repent of having made speare and Juvenal, Time and ~ mention at all of this matter, Old Age come imperceptibly. - for if I have not all this while upon us and our purposes.

In “ won you to this, I have certain- Milton, Time as imperceptibly

ly wearied you of it. This and silently carries off on his os " therefore alone may be a suf- wing, in his flight, the poet's

ficient reason for me to keep twenty-third year. E.




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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.

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, and 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 and seas,

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

conqueror bid



great Emathian


in arms.

* To this sonnet we have pre

K. Rich. Marshal, ask yonder knight fixed the title, which the author himself has in the Manuscript.

T. Warton. In the Manuscript this sonnet

3. If deed of honour did thee was written by another hand, ever please,] So this verse is and had this title, On his door printed in the second edition in when the City expected an assault: the year 1673. In the first edibut this he scratched out, and tion of 1645, and in the Manuwrote with his own hand, When script, it stands thus, the ussault was intended to the If ever deed of honour did thee please. City. The date was also added, 10. The great Emathian con1642, but blotted out again; and queror &c.] When Alexander the it was in November, 1642, that Great took Thebes, and entirely tlië King marched with his army rased the rest of the city, he oras near as Brentford, and put the dered the house of Pindar to be city in great consternation. Mil- preserved out of regard to his ton was then in his thirty-fourth memory: and the ruins of Pinyear.

dar's house were to be seen at 1. -Knight in arms] So Thebes, in Pausanias's time, who Shakespeare, K. Richard II. act lived under Antoninus the phii. s. 3. where Bolingbroke enters, losopher. See Pausan. Bæot. cap. appellant in armour.”

25. edit. Kuhnii.

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