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been seldom at the usurper's court, and the circumstance of his having given him advice to spare the liberties of the people, form some apology for this negative adherence. But if the people, according to his own ideas, were capable of liberty after Cromwell's death, they were equally so before it; and a renunciation of his profits under the despot would have been a nobler and fuller sacri
YE flaming powers, and winged warriors bright,
That erst with music and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherd's ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along,
Through the soft silence of the list'ning night;
Now mourn, and if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow:
He who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease;
Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
fice to public principles, than any advice. From ordinary men this was more than could be expected; but Milton prescribed to others such austerity of duty, that, in proportion to the altitude of his character, the world, which looked to him for example, had a right to expect his practical virtue to be severe.
AN EPITAPH ON THE ADMIRABLE DRAMATICK POET WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE*.
WHAT needs my Shakspeare for his honour'd bones
The labour of an age in piled stones,
Or that his hallow'd relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid ?
Dear son of Memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a live-long monument.
For whilst to the shame of slow-endeavouring art
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took;
Then thou our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And so sepulchred, in such pomp dost lie,
That kings, for such a tomb would wish to die.
SONNET TO THE NIGHTINGALE
O NIGHTINGALE, that on yon bloomy spray Warblest at eve, when all the woods are still, Thou with fresh hope the lover's heart dost fill, While the jolly Hours lead on propitious May. Thy liquid notes that close the eye of day,
First heard before the shallow cuckow's bill, Portend success in love; O if Jove's will Have link'd that amorous power to thy soft lay, Now timely sing, ere the rude bird of hate Foretell my hopeless doom in some grove nigh;
As thou from year to year hast sung too late For my relief, yet hadst no reason why:
Whether the Muse or Love call thee his mate, Both them I serve, and of their train am I.
[* We have copied this title at full length from the poem as it was first printed: "It is true," says Sir Walter Scott, "that Milton descended to upbraid the unfortunate Charles I, that the chosen companion of his private hours was one William Shakspeare, a player." (Life of Dryden, p. 9.) Nothing is more untrue, and we quote the passage: "The poets, and some English, have been so mindful of decorum, as to put never more pious words in the mouth of any person than of a tyrant. I shall not instance an abstruse author, wherein the king [Charles L.] might be less conversant, but one whom we well know was the closet companion of these, his solitudes, William Shakspeare, who introduces the person of Richard III." &c. speaking such stuff, he goes on to say, as the king has written, and deep dissemblers indulge in. What is there in this disrespectful to the "sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child," of his juvenile verses?]
SONNET ON HIS BLINDNESS.
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide; 'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied,' I fondly ask? but Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best: His Is kingly; thousands at His bidding speed, [state, And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.'
SONNET ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.
METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint, Came vested all in white, pure as her mind : Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But, O! as to embrace me she inclined,
I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.
FROM BOOK IV. OF PARADISE REGAINED.
Look once more ere we leave this specular mount,
Westward, much nearer by south-west behold
Where on the Ægean shore a city stands
Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil,
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
And eloquence, native to famous wits
Or hospitable, in her sweet recess.
City or suburban, studious walks and shades;
See there the olive grove of Academe,
Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;
There, flowery hill, Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees' industrious murmur, oft invites
To studious musing; there Ilissus rolls
His whispering stream: within the walls then view
The schools of ancient sages; his who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Lyceum there, and painted Stoa next :
There shalt thou hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
Æolian charms, and Dorian lyric odes,
And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer call'd,
Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own.
Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught
In chorus or iambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence, with delight received
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of fate, and chance, and change in human life;
High actions and high passions best describing;
Thence to the famous orators repair,
Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democratie,
Shook the arsenal, and fulmined over Greece,
To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne.
SAMSON BEWAILING HIS BLINDNESS AND CAPTIVITY.
(Attendant leading him.)
FROM SAMSON AGONISTES.
A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade;
There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me,
Where I a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw
The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends,
The breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet,
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.-
This day a solemn feast the people hold
To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
Laborious works; unwillingly this rest
Their superstition yields me; hence with leave
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body some, none to the mind,
From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm
Of hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an offering burn'd,
As in a fiery column, charioting
His godlike presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescribed
As of a person separate to God,
Design'd for great exploits; if I must die
Betray'd, captived, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze ;
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this heaven-gifted strength? O glorious
Put to the labour of a beast, debased [strength
Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver ;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves, Himself in bonds, under Philistian yoke.
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annull'd, which might in part my grief have eased,
Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man or worm: the vilest here excel me;
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day!
O first created Beam, and thou great Word,
'Let there be light, and light was over all ;'
Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?
The sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon,
When she deserts the night,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,
She all in every part; why was the sight
To such a tender ball as the eye confined,
So obvious and so easy to be quench'd?
And not as feeling through all parts diffused,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exiled from light,
As in the land of darkness yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried but O yet more miserable!
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buried, yet not exempt
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs; But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity Among inhuman foes.
SPEECHES, OF MANOAH THE FATHER OF SAMSON AND OF THE CHORUS, ON HEARING OF HIS LAST ACHIEVEMENT AND DEATH.
Manoah. SAMSON hath quit himself Like Samson, and heroically hath finish'd A life heroic; on his enemies
Fully revenged, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the Sons of Caphtor
Through all Philistian bounds, to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion;
To himself and father's house eternal fame,
And which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was fear'd,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame, nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body where it lies
Soak'd in his enemies' blood, and from the stream,
With lavers pure, and cleansing herbs, wash off
The clotted gore. I with what speed the while
(Gaza is not in plight to say us nay),
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,
To fetch him hence, and solemnly attend
With silent obsequy, and funeral train,
Home to his father's house: there will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel ever green, and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts inroll'd
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame their breasts
To matchless valour, and adventures high:
The virgins also shall on feastful days
Visit his tomb with flowers, only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Chorus. All is best, though we oft doubt
What th' unsearchable dispose
Of highest Wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns,
And to his faithful champion hath in place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns,
And all that band them to resist
His uncontrollable intent;
His servants he with new acquist
Of true experience from this great event, With peace and consolation hath dismiss'd, And calm of mind all passion spent.
The first Scene discovers a wild Wood.
The Attendant Spirit descends or enters. BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court My mansion is, where those immortal shapes Of bright aërial spirits live insphered In regions mild of calm and serene air, Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot Which men call Earth, and with low-thoughted care Confined, and pester'd in this pin-fold here, Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being, Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives, After this mortal change, to her true servants, Amongst the enthron'd gods, on sainted seats. Yet some there be that by due steps aspire To lay their just hands on that golden key That opes the palace of Eternity : To such my errand is; and but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould. But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway Of every salt-flood, and each ebbing stream, Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove, Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles, That like to rich and various gems inlay The unadorned bosom of the deep, Which he to grace his tributary gods By course commits to several government, And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns, And wield their little tridents: but this isle, The greatest and the best of all the main, He quarters to his blue-hair'd deities; And all this tract that fronts the falling sun, A noble peer of mickle trust and power Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide An old and haughty nation proud in arms : Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore, Are coming to attend their father's state, And new-entrusted sceptre; but their way Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood, The nodding horror of whose shady brows Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger; And here their tender age might suffer peril, But that by quick command from sovereign Jove I was despatch'd for their defence and guard ; And listen why; for I will tell you now What never yet was heard in tale or song, From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.
Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine, After the Tuscan mariners transform'd, Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed, On Circe's island fell: (Who knows not Circe, The daughter of the Sun? whose charmed cup Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape, And downward fell into a groveling swine) This nymph, that gazed upon his clust'ring locks With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blythe youth, Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son Much like his father, but his mother more, Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus named, Who ripe, and frolic of his full-grown age, Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields, At last betakes him to this ominous wood, And in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd, Excels his mother at her mighty art, Offering to every weary traveller His orient liquor in a crystal glass, To quench the drought of Phoebus, which as they (For most dotaste, through fond intemp'rate thirst) Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance, Th' express resemblance of the gods, is changed Into some brutish form of wolf or bear, Or ounce or tiger, hog or bearded goat, All other parts remaining as they were; And they, so perfect is their misery, Not once perceive their foul disfigurement, But boast themselves more comely than before, And all their friends and native home forget, To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
Therefore, when any favour'd of high Jove
Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from heaven to give him safe convoy,
As now I do but first I must put off
These my sky-robes, spun out of Iris' woof,
And take the weeds and likeness of a swain
That to the service of this house belongs,
Who with his soft pipe, and smooth-dittied song,
Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar,
And hush the waving woods; nor of less faith,
And in this office of his mountain watch,
Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid
Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
Of hateful steps.
I must be viewless now.
COMUS enters with a charming-rod in one hand, his glass
in the other; with him a rout of monsters, headed like
sundry sorts of wild beasts, but otherwise like men and
women, their apparel glistering; they come in, making
a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands.
Comus. The star that bids the shepherd fold,
Now the top of heaven doth hold,
And the gilded car of Day,
His glowing axle doth allay
In the steep Atlantic stream,
And the slope sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky pole,
Pacing toward the other goal
Of his chamber in the East.
Meanwhile, welcome Joy and Feast,
Midnight Shout and Revelry,
Tipsy Dance, and Jollity.
Braid your locks with rosy twine,
Dropping odours, dropping wine.
Rigour now is gone to bed,
And Advice with scrupulous head,
Strict Age, and sour Severity,
With their grave saws in slumber lie.
We that are of purer fire
Imitate the starry quire,
Who in their nightly watchful spheres,
Lead in swift round the months and years.
The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove,
Now to the moon in wavering morrice move;
And on the tawny sands and shelves
Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves.
By dimpled brook and fountain brim,
The wood-nymphs, deck'd with daisies trim,
Their merry wakes and pastimes keep :
What hath night to do with sleep?
Night hath better sweets to prove,
Venus now wakes, and wakens Love.
Come, let us our rites begin,
'Tis only day-light that makes sin,
Which these dun shades will ne'er report.-
Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport,
Dark-veil'd Cotytto! t' whom the secret flame
Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame !
That ne'er art call'd, but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air,
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Wherein thou ridest with Hecate, and befriend
Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out;
Ere the blabbing eastern scout,
The nice morn on the Indian steep
From her cabin'd loophole peep,
And to the tell-tale sun descry
Our conceal'd solemnity.
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.
Break off, break off, I feel the different pace
Of some chaste footing near about this ground.
Run to your shrouds, within these brakes and trees;
Our number may affright: some virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains: I shall ere long
Be well stock'd with as fair a herd as grazed
About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl
My dazzling spells into the spungy air,
Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
And give it false presentments, lest the place
And my quaint habits breed astonishment,
And put the damsel to suspicious flight;
Which must not be, for that's against my course :
I under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-placed words of glozing courtesy,
Baited with reasons not unplausible,
Wind me into the easy-hearted man,
And hug him into snares. When once her eye
Hath met the virtue of this magic dust,
I shall appear some harmless villager,
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear.
But here she comes; I fairly step aside,
And hearken, if I may, her business here.
The LADY enters.
Lady. This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, My best guide now; methought it was the sound Of riot and ill-managed merriment,
Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe,
Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds,
When for their teeming flocks, and granges full,
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,
And thank the gods amiss. I should be loth
To meet the rudeness and swill'd insolence
Of such late wassailers; yet O, where else
Shall I inform my unacquainted feet
In the blind mazes of this tangled wood?
My brothers, when they saw me wearied out
With this long way, resolving here to lodge
Under the spreading favour of these pines,
Stept, as they said, to the next thicket side,
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind hospitable woods provide.
They left me then, when the grey-hooded Even,
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus' wain. But where they are, and why they came not back, Is now the labour of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest They had engaged their wand'ring steps too far,
And envious darkness, ere they could return,
Had stole them from me; else, O thievish Night,
Why wouldst thou, but for some felonious end,
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars
That Nature hung in heaven, and fill'd their lamps
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the misled and lonely traveller?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife and perfect in my list'ning ear;
Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
What might this be? A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beck'ning shadows dire,
And airy tongues that syllable men's names
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong-siding champion, Conscience.—
O welcome pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering Angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou, unblemish'd form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, t' whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glist'ring guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassail'd.
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I'll venture; for my new enliven'd spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.