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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 Hea

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



CAPTAIN, or Colonel, or Knight in arms
Whose chance on these defenceless door may

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 land and seas,
What ever clime the sun's bright circle warms.
Lift not thy spear against the Muses' bower:

The great Emathian conquerer 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 th’ Athenian walls from ruin bare.

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LADY, that in the prime of earliest youth

Wisely hast shunnid the broad way and the green,

* In the manuscript after the title, is added 1642. It was in November of that year that the King marched with his army as near as Brentford, and put the city in great consternation.

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.


DAUGHTER to that good Earl, once President

Of England's Council, and her Treasury,
Who liv'd 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

* We have given the title which is in Milton's Manuscript, To the Lady Margaret Ley. She was 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. He left several sons and daughters ; and the Lady Margaret was married to Captain Hobson, of the Isle of Wight. It appears from the accounts of Milton's life, that in the year 1643 he used frequently to visit this lady and her husband, and about that time we may suppose this sonnet was composed.


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.

On the Detraction which followed upon the writing

certain Treatises.*

A BOOK was writ of late call'd Tetrachordon,

And woven close, both matter, form, and style ;
The subject new : it walk'd the town awhile,

Numb’ring good intellects; now seldom por'd 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?t
Those rugged names to our like mouths grow

sleek, That would have made Quintillian stare and gasp; Thy age, like ours O soul of Sir John Cheek,

* When Milton published his book of Divorce, he was greatly condemned by the Presbyterian ministers, whose advocate and champion he had been before. He published his Tetrachordon, or Expositions upon the four chief places in Scripture, which treat of marriage, or nullities in marriage, in 1645.

t"We may suppose, (says Dr. Newton,) that these were persons of note and eminence among the Scotch ministers who were for pressing and enforcing the covenant.” Mr. George Gillespie, here wrongously named Galasp, was one of the Scotch commissioners to the Westminister assembly. But who the other persons were is not known. It appears from this sonnet, and the verses on the forcers of conscience, that Milton treats the Presbyterians with great contempt.

This Gentleman was the first Professor of the Greek tongue in the university of Cambridge, and was highly instrumental in bringing that language into repute. He was afterwards made one of the tutors to Edward VI.

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

ward, Greek.


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 pearl 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.


HARRY, whose tuneful and well-measurd

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 humour best our tongue. Thou honour'st verse, and verse must lend her wing

• This Mr. Henry Lawes was a gentleman of the king's chapel, and one of his band of music, and an intimate friend of Miltor.

To honour thee, the priest of Phebus' choir,

That tun'st 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.

On the religious memory of Mrs. Catharine Thomson, my Christian Friend, deceased 16th of December, 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, call'd life; which us from life doth sever. Thy works, and alms, and all thy good endeavour,

Stay'd 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 streams.


FAIRFAX, whose name in arms through Europe rings

Filling each mouth with envy or with praise,

* "Who this Mrs. Thomson was, (says Dr. Newton,) we can. not be certain; but I find in the accounts of Milton's life, that when he was first made Latin Secretary, he lodged at one Thonson's, next door to the Bull-head tavern at Charing-cross. This Mrs. Thomson, therefore, was, in all probability, one of that family."

+ This sonnet appears, from the manuscript, to have been ad

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