« AnteriorContinuar »
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.
WHEN THE ASSAULT WAS INTENDED
TO THE CITY *
CAPTAIN, or Colonel, or Knight in arms
That call Fame on such gentle acts as these,
The great Emathian conquerer bid spare
Went to the ground; and the repeated air
To save th’ Athenian walls from ruin bare.
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,
Chosen thou hast; and they that overween,
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,
TO THE LADY MARGARET LEY, *
DAUGHTER to that good Earl, once President
Of England's Council, and her Treasury,
And left them both, more in himself content,
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;
That all both judge you to relate them true,
On the Detraction which followed upon the writing
A BOOK was writ of late call'd Tetrachordon,
And woven close, both matter, form, and style ;
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
End Green. Why is it harder, Sirs, than Gordon,
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,
ON THE SAME.
I DID but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty,
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs:
Rail'd at Latona's twin-born progeny,
But this is got by casting pearl to hogs;
And still revolt when truth would set them free
License they mean when they cry Liberty;
But from that mark how far they rove we see,
TO MR. H. LAWES, ON HIS AIRS, 1645.*
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;
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,
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,
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 :
Follow'd thee up to joy and bliss for ever.
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
TO THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX.
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