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words. The word " Priest” being simply a contraction of the Greek word “ Presbyteros," "an Elder,” Milton's insinuation is that the change from Prelacy, or even from Roman Catholicism, to the new Presbyterianism devised for England, would be but giving up a slighter for a more extended form of the same article.
Two corrections discernible in the Cambridge MS. of this remarkable piece are worth noting. Instead of "Shallow Edwards,” which is the
“" name by which this London fanatic of 1646 will be remembered to the end of time, Milton had first written “haire-brain'd Edwards," which was probably as true. “ Hair-brained” is erased and “ shallow " substituted in the margin. Again the line " Clip your phylacteries, though
your ears” had been originally written“ Crop ye as close as marginal P-_'s eares," the allusion being to the celebrated William Prynne, the Lincoln's Inn lawyer, who had been twice pilloried and had his nose slit and his ears cut off for anti-Prelatic pamphlets, by sentence of the Star-Chamber during Laud's persecuting rule. Since his release from prison at the opening of the Long Parliament, in 1640, Prynne had been a conspicuous Presbyterian, enforcing his views in tract after tract of a dry and learned kind, always with references to his authorities running down the margins of the pages. Piynne's want of ears and the margins of his pamphlets were subjects of popular jest; but Milton had a special grudge against him on account of a reference to himself in one of the “ marginal ” oddities. It was clearly in good taste, however, to erase the allusion in the Sonnet, referring as it did to a cruelty unjustly endured, under a tyrannical Government, by a brave, though thick-headed, man.-Besides these two corrections, the only others exhibited by the MS. draft are “widowed” for “. vacant” in line 3, and “our” for “the” before the word “consciences " in line 6.
SONNET XIII.-" not to scan with Midas' ears, committing short and long”: i.l. not to mis-match short syllables with long syllables (from the Latin sense of committere in such a phrase as committere pugiles, to match gladiators in the circus); which was the kind of scanning of which Midas may be supposed to have been guilty when he decided in favour of Pan in the musical contest between that god and Apollo, and had his faulty ears changed into those of an ass in consequence.
The reference seems to be to the common fault of musical composers in paying no attention to the words they are setting, and so laying the musical stress often on insignificant and non-emphatic syllables; from which fault Lawes is declared to be free.-"exempts," after a double nominative, is the reading both in the printed edition of 1673 and in the Cambridge MS.—"send her wing." So in the edition of 1673, but lend in the Cambridge MS. and in most recent editions.—" the priest of Phæðus' quire”: i.e. the priest, or sacred official, of the band of contemporary poets. or story.” This is explained by a marginal note to the Sonnet as it was prefixed to Lawes's Choice Psaims, &c., published by Moseley in 1648 (see
Introd., II. 290—292). “The story of Ariadne set by him to musick," says the note, the words of the said story being by the poet Cartwright.
<“ Dante . . . his Casella . . . Purgatory.” The reference is to the passage in Dante's Purgatorio, Cant. II., where he represents himself as meeting, in a crowd of other souls, the musician Casella, who had been his dear friend in life, and asking him to sing, even there, if it were permissible, one of those love-songs in which he excelled on earth. Casella complies, and sings a song of Dante's own. The shades of Purgatory are called " milder," in comparison with those of the Inferno, from which the poet had just emerged when he met Casella.
The drafts of this Sonnet among the Cambridge MSS. (see Introd., II. 290) show that it reached its present state after several corrections. Thus, line 3 had originally been written “words with just notes, which till then used to scan,"and this again had been changed into “words with just notes when most were wont to scan,” before the present reading was adopted. Again" committing" in line 4 had been changed into "misjoining," though afterwards taken back; and lines 6, 7, 8, had run thus:-
“ And gives thee praise above the pipe of Pan :
That didst reform thy art, the chief among.”
“ Fame, by the Tuscan's leave, shall set thee higher
Than old Casell, whom Dante wooed to sing.” Here it may be noted how surely every correction of Milton's was an improvement
SONNET XIV.-“ earthy." So in edition of 1673, and clearly a superior reading to “earthly,” which has slipped into modern editions.—"speak,” line 12, is the reading in the edition of 1673, and is perhaps preferable to “spake,” which has been substituted.—Scripture texts in Milton's mind in the Sonnet are: Rom. vii. 24, Rev. xiv. 13, Acts x. 4, Ps. xxxvi. 8, 9.
From the first Cambridge draft of this Sonnet we find that "load" in line 3 was originally “clod"; that line 4 originally ran “Of flesh and sin which man from heaven doth sever"; and that lines 6-10 ran thus :
“ Straight followed thee the path that saints have trod;
Still as they journeyed from this dark abode
Thy handmaids," &c.
“ Faith, who led on the way, and knew them best."
SONNET XV.-"though new rebellions raise their Hydra heads, and the false North," &c. See historical particulars in Introd. to the Sonnet (II. 293-4). —-“ Ffer broken teague": i.e. the “Solemn League and
Covenant," for mutual defence and the prosecution of Religious Reform, which the Scots had proposed to the English in 1643, and which since then had been the great documentary band between the two kingdoms, sworn to, voluntarily or compulsorily, by almost the entire populations of both. The Scots charged the English with having broken this League, both by being harsher to Charles and less loyal to monarchy than the Covenant required, and also by allowing too great licence of religious opinion and practice, and not being zealous enough for Presbytery; and this was the chief pretext for Hamilton's expedition into England in 1648 in aid of Charles against the English Parliament. Some of the English, on the other hand, said the Scots had broken the League “ To imp their serpent wings," i.e. to add strength to the Royalist insurrections in England that were raising their Hydra heads. To imp was to engraft, and hence to mend a hawk's wing by inserting new feathers for broken ones. Thus Shakespeare (Rich. II., II. 1) :
“ If then we shall shake off our slavish yoke,
Imp out our drooping country's broken wing.” -" public fraud" (line 13). By the year 1648 it had become a charge of the Independents and Army-chiefs against the less resolute Parliamentarians that they had mismanaged and misappropriated the public revenues, and that their half-hearted policy against Charles arose from a dread of being called to account.
This is one of the four Sonnets not published in Milton's life-time, but first in 1694 by Milton's nephew Phillips as an Appendix to his memoir of Milton prefixed to an English translation of Milton's Letters of State. These Sonnets were not incorporated in any edition of Milton's Poems till 1713, and were then printed mainly according to Phillips's copies. Newton, in 1752, went back to the text of the Sonnets presented in the drafts preserved among the Cambridge MSS., and he has been followed by most subsequent editors. For the reasons explained in General Introduction to the Minor Poems (II. 181), there can be no doubt that this course is the right one, and that Phillips's copies of 1694 had been vitiated by misrecollection or mistranscription. In the present Sonnet, his copy, besides two glaring errors in pointing, presents the following differences from the Cambridge MS. copy in Milton's own hand :" And fills” for “ filling” in line 2 ; " which" for " that” in line 4; “valour” for “ virtue" in line 5 ;“while” for “though' in line 6 ; “her” for “their” in line 8; “ acts of war” for “endless war"
injured truth” for “ truth and right” in line II; “be rescued from the brand” for “ cleared from the shameful brand" in line
“shares” for “share” in line 14. SonNET XVI.-“ a cloud,” &c. A recollection, as Newton noted, of Virgil's nubem belli (Æn. x. 809).--“ crowned Fortune," i.e. the crowned King Charles, and his family—“Darwen stream, with blood of Scots in
in line 10;
brued," i.e. not the Derwent in Derbyshire, as some commentators have imagined, but the Darwen in Lancashire, which falls into the Ribble near Preston. It was in that neighbourhood, and over the ground traversed by the Ribble and its tributaries, that Cromwell fought his famous three days' battle of Preston, Aug. 17-19, 1648, in which he utterly routed the Scottish invading Army under the Duke of Hamilton.
The stream, and a bridge over it where there was hard fighting, are mentioned in Cromwell's own letter of Aug. 20, 1648, to Speaker Lenthall
, describing the battle ; and Mr. Carlyle, in a note to that letter, has given a list of the various tributaries to the Ribble, the Darwen included, in illustration of the range of the battle (Cromwell's Letters : ed. 1857, I. p. 289). As the Darwen is not marked in ordinary maps of Lancashire, commentators have denied the existence of such a Lancashire stream, and supposed that Milton meant the Ribble, but forgot its name and put that of the Derbyshire Derwent instead. Here again one sees that it is unsafe to doubt Milton's accuracy.-" Drinbar field”: the famous Battle of Dunbar, fought by Cromwell Sept. 3, 1650, when he beat the Scottish Army under General David Leslie, and substantially annexed Scotland to the English Commonwealth. Mr. Carlyle's description of the battle in his Cromwell's Letters and Speeches (II. 178—187) is one of the most memorable
passages of that work.- “ resounds": the verb in the singular, to distribute it between the three nominatives, one of which is still to come. -“ Worcester's laureate wreath”: Cromwell's crowning victory of Sept. 3, 1651,“ his thrice victorious 3rd of September," when he defeated, at Worcester, the army which Charles II., then just crowned King in Scotland, had brought into England to reinstate him there also. After the battle Charles had to skulk about in disguise till he could escape again to the Continent.—Milton had judiciously selected for mention three of Cromwell's latest and greatest military victories; and the victories of another kind to which he points him in lines 9–14 are victories over the Presbyterian clergy, their intolerance, and their greed. Here, though with especial reference to certain incidents of May 1652 (see Introd. to the Sonnet, II. 297-8), Milton recurs to the strain of his lines On the New Forcers of Corrscience. It is noticeable that the present is the only one of Milton's Sonnets that ends in a rhyming couplet (see Gen. Introd, to the Sonnets, II. 278-280).
This is another of the four Sonnets that were misprinted by the early editors of Milton, because they were taken from Phillips's copies of 1694, and not from the genuine copies in the Cambridge MSS. (see note to last Sonnet).-In Phillips's copy to the present Sonnet, it was mangled by the total omission of one line (line 5), and by inaccuracies in the other lines, as follows:
“ Cromwell, our chief of men, that through a crowd
Not of war only, but distractions rude,
And fought God's battles, and his work pursued,
Help us, &c. Obviously, this copy is a sheer vitiation of the original as we have it in the Cambridge draft. That draft itself, however, presents one interesting correction. Line 9 there stood at first thus :
" And twenty battles more : yet much remains."
The insertion of “ Worcester's laureate wreath” for “twenty battles more" was an afterthought.
SonNET XVII.—“when gowns, not arms, repelled,” &c.: i.e. in that period of Roman History when it was on statesmen, rather than on warriors, that the defence of the Commonwealth rested.—“The fierce Epirot and the African bold”: to wit, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, a formidable enemy of the Romans from B.C. 280 to B.C. 272 ; and the Carthaginian Hannibal, their great enemy from B.C. 220 to B.C. 182.“the drift of hollow states." Commentators have supposed here an allusion to the States of Holland, the relations of which to the English Commonwealth were not very explicit.-" to know both spiritual power and civil,” &c. See Introd. to the Sonnet, II. 298, 299.
This is one of the Sonnets printed in a vitiated form by Phillips in 1694 (see note to Sonnet XV.). Save that in line 1 Phillips's copy substitutes “ sage councels ” for “sage counsel," that copy corresponds with
, the Cambridge draft as far as to the end of line 6; after which it proceeds thus :
“ Then to advise how war may best be upheld,
Mann'd by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
But the Cambridge copy itself, as dictated by Milton, reached its present state after several corrections. For “then to advise" in line 7 there had been first dictated “ And to advise”; for “ Move by” in line 8" Move on"; instead of the present lines 10-11, the following :
“ What power the Church and what the Civil means
Thou teachest best, which few have ever done," with a subsequent alteration to