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Stay'd not behind, nor in the grave were trod; But, as Faith pointed with her golden rod, 7 Follow'd thee up to joy and bliss for ever. Love led them on, and Faith, who knew them best Thy handmaids, clad them o'er with purple beams And azure wings, that up they flew so drest, 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.
XV. TO THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX.*
FAIRFAX, whose name in arms through Europe rings,
Filling each mouth with envy or with praise, And all her jealous monarchs with amaze And rumours loud, that daunt remotest kings, Thy firm unshaken virtue ever brings
Victory home, though new rebellions raise
Stay'd] Orig. Line in MS.
'Straight follow'd thee the path that saints have trod.' Warton.
14 drink] Epitaph. Damonis. 206. Æthereos haurit latices.' Warton.
* This Sonnet, as appears from Milton's MS. was addressed to Fairfax at the siege of Colchester, 1648. It was first printed, together with the two following sonnets, and the two to Cyriack Skinner, at the end of Phillips's Life of Milton, 1694.
2 Filling] So the MS: before, it was And fills each mouth. Todd
5 virtue] So the MS: before, valour.' In the next line though' is admitted from the MS. instead of while.' Todd.
Their Hydra heads, and the false North displays Her broken league to imp their serpent wings. O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand,
(For what can war, but endless war still breed?) Till truth and right from violence be freed, And public faith clear'd from the shameful brand Of public fraud. In vain doth valour bleed, While avarice and rapine share the land.
XVI. TO THE LORD GENERAL CROMWELL.*
CROMWELL, Our chief of men, who through a cloud Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude, To peace and truth thy glorious way hast plough'd, And on the neck of crowned fortune proud
8 their] So the MS.: before her.' Todd.
10 This and the following lines were thus in the printed copies :
For what can war, but acts of war still breed,
Till injured truth from violence be freed,
And public faith be rescued from the brand. Newton. * See Hollis's Memoirs, p. 511.
1 who, &c.] In the printed copy thus:
that through a crowd
Not of war only, but distractions rude.
But a' cloud of war' is a classical expression. Virg. Æn.
5 This and the following line were contracted in the printed copies of Phillips, Toland, Tonson, Tickell, and Fenton, into And fought God's battles, and his works pursued.'
Hast rear'dGod's trophies, and his work pursued, While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,
And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureat wreath. Yet much remains
To conquer still; peace hath her victories
No less renown'd than war: new foes arise Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains:
Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.
XVII. TO SIR HENRY VANE THE YOUNGER.*
VANE, young in years, but in sage counsel old, Than whom a better senator ne'er held
The helm of Rome, when gowns not arms reThe fierce Epirot and the African bold, [pell'd
7 Darwen] In the printed copies Darwent.' Newton. 9 And Worcester's laureat wreath.] This expression, though beautiful, is inaccurate; for a 'laureat wreath' cannot, with propriety, be said to resound his praises loud;' but the inaccuracy arose from the alteration. The hemistich originally stood, And twenty battles more,' which was flat enough.
peace, &c.] In the printed copies, before Newton's edition, 'peace has her victories, no less than those of war;' and afterwards, in secular chains.' Todd. Compare Milton's Second Defence, vol. ii. p. 442; and Cas. Sarb. Carm. p. 323, ed. Barbou.
* This Sonnet seems to have been written in behalf of the Independants against the Presbyterian hierarchy. Vane was beheaded in 1662. Warton.
1 counsel] The printed copies, councils.' Newton.
Whether to settle peace, or to unfold
Both spiritual pow'r and civil, what each means, What severs each, thou hast learn'd, which few have done :
The bounds of either sword to thee we owe :
XVIII. ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN
AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold; Ev'n them who kept thy truth so pure of old, When all our fathers worshipp'd stocks and
Forget not in thy book record their groans Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
7 Then, &c.] In the printed copies,
Then to advise how war may be best upheld
Mann'd by her two main nerves,' &c. Newton.
11 severs] Serves.' Printed edition. Newton.
13 Therefore, &c.] In the printed copies :
Therefore on thy right hand Religion leans,
And reckons thee in chief her eldest son.' Newton.
2 Alpine] Fairfax's Tasso, B. xiii. s. 60.
'Distill'd from tops of Alpine mountains cold. Warton.
Slain by the bloody Piemontese that roll'd Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heav'n. Their matyr'd blood and ashes sow O'er all th' Italian fields, where still doth sway The triple tyrant; that from these may grow A hundred fold, who having learn'd thy way Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
XIX. ON HIS BLINDNESS.
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
10 man's work, or his own gifts] Free will, or grace.
13 post] P. L. iv. 171,
• With a vengeance sent,
From Media post to Egypt.' Warton.