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Your drooping country, torn with civil hate,
Above our neighbours our conceptions are ; Restor'd by you, is made a glorious state;
But faultless writing is the effect of care. The seat of empire, where the Irish come,
Our lines reform'd, and not compos'd in haste, And the unwilling Scots, to fetch their doom. Polish'd like marble, would like marble last. The sea's our own ; and now all nations greet,
But as the present, so the last age writ: With bending sails, each vessel of our fleet;
In both we find like negligence and wit. Your power extends as far as winds can blow,
Were we but less indulgent to our faults, Or swelling sails upon the globe may go.
And patience had to cultivate our thoughts,
Our Muse would flourish, and a nobler rage
[The British Navy.] The greatest leader, and the greatest isle !
When Britain, looking with a just disdain Whether this portion of the world were rent
Upon this gilded majesty of Spain, By the rude ocean from the continent,
And knowing well that empire must decline Or thus created, it was sure design'd
support and sinews are of coin, To be the sacred refuge of mankind.
Our nation's solid virtue did oppose Hither the oppressed shall henceforth resort,
To the rich troublers of the world's repose.
And now some months, encamping on the main,
They that the whole world's monarchy design'd,
Are to their ports by our bold fleet confin'd,
From whence our Red Cross they triumphant see,
Only the English make it their abode,
And make a covenant with the inconstant sky:
Our oaks secure, as if they there took root,
We tread on billows with a steady foot.
While in this park I sing, the listning deer
Attend my passion, and forget to fear; But cut the bond of union with that stroke.
When to the beeches I report my flame,
They bow their heads, as if they felt the same. That sun once set, a thousand meaner stars
To gods appealing, when I reach their bowers Gave a dim light to violence and wars ;
With loud complaints, they answer me in showers. To such a tempest as now threatens all,
To thee a wild and cruel soul is given,
More deaf than trees, and prouder than the heav'n!
He sprung, that could so far exalt the name
Of Love, and warm our nation with his flame;
That all we can of love or high desire,
Seems but the smoke of amorous Sidney's fire.
One breast may hold both chastity and love.
Never can she, that so exceeds the spring So when a lion shakes his dreadful mane,
In joy and bounty, be suppos’d to bring
One so destructive. To no human stock
That cloven rock produc'd thee, by whose side
Nature, to recompense the fatal pride Itself into Augustus' arms did cast ;
Of such stern beauty, plac'd those healing springs So England now does, with like toil opprest,
Which not more help than that destruction brings.
Thy heart no ruder than the rugged stone, Her weary head upon your bosom rest.
I might, like Orpheus, with my num'rous moan Then let the Muses, with such notes as these,
Melt to compassion ; now my trait'rous song Instruct us what belongs unto our peace.
With thee conspires to do the singer wrong ; Your battles they hereafter shall indite,
While thus I suffer not myself to lose And draw the image of our Mars in fight.
The memory of what augments my woes ;
But with my own breath still foment the fire, [English Genius.)
Which flames as high as fancy can aspire ! [From a prologue to Beaumont and Fletcher’s · Maid's Of just Apollo, president of verse ;
This last complaint the indulgent ears did pierce Tragedy.']
Highly concerned that the Muse should bring Scarce should we have the boldness to pretend
Damage to one whom he had taught to sing : So long-renown'd a tragedy to mend,
Thus he advis'd me: 'On yon aged tree Had not already some deserv'd your praise
Hang up thy lute, and hie thee to the sea, With like attempt. Of all our elder plays,
That there with wonders thy diverted mind
Some truce, at least, may with this passion find.'
Sir Philip Sidney.
* Tunbridge Wells
Flies for relief unto the raging main,
Small is the worth
The Bud. Lately on yonder swelling bush, Big with many a coming rose, This early bud began to blush, And did but half itself disclose ; I plucked it though no better grown, And now you see how full 'tis blown. Still, as I did the leaves inspire, With such a purple light they shone, As if they had been made of fire, And spreading so would flame anon. All that was meant by air or sun, To the young flow'r my breath has done. If our loose breath so much can do, What may the same in forms of love, Of purest love and music too, When Flavia it aspires to move ? When that which lifeless buds persuades To wax more soft, her youth invades ?
Old Age and Death. The seas are quiet when the winds give o'er ; So calm are we when passions are no more. For then we know how vain it was to boast Of fleeting things, too certain to be lost. Clouds of affection from our younger eyes Conceal that emptiness which age descries. The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd, Lets in new light through chinks that time has made: Stronger by weakness, wiser men become, As they draw near to their eternal home. Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view, That stand upon the threshold of the new.
JOHN MILTON. Above all the poets of this age, and, in the whole range
of English poetry, inferior only to Shakspeare, was JOHN MILTON, born in London, December 9,
Say, Lovely Dream—a Song. Say, lovely dream ! where couldst thou find Shades to counterfeit that face? Colours of this glorious kind Come not from any mortal place. In heav'n itself thou sure wert dress'd With that angel-like disguise ; Thus deluded, am I blest, And see my joy with closed eyes. But, ah ! this image is too kind To be other than a dream ; Cruel Sacharissa's mind Ne'er put on that sweet extreme. Fair dream ! if thou intend'st me grace, Change that licavenly face of thine ; Paint despis'd love in thy face, And make it t'appear like mine. Pale, wan, and meagre, let it look, With a pity-moving shape, Such as wander by the brook Of Lethe, or from graves escape. Then to that matchless nymph appear, In whose shape thou shinest so; Softly in her sleeping ear With humble words express my wo. Perhaps from greatness, state, and pride, Thus surprised, she may fall; Sleep does disproportion hide, And, death resembling, equals all.
Go, Lovely Rose-a Song. Go, lovely rose ! Tell her that wastes her time and me, That now she knows, When I resemble her to thee, How sweet and fair she seems to be. Tell her, that's young, And shuns to have her graces spied, That, had'st thou sprung In deserts, where no men abide, 1 hou must have uncoininended died.
John Milton. 1608. His father was of an ancient Catholic family, but having embraced the Protestant faith, he was disinherited, and had recourse, as a means of support, to the profession of a scrivener-one who draws legal contracts, and places money at interest. The firmness and the sufferings of the father for conscience' sake, tinctured the early feelings and sentiments of the son, who was a stern unbending champion of religious freedom. The paternal example may also have had some effect on the poet's taste and accomplishments. The elder Milton was distinguished as a musical composer, and the son was well skilled in the same soothing and delightful art. The variety and harmony of his versification may no doubt be partly traced to the same source. Coleridge styles : Milton a musical, not a picturesque, poet. The saying, however, is more pointed than correct. In the most musical passages of Milton (as the lyrics in Comus'), the pictures presented to the mind are as distinct and vivid as the paintings of Titian or
. Milton was educated with great care. At Lawes set it to music, and it was acted on Michaelfifteen, he was sent (even then an accomplished mas night, 1634, the two brothers, the young lady, scholar) to St Paul's school, London, and two years and Lawes himself
, bearing each a part in the reafterwards to Christ's college, Cambridge. He was presentation. “Comus' is better entitled to the apa severe student, of a nice and haughty temper, and pellation of a moral masque than any by Jonson, jealous of constraint or control. He complained Ford, or Massinger. It is a pure dream of Elysium. that the fields around Cambridge had no soft shades The reader is transported, as in Shakspeare's. Temto attract the muse, as Robert IIall, a century and a pest,' to scenes of fairy enchantment, but no grosshalf afterwards, attributed his first attack of insanity ness mingles with the poet's creations, and his muse to the flatness of the scenery, and the want of woods is ever ready to moralise the song with strains of in that part of England! Milton was designed for solemn imagery and lofty sentiment. Comus' was the church, but he preferred a blameless silence' to first published in 1637, not by its author, but by what he considered servitude and forswearing.' At Henry Lawes, who, in a dedication to Lord Bridgethis time, in his twenty-first year, he had written water, says, although not openly acknowledged by his grand Hymn on the Nativity, any one verse of the author, yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely, which was sufficient to show that a new and great and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath light was about to rise on English poetry. In tired my pen to give my several friends satisfaction.' 1632 he retired from the university, having taken Lycidas’ was also published in the same year. This his degree of M.A., and went to the house of his exquisite poem is a monody on a college companion father, who had relinquished business, and pur- of Milton's, Edward King, who perished by shipchased a small property at Horton, in Buckingham- wreck on his passage from Chester to Ireland. shire. Here he lived five years, studying classical Milton's descriptive poems, L'Allegro and Penliterature, and here he wrote his Arcades, Comus, seroso, are generally referred to the same happy and Lycidas. The 'Arcades' formed part of a period of his life; but from the cast of the imagery, masque, presented to the Countess Dowager of we suspect they were sketched in at college, when he ! Derby, at Harefield, near Horton, by some noble walked the studious cloisters pale,' amidst storied persous of her family. Comus,' also a masque, was windows,' and 'pealing anthems.' And, indeed, presented at Ludlow castle in 1634, before the Earl there is a tradition that the scenery depicted in
• L'Allegro' is that around a country college retirement of the poet, at Forest Hill, about three miles from Oxford. In 1638 the poet left the paternal roof, and travelled for fifteen months in France and Italy, returning homewards by the . Leman lake' to Geneva and Paris. His society was courted by the choicest Italian wits,' and he visited Galileo, then a prisoner of the Inquisition. The statuesque grace and beauty of some of Milton's poetical creations (the figures of Adam and Eve, the angel Raphael, and parts of Paradise Regained) were probably suggested by his study of the works of art in Florence and Rome. The poet had been with difficulty restrained from testifying against popery within the verge of the Vatican; and on his return to his native country, he engaged in controversy against the prelates and the royalists, and vindi. cated, with characteristic ardour, the utmost freedom of thought and expression. His prose works are noticed in another part of this volume. In 1643 Milton went to the country, and married Mary, the daughter of Richard Powell, a high cavalier of Oxfordshire, to whom the poet was probably known, as Mr Powell had, many years before, borrowed £500 from his father. He brought his wife to London, but in the short period of a month, the studious habits and philosophical seclusion of the republican poet proved so distasteful to the cavalier's fair daughter, that she left his house on a visit to her parents, and refused to return. Milton resolved to repudiate her, and published some treatises on divorce, in which he argues that the law of Moses, which allowed of divorcement for uncleanness, was
not adultery only, but uncleanness of the mind as Ludlow Castle.
well as the body. This dangerous doctrine he
maintained through life ; but the year after her deof Bridgewater, then president of Wales. This sertion (when the poet was practically enforcing his drama was founded on an actual occurrence. The opinions by soliciting the hand of another lady), his Earl of Bridgewater then resided at Ludlow castle; erring and repentant wife fell on her knees before his sons, Lord Brackley and Mr Egerton, and Lady him, submissive in distress,' and Milton, like his
Alice Egerton, his daughter, passing through Hay- own Adam, was ‘fondly overcome with female wood forest in Herefordshire, on their way to charm.' He also behaved with great generosity to Ludlow, were benighted, and the lady was for a short her parents when the further progress
of the civil time lost. This accident being related to their father war involved them in ruin. In 1649 Milton was, upon their arrival at his castle, Milton, at the re- unsolicited, appointed foreign or Latin secretary to quest of his friend Henry Lawes, the musician (who the council of state. His salary was about £300 per taught music in the family), wrote the masque. annuni, which was afterwards reduced one half,
visions of paradise ; and that, though long a sufferer remarkable for their grandeur and sublimity. The from hereditary disease, his mind was calm and delineation of Satan and the fallen angels hurled bright to the last. He died without a struggle on headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,' and their
Sunday the 8th of November, 1674. By his first assembled deliberations in the infernal council, are | rash and ill-assorted marriage, Milton left three astonishing efforts of human genius—their appear
daughters, whom, it is said, he taught to read and ance dwarfs every other poetical conception.' At a | pronounce several languages, though they only un- time when the common superstition of the country
derstood their native tongue. He complained that presented the Spirit of Evil in the most low and the children were 'undutiful and unkind' to him; debasing shapes, Milton invested him with colossal and they were all living apart from their illustrious strength and majesty, with unconquerable pride and parent for some years before his death. His widow daring, with passion and remorse, sorrow and tearsinherited a fortune of about £1500, of which she the archangel ruined, and the excess of glory obgave £100 to each of his daughters.
scured.' Pope has censured the dialogues in heaven Milton's early poems have much of the manner as too metaphysical, and every reader feels that they of Spenser, particularly his 'Lycidas.' In • Comus' are prolix, and, in some instances, unnecessary and there are various traces of Fletcher, Shakspeare, unbecoming. The taste of Milton for argumentative and other poets.* Single words, epithets, and images, speech and theology had overpowered his poetical he freely borrowed, but they were so combined and imagination. It has also been objected, that there is improved by his own splendid and absorbing ima- a want of human interest in the poem. This objecgination, as not to detract from his originality: tion, however, is not felt. The poet has drawn the His imperial fancy (as was said of Burke) laid all characters of Adam and Eve with such surpassing art and nature under tribute, yet never lost its art and beauty, and has invested their residence in own original brightness.' Milton's diction is pecu- Paradise with such an accumulation of charms, that
liarly rich and pictorial in effect. In force and dig- our sympathy with them is strong and unbroken; Inity he towers over all his contemporaries. He it accompanies them in their life of innocence, their
is of no class of poets: his soul was like a star, daily employment among fruits and flowers, their and dwelt apart.' The style of Milton's verse was purity, affection, and piety, and it continues after moulded on classic models, chiefly the Greek tra. the ruins of the fall. More perfect and entire sym
gedians; but his musical taste, his love of Italian pathy could not be excited by any living agents. | literature, and the lofty and solemn cast of his own In these tender and descriptive scenes, the force and
mind, gave strength and harmony to the whole. His occasional stiffness of Milton's style, and the march minor poems alone would have rendered his name of his stately sonorous verse, are tempered and immortal, but there still wanted his great epic to modulated with exquisite skill. The allegorical complete the measure of his fame and the glory of figures of Sin and Death have been found fault his country.
with: 'they will not bear exact criticism,' says • Paradise Lost,' or the fall of man, had long been Hallam, 'yet we do not wish them away.' They familiar to Milton as a subject for poetry. He at appear to us to be among the grandest of Milton's first intended it as a drama, and two draughts of his conceptions— terrific, repulsive, yet sublime, and scheme are preserved among his manuscripts in sternly moral in their effects. Who but must enterTrinity college library, Cambridge. His genius, how- tain disgust and hatred at sin thus portrayed ? ever, was better adapted for an epic than a dramatic The battle of the angels in the sixth book is perhaps poem. His “Samson,' though cast in a dramatic open to censure. The material machinery is out of form, has little of dramatic interest or variety of place in heaven, and seems to violate even poetical character. His multifarious learning and uniform probability. The reader is sensible how the combat dignity of manner would have been too weighty for must end, and wishes that the whole had been more dialogue; whereas in the epic form, his erudition was veiled and obscure. The martial demons,' remarks well employed in episode and illustration. He was Campbell, 'who charmed us in the shades of hell, perhaps too profuse of learned illustration, yet there lose some portion of their sublimity when their is something very striking and imposing even in his artillery is discharged in the daylight of heaven.' long catalogues of names and cities. They are gene. The discourses of the angel Raphael, and the vision rally sonorous and musical. The subject of Paraf of Michael in the two last books—leading the reader dise Lost,' says Mr Campbell, ‘was the origin of gently and slowly, as it were, from the empyrean evil-an era in existence--an event more than all heights down to earth-have a tranquil dignity of others dividing past from future time—an isthmus tone and pathos that are deeply touching and imin the ocean of eternity. The theme was in its pressive. The Christian poet triumphs and predonature connected with everything important in the minates at the close. circumstances of human history, and amidst these circumstances Milton saw that the fables of Pagan
[Hymn on the Nativity.] ism were too important and poetical to be omitted. As a Christian, he was entitled wholly to neglect It was the winter wild, them; but as a poet, he chose to treat them, not as While the heaven-born child dreams of the human mind, but as the delusions of All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies ; infernal existences. Thus anticipating a beautiful Nature, in awe to him, propriety for all classical allusions, thus connecting Had doff'd her gaudy trim, and reconciling the co-existence of fable and truth, With her great Master so to sympathise : and thus identifying his fallen angels with the It was no season then for her deities of “ gay religions full of pomp and gold,” he To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour. yoked the heathen mythology in triumph to his
Only with speeches fair subject, and clothed himself in the spoils of super. She woos the gentle air, stition.' The two first books of Paradise Lost' are
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow ; * Dryden, in his preface to the Fables,' says, • Milton hag And on her naked shame, acknowledged to me that Spenser was his original.' Browne, Pollute with sinful blame, Fletcher, Burton, and Drummond, also assisted : Milton, as The saintly veil of maiden white to throw : has been happily remarked, was a great collector of sweets Confounded, that her Maker's eyes from these wild flowers.
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.