Immagini della pagina
[ocr errors]

it by repudiation. In 1644 he published a work | however, suffered no eclipse from this loss of his on « The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce;" sensitive faculties; and he pursued, without interand, in the next year, it was followed by “ Te- mission, both his official and his controversial occutrachordon, or Expositions upon the four chief pations. Cromwell, about this time, having assumed Places in Scripture which treat of Marriage.” He the supreme power, with the title of Protector, farther reduced his doctrine into practice, by pay- Milton acted with a subservience towards this ing his addresses to a young lady of great accom- usurper which is the part of his conduct that it is plishments ; but, as he was paying a visit to a neigh- the most difficult to justify. It might have been bour and kinsman, he was surprised with the sud- expected, that when the wisest and most conscienden entrance of his wife, who threw herself at his tious of the republicans had become sensible of his feet, and implored forgiveness. After a short arts, and opposed his ambitious projects, the inind struggle of resentment, he took her to his bosom ; of Milton would neither have been blinded by his and he sealed the reconciliation by opening his hypocrisy, nor overawed by his power. Possibly house to her father and brothers, when they had the real cause of his predilection for Cromwell, was been driven from home by the triumph of the re- that he saw no refuge from the intolerance of the publican arms.

Presbyterians, but in the moderation of the Pro In the progress of Milton's prose works, it will tector. And, in fact, the very passage in which he be right to mention his “ Areopagitica; a Speech of addresses him with the loftiest encomium, contains Mr. John Milton, for the Liberty of Unlicensed a free and noble exhortation to him to respect Printing,"- a work, published in 1644,written with that public liberty, of which he appeared to be the equal spirit and ability, and which, when reprinted guardian. in 1738, was affirmed by the editor to be the best de- Cromwell at length died; and so zealous and sanfence that had ever then appeared of that essential guine was Milton, to the very last, that one of his article of public liberty. In the following year he latest political productions was, A ready and easy took care that his poetical character should not be Way to establish a free Commonwealth.” It was in lost to the world, and published his juvenile poems, vain, however, to contend, by.pamphlets, with the Latin and English.

national inclination; and Charles II. returned in Milton's principles of the origin and end of triumph. Milton was discharged from his office, government carried him to a full approbation of the and lay for some time concealed in the house of a trial and execution of the king ; and, in order to friend. The House of Commons desired that his conciliate the minds of the people to that act, he Majesty would issue a proclamation to call in Milpublished, early in 1649, a work entitled, “ The ton's Defences of the People, and Iconoclastes, toTenure of Kings and Magistrates; proving that it gether with a book of Goodwyn's. The books were is lawful, and hath been so held through all ages, accordingly burnt by the common hangman; but the for any who have the power, to call to account authors were returned as having absconded ; nor, in a tyrant or wicked king; and, after due con- the act of indemnity, did the name of Milton appear viction, to depose and put him to death, if the ordi- among those of the excepted persons. nary magistrate have neglected or denied to do He now, in reduced circumstances, and under the it." Certainly, it would not be easy to express, in discountenance of power, removed to a private stronger terms, an author's resolution to leave no habitation near his former residence. He had doubts concerning his opinion on this important buried his first wife ; and a second, the daughter of topic. His appointment to the Latin Secretaryship a Captain Woodcock, in Hackney, died in childbed. to the Council of State was, 'probably, the conse- To solace his forlorn condition, he desired his friend, quence of his decision.

Dr. Paget, to look out a third wife for him, who The learned Frenchman, Salmasius, or Saumaise, recommended a relation of his own, named Elizahaving been hired by Charles II., while in Holland, beth Minshull, of a good family in Cheshire. His to write a work in favour of the royal cause, which he powerful mind, now centered in itself, and unentitled, “ Defensio Regia,” Milton was employed disturbed by contentions and temporary topics, to answer it; which he did in 1651, by his celebrated opened to those great ideas which were continually “ Defensio pro Populo Anglicano,” in which he filling it, and the result was, Paradise Lost. Much exercised all his powers of Latin rhetoric, both to discussion has taken place concerning the original justify the republican party, and to confound and conception of this grand performance; but whatvilify the famous scholar against whom he took up I ever hint may have suggested the rude outline, it is the pen. By this piece he acquired a high repu- certain that all the creative powers of a strong tation, both at home and abroad; and he received a imagination, and all the accumulated stores of a present of a thousand pounds from the English life devoted to learning, were expended in its comgovernment. His book went through several edi- pletion. Though he appears, at an early age, to tions; while, on the other hand, the work of Sal have thought of some subject in the heroic times of masius was suppressed by the States of Holland, in English history, as peculiarly calculated for English, whose service he lived as a professor at Leyden. verse, yet his religious turn, and assiduous study of

Milton's intense application to study had, for the Hebrew Scriptures, produced a final preference some years preceding, brought on an affection of of a story derived from the Sacred Writings, and the eyes, which gradually impaired his sight; and, giving scope to the introduction of his theological before he wrote his “ Defensio,” he was warned by system. It would be superfluous, at this time, to his physicians that the effort would probably end in weigh the merits of Milton's great work, which total blindness. This opinion was soon after justi- stands so much beyond competition ; but it may be fied by a gutta serena, which seized both his eyes, affirmed, that whatever his other poems can erand subjected the remainder of his life to those pri- hibit of beauty in some parts, or of grandeur in vations which he has so feelingly described in some others, may all be referred to Paradise Lost as passages of his poems. His intellectual powers, the most perfect model of both.

Milton, not exhausted by this great effort, fol- With this work his poetical account closes ; and a lowed it in 1670 by “ Paradise Regained,” written few pieces in prose can scarcely claim particular noupon a suggestion of the Quaker Elwood's, and ap- tice. He sunk tranquilly under an exhaustion of parently regarded as the theological completion of the vital powers in November, 1674, when he had the Paradise Lost. Although, in point of inven- nearly completed his 66th year.

His remains were tion, its inferiority is plainly apparent, yet modern carried from his house in Bunhill-Fields to the criticism has pronounced that there are passages in church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, with a numerous it by no means unworthy of the genius of Milton, and splendid attendance. No monument marked allowance being made for the small compass of the the tomb of this great man, but his memory was subject, and his purpose in writing it. Together honoured with a tomb in 1737, in Westminster with it appeared his tragedy of “ Sampson Agon Abbey, at the expense of Auditor Benson. The nistes," composed upon the model of antiquity, and only family whom he left were daughters. never intended for the stage.




Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
ENCE, loathed Melancholy,

And at my window bid good morrow,
Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born,

Through the sweet-brier, or the vine,

Or the twisted eglantine: In Stygian cave forlorn,


While the cock, with lively din, 'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights un

Scatters the rear of Darkness thin.
Find out some uncouth cell,

(wings, And to the stack, or the barn-door.
Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous Stoutly struts his dames before :
And the night-raven sings;
There under ebon shades, and low-brow'd rocks, Cheerly rouse the slumbering Morn,

Oft listening how the hounds and horn
As ragged as thy locks,

From the side of some hoar hill,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.

Through the high wood echoing shrill:
But come, thou goddess fair and free,

Some time walking, not unseen,
In Heaven yclep'd Euphrosyne,

By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green, And by men, heart-easing Mirth ;

Right against the eastern-gate Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,

Where the great Sun begins his state, With two sister Graces more,

Rob’d in flames, and amber light, To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore :

The clouds in thousand liveries dight; Or whether (as some sager sing)

While the ploughman, near at hand, The frolic wind, that breathes the spring,

Whistles o'er the furrow'd land, Zephyr, with Aurora playing,

And the milkmaid singeth blithe, As he met her once a-maying;

And the mower whets his sithe, There on beds of violets blue,

And every shepherd tells his tale And fresh-blown roses wash'd in dew,

Under the hawthorn in the dale. Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,

Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures, So buxom, blithe, and debonair.

Whilst the landscape round it measures; Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee

Russet lawns, and fallows gray, Jest and youthful Jollity,

Where the nibbling flocks do stray ; Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,

Mountains, on whose barren breast, Nods, and Becks, and wreathed Smiles,

The labouring clouds do often rest; Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,

Meadows trim with daisies pide, And love to live in dimple sleek ;

Shallow brooks, and rivers wide : Sport that wrinkled Care derides,

Towers and battlements it sees And laughter holding both his sides.

Bosom'd high in tufted trees, Come, and trip it, as you go,

Where perhaps some beauty lies,
On the light fantastic toe;

The Cynosure of neighbouring eyes.
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty ;

Hard by, a cottage chimney smoaks,

From betwixt two aged oaks, And, if I give thee honour due,

Where Corydon and Thyrsis, met, Mirth, admit me of thy crew,

Are at their savoury dinner set To live with her, and live with thee,

Of herbs and other country messes, In unreproved pleasures free.

Which the neat-handed Phillis dresses ; To hear the lark begin his flight,

And then in haste her bower she leaves, And singing startle the dull Night,

With Thestylis to bind the sheaves ; From his watch-tower in the skies,

Or, if the earlier season lead, Till the dappled Dawn doth rise ;

To the tann'd haycock in the mead.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

Sometimes with secure delight The upland hamlets will invite, When the merry bells ring round, And the jocund rebecks sound To many a youth, and many a maid. Dancing in the chequer'd shade ; And young and old come forth to play On a sun shine holiday, Till the live-long day-light fail : Then to the spicy nut-brown ale, With stories told of many a feat, How faery Mab the junkets eat; She was pinch’d, and pull’d, she sed; And he, by friars lantern led, Tells how the drudging goblin swet, To earn his cream-bowl duly set, When in one night, ere glimpse of morn, His shadowy flail hath thresh'd the corn, That ten day-labourers could not end; Then lies him down the lubbar fiend, And, stretch'd out all the chimney's length, Basks at the fire his hairy strength; And crop-full out of doors he fings, Ere the first cock his matin rings. Thus done the tales, to bed they creep, By whispering winds soon lull'd asleep. Tower'd cities please us then, And the busy hum of men, Where throngs of knights and barons bold, In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold, With store of ladies, whose bright eyes Rain influence, and judge the prize Of wit, or arms, while both contend To win her grace, whom all commend. There let Hymen oft appear In saffron robe, with taper clear, And pomp, and feast, and revelry, With mask, and antique pageantry ; Such sights as youthful poets dream On summer eves by haunted stream. Then to the well-trod stage anon, If Jonson's learned sock be on, Or sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child, Warble his native wood-notes wild.

And ever, against eating cares, Lap me in soft Lydian airs, Married to immortal verse; Such as the meeting soul may pierce, In notes, with many a winding bout Of linked sweetness long drawn out, With wanton heed and giddy cunning ; The melting voice through mazes running, Untwisting all the chains that tie The hidden soul of harmony; That Orpheus' self may heave his head From golden slumber on a bed Of heap'd Elysian flowers, and hear Such strains as would have won the ear Of Pluto, to have quite set free His half-regain'd Eurydice.

These delights if thou canst give, Mirth, with thee I mean to live.


Dwell in some idle brain,

And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sun-beams;
Or likest hovering dreams,

The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.
But hail, thou goddess, sage and holy,
Hail, divinest Melancholy !
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And therefore to our weaker view
O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue;
Black, but such as in esteem
Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
Or that starr'd Ethiop queen that strove
To set her beauty's praise above
The sea-nymphs, and their powers offended:
Yet thou art higher far descended :
Thee bright-hair'd Vesta, long of yore,
To solitary Saturn bore ;
His daughter she ; in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a stain:
Oft in glimmering bowers and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
Whilst yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure,
Sober, stedfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
And sable stole of Cyprus lawn,
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With even step, and musing gait;
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes :
There, held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
With a sad leaden downward cast
Thou fix them on the earth as fast :
And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring
Aye round about Jove's altar sing :
And add to these retired Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure :
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring,
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of Night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently oʻer the accustom’d oak:
Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy !
Thee, chantress, oft, the woods among,
I woo, to hear thy even-song;
And, missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering Moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the Heaven's wide pathless way;
And oft, as if her head she bow'd,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off Curfeu sound,

IL PENSEROSO. Hence, vain deluding Joys, The brood of Folly, without father bred! How little you bested,

Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys !

Over some wido-water'd shore,

With such consort as they keep, Swinging slow with sullen roar :

Entice the dewy feather'd Sleep; Or, if the air will not permit,

And let some strange mysterious dream Some still removed place will fit,

Wave at his wings in aery stream Where glowing embers through the room

Of lively portraiture display'd, Teach light to counterfeit a gloom ;

Softly on my eye-lids laid. Far from all resort of mirth,

And, as I wake, sweet music breathe Save the cricket on the hearth,

Above, about, or underneath, Or the belman's drowsy charm,

Sent by some spirit to mortal good, To bless the doors from nightly harm.

Or the unseen genius of the wood. Or let my lamp at midnight hour,

But let my due feet never fail Be seen in some high lonely tower,

To walk the studious cloysters pale, Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,

And love the high-embowed roof, With thrice-great Hermes, or unsphere

With antic pillars massy proof, The spirit of Plato, to unfold

And storied windows richly dight, What worlds or what vast regions hold

Casting a dim religious light: The immortal mind, that hath forsook

There let the pealing organ blow, Her mansion in this fleshly nook :

To the full-voic'd quire below, And of those demons that are found

In service high and anthems clear, In fire, air, flood, or under ground,

As may with sweetness, through mine ear, Whose power hath a true consent

Dissolve me into ecstacies, With planet, or with element.

And bring all Heaven before mine eyes. Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy

And may at last my weary age In scepter'd pall come sweeping by,

Find out the peaceful hermitage, Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line,

The hairy gown and mossy cell, Or the tale of Troy divine;

Where I may sit and rightly spell Or what (though rare) of later age

Of every star that Heaven doth shew, Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage.

And every herb that sips the dew; But, O sad virgin, that thy power

Till old experience do attain Might raise Musæus from his bower!

To something like prophetic strain. Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing

These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
Such notes, as, warbled to the string,

And I with thee will choose to live.
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
And made Hell grant what love did seek!
Or call up him that left half-told
The story of Cambuscan bold,
Of Camball, and of Algarsife,

And who had Canace to wife,
That own'd the virtuous ring and glass;

Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,

Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never-sere, And of the wondrous horse of brass.

I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude: On which the Tartar king did ride :

And, with forc'd fingers rude, And if aught else great bards beside

Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year : In sage and solemn tunes have sung,

Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear, Of turneys, and of trophies hung,

Compels me to disturb your season due: Of forests, and enchantments drear,

For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime, Where more is meant than meets the ear.

Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer : Thus, Night, oft see me in thy palo career,

10 Till civil-suited Morn appear,

Who would not sing for Lycidas ? he knew

Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme. Not trick'd and frounc'd as she was wont

He must not float upon his watery bier With the Attic boy to hunt,

Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, But kercheft in a comely cloud,

Without the meed of some melodious tear. While rocking winds are piping loud,

Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well, Or ushered with a shower still

Tluat from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring; When the gust hath blown his fill,

Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string. Ending on the russling leaves,

Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse : With minute drops from off the eaves.

So may some gentle Muse And, when the Sun begins to fling

With lucky words favour my destin'd urn; 20 His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring

And, as he passes, turn
To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves,

And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.

For we were nurs’d upon the self-same hill, Of pine, or monumental oak,

Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill. Where the rude axe, with heaved stroke,

Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,

Under the opening eye-lids of the Morn,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.

We drove afield, and both together heard
There in close covert by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look,

What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn, Hide me from day's garish eyc,

Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,

Oft till the star, that rose, at evening bright, While the bee with honied thigh,

Toward Heaven's descent had slop'd his westering That at her flowery work doth sing,

wheel. And the waters murmuring,



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute, It was that fatal and perfidious bark,

100 Temper'd to the oaten flute;

Built in the eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark, Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fawns with cloven heel That sunk so low that sacred head of thine. From the glad sound would not be absent long; Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow, And old Damætas lov’d to hear our song.

His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge, But, О the heavy change, now thou art gone, Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge Now thou art gone, and never must return! Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe. Thee, shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves “ Ah! who hath reft” (quoth he) “my dearest With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown,

pledge ?" And all their echoes, mourn :

40 Last came, and last did go, The willows, and the hazel copses green,

The pilot of the Galilean lake; Shall now no more be seen

Two massy keys he bore of metals twain, 110 Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays. (The golden opes, the iron shuts amain,) As killing as the canker to the rose,

He shook his miter'd locks, and stern bespake: Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,

“ How well could I have spared for thee, young Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear,

swain, When first the white-thorn blows;

Enow of such, as for their bellies' sake Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds' ear.

Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold? * Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless Of other care they little reckoning make, dcep

Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast, C Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas? 51 And shove away the worthy bidden guest; . For neither were ye playing on the steep,

Blind mouths ! that scarce themselves know how to Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie,

hold Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,

A sheep-hook, or have learn'd aught else the least Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream : That to the faithful herdman's art belongs ! 121 Ay me! I fondly dream!

What recks it them? What need they? They Had ye been there. for what could that have

are sped; done?

And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore, Grate on their serannel pipes of wretched straw; The Muse herself, for her enchanting son,

The hungry shoep look up, and are not fed, Whom universal Nature did lament,

60 But, swoln with wind and the rank mist they When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,

His gory visage down the stream was sent, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread :
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore? Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Alas! what boots it with incessant care

Daily devours apace, and nothing sed :
To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade, But that two-handed engine at the door 130
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?

Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more. Were it not better done, as others use,

Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,

That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse, Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair ?

And call the vales, and bid them hither cast Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise Their bells, and flowerets of a thousand hues. (That last infirmity of noble mind)

71 | Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use To scorn delights and live laborious days;

Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks, But the fair guerdion when we hope to find, On whose fresh lap the swart-star sparely looks; And think to burst out into sudden blaze,

Throw hither all your quaint enamell’d eyes, Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears, That on the green turf suck the honied showers, And slits the thin-spun life.“ But not the praise,” And purple all the ground with vernal flowers. Phæbus replied, and touch'd my trembling cars ; Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,

142 “ Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil, The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine, Nor in the glistering foil

The white pink, and the pansy freak’d with jet,
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies : The glowing violet,
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes, The musk-rose, and the well-attired wood-bine,
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; 81 With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,

And every flower that sad embroidery wears :
Of so much fame in Heaven expect thy meed." Bid Amaranthus all his beauty shed,
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honour'd flood, And daffadillies fill their cups with tears, 150
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocal reeds ! | To strew the laureat herse where Lycid lies.
That strain I heard was of a higher mood :

For, so to interpose a little ease, But now my oat proceeds,

Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise ; And listens to the herald of the sea

Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas That came in Neptune's plea ;

90 Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurl'd,
He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds, Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain ? Where thou, perhaps, under the whelming tide,
And question'd every gust of rugged wings Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
That blows from off each beaked promontory:

Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied,
They knew not of his story;

Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,

160 And sage Hippotades their answer brings,

Where the great vision of the guarded mount That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd; Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold; The air was calm, and on the level brine

Look homeward, angel, now, and melt with ruth: Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd.

And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.


« IndietroContinua »