Page images

to write a poem on the subject of Adam, the first man By his sympathy with all nature; by the proportion of his powers; by great knowledge, and by religion, he would reascend to the height from which our nature is supposed to have descended. From a just knowledge of what man should be, he described what he was. He beheld him as he walked in Eden. . . And the soul of this divine creature is excellent as his form. The tone of his thought and passion is as healthful, as even, and as vigorous, as befits the new and perfect model of a race of gods.

The perception we have attributed to Milton, of a purer ideal of humanity, modifies his poetic genius. The man is paramount to the poet. His fancy is never transcendent, extravagant; but, as Bacon's imagination was said to be the noblest that ever contented itself to minister to the understanding,' so Milton's ministers to the character. Milton's sublimest song, bursting into heaven with its peals of melodious thunder, is the voice of Milton still. Indeed, throughout his poems, one may see under a thin veil, the opinions, the feelings, even the incidents of the poet's life, still reappearing. The most affecting passages in Paradise Lost are personal allusions; and, when we are fairly in Eden, Adam and Milton are often difficult to be separated. . . The genius and office of Milton were to ascend by the aids of his learning and his religion by an equal perception, that is, of the past and the future to a higher insight and more lively delineation of the heroic life of man. This was his poem; whereof all his indignant pamphlets and all his soaring verses are only single cantos or detached stanzas.


[ocr errors]



THE grand storehouses of enthusiastic and meditative imagination, as contradistinguished from human and dramatic imagination, are the prophetic and lyrical parts of the Holy Scriptures, and the works of Milton; to which I cannot forbear to add those of Spenser, I select these writers in preference to those of ancient Greece and Rome, because the anthropomorphism of the Pagan religion subjected the minds of the greatest poets in those countries too much to the bondage of definite form; from which the Hebrews were preserved by their abhorrence of idolatry. This abhorrence was almost as strong in our great epic Poet, both from circumstances of his life, and from the constitution of his mind. However indued the surface might be with classical literature, he was a Hebrew in soul; and all things tended in him toward the sublime.


MILTON! thou should'st be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee; she is a fen
Of stagnant waters; altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;

And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;

Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea;

Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,

So didst thou travel on life's common way,

In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart

The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

[blocks in formation]

1608, Dec. 9. Born in Lon- 1608. John Smith, True Relation. don.

1609 (æt. 1). The Pilgrims settle in Leyden.

1611 (æt. 3). Authorized Version of the


1616 (æt. 8).

1619 (æt. 11). 1620 (æt. 12). Fathers.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

1629 (æt. 21). On the Morning of Christ's Nativity. 1631 (æt. 23). Sonnet i.

1625, Mar. 27 (æt. 17). Accession of Charles I.

[blocks in formation]

1629, Jan. (æt. 21). Degree 1629 (æt. 21). Dissolution of Parliament.
of B.A.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

1633 (æt. 25). William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury.

[blocks in formation]

1639 (æt. 31). Epitaphium 1639, Aug. (æt. 31). Returns

[blocks in formation]

from Italy.

1636 (æt. 28). Harvard College founded. Providence founded by Roger Wil


1637 (æt. 29). Trial of Hampden. Death of Ben Jonson.

1640 (æt. 32). Removes to 1640, Nov. 3-1660, Mar. 16 (æt. 32-52). London. Cited as a

1643-1645 (æt. 35-37). Di- 1643, May (æt. 35). Marries

vorce Pamphlets.

1644 (æt. 36). Tract on Edu

[blocks in formation]

Mary Powell.

Long Parliament.

1642 (æt. 34). Civil War begins. Battle of Edgehill.

1644, July 2 (æt. 36). Battle of Marston Moor.

[blocks in formation]

1645 (æt. 37). First edition 1645-1647 (æt. 37-39). Keeps 1645, June 14 (æt. 37). Battle of Naseby. of Minor Poems. school in the Barbican.

[blocks in formation]

1646 (æt. 38). Charles surrenders to the Scots.

1647. (æt. 39). Jeremy Taylor, Liberty of

Ap- |1649 (æt. 41), Jan. 30.

1649, Mar. (æt. 41). pointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues (Latin Secretary).

1652 (æt. 44). Becomes blind. M. Movie, j

Charles I.

Execution of

Rump Parliament. Council of State.

1651 (æt. 43). Battle of Worcester.

1653, Dec. 16-1658, Sept. 3 (æt. 46-50).
Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector.

1656 marring Kathrine 1658, Sept. 3 (æt. 50). Death of Oliver

[blocks in formation]


Sept. 3-1659, May 25. Richard Cromwell Lord Protector.

« PreviousContinue »