Page images


All thy remaining life should sunshine be; The foolish sports I did on thee bestow,
Behold! the public storm is spent at last,

Make all my art and labor fruitless now;
The sovereign's tost at sea no more,

Where once such fairies dance, no grass doth ever And thou, with all the noble company,

grow. Art got at last to shore. But, whilst thy fellow-voyagers I see

When my new mind had no infusion known, All march'd up to possess the promis'd land, Thou gav'st so deep a tincture of thine own, Thou, still alone, alas! dost gaping stand

That ever since I vainly try Upon the naked beach, upon the barren sand !

To wash away th' inherent dye :

Long work perhaps may spoil thy colors quite, “As a fair morning of the blessed spring,

But never will reduce the native white : After a tedious stormy night,

To all the ports of honor and of gain, Such was the glorious entry of our king;

I often steer my course in vain;
Enriching moisture drop'd on every thing: Thy gale comes cross, and drives me back again.
Plenty he sow'd below, and cast about him light! Thou slack’nest all my nerves of industry,
But then, alas ! to thee alone,

By making them so oft to be
One of old Gideon's miracles was shown; The tinkling strings of thy loose minstrelsy
For every tree and every herb around

Whoever this world's happiness would see,
With pearly dew was crown'd,

Must as entirely cast off thee, And upon all the quicken'd ground

As they who only Heaven desire
The fruitful seed of Heaven did brocding lie,

Do from the world retire.
And nothing but the Muse's fleece was dry. This was my error, this my gross mistake,
It did all other threats surpass,

Myself a demi-votary to make.
When God to his own people said

Thus, with Sapphira and her husband's fate, (The men whom through long wanderings he had led)|(A fault which I, like them, am taught too late,,

That he would give them ev'n a Heaven of For all that I gave up I nothing gain, brass :

And perish for the part which I retain They look'd up to that Heaven in vain, That bounteous Heaven, which God did not re- • Teach me not then, O thou fallacious Muse! strain

The court, and better king, t'accuse : Upon the most unjust to shine and rain

The heaven under which I live is fair,

The fertile soil will a full harvest bear: “The Rachel, for which twice seven years and more Thine, thine is all the barrenness; if thou

Thou didst with faith and labor serve, Mak'st me sit still and sing, when I should plow, And didst (if faith and labor can) deserve, When I but think how many a tedious year Though she contracted was to thee,

Our patient sovereign did attend Given to another thou didst see,

His long misfortunes' fatal end; Given to another, who had store

How cheerfully, and how exempt from fear, of fairer and of richer wives before,

On the Great Sovereign's will he did depend ; And not a Leah left, thy recompense to be! I ought to be accurst, if I refuse Go on; twice seven years more thy fortune try; To wait on his, O thou fallacious Muse! Twice seven years more God in his bounty may Kings have long hands, they say; and, though I be Give thee, to fling away

So distant, they may reach at length to me. Into the court's deceitful lottery :

However, of all the princes, thou But think how likely 'tis that thou, Should'st not reproach rewards for being small or With the dull work of thy unwieldly plow,

slow; Should'st in a hard and barren season thrive, Thou! who rewardest but with popular breath, Should'st even able be to live;

And that too after death."
Thou, to whose share so little bread did fall,
In that miraculous year, when manna rain'd on all."
Thus spake the Muse, and spake it with a smile,

That seem'd at once to pity and revile.
And to her thus, raising his thoughtful head, FIRST-BORN of Chaos, who so fair didst come
The melancholy Cowley said —

From the old Negro's darksome womb! “Ah, wanton foe! dost thou upbraid

Which, when it saw the lovely child, The ills which thou thyself hast made ? The melancholy mass put on kind looks and When in the cradle innocent I lay,

smil'd; Thou, wicked spirit! stolest me away, And my abused soul didst bear

Thou tide of glory, which no rest dost know, Into thy new-found worlds, I know not where,

But ever ebb and ever fluw! Thy golden Indies in the air ;

Thou golden shower of a true Jove! And ever since I strive in vain

Who does in thee descend, and Heaven to Earth My ravish'd freedom to regain ;

make love! Still I rebel, still thou dost reign; Lo! still in verse against thee I complain. Hail, active Nature's watchful life and health There is a sort of stubborn weeds,

Her joy, her ornament, and wealth! Which, if the earth but once, it ever, breeds ;

Hail to thy husband, Heat, and thee! No wholesome herb can near them thrive, Thou the world's beauteous bride, the lusty brideNo useful plant can keep alive :

groom he!

Say, from what golden quivers of the sky The ghosts, and monster-spirits, that did presume Do all thy winged arrows fly?

A body's privilege to assume,
Swiftness and Power by birth are thine:

Vanish again invisibly,
From thy great sire they came, thy sire, the Word And bodies gain again their visibility.

All the world's bravery, that delights our eyes, "Tis, I believe, this archery to show,

Is but thy several liveries; That so much cost in colors thou,

Thou the rich dye on them bestow'st, And skill in painting, dost bestow

Thy nimble pencil paints this landscape as thou Upon thy ancient arms, the gaudy heavenly bow.

go'st. Swift as light thoughts their empty career run,

A crimson garment in the rose thou wear'st; Thy race is finish'd when begun;

A crown of studded gold thou bear'st; Let a post-angel start with thee,

The virgin-lilies, in their white, And thou the goal of Earth shalt reach as soon as he. Are clad but with the lawn of almost naked light. Thou in the Moon's bright chariot, proud and gay, The violet, Spring's little infant, stands Dost thy bright wood of stars survey!

Girt in thy purple swaddling-bands. And all the year dost with thee bring

On the fair tulip thou dost doat; Of thousand flowery lights thine own nocturnal Thou cloth’st it in a gay and party-color'd coat. spring.

With flame condens'd thou do'st thy jewels fix, Thou, Scythian-like, dost round thy lands above And solid colors in it mix : The Sun's gilt tents for ever move,

Flora herself envies to see And still, as thou in pomp dost go,

Flowers fairer than her own, and durable as she The shining pageants of the world attend thy show.

Ah, goddess! would thou could'st thy hand withhold

And be less liberal to gold ! Nor amidst all these triumphs dost thou scorn

Did'st thou less value to it give, The humble glow-worms to adorn,

Of how much care, alas! might'st thou poor man And with those living spangles gild

relieve! (O greatness without pride!) the bushes of the field.

To me the Sun is more delightful far,

And all fair days much fairer are. Night, and her ugly subjects, thou dost fright,

But few, ah! wondrous few, there be, And Sleep, the lazy owl of night;

Who do not gold prefer, 0 goddess ! ev'n to thee Asham'd, and fearful to appear, They screen their horrid shapes with the black Through the soft ways of Heaven, and air, and sca hemisphere.

Which open all their pores to thee,

Like a clear river thou dost glide, With them there hastes, and wildly takes th’alarm, And with thy living stream through the close chan.

nels slide. Of painted dreams a busy swarm:

At the first opening of thine eye
The various clusters break, the antic atoms fly.

But, where firm bodies thy free course oppose,

Gently thy source the land o'erflows; The guilty serpents, and obscener beasts,

Takes there possession, and does make Creep, conscious, to their secret rests :

Of colors mingled light, a thick and standing lake. Nature to thee does reverence pay, Il omens and ill sights removes out of thy way.

But the vast ocean of unbounded day,

In th' empyrean Heaven does stay.

Thy rivers, lakes, and springs, below,
At thy appearance, Grief itself is said
To shake his wings, and rouse his head :

From thence took first their rise, thither at last

must flow. And cloudy Care has often took A gentle beamy smile, reflected from thy look.


At thy appearance, Fear itself grows bold;

Thy sun-shine melts away his cold.
Encouraged at the sight of thee,

HOPE! whose weak being ruin'd is, To the check color comes, and firmness to the Alike, if it succeed, and if it miss; knee.

Whom good or ill does equally confound,

And both the horns of Fate's dilemina wound : Ev'n Lust, the master of a harden'd face,

Vain shadow! which does vanish quite, Blushes, if thou be'st in the place,

Both at full noon and perfect night! To Darkness' curtains he retires ;

The stars have not a possibility In sympathizing night he rolls his smoky fires.

Of blessing thee;

If things then from their end we happy call, When, yoddess! thou lift'st up thy waken'd head, "Tis hope is the most hopeless thing of all.

Out of the morning's purple bed,
Thy quire of birds about thee play,

Hope! thou bold taster of delight, [quite! And all the joyful world salutes the rising day. Who, whilst thou should'st but taste, devour'st i


13 Thou bring'st us an estate, yet leav'st us poor, Fruition more deceitful is By clogging it with legacies before!

Than thou canst be, when thou dost miss;
The joys which we entire should wed, Men leave thee by obtaining, and straight flee
Come deflower'd virgins to our bed;

Some other way again to thee ;
Good fortunes without gain imported be, And that's a pleasant country, without doubt,
Such mighty custom's paid to thee.

To which all soon return that travel out.
For joy, like wine, kept close does better taste ;
If it take air before, its spirits waste.
Hope! Fortune's cheating lottery!

Where for one prize an hundred blanks there be ;

Fond archer, Hope! who tak’st thy aim so far,

That still or short or wide thine arrows are !
Thin, empty cloud, which th' eye deceives

FELIX, qui patriis, &c.
With shapes that our own fancy gives !

Happy the man, who his whole time doth bound
A cloud, which gilt and painted now appears

But must drop presently in tears!

Within th' inclosure of his little ground.
When thy false beams o'er Reason's light prevail, Happy the man, whom the same humble place

(Th' hereditary cottage of his race)
By ignes fatui for north-stars we sail.

From his first rising infancy has known,
Brother of Fear, more gayly clad!

And by degrees sees gently bending down,
The merrier fool o'th' two, yet quite as mad: With natural propension, to that earth
Sire of Repentance ! child of fond Desire !

Which both preserv'd his life, and gave him birth
That blow'st the chymics', and the lovers', fire, Him no false distant lights, by fortune set,
Leading them still insensibly on

Could ever into foolish wanderings get.
By the strange witchcraft of “anon !" He never dangers either saw or fear'd.
By thee the one does changing Nature, through The dreadful storms at sea he never heard.
Her endless labyrinths, pursue ;

He never heard the shrill alarms of war,
And th' other chases woman, whilst she goes Or the worse noises of the lawyers' bar.
More ways and turns than hunted Nature knows. No change of consuls marks to him the year.

The change of seasons is his calendar.
The cold and heat, winter and summer shows,

Autumn by fruits, and spring by flowers, he knows

He measures time by land-marks, and has found
Hore! of all ills that men endure,

For the whole day the dial of his ground.
The only cheap and universal cure!

A neighboring wood, born with himself, he sees,
Thou captive's freedom, and thou sick man's health! And loves his old contemporary trees.
Thou loser's victory, and thou beggar's wealth !

He 'as only heard of near Verona's name,
Thou manna, which from Heaven we eat,

And knows it, like the Indies, but by fame.
To every taste a several meat!

Does with a like concernment notice take
Thou strong retreat! thou sure-entail'd estate,

Of the Red-sea, and of Benacus' lake.
Which nought has power to alienate!

Thus health and strength he to a third age enjoys
Thou pleasant, honest flatterer! for none

And sees a long posterity of boys.
Flatter unhappy men, but thou alone!

About the spacious world let others roam,
Hope! thou first-fruits of happiness!

The voyage, life, is longest made at home.
Thou gentle dawning of a bright success!
Thou good preparative, without which our joy
Does work too strong, and, whilst it cures, destroy !

WELL, then ; I now do plainly see
This busy world and I shall ne'er agree ;
The very honey of all earthly joy

Does of all meats the soonest cloy ;

And they, methinks, deserve my pity,
Who for it can endure the stings,
The crowd, and buzz, and murmurings,

Of this great hive, the city.

Ah, yet, ere I descend to th' grave,
May I a small house and large garden have!
And a few friends, and many books, both true,

Both wise, and both delightful too!

And, since love ne'er will from me flee,
A mistress moderately fair,
And good as guardian-angels are,

Only belov’d, and loving me!

Oh, fountains! when in you shall I
on fields! oh woods! when, when shall I be made

The happy tenant of your shade ?


Who out of Fortune's reach dost stand,

And art a blessing still in hand!
Whilst thee, her earnest-money, we retain,

We certain are to gain,
Whether she her bargain break or else fulfil;
Thou only good, not worse for ending ill!

Brother of Faith! 'twixt whom and thee
The joys of Heaven and Earth divided be!
Though Faith be heir, and have the fixt estate,
Thy portion yet in movables is great.

Happiness itself's all one

In thee, or in possession!
Only the future's thine, the present his !

Thine's the more hard and noble bliss:
Best apprehender of our joys! which hast
So long a reach, and yet canst hold so fast!

Hope! thou sad lovers' only friend !
Thou Way, that may'st dispute it with the End! Myself, eas'd of unpeaceful thoughts, espy ?
For love, I fear, 's a fruit that does delight
The taste itself less than the smell and sight.

[ocr errors]

Here's the spring-head of Pleasure's flood ; Though so exalted she Where all the riches lie, that she

And I so lowly be, Has coin'd and stamp'd for good.

Tell her, such different notes make all thy bar

mony. Pride and ambition here

Hark! how the strings awake : Only in far-fetch'd metaphors appear;

And, though the moving hand approach not near, Here nought but winds can hurtful murmurs scatter, Themselves with awful fear, And nought but Echo flatter.

A kind of numerous trembling make. The gods, when they descended, hither

Now all thy forces try, From Heaven did always choose their way;

Now all thy charms apply, And therefore we may boldly say,

Revenge upon her ear the conquests of her eye.
That 'tis the way too thither.
How happy here should I,

Weak Lyre! thy virtue sure
And one dear she, live, and embracing die! Is useless here, since thou art only found
She, who is all the world, and can exclude

To cure, but not to wound,
In deserts solitude.

And she to wound, but not to cure. I should have then this only fear

Too weak too wilt thou prove Lest men, when they my pleasures see,

My passion to remove, Should hither throng to live like me,

Physic to other ills, thou'rt nourishment to love. And so make a city here.

Sleep, sleep again, my Lyre !
For thou canst never tell my humble tale

In sounds that will prevail ;

Nor gentle thoughts in her inspire:
Awake, awake, my Lyre!

All thy vain mirth lay by, And tell thy silent master's humble tale

Bid thy strings silent lie, In sounds that may prevail ;

Sleep, sleep again, my Lyre; and let thy master Sounds that gentle thoughts inspire :




[ocr errors]

John Milton, a poet of the first rank in eminence, poem, of great elegance. He left Italy by the way was descended from an ancient family, settled at of Geneva, where he contracted an acquaintance Milton, in Oxfordshire. His father, whose deser- with two learned divines, John Diodati and Frederic tion of the Roman Catholic faith was the cause of Spanheim; and he returned through France, having his disinheritance, settled in London as a scrivener, been absent about a year and three months. and marrying a woman of good family, had two On his arrival, Milton found the nation agitated sons and a daughter. John, the eldest son, was by civil and religious disputes, which threatened a born in Bread-street, on December 9, 1608. He crisis; and as he had expressed himself impatient to received the rudiments of learning from a domestic be present on the theatre of contention, it has been tutor, Thomas Young, afterwards chaplain to the thought extraordinary that he did not immediately English merchants at Hamburg, whose merits are place himself in some active station. But his turn gratefully commemorated by his pupil, in a Latin was not military; his fortune precluded a seat in elegy. At a proper age he was sent to St. Paul's parliament; the pulpit he had declined; and for the school, and there began to distinguish himself by bar he had made no preparation. His taste and his intense application to study, as well as by his habits were altogether literary; for the present, poetical talents. In his sixteenth year he was re- therefore, he fixed himself in the metropolis, and moved to Christ's college, Cambridge, where he undertook the education of his sister's two sons, of was admitted a pensioner, under the tuition of Mr. the name of Philips. Soon after, he was applied to W. Chappel.

by several parents to admit their children to the Of his course of studies in the university little is benefit of his tuition. He therefore took a com. known; but it appears, from several exercises pre- modious house in Aldersgate-street, and opened an served in his works, that he had acquired extraor-academy. Disapproving the plan of education in dinary skill in writing Latin verses, which are of a the public schools and universities, he deviated from purer taste than any preceding compositions of the it as widely as possible. He put into the hands kind by English scholars. He took the degrees of his scholars, instead of the common classics, such both of Bachelor and Master of Arts; the latter in Greek and Latin authors as treated on the arts and 1632, when he left Cambridge. He renounced his sciences, and on philosophy; thus expecting to in. original intention of entering the church, for which stil the knowledge of things with that of words. We he has given as a reason, that, “coming to some are not informed of the result of his plan; but it maturity of years, he had perceived what tyranny will appear singular that one who had himself drunk had invaded it;" which denotes a man early habitu- so deeply at the muse's fount, should withhold the ated to think and act for himself.

draught from others. We learn, however, that he perHe now returned to his father, who had retired formed the task of instruction with great assiduity. from business to a residence at Horton, in Buck. Milton did not long suffer himself to lie under inghamshire; and he there passed five years in the the reproach of having neglected the public cause study of the best Roman and Grecian authors, and in his private pursuits; and, in 1641, he publishin the composition of some of his finest iniscella- ed four treatises relative to church government, in neous poems. This was the period of his Allegro which he gave the preponderance to the Presby. and Penseroso, his Comus and Lycidas. That his terian form above the Episcopalian. Resuming the learning and talents had at this time attracted con- same controversy in the following year, he num. siderable notice, appears from an application made bered among his antagonists such men as Bishop to him from the Bridgewater family, which pro- Hall and Archbishop Usher. His father, who had duced his admirable masque of “Comus," perform- been disturbed by the king's troops, now came to ed in 1634, at Ludlow Castle, before the Earl of live with him; and the necessity of a female head Bridgewater, then Lord President of Wales; and of such a house, caused Milton, in 1643, to form a also by his “Arcades," part of an entertainment connexion with the daughter of Richard Powell, presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby, at Esq., a magistrate of Oxfordshire. This was, in Harefield, by some of her family.

several respects, an unhappy marriage; for his fatherIn 1638, he obtained his father's leave to improve in-law was a zealous royalist, and his wife had achimself by foreign travel, and set out for the con- customed herself to the jovial hospitality of that tinent. Passing through France, he proceeded to party. She had not, therefore, passed above a Italy, and spent a considerable time in that seat of month in her husband's house, when, having prothe arts and of literature. At Naples he was kindly cured an invitation from her father, she went to pass received by Manso, Marquis of Villa, who had the summer in his mansion. Milton's invitations long before déserved the gratitude of poets by his for her return were treated with contempt ; upon patronage of Tasso; and, in return for a laudatory which, regarding her conduct as a desertion which listich of Manso, Milton addressed to him a Latin broke the nuptial contract, he determined to punish



« PreviousContinue »