Page images


GIOVANE piano, e semplicette amante
Poi che fuggir me stesso in dubbio sono,
Madonna a voi del mio cuor l'humil dono
Farò divoto; io certo a prove tante,
L'hebbi fedele, intrepido, costante,

De pensieri leggiadro, accorto, e buono;
Quando rugge il gran mondo, e scocca il tuono,
S'arma di se, e d' intero diamante :
Tanto del forse, e d' invidia sicuro,
Di timori, e speranze, al popol use,
Quanto d'ingegno, e d'alto valor vago,
E di cetta sonora, e delle muse:

Sol troverete in tal parte men duro,
Ove Amor mise l'insanabil ago.


ON HIS BEING ARRIVED TO THE AGE of 23*. How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, Stol'n on his wing my three and twentieth year! My hasting days fly on with full career,

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th. Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth, That I to manhood am arriv'd so near;

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,

Tow'rd which Time leads me, and the Will of
All is, if I have grace to use it so,

As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.


* Written at Cambridge in 1631, and sent in a letter to a friend, who had importuned Milton to take orders.



CAPTAIN, or Colonel, or Knight in arms,

[seize, Whose chance on these defenceless doors may If deed of honour did thee ever please, Guard them, and him within protect from harms. He can requite thee; for he knows the charms That call Fame on such gentle acts as these, And he can spread thy name o'er lands and seas, Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms. Lift not thy spear against the Muses' bower: The great Emathian conqueror bid spare The house of Pindarus, when temple' and tower Went to the ground; and the repeated air Of sad Electra's poet had the power To save the' Athenian walls from ruin bare.



LADY, that in the prime of earliest youth
Wisely hast shun'd the broad way and the green,
And with those few art eminently seen,
That labour up the hill of heavenly truth;
The better part with Mary and with Ruth
Chosen thou hast; and they that overween,
And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
No anger find in thee, but pity' and ruth.
Thy care is fix'd, and zealously attends

To fill thy odorous lamp with deeds of light,

In 1642; the King's army having arrived at Brentford, and thrown the city of London into great consternation.

And hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure Thou, when the bridegroom with his feastful friends Passes to bliss at the mid hour of night,

Hast gain'd thy entrance, Virgin wise and pure.



DAUGHTER to that good Earl, once President
Of England's Council and her Treasury,
Who liv'd in both, unstain'd with gold or fee,
And left them both, more in himself content,
Till the sad breaking of that Parliament
Broke him, as that dishonest victory
At Charonea, fatal to liberty,

Kill'd with report that old man eloquent.†
Though later born than to have known the days
Wherein your father flourish'd, yet by you,
Madam, methinks I see him living yet;
So well your words his noble virtues praise,
That all both judge you to relate them true,
And to possess them, honour'd Margaret.

The daughter of Sir James Ley, whose singular learning and abilities raised him through all the great posts of the law, till he came to be made Earl of Marlborough, and Lord High Treasurer, and Lord President of the Council to King James L. He died in an advanced age; and Milton attributes his death to the breaking of the Parliament: and it is true that the Parliament was dissolved the 10th of March 1628-9, and he died on the 14th of the same month. Newton. Isocrates, the orator. The Victory was gained by Philip of Macedon over the Athenians,








A BOOK was writ of late call'd Tetrachordon,* And woven close, both matter, form, and style; The subject new: it walk'd the Town awhile, Numbering good intellects; now seldom por❜d on. Cries the stall-reader, 'Bless us! what a word on A title-page is this!' and some in file

Stand spelling false, while one might walk to MileEnd Green. Why is it harder, Sirs, than Gordon, Colkitto, or Macdonnel, or Galasp?† [sleek, Those rugged names to our like mouths grow That would have made Quintilian stare and gasp, Thy age, like ours, O soul of Sir John Cheek,+ Hated not learning worse than toad or asp, When thou taught'st Cambridge, and King Edward, Greek.

This was one of Milton's books, published in consequence of his divorce from his first wife. Tetrachordon signifies Expositions on the four chief places in Scripture which mention marriage, or nullities in marriage. Warton.

+ Milton is here collecting, from his hatred to the Scots, what he thinks Scotish names of an ill sound. Colkitto and Macdonnel, are one and the same person; a brave officer on the royal side, an Irishman of the Antrim family, who served under Montrose. The Macdonalds of that family are styled, by way of distinction, Mac Collcittok, i. e. descendants of lame Colin. Galasp, or George Gillespie, was a Scotish writer against the Independents, and one of the members of the Assembly of Divines. Warton.

The first professor of the Greek tongue in the university of Cambridge, and was afterwards made one of the tutors to Edward VI. See his Life by Strype, or in the Biographia Britannica.


[blocks in formation]



I DID but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty,

When straight a barbarous noise environs me
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs:
As when those hinds that were transform'd to frogs
Rail'd at Latona's twin-born progeny,

Which after held the sun and moon in fee. But this is got by casting pearl to hogs; That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood, And still revolt when truth would set them free. License they mean when they cry Liberty; For who loves that, must first be wise and good: But from that mark how far they rove we see, For all this waste of wealth, and loss of blood.



HARRY, whose tuneful and well-measur'd song
First taught our English music how to span
Words with just note and accent, not to scan
With Midas' ears, committing short and long;
Thy worth and skill exempts thee from the throng,
With praise enough for Envy to look wan;
To after age thou shalt be writ the man,

That with smooth air could humour best our


« PreviousContinue »