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TO THE LADY MARGARET LEY.
DAUGHTER to that good earl, once President
Kill'd with report that old man eloquent.
So well your words his noble virtues praise,
ON THE DETRACTION WHICH FOLLOWED UPON
A BOOK was writ of late call'd "Tetrachordon,"
Stand spelling false, while one might walk to Mile-
Those rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek,
When thou taugh'st Cambridge, and king Edward, Greek.
SONNET V.-1. Daughter, &c. She was 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. The Lady Margaret was married to Captain Hobson of the Isle of Wight.-NEWTON. 8. Kill'd with report, &c. When the news of the victory gained by Philip of Macedon over the Athenians, at Charonea, (338 B. C.) reached Athens, the orator Isocrates, then in a very advanced age, was so affected by it, that he immediately expired.
SONNET VI.-Milton wrote this Sonnet in sport.-TopD.
1 Tetrachordon. This was one of Mil
ton's books published in consequence of his divorce from his first wife. The word signifies, Expositions of the Four chief places in Scripture which mention marriages or nullities in marriage.
9. Colkitto, &c. These are Scottish names of an ill sound. Collitto and Macdonnel are one and the same person, a brave officer on the royal side who served under Montrose. The Macdonnels of that family are styled Mac Collcittok, that is, descendants of lame Colin. Galasp is a Scottish writer against the Independents.-T. WARTON,
12. Sir John Cheek, or Che'e, was the first professor of Greek in the University of Cambridge, and was afterwards one of the tutors of Edward VI. See his biography,
ON THE SAME.
I DID but prompt the age to quit their clogs
When straight a barbarous noise environs me
As when those hinds that were transform'd to frogs
TO MR. H. LAWES, ON THE PUBLISHING HIS
HARRY, whose tuneful and well-measured song
That with smooth air couldst humour best our tongue.
and a specimen of his English style in the "Compendium of English Literature." SONNET VII.-As the preceding Sonnet is evidently of a ludicrous, so the present is of a more contemptuous cast.
5. As when those hinds, &c. The fable of the Lycian clowns changed into frogs is related by Ovid, Met. vi. Fab. iv. And the poet in saying "Which after held the sun and moon in fee," intimates the good hopes which he had of himself. and his expectations of making a considerable figure in the world.-NEWTON.
SONNET VIII.-For a notice of Henry Lawes, see page 417, note to line 84.
4. Committing is a Latinism, and conveys with it the idea of offending against quantity and harmony.
13 Than his Casella. Dante, on his arrival in Purgatory, sees a vessel approaching the shore, freighted with souls under the conduct of an angel, to be cleansed from their sins, and made fit for Paradise: when they are disembarked the poet recognises in the crowd his old friend Casella, the musician. The interview is strikingly imagined, and, in the course of an affectionate dialogue, the poet requests a soothing air; and Casella sings, with the most ravishing sweetness, Dante's second "Canzone." By milder shades our author means, shades comparatively much less horrible than those which Dante describes in the "Inferno."-T. WARTON.
ON THE RELIGIOUS MEMORY OF MRS. CATHARINE THOMSON,
MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND, DECEASED DEC. 16, 1646.
WHEN Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,
Of death, call'd life; which us from life doth sever.
TO THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX.
(For what can war but endless war still breed?)
SONNET IX.-I find in the accounts of Milton's life. that when he was first made Latin secretary, he ledged at one Thomson's, next door to the Bull-head Tavern at Charing Cross. This Mrs. Thomson was in all probability one of that family.NEWTON.
6. Nor in the grave, &c.; that is, were not forgotten at her death.
7. Golden rod: perhaps from the golden reed in the Apocalypse.-J. WARTON, SONNET X.-This Sonnet is generally and properly admired as powerful, majestic, and historically valuable: it has a loftiness of sentiment and tone becoming the bold and enlightened bard.BRYDGES.
4. Daunt remotest kings; who dreaded the example of England, that their monarchies would be turned into republics. -T. WARTON.
5. Virtue, in the sense of the Latin virtus, valour.
8. Her broken league; because the English Parliament held that the Scotch had broken their Covenant, by Hamilton's march into England.-HUED, In falcony, to imp a feather in the hawk's wing, is to add a new piece to a mutilated stump: from the Saxon impan, "to ingraft.”—T. WARTON.
10. For what can war, &c. When will the world learn and act upon this noble and truthful line,that the sword can never
TO THE LORD GENERAL CROMWELL.
CROMWELL, Our chief of men, who through a cloud
To peace and truth thy glorious way hast plough'd,
Hast rear'd God's trophies, and his work pursued;
Yet much remains
To conquer still; Peace hath her victories
TO SIR HENRY VANE THE YOUNGER.
VANE, young in years, but in sage counsel old,
Than whom a better senator ne'er held
The helm of Rome, when gowns, not arms, repell'd
Whether to settle peace, or to unfold
The drift of hollow states hard to be spell'd;
In all her equipage: besides to know
Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
Both spiritual power and civil, what each means,
What severs each, tnou hast learn'd, which few have done:
The bounds of either sword to thee we owe:
establish justice, and that to settle dis- |
SONNET XI-This is the most nervous of all his Sonnets: the images and expressions are for the most part dignified, grand, and poetical.-BRYDGES.
5. Crowned Fortune. His malignity to kings aided his imagination in the expres sion of this sublime sentiment.-HURD.
7. Darwen, or Derwen, is a small river near Preston, in Lancashire, where Cromwell routed the Scotch army under Duke Hamilton. August. 1648. The battles of Dunbar and Worcester are too well known to be particularized; both fought on the memorable 3d of September, the one in 1650, and the other in 1651,-NEWTON.
fully illustrated in the wonderful discoveries of modern science!
SONNET XII.-Sir Henry Vane the younger was the chief of the Independents, and therefore Milton's friend. He was the contriver of the solemn league and covenant, and was an eccentric character in an age of eccentric characters. He was beheaded in 1662. Milton alludes to the execution of Vane and other regicides, after the Restoration, and in general to the sufferings of his friends, on that event, in a speech of the Chorus on Sain son's degradation,-"Samson Agonistes," line 687. This Sonnet seems to have been written in behalf of the Independ ents, against the Presbyterian hierarchy. -T. WARTON.
10. Peace hath her victories, &c. What 6. Hellow states. Peace with the hollow an admirable sentiment, and how truth-states of Holland.-WARBURTON.
ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEMONT.
AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyr'd blood and ashes sow
ON HIS BLINDNESS.
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He, returning, chide;
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask: but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies;-"God doth not need
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
One of them is to the Duke of Savoy. See "Prose Works," ii. 183, seq. 437.439. Milton's mind, busied with this affecting subject, here broke forth in a strain of poetry, where his feelings were not fettered by ceremony or formality. The Protestants availed themselves of an opportunity of exposing the horrors of popery, by publishing many sets of prints of this unparalleled scene of religious butchery, which operated like Fox's "Book of Martyrs."-T. WARTON.
SONNET XIII.-In 1655, the Duke of Savoy determined to compel his reformed subjects in the valleys of Piedmont to embrace popery, or quit their country. All who remained and refused to be converted, with their wives and children, suffered a most barbarous massacre. Those who escaped fied into the mountains, from whence they sent agents into England to Cromwell, for relief. He instantly commanded a general fast, and promoted a national contribution, in which near £40,000 were collected. The persecution was suspended, the duke recalled his army, and the surviving inhabitants of the Piedmontese valleys were reinstated in their cottages and the peaceable exercise of their religion. On this business, there are several state-let- 3. And that one talent, &c. He here ters in Cromwell's name, written by Mil-speaks with allusion to the parable of the
14. Babylonian woe: Antichrist.
SONNET XIV.-The Sonnet "On his Blindness," is to my taste next in interest to that "On arriving at his Twenty-third year." The sentiments and expressions are in all respects Miltonic.