« PreviousContinue »
TO THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX.1
FAIRFAX, whose name in arms through Europe rings,
Filling each mouth with envy or with praise,
And rumours loud, that daunt remotest kings,
Victory home, though new rebellions raise
Her broken league to imp their serpent wings.
(For what can war but endless war still breed ?)
Till truth and right from violence be freed,
Of public fraud. In vain doth valour bleed,
TO THE LORD GENERAL CROMWELL.
CROMWELL, our chief of men, who through a cloud
Not of war only, but detractions rude,
To peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed, And on the neck of crowned fortune proud
Hast reared God's trophies, and his work pursued,
And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud,
To conquer still; peace hath her victories
No less renowned than war: new foes arise
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
1. The three following poems are not, for obvious reasons, found in the editions of Milton published during the reign of Charles II.
? Near Preston, in Lancashire.
TO SIR HENRY VANE THE YOUNGER.
VANE, young in years, but in sage counsel old,
Than whom a better senator ne'er held
The fierce Epirot and the African bold;
The drift of hollow states hard to be spelled,
Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
Both spiritual power and civil, what each means,
What severs each, thou hast learned, which few have The bounds of either sword to thee we owe; [done :
Therefore, on thy firm hand religion leans
ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEMONT.1 AVENGE, O Lord! thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans 1 Probably written in 1655. Newton observes: “This prayer, in behalf of the persecuted Protestants, was not entirely without effect. For Cromwell exerted himself in their favour, and his behaviour in this whole transaction is greatly to his honour, even as it is related by an historian, who was far from being partial to his memory. 'Nor would the Protector be backward in such a work, which might give the world a particular opinion of his piety and zeal for the Protestant religion ; but he proclaimed a solemn fast, and caused large contributions to be gathered for them throughout the kingdom of England and Wales. Nor did he rest here, but sent his agents to the Duke of Savoy, a prince with whom he had no correspondence or commerce, and the next year so engaged the Cardinal of France, and even terrified the Pope himself, without so much as doing any favour to the English The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sot
O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
A hundredfold, who having learned thy way
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;
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best: his state
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
TO MR. LAWRENCE.
LAWRENCE, of virtuous father virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won Roman Catholics, that that Duke thought it necessary to restore all that he had taken from them, and renewed all those privileges they had formerly enjoyed—so great was the terror of his name; nothing being more usual than his saying that his ships in the Mediterranean should visit Civita Vecchia, and the sound of his caunon should be heard in Rome.'-See Echard, vol. 2." 1 An allusion to the parable in Matthew xxv.
Son of the president of Cromwell's council.
From the hard season gaining ? Time will run
On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
The lily and rose, that neither sowed nor spun.
Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touched, or artful voice
He who of those delights can judge, and spare
TO CYRIAC SKINNER.2
CYRIAC, whose grandsire on the royal bench
Of British Themis, with no mean applause
Which others at their bar so often wrench;
In mirth, that after no repenting draws;
And what the Swede intends, and what the French. To measure life learn thou betimes, and know
Toward solid good what leads the nearest way
For other things mild Heaven a time ordains,
That with superfluous burden loads the day,
TO THE SAME.
Cyriac, this three years' day these eyes, though clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot, Bereft of light their seeing have forgot, Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear i.e., Zephyr, the spring western wind. 2 Son of William Skinner, by Bridget, daughter of Lord C oke,and a listinguished member of Harrington's political club.
3 i.e., Charles Gustavus, who was then waging war with Poland. 4 The French were then at war in the Netherlands.
Of sun, or moon, or star throughout the year,
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Of heart or hope; but still bear up, and steer
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied
defence, my noble task, Of which ail Europe talks from side to side. [mask
This thought might lead me through the world's vain Content, though blind, had I no better guide.
ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.
METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Purification in the old law did save;
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight
shined So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But oh! as to embrace me she inclined,