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in which * we are told he married his third wife. This would make the “Samson Agonistes’ at least three years prior to the · Paradise Regained;' of which we know he had not thought previous to the summer of 1665.

In that magnificent passage beginning at 1. 667,

God of our fathers ! what is man,
That thou towards him with hand so various,
Or might I say contrarious,
Temper’st thy providence through his short course,
Not evenly, as thou rulest
The angelic orders, and inferior creatures mute,
Irrational and brute ?
Nor do I name of men the common rout,
That wandering loose about,
Grow up and perish, as the summer-fly,
Heads without name, no more remember'd;
But such as thou hast solemnly elected,
With gifts and graces eminently adorn’d,
To some great work, thy glory,
And people's safety, which in part they effect.
Yet towards these thus dignified, thou oft,
Amidst their highth of noon,
Changest thy countenance, and thy hand, with no regard
Of highest favours past
From thee on them, or them to thee of service.

Nor only dost degrade them, or remit
To life obscured, which were a fair dismission;
But throw'st them lower than thou didst exalt them high,
Unseemly falls in human eye,
Too grievous for the trespass or omission;
Oft leavest them to the hostile sword
Of heathen and profane, their carcasses
To dogs and fowls a prey, or else captived ;
Or to the unjust tribunals, under change of times,
And condemnation of the ingrateful multitude.

* Not till 1665.

If these they 'scape, perhaps in poverty .
With sickness and disease thou bow'st them down,
Painful diseases and deforin’d,
In crude old age;
Though not disordinate, yet causeless suffering
The punishment of dissolute days : in fine,
Just or unjust alike seem miserable,

For oft alike both come to evil end ;Bishop Newton says, that, in speaking of the unjust tribunals, Milton reflected on the trials and sufferings of his party after the Restoration; and that when he talks of poverty, this was his own case; he escaped with life, but lived in poverty; and though he was always very sober and temperate, yet he was much afflicted with the gout, and other“ painful diseases in crude old age,”—when he was not yet a very old man.

“ But,” Newton adds, “ Milton was the most heated enthusiast of his time: speaking of Charles the First's murder, in his · Defence of the People of England,' he says, “Quanquam ego hæc divino potius instinctu gesta esse crediderim, quoties memoriâ repeto,'” &c. The poet goes on :

Behold him in this state calamitous, and turn

His labours, for thou canst, to peaceful end. “ These concluding verses,” says Hayley, '“ of this beautiful chorus appear to me particularly affecting, from the persuasion that Milton, in composing them, addressed the last two immediately to Heaven, as a prayer for himself. If the conjecture of this application be just, we may add, that never was the prevalence of a righteous

It is clear, however, that by whatever arguments the poet might reconcile himself to his blindness, there were moments when he felt most bitterly the deprivation: the passages I have cited from “Samson Agonistes' prove this. In his poverty he could not employ a skilful and learned amanuensis, who could take down his expressions with facility : the aid and consolation of books, except at the mercy of others, were shut to him. He grieved for the loss of that outward view of the face of nature in which he had delighted : he could no longer roam alone at his own will amid the woods and forests and green fields : he sat of a sunny morning in his house-porch, enjoying the fresh air; but this was in a suburb of the great city, in a confined garden : the freedom of limb, the exhilaration of boundary exercise, the breasting of the blowing wind, the change of the fresh breeze, which varies with each contending step, were not his !

0, dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon! All was blank, and every footstep was feeble and tottering, and at the mercy of another. We perceive that after a life of such high virtue as he was conscious that he had led, there were bitter hours when he thought this fate hard. As his endowments were sublime, so were his expectations lofty: his temper was naturally scornful; and as he could himself do mighty things, so perhaps he demanded more of others than they could well perform, He had not descended to a miVOL. I.

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feelings at the Restoration. It is the blaze of a mind as gigantic as Samson's form and strength. His imagination is every where on fire both with intellectual and material visions. A vulgar taste in poetry would call the nakedness of his language prosaic: but in the enthusiasm of forceful thought the petty ornaments of language are disregarded. It is in the exaltation of the soul, in belief, in visionary presence, that high poetry consists.

We are bound to contemplate the bard in these lofty moods ;-to think how his spirit rose above his unprosperous and painful situation ;--and with what sublime images, sentiments, and reflections, he soothed himself !-How he glowed when he imagined Samson pulling down destruction on the heads of his foes !~His vigorous and enthusiastic mind roused him to be thus ready to devote himself to the common ruin.

Though now retired, neglected, and subject to many stings of disappointment, I doubt not he was altogether happier than when his mere memory, observation, and judgment were occupied in the coarse conflict of practical affairs. Imagination is more gratifying than memory, and idealism than reality. It is difficult to conceive how so creative a mind could so long bend itself to the servile office of secretaryship : to find correctness of expression in a dead language for, diplomatic communications was but a pedantic employment; and a waste of powers which ought only to have been applied to the highest intellectual exertions.

It is clear, however, that by whatever arguments the poet might reconcile himself to his blindness, there were moments when he felt most bitterly the deprivation: the passages I have cited from Samson Agonistes’ prove this. In his poverty he could not employ a skilful and learned amanuensis, who could take down his expressions with facility : the aid and consolation of books, except at the mercy of others, were shut to him. He grieved for the loss of that outward view of the face of nature in which he had delighted : he could no longer roam alone at his own will amid the woods and forests and green fields : he sat of a sunny morning in his house-porch, enjoying the fresh air; but this was in a suburb of the great city, in a confined garden : the freedom of limb, the exhilaration of boundary exercise, the breasting of the blowing wind, the change of the fresh breeze, which varies with each contending step, were not his !

0, dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon ! All was blank, and every footstep was feeble and tottering, and at the mercy of another. We perceive that after a life of such high virtue as he was conscious that he had led, there were bitter hours when he thought this fate hard. As his endowments were sublime, so were his expectations lofty : his temper was naturally scornful; and as he could himself do mighty things, so perhaps he demanded more of others than they could well perform. He had not descended to a mi

VOL. I.

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