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And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureat wreath. Yet much remains
To conquer still: Peace hath her victories
No less renown'd than War: new foes arise Threat’ning to bind our souls with secular chains :
Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.
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 spell’d;
Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
Both spiritual power and civil, what each means, What severs each, thou hast learn’d, which few
- have done:
Therefore on thy firm hand religion leans
* 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. In the pamphlets of that age he is called Sir Humorous Vanity. He was beheaded in 1662.
ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEDMONT, 1655.
AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose
bones Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold; Ev'n them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worship'd stocks and stones, Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that roll'd Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heav'n. Their martyr'd blood and ashes sow
O’er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundred fold, who having learn’d thy way,
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodg'd 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
Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best: his state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
LAWRENCE, of virtuous father virtuous son, *
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire, Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
The lily and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun. What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touch’d, or artful voice Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?
He who of those delights can judge, and spare To interpose them oft, is not unwise.
The virtuous son was author of a work of our Communion and War with Angels,' printed in 1646. The father was member for Herefordshire, in the little Parliament which began in 1653, and was active in settling the protectorate of Cromwell; by whom he was made president of bis Council.
CYRIAC, whose grandsire, on the royal bench
Of British Themis, with no mean applause Pronounc'd, and in his volumes taught, our laws, Which others at their bar so often wrench; To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench
In mirth that, after, no repenting draws;
Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause, And what the Swede intends, and what the French: To measure life learn thou betimes, and know
Toword solid good what leads the nearest way;
For other things mild heaven a time ordains, And disapproves that care, though wise in show,
That with superfluous burden loads the day, And, when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.
TO THE SAME.
CYRIAC, this three-years-day these eyes, though
To outward view, of blemish or of spot, (clear,
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
* Cyriac Skinner was one of the principal members of Harring. ton's political club. Wood says, that he was an ingenious young gentleman, and scholar to John Milton.'
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
The conscience, Friend, to have lost them over
In liberty's defence, my noble task, [plied
ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.*
METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave, Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescued from death by force, tho' pale and faint. Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Her face was veil'd; yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd So clear, as in no face with more delight:
But O! as to embrace me she inclin'd,
* This sonnet was written about the year 1656, on the death of his second wife, Catharine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, of Hackney, a rigid sectarist. She died in child-bed of a daughter, within a year after their marriage. Milton had now been long totally blind.