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O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand,

9 (For what can war, but endless war still breed?)

Till truth and right from violence be freed,
And public faith clear'd from the shameful brand

Of public fraud. In vain doth valour bleed,
While avarice and rapin share the land.

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To the Lord General CROMWELL *.

Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud

Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,

To peace and truth thy glorious way hast plough'd,
And on the neck of crowned fortune proud 5

Hast rear's God's trophies, and his work pursued,
While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,


* The prostitution of Milton's Muse to the celebration of Crom. well, was as inconsistent and unworthy, as that this enemy to kings, to antient magnificence, and to all that is venerable and majestic, should have been buried in the Chapel of Henry the Seventh. But there is great dignity both of sentiment and expression in this Sonnet. Unfortunately, the close is an anticlimax to both. After a long flow of perspicuous and nervous language, the unexpected pause at “Wora cefter's laureat wreath,” is very emphatical, and has a striking effect. 5. And on the neck of crowned fortune proud

Haft rear'd God's trophies, and his work pursued.] These admi. rable verses, not only to the mutilation of the integrity of the stanza, but to the injury of Milton's genius, were reduced to the following meagre contraction, in the printed copies of Philips, Toland, Tonfon, Tickell, and Fenton. And fought God's battles, and his works pursued.




And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureat wreath. Yet much remains To conquer still; peace

hath her victories No less renow'd than war : new foes arise Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains :

Help us to save free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.


9. And Worcefier's laureat wreath.-) This hemistic originally stood,

And twenty battles more. --
Such are often our first thoughts in a fine passage.

14. Of bireling wolves, whoje gospel is their maw.] Hence it appears that this Sonnet was written about May, 1652.

By bireling wolves, he means the presbyterian clergy, who poffeffed the revenues of the parochial benefices on the old constitution, and whose conformity he supposes to be founded altogether on motives of emolument. See Note on LYCIDAS, V. 114. There was now no end of innovation and reformation. In 1649, it was proposed in parliament to abolish Tythes, as Jewish and antichristian, and as they were authorised only by the ceremonial law of Moses, which was abrogated by the gospel. But as the proposal tended to endanger layimpropriations, the notion of their divine Richt was allowed to have some weight, and the business was postponed. This was an ar. gument in which Selden had abused his great learning. Milton's party were of opinion, that as every parish should elect, so it should respectively sustain, its own minister by public contribution. Others proposed to throw the tythes of the whole kingdom into one common itock, and to distribute them according to the fize of the parishes. Some of the Independents urged, that Christ's ministers should have no settled property at all, but be like the apostles who were sent out to preach without faf or forip, without common, necessaries ; to whom Christ said, Lacked ye any thing? A succeslion of miracles was therefore to be worked, to prevent the saints from starving. See Baxter's Life, p. 115. Kennet's Case of IMPROPRIATIONS, P. 268. Walker's SUFFERINGS, p. 36. Thurloe's State Pap. vol. ij. 687.

Milton's praise of Cromwell may be thought inconsistent with that zeal which he profeffed for liberty : for Cromwell's affumption of the Protectorate, even if we allow the lawfulnels of the Rebellion, was palpably a violent usurpation of power over the rights of the nation, and was reprobated even by the republican party. Milton, however, in


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To Sir HenRY VANE the younger.

Vane, young

in years, but in fage counsel old, Than whom a better senator ne'er held

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various parts of the Defensio Secunda, gives excellent admonitions
to Cromwell, and with great spirit, freedom, and eloquence, not to
abufe his new authority. Yet not without an intermixture of the
groffest adulation. I am of opinion, that he is writing a panegyric to
the memory of Cromwell and his deliverance, instead of reflecting
on the recent blessings of the restoration, in a chorus in SAMSON
AGONISTES, v. 1 268.

Oh how comely it is, and how reviving,
To the spirits of just men LONG OPPRESS'D :
When God into the hands of their DELIVERER
To quell the mighty of the earth, th’OPPRESSOR,
The brute, and boisterous force of violent men
Hardy and industrious to support
TYRANNICK power, but raging to pursue
The righteous, and all such as honour TRUTH;
He all their ammunition
And feats of war defeats,
And celestial vigour arm’d,

Their armories and magazines contemns, &c.
1. Vane, young in years, but in lage counsel old, &c.] Sir Henry Vane
the younger was the chief of the independents, and therefore Milo
ton's friend. He was the contriver of the Solemn League and Cove-
nant. He was an eccentric character, in an age of eccentric charac-
ters. In religion the most fantastic of all enthusiasts, and a weak
writer, he was a judicious and sagacious politician. The warmth of
his zeal never misled his public measures. He was a knight-errant in
every thing but affairs of state. The sagacious bishop Burnet in vain
attempted to penetrate the darkness of his creed. He held, that the
devils and the damned would be saved. He believed himself the per-
fon delegated by God, to reign over the saints upon earth for a thou.
sand years. His principles founded a fect called the VANISTS. On
the whole, no single man ever exhibited such a medley of fanaticism
and diffimulation, solid abilities and visionary delusions, good sense
and madness. In the pamphlets of that age he is called fir Humorous
Vanity. He was beheaded in 1662. On the Scaffold, he compared

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The helm of Rome, when gowns not arms re

pellid The fierce Epirot and the African bold, Whether to settle peace, or to unfold


Tower Hill to mount Pisgah, where Moses went to die, in full assurance of being immediately placed at the right hand of Chrift,

Milton alludes to the execution of Vane and other regicides, after the Reitoration, and in general to the sufferings of his friends on that event, in this speech of the Chorus on Samson's degradation, Sams. Agon. v. 687.

Nor only do'st degrade them, or remit
To life obscur'd, which were a fair dismislion;
But throw'lt them lower than thou did it exalt them high,
Unseemly falls in human eye,
Too grievous for the trespass or omission !
Oft leav'st them to the hostile sword
Of heathen and profane, their carcasses
To dogs and fowls a prey, or else captiv'd :
Or to th'unjust tribunals, UNDER CHANGE OF TIMES,

And condemnATION of th'ingrateful MULTITUDE. He then alludes to his own Gituation. See also v. 241. seq. I take this opportunity of observing, that Milton, who envelops much of his own history and of the times in this play, has used the character of Samson for another temporary allegory, in the REASON OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT, B. ii. CONCL. He supposes Samson to be a king, who being disciplined in temperance grows perfect in strength, his illufrious and funny locks being the Laws. While these are undiminished and unfhorn, with the jaw bone of an ass, that is his meanest officer, he defeats thousands of his adversaries. But reclining his head on the lap of Aaitering Prelates, while he sleeps, they cut off these treffes of his Laws and Prerogatives, once his ornament and defence, delivering him over to violent and oppressive counsellors ; who, like the Phililtines, extinguish the eyes of his natural discernment, forcing him to grind in the prison bouse of their infidious designs against his power. “Till he, knowing this prelatical rasor to have bereft him of his “wonted might, nourish again his puifant hair, the golden beams " of Law and Righe: and they iternly look, thunder with ruin

upon these his evil counsellors, but not without great affliction to bimself." PROSE-WORKS, v. i. p. 75.

This Sonnet seems to have been written in behalf of the independents, against the presbyterian hicrarchy.


The drift of hollow states hard to be spell’d,'
Then to advise how war may best upheld

Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold, In all her equipage : besides to know

9 Both spiritual pow'r and civil, what each means, What severs each, thou hast learn’d, which few

have done :
The bounds of either sword to thee we owe :

Therefore on thy firm hand religion leans
In peace, and reckons thée her eldest son.

On the late massacre in PIEMONT *.
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones

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* In 1655, the duke of Savoy determined to compel his reformed subjects in the Vallies of Piedmont, to embrace popery, or quit their country. All who remained and refused to be converted, with their wives and children, suffered a moft barbarous massacre. Those who escaped, fed into the mountains, from whence they fent agents into England to Cromwell for relief. He instantly cominanded a general fast, and promoted a national contribution in which near forty thoufand pounds were collected. The persecution was suspended, the duke recalled his army, and the surviving inhabitants of the Piedmontese Vallies were reinstated in their cottages, and the peaceable exercise of their religion. On this business, there are several state-letters in Cromwell's name written by Milton. One of them is to the Duke of Savoy. See PROSE-WORKS, ii. 183. seq. Milton's mind, bufied 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 horrours of popery, by publishing many lets of prints of this unparalleled scene of religious butchery, which operated like Fox's Book of MARTYRS. Sir William Moreland, Cromwell's for the Vallies of Piedmont at Geneva, published a minute account of this whole transaction, in “ The History of the Valleys of Piemont, &c. Lond. 1658." With numerous cuts, in folio.

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