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O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand,
(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,
CROMWELL, our chief of men, who through a cloud
Not of war only, but detractions rude,
in our old poetry. Spenser, I know not for what reason, Hymne of Heavenly Beautie. To the Lord General Cromwell, Thence gathering plumes of perfect may
perfect May 1652, On the proposals of speculation,
certain ministers at the committee To impe the winges of thy high flying for propagation of the gospel. minde.
* The prostitution of Milton's Fletcher, Purpl. Isl. c. i. 24. Muse to the celebration of Crom-imping their flaggie wings
well, was as inconsistent and unWith thy stolne plumes.
worthy, as that this enemy to Shakespeare, Rich. II. a. ii. s. I.
kings, to ancient magnificence,
and to all that is venerable and Imp out our drooping country's majestic, should have been buried broken wing.
in the Chapel of Henry the Where Mr. Steevens produces Seventh. But there is great other instances. It occurs also dignity both of sentiment and in poets much later than Milton. expression in this Sonnet. UnSee also Reed's Old Pl. vii. 172, fortunately, the close is an anti520. x. 351. T. Warton. climax to both. After a long
13. Of public fraud.] The flow of perspicuous and nervous Presbyterian Committees and language, the unexpected pause Subcommittees. The grievance at “ Worcester's laureat wreath,” so much complained of by Mil. is very emphatical, and has a ton in his History of England. striking effect. See Birch's edition. Public fraud . —who through a cloud &c.] is opposed to public faith, the In the printed copies it stands security given by the parliament thus, to the City-contributions for car
that through a crowd rying on the war. Warburton. Not of war only, but distractions rude:
but a cloud of war is a classical * In the Manuscript was this expression, and we have nubem Inscription, but blotted out again, belli in Virgil, Æn. x. 809.
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'd God's trophies, and his work pursued, While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,
And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureate wreath. Yet much remains
To conquer still; peace hath her victories 10
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
4. To peace and truth] With well known to be particularized, an allusion perhaps to some of both fought on the memorable the silver coins of the Common- 3d of September, the one in wealth, which have this inscrip- 1650, and the other in 1651. tion round the edges, Truth and 9. And Worcester's laureate peace. 1651.
wreath,] It was so corrected, 5. And on the neck of crowned very much for the better, from fortune proud
what was before in the ManuHast rear'd God's trophies, and script,
his work pursued, Instead of these two glorious
And twenty battles more lines there is this single one in 9. I take it, that one of the the printed copies,
essential beauties of the Sonnet And fought God's battles, and his is often to carry the pauses into works pursued :
the middle of the lines. Of this and this defect in the number of our author has given many verses utterly spoils the harmony striking examples; and here we of the stanza.
discern the writer whose ear was 5. —crowned fortune] His ma- tuned to blank verse. T. Warlignity to Kings aided his ima- ton. gination in the expresion of this 12.-secular chains.] The Minsublime sentiment. Hurd. isters moved Cromwell to lend
7. While Darwen stream &c.] the secular arm to suppress The Darwen or Deruen is a sectaries. Warburton. small river near Preston in Lan- 14. Of hireling wolves, whose cashire, mentioned by Camden; gospel is their maw.] Hence it and there Cromwell routed the appears that this Sonnet was Scotch army under Duke Hamile written about May, 1652. ton in August 1648. The battles By hireling wolves he means of Dunbar and Worcester are too the presbyterian clergy, who
Than whom a better senator ne'er held
possessed the revenues of the 1. Vane, young in years, but in parochial benefices on the old sage counsel old, &c.] Sir Henry constitution, and whose con- Vane the younger was the chief formity he supposes to be of the independents, and therefounded altogether on motives fore Milton's friend. He was the of emolument. See note on contriver of the Solemn League Lycidas, v. 114.
and Covenant. He was an eccenMilton's praise of Cromwell tric character, in an age of may be thought inconsistent eccentric characters. In religion with that zeal which he pro- the most fantastic of all enthusifessed for liberty: for Cromwell's asts, and a weak writer, he was assumption of the Protectorate, a judicious and sagacious politieven if we allow the lawfulness cian. The warmth of his zeal of the Rebellion, was palpably a never misled his public measures. violent usurpation of power over He was a knight-errant in every the rights of the nation, and was thing but affairs of state. The reprobated even by the repub- sagacious Bishop Burnet in vain lican party. Milton, however, attempted to penetrate the darkin various parts of the Defensio ness of his creed. He held, that Secunda, gives excellent admoni. the devils and the damned would tions to Cromwell, and with be saved. He believed himself great spirit, freedom, and elo- the person delegated by God, to quence, not to abuse his new reign over the saints upon earth authority. Yet not without an for a thousand years. His prinintermixture of the grossestciples founded a sect called the adulation. See note on Samson Vanists. On the whole, no single Agonistes, v. 1268. T. Warlon. man ever exhibited such a
medley of fanaticism and dis* There is no knowing for simulation, solid abilities and certain when this Sonnet was visionary delusionis, good sense composed; but we follow the and madness. In the pamphlets order wherein they stand and of that age he is called Sir are numbered in Milton's Manu- Humorous Vanity. He was bescript, and probably it was com- headed in 1662. On the Scaffold, posed soon after the foregoing he compared Tower Hill to one to Cromwell, and upon the mount Pisgah, where Moses same occasion of the ministers' went to die, in full assurance of proposals relating, I suppose, to being immediately placed at the their maintenance, which was right hand of Christ. then under consideration.
Milton alludes to the execu
The fierce Epirot and the African bold, Whether to settle peace, or to unfold
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
Both spiritual pow'r and civil, what each means, 10 What severs each, thou hast learn’d, which few have
Therefore on thy firm hand Religion leans
tion of Vane and other regicides, 9. —besides to know &c] In after the Restoration, and in the printed editions this third general to the sufferings of his stanza wants one whole line, and friends on that event, in a gives us another line so much speech of the Chorus on Samson's corrupted as to be utter nondegradation. Sams. Agon. V. sense: 687.
- besides to know See also Ibid. v. 241.
What serves each, thou hast learn'd, This Sonnet seems to have which few have done. been written in behalf of the The Manuscript supplies the independents, against the pres- one, and corrects the other. In byterian hierarchy. T. Warton. the Manuscript it was originally
6. -hollow states.] Peace with thus, the hollow States of Holland. - besides to know Warburton.
What pow'r the Church, and what 7. Then to advise &c.] In the
the Civil means, Manuscript there was at first And
Thou teachest best, which few have
ever done. instead of Then : but afterwards it was corrected as it stands in
Afterwards thus, the printed copies. But in the
besides to know
Both spiritual pow'r and civil, what remainder of these two verses,
each means as they stand in the printed Thou hast learn'd well, a praise copies, the metre is spoiled in which few have won. one, and the sense in the other. At last it was corrected, as we Then to advise how war may be best have caused it to be printed. upheld,
13. —firm hand] In the ManuMann'd by her two main nerves iron script right hand, but altered to and gold.
firm hand; and should have Move by was at first in the Manu- been altered further to firm arm. script Move on her two main &c. Warburton.
XVIII. On the late massacre in Piemont.* AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold;
* Among our author's state- " and to the mountains covered letters there are several in Crom. “ with snow, where some hunwell's name addressed to the “ dreds of families are reduced Duke of Savoy, and other po " to such distress, that it is tentates and states, complaining “ greatly to be feared, they will of this persecution of the Pro- « in a short time ail miserably testants. His letter to the Duke « perish through cold and hunof Savoy begins thus. “ Red. “ger, &c.” These letters are “ ditæ sunt nobis Genevâ &c. dated in May, 1655, and about “ Letters have been sent us from the same time it is probable this “ Geneva, as also from the Dau. Sonnet was composed, which was “ phinate, and many other places added in the edition of 1673. " bordering upon your terri- * Milton's mind, busied with “tories, wherein we are given this affecting subject, here broke “ to understand, that such of forth in a strain of poetry, where * your Royal Highness's sub- his feelings were not fettered by “jects as profess the reformed ceremony or formality. The Pro“ religion, are commanded by testants availed themselves of an “ your edict and by your autho- opportunity of exposing the hor“rity, within three days after rors of popery, by publishing “ the promulgation of your edict, many sets of prints of this un" to depart their native seats and paralleled scene of religious “ habitations, upon pain of capi- butchery, which operated like s tal punishment, and forfeiture Fox's Book of Martyrs. Sir “ of all their fortunes and estates, William Moreland, Cromwell's “ unless they will give security agent for the Valleys of Pied“ to relinquish their religion mont at Geneva, published a “ within twenty days, and em- minute account of this whole “ brace the Roman catholic faith. transaction, in “ The History of “ And that when they applied “ the Valleys of Piemont, &c. " themselves to your Royal " Lond. 1658." With numerous “ Highness in a most suppliant cuts, in folio. “ manner, imploring a revocation Milton, among many other “ of the said edict, and that be- atrocious examples of the papal “ing received into pristine fa- spirit, appeals to this massacre, “ vour, they might be restored in Cromwell's Letter to King " to the liberty granted thein by Charles Gustavus, dat. 1656. “ your predecessors, a part of “ Testes Alpinæ valles misero“ your army fell upon them, “rum cæde ac sanguine redun“ most cruelly slew several, put “ dantes, &c." Pr. W. ii. 454. “ others in chains, and compelled T. Warton. “ the rest to fly into desert places 1. Avenge, O Lord, &c.] Nor