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of incidents, the interposition of dialogue, and all the stratagems that surprise and enchain attention. But of all the borrowers from Homer, Milton is perhaps the least indebted. He was naturally a thinker for himself, confident of his own abilities, and disdainful of help or hindrance; he did not refuse admission to the thoughts or images of his predecessors, but he did not seek them. From his contemporaries he neither courted nor received support; there is in his writings nothing by which the pride of other authors might be gratified, or favor gained ; no exchange of praise nor solicitation of support. His great works were performed under discountenance and in blindness; but difficulties vanished at his touch: he was born for whatever is arduous; and his work is not the greatest of heroic poems, only because it is not the first.
FROM “ THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES.”
Let history tell where rival kings command,
Though cong sundation stands ish Charles
Though confiscation's vultures hover round. . .
On what foundation stands the warrior's pride, How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide: A frame of adamant, a soul of fire, No dangers fright him, and no labors tire; O'er love, o'er fear, extends his wide domain, Unconquered lord of pleasure and of pain. No joys to him pacific scepters yield, — War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field; Behold surrounding kings their powers combine, And one capitulate, and one resign; Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain : “ Think nothing gained,” he cries, “till naught remain On Moscow's walls till Gothic standards fly, And all be mine beneath the polar sky." The march begins in military state, And nations on his eye suspended wait; Stern famine guards the solitary coast, And winter barricades the realms of frost. He comes, — nor want nor cold his course delay : Hide, blushing glory, hide Pultowa's day! The vanquished hero leaves his broken bands, And shows his miseries in distant lands; Condemned a needy supplicant to wait, While ladies interpose, and slaves debate. But did not chance at length her error mend ? Did no subverted empire mark his end ? Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound, Or hostile millions press him to the ground ? His fall was destined to a barren strand, A petty fortress, and a dubious hand; He left the name at which the world grew pale To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
In fool-blown dignity, see Wolsey stand,
Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate :
Speak thou, whose thoughts at humble peace repine,
· · · · · · · · · Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate, Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate? Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise, No cries invoke the mercies of the skies? Inquirer, cease: petitions yet remain, Which Heaven may hear; nor deem religion vain. Still raise for good the supplicating voice, But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice. Safe in His power, whose eyes discern afar The secret ambush of a specious prayer, Implore his aid, in his decisions rest, Secure, whate'er he gives, he gives the best. Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires, And strong devotion to the skies aspires, Pour forth thy fervors for a healthful mind, Obedient passions, and a will resigned: For love, which scarce collective man can fill ; For patience, sovereign o'er transmuted ill; For faith, that, panting for a happier seat, Counts death kind nature's signal of retreat: These goods for man the laws of Heaven ordain, These goods He grants who grants the power to gain; With these celestial wisdom calms the mind, And makes the happiness she does not find.