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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 observation, with extensive view,
Survey mankind, from China to Peru;
Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life;
Then say how hope and fear, desire and hate,
O’erspread with snares the clouded maze of fate,
Where wavering man, betrayed by venturous pride
To tread the dreary paths without a guide,
As treacherous phantoms in the mist delude,
Shuns fancied ills, or chases airy good;
How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,
Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice;
How nations sink, by darling schemes oppressed,
When vengeance listens to the fool's request.
Fate wings with every wish the afflictive dart,
Each gift of nature, and each grace of art;
With fatal heat impetuous courage grows,
With fatal sweetness elocution flows,
Impeachment stops the speaker's powerful breath,
And restless fire precipitates on death. .
Let history tell where rival kings command,
And dubious title shakes the maddened land.
When statutes glean the refuse of the sword,
How much more safe the vassal than the lord !
Low skulks the hind beneath the rage of power,
And leaves the wealthy traitor in the tower;
Untouched his cottage, and his slumbers sound,
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 himn 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.
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,
Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand :
To him the church, the realm, their powers consign;
Through him the rays of regal bounty shine;
Turned by his nod the stream of honor flows,
His smile alone security bestows:
Still to new heights his restless wishes tower;
Claim leads to claim, and power advances power;
Till conquest unresisted ceased to please,
And rights submitted left him none to seize.
At length his sovereign frowns — the train of state,
(“Shall Wolsey's wealth or Wolsey's end be thive?")
Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign to hate :
Where'er he turns he meets a stranger's eye,
His suppliants scorn him, and bis followers fly;
Now drops at once the pride of awful state,
The golden canopy, the glittering plate,
The regal palace, the luxurious board,
The liveried army, and the menial lord.
With age, with cares, with maladies oppressed,
He seeks the refuge of monastic rest.
Grief aids disease, remembered folly stings,
And his last sighs reproach the faith of kings.
Speak thou, whose thoughts at humble peace repine,
Shall Wolsey's wealth, with Wolsey's end, be thine ?
Or liv'st thou now, with safer pride content,
The wisest Justice on the banks of Trent?
For why did Wolsey, near the steeps of fate,
On weak foundations raise the enormous weight !
Why, but to sink beneath misfortune's blow,
With louder ruin to the gulfs below.
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.