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sial tracts will ever be esteemed, by the wise and the good, as among the most precious treasures which our language contains. My object in this letter is simply to give you a few short extracts as specimens of his style, hoping that you will study his prose works, for yourselves, as you have opportunity. I would especially recommend to you a book that I have gone carefully through three times myself: namely, “ John Milton; A Biography, by Cyrus R. Edmunds." It is published by the Anti-State Church Association in the “Library for the Times.” It contains a very excellent digest of Milton's prose works, and many of the most remarkable passages from them. The first extract that I shall give you is on
THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION. “When I call to mind at last after so many dark ages, wherein the huge evershadowing train of error had almost swept all the stars out of the firmament of the church ; how the bright and blissful Reformation (by Divine power) struck through the black and settled night of ignorance and AntiChristian tyranny, methinks a sovereign and reviving joy must needs rush into the bosom of him that reads or hears ; and the sweet odour of the returning Gospel imbathe his soul with the fragrancy of heaven. There was the sacred Bible sought out of the dusty corners where profane falsehood and neglect had thrown it, the schools opened, Divine and human learning raked out of the embers of forgotten tongues, the princes and cities trooping apace to the newerected banner of salvation; the martyrs with the unresisted might of weakness, shaking the powers of darkness, and scorning the fiery rage of the old red dragon.”
My next quotation gives us Milton's opinion of
THE APOCALYPSE. “ The Apocalypse of St. John is the majestic image of a high and stately tragedy, shutting up and intermingling her solemn scenes and acts with a seven-fold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies.”
I shall now present you with a beautiful and very characteristic passage in which Milton portrays THE CONDITION OF ENGLAND UNDER THE OPPRESSION OF
“O, Sir, if we could but see the shape of oar dear mother England, as poets are wont to give a personal form to what they please, how would she appear, think ye, but in mourning weed, with ashes upon her head, and tears abundantly flowing from her eyes, to behold so many of her children exposed at once, and thrust from things of dearest necessity, because their conscience could not assent to things which the bishops thought indifferent? What more binding than conscience? What more free than indifferency? Cruel, then, must that indifferency needs be that shall violate the strict necessity of conscience; merciless and in human that free choice and liberty, that shall break asunder the bands of religion !"
As a contrast to this mournful picture, I shall present you with another from the same pen, in which Milton is portraying
ENGLAND STRUGGLING FOR FREEDOM. . “ Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks; methinks I see her as an eagle renewing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the mid-day beam; purging and unscaling her long abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance; while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about, amazed at what she means, and in their envious gabble would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms.”
Milton's prose works abound with passages vieing in origin and eloquence with these. They are also full of wisdom, full of learning, and full of piety and a large hearted patriotism as well as vigour and eloquence. I wish I had space to quote largely from them. But I have not. I shall close with an extract from one of his sublime Invocations breathed forth when he was only a young man. Perhaps a sublimer prayer exists not in our language.
(To be concluded in our next.).
MILTON'S VERSES ON HIS BLINDNDSS. WE regret that “ Milton's Verses on his Blindness," inserted last month, contain three errors, which we wish our readers to correct as follows. In the 3rd line, ist verse, for mind put kind; in the 3rd line, 7th verse, for hand put land; in the 3rd line of the 10th verse for streams put strains. These errors were in the printed copy sent to us, and inadvertently escaped detection until it was too late to correct them.
A PRAYER FOR GRACE TO SERVE GOD.
Thee may I know, and serve, and love ;
Nor ever from thy precepts rove.
To join with them in scenes of vice,
So shall they then in vain entice.
From vain and sinful pleasures far ;
And ever in thy favour share.
My portion, my inheritance-
In dangers near, my sure defence.
Thine own loved sheep in pastures green;
Through this wide wilderness of sin.
Day after day, till life shall cease ;
an ancient historian, says, “There was no city under the sun so adorned with many and stately monuments of gold, silver, and ivory, and multitudes of colossi and obelisks cut out of one entire stone. Rameses the Great adorned the city. Thebes was built on the banks of the river Nile. It probably was the residence of Pharoah, the king of Egypt, by whom the children of Israel were held in bondage. Cambyses, king of Persia, pillaged the city about twenty-five years before the birth of Christ. Where this city once stood in all its grandeur there are many architectural and sculptured remains of its magnificence. There are also some groups of habitations, which constitute four villages; two of which are on each side of the river. Luxor and Karnak are on the east side, and Goornoo and Medeenet Haboo on the west side. Luxor is the place of the greatest | importance; but it is only a very poor place. Some of its inhabitants profess to be Christians.
Many travellers have described the ruins of this city as affording undoubted evidence of former surprising grandeur. The remains of palaces, temples, places of sepulture, obelisks, and colossal statues, excite great wonder. Upon these remains many historical events are recorded, by carved representation; and engraved hi-e-ro-glyph-ics or emblem-atic characters. Several of the facts recorded in the Bible, respecting the Egyptians and the Jews, are confirmed by the records inscribed on the stones composing these monumental remains.
Many of the ancient Egyptian kings were entombed in splendid sepulchres at Thebes. Nearly two thousand years ago, these tombs excited the astonishment of travellers. In these tombs have been found many carved and painted illustrations of the idolatrous services and domestic manners and usages of the ancient Egyptians. It is supposed, that the following words recorded by the prophet Isaiah, allude to such magnificent places of sepulture. “ What hast thou here ? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that groweth an habitation for himself in a rock ? "