« السابقةمتابعة »
Quando rugge il gran mondo, e fcocca il tuono,
S'arma di fe, e d'intero diamante, Tanto del forfe, e d'invidia ficuro,
Di timori, e fperanze al popol use
Quanto d'ingegno, e d'alto valor vago,
Sol troverete in tal parte men duro
* On his being arriv'd to the age of 23. How foon hath Time, the fubtle thief of youth,
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth year! My hafting days fly on with full carreer,
But my late fpring no bud or bloffom fhew'th. Perhaps my femblance might deceive the truth, That I to manhood am arriv'd fo near,
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
"wasting youth would prefently "bethink her of, and kill one love "with another, if that were all. "But what delight or what peculiar conceit, may you in charity think, could hold out against the long knowledge of a contrary command from above, and the "terrible seisure of him that hid his "talent? Therefore commit grace "to grace, or nature to nature, "there will be found on the other "way more obvious temptations "to bad, as gain, preferment, am"bition, more winning prefent
ments of good, and more prone "affections of nature to incline and dispose, not counting outward "causes, as expectations and murmurs of friends, fcandals taken, "and fuch like, than the bare love "of notions could refift. So that "if it be that which you suppose, "it had by this been round about "begirt and overmafter'd, whe"ther it had proceeded from vir"tue, vice, or nature in me. Yet "that you may fee that I am fome "time fufpicious of myself, and do "take notice of a certain belated.
"Befides that in fundry other
refpects I must acknowledge me "to profit by you whenever we "meet, you are often to me, and were yesterday especially, as a
good watchman to admonish that "the hours of the night pass on "(for fo I call my life as yet ob"fcure and unferviceable to man"kind) and that the day with me " is at hand, wherein Chrift com"mands all to labor while there is "light: which because I am per"fuaded you do to no other pur"pofe, than out of a true defire
that God fhould be honor'd in "every one, I therefore think my"felf bound, though unafk'd, to " give you account, as oft as oc"cafion
et be it lefs or more, or foon or flow,
It shall be still in ftricteft measure even
To that fame lot, however mean or high,
oward which Time leads me, and the will of
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.
cafion is, of this my tardy mov- "unprofitable fin of curiofity ing, according to the precept of" fhould be able to withhold me, my confcience, which I firmly" whereby a man cuts himself off trúft is not without God. Yet "from all action, and becomes the " now I will not strain for any fet" most helpless, pufillanimous, and "apology, but only refer myfelf" unweapon'd creature in the to what my mind fhall have at "world, the most unfit and unable any time to declare herself at her to do that which all mortals 'moft "beft eafe. But if you think, as afpire to, either to be useful to "you faid, that too much love of his friends, or to offend his enelearning is in fault, and that I mies. Or if it be to be thought "have given up myself to dream" a natural pronenefs, there isˇaaway my years in the arms of "" gainst that a much more potent " ftudious retirement, like Endy-" inclination inbred, which about "mion with the moon as the tale "this time of life folicits moft, the "of Latmus "" defire of house and family of his "that if it were no more but the " goes; yet confider own, to which nothing is esteem"mere love of learning, whether **ed more helpful than the early "it it proceed from a principle bad," entring into credible employgood, or natural, it could not ment, and nothing more hinder"have held out thus long against ing than this affected folitariness. "fo firong oppofition on the other" And though this were enough, "fide of every kind; for if it be yet there is to this another act, if bad, why should not all the fond" not of pure, yet of refin'd nahopes that forward youth and 66 ture no lefs available to diffuade ་་ vanity are fledge with, together prolonged obfcurity, a defire of "with gain, pride, and ambition, "honor and repute and immortal "call me forward more power"fame feated in the breaft of every fully, than a poor regardlefs and true fcholar, which all make
* When the affault was intended to the City.
Captain or Colonel, or Knight
or Knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenseless doors may feife, If deed of honor did thee ever please,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms.
"hafte to by the readieft ways of "how beft to undergo; not taking publishing and divulging con- "thought of being late, fo it give "ceived merits, as well thofe that " advantage to be more fit; for "fhall, as those that never fhall" thofe that were latest loft no"obtain it. Nature therefore "thing, when the master of the "would prefently work the more "prevalent way, if there were nothing but this inferior bent of "herself to restrain her. Laftly "the love of learning, as it is the
pursuit of fomething good, it "would fooner follow the more "excellent and fupreme good "known and presented, and so be
vineyard came to give each one "his hire. And here I am come to " a ftream-head copious enough to "difburden itself like Nilus at fe"ven mouths into an ocean; but then I fhould alfo run into a reciprocal contradiction of ebbing and flowing at once, and do that which I excufe myself for not do66 quickly diverted from the empty ing, preach and not preach. Yet "and fantastic chafe of fhadows" that you may see that I am some"and notions to the folid good" thing fufpicious of myself, and flowing from due and timely "do take notice of a certain be"obedience to that command in "latedness in me, I am the bolder "the Gospel fet out by the terrible " to fend you fome of my nightfeifing of him that hid the talent. "ward thoughts fome while fince, "It is more probable therefore "because they come in not altoge"that not the endless delight of "ther unfitly, made up in a Pefpeculation, but this very confi-"trarchian ftanza, which I told "deration of that great command- “ you of. "ment, does not prefs forward, as "foon as many do, to undergo, "but keeps off with a facred reve
rence and religious advisement
"How foon hath Time &c. "By this I believe you may " repent of having made mention
He can requite thee, for he knows the charms
"at all of this matter, for if I have
Your true and unfeigned friend."
* To this fonnet we have prefixed the title, which the author himself has in the Manufcript. In the Manufcript this fonnet was written by another hand, and had this title On his door when the City expected an affault: but this he scratched out, and wrote with his own hand When the affault was in-' Vo L. II.
tended to the City. The date was alfo added 1642, but blotted out again: and it was in November 1642 that the King marched with his army as near as Brentford, and put the city in great confternation. Milton was then in his 34th year.
3. If deed of honor did thee ever pleafe,] So this verfe is printed the fecond edition in the year 1673. In the first edition of 1645, and in the Manuscript it ftands thus,
If ever deed of honor did thee please.
10. The great Emathian conqueror &c] When Alexander the great took Thebes, and entirely ras'd the reft of the city, he order'd the houfe of Pindar to be preferv'd out of regard to his memory and the ruins of Pindar's house were to be feen at Thebes, in Paufanias's time, who lived under Antoninus the philofopher. See Paufan. Boot. cap. 25. Edit. Kuhnii.