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TO MR. LAWRENCE. LAWRENCE, of virtuous father virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
The lily and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun. What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Of Attick taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touch'd, or artful voice Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air ?
He who of those delights can judge, and spare To interpose them oft, is not unwise.
TO CYRIACK SKINNER. CYRIACK, whose grandsire, on the royal bench
Of British Themis, with no mean applause Pronounced, and in his volumes taught, our laws, Which others at their bar so often wrench; To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench
In mirth, that, after, no repenting draws;
Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause, And what the Swede intends, and what the French. To measure life learn thou betimes, and know
Toward solid good what leads the nearest way;
For other things mild Heaven a time ordains, And disapproves that care, though wise in show,
That with superfluous burden loads the day, And, when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.
talents, Matt. xxv. And he speaks with he and the author by the fire helped to great modesty of himself, as if he had waste many a sullen day. It is entitled, not five, or two, but only one talent. “Of our Communion and Warre with NEWTON.
Angels," &c. I suppose him also the 14. Stand and wait. My own opinion same who printed "A Vindication of the is, that this is the noblest of Milton's Scriptures and Christian Orclinances."Sonnets.-BRIDGES.
TODD. SONNET XV.-The “ virtuous father," SOXNET XVI.-Cyriack Skinner was Henry Lawrence, was member for llero one of the principal members of Har. fordshire in the Little Parliament which rington's political club. Wood suys, that began in 1063, and was active in settling he was an ingenious young gentleman, the protectorate of Cromwell. The fa and scholar to John Milton. mily appears to have been sented not far 8. And what the Swede intends. Charles from Milton's neighbourhood in Buck Gustavus. King of Sweden, was at this inghamshire.-T. WARTOX. This Henry time waring war with Poland; and the Lawrence, the “ virtuous son," is the French with the Spaniards in the Nether author of a work suited to Milton's taste, lands. on the subject of which I make no doubt
ar to John young con
TO THE SAME.
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer
The conscience, friend, to have lost them overplied 10
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask
ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Purification in the old Law did save,
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint;-
Her face was veil'd; yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined
But, 0, as to embrace me she inclined,
SONNET XVII.-8. Of heart or hope, upon the Faerie Queene," (sce “ComOne of Milton's characteristics was a sin-pendium of English Literature," p. 151,) gular fortitude of mind, arising from a begins thus, consciousness of superior abilities, and a Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay; oon viction that his cause was just.-T. and here, perhaps, the idea of a Sonnet WARTON.
in the form of a vision was suggested to 10. To have lost them, &c. When he | Milton. This Sonnet was written about was employed to answer Salmasius, one the year 1656, on the death of his second of his eyes was almost gone, and the wife, Catharine, the daughter of Captain physicians predicted the loss of both, if Woodcock, of Hackney. She died in he proceeled. But he says, in anywer to child-bed of a daughter, within a year Du Moulin, “I did not long balance after their marriage. Milton had now whether my duty should be preferred to been long totally blind: so that this my eyes." What a noble sentiment; and might have been one of his day-ireams. how encouraging such lines from the --T. WARTOX. grentest of all men as well as the greatest 2. Alcestis. This refers to the Alcestis of all poets, to those who are labouring of Euripides, in which Hercules (Jone's in the cause of Liberty and llumanity! great son) brings back to Admetus, from
SONNET XVIII.-1. Methought, &c. Rathe realms of Pluto, his wife Alcestis, wbo leigh's elegant Sonnet, called “ A Vision had resolveu to die to save her husband.
MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.
There is no doubt that the prima stamina of the bard's divine epics are exhibited in this poem; but it has several peculiarities, which distinguish it from the poet's other compositions: it is more truly lyrical; the stanza is beautifully constructed; and there is a solemnity, a grandeur, and a swell of verse, which is magical. The images are magnificent, avd they have this superiority of excellence; that none of them are merely descriptive, but have a mixture of intellectuality and spirituality.
Some one has said that Milton had no ear for the harmony of versification; this Hymn proves that his ear was perfect. Spenser's Alexandrines are fine; Milton's are more like the deepest swell of the organ.
When it is recollected that this piece was produced by the author at the age of twenty-one, all deep thinkers of fancy and sensibility must pore upon it with delighted wonder. The vigour, the grandeur, the imaginativeness of the conception; the force and naturity of language; the bound, the gathering strength, the thundering roll of the metre; the largeness of the views; the extent of the learning; the solemn and awful tones; the enthusiasm, and a certain spell in the epithets, which puts the reader into a state of mysterious excitement, may be better felt than described.
I venture to pronounce this poem far superior to the “L'Allegro" and “Il Penseroso," though the popular taste may not concur with me: it is much deeper; much more original; and of a nobler cast of materials. The two latter poems are mainly descriptive of the inanimate beauties of creation: it is the grand purpose of poetry to embody invisible spirits; to give shape and form to the ideal; to bring out into palpable lines and colours the intellectual world; to associate with that which is material that which is purely spiritual; to travel into air, and open upon the fancy other creations. Fancy is but one faculty of the mind; it is a mirror, of whose impressions the transfer upon paper by the medium of language is a single operation.
Milton, before he could write the Hymn, must have already exercised and enriched all his faculties with vast and successful culture. He had travelled in those dim regions, into which young minds scarcely ever venture; and he had carried a guarded lamp with him, so as to see all around him, before and behind; yet not so peering and reckless as to destroy the religious awe. The due position of the lights and shades was never infringed upon.
SIR EGERTON BRYDGES.
ON THE MORNING
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
IIath took no print of the approaching light,
See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
And join thy voice unto the angel quire,
25 THE HYMN.
* I cannot doubt that this hymn was the congenial pr lude of that holy and inspired imagination which produced the *Paradise Lost," nearly forty years after wards.-BRYGES. Be it remembered that this sublime Hyann was written in his twenty first year, probably as a college exercise.
5. Sages, the Hebrew prophets.
28. Touch'd with hallowed fire, 18. vi. 23. The slur-leil seisarus, Matt. ii. 1, 2. | 6.7.
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathise:
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; And, waving wide her myrtle wand, She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
No war, or battle's sound,
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
45. To crase, used actively.
with which it was done, as it were with 52. She strikesa peilce. This is a pecu- one stroke. liar phraseology, showing the rapidity 56. The hooked chariot, &c. Nothing