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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,
"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 feifure of him. "that hid his talent? Therefore commit 66 grace to grace, or nature to nature, there ❝ will be found on the other way more obvious "temptations to bad, as gain, preferment, "ambition, more winning prefentments of "good, and more prone affections of nature "to incline and difpofe, not counting out"ward 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 fuppofe, it "had by this been round about begirt and "overmaster'd, whether it had proceeded "from virtue, vice, or nature in me. "that you may fee that I am fome time fufpi"cious of myself, and do take notice of a "certain belatedness in me, I am the bolder to "fend you fome of my nightward thoughts "fome while fince, fince they come in fitly, "in a Petrarchian stanza.
"How foon hath Time &c. The latter draught is as follows.
"Besides that in fundry other respects I
muft 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 "pafs on (for fo I call my life as yet ob"fcure and unferviceable to mankind) and that "the day with me is at hand, wherein Chrift "commands all to labor while there is light: "which because I am perfuaded you do to no "other purpose, than out of a true defire that "God fhould be honor'd in every one, I there"fore think myfelf bound, though unask'd, to give you account, as oft as occafion is, "of this my tardy moving, according to "the precept of my confcience, which I
firmly truft is not without God. Yet now "I will not ftrain for any fet apology, but
only refer myself to what my mind shall "have at any time to declare herself at her "best ease. But if you think, as you said,
that too much love of learning is in fault, "and that I have given up myself to dream away my years in the arms of ftudious retirement, like Endymion with the moon. "as the tale of Latmus goes; yet confider that if it were no more but the mere love of learning, whether it proceed from a principle bad, good, or natural, it could not "have held out thus long against fo ftrong " oppofition on the other fide of every kind; "for if it be bad, why should not all the fond
hopes that forward youth and vanity are "fledge with; together with gain, pride, and Uuu
Stoln on his wing my three and twentieth year!
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
It fhall be still in ftricteft measure even
"by the readiest ways of publifhing and di
vulging conceived merits, as well those that "fhall, as those that never shall obtain it. "Nature therefore would prefently work the
"ambition, call me forward more powerfully,
potent inclination inbred, which about this "time of life folicits moft, the defire of houfe "and family of his own, to which nothing is "efteemed more helpful than the early entring "into credible employment, and nothing more "hindering than this affected folitarinefs. And though this were enough, yet there is to this "another act, if not of pure, yet of refin'd "nature, no lefs available to diffuade prolong“ed obscurity, a defire of honor and repute "and immortal fame feated in the breaft of "every true fcholar, which all make hafte to
more prevalent way, if there were nothing "but this inferior bent of herfelf to restrain "her. Laftly the love of learning, as it is "the purfuit of fomething good, it would "fooner follow the more excellent and fu
preme good known and prefented, and fo "be quickly diverted from the empty and "fantaftic chafe of fhadows and notions to the "folid good flowing from due and timely obe"dience to that command in the Gofpel fet
To that fame lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven;
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.
• When the affault was intended to the City.
Captain or Colonel, or Knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenseless doors may feise,
"more fit; for those that were lateft loft no"thing, when the mafter of the vineyard 66 came to give each one his hire. And here "I am come to a stream-head copious enough to difburden itself like Nilus at feven mouths "into an ocean; but then I fhould also run "into a reciprocal contradiction of ebbing and flowing at once, and do that which I excufe "myself for not doing, preach and not preach. "Yet that you may fee that I am something fufpicious of myself, and do take notice of a certain belatedness in me, I am the bolder to fend you fome of my nightward thoughts "fome while fince, because they come in not "altogether unfitly, made up in a Petrarchian "ftanza, which I told you of.
"fon for me to keep me as I am, left having "thus tired you fingly, I fhould deal worse "with a whole congregation, and spoil all the "patience of a parish: for I myfelf do not "only fee my own tedioufnefs, but now grow "offended with it, that has hinder'd me thus long from coming to the laft and beft pe"riod of my letter, and that which must now " chiefly work my pardon, that I am
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 assault : but this he fcratched out, and wrote with his own hand When the affault was intended 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.
If deed of honor did thee ever please,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms. He can requite thee, for he knows the charms That call fame on fuch gentle acts as these,
And he can spread thy name o'er lands and feas, Whatever clime the fun's bright circle warms. Lift not thy fpear against the Muses bow'r: The great Emathian conqueror bid fpare The house of Pindarus, when temple' and tow'r Went to the ground: And the repeated air Of fad Electra's poet had the pow'r To fave th' Athenian walls from ruin bare.
3. If deed of honor did thee ever pleafe,] So this verfe is printed in 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 rest of the city, he order'd the house 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. Boeot. cap. 25. Edit. Kuhnii.
this refers to a paffage in Plutarch's Life of
Electra, Oh unhappy queen,
To a virtuous young Lady.
Lady that in the prime of earliest youth
Wisely haft fhunn'd the broad way and the green, And with those few art eminently seen,
That labor up the hill of heav'nly truth,
Chofen thou haft; and they that overween,
This ftruck them, and gave them occafion to
Αγαμέμνονος ω κορα, ηλυθον Ηλεκτρα
Πανίας επικλασθηναι, και φανηναι χετλιον ερ-
1673. In the first edition of 1645 it was falsly printed- with Mary and the Ruth.
7. And at thy growing virtues] In the Manu fcript it was at firft,
And at thy blooming virtue or profpering.
8. but pity and ruth.] Here Ruth and ruth are made to rime to each other, and it may perhaps offend the niceness of modern ears that the fame word fhould rime to itfelf though in different fenfes : but our old poets were not fo very delicate, and the reader may fee parallel instances in Spenfer's Faery Queen, B. 1. Cant. 6. St. 39. and B. 7. Cant. 6. St. 38.