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Horatian Ode, i. e. one in the style of Horace.
17-20. i. e. rivalry and hostility are the same to men of noble mind, and limitation is worse than opposition.
23. Caesar's. Charles I's, whose attempt to establish despotism in England is compared to Julius Caesar's in Rome.
41. Nature, that hateth emptiness. A reference to the exploded fallacy that 'Nature abhors a vacuum'.
42. Allows of penetration less, i.e. even still less than it permits a vacuum does Nature allow one body to enter where already there is another-in reference to the scientific axiom that two bodies cannot simultaneously occupy the same space. 47. Hampton. Hampton Court Palace, where Cromwell tried to come to terms with Charles.
52. Caresbrooke's narrow case.
The castle in the Isle of
Wight to which Charles I fled from Hampton Court.
69. A bleeding Head. When the foundations of the Capitol at Rome were being dug a human head was discovered, and interpreted as a good omen.
TO THE LORD GENERAL CROMWELL
'This Sonnet may well stand as Milton's tribute of respect to Cromwell on the whole, and little wonder he did not dare to print it in the edition of his Poems in 1673' (Masson).
Milton hoped that Cromwell would prevent the formation of a Presbyterian State Church ('secular chains'), about which the Rump was disputing.
CROMWELL, our chief of men, who through a cloud Not of war only, but detractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude
To peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed,
And Worcester's laureate wreath; yet much remains
7. Darwen stream. Preston Fight (1648), when Cromwell destroyed the Duke of Hamilton's army in a three days' battle. 8. Dunbar. Where Cromwell defeated the Scots in 1650, and secured Scotland for the Commonwealth.
9. Worcester's laureate wreath. Cromwell in his dispatch called this victory his 'crowning mercy'.
14. hireling wolves. To Milton's Independent' soul, any State Church-Anglican or Presbyterian—was hateful: New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large.' (See his poem On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament.)
ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEDMONT
The cruel persecution of the Vaudois Protestants by the Prince of Piedmont was stopped by Cromwell's vigorous remonstrance -an interesting proof of the position to which Cromwell had raised England in the councils of Europe. An alliance of the Protestant Powers was the leading idea of his foreign policy.
AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold; Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old, When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones, Forget not in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold Slain by the bloody Piemontese, that rolled Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway 11 The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way, Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
THE FIRE OF LONDON
The Great Fire, lasting for five days, destroyed more than half of the city of London, including St. Paul's Cathedral.
It was not without its good effect. A new London arose, with wider streets and better sanitary arrangements; and from 1666 no more outbreaks of the Plague are recorded.
[For a contemporary account of the Fire, see Pepys' Diary under date September 2-5, 1666, and Evelyn's Diary of the same time.]
SWELLED with our late successes on the foe,
Which France and Holland wanted power to cross, We urge an unseen fate to lay us low
And feed their envious eyes with English loss.
Yet, London, empress of the northern clime,
By an high fate thou greatly didst expire;
As when some dire usurper Heaven provides
Till, fully ripe, his swelling fate breaks out
And hurries him to mighty mischiefs on; His Prince, surprised, at first no ill could doubt, 15 And wants the power to meet it when 'tis known.
Such was the rise of this prodigious fire,
Which, in mean buildings first obscurely bred, From thence did soon to open streets aspire
And straight to palaces and temples spread.
The diligence of trades, and noiseful gain,
In this deep quiet, from what source unknown,
The ghosts of traitors from the Bridge descend
And sing their sabbath notes with feeble voice.
Now streets grow thronged and busy as by day: Some run for buckets to the hallowed quire; Some cut the pipes, and some the engines play, And some, more bold, mount ladders to the fire. 40
In vain; for from the east a Belgian wind
His hostile breath through the dry rafters sent; The flames impelled soon left their foes behind And forward with a wanton fury went.
A key of fire ran all along the shore
And wondering fish in shining waters gaze.
The fire meantime walks in a broader gross;
At first they warm, then scorch, and then they take;
To every nobler portion of the town
The curling billows roll their restless tide; In parties now they straggle up and down, As armies unopposed for prey divide.
One mighty squadron, with a sidewind sped, Through narrow lanes his cumbered fire does haste, By powerful charms of gold and silver led
The Lombard bankers and the Change to waste.
Another backward to the Tower would go
Now day appears; and with the day the King, Whose early care had robbed him of his rest; 70 Far off the cracks of falling houses ring
And shrieks of subjects pierce his tender breast.
Near as he draws, thick harbingers of smoke