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While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,
Thus talking, hand in hand alone they pass'd
Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood,
Paradise Lost, IV. 598.
The city which thou seest no other deem
Paradise Regained, IV. 44.
1 Satan, persisting in the temptation of our Lord, shows him imperial Rome in its greatest pomp and splendor, and tells him that he might easily expel the Emperor Tiberius, and take possession of the whole himself, and thus possess the world. Baffled in this, he next points out to him the cele brated seat of ancient learning, Athens, and its celebrated schools of philosophy; pronouncing a highly finished panegyric on the Grecian musicians, poets, orators, and philosophers of the different sects
See there the olive grove of Academe,
Paradise Regained, IV. 23 SAMSON'S LAMENTATION FOR HIS BLINDNESS.
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
In power of others, never in my own; Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse Without all hope of day! O first-created Beam, and thou great Word, “Let there be light, and light was over all;" Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree? The sun to me is dark, And silent as the moon, When she deserts the night, Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. Since light so necessary is to life, And almost life itself, if it be true That light is in the soul, She all in every part; why was this sight To such a tender ball as the eye confined, So obvious and so easy to be quench'd ? And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused, That she might look at will through every pore? Then had I not been thus exiled from light, As in the land of darkness, yet iu light, To live a life half dead, a living death, And buried; but, O yet more miserable! Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave; Buried, yet not exempt, By privilege of death and burial, From worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs; But made hereby obnoxious more To all the miseries of life, Life in captivity Among inhuman foes.
Samson Agonistes, 67.
SONNET ON HIS OWN BLINDNESS. 2 When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent3 which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He, returning, chide;
“ Doth God exact day-labor, light denied ?ui I fondly ask: but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best
1 « Few passages in poetry are so affecting as this; and the tone of the expression is peculiarly Miltonic."--Brydges.
2 " Milton's sonnets are, in easy majesty and severe beauty, unequalled by any other compositions of the kind."- Rev. Alexander Dyce. "of all the sonnets of Milton, I am most inclined to prefer that "On His Blindness.' It has, to my weak taste, such various excellences as I am unequal to praise sufficiently. It breathes doctrines at once so sublime and consolatory, as to gild the gloomy paths of our existence here with a new and singular light."-Brydges.
8 He speaks here with allusion to the parable of the talents, Matt. XXV., and with great modesty of himself, as if he had not five, or two, but only one talent.
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
TO CYRIACK SKINNER.?
Cyriack, this three years day, these eyes, though clear,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
In liberty's defence,3 my noble task,
This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask
TO A VIRTUOUS YOUNG LADY.
Lady, that in the prime of earliest youth
Wisely hast shunn'd the broad way and the green,
And with those few art eminently seen,
Chosen thou hast; and they that overween,
And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
Thy care is fix'd, and zealously attends
And hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure,
Thou, when the Bridegroom with his feastful friends
Hast gain'd thy entrance, Virgin wise and pure.
1 Cyriack Skinner was the son of William Skinner, Esq., a merchant of London. Wood says that "he was an ingenious young gentleman, and a scholar to John Milton."
2“ or heart or hope," &c. "One of Milton's characteristics was a singular fortitude of mind, arising from a consciousness of superior abilities, and a conviction that his cause was just.”- Warton.
3 When Milton had entered upon the labor of writing his " Defence of the People of England," one of his eyes was almost gone, and the physicians predicted the loss of both if he proceeded. But he says, "I did not long balance whether my duty should be preferred to my eyes.” And yet (proh pudor!) this masterly work was, at the Restoration, ordered to be burnt by the common hangman!
4 "The summit of fame is occupied by the poet, but the base of the vast elevation may justly be said to rest on his prose works; and we invite his admirers to descend from the former, and survey the region that lies round about the latter ;-a less explored, but not less magnificent domain.”-Brydges,
“The prose writings of Milton deserve the attention of every man who wishes to become acquainted with the full power of the English language. They abound with passages compared with which the finest declamations of Burke sink into insignificance."--Mucaulay.