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he retired to Chalfont in Buckinghamshire on ac
count of the plague; and to have been seen in
scribed on the glass of a window in that place.
I have seen a copy of it written, apparently in a
Birch's Life of the poet, in Fawkes and Woty's
in this sonnet, there is a scriptural mistake;
which, as Mr. Warton has observed, Milton was not likely to commit. For the Sonnet improperly represents David as punished by pestilence for his adultery with Bathsheba. Mr. Warton, however, adds, that Dr. Birch had been informed by Vertue the engraver, that he had seen a satirical medal, struck upon Charles the Second,
abroad, without any legend, having a correspondent device.—This sonnet, I should add, varies from the construction of the legitimate sonnet, in consisting of only ten lines, instead of fourteen.
Fair mirrour of foul times' whose fragile sheen,
Yea, all to break the pride of lustful kings,
In the coucluding mote on the seventh Sonnet, it has been observed that other Italian sonnets and compositions of Milton, said to be remaining in manuscript at Florence, had been sought for in vain by Mr. Hollis. I think it may not be improper here to observe, that there is a tradition of Milton having fallen in love with a young lady, when he was at Florence; and, as she understood no English, of having written some verses to her in Italian, of which the poem, subjoined to this remark, is said to be the sense. It bas often been printed; as in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1760, p. 148; in Fawkes and Woty's Poetical Calendar, 1763, vol. viii. p. 68; in the Annual Register for 1772, p. 219; and in the third volume of Milton's poems in the Edition of the Poets, 1779. But to the original no reference is given, and even of the translator no mention is made, in any of those volumes. The poem is entitled, A fragment of Milton, from the Italian.
When, in your language, I unskill'd address
Soft Italy's fair critics round me press,
“Why, to our tongue's disgrace, does thy dumb
Then, laughing, they repeat my languidlays-
Do thou, my soul's soft hope, these triflers aw;
Since love from silentlooks can language draw,
on The Morning of
CHRIST’S NATIPTTP 1.
This is the month, and this the happy morn.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty, [table
Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant-God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
To welcome him to this his new abode,
Now while the Heaven, by the Sun's team untred,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squa
See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
The star-led wisards haste with odours sweet:
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd
It was the winter wild,
*This ode, in which the many learned allusions are highly poetical, was probably composed as a college-exercise at Cambridge, our author being now only twenty-one years old. In the edition of 1645, in its title it is said to have been written in 1629.
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight!
He, sovran priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshy tabernacle entered,
His starry front low-rooft beneath the skies:
0, what a mask was there, what a disguise: Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide,
Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethrens'
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
Befriend me, Night, best patroness of grief;
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flatter'd fancy to belief,
That Heavenand Earth are colour'd with my woe;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know :
And letters, where my tears have wash'd, a wan
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirl'd the prophet up at Chebar flood;
Myspirit some transporting cherub feels,
To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood;
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
Or should I thence hurried on viewless wing
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguil'd)
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant
This subject the author finding to be above the years he had, when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, loft it unfinished.
vros the CIRCUMCISION.
Ye flaming powers, and winged warriors bright, That erst with music, and triumphant song, First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear, So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the listening Night;
His infancy to seize!
Will pierce more near his heart,
on The DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT, DYING of A cough'.
O fairest flower, no sooner blown but blasted,
For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach
So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceas'd his care:
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,
Unhous’d thy virgin soul from her fair hiding
Yet art thou notinglorious in thy fate;
But then transform'd him to a purple flower: Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no
* Written in 1625, and first inserted in edi
tion 1673. He was now seventeen, WARTON.
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd,
Birst pair of Sirens, pledges of Heaven's joy,
MARCHIONESs of minchesten',
This rich marble doth inter
* She was the wife of John marquis of winchester, a conspicuous loyalist in the reign of king Charles the first, whose magnificent house or castle of Basing in Hampshire withstood an obstinate siege of two years against the rebels, and when taken was levelled to the ground be. cause in every window was flourished. Agos Loyaute.