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Milton's Letters of State. These Sonnets were not incorporated in any edition of Milton's Poems till 1713, and were then printed mainly from Phillips's copies. Newton, in 1752, went back to the text of the Sonnets presented in the drafts preserved among the Cambridge MSS. ; and he has been followed by most subsequent editors. For the reasons explained in General Introduction to the Minor Poems (I. p. 108), there can be no doubt that this course is the right one, and that Phillips's copies of 1694 had been vitiated by misrecollection or mistranscription. In the present Sonnet, his copy, besides two glaring errors in pointing, presents the following differences from the Cambridge MS. copy in Milton's own hand :—"And fillsfor fillingin line 2;

" which" for that" valourfor “virtue” in line 5 ; whilefor thoughin line 6; herfor “their” in line 87 acts of war for “endless war” in line 10; injured truthfor truth and rightin line II; be rescued from the brandfor “cleared from the shameful brand" in line 12; "shares for “sharein line 14.

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SONNET XVI.—"a cloud," etc. A recollection, as Newton noted, of Virgil's nubem belli (Æn. X. 809).—crowned Fortune," i.e. the crowned King Charles, and his family.—Darwen stream, with blood of Scots imbrued,i.e. not the Derwent in Derbyshire, as some commentators have imagined, but the Darwen in Lancashire, which falls into the Ribble near Preston. It was in that neighbourhood, and over the ground traversed by the Ribble and its tributaries, that Cromwell fought his famous three days' battle of Preston, Aug. 17-19, 1648, in which he utterly routed the Scottish invading Army under the Duke of Hamilton. The stream, and a bridge over it where there was hard fighting, are mentioned in Cromwell's own letter of Aug. 20, 1648, to Speaker Lenthall, describing the battle; and Mr. Carlyle, in a note to that letter, has given a list of the various tributaries to the Ribble, the Darwen included, in illustration of the range of the battle (Cromwell's Letters : ed. 1857, I. p. 289). As the Darwen is not marked in ordinary maps of Lancashire, commentators have denied the existence of such a Lancashire stream, and supposed that Milton meant the Ribble, but forgot its name and put that of the Derbyshire Derwent instead.

Here again one sees that it is unsafe to doubt Milton's accuracy.

Dunbar field": the famous Battle of Dunbar, fought by Cromwell, Sept. 3, 1650, when he beat the Scottish Army under General David Leslie, and substantially annexed Scotland to the English Commonwealth. Mr. Carlyle's description of the battle in his Cromwell's Letters and Speeches (II. 178-187) is one of the most memorable passages of that work.-—"resounds: the verb in the singular, to distribute it between the three nominatives, one of which is still to come.

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Worcester's laureate wreath: Cromwell's crowning victory of Sept. 3, 1651, “his twice victorious 3rd of September,” when he defeated, at Worcester, the army which Charles II., then just crowned King in Scotland, had brought into England to reinstate him there also. After the battle Charles had to skulk about in disguise till he could escape again to the Continent.—Milton had judiciously selected for mention three of Cromwell's latest and greatest military victories; and the victories of another kind to which he points him in lines 9—14 are victories over the Presbyterian clergy, their intolerance, and their greed. Here, though with especial reference to certain incidents of May 1652 (see Introd. to the Sonnet, I. pp. 223—229), Milton recurs to the strain of his lines On the New Forcers of Conscience. It is noticeable that the present is the only one of Milton's Sonnets that ends in a rhyming couplet (see Gen. Introd. to the Sonnets, I. pp. 201—206).

This is another of the four Sonnets that were misprinted by the early editors of Milton because they were taken from Phillips's copies of 1694, and not from the genuine copies in the Cambridge MSS, (see note to last Sonnet).—In Phillips's copy of the present Sonnet it was mangled by the total omission of one line (line 5), and by inaccuracies in the other lines, as follows :

“Cromwell, our chief of men, that through a crowd
Not of war only, but distractions rude,
Guided by faith and matchless fortitude,
To peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed,
And fought God's battles, and his work pursued,
While Darwent streams, with blood of Scots imbrued,
And Dunbarfield resound thy praises loud
And Worcester's laureate wreath : yet much remains
To conquer still ; Peace hath her victories
No less than those of War : new foes arise,
Threatening to bind our souls in secular chains.

Help us,” etc. Obviously, this copy is a sheer vitiation of the original as we have it in the Cambridge draft. That draft itself, however, presents one interesting correction. Line 9 there stood at first thus :

" And twenty battles more : yet much remains.” The insertion of “ Worcester's laureate wreathfor twenty battles morewas an afterthought.

SONNET XVII.—when gowns, not arms, repelled,etc. : i.e. in that period of Roman History when it was on statesmen, rather than on warriors, that the defence of the Commonwealth rested." The fierce Epirot and the African bold": to wit, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, a formidable enemy of the Romans from B.C. 280 to B.C. 272; and the Carthaginian Hannibal, their great enemy from B.C. 220 to B.C.

182.-"the drift of hollow states." Commentators have supposed here an allusion to the United Dutch Provinces, the relations of which to the English Commonwealth were not very explicit.—“ to know both spiritual power and civil,etc. See Introd. to the Sonnet, I. pp. 229, 230.

This is one of the Sonnets printed in a vitiated form by Phillips in 1694 (see note to Sonnet XV.) Save that in line 1 Phillips's copy substitutes “sage councelsfor sage counsel,that copy corresponds with the Cambridge draft as far as to the end of line 6; after which it proceeds thus :;

“ Then to advise how war may best be upheld,
Mann'd by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
In all her equipage : besides, to know,
Both spiritual and civil, what each means,
What serves each, thou hast learn'd, what few have done.
The bounds of either sword to thee we owe ;
Therefore on thy right hand Religion leans,

And reckons thee in chief her eldest son.” But the Cambridge copy itself, as dictated by Milton, reached its present state after several corrections. For then to advise" in line 7 there had been first dictated “And to advise; for “ Move by’ in line 8 “Move on"; instead of the present lines 10, 11, the following

“What power the Church and what the Civil means

Thou teachest best, which few have ever done,” with a subsequent alteration to

“ Both spiritual power and civil, what each means

Thou has learned well, a praise which few have won " ; and for "firm handin line 13 "right hand.

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SONNET XVIII.—“the bloody Piemontese, that rolled mother with infant down the rocks." In explanation of this Warton refers to the contemporary account of the massacre by Sir W. Morland, where there is a print of this particular piece of cruelty, and a story of an infant found alive at the foot of a rock after three days in its dead mother's arms. -Their martyred blood and ashes sow: an adaptation of the aphorism of Tertullian, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”_" The triple Tyrant": i.e. the Pope, with his three-tiered crown, called " Tricoroniferin Milton's Latin poem In Quintum Novembris, line 55.—“A hundredfoldprinted “ A hunderd foldin edition of 1673.—"the Babylonian woe.The Church of Rome was regarded by the Puritans as the mystical Babylon of the Apocalypse, the doom of which was foretold (Rev. xvii. and xviii.); and Milton in his In Quintum Novembris (line 156) had called the Pope" Antistes Babylonius."

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SONNET XIX.- Ere half my days.For the date of Milton's blindness see Introduction to this Sonnet, I. pp. 231, 232.—"that one talent,etc., Matt. xxv. 14—30. Milton speaks of his eyesight

one talent” he had received.—" thousands: viz. of Angelic beings. SONNET XX.—“Favonius": a poetical synonym for Zephyr, the

, West-wind.—that neither sowed nor spun,Matt. vi. 26—29.spare to interpose them oft: interpreted by Mr. Keightley to mean

spare time to interpose them oft”; but surely rather the opposite“refrain from interposing them oft.” Parcere in Latin with a verb following had this sense of “refraining from," and "spare” in English was used in the same way.

SONNET XXI.- -Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause: i.e. lay aside your mathematical and physical studies (see Introd. to the Sonnet, I. pp. 235-238.—what the Swede intend, and what the French: see Introd. I. p. 235. Most editors print "intends” here; but it is distinctly intendin the edition of 1673. There is a recollection here, as Newton pointed out, of Horace, Od. II. II.

Quid bellicosus Cantaber, et Scythes,
Hirpine Quinti, cogitet, Adria
Divisus objecto, remittas

perhaps also of Od. I. ix. 13, and Eccles. iii. 1.

SONNET XXII.—this three years' day.” See Introd. I. p. 240. “ This day three years ” is the prosaic form, and some have unwarrantably proposed that reading here.—“though clear to outward view," etc. Milton is equally explicit on this point in a passage in his Def. Sec., where he discusses his blindness. His eyes, he says, had totally lost their power of seeing : "ita tamen extrinsecus illesi, ita sine nube clari ac lucidi, ut eorum qui acutissimum cernunt: in hac solum parte, memet invito, simulator sum.Or sun, or moon, or star," etc. Compare Par. Lost, III. 40 et seq., and Sams. Ag. 8o et seq.-"conscience,i.e. “consciousness.”—“to have lost them overplied in Liberty's defence": i.e. in writing his great pamphlet Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, published in 1650, in reply to Salmasius, whose Defensio Regia pro Carolo I. had appeared in 1649. In that pamphlet itself Milton had said that, being in ill-health while he wrote it, he had been "forced to write by piecemeal, and break off almost every hour”; and in its sequel, the Defensio Secunda, published in 1654, or perhaps a year before the present Sonnet was written, he had inserted a more express passage, to the effect that when he had undertaken the reply to Salmasius the sight of one eye was already nearly gone, and he had persevered in his task, from a sense of


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paramount duty, against the positive warnings of physicians that it would accelerate total blindness.—“ my noble task, of which all Europe rings." Only in this case have I adopted a reading from Phillips's printed copy of 1694. In the Cambridge draft of the Sonnet, as dictated by Milton, the word is talks” and not “rings,” and I have no doubt “ talks" is what Milton himself would have printed But the word “rings," substituted by Phillips, probably because the first line of the Sonnet to Fairfax was still echoing in his ear, has so recommended itself by its energy, and has become so identified with the passage by frequent quotation, that no editor since Newton has had the heart to return to “talks." I believe I ought to have had the boldness to do so. “ the world's vain mask.Ps. xxxix. 6, “Surely every man walketh in a vain shew.”

With the exception of "rings” in line 12 (see above), Phillips's deviations from the Cambridge MS. draft of this Sonnet are all for the worse.

lightin line


he substituted " sight; for sight” in line 4 "day"; for “ofat the beginning of line 5

or”; for a jotin line 7 one jot; for “the world's" in line 13 this world's"; and for “better” in line 14 "other.”—In the Cambridge draft itself

, however, there are some corrections. For Heaven's handin line 7 Milton had originally dictated " God's hand; for "bear up andin line 8“ attend to”; and for “Right onward” in line 9 Uphillward.

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SONNET XXIII.-See Introd. to the Sonnet, I. p. 239.—" like Alcestis from the grave, whom Jove's great son,etc. The reference is to the beautiful drama of Alkestis by Euripides, where it is told how the brave god Herakles, Jove's great son, brought back the dead Alkestis from her grave, and restored her to her husband Admetus. The story is accessible now to English readers in the fine transcript of it, with poetic comments, in Mr. Browning's Balaustion.

-Purification in the Old Law”: a reference to the regulations of the Mosaic Law in Levit. xii. .Her face was veiled.See, for the significance of this, Introd. I. pp. 239, 240; but perhaps there is a recollection also of Alkestis as she was brought back to Admetus by Hercules.

“ There is no telling how the hero twitched

The veil off,” says Mr. Browning, re-imagining that scene.

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