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ministers, who had formerly been the most bitter enemies to Charles, became jealous of the growth of the Independents, and of their ascendency in the Parliament, most tumultuously clamoured against the sentence, and did all in their power to prevent the execution, though they were not angry, so much on account the act itself, as because it was not the act of their party; and when they dared to affirm, that the doctrine of the Protestants, and of all the reformed churches, was abhorrent to such an atrocious proceeding against kings; I thought that it became me to oppose such a glaring falsehood; and accordingly, without any immediate or personal application to Charles, I showed, in an abstract consideration of the question, what might lawfully be done against tyrants; and in support of what I advanced, produced the opinions of the most celebrated divines; while I vehemently inveighed against the egregious ignorance or effrontery of men, who professed better things, and from whom better things might have been expected. That book did not make its appearance till after the death of Charles; and was written rather to reconcile the minds of the people to the event, than to discuss the legitimacy of that particular sentence which concerned the magistrates, and which was already executed. Such were the fruits of my private studies, which I gratuitously presented to the Church and to the State; and for which I was recompensed by nothing but impunity; though the actions themselves procured me peace of conscience, and the approbation of the good; while I exercised that freedom of discussion which I loved. Others, without labour or desert, got possession of honours and emoluments; but no one ever knew me either soliciting anything myself or medium of my friends, ever beheld mein

through the supplicating posture at the doors of the senate, or the levees of the great. I usually kept myself secluded at home, where my own property, part of which had been withheld during the civil commotions, and part of which had been absorbed in the oppressive contributions which I had to sustain, afforded me a scanty subsistence. When I was released from these engagements, and thought that I was about to enjoy an interval of uninterrupted ease, I turned my thoughts to a continued history of my country, from the earliest times to the present period. I had already finished four books, when, after the subversion of the monarchy, and the establishment of a republic, I was surprised by an invitation from the Council of State, who desired my services in the office for foreign affairs. A book appeared soon after, which was ascribed to the king, and contained the most invidious charges against the Parliament. I was ordered to answer it; and opposed the Iconoclast to his Icon. I did not insult over fallen majesty, as is pretended; I only preferred Queen Truth to King Charles. The charge of insult, which I saw that the malevolent would urge, I was at some pains to remove in the beginning of the work; and as often as possible in other places. Salmasius then appeared, to whom they were not, as More says, long in looking about for an opponent, but immediately appointed me, who happened at the time to be present in the Council. .

SELECTIONS FROM THE MINOR POEMS

PARADISE REGAINED, AND

SAMSON AGONISTES
ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY

I

!

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King,
Of wedded maid and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,

That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

II That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable, And that far-beaming blaze of majesty, Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council-table 10 To sit the midst of Trinal Unity, He laid aside, and, here with us to be,

Forsook the Courts of everlasting Day, And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

III

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 untrod,

Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons

bright?

20

IV
See how from far upon the Eastern road
The star-led Wisards haste with odours sweet!
Oh! run; prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessèd feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,

And join thy voice unto the Angel Quire,
From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.

THE HYMN

30

I
It was the winter wild,

While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;

Nature, in awe to him,

Had doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the Sun, her lusty Paramour,

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40

Only with speeches fair

She woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,

And on her naked shame,

Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

III

But he, her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek-eyed Peace: She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding

ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY 47

Down through the turning sphere,

His ready Harbinger, With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; And, waving wide her myrtle wand, She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

50

IV

No war, or battle's sound,

Was heard the world around;
The idle spear and shield were high uphung;

The hooked chariot stood,

Unstained with hostile blood; The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng; And Kings sat still with awful eye, As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by. 00

V

But peaceful was the night

Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began.

The winds, with wonder whist,

Smoothly the waters kissed, Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean, Who now hath quite forgot to rave, While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmèd wave.

70

VI
The stars, with deep amaze,

Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence,

And will not take their flight,

For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warned them

them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and

bid them go.

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