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as a witness that I have always lived free and pure from all those crimes with which I am charged, that I have never wronged Claudia nor Pontia, nor any other woman whatsoever. You will not dare, I think, to follow me in these words.' '


Methought I saw my late espoused saint,
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,

Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescu'd from death by force, though pale and faint,
Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old Law did save,

1 Authoris pro se Defensio. Birch, vol. ii. p. 427. I confess that I am thoroughly ashamed of Milton lending himself to write this coarse and tedious tirade against Alexander More. Had anyone

else than our great poet written it, I would not have raked up any portion of it from that deserved oblivion in which it has so long lain. Bohn, in his five-volume edition of Milton's Prose Works, omits it altogether. Still it seemed undesirable, and almost impossible, to leave out the above-quoted passages in constructing and compiling this Biography in his own words and from his own works. The solemn protestation, almost in the very same words, occurs in the Second Defence, and is quoted at page 59 of this work. Alas, for human inconsistency! Alas, for the littleness of all human greatness! Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit. "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?"


And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heav'n without restraint,
Came, vested all in white, pure as her mind :

Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O, as to embrace me she inclin'd,

I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.'

Hail, holy Light! offspring of Heav'n first-born,
Or of th' Eternal co-eternal beam

May I express thee unblam'd? since God is Light,
And never but in unapproached light

Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle didst invest

The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd


1 Sonnet XXIII. On his deceased wife. This was Catharine Woodcock, his second wife, whom he lost within a year after their marriage. With her he was happy, and for this brief space experienced

'that blissful life,

That is betwixt a husband and his wife.'

In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight,

Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to th' Orphean lyre


sung of Chaos and eternal Night,

Taught by the heav'nly muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovereign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene has quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song: but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowry brooks beneath
That wash'd thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget

Those other two equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old.
Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev❜n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;


But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off; and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank

Of Nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou celestial Light

Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from hence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.1

Godlike erect, with native honour clad,
For contemplation he and valour form'd,
For God only.

His fair large front and eye sublime declar'd
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustring, but not beneath his shoulders broad:
Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons.2

Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged

1 Paradise Lost, iii. 1-55.


2 Ibid. iv. 289. Milton was eminently handsome, and wore his hair parted on the top, long and waving, not at all after the Puritan fashion. According to the account of his personal appearance which has come down to us, he must have resembled his own ideal Adam.

To hoarse or mute, though fall'n on evil days,
On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues;
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east: still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.1

Thus I have told thee all my state, and brought
My story to the sum of earthly bliss

Which I enjoy; here passion first I felt;

here only weak

Against the charm of Beauty's powerful glance.

Love refines

The thoughts, and heart enlarges, hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious, is the scale
By which to Heav'nly love thou may'st ascend.

Adam was not deceived

But fondly overcome with female charm.2

1 Paradise Lost, vii. 23-31. Though no longer needing to hide in concealment since the passing of the Act of Indemnity in 1660, Milton was far from considering his position secure.

2 Ibid. viii. 521, 530, 589, and ix. 998. Never was there a more ardent lover- never was anyone more deeply imbued with the spirit of love and amorous delight '-than was our great poet. Married three times in love we cannot say how many times-in London, at Cambridge, in Italy-with Leonora, with Miss Davies, with an unknown face on a Mayday—he speaks here and elsewhere not as a novice but as a master in the divine art, and from the depths of his own bitter and sweet experience.

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