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in all his dealings with nonconforming Protestants, he behaved with conspicuous leniency towards Roman Catholics, and as this leniency was obviously due, not to liberality of opinion or the spirit of tolerance (of which he knew nothing), but to personal preferences, it boded ill for the work of the Reformation. The immense development in the mere externals of public worship which took place under his rule was regarded by the Puritans, to whom all ceremonial formalism was hateful, as a sure sign of his sympathy with the anti-Protestant tendencies which were at work in the land ; even moderate men began to suspect that it was his ultimate design to bring the Church of England as near as possible to the Church of Rome, perhaps even to unite it to the Church of Rome ; and the known bias of the Court, taken in conjunction with his policy of relentless bigotry, spread a feeling of panic among the masses of the people. By 1637, indeed, Laud had succeeded in alienating the best thought of England, and in fanning into a mighty flame the spirit of antagonism which had been rising rapidly in the Puritan party ever since his appointment to the Archbishopric of Canterbury four years before. Such was the state of things in the English religious world when Milton wrote his "Lycidas"; and it was because he so keenly realised the peril of the hour, because his soul was filled with such indignation and contempt for everything that Laud and his followers stood for and were seeking to achieve, that he poured out his passion in the burning lines in which, for the first time, he openly proclaimed his sympathy with the Puritan cause. Whatever, therefore, may be said about the artistic aspects of the passage in question, its autobiographical interest is unmistakable.


[In this Monody the Author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637. And by occasion, foretells the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their highth.]

Yet once more, O ye Laurels, and once more
Ye Myrtles brown, with ivy never-sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude ;
And, with forced fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year :
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due :
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.
Who would not sing for Lycidas ? He knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his wat’ry bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.

Begin, then, Sisters of the Sacred Well 3 That from beneath the Seat of Jove doth spring ; Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string. Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse : So may some gentle Muse With lucky words favour my destined urn; 1 Lycidas is the name of a shepherd in Virgil's ninth Eclogue. • This explanatory note was added by Milton in the first edition of his collected poems, published in 1645. * The fountain of the Muses on Mount Helicon.


And, as he passes, turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.

For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock by fountain, shade and rill.
Together both, ere the high lawns appeared
Under the op'ning eye-lids of the morn,
We drove afield, and both together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Batt’ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft, till the star, that rose, at ev'ning, bright,
Towards Heav'n's descent had sloped his west'ring

Mean while the rural ditties were not mute,
Tempered to th' oaten flute ;
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long ;
And old Damætasloved to hear our song.

But, oh, the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone, and never must return !
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods and desert caves,
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown,
And all their echoes mourn :
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flow'rs, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the whitethorn blows ;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds' ear.

Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep Closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas ? For neither were ye playing on the steep, * One of the shepherds in Virgil's Eclogues. • "Perhaps Penmaenmawr, overhanging the sea opposite Angle sea" (Keightloy).




Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona 2 high,

Nor yet where Deva 2 spreads her wisard stream:
Ay me! I fondly dream!
Had ye been there—for what could that have

done ?
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,
The Muse herself, for her enchanting son,
Whom universal Nature did lament,
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His gory visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore ?

Alas! What boots it with incessant care
To tend the homely, slighted shepherd's trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse ?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis 3 in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neära's 3 hair ?
Fame is the spur that the clear sp'rit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days ;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury 4 with th' abhorrèd shears,
And slits the thin-spun life. “ But not the praise,”
Phoebus replied, and touched my trembling ears ;
“ Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glist'ring foil
Set off to th' world, nor in broad rumour lies;
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed."

• The River Dee.
* Names of shepherdesses in classical pastoral poetry.
Atropos, not really a Fury, but one of the three Fates.

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O fountain Arethuse, and thou honoured flood, Smooth-sliding Mincius,crowned with vocal reeds. That strain I heard was of a higher mood : But now my oat proceeds,

And listens to the Herald of the Sea
That came in Neptune's plea ;
He asked the waves, and asked the felon winds,
What hard mishap hath doomed this gentle swain ?
And questioned ev'ry gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beakèd promont'ry :
They knew not of his story ;
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon strayed ;
The air was calm, and on the level brine
Sleek Panope with all her sisters played.
It was that fatal and perfidious bark,
Built in th' eclipse, and rigged with curses dark,
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.

Next Camus, rev'rend sire, went footing slow,
His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge,
Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge
Like to that sanguine flow'r inscribed with woe.
Ah! Who hath reft (quoth he) my dearest

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Last came, and last did go,
The pilot of the Galilean Lake ;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain),
He shook his mitered locks, and stern bespake :
“ How well could I have spared for thee, young

Swain, · A fountain near Syracuse, the native place of the pastoral poet Theocritus.

: A river in Northern Italy, near the birthplace of Virgil.
• Oaten pipe, the symbol of pastoral poetry.
• Triton, son of Neptune.

..God of the river Cam, and the personification of Cambridge University.

6 St. Peter. See Matt. xvi. 19.

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