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tinued throughout the whole duration of their power: though in 1649 we find Gilbert Mabbot” conscientiously resigning this invidious
* The account of this transaction is preserved by Dr. Birch, and from him I shall transcribe it.
“ Gilbert Mabbot continued in his office till may 22, 1049, when, as Mr. Whitelocke observes, upon his desire, and reasons against licensing of books to be printed, he was discharged of that employment." And we find a particular account of the affair in a weekly paper, printed in 4to, and intitled, “ A perfect diurnall of some passages in parliament, and the daily proceedings of the army under his excellency the lord Fairfax. From Munday may 21 to Munday may 28, 1649. Collected for the satisfaction of such as desire to be truly informed, No 304." In which, under Tuesday may 22, p. 2531, we read as follows: “ Mr. Mabbot hath long desired several members of the house, and lately the councell of state, to move the house, that he might be discharged of licencing books for the future upon the reasons following, viz.
“ I. Because many thousand of scandalous and malignant pamphlets have been published with his name thereunto, as if he had licensed the same (though he never saw them) on purpose (as he conceives) to prejudice him in his reputation amongst the honest party of this nation.
“ II. Because that employment (as he conceives) is unjust and illegall, as to the ends of its first institution, viz. to stop the presse for publishing any thing, that might discover the corruption of church and state in the time of popery, episcopacy, and tyranny, the better to keep the people in ignorance, and carry on their popish, factious, and tyrannical designs, for the enslaving and destruction both of the bodies and souls of all the free people of this nation.
“ III. Because licensing is as great a monopoly as ever was in this nation, in that all men's judgments, reasons, &c. are to be bound up in the licenser's (as to licensing ;) for if the author of any sheete, booke, or treatise, wrote not to please the fancy,
and, indeed, impracticable office, and borrowing the motives and the defence of his conduct from the work, to which we have been attending
We have already noticed that, in the year (1645) succeeding the publication of this piece, our author's controversy on the subject of divorce was brought to a conclusion, and that the re-union of himself and his wife, which subsequently took place, was effected by means as little 'reputable to the lady's relations, as they were honourable to himself. In this year he discovered that the Muse, whom he had for so long a time deserted, was still dear to him. From the
period of his returning to England, the pastoral which he had hung upon the tomb of his friend, Charles Deodati, was the only poem
and come within the compasse of the licenser's judgment, then he is not to receive any stamp of authority for publishing thereof.
“ IV. Because it is lawfull in his judgment) to print any booke, sheete, &c. without licensing, so as the authors and printers do subscribe their true names thereunto, that so they may be liable to answer the contents thereof; and if they offend therein, then to be punished by such lawes, as are or shall be for those cases provided.
" A committee of the councell of state being satisfied with these and other reasons of M. Mabbot concerning licensing, the council of state reports to the house; upon which the house (ordered this day, that the said M. Mabbot should be discharged of licensing books for the future.”
Birch's Life of Milt.
of any length which he had composed. The discharge of his serious duties had not admitted of his indulging in his favourite recreation; and his occupations had been of too stubborn and harsh a nature to blend with the fine visions of imagination, or to -melt into the harmony of poetry. Some sonnets, however, he had occasionally produced; and in the year, now in question, he found so much time to respire, after his domestic and his public contests, as to be able to prepare an edition of all his English, Italian and Latin poems. Of this small volume, which was sent into the world with the author's name, and with a preface by the publisher, Humphrey Moseley, the principal pieces have already been made the subjects of our remark. The novelties, therefore, of this collection, which are chiefly the somets, have now the only claim to our attention.
The sonnet, as is generally known, is altogether of Italian origin; and its structure is ascertained with so mucli rigid precision, as to be insusceptible of any, or only of the most trifling variation. Of the fourteen lines, of which it is to consist, the first eight are to admit one change only of rhyme for their termination; and are to be distributed into two stanzas, of which the first verse
chimes with the last, and the two interme-
the sonnet requires strict unity of subject; but it solicits ornament from variety of thought, on the indispensible condition of a perfect subordination. The sentence may overflow the verse, but must not transgress the stanza. This little poem is impressible with various characters; and, while with Petrarch it is tender and pathetic, with Dante, in equal consistency with its nature, it is elevated and forcible. Peculiarly adapted to the language and the taste of its native Italy, it has been considered, though, in my opinion, without sufficient reason, as insuperably unaccommodated to those of Britain. When
• Milton has not always observed this arrangement of the terminations in the six concluding lines. In his sonnet to Fairfax, he has formed the first four of these lines into a third stanza, of a similar construction with the two preceding ones; and he has made the two last lines to rhyme with the two which immediately go before them. In his sonnet to Cromwell, he has disposed these six verses into a similar stanza, and a couplet with a new rhyme. He seems to have regarded the order of this part of the sonnef as submitted in a great degree to his discretion,
demonstrate that the idea of greatness may be excited independently of the magnitude of size.
The distinguishing qualities of our author's genius are generally known to be élevation and power; and he is certainly never more in his proper employment and station than when he is sporting in the tempest, and hovering in infinite space. Descending, however, into the regions of tenderness and grace, he can contract his giant hands to the braiding of a wreath, or to the fashioning of a gem. If this were not sufficiently attested by his L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, and parts of his Comus and of his great Epic, we might rest our proof of it on the testimony of those little pieces which are now under our notice. His sonnet to the nightingale is sweet; . that on his deceased wife is pathetic, and that to Mr. Lawrence is elegant and pleasing. These short sallies of Milton's poetic power are not all, indeed, equally successful; and a few of them may be acknowledged even to have failed. If we except, however, the eleventh, written evidently as a sportive struggle to bend knotty words into rhyme, we shall not find one of these minor poems not ornamented with beautiful, or not dignified with strong, or not elevated ---ith sublime thoughts. The lines in many