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God, build up Christian churches, and lead these wanderers to the fold of Christ.
I frequently preach to many young persons who formerly attended Sabbath-schools in Great Britain ; and a reference to the Sabbath-schools, and to the prayers and tears of parents and relatives at home, make a deep impression on their minds. Many such young persons take care never to hear us preach, but are regardless of their souls' welfare ; some, through their sin and folly, are now buried in Australian graves, who might have been happy and useful at home. Disobedience to parentsintoxicating drinks-Sabbath profanation, and bad company -have brought thousands to an untimely end, and I fear, not a few, to eternal death.
Yours, very affectionately,
LETTERS TO THE YOUNG.
NO. XV.---THE POETRY OF MILTON. MY DEAR YOUNG FRIENDS,— It is with increasing interest and pleasure, that I sit down to write you this Fifteenth Letter. If Uncle Joseph's young friends feel half the interest in reading his epistles, that he feels in preparing them, I am sure that the “Magazine day” will be a very welcome one to them. I have felt special pleasure in preparing my letters on the Poetry of Milton, and I hope my dear young friends will feel anxious to hear a little more on the subject. You will remember that I was pointing out, in my last letter, some of the characteristics of Milton's poetry, when I suddenly stopped short—long as my letter was—for want of more space. I, however, promised to resume the subject. In my last, I spoke of the poetry of Milton as being remarkable for its consecratedness, its erudition, its sustained sublimity, and its beauty. I was giving you some specimens of the beautiful when my space-not my materials failed. I was forced to leave off, not for want of something
more to say, but for want of room. The beauties of Milton are sterling beauties. His genius instinctively rejected everything tawdry. ( Whatever ornaments she wears are of massive gold, not only dazzling to the sight, but capable of standing the severe test of the crucible.” I gave you, in my last letter, several short specimens of the beautiful
“Paradise Lost ;" I wish I had room in this letter to multiply them, but I have not. I must, however, present you with a few extracts from Comus,” a most charming and delightful poem, composed when Milton was about twenty-five years of age. The plot of the Masque of Comus is said to have been suggested by the circumstance of Lady Alice Egerton, the youthful daughter of the Earl of Bridgwater, having, while travelling, been accidentally separated from her companions in the night, and having wandered for some time in a forest by herself. It was presented at Ludlow Castle, then the residence of the Lord President of Wales, and was acted by the Earl of Bridgwater's sons and daughters. It has been pronounced by the most able and fastidious critics, as one of the most excellent poems in any language. Of its exquisite beauty you may judge from the following extracts. Milton represents the lost lady as saying
O thievish night,
Again, she is represented as saying, while groping her way in the dark
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Milton represents Comus as saying, when, amid the darkness, he heard the plaintive voice of the lost lady
mortal mixture of earth's mould
Of darkness, till it smiled ! You will remember, my young friends, that I present you with the above extracts, simply as specimens of poetic beauty.
I took it for a fairy vision
And play i’ the plighted clouds. The brothers, while anxiously searching in the dark and tangled wood for their lost sister, Milton represents as saying
Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair moon,
In double night of darkness and of shades. I will only give you one more short passage illustrative of Milton's power of producing the beautiful. You must study the poem for yourselves. If you do so, your ideas will be vastly enlarged, and your taste both gratified and improved.
At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound
Deny her nature, and be never more
I shall here mention another characteristic of Milton's poetry, namely, its abounding throughout with the most elevated, holy, and divine sentiments. His was one of the loftiest, as well as purest, minds. The usual feature that shines most conspicuously in his life and writings is the rare, but most noble sentiment, of magnanimity. He was, says one,“ A man who, if he had been delegated as the representative of his species to one of the superior worlds, would have suggested a grand idea of the human race, as of beings affluent with moral and intellectual treasure, who were raised and distinguished in the universe as the favourites and heirs of heaven.” From his boyhood he had a most sacred regard for the claims of honour and holiness. He could not stoop to a mean action. Wherever he went, whatever he did, he carried about with him, and infused into his actions and writings, the lofty and noble principles that had become a part of himself-a sort of second nature. It would be an easy matter to fill pages with illustrative extracts pregnant with the loftiest and sublimest moral principles. Take the following from Comus as specimens, and remember they were written by a young man, not 25
Virtue could see to do what virtue would
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself is his own dungeon. The mind that produced such sentiments as these, derived its inspiration from a holy source. Milton's genius was never inspired by the god of wine ; for John Milton was a teetotaller. And the Temperance Society may well be proud of the adherence of England's greatest epic poet to the principles of abstinence from all that can intoxicate. Uncle Joseph wishes all his
friends would imitate John Milton in this respect-be teetotallers. Here, again, is another most noble passage
So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity,
How finely the following lines express Milton's early love of philosophy
How charming is divine philosophy!
Where no crude surfeit reigns. I cannot withhold from you the following elegant and inspiring lines, which Milton puts into the mouth of one of the brothers, who, in Comus, are anxiously in search of their lost sister
Against the threats