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message only of her father in distress, pours forth true filial tears. And, not enduring either that her own or any other eye should see him in such forlorn condition as his messenger declared, discreetly appoints one of her trusted servants, first to convey him privately toward some good sea town, there to array him, bathe him, cherish him, furnish him with such attendance and state as beseem'd his dignity. That then, as from his first landing, he might send word of his arrival to her husband Aganippus. Which don with all mature and requisite contrivance, Cordeilla, with the king her husband, and all the barony of his realm, who then first had news of his passing the sea, goe out to meet him; and, after all honourable and joyfull entertainment, Aganippus, as to his wives father and his royall guest, surrenders him during his abode there the power and disposal of his whole dominion; permitting his wife Cordeilla to go with an army, and set her father upon his throne. Wherein her piety so prospered, as that she vanquishd her impious sisters with those dukes, and Leir again, as saith the story, three years obtained the crown. To whom, dying, Cordeilla with all regal solemnities gave burial in the town of Leicestre. And, then as right heir succeeding, and her husband dead, rul'd the land five years in peace. Untill Marganus and Cune
dagius, her two sisters' sons, not bearing that a kingdom should be governed by a woman, in the unseasonablest time to raise that quarrel against a woman so worthy, make war against her, depose her, and imprison her; of which impatient, now long unexercised to suffer, she there, as is related, kills herself *."
It would be impossible to preserve the charm of the original in a translation. The narrator renders his style as antique as those of the chronicles whence he draws the recital. I had need reproduce the story of King Lear in the language of Froissart. Milton delighted to wrestle with Shakspeare, as Jacob with the angel.
*The History of Britain, that part especially now called England. From the first traditional beginning continued to the Norman Conquest. Collected out of the ancientest and best authours thereof, by John Milton. London: printed by J. M. for James Allestry, at the Rose and Crown, in St. Paul's Church Yard, M.D.C.L.X.X.
THE POETICAL WORKS OF MILTON.
PLOT OF PARADISE LOST.
THIS was not all. The poetical compositions of Milton were as gigantic as his prose studies. They were not the fantastic visions of fruitful mediocrity, whose verses flow as easily as its words; whether he quitted the lyre for the pen, or the pen for the lyre, Milton, always, in some way, augmented the harvest of posterity. One would think that he had resolved, like certain fathers of the Church, to turn the whole Bible into tragedies. The poet's manuscripts are preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. Among these papers are to be found the titles of thirty-six tragedies, to be taken from the History of England, from Vortigern to Edward the Confessor; and forty-eight to be founded on Holy Writ.
Some notes, beginnings of speeches, songs, and characters, are frequently added to these titles. Among the sacred subjects chosen by Milton, I
remarked that of Athaliah. Milton could not have surpassed Racine; but it would have been curious to see how this manly genius would have conducted the action which has produced the master-piece of our stage.
Could the republican poet have given kings warnings more noble and severe than did our royalist?
Reared far from courts, alas! thou knowest not
Sooner or later they become oppressors.
Milton had also formed the design of translating Homer.
Here are two plans for Paradise Lost, as a tragedy, as they exist in the poet's hand-writing, among the manuscripts of Trinity College.
CHORUS OF ANGELS.