On the Lord General Fairfax at the Siege of Colchester

Original Text: 
John Milton, Letters of State Written by Mr. John Milton (London, 1694). [With Edward Phillips' life of Milton.] B-10 702 Fisher Rare Book Library
2    Filling each mouth with envy, or with praise,
3    And all her jealous monarchs with amaze
4    And rumours loud, that daunt remotest kings;
5Thy firm unshak'n virtue ever brings
6    Victory home, though new rebellions raise
9O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand;
10    For what can war but endless war still breed?
11    Till Truth and Right from Violence be freed,
12And Public Faith clear'd from the shameful brand
13    Of Public Fraud. In vain doth Valour bleed
14    While Avarice and Rapine share the land.


1] Sir Thomas Fairfax (1611-1671) was made general of the re-modelled Parliamentary army in 1645 and was in command at Naseby. On the outbreak of the "Second Civil War" or new Royalist rising in 1648, Fairfax laid siege to Colchester, which had been seized for the kind, and after a stubborn defence, captured it, August 28, 1648. It appears that the sonnet was composed after the siege of Colchester had begun, and before the battle of Preston, August 17, the false North being still undefeated when Milton wrote. Back to Line
7] Hydra: the many-headed monster slain by Hercules. Back to Line
8] imp: strengthen by grafting in new feathers. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.369; RPO 1996-2000.