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 1665; is not the pestilence in London? A sinfull and godless city, with its bloated bishops fawning around the Nell Gwyns of a licentious and profane Defender of the Faith; its swaggering and drunken cavaliers; its ribald jesters; its obscene balladsingers; its loathsome prisons, crowded with Godfearing men and women: is not the measure of its iniquity already filled up? Three years only have passed since the terrible prayer of Vane went upward from the scaffold on Tower Hill: ‘When my blood is shed upon the block, let it, O God, have a voice afterward!’ Audible to thy ear, O bosom friend of the martyr! has that blood cried from earth; and now, how fearfully is it answered! Like the ashes which the Seer of the Hebrews cast towards Heaven, it has returned in boils and blains upon the proud and oppressive city. John Milton, sitting blind in Jewen Street, has heard the toll of the death-bells, and the nightlong rumble of the burial-carts, and the terrible summons, ‘Bring out your dead!’ The Angel of the Plague, in yellow mantle, purple-spotted, walks the streets. Why should he tarry in a doomed city, forsaken of God! Is not the command, even to him, ‘Arise! and flee for thy life’? In some green nook of the quiet country, he may finish the great work which his hands have found to do. He bethinks him of his old friends, the Penningtons, and his young Quaker companion, the patient and gentle Ellwood. ‘Wherefore,’ says the latter, ‘some little time before I went to Aylesbury jail, I was desired by my quondam Master Milton to take an house for him in the ’
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