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which are here finely applied, in the ancient voyages of Marco Paolo the Venetian, speaking of the vast and perilous desert of Lop in Asia, · Cernuntur et audiuntur, in eo interdiu, et sæpius noctu, dæmonum variæ illusiones. Unde viatoribus summe cavendum est, ne multum ab invicem seipsos dissocient, aut aliquis a tergo sese diutius impediat. Alioquin, quamprimum propter montes et calles quispiam comitum suorum aspectum perdiderit, non facile ad eos perveniet : nam audiuntur ibi voces dæmonum, qui solitarie incedentes propriis appellant nominibus, voces fingentes illorum quos comitari se putant, ut a recto itinere abductos in perniciem deducant.'—De Regionib. Oriental. 1. 1. C. 44. But there is a mixture from Fletcher's “Faithful Shepherdess,' A. 1. S. i. p. 108. The shepherdess mentions, among other nocturnal terrors in a wood, “Or voices calling me in dead of night.' These fancies from Marco Paolo are adopted in Heylin's Cosmographie,' I am not sure if in any of the three editions printed before • Comus' appeared.”* The song on Echo is more exquisite than any thing of its kind in our language.

“Comus,” says Warton, “is universally allowed to have taken some of its tints from the Tempest."" The following is a beautiful passage:

'Tis most true
That musing meditation most affects
The pensive secrecy of desert cell,
Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds,
And sits as safe as in a senate-house.

* See lib. iii. p. 201., edit. 1652, fol. Sylvestre in Du Bartas, has also the tradition in the text ed. fol. ut supr. p. 274,

On which Warton has the following somewhat singular note :-“ Not many years after this was written, Milton's friends showed that the safety of a senate-house was not inviolable: but when the people turn legislators, what place is safe from the tumults of innovation, and the insults of disobedience?” True — if uncontrolled by king and lords, as they have lately attempted to be. The poet, speaking of chastity, says,

Yea, there, where very desolation dwells,
By grots and caverns shagg’d with horrid shades,
She may pass on with unblench'd majesty,

Be it not done in pride, or in presumption. Dr. Joseph Warton remarks, in his · Essay on Pope,' that poet's imitation of this and other passages of Milton's juvenile poems. « This is the first instance,” adds Thomas Warton, “ of any degree even of the slightest attention being paid to Milton's smaller poems by a writer of note since their first publication. Milton was never mentioned or acknowledged as an English poet till after the appearance of · Paradise Lost;' and long after that time these pieces were totally forgotten and overlooked. It is strange that Pope, by no means of a congenial spirit, should be the first who copied “Comus' or · Il Penseroso. But Pope was a gleaner of the old English poets ; and he was here pilfering from obsolete English poetry, without the least fear or danger of being detected.” At 1. 780 the lady says,

To him that dares
Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words

Against the sun-clad power of chastity,
Fain would I something say, yet to what end ?
Thou hast nor ear, nor soul to apprehend
The sublime notion, and high mystery,
That must be utter'd to unfold the sage
And serious doctrine of virginity;
And thou art worthy that thou shouldst not know
More happiness than this thy present lot.

Upon this passage, also, Warton has the following curious note :

“ By studying the reveries of the Platonic writers, Milton contracted a theory concerning chastity and the purity of love, in the contemplation of which, like other visionaries, he indulged his imagination with ideal refinements, and with pleasing but unmeaning notions of excellence and perfection. Plato's sentimental or metaphysical love, he seems to have applied to the natural love between the sexes. The very philosophical dialogue of the Angel and Adam, in the eighth book of · Paradise Lost,' altogether proceeds on this doctrine. In the "Smectymnuus' he declares his initiation into the mysteries of this immaterial love. Thus from the laureate fraternity of poets, riper years, and the ceaseless round of study and reading, led me to the shady spaces of philosophy; but chiefly to the divine volume of Plato, and his equal Xenophon; where, if I should tell ye what I learned of chastity and love, I mean that which is truly so,' &c. But in the dialogue just mentioned, where Adam asks his celestial guest, “Whether angels are susceptible of love, whether they express their passion by looks

only, or by a mixture of irradiation, by virtual or
immediate contact? our author seems to have over-
leaped the Platonic pale, and to have lost his way
among the solemn conceits of Peter Lombard and
Thomas Aquinas. It is no wonder that the angel
blushed, as well as smiled, at some of these ques-
tions.”
The incomparable poem of Comus'thus ends:-

Mortals, that would follow me,
Love Virtue; she alone is free;
She can teach ye how to climb
Higher than the sphery chime;
Or if Virtue feeble were,

Heaven itself would stoop to her. Thyer says, that “the moral of this poem is very finely summed up in the six concluding lines. The thought contained in the last two might probably be suggested to our author by a passage in the • Table of Cebes,' where Patience and Perseverance are represented stooping and stretching out their hands to help up those who are endeavouring to climb the craggy hill of Virtue, and yet are too feeble to ascend of themselves.”

Mr. Francis Egerton (afterwards the last Earl of Bridgewater) has observed upon this, that, “had this ingenious critic duly reflected on the lofty mind of Milton,

Smit with the love of sacred song, and so often and so sublimely employed on topics of religion, he might readily have found a subject, to which the poet obviously and divinely alludes in these concluding lines, without fetching the thought from the Table of Cebes. In the preceding attack I am convinced Mr. Thyer had no ill intention; but by overlooking so clear and pointed an allusion to a subject calculated to kindle that lively glow in the bosom of every Christian, which the poet intended to excite, and by referring it to an image in a profane author, he may, beside stifling the sublime effect so happily produced, afford a handle to some in these

evil days, who are willing to make the religion of Socrates and Cebes (or that of Nature) supersede the religion of Christ. The moral of this poem is, indeed, very finely summed up in the six concluding lines, in which, to wind up one of the most elegant productions of his genius,

The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling. threw up his last glance to Heaven, in rapt contemplation of that stupendous mystery, whereby He, the lofty theme of Paradise Regained, stooped from above all height, óbowed the Heavens and came down on Earth,' to atone as man for the sins of men, to strengthen feeble Virtue by the influence of his grace, and to teach her to ascend his throne.”

Numerous critics, from Toland to Todd, have given the character of this poem; but Thomas Warton's is by far the best: Johnson, with some good passages, has intermixed much captious objection, and not a little vulgarity. He cannot refrain from a sort of coarse sneer, which affects to be humour.

“ We must not,” says Warton, “read Comus

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