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extensive and more gigantic. The garden of Eden is vastly richer than woods and forests inhabited by dryads, wood-nymphs, and shepherds, and other sylvan crews, spiritual or embodied. Contemplate the intensity of power, which could delineate the creation of the world, the flight of Satan through Chaos, or our Saviour resisting Satan in the wilderness! To arrive at the highest rank of this divine art, requires a upion of all its highest essences : there must be a creation, not only of beauty, but of majesty and profound sensibility, and great intellect and moral wisdom, and grace and grandeur of style, all blended. This the epics, and even the tragedy, have reached : but the Mask does not contain, nor did it require to admit this stupendous combination. It was intended as a sport of mental amusement and refined cheerfulness : no tragedy, nor tale coloured with the darker hues of man's contemplations, was designed. In the gay visions of youthful hope the stronger colours and forms of sublimity and pathos do not come forth : the court at Ludlow was met, not to weep, nor be awfully moved ;-but to smile : they cried, with “ L'Allegro,"
Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee
And Laughter, holding both her sides ! The poet had to accommodate himself to an audience of this character ; yet so as not to shrink from the display of some of his own high gifts : and, 0, with what inimitable brilliance and force he has performed his task! It is true that there is a mixture of grave philosophy in this poem :--but how calm it is !-how dressed with flowers !--how covered with graceful and brilliant imagery! Other feelings of a more sombre kind are awakened by the descriptions of the scenery of nature in the greater poems, except during the period before the serpent's entry into Eden.
There are hours and seasons, when, in the midst of the blackness of our woes, we can dally a little while with our melancholy, our regrets, and our anxieties ;when we are willing to delude ourselves by an escape into Elysian gardens ;- to look upon nothing but the joys of the creation, and to see the scenery of forests, moun. tains, valleys, meadows, and rivers, in all their unshadowed delightfulness ; where echo repeats no sounds but those of joyful music; and gay and untainted beauty walks the woods ; and cheerfulness baunts the mountains and the glades ; and labour lives in the fresh air in competence and content : delusions, indeed, not a little excessive, but innocent and soothing delusions. Fallen man cannot so enjoy this breathing globe of inexhaustible riches and splendour: but poets may so present it to him : and the charms they thus supply to our fearful and dangerous existence, are medicines and gifts which deserve our deep gratitude ; and will not let the memory of the givers be forgotten by posterity. What gift of this kind has our nation had so full of charms and excellence as “ Comus ?”—And here I close, when I recollect how many panegyrists of greater weight than my voice, this perfect composition has already had.
SABRINA, the Nymph.
The chief Persons, who presented, were
The LADY ALICE EGERTON.
The first Scene discorers a u
The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descen
Before the starry threshold of Jove's
But to my task. Neptune, besides
# of bright aerial spirits livi In " Il Penseroso," the spirit of Plato was to be un down from the sphere to which it had been allotted, wł light is “sphered in a radiant cloud,” “Paradise Lost,
b In regions mild, & Alluding probably to Homer's happy seat of the god
c Pinfold. “ Pinfold” is now provincial, and signifies sometim a pound.-T. Warton.
Amongst the enthroned We may read with Fenton, “the enthroned ;" or ra
Amongst the gods enthroned on sa But Shakspeare seems to ascertain the old collocation,
Though you in swearing shake thi Milton, however, when speaking of the inhabitants of hi the class of angels styled throni, seems to have annexe his own, to the word “enthroned.” See " Paradise La
© That opes the palace of E. So Pope, with a little alteration, in one of his Satires
Her priestess Muse forbids the g
1 I would not soil, &c. But, in the “ Paradise Lost," an angel eats with Ad before the fall of our first parent: and as the angel Gabr while yet unpolluted, and in his primeval state of innoc not have soiled the purity of bis ambrosial robes with t corrupted earth, but to assist those distinguished mortal aspire to reach the golden key, which opens the palace «
Of every salt flood and each ebbing stream,
& Of every salt flood.
And in grene waues when the salt floode
h 'Twixt high and nether Jove. So, in Sylvester's “ Du Bart.” 1621, p. 1003 :
Both upper Jove's and nether's diverse thrones.--DUNSTER.
I Thal, like to rich and various gems, inlay
The unadorned bosom of the deep. The thought, as has been observed, is first in Shakspeare, of England, “ Richard II.” a. ii. s. ). “ This precious stone set in the silver sea. But Milton has heightened the comparison, omitting Shakspeare's petty conceit of the silver sea, the conception of a jeweller, and substituting another and a more striking piece of imagery.-T. WARTON.
1 Tributary gods. Hence perhaps Pope, in a similar vein of allegory, took his “ tributary urns," " Windsor Forest," v. 436.-T. WARTON.
k He quarters. That is, Neptune; with which name he honours the king, as sovereign of the four seas; for from the British Neptune only this noble peer derives his authority.--WARBURTON.
I With temper'd awe to guide
An old and haughty nation, proud in arms. That is, the Cambro-Britons, who were to be governed by respect mixed with awe. -T. WARTON.
m Where his fair offspring, &c. In “ Arcades," v. 27, an allusion is made to the honourable birth of the maskers. Probably an allusion might have been here intended, as well to the personal beauty, as to the princely descent of the young actors from Henry VII.—Todd.
The nodding horrour of whose shady brows, &c. Compare Tasso's enchanted forest, “ Gier. Lib." c. xiii. st. 2; and Petrarch's Sonnet, composed as he passed through the forest of Ardennes, in his way to Avignon.—TODD.
But that by quick command from sou
Bacchus, that first from out the pu
• And listen tohy, & Horace, “Od.” u. i. 2 :
Favete linguis: carmina r
Virginibus puerisque cant
p Ithat never yet was heard in The poet insinuates that the story or fable of his Mas distantly founded on ancient poetical history. The entertaining a splendid assembly, by siuging or reciting
9 In hali or bouer. That is, literally, in hall or chamber. The two wo metrical romances. T. Wanton.
Bacchus, that first from out the po Though Milton builds his fable on classic mytholog more the air of enchantments in the Gothic romances.
* After the Tuscan mariners ti This story is alluded to in Homer's fine “ Hymr. inflicted on the Tyrrhene pirates, by transforming them i of that beautiful frieze on the lantern of Demosthenes, by Mr. Stuart, in his “ Antiquities of Athens," vol. i.
t Winds listed. So, in St. John, iii. 8.“ The wind bloweth where it
The daughter of the Su Mr. Bowle observes that Milton bere undoubtedly a Virgil,“ Æn.” vii. 11. 17. Alcina has an enchanted cu
And downward fell into a groi Here Milton might have been influenced by G. Fle vain delight, to which our Lord is conducted by Satan. HEADLEY.
w This nymph, that gazed upon his i This image of hair hanging in clusters, or curls, lik wards adopted into the “ Par. Lost," b. iv. 303. Comp T. WARTON.
* And Comus named. Dr. Newton observes, that Comus is a deity of Milto remembered, that Comus is distinctly and most sublimel
Who, ripe and frolick of his full-grown age,
of Æschylus, s. 1195, wbere, says Cassandra, enumerating in her vaticinal ravings the horrors that haunted her house, “ That horrid band, who sing of evil things, will never forsake this house. Behold, Comus, the drinker of human blood, and fired with new rage, still remains within the house, being sent forward in an unlucky hour by the Furies his kindred, who chant a hymn recording the original crime of this fated family,” &c.
Peck supposes Milton's Comus to be Chemos, “the obscene dread of Moab's sons, ** Par. Lost," b. i. 406 : but, with a sufficient propriety of allegory, he is professedly made the son of Bacchus and of Homer's sorceress Circe. Besides, our author, in his early poctry, and he was only twenty-six years old, is generally more classical and less scriptural than in pieces written after he had been deeply tinctured with the Bible. It must not, in the mean time, here be omitted, that Comus, the god of cheer, had been before a dramatic personage in one of Jonson's Masks before the court, 1619. An immense cup is carried
before him, and he is crowned with roses and other flowers, &c. vol. vi. 29. His attend. lants carry javelins wreathed with ivy : he enters, riding in triumph from a grove of ivy, to the wild in usic of flutes, tabors, and cymbals. At length, the grove of ivy is destroyed, p. 35.
And the voluptuous Comus, God of cheer,
Beat from his grove, and that defaced, &c. See also “ Jonson's “ Forest," b. i. 3:
Comus puts in for new delights, &c.-T. WARTON. Mr. Hole, in his “ Remarks on the Arabian Nights' Entertainments," observes that Mr. Warton's quotation from the “ Agamemnon” of Æschylus does not agree with the character of Milton's Comus ; and that the Comus of Ben Jonson is not the prototype of
Milton's, as in Jonson's roask he is represented, not as a gay seducing voluptuary, but merely | as the god of good cheer, Epicuri porcus. Yet Jonson's mask perhaps afforded some
bints to Milton. Comus had also appeared in English Literature, as a mere belly-god, before Jonson's introduction of him. See Decker’s Gyls Horne-booke,” bl. 1. 1609, p. 4. -TODD.
y The Celtick and Iberian fields. France and Spain.—THYER.
2 Ominous wood. ** Ominous,” is dangerous, inauspicious, full of portents, prodigies, wonders, monstrous appearances, misfortunes ; synonymous words for omens. See “ Par. Reg."' b. iv. 48) :** This ominous night," &c.—T. WARTON.
• For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst.
Accipimus sacra data pocula dextra,
b Into some brutish form.