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Our number may affright: some virgin sure
And hearken, if I may, her business here. We have the verb, “ Par. Reg." b. iv. 419, and below in “ Comus," v. 316, where the last line is written in the manuscript, “ Within these shroudic limits.” Whence we are led to suspect, that our author, in some of these instances, has an equivocal reference to shrouds in the sense of the branches of a tree, now often used. — T. Warton.
e My dazzling spells. See Fletcher, “ Faith. Shep.' a. iii. s. I.
Adam says, that in his conversation with the angel, his earthly nature was overpowered by the hearenly, and, as with an object that excels the sense, “ dazzled and spent."" Par. Lost," b. viii. 457.-T. Warton.
1 To cheat the eye with blear illusion, In our author's “ Reformation," &c. “ If our understanding have a film of ignorance over it, or be blear with gazing on other false glisterings,” &c. “ Pr. W.”i. 12. But “blear-eyed " is a common and well-known phiase.-T. Warton.
& And my quaint habits breed, &c. That is, my strange habits, as Mr. Warton has observed ; in which sense, “quaint” is often used by Spenser. But Milton here illustrates himself in the Preface to his “ Hist. of Moscovia :" « Long stories of absurd superstitions, ceremonies, quaint habits,”' &c. -TODD.
b Glozing. Flattering, deceitful. As in “ Par. Lost," b. iii. 93. “ Glozing lies.” Perhaps from Spenser, “ Faer. Qu." iii. viii. 14. “ Could well his glozing speeches frame.”—T. WARTON.
i When once her eye
Hath met the virtue of this magick dust. This refers to a previous line,“ my powder'd spells," v. 154. But “powder'd” was afterwards altered into the present reading “ dazzling.” When a poet corrects, he is apt to forget and destroy his original train of thought.-T. WARTON.
i Some harmless villager.
That is, softly.-HURD.
N N 2
The Lady enters.
I To meet the rudeness and suill'd insolence
Of such late wassailers. In some parts of England, especially in the west, it is still customary for a company of mummers, in the evening of the Christmas holydays, to go about carousing from honse to house, who are called the wassailers. In Macbeth, “ Wine and wassel," mean, in general terms, feasting and drunkenness, a. i. s. 7.— T. Warton.
m Shall I inform my unacquainted feel. In the “ Faithful Shepherdess," Amoret wanders through a wild wood in the night, but under different circumstances, yet not without some apprehensions of danger. We have a parallel expression in “Sams. Agon.” v. 335 :-
hither hath inform'd
n Tangled rood. “ They seek the dark, the bushy, the tangled forest," Prose W. vol. i. p. 13. And we “ Par. Lost," b. iv. 176.-T. Warton,
• Under the spreading favour of these pines. This is like Virgil's “ Hospitiis teneat frondentibus arbos,” Geory, iv. 24. An inrersion of the same sort occurs in Cicero, in a Latin version from Sophocles, “ Trachinis," of the shirt of Nessus. Tusc. Disp." i. 8.—“ Ipse inligatus peste interimor textili." T. WARTON.
P To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind hospitable woods provide. So Fletcher, " Faith. Shep." a. i. s. 1, where, says the virgin-shepherdess Clorin,
My meat shall be what these wild woods afford,
Berries and chesnuts, &c. By laying the scene of his Mask in a wild forest, Milton secured to himself a perpetual fund of picturesque description, which, resulting from situation, was always at hand. He was not obliged to go out of his way for this striking embellishmcut: it was suggested of necessity by present circumstances.-T. Warton.
9 When the gray-hooded Even,
Like a sad votarist, &c. Milton, notwithstanding his abhorrence of everything that related to superstition, ofteb dresses his imaginary beings in the habits of popery : but poetry is of all religions ; and
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain.
Begin to throng into my memory“, popery is a very poetical one. A votarist is one who had made a religious vow, here perhaps for a pilgrimage, being in “palmer's weeds."— T. Warton.
r Palmer's reed.
Their wandering steps.
They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
10 thierish Night. Ph. Fletcher's “ Pisc. Ecl." p. 34, edit. 1633 :
the thievish night
Steals on the world, and robs our eyes of light. In the present age, in which almost every common writer avoids palpable absurdities, at least monstrous and unnatural conceits, would Milton have introduced this passage, where thievish Night is supposed, for some felonious purpose, to shut up the stars in her dark lantern ? Certainly not. But in the present age, correct and rational as it is, had “ Comus” been written, we should not perhaps have had some of the greatest beauties of its wild and romantic imagery.-T. WAKTON.
U A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory, &c.
With many legions of strange fantasies,
Confound themselves.-T. WARTON. Much of our own island superstition is crowded into these lines : it is true that in a city guarded by a regular police and lighted by patent gas, and infested by sharpers and piek pockets, man, even though inclined to superstitious dread, cannot feel fearful of * calling shapes,” and “beckoning shadows,” and “airy tongues :" but let him have a haunted road-such as that along which Tam o' Shanter rode—to travel on at midnight : let his local knowledge supply him with the recollection of all the misdeeds and murders perpetrated for three miles round : let there be a gloomy wood on one side of the way, and an old desolate burial-ground on the other : let him hear a sound advancing behind Lim, and let him see before him a doddered tree, between him and the blue sky, on which some man within his own memory hanged himself; and if he feels not something like dread upon him, he is either a very bold man or a very unimaginative one. The writer of this has beard an old gentleman, who had served with distinction in the British army, assert, oftener than once, that on riding one night past an old churchyard in a lonely part
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove of the country, a white phantom started up from among long pale skinny hand towards the bridle of his horse. application of the spur, freed himn from all danger ; but it sight he saw was of the other world, and not supplied by creative fit by the solemn hour and haunted place.-C.
"Of calling shapes, and beckoning shad I remember these superstitions, wbich are here finely a Marco Paolo the Venetian : he is speaking of the vast an * Cernuntur et audiuntur in eo, interdiu, et sæpius no unde viatoribus summe cavendum est, ne multum ab invi a tergo sese diutius impediat : alioquin, quamprimum pi comitum suorum aspectum perdiderit, non facile ad eo voces dæmonum, qui solitarie incedentes propriis appel illorum quos comitari se putant, ut a recto itinere abducta Regionib. Oriental. I. i. c. 44.-T. WARTON.
w Syllable. Pronounce distinctly. As in Ph, Fletcher's “ Poct. M flesh-spell’d characters."-T. Warton.
* Thou hovering angel, girt with goli Thus, in Shakspeare's “ Lover's Complaint,' hoverd.” But“ hovering" is here applied with peculiar sight, on the wing; and if not approaching, yet not flying plation soars on golden wings, II. Pens," v. 5: ano host," in the "Ode on the Death of an Infant," st. ix.
5 And thou, unblemish'd form of Cha In the same strain, Fletcher's Shepherdess in the solilo
Then, strongest Chastity,
* Was I deceiver, or did a sable ck These lines are turned like that verse of Ovid, “ Fast." sonant? non fallimur: arma sonabant.” – Hurd.
See also note on Eleg. v. 5. The repetition, arising fro of an unaccusing conscience, is inimitably beautiful. Wh Heaven unexpectedly presents the silver lining of a sab WARTON.
I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
Within thy aery shell,
By slow Meander's margent green,
Where the love-lorn nightingale
mourneth welle; Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair'
That likest thy Narcissus are ?
O, if thou have
Tell me but where",
* I cannot halloo to my brothers, &c. So the jailer's daughter in Beaumont and Fletcher, benighted also and alone in a wood, whose character affords one of the finest female mad scenes in our language, “ Two Noble Kins." a. üi. s. 2. She is in search of Palamon.
I cannot halloo, &c.
I have heard
b That livest unseen. So Sylvester, “Du Bartas,”p. 1210.
Babbling echo, voice of vallies,
c Violel-einbroider'd. This is a beautiful compound epithet, and the combination of the two words that compose it, natural and easy.- Jos. WARTON.
d Lore-lorn. Deprived of her matc; as “ Jass-lorn”in the “ Tempest,” a. iv. 8. 2.-T. Warton.
e Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well. Compare Virgil, “ Georg." iv. 513.
1 A gentle pair. So Fletcher,;" Faith. Shep.” a. i. s. 1.
A gentle pair
Hid them in some flowery care. Here is a sceming inaccuracy for the sake of the rhyme : but the sense being hypothetical and contingent, we will suppose an ellipsis of " shouldest” before “ have.” A verse in St. John affords an apposite illustration : -" If thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid bim,” xx. 15.-T. Warton.
h Tell me but where. Mr. Steevens suggests that part of the address to the sun, which Southern has put into the mouth of Oroonoko, is evidently copied from this passage :
Or, if thy sister goddess has preferr'd
beauty to the skies to be a star,
i Daughter of the sphere. Milton has given her a much nobler and more poetical original than any of the ancient