Page images

So mayst thou be translated to the skies
And give resounding grace to all Heaver

Enter Conus.
Com. Can any mortal mixture of eart
Breathe such divine enchanting ravishm
Sure something holy lodges in that breas
And with these raptures moves the voca
To testify his hidden residence.
How sweetly did they float upon the wi
Of silence, through the empty vaulted n
At every fall smoothing the raven-down
Of darkness, till it smiled! I have oft
My mother Circe with the sirens three',
Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
Culling their potent herbs, and baleful
Who, as they sung, would take the pris

And lap it in Elysium TM: Scylla wept, mythologists : he snpposes her to ove her first existence of the spheres; in consequence of which he had just befo shell :" and from the gods, like other celestial beings of t to men.- WARBURTON.

! And gire resounding grace to all Heare That is, the grace of their being accompanied with an peculiar service in the machinery of a mask, and therefore

This Alexandrine, as well as almost all the Alexandr shows that Milton had a fine lyrical ear.

Can any mortal mirture of earth's

Breathe such dirine enchanting rar This was plainly personal. Here the poet availed him just compliment to the voice and skill of a real songstres plimented for their beauty and clegance of figure: and afi create a soul under the ribs of death," are brought hom my most honour'd Lady," v. 564. where the real and as: are blended.-T. Warton.

1 I hare on he

My mother Circe with the sirens tha
Originally from Ovid, “ Metam.” xiv. 264, of Circe :-

Nereides, Nymphæque simul, quæ velle
Nulla trahunt digitis, nec fila sequentia
Gramina disponunt; sparsosque sine on
Secernunt calathis, variasque coloribus
Ipsa, quod hæ faciunt, opus exigit; ipsa
Quoque sit in folio, quæ sit concordia m

Novit; et advertens pensas examinat he Milton calls the Naiades (he should have said Nereides) were employed in collecting flowers.—T. Walton.

m Who, as they sung, would take the pr

And lap it in Elysium. The mermaidens of modern tale and story inherit all t! song : they are described as women to the waist, and fai which they are continually braiding : nor has fancy hesita round looking-glasses, in which seamen aver they are fond ! parts below the waves may be given up to the imagination ; wise than lovely; but the part above, the glowing words describe; nor has any poet surpassed in description the love




And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause":
Yet they in pleasing slumber lulld the sense,
And in sweet madness robb'd it of itself";
But such a sacred and home-felt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking bliss,
I never heard till now.I'll speak to her,
And she shall be my queen.- Hail, foreign wonder P!
Whom certain these rough shades did never breed,
Unless the goddess that in rural shrine
Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan; by bless'd song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood 9.

Lad. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise,

That is address'd to unattending ears ; has endowed them. One of those sea-maidens haunted, if we may credit the district legends, a river in Galloway : the charms of her person were even surpassed by those of her voice : the first verse which she sung caused the wild birds to leave their nests, nor regard their enemy the owl; at the second verse, the fox leaped up from the lamb he had worried, and wiping his bloody lips, wondered what this might mean ; but with the third verse, a gallant young bridegroom was so bewitched, that be left his bridal train, and approaching too close to the mermaiden, was seized and carried into one of her sea-palaces, and never more returned to upper air. Other legends, both Swedish and Scottish, relate similar stories of those alluring dames : one of their lovers, however, contrived by stratagem to escape from “ coral caves and beds of pearl," and was heard to declare, that lovely as the sea-maidens were, they had a maritime savour about them which was anything but ambrosial.-C.

n Scylla wept, And chid her barking waves into attention,

And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause. Silius Italicus, of a Sicilian shepherd tuning his reed, “Bell. Pun.” xix. 467 :“Scyllæi tacuere canes ; stetit atra Charybdis.—T. Warton.

The “ barking waves," it must be added, are from Virgil,“ Æn." vii. 588, “multis circumlatrantibus undis.” - Topd.

And in sweet madness roub'd it of itsell, &c. Compare Shakspeare, “ Winter's Tale," a. and s. ult. :

O sweet Paulina !
Make me to think so twenty years together ;
No settled senses of the world can match
The pleasure of that madness.-TODD.

P Hail, foreign wonder ! Thus Fletcher, “ Faith. Shep." a. v. 8. 1. But perhaps our author had an unperceived retrospect to the “ Tempest," a. i. 8. 2:


Most sure the goddess
On whom these airs attend !

My prime request,
Which I do last pronounce, is, 0 you wonder !

If you be maid or no ?-T. WARTON. Comus's address to the Lady, from v. 265, to the end of this line, is in a very high style of classical gallantry. As Cicero says of Plato's language, that if Jupiter were to speak Greek, he would speak as Plato bas written ; so we may say of this language of Milton, that, if Jupiter were to speak English, he would express himself in this manner. The passage is exceedingly beautiful in every respect; but all readers of taste will acknowledge, that the style of it is much raised by the expression “ unless the goddess,” an ellip. tical expression, unusual in our language, though common enough in Greek and Latin. But if we were to fill it up, and say, “ unless thou beest the goddess;” how flat and insipid would it make the composition, compared with what it is ! - Lord MONBODDO.

Not any boast of skill, but extreme shife
How to regain my sever'd company,
Compelld me to awake the courteous E
To give me answer from her mossy couc

Com. What chance, good Lady, hath
Lad. Dim darkness, and this leaviel
Com. Could that divide you from ne
Lad. They left me weary on a grass
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, o
Lad. To seek in the valley some coo.
Com. And left your fair side all ungu
Lad. They were but twain, and puri
Com. Perhaps forestalling night pre
Lad. How easy my misfortune is to
Com. Imports their loss, beside the p
Lad. No less than if I should my br
Com. Were they of manly prime, or
Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unre

Com. Two such I saw what time the
In his loose traces from the furrow cam
And the swink'd hedger at his supper se
I saw them under a green mantling vin
That crawls along the side of yon small
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender

? Here is an imitation of those scenes in the Greek ceeds by question and answer, a single verse being allotte found a grace in this sort of dialogue : as it was one o draina, it was natural enough for our young poet, passio: to affect this peculiarity; but he judged better in his ripe this dialogue, I think, in his “ Samson Agonistes."--HT

$ To scek in the valley some cool frii Here Mr. Sympson observed with me, that this is a c assigned before, v. 186 :-“ To bring me berries," &c. accounts.--Newton.

i Forestalling, The word “forestall," was formerly used in the sense Lost," b. x. 1024.-T. Warton.

u Were they of manly prime, or you Were they young men, or striplings? “ Prime" is pe as in her prime," "Par. Lost,” b. v. 295. Again, b. ii

And now a stripling cherub he
Not of the prime, &c.-T. WAK

Their unrazor'd lipe.
Thc unpleasant epithet “ unrazor’d" has one much like

till new-born chi Are rough and razorable.-T, WART

w What time the lal

In his loose traces from the furi The notation of time is in the pastoral manner, as “ Od." III, vi. 41.- NEWTON.

I And the swink'd hedger at his si The "swink'd hedger's supper" is from nature : and although of common use, has a good effect. “Swink'd"




Their port was more than human, as they stood :
I took it for a faery vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
That in the colours of the rainbow live,
And play in the plighted clouds. I was awe-struck,
And, as I pass'd, 1 worshipp'd ; if those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to heaven,
To help you find them.

Gentle villager,
What readiest way would bring me to that place?

Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point a.

Lad. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose,
In such a scant allowance of star-light,
Would overtask the best land-pilot's art,
Without the sure guess of well-practised feet.

Com. I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood,
every bosky bourn from side to side,

y The element.
In the north of England this term is still made use of for the sky.-- Tayer.

2 And play in the plighted clouds. The lustre of Milton's brilliant imagery is balf obscured, whilo "plighted remains unexplained. We are to understand the braided or embroidered clouds ; in which certain airy elemental beings are most poetically supposed to sport, thus producing a variety of transient and dazzling colours, as our author says of the sun, “ Par. Lost," b. iv. 596.

Arraying with reflected purple and gold

The clouds that on his western throne attend.
It is obvious to observe that the modern word is “plaited.”—T. Warton.

Visions of the kind intimated by the poet were not uncommon in other days. It is related, that a traveller, happening to be both hungry and benighted among the pastoral hills of the Border, resolved to quit the road on which he was walking, and follow a little stream or brook which he knew would conduct him soon to some shepherd's hut or farm-house : the moon was up; the night was quiet and clear; no other sound save that of the stream was to be heard. On entering a little glen, he was startled to see a green table placed across the rivulet; and botht his eyes and his sharpened sense of smell told him that it was furnished with meat and wine. He stood and gazed : the plates were of silver, the cups of gold ; the meat seemed savoury, and the wine scented all the air. He could not for bis heart resist the temptation ; but he had the grace, before he began, to say, “ With your leave, good folk :" the words were not well out of his mouth, till fairies started up all around the table : one helped him to meat; another to wine; while a third, equally courteous, fashioned a good strong steady chair out of a mushroom for his accommodation. At parting, they bestowed a cup on bim of a miraculous make, for it was ever full of wine, let the drinker be ever so drouthy. It continued in the family, till a guest, more devout than ordinary, proceeded to ask God's blessing on the liquor ; when the cup became in an instant dry, and, it is said, continued so.-C.

# Due west it rises from this shrubby point. Milton had perhaps a predilection for the west, from a similar but more picturesque information in “ As you Like It," a. iv. s. i.

West of this place, down in the neighbour bottom, &c.—T. WARTON,

b Dingle, or bushy dell of this will wood,

And every bosky bourn from side to side, &c. The word “dingle" is still in use, and signifies a valley between two steep hills. “ Dimble" is the same word. A “ bourn," the sense of which in this passage has never been explained with precision, properly signifies here, a winding, deep, and narrow valley, with a rivulet at the bottom. In the present instance, the declivities are interspersed with

My daily walks and ancient neighbourh
And if your stray attendance be yet lodo
Or shroud within these limits, I shall k
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted la
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if othe
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be sa
Till farther quest.

Shepherd, I take
And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly shed
With smoky rafters, than in tapestry ha
And courts of princes, where it first wa
And yet is most pretended : in a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure
I cannot be, that I should fear to chang
Eye me, bless'd Providence, and square
To my proportion'd strength !--shepher

Enter the Two BROTHE El. Br. Unmuffle", ye faint stars; a That wont'st to love the traveller's beni Stoop thy pale visage through an ambe

trees and bushes. This sort of valley Comus knew from opposite sides or ridges, and bad consequently travelle situations have no other name in the west of England at countries, bourns are the grand separations or divisions another, and are natural limits of districts and parishes : than a boundary.-T. Warton.

And courts of princes, where it firs Mr. Sympson perceived with me that this is plainly vi, i, l.

Of court, it seems, men courtesie do 1
For that it there most useth to abour

d Unmuffle. " Mume" was not so low a word as at present. ] p. 251, of night :

And in thick vapours muffle up the wor? See also Shakspeare, “ Romeo and Juliet," a, v. 8. 3 -TODD.

e That wont'st to love the traveller Mr. Richardson and Mr. Thyer here saw with me, tha “ Faer. Qu." iii. i. 43.

As when fayre Cynthia, in darksom
Is in a noyous cloud enveloped,
Where she may finde the substance
Breakes forth her silver beames, and
Discovers to the world discomfited ;
Of the poore traveller that went astr
With thousand blessings she is herie

Stoop thy pale visage through an a
See “I1. Pens." v. 71.

And oft, as if her head she bow'd
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.-

« PreviousContinue »