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Some time walking, not unseen",
r Not unseen. In the “ Penseroso," he walks “unseen,” v. 65. Happy men love witnesses of their joy : the splenetic love solitude.-Hurd.
* Right against the eastern gate,
Where the great sun begins his state, &c. Gray has adopted the first of these lines in his “descent of Odin.” See also “Paradise Lost," b. iv. 542. Here is an allusion to a splendid or royal procession. We have the eastern gate again, in the Latin poem “ In Quintum Novembris," v. 133. Shakspeare has also the eastern gate, which is most poetically opened, “ Midsummer Night's Dream,” a. iii. s. 9:
Ev'n till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
+ The clouds in thousand liveries dight. Literally from a very puerile poetical description of the morning in one of his academic Prolusions:-“ Ipsa quoque tellus, in adventum solis, cultiori se induit vestitu ; nubesque juxta, variis chlamydatæ coloribus, pompa solenni, longoque ordine, videntur ancillari surgenti Deo.” "Pr. Works," vol. ii. 586. And just before we have “ The cock with lively din,” &c.—“ At primus omnium adventantem solem triumphat insomnis gallus." An ingenious critic observes, that this morning landscape of “ L'Allegro" has served as a repository of imagery for all succeeding poets on the same subject : but much the same circumstances, among others, are assembled by a poet who wrote above thirty years before, the author of " Britannia's Pastorals," b. iv. s. iv. p. 75. I give the passage at large:
By this had chanticlere, the village clocke,
u And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hauthorn in the dale. It was suggested to me by the late ingenious Mr. Headly, that the word “ tale” does not here imply stories told by shepherds, but that it is a technical term for numbering sheep, which is still used in Yorkshire and the distant counties : This interpretation I am inclined to adopt, which I will therefore endeavour to illustrate and enforce. “ Tale" and "tell," in this sense, were not unfamiliar in our poetry, in and about Milton's time : for instance, Dryden's Virgil, “ Bucol.” iii. 33:
And once she takes the tale of all my lambs.
Straight mine eye hath caught new please
Bosom'd high in tufted trees",
When the shepheards from the fold
Of all the flock was hurt, or gone, &c.
Straight mine eye hath caught nou pleasu There is, in my opinion, great beauty in this abrupt and ra imagination, as it is extremely well adapted to the subject, and sion to those sudden gleams of vernal delight, which break in u of a fine prospect.--Tuyer.
# Tourers and battlements it sees
Bosom'd high in tufted trees. This was the great mansion-bouse in Milton's early days, befe tecture bad given way to modern arts and improvements. Tu conspicuous marks of the numerous new buildings of the reign of some rather more ancient, many of which yet remained in the and undecayed : nor was that style, in part at least, quite omitt manner. Browne, in “ Britannia’s Pastorals," has a similar ima
Yond pallace, whose brave turret tops
Ouer the statelie wood suruay the copse. Browne is a poet now forgotten, but must have been well known a little is seen, more is left to the imagination. These symptoi cially when thus disposed, have a greater effect than a discovery full display of the whole edifice. The embosomed battlements the tall grove, on which they reflect a reciprocal charm, still farth the novelty of combination : while just enough of the towering st an accompaniment to the tufted expanse of venerable verdure, and association. With respect to their rural residence, there was a cestors : modern seats are seldom so deeply ambushed: they di
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
Dancing in the chequer'd shade; once : and never excite expectation by concealment, by gradual approaches, and by interrupted appearances. — T. WARTON.
* Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The Cynosure of neighbouring eyes. Most probably from Burton's “ Melancholy,” as Peck observes : but in Shakspeare we have “your eyes are lodestarres," “ Mids. Night's Dream,'' a. i. s. 1. And this was no uncommon compliment in Chaucer, Skelton, Sidney, Spenser, and other old English poets, 2. Mr. Steevens has abundantly proved. Milton enlivens his prospect by this unexpected circumstance, which gives it a moral charm.—T. Warton.
y The upland hamlets. In opposition to the hay-making scene in the lower lands.—Tuyer.
z When the merry bells ring round. Sec Shakspeare, “ Henry IV.” P. 11. a. iv. 8. 4 :
And bid the merry bells ring to thine ear.-T. WARTON.
* And the jocund rebecks sound. The rebeck was a species of fiddle; and is, I believe, the same that is called in Chaucer, Lydgate, and the old French writers, the rebible. It appears from Sylvester's “Du Bartas," that the cymbal was furnished with wires, and the rebeck with strings of catgut, ed. 1621, p. 221. “ But wyerie cymbals, rebecks sinewes twined.” Du Cange quotes a middle-aged barbarous Latin poet, who mentions many musical instruments by names now hardly intelligible :-“ Gloss. Lat. y. Baudosa." One of them is the rebeck. “Quidam rebeccam arcuabant:" where by arcuabant, we are to understand that it was played upon by a bow, arcus. The word occurs in Drayton's “Eclogues,” vol. iv. p. 1391. " He tuned bis rebeck to a mournful note.” And see our author's " Liberty of Unlicensed Printing :" "The villages also must have their visitors to inquire, what lectures the bagpipe and the rebeck reads even to the gammuth of every municipal (town) fidler,” &c. If, as I havo supposed, it is Chaucer's “ ribible," the diminutive of “rebibe" used also by Chaucer, I must agree with Sir John Hawkins, that it originally comes from “ rebeb,” the name of
Moorish musical instrument with two strings played on by a bow. Sir John adds, that the Moors brought it into Spain, whence it passed into Italy, and obtained the appellation of ribeca. Hist. Mus. ii. 86. Perhaps we have it from the French rebec and rebecquin. In the Percy household book, 1512, are recited, “mynstralls in houshold iij, viz. a tabarett, a luyte, and a rebecc.” It appears below queen Elizabeth's reign, in the music establishment of the royal household.–T. WARTON.
b Chequer'd shade. So, in " Titus Andronic,” a. ii. s. 3:
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind
And young and old come forth to play
c Till the livelong daylight fail. Here the poet begins to pass the night with mirth ; and he beg ing of the “ sunshine holyday," whose merriments he has just c
d Then to the spicy nut-brown ale. This was Shakspeare's " gossip's bowl,"' ' _"Midsummer N The composition was ale, nutmeg, sugar, toast, and roasted cral lamb's-wool. Our old dramas have frequent allusions to this Fletcher's “ Faithful Shepherdess " it is styled “the spiced wassı
e She was pinch'd and pulld, she sed, &c. ** He" and " she " are persons of the company assembled to country wake, at a rural junket : all this is a part of the pastori railed in our poetry.-T. WARTON.
1 And he, by friar's lantern led, &c. “ Friar's lantern," is the Jack-and-lantern, which led people and waters. Milton gives the philosophy of this superstition 634642. In the midst of a solemn and learned enarration, hi not resist a romantic tradition consecrated by popular credulity.
& Tells how the drudging goblin swet,
To earn his cream-boul duly set, &c. This goblin is Robin Goodfellow. His cream-bowl was earn tuality of those by whom it was duly placed for his refection, by with his invisible fairy flail, in one night, and before the dawn of the barn, which could not have been threshed in so short a time b returns into the house, fatigued with his task; and, overcharger cream-bowl, throws himself before the fire, and, stretched along fire-place, basks till the morning.-T. WARTON.
bo Torcer'd cities please us then. · Then," that is at night. The poet returns from his digressi ately prolix, concerning the feats of fairies and goblins, which prot the spicy bowl of a village supper, to enumerate other pleasures or evening. “* Then" is in this line a repetition of the first
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
wards, we have another “ Then,” with the same sense and reference, ver. 131. Here too is a transition from mirth in the country to mirth in the city.–T. WARTON.
i In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold. By " triumphs" we are to understand, shows, such as masks, revels, &c. and here, that is in these exhibitions, there was a rich display of the most splendid dresses, of the “ weeds of peace.” See “ Samson Agouistes,” v. 1312.-T. WARTON.
There let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear, &c.
Revels, dances, masks, and merry hours,
Forerun fair Love, strewing her way with flowers. Among these triumphs, were the masks, pageantries, spectacles, and revelries, exhibited with great splendour, and a waste of allegoric invention, at the nuptials of noble personages. Here, of course, the classical Hymen was introduced as an actor, properly habited, and distinguished by his characteristic symbols.-T. WARTON.
k And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
IVith mask, and antique pageantry. The revels, according to Minsheu, were “sports of dauncing, masking, comedies, tragedies, and such like, used in the king's house, the houses of court, or of other great personages. The “antique pageants” were, at first, merely processions and emblematic spectacles at the public reception of distinguished personages. See Warton's “ Hist. of Eng. Poetry," vol. ii. 204. They were afterwards distinguished by speaking characters. From these the poet proceeds to the “ well-trod stage;" on which expression Mr. Warton remarks that Milton had not yet gone such extravagant lengths in puritanism, as to join with his reforming brethren in condemning the stage.—Todd.
II Jonson's learned sock be on. This expression occurs in Jonson's recommendatory verses, prefixed to the first folio edition of Shakspeare's plays in 1623 :
Or when thy socks were on.-T. WARTON.
Warble his native wood-notes wild. There is good reason to suppose, that Milton threw many additions and corrections into the “ Theatrum Poetarum," a book published by his nephew Edward Phillips, in 1675 : it contains criticisms far above the taste of that period : among these is the following judgment on Shakspeare, which was not then, I believe, the general opinion, and which perfectly coincides both with the sentiment and words of the text:—“In tragedy, never any expressed a more lofty and tragic highth, never any represented nature more purely to the life ; and where the polishments of art are most wanting, as probably his learning was not