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The spirit of Plato , to unfold
But, O, sad Virgin, that thy power
+ The spirit of Plato. This shows what sort of contemplation he was most fond of. Milton's imagination made him as much a mystic as his good sense would give leave.—Hurd.
And of those demons, &c. Undoubtedly these notions are from Plato's Timaeus and “Phædon," and the reveries of his old cominentators; yet with some reference to the Gothic system of demons, which is a mixture of Platonism, school-divinity, and christian superstition.-T. WAKTON.
Sometimes let gorgeous Tragedy
In sceptred pall come sweeping by. By " sceptred pall," Dr. Newton understands the palla honesta of Horace, “ Art. Poet." v. 278. But Horace, I humbly apprehend, only means that Æschylus introduced masks and better dresses. Palla honesta is simply a “ decent robe.” Milton means something more: by clothing Tragedy in her “sceptred pall,” he intended specifically to point out regal stories as the proper arguments of the higher drama : and this more expressly appears, from the subjects immediately mentioned in the subsequent couplet.--T. WARTON,
w Though rare. Just glancing at Shakspeare.—HURD.
* Might raise Mus@us from his bouer!
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing, &c. Musæus and Orpheus are mentioned together in Plato's “ Republic," as two of the genuine Greek poets. To Orpheus or his harp our author has frequent allusions.T. WARTON.
Or call up him that left half-told
The story of Cambuscan bold, &c. Hence it appears, that Milton, among Chaucer’s pieces, was most struck with his “Squire's Tale :" it best suited our author's predilection for romantic poetry. Chaucer is here ranked with the sublime poets : his comic vein is forgotten and overlooked. T. WARTON.
That own'd the virtuous ring and glass ;
Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career
2 And if aught else great bards beside, & From Chaucer, the father of English poetry, and who is he remarkable for the wildness of its invention, our author secu and natural transition to Spenser; whose " Faery Queene," fesses to treat of tournaments and the trophies of knightly val. terrific enchantments, is yet allegorical, and contains a remot the veil of a fabulous action, and of a typical narrative, whi ceired. Spenser sings in "sage and solemn tunes," with respi dignity of his stanza. In the mean time, it is to be rememb "great bands,'' and of the romantic class, who sung in such tu
than meets the car.” Both Tasso and Ariosto pretend to an : meaning: and Tasso's enchanted forest, the most conspicuou
have been here intended. One is surprised that Milton should the images of feudal and royal life which those books afford, system.-T. Warton.
a There more is meant than meets the Seneca, Epist. 114. " In quibus plus intelligendum BowlE.
b Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale care Hitherto we have seen the night of the melancholy man : acconlingly, this second part or division of the poem is usher T. Warton.
c Till civil-suited Morn appear, Plainly from Shakspeare, as Dr. Newton and Mr. Bowle ** Romeo and Juliet," a. iii. s. 4 :
Come, civil Night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black. Where civil" is grave, decent, solemn.--T. Warton,
d Not trick'd and frounced. The meaning of “ frounced " seems most commonly to signi dressing of the hair : it is from the French froncer, to curl.-- 1 “ Trick'd " also should be explained, which means dressed 0
I Or asher'd, &c.
"When the morning comes, a morning gloomy with rain an dark trackless woods, falls asleep by some murmuring wate enthusiasm, expects some dream of prognostication, or some r
Ending on the russling leaves,
forners." Never were fine imagery and fine imagination so marted, mutilated, and impoverished by a cold, unfeeling, and imperfect representation! To say nothing, that he confounds two descriptions.-T. Warton.
If he had gone out in a morning of rain and wind, and laid himself down by some murmuring stream, he would have subjected himself to that modern plague, the cholera : but the
poet says that it was not till “ the sun began to fling his faring beams," that he went forth to groves and sylvan scenery. Thus it is that Johnson is commonly vague, and full of
pompous and empty sounds, when he attempts to describe ; yet on such loose descriptions have his fond eulogists given him credit for poetical imagination. Warton saw this with disgust, and here speaks out. How often must the nice and exquisite classical scholarship of this accomplished and genuine critic have been revolted by the rude pedant's coarse and unfeeling pomposity! i. e. gentle, as this word was once commonly understood.— TODD.
h With minute drops from off the eaves. A natural little circumstance, calculated to impress a pleasing melancholy; and which reminds one of a similar image in a poet who abounds in natural little circumstances. Speaking of a gentle spring-shower, “ 'Tis scarce to patter heard,” says Thomson, “Spring,” ver. 176.-Jos. WARTON.
He means, by “minute drops from off the eaves," not small drops, but minute drops, such as drop at intervals, by minutes, for the shower was now over : as we say, minute guns, and minute bells. In " L'Allegro," the lark bade good morrow at the poet's window, through sweet-briars, honeysuckles, and vines, spreading, as we have seen, over the walls of the house : now, their leaves are dropping-wet with a toorning-shower.-T. Warton.
i Day's garish eye. The "garish eye” is the glaring eye, of Day. So, in “Rom. and Jul.” a. iii. s. 4. as Dr. Newton has observed, "the garish sun. It is a favourite word with Drayton, who applies it, in the sense of fine, gaudy, to “ fields," in his “ Owle,” 1604 ; and to "flowers," in his “Nynıph.” v. 1630; whence perhaps the garish columbine ” of Milton.—Todd.
1 Vhile the bee, &c. 8o Virgil, “ Ecl.”.i. 56 :
Hyblæis apibus florem depasta salicti
Sæpe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro. On the hill Hymettus, the haunt of learning, the bee is made to invite to meditation, with great elegance and propriety, “ Paradise Regained," iv. 247, &c. Compare also Drayton's Owle,"' 1604.-T.Warton.
And let some strange mysterious Dream"
But let my due feet never fail
* And let some strange mysterious Dream, i I do not exactly understand the whole of the context. Is the wings ? Dr. Newton will have “ wave" to be a verb neute passage now stands. But let us strike out" at," and make “
Let some strange mysterious Drear
Wave his wings, in aery stream, &c. “Let some fantastic Dream put the wings of Sleep in motion, whit panded, in an airy or soft stream of visionary imagery, gently falling Or," his” may refer to Dream, and not to Sleep, with much the
There seems to me no difficulty in the passage. “ Wave" is h neuter. The dream is to wave at the wings of Sleep, in a “disp
1 And as I wake, sweet musick breathe
Above, about, or underneath. This wonderful music, particularly the subterraneous, proceedi and whispered to the pious ear alone by some guardian spirit, was probably suggested to Milton's imagination by some of the under the contrivance of Inigo Jones.-T. WARTON.
m Cloysters pale. Perhaps," the studious cloyster's pale.” Pale, enclosure. M number. In the next line follows, as in apposition, “ the high-eml
I believe this passage is seldom printed so as to convey the m pale or enclosure of the cloister.—Dunster.
Dr. Symmons, in his account of Milton's Life, violently obje which he considers to be very tame and unpoetical. Todd.
I believe “ pale to be an adjective, and to mean sombre.
The reader is apt to suppose that Milton's allusion is to the cl dral, which his feet might duly and daily pace, when a schola adjacent. The said cloisters were the boast of the country,
Survey of London,” 4to. 1598, p. 264:—" About this cloyste painted the Dance of Machabray, or Dance of Death, common Paul's ; the like whereof was painted about St. Innocent's cloys or poesie of this daunce were translated out of French into Engli: of Bury, and with the picture of Death leading all estates, painte
But we are obliged to dispel so pleasing a delusion:-“In th of April, the chapel of Becket, by commandment of the Duke of pulled down, with the whole cloister, the Daunce of Death, the t that nothing thereof was left but the bare plot of ground, which Stowe) into a garden for the petty canons." So that the "cloist only was still to be traversed in Milton's time.
We learn from Hume, that this desecration was to supply sto protector's palace in the Strand, called Somerset-house. (His fearfully expiated in 1552.-J. B.
1 High-embowed. Highly-vaulted, arcuatus, arched.--Todd.
And storiedo windows richly dight,
And may at last my weary age
These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
o Storied. Storied, or painted with stories, that is, histories. In barbarous latinity, storia is sometimes used for historia. One of the arguments used by the puritans for breaking the painted glass in church windows, was because, by darkening the church, it obscured the new light of the gospel.–T. Warton.
P And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage. It should be remarked, that Milton wishes to die in the character of the melancholy man.-T. WARTON.
4 And every herb that sips the devo. It seems probable that Milton was a student in botany ; for he speaks with great pleasure of the hopes he had formed of being assisted in this study by his friend Charles Deodate, who was a physician. See “ Epitaph. Damon.” v. 150.—T. Warton.
Of “ L'Allegro" and “ Il Penseroso," I believe, opinion is uniform ; every man that reads them, reads them with pleasure. The author's design is not, what Theobald has femarked, merely to show how objects derive their colours from the mind, by representing the operation of the same things upon the gay and the melancholy temper, or upon the same man as he is differently disposed; but rather how, among the successive variety of appearances, every disposition of mind takes hold on those by which it may be gratified.
The cheerful man hears the lark in the inorning ; the pensive man hears the nightingale in the evening : the cheerful man sees the cock strut, and hears the horn and hounds echo in the wood ; then walks,“ not unscen,” to observe the glory of the rising sun, or listen to the singing milk-maid, and view the labours of the ploughman and the mower ; then casts bis eyes about him over scenes of smiling plenty, and looks up to the distant tower, the residence of some fair inhabitant : thus he pursues rural gaiety through a day of labour or of play, and delights himself at night with the fanciful narratives of superstitious igoorance. The pensive man, at one time, walks “ unseen” to muse at midnight; and, at another, bears the solemn curfew : if the weather drives him home, he sits in a room lighted only by “ glowing embers ;” or by a lonely lamp outwatches the north star, to discover the habitation of separate souls; and varies the shades of meditation, by contemplating the magnificent or pathetic scenes of tragic and epic poetry. When the morning comes, a morning gloomy with rain and wind, he falls asleep by some murmuring water, and with melancholy enthusiasm expects some dream of prognostication, or some music played by aerial performers.
Both Mirth and Melancholy are solitary, silent inhabitants of the breast, that neither receive nor transmit communication ; no mention is therefore made of a philosophical friend, or of a pleasant companion. The seriousness does not arise from any participation of calamity, nor the gaiety from the pleasures of the bottle. The man of cheerfulness,