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Cries the stall-reader, Bless us ! what a word on
A title-page is this ! and some in file
End Green. Why is it harder, sirs, than Gordon,
Those rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek,
That would have made Quintilian stare and gasp.
Hated not learning worse than toad or asp,
I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty, before the lords : but they not approving his accusers, the presbyterian clergy, or thinking the business too speculative, he was quickly dismissed. On this occasion Milton commebord hostilities against the presbyterians. He illustrates his own system in this line of - Par. Lost," b. ix. 372. “Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more." Milton wished be had not written this work in English. This is observed by Mr. Bowle, who points out the following proof, in the “Defensio Secunda :"_" Vellem hoc tantum, sermone vernaculo me non scripsisse : non enim in vernas lectores incidissem, quibus solende est sus bona iguorare, aliorum mala irridere." This was one of Milton's books published in code sequence of his divorco [separation) from his first wife. " Tetrachordon" siguities expo sitions on the four chief places in Scripture which mention marriage or pullities in marriage. — T. WARTON.
9 Colkitlo, or Macdonnel, or Galasp. Milton is here collecting, from his batred to the Scots, what he thinks Scottish names of an ill sound. “ Colkitto" and Macdonnel," are one and the same person; a brave office on the royal side, an Irishman of the Antrim family, who served under Montrose: the Macdonalds of that family are styled, by way of distinction, “ Mac Colleittok," i. c. descendants of lame Colin. “Galasp is a Scottish writer against the independents; for whom see Milton's verses “ On the Forcers of Conscience," &c. He is George Gillespie, one of the Scotch members of the assembly of divines, as his name is subscribed to their letter to the Belgic, French, and Helvetian churches, dated 1643 : in which they pror, " that these three nations may be joined as one stick in the hands of the Lord ; that all mountains may become plains before them and us; that then all who now see the plummet in our hands, may also behold the top-stone set upon the head of the Lord's house among us, and may help us with shouting to cry, Grace, grace to it." Rushw. p. 371. Such was the rhetoric of these reformers of reformation !—T, Warton.
r Sir John Check. Or Cheke: he was the first professor of the Greek tongue in the muiversity of Cam. bridge, and was highly instrumental in bringing that language into repute, and restoring the original pronunciation of it; though with great opposition from the patrons of ignin rance and popery, and especially from Gardiner, bishop of Winchester and chancellor of the university. He was afterwards made one of the tutors to Edward VI. See bis Life by Strype, or in the “ Biographia Britannica."-Newton. • The preceding Sonnet is evidently of a ludicrous, the present of a more contemptuous
There is a portrait of the celebrated Spanish poet, Lopez de Vega, painted when he was young ; surrounded by dogs, monkeys, and other monsters, and writing in the midst of them, without attending to their noise. It is not improbable that Milton might have seen, or heard of, this curious picture of his contemporary ; and be led, in consequence, to describe so minutely, in this Sonnet, the "barbarous noise that cnvironed him."-Todd.
When straight a barbarous noise environs me
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes, and dogs :
Raild at Latona's twin-born progeny,
But this is got by casting pearl to hogs;
And still revolt when truth would set them free'.
Licence they mean when they cry liberty ;
But from that mark how far they rove we see,
HARRY, whose tuneful and well-measured song
First taught our English musick how to span
With Midas ears, committing short and long *;
With praise enough for Envy to look wan :
That with smooth air couldst humour best our tongue.
To honour thee, the priest of Phæbus quire,
? Then straight a barbarous noise, &c. Milton was violently censured by the presbyterian clergy for his “ Tetrachordon," and other tracts of that tendency.- T. WARTON.
u As when those hinds, &c. The fable of the Lycian clowns changed into frogs is related by Ovid, “Met." vi. fab. 4: and the poet, in saying “ Which after held the sun and moon in fee,” intimates the good hopes which he had of himself, and his expectations of making a considerable figure in the world.-Newton.
When truth rould set them free. Compare St. John, viii. 32. “Ye sball know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."--TODD.
w Loss of blood. The latter part of this Sonnet is very fine, and contains a most important political truth.
s With Midas ears, committing short and long. Committing is a Latinism, as Mr. Warton observes ; and, as Mr. Richardson had remarked, conveys with it the idea of offending against quantity and harmony.--Todd.
y Exempts thee from the throng. Horace, “ Od." 1. i. 32. “ Secernunt populo."--RICHARDSON.
2 Thou shalt be torit the man. This also is in the style of Horace, " Od." 1. vi. 1 :
Scriberis Vario fortis, et hostium
a Or story. “ The story of Ariadne set by him to musick.” This is a note in the margin of this Sonnet, as it stands prefixed to “ Choice Psalms put into musick by Henry and William Lawes, Lond. for H. Moseley, 1648.” The inscription is there, “To my friend Mr. Henry Lawes.”_T. WARTON.
Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
Than his Casella, whom he wood to sing
ON THE RELIGIOUS MEMORY OF MRS. CATHARINE THOMSON,
MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND, DECEASED DEC. 16, 1646.
When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,
Had ripen'd thy just soul to dwell with God,
Of death, call’d life; which us from life doth sever.
Stay'd not behind, nor in the grave were trod";
Follow'd thee up to joy and bliss for ever.
Thy handmaids, clad them o'er with purple beams
And azure wings, that up they flew so drest,
Before the Judge ; who thenceforth bid the rest,
TO THE LORD GENERAL FAIRFAX.
Fairfax, whose name in arms through Europe rings,
b Than his Casella, &c. Dante, on his arrival in Purgatory, sees a vessel approaching the shore, freighted with souls under the conduct of an angel, to be cleansed from their sins, and made fit for Parsdise : when they are disembarked, the poet recognises in the crowd his old friend Casella the musician. The interview is strikingly imagined, and, in the course of an affectionate dialogue, the poet requests a soothing air; and Casella sings, with the most ravishing sweetness, Dante's second Canzone. By “milder shades," our author means, shades comparatively much less horrible than those which Dante describes in the “Inferno."T. WARTON. See a notice of Henry Lawes in the notes prefised to “ Comus."
SONNET XIV.-€ Mrs. Catharine Thomson. I find in the accounts of Milton's life, that when he was first niade Latin Secretary, he lodged at one Thomson's, next door to the Bull-head tavern at Charing-cross. This Mrs. Thomson was in all probability one of that family.-Newton.
Slay'd not behind, nor in the grare were trod. “Nor in the grave were trod,” is a beautiful periphrasis for a good deeds forgotten at her death,” and a happy improvement of the original line in the manuscript ;-"Straight follow'd thee the path that saints bave trod.”—T. Warton.
e With her golden rod. Perhaps from the golden reed in the Apocalypse.-T. WARTON.
' For obvious political reasons, this Sonnet, the two following, and the two to Cyriack ! Skinner, were not inserted in the edition of 1673; they were first printed at the end of Philips's Life of Milton prefixed to the English version of his public letters, 1694. They arc quoted by Toland in his Life of Milton, 1698, p. 24. 34. 35. Tonson omitted them in his editions of 1695, 1705 : but growing less offensive by time, they appear in his edition of 1713. The Cambridge manuscript happily corrects many of their vitiated readings.
And all her jealous monarchs with amaze
And rumours loud, that daunt remotest kings”;
Victory home, though new rebellions raise
Her broken league h to imp their serpent-wings'.
(For what can war but endless war still breed ?)
Till truth and right from violence be freed,
Of publick fraud'. In vain doth Valour bleed,
CROMWELL, our chief of men, who through a cloud,
Not of war only', but detractions rude,
To peace and truth thy glorious way hast plough'd,
And on the neck of crowned Fortune " proud They were the favourites of the republicans long after the Restoration : it was some consolation to an exterminated party to have such good poetry remaining on their side of the question. These five Sonnets, being frequently transcribed, or repeated from memory, became extremely incorrect : their faults were implicitly preserved by Tonson, and afterwards continued without examination by Tickell and Fenton. This Sonnet, as appears from Milton's manuscript, was addressed to Fairfax at the siege of Colchester, 1648.—T. WARTON.
& Daunt remotest kings. Who dreaded the example of England, that their monarchics would be turned into republics.-T. Warton.
b Her broken league. Because the English parliament held, that the Scotch had broken their covenant, by Hamilton's march into England.- HURD.
i To imp their serpent-wings. In falconry, to imp a feather in a hawk's wing, is to add a new piece to a mutilated stamp. From the Saxon impan, to ingraft.-T. Warton.
j of public fraud. The presbyterian committees and sub-committees. The grievance so much complained of by Milton in his “ History of England.” “Publick "fraud” is opposed to “publick faith," the security given by the parliament to the city contributions for carrying on the war.- WARBURTON.
* Written in 1652. The prostitution of Milton's Muse to the celebration of Cromwell, was as inconsistent and unworthy, as that this enemy to kings, to ancient magnificence, and to all that is venerable and majestic, should have been buried in the chapel of Henry VII. but there is great dignity both of sentiment and expression in this Sonnet : and, unfortunately, the close is an anticlimax to both. After a long flow of perspicuous and nervous language, the unexpected pause at“ Worcester's laureat wreath,” is very emphatical and has a striking effect.-T. WARTON.
I Not of war only. A“ cloud of war" is a classical expression : “Nubem belli," Virg. “ Æn." x. 809.NEWTON.
His malignity to kings aided his imagination in the expression of this sublime sentiment -HURD.
m Crourned Fortune.
Tanto del forse, e d' invidia sicuro,
Di timori, e speranze, al popol use,
Quanto d'ingegno, e d' alto valor vago,
Sol troverete in tal parte men duro,
ON HIS BEING ARRIVED TO THE AGE OF TWENTY-TUREE
How soon hath Time", the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
That I to manhood am arrived so near ;
That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th.
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
& L'insanabil ago. Milton had a natural severity of mind. For love-verses, his Italian sonnets have a remarkable air of gravity and dignity: they are free from the metaphysics of Petrarch, and are more in the manner of Dante: yet he calls his seventh sonnet, in a letter printed from the Cambridge manuscript by Birch, a composition in the Petrarchian stanza. In 1762, the late Mr. Thomas Hollis examined the Laurentian library at Florence, for six Italian sonnets of Milton, addressed to his friend Chimentelli; and for other Italian and Latin compositions and various original letters, said to be remaining in manuscript at Florence : he searched also for an original bust in marble of Milton, supposed to be soinewhere in that city : but he was unsuccessful in his curious inquiries.—T. Warton.
This bust of Milton is now in England : it is beautifully carved, small, and in a very architectural case of mahogany. The likeness shows both the features and the age of the poet.-J. B.
Mr. Hayley justly considers this sonnet as a very spirited and singular sketch of the poet's own character. - Topp.
h Hore soon hath Time, &c. This sonnet was written at Cambridge in 1631, and sent in the following letter to a friend, who had importuned our author to take orders:
“Sir,— Besides that, in sundry other respects, I must acknowledge me to profit by you whenever we meet; you are often to me, and were yesterday especially, as good a watchman . to admonish that the hours of the night pass on, (for so I call my life, as yet obscure and unserviceable to mankind) and that the day with me is at hand, wherein Christ commands all to labour while there is light : which because I am persuaded you do to no other purpose, than out of a true desire that God should be honoured in every one, I therefore think myself bound, though unaskt, to give you account, as oft as occasion is, of this iny tardy moving, according to the precept of my conscience, which I firmly trust is not without God. Yet now I will not streine for any set apologie, but only refere myself to what my mind shall have at any time, to declare herself at her best case. But if you think as you said. that too much love of learning is in fault, and that I have given up myself to dreame away my years in the arms of a studious retirement, like Endymion with the Moone, as the tale of Latmus goes; yet consider, that if it were no more than the meer love of learning,