« PreviousContinue »
Gentle lady, may thy grave
Sent thee from the banks of Came. I have been told tbat there was a Cambridge collection of verses on her death, among which Milton's elegiac ode first appeared : but I have never seen it, and I rather think this was not the case : at least, we are sure that Milton was now a student at Cambridge. Our marchioness was the daughter of Thomas Lord Viscount Savage, of Rocksavage in Cheshire; | and it is natural to suppose, that her family was well acquainted with the family of Lord Bridgewater, belonging to the same county, for whom Milton wrote the Mask of * Comus." It is therefore not improbable that Milton wrote this elegy, another poetical favour, in consequence of his acquaintance with the Egerton family. The accomplished lady, bere cele brated, died in child-bed of a second son in her twenty-third year, and was the mother of Charles, the first Duke of Bolton.-T. WARTON.
s That fair Syrian shepherdess. Rachel. See Gen. xxix. 9. xxxv. 18.-T. WARTON.
+ Through pangs fled to felicity. We cannot too much admire the beauty of this line : I wish it had closed the poem; which it would have done with singular effect. What follows serves only to weaken it; and the last verse is an eminent instance of the bathos, where the "saint clad in radiant sheen sinks into a marchioness and a queen : but Milton seldom closes his little poems well.DUNSTER.
There is a pleasing vein of lyric sweetness and ease in Milton's use of this metre, which is that of “ L'Allegro” and “Il Penseroso :” he has used it with equal success in Comus's festive song, and the last speech of the Spirit, in “Comus,” 93. 922. From these specimens we may juatly wish that he had used it more frequently. Perhaps in Comus' song it has a peculiar propriety : it has certainly a happy effect.—T. WARTON.
SONG ON MAY MORNING.
Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing !
And welcome thee, and wish thee long. This beautiful littlo song presents an eminent proof of Milton's attention to the effect of metre, in that admirable change of numbers, with which he describes the appearance of the May Morning, and salutes her after she has appeared ; as different as the subject is, and produced by the transition from iambics to trochaics. So in “ L'Allegro,” he banishes Melancholy in iambics, but invites Euphrosyne and her attendants in trochaics.— TODD.
ANNO ÆTATIS XIX.
At a vacation Exercises in the College, part Latin, part English. The Latin
hat now I use thee in my latter task :
And from thy wardrobe bring thy chiefest treasure; - Written in 1627 : it is hard to say why these poems did not first appear in edition 1645. They were first added, but misplaced, in edition 1673.—T. Warton.
Not those new-fangled toys, and trimming slight,
b Not those new-fangled toys, and trimming slight,
Which takes our late fantasticks with delight. Perhaps he here alludes to Lily's “ Euphues," a book full of affected pretended to reform or refine the English language ; and whose effec published some years before, still remained. The ladies and the courtier in this new style: and it was esteemed a mark of ignorance or unpolit stand Euphuism.-T. WARTON.
c Yet I had rather, if I were to chuse,
Thy service in some graver subject use, &c. It appears, by this address of Milton to his native language, that even he had the ambition to think of writing an epic poem; and it is worth attention to observe how much the “ Paradise Lost” corresponds in its ( prophetic wish he now formed.-- THYER.
Here are strong indications of a young mind anticipating the subjec Lost," if we substitute christian for pagan ideas. He was now deep in T. WARTON.
d Unshorn Apollo. An epithet, by which he is distinguished in the Greek and Latin poet
e Watchful fire. See Ode, Chr. Nativity," v. 21 :-“ And all the spangled host ke bright.”—HURD.
We have “ vigil flamma in Ovid, “ Trist." iii. v. 4: and “ vigiles Am." iii. 463.-T. WARTON.
I Green-eyed Neptune. Virgil “ Georg.”' iv. 451. Of Proteus :
Ardentes oculos intorsit lumine glauco.-T. WARTON.
Then sing of secret things that came to pass
That to the next I may resign my room. Then Ens is represented as father of the Predicaments, his ten sons, whereof the eldest stood for Substance with his canons, which Ens, thus speaking, explains :
Good luck befriend thee, son; for, at thy birth,
& Such as the wise Demodocus once told. He now little thought that Homer's beautiful couplet of the fate of Demodocus could, in a few years, with so much propriety be applied to himself. He was but too conscious of his resemblance to some other Greek bards of antiquity when he wrote the “Paradise Lost." See b. iii. 33. seq.-T. Warton.
h Good luck befriend thee, son, &c. Here the metaphysical or logical Ens is introduced as a person, and addressing his eldest son Substance ; afterwards the logical Quantity, Quality, and Relation, are personified, and speak. This affectation will appear more excusable in Milton, if we recollect that every thing, in the masks of this age, appeared in a bodily shape. “ Airy Nothing" bad not only a " local habitation and a name,
,” but a visible figure.—T, WARTON.
| For, at thy birth,
The faery ladies danced upon the hearth. This is the first and last time that the system of the fairies was ever introduced to illustrate the doctrine of Aristotle's ten categories. It may be remarked that they both were in fashion, and both exploded, at the same time.-T. WARTON.
Shall subject be to many an Accident. A pun on the logical Accidens.-T. WARTON.
O'er all his brethren he shall reign as king k,
Your learned hands, can loose this Gordian knot?
k O'er all his brethren he shall reign as king. The Predicaments are bis brethren; of or to which he is the Subj in excellence and order.-T. WARTON.
| Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under. They cannot exist, but as inherent in Substance.-T. WARTON.
m From others he shall stand in need of nothing. He is still Substance, with or without Accident.-T. Warton.
Yet on his brothers shall depend for clothing. By whom he is clothed, superinduced, modified, &c.: but he is still the “Substantia substantiæ novæ contrariatur,” is a school maxim.
p To harbour those that are at enmity. His Accidents.-T. Warton.
9 Rivers, arise, &c. Milton is supposed, in the invocation and assemblage of these river on Spenser's episode of the nuptials of Thames and Medway, “Fae I rather think he consulted Drayton's " Polyolbion.” It is hard or in what manner, this introduction of the rivers was to be appli T. Warton.
r Or Trent, who, like some Earth-born giant, spread
His thirty arms along the indented meads. It is said that there were thirty sorts of fish in this river, and thirt its banks. These traditions, on which Milton has raised a noble imag namo Trent.-T. Warton.
& Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath. At Mickleham, near Dorking in Surrey, the river Mole, during th heavy rains, sinks through its sandy bed into a subterraneous and in winter it constantly keeps its current.-T. WARTON.
+ Or Severn swifi, guilty of maiden's death. The maiden is Sabrina. See “ Comus,” v. 827.-T. Warton.