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A spirit and judgment equal or superior, (And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek?) Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
326 Deep vers'd in books and shallow in himself, Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys, And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge; As children gathering pebbles on the shore. Or if I would delight my private hours With music or with poem, where so soon As in our native language can I find That solace? All our law and story strow'd With hymns, our psalms with artful terms inscrib'd, 335 Our Hebrew songs and harps in Babylon, That pleas'd so well our victor's ear, declare That rather Greece from us these arts deriv'd;
325. And what he brings, what Shiggaion of David, Michtam of needs he elsewhere seek?] The David, &c. to denote the various poet makes the old sophister the kinds of psalms or instruments. Devil always busy in his trade. 336. Our Hebrew songs and It is a pity he should make Jesus harps in Babylon, (as he does here) use the same That pleas'd so well our victor's Warburton.
ear,] 329. -worth a sponge ;] Not This is said upon the authority worth seeing the light, not worth of Psalm cxxxvïi. 1, &c. By the preserving; alluding to the use rivers of Babylon, there we sal of the sponge for blotting out down, yea we wept, when we reany thing written. So Augustus membered Sion. We hanged our said of his tragedy, which he harps upon the willows in the had attempted, but had laid midst thereof. For there they that aside, Ajacem suum in spongium carried us away captive, required incubuisse. Suetonius Vit. Aug. of us a song; and they that wasted Dunster.
us, required of us mirth, saying, 335. —our psalms with artful Sing us one of the songs of Sion. terms inscribd,] He means the 338. That rather Greece from inscriptions often prefixed to the us these arts deriv'd;] This was beginning of several psalms, such the system in vogue at that time. as To the chief musician upon It was established and supported Nehiloth, To the chief musician with vast erudition by Bochart; on Neginoth upon Sheminith, and carried to an extravagant
Ill imitated, while they loudest sing
345 Will far be found unworthy to compare and even ridiculous length by bably suggested the following Huetius and Gale. Warburton. lines in the Duke of Bucking
Clemens Alexandrinus ascribes ham's Essay on Poetry, the invention of hymns and Figures of speech, which poets think songs to the Jews; and says that so fine, the Greeks stole theirs from them. (Art's needless varnish to make na. (Stromat. 1. i. p. 308. Ed. Colon.
Are all but paint upon a beauteous 1688.) He also charges the
face, Grecian philosophers with steal
And in descriptions only claim a ing many of their doctrines from place. the Jewish prophets, (1. i. p. 312.) As Milton, perhaps, had ShakeDunster.
speare in his mind: 341. -personating,] This is
The 'harlot's cheek, beautied with in the Latin sense of persono, to plastering art, celebrate loudly, to publish or Is not more ugly to the thing that proclaim. Dunster.
helps it, 343. -swelling epithets] Greek Than is my deed to my most painted
word. Hamlet, a. iii. s. 1. compounds. Warburton.
Dunster. The hymns of the Greek poets to their deities consist of
345. Thin sown with ought of little more than repeated invoca- profit and delight,] In allusion to tions of them by different names Horace, Art. Poet. 333. and epithets. Our Saviour very Aut prodesse volunt, aut delectare probably alluded to these, where
poetæ. he cautions his disciples against Plato also (De Repub. x. p. 607. vain repetitions and much speak- ed. Serran.) has said, that the ing (Bastonese) in their prayers, only justification of poetry is Matt. vi. 7. Thyer.
when it unites the power of Swelling epithets thick laid is pleasing with civil and moral particularly applicable to the instruction; as av movon video and Orphic hymns. Indeed gods and και ωφέλιμη προς τας πολιτειας και heroes were scarcely ever men- τον βιον τον ανθρωπινον εστι, Duntioned by the Greek poets with sler. out some swelling or compound 346. Will far be found unworepithet. -thick laid as varnish on thy to compare a harlot's cheek ; these words pro
With Sion's songs,]
With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling,
He was of this opinion not only scure, and liable to mistake. The in the decline of life, but like- meaning of them is, poets from wise in his earlier days, as ap- thee inspired are not such as pears from the preface to his these, unless where moral virtue second book of the Reason of is expressed &c. Meadowcourt. Church-Government. • Or if The obscurity, if not caused, “occasion shall lead to imitate is increased by departing from “ those magnific odes and hymns the punctuation of the first edi6 wherein Pindarus and Calli- tion, which had a semicolon after “ machus are in most things not such from thee. Unless cer“ worthy, some others in their tainly has no reference to the “ frame judicious, in their mat- line immediately preceding, but “ ter most an end faulty. But to v. 346. “ those frequent songs through- Will far be found unworthy to com" out the law and prophets be
pare “ yond all these, not in their di- With Sion's songs, &c.
Unless where moral virtue is ex. “ vine argument alone, but in
press'd " the very critical art of compo
By light of nature, not in all quite “sition, may be easily made ap- lost. “pear over all the kinds of lyric I could wish however that the “ poetry, to be incomparable.”
had been otherwise ar948. Where God is prais'd ranged, and these two lines, v. aright, and God-like menn] The 351, 352, inserted in a parentheonly poetry which Plato recom
sis, after v. 345. Dunster. mends to be admitted into a state
353. --Is those] I should
preare hymns to the gods, and en- fer -as though. Calton. comiums on virtuous actions.
354. -statists] Or statesmen. Eιδεναι δε ότι όσον μονον ύμνους θεοις A word in more frequent use και εγκωμια της αγαθης ποιησιως πα- formerly, as in Shakespeare, eadur Thor 65 Fouw. De Repub. lib. Cymbeline, act ii. sc. 5. x. p. 607. ed. Serran. Dunster.
I do believe, 350. Such are from God inspir'd,
(Statist though I am none, nor like not such from thee,
to be ;) Unless where moral virtue is ex- and Hamlet, act v. sc. 3. press'd &c.]
I once did hold it, as our statists do, The sense of these lines is ob
And lovers of their country, as may seem ;
So spake the Son of God; but Satan now
Since neither wealth, nor honour, arms nor arts,
354. Milton has statists for civilization, and knowledge; the statesmen in his Areopagitica. several claims of which are fully Prose works, p. 424. ed. Amst. stated, with much ornament of 1698. Dunster.
language, and poetic decoration. 362. makes happy, and keeps It is observed indeed by Mr. so] Hor. Epist. i. vi. 2.
Hayley, that “as in the Paradise
Lost the poet seems to emulate -facere et servare beatum.
the sublimity of Moses and the
Prophets, it appears to have 562. Prov. xiv. 34. Righteous- been his wish in the Paradise ness exalteth a nation, but sin is a Regained to copy the sweetness reproach to any people. Dunster. and simplicity of the Evan
365. So spake the Son of God ;] gelists." "Life of Milton, p. 125. From the beginning of the third And certainly the great object book to this place practical of this second poem seems to be Christianity, personified as it the exemplification of true evanwere in the character of Jesus, gelical virtue, in the person and is contrasted with the boasted sentiments of our blessed Lord. pretensions of the heathen world, Dunster. in its zenith of power, splendour,
What dost thou in this world? the wilderness
380. -fulness of time,] Gal. vil, without shewing at the same iv. 4. When the fulness of the time the absurdity of it. He has time was come, God sent forth his therefore very judiciously made Son.
him blunder in the expression, 382. --if I read ought in hea- of portending a kingdom which was ven, &c.] A satire on Cardan, without beginning. This destroys who with the boldness and im- all he would insinuate. The piety of an atheist and a mad- poet's conduct is fine and inman, both of which he was, cast genious. See Warburton's Shakethe nativity of Jesus Christ, and speare, vol. vi. Lear, act i. sc. 8. found by the great and illustrious 382. The poet certainly never concourse of stars at his birth, meant to make the Tempter a that he must needs have the for- blunderer. The language is here tune which befel him, and be intended to be highly sarcastic come the author of a religion, on the eternity of Christ's kingwhich should spread itselt far dom, which, the Tempter says, and near for many ages.
The will have one of the properties great Milton, with a just indig- of eternity, that of never beginnation of this impiety, hath sa- ning. This is that species of intirized it in a very beautiful suling wit which Mr. Thyer says, manner, by putting these reve- when he defends the introducries into the mouth of the Devil: tion of it into the sixth book of where it is to be oserved, that Par. Lost, “ is most peculiar to the poet thought it not enough proud contemptuous spirits." to discredit judicial astrology by Dunster. making it patronised by the De