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My sliding chariot stays,
That in the channel strays;
That bends not as I tread;
I am here.
Shepherd, 'tis my office best
[sabbina descends, and the Lady rises ont of her seat."]
Virgin, daughter of Locrine,
1 For Locrine was the son of Brutus, who was the son of Silrius, he of Ascanius, and Ascanius of yEneas, the son of Anchises.
2 i. e. swelling, rising to the brim.
From a thousand petty rills,
Come, lady, while Heaven lends us grace,
[The Scene changes, presenting Ludlow town and the Presi-
Back, shepherds, back! enough your play,
1 Bank* is the nominative case, as head was in the last line bnt one. The sense and syntax of the whole is, may thy head be crowned round about with towers, &c., and here and there [may] thy banks [be crowned] upon with groves, &o.—lutari^oiVTO oot at 6\Sai. The phrase is Greek.—CaUon.
Here be, without duck or nod,
Other trippings to be trod
Of lighter toes, and such court guise
As Mercury did first devise,
With the mincing Dryades,
On the lawns, and on the leas.1
[This second Song presents them to their Father and Mother.]
Noble lord, and lady bright,
I have brought ye new delight;
Here behold, so goodly grown,
Three fair branches of your own;
Heaven hath timely tried their youth,
Their faith, their patience, and their truth,
And sent them here through hard assays With a crown of deathless praise,
To triumph in victorious dance
[The dances ended, the Spirit epiloguip^s.l
To the ocean now I fly,3
1 Pastures, corn-fields.
* A paraphrase of Ariel's song in the " Tempest: "— "Where the bee sucks, there lurk I."
Flowers of more mingled hue
But now my task is smoothly done;
Mortals, that would follow me,
1 Flourished, embroided with the needle.
3 Venus, so called, because she was first worshipped by the Assyrians.
3 " Comus," observes Hallam," was sufficient to convince any one of taste and feeling, that a great poet had arisen in England, and one partly formed in a different school from his contemporaries. Many of them had produced highly beautiful and imaginative passages; but none had evinced so classical a judgment, none had aspired to so regular a perfection. Jonson had learned much from the ancients, but there was a grace in their best models which he did not quite attain. Neither his ' Sad Shepherd,' nor the ' Faithful Shepherdess' of Fletcher, have the elegance or dignity of 'Comus.' A noble virgin and her young brothers, by whom this masque was originally represented, required an elevation, a purity, a sort of severity of sentiment which no one in that age could have given but Milton. He avoided, and nothing loth, the more festive notes which dramatic poetry was xvn
[ In i.his monody the author hewails a learned friend, Mr. Edward King, who was unfortunately drowned in his passage from Chester on the Irish seas, 1637, and by occasion foretels the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their height.]
Yet once more, O ye laurels! and once more
wont to mingle with its serious strain. But for this he was compensated by the brightest hues of fancy, and the sweetest melody of song. In ' Comus' we find nothing prosaic or feeble, no false taste in the incidents, and not much in the language, nothing over which we should desire to pass on a second perusal. The want of what we may call personality, none of the characters having names, except Comas himself, who is a very indefinite being, and the absence of all positive attributes of time and place, enhance the ideality of the fiction by a certain indistinctness not unpleasing to the imagination."
1 " It has been said, I think very fairly, that Lycidas is a good test of real feeling for what is peculiarly called poetry. Many, or perhaps we might say most readers, do not taste its excellence; nor does it follow that Ihey may not greatly admire Pope and Dryden, or even Virgil and Homer. It is, however, somewhat remarkable, that Johnson, who has committed his critical reputation by the most contemptuous depreciation of this poem, had, in an earlier part of his life, selected the tenth Eclogue of Virgil for peculiar praise; the tenth Eclogue, which, beautiful as it is, belongs to the same class of pastoral