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public theatre. It was not written for such, but for the hall of a nobleman, in the purpose of inspiring elevated sentiments into the breasts of the actors and audience; and what piece was ever calculated to effect this in a more exalted degree ? Who ever, except Johnson, thought it " inelegantly splendid, and tediously instructive ? ”'_DR. AIKIN's Remarks on Johnson's Life of Milton.

· L'Allegro and Il Penseroso may be called the two first descriptive poems in the English language. It is perhaps true, that the characters are not sufficiently kept apart. But this circumstance has been productive of greater excellences. It has been remarked, “No mirth indeed can be found in his melancholy; but I am afraid I always meet some melancholy in his mirth.” Milton's is the dignity of mirth ; his cheerfulness is the cheerfulness of gravity. The objects he selects in his L'Allegro are so far gay as they do not naturally excite sadness. Laughter and jollity are named only as personifications, and never exemplified. Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles, are enumerated only in general terms. There is specifically no mirth in contemplating a fine landscape. And even his landscape, although it has flowery meads and flocks, wears a shade of pensiveness, and contains russet lawns, fallows grey, and barren mountains overhung with labouring clouds. Its old turreted mansions peeping from the trees, awakens only a train of solemn and romantic, perhaps melancholy, reflection. Many a pensive man listens with delight to the milkmaid singing blithe, to the mower whetting his scythe, and to a distant peal of village bells. He chose such illustrations as minister matter for true poetry and genuine description. Even his most brilliant imagery is mellowed with the sober hues of philosophical meditation. It was impossible for the author of Il Penseroso to be more cheerful, or to paint mirth with levity; that is, otherwise than in the colours of the higher poetry. Both poems are the result of the same feelings, and the same habits of thought. Dr. Johnson has remarked that in L'Allegro,

no part of the gaiety is made to arise from the pleasure of the bottle.". The truth is, that Milton means to describe the cheerfulness of the philosopher or the student, the amusements of a contemplative mind. And on this principle he seems unwilling to allow that mirth is the offspring of Bacchus and Venus, deities who preside over sensual gratifications, but rather adopts the fiction of those more serious and sapient fablers who suppose that her proper parents are Zephyr and Aurora; intimating, that her cheerful enjoyments are those of the temperate and innocent kind, of early hours and rural pleasures. That critic does not appear

to have entered into the spirit, or to have comprehended the meaning of our author's Allegro.'—WARTON's Edition of Milton's Minor Poems.

[Milton, born in London in 1608; died there in 1674. On leaving Cambridge in 1632, he went to live at his father's estate at Horton near Colnbrooke, Bucks, a little to the east of Windsor. He resided at Horton five years; and in 1637 visited France and Italy. From 1638 till the restoration of Charles II. in 1660, he was occupied in political controversy, or in the official duties of Latin Secretary to Cromwell. It was during the five years of his literary retirement at Horton that Milton wrote the Arcades (1634); Comus (1634); Lycidas (1637); and L’Allegro and Il Penseroso. The precise dato of the composition of these last two is uncertain; but the subject of them seems to have been suggested to Milton by a poem prefixed to

a the first edition of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, some of the lines of which we here subjoin from Peck's quotation of the poem in his Memoirs of Milton, along with a song from Fletcher's comedy of Nice Valour, which the reader will at once perceive to have been present to the mind of the writer of I Penseroso.—EDITOR.] When I go musing all alone,

Hence all you vain delights, And think of diverse things foreknown; As short as are the nights When I build castles in the air,

Wherein ye spend your folly: And void of sorrow, void of fear,

There's nought in this life sweet, Still please myself with fancies sweet,

If man were wise to see 't, Methinks the time runs very fleet;

But only Melancholy: All my joys to this are folly;

O sweetest Melancholy! Nought ro gay as Melancholy.

Welcome arms folded and fixed eyes, When to myself I act and smile,

A sigh that, piercing, mortifies, With pleasing thoughts the time beguile,

A look that's fastened to the ground, By a brook side or wood so green,

A tongue chained up without a sound, Unheard, unsought for, and unseen:

Fountain heads, and pathless groves, Methinks I hear, methinks I see,

Places which pale passion loves Soft music, and sweet melody,

Moonlight walks, when all the fowls Towns, palaces, and cities fine,

Are warmly housed, save bats and owls; Where beauties, and fair ladies shine; A midnight bell, a parting groanAll other joys to this are folly;

These are the sounds we feed upon; Nought so blest as Melancholy.

Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy Methinks I hear, methinks I see,

valleyGhosts, goblins, fiends: my phantasy Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely MelanPre-ents a thousand ugly shapes;

choly. Each doleful cry, each fearful sight,

FLETCHER. Doth still my troubled soul affright; All other griefs to this are jolly: Nought so curst as Melancholy.

BURTON,

COMUS,

A MASK,

PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634, BEFORE JOHN EARL OF

BRIDGEWATER, THEN PRESIDENT OF WALES.

B

THE PERSONS.

THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterward in the habit of THYRSIS.
Comus, with his Crew.
THE LADY.
FIRST BROTHER.
SECOND BROTHER.
SABRINA, the Nymph.

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