Abbildungen der Seite


Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o’er th' accustom’d oak;



I cannot agree with Doctor 120, 128. Other examples are Newton about this representa- obvious. T. Warton. tion of Contemplation. To say 56. 'Less Philomel will deign a nothing, that gaiety cannot very song, properly belong to the notion of In her sweetest, saddest plight, a being, who is "guiding the Smoothing the rugged brow of “ fiery-wheeled throne.” Shake- night,] speare has indeed given us the Compare Shakespeare, Sonnet li. vulgar cherub, in K. Hen. VIII. and see note, P. R. iv. 246. act i. . 1.

As Philomel in summer's front doth Their dwarfish pages were

sing, As cherubims, all gilt.

And stops his pipe in growth of riper

days, But that Milton's uniform con- Not that the summer is less pleasant ception of this species of angel was very different,

Than when her mournful hymns did from appears

hush the night. various passages of the Paradise

Dunster. Lost. Satan calls Beelzebub “ fallen Cherub,” b. i. 57. Che- 59. - dragon yoke,] This of rub and Seraph, part of the rebel fice is attributed to dragons on warrior-angels, are “ rolling in account of their watchfulness. “ the flood with scattered arms So Shakespeare in Cymbeline, “and ensigns.” Ibid. 324. Again, act ii. sc. 2. “ Millions of flaming swords are Swift, swift, you dragons of the night. « drawn from the thighs of mighty And in Troilus and Cressida, act “ Cherubim," b. i. 665. The cherub Zephon is a leader of the

V. SC. 14. radiant files of heaven; and, in

The dragon wing of night o'erspreads the figure of a graceful young

the earth. man,

in youthful Milton has somewhat of the same “ beauty," rebukes Satan, b. v. thought again in his Latin poems. 797, 845. “A cherubic watch, In obitum Præsulis Eliensis. a cohort bright of watchful

Longeque sub pedibus deam “ cherubim," is stationed on the

Vidi triformem, dum coercebat suos eastern verge of Paradise, b. xi. Frænis dracones aureis.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]



Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee chauntress oft the woods among
I woo to hear thy even-song;
And missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wand'ring moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the heav’n’s wide pathless way,
And oft, as if her head she bow'd,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off curfeu sound,


59. Add from Shakespeare, -Both when thou climb'st, Mids. N. Dr. act iii. s. 9.

"And when high noon hast gain'd, and

when thou fall'st. For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast.

See the note, Sams. Agon. 683. T. Warton. Jonson has “the noon of night.

Sejan. vol. ii. 238. and he refers 61. Sweet bird, &c.] It is re- us to the meridies noctis of the markable that here he begins his Latins. And in his Masques, vol. time from evening, as in L'Alle- vi. 79. gro from the early morning, and here with the nightingale as there

A moon of light with the lark. And as Mr. Thyer

In the noon of night.

T. Warton, observes, this rapturous start of the poet's fancy in praise of his 74. I hear the far-off curfeu favourite bird is extremely na- sound, &c.] William the Contural and beautiful: and it is queror, in the first year of his worth the reader's while tco to reign, commanded that in every observe, how finely he makes it town and village a bell should serve to connect his subject, and be rung every night at eight of insensibly as it were to intro- the clock, and that all persons duce the following charming should then put out their fire night-scene.

and candle, and go to bed; the 68. Riding near her highest ringing of which bell was called noon.] So in P. L. v. 174. of the curfeu, Fr. couvre-feu, that is,

[ocr errors]

cover-fire. See the Glossary to



Over some wide-water'd shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar;
Or if the air will not permit,
Some still removed place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,


[ocr errors]

S. 2.

[ocr errors]

Chaucer. And the two follow- again, Meas. for Meas. “ How ing lines, with the frequent al- “ have I ever loved the life literation of the letter


inimit- remov'd, &c.” and in other ably express the motion and places of Shakespeare, as well as sound of a great heavy bell. We of Jonson. T. Warton. almost think we hear it.

80. Teach light to counterfeit a Over some wide-water'd shore,

gloom,] Statius, Theb. iv. 424. Swinging slow with sullen roar.

pallet mala lucis imago. Compare The poet no doubt remembered Shakespeare, Mids. N. Dr. a. v. Shakespeare's passing-bell, but I think he has exceeded his origi

Through this house give glimmering nal. Sonnet 71.


By the dead and drowsy fire. No longer mourn for me when I am

And Spenser, F. Q. i. i. 14. dead, Then you shall hear the surly sullen A little glooming light much like a bell

shade. Give warning to the world that I am

T. Warton. fied

82. Save the cricket on the From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell.

hearth.] Shakespeare, the uni78. Some still removed place versal and accurate observer of will fit.] That is," some quiet, introduced the crying of the

real nature, was the first who remote, or unfrequented place “ will suit my purpose.” Re

cricket, and with the finest effect,

into our poetry. - Or the bellparticiple passive for the Latin man's drowsy charm, &c. Compare reinote. So Shakespeare, Haml. Chaucer, Cant. T. v. 3479. ed. a. iv. S. 4.

Tyrwh. See also Cartwright's

Ordinary, a. iii. s. 1. Works, p. It waves you to a more removed 36, 1651. And Shakespeare, Cymground.

beline, a. ii. s. 2. and Merr. W. Again, Mids. N. Dr. a. i. s. 1.

a. v. s. 5. In Robert Herrick's From Athens is her house remov'd Hesperides, is a little


called seven leagues.

the Bellman, which contains this For so remote is printed in the charm, p. 139. ed. 1647. It

p folios 1623, 1632, and 1683. And begins thus,



Or the bellman's drowsy charm,
To bless the doors from nightly harm:
Or let my lamp at midnight hour,
Be seen in some high lonely tow'r,
Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato to unfold
What worlds, or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook:


From noise of scare-fires rest ye free, The spirit of Plato is rightly sum-
From murder, Benedicite !
From all mischances, that may fright

moned to unfold these particular Your pleasing slumbers in the night, notions, for he has treated more Mercie secure ye all, and keep

largely than any of the philosoThe goblin from ye while ye sleep, &c. phers, concerning the separate Anciently the watchman, who state of the soul after death, and cried the hours, used these or concerning demons residing in the like benedictions. T. Warton. the elements, and influencing the 85. Or let my lamp at midnight planets, and directing the course hour

of nature. The English reader Be seen in some high lonely may see a summary of his doctow'r.]

trines at the end of Stanley's The extraneous circumstance be Life of that philosopher. And seen gives poetry to the passage ;

as Mr. Thyer observes, the word and thus a picture is created unsphere alludes to the Platonic which fills the imagination. T. notion of different spheres or Warton.

regions being assigned to spirits 87. Where I may oft outwatch of different degrees of perfection the Bear,] The constellation so or impurity. The same term is called, that never sets. Virg. used in the Mask, ver. 2. Georg. i. 246.

-where those immortal shapes Arctos oceani metuentes æquore tingi. Of bright aerial spirits live inspherd

In regions mild of calm and serene air. 88. With thrice great Hermes,] Hermes Trismegistus, the Egyp- 89. This shews what sort of tian philosopher, flourished a contemplation he was fond of. little after Moses. He main- Milton's imagination made him tained the truth of one God as much a mystic as his good against the idolatry and poly- sense would give leave. Hurd. theism of his countrymen. Peck. 91. The immortal mind that 88. or unsphere

hath forsook] Compare P. R. iv. The spirit of Platoto unfold &c.] 598. and see the note on the


And of those Demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
Whose power hath a true consent
With planet, or with element.
Sometime let gorgeous tragedy
In sceptred pall come sweeping by,
Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line,
Or the tale of Troy divine,


Demons of the Elements, P. R. These four Latin verses form ii. 122. E.

the context now before us. 98. In sceptred pall] The Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy same that Horace calls palla In sceptred pall come sweeping by; honesta. De Arte Poet. 278. Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line,

Or the Tale of Troy divine. Post hunc persona pallæque repertor

In Paradise Regained, he partihonestac Æschylus

cularises the lofty grave tragedians 98. But Horace, I humbly ap- of Athens. B. iv. 266. And these prehend, only means, that' Æs- are they, who display the vicis. chylus introduced masks and situdes of human life by examples better dresses. Palla honesta is

Palla honesta is of Great Misfortune, , simply a decent robe. Milton

High actions and high passions best means something more. Ву

describing. clothing. Tragedy in her scep- In the Tractate of Education, he tred pall, he intended speci- recommends " Attic Tragedies of

“ fically to point out regal stories

o stateliest and most regal argu. the proper arguments of the " ment.” Edit. 1673. p. 109. higher drama. And this more Ovid, whom Milton in some of expressly appears, from the sub- his prose pieces prefers to all the jects immediately mentioned in Roman poets besides, has also the subsequent couplet. Our marked the true, at least original, author has also personified Tra- province of Tragedy, by giving gędy, in the same meaning, her a sceptre. Åmor. 1. lii. i. 11. where he gives her a bloody And we there trace Milton's pall sceptre, implying the distresses also. of kings, El. i. 37.

Venit et ingenti violenta Tragedia Sive cruentatum furiosa Tragedia scep.

passu, trum

Fronte comæ torva, Palla jacebat Quassat, et effusis crinibus ora


Læva manus Sceptrum late regale teHe then illustrates or exemplifies

nebat, &c.

T. Warton. his personification.

99. Presenting Thebes, or PeSeu mæret Pelopea domus, seu no. bilis Ili,

lops' line, Seu luit incestos aula Creuntis avos. Or the tale of Troy divine,]


« ZurückWeiter »