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Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.



173. Till old experience do ate the English stage, he wrote six tain

cantatas, composed by Pepusch, To something like prophetic which were designed as an essay strain.]

or specimen, the first in its kind, This resembles what Cornelius for compositions in English after Nepos says of Cicero, that his the Italian manner. He was also prudence seemed to be a kind of employed in fitting old pieces divination, for he foretold every for music. In the year 1711, thing that happened afterwards Sir Richard Steele, and Mr. like a prophet. -et facile exis. Clayton a composer, established timari possit, prudentiam quo- concerts in York-buildings; and dammodo divinationem. there is a letter dated that year, Non enim Cicero ea solum, quæ written by Steele to Hughes, in vivo se acciderunt, futura præ- which they desire him to " alter dixit, sed etiam quæ nunc usu “ this poem [Dryden's Alexanveniunt, cecinit, ut vates. Vita der's Feast] for music, preAttici, cap. 16. This ending is "serving as many of Dryden's certainly very fine, but though verses as you can.

It is to be Mr. Thyer thinks it perfect and “ performed by a voice well complete, yet others have been of « Skilled in recitative: but you opinion that something more “ understand all these matters might still be added, and I have “ much better than Yours, &c.” seen in Mr. Richardson's book

[See ibid.


xvii. and p. 127. some lines of Mr. John Hughes.

and vol. ii. p.71.] The two pro

jectors, we may probably supThere let Time's creeping winter

pose, were busy in examining shed

collections of published poetry His reverend snow around my head; And while I feel by fast degrees

for words to be set to music, for My sluggard blood wax chill and their concerts; and stumbled in freeze,

their search on one or both of Let thought unveil to my fix'd eye Milton's two poems. These they A scene of deep eternity, Till life dissolving at the view,

requested Hughes, an old and I wake and find the vision true.

skilful practitioner in that sort

of business, to alter and adapt 179. But this addition was not for musical composition. What made by Hughes, as I appre- he had done for Dryden, he hend, from any peculiar predi- might be desired to do for Millection for Milton's poem. ton. This seems to be the hisHughes was a frequent and pro- tory of Hughes's supplemental fessed writer of cantatas, masks, lines. Hughes, however, has an operas, odes, and songs for mu- expression from Comus, in his sic. In particular, before the in- Thought on a Garden, written troduction of Italian operas on 1704. Poems, vol. i. p. 171. v. 3.



These pleasures Melancholy give,
And I with thee will choose to live.


Here Contemplation prunes her

When I build castles in the ayre, wings.

Voide of sorrow, voide of feare : See Com. v. 377, 378. and the

Pleasing myselfe with phantasmes

sweet, note. T. Warton.

Methinkes the time runnes very fleet. Of these two exquisite little All my joyes to this are folly, poems, I think it clear that this Nought so sweet as Melancholy ! last is the most taking; which is When to myself I act and smile, owing to the subject. The mind With pleasing thoughts the time be.

guile, delights most in these solemn

By a brooke side, or wood so greene, images, and genius delights most Unheard, unsought for, and unseene; to paint them. Hurd.

A thousand pleasures do me blesse, It will be no detraction from the of Milton's original

Methinkes I hear, methinkes I see, powers

Sweet musicke, wondrous melodie ; genius and invention to remark,

Townes, palaces, and cities fine, that he seems to have borrowed Rare beauties, gallant ladies shine : the subject of L'Allegro and Il Whatever is lovely or divine: Penseroso, together with some

All other joyes to this are folly, particular thoughts, expressions,

Nought so sweet as Melancholy !

Methinkes I heare, methinkes I see and rhymes, more especially the Ghostes, goblins, fiendes: my phanidea of a contrast between these two dispositions, from a forgotten

Presents a thousand ugly shapes,

Dolefull outcries, fearefull sightes, poem prefixed to the first edition

My sad and dismall soule aftrightes : of Burton's Anatomie of Melan

All my griefes to this are folly, choly, entitled, “ The Author's Noughte so damnde as Melancholy ! Abstract' of Melancholy, or a

&c. &c. Dialogue between Pleasure and « Pain.

Here Pain is Melan- As to the very elaborate work choly. It was written, as I con

to which these visionary verses jecture, about the year 1600. I are no unsuitable introduction, will make no apology for ab- the writer's variety of learning, stracting and citing as much of his quotations from scarce and this poem, as will be sufficient to curious books, his pedantry prove to a discerning reader, how sparkling with rude wit and far it had taken possession of shapeless elegance, miscellaneMilton's mind. The measure

ous matter, intermixture of agreewill appear to be the same; and able tales and illustrations, and that our author was at least an perhaps, above all, the singuattentive reader of Burton's book, larities of his feelings clothed in may be already concluded from an uncommon quaintness of style, the traces of resemblance which have contributed to render it, I have incidentally noticed in even to modern readers, a valupassing through the L'Allegro able repository of amusement and Il Penseroso.

and information. When I goe musing all alone,

But I am here tempted to add Thinking of diverse thinges fore.

a part of Burton's prose, for the known;

sake of shewing, at one view,

66 times is,

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tibus auras.

how nearly Milton has sometimes " are cardes, tables, - musicke, pursued his train of thought, and “maskes, ulegames, catches,

o selection of objects, in various “purposes, questions*, merry passages of L'Allegro and Il tales of errant knights, kings, Penseroso. It is in the chapter “queenes, lovers, lordes, ladies, entitled, Exercise rectified both of “ dwarfes, theeves, fayries, &c. Body and Minde. “But the most " -- Dancing, singing, masking, pleasing of all outward pas- "mumming, stage-playes, howDeambulatio

per soever they bee heavily cenamæna loca, to make a pretty “ sured by some severe Catos,

progresse, to see citties, cas- yet if opportunely and soberly “ tles, townes: as Fracastorius,

« used, may justly be approved. Visere sæpe annes nitidos, perama.

-To read, walke, and see naque Tempe,

mappes and pictures, statues, Et placidas summis sectari in mon- “ old coynes of severall sortes,

“ in a fayre gallerie, artificiall To walke amongst orchards, workes, &c. Whosoever he is “ gardens, bowres, and artificiali therefore, that is overrunne “ wildernesses, green thickets," with solitarinesse, or carried “ arches, groves, rillets, foun- "away with a pleasing melancholy “tains, and such like pleasant “and vaine conceits,- I can pre“ places, like that Antiochian « scribe him no better remedie

Daphne, pooles, betwixt “ than this of study." He winds “ wood and water, in a faire up his system of studious recre“ meadow by a river side, to ation with a recommendation of

disport in some pleasant plaine, the sciences of morality, astroto run up a steepe hill, or sit nomy, botany, &c. « in a shadie seat, must needes 6 well-cut herball, all hearbs, 66 be a delectable recreation. “ trees, flowers, plants, expressed “ To see some pageant or sight “in their proper colours to the

go by, as at coronations, wed. “ life, &c." P. ii. s. 2. p. 224 “dings, and such like solemni- 234. edit. 1624. “ ties; to see an ambassadour, In Beaumont and Fletcher's “or prince, met, received, en- Nice Valour, or Passionate Mad“ tertained with maskes, shewes, man, there is a beautiful song on &c.-The

country has its re- Melancholy, some of the senticreations, may-games, feasts, ments of which, as Sympson wakes, and merry meetings. long since observed, appear to

All seasons, almost all have been dilated and heightplaces, have their severall pas- ened in the Il Penseroso. See “ times, some in sominer, some act iii. s. 1. vol. x. p. 336. Milton “ jn winter, some abroad, some has more frequently and

openly w within.

The ordinary re- copied the plays of Beaumont “ creations which we have in and Fletcher, than of Shake

winter, and in most solitary speare. One is therefore sur“ times busy our mindes with, prised, that in his panegyric on

" To see a

Cross-purposes, Questions and conmands, such as Milton calls « Quips, and 6 Cranks, and wanton Wiles." L'Allegro, v. 27.

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the stage, he did not mention of philosophic meditation. It was the twin-bards, when he cele- impossible for the author of Il brates the learned sock of Jon- Penseroso to be more cheerful, son, and the wood-notes wild of or to paint mirth with levity; Shakespeare.

that is, otherwise than in the L'Allegro and Il Penseroso may colours of the higher poetry. be called the two first descriptive Both poems are the

result of the poems in the English language. same feelings, and the same haIt is perhaps true, that the cha- bits of thought. See note on racters are not sufficiently kept L'All. v. 146. apart. But this circumstance has Doctor Johnson has remarked, been productive of greater ex- that in L'Allegro, "no part of cellencies. It has been remarked, “ the gaiety is made to arise from "No mirth indeed can be found "the pleasures of the bottle." “ in his melancholy, but I am The truth is, that Milton means

afraid I always meet some me- to describe the cheerfulness of “ lancholy in his mirth.” Mil- the philosopher or the student, ton's is the dignity of mirth. the amusements of a contemplaHis cheerfulness is the cheerful- tive mind. And on this princiness of gravity. The objects he ple, he seems unwilling to allow, selects in his L'Allegro are so far that Mirth is the offspring of gay, as they do not naturally Bacchus and Venus, deities who excite sadness. Laughter and preside over sensual gratificajollity are named only as personi- tions; but rather adopts the fications, and never exemplified. fiction of those more serious and Quips and cranks, and wanton sapient fablers, who suppose, that wilés, are enumerated only in her proper parents are Zephyr general terms. There is speci- and Aurora: intimating, that his fically no mirth in contemplating cheerful enjoyments are those of a fine landscape. And even his the temperate and innocent kind, landscape, although it has flow- of early hours and rural pleasures. ery meads and flocks, wears a That critic does not appear to shade of pensiveness; and con- have entered into the spirit, or to tains russet lawns, fallows grey, have comprehended the meaning, and barren mountains, overhung of our author's Allegro. with labouring clouds. Its old No man was ever so disqualiturretted mansion peeping from fied to turn puritan as Milton. the trees, awakens only a train In both these poems, he professes of solemn and romantic, perhaps himself to be highly pleased with melancholy, reflection. Many a the choral church-music, with pensive man listens with delight Gothic cloisters, the painted to the milk-maid singing blithe, windows and vaulted isles of a to the mower whetting his scythe, venerable cathedral, with tilts and and to a distant peal of village- tournaments, and with masques bells. He chose such illustrations and pageantries. as minister matter for true po- repugnant and unpoetical prinetry, and genuine description. ciples did he afterwards adopt ! Even his most brilliant imagery He helped to subvert monarchy, is mellowed with the sober hues to destroy subordination, and to

What very

level all distinctions of rank. outward solemnity, all that had But this scheme was totally in- ever any connection with poconsistent with the splendours of pery, tended to overthrow the society, with throngs of knights studious cloisters pale, and the and barons bold, with store of high embowed roof; to remove the ladies, and high triumphs, which storied windows richly dight, and

, belonged to a court. Pomp, and to silence the pealing organ and feast, and revelry, the show of the full-voiced quire. The deHymen, with mask and antique lights arising from these objects pageantry, were among the state were to be sacrificed to the cold and trappings of nobility, which and philosophical spirit of Calhe detested as an advocate for vinism, which furnished no plearepublicanism. His system of sures to the imagination. worship, which renounced all

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