Imatges de pÓgina

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Sanguine flowr inscribed with wo.”—The ancient poetical hyacinth, proved, I think, by Professor Martyn, in his Virgil's Georgics, to be the turk’s-cap lily, the only flower on which characters like the Greek exclamation of wo, AI, AI, are to be found. The idea in Milton is from Moschus's Elegy on the Death of Bion:

Νυν, υακινθε, λαλει τα σα γράμματα, και πλεον αι αι
Βαμβαλε σοις πεταλοισι. .

Now more than ever say, 0, hyacinth!
Ai, ai ; 'and babble of your written sorrows.

21 “ Last came and last did go."-" This passage,” says Hazlitt, " which alludes to the clerical character of Lycidas, has been found fault with, as combining the truths of the Christian religion with the fiction of the Heathen mythology. I conceive there is very little foundation for this objection, either in good reason or good taste. I will not go so far as to defend Camoens, who, in his Lusiad, makes Jupiter. send Mercury with a dream to propagate the Catholic religion ; nor do I know that it is generally proper to introduce the two things in the same poem, though I see no objection to it here; but of this I am quite sure, that there is no inconsistency or natural repugnance between this poetical and religious faith in the same mind. To the understanding, the belief of the one is incompatible with that of the other, but, in the imagination, they not only may, but do constantly, co-exist. I will venture to go farther, and maintain that every classical scholar, however orthodox a Christian he may be, is an honest Heathen at heart. This requires explanation. Whoever, then, attaches a reality to any idea beyond the mere name, has, to a certain extent (though not an abstract), an habitual and practical belief in it. Now, to any one familiar with the names of the personages of the heathen mythology, they convey a positive identity beyond the mere name. We refer them to something out of ourselves. It is only by an effort of abstraction that we divest ourselves of the idea of their reality ; all our involuntary prejudices are on their side. This is enough for the poet. They impose on the

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imagination by the attractions of beauty and grandeur. They come down to us in sculpture and in song. We have the same associations with them as if they had really been : for the belief of the fiction in ancient times has produced all the same effects as the reality could have done. It was a reality to the minds of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and through them it is reflected to us.”—Leciures on the English Poets (Templeman's edition), p. 338.

22 “ How well could I have spar d,&c.-- “ He here animadverts,” says Warton, “ to the endowments of the church, at the same time insinuating that they were shared by those only who sought the emoluments of the sacred office, to the exclusion of a learned and conscientious clergy." An old complaint! Meantime the church has continued mild and peaceful. An incalculable blessing !

23 “ Return, Alpheus,&c.-How much more sweet and Christian Paganism itself sounds, after those threats of religious violence! The “two-handed engine" is supposed to mean the axe preparing for poor, weak, violent Laud ! Milton was now beginning to feel the sectarian influence of his father; one, unfortunately, of a sullen and unpoetical sort.

24 “ Honied showers._There is an awkwardness of construction between this and the preceding line which hurts the beautiful idea of the flowers "sucking the honied showers,” by seeming to attribute the suction to their “eyes.". There might, indeed, be learned allowance for such an ellipsis; and we hardly know where to find the proper noun substantive or predicate for the verb, if it be not so; but the image is terribly spoilt by it.

25 Glowing violet.—Why "glowing ?The pansy (heart'sease) “freakd with jet" is exquisite ; equally true to letter and spirit.

28 « The great Vision of the guarded Mount.”- This is the Archangel Michael, the guardian of seamen, sitting on the Mount off the coast of Cornwall known by his name, and looking towards the coast of Gallicia. It is rather surprising that Milton, with his angelical tendencies, did not take the opportunity of saying more of him. But the line is a grand one.


THYRsis tells the Brothers of a Lady, that their Sister has fallen inte

the hands of the Sorcerer Comus, dwelling in a wood.

Within the navel of this hideous wood,
Immur'd in cypress shades, a sorcerer dwells,
Of Bacchus and of Circe born,-great Comūs,
Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries ;
And here to every thirsty wanderer
By sly enticement gives his baneful cup,
With many murmurs mix’d, whose pleasing poison
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
And the inglorious likeness of a beast
Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage
Character'd in the face. This have I learnt,
Tending my flocks hard by i' the hilly crofts,
That brow this bottom-glade: whence, night by night,
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl,
Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey,
Doing abhorrèd rites to Hecate
In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers;
Yet have they many baits and guileful spells,
To inveigle and invite the unwary sense
Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
This evening late, by then the chewing flocks27
Had ta’en their supper on the savory herb
Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold,
I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove
With faunting honey-suckle, and began,
Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
Till fancy had her fill; but, ere a close,
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance;
At which I ceas’d, and listen'd them awhile,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respite to the drowsy flighted steeds,
That draw the litter of close-curtained Sleep
At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound
Rose like a stream of rich distilld perfumes,

And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might
Deny her nature, and be never more
Still to displac'd. I was all ear,
And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of Death: but O! ere long,
Too well I did perceive it was the voice
Of my most honor'd lady, your dear sister.
Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear,
And, O poor hapless nightingale, thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste,
Through paths and turnings often trod by day;
Till, guided by mine ear, I found the place,
Where that damn'd wizard, hid in sly disguise,
(For so by certain signs I knew), had met
Already, ere my best speed could prevent,
The aidless innocent lady, his wish'd prey;
Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two,
Supposing him some neighbor villager.
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess'd
Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung
Into swift flight, till I had found you here;
But further know I not.
Sec. Br.

O night, and shades !
How are ye join'd with hell in triple knot
Against the unarmed weakness of one virgin,
Alone and helpless! Is this the confidence
You gave me, Brother?

Yes, and keep it still ;
Lean on it safely; not a period
Shall be unsaid for me : against the threats
Of malice, or of sorcery, or that power
Which erring men call chance, this I hold firm ;-
Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt,-
Surpris’d by unjust force, but not enthrall’d;
Yea, even that, which mischief meant most harm,
Shall in the happy trial prove most glory;
But evil on itself shall back recoil,
And mix no more with goodness : when at last
Gather'd like scum, and settled to itself,
It shall be in eternal restless change,
Self-fed, and self-consumèd ; if this fail,
The pillar d firmament is rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble.

Eld. Br,

27The chewing flocks," &c.

-“The supper of the sheep,” says Warton," is from a beautiful comparison in Spenser,

As gentle shepherd, in sweet eventide
When ruddy Phæbus gins to welk (decline) in west,
High on a hill, his flock to viewen wide,
Marks which do bite their hasty supper best.

Faerie Queene, i., s. 23.


« Chewing flocks” is good, but not equal to “ biting their hasty supper." It is hardly dramatical, too, in the speaker to stop to • notice the sweetness and dewiness of the sheep's grass, while he had a story to tell, and one of agitating interest to his hearers.

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