ePub 版


[ocr errors]

9, IO.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I seem to detect a finer effect in the metrical liberty involved in the ordinary pronunciation; and the first syllable of " serenusis short. 7. "pestered ... pinfold." Pestered is interpreted “crowded”

by Todd, as if from the Italian pesta, a crowd; but Skeat's derivation of the word is far more accurate, and more exact to Milton's meaning here. “ PESTER : see PASTOR is the entry of the word in Mr. Skeat's Etymological Dictionary; which looks mischievous, till it is explained by turning to PASTOR, when it becomes very innocent. Pastorium in later Latin meant a clog for a horse at pasture”; whence the French empestrer “to hobble a horse at pasture”; whence pester, to clog or impede one's movements. This gives point and coherence to Milton's phrase "confined and pestered in this pinfold here: i.e. confined and clogged.—Pinfold, a pen or enclosure in which sheep are folded; from A.-S. Dyndan to shut in, whence also pound, an enclosure for strayed animals.

the crown that Virtue gives, after this mortal change." See Rev. iv. 4. The meaning of “ mortal change” is a little obscure. Hastily it may be read as if it meant “ death"; but rather it seems to mean this mortal state of life.” Mr. Browne imagines a recollection of the use of “change” for a figure in a dance (as in Love's Labour's Lost, V. 2); but may not Milton, without any definite idea of pre-existence, have had in his mind such a meaning as “this variation of our condition”?

Amongst the enthroned gods: spelt enthron'd in the First and Second Editions, and therefore to be pronounced as a dissyllable, and not enthronèd. As Mr. Ross points out, this passage is an instance of Milton's habit of expressing Christian doctrine in the language of classic mythology. 13. "golden key." See Lycidas, 111.

ambrosial weeds." Though, from the special use of ambrosia as the name for the food of the gods, we are apt to confine the adjective ambrosial to the sense of “delicious,” it really means only " immortal”; whence "celestial” or “heavenly.”—“Weeds:

“ see note, L'All. 120. 20, 21.

Took in by lot, 'twixt high and nether Jove, imperial rule,etc. Homer calls Hades or Pluto Zeus katax@óvios, or “underground Jove” (II. IX. 457); Ovid has the phrase “ Jupiter Stygius”; and Dunster quotes from Sylvester's Du Bartas the line

“ Both upper Jove's and nether's diverse thrones.” The primeval distribution of rule among Jupiter, Pluto, and Neptune, after Saturn's overthrow, is described by Neptune himself in the Íliad (XV. 190 et seq.) :- “We are three brothers, sons of Saturn by Rhea, — Jupiter and myself two, and Pluto, governing the




infernal regions, the third : all things were divided into three portions, and each of us was allotted his dignity. The lots being shaken, I, in the first place, was appointed to inhabit for ever the hoary sea ; Pluto next obtained the pitchy darkness; but Jove, in the third place, had allotted to him the wide Heaven in the air and in the clouds. Nevertheless, the Earth is still the common property of all, and the lofty Olympus.”—Took in is the past tense here, with Neptune in line 18 for its nominative, and rule in line 21 for its objective. This is necessary to the syntax and might seem obvious; but the pointing in some editions shows a tendency, in hasty reading, to regard took as an old past participle, applying to “the sway of every salt flood,” etc. About the pointing of line 2o, however, there is farther room for difference. The pointing in the First and Second Editions is

“ Took in by lot 'twixt high, and neather Jove,

Imperial rule,” etc.
This leaves it questionable whether we should now point

“ Took in, by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove,

Imperial rule," etc.


[ocr errors]

“ Took in by lot, 'twixt high and nether Jove,

Imperial rule,” etc. The second, which makes 'twixt a preposition of place, and understands “'twixt high and nether Jove ” as meaning “between Heaven and Hell,” is truer to the myth that all the three gods were concerned in the lot, and Mr. Keightley adopts it. Perhaps he is right; but the other reading, though it seems to make Jove and Pluto the only active parties in the lot, may possibly be what Milton intended. If less accurate, it keeps the personality of the two Joves in the passage, instead of using their names only for their realms while Neptune figures in person. To the ear also it is perhaps the more natural A pause after “lot” is not agreeable. 23.

"unadornèd": for “ otherwise unadorned.” 24. his tributary gods: i.e. the sea-gods under Neptune and paying him tribute.

25. several: separate.

27. this Isle" : i.e. Great Britain. Compare Shakespeare's splendid burst about "England” from the mouth of John of Gaunt (Rich. II. II. I).

29. He quarters to his blue-haired deities.Quarters in the sense of divides, not necessarily in the sense of dividing into four parts, though Mr. Keightley finds a shadow of reason for this sense

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

in the fact that Great Britain was then divided into the two kingdoms of Scotland and England, and that in the latter the Northern Counties and Wales were distinct Viceroyalties. There seems to be some emphasis on the phrase blue-haired deities," as if these were a special section of the "tributary gods" of line 24. Can there be a recollection of “blue” as the British colour, inherited from the old times of the blue-stained Britons who fought with Cæsar? Green-hairedis the usual poetic epithet for Neptune and his subordinates.

[ocr errors]


all this tract that fronts the falling sun: i.e. Wales, or West Britain.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


A noble Peer,” etc. : i.e. the Earl of Bridgewater, Viceroy of Wales, at whose expense the Masque was given, and who was looking on at the performance. See Introd. I. pp. 154 et seq.

33. An old and haughty nation: i.e. the Welsh. Milton, as well as Shakespeare, had a kindness for this people.

34. nursed in princely lore.” In this phrase some find an allusion to a link with Royalty at a remote point in the pedigree of the Egerton family; others find a reference to the fact that the young people had been a good deal at Court (see Introd. I. pp. 157, 158). The more natural meaning, however, is simply “highlyeducated.”

37. perplexed: in its etymological sense of “entangled," “intertwined.” 43-45.

And listen why,” etc. Not unlike Horace's Favete linguis, etc. (Od. III. i. 2), and with something of the sound of Par. Lost, I. 16.—hall or bower,” a frequent phrase with Spenser and the minstrel-poets : "hallbeing the great general room in princely residences, and “ bowerthe more private apartment.

46—50. Bacchus . . . after the Tuscan mariners transformed, coasting the Tyrrhene shore on Circe's island fell.For Circe and her famous Island of Ææa, off the coast of Latium, see the Odyssey, Book X., where it is Ulysses that is her visitor ; and for the story of the voyage of Bacchus along the Tyrrhene shore, the seizure of him by the pirate sailors, and the transformation of these, all save the good pilot, into dolphins for this act of violence to his godship, see the Homeric Hymn to Bacchus, and Ovid's Metamorphoses, III. 660 et seq. The bringing of Bacchus to Circe's Island,

, after this last adventure in probation of his godship, is Milton's own invention, with a view to the parentage he had resolved on for Comus. -Notice the Latin idiom " after the Tuscan mariners

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

fall on

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


transformed ” (like post urbem conditam) for “after the transformation of the Tuscan mariners.”

50. On Circe's island fell. (Who knows not Circe, etc. ?) ” An example of the figure of speech called by the rhetoricians anadiplosis, or "doubling-back.” It is common in Spenser in this

. exact form ; thus (F. Q. VI. X. 16):

“ Poore Colin Clout (who knows not Colin Clout ?)” Islandis spelt “iland ” in Milton's editions. The phrase "to

here is, as Mr. Browne observes, the Latin incidere in. 51.

The daughter of the Sun.Circe was the daughter of Helios (the Sun) by the ocean-nymph Perse. William Browne (Inner Temple Masque) has

“By mighty Circe (daughter to the Sun).” See subsequent note at line 254. 51–53. " whose charmed cup

a grovelling swine." This account of Circe's magic and its effects is from the Odyssey, Book X.

54. This Nymph . . . had by him a son, etc. . . . Comus named.See, on Milton's Comus, and his parentage and character, Introd. I. pp. 176—178. Also compare this passage with L’Allegro, 11—24; and see note to that passage. If the first of the alternative genealogies there given for Euphrosyne, or Innocent Mirth, is accepted, then Comus, the god of Sensual Delirium, was half-brother to Euphrosyne. The father in both cases was Bacchus, while the respective mothers were Venus and Circe. As Milton was punctilious in such matters, I daresay he recollected this, and had a meaning in it. He hints, it may be noted, that Comus, though he had a good deal of his father in him, inherited his worst qualities from his mother. Bacchus and good-tempered Queen Venus, he seems to say, were not so bad a conjunction as Bacchus and the subtle island-witch Circe.

59. "frolic": see note, L'Allegro, 18.
60. the Celtic and Iberian fields": i.e. Gaul and Spain.

61. this ominous wood: i.e. this wood in Shropshire, on the Welsh border, full of omens, or magical appearances. The derivation of the word omen is disputed.

65. "orient liquor": literally “eastern," but derivatively “bright," "splendid," as in Par. Lost, I. 546.

66. drouth: so in Milton's own editions ; not “drought,as in some later. It is a Scottish word still.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is an

[ocr errors]

68. “countnance: so spelt in both Milton's editions, and to be pronounced accordingly.

73. perfect: so spelt here in both Milton's editions ; not "perfet," as usually with him.

72. All other parts remaining as they were.Here Milton deviates from the representation in the Odyssey, where the whole bodies of Circe's victims are changed into brute-forms. acute remark of Newton that the deviation served stage-purposes. The crew of Comus were to come in with him in the performance at Ludlow Castle (see subsequent stage-direction after line 92); to have trotted them in as beasts entire would have been inconvenient; it was enough that they should have masks on, resembling beasts’ heads, like Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream.

73-77. And they ... not perceive their foul disfigurement, but,etc. Another deviation, as Newton noted, from the Homeric account. There Circe's victims “had the heads, and voice, and hairs, and body of swine, but their understandings were firm as before." In making the effect of Comus's transformations different in this respect from his mother's Milton had a meaning. Once he had adopted the difference, however, Homer's description of the Lotos-eaters (Od. IX. 94 et seq.) and Plato's ethical application of the same (Rep. VIII. 13) may have helped him in the rest of

“Whoever ate of the pleasant food of the lotos no longer wished to bring back news, nor to return home, but preferred to remain there with the Lotophagi, eating lotos, and to be forgetful of return." So says Homer; and Plato speaks of the moral lotophagus, or youth steeped in sensuality, as accounting his very viciousness a developed manhood, and the so-called virtues but signs of rusticity and want of spirit. Mr. Browne refers also to Spenser, F. Q. II. xii., stanzas 86, 87.

79. adventurous: full of adventures or dangers, like the ominousof line 61. Spelt "adventrousin the First and Second Editions.

80.“ Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star.The simile of a shooting-star is common in the poets; but how exquisitely Milton has rendered it here! Compare Par. Lost, I. 745, and Shakespeare's Ven. and Adon. line 815.

83. “spun out of Iris' woof.Warton quotes Par. Lost, XI. 244 : "Iris had dipped the woof."

84-91. "a swain that to the service of this house belongs, who," etc. A compliment to Henry Lawes and his musical talent, put into his own mouth. Compare Arcades, 36 et seq., and note there.

the passage.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »