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of other care they little reckoning make,
Return, Alpheus; the dread voice is past
So, in his sixteenth Sonnet, written in 1652, he supplicates Comwell
To save free conscience from the paw
or hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw. Line 124. "Scrannel" is thin, lean, meagre. "A scrannel pipe of straw is contemptuousiy used for Virgil's 'tepuis avena.'"--T. Wurton.
L. 129. “Nothing said." By this Milton clearly alludes to those prelates and clergy of the established church who enjoyed fat salaries without performing any duties: who "sheared the sheep bu: did not feed them."
L. 130, 131. *In these lines our author anticipates the execution of Archbishop Laud by a 'two. handed engine,' that is, the axe; insinuating that his death would remove all grievances in religion, and complete the reformation of the church."-T. Warton, The sense of the passage is, “But there will soon be an end of these evils; the axe is at hand, to take off the head of him who has been the great abettor of these corruptions of the gospel. This will be done by one stroke."
L. 133. "That shrunk thy streams," that is, that silenced my pastoral poetry. The Siciliaa musa is now to return with all her store of rural imagery. "The imagery here is from the noblest source."--Bridges.
L. 136. "Use," in the sense of to haunt, to inhabit. See Halliwell's “ Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, 2 vols. 8vo.
L. 138. "Svart” is swarthy, brown. The dog-star is called the “xwart-star," by turning the efect huto the canse
To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.
Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more;
Line 154. "Ay me!" "Here,” Mr. Dunster observes, “the burst of grief is infinitely beautim, when properly connected with what precedes it and to which it refers."
L. 158. "Monstrous world," that is, the sea, the world of monsters.
L. 160. "Bellerus," the name of a Cornish giant. On the southwestern shores of Cornwall there is a stupendong pile of rock-work called the “giant's chair;" and not far from Land's End is another most romantic projection of rock called St. Michael's Mount. There was a tradition that the "Vision" of St. Michael, seated on this crag, appeared to some hermits. The sense of this line and the following, taken with the preceding, is this:-“Let every flower be strewed on the hearse where Lycidas lies, so to flatter ourselves for a moment with the notion that his corpse is present; and this, (ah me!) while the seas are waiting it here and there, whether beyond the Hebrides or near the shores of Cornwall, &c."
L. 162. “Namancos" is marked in the early editions of Mercator's Atlns as In Gallicia, on the northwest coast of Spain, near Cape Finisterre. Bayona is the strong castle of the French, in the southwestern extremity of France, near the Pyrenees. In that same atlas this castle makes a very conspicuous figure,
L. 163. "Here is an apostrophe to the angel Michael, sented on the guarded mount. Oh angel, look no longer seaward to Namancos and Bayona's hold: rather turn your eyes to another object: look homeward or landward ; look towaris your own coast now, and view with pity the corpse of the shipwrecked Lycidas floating thither.'"-T. Wartor.
L. 18 "And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.".-13. xxv. 8; Rev. vii. 17.
Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,
SCENE FROM COMUS.1
A wild wood. The lady enters.
L. 188. By "stopy" Milton here means what we now call the holes of a flute or any species of pipe.
L. 189. This is a Doric lay, because Theocritus and Moschus had respectively written a bucolic on the deaths of Daphnis and Bion.
1 The fable of Comus is this. A beautiful lady, attended by her two brothers, is journeying through a dreary wood. The brothers become separated from their sister, who is met by Comus, the god of low pleasures, who, with his followers, holds hiy orgies in the night. He addresses her in the diskotsed character of a peasant, but she resists all his arts, and Comus and his crew are put to flight by the brothers, who come in time to rescue their sister. The object of the poem is to show the full power of true virtue and chastity to triumph over all the assaults of wickedness; or, in the language or Shakspeare
That virtue never will be moved, Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven. "Comns," says Sir Egerton Brydges, “is the invention of a benutiful fable, enriched with shadowy beings and visionary delights: every line and word is pure poetry, and the sentiments are as exquis site as the images. It is a composition which no pen but Milton's could have produced." It seems that an accidental event which occurred to the family of Milton's patron, John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater, then keeping his court at Ludlow castle, gave birth to this fable. The earl's two song and daughter, Lady Alice, were benighted, and lost their way in Heywood-forest; and the two brothers, in the attempt to explore their path, left the sister alone, in a track of country rudely in. habited. On these simple facts the poet raised a superstructure of such fairy spells and poetical delight as has never since been equalled.
9 Wassail, from the Anglo-Saxon was hal, “be in health." It was anciently the pledge word in drinking, equivalent to the modern “your health." The bowl in which the liquor was presented was called the wassail-bowl, and as it was peculiar to scenes of revelry and festivity, the term wassait in time became synonymous with feasting and carousing. Thus, in Shakspeare, Lady Macbeth de clares that she will “convince (that is, overpower) the two chamberlains of Duncan with wine and keel," and Ben Jonson, giving an account of a rural feast, says:
The rout of rural folk come thronging in,
I cannot balloo to my brothers, but
Within thy aery shell,
By slow Meander's margent green, And in the violet-embroider'd vale,
Where the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well; Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?
() if thou have
Tell me but where,
So mayst thou be translated to the skies,
Enter Comus. Comus. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment? Sure something holy lodges in that breast, And with these raptures moves the vocal air To testify his hidden residence. How sweetly did they float upon the wings Or silence, through the empty-vaulted night, At every fall smoothing the raven-clown Of darkness, till it smiled! I have oft heard My mother Circe with the sirens three, Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades, Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs; Who, as they sung. would take the prison'd soul, And lap it in Elysium: Scylla wept, And chid her barking waves into attention, And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause: Yet they in pleasing slumber lullid the sense, And in sweet madness robb'd it of itsell; But such a sacred and home-felt delight, Such sober certainty of waking bliss, I never heard till now.-I'll speak to her, And she shall be my queen.-Hail, foreign wonder! 2 Whom certain these rough shades did never breed, Unless the goddess that in rural shrine Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan: by blest song
1 "The songs of this poem are of a singular felicity; they are unbroken streame of exquisite ima very, either imaginative or descriptive, with a dance of numbers which sounds like aérial music: for Instance, the Lady's song to Echo."-Brydges.
2 " Comus's address to the lady is exceedingly beautiful in every respect; but all readers will acknowledge that the style of it is much raised by the expression 'unless the goddess,' an elliptical expression, unusual in our language, though common enough in Greek and Latin. But if we were to oli it up and say, unless thou becst the goldeas,' how fat and insipid would it make the compo. sition, compared with what it is.". Lord Monooddo.
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise
Com. What chance, good lady, hath berest you thus?
Com. Two such I saw, what time the labor'd ox
Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
Lady. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose,
Com. I know each lane, and every alley green,
1 "Swinl'u," i. e, ured, faligocd.