Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that virtue gives
After this mortal change to her true servants 10
Amongst the enthron’d Gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key,

fax's Tasso, c. xiii. 20. Shakespeare, K. Lear, act ii. s. 2. Two Gent. Verona, act i. s. 1. It is a pound in Hudibras. A pinner is a shepherd in some parts of England, one who pins the fold. In old deeds, among manorial rights, the privilege of a pinfold for pound is claimed. T. Warton. 8. Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,| This endeavour is in itself no fault; it becomes so only as it is circumstanced: and the Trinity manuscript gives this circumstance, which was therefore necessary to the justness of the thought,

Beyond the written date of mortal change.

By the noritten date is meant
Scripture, in which is recorded
the abridged date of mortal life.

I am still inclined to think that this line is better omitted. For though it may not be a fault in itself to

Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being, yet it certainly is so to strive to keep it up Unmindful of the crown that virtue gives:

if he had said just before

Beyond the written date of mortal change:

and therefore I cannot but think that he blotted out this line not without reason.

8. Besides, an allusion to the written date of Scripture would be improper in the person of the attendant spirit. For the same reason there seems to be an impropriety in supposing an allusion to St. Peter's golden key in v. 13, where see the note. E.

11. Amongst the enthron'd Gods on sainted seats.] So this verse stands in Milton's manuscript as well as in all his editions: and yet I cannot but prefer the reading of Mr. Fenton's editions,

Amongst th' enthroned Gods on

sainted seats.

11. Shakespeare, Anton. Cleop.

act i. s. 3.

Though you in swearing shake the throned Gods.

See note on Par. L. v. 535. T.

13. —that golden key, &c.] .

and he could not have added

—the crown that virtue gives After this mortal change

This seems to be said in allusion
to Peter's golden key, mentioned
likewise in Lycidas, 110.
Two massy keys he bore of metals
(The golden opes, the iron shuts
And this verse, which was first

That opes the palace of eternity:

To such my errand is; and but for such,


I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds

With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould. But to my task. Neptune besides the sway

Of every salt flood, and each ebbing stream,

Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove


Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles
That like to rich and various gems inlay

The unadorned bosom of the deep,

Which he to grace his tributary Gods

v. 22. That like to rich and various gems inlay The unadorned bosom of the deep, I The first hint of this beautiful passage seems to have been taken from Shakespeare's Rich. II. act ii. sc. 1. where John of Gaunt calls this island by the same sort of metaphor,

—this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea.

22. But Milton has heightened the comparison, omitting Shakespeares petty conceit of the silver sea, the conception of a jeweller, and substituting another and a more striking piece of imagery. This rich inlay, to use an expression in the Paradise Lost, gives beauty to the bosom of the deep, else unadorned. It has its effect on a simple ground. Thus the bare earth, before the creation, was “desert and bare, unsightly, unadorned.” P. L. vii. 314.

written That shows &c. afterwards altered,

That opes the palace of eternity,

Mr. Pope has transferred with a
little alteration into one of his
Satires, speaking of Virtue,
Her priestess Muse forbids the good
to die,
And opes the temple of eternity.
13. Jonson, Hymen, v. p. 296.
of Truth.
Her left [holds] a curious bunch of
golden keys,
With which heaven's gate she lock-
eth and displays.
Where displays is opens. T.
18. But to my task &c.] These
four lines were thus in the ma-
nuscript before they were al-
But to my business now. Neptune,
whose sway
Of every salt flood, and each ebbing
Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether
The rule and title of each sea-girt isle.
And they were altered with great
reason, no verb following the
nominative case, Neptune.

Eve's tresses are unadorned,

Ibid. iv. 305. T. Warton.

By course commits to several government,


And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns,
And wield their little tridents: but this isle,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
He quarters to his blue-hair’d deities;

And all this tract that fronts the falling sun

A noble Peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide
An old, and haughty nation proud in arms:
Where his fair offspring nurs'd in princely lore

Are coming to attend their father’s state,
And new-intrusted sceptre;

28. —the best of all the main, J So altered in the manuscript from —the best of all his empire. 29. He quarters] That is, Neptune: with which name he honours the king, as sovereign of the four seas; for from the British Neptune alone this noble Peer derives his authority. Warburton. 32. —With temper'd awe to guide An old and haughty nation, proud in arms.] That is, the Cambro-Britons, who were to be governed by respect mixed with awe. The Earl of Bridgewater, “A noble Peer of “mickle trust and power,” was now governor of the Welch as lord-president of the principality. “Proud in arms,” is Virgil's “belloque superbi.” AEn. i. 21. T. Warton. 34. Where his fair offspring, nurs'd in princely lore, &c.] I have been informed from a manuscript of Oldys, that Lord Bridgewater entered upon his official residence

but their way

at Ludlow castle with great solemnity. On this occasion he was attended by a large concourse of the neighbouring nobility and gentry. Among the rest came his children; in particular, Lord Brackley, Mr. Thomas Egerton, and Lady Alice, To attend their father's state, And new-intrusted sceptre.— They had been on a visit at a house of their relations the Egerton family in Herefordshire; and in passing through Haywood forest were benighted, and the Lady Alice was even lost for a short time. This accident, which in the end was attended with no bad consequences, furnished the subject of a Mask for a Michaelmas festivity, and produced Comus. Lord Bridgewater was appointed Lord President, May 12, 1633. When the perilous adventure in Haywood forest happened, if true, cannot now be told. It must have been soon. after. The Mask was acted at Michaelmas, 1634. T. Warton.

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Lies through the perplex’d paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horror of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger;

And here their tender age might suffer peril,

But that by quick command from sovereign Jove
I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard;
And listen why, for I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in tale Ör Song,

From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.


Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine,

After the Tuscan mariners transform’d,

43. And listen why, for I will tell you now What never yet nas heard &c.] Horace, od. iii. i. 2. Favete linguis: carmina non prius Audita— Virginibus puerisque canto. Richardson. Milton might justly enough say this, since Comus is a deity of his own making: but the same allegory has been introduced by most of the principal epic poets under other personages. Such are Homer's Circe, Ariosto's Alcina, Tasso's Armida, and Spenser's Acrasia. From old or modern bard, in hall or bower. Alluding to the ancient custom of poets repeating their own verses at public entertainments. Thyer.

45. From old or modern bard,J v

It was at first in the manuscript,
By old or modern bard–

45. —in hall or bower.] That is, literally, in hall or chamber.

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Though he builds his fable on
classic mythology, yet his mate-
rials of magic have more the air
of inchantments in the Gothic
romances. Warburton.
48. After the Tuscan mariners
transform'd,) They were changed
by Bacchus into ships and dol-
phins, the story of which meta-
morphosis the reader may see in
Ovid. Met. iii. Fab. 8.

Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,

On Circe's island fell: (Who knows not Circe.


The daughter of the sun? whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovelling swine)
This Nymph that gaz'd upon his clust’ring locks,

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Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus nam’d,

48. This story is alluded to in Homer's fine hymn to Bacchus; the punishments he inflicted on the Tyrrhene pirates are the subjects of the beautiful frieze on the Lantern of Demosthenes, described by Mr. Stuart, in his Antiq. of Athens, p. 33. Dr. J. Warton. Lilius Gyraldus relates, that this history was most beautifully represented in Mosaic work, in the church of St. Agna at Rome, originally a temple of Bacchus. And it is one of the pictures in Philostratus. T. Warton. 50. —nho knows not Circe, &c.] See Boethius, l. iv. m. iii. and Virgil, AEn. vii. 11. 17. Alcina has an enchanted cup in Ariosto, c. x. 45. T. Warton. 54. —clustring] See the notes, Par. L. iv. 303. E. 55. With ivy-berries nreath'd, Nonnus calls Bacchus xeeva/30©eges, b. xiv. See also Ovid, Fast. i. 393. and our author, El. vi. 15. T. Warton. 57. Much like his father, but his mother more.] This is said, because Milton's Comus, like

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58. —and Comus nam'd.] Doctor Newton observes, that Comus is a deity of Milton's own making. But if not a natural and easy personification, by our author, of the Greek KoMOX, Comessatio, it should be remembered, that Comus is distinctly and most sublimely personified in the Agamemnon of Æschylus, edit. Stanl. p. 376. v. 1195. Where says Cassandra, “ That horrid band, “who sing of evil things, will “ never forsake this house. Be“hold, Comus, the drinker of “ human blood, and fired with “new rage, still remains within “ the house, being sent forward “in an unlucky hour by the

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