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But cull those richest robes, and gayest attire,
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
e Yet I had rather, if I were to chuse,
Thy service in some graver subject use, &c.
It appears, by this address of Milton to his native language, that even in these green years he had the ambition to think of writing an epic poem; and it is worth the curious reader's attention to observe how much the "Paradise Lost" corresponds in its circumstances to the prophetic wish he now formed.-THYER.
Here are strong indications of a young mind anticipating the subject of the "Paradise Lost," if we substitute Christian for Pagan ideas. He was now deep in the Greek poets.-T. WARTON.
a Unshorn Apollo.
An epithet, by which he is distinguished in the Greek and Latin poets.-NEWTON.
© Watchful fire.
See "Ode, Chr. Nativity," v. 21:-" And all the spangled host keep watch in order bright."-HURD.
We have "vigil flamma" in Ovid, "Trist." iii. v. 4: and "vigiles flammas," "Art. Am." iii. 463.-T. WARTON.
t Green-eyed Neptune.
Virgil "Georg." iv. 451. Of Proteus:
Ardentes oculos intorsit lumine glauco.-T. WARTON.
Such as the wise Demodocus once told.
He now little thought that Homer's beautiful couplet of the fate of Demodocus could, in a few years, with so much propriety be applied to himself. He was but too conscious of his resemblance to some other Greek bards of antiquity when he wrote the "Paradise Lost." See b. iii. 33 seq.-T. WARTON.
Are held, with his melodious harmony,
In willing chains and sweet captivity.
But fie, my wandering Muse, how thou dost stray!
Thou know'st it must be now thy only bent
To keep in compass of thy predicament;
Then quick about thy purposed business come,
That to the next I may resign my room.
Then ENs is represented as father of the Predicaments, his ten sons, whereof the eldest stood for Substance with his canons, which Exs, thus speaking, explains:
Good luck befriend thee, son; for, at thy birth,
The faery ladies danced upon the hearth;i
She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still
Yet there is something that doth force my fear;
For once it was my dismal hap to hear
A sibyl old, bow-bent with crooked age,
That far events full wisely could presage,
And in time's long and dark prospective glass
h Good luck befriend thee, son, &c.
Here the metaphysical or logical Ens is introduced as a person, and addressing his eldest son Substance; afterwards the logical Quantity, Quality, and Relation, are personified, and speak. This affectation will appear more excusable in Milton, if we recollect that everything, in the masks of this age, appeared in a bodily shape. "Airy Nothing" had not only a "local habitation and a name," but a visible figure.-T. WARTON.
For, at thy birth,
The faery ladies danced upon the hearth.
This is the first and last time that the system of the fairies was ever introduced to illustrate the doctrine of Aristotle's ten categories. It may be remarked that they both were in fashion, and both exploded, at the same time.-T. Warton.
Shall subject be to many an Accident.
A pun on the logical Accidens.-T. WARTON.
* O'er all his brethren he shall reign as king.
The Predicaments are his brethren; of or to which he is the Subjectum, although first in excellence and order.-T. WARTON.
1 Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under. They cannot exist, but as inherent in Substance.-T. WARTON.
From others he shall stand in need of nothing,"
What power, what force, what mighty spell, if not
The next, QUANTITY and QUALITY, spake in prose; then RELATION was called by
Rivers, arise; whether thou be the son
Of utmost Tweed, or Oose, or gulphy Dun,
Or Trent, who, like some Earth-born giant, spreads
Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath;
Or coaly Tine, or ancient hallow'd Dee;"
m From others he shall stand in need of nothing.
He is still Substance, with or without Accident.-T. WARTON.
n Yet on his brothers shall depend for clothing.
By whom he is clothed, superinduced, modified, &c.: but he is still the same.-T. WARTON.
"Substantia substantiæ novæ contrariatur," is a school maxim.-T. WARTON. P To harbour those that are at enmity.
His Accidents.-T. WARTON.
a Rivers, arise, &c.
Milton is supposed, in the invocation and assemblage of these rivers, to have had an eye on Spenser's episode of the nuptials of Thames and Medway, "Faerie Queene," iv. xi. I rather think he consulted Drayton's "Polyolbion." It is hard to say, in what sense, or in what manner, this introduction of the rivers was to be applied to the subject.-T. WARTON.
Or Trent, who, like some Earth-born giant, spreads
His thirty arms along the indented meads.
It is said that there were thirty sorts of fish in this river, and thirty religious houses on its banks. These traditions, on which Milton has raised a noble image, are a rebus on the name Trent.-T. WARTON.
Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath.
At Mickleham, near Dorking in Surrey, the river Mole, during the summer, except in heavy rains, sinks through its sandy bed into a subterraneous and invisible channel. In winter it constantly keeps its current.-T. WARTON.
t Or Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death.
The maiden is Sabrina. See "Comus," v. 827.-T. WARTON.
u Ancient hallow'd Dee.
Dee's divinity was Druidical. From the same superstition, some rivers in Wales are still held to have the gift or virtue of prophecy. See note on "Lycidas," ver. 55.-T WARTON.
Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name;"
[The rest was prose.]
AN EPITAPH ON THE ADMIRABLE DRAMATIC POET WILLIAM
WHAT needs my Shakspeare, for his honour'd bones,
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of Memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name ?
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,
ON THE UNIVERSITY CARRIER,
Who sickened in the time of his vacancy, being forbid to go to London by reason of the plague.
HERE lies old Hobson; Death hath broke his girt.
▾ Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name.
Humber, a Scythian king, landed in Britain three hundred years before the Roman invasion, and was drowned in this river by Locrine, after conquering king Albanact.— T. WARTON.
Or Medway smooth, or royal-tower'd Thame.
The smoothness of the Medway is characterized in the "Mourning Muse of Thestylis." The royal towers of Thames imply Windsor castle, familiar to Milton's view, and to which I have already remarked his allusions.-T. WARTON.
x This is but an ordinary poem to come from Milton, on such a subject: but he did not yet know his own strength, or was content to dissemble it, out of deference to the false taste of his time. The conceit of Shakspeare's "lying sepulchred in a tomb of his own making," is in Waller's manner, not his own. But he made Shakspeare amends in his "L'Allegro," v. 133.-HURD.
Birch, and from him Dr. Newton, asserts, that this copy of verses was written in the twenty-second year of Milton's age, and printed with the Poems of Shakspeare at London in 1640. This therefore is the first of Milton's pieces that was published. We have here restored the title from the second folio of Shakspeare, printed 1632.-T. WARTON.
This epitaph is dated 1630, in Milton's own edition of his poems in 1673.-TODD. y Dear son of Memory.
He honours his favourite Shakspeare with the same relation as the Muses themselves: for the Muses are called, by the old poets, "the daughters of Memory." See Hesiod, "Theog." v. 53.-NEWTON.
z The leaves of thy unvalued book.
"Thy invaluable book." So in Shakspeare, "Rich. III." a. i. s. 4 :
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels.-TODD.
Or else, the ways being foul, twenty to one,
Dodged with him betwixt Cambridge and the Bull:
Had not his weekly course of carriage fail'd;
But lately finding him so long at home,
And thinking how his journey's end was come,
And that he had ta'en up his latest inn;
In the kind office of a chamberlin &
Show'd him his room where he must lodge that night,
If any ask for him, it shall be sed,
Hobson has supp'd, and 's newly gone to bed.
ANOTHER ON THE SAME.b
HERE lieth one, who did most truly prove
While he might still jog on and keep his trot,
Time numbers motion; yet, without a crime
a In the kind office of a chamberlin, &c.
I believe the chamberlain is an officer not yet discontinued in some of the old inns in the city.-T. WARTON.
b Hobson's inn at London was the Bull in Bishopsgate-street, where his figure in fresco, with an inscription, was lately to be seen. Peck, at the end of his "Memoirs of Cromwell," has printed Hobson's will, which is dated at the close of the year 1630. He died Jan. 1, 1630, while the plague was in London. This piece was written that year.-T. WARTON.