Imatges de pÓgina
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Wed your divine sounds, and mix'd power employ
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce;
And to our high-raised phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure concent,
Aye sung before the sapphire-colour'd throne
To him that sits thereon,

With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee;
Where the bright Seraphim, in burning row,
Their loud uplifted angel trumpets blow;
And the cherubic host, in thousand quires,
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires,

With those just spirits that wear victorious palms,
Hymns devout and holy psalms

Singing everlastingly:

That we on earth, with undiscording voice,

May rightly answer that melodious noise;

As once we did, till disproportion'd sin

Jarr'd against Nature's chime, and with harsh din
Broke the fair musick that all creatures made

To their great Lord, whose love their motion sway'd
In perfect diapason, whilst they stood

In first obedience, and their state of good.

O, may we soon again renew that song,

And keep in tune with Heaven, till God ere long
To his celestial consort us unite,

To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light!

AN EPITAPH ON THE MARCHIONESS OF
WINCHESTER.*

THIS rich marble doth inter
The honour'd wife of Winchester,

A viscount's daughter, an earl's heir,
Besides what her virtues fair

Added to her noble birth,

More than she could own from earth.

Summers three times eight save one
She had told; alas! too soon,

After so short time of breath,

To house with darkness and with death.

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* In Howell's entertaining Letters, there is one to this lady,-the Lady Jane Savage, Marchioness of Winchester,-dated March 15, 1626. He says, he assisted her in learning Spanish; and that Nature and the Graces exhausted all their treasure and skill in "framing this exact model of female perfection."

6. The undisturbed song of pure concent| is the diapason of the music of the spheres, to which, in Plato's system, God himself listens.-T. WARTON. See note on line 62 of "Arcades," p. 451.

17. That we on earth, &c. Perhaps there are no finer lines in Milton, less obscured by conceit, less embarrassed by!

affected expressions, and less weakened by pompous epithets: and in this perspicuous and simple style are conveyed scine of the noblest ideas of a most sublime philosophy, heightened by metaphors and allusions suitable to the subject.-T. WARTON.

Yet had the number of her days
Been as complete as was her praise,
Nature and Fate had had no strife
In giving limit to her life.

Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
Quickly found a lover meet;
The virgin quire for her request
The god that sits at marriage feast:
He at their invoking came,

But with a scarce well-lighted flame;
And in his garland, as he stood,
Ye might discern a cypress bud.
Once had the early matrons run
To greet her of a lovely son;

And now with second hope she goes,
And calls Lucina to her throes:
But, whether by mischance or blame,
Atropos for Lucina came;
And with remorseless cruelty
Spoil'd at once both fruit and tree:
The hapless babe, before his birth,
Had burial, yet not laid in earth;
And the languish'd mother's womb
Was not long a living tomb.

So have I seen some tender slip,
Sav'd with care from winter's nip,
The pride of her carnation train,
Pluck'd up by some unheedy swain,
Who only thought to crop the flower
New shot up from vernal shower;
But the fair blossom hangs the head
Sideways, as on a dying bed;
And those pearls of dew she wears
Prove to be presaging tears,
Which the sad morn had let fall
On her hastening funeral.

Gentle lady, may thy grave

Peace and quiet ever have;
After this thy travel sore

Sweet rest seize thee evermore,

That, to give the world increase,
Shorten'd hast thy own life's lease.
Here, besides the sorrowing
That thy noble house doth bring,
Here be tears of perfect moan
Wept for thee in Helicon;
And some flowers, and some bays,
For thy herse, to strow the ways,

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22. Cypress bud: An emblem of a funeral, called by Horace funebris, and by Spenser the cypress funeral." 28. Atropos, the fate who presided over death,

Sent thee from the banks of Came,
Devoted to thy virtuous name;

Whilst thou, bright saint, high sit'st in glory,

Next her, much like to thee in story,

That fair Syrian shepherdess,

Who, after years of barrenness,
The highly-favour'd Joseph bore
To him that served for her before;

And at her next birth, much like thee,
Through pangs fled to felicity,
Far within the bosom bright
Of blazing Majesty and Light:
There with thee, new welcome Saint,
Like fortunes may her soul acquaint,
With thee there clad in radiant sheen,
No Marchioness, but now a Queen.

SONG ON MAY MORNING.*

Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing!
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

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*This beautiful little song presents an eminent proof of Milton's attention to the effect of metre, in that admirable change of numbers with which he describes the appearance of the May Morning, and salutes her after she has appeared; as different as the subject is, and produced by the transition from iambics to trochaics. So in "L'Allegro," he banishes Melancholy in iambics, but invites Euphrosyne and her attendants in trochaics.-TODD.

59. Banks of Cime: The Camus anglicised. See "Lycidas," 103. "I have been told that there was a Cambridge-collec tion of verses on her death, among which Milton's elegiack ode first appeared."-T. WARTON.

63. Syrian shepherdess: Rachel. Gen. XXX. 22, 23.

68. Through pangs, &c. We cannot too much admire the beauty of this line: I wish it had closed the poem, which it would have done with singular effect. What follows serves only to weaken it, and the last verse is an eminent instance of the bathos.-DUNSTER.

MISCELLANIES.

ANNO ÆTATIS XIX.

At a VACATION EXERCISE in the College, part Latin, part English.
The Latin speeches ended, the English thus began:-

HAIL, native Language, that by sinews weak
Didst move my first endeavouring tongue to speak;
And mad'st imperfect words with childish trips,
Half unpronounced, slide through my infant lips:
Driving dumb Silence from the portal door,
Where he had mutely sat two years before!
Here I salute thee, and thy pardon ask,
That now I use thee in my latter task:

Small loss it is that thence can come unto thee;

I know my tongue but little grace can do thee:
Thou need'st not be ambitious to be first;
Believe me, I have thither pack'd the worst:
And, if it happen as I did forecast,
The daintiest dishes shall be served up last.
I pray thee, then, deny me not thy aid

For this same small neglect that I have made:
But haste thee straight to do me once a pleasure,
And from thy wardrobe bring thy chiefest treasure;
Not those new-fangled toys, and trimming slight,
Which takes our late fantasticks with delight;
But cull those richest robes, and gay'st attire,
Which deepest spirits and choicest wits desire.

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* Written in 1627. The "Verses at a Vacation Exercise in College," are full of ingenuity and imagery, and have several fine passages; but, though they blame "new-fangled toys" with a noble disdain, they are themselves in many parts too fantastic.-BRYDGES.

19. Not those new fangled toys, &c. Perhaps he here alludes to Lilly's "Euphues," a book full of affected phraseology, which pretended to reform or refine the English language. The ladies and the courtiers were all instructed in this new style, and it was esteemed a mark of ignorance or unpoliteness not to understand Euphuism.

21. But cull, &c. From a youth of nineteen these are striking expressions of a consciousness of superior genius, and of an ambition to rise above the level of the

fashionable rhymers. At so early an age

Milton began to conceive a contempt for the poetry in vogue; and this he seems to have retained to the last. In the "Tractate on Education," recommending to his pupils the study of good critics, he adds, "This would make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our common rhymers and play-writers be; and show what religious, what glorious, what magnificent use might be made of poetry." Milton's own writings are the most illustrious proof of this.-T. WAR

TON.

I have some naked thoughts that rove about,
And loudly knock to have their passage out;
And, weary of their place, do only stay,
Till thou hast deck'd them in thy best array;
That so they may, without suspect or fears,
Fly swiftly to this fair assembly's ears:
Yet I had rather, if I were to chuse,
Thy service in some graver subject use,
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound:
Such where the deep transported mind may soar
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heaven's door
Look in, and see each blissful Deity,

How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
Listening to what unshorn Apollo sings

To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Immortal nectar to her kingly sire:

Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
And misty regions of wide air next under,
And hills of snow, and lofts of piled thunder,
May tell at length how green-eyed Neptune raves,
In Heaven's defiance mustering all his waves;
Then sing of secret things that came to pass
When beldam Nature in her cradle was;
And last of kings, and queens, and heroes old,
Such as the wise Demodocus once told
In solemn songs at king Alcinous' feast,
While sad Ulysses' soul, and all the rest,
Are held, with his melodious harmony,
In willing chains and sweet captivity.

But fie, my wandering Muse, how thou dost stray!
Expectance calls thee now another way:
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.

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Then ENs is represented as father of the Predicaments, his two 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;

29. Yet I had rather, &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 Christisn for pagan ideas. He was now deep in the Greek poets.-T, WARTON,

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37. Unshorn Apollo, an epithet by which he is distinguished in the Greek and Latin poets.

48. Demodocus, the famous bard of the Odyssey, who, according to the fashion of the heroic ages, delighted the guests of Alcinous, during their repast, by singing about the feats of the Greeks at the siege of Troy, the wooden norse, &c. See Od. viii. 44.

59. Good luck, &c. Here the metaphysical or logical Ens is introduced as a person, and addressing his eldest son Substance; afterwards the logical Quantity

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