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Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
The virgin quire for her request
But with a scarce well-lighted flame';
So have I seen some tender slip,
• Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
She was the wife of John, Marquis of Winchester, a conspicuous loyalist in the reign of king Charles I. whose magnificent house or castle of Basing in Hampshire withstood an obstinate siege of two years against the rebels, and when taken was levelled to the ground, because in every window was flourished Aymes Loyauté. He died in 1674, and was buried in the church of Englefield in Berkshire; where, on his monument, is an admirable epitaph in English verse written by Dryden, which I have often seen.
It is remarkable,
that both husband and wife should have severally received the honour of an epitaph from two such poets as Milton and Dryden.-T. WARTON.
P He at their invoking came,
But with a scarce well-lighted flame.
Almost literally from his favourite poet Ovid, "Metam." x. 4. of Hymen :
Adfuit ille quidem: sed nec solennia verba,
Nec lætos vultus, nec felix attulit omen:
Fax quoque quam tenuit, lacrymoso stridula fumo,
Usque fuit, nullosque invenit motibus ignes.-T. WARTON.
4 Ye might discern a cypress bud.
An emblem of a funeral; and it is called in Virgil "feralis," Æn. vi. 216, and in Horace "funebris," Epod. v. 18, and in Spenser "the cypress funeral," Faer. Qu. 1. i. 8.
Gentle lady, may thy grave
That thy noble house doth bring,
And some flowers, and some bays,
Sent thee from the banks of Came,
Whilst thou, bright saint, high sitt'st in glory,
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,
There with thee, new welcome saint,
Sent thee from the banks of Came.
I have been told that there was a Cambridge collection of verses on her death, among which Milton's elegiac ode first appeared: but I have never seen it, and I rather think this was not the case: at least, we are sure that Milton was now a student at Cambridge. Our marchioness was the daughter of Thomas Lord Viscount Savage, of Rocksavage in Cheshire; and it is natural to suppose, that her family was well acquainted with the family of Lord Bridgewater, belonging to the same county, for whom Milton wrote the Mask of "Comus." It is therefore not improbable that Milton wrote this elegy, another poetical favour, in consequence of his acquaintance with the Egerton family. The accomplished lady, here celebrated, died in child-bed of a second son in her twenty-third year, and was the mother of Charles, the first Duke of Bolton.-T. WARTON.
• That fair Syrian shepherdess.
Rachel. See Gen. xxix. 9. xxxv. 18.-T. WARTON.
t Through pangs fled to felicity.
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, where the "saint clad in radiant sheen sinks into a marchioness and a queen: but Milton seldom closes his little poems well.DUNSTER.
There is a pleasing vein of lyric sweetness and ease in Milton's use of this metre, which is that of "L'Allegro" and " II Penseroso:" he has used it with equal success in Comus's festive song, and the last speech of the Spirit, in "Comus," 93. 922. From these specimens we may justly wish that he had used it more frequently. Perhaps in Comus' song it has a peculiar propriety: it has certainly a happy effect.-T. WARTON.
SONG ON MAY MORNING.
Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
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.
ANNO ETATIS XIX.
At a vacation Exercise in the College, part Latin, part English. The Latin
HAIL, native Language, that by sinews weak
Small loss it is that thence can come unto thee;
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;
Written in 1627: it is hard to say why these poems did not first appear in edition 1645. They were first added, but misplaced, in edition 1673.-T. WARTON.
ex-fnget nys mi zimming sight,
Vry service i sume gaver subject use f.
Such & nay make dive arch dhy ouders round.
How he lefire the thunderous three dith lie,
Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
It has new-fampled toys, and trimming slight,
Perhage be here alludes to Lily's - Erpènes," a book full of affected phraseology, which pretended to reform or refine the English language; and whose effects, although it was published some years before, still remained. 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 Exphxism.—I. WARTON.
• 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.
An epithet, by which he is distinguished in the Greek and Latin poets.-NEWTON.
e 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.
f Green-eyed Neptune.
Virgil "Georg." iv. 451. Of Proteus:
Ardentes oculos intorsit lumine glauco.-T. WARTON.
Then sing of secret things that came to pass
But fie, my wandering Muse, how thou dost stray!
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 ENs, thus speaking, explains :
Good luck befriend thee, son; for, at thy birth,
Come tripping to the room where thou didst lie;
And, sweetly singing round about thy bed,
Strow all their blessings on thy sleeping head.
She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still
Yet there is something that doth force my
For once it was my dismal hap to hear
A sibyl old, bow-bent with crooked age,
8 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.
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 every thing, 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.
1 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.
I Shall subject be to many an Accident.
A pun on the logical Accidens.-T. WARTON.