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Compels me to disturb your season due:
10. Who would not sing for Lycidas?] Virgil, Ecl. x. 3.
-neget quis carmina Gallo? He knew, in Milton's Manuscript it is he well knew.
10. He knew
Himself to sing, &c.]
At Cambridge, Mr. King was distinguished for his piety, and proficiency in polite literature. He has no inelegant copy of Latin iambics prefixed to a Latin Comedy called Senile Odium, acted at Queen's College Cambridge, by the youth of that society, and written by P. Hausted, Cantab. 1633. 12mo. From which I select these lines, as containing a judicious satire on the false taste, and the customary mechanical or unnatural expedients, of the drama that then subsisted.
Non hic cothurni sanguine insonti rubeat,
Nec flagra Megæræ ferrea horrendum
Noverca nulla sævior Erebo furit;
Casti lepores, innocua festivitas, Nativa suavitas, proba elegantia, &c. He also appears with credit in the Cambridge Public Verses of his time. He has a copy of Latin iambics, in the Anthologia on the King's Recovery, Cantab. 1632. 4to. p. 43. Of Latin ele
giacs, in the Genethliacum Acad. Cantabrig. ibid. 1631. 4to. p. 39. Of Latin iambics in Rex Redux, ibid. 1633. 4to. p. 14. See also EYNOAIA, from Cambridge, ibid. 1637. 4to. Signat. C. 3. I will not say how far these performances justify Milton's panegyric on his friend's poetry. T. Warton.
11. --and build the lofty rhime.] A beautiful Latinism. Hor. Epist. i. iii. 24.
-seu condis amabile carmen.
De Arte poet. 436.
-si carmina condes.
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Begin then, sisters of the sacred well,
With lucky words favour my destin'd urn,
14. Without the meed] Without the reward. Spenser, Faery Queen, b. ii. cant. iii. st. 10.
-but honour, virtue's mecd,
Doth bear the fairest flow'r in honourable seed.
14. melodious tear.] For song, or plaintive elegiac strain, the cause of tears. Euripides in like manner, Suppl. v. 1128. “· Πα δακρυα φερεις φιλα--ολωλότων. "Where do you bear the tears of "the dead, i. e. the remains or "ashes of the dead, which occa"sion our tears?" Or perhaps the passage is corrupt. See note on the place, edit. Markland. The same use of tears, however, occurs, ibid. v. 454. " Aangvad “ ετοιμαζουσι.” Hurd.
The passage is undoubtedly corrupt; П is superfluous, and mars the context. The late Oxford editor seems to have given the genuine reading, “Nar dangva "Pigus Pira," [v.1133.] T.War
15. Begin then, sisters of the sacred well,
That from beneath the seat of
He means Hippocrené, a fountain consecrated to the Muses on mount Helicon, on the side of which was an altar of Heliconian
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.
present place is from Job, the most poetical of all books. Job curses the day in which he was born. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark, let it look for light but have none, neither let it see the dawning of the day. The Hebrew (that Milton always follows) hath neither let it see the eyelids of the morning, iii. 9. Richardson.
The opening eyelids was altered in the Manuscript from the glimmering eyelids.
26. Perhaps from Thomas Middleton's Game at Chesse, an old forgotten play, published about the end of the reign of James the First, 1625.
-Like a pearl,
Dropp'd from the opening eyelids of
Shakespeare has "the morning's "eye," Rom. and Jul. act iii. s. 5. Again, act ii. s. 3.
The grey-eyed morn smiles on the
27. "We continued together "till noon, and from thence, &c." The gray-fly is called by the naturalists, the gray-fly or trumpetfly. Here we have Milton's horn, and sultry horn is the sharp hum of this insect at noon, or the hottest part of the day. But by some this has been thought the chaffer,
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn, Batt'ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night, Oft till the star that rose, at evening, bright,
which begins its flight in the evening. T. Warton.
27. We drove afield,] That is, "we drove our flocks afield." I mention this, that Gray's echo of the passage in the Churchyard Elegy, yet with another meaning, may not mislead many careless readers.
How joyous did they drive the team afield.
See the note, P. R. ii. 365. on Milton's delight in painting the beauties of the morning. In the Apology for Smectymnuus he declares,Those morning haunts are where they should be, at home: not sleeping or concocting the surfeits of an irre"gular feast, but up and stirring, "in winter often before the "sound of any bell awakens 66 men to labour or devotion; in "summer, as oft as the bird that "first rouses, or not much tar
dier, to read good authors, "&c." Prose Works, i. 109. In L'Allegro, one of the first delights of his cheerful man, is to hear the "lark begin her flight." His lovely landscape of Eden always wears its most attractive charms at sun-rising. In the present instance, he more particularly alludes to the stated early hours of a collegiate life, which he shared, on the self-same hill, with his friend Lycidas at Cambridge. T. Warton.
28. What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,] By the gray-fly in this place is meant no doubt a brownish kind of beetle powdered with a little white,
commonly known by the name of the cock-chaffer or dor-fly. These in the hot summer months lie quiet all the day feeding upon the leaves of the oaks and willows, but about sunset fly about with just such a sort of noise as answers the poet's description. The author could not possibly have chosen a circumstance more proper and natural for a shepherd to describe a summer's evening by, nor have expressed it in a more poetical manner. Thyer.
the same kind in his Macbeth, Shakespeare has an image of but he has expressed it with greater horror suitable to the occasion, act iii. s. 3,
ere to black Hecate's summons The shard-born beetle with his drowsy hums Hath rung night's yawning peal, &c.
29. Batt'ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night,] To batten is both neutral and active, to grow or to make fat. The neutral is most common. Shakespeare, Haml. act iii. s. 4.
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
And batten on this moor?
And Drayton, Ecl. ix. vol. iv. ut supr. p. 1431.
Their battening flocks on grassie leas to hold.
Milton had this line in his eye. Batfull, that is plentiful, is a frequent epithet in Drayton, especially in his Polyolbion.
30. Oft till the star &c.] These two lines were thus in the Manu
Tow'ard heav'n's descent had slop'd his west'ring wheel. Mean while the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to th' oaten flute,
Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns with cloven heel
But O the heavy change, now thou art gone,
And twice hath risen where he now doth west
And wested twice where he ought rise
Illic blanda sonantibus
So Phineas Fletcher, a popular author in Milton's days, Purpl, Isl. c. ix. st. 3.
Tempering their sweetest notes unto thy lay.
Past. Ecl. on the death of Sir P.
36. And old Damætas lov'd to 33. Temper'd to thoaten flute,] bably Dr. William Chappel, who hear our song.] He means pro
Boethius III. Metr. 12.
had been tutor to them both at Cambridge, and was afterwards Bishop of Cork and Ross in Ireland.
39. Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, &c.] This line was thus given in the edition of 1638. Thee shepherds, thee the woods, and desert caves. T. Warton. 40. With wild thyme, and the gadding vine o'ergrown,] Tully,
And again, Poeticall Miscel. Camb. 1638. p. 55, Spenser also has, of birds.
To th' waters fall their tunes attemper right.
So P. L. vii. 598.
Temper'd soft tunings.
34. Rough Satyrs danc'd, and Fauns &c.] Virg. Ecl. vi. 27.
Tum vero in numerum Faunosque ferasque videres
Mr. Thyer adds another instance.