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And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
Till all be made immortal: but when lust,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,

The same notion of body's working up to spirit Milton afterwards introduced into his Paradise Lost, v. 469, &c. which is there, I think, liable to some objection, as he was entirely at liberty to have chosen a more rational system, and as it is also put into the mouth of an archangel. But in this place it falls in so well with the poet's design, gives such force and strength to this encomium on chastity, and carrics in it such a dignity of sentiment, that however repugnant it may be to our philosophic ideas, it cannot miss striking and delighting every virtuous and intelligent reader. Thyer.

464. By unchaste looks,] "He [Christ] censures an unchaste "look to be an adultery already "committed." Divorce, b. ii. c. 1. Pr. W. i. 184. Milton therefore in this expression alludes to S. Matt. v. 28. πως ὁ βλέπων γυναικα προς το επιθυμηται αυτής, κ.τ.λ. T. Warton.

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465. But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,] In the Manuscript it is And must &c. and instead of lewd and lavish he had written at first,

And most by the lascivious act of sin.

465. It is the same idea, yet where it is very commodiously applied, in Par. L. vi, 660.

465

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Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose The divine property of her first being.

"but what is corporeal, and "which may be touched, seen, « drank, and used for the grati"fications of lust: at the same "time, if it has been accustomed "to hate, fear, or shun, whatever "is dark and invisible to the "human eye, yet discerned and "approved by philosophy: I "ask, if a soul so disposed, will "go sincere and disincumbered "from the body? By no means. "And will it not be, as I have "supposed, infected and in"volved with corporeal con"tagion, which an acquaintance "and converse with the body, "from a perpetual association, "has made congenial? So I "think. But, my friend, we "must pronounce that substance "to be ponderous, depressive, "and earthy, which such a soul "draws with it: and therefore "it is burthened by such a clog, "and again is dragged off to "some visible place, for fear of "that which is hidden and un"seen; and, as they report, "retires to tombs and sepul"chres, among which the sha"dowy phantasms of these brutal

souls, being loaded with some"what visible, have often actually "appeared. Probably, O Socra"tes. And it is equally probable, "O Cebes, that these are the "souls of wicked not virtuous "men, which are forced to "wander amidst burial-places, "suffering the punishment of an "impious life. And they so long "are seen hovering about the "monuments of the dead, till "from the accompaniment of

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"the sensualities of corporeal "nature, they are again clothed "with a body, &c." Phæd. Opp. Platon. p. 386. b.1. edit. Lugdun. 1590. fol. An admirable writer, the present Bishop of Worcester, has justly remarked, that " this "poetical philosophy nourished "the fine spirits of Milton's time,

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though it corrupted some." It is highly probable, that Henry More, the great Platonist, who was Milton's contemporary at Christ's college, might have given his mind an early bias to the study of Plato. But although Milton was confessedly a great reader of Plato, yet all this whole system had been lately brought forward by May, in his Continuation of Lucan's Historicall Poem, Lond. 1630. 12mo. See b. iv. signat. T. 4. where there are many lines bearing a strong resemblance to some of Milton's. But in this book May has translated almost the whole of Plato's Phædon, which he puts into the mouth of Cato. T. Warton.

468. Imbodies, and imbrutes,] Thus also Satan speaks of the debasement and corruption of his original divine essence, Par. L. ix. 165.

-Mix'd with bestial slime, This essence to incarnate and imbrute, That to the height of deity aspir'd. Our author, with these Platonic refinements in his head, supposes that the human soul was for a long time embodied and imbruted with the carnal ceremonies of popery, just as she is sensualised and degraded by a participation of the vicious habits of the body.

grave,

Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft seen in charnel vaults, and sepulchres,
Ling'ring, and sitting by a new made
As loath to leave the body that it lov'd,
And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
2. BROTHER.

How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.

ELDER BROTHER.
List, list, I hear
Some far off halloo break the silent air.
2. BROTHER.
Methought so too; what should it be?

Of Reformation, &c. Prose W. vol. i. 1. Imbrute, or embrute, occurs in G. Fletcher, p. 38. T. Warton.

472. Ling'ring and sitting by a new made grave,] In the Manuscript, and in the edition of 1637, it is

Hovering, and sitting, &c.

476. How charming is divine philosophy!] This is an imimmediate reference to the foregoing speech, in which the divine philosophy of Plato, concerning the nature and condition of the human soul after death, is so largely and so nobly displayed. See Note on Par. Reg. i. 478. T. Warton.

478. But musical as is Apollo's

470

475

480

lute,] Milton probably took this comparison from Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, act iv. s. 4. though there it is applied upon

another occasion.

-as sweet and musical

As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair.

He has something of the same thought again in Paradise Regained, i. 479.

Smooth on the tongue discours'd, pleasing to th' ear,

And tuneable as sylvan pipe or song.

480.-List, list, I hear &c.] He had written at first,

-List, list, methought I heard &c. and in the Manuscript is a marginal direction, halloo far off.

ELDER BROTHER.

For certain

Either some one like us night-founder'd here,
Or else some neighbour woodman, or, at worst,
Some roving robber calling to his fellows.
2. BROTHER.

Heav'n keep my Sister. Again, again, and near; Best draw, and stand upon our guard. ELDER BROTHER.

I'll halloo;

If he be friendly, he comes well; if not,
Defence is a good cause, and heav'n be for us.

The attendant Spirit, habited like a shepherd. That halloo I should know, what are you? speak; 490 Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else. SPIRIT.

What voice is that? my young Lord? speak again. 2. BROTHER.

O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure.

1

485

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ELDER BROTHER.

Thyrsis? whose artful strains have oft delay'd
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,
And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale.
How cam'st thou here, good swain? hath any ram
Slipp'd from the fold, or young kid lost his dam,
Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook?

494. Thyrsis? whose artful strains &c.] This no doubt was intended as a compliment to Mr. Lawes upon his musical compositions; and a very fine one it is, and more genteel than that which we took notice of before, as that was put into his own mouth, but this is spoken by another.

494. The spirit appears habited like a shepherd; and the poet has here caught a fit of rhyming from Fletcher's pastoral comedy.

Milton's eagerness to praise his friend Lawes, makes him here forget the circumstances of the fable: he is more intent on the musician than the shepherd, who comes at a critical season, and whose assistance in the present difficulty should have hastily been asked. But time is lost in a needless encomium, and in idle enquiries how the shepherd could possibly find out this solitary part of the forest. The youth, however, seems to be ashamed or unwilling to tell the unlucky accident that had befallen his sister. Perhaps the real boyism of the Brother, which yet should have been forgotten by the poet, is to be taken into the account. T. Warton.

495

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The madrigal was a species of musical composition now actually in practice, and in high vogue. Lawes, here intended, had composed madrigals. So had Milton's father, as we shall see hereafter. The word is not here thrown out at random. T. Warton.

496. And sweeten'd every &c.] In poetical and picturesque circumstances, in wildness of fancy and imagery, and in weight of sentiment and moral, how greatly does Comus excel the Aminta of Tasso, and the Pastor Fido of Guarini, which Milton, from his love of Italian poetry, must have frequently read! Comus, like these two, is a pastoral Drama, and I have often wondered it is not mentioned as such. Dr. J. Warton.

496.of the dale.] In the Manuscript it was at first

-of the valley.

497. How cam'st thou here, good swain? &c.] In the Manuscript it is good shepherd: but that agrees not so well with the measure of the verse. And in the next verse the Manuscript had at first Leap'd o'er the pen, which was corrected into Slipt from his fold, as it is in the Manuscript,

495. To hear his madrigal.] or the fold, as in all the editions.

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