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Or wert thou that sweet smiling youth?
Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good?
53. Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth?
Or that crown'd matron sage white-robed Truth ?] In the first of these verses, a dissyllable word is wanting, which probably fell out at press. The late Mr. John Heslcin, of Christ-Church, Oxford, who published an elegant edition of fiion and Moichus, proposed in a periodical Miscellany which appeared about the year 1750, and with the utmost probability, to insert Mercy.
Or wert thou Mercy, that sweet smiling youth?
For, as he observed, Mercy is not only most aptly represented as a sweet-smiling youth, that is, of the age most susceptible of the tender passions, but Mercy is joined with Justice and Truth in the Ode on the Nativity, st. Xv. Doctor Newton has omitted the name of the author of this conjecture, and gives the reasons tor it as his own.
54. —— Matron sage white-robed Truth.] In some of the Miscellanies of the reign of James the first, I remember a white.kirtled Matron. See Note on Com. V. 254. Where the word Kir tit affords me, an opportunity of offering a conjecture on a passage in As You Like It, A. i. S. iii. Rosalind says, meaning to disguise herself in the dress of a man.
Were it not better,
Because that I am more than common tall,
Here Curtle-ax has been interpreted a Cutlass, from the French Coutelas. But I suspect, that Rosalind, who in her disguise affects "a martial and a swashing outside," means a fort of lhew-dagger, worn on the Kirtle or Sureoat. This might have been thence called a Cunle-ax. The original Saxon for Kirtle is Cyrtel. And Curtelax is the reading of the folios 1623, and 1632. I find " Curtle-ax "trim, in Fairfax's Tasso, C. xx. 84. Against this reasoning there is a passage in Locrike, written 1594. Mention is made of Locrine's mighty "curtle-ax." A. iv. S.i. Mores, in his curious dissertation on Letter-founders, calls a cutlass, as it seems, a eourtelass, among the antique typograpic ornaments, p. 40.
P p IX. Or
IX. Or wert thou of the golden-winged host, Who having clad thyself in human weed, To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post, And after short abode fly back with speed, 60
As if to show what creatures Heav'n doth breed,
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire To scorn the sordid world, and unto Heav'n aspire?
But oh why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy heav'n-lov'd innocence, 65
57. Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,] Mr. Bowie here cites Spenser's Hymne Of Heavenly Beautik. Bright Cherubins
Which all with Golden Wings are overdight. And Spenser's Heavenly Love has golden wings, ft. i.
Love lift me vp vpon thy Golden Wings.
Ali bianche vest!, c'han d'or le cime.
Of silver wings he took a shining payre,
Fringed with gold. See Ii Pens. V. 52.
From the wings of Cherubims, our author, in his book of ReforMation, has raised a puerile Italian conceit, to express the mildness of the divine mercy. "God, when we least deserved, sent out a •• gentle gale, and message of peace, from the wings of those his Che"rubims that Fan his mercy-feat." It is at least, unworthy of the subject. Prose-works, vol. i. 22. The enthusiasm of puritanical devotion partook of the mystic visions of monastic quietism. On Pope's blameless vestal,
The wings of Seraphs shed divine perfumes. But, allowing for the state of mind and habitual sentiments of the fair recluse, the fiction it natural, rational, and, highly poetical without extravagance.
To flake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart? 69 But thou canst best perform that office where thou art.
Then thou, the Mother of so sweet a Child,
This if thou do, he will an ofspring give, That till the world's last end shall make thy name to live.
67. To turn stoift-rujbing black perdition bat*,
Or drive atvay the Jlaugbteriag pestilence.] Among the blessings, which the beaven-loved innocence of this child might have imparted, by remaining upon earth, the application to present circumstances, the supposition that slie might have averted the pestilence now raging in the kingdom, is happily and beautifully conceived. On the whole, from a boy of seventeen, this Ode is an extraordinary effort of fancy, expression, and versification. Even in the conceits, which are many, we perceive strong and peculiar marks of genius. I think Milton ha* here given a very remarkable specimen of his ability to succeed in the Spenserian stanza. He moves with great ease and address ainidlt th» embarrassment of a frequent return of rhyme.
P p % On On Time.
FLY envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
For when as each thing bad thou hast jntomb'd,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With truth, and peace, and love, mall ever shine
14. When every thing that is sincerely good.] Sincerely, is purely, perfectly. As in Comus, V. 454.
So dear to heaven is saintly chastity,
That when a soul is found Sincerely so, &c.