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And misty regions of wide air next under, 41
40. Watchful fire.] See Ode Chr. Nativ, v. 21.
42. --Green-ey'd Neptune.--) Virgil, GEORG. iv. Of Proteus.
Ardentes oculos interfit LUMINE GLAUCO. 48. Such as the wife 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. ii.
52. In willing chains and sweet captivity.) A line, as Mr. Bowle observes, resembling one in Taffo, GIER. LIB. C. vi. 84.
Giogo di fervitu dolce e leggiero.
Then Ens is represented as father of the Predicaments his
two fons, whereof the eldest stood for Substance with bis canons, which Ens, thus speaking, explains.
VOOD luck befriend thee, Son; for at thy birth
The faery ladies danc'd upon the hearth;
59. Good luck befriend thee, fon, &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 No. THING had not only a local habitation and a name, but a visible figure. It is extraordinary, that the pedantry of king James the first should not have been gratified with the system of logic represented in a mask, at some of his academic receptions. The Predicaments alone would have furnished a considerable band of Dramatis Perfonæ. The long and hoary beard of father Ens might have been made to exceed any thing that ever appeared on the stage. James was once entertained at Oxford, in 1618, with a play called the Marriage of the Arts. Ibid. -For at thy birth
The faery ladies danc'd 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 fame time. 60.
. --Danc'd upon the hearth.] I fear too much has been said of domestic fairies in L’ALLEGRO, v. 103. Yet I cannot miss an opportunity of adding a few words on the subject, which may tend to illustrate Shakespeare through Milton. It is not yet satisfactorily decided, what Shakespeare means by calling Mab the Fairies' Midwife. Rom. Jul. A i. S. iv. Doctor Warburton would read the Fancy's Midwife : for, he argues, it cannot be understood that she performed the office of midwife to the fairies. Mr. Steevens, much more plausibly, supposes her to be here called the Faeries' Midwife, because it was her “ department to deliver the fan“cies of fleeping men of their dreams.” But I apprehend, and with no violence of interpretation, that the poet means The Mid
And sweetly singing round about thy bed
70 And in time's long and dark prospective glass Foresaw what future days should bring to pass ; “ Your fon, said she, (nor can you it prevent) “ Shall subject be to many an Accident. “O'er all his brethren he shall reign as king, 75 “ Yet every one shall make him underling,
wife among the Fairies, because it was her peculiar employment to steal the new-born babe in the night, and to leave another in its place. The poet here uses her general appellation and character, which yet has so far a proper reference to the present train of fiction, as that her illusions were practised on persons in bed or asleep; for the not only haunted women in childbed, but was likewise the incubus or night-mare. Shakespeare, by employing her here, al. ludes at large to her midnight pranks performed on fleepers: but : denominates her from that most notorious one, of her personating the drowsy midwife who was insensibly carried away into some diftant water, and substituting a new birth in the bed or cradle. It would clear the appellation to read, under the sense assigned, The Fairie Midwife. The poet avails himself of Mab's appropriate province in giving her this new nocturnal agency.
62. Come tripping to the room, &c.] So barren, unpoetical, and abstracted a subject, could not have been adorned with finer touches of fancy. See also, v. 69.
A Sibyl old, &c.
To find a foe, &c.
74. Shall subject be to many an Accident.] A pun on the logical Accidens. 75
O'er all his brethren he shall reign as king.) The PredicaVoL, I.
« And those that cannot live from him asunder
Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under, « In worth and excellence he shall out-go them, “ Yet being above them, he shall be below them; 80 " From others he shall stand in need of nothing, “ Yet on his brothers shall depend for clothing. “ To find a foe it shall not be his hap, « And peace shall lull him in her flow'ry lap; “ Yer shall he live in strife, and at his door “ Devouring war fhall never cease to roar : « Yet it shall be his natural property « To harbour those that are at enmity. • What pow'r, what force, what mighty spell, if not “ Your learned hands, can loose this Gordian knot ?"
merits are his brethren : of or to which he is the Subjectum, although first in excellence and order.
78. Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under.) They cannot exist, but as inherent in Substance.
81. From others hë fall stand in need of nothing.] He is still Substance, with, or without, Accident.
82. Yet on his brothers shall depend for clothing.) By' whom he is cloathed, fuperinduced, modified, &c. But he is still the fame.
83. Substantia fubftantiæ nova contrariatur, is a school-maxim
84. And peace shall lull him in her flow'ry lap.] So in Harringa ton's ARIOSTO, C. xlv. I.
Who long were Lul’o on high in Fortune's LAP.
Whom Fortune never dandled in her LAP.
Whoso hath in the LAP of soft delight
Been long time Lul'd. We have “ the FLOWERY LAP of some irriguous valley." Pau RAD. L. iv.
254. 88. To harbour those that are at enmity.] His Accidents.
The next Quantity and Quality Spake in prose; then
Relation was called by his name.
IVERS arife; whether thou be the fon
Of utmost Tweed, or Oose, or gulphy Dun,
91. Rivers arise, &c.] Milton is supposed in the invocation and assemblage of these rivers, to have had an eye on Spenser's Episode of the Nuptials of Thames and Medway, F. Q. iv. xi. I rather think he consulted Drayton's POLYOlbion. It is hard to say, in what sense, or in what manner, this introduction of the rivers was to be applied to the subject. 93. Or Trent, who like fome earth-born giant Spreads
His thirty arms along th” indented meads.] It is said that there were thirty sorts of fish in this river, and thirty religious houses on its banks. See Drayton, PALYOLB. S. xii. vol. iii. p. 906. Drayton adds, that it was foretold by a wisard,
And thirty several streames, from many a sundry way,
Unto her greatness shall their watry tribute pay. These traditions, on which Milton has raised a noble image, are a rebus on the name TRENT.
94. Indented meads.] Indent, in this sense and context, in Syl. vefter's Du BARTAS, D. iii. W. i.
Our filuer Medway, which doth deepe INDENT
The flowerie MEDOWEs of my native Kent.
95. Or sulten Mole that runneth underneath.] At Mickleham near Darking in Surrey, the river Mole during the summer, except in heavy rains, finks through its sandy bed into a subterraneous and invisible channel. In winter it constantly keeps its current. This river is brought into one of our author's religious disputes,
" To " make the word Gift, like the river Mole in Surrey, to run un“ der the bottom of a long line, and so to start up
and to govern " the word presbytery, &c.” ANIMADV. Rem. Def. &c. Pr. W.
yol. 1. 92.