Page images
PDF
EPUB

We drove afield, and both together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Batt’ning our flocks with the freth dews of night.

Again, A.Ü. S. ii.

The GREY-Eyed morn smiles on the frowning night. 27. “We continued together till noon, and from thence, &c.” The Gray-fly is called by the naturalifts, The Gray-fly or Trum. pet-fly. Here we have Milton's horn, and fultry horn is the sharp hum of this infect at noon, or the hottest part of the day. But by fome this has been thought the chaffer, which begins its fight in the evening.

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 çareless readers.

How joyous did they drive the team afield. From the regularity of his pursuits, the purity of his plea. fures, his temperance, and general simplicity of life, Milton habitually became an early riser. Hence he gained an acquaintance with the beauties of the morning, which he fo frequently contemplated with delight, and has therefore so repeatedly described, in all their various appearances : and this is a subject which he delineates with the lively pencil of a lover. In the APOLOGY FOR SMECTYMNU Us he declares, “ Those morning haunts are where “ they should be, at home : not sleeping or concocting the surfeits “ of an irregular feaft, but up and ftirring, in winter often be« fore the sound of any bell awakens men to labour or devotion ; “ in summer, as oft as the bird that first rouses, or not much tar“ dyer, to read good authors, &c.” PROSE-WORKS, i.

109.

In L'ALLEGRO, one of the first delights of his chearful man, is to hear the “ lark begin her flight." His lovely landscape of Eden always wears its most attractive charms at sun-rising, and seems most delicious to our first parents “ at that season prime for sweetest ç sents and airs." In the present instance, he more particularly alludes to the stated early hours of a collegiate life, which he shared, on the self-fame bill, with his friend Lycidas at Cambridge.

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. A. ii. $. iv,

Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
And BATTEN on this moor?

Ofe

Oft till the ftar that rose, at evening, bright, 30
Toward heav'n's descent had nop'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
From the glad sound would not be absent long;
And old Damoetas lov'd to hear our song.

36

[ocr errors]

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 far that rose, at evening, bright.] Thus the edition 1645. In the edition of 1638, and Cambridge manu. fcript,

Oft till the evn-starre bright. And in the next line, BURNISHT was altered to weSTERING.

31. -Had flop'd his weft'ring wheel.] Beside to wester in Chaucer, of the sun, we have to west. in Spenser, F. Q. v. INTROD. 8.

And twice hath risen where he now doth west,

And wesTED. twice wher ought rise aright. 32.

The rural ditties were not mute, Temper'd to the oaten flute.) So Phineas Fletcher, a popular author in Milton's days, PURPL. Isl. C. ix. ft. iii.

TEMPERING their sweetest notes unto thy lay. And the same writer, in PoeTiCALL MisceLLANIES, Cambr. 1633. p. 55. 4to.

And all in course their voice ATTEMPERING. And Spenfer, in JUNE.

-Where birds of every kind To th’ waters fall their tunes ATTemper right. It is the same phraseology in Parad. L. B. vii. 598. Of various instruments of mufic.

Temper'd foft tunings. 36. See Note on El. i. 15. And the last Note on this piece.

But,

But, О the heavy change, now thou art gone, Now thou art gone, and never must return! Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown, And all their echoes mourn:

41 The willows, and the hazel copses green, Shall now no more be seen Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.

39. Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and defert caves, &c.] It is thus in the first edition, 1638.

Thee shepherds, thee the woods, and desert caves, &c. That is, “ thee the shepherds, thee the woods, and thee the caves, ++ lament." Without the address to Lycidas. Gray has hence adopted each desert cave.

40. With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown.] Doctor Warburton fupposes, that the vine is here called GADDING, because, being married to the elm, like other wives she is fond of GADDING ABROAD, and seeking a new associate. I have met with a peculiar use of the word GADDING, which also shews its antient and original spelling. From the Register of a Chantry at Godderston in Norfolk, under the year 1534. “Receyvid at the “ GADYNG with Saynte Marye Songe at Crismas." Blomf. Norf. iii. 404. That is, “ AT GOING ABOUT from house to house at “ christmass with a Carol of the Holy Virgin, &c.” It seems as if there was such an old verb as GADE, a frequentative from Go. Chaucer, Rom. R. 938.

These bowis two held Swete-Loking,

That ne femid like no GADLING. That is," no gadder, idler, &c." And in the Coke's TALE of Gamelyn, V. 203.

Stondeth still thou GADILING. GADELYNG occurs in Hearne's Gl. to ROBERT of GLOU CESTER, ftragling, renegade, &c. p. 651. Tully, in a beautiful defcription of the growth of the vine, says, that it spreads itself abroad, « multiplici lapsu et ERRATICO.” De SENECTUT. $. xv. Opp. tom, iii. p. 311. edit. Oxon. 1783. 4to.

As killing as the canker to the rose,

45 Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that

graze,

45. As killing as the cánker to the rose.] Shakespeare is fond of this image, who, from frequent repetition, seems to have fuggefted it to Milton. Sonn. lxx.

For CANKER vice the sweetest BUDS doth love. Again, ibid. xxxv.

And loathsom CANKER lives in sweeTEST BUD. Again, ibid. xcv:

Which, like a CANKER in thy fragrant rosë;

Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name. And of a rofe again, which had feloniously stolen a favourite boy's complexion and breath, ibid. xcix.

Bat for his theft, in pride of all his growth,

A vengefull CANKER eat him up to death.
And in the Two GENTLÉMEN OF VERONA, A. i. S. i.

As in the swEETEST BUDS
The eating CANKER dwells, so eating love, &c.
Again, TÉMPÉST, A. i. S. ii.

Something stain'd
With grief, that's beauty's CANKER.
And in the First P. of Henr. vi. A. ü. S. iv.

Hath not thy rose a CANKER, Somerset ?
And in HAMLET, A. i. S. iii.

The CANKER galls the INFANTS of the SPRING

Too oft before their buttons are disclos'd. And in K. RICHARD Ü. A. ii. S. iii.

But now will CANKER sorrow eat my BUD. And in the Rape of Lucrece, Malone's SUPPL. Shakesp. i. 52)

Why should the worm intrude the maiden BUD? And in the Mids. N. Dr. A. ii. S. ii. The fairies are employed,

Some to kill CANKERS in the MUSK-Rose buds. Canker-Blooms are mentioned in Shakespeare's Sonn. liv.

The CanKER-Blooms have full as deep a dye

As the perfumed tincture of the roses. But there the CANKER-Bloom is the dog-roje. As in MucĦADO ABOUT NOTHING, A.i. S. iii. " I had rather be a CANKER in wa hedge, than a role in his grace.” Shakespeare affords other

instances.

Vol. I.

[blocks in formation]

Or frost to flow'rs, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the white-thorn blows;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds ear.

Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas ? 51
For neither were ye playing on the steep,
Where your old Bards, the famous Druids, lie,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wisard stream: 55

50. Theocritus and Virgil are obvious here. But fee Spenser's ASTROPHEL, st. 22.

Ah, where were ye the while his shepheard peares, &c. 53. Where your old Bards, the fam

old Bards, the famous Druids, lie.] In the edition of 1638, " The old Bards." With a very different meaning, The correction appeared in the author's edition of 1645.

54. Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high.] In Drayton's POLYOLBION, Mona is introduced reciting her own history; where She' mentions her thick and dark groves as the favourite residence of the Druids.

Sometimes within my shades, in many an ancient wood,
Whose often-twined tops great Phebus fires with tood,

The fearlesse Britifh priests, under an aged oake, &c.
Where, says Selden, “ The British Druids tooke this isle of Angles

sey, then well-stored with thicke woods and religious groves, in “ so much that it was then called INIS DOWIL, The Dark ise,

for their chiefe residence, &c.” S. ix. vol. iii. p. 837. 839. Here are Milton's authorities. For the Druid-sepulchres, in the preceding line, at Kerig y Druidion, in the mountains of Denbighshire, he consulted Camden's BritanNIA.

ibid. --Shaggy top-) So PARAD. L. vi. 645. The angels uplift the hills,

-By theis SHAGGY TOPS. 55: Nor yet where Deva spreads her wisard fream.) In Spenser, the river Deee is the haunt of magicians. Merlin used to visit old Timon, in a green valley under the foot of the mountain Rauranvaur in Merionethshire, from which this river springs.. FAERLE Queene, i. ix. 4.

Under the foot of Rauran mossy hore,
From whence the river Dee, as filuer cleene,
His tombling billowes rolls with gentle rore.

The

« PreviousContinue »