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For sure so well instructed are my tears,
Or should I thence, hurried on viewless wing,
Might think the infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.
and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
& Take up a weeping on the mountains wild. This expression is from Jeremiah, ix. 10. : “For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing,” &c.-T. WARTON.
h The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild. A sweetly beautiful couplet, which, with the two preceding lines, opened the stanza so well, that I particularly grieve to find it terminate feebly in a most miserably disgusting concetto.-DUNSTER.
THE Minor Poems which follow are not of sufficient length or importance to demand or justify a separate introduction to each.
The “ Circumcision is better than the “Passion,” and has two or three Miltonic lines.
The “Elegy on the Death of a fair Infant” is praised by Warton, and well characterised in his last note upon it; but it has more of research and laboured fancy than of feeling, and is not a general favourite.
The Ode, or rather fragment,“ On Time," closes with three noble and sonorous lines.
The “Ode at a Solemn Musick.” is a short prelude to the strain of Genius which produced “Paradise Lost." Warton says, that perhaps there are no finer lines in Milton than one long passage which he cites. I must say that this is going a little too far. That they are very fine, I admit; but the sublime philosophy, to which he alludes as their prototype, must not be put in comparison with the fountains of "Paradise Lost.” So far they are exceedingly curious, that they show how early the poet had constructed in his own mind the language of his divine imagery, and how rich and vigorous his style was almost in his boyhood; as this :
Where the bright seraphim, in burning row,
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires. The “Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester” does not much please me: I do not like its quaint conceits, nor its want of pathos. The third line,
A viscount's daughter, an earl's heir, is equivocally expressed. It means the daughter of a viscount, which viscount was heir to an earl. See T. Warton's note on ver. 59. Thomas, Lord Darcie, of Chiche, in Essex, was created Viscount Colchester, 19 James I., with a collateral remainder to Sir Thomas Savage, of Rock-savage, in Cheshire, who had married Elizabeth Laughton; and at length coheir of the said Thomas Lord Darcie; and in the second Charles I. he was created Earl Rivers, with the same remainder. Thus this Sir Thomas Savage was called Viscount Colchester, and was heir to an earldom; but he did not succeed to it, for he died in 1635, before his father-inlaw, who survived till 1639, when his son, Sir John Savage, second baronet, (the brother of the marchioness) became second Earl Rivers, and died 1654. He had three sons, and five daughters : Jane, the second daughter, married, first, George Brydges, sixth Lord Chandos ; secondly, Sir William Sedley ; thirdly, George Pitt, of Strathfield-say, in Hampshire; and having obtained Sudely castle from her first husband, left it to this third husband, Mr. Pitt. The Marchioness of Winchester was mother of Charles Powlett, first Duke of Bolton, whose daughter, Lady Jane, married John Egerton, third Earl of Bridgewater, from whom all the subsequent peers of that title descended. Thomas Savage, third Earl Rivers, dying 1694, was succeeded by his son Richard, fourth earl, who died without issue-male, 1712.* He was succeeded by his cousin, John, son of Richard Savage, third son of the second earl. The title became extinct in 1728. I take the date of this Epitaph to have been 1631, for a reason given by me in “The Topographer," 1789, vol. i. which Todd has referred to.
The “Song on May Morning" is in the tone of the beautifully descriptive passages in “Comus."
The “ Verses at a Vacation Exercise in the College," are full of ingenuity and imagery, and have several fine passages ; but, though they blame “new-fangled toys” with a noble disdain, they are themselves in many parts too fantastic.
As to the “Epitaph on Shakspeare,” Hurd despises it too much. It is true, that it is neither equal to the grand cast of Milton's poems, nor worthy of the subject; but still it would honour most poets, except the last four lines, which are a poor conceit.
The two strange “Epitaphs on Hobson the Carrier,” are unworthy of the author.
The rough lines on the "New Forcers of Conscience " are interesting on account of the historical notes of Warton, to which they have given occasion.
The “Translations” are scarcely worth notice, except the Ode of Horace, which has a plain and native vigour.
Of the “Psalms" I have said all that is necessary in the poet's Life.
UPON THE CIRCUMCISION.
Seas wept from our deep sorrow:
* Your flery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sigh8. Milton is puzzled how to reconcile the transcendentessence of angels with the infirmities of men. In "Paradise Lost,” having made the angel Gabriel share in a repast of fruit with Adam, he finds himself undera necessity of getting rid of an obvious objection, that material food does not belong to intellectual or ethereal substances : and to avoid certain circumstances, humiliating and disgraceful to the dignity of the angelic nature, the natural consequences of concoction and digestion, he forms a new theory of transpiration, suggested by
He, who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
His infancy to seize!
Will pierce more near his heart.
ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT4, DYING OF A COUGH.
That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
For since grim Aquilo e, his charioteer,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot the wonderful transmutations of chemistry. In the present instance, he wishes to make angels weep; but, being of the essence of fire, they cannot produce water; at length, he recollects that fire may produce burning sighs. It is debated in Thomas Aquinas whether angels have not, or may not have beards.—T. WARTON.
bo more exceeding love, or law more just ?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love !
Crudelis mater magis, an puer improbus ille?
Emptied his glory. An expression taken from Philipp. ii. 7, but not as in our translation, -- "He made himself of no reputation;" but, as it is in the original, “He emptied himself.”—NEWTON.
d Written in 1625, and first inserted in edition 1673. He was now seventeen.T. WARTON.
e For since grim Aquilo, &c. Boreas ravished Orithyia. Ovid. “Metam." vi. 677.-T. WARTON,
Of long-uncoupled bed and childless eld,
So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
But, all unwares, with his cold-kind embrace
Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
But then transform'd him to a purple flower :
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
0, no ! for something in thy face did shine
Resolve me then, O soul most surely blest,
O, say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
Wert thou some star, which from the ruin'd roof
For 80 Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Young Hyacinth. From these lines one would suspect, although it does not immediately follow, that a boy was the subject of the ode : but in the last stanza the poet says expressly :
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her falso-imagined loss cease to lament. Yet, in the eight stanza the person lamented is alternately supposed to have been sent down to earth in the shape of two divinities, one of whom is styled a “just maid,” and the other a "sweet-smiling youth.” But the child was certainly a niece, a daughter of Milton's sister Philips, and probably her first child.—T. WARTON.
& If such there were. He should have said "are,” if the rhyme bad permitted.-HURD.
Which careful Jove in Nature's true behoof
Of sheeny Heaven, and thou some goddess fled,
Or wert thou that just maid, who once before
Or any other of that heavenly brood,
Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
But, O! why didst thou not stay here below
To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart ?
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
This, if thou do, he will an offspring give,
h To turn swift-rushing black Perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering Pestilence. Among the blessings, which the “ heaven-loved” innocence of this child might have imparted, by remaining upon earth, the application to present circumstances, the supposition that she might have averted the pestilence now raging in the kingdom, 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 has here given a very remarkable specimen of his ability to succeed in the Spenserian stanza. He moves with great ease and address amidst the embarrassment of a frequent return of rhyme. -T. WARTON.