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Throw hither all your quaint enamell'd eyes, That on the green turf suck the honied showers, And purple all the ground with vernal flowers. Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
Te flagrantis atrox hora caniculæ
In the Manuscript it was first sparely, then altered to stintly, and then to sparely again; and in the next line Throw hither was at first Bring hither &c.
138. Swart for swarthy is common in Shakespeare. The dogstar is so called by turning the effect into the cause. Compare B. and Fletcher's Philaster, act V. s. 1.
-whose still shades
The worthier beasts have made their layers, and slept
Free from the Sirian star.
T. Warton. 139. The term eyes is technical in the botany of flowers. T. Warton.
142. Bring the rathe primrose &c.] The primrose, being an early flower, is at first very acceptable, and being a lasting flower, it continues till it is put out of countenance by those which are more beautiful, and so dies forsaken and neglected. Jortin.
The flowers here selected are either peculiar to mourning, or early flowers, suited to the age of Lycidas. The rathe primrose is the early primrose, as the word is used in Spenser, Faery Queen, b. iii. cant. 3. st. 28.
Too rathe cut off by practice criminal: December Shepherd's Cal.
Thus is my harvest hasten'd all too rathe.
The rather lambs in February are the earlier lambs.
The rather lambs been starved with cold.
And we still use rather for sooner. That forsaken dies, imitated from Shakespeare, Winter's Tale, act iv. s. 5.
-pale primroses, That die unmarried, &c. Milton had at first written unwedded instead of forsaken. The whole was thus,
that unwedded dies Colouring the pale cheek of unenjoy'd love;
which was a closer copy of his original in Shakespeare,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freakt with jet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attir'd woodbine,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise.
nuscript, as they now stand in the printed' copies; and for the garish columbine he substituted the well-attired woodbine; and for sad escutcheon wears, sad embroidery wears.
142. The particular combination of "Rathe primrose" is perhaps from a Pastoral called a Palinode by E. B. probably Edmond Bolton, in England's Helicon, edit. 1614.
And made the rathe and timely prim.
143. The tufted crow-toe,] This is the hyacinth, that sanguine flower inscribed with woe, as above. Richardson.
An undoubted imitation of Spenser, in April.
Bring hither the pinke, and purple cullumbine,
Bring coronations, and sops in wine,
Strowe me the ground with daffa
And cowslips, and kingcups, and loved lillies;
The prettie pawnce,
And the chevisawnce,
Shall match with the faire flowre
144. and the pansy freakt with jet] Mr. Meadowcourt proposes to read streakt with jet, which is a more usual word: but freakt is the word in Milton's Manuscript as well as in all the editions, and I suppose he meant the same as freckled or spotted.
152. For so to interpose a little ease,
Let our fraid thoughts dally with false surmise.]
This is extremely tender and natural. He had said,
-the laureate herse where Lycid lies.
For so, says he, let us endeavour
for a moment to deceive ourselves, and fancy that at least his corpse is present.
Aye me! Whilst thee the shores, and sounding seas
Wash far away &c.
-jacet ipse procul, qua mixta supre
Ismenon primi mutant confinia ponti,
says Statius of young Crenæus killed fighting in the river Ismenos, ix. 358. Richardson.
153. Let our frail thoughts] Altered in the Manuscript from Let our sad thoughts.
Aye me! Whilst thee the shores, and sounding seas
153. -with false surmise.] The proper sense of the passage requires a semicolon after surmise; and it appears in the edition of 1638. The second edition, of 1645, evidently from an oversight, has a full point after surmise, which has been implicitly continued ever since. T. Warton.
154. Whilst thee the shores,] Altered in the Manuscript from floods. But Mr. Jortin says shores is improper, and fancies it should be shoals, the shallow waters, brevia. In the Mask 115, The sounds and seas-the sounds, freta. If Milton wrote shores, he perhaps had in his mind this passage of Virgil, Æn. vi. 362. where Palinurus, who, like Lycidas, had perished in the sea, says,
Nunc me fluctus habet, versantque in
On which line Pierius observes, Litus non tam de sicco, quàm de asperginibus et extrema maris ora, intelligitur. But yet, though a dead body may be said to be washed on the shore by the returning tides, the shore can hardly be said to wash the body; and the expression is harsh and uncouth.
-whilst thee the sounding seas Wash far away, &c. Far away, that is, in some remote place, whatsoever it be. He
seems rather to mean in some place, than to some place.
156. Whether beyond &c.] Whether thy body is carried northwards or southwards.
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides, the western islands of Scotland,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide,
it is humming tide in Milton's Manuscript,
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world.
Virgil, Æn. vi. 729.
Et quæ marmoreo fert monstra sub æquore pontus.
So classical is Milton in every part of this poem.
156. See On the death of a fair Infant, note, v. 38.
158. monstrous world.] The sea, the world of monsters, Horace, Od. i. iii. 18. Qui siccis oculis monstra natantia. Virgil, Æn. vi. 729. Quæ marmoreo fert monstra sub æquore pontus. T. Warton.
159. -moist vows] Our vows accompanied with tears. he had said vota lachrymosa. T.
160. Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old, &c.] Milton doubting which way the waves might carry the body of Lycidas, drowned in the Irish sea, imagines it was either driven north
Where the great vision of the guarded mount
ward beyond the Hebrides, or
"still there; which kind of mon"sters to deal with was his old "exercise." Of this race of giants, we may suppose, was Bellerus: but whoever he was, the alteration in Milton's Manuscript was certainly for the better, to take a person from whom that particular promontory was denominated, rather than one who gave name to the county at large. The fable of Bellerus and the vision of the guarded mount is plainly taken from some of our old romances, but we may perceive what place is intended, the Land's End, and St. Michael's mount in Cornwall.
160. So Drayton, Polyolb. s. xxiii.
Then Cornwall creepeth out into the westerne maine,
As, lying in her eye, she pointed still at Spaine.
But what is the meaning of "The Great Vision of the Guard"ed Mount?" And of the line immediately following, "Look "homeward angel now, and melt "with ruth?" I flatter myself I have discovered Milton's original and leading idea.
Not far from the Land's End in Cornwall, is a most romantic projection of rock, called Saint Michael's Mount, into a harbour called Mounts-bay. It gradually rises from a broad basis into a very steep and narrow, but craggy, elevation. Towards the sea, the declivity is almost perpendicular. At low water it is accessible by land: and not many years ago, it was entirely joined with the present shore, between which and the Mount,
Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth:
there is a rock called Chapel-rock.
gerous for accesse, and there "fore holy for the adventure." Edit. 1602, p. 154. We learn We learn from Caxton's Golden Legende, under the history of the angel Michael, that "Th' apparacy on "of this angell is manyfold. "The fyrst is when he appeared "in mount of Gargan, &c." Edit. 1493. fol. cclxxxii. a. William of Worcestre, who wrote his travels over England about 1490, says in describing Saint Michael's Mount, there was an "Apparicio Sancti Michaelis in "monte Tumba antea vocato "Le Hore Rok in the wodd." Itinerar. edit. Cantab. 1778. p. 102. The Hoar Rock in the Wood is this Mount or Rock of Saint
Michael, anciently covered with
Who knows not Mighel's Mount and
The pilgrim's holy vaunt?
But to apply what has been said to Milton. This Great Vision is the famous Apparition of Saint Michael, whom he with much sublimity of imagination supposes to be still throned on this lofty crag of Saint Michael's Mount in Cornwall, looking towards the Spanish coast. The guarded mount on which this Great Vision appeared, is simply the fortified Mount, implying the fortress above mentioned. And let us observe, that Mount is the peculiar appropriated appellation of this promontory. So in Daniel's Panegyricke on the King, st. 19. "From Dover to the mount." With the sense and meaning of the line in question, is immediately connected that of the third line next following, which here I