Page images

in knowledge, and how sudden a stop was put to it, by the inundation of presbyterianism and ignorance; which circumstance alone, exclusive of its other attendant evils, gives us ample cause to detest the promoters of that malignant rebellion, which no good man can remember without horror.

It may not perhaps be impertinent to remark here, that Milton, who was strongly inclined to puritanism, had good reason to think, that the publication of his Samson Agonistes, would be highly offensive to his precise brethren, who held poetry, and particularly that of the dramatic kind, in such deep abhorrence. And, upon this account, it is probable, that in order to excuse himself for having engaged in this proscribed and forbidden species of writing, he thought it expedient to prefix to his play a formal DEFENCE OF TRAGEDY * in which he endeavours to prove, that some of the gravest writers did not scruple to illustrate their discourses from the works of tragic poets, and that many

[ocr errors]

court, where it was placed in the great gallery; and one of Cromwell's favouritę amusements was to be entertained with this inftrument, at leisure hours. It continued there till the Reformation, when it was returned to its original owners, and was the same that remained in the choir of that college till within these last twenty years.

* The popular clamours of puritanism, in like manner, seem to have extorted from Sydney, his rational and noble DEFENCE OF POESII,

[merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

of the wisest philosophers, and of the primitive fathers, were not ashamed to write TRAGEDIES.

The subsequent remarks are thrown together without order, which the reader is desired to look upon as a SUPPLEMENT to this concluding SECTION.

B. i. c. vi. s. xv.

Farre off he wonders what them makes so glad,
Of Bacchus merry fruits they did invent,

Or Cybel's frantic rights have made them mad.
Hughes reads, “ IF Bacchus, &c.” but even then

” there is an obfcurity. The meaning of the passage is this : “ He wonders what makes them so glad; he “ doubts with himself, whether or no their mirth

was not occasioned by wine which they had dis« covered, or whether or no they might not be « driven to madness by Cybele's rites.” Invent is here one of Spenser's latinisms for discover; as it is also in this verse;

Ay me, that ever guile in women was INVENTED.

5. II. 50. That is, found out.

B. v. c. ix. f. xiii.

Like as the fowler on his guilefull pipe,
Charmes to the birds full many a pleasant lay.



Charm is thus used again, as Dr. Jortin observes, in Colin Clouts come home again.

The shepherd's boy
Sate as his custom was
Charming his oaten pipe unto his peres.

It seems to be used somewhat in the same sense, ft. 39. below.

That well could CHARME his tongue, and time his

speech Again,

Here we our slender pipes may safely CHARME *.

In the Epithalamium, for tempting by enchantment.

Her lips like cherries charming men to bite.

B. v. c. vii. s. xxxiv.

The wicked shaft guided through th' ayrie wide.

Ayrie wide seems to be used for ayrie Void.

B. vii. c. viii. f. ii. seq.

Next Mercurie.

Our old poets take all opportunities of displaying their skill in astronomy. It was the favorite study

[blocks in formation]

of the dark ages, which have left us a very great number of manuscript systems, in various branches of this science. In the statutes of a certain college, at Cambridge, founded in the reign of Henry VI. some of the fellows are directed, “ intendere Audio ASTRO“ NOMIÆ.” In the magnificent reign of Henry VII. it was not deemed strange to exhibit an entertainment before the court, formed on this abftrufe science, in honour of the marriage of prince Arthur, and the princess Katharine. “ In all the devises and conceits u of the triumphs of this marriage, there was a great " deal of astronomie. The ladies being refembled to “ Hesperus, and the prince to Arcturus; and the old

king Alphonsus, that was the greatest astronomer “ of kings, and was ancestor to the ladie, was brought « in, to be the fortune-teller of the match. And " whosoever had these toyes in compiling, they were “ not altogether pedantical *.

Camden fays, that queen Elizabeth “ expressed such

an inclination towardes the earl of Leicester, that “ some have imputed her regard to the INFLUENCE “ OF THE STARS.” A fine stroke of Aattery founded on superstition and false philosophy!

* Bacon's Historie of Henry VII. fol. 1622. pag. 205.

B. v. c. ix. f. xxxiv,

Many heinous crimes by her enured.

Enured, used, committed. Thus Sonnets, ad calc


Fresh againe enured
His former crueltie.

Ure for use was formerly common. Hence it has been proposed to read, in Milton's Comus, ure for curg.

Drops that from

my fountaine

pure I have kept of precious ure.

Thus in Brown's Britannia's Pastorals *.

The ftaires of rugged stone feldom in ure to

In Sackville's Gordobuck.

This tempred youth, with aged father's awe,
Be brought in ure of skilfull stayedness f.

In the Act of Uniformity, Prim. Eliz. prefixed to the Liturgy : Use the said service, and put the same " in URE." In later Common-prayer books it is printed use. Enure is used with greater latitude, 4. 2. 29.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »