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Thyrsis? whose artful strains have oft delay'd
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,

And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale.
How cam'st thou here, good swain? hath any ram
Slipp'd from the fold, or young kid lost his dam,
Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook?

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494. Thyrsis? whose arlful The madrigal was a species of
strains &c.] This no doubt was musical composition now actually
intended as a compliment to Mr. in practice, and in high vogue.
Lawes upon his musical com- Lawes, here intended, had com-
positions; and a very fine one it posed madrigals. So had Milton's
is, and more genteel than that father, as we shall see hereafter.
which we took notice of before, The word is not here thrown out
as that was put into his own at random. T. Warlon.
mouth, but this is spoken by 496. And sweeten'd every &c.]

In poetical and picturesque cir- .
494. The spirit appears habited cumstances, in wildness of fancy
like a shepherd ; and the poet and imagery, and in weight of
has here caught a fit of rhyming sentiment and moral, how great-
from Fletcher's pastoral comedy. ly does Comus excel the Aminta

Milton's eagerness to praise his, of Tasso, and the Pastor Fido of
friend Lawes, makes him here Guarini, which Milton, from his
forget the circumstances of the love of Italian poetry, must have
fable: he is more intent on the frequently read! Comus, like
musician than the shepherd, who these two, is a pastoral Drama,
comes at a critical season, and and I have often wondered it is
whose assistance in the present not mentioned as such. Dr. J.
difficulty should have hastily Warton.
been asked. But time is lost in a 496.-of the dale.] In the
needless encomium, and in idle Manuscript it was at first
enquiries how the shepherd could

-of the valley.
possibly find out this solitary
part of the forest. The youth, 497. How cam’st thou here, good v
however, seems to be ashamed swain ? &c.] In the Manuscript
or unwilling to tell the unlucky it is good shepherd: but that
accident that had befallen his agrees not so well with the mea-
sister. Perhaps the real boyism sure of the verse. And in the
of the Brother, which yet should next verse the Manuscript had
have been forgotten by the poet, at first Leap'd o'er the pen, which

is to be taken into the account. was corrected into Slipt from his
T. Warlon.

fold, as it is in the Manuscript,
495. - - To hear his madrigal.] or the fold, as in all the editions.

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How could'st thou find this dark sequester'd nook ? 500

SPIRIT. 0 my

lov'd master's heir, and his next joy,
I came not here on such a trivial toy
As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth
That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought 505
To this my errand, and the care it brought.
But, O my virgin Lady, where is she?
How chance she is not in your company?

To tell thee sadly, Shepherd, without blame,
Or our neglect, we lost her as we came.

Aye me unhappy! then my fears are true.

What fears, good Thyrsis? Prythee briefly shew.

SPIRIT. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous (Though so esteem’d by shallow ignorance) What the sage poets, taught by th' heav'nly Muse, 515


500. sequester'd nook ?] Com- herd,] Sadly, soberly, seriously, pare P. L. iv. 789.'

as the word is frequently used Search thro' this garden, leave un.

by our old authors, and in Parasearch'd no nook.

dise Lost, vi. 541. where see the

note. Again, ix. 277.

512. What fears, good Thyrsis ?] As in a shady nook I stood behind. He had written at first good ShepAnd sequestered occurs in the herd, but this was altered to good same application, P. L. iv. 706. Thyrsis for variety, as he had just

before addressed him by the name In shadier bower, more sacred and of Shepherd. sequester'd. T. Warton.

513. I'll tell ye ;] In the Manu.

script and edition of 1637 it is, 509. To tell thee sadly, Shep- rul tell you.

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Storied of old in high immortal verse,
Of dire chimeras and inchanted isles,
And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to hell;
For such there be, but unbelief is blind.

Within the navel of this hideous wood,
Immur'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells,
Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus,
Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries,
And here to every thirsty wanderer
By sly enticement gives his baneful cup,
With many murmurs mix’d, whose pleasing poison
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
And the inglorious likeness of a beast
Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage
Charácter'd in the face; this I have learnt
Tending my flocks hard by i' th' hilly crofts,




516. -dire chimeras] P. L. ii. And writing strange characters in the

ground. Gorgons, and hydras, and chimeras

So Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen dire,

T. Warton.

of Verona, act ii. s. 10. 520. Within the navel] That is,

Who art the table wherein all my

thoughts in the midst, a phrase borrowed

Are visibly charácter'd and ingray'd. from the Greeks and Latins.

523. Deep skill'd] He had writ. And 2 Henry VI. act iii. s. 4. ten at first Inur'd.

Show me one scar charácter'd on thy - 526. With many murmurs mix’d,),

That is, in preparing this in-

the charm of many

530. So in his Divorce, b. i. barbarous unintelligible words Pref. A law not only written

. was intermixed, to quicken and" by Moses, but charactered in

strengthen its operation. War- us by nature.” Pr. W. i. 167. burton.

See Observat. Spenser's F. Q. ii. 530. Charácter'd in the face;] 162. T. Warton. The word is often pronounced 531.-i th' hilly crofts,] He with this accent by our old had written at first i th' pastur'd writers. So Spenser, Faery lawns, which agrees not so well Queen, b. ïïi, cant. 3. st. 14. with what follows.




That brow this bottom glade, whence night by night
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl
Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey,
Doing abhorred rites to Hecate
In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers.
Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells,
To’inveigle and invite th' unwary sense
Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
This evening late, by then the chewing flocks
Had ta’en their supper on the

on the savoury herb
Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold,
I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove


supper best

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532. ---this bottom glade,] So As gentle shepherd in sweet eventide Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis, When ruddy Phebus gins to welke in ed. 1596.


High on a hill his flock to viewen Sweet bottom-grasse, and high de

wide lightfull plaine.

Marks which do bite their hasty T. Warton.

T. Warton. 534. Like stabled wolves, or ti

542. Of knot-grass dew-begers at their prey,] This compari- sprent,] This species of grass is son in all probability was formed mentioned in Shakespeare's Midfrom what Virgil says of Circe's summer Night's Dream, act iii. island, Æn. vii. 15.

$. 7. And dew-besprent is sprinkled Hinc exaudiri gemitus, iræque leo. with dew. Spenser's Shepherd's

Calendar, December, -ac formæ magnorum ululare lupo

My head besprent with hoary frost I

find. Quos hominum ex facie Dea sæva potentibus herbis

Fairfax, cant. 12. st. 101. Induerat Circe in vultus ac terga fe.

His silver locks with dust he foul be

sprent. 540. —-by then the chewing 544. With ivy canopied, and flocks

interwove Had ta’en their supper on the With flaunting honey-suckle,) savoury herb]

Perhaps from Shakespeare, Mids. The supper of the sheep from N. Dr. act ii. s. 2. a beautifui comparison in Spen

Quite over canopied with luscious ser, F. Q. i. i. 23.






With flaunting honey-suckle, and began,
Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
Till fancy had her fill, but ere a close
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance;
At which I ceas’d, and listen’d them a while,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respite to the drowsy flighted steeds,



Canopied, in the same applica- sical close on his pipe. See the tion, occurs also in Drayton, note on the Ode on the Nativity, Phineas Fletcher, Carew, and 100. T. Warton. Browne. See the note on inter- 553.-the drowsy flighted steeds, wove, P. L. i. 621. T. Warton. That draw the litter of close 545. With flaunting honey

curtain'd sleep;

] suckle,] It was at first spreading So I read drowsy-flighted acor blowing

cording to Milton's Manuscript ; 545. Milton therefore changed and this genuine reading Dr. Dalthe epithets, which were simply ton has also preserved in Comus. descriptive, for one which ascrib- Drowsy-frighted is nonsense, and ed to the plant an attribute of an manifestly an error of the press animated, or even of a sentient, in all the editions. There can being. See note on P. R. i. 500. be no doubt that in this passage Mr. Warton refers to Lycidas Milton had his eye upon the fol146, “ well-attir'd woodbine," lowing description of night in and 40,“ the gadding vine." And Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI. act the same remark applies to these iv. 8. 1. epithets, and to several others

And now loud howling wolves arouse near them, cowslips wan,

the jades, " joyous leaves," &c. E.

That drag the tragic melancholy night, 547. To meditate ny rural min

Who with their drowsy, slow, and

flagging wings strelsy,] We have the expression

Clip dead men's graves “rural minstrelsy” in Browne's Pastorals, b. i. s. i. p. 2. and in The idea and the expression of the Eclogues of Brooke and drowsy-flighted in the one are Davies, Lond. 1614; but the plainly copied from their drowsy, whole context is Virgil's “ Syl slow, and flagging wings in the " vestrem tenui musam

other: and Fletcher in the

meditaris arena," Bucol. i. 2. As in

Faithful Shepherdess has much Lycidas, 66.

the same image, act iv.

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Night, do not steal away: I woo -meditate the thankless muse.

To hold a hard hand o'er the rusty bit Close, in the next line, is a mu- That guides thy lazy team.


thee yet

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