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Had ye been there--for what could that have done?
Alas! what boots it with incessant care
0, fountain Arethuse, and thou honour'd flood, Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocal reeds! That strain I heard was of a higher mood: But now my oat proceeds, And listens to the herald of the sea That came in Neptune's plea: He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds, What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain ?
58. Orpheus, torn in pieces by the Bao- | than these; nor more justly instructive chanalian women, called the rout.
and inspiring. 75. Fry, Destiny. 67. As others use. Warton supposes 76. But not the praise. "But the praise that Milton here bad refereuce to the is not intercepted." While the poet, in Scotch poet Buchanan, who unbecom the character of a shepherd, is moralizingly prolonged his amorous descant to ing on the uncertainty of human life, graver years. Amaryllis and Næra are Phoebus interposes with a sublime strain, two of Buchanan's ladly-lores, and the above the tone of pastoral poetry. He golden hair of the latter makes quite a then in an abrupt and ellipti al aposfigure in his verses. In his last Elegy trophe, at "O fountain Arethuse," has. he raises the following extravagant tie tily recollerts himself, and apologizes to tion on the luxuriant tanyles of this lady's his rural Muse, or in other words to Are hair. Cupid is puzzled how to subdue thusa anil Mincius, the celebrated stream thie icy poet. His arrows can do no- of Bucolic song, for having so suddenly thing. At length he hits upon the stra- departed from pastoral allusions, and the tavein of cutting a coluen lock from tenor of his subject.-T. WARTON. Neera's hea l. while she is asleep. with 85. Arethuse; see note to line 31 of which the poet is bound, and thus entan- " Arcades.” Mincius is a stream in Cisalgled he is delivered a prisoner to Neara, pine Gaul, that flows into the l'o. near
70. Fume is the spur. No lines have Mantua, and is often mentioned by Virgil been more often cited and more popular 91. The felon winds, the cruel winds.
And question'd every gust of rugged wings
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow,
94. Beaked promontory, one projecting the Hyacinth, said to have sprung from like the beak of a bird.
the blood of the youth of that pame, killed 96. Hippolades, & patronymic noun, by Apollo. Ovid, a favourite author with applied 10 tolus, the god of winds, and Milton, in describing this event, Met. son of Ilippotas,
Lib. x. Fab. vi. line 54,) uses almost the 99. Panope, one of the Nereids.
same language 100. That fatal bark. The ship in which
"Ipse suos gemitus folils inscribit: et, ai, ai, * Lycidas" was wrecked.
Flos habet inscriptum." 103. Camus, the river Cam, that flowed
That is, “the God himself inscribes oy Cambridge university, where Lycidas
his own lamentations upon its leaves, Mr. King) was educated.
i and the flower has ai, ai, written upon 101. The hairy manlle and sedge bon
it;" or, as Pliny explains it, its veins and net may refer to the rushy or ready banks
| fibres so run as to make the figure ai, of the Cam; and the figures dim, to the
the Greek interjection of grief. in istinct and dusky streaks or serige leaves or flagg, when beginning to wither.
107. Dearest pledge. Children were
called by the Romans pignora, "plelses." Warton remarks that perhaps the poet
109. The prill: l'eter. Too musey keys: himself had no very clear or determinate
Alludin' to Matt. xvi. 19. idea; but in obscure and mysterious
114. Milton here animadverts on the expressions, leaves something to be sur
endowment of the church, at the same pied or explained by the reader's imagi
time insinunting that they were shared otiin 106. Sanguine flower. " Commentators."
by those only who sought the emolu.
ments of the sacred office, to the exclu. es Coleridge says, “ have a notable trick
sion of a learved and consejentious clergy. of passing siccissimis pouibus (with the
Thus in Pariise Lost (iv. 192:) driest feet) over really difficult places," and no one has remarked upon the So clomb the first grand thief into God's fold; * tlower" here alluded to. I think it is Su, since, into his church lewd hirelingsclinada
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw:
Return, Alpheus; the dread voice is past,
124. Scrannel, thin, lean, meagre.
133. That shrunk. In other words, 129. Nothing sed. Here Milton proba-“that silenced my pastoral poetry.” The bly alludes to those prelates and clergy Sicilian muse is now to return, with all of the established church who enjoyed her store of rural imagery.-T. WARTOX. fat salaries without performing any du 136. Use, to frequent, to inbabit. ties; who sheared the sheep but did | 138. Swart-star, the dorstar, so called not feed them.” Sed, for said.
because it turns the coinplexion swart, 130 and 131. In these lines our anthor or brown. So Browne, in his pastorals, anticipates the execution of Archbishop “the swart plowman." Laud, by a two-handed engine, that is, 151. Ah me! Here Mr. Dunster obthe axe; insinuating that his death serves, the burst of grief is intinitely would remove all grievances in religion, beautiful, when properly connected with and complete the reformation of the what preredes it, and to which it refers. church.-- WARTOX. The sense is, “ But 158. Monstrous world ; that is, the sea, there will soon be an end of all these the world of monsters. evils; the axe is at hand to take off the 1 159. Moist vows, our vows accompanied head of him who has been the great with tears. abettor of these corruptions of the gos- 160. Bellerus was the name of a Corpel. This will be done by one stroke." | nish giant. On the south-western shores of Cornwall there is a stupendous pile 163. Here is an apostrophe to the angel of rock-work called the giant's chair;" Michael, seated on the guarded mount and not far from Land's End is another * Oh angel, look no longer seaward to most romantic projection of rock, called Namancos and Bayona's hold: rather St. Michael's Mount. There was a tradi- turn your eyes to another ohjeet: look tion that the “ Vision" of St. Michael, homeward or land waru: Jook towards seated on this crag, or St. Michael's chuir, | your own coast now, and view with pity appeared to some hermits. The sense the corpse of the shipwrecked Lycidas, of this and the following lines connected floating thither."-T. WARTOX. with the preceding, is this "Let every 165, Wep no more. Milton, in this sudflower be strewed on the hearse where den and beautiful transition from the Lycidas lies, so as to flatter ourselves for gloomy and mournful strain into that a moment with the notion that his corpse of hope and comfort, imitates Spenser, is present; and this (ah me!) while the in hi Eleventh Ecloque, where, bewail. reas are wafting it here and there, whe | ing the death of some maiden of great ther beyond the liebrides, or near these blood in terms of the utmost grief and shores of Cornwall, &c.
Where the great vision of the guarded mount
Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more; 166
175 And hears the unexpressive nuptial song, In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love. There entertain him all the saints above, In solemn troops, and sweet societies, That sing, and, singing, in their glory move,
Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,
dejection, be breaks out all at once in the 162. Vamumos is marked in the early same manner-THYER. editions of Merritor's Atlas as in Galli. 181. And wipe the lears. Isa. xxv. 8;
ia, on the north-west coast of Spain, Rev. vii. 17. near Cape Finisterre. Buyont is the 188. Sops, the holes of a flute. strong castle of the French, in the south 189. This is a Dorick lay because Theo westeru extremity of France, near the critus and Moschus had respectively Pyrenees. In that same atlan this castle written a Bucolic on the deaths of Daptimakes a very conspicuous figure.
nis and Bion.
The particular beauties of this charming pastoral are too striking to need much descanting upon; but what gives the greatest grace to the wbole, is that natural and agreeable wildness and irregularity which run quite through it, than which nothing could be better suited to express the warm affection which Milton had for his friend, and the extreme vrief he was in for the loss of him. Grief is eloquent, but not formal.—THYER.
Addison says, that he who desires to know whether he has a true tasto for history or not, should consider whether he is pleased with Livy's manner of telling a story; so, perhaps it may be said, that he who wishes to know whether he has a true taste for poetry or not, should consider whether he is highly delighted or not with the perusal of Milton's “Lycidas.” If I might venture to place Milton's works, according to their degrees of poetic excellence, it should be perhaps in the following order: Paradise Lost, Comus, Samson Agonistes, Lycidas, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso. The last three are in such an exquisite strain, says Fenton, that though he had left no other monuments of his genius behind him, his name had been immortal.-Jos. Warton.
In this piece there is perhaps more poetry than sorrow : but let us read it for its poetry. It is true, that passion plucks no berries from the myrtle and ivy, nor calls upon Arethuse and Mincius, nor tells of “rough Satyrs with cloven heel :" but poetry does this; and in the hands of Milton does it with a peculiar and irresistible charm. Subordinate poets exercise no invention, when they tell how a shepherd has lost his companion, and must feed his flocks alone, without any judge of his skill in piping: but Milton dignifies and adorns these common artificial incidents with unexpected touches of picturesque beauty, with the graces of sentiment, and with the novelties of original genius. It is objected “here is no art, for there is nothing new." To say nothing that there may be art without novelty, as well as novelty without art, I must reply that this objection will vanish, if we consider the imagery which Milton has raised from local circumstances. Not to repeat the use he has made of the mountains of Wales, the Isle of Man, and the river Dee, near which Lycidas was shipwrecked ; let us recollect the introduction of the romantic superstition of St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, which overlooks the Irish Sea, the fatal scene of his friend's disaster.
But the poetry is not always unconnected with passion. The poet lavishly describes an ancient sepulchral rite, but it is made preparatory to a stroke of tenderness: he calls for a variety of flowers to decorate his friend's hearse, supposing that his body was present, and forgetting for a while that it was floating far off in the ocean. If he was drowned, it was some consolation that he was to receive the decenc This is a pleasing deception: it is natural and pathetic. But the real catastrophe recurs; and this circumstance again opens a new vein of imagination.
Dr. Johnson censures Milton for his allegorical mode of telling that he and Lycidas studied together, under the fictitious images of rural employments, in which, he says, there can be no tenderness; and prefers Cowley's lamentation of the loss of Harvey, the companion of his labours, and the partner of his discoveries. I know not, if in this similarity of subject Cowley bas more tenderness; I am sure he has less poetry: I will allow that he has more wit, and more smart similes. The sense of our author's allegory on this occasion is obvious, and is just as intelligible as if he had used plain terms. It is a fiction, that, when Lycidas died, the woods and caves were deserted, and overgrown with wild thyme and luxuriant vines, and that all their echoes mourned; and that the green copses