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Or rocky Avon, or of sedgy Lee,
[The rest was prose. ]
AN EPITAPH ON THE ADMIRABLE DRAMATIC POET WILLIAM SHAKSPEAREX.
What needs my Shakspeare, for his honour'd bones,
u Ancient hallow'd Dee. Dee's divinity was Druidical. From the same superstition, some rivers in Wales are still held to have the gift or virtue of prophecy. See note on “Jycidas," ver. 55.-T. Warton.
Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name. Humber, a Scythian king, landed in Britain three hundred years before the Roman invasion, and was drowned in this river by Locrine, after conquering king Albanact.T. WARTON.
w Or Meduay smooth, or royal-tower'd Thame. The smoothness of the Medway is characterised in the “ Mourning Muse of Thestylis." The royal towers of Thames imply Windsor castle, familiar to Milton's view, and to which I have already remarked his allusions.-T. Warton.
* This is but an ordinary poem to come from Milton, on such a subject : but he did not yet know his own strength, or was content to dissemble it, out of deference to the false taste of his time. The conceit of Shakspeare's “lying sepulchred in a tomb of his own making," is in Waller's manner, not his own. But he made Shakspeare amends in his “ L'Allegro," v. 133.-Hurd.
Birch, and from him Dr. Newton, asserts, that this copy of verses was written in the twenty-second year of Milton's age, and printed with the Poems of Shakspeare at London in 1640. This therefore is the first of Milton's pieces that was published. We have here restored the title from the second folio of Shakspeare, printed 1632.—T. WARTON. This epitaph is dated 1630, in Milton's own edition of his poems in 1673.— Todd.
y Dear son of Memory. He bonours his favourite Shakspeare with the same relation as the Muses themselves : for the Muses are called, by the old poets, “ the daughters of Memory.” See Hesiod, • Theog." v. 53.- NEWTON.
2 The leaves of thy unvalued hook. « Thy invaluable book.” So in Shakspeare, “ Rich. III.” a. i. s. 4:
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels.-TODD.
ON THE UNIVERSITY CARRIER,
of the plague.
ANOTHER ON THE SAME).
HERE lieth one, who did most truly prove
• In the kind office of a chamberlin, &c. I believe the chamberlain is an officer not yet discontinued in some city.-T. WARTUN.
Hobson's inn at London was the Bull in Bishopsgate-street, whe with an inscription, was lately to be seen. Peck, at the end Cromwell," has printed Hobson's will, which is dated at the clos He died Jan. 1, 1630, while the plague was in London. This piece -T. WANTON
Nay, quoth he, on his swooning bed outstretch'd,
ON THE NEW FORCERS OF CONSCIENCE UNDER THE LONG PARLIAMENT.
BECAUSE you have thrown off your prelate lordo,
And with stiff vows renounced his liturgy,
From them whose sin ye envied, not abhorrd ;
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
c Because ye have thrown off your prelate lord, &c. In railing at establishments, Milton condemned not episcopacy only : he thought even the simple institutions of the new reformation too rigid and arbitrary for the natural freedom of conscience ; he contended for that sort of individual or personal religion, by which every man is to be his own priest. When these verses were written, which form an irregular sonnet, presbyterianism was triumphant: and the independents and the churchmen joined in one common complaint against a want of toleration. The church of Calvin had now its heretics. Milton's baughty teinper brooked no human control : even the parliamentary hierarchy was too coercive for one who acknowledged only King Jesus. His froward and refining philosophy was contented with no species of carnal policy : conformity of all sorts was slavery. He was persuaded that the modern presbyter was as much calculated for persccution and oppression as the ancient bishop.—T. Warton.
d And with stiff vous renounced his liturgy. The Directory was enforced under severe penalties in 1644. The legislature probibited the use of the Book of Common Prayer, not only in places of public worship, but in private families.-T. Warton.
e And ride us with a classic hierarchy. In the presbyterian church now established by law, there were, among others, classical assemblies : the kingdom of England, instead of so many dioceses, was now divided into a certain number of provinces, made up of representatives from the several classes within their respective boundaries : every parish had a congregational or parochial presbytery for the affairs of its own circle; these parochial presbyteries were combined into classes, which chose representatives for the provincial assembly, as did the provincial for the national. Thus, the city of London being distributed into twelve classes, each class chose two
Gentle lady, may thy grave
I Sent thee from the banks of Came. I have been told that there was a Cambridge collection of verses on her death, among which Milton's elegiac ode first appeared : but I have never seen it, and I rather think this was not the case : at least, we are sure that Milton was now a student at Cambridge. Our marchioness was the daughter of Thomas Lord Viscount Savage, of Rocksavage in Cheshire; and it is natural to suppose, that her family was well acquainted with the family of Lond Bridgewater, belonging to the same county, for whom Milton wrote the Mask of - Comus." It is therefore not improbable that Milton wrote this elegy, another poetical favour, in consequence of his acquaintance with the Egerton family. The accomplished lady, here cele brated, died in child-bed of a second son in her twenty-third year, and was the mother of Charles, the first Duke of Bolton.-T. WARTON.
$ That fair Syrian shepherdess. Rachel. See Gen, xxix. 9. xxxv. 18.-T. WARTON.
+ Through pangs fled to fclicity, We cannot too much admire the beauty of this line : I wish it had closed the poem ; which it would have done with singular effect. What follows serves only to weaken it; and the last verse is an eminent instance of the bathos, where the "saint clad in radiant sheen ** sinks into a marchioness and a queen : but Milton seldom closes his little poems well. DUNSTER.
There is a pleasing vein of lyric sweetness and case in Milton's use of this metre, which is that of “ L'Allegro” and “Il Penscroso:" he has used it with equal success in Comus's festive song, and the last speech of the Spirit, in “Comus," 93. 922. From these specjacus we may justly wish that he had used it more frequently. Perhaps in Comus' song it has a peculiar propriety : it has certainly a happy effect. — T. Warton.
SONG ON MAY MORNING.
Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing !
And welcome thee, and wish thee long. This beautiful little song presents an eminent proof of Milton's attention to the effect of metre, in that admirable change of numbers, with which he describes the appearance of the May Morning, and salutes her after she has appeared ; as different as the subject is, and produced by the transition from iambics to trochaics. So in “ L'Allegro,” ho banishes Melancholy in iambics, but invites Euphrosyne and her attendants in trochaics.- Todd.
ANNO AETATIS XIX.
At a vacation Exercise a in the College, part Latin, part English. The Latin
Hail, native Language, that by sinews weak
And from thy wardrobe bring thy chiefest treasure; * Written in 1627 : it is hard to say why these poems did not first appear in edition 1645. They were first added, but misplaced, in edition 1673.-T. WARTON.