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Last came, and last did go,
" Ah, who hath reft, quoth he, my dearest pledge ? My dearest child; as children were simply called by the Latins, pignora, pledges.RICHARDSON.
| He shook his mitred locks. It is much that this inveterate enemy of prelacy would allow Peter to be a biskop: but the whole circumstance is taken from the Italian satirists. Besides, I suppose he thought it sharpened his satire to have the prelacy condemned by one of their own order.-WARBURTON.
* Such, as for their bellies' sake
Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold. He here animadverts on the endowments of the church, at the same time insinuating that they were shared by those only who sought the emoluments of the sacred office, to the exclusion of a learned and conscientious clergy. Thus in “Paradise Lost,” b. iv. 193:
So clomb this first grand thief into God's fold;
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb. Even after the dissolution of the hierarchy, he held this opinion. In his sixteenth Sonnet, written 1652, he supplicates Cromwell
To save free conscience from the paw
Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw. During the usurpation, he published a pamphlet entitled “The likeliest means to remove hirelings out of the church,” against the revenues transferred from the old ecclesiastic establishment to the presbyterian ministers. See also his book “Of Reformation,” &c.-T. WARTON.
i Grate on their scrannel pipes. No sound of words can be more expressive of the sense ; and how finely has he imitated, or rather improved, a passage in Virgil ! “Ecl.” ïïi. 26 :
Non tu in triviis, indocte, solebas
Stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen? I remember not to have seen the word "scrannel” in any other author ; nor can I find it in any dictionary or glossary that I have consulted; but I presume it answers to the “stridenti” of Virgil. -NEWTON.
“Scrannel” is thin, lean, meagre. A scrannel pipe of straw is contemptuously for Virgil's “tenuis avena.”—T. WARTON.
Daily devours apace and nothing sedm:
Return, Alpheus; the dread voice is past,
m Daily devours apace, and nothing sed. Some suppose, that our author in this expression insinuates the connivance of the court. at the secret growth of popery: but perhaps Milton might have intended a general reflection on what the puritans called “unpreaching prelates," and a liturgical clergy, who did not place the whole of religion in lectures and sermons three hours long : or, with a particular reference to present circumstances, he might mean the clergy of the church of England were silent, and made no remonstrances against these encroachments.—T. WARTON.
n But that two-handed engine at the door
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more. In these lines our author anticipates the execution of archbishop Laud by a "two-handed engine,” that is, the axe; insinuating that his death would remove all grievances in religion, and complete the reformation of the church. Dr. Warburton supposes, that saint Peter's sword, turned into the two-handed sword of romance, is here intended: but this supposition only embarrasses the passage. Michael's sword, “with huge two-handed sway," is evidently the old Gothic sword of chivalry, “Paradise Lost,” b. vi. 251: this is styled an "engine,” and the expression is a periphrasis for an axe, which the poet did not choose to name in plain terms. The sense, therefore, of the context seems to be:-“But there will soon be an end of these evils; the axe is at hand, to take off the head of him who has been the great abettor of these corruptions of the gospel. This will be done by one stroke." In the mean time, it coincides just as well with the tenor of Milton's doctrine, to suppose, that he alludes in a more general acceptation to our Saviour's metaphorical axe in the gospel, which was to be “laid to the root of the tree,” and whose stroke was to be quick and decisive. Matt. iii. 10. Luke iï. 9. “And now the axe is laid to the root of the tree; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down," &c. That is, -- "Things are now brought to a crisis : there is no room for a moment's delay : God is now about to offer the last dispensation of his mercy : if ye reject these terms, no others will be offered afterwards; but ye shall suffer one final sentence of destruction, as a tree," &c. All false religions were at once to be done away by the appearance of Christianity, as when an axe is applied to a barren tree; so now an axe was to be applied to the corruptions of Christianity, which in a similar process were to be destroyed by a single and speedy blow. The time was ripe for this business: the instrument was at hand. It is matter of surprise, that this violent invective against the church of England, and the hierarchy, couched indeed in terms a little mysterious yet sufficiently intelligible, and covered only by a transparent veil of allegory, should have been published under the sanction and from the press of one of our universities; or that it should afterwards have escaped the severest animadversions, at a period when the proscriptions of the Star-chamber, and the power of Laud, were at their height. Milton, under pretence of exposing the faults or abuses of the episcopal clergy, attacks their establishment, and strikes at their existence.-T. WARTON.
o That shrunk thy streams. In other words, “that silenced my pastoral poetry.” The Sicilian Muse is now to return with all her store of rural imagery.--T. WARTON.
The imagery is here from the noblest source. "The waters stood above the mountains; at thy rebuke they filed; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away,” Ps. civ. 7. See also Ps. xviii. 13, 15. “That shrunk thy streams,” is a fine condensation of the scriptural language. -DUNSTER.
p Where the mild whispers use, &c. The word “use," as Dr. Newton has observed, is employed by Spenser in the sense of frequent, inhabit.—Todd.
Of shades and wanton winds and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart-star, &c. The dog-star is called the “swart-star,” by turning the effect into the cause. “Swart” is swarthy, brown, &c.-T. WARTON.
* Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies. It is obvious, that the general texture and sentiment of this line is from the “Winter's Tale,” a. iv. s. 5:
That die unmarried, &c. Especially as he had first written “unwedded” for “forsaken,” which appears in the edition of 1638. But why does the primrose die unmarried ? Not because it blooms and decays before the appearance of other flowers; as in a state of solitude, and without society. The true reason is, because it grows in the shade, uncherished or unseen by the sun, which was supposed to be in love with some sorts of flowers. –T. WARTON.
Ay me! Here Mr. Dunster observes, the burst of grief is infinitely beautiful, when properly connected with what precedes it, and to which it refers.-TODD.
· Monstrous world. The sea, the world of monsters. Horace, “Od.” 1. ü. 18:-“Qui siccis oculis monstra natantia.” Virgil, “Æn,” vi. 729 :-“Quæ marmoreo fert monstra sub æquore pontus.”—T. WARTON.
u Moist vows. Our vows accompanied with tears. As if he had said “vota lacrymosa.” But there may be a quaint allusion to the water.-T. Warton.
Bellerus old. No such name occurs in the catalogue of the Cornish giants : but the poet coined it from Bellerium. Bellerus appears in the edition 1638: but at first he had written Corineus, a giant who came into Britain with Brute, and was made lord of Cornwall. Hence Ptolemy, I suppose, calls a promontory near the Land's End, perhaps St. Michael's Mount, “Ocrinium:"' from whom also came our author's “Corineida Loxo,” Mans. v. 46. Milton, who
Where the great vision of the guarded mount w
Looks toward Namancos * and Bayona's hold; delighted to trace the old fabulous story of Brutus, relates, that to Corineus Cornwall fell by lot, “the rather by him liked, for that the hugest giants in rocks and caves were said to lurk there still; which kind of monsters to deal with was his old exercise.” -“Hist. Eng." i. 6. On the south-western shores of Cornwall, I saw a most stupendous pile of rock-work, stretching with immense ragged cliffs and shapeless precipices far into the sea : one of the topmost of these cliffs, hanging over the rest, the people informed me was called the “Giant's Chair." Near it is a cavern called in Cornish the “Cave with the voice."-T. WARTON.
w Where the great vision of the guarded mount, &c. That part of the coast of Cornwall called the “ Land's End,” with its neighbourhood, is here intended, in which is the promontory of Bellerium, so named from Bellerus, a Cornish giant: and we are told by Camden, that this is the only part of our island that looks directly towards Spain. But what is the meaning of "The great vision of the guarded 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 St. Michael's Mount, into a harbour called Mount's-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, there is a rock called Chapel-rock. Tradition, or rather superstition, reports, that it was anciently connected by a large tract of land, full of churches, with the isles of Scilly. On the summit of St. Michael's Mount a monastery was founded before the time of Edward the Confessor, now a seat of Sir John St. Aubyn. The church, refectory, and many of the apartments, still remain: with this monastery was incorporated a strong fortress, regularly garrisoned : and in a patent of Henry IV,, dated 1403, the monastery itself, which was ordered to be repaired, is styled Fortalitium. A stone lantern, in one of the angles of the tower of the church, is called St. Michael's Chair. There is still a tradition, that a vision of St. Michael, seated on this crag, or St. Michael's Chair, appeared to some hermits; and that this circumstance occasioned the foundation of the monastery dedicated to St. Michael: and hence this place was long renowned for its sanctity, and the object of frequent pilgrimages. Nor should it be forgot, that this monastery was a cell to another on a St. Michael's Mount in Normandy, where also was a vision of St. Michael.
But to apply what has been said to Milton : this great vision is the famous apparition of St. Michael, whom he with much sublimity of imagination supposes to be still throned on this lofty crag of St. 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. With the sense and meaning of the line in question, is immediately connected that of the third line next following, which here I now for the first time exhibit properly pointed :
Look homeward, angel, now, and melt with ruth, Here is an apostrophe to the angel Michael, whom we have just seen seated on the guarded mount: “O angel, look no longer seaward to Namancos and Bayona's hold : rather turn your eyes to another object : look homeward or landward ; look towards your own coast now, and view with pity the corpse of the shipwrecked Lycidas floating thither."
Thyer seems to suppose that the meaning of this last line is, _“You, O Lycidas, now an angel, look down from heaven,” &c. But how can this be said to "look homeward ?” And why is the shipwrecked person to "melt with ruth?” That meaning is certainly much helped by placing a full-point after “surmise,” v. 153 : but a semicolon there, as we have seen, is the point of the first edition : and to show how greatly such a punctuation ascertains or illustrates our present interpretation, I will take the paragraph a few lines higher, with a short analysis :-“Let every flower be strewed on the hearse where Lycidas lies, so to flatter ourselves for a moment with the notion that his corpse is present; and this (ah me !) while the seas are wafting it here and there, whether beyond the Hebrides, or near the shores of Cornwall,” &c.-T. WARTON.
• Namancos. I once thought that this name was designed for the celebrated Numantia, and that Milton