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can interrupt melancholy, except the chirping of the cricket, and the drowsy cry of the watchman ; or let me sit by the light of a single lamp, in some high and lonely tower, beyond midnight, studying the philosophy of the egyptian Hermes, or of Plato, who endeavours to explore those unknown worlds which the soul inhabits after it has left the human body, and who taught his disciples to believe that certain genii, or inferiour spirits, preside over the elements of earth, air, fire, and water." ;', .
The poet still speaks of himself, laying aside his address to Melancholy.
Oft on a plat.-This word is usually written and pronounced plot; it is however probably derived from platuss, fiat. ,
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom. This in prose would be nonsense ; but in poetry, if any obscure or transitory feeling of the mind can be called up by words that convey no 'very distinct meaning, we pass over the inaccuracy of expression, and favour 'the intention of the poet. In another place Milton says, darkness visible, palpable darkness. Milton was blind ; and whoever attend carefully to their own sensations will perceive, that when they shut their eyes entirely, or when they go into a room perfectly dark,
a feeling of privation takes place, which is different from the effect of darkness, which is less complete; in a room where a few dying embers by fits show faintly some of the surrounding objects, as the darkness is not perfect, it inay by a poet be called counterfeit.
Far from all resort of mirth. -Far from any place to which mirth resorts.
Save the cricket on the hearth. Except that the cricket, which is an emblem of mirth, chirps upon the hearth.
Or the bellman's drowsy charm.-The drowsy sound of the watchman's bell, taking his rounds from house to house.
Where I may oft outwatch the bear. Where I may sit-up till inorning, studying the phi,losophy of the ancients, as taught by Hermes, the Mercury of the Greeks, , who was supposed to have brought the knowledge of the Chaldeans into Greece. . , ;
....................... Or unsphere."
The spirit of Plato, to, unfold..., “ The spirit of Plato is rightly summoned to unfold these particular notions ; for he has treated more largely than any of the philosophers, concerning the separate state of the soul after death, and concerning demons residing in the elements, and influencing the planets, and directing the course of na-" ture. I would not swell this note with quotations from his works, because the english reader may see a summary of his doctrines at the end of Stanley's Life of that philosopher. And, as Mr. Thyer observes, the word unsphere alludes to the platonic notion of different spheres or regions being assigned to spirits of different degrees of perfection or impurity, the same term is used in the Mask, verse 2.
: ........." Where those immortal shapes
Of bright aërial spirits live insphered
N. The mahometan inhabitants of the East believe in the existence of genii, whom they suppose to have been created, and to have governed the world, before the time of Adam; they' consider them as beings intermediate between men and angels.
“ Sometimes let gorgeous tragedy,
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
“ Sometimes at this hour of night let me see the representations of ancient tragedy, dressed in long flowing robes, presenting the story of the slege of Thebes, of the wretched race of Pelops, or the fall of Troy, or what modern tragedy (the buskined stage) has represented with dignity.
« But O sad virgin (Melancholy, to whom the poet again addresses himself) I wish that thy power could recall to life Musæus, or Orpheus, whose mus'c made tears flow down the iron cheeks of Pluto, and which preyailed upon him to grant the request of Orpheus, to have his wife Euridice restored to him.”
Gorgeous tragedy.—The poet alludes to the ancient tragedies of Eschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, amongst the Greeks ; and probably of Seneca, an.ongst the roman poets ; and to Shakspeare, Johnson, &c. amongst the modern.
Museus-was a grecian poet, much celebrated amongst the ancients; his works are lost; so are those of Orpheus, except a poem on the expedition of Jason, which hy some is thought to be the work of Orpheus: for these reasons Milton wishes to recall them from the dead, that he might hear them recite their versés.
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek. This is a very bold catachresis.
“ Or call up him that left half told The story of Cambuscan bold, Of Camball, and of Algarsife, And who had Canace to wife, That own'd the virtuous ring and glass, And of the wondrous horse of brass, On which the tartar king did ride. « Or call up him from the dead, that left unfinished the story of the bold Cambuscan, and of his sons Camball and Algarsife, and of his daughter Canace, who possessed a wonderful mirror, and a magical ring; who relates the marriage of Canace, and who describes the wonderful brazen horse, on which a tartar king rode to the court of Cambuscan.
Or call up him that left half told .. . The story of Cambuscan bold. “ He means Chaucer and his Squire's Tale, wherein Cambuscan is king of Sarra in Tartary, and has two sons, Algarsife and Camball, and a daughter named Canace. This tartar king re