Page images

LXXXVIII. Remarks on Warton's Edition of Milton's Juvenile


MR. URBAN HAVING received pleasure and information from Mr. Warton's edition of Milton's Juvenile poems, I venture to send you a few remarks which were made when I perused it.

T. H. W.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Yet once more, O ye Laurels, and once more
Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never sear,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
And, with forc'd fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.

LYCIDAS, ver. 1. « Et vos, 0 lauri, carpam, et te, proxima myrte."

Virg. Ecl. 2. v. 54. Axoves, in the note translated Myrti, is a remarkable instance of the editor's neglecting to revise.“ The mellowing year,” that is, the fall of the leaf, is not very properly applied by the poet to Laurels, Myrtles, and Ivy, which are all ever-greens, and change their leaves in the spring.

And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.

ver. 22.

It is observable that Shakspeare's shroud agrees with the modern. " White his shroud as the mountain snow.”

Hamlet, Act 4. Sc, 5.
Whence did Milton and Mallet take their sable shrouds ?

6 Clay-cold was her lily hand
That held her sable shroud."

Margaret's Ghost.
Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,
We drove a-field, and both together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Battning our flocks with the fresh dews of night.

v. 25.

Mr. Warton, in his concluding criticism on this poem, imagines, that by “the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,” the Poet describes the sun-set by the buzzing of the chafer." But morning, noon, and night, I apprehend, are here distinguished; sultry agrees much better with ngon than with sun-set. The horn of the gray-fly is probably the peculiarly distinct tone of the gnat*. The chafer which flies in the evening, the Scarabeus Melolontha, emerges from the ground at the first expansion of the leaves, when the weather is seldom sultry at any time of the day; the flight of the solstitial chafer is, as its name implies, at Midsummer, and is not, like the other, confined particularly to the evening; but the appearance of both these insects is too local and temporary to have been alluded to by our poet in such

general terms. The pansy freakt with jet.

. 144. " Or beauteous freakt with many a ming!ed hue.”

Thomson's Winter, v. 824. Johnson, in his Dictionary, erroneously supposes freakt to be a Scottish word, brought into England by Thomson. He touch'd the tender stops of various quills.

v. 188.

By this imaginary pipe of various quills, the Doric flute, or the pipe of Pan, is intended, which the shepherd in Theocritus forms of nine points of equal length, placed by the side of each other. (Idyl. 8. v. 21.) But that of Virgil is composed of seven which are unequal. (Ed. 2. v. 36.) Milton in his fifth elegy, follows Virgil. “ Nunc quoque septena modulatur arundine pastor.”

v. 113. L'ALLEGRO.

Heart-easing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth,
With two sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned + Bacchus bore:

* “ Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat.”

Rom. and Jul. Κισσοκος ην Διονυσον.Ηomer.

66 Kocoose pavor," Greek Epig.



Or whether (as some sager sing)
The frolick wind that breathes the spring,
Zephyr with Aurora playing.

v. 13. As some SAGER sing. By this expression it appears that Milton is of opinion, that Mirth is rather the offspring of Zephyr and Aurora, that is, a temperate climate, and early hours, than of Bacchus and Venus: in this light I always understood the passage, and with deference think the alteration of sager to sages unnecessary.

Through the sweet-briar, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine,

7. 47.

V. 91.

Sweet-briar and Eglantine are the same plant; by the epithet twisted, the poet seems to intend the honeysuckle or woodbine.

Sometimes with secure delight

The upland hamlets will invite. “ Secure delight,” “ At secura quies.” Virg. G. I. 2. v. 467. Upland means rude or uncultivated, and is used in that sense to this day in Essex. Rustic festivities were anciently held at the borders of forests.

Mr. Warton cites in a note on v. 126, from the “ Poetical Miscellanies of Phineas Fletcher, Cambr. 1633, 4to. p. 58."

“ Clad with a saffron robe, in's hand a torch." But the real line of Fletcher is,

" Clad with a saffron coat, in's hand a light.It is a pity the learned author suffers his works to be disgraced hy inaccuracies so easily to be avoided.* Married to iminortal verse.

v. 137. • To marry mine immortal Layes to their's.”

Sylvester's Du Bartas. 5 day, 1 week.
And add to these retired leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure.


* These errors are corrected in the second edition, E.

Kētired leisure is the Epicurean philosophy personified. Inscriptum hortulis (Epicuri): Hospes heic bene manebis, heic summum bonum voluptas est." Senec. Epist. 21.

« Epicurum exigui lætum plantaribus horti.

Juven. Sat. 13, v. 122. However just the commentator's remarks may be on the quaint gardens of former centuries, there seems to be little foundation for fixing this taste on Milton in any part of his life; he does not place his chearful man among clipped and distorted ever-greens, but,

By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green. and the prospect which entertains him is perfectly free from artificial decoration. Our poet's pensive inan retreats

To arched walks of twilight groves;
And shadows brown that Sylvan loves
Of pine, or monumental oak,
Where the rude axe with heaved stroke

Was never heard the nymphs to daunt. If there are any allusions to the topiary art in Arcades, they were intended as a compliment to his patroness at Harefield, where the gardens were probably in the prevailing taste of the times. That “ trim gardens” does not necessarily imply unnatural ornament, is plain from Meadows trim with daisies pied.

While the bee with honied thie,
That at her flowery work doth sing;
And the waters murmuring
With such consort as they keep,
Entice the dewy-feather'd sleep.

V. 142.

See the small brookes
With the smooth cadence of their murmuring.
Each bee with honey on her laden thye.”

Drayton's Owle.
Fontesque lymphis obstrepunt manantibus;
Somnos quod invitet leves.”

Hor. Epod. 2. v. 27.


Approach, and kiss her sacred vesture's hem.

ARCADES, v. 83.
« Fairfax, in the metrical dedication of his Tasso to
Queen Anne, commands his Muse not to approach too boldly,
nor to soil
Her vesture's sacred hem."

What Queen Anne does Mr. Warton mean, and from what
edition of Fairfax's translation does he quote “her vesture's
sacred hem?” The edition before ine is dedicated 6 To her
high Majestie,” concluding, “Your Maiesties humble sub-
ject," and, as it was printed in 1600, can be applied to no
other queen but Elizabeth. Anne of Denmark, the queen
of James, did not come into England till the year 1603, and
the verse is,

[ocr errors]

Her hand, her lap, her vesture's hen.
Poor Anne, her vesture's hem was not held very sacred by
her craven consort, or his minions.

O thievish night,
Why should'st thou but for some felonious end.

COMUS, v. 195.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

** Κλεπτων γάρ η νυξ, τησδ' αληθειας το φως.

Eurip. Iphig. in Taur. r'. 1226.
This might be rendered thus in old English; -“the night is
for thieves, but the day for true men."
The folded flocks penn'd in their wattled cotes.

V. 345.
“ Claudensque textis cratibus lætum pecus."

Hor. Epod. 2. v. 45.
Whence Milton,
« Dum solus teneros claudebam cratibus hædos."

Epitaph. Damon. v. 141,
Thyrsis ? whose artful strains have oft delay'd
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal.

V. 494.

« PreviousContinue »