Sivut kuvina

23, 24. "Once had," etc. This only son of the young Marchioness was Charles Paulet, called Lord St. John of Basing till his father's death in 1674, when he succeeded him as sixth Marquis of Winchester. In 1689 he was made Duke of Bolton.

26. "

Lucina," the Roman goddess of Childbirth.

28. "Atropos," one of the three Fates. Clotho span the thread of life; Lachesis decided its length; Atropos ("the Inevitable") cut it at the fated point.

47, 48. "Gentle Lady," etc. Warton compares the lines in the death-song in Cymbeline (iv. 2) :


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50. "seize," in the legal sense of putting in possession of a property.


56. Weept." So in the original; " Helicon," the mountain-tract in Boeotia sacred to the Muses.

58. "hearse," in old English a tomb, or framework over a tomb, not a funeral carriage.

62-70. "That fair Syrian shepherdess," etc. Rachel, Jacob's wife.

Gen. xxix. xxx. and xxxv. 16-20.


1-3. "Melancholy, of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born," etc. In the classic mythology it is Erebos, or Darkness, the son of Chaos, that is the original husband of his sister Nyx or Night, their offspring being Æther (Sky), and Hemera (Day). But, in the same mythology, Night, quite apart from Erebos, is made the mother of many other gruesome or mysterious beings, such as Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), Nemesis, etc. Poets, accordingly, have added at will to her progeny by various husbands or without husband. Milton chose to wed Cerberus to Night for the production of Melancholy. Some commentators have thought the conjunction inappropriate; but was it not poetical enough to think of Melancholy as the child of Night and the Hell-dog?

IO. "dark Cimmerian desert." In the Odyssey the Cimmerians are a people dwelling beyond the ocean-stream in a

land of perpetual darkness; afterwards the name was given to a people in the region of the Black Sea (whence Crimea).

II, 12. "thou Goddess fair and free, in Heaven yclept Euphrosyne." Warton and Todd quote several examples from our old poets of the conjunction of the epithets "fair" and "free' "" as denoting grace in women. The word "yclept" (the old past participle of the verb clepe, "to call," from the A.-S. clepan) occurs only in this passage in all Milton's poetry, and is spelt ycleap'd in the editions of 1645 and 1673. EUPHROSYNE (i.e. Mirth or Cheerfulness), in the classic mythology, was one of the three Graces.

14-23. "Whom lovely Venus," etc. The two sister Graces of Euphrosyne were AGLAIA (Brightness), and THALIA (Bloom), and the parentage of the three is given variously in the old mythology. Most commonly they are represented as the daughters of Zeus by Hera, or by one of several other goddesses, among whom Venus or Aphrodite is not mentioned. But Milton is his own mythologist here. He invents an option of two pedigrees for Euphrosyne. Either she is the daughter of Bacchus and Venus, born at one birth with the other Graces, Aglaia and Thalia-i.e. Cheerfulness may spring from Wine and Love; or, preferably, and by an airier and purer origin, she is the child of Aurora (the Dawn), begotten in early summer by Zephyr (the West Wind)—i.e. it is the early freshness of the summer morning that best produces Cheerfulness.


24. "So buxom, blithe, and debonair." All three adjectives are found by Todd in the Aristippus of Thomas Randolph, published in 1635,-"to make one blithe, buxome, and deboneer." Buxom means originally "flexible" or easily bowed," from A.-S. beogan, to bow; hence "lively," or "lithe," and so to "handsome," though at present the word, by a forgetfulness of its original meaning, rather implies a stout kind of handsomeness. Blithe ("merry" or "gay"), an old English, or A.-S. word, is now mainly provincial or Scottish. Debonair, from the French (de bon air, good-looking), is a favourite word with the old Romancers.

27, 28. "

Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles, Nods and Becks and wreathed Smiles." Quip is a smart or cutting saying, and is supposed to be the same etymologically as whip. Crank is literally a crook or

bend hence a "crank" in the sense of an iron rod bent into an elbow as in machinery, or a "crank" in the sense of the word in this passage-i.e. an odd turn of speech. Wile is a trick, and the same word as guile. A beck (to beckon) is a sign either with the finger or with the head-in which latter case it includes a nod. See the word Par. Reg. 11. 238. Smiles are called wreathed because they curl or wreathe the features. Warton supposes Milton to have remembered this line in a stanza in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy:

"With becks, and nods, and smiles again."


40. "unreproved": unreproveable or innocent. So " valued" for "inestimable" in the lines on Shakespeare. There are many such instances in Milton, and the form

was common.

45-48. "Then to come, in spite of sorrow, and at my window,” etc. This passage has been strangely misconstrued by some commentators. The skylark, they have told us, never comes to people's windows to bid them good-morrow through the sweet-briar, the vine, the eglantine, or anything else; and, in making it do so, Milton showed that he did not so much observe nature at first hand as fancy her through books! If the commentators had hesitated a little, they would have avoided this nonsense. It is not the lark at all that Milton makes come to the window and bid good-morrow, and by no possibility could that absurdity fit with the syntax of the passage. By the syntax, as well as by the sense, it is L'Allegro, the cheerful youth (Milton himself, we may suppose) that comes to the window and salutes people. The words "Then to come" in line 45 refer back to, and depend upon, the previous words "Mirth, admit me" of line 38. Milton, or whoever the imaginary speaker is, asks Mirth to admit him to her company and that of the nymph Liberty, and to let him enjoy the pleasures natural to such companionship (38-40). He then goes on to specify such pleasures, or give examples of them. The first (41-44) is that of the sensations of early morning, when, walking round a country cottage, one hears the song of the mounting skylark, welcoming the signs of sunrise. The second is that of coming to the cottage window, looking in, and bidding a cheerful good-morrow through the sweet-briar,

vine, or eglantine, to those of the family who are also early astir.

53. "Oft listening," etc. Here the poet passes on to a new pleasure, or a prolongation of the former. 57. "Sometime walking." Here, distinctly, L'Allegro is away from his cottage, and out on his morning walk.. "not unseen": 66 'Happy men love witnesses of their joy" is Hurd's acute note on this expression.

62. "dight," arrayed: from the A.-S. dihtan, to arrange, furbish, set in order; still extant in the Scottish dicht, to wipe or clean.

67. "tells his tale." Warton, on the suggestion of a friend, proposed to take tale here in the sense which it has in Exod. v. 8 ("the tale of the bricks"), and so to understand the fancy to be that of the shepherds counting their sheep in the morning to make sure that all was right. The reading has found favour; but the popular and more poetical one, which takes "tale" to mean simply "story," may after all be


69. Straight mine eye," etc. By this rapid turn of phrase Milton skilfully indicates a new paragraph in his description. Hitherto he has been delighting in the phenomena of early morning; now his eye catches "new pleasures," -i.e. he is still out on his walk, but some time has elapsed, and it is farther on in the day. "Straight" means "instantaneously," not in the actual succession of sights in the walk, but in the poem, or what of the walk he chooses, as L'Allegro, to remember or fancy.




73, 74. Mountains," etc. This passage alone would confirm the view that the scenery of L'Allegro and Il Penserose, though they may have been written at Horton, is not to be regarded as all actual or local, but as mainly ideal and eclectic (see Introd. p. 18). A mountain near Horton was never seen but in dreams, and then it was a hillock.


75. "with daisies pied." Almost certainly a recollection of Shakespeare's "When daisies pied and violets blue,” in the last song in Love's Labour's Lost. Pied," a common word with the old poets, means variegated in colour : thus, pie or magpie, and piebald.

77-80. "Towers and battlements it sees," etc. Windsor Castle, near Horton, may be here meant.- -“cynosure": in Greek literally "the dog's tail," the name for the constel.

lation of the Lesser Bear, which contains the pole-star. The Phoenician sailors, though not the Greek, directed their eyes to this constellation in steering their course; hence, by metaphor, any object on which many eyes are fastened is a cynosure.

79. lies," lodges, resides: not an uncommon old meaning.

91, 92.


Sometimes, with secure delight,

The upland hamlets will invite."

So Milton again notes a paragraph in the poem, changing the scene. It is now past mid-day, and into the afternoon; and we are invited to a rustic holiday among the "upland hamlets" or little villages among the slopes, away from the river-meadows and the hay-making.

94. "rebecks." The rebeck was a kind of fiddle, supposed to be the same as Chaucer's ribibe; which again is the Arabic rebeb, a two-stringed instrument played with a bow. Warton notes that the name of the fiddler in Romeo and Juliet (IV. 4) is Hugh Rebeck.

98. "On a sunshine holiday." The word "sunshine" used adjectively for "sunshiny.” Milton repeats the exact phrase in Comus, 959.

100. "Then," i.e. as it grows dark.



102. Faery Mab." See Shakespeare's description of Queen Mab in Romeo and Juliet, i. 4. There is a more prosaic one in Ben Jonson's masque The Satyr (1603).“junkets,” cream-cheese or the like, wrapt in rushes (Italian giunco, a rush). 103-114. "She...and he," etc. A girl has been telling some story about Queen Mab, vouching from her own experience that what is said of the nightly pranks of that Fairy about farm-houses is all true; and now another colloquist, a man, accredits, on like authority, the stories told of two other beings of the Fairy class. These are Friar Rush and his Lantern, commonly called Jack o' Lantern or Will o' the Wisp, and Robin Goodfellow, called also Hobgoblin. Most is said about the second, "the drudging goblin," a kind of masculine Mab, performing among the ploughmen and farmlabourers the same offices of mischief and occasional good service that Mab did among the housemaids and dairymaids. Shakespeare promoted him into Puck.

117. "Towered cities please us then." It is the mood of

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