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the youth that is transferred to the city, not himself personally. The word then is important. It indicates that darkness is coming on, and that the rustics, with their early habits, are asleep, leaving the educated youth to prolong his waking hours with fit readings and recreations within doors.
131. "Then to the well-trod stage." The reading and reverie hitherto have been among romances and tales of chivalry, such as Malory's Morte D'Arthur; but now there come readings in the dramatists.
132-134. "If Jonson's learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,
It is the lighter kind of drama, the drama of the "sock" (Comedy, in performing which the actors wore low-heeled shoes), rather than that of the "buskin" (Tragedy, in performing which the actors wore high-heeled boots), that suits the mood of L'Allegro. Jonson himself has the phrase "when thy socks were on", with reference to Shakespeare's comic dramas, as distinct from his tragedies, or the "tread" of his "buskin,"-hardly knowing which to praise most (Lines to the Memory of Shakespeare); and Milton probably borrowed the phrase from Jonson to increase his compliment to that writer. As Jonson did not die till 1637, the compliment was to a living man. In speaking of "Jonson's learned sock," Milton kept to the established epithet about Jonson, whose "learning was his chief quality with most critics. 66 and So in the epithets "sweetest 'Fancy's child," applied to the dead Shakespeare, who was still remembered as "the gentle" and "the honey-tongued," and whose prodigious natural genius critics contrasted with Jonson's learning and laboriousness. The two lines given to Shakespeare in L'Allegro have been thought under the mark of the subject; and the words "warble his native wood-notes wild," though perhaps a suitable mention of Shakespeare's lyrics, do strike one as not comprehensive enough for his Comedies. It is to be remembered, however, that Milton is touching things here but lightly and briefly, and that "Fancy" (Phantasy) had a larger meaning then than now. Fortunately, also, we can go back to Milton's lines On Shakespeare in 1630, and be fully satisfied. 135, 136. "And ever, against eating cares, Lap me in soft Lydian airs."
In other words, readings are now exchanged for music. But, as it was the lighter and more luscious kind of reading that suited the lively mood, so it is the softer and sweeter kind of music,--the "Lydian," rather than the "Dorian" or the "Phrygian." These were the three ancient kinds of music; and their differences are described technically by musicians. "Eating cares" is a translation of Horace's "curas edaces" (Od. II. xi. 18).
145-150. "That Orpheus' self," etc. Orpheus, in the Greek mythology, was the unparalleled singer and musician, the power of whose harp or lyre drew wild beasts, and even rocks and trees, to follow him. His wife Eurydice having died, he descended into Hades to recover her if possible. His music, charming even the damned, prevailed with Pluto, who granted his prayer on condition that he should not look on Eurydice till he had led her completely out of Hades and into the upper world. Unfortunately, on their way upwards, he turned to see if she was following him; and she was caught back.
"These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live."
An echo of the closing lines of Marlowe's Passionate Shepherd :
"If these delights thy mind may move,
I- -30. "Hence, vain deluding Joys," etc. The studied antithesis of Il Penseroso and L'Allegro throughout declares itself in these opening thirty lines, which exactly match and counterpoise the first four-and-twenty lines of L'Allegro. So closely is the one poem framed on the model of the other that it would be impossible to say, on mere internal evidence, which was written first. Most probably the idea of two such companion pieces was in Milton's mind before he wrote either.
3. "bested”: avail, advantage, stand in stead to, or stand by (by-stand).
6. "fond," in its old sense of "foolish."
10. “pensioners": retinue, literally "paid dependents." So Shakespeare, "The cowslips tall her pensioners be" (Mids. Night's Dream, ii. 1).
"To hit the sense." Mr. Browne cites "A strange invisible perfume hits the sense (Ant. and Cleop. ii. 2).
18. "Prince Memnon's sister." Memnon, in the legends of the Trojan war, is a prince of the Ethiopians who came to the aid of Priam, and was killed by Achilles. Though black or dark, he was of splendid beauty (Odyss. XI. 522), and the same might be presumed of any sister of his. Milton was supposed to have invented the "sister" for his purpose; but there are actual sisters in the legends. Tithonus, the brother of Priam, and Eos or Aurora, were the parents of these dark beauties.
19-21. "that starred Ethiop queen that strove," etc. Cassiope, wife of Cepheus, King of the Ethiopians, and mother of Andromeda, challenged the Nereids for the superiority of beauty. In revenge they got Poseidon to send a ravaging monster into Ethiopia; and Andromeda was about to be sacrificed to this monster, when she was saved by her lover Perseus. Cassiope was raised to heaven and turned into the constellation Cassiopeia: hence Milton's epithet of "starred." Her daughter Andromeda had afterwards the same honour.
23-30. "Thee bright-haired Vesta . . . to solitary Saturn," etc. As Milton had invented a genealogy for Mirth (L'Allegro, 14-24), so now, with even more subtlety of significance, he invents one for Melancholy. She is the daughter of the solitary Saturn (from whose name and disposition our word saturnine) by his own child Vesta or Hestia, the goddess of the domestic hearth; and she was born in the far primeval time, while Saturn still reigned as the supreme God and had not been dispossessed by his son Zeus. That Milton here implied that Melancholy comes from Solitude or Retirement cannot be doubted; the question is as to the meaning of the other form of the parentage. Is Vesta to be taken simply as the Hearth-affection or pure Domesticity? Perhaps so; and to say that Melancholy comes of solitary musings at the domestic fireside would be no bad derivation. But the epithet "bright-haired" applied to Vesta, and the subsequent imagination of her meetings with Saturn in the glimmering glades of Mount
Ida, seem to require a more bold and mystic view of the nature of this goddess. Warton identifies her with Genius, and supposes Milton to mean therefore that Melancholy is the daughter of Solitude and Genius. One remembers, however, that Vesta was the goddess of the sacred eternal fire that could be tended only by vowed virginity; and here one is on the track of a peculiarly Miltonic idea.
31. "pensive Nun." Does not the immediate occurrence in Milton's mind of this epithet for Melancholy give an additional likelihood to the suggestion in the end of last note?
33. "grain": colour. See note, Par. Lost, v. 285.
35. 'cypress lawn": black linen crape or gauze, said to have first come from the island of Cyprus, and often spelt 'Cyprus" in old books. "Cyprus black as e'er was crow" is one of the wares of the pedlar Autolycus in Winter's Tale (iv. 4).
42. Forget thyself to marble." An idea repeated from the Lines on Shakespeare.
43. "With a sad, leaden, downward cast." Leadencoloured eye sockets betoken melancholy, or excess of thoughtfulness; but see Epitaph. Dam. 79, 80:
"Saturni grave sæpe fuit pastoribus astrum,
i.e. the star Saturn has a leaden or dispiriting influence on shepherds, or sons of the Muses.
46-48. "Spare Fast," etc. A favourite Miltonic principle here. See again Eleg. Sexta, 55-66.
51-54. But, first and chiefest, with thee bring
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
A daring use of the great vision, in Ezekiel, chap. x., of the sapphire throne, the wheels of which were four cherubs, each wheel or cherub full of eyes all over, while in the midst of them, and underneath the throne, was a burning fire. Milton, whether on any hint from previous Biblical commentators I know not, ventures to name one of these cherubs who guide the fiery wheelings of the visionary throne. He is the Cherub Contemplation. It was by the serene faculty named Contemplation that one attained the
clearest notions of divine things,-mounted, as it were, the very blaze of the Eternal. "yon" (A.-S. geond) adverbially for "yonder," as if the poet pointed his finger to heaven when he spoke of Contemplation. In nine other cases in which the word occurs in Milton's poetry it is uniformly an adjective," yon flowing estuary," etc. adverbial use of yon still exists in Scotland.
56. "hist": imperative, as bring in line 51. 59, 60. "While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke Gently o'er the accustomed oak"; i.e."while the Moon, entranced with the song, is seen to check the pace of her dragon-drawn chariot over a particular oak-tree; that she may listen the longer.' In Milton's Latin poem In ob. Præs. El. (56-58) there is exactly the same image for the Moon in her course. In the ancient mythology, as Mr. Keightley remarked, it is only the chariot of Demeter or Ceres that is drawn by dragons.-" accustomed oak." Why the epithet "accustomed "? Is it because Milton here thinks not from the point of view of Cynthia, but from that of an observer of Cynthia? Was there a particular oak over which he himself had often watched the slowly-moving moon? Altogether it is a beautiful picture.
61-64. "Sweet bird," etc. Milton's fondness for the nightingale appears not only in this passage, but also in Sonnet I., Comus 234 and 566, P. L., Iv. 602 and 771, and VII. 435-6, and P. R., Iv. 245.
65. "unseen. In studied antithesis to line 57 of L'Allegro.
See note thereon.
Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
Milton, or Il Penseroso, who has last moment been walking, in fancy, on a dry smooth-shaven green," watching the moon over an oak-tree, is now on a higher bit of flat ground, the level top of some hillock, listening to the sound of the far-off curfew bell, booming in the darkness, or rather in the moon- -light, over miles of scenery. But over what scenery? "Over some wide-watered shore," he says. Observe the word " some. It is a distinct intimation, if such were at all necessary, that the whole visual circumstance is ideal,—that the Penseroso of the poem is not actually out