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THE HYMN.

I.

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It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,
Had doff’d her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

II.
Only with speeches fair
She wooes the gentle air

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,

40,

is formed upon passages taken from the prophet Isaiah, he very properly invocates the same divine Spirit:

“O thou my voice inspire,
“ Who touch'd Isaiah's hallow'd lips with fire.”

Newton. Ver. 32. Nature, in awe to him,] Here is an intimation of Petrarch's third Sonnct.

“ Era 'l giorno, ch'al sol si scoloraro,

“ Per la pietà del suo fattore, i rai;

“ Quand' i fui preso,” &c. Jos. Warton. Ver. 38. She wooes the gentle air &c.] Somewhat in the manner of Sylvester's Du Bart. edit. 1621.

p.

222.
it resembles Nature's mantle fair,
“ When in the sunne, in pomp all glistering,
“ She seems with smiles to woo the gawdie spring.”

Todd.

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The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

III.

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But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;

She, crown'd with olives green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; 50 And, waving wide her myrtle wand, She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.

IV. Nor war, or battle's sound, Was heard the world around :

The idle spear and shield were high up hung;

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Ver. 52. She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.] Doctor Newton perhaps too nicely remarks, that for Peace to strike a peace is an inaccuracy. Yet he allows that fædus ferire is classical. But Roman phraseology is here quite out of the question. It is not a league, or agreement of peace between two parties that is intended. A quick and universal diffusion is the idea. It was done as with a stroke. T. WARTON.

Yet it will perhaps be generally supposed that Milton had the ferire fædus, which Stephens interprets pacem componere, in his mind. We may compare Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid's Tragedy, where Neptune is invoked by Æolus to strike a calm, that is, by the waving of his trident, A. i. S. 2.

“ Descend with all thy gods, and all their power,

" To strike a calm." DUNSTER. Ver. 55. The idle spear and shield were high up hung ;] Chivalry and Gothick manners were here in Milton's mind, as

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The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by. 60

V.

But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of light

His reign of Peace upon the earth began :
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

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Mr. Warton has remarked. See the notes on Sams. Agon. v. 1736. And Tasso, Gier. Lib. c. and st. ult. of Godfrey :

“ Viene al tempio con gli altri il sommo duce;

E què l'arme sospende.TODD. Ver. 56. The hooked chariot stood

Unstain'd with hostile blood ;] Liv. L. xxxvii. xli. Falcatæ quadriga, quibus se perturbaturum hostium aciem Antiochus crediderat, in suos terrorem verterunt.” Bowle. Ver. 64. The winds, &c.] Ovid Metam. xi. 745.

Perque dies placidos hyberno tempore septem

Incubat Halcyone pendentibus æquore nidis: “ Tum via tuta maris ; ventos custodit et arcet

Æolus egressu," &c. Whist is silenced. In Stanyhurst's Virgil, Intentique ora tenebant, is translated, They WHISTED all. B. ii. i. T. WARTON.

But this line may perhaps be more minutely illustrated from Marlowe and Nash's Dido, 1594.

“ The ayre is cleere and Southerne windes are whist.Todd. Ver. 68. While birds of calm &c.] This line has been bor

VI. The stars, with deep amaze, Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,

70 Bending one way their precious influence; And will not take their flight, For all the morning light,

Or Lucifer, that often warn’d them thence; But in their glimmering orbs did glow, Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

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VII.

And, though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,

The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,

rowed by Samuel Wesley, the father of John Wesley, who published several poems, which were ridiculed by Garth and others : the passage is in his collection of 1685, p. 119.

“ And birds of calm brood o'er the marble wave.” TODD. Ver. 77. And, though the shady gloom &c.] Mr. Bowle saw with me that this stanza is a copy of one in Spenser's April. “ I sawe Phæbus thrust out his golden hede

Vpon her to gaze :
“ But, when he saw howe broade her beames did sprede,

“ It did him amaze.
“ Hee blusht to see another sunne belowe:

“ Ne durst againe his firie face outshowe,” &c. So also G. Fletcher on a similar subject, in his Christ's Victories p. i. st. 78. “ Heaven awakened all his

eyes “ To see another sunne at midnight rise.” And afterwards, he adds “ the cursed oracles were strucken dumb." T. WARTON.

Ver. 79. The sun himself withheld his wonted speed, &c.] See Drummond's Flowers of Sion, 1623.

And hid his head for shame,

80 As his inferiour flame

The new-enlighten'd world no more should need ; He saw a greater sun appear Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could bear.

VIII.

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The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,

Sat simply chatting in a rustick row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan

“ The sun from sinfull eyes hath vail'd his light,
“And faintlie iourneys vp heavens sapphire path."

Todd. Ver. 89. That the mighty Pan,

Was kindly come to live with them below;] That is, with the shepherds on the lawn. So in Spenser's May, which Milton imitates in Lycidas.

“ I muse what account both these will make :
“ The one for the hire which he doth take,

And th' other for leaving his lordes taske,

“ When great Pan account of Shepheards shall aske.” Again,

“ For Pan himself was their inheritaunce." Again, in July.

“ The brethren Twelve that kept yfere

“ The flockes of mightie Pan.” We should recollect, that Christ is styled a shepherd in the sacred writings. Mr. Bowle observes, that Dante calls him Jupiter, Purgat. C. vi. v. 118.

“ O sommo Giove, “ Che fosti'n terra per nos crucifisso.” And that this passage is literally adopted by Pulci, Morgant. Magg. C. ii. v. 2. T. WARTON.

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