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It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize:
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
is formed upon passages taken from the prophet Isaiah, he very properly invocates the same divine Spirit:
“O thou my voice inspire,
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.
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
But he, her fears to cease,
She, crown'd with olives green, came softly sliding
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;
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
The hooked chariot stood
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of Peace upon the earth began :
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
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.
And, though the shady gloom
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 :
“ It did him amaze.
“ 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.
The shepherds on the lawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustick row;
“ The sun from sinfull eyes hath vail'd his light,
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 :
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.