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Was kindly come to live with them below; Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep, Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.
When such musick sweet
95 Divinely-warbled voice Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took : The air, such pleasure loth to lose, With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.
Nature that heard such sound,
Of Cynthia's seat, the aery region thrilling,
Ver. 95. As never was by mortal finger strook ;
Answering the stringed noise,] Here, as Mr. Dunster also has noticed, are Sylvester's rhymes and expression, Du Bart. ed. supr. p. 101.
“ Suffer, at least, to my sad dying voice
“My doleful fingers to consort their noise." TODD. Ver. 98. As all their souls in blissful rapture took :) To take, with the present application, is a favourite expression of Milton : So, in P. L. ii. 554.
“ The thronging audience.”
Now was almost won
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling ;
At last surrounds their sight
That with long beams the shamefac'd night array'd;
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd, Harping in loud and solemn quire, With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born Heir.
Such musick (as 'tis said)
Ver. 112. helmed] So, in Par. Lost, B. vi. 840. “ O'er helms and helmed heads he rode.” Drayton has “ helmed head.” Polyolb. S. viii. T. WARTON. We may trace helmed to Chaucer, Tr. and Cr. ii. 593.
“By Mars the god, that helmed is of stele." TODD. Ver. 116. With unexpressive notes,] So, in Lycidas, v. 176.
“ And hears the unexpressive nuptial song." The word, which is the object of this note, was perhaps coined by Shakspeare, As you Like it, A. iii. S. 2. “ The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive She."
T. WARTON. Ver. 117. Such musick (as 'tis said)] See this musick described, Par. Lost, B. vii. 558, and seq. T. WARTON.
But when of old the sons of morning sung, While the Creator Great
120 His constellations set,
And the well-balanc'd world on hinges hung;
Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
125 Once bless our human ears, If ye
have power to touch our senses so; And let your silver chime Move in melodious time;
And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow ; 130 And, with
ninefold harmony, Make
full consort to the angelick symphony.
For, if such holy song
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold; 135
your silver chime] So, in Machin's Dumbe Knight, 1608.
“ It was as silver as the chime of spheres." TODD. Ver. 130. And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow ;] Here is another idea catched by Milton from St. Paul's cathedral while he was a school-boy. Milton was not yet a Puritan. Afterwards, he and his friends the fanaticks would not have allowed of so papistical an establishment as an Organ and Choir, even in Heaven. T. WARTON.
Ver. 131. And, with your ninefold harmony,] There being “ nine infolded spheres," as in Arcades, v. 64. Newton.
And speckled Vanity
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould ;
139 And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
Ver. 136. And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,] Plainly taken from the maculosum nefas of Horace. Od. v. 4. 23. Jos. WARTON.
Vanity dressed in a variety of gaudy colours. Unless he means spots, the marks of disease and corruption, and the symptoms of approaching death. T. WARTON.
Ver. 138. And leprous Sin will melt] The “ leprosie of Sin” is a phrase in Sylvester, Du Bart. edit. 1621, p. 183. Again,
“ The leprosie of our contagious sin.” See also Beaumont and Fletcher, Maid's Tragedy, A. iv. S. 1.
“My whole life is so leprous, it infects
“ All my repentance." TODD. Ver. 139. And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.] The image is in Virgil, Æn. viii. 245.
“ Cernatur, trepidentque immisso lumine Manes.”
“ And mountainous Errour be too deeply pil'd
“ For Truth to over-peer.” T. Warton. I cannot accede to Mr. Warton's idea of peering. The morning when dawning is commonly described by the old poets as peering : to peer is to make its first appearance. The peering day here is the first dawn of the Gospel, by the birth of the Redeemer. The Sun of Righteousness fully rose, when he began to exercise his ministry. DUNSTER.
Yea, Truth and Justice then
Orb’d in a rainbow ; and, like glories wearing,
Ver. 143. Orb'd in a rainbow ; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between] Here is an emendation of Milton's riper genius. The passage is thus printed in the first edition, 1645.
“ The enamell’d arras of the rainbow wearing; “ And Mercy set between,” &c. The rich and variegated colours of tapestry were now familiar to the eye. T. WARTON.
Milton's description is here supposed by Mr. Dunster to have originated from a picture : I subjoin his acute remark. “ To Sylvester's Translation of Du Bartas's Triumph of Faith, there is a Frontispiece, that might have furnished it. The subject is froin Rev. ii. 10. “ Be thou faithful unto death; and I will give thee a crown of life.” The design is, Christ descending to judgement, and the Faithful appearing before the judgementseat of Christ, and receiving their rewards. The judge is seated, “ amidst a blaze of light,” on a small rainbow ; and is completely encircled by another “ orbicular,” or rather oval,
Under him are some wreathed or “ tissued” clouds; which he may be imagined in the act of propelling, or “ directing with his feet.” Just beneath these clouds, a large rainbow extends over the Holy City; in front of which the dead are seen rising out of the grave." See Conjectures on Milton's early reading, &c. p. 47.
But perhaps the following impressive passage in Drummond's Shadow of the Judgement might have been here in the young poet's mind :
“ Millions of Angels in the lofty height,