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The Sea-Nymphs, and their pow'rs offended:
Yet thou art higher far defcended,
Thee bright-hair'd Vesta long of yore
To folitary Saturn bore;
His daughter fhe (in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a ftain).
Oft in glimmering bow'rs and glades
He met her, and in fecret fhades
Of woody Ida's inmoft grove,
While yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come penfive Nun, devout and pure,
Sober, ftedfaft, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
as χρυσοκόμης, γλαυκώπις &c. The allegory
contain'd under this description is no lefs beau-
tiful than that which he had before given us in
his account of the birth of Euphrofyne from
Zephyrus and Aurora.
Saturn was always
confidered by thofe philofophers, who em-
brac'd the opinion of planetary influences, as.
prefiding over perfons of a gloomy thoughtful
turn, and this caft of mind temper'd and re-
fin'd with a proper mixture of fire, which the
Ancients worshipt under the name of Vefta, is
the best adapted to relish fuch pleasures as the
And fable stole of Cyprus lawn,
Over thy decent fhoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted ftate,
With even step, and musing gate,
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt foul fitting in thine eyes:
There held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
With a fad leaden downward caft
Thou fix them on the earth as fast:
And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Faft, that oft with Gods doth diet,
And hears the Mufes in a ring
Ay round about Jove's altar fing:
For when would you, my Liege, or you, or
In leaden contemplation have found out &c.
47. And bears the Mufes in a ring
Ay round about fove's altar fing.] Here Mr.
Thyer and Mr. Richardson obferved with me,
that it is an allufion to what Hefiod fays of the
Mufes. Theog. 3.
Και σε περι κρηνίω ιοειδέα ποσσ' απαλοισιν
Ορχώνται, και βωμον εριθενεος Κρανιώνας.
And add to these retired Leifure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure ;
But first, and chiefeft, with thee bring,
Him that yon foars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The Cherub Contemplation ;
And the mute Silence hift along,
'Lefs Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, faddeft plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o'er th' accustom❜d oak;
Sweet bird that shunn'ft the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
52. Him that yon foars on golden wing, &c] I cannot find out from whence Milton copied this description. It feems to be the imagery of fome fanciful Italian, either allegorical poet or painter. Spenser has likewife given a defcription of Contemplation, but he describes him under the figure of a venerable old man; and I cannot but agree with Mr. Thyer, that there is more propriety in this than in the gayer perfonage of Milton, which is more like a Cupid than any thing else.
59. dragon yoke,] This office is attributed to dragons on account of their watchful
Thee chauntress oft the woods among
I woo to hear thy even-song;
And miffing thee, I walk unfeen
On the dry fmooth-shaven green,
To behold the wand'ring moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led aftray
Through the Heav'n's wide pathless way,
And oft, as if her head fhe bow'd,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft on a plat of rifing ground,
I hear the far-off Curfeu found,
Over fome wide-water'd fhore,
Swinging flow with fullen roar;
61. Sweet Bird &c] It is remarkable that here he begins his time from evening, as in L'Allegro from the early morning, and here with the nightingale as there with the lark. And as Mr. Thyer obferves, this rapturous start of the poet's fancy in praife of his favorite bird is extremely natural and beautiful: and 'tis worth the reader's while too to obferve, how finely he makes it ferve to connect his fubject, and infenfibly as it were to introduce the following charming night-fcene.
74. I hear the far-off Curfeu sound, &c] William the Conqueror, in the first year of
his reign, commanded that in every town and
village a bell fhould be rung every night at
eight of the clock, and that all perfons should
then put out their fire and candle, and go to
bed; the ringing of which bell was called Cur-
feu, Fr. Couvre-feu, that is Cover-fire.
the Gloffary to Chaucer. And the two fol-
lowing lines, with the frequent allitteration
of the letter s, inimitably exprefs the motion
and found of a great heavy bell. We almost
think we hear it.
Over fome wide-water'd fhore,
Swinging flow with fullen roar..
Or if the air will not permit,
Some still removed place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the belman's droufy charm,
To bless the doors from nightly harm:
Or let my lamp at midnight hour,
Be seen in some high lonely tow'r,
Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The poet no doubt remember'd Shakespear's
paffing-bell, but I think he has exceeded his
original. Sonnet 71.
No longer mourn for me when I am dead,
Then you shall hear the furly fullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with wileft >worms to
87. Where I may oft outwatch the bear,] The conftellation fo called, that never fets. Virg. Georg. I. 246,
Arctos oceani metuentes æquore tingi.
88. With thrice great Hermes,] Hermes Trifmegiftus, the Egyptian philofopher, florifhed a