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The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Among themfelves, and levy cruel wars,
can be produced. There is a pretty thought in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis, where the rifing fun "takes his laft leave of the weeping morn;" but how much more natural is the farewell of the fun going down, accompanied alfo with the variegated fcenery of Milton. TODD.
Ver. 496. O fhame to men! &c.] This reflection will appear the more pertinent and natural, when one confiders the contentious age in which Milton lived and wrote. THYER.
See a reflection of the fame kind, which Mr, Boyd also notices, in Dante, Purgat. C. vi. 76, &c. TODD.
Ver. 512. A globe of fiery Seraphim] A globe fignifies here a battalion in circle furrounding him, as Virgil fays, En. x. 373. "quà globus ille virum denfiffimus urget." NEWTON.
With bright imblazonry, and horrent arms.
By falfe prefumptuous hope, the ranged Powers
So, in Par. Reg. B. iv. 581, "a fiery globe of angels," where fee the note. TODD.
horrent] Horrent includes the idea both of terrible and prickly; fet up, like the bristles of a wild boar. Virgil, Æn. i. “Horrentia Martis arma." And En. . 178. "Horrentibus haftis." NEWTON.
the founding alchemy,] Alchemy here means any mixed metal, as in P. Fletcher's Purple Island, C. vii. ft. 39. "Such were his arms, falfe gold, true alchymie." Todd.
till his &c.] So it is in the first edition: In the fecond, and fome others, it is "till this great chief &c." which is manifeftly an errour of the prefs. NEWTON.
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
Till thickeft legions clofe; with feats of arms From either end of Heaven the welkin burns. Others, with vaft Typhœan rage more fell,
Ver. 531. Part curb their fiery feeds, &c.] These warlike diverfions of the fallen Angels, during the absence of Satan, feem to be copied from the military exercifes of the Myrmidons, during the abfence of their chief from the war, Homer, Il. ¡¡. 774; only the images are raised in proportion to the nature of the Beings who are here defcribed. We may fuppofe too, that Milton had an eye to the diverfions and entertainments of the departed heroes in Virgil's Elyfium. NEWTON.
Ibid. or fhun the goal &c.] Plainly taken from Horace, Od. I. i. 4. "Metáque fervidis evitatą rotis." But with good judgement he fays rapid, not fervid: bccaufe in thefe Hell-games both the wheels, and the burning marle they drove on, were fervid even before the race. BENTLEY.
Ver. 534. Waged in the troubled ky,] So Shakspeare in 1 Hen. iv. A. i. calls thefe appearances
"the meteors of a troubled Heaven." NEWTON.
Ver. 536. Prick forth] Prick forward, on the fpur, in full carcer; as in Fairfax's Tao, B. ix. ft. 22.
"Before the reft forth prickt the Soldan faft." TODD.
Ibid. and couch their Spears] Fix them in their refts. Couch from coucher (French) to place. A reft was made in the breaft of the armour, and was called a reft from arrefter (French) to ftay. RICHARDSON.
Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air 540
and ride the air] Thus, of the witches of Shakspeare, Macbeth, A. iv. S. i.
"Infected be the air whereon they ride." Todd.
Ver. 542. As when Alcides, &c.] This madnefs of Hercules was a fubject for tragedy among the ancients; but Milton has comprised the principal circumftances in this fimilitude, and feems to have copied Ovid, Met. ix. 136, &c. But, as Mr. Thyer rightly obferves, Milton in this fimile falls vaftly short of his ufual fublimity and propriety. How much does the image of Alcides tearing up Theffalian pines fink below that of the Angels rending up both rocks and winds, and riding the air in whirlwind!. And how faintly and infignificantly does the allusion end with the low circumftance of Lichas being thrown into the Euboick fea! NEWTON.
Ver. 548. With notes angelical &c.] Hom. Il. ix. 186.
and complain that fate
Free virtue fhould enthrall to force or chance.] This is taken from the famous diftich of Euripides, which Brutus ufed, when he flew himself:
Their fong was partial; but the harmony
In thoughts more elevate, and reafon'd high
Ω τλῆμον ̓Αρετὴ, λόγος ἆρ ̓ ἦσθ ̓, ἐγὼ δὲ σε
In fome places, for Big force, it is quoted rux? fortune. Milton has well comprehended both, "enthrall to force or chance.” BENTLEY.
Ver. 554. Sufpended Hell,] The effect of their finging is fomewhat like that of Orpheus in Hell, Virgil, Georg. iv. 481. "The harmony fufpended Hell;" but is it not much better with the parenthesis coming between? which fufpends, as it were, the event, raises the reader's attention, and gives a greater force to the fentence. NEWTON.
and took with ravishment &c.] He feems to have remembered that charming paffage, in his own Comus, of the Lady's finging:
"Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
And of the Sirens, in the fame poem:
"Who, as they fung, would take the prifon'd foul,
And in his Hymn on the Nativity, of the musick of the angels,
Ver. 556. (For eloquence the foul, fong charms the sense,)] So, in Sylvefter's Du Bart. 1621, p. 263.
"The foule-charm image of fweet cloquence."
Thus Mercury is called, in the Coblers Prophecie, 4to. 1594.
"Herrald of heauen, foule-charming Mercurie." TODD.
L'una athahe l'intellello, e l'alta il senso. Masino, L'adone, C. VII, II. 66.