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I have some naked thoughts that rove about,
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
To the touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
In solemn songs at king Alcinous' feast,
But fie, my wandering Muse, how thou dost stray!
Then quick about thy purposed business come,
Then ENS is represented as father of the Predicaments, his two sons, whereof the eldest stood for Substance with his canons, which Exs, thus speaking, explains:
Good luck befriend thee, son; for, at thy birth,
29. Yet I had rather, &c. It appears, 37. Unshorn Apollo, an epithet by which by this address of Milton to his native he is distinguished in the Greek and language, that even in these green years Latin poets. he had the ambition to think of writing an epic poem; and it is worth the curious reader's attention to observe how much the Paradise Lost" corresponds in its circumstances to the prophetic wish he now formed.-THYER.
Here are strong indications of a young mind anticipating the subject of the "Paradise Lost," if we substitute Christian for pagan ideas. He was now deep in the Greek poets.-T. WARTON.
48. Demodocus, the famous bard of the Odyssey, who, according to the fashion of the heroic ages, delighted the guests of Alcinous, during their repast, by singing about the feats of the Greeks at the siege of Troy, the wooden horse, &c. See Od. viii. 44.
59. Good luck, &c. Here the metaphy sical or logical Eus is introduced as a person, and addressing his eldest son Substance; afterwards the logical Quantity,
Thy drowsy nurse hath sworn she did them spie
She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still
Yet there is something that doth force my fear;
A sibyl old, bow-bent with crooked age,
What power, what force, what mighty spell, if not
The next, QUANTITY and QUALITY, spake in prose; then RELATION was called by his name.
Rivers, arise; whether thou be the son
Quality, and Relation, are personified, and speak. This a Tectation will appear more excusable in Milton, if we recollect that every thing, in the masks of this age, appeared in a bodily shape. "Airy Nothing" had not only a "local habita tion and a name," but a visible figure.T. WARTON.
61. Fuery ladies, &c. This is the first and last time that the system of the fairies was ever introduced to illustrate the doctrine of Aristotle's ten categories. It may be remarked that they both were in fashion, and both exploded, at the same time.-T. WARTON.
62. Come tripping, &c. So barren, unpoetical, and abstracted a subject could not have been adorned with finer touches of fancy.-T. WARTON.
74. To many an Accident. A pun on the logical Accidens.-T. WARTON.
75. O'er all his brethren, &c. The Pre
dicaments are his brethren: of or to which he is the Subjectum, although first in excellence or order.
78. Ungratefully, &c. They cannot exist but as inherent in Substance.
81. From others, &c. He is still substance, with or without Accident.
82. Yet on his brothers; By whom he is clothed, superinduced, modified, &c. But he is still the same.-T. WARTON.
88. Those that are at enmity. His Accidents.
91. Rivers, arise, &c. Milton is sup posed, in the invocation and assemblage of these rivers, to have had an eye on Spenser's Episode of the Nuptials of Thames and Medway, Faerie Queene,” iv. xi. I rather think he consulted Drayton's "Polyolbion." It is hard to say, in what sense, or in what manner, this introduction of the rivers was to be applied to the subject.-T. WARTON.
Or Trent, who, like some Earth-born giant, spreads
Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath;
Or Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death;
Or coaly Tine, or ancient hallow'd Dee;
Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name;
[The rest was prose.]
AN EPITAPH ON THE ADMIRABLE DRAMA
TICK POET WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.*
WHAT needs my Shakspeare, for his honour'd bones,
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear Son of Memory, great heir of fame,
What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name?
For whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,
That kings, for such a tomb, would wish to die.
As to the "Epitaph on Shakspeare," Hurd despises it too much. It is true that it is neither equal to the grand cast of Milton's poems, nor worthy of the subject; but still it would honour most poets, except the last four lines, which are a poor conceit.-BRYDGES.
These first appeared among other recommendatory verses, prefixed to the folio edition of Shakspeare's plays in 1632; but without Milton's name or initials.
It is therefore the first of Milton's pieces that was published. I may here remark that it was with great difficulty and reluctance that Milton first appeared as an author. He could not be prevailed upon to put his name to "Comus," his first performance of any length that was printed, notwithstanding the singular approbation with which it had been previously received in a long and extensive course of private circulation. 66 Lycidas," in the Cambridge collection, is only subscribed with his initial, while most of the other contributors have left their names at full length.-T. WARTON.
93. Or Trent. It is said that there were thirty sorts of fish in this river, and thirty religious houses on its banks. These traditions, on which Milton has raised a noble image, are a rebus on the name of Trent.-T. WARTON.
95. Or sullen Mole, &c. At Mickleham. near Dorking in Surrey, the river Mole during the summer, except in heavy rains, sinks through its sandy bed into a subterraneous and invisible channel. In winter it constantly keeps its current.-T. WARTON.
96. Maiden's death. The maid is Sabrina. See "Comus," 827.
99. Humber loud. Humber, a Scythian king, landed in Britain three hundred years before the Roman invasion, and was drowned in this river by Locrine, after conquering king Albanact.-T. WAR TON.
100. Royal tower'd Thame, alluding to the royal towers of Windsor Castle upon its banks.
5. Dear Son of Memory. He honours his favourite Shakspeare with the same
ON THE UNIVERSITY CARRIER, OLD HOBSON,*
Who sickened in the time of his vacancy, being forbid to go to London by reason of the plague.
HERE lies old Hobson; Death hath broke his girt,
But lately finding him so long at home,
And thinking now his journey's end was come,
In the kind office of a chamberlin
Show'd him his room where he must lodge that night,
If any ask for him, it shall be sed,
Hobson has supp'd, and 's newly gone to bed.
ANOTHER ON THE SAME.*
HERE lieth one, who did most truly prove
While he might still jog on and keep his trot,
Until his revolution was at stay.
Time numbers motion; yet, without a crime
'Gainst old truth, motion number'd out his time;
*The two strange "Epitaphs on Hobson the Carrier," are unworthy of the author.-BRYDGES.
relation as the Muses themselves, who are called by the old poets "the daughters of Memory."-NEWTON.
11. Unvalued, invaluable.
8. Hobson's inn at London was the "Bull" in Bishop-gate street, where his figure in fresco, with an inscription, was lately to be seen.-T. WARTON. The following account of the origin of the phrase "Hobson's choice," is to be found in No. 509 of the Spectator:-"I shall conclude this discourse with an explanation of a proverb, which by vulgar error is taken and used when a man is reduced to an extremity, whereas the propriety of the maxim is to use it when you would say there is plenty, but you must make such a choice as not to hurt another who is to come after you.
"Mr. Tobias Hobson, from whom we have the expression, was a very honourable man, for I shall ever call the man so who gets an estate honestly. Mr. Tobias Hobson was a carrier: and, being a man of great abilities and invention, and one that saw where there might good profit arise, though the duller men overlooked it. this ingenious man was the first in this island who let out hackneyhorses. He lived in Cambridge: and, observing that the cholars rid hard, his manner was to keep a large stable of horses, with boots, bridles, and whips, to furnish the gentlemen at once, without going from college to college to borrow, as they have done since the death of this worthy man. I say, Mr. Hobson kept a stable of forty good cattle always
And, like an engine moved with wheel and weight,
Too long vacation hasten'd on his term.
As he were press'd to death, he cried, More weight;
He had been an immortal carrier.
Obedient to the moon, he spent his date
In course reciprocal, and had his fate
Link'd to the mutual flowing of the seas;
Yet, strange to think, his wain was his increase:
Only remains this superscription.
ON THE NEW FORCERS OF CONSCIENCE
BECAUSE you have thrown off your Prelate Lord,
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
ready and fit for travelling: but, when a man came for a horse, he was led into the stable, where there was great choice; but he obliged him to take the horse which stood next to the stable door: so that every customer was alike well served according to his chance, and every horse ridden with the same justice; from whence it became a proverb, when what ought to be your election was forced upon you, to say, "Hobson's choice."
1. Because, &c. In railing at establishments, Milton condemned not episcopacy only: he thought even the simple institutions of the new Reformation too rigid and arbitrary for the natural freedom of conscience: he contended for that sort of individual or personal religion, by
which every man is to be his own priest. When these verses were written, which form an irregular sonnet, presbyterianism was triumphant; and the independents and the churchmen joined in one common complaint against a want of toleration. The church of Calvin had now its heretics. Milton's haughty temper brooked no human control: even the parliamentary hierarchy was too coercive for one who acknowledged only King Jesus. His froward and refining philo sophy was contented with no species of carnal policy: conformity of all sorts was slavery. He was persuaded that the modern presbyter was as much calcu lated for persecution and oppression as the ancient bishop.-T WARTON.