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8. 75. Comp. Midsummer Night's Dream, III. ii. 61:
“ Venus in her glimmering sphere." 76. bespake = spake. So Lycid. 112 ; Paradise Lost, i. 43. Sometimes the prefix be has its transitive-making force, as e.g: when Dryden writes :
“ Then staring on her with a ghastly look
And hollow voice, he thus the queen bespake.” Paradise Lost, ii. 849:
“No less rejoiced
His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire.” Comp. bewail, bemoan, &c.
bid. The weak preterite is here preferred to the strong form. So Paradise Lost, ii. 514. The form bidde occurs in The Vision of Piers Ploughman. In the case of the preterite of bite the weak form has with us altogether superseded the strong form. In Piers Ploughman we have boot, Ed. Wright, l. 2642 :
“That he boot hise lippes.”
In that same poem both the forms sitte and sat are found.
77. Comp. Spenser's Shep. Cal. April.
81. as. So commonly in modern English we should say as if; but in older English, when the force of the subjunctive was livelier, the if was not needed.
84. axle-tree. Comp. Comus, 95-7. Tree in Old English = wood, beam, &c. So dore-tree = door-post, Piers Ploughman, roof-tree, &c.
9. 85. lawn = pasture; commonly any open grassy space. Lawn seems to denote radically a clear or cleared space, where the view is unobstructed. So launde in Piers Ploughman. Comp. lane, an opening, a passage between houses or fields (see Wedgewood). Comp. Paradise Lost, iv. 252, where the groves of Eden are described :
“ Retwixt them lawns or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,” &c.
“ Interspersed in lawns and opening glades,
Thin trees arise that shun each other's shades.”
With the sense here, comp. L'Allegro, l. 71.
86. or ere = before ever. See Daniel vi. 24; Hamlet, I. ii. 147; Psalm xc. 2. From the same root as or come our ere, erst, early. Or is common enough in Old English, as in Mirror for Magistrates :
“And, or I wist, when I was come to land.”
This same form occurs in Tempest, I. ii. 11; King John, IV. iii. 20 (Ed. 1623), &c. As for ere, in or ere, it probably stands for ever: it increases the force of the adverbial clause of time in which it appears; thus in King Lear, II. iv. :
“ I have full cause of weeping ; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws
where the ere gives intensity. Ere in this and such cases has the same grammatical value as twice, in Measure for Measure, IV. iii. 92:
“Ere twice the sun hath made his journal greeting
To the under generation, you shall find
Your safety manifested.” Or yet in Paradise Lost, x. 584:
“ Ere yet Dictæan Jove was born.” 1.e. ever is an adverb of time. Hence the phrase or ere, = our mod. “ere ever," is nearly invariably used with a clause, and not as a preposition. We could say “ere long," "ere now," but not “ere ever long," "ere ever now.” The phrase in our text is to be explained as parallel to “ for all the morning light," “ against their bridal day ;" where the full construction would demand a verb. (See notes, 1. 73, and Prothal. I. 17.) It is, so far as we know, unique. Others interpret the ere in or ere as, in fact, a mere reiteration, the ere added as a sort of gloss, when the meaning of or had ceased to be generally known. In Greek, a piv and apótepov are found in the same sentence, potepov antecedent ; but this is obviously no parallel. Nor can the phrase "an if,” which appeared for a time in our language, be said to justify the above explanation. Moreover, can we not say, “before ever," as “ before ever he knew him, he acted nobly”? Does "ever" translate "before"! 9. 86. point of dawn. French, point du jour. 90. Warton quotes Spenser's Shep. Cal. May:
“When great Pan account of shepheards shall ask.” 92. was. The idea of the subject is singular, though the form is plural. So "the wages of sin is death," &c.
silly. A.-S. sælig, happy; then simple, then foolish. Cf. German selig. The form seely is found in the Faerie Queene, &c. ; sely in Chaucer, Leg. of Fair W.:
“O sely woman, full of innocence:” and in Piers Ploughman. For the degradation of meaning, comp. simple, innocent. See Trench's Study of Words, and Select Gloss. Comp. eúntus.
95. strook, i.e. strook out. Of course, the word more properly applies to the notes of stringed instruments, as in Dryden's Alexander's Feast, 99:
“Now strike the golden lyre again.” Other forms of the participle are stricken, strucken, struck. The form strook is found in Piers Ploughman, &c. Comp. the participial forms, took, forsook, &c.
as, though seemingly, is not really the relative, nor yet the subject, in this and such phrases. The relative is in fact omitted, as is not uncommon. The full phrase would be “as (music) which never was, &c.”
96. divinely warbled voice. Voice = something uttered by the voice, as often Latin vox. Or perhaps, better, warbled = trilled, made to trill or quaver. Comp. Arcad. 87:
“Follow me, as I sing,
And touch the warbled string." In Com. 854 it means trilled forth, sung:
“If she be right invoked in warbled song.” So, in the active form, in Midsummer Night's Dream, IIJ. q. 206 ;
“ Both warbling of one song."
9. 96. Observe s sharp and s flat, according to our present pronunciation, rhyming together.
97. noise. Comp. Faerie Queene, I. xii. 39:
“During the which there was an heavenly noise
Heard sownd through all the Pallace pleasantly."
Or perhaps here in its not uncommon Elizabethan sense of "a set or company of musicians." (Nares.) See “Sneak’s noise,” 2 Henry IV. II. iv. 12. Ben Jonson's Masq. of Gyps. : “The King has his noise of gypsies as well as of bear-wards and other minstrels," &c.
99. loth = in oldest English, hateful, our “ loathed.” Comp. Loathsome. So loathly, Shakspere, &c. 100. close. So Dryden, Fables:
“At every close she made, th' attending throng
Replied, and bore the burden of the song."
Shakspere, Richard II. II. i. 12. So Herrick, The Church:
“Sweet spring ! full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
And all must die.”
102. As if the moon was but a bright spherical shell.
106. here = hereupon ; or = at this point of time, now. See Cowper's lines to Mary Unwin :
“ Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore," &c. Comp. there in Shakspere, Lover's Complaint:
“Even there resolved my reason into tears.” its. This passage, Paradise Lost, i. 254, and iv. 814, are said to be the only places where Milton uses this word. See note, 1. 140.
107. [What are the two forces “alone” might have here ? and which has it ?]
109. their sight = them as they look. Comp. “I pursue thy lingering” in Paradise Lost, ïi. 702. So “thy wiseness,” Hamlet, V. i. 286.
110. globe = a mass, a body; or “circular” is tautological. Comp. Hamlet's “distracted globe” (I. v. 96).
111. shame-fac't. See note to stedfast, l. 70.
112. Cherubim. In his translation of Psalm lxxx. 5, Milton uses the English plural form. Shakspere generally uses cherubim for the singular (as in Othello, IV. ii. 63); but cherib occurs in Hamlet, IV. ii. 50. Knight reads cherubims in Merchant of Venice, V. i. 62. The Authorized Version of the Bible uses cherubims. Cherubs and cherubims now differ in meaning. Perhaps he does not mean to characterize, when he speaks of the helms of the cherubim and the swords of the seraphim. It was cherubims “ with a flaming sword" that guarded the gates of Eden. Both orders are differently represented in the lines At a Solemn Music. Or he may mean that the cherubim were the more purely defensive spirits, the seraphim more active. Their “sword” may mean "the sword of the Spirit.” (Comp. Isaiah vi. 6.)
113. Seraphim. “The great seraphic lords,” Paradise Lost, i. 794.
9. 114. with wings displaied. See Il Ponseroso, 149; Faerie Queene, I. xi. 20.
116. unexpressive. So in Lyc. 176. Shakspere, As You Like It, III. ii. 28. 10. 117. See Paradise Lost, vii. 565 et seq.
119. See Job xxxviii. 4-7.
“Then gin the blustring brethren boldly threat
To move the world from off his steadfast henge."
Hinge is properly something to hang anything on, as a hook. Comp. Dutch hengel, a hook ; German, angel The verb to hang has the form hing in the Scotch dialect.
The explanation of the two strong preterite forms which hang and many other verbs have in modern English is that originally one was the singular, the other the plural form. (See Latham.) This is exactly illustrated in this line from Chaucer's Legende of Good Women :
“ And thus by reporte was hir name yshove
That as they woxe in age, wax hir love."
123. Comp. the Lat. jacere fundamenta. Comp. Faerie Queene :
“And shooting in the earth casts up a mount of clay.”
2 Kings xix. 32; Luke xix. 43.
124. weltring. Lyc. 13; Paradise Lost, i. 78; Shelley's in the Euganean hills. Ascham uses the forms walter and waulter in his Scholemaster. Welter is radically connected with wallow, waltz, Latin volvere, &c. ; perhaps also with walk. (See Wedgwood.)
oozy. Lyc. 175; Shelley's Ode to the West Wind. Comp. “Oozy bed,” Tempest, V. i. 157; “ooze of the salt deep," Ib. I. ii. 252.
125. If the “music of the spheres ”may ever be heard, the poet would it now should be. On this music see Arcad. 62–7; Paradise Lost, v. 618; Com. 112-4, 241-3, 1,021. Comp. At a Solemn Music, “sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse.” See also Merchant of Venice, V. i. 61:
“ There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Twelfth Night, III. i. 120; Antony and Cleopatra, V. q. 83 ; Pericles, V. i. 230. In Hudibras, Part II. i. 617, the widow says a poet compares his mistress' voice to
“the music of the spheres,
Dryden, in his Ode to Mrs. Anne Killigrew, declares that
“ Thy brother-angels at thy birth
Strung each his lyre and tuned it high,
That all the people of the sky
Shelley, in his lines To a Lady with a Guitar:
“ It had learnt all harmonies
Of the plains and of the skies: ;
That seldom-heard mysterious sound
This fancy is said to have originated with Pythagoras. For a minute account see the last book of Plato's Republic. The whorl of the distaff of necessity, as there described, consists of eight concentric whorls. These whorls represent respectively the sun and moon, the five planets known to the ancients, and the fixed stars. On each whorl sits a siren singing. Their eight tones make one exquisite “harmony.” Milton here speaks of “your ninefold harmony;" he adds a ninth sphere—the primum mobile—“that swift nocturnal and diurnal rhomb” (Paradise Lost, viii. 134). See also Plato, Rep. vii. 530. Cicero, in his Nature of the Gods, refers to the belief “ad harmoniam canere mundum,” and again in his Republic, vi. 18. 10. 127. Comp. Merchant of Venice, V. i. 76:
“Or any air of music touch their ears."
128. See Paradise Lost, xi. 559.
blow, in a quasi-passive sense. So Tennyson's Princess :
“A moment while the trumpets blow
He sees his brood about thy knee.” Comp. beat in that same song.
132. Consort. So At a Solemn Music, 27; Il Penseroso, 145; Faerie Queene, III. i. 40. (In Solemn Music, 6, “concent” occurs.) Elsewhere in Milton, as always in Shakspere, the word occurs in its ordinary sense.
to. See Prothal.
age of Gold. See Ovid's Metam. i. 89-112. 136. speckld, from speck. So handle, &c. &c. The le is also a diminutival termination. Speckled probably may mean here variegated, gaudy ; just as Spenser, Dryden, and Pope use it of a serpent and of snakes; but it may mean “plague-spotted.” Comp. Horace's “maculosum nefas” (Od. IV. iv. 23).
137. sicken. Nearly always neuter in Shakspere, as here. It is transit, in Henry VIII. I. i. 81.
138. mould is very commonly used by itself for the earth in the old romances, &c. See Piers Ploughman, 67, ed. Skeat: “The most mischiefe on mold is mountyng wel faste.”
140. Obs. herself answering to “Hell itself.” Its had not yet won a place in the written language. His originally served for both the masculine and neuter genders. When the old gender system decayed, and it became usual to decide on a word's gender by its sense, not by its form, or by some tradition of the language, then this his was felt to be inadequate. It was sometimes used in its place. But it was objectionable that the nominative and possessive should not differ in form. Hence arose the form its. This form was in Milton's time struggling for admission into the written language. He lived to see it established in it; but in his earlier days that event seemed dubious. From this unsettled state of things arose confusions like the present. Men were not content with his as a neuter; they did not yet