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While the ploughman near at hand
And ere the sunne had clymb’d the Pipe, Egl. v. edit. 1614. 12mo.
easterne hills, To guild the muttring bournes and Signat. E. 4. v. 7. he is describ
ing the dawn of day. petty rills; Before the lab'ring bee had left the When the shepheards from the fold hive,
All their bleating charges told ; And nimble fishes, which in rivers And, full careful, search'd if one dive,
Of all the flock was hurt, or gone, &c. Began to leape, and catch the drowned And in Lilly's Gallathea, written fie,
1592, Phillida, disguised like a I rose from rest.
My mother said, I 67. And every shepherd tells his « could be no lad till I was tale
“ twentie, nor keepe sheepe till Under the hawthorn in the dale.] “ I could tell them.” A. ii. s. i. An image perhaps conveyed by
But let us analyse the context. Shakespeare, Third P. K. Henr. The poet is describing a very VI. a. ii. 8. v.
early period of the morning; Gives not the hawthorn bush a sweeter and this he describes, by selectshade
ing and assembling such pictuTo shepherds looking on their silly
resque objects as accompany that sheep, &c.
period, and, such as were familiar It was suggested to me by the to an early riser. He is waked late ingenious Mr. Headley, that by the lark, and goes into the the word tale does not here im- fields. The sun is just emerging, ply stories told by shepherds, and the clouds are still hovering but that it is a technical term
over the mountains. The cocks for numbering sheep, which is
are crowing, and with their lively still used in Yorkshire and the
notes scatter the lingering remains distant counties. This interpre- of darkness. Human labours and tation I am inclined to adopt, employments are renewed, with which I will therefore endeavour the dawn of the day. The to illustrate and enforce. Tale hunter (formerly much earlier at and tell, in this sense, were not his sports than at present) is unfamiliar in our poetry, in and beating the covert, and the slumabout Milton's time. For in. bering morn is roused with the stance, Dryden's Virgil, Bucol. cheerful echo of hounds and iii. 83.
horns. The mower is whetting And once she takes the tale of all my his scythe to begin his work. Lambs.
The milk-maid, whose business And in W. Browne's Shepheard's is of course at day-break, comes
Strait mine eye hath caught new pleasures
abroad singing. The shepherd “night," had no cause to tell opens his fold, and takes the tale the tale of their sheep in the of his sheep, to see if any were morning. And this description lost in the night, as in the passage is therefore as appropriate here, just quoted from Browne. Now, as it would be trite and general for shepherds to tell tales, or to in the case of the English shepsing, is a circumstance, trite, herd at the dawn of day. I common, and general, and be- have given Warton's note on the longing only to ideal shepherds: passage at full length, because I por do I know, that such shep- have sometimes found persons herds tell tales, or sing, more in strangely reluctant to do Milton the morning than at any other justice in this point. E. part of the day. A shepherd 69. Strait mine eye hath caught taking the tale of his sheep which new pleasures] There is in my are just unfolded, is a new image, opinion great beauty in this abcorrespondent and appropriated, rupt and rapturous start of the beautifully descriptive of a period poet's imagination, as it is exof time, is founded in fact, and tremely well adapted to the subis more pleasing as more natural. ject, and carries a very pretty T. Warton.
allusion to those sudden gleams 67. Some perhaps will cite, of vernal delight which break in in opposition to Warton's argu- upon the mind at the sight of a ment, Milton's description of the fine prospect. Thyer. shepherds in his Hymn on the 72. Where the nibbling flocks do Morning of Christ's Nativity, st. stray,] Nibbling sheep is an exviii.
pression in Shakespeare. TemThe shepherds on the lawn
pest, act iv. sc. 3. And stray is Or e'er the point of dawn,
not in the sense of wander, go Sat simply chatting in a rustic row; astray, but only signifies feed at
&c.Perhaps their loves, or else their large, as in Virgil, Ecl. i. 9.
sheep, Was all that did their silly thoughts
Ille meas errare boves, ut cernis, et
ipsum so busy keep
Ludere quæ vellein calamo permisit But in fact they, " who kept
agresti. “ watch over their flocks by
Towers and battlements it sees
77. Towers and battlements it cite expectation by concealment,
by gradual approaches, and by Bosom'd high in tufted trees.] interrupted appearances. T. WarThis was the great mansion-house ton. in Milton's early days, before 80. The Cynosure of neighb'ring the old-fashioned architecture eyes.] As if he had said the had given way to modern arts pole-star of neighbouring eyes: and improvements. Turrets and an affected expression. Cynosura battlements were conspicuous is the constellation of Ursa minor, marks of the numerous
or the little bear next to our pole, buildings of the reign of King as in the Mask 342. I find the Henry VIII. and of some rather same expression in Democritus more ancient, many of which yet Junior, or Burton's treatise of remained in their original state: Melancholy, as quoted by Mr.
was that style altogether Peck. “ It is the general huomitted in Inigo Jones's first mour of all lovers: she is his manner. Browne, in Britannia's stern, his pole-star, his guide, Pastorals, has a similar image, “his Cynosure, his Hesperus and b. i. s. 5. p. 96.
“ Vesperus, &c." p. 512. -yond palace, whose brave turret
80. But Shakespeare has" your tops
eyes are lode-starres." Mids. Over the statelie wood survay the N. Dr. a. i. s. 1. And our author, copse.
“ But since he must needs be Browne is a poet now forgotten, “ the load-star of reformation.” but must have been well known P. W. vol. i. 9. And this was to Milton.
no uncommon compliment in Where only a little is seen, Chaucer, Skelton, Sydney, Spenmore is left to the imagination. ser, and other old English poets, These symptoms of an old palace, as Mr. Steevens has abundantly especially when thus disposed, proved. See also Grey's Notes have a greater effect than a dis-on Shakespeare, vol. i. p. 43. seq. covery of larger parts, and even Lond. 1754. And in the Spanish a full display of the whole edi- Tragedy, 1603. fice. With respect to their rural Led by the load-star of her heavenly residence, there was a coyness
looks. in our Gothic ancestors. Modern Milton enlivens his prospect by seats are seldom so deeply am- this unexpected circumstance, bushed. They disclose all their which gives it a moral charm. glories at once; and never ex- T. Warton.
Where Corydon and Thyrsis met,
84. Are at their savory dinner says Skinner, à Rebacchando, ubi set
Re sensum auget, quia sc. hoc Of herbs, &c.]
instrumento in conviviis, comesMr. Thyer thinks with me that sationibus et symposiis uti solethis is an allusion to Virgil, Ecl. bant; and therefore Milton proii. 10.
perly bestows upon it the epithet Thestylis et rapido fessis messoribus jocund. He uses the word again
in his Areopagitica, p. 149. vol. i. Allia serpyllumque herbas contundit edit. 1738. “The villagers also olentes,
“ must have their visitors to enAnd though Phillis is the cook
quire what lectures the bagpipe here, Thestylis is introduced soon " and the rebeck reads, &c. after.
94. Probably the same instru92. The upland hamlets] Up- ment which is called in Chaucer, land, in opposition to the hay. Lydgate, and the old French making scene in the lower lands. writers, the Rebible, the diminuThyer.
tive of Ribibe, used also by 93. When the merry bells ring Chaucer, originally, as Sir John round.] The first instance I re- Hawkins thinks, from Rebeb, member in our poetry of the cir. the name of a Moorish musical cumstance of a peal of bells, in- instrument with two strings troduced as descriptive of festi- played on by a bow. (See Tyr. vity, is in Morley's Madrigals. whỉtt's Chaucer, n. on v. 6959.] See England's Helicon, Signat. Q. Sir John adds, that the Moors 4. ed. 1614. T. Warton. brought it into Spain, whence it
94. And the jocund rebecks sound] passed into Italy, and obtained Rebeck is a three-stringed fiddle, the name of Ribeca. Hist. Mus. derived from the French rebec ii. 86. In the Percy Household or the Italian rebecca, and these, book, 1512, are recited “Myn
To many a youth, and many à maid,
and old come forth to play
“ stralls in Household iij. viz. a Sive sub incertas Zephyris motanti. “ Taberett, a Luyte, and a Re
Richardson. “ becc.” It appears below Q. Elizabeth's reign, in the music 97. And young and old come establishment of the royal house- forth to play hold.
On a sunshine holy-day.] It appears from Sylvester's Dre Thus also in the Mask, 959. Bartas, that the cymbal was fur- Back, shepherds, back, enough your nished with wires, and the Re. play, beck with strings of catgut, ed.
Till next sunshine holy-day. fol. 1621. p. 231.
Holiday-sports are still much But wyerie cymbals, rebecke's sinewes which Milton was used. See
encouraged in the counties to twin'd.
note on Sams. Agon. 1418. T. In a barbarous Latin poet of the Warlon. middle age, quoted by Du Cange, 100. Then to the spicy nutGloss. Lat. V. Bandosa, we have, brown ale.] See the old play of Quidam Rebeccam arcuabant. Henry V. In six Old Plays, &c. Where arcuabant shews that it Lond. 1779. p. 336. was played upon by a bow, arcus.
Yet we will have in store a crab i' th: The rebeck seems to have been
fire, almost a common name for a With nut-brown ale, that is full stale. fiddle. See Fletcher's Kn. Burn. This was Shakespeare's Pestle. Milton's Liberty of un- sip's bowl,” Mids. N. Dr. a. i. licensed Printing. Shakespeare, 8. 1. The composition was ale, Rom. and Jul. a. iv. s. 4. and nutmeg, sugar, toast, and roasted Steevens's note. T. Warton, crabs or apples. It was called
96. Dancing in the chequer'd Lambs-wool. Our old dramas shade ;) Shakespeare's Titus An- have frequent allusions to this dronicus, act ii. sc. 4.
delectable beverage. In Fletcher's The green leaves quiver with the Faithfull Shepherdess it is styled cooling wind,
" the spiced wassel boul." T. And make a chequer'd shadow on the Warton. ground.
101. With stories, &c.) Shake. Virgil, Ecl. v. 5.
speare's Winter's Tale is supposed