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and Andrew Becket writes.in one of his choruses,
O haste along;
Come, O come and bring with thee,
Truth and bright Humanity.1
These lines and many others like them may owe nothing directly to Milton. For without doubt some authors merely followed the latest mode in versifying without being conscious of its origin, and so familiar did the "hence," the "come," the train of personifications, and the tripping octosyllabics become that their source was probably overlooked or forgotten by many who knew and loved the 1645 volume.
It has often been thought that Penseroso had not a little to do with the rise of the "graveyard school" of poetry that flourished in the eighteenth century, a natural assumption that is not borne out by the facts. The most important and most popular representatives of the literature of melancholy, Young's Night Thoughts (1742-6), Blair's Grave (1743), and James Hervey's prose Meditations among the Tombs (1746), were quite uninfluenced by Penseroso. Moreover, the vogue of this literature began before that of Milton's 1645 volume, and few of the poems that imitated the octosyllabics are of the graveyard variety or show any preference for the less lively of the companion pieces. Milton's poem, furthermore, is not Il Melancholio, but Il Penseroso, the praise of a retired, studious life such as the poet led in his happy years at Horton. The love of gloom which characterized much of the literature of the middle and latter part of the eighteenth century belongs with the fondness for the Middle Ages, for ruins, and for wild nature. It was a part of the romantic and rather sentimental tendency of the time; it is alien to the mood of Penseroso, and would have been quite the same if Milton's poem had never been written.2
Among the more important writers who used the Allegro-Penseroso form and who used it most frequently are Thomas Blacklock, the blind versifier whose kind letter sent Burns to Edinburgh instead of to Jamaica; John Langhorne, the translator of Plutarch and of some of Milton's Italian and Latin poems; Tobias Smollett and Charles Brockden Brown, the novelists; Mrs. Barbauld, the poetess and writer for children; William Richardson, the Shakespearean scholar; and Henry Kirke White, the pathetic, overrated consumptive upon whom Southey tried to confer immortality. There is no reason for
1 Socrates, "a drama on the model of the ancient Greek tragedy" (1806, reprinted in Dramatic and Prose Miscellanies, ed. W. Beattie, 1838, i. 272, cf. 209).
2 See my Literature of Melancholy, 1909 (Modern Language Notes, xxiv. 226–7).
pausing on the work of these men and women, but there are survivals of the Allegro-Penseroso movement in a few later poets that have unusual interest.
Coleridge, who, when uninspired seems to belong wholly to the eighteenth century, has three pieces of the type we have been studying. Two of them, Music, and Inside the Coach,
are humorous and are affected for only a few lines, but the third is an out-and-out imitation:
Hence! thou fiend of gloomy sway,
Where Avarice lurks in sordid cell,
There with Guilt and Folly dwell! . . .
Then haste thee, Nymph of balmy gales!
Peace, that lists the woodlark's strains,
Wait my friend in Cambria's plains.1
Coleridge employed the Allegro-Penseroso form in 1792, when it was still popular; Wordsworth dropped into it for a few lines some years after its vogue had passed. In an irregular ode To Enterprise that he composed in 1820, the personifications, the parentage, the circumstances attending the birth and early training of the abstraction, all suggest Milton, as do a borrowing from Comus and a reference to Penseroso; yet, as the similarities are limited to thirty of the one hundred and sixty-one lines of the poem, they may be accidental: Bold Spirit! who art free to rove Among the starry courts of Jove, And oft in splendour dost appear . . .
Where Mortals call thee ENTERPRISE.
1 To Disappointment (Poetical Works, ed. E. H. Coleridge, Oxford, 1912, i. 34). Southey's irregular odes, To Horror and To Contemplation (written 1791-2, Poetical Works, 1837, ii. 129-34), are somewhat Miltonic in style, and the latter has a few distinct borrowings: "high-tufted trees" (cf. Allegro, 78), "slow-moving on the surges hoar Meet with deep hollow roar" (cf. Penseroso, 75-6), "Far from all the haunts of men" (cf. Comus, 388, and Pen., 81). This last line is in the midst of a passage (beginning "But sweeter 'tis to wander") probably suggested by Penseroso, 139–47.
Daughter of Hope! her favourite Child,
(The food which pleased thee best to win)
One hardly expects to find a source for Shelley's shorter poems. They are too spontaneous and ethereal, too much the children of the wind and the cloud, the rainbow and the sun, to be fathered upon any mortal. Yet one of his lyrics, To Jane, the Invitation, written in 1822, only a few weeks before he was drowned, comes strikingly near to the Allegro-Penseroso type:
Shelley would not consciously have adopted a hackneyed eighteenthcentury verse-form, or have taken directly from one of Milton's poems "machinery" which, as he must have known, had previously been borrowed by hundreds of poetasters; yet here we have the meter and movement, the "come," the "hence," the personified abstractions (together with the parentage and the circumstances attending the finding of one of them), and a clear verbal borrowing. There is nothing strange in his employing the meter and movement
1 Compare the first two lines of the quotation with the first line of Comus (spoken, it should be observed, by the attendant "spirit"), "Before the starry threshold of Jove's court." The reference to Penseroso is at line 145. I have taken the last five lines from the first edition because of the Miltonic ring of the parenthetical clauses, particularly the first, which recalls Allegro, 17. These clauses were afterwards omitted or changed. 2 Compare the third and fourth lines with Allegro, 45-6. For Shelley's other borrowings from Milton's minor poems, see pp. 228-31 above and 567 below.
of Allegro, for he had probably borrowed them before in his Lines written among the Euganean Hills (1818),1 much as in other poems he had used the Spenserian stanza and the sonnet form. Nor can the other similarities in To Jane be brushed aside as mere coincidences, for the empty personified abstractions and the parentage and birth of Morning are not the sort of thing one expects in Shelley. Perhaps he was led into them unconsciously by the "come away" and the verbal borrowing of his beginning.
Keats wrote eleven poems in iambic tetrameter, most of which catch, at least for a time, the lilt of Milton's octosyllabics. They differ, however, in that almost every line lacks the initial unaccented syllable. Two quotations, the first from Fancy, the second from the Song of Four Fairies, will serve to show the metrical similarity: Sit thee there, and send abroad,
With a mind self-overaw'd,
Fancy, high-commission'd: - send her!
It is hazardous to base a claim of influence on meter and cadence alone, and in Fancy there is, indeed, more; there is the sitting by the fireside at night, the harvesting, the early lark, the personified abstraction who will bring various things, and the ending,
And such joys as these she'll bring.
Moreover, Keats could compose tetrameter that has none of the Allegro lilt, and it must be remembered that he said of Milton,
Thy spirit never slumbers,
1 Besides To Jane, the Invitation, and its earlier form The Pine Forest of the Cascine near Pisa, he also wrote (in 1822) two other octosyllabics with the Miltonic lilt, With a Guitar, to Jane, and Lines written in the Bay of Lerici.
2 Keats's octosyllabic To Fanny, first published in 1909 by the Bibliophile Society of Boston, Massachusetts, has much the same lilt.
3 On a Lock of Milton's Hair, 3-5.
Perhaps the music of Allegro was rolling about his ears when he composed his octosyllabics. It seems to have been when he wrote his recently-discovered sonnet On Peace. "O Peace!" he writes, Joyful I hail thy presence; and I hail
The sweet companions that await on thee,
one of whom is "the sweet mountain nymph.
The delightful octosyllabic Solitude (1821) of John Clare also "suggests" Milton (as Mr. de Sélincourt says of Fancy), but the resemblance is much slighter than in Keats's poem. The similarity to Penseroso of William Motherwell's Melancholye (1832) may be merely accidental, notwithstanding the "hence," the "come," the manner, and the personifications; yet it is pleasant to think of these lines, with their fresh fragrance, as the last and one of the loveliest flowers which the rather thorny octosyllabic movement put forth: 2 Adieu! al vaine delightes
Of calm and moonshine nightes. ...
And all the merrie notes
That tril from smal birdes' throates. . . .
And welcome gloomy Nighte,
When not one star is seene. . . .
Come with me, Melancholye,
We'll live like eremites holie,
To some lone silent spot,
Which man hath quyte forgot.
Come, with thy thought-filled eye,
And drouping solemne heade,
Where phansyes strange are bred.
The Allegro-Penseroso vogue belonged, not only in time but in kind, to the second half of the eighteenth century. When the fresh breath of the true lyric began to sweep again across the fields of English verse, the odes to abstractions withered away and died. They had long since fulfilled their function and no one mourned their passing. The later eighteenth century was a period of many petty
1 Note the personification, the invocation, the train, and the borrowing from Allegro, 36.
2 Coventry Patmore's L'Allegro (1878) has practically no resemblance to Milton's except in title.