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Candles of the Night

The stars are so called by Shakespeare, in the Merchant of Venice, v. 1. Milton has improved upon the idea:-

Else, O thievish Night, Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps With everlasting oil, to give due light To the misled and lonely traveller?

Comus, 200-206.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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