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Let us, now our hand is in, give a few more samples of Mr Prendeville's critical powers. Good old Bishop Newton opined "that loss of Eden" meant only loss of Paradise, which was in Eden, the whole being put for a part, as a part is sometimes put for the whole by the figure synecdoche. "For," said he, "the last we read of our first parents is, that they were still in Eden
"Through Eden took their solitary way.' "This explanation," says Mr Prendeville, though we can hardly believe him, "has been adopted in the best modern editions-most improperly," quoth he; and most improperly, quoth we. “The poet plainly shows," continues Mr Prendeville," that it was to the outer world, or part of the earth outside Eden, to which they were proceeding by the shortest route." This is not quite consistent with what he says in the last note of all, that "their steps were wandering, as they did not know any particular way to take." It seems that the four con. cluding lines of the Paradise Lost have been the subject of much dispute
"The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way." Addison, it seems, thought the poem, from the want of sufficient dignity in the last two lines, would better end with the two preceding; but Mr Prendeville fully agrees with those who would retain these last lines, as conveying a melancholy picture, quite in character with the condition of Adam and Eve, but would transpose them, and thus leave on the reader's
mind the cheering persuasion, that in their affliction " Providence was their guide." This is very amiable in dear, kind, good Mr Prendeville; but let us indulge the old blind poet in his whim of ending Paradise Lost otherwise. And let Mr Prendeville rest assured, that the memory of mankind is not so weak as to be unable to retain the thought of "Providence their guide," for two seconds after it has been so solemnly enunciated by the inspired bard.
"Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
"It has been urged," Mr Prendeville informs us, "by some critics, that as in Vallombrosa the trees are mostly evergreen, and therefore do not shed their leaves all at once in the autumn, Milton is botanically wrong." Todd, it seems, justifies Milton by observing, that the leaves drop off by degrees, as the same leaves do not always continue, and accumulate continually, and this is tolerably clever in Todd. Mr Prendeville comes to the defence like a giant bold on Beamish's best, and exclaims, "Milton must have seen this famous valley, and, as being a botanist, must have been aware of the nature of evergreens, and of the autumnal state of the foliage there, and therefore made the comparison knowingly!" From this it would appear that the objectors had not been aware that Milton had ever visited Tuscany, or that he was a botanist, or knew any thing of the nature of evergreens. Having thus got the objectors on the hip, Mr Prendeville gives them all so many crossbuttocks thus" In addition I may state, that, besides evergreens, there are many other kinds of trees there, whose leaves drop off autumnally." This note, it is evident, could, on no account, have been spared.
"Tears such as angels weep," "That is, of a different kind from the tears of mortals,- -so vi. 332, when Satan is wounded by Michael, from the wound
'A stream of nectarcus humour issuing flow'd,
Sanguine, such as celestial spirits may
"So in Homer, Iliad, v. 340, the wounded divinity does not yield blood,
but a thinner substance called xwę.· When the soldier pierced the side of our crucified Saviour with a spear, forthwith came there out water and blood." Does Mr Prendeville mean to say, that in that awful verse of St John there is any allusion to other than a human issue? If he does, he is most grossly ignorant of what the wound in the blessed side implied.
"As when to warn proud cities, war
(See Tibullus. ii. v. 71.) So Virgil, Geor. i. 474:
'Armorum sonitum, toto Germania cœlo, Audiit, insolitis tremuerunt motibus Alpes.'
Who can read the above lines of Milton without feeling that all is visual, nothing audible? The battle in the clouds is silent. We have seen such
so, we hope, have you-in Westmoreland night skies. Wind there must have been aloft, but it was not to be heard. Now, Mr Prendeville never witnessed such a stormful silence. He vainly imagines that there was a loud noise of war; therefore he quotes the trumpets and horns of Ovid, and the " armorum sonitum" of Virgil sublime passages both, but the first addressing the ear chiefly, and the second the ear solely. So much for parallel passages.
"Prick forth," that is, forward with his spur in full career. Faëry Queen, Introduction
"The goodly knight was pricking o'er the plain."
Mr Prendeville cannot quote the first line of the Faëry Queen.
A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,"
It is not in the Introduction-nor is there an Introduction. There are, indeed, four stanzas of invocation.
The Red-Cross Knight was not in full career. If he had been, how could poor Una, on her milk white ass, have kept by his side? They were travelling along, quite leisurely, up and down hill, at a steady average pace of about five miles an hour. Not even does "prick forth" in "prick forth the aëry knights,” mean full career; for, don't you observe that they have not yet couched their spears? That done, then they are in full career, like Eglinton and Waterford at the Tournament.
"Serbonis was a lake of two hundred furlongs long, and one thousand in compass, between the ancient Mount Cassius and Damietta, a city of Egypt, on one of the more eastern mouths of the Nile. It was surrounded on all sides by hills of loose sand, which, carried into the waters by high winds, so thickened the lake as not to be diss tinguished from part of the continent. Here whole armies have been swallow. ed up. See Herod. iii.; Lucan,
Pharsal. viii. 539."
Herodotus says nothing of whole armies having been swallowed up in the lake of Serbonis, nor, to the best of our recollection, does Lucan ; but if he does, let Mr Prendeville give us a rap over the knuckles. If a lake one thousand furlongs in compass be two hundred furlongs long, it must be three hundred furlongs broad, that is, one half broader than it is long-a shape so absurd that we should be slow to attribute it even to Serbonis.
"I fled, and cried out Death ! Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd
From all her caves, and back resoundedDeath!"
Æn. ii. 53—
Volveret Eurydicem, vox ipsa et frigida ful nightingale, in the description of lingua, Evening in the Garden.
Ah miseram Eurydicem! anima fugiente,
Eurydicem toto referebant flumine ripe.' This idiotical note Mr Prendeville makes his own by adoption. shall never find fault with any thing = in Virgil; and we know that there are moods of mind in which that fanciful passage may be read with that peculiar kind of pleasure which he intended it to produce. But for bringing it alongside, by way of parallel, with one of the sublimest in Milton, EN, that is Noodle, and P, that is Prendeville, ought to be made
"Hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden take their solitary way." “Then feed on thoughts that voluntary
Harmonious numbers, as the wakeful bird Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid Tunes her nocturnal note."
"This," says Mr Prendeville, "is a beautiful and concise imitation of Virgil's simile of the nightingale, (Geor. iv. 511,) omitting the circumstance of the nightingale's lamentation for her ravish'd brood, as being unsuited to him :
Qualis populeâ morens philomela sub umbrâ
Flet noctem, ramisque sedens miserabile
Integrat, et moestis late loca quæstibus implet.'
-See Odyss. xix. 518."
Omitting the circumstance of the nightingale's lamentation for her lost brood, as being unsuited to him!! Why will not Mr Prendeville for a single moment make use of his ears, which appear to be long enough for all the ordinary purposes of life? Virgil's nightingale fills the night with her grief. If he is deaf, let him use his # eyes, and look at the words "morens," "flet," "miserabile," "mostis," and "quæstibus," and he will see that her heart, though breaking all night long, is never broken; whereas that other nightingale is sublimely happy, tunes her nocturnal note, and sings in Paradise.
Mr Prendeville shows himself equally blind and deaf, indeed utterly senseless, in his short note about the wake
"That is," says Mr Prendeville, "showing affection, in allusion to her lamentation for her lost young!!!! -Virg, Georg. iv. 514."
Does he mean to say that a cat had got into the garden of Eden and devoured the young ones, and that "silence was pleased" with the “ miserabile carmen' "of the bereft mo ther?
Hear him on Milton's picture of Paradise.
"It is unnecessary to call attention to this famous description, which contains more than the condensed beauties of Homer's description of the gardens of Alcinous, and the grotto of Circe; of Virgil's descriptions; of Ariosto's picture of the garden of Paradise; Tasso's garden of Armida; and Marino's garden of Venus; also Spenser's descriptions. Faëry Queen, II. XII. 42; VI. X. 6; Dante, Purg. XXVIII. (See N., Th., H., T.)"
Here we have the concentrated essence of the folly of four commentators, produced by the "chemist's magic art," which, at the same time, has crystallized the sacred treasure." The moment we come in sight of Paradise, this nether world loses its existence; and creation is confined within those bounds of bliss. Milton was then inspired as no poet had ever been before, and he poured forth his own poetry, unconscious of any other, embodied in words. These five blockheads believe that he was all the while laboriously occupied in "condensing beauties;" that is, in robbing Homer, Virgil, Ariosto, Tasso, Marino, Spenser, and Dante. Not a mother's son of them did Milton remember. could he? The oldest of them was not born for Heaven knows how many thousand years after! Circe! Armida! Venus! Faugh! faugh! faugh! Hence! avaunt! 'Tis holy ground!
But let us smooth our ruffled temper by a bit of Bishop Newton. The Bishop, conceiving that Milton has not painted the Mount of Paradise with sufficient distinctness-a defect, perhaps, naturally incident to poetry -thinks it expedient to assist our ima
"The Mount of Paradise was situated
in a champaign country, on the top of a steep hill, whose sides were overgrown
with impassable thickets at the foot, and, above them, with stately trees, rising row above row, like seats in an amphitheatre hence forming a kind of natural theatre; and above these was the wall of Paradise, like a bank set with a green hedge, which was low enough for Adam to look over it downwards on Eden; and above this hedge grew a row of the finest fruit-trees; and the only entrance was by a gate on the castern side.-(N.)"
"And oft be warn'd
of all, let us quote the line fairlythat is entirely.
"Discite justitiam, moniti et non temnere divos."
By leaving out "discite," Mr Prendeville has it all his own way, like a bull in a china shop. By reinstating "discite," Mr Prendeville is shown by that imperative dactyl out of the door. Will Mr Prendeville please to observe the cæsural pause is upon the last syllable of" justitiam, showing that Virgil intended that word to be connected in thought with "discite," and not with " niti." Had he intended “justitiam” to be connected with "moniti," he would have constructed the line so as to have had the cæsural pause upon "moniti," instead of having the final "¿" elided, as at present. The elision of "i" shows that "moniti" is not emphatically connected with "justitiam.”
Their sinful state, and to appease by Adopt Mr Prendeville's reading, and
times," &c.-B. iii. 1. 160.
"This is a classical syntax of a very unusual kind. It is a principle laid down by the Latin grammarians, that a verb governing in the active voice two cases, one being in the accusative, governs still the accusative in the passive; accordingly state' must be the accusative or objective case after warn'd.' The conjunction copulative and,' in place of coupling, according to its strict use and meaning, a like case, mood, or tense, couples sometimes an accusative case, with an infinitive mood; 'state' and to appease,' both depending on warned.' The following passage will be a sufficient classical authority, Æn. vi. 620.
'Justitiam moniti, et non temnere divos.' "But, strictly speaking, and utterly abandoning the subtleties of the grammarians, I may say that the accusative case, as in Greek, is governed by a preposition understood, (secundum, zara,) as such phrases are elliptical."
We have no great idea of Mr Prendeville's scholarship; but all this is sufficiently pompous, pedantic, and true; and must be familiar to every schoolboy sitting above the middle of the third form. But we cannot go along with Mr Prendeville's reading of the celebrated line in Virgil. First
"discite" looks somewhat absurd, standing upon three feet, and ejaculating what no sinner can comprehend. By the way, Gibbon, we believe, in his animadversions on Warburton's Dissertation on the Sixth Book of the Eneid, ridicules the admonition of Phlegyas, as if it were intended for his fellow-sufferers in the infernal regions, to whom it could be of no avail. But it is addressed to his fellow-mortals still in the upper regions, and whom the poet makes him thus address with a loud voice, “per umbras," for their good. "Ye sons of men, learn justice, being warned also" (that is, "and be warned" by our punishment) "not to despise the gods." Mankind were supposed to be already aware of their several crimes and punishments. Phlegyas had been slain by Apollo for plundering and setting fire to the temple at Delphi, and consigned to punishment commensurate with the enormity of his crime. He, miserrimus, is well entitled to call upon all to take warning by his fate. The line looks like a translation from some Greek poet, and has in it something of Pindaric grandeur.
But Mr P. is no Grecian. He speaks of the expression" is a nua,' having been used by Herodotus. Let him 66 say xonpa es asi," Thucydides-and then he will be right.
"Though all admire Paradise Lost as the greatest poem in our language,
or of modern ages," says Mr Prendeville," while most of the eminent literati contend for its supremacy over any poem in any language or age,— though it is a work now more generally read and esteemed than any other poetic work ever published; yet it is a fact to be regretted that comparatively but a few fully understand it.'
We hope this is a mistake. As far as our own experience goes, we do not believe that one, ordinary reader of poetry in a hundred has once read through Paradise Lost. We believe that its frequent perusal is confined to readers of high imaginative and intellectual character. Supposing, however, that Mr Prendeville is in the right, then it certainly is a fact to be regretted, that by so few of the multitudes by whom it is esteemed should it be understood. This general ignorance results, Mr Prendeville informs us, from the character of the poem, and of the commentaries upon it. "Such an abundance of profound erudition, and of all the embellishments of poetry has been condensed in it, that even a sound scholar, unaided, should expend in acquiring a correct knowledge of it the labour of years; while the good editions are so voluminous and expensive, that many who could afford to purchase them would not undergo the labour of their perusal, and many who would undergo it could not well afford to purchase them." To remove this general ignorance of a work now more generally read and esteemed than any other poetic work ever published, is the avowed object of our Christian and philanthropical editor. "I conceived long since," says he, "the idea of giving an edition of this poem, embodying often the words, and sometimes the essence, of whatever I could find practically instructive in all the previous editions and commentaries; together with the subsidiary remarks that I had been compiling during a careful examination of the book for many years. Thus by omitting what is really useless in these editions, and supplying what was necessary, furnishing to the learned and unlearned in Europe, in a single and cheap volume, a complete and easily understood commentary."
To all this he promises to add ex
planations of many difficult passages overlooked or misunderstood by his predecessors, and among these, some of the most difficult as to syntactical structure. Explanations, moreover, of many of Milton's most idiomatic and classical phrases and expressions, and new illustrations from the best ancient authors. "In fine," quoth he, "I have taken pains to make this edition perfect for all classes of readers, and by reducing it to one volume, to save them labour and expense.' By this perfect edition, Mr Prendeville hopes greatly to benefit the cause of classical literature and Christian faith. Boys at school, and students at the universities, get disgusted with the classics on account of phrases, combination of words, uses of metaphor, illustration, and comparison, turns of thought, and modes of allusion incon. sistent with the common rules and principles of English composition. But clap this edition of Paradise Lost into their hands, and they will have an English poem in which all the peculiarities of the style and sentiments of the classics will be made familiar and alluring. Homer and Virgil will thus be understood and enjoyed, and the cause of classical and polite literature advanced in our high schools and colleges. Some years ago, Mr Prendeville had the boldness to propound this doctrine in a note in the third book of the first volume of his edition of Livy, and it has now, he tells us, become universal. But it is not alone as a subsidium to classical instruction that this book is useful, it is preeminently useful for an easy, a pleas ing, and complete acquisition of a knowledge of all the great elementary truths and facts of the Bible. We are informed that all Milton's most eminent critics, no matter the complexion of their creed, declare that he is always perfectly orthodox. Hitherto we had imagined that many of his most eminent critics had declared that he is often extremely heterodox ; but Mr Prendeville has set all our doubts at rest, by telling us that a learned German has assured him that Paradise Lost is read in German families, not alone as the sublimest of all poems, but as one of the most religious of all books. "It is in truth," he adds, 66 a synopsis of all the elegances of ancient literature; and indispensable to