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By night, and, listening where the hapless pair
Here what have we? A use, it is true, of certain native mechanisms, so that the syntax is part English ; but these mechanisms aided, and all but supplanted, by Latin constructions. It is not only that Latin phrases and idioms are translated ; it is that Milton bends, arranges, and builds up his own uninflected or scarce-inflected English on the system of the Latin syntax. Observe, generally, the fondness for those participial constructions by which the Latins saved conjunctions and connecting particles, and gave their syntax its character of brevity and strength. Such constructions abound even in the short pieces quoted, both in the form of the case relative and in that of the case absolute. Though the case absolute had survived in native English, one can see that in such instances as “that past," " which understood,” it was really the Latin ablative absolute that was in Milton's mind.
Illustrations of the Latinism of Milton's construction and idiom might be endless ; but the following may here suffice :
SPECIAL LATINISMS.“ After Eve seduced,” for “ After the seduction of Eve,” is one instance, already quoted, of a well-known special Latinism : “ Post urbem conditam." Mr. Abbott produces but one example of this formation from Shakespeare, and that a doubtful one. But it recurs in Milton. Thus :-“ After the Tuscan manners transformed” (Com. 48); “Never since created Man” (P. L., I. 573) ; “ After summons read” (P. L., I. 798); “ After Heaven seen” (P. L., III. 552); “After his charge received ” (P. L., V. 248); “From his surmise proved false” (P. L., IX. 333); “At that tasted fruit” (P. L., X. 687); “In punished Man" (P. L., X. 803); “Repenting him of Man depraved” (P. L., XI. 886); “Since first her salutation heard" P. R., II. 107). With these, as containing substantially the same idiom, may be associated such as the following :
“ For me be witness all the host of Heaven
If counsels different, or danger shunned
"prevented by thy eyes put out.” -S. A. 1103. Among Milton's special Latinisms may be classed a good many of his case-absolute phrases; for, though the dative absolute was an Anglo-Saxon idiom, and the nominative absolute, as a recollection of it, is frequent in early and Elizabethan English, Milton's case-absolute seems often, as we have said, imagined in the Latin, e.g. :
“till, the signal given,
With our own hands his office."-P. L., X. 1001, 1002. Once or twice the accusative is used absolutely instead of the nominative, e.g.: “us dispossessed” (P. L., VII. 142), “me overthrown” (S. A. 463).
MISCELLANEOUS LATINISMS. — The following may suggest the wealth of Latinisms, with sometimes a Græcism, scattered through Milton's text :“ Spare to interpose them oft.”—Sonnet XX.
“Peace is despaired;
May I express thee unblamed?”—P. L., III. 2, 3.
P. L., III. 7
“on all sides to his aid was run
P. L., vi. 808. “ me higher argument remains."-P. L., IX. 41-43.
“ Greedily she ingorged without restraint,
And knew not eating death.”—P. L., IX. 791, 792.
“ more wakeful than to drowse."-P. L., XI. 131. ELLIPSES. — “ The Elizabethan authors,” says Dr. Abbott in his excellent Shakespearian Grammar, “objected to scarcely any ellipsis, provided the deficiency could be easily supplied from the context"; and, as respects Shakespeare, he illustrates the remark through fifteen pages of examples and comments. The ellipses in Milton are perhaps not so numerous as in Shakespeare; but they are frequent and interesting.
Some may be called ellipses in thought, inasmuch as what is omitted is some idea or link in the meaning which it is taken for granted the reader will supply for himself. An example is Par. Lost, II. 70-73:
“ But perhaps
Of what are called mere ellipses of expression, or grammatical ellipses (though, strictly considered, these resolve themselves into ellipses of thought too), there is a great variety of kinds, not a few being really Latinisms.
Omission of the Nominative to a Verb.—This, which is not uncommon in Shakespeare and the other Elizabethans, Dr. Abbott attributes, in them, partly to a lingering sense of Old English verb-inflections, partly to the influence of Latin, partly to the rapidity of Elizabethan pronunciation, which slurred such nominatives as I and he. To which of these causes Milton's ellipses of the kind are most generally owing will be best judged from a few examples :
“ Or wert thou that just Maid who once before
Forsook the hated Earth, O tell me sooth,
D. F. I. 50-52. “ His trust was with the Eternal to be deemed
Equal in strength, and rather than be less
“One Almighty is, from whom
P. L., V. 469, 470. "This is my Son beloved : in him [I] am pleased.”—
P. R., 1. 85. Omission of the Verb “to be.”—This, also Elizabethan, is pretty frequent (sometimes as a Latinism) in Milton, c.g. :-
“ Hail, foreign wonder!
“ though my soul [is] more bent
P. L., IV. 10. “ Though I (am) unpitied.”—P. L., IV. 375.
“and gav'st them names,
“Death as oft accused
“though my pardon (Be] No way assured.” -S. A. 738, 739. Omission of Antecedent. — Examples of this (generally Latinisms) are :
“ in bulk as large
P. L., l. 196, 197. " To find (one) who might direct his wandering flight.”—
P. L., 111. 631. “ and soon found of whom they spake I am [he].”—P. R., l. 262, 263. Peculiar Miltonic Ellipsis. —This, which may also be resolved into a Latinism, is a peculiar omission of the word “of” by which a phrase compounded of an adjective and a substantive is made to do duty as an adjective. The Miltonic examples of it, though memorable, are few. I have noted the following :
“ He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend
“ feathered mail,
“ Up led by thee,
Thy tempering:"-P. L., VII. 12-15.
Man-like, but different sex.”—P. L., VIII. 470, 471. Miscellaneous Ellipses.—The variety of these may be indicated by the following specimens. Some, it will be seen, are again Latinisms in reality :
“ Daily devours apace, and nothing said.”—Lycid. 129. “ a place (of which it was) foretold (that it) should be."
P. L., 11. 830, 831. “ Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will.”—P. L., III. 173. “ No sooner did thy dear and only Son
Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail Man
P. L., III. 718, 719
“ Hast thou turned the least of these
“greater now in thy return
“ Such pleasure she reserved,