« AnteriorContinuar »
parallel to the following passage in Ovid, Met. ii. 40:
“ Circum caput omne micantes Deposuit radios, propiusque accedere jussit.” Greenwood thinks these ideas were suggested by the 33d chapter of Exodus, ver. 18, &c., where Moses begs of the Almighty to show him his glory : “And he said, Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live
thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen."
380. See v. 599. Milton's idea is not only poetical in the highest degree, but strictly and philosophically just. Extreme light, by overcoming the organs of sight, obliterates all objects, so as in effect to resemble darkness. Thus are two ideas as opposite as can be imagined reconciled to the extremes of both; and both, in spite of this opposite nature, brought to concur in producing the sublime. -( Burke on the Sublime.) See Spenser, Hymn of Heavenly Beauty; Tasso, Gier. Liber. ix. 57.-( Th.)
382. Approach not.” So Ov. Met. ii. 22:"Consistitque procul, neque enim propiora
serebat Lumina."-(N.) _“ Veil their eyes."
So Isa. vi. 2: “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple; above it stood the Seraphims; each one had six wings, with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly; and one cried to another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”—(N.)
387. So John i. 18; xiv. 9.-(N.)
398. i.e. Thy powers extolled thee returning back from pursuit, and thee only ; as he was sole victor, (vi. 880.) See note on i. 169.-(N.)
405, 406. The way in which this passage is explained by the modern commentators is this :-"Much more to pity inclined,” is considered as a repetition of the same words before, and referred to the Father, in the style of Homer, when commands are given, or messages sent; and the word than is to be understood before he, to complete the sense. This interpretation would certainly show a great hiatus in the text. It is always better to interpret the text, if possible, as a perfect whole, than fly to the convenient auxiliary of understood words to fill up fancied vacua. I cannot help observing then, that
there is no occasion for supplying any word here—that“ inclineil" agrees with "he" after, and “but” is used for than, as it is often, not only in Milton, but in ordinary discourse and writing. Thus, in plain prose :—“No sooner did thy Son perceive thee resolved not to doom man, than he much more to pity inclined, just as thou wert, offered himself to die for man's offence in order to appease thy wrath;" — the words “much more to pity inclined," originally expressive of the Father's feelings, being elegantly repeated and applied to the Son to express congeniality of sentiment. But, judicet lector.
413. Bentley proposes to read song," but (as Pearce shows) unnecessarily, for Milton rather narrates than gives the full hymn of the angels in their own words, (see 372.) Besides, the ancient chorus often spoke in the singular number, as representing one individual, or a collective body, as the case may be. Homer and Callimachus, like Milton here, at the close of their hymns promise to return to the subject.
431-441. Satan coming from hell to earth in order to destroy mankind, but lighting first on the bare convex of the world's outermost orb, a sea of land, as the poet calls it, is very fitly compared to a vulture flying in quest of his prey, (tender lambs or kids new yeaned,) from the barren rocks of Tartary to the fruitful plains and streams of India; bat lighting in his way on the barren plains of Sericana (a region between China to the East, and Imaus to the West) which were in a manner a sea of land too, the country being so smooth, bare, and open, that carriages were driven along there (as travellers report) by sails and wind. Imaus is a celebrated mountain in Asia; its name, says Pliny, (vi. 21,) signifying in the language of the inhabitants, snokey. -(N.) Sir G. Staunton, a modern tra. veller, says, the old custom of using these vehicles made of bamboo or cane (the best material from its lightness) for the purposes of travelling and traffic is still retained on the level deserts of China. When there is no wind, the machine, which is on wheels, is drawn by a man yoked to it in front, while another behind pushes it forward and keeps it steady; but when the wind is favourable, a sail being hoisted between two poles fixed on the opposite ends of the cart, saves the labour of the man in front. (Embassy to China, 1797. See Todd.) Todd and Newton mention attempts made in England
and in the Netherlands to introduce such a large white robe, (Mount Carmel being machines. I saw a vehicle of somewhat their peculiar residence.) The Dominia similar construction, with four wheels, cans,
called from their founder Dominick, at the extremity of the bay of Dublin wore a black, and the Franciscans, from near Sandymount; which, when the wind their founder Francis, wore a grey one. was favourable, and the tide out, ran In this and the followin verses Milton along for miles at great speed on the level severely ridicules certain opinions and strand, requiring no other human ma- practices existing during the dark ages nagement than that of regulating the of Christianity; one of which was, that sails, of which there were two or three ; to be clothed in a monkish habit at the the steersman standing with several time of death secured an infallible road others on a platform or the deck.
to heaven. Thus, 484, he uses the word 456. “Unkindly.” Contrary to nature, “ wicket,” or small side entrance, to ridi(Johns.) i.e. contrary to the intermixture cule the notion of St Peter's having exof genera or kinds.
clusive possession of the keys of Heaven ; 457. “In vain” is here used as frustra as if he would not open the broad gate to in Latin sometimes is used, in the sense all Christians, but slily let his own proof temere, fortuito, autws, at random. selytes slip in at the side way. It would
459. He refers particularly to Ariosto, be tedious to enumerate the authors in Orl. Fur. xxxiv. 70, who peopled the prose and verse, English and Contimoon with various imaginary creations, nental, Catholic and Protestant, by whom and who has been imitated by Pope in these practices and opinions have been his Rape of the Lock, c. 5.-(N.)
censured. 460." Argent.” Silvery, from argen
176, i.e. those who went on pilgritum, silver; this being suitably applied mages to Christ's tomb in the Holy to the moon, as golden is to the sun. Land.
463. i. e. The posterity of Seth and 482. He speaks here according to the an. other patriarchs, worshippers of the true cient astronomy adopted and improved by God, and therefore called the sons of Ptoleiny. “ They pass the planets seven," God, who intermarried with the ido- our planetary or solar system; and, belatrous posterity of Cain, called the yond this, “pass the fixed,” the firmament daughters of men-sinful men. It is in or sphere of fixed stars; and, beyond this allusion to Gen. vi. 4: “ There were again, “that crystalline sphere,” the crysgiants on the earth in those days; and talline heaven, clear as crystal, to which after that when the sons of God came in the followers of Ptolemy's system attriunto the daughters of men and they bare buted a sort of vibration or shaking (“the children to them, the same became mighty trepidation” so much “talked" of), to acmen, which were of old, men of renown." count for certain believed irregularities in --(N.)
the motion of the stars; and, beyond this 471. Empedocles, a Sicilian poet and again, they passed “that first-moved," or Pythagorean philosopher, thinking, it is the primum mobile, the sphere which was said, that if he suddenly disappeared and
both the first moved and the first mover, his body could not be discovered, he communicating its motion to all the lower would be esteemed as a god, threw him- spheres: and beyond this was the Emself into the crater of Etna. But his pyrean Heaven, the seat of God and the sandals being thrown up by the fury of angels. This passage may receive further the fire, showed his folly and defeated his illustration from another of the same naambition.-(H.)
ture in Tasso, where he describes the 473. Cleombrotus, of Ambracia in descent of the archangel Michael from Epirus, was so transported at reading Heaven, and mentions this crystalline Plato's book on the immortality of the and all the other spheres, but only invertsoul, that he flung himself headlong into ing the order, as there the motion is the sea, in order to enjoy the sooner the downwards, but here it is upwards; c. ix. happiness of Elysium,-(N.)
st. 60, 61.--(N.) 474. “ Eremites," from epnuos, a de- 495. The Limbus patrum, as it is called, sert, hermits living indesert places. "Em- a place which the schoolmen supposed bryo," (eußpvov, fretus ; ev and Bouw, to be in the neighbourhood of hell, and cresco,) a thing still growing and un- in which the souls of the patriarchs were forined.
detained, and of those good men who 475. The Carmelite Friars (friars, died before our Saviour's resurrection.from frater or optop, a brother), wore (N.)
497. “ Now," i.e. at the time he is speaking of, when Satan passed that way.
501. Travelled steps.” His tired steps. Dr. Johnson quotes this passage as an illustration of travail, v. signifying to tire, to harass. He says travel is generally supposed to be originally the same with travail, and differs only as particular from general. In some writers the word is written alike in all its senses ; but it is more convenient to write travail for labour, and travel for journey.
502. See the description of the new Jerusalem in Tobit xiii. 16, and Rev. xxi. 12. See b. ii. 1049.-(T.)
510. The degrees mentioned before, (502,) were the stairs “ whereon Jacob saw,"&c.-(N.) Jacob, while on his way, according to the recommendation of his father Isaac, to his maternal grandfather Bethuel in Padan-Aram, in order to marry one of his daughters, being benighted at Luz, lay down to sleep in the open field, with a stone for a pillow; and dreamt that he saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, while angels ascended and descended on it, and God stood at the top, assuring him of his protection, and promising to give him and his posterity the land he lay on. Jacob, on awaking full of the vision, said, “ This is the gate of heaven!” and setting up his stone pillow as a monumental pillar, on which he poured oil by way of consecration, vowed to dedicate to the service of God the tithe or tenth of his future substance. See Gen. xxviii.
518. See vii. 619. Milton, in his Preface, calls it “ the water above the firmament."—(Heyl.)
521. See Luke xvi. 22; 2 Kings i. 11.-(T.)
534. “ And his eye.” Pearce thinks a verse is wanting here to describe what his eye did with choice regard. Newton thinks passed frequent is understood, to which "eye" is the nominative. Bentley and Todd think the reading should be " as his eyes," as he himself (650), on the authority of Rev. v. 6, calls the angels the eyes of God. But, I ask, may not "eye” here be the infinitive mood connected by “ and” to “visit” before? i.e. "to visit oft those happy tribes, and his (his people) to eye with choice regard." This, I think, would fully explain Milton's meaning, and render correction, or words understood, unnecessary.
Todd's and Bentley's interpretation would be good if the plural, eyes, were here used.
535. Paneas, a city (originally called
Dan,) and mountain, part of Mount Libanus, whence the Jordan flowed, was the northern boundary of the Holy Land, as Beersheba was the southern towards Egypt and Arabia ; hence the phrase, “ from Dan to Beersheba."—(N.)
555. He surveys from the eastern point of the sign Libra, to Aries, the Ram, i. e. from east to wesl; for when Libra rises east, Aries sets full west in the Atlantic ; —then from north to south, or “pole to pole;" because the ancients knowing more of the world from east to west than from north to south, and therefore having a much greater journey one way than the other, called one length or longitude, the other breadth or latitude. From the great elevation at which Satan stood, the shade of night appeared to him, not as a cone, as it really was, but a circle. This picture of Satan taking a distant survey of the world, and the mode of describing it, before he throws himself into it, and his whole flight, is eminently calculated to fill the mind with surprising and glorious ideas.-(N, P., Ad.)
562, 564. Though in 527 it is said that the passage was just over Paradise, yet it is evident he did not then know it, and he therefore winds about in search of it. “Marble'' means, smooth and white. So marmoreus in Latin is often used express smoothness and clearness, as,
marmoreum æquor,” (Æn. vi. 729 ;)
marmoreâ cervice,” (Georg. iv. 523.) Othello (act lii.) swears by “yon marble heaven" that he will, on suspecting the fidelity of his wife, “even though her jesses were his dearest heart-strings, whistle her off, and let her down the wind to prey on fortune.” (See N.)
569. Compare Virg. Æn. vi. 638.
574—576. From “but” to "longitude" should be included in a parenthesis. Satan had passed the fixed stars, and was directing his course towards the sun; but it is hard to tell, says the poet, whether his course was
up or down," i.e. north or south, (the north being uppermost in our globe); or whether it was " by centre,” towards the centre, or “eccentric,” from the centre, (it not being determined whether the sun is the centre of the world or not;) or whether it was by "longitude," i.e. in length, east or west. See iv. 539; vii. 373.—(N.)
580. “ In numbers," i.e. measures regulated by numbers; by the music attributed to the spheres or planetary system.-(D.) See Hor. Od. iv. 14. Pleiadum Choro. Virg. Ecl. vi. 27.
585, 586. "Though unseen" relates to its intelligence; and as John, Rev. xix. "penetration," and " invisible" is the 17, said he saw an angel in the sun.epithet to “virtue,” which is a distinct ( Ad.) thing from the penetration before men- 634. “ He casts.” Dr. Warburton tioned, and which might have been visible thinks this is a metaphor taken from the though the other was not so.—(P.)
founder's art. Richardson thinks it 590. The spots in the sun are visible a metaphor taken from casting the eye through a telescope; but astronomer about. Warton thinks it a metaphor from perhaps never yet saw through his glazed astrology, as, to cast a nativity. But optic tube, or telescope, such a spot as in my opinion, it is the translation of Satan, now that he was in the sun's orb. the Latin jacto, which sometimes means -(N.)
to consider; as we say, to cast about in the 593. “ Informed" in the occasional mind. So βαλλομαι is sometimes used sense of the Latin informatus, animated, in Greek. endned. See Facciolati's Lexicon.
637. “ Not of the prime." Not of the 597. He particularly mentioned some first rank.-(N.) Warton thinks "prime" of the stones in Aaron's breastplate, and is opposed to "stripling,” and that he is now he concisely includes all the rest to describing a cherub in the figure and beauty the number “ twelve."-(N.)
of a stripling. I think Newton right. 603. “Hermes," or quicksilver, is very He could avoid detection better by counfluid, and hard to be fixed.—“Proteus," terfeiting the appearance of an angel of sea god who could change himself into the ordinary class. An intelligence of various forms, till, being closely bound, the highest order asking such questions he returned at last, as the poets say, to about matters with which he must have his proper form, and answered all ques- been presumed to be acquainted, would tions put to him. Therefore Milton says excite the suspicion of Uriel; besides, the chemists drain their various matters he says he came from the quires of (through their limbecs or stills) which cherubim, i. e. was one of the undistinthey work upon, through all their mu- guished multitude. See 694, where tations, till Proteus-like they return to Uriel speaks to him as to an humble their original form ; a simile well suited
See 737. See a similar deto their uncertain search.-(H.)
scription of a young angel, Fairy Queen, 606. i.e. Ifthe chemists can do so much, II. viii. 5; Gier. Liber. i. 13. what wonder if the sun is the true philo- 643. "Succinct,” (succinctus,) here is to sopher's stone, or the grand elixir, when be taken metaphorically for ready, prehe can perform such wonders on the earth pared; a metaphor taken from the ancient at such a distance ?-(N.) Elixir was habit of tucking up, and girding round the liquor with which chemists hoped to the loins, the loose flowing garments on transmute metals to gold.
a journey-not in its strict sense, as 608. The thought of making the sun Satan had no clothes, only his wings.the chief chemist seems taken from (P., N.) Shakspeare, King John, act iii.
644. “Decent." Like decens in Latin, ** To solemnize this day the glorious sun
graceful. Stays in his course, and plays the alchemist;
650. So Zech. iv. 10. See Tobit xii. Turning with splendour of his precious eye 15; Rev. i. 4; v. 6.-(N., P.) The meagre cloddy earth to glittering gold."
652. Il. xiv, 308, in reference to the (N.)
wings of Mercury : Il. xiv. 308.-(H.) 616, 617. The first “as" is used by way of similitude, like as; the other “as” is
με οισονσιν επι ταφρην τε και υγρην.-(Stil.) used by way of reason, forasmuch as.
Delight and favour.” The obThe sun or any star is said to culminate ject of his delight and favour. So the ab(from Lat. culmen) when it is at its utmost stract is sometimes classically used for height for that day or night. The beams the concrete; as Terence uses scelus for shoot all perpendicularly, and cast no scelestus (Andr. v.): “ Scelus quem hic shadow. Those who live under the line laudat." --(P., Up.) are called ascii, uokioi, because at noon 683. This is a very proper and necesthey cast no shadows.-( N., R.)
sary digression, as giving the reason why 622. The placing an angel in the sun is the sharpest sighted spirit in heaven was a circumstance very finely contrived, as deceived.--(N.) it was a received doctrine among the most 713. So Plato in Timæo:—ELS Tativ famous philosophers, that every orb had αυτο γαγεν εξ αταξιας.-(Th.)
716. Aristotle, and others of the ancient philosophers, supposed, as Milton does here, that “there was, besides the four elements, an ethereal quintessence, or fifth essence, out of which the stars and heavens were formed, and that its motion was orbicular.” See Diog. Laert. Life of Aristotle.-(N.)
719, 721. i. e. And seest how they move.-" The rest," i. e. the rest of the fifth essence, that is not formed into stars. Lucret. v. 470:“ Et late diffusus in omnes undique partes Omnia sic avido complexu cætera sepsit."
(N.) 730. “ Triform,” i. e. when increasing with horns towards the east, when decreasing with horns towards the west, and when at the full.--(N.) The ancients gave her three names as well as formsLuna in heaven, Diana on earth, and
Hecate in the regions below. triformis,” (Hor. iii. Od. xxii.); “Tria virginis ora Dianæ."
741. Newton thinks this sort of motion was intended by Milton as expressive of Satan's joy. Thyer thinks it is only expressive of his speed. I think it expresses both. So iv. 567:
« I described his way Bent on all speed, and marked his aery gait."
742. Niphates, meaning snowy, a mountain on the borders of Armenia (and part of the range of Taurus), not far from the springs of the Tigris. The poet lands Satan on this mountain because it borderson Assyria, in which the most judicious describers of Paradise place it. -(H.) It is worth while to compare with this the flight of Mercury, (Æn. iv.) from which several expressions are copied by Milton.
1–13. The poet opens this book with a wish, in the manner of Shakspeare in his famous prologue to Henry V.:“O for a muse of fire that would ascend
The highest heaven of invention !" and in order to raise the attention and the horror of his reader, he introduces his relation of Satan's adventures upon earth by wishing that the same warning voice had been uttered now at Satan's first coming, which St. John (who in a vision saw the Apocalypse or revelation of the most remarkable events which were to befal the christian church to the end of the world,) heard when the Dragon was put to second rout; Rev. xii.-(N.) There are two defeats sustained by Satan, mentioned in that chapter; first, his defeat in heaven, and expulsion from it; second, his defeat by the birth of Christ ; and the “woe" there uttered is in reference to his temptation and persecution of Christ's followers :-“Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea, for the Devil is come down unto you having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." He is there also called, the Accuser :-“The accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night." See the
entire chapter, which is one of the chief passages in Scripture from which Milton has taken the plot of the poem. I may observe, that, according to the arrangement of the verses there, the narrative appears very much involved; distinct events being mixed up together.“ Apocalypse." Atokalvfis, a revelation, is particularly referred to the revelation which St. John had in the island of Patmos, whither he was banished by the emperor Domitian. It was not at first received in all churches as canonical. It is not in the catalogue of the council of Laodicea: but about the fifth century it became generally established as a book of authority. In the primitive ages of Christianity there were other apocalypses circulated, and ascribed to various persons, as Adam, Abraham, Moses, Elias, St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Thomas, and Cerinthus the arch-apostate : but they were all, in the course of time, pronounced apocryphal, or unauthorized and uncanonical, and are now extinct. See Calmet.
13. “ Yet" is to be connected with “rejoicing” (and not with “begins"); inflamed with rage; not rejoicing, however, in his speed, because, when he is