« PreviousContinue »
to which the earth is but a point in comparison. (See 1004.) Besides, Satan does not yet see this earth; see iii. 542,722. “ This pendant world," or the newly created universe, appeared, when seen afar off, not bigger than the smallest star, and even the smallest star near the moon, the
superiorlight of which makes any star near appear small and indistinct.-(N., B.) I have not hesitated to expunge the comma after “magnitude,” which all the editions retain, and by retaining which it would appear that "close” refers to "world," whereas it refers to "the moon."
IF Milton's majesty anywhere forsakes him, it is in those parts of his poem where the divine persons, especially the Almighty, are introduced as speakers. He dares not give his imagination full play, but confines himself with a kind of awe to such thoughts and expressions as are to be drawn from Scripture, and
the works of the most orthodox divines. The beauties then of these speeches are not so proper to fill the mind with sentiments of grandeur, as they are with devotion and religious fear. The beauty of the speeches in the third book consists in that shortness, force, and perspicuity of style in which the poet has couched the great mysteries of Christianity, and the whole dispensation of Providence with respect to man; the abstruse doctrines of predestination, free will, and grace; as also the great points of incarnation and redemption. T'hese subjects being in themselves dry to the generality of readers, the concise and clear manner in which he has treated thein is very much to be admired; as is likewise the particular art which he has made use of in interspersing all those graces of poetry which the subject was capable of receiving.-(Ad.)
1-4. Or may I without blame express thee, call thee the coeternal beam of the Eternal God? The ancients were very cautious and curious by what names they addressed their deities; and Milton, in imitation of them, questions whether he should address light as the first-born offspring of heaven, or as the coeternal beam of the Eternal Father, or as a pure ethereal stream whose fountain no one knew. But as the second appellation seems to ascribe to light a proper eternity, or an eternity equal to that of God, he very justly doubts whether he may use that without blame.—“ Since God is
light.” So 1 John i. 5: “God is light." —“And never but in unapproached light dwelt from eternity.” So 1 Tim. vi. 16 : “ Who (God) alone hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can approach, no man can see, or hath seen.”-(N.)
6. Solomon says this of wisdom: Wisd. of Solom. vii. 25, 26.-(N.)
7. This is a pure Latinism-dost thou delight rather to be called, dost thou rather like to hear the title of, "pure ethereal stream?" Audio in Latin, and uxovw in Greek, sometimes mean, hear oneself called; hence to be named or called, though the party may not hear it. So bene audire, male audire, ev AKOVELV, KAKWS akove.v, to be praised, to be abused. So Hor. ii. Sat. vi.
“ Matutine pater, seu Jane libenlius audis." Milton so uses the word in his Areopagitica. So Fairy Queen, I. v. 23:
"If old Aveugle's sons so evil hear." 11, 12. The world was only in a state of fluidity when the light was created. (See Gen. i. 2, 3.) “ The void and formless infinite," i.e. boundless Chaos, destitute, not of matter, but of any formed being. This is, too the meaning of the words, (Gen. i. 2.) “ The earth was without furm, and void." Fairy Queen, I. i. 39 :“The rising world of waters, wide and deep."
(N., P.) 14.
“ Escaped.” Having escaped ; classically used like elapsus.
16. “ Útter darkness," TO OKOTOS €wTepov, the outer darkness mentioned in Scripture--the darkness of hell. “Middle darkness," is the darkness of the middle gulf between hell and heaven.-(N.)
17, 18. Orpheus made a hymn to Night, which is extant; he also wrote of
the Creation out of Chaos. See Apollonius Rhodius, i. 493. Orpheus was inspired by his mother Calliope, the heathen muse only; Milton by the heavenly muse : therefore he boasts that he sung with other notes than Orpheus, though the subjects were the same. (Rich.)
Orphéan lyre" is a phrase taken from Apollon. Rhod. ii. 161 : Ορφειη φορμιγγι συνοιμιον ύμνον αειδον. .
(Wart.) 21. “ Though hard and rare.” Though difficult and unusual the achievement: the words are classically used in the occasional sense of durum and rarum. Newton says this sentence is manifestly an allusion to Virg. Æn. vi. 128:* Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad
anras, Hoc opus, hic labor est; pauci, quos æquus
amavit Jupiter, aut ardens evexit ad æthera virtus, Dis geniti potuere."
25, 26. As being uncertain of the real cause of his blindness, he describes the two great causes according to what was then known, i.e. the gutta serena and cataract. See his own account of the malady in his letter to Phalaras in the notice of his Life. The gutta serena was thought to be a transparent watery humour distilling upon the optic nerve, making little change in the eye to appearance. A cataract was supposed to begin with suffusion or dimness gradually thickening like a cloud over the sight. 29. Georg. ii. 475.
"Dulces ante omnia musæ, Quarum sacra fero ingenti percussus amore.”
30. “ Flowery brooks." The brooks Kedron and Siloah flowed at the foot of Mount Sion. He was, he says, (as will be seen by a reference to his "Life") always delighted with the study of the ancient poets, but his chief delight was in the songs of the prophets on Sion, and in the Holy Scriptures; and in these he meditated day and night, notwithstanding his blindness.—(N., P.)
32. “Nor forget." The same as and not forget: nor here is used for nd not, in the sense that nec and neque are sometimes used, i. e. for et non. Every classical scholar knows there are many instances where the conjunction disjunctive negative is to be resolved into its parts.
33. “Those other two." Though he mentions four, yet there are but two whom he particularly desires to resemble, both of whom he distinguishes with the epithet “blind,” to make the likeness more
striking-Homer, sometimes called Mæonides, his favourite author; and Thamyris. Thamyris, now so little known, (his writings having been lost,) is mentioned by Homer, 11. ii. 595 ; and Eustathius, the learned commentator of Homer, ranks him with Orpheus and Musæus, the most celebrated poets and musicians of antiquity. Plato mentions his hymns with honour in the beginning of his eighth book of Laws; and towards the conclusion of the last book of his Republic feigns, on the principles of transmigration, that the soul of Thamyris passed into a nightingale. He was a Thracian by birth, and invented the Doric mood or measure, according to Pliny, vii. 57. Plutarch, in his Treatise on Music, says, that he had the finest voice of any man of his time, and that he wrote a poem of the war of the Titans with the gods : and from Suidas likewise we learn that he composed a poem on the generation of the world ; which subjects being of near kin to Milton's, might occasion the mention of him in this place. It seems then, that having at first only intended to mention these two, Milton, by the force of association of ideas, mentioned, currente calamo, Tiresias and Phineus ; the first a Theban, (familiar to the readers of Lu. cian, and often mentioned in our extant classical authors,) the other a king of Arcadia ; both famous blind prophets and poets of antiquity; for the word prophet, Tpoonins, sometimes comprehends both characters, as vates does in Latin.-(N.)
Some learned commentators would read “ those other too,” in order to get rid of the contradiction between the word two, and the enumeration of four. But Milton wrote “ two;" and I think Newton's solution the most probable. Pearce, followed by some good modern critics, would transpose the words Tiresias and Phineus on account of the prosody, and read the line thus:-
“And Phineus and Tiresias, prophets old." This I think an improvement.
38. A beautiful and concise imitation of Virgil's simile of the nightingale, Georg. iv. 511; omitting the circumstance of the nightingale's lamentation for her ravished brood, as being unsuited to him :" Qualis populeâ mærens philomela sub umbra
Flet noctem, ramisque sedens miserabile car-
49, 50. Poarce fancying an absurdity was uncertain, yet without any firmain the present reading, which is Milton's ment, i.e. any sphere or fixed stars over own, proposes to point the passage by a it, as over the earth.-(N.) semicolon after the words blank" and 80. In this, and other speeches of God “ rased," and read “all nature's," for the Father, Milton has followed the doc"of nature's," thus making these two trine of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, &c. lines ablatives absolute. Newton says with great exactness, and has generally some such emendation were to be wished, kept to their very expressions.-( Stil.) as “otherwise, it is not easy to say what 84. “ Interrupt." Adjective, the conjunction and copulates wisdom to.' taining a chasm." --Johnson.) Used in Thus Todd defends the text: “ There is the occasional sense of the Latin inlittle difficulty in this passage if we con- terruptus, broken through; as sider wisdom as the genitive case ; ' of interruptus," Cæsar, Bel. Gal. vii. ; nature's works and of wisdom.'” In my "interrupti pontes," Tacit. Hist.; "itiopinion the emendation of Pearce, how- nera interrupta,” Tacit. Annal. ever ingenious, is unnecessary; while 101. “ Failed." Both the antitheton Todd's defence of the text is absurd. As and the repetition in the next line show universal is here the inseparable adjunct that the author gave it fell, not failed.of blank, and, as the words, " at one en- (B.) trance quite shut out,” serve to show that 108. “Reason also is choice.” When wisdom was not shut out at every entrance, two or more things are proposed, it is the but only partially, it would be a folly, and business of Reason to choose, i. e. deterinvolve a contradiction of terms, to make mine speculatively, which is the best ; wisdom the genitive of blank—it would as it is the business of Wisdom to determake Milton say, a universal blank of mine practically. A mode of expression partially excluded wisdom. The expla- taken from Plato.-( Stil.) nation of the text then, I think, is simply 117. “ If” here does not imply doubt this-wisdom is the ablative case coupled or uncertainty, but is used, as it someby and with blank. The works of nature times is in the best authors, in the sense (he means external nature) were to him of though.-(N.) So is si in Latin : a universal blank by reason of his loss of Ter. Eun. I. i. 4, “Redeam? non, si me the sense of sight, the only channel obsecret." through which a knowledge of external 121. “Immutably foreseen.” Bentley objects could reach the mind; but not so says the two ideas here cannot unite; wisdom, which was only shut out to him and proposed to read “ immutably foreat one entrance, i.e. sensation, leaving the doomed.' Pearce, agreeing in the obother great entrance, reflection (and these jection, proposes
immutable foreseen." two, according to Locke, are the great
“immutably foreseen" avenues of ideas to the mind, and the seems to mean, so foreseen as to be imfountain of all our knowledge), still open.
mutable. I think the present reading is Thus, in place of the book of general defensible and right, “ immutably" being knowledge open to him, he was presented metaphorically taken for, perpetually, conwith the book of nature's works totally stantly, steadily ; immutabilis is someshut up, and with the book of wisdom times used in this sense. (See Facciolati's partially so.
The construction therefore Lexicon Omnis Latinitatis.) I think it is" presented with a universal blank of quite wrong to propose emendations, if nature's works, and (with) wisdom at one Milton's own text be capable of explaentrance quite shut out."
nation. 56. See Tasso, Gier. Liber. i. 7, for a 135. Homer and the ancient poets, similar picture of the Almighty's looking consistently with their notions of the down from Heaven.-(Th.) So Æn. i.: Supreme Being, when they represent the "Sic constitit vertice cæli."
Deity speaking, describe a scene of terror 59. “ Their works," i. e. the operations and consternation : the heavens, seas, of the devils.-(N.)
and earth tremble, &c. But Milton, con61. He here alludes to the beatific vi- sistently with the mild, benevolent idea sion, in which many divines suppose the of the Deity, upon the christian scheme, happiness of the saints to consist in has, very judiciously, made the words of
the Almighty diffuse fragrance and de75. The universe appeared to Satan light all round him.
There is a passage to be a solid globe encompassed on all in Ariosto, c. xxix. st. 30, in the same sides, but whether with air or water he taste with this of Milton.-( Th.)
140. So Heb. i. 3: “The brightness of passage will be a sufficient classical auhis Father's glory, and the express image thority, Æn. vi. 620 :of his person.”-(H.) 147. “ Innumerable sound of hymns."
- "justitiam moniti, et non temnere divos." So i. 101: "innumerable force of spi- But strictly speaking, and utterly abanrits.” In both these cases “ innumer- doning the subtleties of the grammarians, able” is to be joined to “spirits” and to I may say that the accusative case, as in “ hymns.”—(H.) Like “magna terga Greek, is governed by a preposition boum."'--Virg. Æn.
understood, (secundum, kata): as such 151. “ Thy youngest son.” This is a phrases are elliptical. purely Hormeric phrase: τηλυγετης, the
200. Seeing they may not see, and child of old age, or the youngest born, hearing may not understand."-Jokn.) is often mentioned by Homer as the 208. “ Sacred and devote." Sacred peculiar object of parental affection and here is used in the sense that sacer somecare.
times is in Latin--accursed on earth, and 165. The arrangement of this speech therefore dedicated as a propitiatory offeris entirely Demosthenic: first a question ing to the divinity. is put hypothetically—the question on 215. See 1 Peter iii. 18.-(N.) which the whole argument depends ;- 217. The phrase is quite Homeric.then this leading question is split, or Οι δ' αρα παντες ακην εγενεντυ σιωπη. diverges into a number of direct ones,
See Rev. viii. 1. all subsidiary to the first, (which are often
231. “Unprevented." Unanticipated. to be taken, in the development of the argument, parenthetically, as here);-and
Milton, on Scriptural authority, uses the then at last the conclusion, as answer,
verb prevent, and prevenient elsewhere,
in the Latin sense of prævenio, to come comes moulded to the grammatical ar
before, to anticipate.“ Grace unprerangement of the antecedent. It is so here: “should man be lost (150)... 80
vented,” here, is grace not preceded by should thy goodness be blasphemed.”
merit or supplication ; but which does -The words “that be far from thee,'' &c.
itself precede, as it is a free gift. See 2
Tim. i. 9; Psalm lxxxviii, 13.-(Rich.) are an imitation of Gen. xviii. 25.
236. The frequent and earnest repe. 173, 174. “ Who will," i. e. whoever wishes; "who" is here to be taken as the
tition of "me" here is very much like that
in Virg. Æn. ix. 427.particular individual from the universal genus of man, according to the princi
“ Me, me: adsum qui feci, in me convertite
ferrum." ples of logic and grammar.-“ Not of
“ Figite me, si qua est pietas, in me omnia tela will,” i. e. not in consequence of his own Conjicite, O Rutuli; me primum absumite wish shall be be saved.
ferro."-(N.) 180. It was before (178,) “ upheld 244. So John v. 26. by me." The turn of the words here is 248. So Psalm xvi. 10. “ Thou wilt remarkable.-(N.)
not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thy 183. Our author thought, like some of Holy One to see corruption :" applied the more moderate Calvinists, that some by St. Peter, (Acts ii. 20,) to our Sewere elected by peculiar grace; the rest viour's resurrection.-(N.) might be saved by complying with the 252. “ ( death! where is thy sting? conditions of the Gospel.-(N.) O grave! where is thy victory ?” I Cor.
186. This is a classical syntax of a very unusual kind. It is a principle laid 255. "Maugre," in despite of. See down by the Latin grammarians, that a Psalm 1xviii. 18.-(N.) verb governing in the active voice two 259. I Cor. xv. 26.-(N.) cases, one being an accusative, governs 265. So Psalm xvi. 11.-(T.) still the accusative in the passive : accord- 266. This passage has been frequently ingly, "state" must be the accusative quoted as an instance of the power and or objective case after “warned.” The accuracy with which Milton sustains the conjunction copulative “and,” in place character of his personages. The goodof coupling, according to its strict ness and mildness of Christ are here aduse and meaning, a like case, mood, mirably pourtrayed. or tense, couples sometimes an accu- 269. An allusion to Psalm xl. 6 and sative case with an infinitive mood; the following verses.-(N.) “ state” and “ to appease" both de- 282. “ Their nature," i.e. the nature of pending on “ warned." The following them whom thou only canst redeem.
284. “ Time" here is used in the occasional sense of tempus, Kalpos, a proper occasion, or fit time, in opposition to dies, length of time, or xpovos.
287. I Cor. xv. 22.-(N.) 291. "Imputed,” i.e. ascribed to them. This passage is quoted by Johnson as an illustration of one definition of impute-
to reckon to one what does not properly belong to him."
294. Milton here, as elsewhere, when speaking the doctrines of Christianity, adopts the style of St. Paul.-- (N.)
298. “ Heavenly love," on the part of Father and Son, gave a price for the redemption of mankind, i.e. the death of the Son; and by virtue of that price, really redeemed them.-(Warb., N.) See Matt. XX. 28.-( Gil.)
301. There are many passages in these speeches of the Father and Son, where the fall is spoken of as a thing past, (see 151, 181,) because all things, even future ones, are present to the Divine mind.— (P.)
317. Matt. xxviii. 18.-(N.)
318. “ Assume thy merits. A phrase similar to that of Horace, iii. Od. xxx. 14. “Sume superbiam quæsitam meritis."—(N.)
321, Here the speech begins to swell into a considerable degree of sublimity, which is quite consistent with the picture conveyed by the Scriptures of the Supreme Being.–(D.) See Philip. ii. 10; Matt. xxv. 30, &c.; 1 Thess. iv. 16; Rev. Xx. 11; xxi. 1; 1 Cor. xv. 51; 2 Pet. iii. 12; John v. 23; Psalm xcvii. 7; Heb.
to i. 666 ; ii. 477 ; x. 505. For the divine chorus singing their angelic hymns, see Isaiah vi. 3; Job xxxviii. 7.
345. Pearce says these words, down to "joy" inclusive, must be taken as the absolute case. Lord Monboddo, on the other hand, would supply the verb shouted or answered, to which “the multitude" is the subject.
348. See Dante, Parad. xxviii. 94.(D.)
351. So they are represented Rev. iv. 10.-(N.)
352. “ Amarant,” auupavtos, unfading; a flower of a purple velvet colour, which, though gathered, keeps its beauty, and recovers its lustre by being sprinkled with a little water. See Pliny, xxi. 11 : “ Amarantus flos symbolum est immortalitatis." - Clem. Aler. Milton seems to have taken this hint from 1 Pet. i. 4,
an inheritance that fadeth not away, αμαραντον και ;
and 1 Pet. v. 4, “a crown of glory that fadeth not away,” anapavtwov. -H.)
359. We may suppose the finest flowers to grow at the bottom of the river of bliss, or rather the river to roll over them sometimes to water them; much the same as iv. 240.—He calls it " amber stream" on account of its clearness. So Virg. Georg. iii. 522 : “Purior electro campum petit amnis."
(N.) 360. “ These” refers evidently to flowers ; so that any proposed emendation here is unnecessary, if not bad.
363. Jasper is a precious stone of several colours, (sea-green predominating most,) and much esteemed ; spoken of in Scripture for its brightness. See Rev. xxi. 11, 18; Exod. xxiv. 10.-(H., D.) See Spenser, Fairy Queen, II. xii. 62. -(T.)
365. In the preceding part of the description, the choral angels are palpably active persons of the drama, (see note on 344 ;) and we can scarcely avoid attributing a measure, i. e. a movement regulated by music, to their solemn adoration, (351.) . Here the measure, I suppose, was intended to cease, and the heavenly chorus prepare to sing their epode or stationary song, i. e. their angelic hymn, to which Milton prefixes the " preamble sweet of charming symphony."-(D.)
372. How superior is this to the hymn to Hercules in Virgil, Æn. viii. ; which see.-(N.)
377. “ But" here is the same as e.rcept, unless. Pearce refers by way of
335. Milton often uses the well known Jewish phrase "heaven and earth,” to express the whole creation.—(P.) 337. Virg. Ecl. iv. 9:
“ Toto surget gens aurea mundo." 344. The close of this divine colloquy, together with the hymn of angels that follows it, are mentioned by Addison and other critics as instances of the highest sublimity and of wonderful beauty, far superior to any thing of the kind in Homer or Virgil. Dunster justly remarks, that Milton still retained in the poem after he had moulded it into an epic, much of the dramatic form which at one time he intended entirely to have given it on the Grecian model-of this a chorus was a material part.
For the choral parts, besides this passage, he says, we may refer to vi. 882; vii. 182, 565, 601; also