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113. Comparé vi. 297, 298, and Homer Il. xii. 176:Αργαλεον δε με ταυτα, θεον ως, παντ’ αγορευσαι.
(T.) 116. “ To infer.” i.e. By inference to make thee happier.--(N.)
117. “ Shall not be withheld thy hearing." Shall not be withheld from thee to hear. So 83, “ concerned our knowing," concerned us to know; an English idiom.
121-123. So Hor. iii. Od. xxix. 29 :“ Prudens futuri temporis exitum
Caliginosa nocte premit Deus."-(Th.) -“ Inventions." Eccles. vii. 29, reasonings, or fancies. Matt. xxiv. 36: “ Of that day” (i. e. the day of the dissolution of all earthly things)" no one knoweth, no, not the angels of heaven, but the Father only,” God, in 1 Tim. i. 17, is called "the invisible King.”—(N.)
139. “At least." Thyer and others would prefer to read “at last." I think
at least," which Milton wrote, contains a peculiar force ; and that Milton meant by it to express, that Satan failed at least in thinking that all were rebellious.“ As dispossessed,” after, is the case absolute; and “fraud," after (143), is used as fraus sometimes is, for evil, or its punishment. It here extends to the punishment consequent on the deceit, says Richardson. 144. Job vii. 10; Psalm ciii. 16.—(N.)
154. “ Self-lost." Those who were lost by their own self will.-“ In a moment will create." Yet the work is afterwards said to take up six days. Newton thinks, as many learned divines have thought, that though the creation may have been instantaneous, yet its effect was only made visible in six days, in order to suit it to the capacity of the angels; and that so Moses describes it in order to adapt it to the gradual comprehension of man. I think the poet, in 177—179, bears out this opinion.
160. i.e. By the translation of these obedient creatures to heaven, earth will be changed to heaven; and heaven, by receiving them, will become their habitation, and be another earth to them. See 1 Pet. iii. 13.-(D., T.) 162. “ Inhabit lax."
Dwell apart, having more room; habitate laxe. This phrase has been censured; though Cicero, in his Oration pro Domo,cap. xliv. speaking of a powerful personage, perhaps furnished him with the thought: habitare laxe et magnifice voluit, duasque et
magnes et nobiles domos conjungere." I doubt whether the sentiment, too, is so undignified as it has been represented to be. It was a necessary part of the statement. There was a void; and should continue in heaven, by reason of the expulsion of the false angels, till filled up by mankind. Meantime the good angels were to enlarge their residences, and so in some measure fill up the vacant space.
164. “I perform.” The propriety of this Græcism, in using the present time for the future, is shown by 176: all future things are present to him. See Col. i. 16. -Stil., T.)
165. Luke i. 35: “ The power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." As the Spirit of the Father cooperated in the creation (Gen. i. 2), it is here said to be sent along with the Son.-(N.)
168. Thus Pearce explains this passage: The deep is boundless, but the space contained in it is not vacuous and empty, because there is an infinitude, and I fill it. Though I, who am myself uncircumscribed, set bounds to my goodness, and do not exert it everywhere, yet neither necessity nor chance influences my actions. There should be a period
space," and only a comma after not” (172), according to this explanation, adopted by some of the best modern commentators.
173. This doctrine has been expressed by the heathen poets. Lucan, Pharsal. v. 91:
"deus magnusque potensque Sive canit fatum, seu quod jubet ipse canendo Fit fatum.” See the speech of the Deity in Plato's Timæus. This dialogue appears to have been often consulted by Milton in his account of the creation.-(B., T.)
182. The angels are very properly represented as ushering in the creation with a hymn similar to that sung at the birth of Christ, Luke ii. 14. Bentley proposes to read “to God Most High," as more opposed to “men” after, and agreeing better with the words of St. Luke. - (N.)
192. Milton's prayer to Urania, to guide him safely down to his native element, without experiencing the fatal failure of Bellerophon in his poetic flight, and still to govern his song, is fully granted; for, as Addison and the other critics have remarked, this whole description of the creation, which, according to our conception, is the greatest exertion of Omnipotence, is equal to the majesty
and vastness of the subject. It is executed with the utmost energy and grace of diction of which our language is capable, and with the loftiest and most comprehensive imagination; and while he presses to his aid all the resources that learning and genius could supply, he closely observes in the facts the arrangement, and in his style often the words, of Scripture.
197. “Poured.” This word is here expressive of promptness and alacrity in obeying his summons.-(P.)
200. This thought, but wonderfully improved, is taken from a passage in Zech. vi. 1:-“ Behold there came out four chariots from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of brass."-( Ad.)
206. Richardson says " sound” here is governed by “moving ;" as iii. 37, " thoughts move harmonious numbers." See ü. 881.
215. As Chaos could not be supposed to have centre or pole, he does not apply the words to it, as some critics suppose, but only uses an illustration, to convey the idea to Adam's capacity; as if on earth the sea should mount in mountains to heaven, and mix the centre of the globe with its circumference.—(R.) The commentators think that “in surging waves" would be more correct here than " and surging waves;" but I think the text may be defended. Milton (ii.) called this abyss an illimitable ocean, where all inaterial things were
" in their pregnant causes mixed confusedly:" now all these may be represented as "up from the bottom turned by furious winds and surging waves;" the wind and water being the two most potent agents in tearing up the other materials. Or may not "surging waves " be governed by “viewed” understood ? Thus, he viewed the abyss up from the bottom turned by furious winds, and viewed its waves (when so upturned) surging like mountains to assault, &c. ?
216. “ Silence, ye troubled waves; and thou deep, peace !" The brevity of this command is one of the sublime beauties that Longinus admired in the Mosaic history of the creation. The choice and arrangement of the words and the metre render the line beautifully expressive; the first foot being a trochee, and the last a spondee. The spondaic lines occasionally introduced in Greek and Roman hexameter verse (i.e. lines having a spondee in place of a dactyl in the second last foot) were eminently calculated for
emphasis, and fixing the attention. There are several beautiful examples in Virgil, Æn. ii. 68:“ Constitit atque oculis Phrygia agmina cir
cumspexit." Æn. viii. 679:“ Cum patribus, populoque, penatibus et mag
nis Dis." Upton says, no poet ever equalled this beauty but Shakspeare, Macbeth, act ii. : “ What hath quenched them, hath given me
fire.--Hark!-peace!"-(N.) 218. “ Nor staid.” Virg. Geor. iv. :"Haud mora; continuo matris præcepta faces
sit." The sudden break and pause in the beginning of the line, and the rapid and lofty swell of the remainder and of the two next lines, which must be read with one full volume of voice, is an instauce of matchless beauty of versification.
224. “Fervid wheels." “ Fervidis rotis," (Hor. Od. i.)
225. From Proverbs viii. 27. So Dio. nys. Perieg. ad finem :Αυτοι γαρ τα πρωτα θεμειλια τορνωσαντο, Και βαθυν οιμων εδειξαν αμετρητοιο θαλασσης.
(R.) 228. “ One foot,” i.e. of the compass.
233. “ Matter unformed and void." “ The earth was without form and void," (Gen. i. 2,) i. e. it was empty of any thing regularly formed, or of living things. -(N.)
235. See note on i. 21.
239--242. The reader must compare iii. 708. What is practically useful in the commentaries of several critics is this :-“ Founded then conglobed," laid as a foundation, fixed,(fundavit; so Psalm lxxxix. 11,) and then cemented in one globe or body, the different portions of the elements of the same kind that were scattered all through the abyss, uniting the scattered particles of fire, earth, sea, and air.—" The rest;" i.e. the particles that did not or could not harmonise, and were unfit for composing the earth, flew off to other places, perhaps to form the planets and fixed stars. Or, “the rest means “the æthereal quintessence" (iii. 716) which composed the luminous bodies, or those particles of matter which we call fire (and whose properties are light and heat) and which constituted the “light” mentioned immediately after, as preceding the creation of the sun. Lucret. v. 438:“ Diffugere inde loci partes cæpere, pares
Cum paribus jungi res."
Cicero, de Nat. Deor. : “Ac principio 281. “Fermented." Warmed and terra universa cernatur, locata in media swelled the earth our great mother which sede mundi solida et globosa, et undique was“ satiate" (satiated, or saturated, ipsa in sese suis nutibus conglobata." or impregnated) with “ genial" or propaOvid. Met. i.:
283, 284. So in Gen. i. 9. But Milton " Circumfuso pendebat in aere tellus Ponderibus librata suis."
enlarges on the passage in Genesis with
great poetic force and beauty. The num252. Cæsar (Bel. Gal.) says, that the
bers of the following verses seem to rise Druids commenced their division of time
with the mountains and sink with the with the evening.
waters; he seems to have had his eye on 257. Taken from Job xxxviii. 4, 7.
Psalm civ. 6, and following verses. — The great round of the universe, which
(N.) was concave, and without creatures.- 299. “ Torrent rapture.” So "glad (N.)
precipitance," 291, with rushing delight. 261, &c. The Hebrew word which was
-(N.) rendered in Greek otepewua, or firma- 303-306. As the earth had only just ment, properly means an expanse ; and it
emerged from the waters, it was one great is so in the margin of our Bible. St. Au
washy ooze, slime and mud ; and changustine on Genesis says, “ It is not called
nels were easily worn into it by the firmament because it is a firm, solid body, streaming water, till it had become all but because it is a partition, firm and im- dry, everywhere, except within the banks movable, between the upper and the of these rivers. The rivers are imagined nether waters.” Some have thought that
as persons of great quality, the length of the upper waters were masses of real their robes training after them. This water formed by vapours drawn up to the part of the description cannot be read middle region of the air from the earth, Otherwise than slowly, and so as to give and sometimes descending in floods of the mind a picture of the thing described. rain, and that by this is meant "the flood
(R.) The ancients feigned rivers to be gates of heaven were opened,” (Gen. vii. divinities." Perpetual is here an ad11.) But Milton agrees with those who jective, used, as elsewhere, to mean conticalled it the "crystalline heaven,” which nued, unbroken, like the Latin perpetans, he calls the "crystalline ocean," from its
as agmen perpetuum, fossa perpetua, glassy clearness resembling water. So he
dies perpetuus," &c.; and not used adthinks, as God founded the earth on waters, verbially, as Todd thinks. he established the whole frame of the 307-312 are the words of Genesis heavenly bodies in a calm crystalline sea i. 10, 11.-(N.) surrounding them, to prevent all disturb- 317. See 2 Esdras vi. 44.-(T.) ance from the neighbourhood of chaos. 321. “Swelling gourd." Propertius See Psalm civ. 3 ; cxlviii. 4; cxxxvi. 6; iv. ii. 43:2 Pet. iii. 5.-(N., H.) Milton artfully
" Cæruleus cucumis, tumidoque cucurbita embodies both notions of firmament, by
ventre.” calling it an "expanse, and firm partition;" The common reading was smelling, which and I think a close examination of his Bentley has well changed into swelling, words will show that he thought the upper the mistake being a misprint; as gourds waters were waters in reality, and not ap- are a numerous family, smelling, though pearing so from their clearness : “ As the it suits with some kinds of the gourd, earth, so he the world built on circum- does not suit with all the particulars of fluous waters." He quotes the words of that tribe, as swelling does; and Milton Scripture, and is satisfied with their ob- here assigns to each of the other species, vious meaning.
the vine, reed, shrub, bush, a general 274. “ Heaven." Milton follows the
epithet, which suits with all of the same Hebrew opinion, of there being three species. — (P.) — “ Corny reed." The heavens; the first, that in which the clouds horny reed, from cornu, horn, stood upmove and birds fly; the second, the right among the undergrowths of nature, starry heaven; the third, the residence like a grove of spears, or a battalion with of the angels, and the seat of God's glory. its pikes aloft. Corneus (Lat.), of or like He speaks here of the first, as he men- horn.-(H.) This explanation is adopted tions the others in other places.-(N.) by the best modern commentators; but,
277. “Embryon immature involv'd.” in my opinion, "corny" here is in referWrapped up, as an unfinished offspring. ence not to cornu, horn, but to cornus,
the corneil tree, whose hard pointed branches resembled horn, and were used
323. And bush with frizzled hair implicit.” “Hair,” like coma, in Latin, is used for leaves, and branches; and “ implicit,” (implicitus) is entangled.-(N.)
325. “Gemmed their blossoms.” Put forth their blossoms, from geminare (Lat) to bud forth. Bentley thinks it plain that Milton gave it, “gemmed with blossoms,” taking "gemmed" for a participle, as “hung" is. But “gemmed” may be a verb, as spread” is. And to gem their blossoms, is an expression of the same poetical cast as "blooming ambrosial fruit," iv. 219.-(P.) Johnson quotes this passage as the example of “gem," v.n. meaning, “ to bud forth," and prints it with a semicolon after “fruit." In this case, “ blossoms” must be taken as the nominative to “gemmed."
329, 330. A manifest allusion to Homer, when he describes Mercury surveying with delight the bowers of Calypso, Odyss v. 73:
Ειθα κ' επειτα και αθανατος περ επελθων
( Stil.) 331 to 337, taken from Gen. ii. 4-6.
338. “ Recorded." Celebrated. This was done by the “chorus” (275); by “harps" (450). What is done by the voices and instruments is poetically aseribed to the time in which they were employed.—(R.)
339 to 353, taken from Gen. i. 14-18.
346. “ Great for their use to man.' Milton judiciously has added these words to explain the words, “ two great lights," for they were not greater than all other planets.-(N.) Altern,” (alternus,) alternately.
364. So the sun is called by Lucretius the fountain of liquid light, v. 282:— “Largus item liquidi fons luminis æthereus sol
Irrigat assidue cælum candore recenti." -“ Other stars," i. e. the planets, as appears by his mentioning the morning star, or planet Venus.- (N.)
365. Aristoph. Nub 271 :-Ειτ’ αρα Νειλου προχοαις υδατων χρυσεοις αρυ
eode apoxovou.-(Stil.) 368. “Small peculiar.” Like the Latin peculium, small private property or possession acquired by servants.
372, 373. This passage alludes to Psalm xix. 5 : “ The sun is a bridegroom coming from his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run his course.' Spenser, in a passage
of exquisite poetry, alludes to the same text, Fairy Queen, I. v. 2:"And Phæbus, fresh as bridegroom to his mate, Came dauncing forth, shaking his dewie
haire." -“ Longitude" here means the sun's course from east to west in a straight line. See iii. 576. (P., T.)
374. “ The Pleiades” rise about the time of the vernal equinox, and are hence calle. Vergiliæ. By this it would seem that Milton thought the creation was in spring, according to the common opinion, Virg. Geor. ii. 338:
"ver illud erat; ver magnus agebat Orbis, et hibernis parcebant fiatibus Euri, Cum primæ lucem pecudes hausere," &c.
(N.) 382. “Dividual." Divided; like the Latin dividuus, which is sometimes used for divisus. So he uses the word, xii. 85.
387 to 398, taken from Gen. i. 20.-22.
388. “Reptile" here means, creeping things, i.e. the creeping things of the water, so in Psalın civ. 25: "the great and wide sea, wherein are creeping things innumerable, both small and great beasts.” He also mentions "creeping things,” in his description of the sixth day's creation (452), i. e. creeping things of the earth.(P., T.) Addison remarks, that it is surprising how the poet could, within the compass of a space so brief, describe the whole creation with so much minuteness, accuracy, and beauty, as well the formation of the material world and all its parts, as all its productions from the reptile to the whale.
381. “Whales” (KnTea) was a name given by the ancients to all large animals of the deep.-( Stil.)
402. “Sculls." Shoals and “sculls," (from the Saxon sceole, an assembly) both mean large collections of fish. What is called a shoal in one place is called a skull in another. Hence it is said by the commentators that "shoals of fish that glide in skulls” is an incorrect mode of speaking. I apprehend that Milton meant a distinction (if it were not recognised in his time) between the two words; "shoal" signifying the whole aggregate multitude of the migrating fishes, and “sculls," the separate bodie's or assemblages into which it is divided. This division of the general mass into sections, which take separate courses, is a well-known fact; and they move along in dense bodies, resembling sand banks. The shon divides in the Northern ocean
" “ Pens,"
into three bodies, or skulls: one moves along the German ocean, coasting the east of Britain ; another through the Irish Sea; and a third skirts the western coast of Ireland. The commentators omit what is more worthy of notice—the syntax of " shoals." Is it “the seas swarm, and shoals swarm ?” or “the seas swarm with fry innumerable and with shoals ?" If the first, is there not here a bold, and rather an unusual exercise of the poetic license, in saying, seas and shoals of fishes swarm? If the second, what is the difference between fry innumera'le and shouls ? As to the first opinion, there are instances in the Classics and in Milton, where one verb refers to two subjects-metaphorically to the one, and strictly to the other. As to the second opinion, the solution lies in the word “fry," the incipient matter, or the first moving bodies, compared with the shoals, or full grown fishes.
405. “ Groves of coral.” Coral is a production of the sea, and was commonly ranked among marine plants. Kercher supposed that coral forests grew at the bottom of the sea. This is enough to justify Milton. The ancients believed that the plants were quite soft while under water, but got hard on exposure to the air. See Ov. Met. iv. 750. But it is now known that the tops of the branches only are a little soft, which become petrified when exposed to the air.-(N.) It properly is composed of a congeries of small marine animals, of the polypus kind, mixed with calcareous earth. It is fished up by divers, furnished with an iron instrument, from rocky caverns in the bottom of the sea at a great depth. In warm latitudes, the accumulation of this matter rises into islands.
409. The shells of lobsters, &c. and armour, very much resemble one another. In the civil wars, there was a regiment of horse so completely armed, that they were called “Sir Arthur Haselrig's lubsters."'-(N.)
410. “Bended dolphins play.” Dolphins are not more bent than other fishes, but the word alludes to the curve their backs form as they spring forward out of the water, and plunge down again. So Ov. Fast. ii. 113: "tergo delphina recurvo.” Their sportive habit is mentioned by Virgil, Æn. v. 595 : “luduntque per undas.” -(N.)
411–415. It is remarked, that the slow, halting, and, as it were, awkward motion of the numbers in this passage, are admirably contrived to express the
sense; and that “tempest,” used as a verb, increases the labour of the verse, while it adds force to the description. It is evident, that by “leviathan" here he means the whale, no matter how learned critics may apply the leviathan in the book of Job to the crocodile. See note on i. 200. He distinctly mentions the crocodile (474) as an amphibious animal; whereas leviathan is a fish.
416. So Ov. Met. iii. 686: “ Acceptum patulis mare naribus efflant."-(N.)
420. “ Fledge,” for fledged, as iii. 627. So “satiate” for satiated.
421. “Summed their pens.' from penna, feather, wing. “Sum” is a term in falconry: a hawk is said to be full “summed” when its feathers are full grown. See Par. Reg. i. 14.- (R.)
Under a cloud in prospect." Without quoting the various and conflicting interpretations of commentators I may say, that the meaning appears to me to be, that in the distance, when seen froin the earth, they appeared as under a cloud, or that their multitude then presented a cloud over the earth. “Prospect," in the occasional sense of prospectus, means sometimes, as 556, a distant view,
427. “ Intelligent of seasons." So Jerem. viii. 7. This beautiful description of birds of passage, such as cranes, geese, storks, ducks, swallows, flying winter from northern to southern and warmer climates, is warranted by a passage in Pliny's Natural History, x. 32. They form a wedge, in order the better to cleave the wind, the leaders being at first in front at the apex, those behind resting their necks on the tails of those before. When the leaders are tired, they fly back to the rear, and those next them take their place; and thus a successive course of laborious duty and relief is kept up during the whole voyage, each taking his turn." See Cicero, de Nat. Deor. ii. 49.(N., T.) The figure in the word “
is most poetic and just The inhabitants of the deserts of Asia and Africa, when making their periodical journeys for the purposes of traffic (or religion, in pilgrimage to the tomb of Mahomet), travel in caravans, or compa. nies, for the sake of general ease and security, through those lonely ad trackJess regions.--" The air floats," I apprebend, means, that the action of their wings gives a vibrating motion to the air near them, like that of agitated water under a floating body. Todd gives