Page images

side, as being nearer to the heart. The 543. It seems that here the image of description of Eve (471) resembles the God in man was the dominion given him picture of Helen drawn by Venus for over the other creatures. This does not Paris, Marino Adon. ii. 173. Her dis- agree with 440 ; but he sometimes varies appearance leaving him dark (478) is a his hypothesis as may best suit his subbeautifully poetic figure, to express his ject.-(Th.) gloomy and forlorn state; light, in al- 547. “ Absolute." See note 421. most all languages being a metaphor for 550.“ Wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, joy and comfort. So, in his sonnet on his best.” The number of superlatives here deceased wife :

without the conjunction, or, as it is by "She fed, and day brought back my night."

grammarians called, the asyndaton con(Nế, Th., T., D.) struction, is evidently designed to fix the

attention ; the necessarily slow motion of ows in Homer is used for a gleam of the verse, too, serves that purpose : the joy and hope, a ray of safety.

word “virtuousest," too, is artfully in491. “ Nor enviest." Nor thinkest

troduced; it is an unusual superlative this gift too good for me. So i. 260; iv. of the word virtuous, and inust be consi517; ix. 770. The word is to be con- dered as a classical imitation; piissimus nected with " hast fulfilled.”—(P.) being found in some of the old Latin 498. Gen. ii. 23, 24. This is a proof

poets for maxime pius. So piousest and that his sleep was a trance, in which he virtuousest may be poetically used for saw every thing. Milton's monosyllabic

most pious, and most virtuous. lines often possess great force and beauty. 569. He uses these three words which See ji. 621, 950.-(H., N.)

are in the Marriage Service agreeably to 502. “ Conscience," conscientia, here,

Scripture, Ephes. v. 28, 29; 1 Pet. iii. 7. as in our English version of the Bible, -(N.) Heb. x. 2 ; 1 Cor. viii. 7, means, conscious- 576. “Adorn,” by poetic license for ness.—(P.)

adorned. So Ital. adorno for adornato. 503. So Shakspeare:

So iii. 627, "fledge" for fledged ; ix. 901, " She's beautiful, and therefore to be wood;

“ devote" for devoted.-(N.) She is a woman, therefore to be won."

589. “ Love refines the thoughts,” &c. (T.)

So Spenser, Fairy Queen, III. v. 2, and 511. “ Blushing like the morn." Mil

Hymn of Love, 190; but there is no

doubt that both these admired poets had ton's is an elegant comparison in the Eastern style; the bride of Solomon

in view the refined theory of love of the being likened to the morning, Cant. vi.

divine Plato, and that Milton in particu10: ~ Who is she that looketh forth as the

lar, in what he says here, had his eye morning ?(T.) Burke, in his usually especially upon that passage, where the matchless style, has applied this compa

scale by which we must ascend to heavenly

love is both mentioned and described, rison, in his Essay on the French Revo

Plat. Conviv.-( Th.:) See c. ji. of “Life lution, to the young queen, afterwards beheaded." Just risen above the hori

of Milton" (prefixed to this ed.) at the

end. zon, glittering like the morning star, full

591. i.e. Pure love chooses proper of life, and splendour, and joy.”' 513. See 11. xiv. 347.-(T.)

qualities in the object.-(P.) 520. Milton writes here in classical

598. “ The genial bed.” The lectus language. The evening star was the

genialis, or marriage bed. See iv. 743. signal among the ancients to light their

607. “ Subject not." Do not enslave Jamps and torches in order to conduct the bride home to the bridegroom. Ca

627—629. ie. spirits not only mix

total, but at a distance, without approachtullus “vesper adest, juvenes consurgite,” &c. See xi. 588.—“ Hill top" is a clas

ing one another, as the human body to mix

See sical expression for above the hills.

with body, and soul with soul must.-(P.) Virg. An. ii. 801. Ecl. viii. 30. So

631. “Cape," is Cape de Verd, the Spenser, Fairy Queen, I. ji. 1:

most western point of Africa, off which

lie the Cape de Verd Islands, called here "Phabus' fiery car

the "verdant isles."'--" Hesperian sets," In haste was climbing up the eastern hill."


i. e. sets westward, from Hesperus, the

evening star, appearing there. He very 537. See Samson Agonistes, 1025.-- properly closes the discourse with those (N.)

moral reflections which were designed to


by the ellipsis of “it is necessary." So del, it must be, is often understood in Greek. As he is just departing, Adam uses brevity of speech.-(P., Monbod.)

647. “ Froin whose goodness.” From him whose goodness. The antecedent is often omitted by Milton, in imitation of the Greeks.

652. When the angel rose to depart, Adam followed him from the bower where they had been conversing to a shady walk that led to it, and here they parted. — “ Bower" here means his inmost bower, or place of rest, iv. 738.—(N.) Compare the parting of Jupiter and Thetis, in the first Iliad :Τω γ' ως βουλευσαντε διετμαγον' η μεν επειτα Εις άλα αλτο βαθειαν, απ' αιγληεντος Ολυμπου Ζευς δε έον προς δωμα.-(Τ.)


is allowed to speak of himself. But this, however, is a very dangerous example for a genius of an inferior order, and is only to be justified by success.”(Voltaire, Essay on Epic Poetry.) It is clear that Milton thought a great poet may digress from his subject to speak of himself, long before he commenced this poem ; for in his Discourse on “ the Reason of Church Government,” apologizing for saying so much of himself, he says: A poet soaring in the high region of his fancies, with his garland and singing robes about him, might without apology speak more of himself than I mean to do." The poet says that he must now treat no more of familiar discourse with God or angel. In the preceding episode, which was a conversation between Adam and the angel, it is stated that Adam held discourse with God (viii. 455.) The Lord God and the angel Michael hold discourse with Adam in the following books; but these discourses are not familiar conversation as with a friend, for the one comes to judge, and the other to expel him from paradise.

“ The Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend," Exod. xxxiii. 11. Milton who knew the Scriptures thoroughly, and continually profits from their vast sublimity and treasures, has done it here

make a lasting impression on Adam.-
(N.) See Apollon. Argon. iii. 1190:-

Hέλιος μεν απωθεν ερεμνην ουετο γαιαν
“Εσπεριος, νεατας υπερ ακμιας Αθιοπηων.-(Τ.)

635. “ His great command,” i.e. not to eat of the forbidden tree.

637. Admit" is used here in the Latin sense, admittere sometimes signi. fying to commit, as Ter. Heautontim. act v. sc. 2:“Quid ego tantum sceleris admisi miser ?"

(N.) 638. Æn. xii. 59:“In te domus omnis inclinata recumbit.”

(H.) 645. “ Benediction” here is not blessing, but thanks, as Par. Reg. iii. 127 ; to "bless God" is a common religious phrase for to thank God.

“ Since to part,”


The Ninth Book is raised upon that brief account in Scripture, Gen. iii. wherein we are told the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field; that he tempted the woman to eat of the forbidden fruit; that she was overcome by his temptation; and that Adam followed her example. From these few particulars Milton has formed one of the most entertaining fables that invention ever produced. He has disposed of these circumstances among so many agreeable fictions of his own, that his whole story looks only like a comment on Holy Writ, or rather seems a complete relation of what the other is only an epitome. The disposition and contrivance of the fable I look upon to be the principal beauty of the Ninth Book, which has more story in it, and is fuller of incidents, than any other in the whole poem.—(Addison.)

1. “I cannot but own that an author is generally guilty of an unpardonable self-love, when he lays aside his subject to descant upon himself: but that human frailty is to be forgiven in Milton; nay, I am pleased with it; he gratifies the curiosity he has raised in me about him. When I admire the author, I desire to know something of the man; and he whom all readers would be glad to know



remarkably. The episode is taken from See also vii. 29. It is stated that he first the 18th chapter of Genesis, where the proposed as the subject of the epic poem Lord, or (according to an ancient opi- the story of King Arthur, the British hero nion, and that of many of the modern of romance, and changed it for the reasons scholars,) Christ, and two angels are said here assigned. Aubrey relates in his to have been entertained by Abraham ; manuscript account of Milton, preserved

“God" may here mean that the di. in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, vine presence was so effectually with his that Milton began his Paradise Lost messengers that himself was also there. about two years before the Restoration, and -( Th., R., N.)

completed it about three years after that 5. As the author is now changing his event.-(Rich., T., W'art., N., 7.) subject, lie professes likewise to change 28 -40. As Virgil rivalled Homer, his style agreeably to it. The reader Milton rivals and surpasses both. Both ocmust not therefore expect henceforward cupied the provinces of war, morality, and such lofty images and descriptions as be- politics; Milton took up another species, fore; which may serve as an answer to that of religion. The principal subjects those critics who censure the latter books of the heroic poems from the time of as falling below the former.-(N.) “Ve- Homer downwards, were wars, games, nial” here is quoted as an example by and festivals. Homer, the 23d book Johnson, of the word meaning permitted, of the Iliad, Virgil, in the 5th book of allowed, from venia. But to “permit the Æneid, and Statius, in the 6th book permitted discourse" is awkward tauto- of the Thebaid, have described games and logy. I rather imagine it means mode

So jousts (or tilts) and tournarate, excusable, inoffen. ive."

ments," are often the subjects of the mo7. Read - disloyal, on the part." dern poets, as Ariosto, Spenser, &c. The

12.“ Misery" here means sickness, joust usually meant the combat of lances and all sorts of mortal pains See xi. between two persons only; the tournament 475. Atterbury and Warburton think included all martial games.

The com" a world of woe" is to be taken in appo- batants were called tilters, from their runsition to "this world," (sec viii. 332,) in ning at each other on horseback, with order to avoid the low quaintness of uplifted spears, and then thrusting ; most making the words depend on “ brought." probably from the verb tollo, to raise. (N., T.)

Tournament is supposed to be derived 14–28. Though several particulars from the Italian tornare, turning, or are specified as parts of his present sub- wheeling round during the action, and ject, (6, &c.), that of the “ anger of God," returning to the charge.—“ Emblazoned (10), was the consequence of those, and shields." He glances at the Italian poets, his only subject. It is this which he places who were in general too circumstantial in opposition to the anger of men and about these particulars. Impresses gods, in which he has the advantage of quaint," i.e. emblems and devices on the Homer and Virgil; the anger of the true shield, alluding to the name, the condition, God being an argument much more he- or the fortune of the wearer, which were roic than theirs. His theme was in often curious, obscure, and fantastical.truth more sublime than the wrath of

“Bases;" the housings of the horses, which Achilles, who dragged his dead foe Hector hung down to the ground.--"Marshalled, thrice round the walls of Troy; or of sewers, seneshals.” The marshal placed Neptune, who caused the shipwreck of the guests according to their rank, and Ulysses; both celebrated by Homer in saw that they were properly served. The his Iliad and Odyssey: or of Turnus, who “sewer” marched in before the meats, and was deprived of his espoused, or betrothed arranged them on the table, and was oribride Lavinia, by Aneas, the son of ginally called “asseour," from the French Cytherea, or Venus; or of Juno, who was asseoir, to set down or place. And the the great persecutor of Æneas, fearing “ seneshal" was the household steward ; him as the remote cause of the foundation

a name of frequent occurrence in old of Rome, the fatal rival of her favourite books. (See N., R., Johns., T.) Nares, Carthage; both celebrated by Virgil in in his Glossary, says it is quite wrong to the Æneid. From this and iji. 32, and apply" bases” to the housings or saddle from passages in his 5th Elegy, 6 and 23, cloths of the horses ; " bases” properly written when he was only twenty years means a kind of embroidered mantle, old, it appears that the inspiration came reaching from the middle down to the upon him chiefly at night and in spring. knees, or lower, worn by knights on

[ocr errors]


points Aries and Libra, the other through the solstitial points Cancer and Capricorn, and divide the ecliptic into four equal parts. The points where they intersect the ecliptic are called the Cardinal Points.

72. See iv. 224, &c.
75. So Thetis rose in the Il. i. 359:-

ανεδυ πολιης αλος ηυτ’ ομιχλη -(Ν.) 76-82. As we had before an astronomical, so here we have a geographical account of Satan's peregrinations. He searched sea and land, northward from Eden over Pontus Euxinus, the Euxine Sea, now called the Black Sea, north of Constantinople, and the Palus Mæotis, now the sea of Azoph, above the Black Sea, and communicating with it by the Cimmerian Bosphorus ;

up beyond the river Oby" in Muscovy, near the north pole; “ downward as far antarctic," as far southward. The northern hemisphere being elevated on our globes, the north is called "up," and the south, “ downwards;" "antarctic," south, the contrary to arctic, north, from Apitos, the Bear, the most conspicuous constellation near the north pole. But no particular place is mentioned near the south pole, because in Milton's time all sea and land there were unknown.-In “length,” i.e. west and east, (see note on iii. 555, and 574,) “from Orontes," a famous river in Syria, to the isthmus of “ Darien," which separates North and South America, and hinders the ocean as it were with a bar from flowing between them; and thence to Hindostan or India -(N.)

horseback. In Butler's Hudibras, I. ii. 769, it is used for a butcher's apron. In Fairy Queen, V. v. 20, a woman's petticoat and apron serve for cuirass and bases.

41. “ Me, of these nor skilled." The usual construction in English is, “skilled in a thing;" but the Latin construction is, “peritus alicujus rei,” skilled of a thing. - (Monbod.) " Remains." Milton elsewhere uses this word actively, in the sense of “ awaits ;" as maneo is sometimes used in Latin.

44, 45. And it is surprising that at his time of life, and after such troublesome times as he had passed through, he should have so much poetical fire remaining ; for he was near sixty when this poem was published.-(N.) See “ Life of Milton" prefixed to this edition, c. ii. s. 7-end.

58. Job i. 7 : “ And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? And Satan answered, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.'-(T.)

64–66. " Thrice the equinoctial line he circled." He travelled on with the night three times round the equator ; he was three days moving round from east to west as the sun does, but always on the opposite side of the globe in darkness ; "four times crossed the car of night from pole to pole;" i e. did not move directly on with the night as before, but crossed over from the northern to the southern, and from the southern to the northern pole. “Traversing each colure ;" as the equinoctial line or equator is a great circle encompassing the earth from east to west, and from west to east again ; so the colures are two great circles intersecting each other at right angles in the poles of the world, and encompassing the earth from north to south, and from south to north again ; and therefore, as Satan was moving from pole to pole at the same time that the car of night was moving from east to west, if he would still keep in the shade of night as he desired, he could not move in a straight line, but must move obliquely, and thereby cross the two colures. In short, Satan was three days compassing the earth from east to west, and four days from north to south, but still kept always in the shade of night, and on the eighth night returned. ---(N.)

from kolus, mutilated, and oupa, a tail, so named because a part is always beneath the horizon. They are called the equinoctial and solstitial colures, one passing through the equinoctial

86. So Gen. iii. 1: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field.” The subtlety of the serpent is commended likewise by Aristotle and other naturalists.-(N.)

89. “ Fittest imp of fraud.” Fittest stock to graft his devilish fraud on.-(H.) “ Imp,” Welsh, properly a young slip of a tree; hence, offspring. Johnson says the word here means, “ subaltern, or puny devil, a sense in which the word is still used."

99, &c. This speech has not been particularly noticed by Addison, and has been censured by some critics as commencing with an extravagant, if not false praise of the earth, and inconsistent with Satan's observations of the stars and planets, that they were in appearance inhabited worlds, iii. 566, &c. But an examination of the whole speech will convince any judicious reader that there is not in the whole poem a more

“ Colure,

186. “

masterly passage, or more characteristic speech. It is a concentration of Satan's usnal habit of depreciating the Almighty -of his envy, remorse, ambition, and malignant spite. It is a thoroughly Satanic speech. Having for the first time had a full survey of the earth (ard it must be borne in mind that it is the earth before the change produced in it by the fall of man,) he says, in his natural admiration of it, and his disposition to sink the character of God, that it was the most complete of bis works, as created last, and being built on second thought. Besides, he felt a complacency at the idea of reducing to his empire this (as he calls it) the noblest work of God.

It is common with people to undervalue what they have lost by their folly or wickedness, and to overvalue any good they hope to attain. So Satan here questions if earth be not preferable to heaven. Spenser has, on a like occasion, the same thoughi, (Fairy Queen, IV. x. 23,) for, describing the gardens surrounding the temple of Venus, he says,“ That if the happy souls which do possess

The Elysian fields, and live in lasting bliss,
Should happen this with living eye to see,
They soon would loath their lesser happi-


" For now a time is come to mock at form.

Henry the Fifth is crown'd: vp vanity;

Down royal .state.'' 174. “Since, higher, I fall short;" i.e. since if I aim higher (i.e. at God,) in my revenge I fail.

176. “ Son of despite," i. e. created by God to spite Satan. A Hebraism.-(N.)

178. Eschyl. Prometh. 944:Ούτως υβριξειν τους υβριζοντας χρέων.-(R.)

Grassy herb.” Virg. Ecl. v. 26 : “Graminis herbam."-(N.)

187–189. So Mars is represented as entering the warrior in Homer, filling him with courage and vigour. 11. xvii. 210:

δν δε μιν Αρης Δεινος ενυάλιος πλησθεν δ' αρα οι μελε' εντος Αλκης και σθενεος.-(Stil.)

192, 193. This was the morning of the ninth day, as far as we can reckon the time in this poem, a great part of the action lying out of the sphere of day. The first day we reckon that wherein Satan came to the earth ; the space of seven days after he was coasting round the earth; and he comes to Paradise again on the night previous to this morning. The morning is often called “sacred” by the poets, because that time is usually allotted to sacrifice and devotion, as Eustathius says in his remarks on Homer. -(N.) Breathed” is classically used here in an enlarged sense, like the Latin spirare, to mean, emitted the steam or vapour of; subsequent poets have imitated this use of it, as Gray in his Elegy“ The breezy call of incense breathing morn."

(T.T.) Halare is strictly used in this sense, Lucret. ii. 847 :" Et nardi forem, nectar qui waribus halat."

197. So Gen. viii. 21: “ The Lord smelled a sweet savour;" a poetic reference to the ancient sacrifices.

199. “ Creatures wanting voice," i.e. human voice. But they could emit sounds in their orison worship to the Deity.

211. This is an improvement upon Virg. Georg. ii. 201 :"Et quantum longis carpent armenta diebus, Exigua tantum gelidus ros nocte reponet

(T.) Spring of roses."

(See N., Th.)

“ Spring” here means poetically and figuratively, the production of spring, a bed, or shrubbery of springing roses. Lucretius, b. ix. epigr. 14, uses ver for flores,

"Cum breve Cecropiæ ver populantur apes." See note on v. 394.

113. The three kinds of life rising by steps, the vegetable, animal, and rational. Man grows as plants, minerals, and all things inanimate; he has sense or feeling like all animals; and, moreover, has reason.-(R.)

119.“ Place or refuge.” Some commentators are unnecessarily captious here. The passage clearly means, there is no * place" here for me to dwell in, nor if there were, could it be a "refuge" from my mental torments ; for I cannot hope to be less miserable.

127. “ Such as 1,” i.e. I am. The usual Syntax is, such as me.-(N.)

130. “ Him destroyed ;” properly, he destroyed." What the Latins make the ablative absolute, is in English the nominative absolute. Milton, however, sometimes adopts the Latin form, as, vii. 142; Samson, 463.—(T.)

164. See note on 400.

169. “ Down." Milton, in imitation of Homer, who uses the adverb av, ava, elliptically, the verb of motion being understood, uses “up” here, and x 503, in the same way. Newton quotes a beautiful iristance of the use of such adverbs from Shakspeare, Hen. IV. p. ii. :

218. “

« PreviousContinue »