Page images

1075. “ Tine." From the Saxon tynan, to light, to kindle, whence tinder.-(T.)

1090. So Virg. Æn. xi. 191, “Spargitur et tellus lachrymis." -“ Frequenting," in the occasional sense of frequentans, filling.

1104. Humiliation meek." These seven last verses being a repetition of the former (the mood and tense being changed)

is an imitation of Homer and Virgil. This repetition has the air of simplicity and grandeur.--( Bent.) Bentley thinks “ meek humiliation” is tautology, and proposes to read meet.

But Pearce says that “humiliation” here is not humility; it is the act of humbling themselves before God. We find “meek submission,” xii.



1. “Stood praying.” As ver. 150, and x. 1099, it is said that they kneeled, and fell prostrate; "stood," here, and 11, does not refer to posture, or attitude, but the continuance of an act; or fixed attention. See ii. 55, 56, note ; viii. 3. Stetit in Latin, and cotnke, in Greek, are often so used. -(P., Gr.)

3. “Prevenient.Præveniens, anticipating, preceding; the original meaning of prevent, from prævenire, to go before.

4. “The stony from their hearts." Ezek. xi. 19, “I will take the stony heart out of them, and give them an heart of flesh."-(T.)

5, 6. That sighs inexpressible burst forth, which God's holy Spirit of supplication and intercession inspired them with, and wafted up to heaven. See St. Paul, Rom. viii. 26.-(H.)

8. “ Yet." This yet refers back to the first line; the intermediate lines to be taken parenthetically.

12. * Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha.” Ov. Met. i. 318, &c. describes Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, in order to restore mankind after the deluge, as praying at the shrine of Themis, the goddess of justice. The poet could not have thought of a more apt similitude to illustrate his subject. Though Milton has often alluded to heathen mythology, yet he commonly applies it by way of similitude, and to suit the taste of educated readers; and his partiality for Ovid may result from the fact of Ovid's subjects having, many of them, such as the creation, the deluge, the foreshowing of the destruction of the world by fire, &c. reference to Scripture history. (N., D.)

15, 16. See Tasso, Gier. Lib. iii. 72. It is a familiar expression with the ancient

poets, to say of such requests as are not granted, that they are dispersed by the winds. See Æn. xi. 794, &c.“ By envious winds," as in Ov. Met. x. 642 :" Detulit aura preces ad me non invida blandas."

(N.) “ Vagabond and frustrate." Vagabundus et frustratus (Lat.), wandering or tossed about, and disappointed or defeated. See the beautiful allegory and personification of Altai, suppliant prayers, in Homer, I). ix. 498, where they are called the daughters of almighty Jove. But Milton has left Homer, Ariosto, Tasso, and all other poets who have attempted such an allegorical description, far behind him.

17. “ Dimensionless." The reason why the gates of heaven, which (vii. 205) are represented as " on golden hinges moving, and opening wide,” &c. do not here open is, that these prayers were dimensionless, of a spiritual nature, without dimension, or corporeal proportion. “ Clad with incense," Psalm cxli. 2: “Let my prayer be set before thee as incense." -(R., N., T.)

25. Christ, who is repeatedly called our High Priest in the Epistle to the Hebrews, here also sustains that part assigned by St. John to the angel, Rev. viii. 3, 4, of offering up, together with incense, the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne of God.-“ Savour;" these prayers are called odours, Rev. v. 8.-(Ad., T.) 31. “ Sighs though mute.”

Mute sighs, is an expression of Statius, in a description of extreme affliction. Theb. xi. 604:“ Tandem mula furens genitor suspiria solvit."


33, 34. “ Advocate and propitiation.” The words of St. John, 1 Ep. ii. 1, 2.

38. The peace offering is frequently called " an offering of a sweet savour unto the Lord." So in Lev. iii. 5.-(Heyl.)

44, &c. See John xvii. 21, 22.-(H.)

51, 52. “ The land is defiled; therefore I do visit the iniquity upon it; and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants." Lev. xviii. 25.—(Stil.) Pearce and Newton say there should be a comma after "distemper;" for gross refers to him, not to distemper, the sense being, Adam is now gross, he must therefore go to air as gross, for in Paradise the air knows no gross mixture. I acquiesce in this opinion.

62–66. The meaning is; and after this life passed in a state of probation, &c. death resigns, surrenders him up to second life, &c. It is a classical mode of expression. So iv. 367, "All these delights will vanish, and deliver ye to


74. “In Oreb," when the law was given there to Moses, Exod. xx. 18.

Perhaps" here, does not express any doubt as to the events ushered in by sound of trumpet, but as to the identity of the trumpet which will sound at general doom, 1 Thess. iv. 16.-(N., D.)

82. “ Took their seats." Bentley objects to these words, because Milton never represents angels sitting round the throne of God, and therefore reads, “ took their stands." But, though the angels are generally represented as either standing, or falling down before the throne of God, they are so employed in acts of praise and adoration ; but here they are introduced in another character--called to synod, like a grand council, to hear the sentence pronounced on man, and, therefore, the poet very properly says they took their seats. Besides, there is scriptural authority for it: in Rev. iv. 4, and xi. 16, the four-and-twenty elders are described as sitting on seats round about the throne" of God; and Christ tells his apostles that they “shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel," Matt. xix. 28. -(P., Gr.)

78. See note on iii. 353.

84. This whole speech is founded on Gen. iii. 22, &c.-(N.)

86. “ That defended fruit." “ Defend," (defendo, Lat.) is used here in its primary sense, to mean, forbid, keep off. See xii. 206.

91, 92. “ Longer than they move," &c. The meaning of this abstruse passage, which the commentators have not ex

plained, I take to be this :- I know how changeable is his heart, (after the emotions of grief, &c. which I have implanted in him, cease to operate on him) when left to himself.

99. Milton has, with great judgment, selected Michael to this office. It would not have been so proper for Raphael, “the sociable spirit," whose intercourse with Adam was of a friendly kind; nor for Gabriel, who was the guardian angel of Paradise, and unknown to whom Satan entered, and who was besides the minister of mercy, according to the Jewish rabbis, and was the angel particularly employed in conveying glad tidings to mankind, relative to the great events of the gospelsuch as in informing Daniel of the famous prophecy of the seventy weeks-in notifying the conception of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias, and of our Saviour to his Virgin Mother; whereas Michael had no intercourse with Paradise or man, and was besides, according to the Jewish rabbis, the minister of

severity. Furthermore, though chief of all the archangels, he has yet only appeared in the battle of the angels, in which Gabriel and Raphael also took a distinguished part ; therefore it was right that he should have his due share in the arrangement of other parts of the poem. At the same time, as Raphael had related to Adam all events, previous to his existence, connected with the grand argument of the poem ; so Michael, the chief celestial minister, is selected partly to foreshow by vision, and partly to relate by narration, the great events consequent on the fall of man to the end of the world, and the final destruction of Satan's power.—(N., D.)

102. “ In behalf of man." On account of man, not out of good will to him, but out of a desire to keep him in a lost state ; hominis causa, non gratia.—(P.)

128. “ Four faces each." Ezekiel x. 12, 14, says, “and their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings were full of eyes round aboutevery one had four faces." The poet expresses all this by a delightful metaphor, * all their shapes spangled with eyes;" and by an allusion to Janus, a king of Italy, who, from his great wisdom, looking on things past and future, was represented with a double face (a fair illustration to give the idea of four faces); and then adds by way of comparison, the story of Argus with his hundred wakeful eyes, slain by Mercury however, to show that their eyes were not sleeping eyes, as

Argus's were found to be. When two such powerful causes of drowsing are mentioned, as “the Arcadian pipe and opiate rod of Hermes," which lulled Argus, there is great propriety and force in saying that the eyes of the cherubim were more “wakeful" than to be influenced by them.“ Reed,” Mercury's pipe or flute, made of reeds; "rod," his caduceus; hoth fabled to possess the power of causing sleep. See Ov. Met. i. 625.-( Ad., P., N.)

135. “ Leucothea." Λευκη θεα, the white goddess. Cicero, (Tuscul. i. 12,) says she was the same as the Matuta of the Latins. " Lucothea nominata a Græcis, Matuta habetur a nostris.” Lucretius (v. 655,) says Matuta is the early dawn that ushers in the rosy Aurora :· Tempore etiam certo roseam Matuta per oras Ætheris Auroram defert, et lumina pandit.'

(N.) 157. The words of Agag. 1 Sam. xv. 32.-(N.)

159. « Eve" in Hebrew means mo. ther of all living persons, as woman means extracted from man.-(N.)

181. “Fate subscribed not," i. e. did pot second her wish to follow her usual occupations in Paradise.—(T.)

183. In the first editions there was only a comma after the first “air,” hence "eclipsed" must have been taken as a passive participle. I think it better to make the member terminate at the first “ air," to take "eclipsed" as a verb neuter here, as it sometimes is, and consider the words as an independent clause. Each of the other signs is described in a separate clause.

185. “ The bird of Jove." The eagle, Jovis ales. “Stooped” is a participle here, and a term of falconry.- (N.) Stooping is when a hawk, at the height of her pitch, bendeth violently down to strike her prey.-(Lutham.)

186. Such omens are not unusual in the poets.

See Virg. Æn. i. 393; xii. 247. But these omens have a singular beauty here, as they show the change that is going to take place in the condition of Adam and Eve; and nothing could be invented more apposite and proper for this purpose ; an eagle pursuing two beautiful birds, and a lion chasing a gentle hart and hind; and both to the eastern gate of Paradise ; as Adam and Eve were to be driven out by the angel at that gate.—(N.)

204. Ovid. Met. i. 602:-

"Et noctis faciem nebulas fecisse volucres,

Sub nitido mirata die."-(H.) The first line illustrates a disputed passage, vii. 422.

205. The contrast between the unnatural darkness of the east, and the brightness of the west in the morning, rendered the prodigy more awful. Says Addison, “ the whole theatre of nature is darkened, that this glorious machine (the descent of the flaming angels) may appear in all its lustre and magnificence."

213—220. See Gen. xxii. 1, 2, for the apparition that Jacob saw; and 2 Kings vi. 13, for that which appeared on the flaming mount in Dothan, when

the king of Syria endeavoured to take Elisha by surprise for having disclosed the Syrian's designs to the king of Israel.

• Pavilioned,” for tented. So Shakspeare uses the word

“ And lie pavilioned in the fields of France." " Mahanaim" means hosts or camps.-(N., Bo.) 230. Æn. i. 405:

" Vera incessu patuit Dea." Milton uses the word “gait” to denote superior rank, ix. 389; iv. 870.-(T.)

232. Psalm cxiii. 1 : “he is clothed with majesty.'” (T.)

242, 243. “ Livelier than Melibæan." Of a livelier colour, and a richer dye than any made at Melib@a, a city of Thessaly, famous for a fish, ostrum, there caught, and used in producing the noblest purple dye. Æn. v. 251:

quam plurima circum Purpura Mæandro duplici Melibæa cucurrit." “ Or the grain of Sarra." The dye of Tyre, called “Sarra," from Sar, the Phænician name of a fish there taken, whose blood also made the purple colour. Virg. Georg. ii. 506 :

* Sarrano indormiat ostro."-(H.) 244. “In time of truce,” i, e. of peace; because then their robes of state were of a most gorgeous and costly kind. had dipp'd the woof." The rainbow dyed it in grain, and therefore more durably. It had all the glittering and unfading colours of the rainbow.

246. See Il. xxiv. 347.

247. “ Glistering zodiac,” or belt; a beautiful reference to the heavenly zodiac, or belt encircling the heavens, so called, from [wdlov, an animal, in reference to the twelve signs placed in it. 248.“ In his hand the spear."

It is FF

“ Iris


quite clear that "spear" here has no refer- not breathe the impure "air" of earth, ence to "hung," i.e. that he carried the because they were accustomed to the spear negligently in his hand, just as the immortal “fruits” of Paradise. The reader sword hung loosely by his side, as some must then observe that the remainder of imagine. Spear" here is the subject to the clause with which “fruits" would some verb understood, say, was, a verb have been connected, is omitted, as the frequently omitted in Milton, as in classic angel interrupts her. These unfinished authors. There are numerous instances sentences are often used with great effect in the classics of the conjunction coupling in poetry. a verb expressed with a verb understood, 297. “ For such of shape," &c. i.e. which is to be supplied from the context. Whether thou art one of the order of

252. “ Death” here is a thing to be princes, or the highest of them, for even suffered, and 254, must be understood as the highest may seem to have such a a person to execute a sentence.-(D.) shape. The structure is very figurative

261, 262. These two verses, and v. and classical. 259, are repetitions of v. 48, and 97, 98. 300, &c. With the exception of thy This is in imitation of Homer, who de- gentleness of manner in delivering this scribes messages as delivered in the very message, which, if harshly executed, would words in which they were first received, have killed us, your tidings bring the even in the heat of a battle. These mes, utmost affliction onr nature can bear, i.e. sages are sometimes so long, and so often our departure from this place. You have repeated, as to become rather tedious. foreborne to kill us, but (if we except But here Milton has all the beauty of this forbearance, besides, præter, except) Homer, without his faults, for out of one you have announced to us the greatest speech only two lines are given, and out calamity we can endure, our loss of Paraof another one line; and these three lines dise. This I conceive to be the meaning contain the whole essence of the com- of this obscure passage, which the commission.—(N.)

mentators have not noticed. This pas267. “Retire," is used as a substan- sage does not contradict verses 315, 316, tive for retirement in the best old English for here he speaks in general; there he poets.-(T.)

specifies a particular. 269. Milton had probably in view the

310. So Hor. i. Od. 26: " prece qua pathetic farewell of Philoctetes to his fatigent.See Luke xviii. 5—7.cave; if so, he has wonderfully improved ( T., D.) on it in pathos and variety., Sophocl.

320--322. Newton quotes a passage Philoctet. 1487 :

from Milton's “ Prelatical Episcopacy," Χαιρ' ω μελαθρον ξυμφρουρον εμοι,

and from Pliny's Panegyric on Trajan, 15, Νυμφαι τ' ενυδραι λειμωνιαδες,

resembling this. Burgess, Bishop of SalisΚαι κτυπος αρσην ποντου προβλης, ,

bury, in his elegant Essay on the Study Νυν δε κρηναι, γλυκιον τε ποτον Λειπομεν υμας, λειπομεν ήδη,

of Antiquities, quotes an analogous pasΔοξης ουπoτε τησο' επιβαντες.

sage from Cicero de Legib. b. ii. c. 2; The judgment of the poet is exquisite

and Dunster refers to the two first chaphere. When the first sentence was pro

ters of the fifth book of Cicero de Finib. nounced, the awfulness of the Judge and

So thoroughly was Milton's mind em

bued with all the learning of the classics, the suspension of their doom, rendered all words improper. But they were not

that he gives us the essence of many pasimproper now after the worst was known,

sages. and some words of comfort dropped from

323. Groves and altars, tombs, pillars, the archangel, according to Seneca's ob

and heaps of stones, were the representaservation, “Curæ leves loquuntur, in

tive symbols of past transactions, and

memorials to instruct posterity in the gentes stupent."-( St., T.) 280. This is copied, though highly em

primitive ages before the invention of bellished, from the farewell of Alcestis.

writing. We find from various parts of Euripides, Alcestis, 247:

Genesis that the patriarchs raised altars,

when God had appeared to them, xi. 7; Γαια τε, και μελαθρων στεγαι,

xxv. 25. To this custom Milton seems Νυμφιδιαι τε κοιται

to allude.—( Burgess.) Πατριας Ιωλκου.Τ.)

325, 326. “In memory or monument 284, 285. These words, if interpreted to ages." "Memory" here means a mein connexion with each other, will involve morial to himself for marks, by which he an absurdity, as if Adam and Eve could might remember the places of God's ap

and says,

pearance. But because his sons, who had not seen God, could not be said to remember him, he changes his expression

or in monument to ages,” to warn and instruct them that God had appeared to him there.—(P.)

The combination of "memory” and “monument occurs in Spenser's Virgil's Gnat, st. 74:"And many lost, of whom no monument

Remains, nor memory is to be shown."—(7.)

332. Stat. Theb. xii. 817:" Sed longe sequere, et vestigia semper adora." He alludes to Exod. xxxiii. 22.-(N.)

333. Milton's judgment in the contrast between Eve's and Adam's sorrow has been much admired. Her chief regret is that she must leave Paradise and all its beauties. His chief regret, which is of a more lofty and dignified character, is that he is to be banished from a place where he enjoyed the manifestation of God's presence.-(See Ad., N.)

337. The following remarkable and apposite passage from Lucan, ix. 578, was in Milton's eye," Estne Dei sedes nisi terra, et pontus, et aer, Et cælum, et virtus? Superos quid quæri

mus ultra ? Jupiter est quodcunque vides." See Acts xvii. 28; Psalm cxxxix.; Jerem. xxiii. 24. See a magnificent amplification of this in Pope's Essay on Man, i. 259. (N., T.)

356. In reference to the angel's conference with Daniel. Dan. x. 14.-(1.)

367. As Eve (viii. 40,) is represented as modestly retiring because the discourse of Raphael and Adam was taking an abstruse turn, so here she is lulled asleep, as her mind may not be able to comprehend much of the narration, and her sensibility not able to bear much of the shocking scenes exhibited. (Th.)

374. En. v. 710:" Quicquid erit, superanda omnis fortuna

ferendo est."-(H.) 377. “In the visions of God." A Scripture expression. Sce Ezekiel viji. 3, &c., where there is a particular description of the prophet's entrance into the visions shown him; as afterwards of his return out of the trance.-(D.)

383. “ Second Adam”-Christ, see Mat. iv. 8. This scene is part of the subject of Paradise Regained, iii. 250, &c. Addison has remarked how much grander is this vision of the whole species, than Æneas's vision of his descendants. An. vi.

387-411. Volumes could be written on this section of geography; and though these countries have undergone great revolutions since Milton's time (the empire of the “Great Mogul,” the most wealthy and famous in all Asia, and all India, being now almost a tributary province of the British empire), yet to understand the author the following note of Newton will be sufficient.—The survey commences with the northern parts of Asia ; (the word “ destined" being applicable to all the cities which as yet were not in being, but only designed to be.) “ Cambalu," the principal city of Cathay, a province of Tartary, the ancient seat of the Kans, or rulers. “Samarcand," the chief city of Zagathaian Tartary, near the river Oxus, the birthplace, and at one time the royal residence of the Great Temir, Timour, or Tamerlane. Thence it proceeds to the eastern parts of Asia, to Paquin, or Pekin, the royal city of China, the country of the ancient Sinæ mentioned by Ptolemy. Thence to the southern parts, to " Agra” and “ Lahor," two great cities in the empire of “the Great Mogul," down to the golden Chersonese;" Malacca, the most southern promontory of the East Indies; India, remarkable for its valuable productions. Thence to Persia, of which “Ecbatan," or Ecbatana, was the ancient capital, and Hispahan is the modern. Thence it proceeds to “Mosco," the royal residence of the Russian Czar, or emperor ; and to Constantinople, (the ancient “Bizance," or Byzantium,) the capital of the grand Sultan, emperor of the Turks, who originally came from Turchestan, a province of Tartary. Milton reckons these to Asia, as they are adjoining, and a great part of their territories lie in Asia ; besides in his time they were considered Asiatic, and, as it were, detached from civilized Europe. After this Africa is surveyed:-first the empire of“Negus," the Upper Æthiopia, or land of the Abyssinians, subject to one sovereign, styled in their own language, negus, or king ; “Ercoco," or Erquico, on the Red Sea, the north-eastern boundary of the Abyssinian empire ; " and the less maritime kings," the lesser kingdoms on the sea coast, all near the line in Zanguebar, a great region of the Lower Æthiopia on the Eastern or Indian sea: “and Sofala, thought Ophir," another city and kingdom on the same sea, mistaken by Purchas and others for “ Ophir," whence Solomon brought gold; “ Congo,” a realm in the Lower Æthiopia on the western shore. "Niger;" this

« PreviousContinue »