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This downfall; since by fated the strength of gods
So spake the apostate angel, though in pain,
O prince, O chief of many thronéd powers,
1 Satan supposes the angels to subsist by fate and necessity, and he represents them of an empyreal, that is a fiery substance, as the Scripture itself doth: "He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers & flame of fire,” Psalm civ. 4, Heb. i. 7. Satan disdains to submit, since the angels (as he says) are necessarily immortal, and cannot be de. stroyed, and since, too, they are now improved in experience, and mas hope to carry on the war more successfully, notwithstanding the present triumph of their adversary in Heaven.-Newton.
Or do his errands in the gloomy deep;
“Fall'n cherub, to be weak is miserable
1 Dr. Bentley has really made a very material objection to this and some other passages of the poem, wherein the good angels are repre. sented as pursuing the rebel host with fire and thunderbolts down through Chaos even to the gates of Hell; as being contrary to the account which the angel Raphael gives to Adam in the Sixth Book. And it is certain that there the good angels are ordered to “stand still only and behold,” and the Messiah alone expels them out of Heaven; and after he has expelled them, and Hell has closed upon them, vi. 880
“ Sole victor from the expulsion of his foes,
Messiah his triumphal chariot turned :
With jubilee advanced.” These accounts are plainly contrary the one to the other; but the author does not therefore contradict himself, nor is one part of his scheme inconsistent with another. For it should be considered, who are the persons that give these different accounts. In Book vi., the angel Raphael is the speaker, and therefore his account may be depended upon as the genuine and exact truth of the matter. But in the other passages Satan himself or some of his angels are the speakers; and they were too proud and obstinate ever to acknowledge the Messiah for their conqueror; as their rebellion was raised on his account, they would never own his superiority; they would rather ascribe their defeat to the whole host of Heaven than to him ulone; or if they did indeed imagine their pursuers to be so many
Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid
Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
in number, their fears multiplied them, and it serves admirably to express how much they were terrified and confounded.
In Book vi., 830, the noise of his chariot is compared to the "sound of a nume. rous host;” and perhaps they might think that a numerous host were really pursuing. In one place, indeed, we have Chaos speaking thus, ii. 996–
" and Heaven gates Poured out by millions her victorious bands
“Nine days they fell; confounded Chaos roared,
Incumbered him with ruin." We must suppose him therefore to speak according to his own frighted and disturbed imagination. Newton.
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast Leviathan, which God of all his works Created hugest that swim the ocean stream: Him, haply slumbering on the Norway foam, The pilot of some small night-foundered 3 skiff Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, With fixéd anchor in his scaly rind Moors by his side under the lee, while night Invests the sea, and wished morn delays: So stretched out huge in length the arch-fiend lay, Chained on the burning lake, nor ever thence Had risen or heaved his head, but that the will And high permission of all-ruling Heaven Left him at large to his own dark designs, That with reiterated crimes he might Heap on himself damnation, while he sought Evil to others, and enraged might see How all his malice served but to bring forth Infinite goodness, grace and mercy shown On man by him seduced ; but on himself Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance poured. Forthwith upright he rears, from off the pool, His mighty nature ; on each hand the flames, Driven backward, slope their pointing spires, and rolled In billows, leave i’ the midst a horrid vale. Then with expanded wings he steers his flight Aloft, incumbent on the dusky airo * Typhon is the same with Typhoëus. That the den of Typhoëus was in Cilicia, of which Tarsus was a celebrated city, we are told by Pindar and Pomponius Mela.
2 Milton seems to regard the leviathan as identical with th whale. The various and conflicting opinions on the subject are well detailed by Barnes on Job, xli. 1. General conclusion seems in favour of the crocodile. As far as Milton is concerned, I think he had in mind the stories of the kraken, or some other gigantic species of cuttle-fish, which have been said to appear in the Norwegian seas. The reader will call to mind the similar story in "Sinbad the Sailor." See Lane's Arabian Nights.
3 i.e. overtaken by night, and thereby hindered from proceeding.
4 This conceit of the "air’s feeling unusual weight” is borrowed from Spenser, who, speaking of the old dragon, says, b. i.cant. ii. st. 18–
' Then with his waving wings displayed wide,
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
“ Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,”
choice To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
1 Rather read “winds," with Pearce.
2 The Cape di Faro, a promontory of Sicily, about a mile and a half from Italy.--See Virg. Æn. iii. 6 and 7.
3 So Milton rightly spells it, according to its derivation from the Italian sovrano.
4 These are some of the Stoical extravagances, placed by Milton in the mouth of Satan, by way of ridicule.
5 Some read “ albeit."