Page images


Stillingfleet observes, that Milton is here free from the objection to which Ovid is liable, of making a person mixing in society, like Narcissus, deceived by his own shadow; and that what Aristotle said of Homer, may

well applied here and elsewhere to Milton-that he teaches poets to tell fiction properly.

470. “ Stays.” Waits for. It is here taken actively, as maneo sometimes is in Latin.

471, 472. Read a comma after “ embraces,” for “he” refers to “no shadow;" and a semicolon after " art."

478. “Platain.” The plane tree, from latus, broad, on account of its broad shadowing leaves.-(H.) The introduction of the word plantain in the text of this edition has resulted from inadvertence.

486. “Individual.” Not divided, from the Latin individuus.

492, &c. Milton's delicacy and judgment here are remarkable. An Italian's imagination would have hurried him the length of a dozen stanzas on this occasion, and with its luxuriant wildness changed Adam and Eve into a Venus and Adonis. (Th.) 499, &c.

As the heavens or upper æther, the seat of heat and fire, (in ancient poetry personified by Jupiter,) smile on the air (Juno), thus making the elements the cause of fertility in spring. So Virg. Georg. ii. 325:Tum pater omnipotens fæcundis imbribus

æther Conjugis in gremium lætæ descendit, et Magnus alit, magno commixtus corpore,

fætus," See also the account of Jupiter's dalliance with Juno, Il. xiv. Adam is the subject to “pressed," the simile being taken as a pa lesis.–(N.) 500.“ Impregns," for impregnates.

504. “'Plained" for complained. So "'sdain " for disdain, &c.

509. The verb is is understood, as viii. 621.-(P.) The Greeks and Latins often omitted the substantive verb, when it could be plainly supplied from the context. Milton often does so.

515. Satan, with great judgment, is represented here as artfully perverting a fact, as if useful knowledge was denied to them.-(N.)

530. “A chance but chance." Forte fortuna are often used together in Latin. Todd quotes a similar jingle from Fairy Queen, III. vii. 3 :“Her force, at last, perforce adowne did lie."

539. “ In utmost longitude ;” at the farthest distance. See note on iii. 555.

541. Slowly descended." As in fact the sun passes equal spaces in equal times, and as (353) it is represented as hasting down, some commentators propose to read here “ lowly descended." Pearce thinks that Milton wrote "slowly," because Uriel, its angel, came on a sunbeam to Paradise, and was to return on the same beam, which he could not have well done if the sun moved with its usual rapidity. I think this interpretation rather strained, and that (353,) Milton spoke philosophically true; whereas here he speaks with poetic license to describe a long, and as if slow evening; the sun appearing not, from its elevated position, to shoot rapidly down, but, from its apparent position parallel with the earth, to sink slowly and gradually into the bed of the ocean.

543. i. e. The pillars: the gate itself was of ivory, (778.)

549. “ Gabriel." See Daniel vii. and ix ; Luke i.-(H.)

551. See note on ii. 528.

555. “Through the even," i.e. through that part of the hemisphere where it was then evening. So, 792, “the sun's decline.” So Virgil, Georg. iv. 59, poetically describes a swarm of bees sailing through the glowing summer :“ Nare per æstatem liquidam suspexeris ag

men."--(P., R.) 556. Homer in like manner, compares the descent of Minerva to a shooting star, sent as a sign to mariners; Il. iv. 74:Βη δε κατ' ουλυμποιο καρηνων αιξασα, Οιον δ' αστερα ήκε Κρονου παις αγκυλομητεω, Η ναυτησι τερας, ηε στρατω ενρει λαων Λαμπρον" τον δε τε πολλοι απο σπινθηρες ιεν



The fall of Phaeton (Ov. Met. ii. 320) is illustrated by the appearance of a falling star. These phænomena are most common in autumn after the heat of summer, and are mentioned by Virgil (Georg. i. 365) as portending tempestuous weather, to which Milton alludes here, “ Sæpe etiam stellas, vento impendente, videbis

Præcipites cælo labi, noctisque per umbram, Flammarum longos a tergo a bescere tractus.

(N.) Read a comma after “sunbeam."

561. He speaks in reference to the Jewish priests, who performed their several duties in the temple, in particular courses, by lot. See 1 Chron. xxiv.; Luke i. 8.-(N., C.)

[ocr errors]


563. “ Approach or enter in," i.e to approach, or at least to enter in.-(P.)

575. The abruptness and brevity of this lamentable announcement are very judicious. The main facts are stated, and no more. It is in Homer's style. The death of Patroclus is announced to Achilles in three short sentences : “ Patroclus is fallen! They are fighting round his naked corpse. Hector has his arms.”

583. “ So minded.” Being so disposed; a translation of the occasional meaning of animatus.

590—593. The sunbeam when he came upon it was level (see 541— 543); but, as the sun sank during his discourse, it sloped downwards from the hill of Paradise.—"Azores," (a trisyllable,) a cluster of nine islands, commonly called Terceras, in the Atlantic." Whether;" he will not determine whether the sun rolled thither from east to west with incredible swift motion in the space of a day, or the earth with shorter flight by rolling east left him there; it being a less motion for the earth to move from west to east on its own axis, according to the system of Copernicus, than for the sun and heavenly bodies to move from east to west, according to the system of Ptolemy. So, iii. 575, he does not determine whether the sun was the centre of the world. “ Voluble," with the second syllable long, as in Latin ; though, ix. 436, the word has the second syllable short. In the first edition whither was improperly printed for “whether."-(B., H., R., N.)

598, &c. This is the first evening in the poem; and to this description of it I know nothing parallel or comparable in the treasures of ancient or modern poetry. I can only recollect one description to be mentioned after this, a moonshiny night in Homer (II. viii. 551), where Mr. Pope has taken pains to make the translation as excellent as the original :“Ως δ' ότ' εν ουρανη αστρα φαεινην αμφι σεληνην Φαινετ’ αριπρεπεα, οτε τ' επλετο νηνεμος αιθηρ, Εκ τ' εφανων πασαι σκοπιαι, και πρωονες ακροι, Και ναπαι' ουρανοθεν δ' αρ' υπεριγη ασπετος

αιθηρ, Παντα δε τ' ειδεται αστρα" γεγηθε δε τε φρενα

ποιμήν. Milton leaves off where Homer begins. -(N.) 599. Shakspeare:

" Come civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black.”
603. “ Amorous."

Showing affection, in allusion to her lamentation for her lost young. Virg. Georg. iv. 514:

“ Flet noctem, ramoque sedens miserabile car

men Integrat." So Comus, 234:

“ When the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well." Todd says that the voice of the nightingale is termed by Euripides πολυχορδοtatn, having the greatest possible number of strings or notes ; hence the propriety of the word “descant,” which means a song with various notes.

614. Fairy Queen, i. 36:-, “The drooping night thus creepeth on them

And the sad humour loading their eyelids,
As messengers of Morpheus, on them cast
Sweet slumbering dew, the which to sleep

them bids." ---Th.) " Inclines." In the occasional sense of inclinare, actively, to bend or weigh down : declinare is sometimes used thus:-"dulci declinat lumina somno.” (Virg. Æn. iv. 185.)

628. “ Manuring,” used here in its original sense from the French manæuvre, to signify, manual labour. The next line shows this.--(R.)

640. “ Seasons" here does no mean the seasons of the year strictly speaking, but the different changes and periods of the day. So viii. 69; ix. 200.-(N.)

641. This passage is famous in our language not merely as a description, but as a specimen also of turns of words, from the variety of images, and the recapitulation of each image with a little varying of the expression. The following passage from the Danae of Euripides is quoted by Hurd as somewhat parallel to this, though immeasurably inferior:

φιλον μεν φεγγυς ήλιου τοοε,
Καλον δε ποντον χυμιδειν ενηνεμον,
Γη τ' ηρινον θαλλουσα, πλουσιον δ' ύδωρ:
Πολλων τ' επαινον εστι μοι δεξαι καλων
Αλλ' ουδεν ούτω λαμπρον, ουδ' ιδειν καλον,
Ως, τοις απαισι και ποθώ δεδηγμενοις

Παιδων νεογνων εν δoμoις ιδειν φαος. See also the eighth Idyllium of Theocritus : αδεια φωνα, &c.

656. There should be only a comma after “ starlight.”

660. It has been observed that Milton, in imitation of Homer, uses titles of respect and honour when his personages address each other in a friendly way, especially in the dialogues between Adam and Eve. Pope (I). i. 97) notices this custom of Homer.-(N.)

661. Read these. See 657, 674.-(N.)

671. This passage may be considered an imitation of Hesiod, i. 120, &c. who


706. «

represented the good genii wandering through the air to guard mortals. Similar passages may be found in several Christian writers. See Crashaw's Sacred Poems, Ed. 1652, p. 52.-(N., T.)

682. This notion of their singing and playing by night is agreeable to the account given by Lucretius, iv. 586; and Shakspeare, Tempest, act iii. sc. 2. (N., D.) Milton's notion here is in unison with that of many of the old Christian writers.

688. “ Divide the night," i. e. into certain portions. In the Roman camp the divisions of the night were announced by sound of trumpet, to regulate the different watches. “ Cum buccina noctem divideret :" Sil. Ital. Pun. vii. 154.-(R.)

696. Acanthus," from akavdov, a thorn, is a thorny spicy shrub with long large winding leaves, which furnished the idea to architects, in the Corinthian order, of forming their capitals on pillars in imitation of it.

698. “ Iris all hues," i.e. of all hues ; as before, (694,) “ laurel" for of laurel. The Iris is the flower-de-luce, exhibiting the varions colours of the Iris or rainbow. --(N)

700. “ Mosaic.” A floor, or any surface, of various colours and materials so arranged as to represent different figures, first used in the places consecrated to the Muses, whence the name. The word, though generally applied to the floor, is here applied to the roof. The Greek μουσα and μουσικον were generally applied to any thing neatly performed and fitted. This sort of work, musivum opus, was so called, “à concinnitate et elegantia." (Scaliger.) Pope says that Milton imitates Homer, (Il. xiv 347,) where Jupiter and Juno are represented as lying together in conjugal embrace on Ida ; and that he copies the terms and cadence of his verse, and many of his words. Yes; but how small a portion of his description are Homer's three lines ! and how immeasurably superior is this description to Homer's, and to those of all the ancient poets put together! Toισι δ' υπο Χθων δια φυεν νεοθηλεα ποιην, Λωτον θ' ερσηεντα, ιδε κροκον, ηδ' υακινθον, Πυκνον και μαλακον, ος απο χθονος υψοσ' εέργε.

703. “ Emblem.” Eubanua, (as emblema, Lat.) properly a tesselated or variegated floor of stone, wood, or other materials, so as to exhibit various devices; hence, it means, curious and variegated workmanship

Though but feigned.” i.e. Even poetic fiction never gave a more delightfully shaded and sequestered bower to the rural deities; to Pan the god of shepherds, Sylvanus the god of woods, the nymphs, the tutelar spirits of spring and mountain, or Faunus the god of husbandmen.

716. “ Unwiser son." This does not mean that Prometheus who stole the fire from heaven to animate the clay substance of man, and who rejected Pandora (so called from the many accomplishments bestowed on her by the gods), sent in revenge by Jupiter, and conducted by Mercury or Hermes, to allure and corrupt him with her blandishments, was unwise. But the comparative here is to be taken as it very frequently is in Latin, not in reference to another object, but to express a very great degree in itself. Thus uswiser here would be insipientior, i. e. very unwise, or unwiser than was just or expedient. Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus, received her; and a box which she gave him being opened, let loose upon mankind all manner of evils. This is the explanation of some commentators. Pearce asks, May not Prometheus have been unwise in stealing the fire? Why not take the comparative literally, and apply it to Epimetheus, who really did receive her, and therefore was less wise than his brother who rejected her? I ask.

724. I transcribe here a note from my edition of Livy, Vol. I. b. i. c. 57, as containing a fuller illustration of this beautiful passage than any I find in Milton's Commentators.-"Let the reader mark this abrupt and unexpected introduction of a speech. It is a great beauty, of which instances are to be found in some of the best classical writers, and which Longinus (c. 27) calls a burst of impassioned eloquence. See Quintilian, b. ix. c. 3. Virgil, Æn. viii. 291:

duros mille labores Rege sub Eurystheo, fatis Junonis iniquæ Pertulerit. “Tu nubigenas, invicte, bimembres, Hylæumque Pholumque manu; tu Cressis Prodigia, et vastum Nemeâ sub rupe leonem."* and Æn. ix. 632 :* Et fugit horrendum stridens elapsa sagitta. Perque caput Remuli venit, et cara tempora

Trajicit. "I verbis virtutem illude superbis *** Homer, Il. xv. 346 : “Εκτωρ δε Τρώεσσιν εκεκλετο, μακρον αν σας, Νευσσιν επισσενεσθαι, εαν δ' ενερα βροτοεντa “ον δ' αν εγων απανευθε νεων ετερωθι νοησω, Αυτού οι θανατον μητ.σσομαι.



Horace, i. Ep. vii.

conspexit, ut aiunt, Adrasum quendam vacua tonsoris in umbra Cutello proprios purgantem leniter ungues, « Demetri puer

abi, quære, et refer, unde domo, quis. " See also b. i. c. 13."

729. “ Delicious place,” Pearce says, is governed by " mad'st,” understood; Richardson

says it is coupled to “ mutual help" before, and governed by “in.”

735. Bentley would read the gift of sleep,” and says the words are a translation of Homer's ύπνου δωρον. But l'earce says Milton meant here to declare that sleep was God's gift, (see 611, 612 ;) and so Virgil, Æn. ii. 269, says of sleep :

“ Dono Divum gratissima serpit.” Todd says Milton rests here on scriptural authority (Psalm cxxvii.): “He (God) giveth his beloved sleep."

739. “Eased,” being eased. The preposition is understood before the substantive, in imitation of the Greeks and Latins, who often used substantives without expressing the prepositions kata or quoad.

748. This refers to the celibacy of the Romish clergy, which he calls the doctrine of the devil ; Paul (1 Tim. iv. 1-3) says, “ In the latter time some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of the devil, forbidding to marry," &c.—(N.)

750. “ Mysterious," including a mystery in it besides the plain precept which appears. So St. Paul (Ephes. v. 32): Marriage hath a mystery.”(P.)

Propriety," i. e. exclusive right and individual possession ; in the original sense of proprietas, from proprius, or belonging to one's self alone.—" Of all things:” of is frequently used by Milton for among, as here.

756. “ Charities.” In the strict and original sense of caritates (from xapis, love, and natural affection), which embraces all the endearments and relations of consanguinity and affinity and patriotic duty. Thus Cicero (Off

. i. 17) sums up its applications :—“Cari parentis, cari liberi, propinqui, famuli; sed omnes omnium caritates patria una complexa est.”—(N.)

761. See Heb. xiii. 4.-(N.)

763, 764. Cupid, in Ovid. Met. i. 470, has a golden sharp-pointed arrow with which he causes love, and a leaden blunt one with which he expels it; and, Rem. Amor. 701, he has purple wings.(Wart., D.)

769. “Serenate." An Italian wordquasi in sereno. Lovers selected serene cold nights to sing and play before the doors or windows of their mistresses, the better to convey to them the charms of their music, the force of their lamentations, together with an idea of the hardships they were suffering and willing to suffer for their sakes. See Hor. i. Od. xxv. 7 ; iii. Od. x. 1.-(N.)

776, 777. “Hill," i.e. half way towards midnight, at the third hour of night, (it being now autumn,) when the first military watch, according to the custom in the Roman camp, took its rounds. The shadow of the earth is in the form of a cone, the base of the cone standing on that side of the globe where the sun is not, and consequently when it is night there. This cone, to those who are on the darkened side of the earth, could it be seen, would mount as the sun fell lower, and be at its utmost height in the vault of their heaven when it was midnight. The shadow of the earth sweeps as it were the whole arch or vault of heaven between the earth and moon, and extends beyond the orbit of the moon, as appears from the lunar eclipses.—(B., R., N.)

778. Ivory was considered an article cf great value and beauty by the ancients. We find frequent mention of it in Scripture: Solomon's throne was of ivory. See Ovid. Met. iv. 185. can have no reference to the ivory gates of Virgil, (Æn. vi.) as some commentators think. -“ Port,(porta,) a gate.

784. “ As flame." This simile admirably expresses their rapidity and the splendour of their armour; and is peculiarly suited to those beings of whom the Scripture says,

“ He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire." -(N.)

785. “Shield to spear,” i. e. from left to right; a classical phrase, as the left hand held the shield, while the right grasped the spear. Thus, Livy says, declinare ad hastam, vel ad scutum.” (So Xenophon, Anabasis, iii. 26, uses the words tap ao Tidos, and, 29, Eni dopu.) The angels, as they stood, looked westward, with their backs to the gate. “As they are supposed in arms,

shield' and 'spear' give a dignity of expression, more than left and right have,” says Bentley.

788. “Ithuriel" in Hebrew means Discovery of God.

Zephon,” Searcher of Secrets.

791. “Secure,” (securus,) without any concern about, or fear of; sine cura.

This passage

751. “

[ocr errors]

в в 2

866. Upton remarks, that Milton in this whole episode keeps Homer in view, when he sends out Ulysses and Diomede as spies into the Trojan camp. ll. x.

535 :


796. “ Hither," i.e. to me wherever I may be.-(R.)

799. “ Of whom.” Of him whom; the antecedent being classically understood.

802.“ Organs of her fancy." Shakspeare, Mer. W. of Wind. act v. sc. 5:" Raise up the organs of her fantasy, Sleep she as sound as careless infancy."-(T.)

804. So Virg. Æn. vii. 351, when the fury Alecto works on queen Amata:

“ Vipeream inspirans animam......

Pertentat sensus."--(T.) Observe the change of construction: before it was “assaying to reach ;" here it is “assaying if he might taint.”

807. “At least,” i.e. if not thoroughly wicked thoughts, at least distempered thoughts.

814. See Orl. Fur. x. 40.-( Th.)
816. “ The tun." The cask or barrel.

823. Similar to the question in Homer, Il. x. 82:Τις δ' ούτος κατα νηας ανα στρατον ερχεαι οιoς.

829. “ Sitting," i.e. like a prince on his throne.-( Gr.)

834. As Ithuriel was the person who unmasked him, Zephon is very properly made to rebuke him; so that each may have his share in the action. (N.)

835. i. e. Think not thy shape the same, or think not thy undiminished brightness to be known now, as it was formerly in heaven.-(N.)

845. Virg. Æn. v. 344 :“ Gratior et pulchro veniens in corpore virtus."

(N.) 848. In imitation of Cicero, De Offic. i. 5: “ Formam quidem ipsam, et quasi faciem honesti vides, quæ, si oculis cerneretur, mirabiles amores, ut ait Plato, excitaret sapientiæ ;" — saw and pined his loss" in imitation of Persius, Sat. iii.

--ω φιλοι Ιππων μ' ωκυποδων αμφι κτυπος ουατα βαλλει.

874. Il. x. 540:-
Ουπω παν ειρητο έπος, ότ' αρ ηλυθον αυτοι.

879.“ Transgressions:"i.e. the bounds of hell were prescribed as the limit beyond which Satan was not to transgress. If we take with Richardson “transgressions" here, in the Latin sense of transgressus, or transgressiones, to mean transcursions, a word which Bentley proposes, there will be an inelegance in using “transgressions” according to one language, and “transgress” after, according to another;

transgress” must be taken in its strictly English meaning. See (N.)

883. “ Violate sleep.” Shakspeare : “ Macbeth doth murder sleep."

890. Read a semicolon after “doubt."

892. “ To change torment with ease.” A pure Latinism. Hor. i. Od. xvi. 26 :—

"Mitibus mutare tristia." So Shakspeare, Cymbeline i. 6, uses changes with :To change one misery with another."-(Slee.)

894. “Dole." AMiction, from dolor. So Shakspeare, Ham. i. 2, “ weighing delight and dole."

895, 896. “ No reason," this is no reason. “Wilt object,” wilt thou objectironically.

903. So Tasso, Gier. Liber. v. 42 and xix. 4.-( Bowle.)

904. Ironically—there is none now in heaven to judge of what is wise.

914. So Jupiter threatens the refractory divinity, Il. viii. 12 :Πληγεις ου κατα κοσμον ελευσεται Ουλυμπονδε.

924. A translation of the Homeric words, τον δ' αρ υποδρα ιδων προσεφη.

925. Satan commences with an elliptical sentence, abruptly; I suppose

from the excess of his rage :

I come not be cause I endure less."

927. “ Thy tiercest," attack; the adjective being classically used without a substantive, as is not unusual in Milton. -(P.) 929. Æn. xii. 894:

“Non me tua fervida terrent Dicta, ferox; Dii me terrent et Jupiter hostis."

(T.) 941. i. e. Though, in order to maintain possession, I may be put to the trial once

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



“ Virtutem videant, intabescantque relicta."

(N.) 858. To this beautiful passage Thyer produces as a close parallel what Mercury says to Prometheus; Æschyl. Prom. Vinct. 1008;

δακων δε στομιον ως νεοζυγης Πωλος, βιαζη και προς ήνιας μαχη. So Virg. Æn. iv.

“Fræna ferox spumantia mandit." So Fairy Queen, I. i. 1 :“ His angry steede did chide his foming bitt, As much disdayning to the curbe to yield."

(T.) 865. Gabriel is here a trisyllable.

« PreviousContinue »