Page images

Talia voce refert ; curisque ingentibus æger
Spem vultu simulat, premit altum corde dolorem.

Newton. 131. — endanger'd Heav'n's perpetual King,] The reader should remark here the propriety of the word perpetual. Beelzebub doth not say eternal King, for then he could not have boasted of en. dangering his kingdom : but he endeavours to detract as much as he can from God's everlasting dominion, and calls him only perpetual King, King from time immemorial, or without interruption, as Ovid says perpetuum carmen, Met. i. 4.

-primaque ab origine mundi

Ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carmen.
What Beelzebub means here is expressed more at large afterwards by
Satan, ver. 637

But he who reigns
Monarch in Heav'n, till then as one secure
Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent or custom, &c.

Newton. 150.

whate'er his bus'ness be] The business which God hath appointed for us to do. So in ii. 70. His torments are the torments which he hath appointed for us to suffer. Many instances of this way of speaking may be found in this poem.

Pearce. 157)

to be weak is miserable

Doing or suffering :) Satan having in his speech boasted that the “ strength of Gods could not fail," ver, 116. and Beelzebub having said, ver. 146, “ if God has left us this our strength entire to suffer pain strongly, or to do him mightier service as his thralls, what then can our strength avail us ?" Satan here replies very properly, whether we are to suffer or to work, yet still it is some comfort to have our strength undiminished; for it is a miserable thing (says he) to be weak, and without strength, whether we are doing or suffering. This is the sense of the place; and this is far. ther confirmed by what Belial says in ii. 199. .

To suffer as to do
Our strength is equal.

Pearce, 199. or Typhon, whom the den

By ancient Tarsus held,] Typhon is the same with Tye phoëus. That the den of Typhoëus was in Cilicia, of which Tarsus

[ocr errors]


was a celebrated city, we are told by Pindar and Pomponius Mela. I am much mistaken, if Milton did not make use of Farnaby's note on Ovid. Met. V. 347. to which I refer the reader. He took ancient Tarsus perhaps from Nonnus :

Ταρσος αειδομενη πρωτοπΓολις, , which is quoted in Lloyd's Dictionary.

Fortis. that sea-beast Leviathan,] The best critics seem now to be agreed, that the author of the book of Job, by the Leviathan meant the crocodile; and Milton describes it in the same manner, partly as a fish, and partly as a beast, and attributes scales to it: and yet, by some things, one would think that he took it rather for a whale (as was the general opinion) there being no crocodiles upon the coasts of Norway ; and what follows being related of the whale, but never, as I have heard, of the crocodile.

Newton. 205. - as seamen tell,] Words well added to obviate the in. credibility of casting anchor in this manner.

Hume. That some fishes on the coast of Norway have been taken for islands, I suppose Milton had learned from Olaus Magnus, and other writers; and it is amply confirmed by Pontoppidan's description of the Kraken, in his account of Norway ; which are authorities sufficient to justify a poet, though perhaps not a natural historian.

Newton, 207. Moors by his side under the lee, ] Anchors by his side under wind. Mooring at sea is the laying out of anchors in a proper place for the secure riding of a ship. The lee or lee-shore, is that on which the wind blows; so that to be under the lee of the shore, is to be close under the weather-shore, or under wind. See Chambers's Dict. An instance this, among others, of our Author's affectation in the use of technical terms.



while night

Invests the sea,] A much finer expression than " umbris pox operit terras" of Virgil, Æn. iv. 352. But our Author in this (as Mr. Thyer remarks) alludes to the figurative description of Night, used by the poets, particularly Spenser, Faery Queen, B. 1. Cant. 11.

St. 49.

By this the druoping day-light 'gan to fade,
And yield his room to sad succeeding night,
Who with her sable mantle 'gan to shade
The face of carth.

Milton also in the same taste, speaking of the moon, iv. 609,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.

Newion. 209. So stretch'd out huge in length the Arch-Fiend lay) The length of this verse, consisting of so many monosyllables, and pronounced so slowly, is excellently adapted to the subject that it would describe. The tone is upon the first syllable in this line, the Arch-Fiend lay; whereas it was upon the last syllable of the word in ver. 156. th’ Arch-Fiend reply'd : a liberty that Milton sometimes takes to pronounce the same word with a different accent in different places.

Newton. 232. Pelorus,] A promontory of Sicily, now Capo di Faro, about a mile and a half from Italy, whence Virgil, angusta à sede Pelori, Æn. iji. 687

Hune, 252. Receive thy new possessor ;] This passage seems to be an improvement upon Sophocles, Ajax 395, where Ajax, before he kills himself, cries out much in the same manner.

Ιωα σκοτε, εμον φαθ, εξεμβG-
Ω φαινον ως εμοί, ,
Ελεσθ' ελεσθ' οικητορα, ,

Ελεσθε με.

Nervton. 263. Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n.] This is a wonderfully fine improvement upon Prometheus's answer to Mercury in Æschylus. Prom. Vinct. 965.

Της σης λατρείας την εμην δυσπραξιαν, ,
Σαφως εισασ', 8κ αν αλλαξαιμ' εγω
Κρείσσον γας οιμαι τηδε λατρευειν τετρα,

Η πατρι φυται Ζηνο τιςον αγΓελον. · It was a memorable saying of Julius Cæsar, that he had rather be the first man in a country-village than the second at Rome. The reader will observe how properly the saying is here applied and accommodated to the speaker. It is here made a sentiment worthy of Satan, and of him only; nam te nec sperent

Tartara regem,
Nec tibi regnandi veniat tam dira cupido. Virg. Georg. i. 36

Newton.' 287. - like the moon, whose orb, &c.] Homer compares the splendor of Achilles' shield to the moon, Iliad. xix. 373.

• αυταρ επει τα σακ©» μεγα τε, τιβαρόν τε,

Ειλετο, τεδ' απανευθε σελας γενετ', ηύτε μηνης. but the shield of Satan was large as the moon seen through a telescope: an instrument first applied to celestial observations by Galileo, a native of Tuscany, whom he means here by the Tuscan artist, and afterwards mentions by name in v. 262. a testimony of his honour for so great a man, whom he had known and visited in Italy, as himself informs us in his Areopagitica.

Newton. 289. Fesole,] Is a city in Tuscany; Valdarno, or the valley of Arno, a valley there.

Ricbardson. 292. His spear, to equal which the tallest pine, &c.] He walked with his spear, in comparison of which the tallest pine was but a wand. For when Homer, Odyss. ix. 322. makes the club of Polyphemus as big as the mast of a ship,

Docor g'isoy in.. and Virgil gives him a pine to walk with, Æn. iii. 659.

Trunca manu pinus regit et vestigia firmat; and Tasso arms Tancred and Argantes with two spears as big as masts, Cant. 6. St. 40.

Posero in resta, e dirizzaro in alto
I duo guerrier le noderose antenne.

These sons of Mavors bore (instead of spears)

“ Two knotty masts," which none but they could lift. Fairfax. well might Milton assign a spear so much larger to so superior a being.

Nezuton. 293. Norwegian hills,] The hills of Norway, barren and rocky, but abounding in vast woods ; from whence are brought masts of the largest size.

Hume. 303. Vallombrosa,] A famous valley in Etruria, or Tuscany, so named of Vallis and Umbra, remarkable for the continual cool shades, which the vast number of trees that overspread it afford. Hume.

310. From the sea-shore their floating carcases, &c.) Much has been said of the long similitudes of Homer, Virgil, and our Author, wherein they fetch a compass, as it were, to draw in new images, besides those in which the direct point of likeness consists. I think

they have been sufficiently justified in the general; but in this before us, while the Poet is digressing, he raises a new similitude from the floating carcases of the Egyptians.

Heylin. 338. As when the potent rod, &c.] See Exod. x. 13. « Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land, and the east wind brought the locusts : and the locusts went up all over the land of Egypt — so that the land was darkened.”

Newton. 369.

and th' invisible
Glory of him that made them to transform

Oft to th' image of a brute,] Alluding to Rom. i. 23. “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made Like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things."

Newton. 372. With gay religions full of pomp and gold,] By religions, Milton means religious rites, as Cicero uses the word when he joins religiones et ceremonias. De Legib. lib. i. c. 15. and elsewhere.

Pearce. 376. Say, Muse, &c.] The catalogue of evil Spirits has abundance of learning in it, and a very agreeable turn of poetry, which rises in a great measure from its describing the places where they were worshipped, by those beautiful marks of rivers, so frequent among the ancient poets. The Author had doubtless in this place Homer's catalogue of ships, and Virgil's list of warriors in his view. Addison.

Dr. Bentley says that this is not the finest part of the Poem; but I think it is, in the design and drawing, if not in the colouring; for the PARADISE Lost being a religious epic, nothing could be more artful than thus deducing the original of superstition. This gives it a great advantage over the catalogues he has imitated; for Milton's becomes thereby a necessary part of the work, as the original of superstition, an essential part of a religious epic, could not have been shown without it. Had Virgil's or Homer's been omitted, their poems would not have suffered materially, because in their relations of the following actions we find the soldiers who were before catalogued: but by no following history of superstition that Milton could have brought in, could we find out these Devils' agency; it was therefore necessary he should inform us of the fact. Warburton.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »