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About the world, at that assembly fam'd
Would not be last, and with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-struck, th' exalted man, to whom
Such high attest was giv'n, a while survey'd
With wonder, then with envy fraught and rage
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involv’d,
A gloomy consistory; and thein amidst
With looks aghast and sad he thus bespake.

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answered the Lord, and said, From in iniitation of Virgil, Æn. iii. going to and fro in the earth, 677. and from walking up and down

Cernimus astantes nequicquam luin it. Job i. 7. Compare 1 Pet. mine torvo v. 8. Dunster.

Ætneos fratres, cælo capita alta fe41. Within thick clouds &c.]

rentes,

Concilium horrendum. Milton in making Satan's residence to be in mid air, within By the word consistory I suppose thick clouds and dark, seems to Milton intends to glance at the have St. Austin in his eye, who meeting of the Pope and Carspeaking of the region of clouds, dinals so named, or perhaps at storms, thunder, &c. says, ad the episcopal tribunal, to all ista caliginosa, id est, ad hunc which sort of courts or assemaerem, tanquam ad carcerem, blies he was an avowed enemy. damnatus est diabolus &c. Enarr. The phrase concilium horrendum in Ps. cxlviii. s. 9. tom. v. p. 1677. Vida makes use of upon a' like Edit. Bened. Thyer.

occasion of assembling the inBut Milton, in his Par. Lost, fernal powers. Christ. lib. i. places the Deity also " amidst

Protinus acciri diros ad regia fratres thick clouds and dark.”

Limina, concilium horrendum.
-How oft amidst

And Tasso also in the very same Thick clouds and dark does heaven's

Cant. iv. st. 2. all-ruling Sire Choose to reside, his glory unobscurd, Che sia comanda il popol suo raccolto And with the majesty of darkness (Concilio horrendo) entro la regia soround

glia. Covers his throne !

Thyer. Par. Lost, ii. 263.

Compare Par. Lost, X. 457. taking his idea from the sublime

Forth rush'd in haste the great condescriptions in the Psalms, xviii.

sulting peers 11. xcviii. 2. Dunster.

Rais'd from their dark Divan.

Dunster. 42. A gloomy consistory;] This

manner.

O ancient powers of air and this wide world, For much more willingly I mention air,

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44. O ancient pow'rs of air laying open the motives and and this 'wide world,] So the general designs of the great anDevil is called in Scripture, the tagonist of his hero. A council, prince of the power of the air, with a debate of equal length to Eph. ii. 2. and evil spirits the that in the second book of the rulers of the darkness of this Par. Lost, would have been toworld, Eph. vi. 12. Satan here tally disproportionate to this summons a council, and opens it brief epic; which, from the naas he did in the Paradise Lost : ture of its subject,already perhaps but here is not that copiousness abounds too much in speeches. and variety which is in the In the second book of this other; here are not different poem, where this infernal counspeeches and sentiments adapted cil is again assembled, a debate to the different characters; it is is introduced, which, though a council without a debate; short, is very beautiful. Dunster. Satan is the only speaker. And 44. O ancient powers of air, the author, as if conscious of and this wide world, this defect, has artfully endea- (For much more willingly I voured to obviate the objection

mention air, by saying, that their danger This our old conquest, than readmits no long debate,

member hell, But must with something sudden be Our hated habitation,) well ye oppos'd:

know, &c.] and afterwards

This passage is an eminently no time was then

striking instance of the fine For long indulgence to their fears or effect of a parenthesis, when ingrief.

troduced into a speech, and conThe true reason is, he found it taining, as Lord Monboddo says, impossible to exceed or equal “matter of weight and pathos." the speeches in his former coun- The ancients," observes the cil, and therefore has assigned same writer,“

were fond of the the best reason he could for not parenthesis; and particularly making any in this.

Demosthenes. Milton in this 44. The object of this council, as in other things followed their it should be recollected, is not taste and judgment, thinking he to debate, but merely for Satan could not vary his composition to communicate to his com peers sufficiently, nor sometimes conhis apprehensions of their ap- vey the sense so forcibly as he proaching danger, and to receive could wish, without the use of from them a sort of commission this figure." (See the Origin to act, in prevention of it, and Progress of Language, part ii. circumstances might require, and b. iv. 6. and the Dissertation on as he should judge best. This the Composition of the Ancients.) gives the poet an opportunity of Dunster.

as

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This our old conquest, than remember hell,
Our hated habitation; well

ye

know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possess’d, and ruld
In manner at our will th' affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise deceiv'd by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head : long the decrees of heav'n
Delay, for longest time to him is short;

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45. -air

always so. Why any interval This our old conquest,]

should ever occur between the -through the air

decrees of the Almighty and his The realm itself of Satan · long execution of them, a reason is usurp'd; Par. Lost, . 188. immediately subjoined, which

Dunster. forms a peculiarly fine transition 53. -attending] That is, wait to the succeeding sentence. ing, expecting ; from the French Time is as nothing to the Deity; attendre.

long and short having in fact Or in their pearly shells at ease

no existence to a Being with attend

whom all duration is present. Moist nutriment. Par. Lost, vii. 407. Time to human beings has its

-and patiently attend stated measurement, and by this My dissolution. Ibid. xi. 551.

Satan had just before estimated Milton frequently makes use of it; Gallicisms. Thus he has defend,

How many ages, as the years of men, in this poem, in the sense of This universe we have possess'd. forbid, from the French defendre ; Time to guilty beings, human

-no interdict Defends the touching these viands

or spiritual, passes so quick, that pure.

ii, 370. the hour of punishment, howAnd in Par. Lost, xi. 86. he

ever protracted, always comes terms the forbidden fruit “ that defended fruit.” Dunster,

And now, too soon for us, the circling

hours 55. --long the decrees of heav'n

This dreaded time have compass'd, Delay, for longest time to him

wherein we is short;]

Must bide the stroke of that long. That is, the decrees of heaven threaten'd wound. are sometimes long delayed, not

Dunster.

too soon,

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And now too soon for us the circling hours
This dreaded time have compass'd, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long threaten'd wound,
At least if so we can, and by the head

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Broken be not intended all our power
To be infring’d, our freedom and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air ;
For this ill news I bring, the woman's seed
Destin'd to this, is late of woman born:

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His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,
But his growth now to youth's full flow'r, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear.
Before him a great prophet, to proclaim
His coming, is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so
Purified to receive him pure, or rather
To do him honour as their king ; all come,
And he himself among them was baptiz'd,
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of heav'n, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw
The prophet do him reverence, on him rising

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75

80

57. -the circling hours] Mil- to lead the choral dance. The ton seems fond of this expres- circling hours then are the same sion. See Par. Lost, vi. 3. vii. with - the hours in dance.” 342. And so Virgil, Georg. ii. Par. Lost. iv. 266. Dunster. 402.

74. Purified to receive him -redit labor actus in orbem, pure,]. Alluding to the ScripAtque in se sua per vestigia volvitur ture expression 1 John iii. 3.

And every man that hath this hope Kuxnew to circle, as used by the in him, purifieth himself even as Greek poets, sometimes signifies he is pure.

annus.

85

Out of the water, heav'n above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors, thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, whate'er it meant,
And out of heav'n the sovereign voice I heard,
This is my Son belov'd, in him am pleas'd.
His mother then is mortal, but his sire
He who obtains the monarchy of heaven,
And what will he not do to advance his Son ?
His first begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep ;
Who this is we must learn, for man he seems

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83. A perfect dove descend,] others among the ancients, and He had expressed it before ver. Beza and others among the 30. in likeness of a dove, agree- moderns, who believed that the ably to St. Matthew, the Spirit Devil, though he might know of God descending like a dove, Jesus to be some extraordinary iii. 16. and to St. Mark, the person, yet knew him not to be Spirit like a dove descending upon the Messiah, the Son of God : him, i. 10. But as Luke says, and the words of the Devil, If that the Holy Ghost descended in thou be the Son of God, seem to a bodily shape, iii. 22. the poet express his uncertainty concernsupposes with Tertullian, Austin, ing that matter. The devils inand others of the fathers, that deed afterwards knew him, and it was a real dove, as the painters proclaimed him to be the Son of always represent it.

God, but they might not know 87. He who obtains the mo- him to be so at this time, before narchy of heaven:] Obtains is this temptation, or before he in the sense of obtineo in Latin; had entered upon his public to hold, retain, or govern. Dun- ministry, and manifested himself ster.

by his miracles. And our au89. —and sore have felt, thor, who makes the Devil to When his fierce thunder drove hear the voice from heaven, This us to the deep :]

is my beloved Son, still makes In reference to the sublime de- him doubt in what sense Jesus scription, in the Par. Lost, vi. was so called. See iv. 514. 834-866, of the Messiah driving the rebel angels out of heaven. Thenceforth I thought thee wortb Dunster.

my nearer view, 91. Who this is we must learn,]

And narrower scrutiny, that I might

learn Our author favours the opinion

In what degree or meaning thou art of those writers, Ignatius and called

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