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HUS they in lowliest plight repentant stood
Praying, for from the mercy-seat above

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1. Thus they in lowlieft plight &c.] As the author never fails to give a Milton has shown a wonderful art poetical turn to his sentiments, he a describing that variety of passions, describes in the beginning of this vhich arise in our first parents upon book the acceptance which these he breach of the commandment their prayers met with, in a short hat had been given them. We see allegory form'd upon that beautiful hem gradually passing from the passage in holy Writ: (Rev. VIII. 4.) riumph of their guilt through re And another Angel came and flood at norse, shame, despair, contrition, the altar, having a golden censer; prayer and hope, to a perfect and and there was given unto him inuch complete repentance. At the end incense, that he Jould offer it with of the tenth book they are repre- the prayers of all saints upon the golsented as proftrating themselves upon den altar which was before the throne: the ground, and watering the earth and the smoke of the incense, which - with their tears: to which the poet came with the prayers of the saints, jains this beautiful circumstance, that afcended up before God. We have the they offer'd up their penitential fame thought express’d a second time prayers on the very place where their in the intercession of the Mefliah, judge appeared to them when he which is conceiv'd in very emphatic pronounced their sentence. There sentiments and expressions. Åddison. is a beauty of the same kind in a tragedy of Sophocles, where Oe

repentant food dipus, after having pat out his

Praying,] Dr. Bentley thinks that

the author intended it repentant kneeld, own eyes, instead of breaking his neck from the palace battlements X. 1099, that they kneel'd and fell

because it is said in ver. 150, and in (which furnishes so elegant an entertainment for our Englith audience) profirate: But ftood here has no other defires that he may be conducted to sense than that of the noun fubftan

tive were. mount Cithæron, in order to end

So in II. 55. fand in

In the his life in that very place where he arms fignifies are in arms. was exposed in his infancy, and fame ferife Petit and es nxe are often where he should then have died, had used by the Latins and Greeks. See

Pearce. the will of his parents been executed. my note on II. 56. L

1.

S. --- that

Prevenient grace descending had remov’d
The ftony from their hearts, and made new flesh
Regenerate grow instead, that sighs now breath'd

5
Unutterable, which the Spi'rit of prayer
Inspir'd, and wing'd for Heav’n with speedier flight
Than lcudeft oratory: yet their port
Not of mean suiters, nor important less

Seem'd toebs eru breadb'd days. The poet could not be Urztteratur.] That fighs unex- thought of a more apt fimiliadeo predible burit forth, which God's illuftrate his subjed, and be bas Holy Spirit, the Spirit of supplica- plainly fetch'd it from Ovid, Mel. tion and interceflion, breathed into 318. them, and wafted up to Heaven with Hic ubi Deucalion (nam cetes nimbler speed, than the most audible and loudelt oration could

ever reach: Cum conforte tori parvâ rate retas

texerat æquor) According to St. Paul, Rom. VIII. 26. Litcaise the Spirit also belpeth Corycidas Nymphas et nuties

adhæfit; car infirmities; for rue kasv nst obat

montis adarant, see fiould pray for as are ought: but Fatidicamque Themin, quz tans sbe Spirit itself makerb interception for

orâcla tenebat. *with groanings wbich cannot be

Non illo melior quisquam, nec: attered. Hume.

mantior æqui 8. — yet tbeir port &c.] This

Vir fuit, aut illâ metuentior a's set refers so far back as to line the

Deorum. first, Thus they in lowlieft plight re Atque ita, Si precibus, direrset, pentant food praying, yet their port

numina justis not of mean fuiters, all the interme.

Victa remollescunt, fi flectitur in diate lines being to be understood as

Deorum; in a parenthesis. Nor did their peti Dic, Themi, qua generis damson tion seem of less importance, than when

reparabile nostri the ancient pair lo renown'd in old

Arte fit: et merfis fer open, mit fables, yet not fo ancient a pair as

fima, rebus. Adam and Eve, Deucalion and chajte Pyrrha, in order to refore the race of mankind after the deluge, food de.. High on the summit of this dubiou voutly praying before the shrine of Deucalion wafting, moor'd his lishe Themis, the Goddess of juftice, who

skiff, had the molt famous oracle of those

of

Seem'd their petition, than when th’ancient pair 10
In fables old, less ancient yet than these, ,
Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha, to restore
The race of mankind drown'd, before the thrine
Of Themis stood devout. To Heav'n their

prayers Flew up, nor miss'd the way, by envious winds 15 Blown vagabond or frustrate : in they pass’d

DimenHe with his wife were only left from thence may illustrate his fubjeä behind

as well as from any thing else, eipeOf perish'd man; they two were cially fince it is one of the first things human kind.

that we learn at school, and is made E The Mountain-Nymphs, and The- by the Ancients fuch an essential mis they adore,

part poetry, that it can hardly And from her oracles relief implore. be separated from it; and no wonThe most upright of mortal men der that Milton was ambitious of was he,

showing something of his reading in The most sincere and holy woman this kind, as well as in all others.

fhe. Orighteous Themis, if the Pow'rs It is a familiar expresion with the

16. Blown vagabond or frufrate:] above By pray'rs are best to pity and to ancient poets, to say of such requefte

as are not granted, that they are love ; If human miseries can move their dispersed and driven away by the

winds. Thus Virgil, Æn. XI. 794mind; If yet they can forgive, and yet Audiit, et voti Phæbus fuccedere be kind ;

partem Tell how we may restore, by fecond Mente dedit: partem volucres dilbirth,

perfit in auras. Mankind, and people desolated Sterneret ut fubitâ turbatam morte earth. Dryden.

Camillam, Milton has been often cenfur'd for Annuit oranti: reducem ut patria his frequent allusions to the Heather alta videret, mythology, and for mixing fables Non dedit; inque motos vocem vere with facred truths : but it may be tere procellæ. obferved in favor of him, that what Apollo heard, and granting half he borrows from the Heathen mytho his pray'r, logy, he commonly applies only by Shuffled in winds the rest, and toss'd way of liinilitude; and a fimilitude in empty air,

He

Dimensionless through heav'nly doors; then clad
With incense, where the golden altar fum'd,
By their great intercessor, came in sight
Before the Father's throne : them the glad Son 20
Presenting, thus to intercede began.

See, Father, what first fruits on earth are sprung
From thy implanted grace in Man, these sighs
And pray’rs, which in this golden cenfer, mix'd
With incense, I thy priest before thee bring,
Fruits of more pleasing favor from thy seed
Sown with contrition in his heart, than those
Which his own hand manuring all the trees
Of Paradise could have produc'd, ere fall’n

From

23

He gives the death defir'd ; his fafe Heaven's gates without any obftracreturn,

tion. Richardson. By southern tempests to the seas is As Heaven gates are described (VIL borne. Dryden.

205,&c.) as ever-during, and moving And it is in allusion to this manner

on golden-hinges, and opening wide of speaking, that Milton says here let forth and let in the King of Glory, of the prayers of our first parents,

it might be wonder'd how these that they were not by envious wind's prayers could pass thro' them with blown vagabond or fruftrate. By en- fon I suppose the poet added the

out their opening, and for this rezvious winds, as in Ovid. Met. X. 642. epithet dimenfionless

. And as be Detulit aura preces ad me non invida blandas.

glanc'd before at the Heathen man.

ner of expression in faying that their 17. Dimensionless through heav'nly prayers were not by envious windi

doors;] As these prayers were blown vagabond or fruflrate, fo here of a spiritual nature, not as matter he may intend a remote reflectica that has dimensions, measure and upon that other notion of the Hea. proportion, they pafs'd through thens contained in the fable of Me

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