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Education being of the first importance to society, no apology appears necessary for offering the following work to the notice of the rising generation; its necessity must be acknowledged and felt by guardians, to whom the precepts of wisdom and morality are very naturally supposed to be inculcated, and particularly so in those who have the instruction of youth. Learning has shed abroad, upon all nations, its divine influence, and softened even the manners of savages. Cadmus, king of Thebes, by the introduction of letters into Greece, and Palamedes, have both immortalized their names by the invention of letters; although it is said, by some writers, that Rhadamanthus brought them into Assyria, and Memnon into Egypt; and by others, that the Phoenicians and Ethiopians taught the first use of letters; but sacred history informs us, that Moses originally taught the art to the Jews, and that the Phoenicians learned them from the Jews, and the Grecians from the Phoenicians. Nothing can be more interesting than to trace,
from the earliest ages, down to the present time, the rise and progress of knowledge, did not the limits of a Preface prevent the possibility of doing the subject that justice it so eminently deserves. In this Scriptural and Allegorical Glossary of Milton's Paradise Lost, I have endeavoured to illustrate the mythological parts of that divine poem, in which the author so prolifically abounds with scriptural phrases and quotations, applicable to the work. Whether the object has been attained, those who are most conversant with polite literature, will be the best able to judge. Of a poem so celebrated as Paradise Lost, who would not feel proud to comment upon? The happy spot, who will not be happy to find? In the fourth book of which, it should seem, Milton consulted the fathers, "as to the easterly situation of this garden:" St. Athanasius has a fancy thereupon, extraordinarily poetical, expressive of its riches and its pleasures: that from hence, about the oriental parts of India, there were every where such fragrant scents, and that the spices receive their odours, as if from that happy place;" and hear what the author himself says:
Now gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
As the origin of Paradise Lost may not be
wholly uninteresting to the reader, a short account thereof may be considered as an additional beauty to this feeble attempt of mine.
Milton, observes a celebrated writer, as he was travelling through Italy, in his youth, saw, at Florence, a comedy called Adamo, written by one Andreini, a player, and dedicated to Mary de Medicis, queen of France. The subject of the play was the Fall of Man: the actors, God, the Devils, the Angels, Adam, Eve, the Serpent, Death, and the seven mortal Sins.
A topic, it must be owned, very improper for a drama, but so suitable, at that time, to the absurd genius of the Italian stage. He took, however, from that ridiculous trifle, the first hint of that noble work. Dr. Pearce, in his review of the text of the twelve books, observes, it is probable that Milton took the first hint of the poem from an Italian tragedy called Il Paradiso Perso; although the ingenious Mr. Hayley, in a very extensive research, has found no such performance. In a preface to the poetical works of the Rev. I. Sterling, it is said, that Milton owed his poem to Locusta, a spirited Latin poem, written against the Jesuists. It is further asserted, that the poet borrowed largely from a poem called the Christiad, written by a Carthusian monk of the
The Jesuists were called Locusts in the theological language of Bishop Lake, in 1629. See his Sermons, p. 205.
convent of Niewport. This poem, which is on the passion of Christ, is in seventeen books, and contains many ideas and descriptions, strikingly similar with those of Milton. Hayley, however, thinks it highly probable that Andreini turned the thoughts of Milton from Alfred to Adam, and first threw into the mind of Milton, the idea of converting Adam into an epic personage. In a work, entitled La Scena Tragica d' Adomo ed Eva, Estratta dalli prima tre capi della Sacree, &c. dedicated to Maria Gonzaga, Duchess of Mantua, a kind of drama, in prose, on the expulsion of our first parents from Paradise. In one part of which there is a very remarkable passage: after suggesting that the Mosaic history of Adam and Eve is purely allegorical, and designed as an incentive to virtue, the author says, "God reveals himself to man, by the intervention of reason, while she supports her sovereignty over the sensual inclinations in man, and preserves the apple of his heart from licentious appetites; in reward for his just obedience, transforms the world into Paradise: of this were I to speak assuredly, I might form an heroic poem worthy of demi-gods." Probably Milton laid the foundation of his Paradise Lost from it. It is, however, possible that Milton might never see the performance of Andreini; yet conjecture has ground enough to conclude that he was acquainted with