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witlo glorious ideas of God's works, and awaken that divine enthusiasm, which is so natural to devotion. But if this calling upon the dead parts of nature is at all times a proper kind of worship, it vas in a particular manner suitable to our first parents, who had the creation fresh upon their minds, and had not seen the various dispensations of Providence, nor consequently could be acquainted with those many topics of praise, which might afford matter to the devotions of their posterity. I need not remark the beautiful spirit of poetry, which runs through this whole hymn, nor the holiness of that resolution with which it concludes.
173. In thy eternal course, ] In thy continual course. Thus Virgil calls the sun, moon and stars eternal fires, Æn. ii. 154. Vos, æterni ignes; and the sacred fire, that was constantly kept burning, eternal fire, Æn. ii. 297.
Æternumque adytis effert penetralibus ignem.
181.--that in quaternion run &c.] That in a fourfold mixture and combination run a perpetual circle, one element continually changing into another, according to the doctrine of Heraclitus, Lorrowed from Orplieus. “ Et cum quatour sint genera corporum, vicissitudine eorum mundi continuata
Nam ex terra, aqua: ex aqua, oritur aer: ex aere, æther: deinde retrorsum vicissim ex athere, aer: inde aqua: ex aqua, terra infima. Sic naturis his, ex quibus omnia constant, sursus, deorsus, ultro, citro commeantibus, mundi partium conjunctio continetur." Cicero de Nat. Deor. ii. 33. The physical systems of the ancients were mere fi&tions of the imagination, not conclusions of reason from fact and experiment. They were ingenious poetry, not true philosophy. 205.
be bcuinteous still To give us only good;] He had his thought on that celea brated prayer in Plato, “ O Jupiter, give us good things, whether we pray for them or not, and remove from us evil things, even though we pray for them.” And we learn from the first book of Xenophon's memoirs of his master Socrates, that Socrates was wont to pray to the Gods only to give good things, as they knew best what things were so.
216. To wed her elm ;] Hor. Epod, ii. 9. -Aut adulta vitium propagine
Altas maritat populos :
Adam and Eve are very well employed in checking fruitless embraces, and leading the vine to wed her elm : that is very fitly made the employment of a married couple, which is urged in Ovid as an argument to marriage, Met. xiv. 661.
An elm was near, to whose embraces led,
Pope. 235. Happiness in his poru'r left free to will,] That is in the power of him lest free to will.
247.nor delay'd the winged saint, &c.] Raphael's departure from before the throne, and his flight through the quires of Angels, is finely imaged. As Milton every where fills his poem with circumstances that are marvellous and astonishing, he describes the gate of Heaven as framed after such a manner, that it opened of itself upon the approach of the Angel who was to pass through it. The poet here seems to have regarded two or three passages in the 18th Iliad, as that in particular, where speaking of Vulcan, Homer says, that he had made twenty tripodes running on golden wheels; which upon occasion might go of themselves to the assembly of the Gods, and when there was no more use for them, returned again after the same manner. Scaliger has rallied Homer very severely upon this point, as M. Dacier has endeavoured to defend it. I will not pretend to determine, whether in this particular of Homer, the marvellous does not lose sight of the probable. As the miracu. lous workmanship of Milton's gates is not so extraordinary as this of the tripodes, so I am persuaded he would not have mentioned it, had not he been supported in it by a passage in the Scripture, which speaks of whetis in Heaven that had life in them, and moved of themselves, or stood still, in. conformity with the Cherubims, whom they accompaniedia
There is no question but Milton had this circumstance in his :houghts, because in the following book he describes the chariot of the Messiah with living wheels, according to the plan of Ezekiel’s vision. I question not but Bossu and the two Daciers, who are for vindicating every thing that is censured in Homer, by something parallel in holy Writ, would have been very well pleased had they thought of confronting Vulcan's tripodes with Ezekiel's wheels. Addisonia
254.-the gate self-open'd wide] This circumstance is not borrowed, as Mr. Addison conceived, from Vulcan's tripodes in Homer, but from Homer's making the gates of Heaven open of their own accord to the Deities who passed through them, Iliad. v. 749
Heav'n gates spontaneous open to the Pow'rs,
Where Mr. Pope observes that the expression of the gates of Heav'n is in the eastern manner, where they said the gates of Heaven or Earth for the entrance or extremities of Heaven or Earth; a phrase usual in the Scriptures, as is observed by Dacier.
261.--As when by night the glass, &c.) The Angel from Heaven gate viewing the earth is compared to an astronomer observing the moon through a telescope, or to a pilot at sea discovering an island at a distance. As when by night the glass of Gallico, the telescope first used in celestial observations by Galileo: Or pilot, from amidst the Cyclades, a parcel of islands in the Archipelago, Delos or Samos first appearing, two of the largest of these islands, and therefore first appearing, kens 4 eloudy spot, for islands seem to be such at their first appear.
But the Angel sees with greater clearness and certainty than these; the glass is less assur’d, and the pilot kons only a cloudy spot, when the Angel sees not the whole globe only, but distinctly the mount of Paradise.
266.-.-Down thither prone in flight, &c.] Virg. Æn. iv. 253 -hinc toto præceps se corpore ad undas Misit, avi similis.
272. A Phoenix,] This bird was famous among the Ancients, but generally looked upon by the Moderns as fabulous. The naturalists speak of it as single, or the only one of its
kind, and therefore it is called here that sole bird, as it had been before by Tasso unico augello. They describe it as of a most beautiful plumage. They hold that it lives five or six hundred years; that when thus advanced in age, it builds itself a funeral pile of wood and aromatic gums, which being kindled by the sun it is there consumed by the fire, and another Phænix arises out of the ashes, ancestor and successor to himself, who, taking up the reliques of his funeral pile, flies with them to Egyptian Thebes to inshrine them there in the temple of the Sun, the other birds attending and gazing upon him in his fight. Egyptian Thebes, to distinguish it from the other Thebes in Boeotia. Plin. Nat. Hist. 1. x.c. 2.
275. on th’ eastern cliff ] For there was the only gate of Paradise, iv. 178. The good Angel enters by the gate, and not like Satan. 284.--with feather'd mail,
Sky-tinetur'd grain.] Feathers lie one short of another resembling the plates of metal of which coats of mail are composed. Sky-coloured, dyed in grain, to express beauty and durableness. Richardson.
285.--like Maia's son be stood, &c.] Raphael's descent to the earth, with the figure of his person, is represented in very lively colours. Several of the French, Italian, and English poets have given a loose to their imaginations in the description of Angels; but I do not remember to have met with any so finely drawn, and so conformable to the notions which are given of them in Scripture, as this in Milton After having set him forth in all his heavenly plumage, and represented him as alighting upon the earth, the poet concludes his description with a circumstance, which is altoge. ther new, and imagined with the greatest strength of fancy.
Like Maia's son he stood.
298. Him through the spicy forest) Raphael's reception by the guardian Angels ; his passing through the wilderness of sweets; his distant appearance to Adam, have all the graces that poetry is capable of bestowing. Addison.
299.-as in the door be sat) So Abraham, Gen. xviii. 1.
310..seems another morn} The nominative case is here understood, the glorious shape before mentioned.
325.--and superfluous moist consumes:) This is rather too philosophical for the female character of Eve: and one of Milton's greatest faults is his introducing inconsistencies in the characters both of Angels and Man by mixing too much with them his own philosophical notions.
331. So saying with dispatchful looks, &c.] The author gives us here a particular description of Eve in her domestic em. ployments. Though in this, and other parts of the same book, the subject is only the housewifry of our first parent, it is set off with so many pleasing images and strong expressions, as make it none of the least agreeable parts in this divine work. Addison. 333. Wrat choice to choose] This sort of jingle is very
usual in Milton, as to move motion, viii. 130. thoughts, mis-tbought, ix. 289. sinn'd sin, xi. 427. and is not unusual in the best classic authors, as in Terence, Andr. v. 8.
Nam hunc scio mea solide solum gravisurum gaudia. and in Virgil, Æn. xii. 680.
hunc, oro, sine me furere ante furorem: and many more instances might be given.
338. Whatever Earth all bearing mother] She gathered all manner of fruits which the Earth at that time afforded, or has since produced in the noblest and best cultivated gar. dens.
339.-_ middle shore, &c.] Or on the borders of the Mediterranean; in Pontus, part of Asia, or the Punico coast, part of Africa, or where Alcinous reign'd, in a Grecian island in the Ionian sea (now the gulf of Venice) anciently called Phæacia, then Corcyra, now Corfue, under the dominion of the Venetians. The soil is fruitful in oil, wine, and most excellent fruits, and its owner is made famous for his gardens celebrated by Homer.
344. --for drink ihe grape
Sbe crushes, inoffensive musi, ] By the word inoffinsive Milton intends to hint at the latter invention of fermenting the juice of the grape, and thereby giving it an intoxicating quality. This he would say was not the wine of Paradise.
349. from the shrub sinfin'd.] That is not burnt and