Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

has drawn out to our view the whole animal creation, from the reptile to the behemoth. As the lion and the leviathan are two of the noblest productions in the world of living creatures, the reader will find a most exquisite spirit of poe. try in the account which our author gives us of them. The sixth day concludes with the formation of Man, upon which the Angel takes occasion, as he did after the battle in Heaven, to remind Adam of his obedience, which was the principal design of this his visit. Addison.

412. Tempest the ocean :) Milton has here with very great art and propriety adapted the Italian verb tempestare. He could not possibly have expressed this idea in mere English without some kind of circumlocution, which would have weakened and enervated that energy of expression which this part of his description required. Besides no word could be more proper in the beginning of the verse to make it labour like the troubled ocean, which he is painting out.

470. ---scarce from his mould Behemoth biggest born of earth upheav’d

His vastness :) The numbers are excellent, and admirably express the heaviness and unwieldiness of the elephant, for it is plainly the elephant that Milton means. Behemoth and leviathan are two creatures, described in the book of Job, and formerly the generality of interpreters understood by them the elephant and the whale : but the learned Bochart and other later critics have endeavoured to show that bebemoth is the river borse, and leviathan the crocodile. It seems as if Milton was of the former opinion, by mentioning leviathan among the fishes, and the river horse and scaly crocodile, ver. 474, as distinct from bebemoth and leviathan , and there is surely authority sufficient to jusify a poet in that opinion.

487. Pattern of just equality) We see that our author upon occasion discovers his principles of government.

505. There' wanted yet the master work, &c.] The author here remembered and copied Ovid, Met. i. 76.

A creature of more exalted kind
Was wanting yet, and then was Man design'd:
Conscious of thought, of more capacious breast,
For empire form’d, and fit to rule the rest.

Thus while the mute creation downward bend
Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,

Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies. Dryden.
506. a creature who not prone
And brute as other creatures, but indued

With sanctity of reason?,] Dr. Bentley finds great fault here, and alters the verses thus,

a creature who not prone
To earth, nor mute, nor bestial, but indued

With sanctity, speech, reason. I agree with him that Milton had Ovid in view, when he composed these verses. Let us see then what are the Doctor's objections against them. Prone, says he, barely put, does not express what Milton aimed at from Ovid, viz.

Pronaque cum spectent animalia cætera terram. It is true that Ovid says more than prone: but Milton, who was perfectly skilled in the force of Latin words, knew that

pronus in Latin sufficiently expressed what Ovid through a redundancy of stile has expressed by two more words spectant terram.

519. Let us make now Man in our image, &c.] i Gen. i. 26, 27, 28 The author keeps close to Scripture in his account of the formation of Man as well as of the other creatures.

548. Here finish'd be, all that be had made

View'd,] The pause is very remarkable, and admirably expresses the Creator surveying and contemplating his work,

and behold all was entirely good;
So ev'n and morn accomplish'd the sixth day :

He finishes the account of the creation in the same manner as Moses, Gen. i. 31.

551. Yet not till the Creator &c.] The poet represents the Messiah returning into Heaven, and taking a survey of his great work. There is something inexpressibly sublime in this part of the poem, where the author describes that great period of time, filled with so many glorious circumstances ; when the Heavens and Earth were finished; when the Messiah ascended up in triumph through the everlasting gates; when he looked down with pleasure upon his, new creation; when every part of nature seemed to rejoice in its existence.

565. Open, je everlasting gates, &c.] Psal. xxiv. 7. “ Lift

up your heads, O ye gates, and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors ; and the king of glory shall come in.” This hymn was sung when the ark of God was carried up into the sanc. tuary on mount Sion, and is understood as a prophecy of our Saviour's ascension into Heaven; and therefore is fitly applied by our author to the same divine Person's ascending thither after he had created the world.

619. On the clear hyaline,] This word is expressed from the Greek, and is immediately translated the glassy sea. For Milton, when he uses Greek words, sometimes gives the English with them, as in speaking of the rivers in Hell, ii. 577, & c. and so the galaxy, he immediately translates, that

milky way:

624. Earth with her nether ocean] To distinguish it from the crystalline ocean, the waters above the firmament.

631. -tbrice happy if they know
Their happiness, ] Virg. Georg. ii. 458.
O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint.

BOOK VIII.

1. The Angel ended, &c.] IN the first edition of this poem in ten books here was only this line, To whom tbus Adam gratefully reply'do

This would have been too abrupt a beginning for a new book; and therefore in the second edition of the poem in twelve books, when the seventh book was divided into two, the author changed this line, and changed it very much for the better, into the four first lines as they stand at present, only preserving part of this verse in the last of the four.

Then as new wak'd thus gratefully reply'd.

2. So charming left bis voice, &c] Imitated probably from Appollonius, i. 512, who elegantly describes the effect which the harp and voice of Orpheus had upon the Argonauts. When Orpheus had ended his song, they, intent and bending towards him, still listened and imagined him still speaking.

3.----still stoud fix'd to bear;) Stood from Stava (Italian) remained, continued ; not that Adam was in a standing pasturc, probably he sat as at dinner, v. 433. 'Tis not his attitude which is here described, but his great attention. Ricbardson. .

5. Wbat thanks sufficient, &c.]. The accounts which Rae phael gives of the battle of Angels, and the creation of the world, have in them those qualifications, which the crities judge requisite to an episode. They are nearly related to the principal action, and have a just connection with the fable. The eighth book opens with a beautiful description of the impression which this discourse of the Arch-Angel made on ous first parents, Adam afterwards, by a very natural curio

VOL. III.

sity, inquires concerning the motions of those celestial bodies which make the most glorious appearance among the six days works. The poet here, with a great deal of art represents Eve as withdrawing from this part of their conversation to amusements more suitable to her sex. He well knew, that the episode in this book, which is filled with Adam's account of his passion and esteem for Eve, would have been improper for her hearing, and has therefore devised very just and beau, tiful reasons for her retiring. Addison.

15. When I bebeld this goodly frame, this world &c.] Milton after having given so noble an idea of the creation of this new world takes a most proper occasion to show the twa great systems, usually called the Ptolemaic and the Coper. nican, one making the earth, the other the sun to be the center; and this he does by introducing Adam proposing very judiciously the difficulties that occur in the first, and which was the system most obvious to him. The reply of the Angel touches on the expedients the Ptolemaics invented to solve those difficulties, and to patch up their system; and then intiinates that perhaps the sun is the center, and so opens that system, and withal the noble improvements of the new philosophy ; not however determining for one or the other : .on the contrary he exhorts our progenitor to apply his thoughts rather to what more nearly concerns him, and is within his reach. Richardson.

19. And all her number'd stars,] Numbered by whom? By the Lord their Creator, and by him alone, Psal. cxlvii. 4.

23-his punctual spot,] He had called this earth a spot in ver. 17; he calls it here this punctual spot, a spot no bigger than a point, compared with the firmament and fixed

28. So many nobler bodies to create,

Greater so manifold). As if he had said, “ So many nobler, so many greater;" but he turns the words, “ So many nobler, greater so many,” manifold for the sake of the verse.

37. Of incorporeal speed,] Not that it was truly so, it signifies only very great speed, such as Spirits might use. “ Speed almost spiritual,” as he expresses it a little afterwards,

stars.

ver. IIO.

40.

whicb Eve

« AnteriorContinuar »