« AnteriorContinuar »
tures (clearer expressed, ver. 438, &c.) and the knowledge of their natures he says God then suddenly indued him with.
300. So saying by the band be took me rais’d,] Imitated from Gen. ii. 15 Some commentators say, that man was not formed in Paradise, but was placed there after he was formed, to shew that he had no title to it by nature but by grace: and our author poetically supposes that he was carried thither sleeping, and was first made to see that happy place in vision. Our poer had perhaps in mind that passage of Virgil, where Venus lays young Ascanius asleep, and removes him from Carthage to the Idalian groves, Æn. i. 691.
3146 Rejoicing but with awe,] There should most certainly be a comma after the word awe, although there be no printed authorities to justify it. It gives a greater strength to the sense, as it confines the awe to the rejoicing, and thereby expresses that mixture of joy and reverence, which the Scrip: tures so often recommend to us in our approaches to the divine Being.
323. But of the tree, &c.] This being the great hinge on which the whole poem turns, Milton has marked it strongly. “ But of the tree-Remember what I warn thee."
- he dwells, expatiates upon it from ver. 323 to 336, repeating, enforcing, fixing every word ; it is all
; nerve and energy. Rickardson.
330. inevitably thou shalt die,] According to Gen. ij. 17. that is from that day thcu shalt become mortal, as our poet immediately afterwards explains it.
33.5. Yet dreadful in mine ear,] The impression, which the interdiction of the tree of life left in the mind of our first parent is described with great strength and judgment; as the image of the several beasts and birds passing in review before him is very beautiful and lively. Addison.
353• with such knowledge God indwed &c.] Wonderful was the knowledge of God b-stowed on Adam, nor that part of it least, which concerned the naming things aright; as Cicero agrees with Pythagoras ; " Qui primus, quod summa sapientiæ Pythagoræ visum est, omnibus rebus nomina im. posuit." Tusc. Disp. lib. i. sect. 25. Hume.
357. Oby wbal name, &c.] Adam in the next place de.
357. O by what name, &c.] Adam in the next place de. scribes a conference which he held with his Maker upon the subject of solitude. The poet here represents the Supreme Being, as making an essay of his own work, and putting to the trial that reasoning faculty, with which he had indued his creature. Adam urges in this divine colloquy the impossibility of his being happy, though he was the inhabitant of Paradise, and lord of the whole creation, without the conversation and society of some rational crcature, who should partake those blessings with him. This dialogue, which is supported chiefly by the beauty of the thoughts, without other poetical ornaments, is as fine a part as any in the whole poem. 372.
-know'st thou not Their language and their ways ?] That brutes have a kind of language among themselves is evident and undeniable. There is a Treatise in French of the language of brutes: and our Author supposes that Adam understood this language, and was of knowledge superior to any of his descendents, and besides was assisted by inspiration, “ with such knowledge God indued his sudden apprehension."
440. - Expressing well the spi'rit witbin thee free,
My image,] Milton is upon all occasions a strenuous advocate for the freedom of the human mind against the narrow and rigid notions of the Calvinists of that age, and here in the same spirit supposes the very image of God in which man was made to consist in this liberty.
444.--, ere thou spaks't,
Knew it not good for Man to be alone,] As in Gen. ii. 18. 19. and 20. God brings the beasts and birds before Adam, and Adam gives them names, “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him;" as if Adam had now discovered it himself likewise : and from this little hint our author has raised this dialogue between Adam and his Maker. And then follows both in Moses and in Milton the account of the formation of Eve and institution of marriage.
460. Mine eyes be closid, &c.] Adam proceeds to give an account of his second sleep, and of the dream in which he beheld the formation of Eve. The new passion that was awakened in him at the sight of her is touched very finely. Adam's dis
tress upon losing sight of this beautiful phantona, with his ex. clamations of joy and gratitude at the discovery of a real creature, who resembled the apparition which had been presented to him in his dream ; the approaches he makes to her, and his manner of courtship, are all laid together in a most exquisite propriety of sentiments. Tho' this part of the poem is worked up with great warmth and spirit, the love which is described in it is every way suitable to a state of innocence. If the reader compares the description which Adam hete gives of his leading Eve to the nuptial bower, with that which Mr. Dryden has made on the same occasion in a scene of his " Fall of Man," he will be sensible of the great care which Milton took to avoid. all thoughts on so delicate a subject, that might be offensive to religion or good manners. The sentiments are chaste, but tot cold; and convey to the mind ideas of the most transporting passion, and of the greatest purity.
Addison 465. -opend my.left side, and took From s bence a rib, wide was the wound,
But suddenly with flesh filld up and beald:) As in Gen. ii. 21. The Scripture says only one of his ribs,” but Milton follows those interpreters who suppose, this rib was taken from the left side, as being nearer to the heart.
471...so lovely fair,
Mean,] The position of the words with the pause in the first syllable of the verse upon the adjective “mean," has a wonderful effect, and gives great force to the sentence. No collocation of words can exceed this in beauty. I remember an adjective placed much in the same manner in Virgil, Georg. i. 476. .
Vox quoque per lucos vulgò ex audita silentes
The placing of the word ingens is admirable, and makes one almost hear the loud dismal voice groaning thro' the groves.
485. Led by ber beav'nly Maker,] According to Gen. ii. 22. And our author still alluding to this text says afterwards, ver. gao, that she was “ divinely brought."
498. -and lo' his wife adbere;] “Adhærebit uxori suæ," as it is in the vulgar Latin: “shall cleave unto his wife," says the English Bible, as in Gen. ji. 23, 24. How has Milton im
proved upon the last words, “and they shall be one Aesh," and what an admirable climax has he formed !
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul, And by the way we may observe, that there may be great force and beauty in a verse, that consists all of monosyllables. It is true indeed that
- ten low words oft creep in one dull line : but there are several monosyllable verses in Milton as strong and sublime, as beautiful and harmonious as can possibly be written. No number of syllables can equal the force of these monosyllables, ii. 621, and 950.
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death.
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or fies. And abundance of other instances might easily be cited. And certainly monosyllables used properly add much to the strength and conciseness of our language.
509. And with obsequious majesty approv'd] How exactly does our author preserve the same character of Eve in all places where he speaks of her! This obsequious majesty is the very same with the coy submission, modest pride, in the fourth book,
513.---the eartb Gave sign of gratulation, &c.] This is a copy from Homer, Iliad. xiv. 347, where the creation is made to give the like tokens of joy at the amorous congress of Jupiter and Juno os mount Ida.
Glad earth perceives, and from her bosom pours
Perfume the mount, and breathe ambrosia round. Pope. But Milton has greatly improved this, as he improves every thing, in the imitation.
519.and bid baste the ev'ning star. Ön'kis bill top to ligbt the bridal lamp.) The evening star is said to light the bridal lamp, as it was the signal among the Ang cients to light their lamps and torches in order to conduct the bride home to the bridegroom.
Vesper adest, juvenes consurgite &c. Catul. “Qn his hill top," says our author, writing in the language ag
well as in the spirit of the Ancients; for when this star appear'd eastward in the morning, it was said to rise on mount Ida.
Jamque jugis summæ surgebat Lucifer Idæ,
Ducebatque diem. Virg. Æn. ii. 801. when it appeared westward in the evening, it was said to be seen on mount Oeta. Virg. Ecl. viii. 30.
Sparge marite nuces, tibi desirit Hesperus Oetam. 528.
but bere. Far oberwise, &c.]. What a noble mixture of rapture and innocence has the author joined together, in the reflections which Adam makes on the pleasures of love compared to those of sense! Addison. 537.
.at least on ber bestow'd Too much of ornament, in outward show
Elaborate, of inward less exa&t.] The poet has enlarged up. on the same sentiment in his Samson Agonistes.
Is it for that such outward ornament
547. absolute] So finish'd; so perfect, so complete, as it is said in the next line, and as the word is explained in the note upon ver, 421. And so absolw’d is used vii. 94.
560. To whom the Angel with contracted brow.] These sentiments of love in our first parent gave the Angel such an insight into human nature, that he seems apprehensive of the evils which might befall the species in general, as well as Adam in particular, from the excess of this passion. He therefore fortifies him against it by timely admonitions; which very art. fully prepare the mind of the reader for the occurrences of the next book, where the weakness of which Adam here gives such distant discoveries, brings about that fatal event which is the subject of the poem. Addison.
and worthy well Tby cherishing, thy bonouring, and thy love, ] He maketh use of these three words agreeable to Scripture. Eph. V. 28, 29, and 1 Pet. iii. 7.
576. Made se adorn &c.] These verses contain a beautiful