Imágenes de páginas

guilt and joy, which the poet represents in our first parents upon their eating the forbidden fruit, to those flaggings of spirit, damps of sorrow, and mutual accusations which succeed it, are conceived with a wonderful imagination, and described in very natural sentiments. Addison.

794. Thus to berself &c.] As our author had in the preceding conference betwixt our first parents described with the greatest art and decency the subordination and inferiority of the female character in strength of reason and understanding i so in this soliloquy of Eve, after tasting the forbidden fruit, one may observe the same judgment, in his varying and adapting it to the condition of her fallen nature. Instead of those little defects in her intellectual faculties before the fall, which were sufficiently compensated by her outward charms, and were rather softnings than blemishes in her character, we see her now running into the greatest absurdities, and indulging the wildest imaginations. It has been remarked that our poet in this work seems to court the favour of his female reeders very much, yet I cannot help thinking, but that in this place he intended a satirical as well as a moral hint to the ladies, in making one of Eve's first thoughts after her fatal lapse to be, how to get the superiority and mastery over her husband. 795

-precious of all trees, ] The positive for the superlative; the most precious of all trees; as Virg. Æn. iv., 576. “ Sequimur te Sancte Deorum.”

805. Though otbers envy what they cannot give ;] She re. solves to eat of the tree till she equals the Gods in knowledge, though etbers exvy; she means the Gods, though for decency's sake she names them not.

811. And I perbaps am secret;] She questions even God's omniscience, and flatters herself that she is still in. secret, like other sinners, who say, “ The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it, Psal. xciv. 7.

825. - for inferior who is free?] would appear from this, that women, had they not leagued with the Devil, would have never aimed at equality with men. There is a very humorous tale in Chaucer, which is also versified by Dryden, wherein the qnestion is proposed, what it is that women most affect and desire ? Some say wealth, some beauty, some flation

tery, some in short one thing, and some another ; but thre true answer is sovereignty. And the thought of attaining the superiority over her husband is very artfully made one of the first that Eve entertains after her eating of the forbidden fruit; but still her love of Adam and jealousy of another Eve prevail even over that. Fielding says that it is written in the book of Nature, that a woman will go half way to the Devil to prevent another woman from enjoying a Man with the enjoyment of whom she is pleased. 838.

- Adam ibe while &c.] Andromache is thus described as amusing herself, and preparing for the seturn of Hector, not knowing that he was already slain by Achilles.

845- divine of something ill, &c.] Forboding something ill. 875.4

-opener mine eyes, Dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler beart,

And growing up to Godbead;] Milton in the manner of expression here seems pretty plainly to allude to what Thirsis in Tasso's Aminta says of himself upon his seeing Phæbus. and the Muses, act. i. sc. 2.

Sentii mè far di mé stesso maggiore,
Pien di noua virtu, piena di noua
8y2. From bis slack band the garland wrearb'd for Eve

Down dropt, ] The beauty of the numbers, as well as of the image here, must strike


reader. There is the same kind of beauty in the placing of the words Down dropt, as in this passage of Virgil, Æn. ii. 531.

Ut tandem ante oculus evasit et ora parentum,
908. How can I live without thee, bow forgo

Tby sweet converse, and love so dearly join'd,] Dr. Bentley reads so dearly joy'd, the same as enjcy'd, as in ver. 166.

Who might have liv'd and joy'd immortal bliss.

But there is no occasion for this alteration; the passage may very well be understood sweetened and indeared by love; if he lost her, he could only converse with Angels, where he should want the dear addition of love. But the sense is much better as Dr. Pearce understands it, that is, tbe sweet Converse and love of thee so dearly join'd to me.

910. To live again in these wild woods forlorn ? ] How vastly expressive are these words of Adam's tenderness and affection for Eve, as they imply that the mere imagination of losing her had already converted the 'sweets of Paradise into the horrors of a desolate wilderness ?

920. Tbus in calm mood bis words to Eve he turn'd.] He had till now been speaking to himself ; now his speech turns to her, but not with violence, not with noise and rage, it is a deep considerate melancholy. The line cannot be pronounced but as it ought, slowly, gravely.

922. -wborbus hast dar'd,] So it is in the first edition, but in the second by mistake it is printed bath dar'd, and that is followed by some others,

928. Perbaps thou shalt not die, &c.] How just a picture does Milton here give us of the natural imbecility of the human mind, and its aptness to be warped into false judgments and reasonings by passion and inclination ! Adam but just condemned the action of Eve in eating the forbidden fruit, and yet drawn by his fondness for her, immediately summons all the force of his reason to prove what she had done to be right. This may probably appear a fault to superficial readers, but all intelligent ones will, I dare say, look upon it as a proof of our author's exquisite knowledge of hu

Reason is but too often little better than a slave ready at the command of the will to dress up in plausible colours any opinions that our interest or resentment have made agreeable.

978. I would sustain alone, &.] We have followed the punctuation of the first edition, as the sense requires, which is plainly this, If I thought the death that was threatened would be the consequence of this my attempt, I would suffer the worst alone, and not endeavour to persuade thee, I would rather die by myself forsaken of thee, than oblige thee with a fact, &c. Oblige is used here in the large sense of the Latin word obligo, which signifies not only to bind, but to render obnoxious to guilt or punishment. We have in Cicero, “Cuin populum Romanum scelere sbligassos."

989. And fear of death deliver to the wirids. ] “ To de liver to the winds" is a sort of proverbial expression, Hora Od. i. xxxvi. I.

man nature.

-Tristitiam et metus
Tradam protervis in mare Creticum
Portare ventis
998. not deceiv'd,

But fondly overcome with female charm,] According to the historical relation of Moses, he did not plead for himself, that he was deceived (the excuse of Eve cheated by the Serpent) but rather enticed and persuaded by her: “ The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." Gen. iii. 12. Whence St Paul, “ Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression," 1 Tim. ii. 14. Improbe amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis ?

Virg. Æniv. 412. Hume. 1000. Eartb tremblod from ber entrails,] When Dido in the fourth Æneid yielded to that fatal temptation which ruined her, Virgil tells us the Earth trembled, the Heavens were filled with Hashes of lightning, and the nymphs howled upon the mountain tops. Milton, in the same poetical spirit, has described all Nature as disturbed upon Eve's eating the forbidden fruit, ver. 780.

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd, she eat :
Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat
Sighing, through all her works gave signs of woe,

That all was lost. Upon Adam's falling into the same guilt, the whole creation appears a second time in convulsions. As all Nature suffered by the guilt of our first parents, these symptoms of trouble and consternation are wonderfully imagined, not only as prodigies, but as marks of her sumpathising in the fall of Man. Addison.

1002. Sky lour'd and muttering thunder,] It is not meant that thunder also lour'd, but “Sky lour'd, and muttering thurder" in the ablative case absolute, "some sad drops wept at completing of the mortal sin.” It was not loud claps of truge der, but muttering thunder, melancholy and mournful.

1029. For never did thy beauty &c.] Adam's converse with Eve after having eaten the forbidden fruit, is an exact copy of that between Jupiter and Juno in the fourteenth Iliad. Juno there approaches Jupiter with the girdle which she had received

from Venus; upon which he tells her, that she appeared more charming and desirable than she had ever done before, even when their loves were at the highest. The poet afterwards describes them as reposing on the summit of mount Ida, which produced under them a bed of flowers, the lotos, the crocus, and the hyacinth; and concludes his description with their falling asleep. Let the reader compare this with the following passage in Milton, which begins with Adam's speech to Eve. As no poet seems ever to have studied Homer more, or to have more resembled him in the greatness of genius than Milton, I think I should have given a very imperfect account of his beauties, if I had not observed the most remarkable passages which look like parallels in these two great authors. I might, in the course of these criticisms, have taken notice of many particular lines and expressions which are translated from the Greek poet; but as I thought this would have appeared too minute and over-curious, I have purposely omitted them. The greater incidents, however, are not only set off by being shown in the same light with several of the same nature in Homer, but by that means may be also guarded against the cavils of the tasteless or ignorant. Addison.

Our author had in mind the conversation between Paris and Helen in the third Iliad, as well as that between Jupiter and Juno on mount Ida. And as Mr. Pope observes, it is with wonderful judgment and decency that Milton has used that exceptionable passage of the dalliance, ardour, and enjoyment of Jupiter and Juno. That which seems in Homer an impious fiction, becomes a moral lesson in Milton; since he makes that lascivious rage of the passion the immediate effect of the sin of our first parents after the fall.

1034. So said be, and forbore not glance or toy &c.] What a fine contrast does this description of the amorous follies of our first parents after the fall make to that lovely picture of the $ame passion in its state of innocence in the preceding book,

To the nuptial bower
I led her blushing like the morn: all Heaven,
And happy constellation, &c.

1067, 0 Eve, in evil bour &c.] As this whole transaction between Adam and Eve is manifestly copied from the episode


ver. 510.

« AnteriorContinuar »