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866. Conspicæous with tbree listed colours gay, ] He afterwards caļls it the triple-colour'd bow, ver. 897, and he means probably the three principal colours, red, yellow, and blue, of which the others are compounded.
884. To whom the Arch-Angel. &c.] The reader will easily observe how much of this speech is built upon Scripture.
Though late repenting him of man depraw'd,
"And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the carth, and it grieved him at his heart:" Gen. vi. 6.
—when looking down he saw
"The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was Klled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all Alesh had corrupted his way upon the earth :" ver. Il, 12.
Such grace shall one just man find in his sight,
“ And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a food, neither shall there be any more a flood to destroy the earth:" Gen. ix. II.
but when he brings
“ And it shall come to pass when I bring a cloud over the carth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud : and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth;" ver, 14. 16.
-day and night
" While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter andday and night shall not cease :" Gen. viii. 22.
till fire purge all things new,
« The Heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elee ments shall melt with fervent heat: nevertheless we, accord. ing to his promise, look for a new Heaven and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." 2. Pet. iii, 12, 13.
1. As one &c.) IN the first edition, before the last book was divided into two, the narration went on without any interruption; but upon that division in the second edition, these forst five lines were inserted.
11. Henceforth, what is to come I will relate,] Milton, after having represented in vision the history of mankind to the Erst great period of nature, dispatches the remaining part of it in narration. He has devised a very handsome reason for the Angel's proceeding with Adam after this manner; though doubtless the true reason was the difficulty which the poet would have found to have shadowed out so mixed and complicated a story in visible objects. I could wish, however, that the author had done it, whatever pains it might have cost him. To give my opinion freely, I think that the exhibiting part of the history of mankind in vision, and part in narrative, is as if an history-painter should put in colours one half of his subject, and write down the remaining part of it. If Milton's poem fags any where, it is in this narration, where in some places the author has been so attentive to his divinity, that he has neglected his poetry. The narration, however, rises very happily on several occasions, where the subject is capable of poetical ornaments, as particularly in the confusion which he describes among the builders of Babel, and in his short sketch of the plagues of Egypt. Addison.
Mr. Addison observes, that if Milton's poem flags any' wbere, it is in this narration; and to be sure, if we have an eye only to poetic decoration, his remark is just; but if we view it in another lightand consider in how short a compass he has comprised, and with what strength and clearness he has expressed the various actings of God towards mankind, and the most sublime and deep truths both of the Jewish and Christian
theology, it must excite no less admiration in the mind of an attentive reader, than the more sprightly scenes of love and innocence in Eden, or the more turbulent ones of angelic war in Heaven. This contrivance of Milton's to introduce into his poem so many things posterior to the time of action fixed in his first plan, by a visionary prophetic relation of them, is, it must be allowed, common with our author, to Virgil and most epic poets since his time; but there is one thing to be observed singular in our English poet, which is, that whereas they have all done it principally, if not wholly, to have an opportunity of complimenting their own country and friends, he has not the least mention of, or friendly allusion to his. The Refor. mation of our church from the errors and tyranny of popery, which corruptions he so well describes and pathetically laments, afforded him occasion fair enough, and no doubt his not doing it must be imputed to his mind's being so unhappily imbittered, at the time of his writing, against our gove n ment both in church and state; so that to the other mischiers flowing from the grand rebellion we may add this of its depriving Britain of the best panegyric it is ever likely to have. Tbyer.
16. With some regard to what is just and rigbi] This an&wers to the silver age of the poets, the Paradisiacal state is the golden one. That of iron begins soon, ver. 24. Ricbardson.
24.-ill one sball rise &c.] It is generally agreed that the first governments in the world were patriarchal, by families and tribes, and that Nimrod was the first who laid the foundations of kingly government among mankind. Our author therefore (who was no friend to kingly government at the best) represents him in a very bad light, as a most wicked and insolent tyrant, but he has great authorities, both Jewish and Christian, to justify him for so doing. The Scripture says of Nimrod, Gen. x. 9, “ that he was a mighty hunter before the Lord :" And this our author understands in the worst sense, of hunting men and not beasts and men, not beasts, shall be his game." But several commentators understand it in the same manner, and the Scripture applies the word to hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and tyranny. Jer. xvi. 16. Lam. iv. 18; Ezek. xii. 18, 20. And she Jerusalem Tar. gum here expounds it of a “ sinful hunting of the sons of men.
36. And from rebellion sball derive bis name,] The name of
Nimród, though more favourable etymologies are given, yet commonly is derived from the Hebrew word marad, which sig. nifies to rebel; and this probably was the principal occasion of those injurious reports, which have prevailed in the world con. cerning him.
Though of rebellion others be accuse
This was addded by our author, probably not without a view to his own time, when himself and those of his own party were stigmatized as the worst of rebels.
40. Marching from Eden towards the west, &c.] Gen. xi. 2, &c. “ And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar
And they bad brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may Teach unto Heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." The He. brew chemar, which we translate slime, is what the Greeks call espbaltus and the Latins bitumen, a kind of pitch; and that it abounded very much in the plain near Babylon, that it swam upon the waters, that there was a cave ard fountain continually emitting it, and that this famous tower at this time, and the no less famous walls of Babylon afterwards were built with this kind of cement, is confirmed by the testimony of several prophane authors. This black bituminous gurge, this pitchy pool the poet calls the mouth of Hell, not strictly speaking, but by the same sort of figure hy which the ancient poets call Tæna. rus or Avernus the jaws and gate of Hell, Tænarias etiam fauces, alta ostia Ditis. Virg. Georg,
iv. 467. 53.ma various spi'rit] 2 Chron. xviii. 22. It is said the Lord had put a lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets; here he puts a various spirie in the mouth of these builders, a spirit varying the sounds by which they would express their thoughts one to another, and bringing consequently confusion, whence the work is so called. Richardson.
62 -and tbe work Confusion nam'd.] For Babel in Hebrew signifies Confusion. " Therefore is the name of it called Babel, because the Lord did there confound the language of all the Earth." Gen. xi. 9.
71.- buman left from buman free.] Every reader must be