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1. High on a throne, &c.] I HAVE before observed in general, that the persons whom Milton introduces into his poem, always discover such sentiments and behaviour as are in peculiar manner conformable to their respective characters. Every circumstance in their speeches and actions is with great justness and delicacy adapted to the persons who speak and act. As the poet very much excels in this consistency of his characters, I shall beg leave to consider several passages of the second book in this light. That superior greatness and mock-majesty, which is ascribed to the prince of the fallen Angels, is adınirably preserved in the beginning of this book. His opening and closing the debate; his taking on himself that great enterprise at the thought of which the whole infernal assembly trembled; his encountering the hideous phantom, who guarded the gates of Hell and appeared to him in all his terrors, are instances of that proud and daring mind, which could not brook submission even to Omnipotence. The same boldness and intrepidity of behaviour discovers itself in the several adventures which he meets with during his passage through the regions of unformed matter, and particularly in his address to those tremendous Powers who are described as presiding over it. ciddison.
the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,] That is dia. monds, a principal part of the wealth of India, where they are found, and of the island Ormus (in the Persian gulf) the mart for them. Pearce.
3. Or where the gorgeous east, &c.] The throne of Satan outshone diamonds, or pearl and gold. The choicest whereof are produced in the east. Spenser expresses the same thought thus, Faery Queen, b. iii. c. iv. st. 23.
that it did pass Th' wealth of th'east and pomp of Persian kings. And the east is said to shower chem uith rickest haid by an excellent metaphor to express the great plenty and abundance of them, and to sho'ver them on her kirgs, because there the kings have the principal share of property; or this might be said, as Dr. Pearce conceives, in allusion to the custom used' at the coronation of some kings in the east, of slowering gold and precious stones upon their heads.
18. Me il cugh just right, &c.] Me is rightly placed first in the sentence, being the emphatical word and the accusative case governed by the two verbs which follow, create and es. tablished. Me though just right, &c. did first create your leader, yet this loss hath much more established in a safe unenvied throne.
-The happier state In Hear'n which follows dignity, &c.] He means that the higher in dignity any being was in Heaver, the happier his state was; and that therefore inferiors might there envy superiors, because they were happier too. Pearce.
40.--and by what best way,] Smoother and more emplatical thus,
-and by what way best. Bentley. 43.-next kim Moloch,] The part of Moloch is likewise in all its circumstances full of that fire and fury which dis-tinguish this Spirit from the rest of the fallen Angels. He is described in the first book, as besmeared with the blood of human sacrifices, and delighted with the tears of parents and the cries of children. In the second took he is marked out as the fiercest Spirit that fought in Heaven: and if we consider the figure he makes in the sixth book, where the battle of Angels is described, we find it every way answeratle to the same furious enraged character. It may be worth while to observe, that Milton has represented this violent impetuous Spirit, who is hurried on by such precipitate passions, as the first that rises in that assembly, to give his opinion upon their present posture of affairs. Accordingly he declares himself abruptly for war, and appears incensed at his companions for losing so much time as even to deliberate upon it. All his sentimients are rash, audacious, and despe
Such is that of arming themselves with their tortures,. and turning their punishments upon hiin who intiicted them. His preferring annihilation to shame or misery is also luglily suitable to his character; as the comfort he draws from their disturbing the peace of Heaven, that if it be not victory it is revenge, is a sentiment iruly diabolical, and becoming the bitterness of this implacable Spirit.
Addison. 55 sit ling’ring kere] Bentley reads stay ling'ring here, because we have betore stand in arms: but stand docs not always signify the posture; see an instance of this in Join i. 26. To stand in arın is no more than to be in arms. So in xi. 1. it is said of Adam and Eve that they stood repen ant, that is were repentant; for a little beiore it is said that they prostrate fell. That sit is right here, may appear from ver. 164. 420. 475. Pearce. Sit ling’ring to answer sit contriving before. While they sit contriving, shall the rest sit lingering?
89. Must exercise us] He uses the word exercise, which signifies to vex and trouble, as well as to practise and employ
90. The vassals of bis anger,] The Devils are the vassals of thé Almighty, thence Ivianmon says, ii. 252.
Our state of splendid vassalage. And the vassals of anger is an expression confirmed by Spenser in his Tears of the Muses.
Ah, wretch.d world, and all that are therein,
The vassals of God's wrath, and slaves of sin. But yet when I remember St. Paul's words, Rom. ix. 22. The vessels of wrath fitied to destruction, I suspect that Milton here, as perpetually, kept close to the Scripture stile, and leaves it to the reader's choice, vassals or vessels. Bent.ey.
97. --bappier fur Tban miserable to have eternal being :] That it is better not to be than to be eternally miserable, our Saviour himself hath derermined, Matth. xxvi. 24. Mark xiv. 21.
108. To less than Goas) He gave it To less than God. For it was dangerous to the Angels. Bentley.
This emendation appears very probable at first view: but the Angels, though oiten called Gods, yet sometimes are only compared or said to be like the Gods, as in i. 570.
Their visages and stature as of Gods: and in other passages.
109. Iilial, in alt more grace;ul and bumane ;] Belial is den scribed in the first boook as the idol of the lewd and luxuri. ous. He is in the second book, pursuant to that description, characierized as timorous and slothful; and if we look into the sixth book, we find bin celebrated in the battle of Angels for nothing but that scolfing speech which he makes to Satan, on their supposed advantage over the eneiny. As his appearance is uniform in these three several views, we find his sentiments in the infernal assembly every way conformable to his character. Such are his apprehensions of a second battle, his horrors of annihilation, his preferring to be miserable rather than not to be. I need not observe, that the contrast of thought in this speech, and that which precedes, gives an agreeable variety to the debate. Addison.
Thc fine contrast, which Mr. Addison observes there is betwixt the characters of Moloch and Belial, might probably be first suggested to our poet by a contrast of the same kind betwixt Argantes and Aletes in the second Canto of Tasso's Jerusalem. Thyer.
mcm in fact of arms,] Dr. Heylin says it is from the Italian Fatto d' Arme, a battle; or else we should read here feats of arms, as in ver. 537.
138.-----would on kis throne
Sit unfolluted,] 'Tisa reply to that part of Moloch's speech, where he had threatened to mix the throne itself of God with infernal sulphur and strange fire.
156. Impotence,] Impotence, according to a Latin idiom, is want of force of mind sufficient to controul passions.
159. WiDerefore cease we then ? &c.} Belial is here proposing what is urged by those who counsel war; and then replies to it, Is this then worst, &c. and shows that they had been in a worse condition, 165, 169, that sure was worse; and might be so again, 170-186, this wouli be worse.
170. What if the breath that kirdled those grim fires,] Is. xxx. 33. For Tophet is ordained of old, the pile thereof is fire and much wood, the breath of tke Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.
174. His red right hand] By bis seems to have been meant God's, who is mentioned so often in the course of the debate,
that he might very well be understood without being named; and by ber stores in the next line, I suppose, are meant Hell's, as mention is made afterwards of her cataracts of fire.
180. Caught in a fiery tempest shall be burl'd
Each on his rock transfix'd,] Borrowed of Virgil in his description of the fate of Ajax Oileus, Æn. i. 44. 45. 181. - the
prey Of wracking whirlwinds, ] Virg. Æn. vi. 75.
185. Unrespited, unpiried, unrefriev’d,) This way of introducing several adjectives beginning with the same letter without any conjunction, is very frequent with the Greek tragedians, whom our author imitated. What strength and beauty it adds, need noi to bc mentioned. Tbyer.
190.--be from Heav’n’s bighth All tbese our mctions vain sees and derides ;] Alluding to Ps. ii. 4. He that sittelb in the Heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall buve ibem in derision.
199. To suffer as to do;] Et facere, et pati. So Scævola boasted that he was a Roman, and knew as well how to suifer as to act. Liv. ii. 12. So in Horace, Od. iii. xxiv. 43.
220. This horror will grow mild, this darkness light,] It is quite too much, as Dr. Bentley says, that the darkness should turn into light : but light, I conceive, is an adjective here as well as mild; or as Mr. Thyer thinks, it is an adjective used in the same sense as when we say It is a light night. It is not well expressed, and the worse as it rhimes with the following line. 228. Mammon spake. ] Mammon's character is so fully drawn in the first book, that the poet adds nothing to it in the second. We were before told, that he was the first who tausht mankind to ransack the carth for gold and silver, and that he was the architect of Pandemonium, or the internal palace, where the evil Spirits were to meet in council. His speech in this book is every way suitable to so depraved a character. How proper is that reflection, et their being unable to taste the happiness of Heaven were trey actually there, in the mouth of one who while he was in Heaver, is said to have had his mind dazzled with the outward pomps and glories of the place, and to have been more intünt on the riches of the