Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

740

745

750

755

760

Given me to quell their pride, and in event
Know whether I be dextrous to subdue
Thy rebels, or be found the worst in heaven.

Šo spake the Son: but Satan, with his powers,
Far was advanced on winged speed: an host
Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
Regions they pass'd, the mighty regencies
Of seraphim, and potentates, and thrones,
In their triple degrees; regions, to which
All thy dominion, Adam, is no more
Than what this garden is to all the earth,
And all the sea, from one entire globose
Stretch'd into longitude; which having pass'd,
At length into the limits of the north
They came; and Satan to his royal seat,
High on a hill far blazing, as a mount
Raised on a mount, with pyramids and towers
From diamond quarries hewn and rocks of gold;
The palace of great Lucifer, (so call
That structure in the dialect of men
Interpreted,) which not long after, he,
Affecting all equality with God,
In imitation of that mount whereon
Messiah was declared in sight of heaven,
The Mountain of the Congregation call’d;
For thither he assembled all his train,
Pretending so commanded to consult
About the great reception of their King,
Thither to come; and with calumnious art
Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears:

Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers;
If these magnific titles yet remain
Not merely titular, since by decree
Another now hath to himself engross'd
All power, and us eclipsed under the name
Of King anointed, for whom all this haste
Of midnight march, and hurried meeting here,
This only to consult how we may best,
With what may be devised of honours new,
Receive him coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile!
Too much to one! but double how endured,
To one, and to his image now proclaim’d?
But what if better counsels might erect
Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?
Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
The supple knee? Ye will not, if I.trust
To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves

765

770

775

780

785

766. Mountain, &c. See Isa. xiv. 13.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Natives and sons of heaven, possess'd before
By none; and if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free; for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then, or right, assume
Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals? if in power and splendour less,
In freedom equal: or can introduce
Law and edict on us, who without law
Err not? much less for this to be our Lord,
And look for adoration, to the abuse
Of those imperial titles, which assert
Our being ordain’d to govern, not to serve?

Thus far his bold discourse without controul
Had audience; when among the seraphim,
Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored
The Deity, and divine commands obey'd,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus opposed:

O argument blasphémous, false, and proud!
Words which no ear ever to hear in heaven
Expected, least of all from thee, ingrate,
In place thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn
The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,
That to his only Son, by right endued
With regal sceptre, every soul in heaven
Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due
Confess him rightful King? unjust, thou say'st,
Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,
And equal over equals to let reign,
One over all with unsucceeded power.
Shalt thou give law to God? shalt thou dispute
With him the points of liberty, who made
Thee what thou art, and form'd the powers of heaven
Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being?
Yet, by experience taught, we know how good,
And of our good and of our dignity
How provident he is; how far from thought
To make us less, bent rather to exalt
Our happy state, under one head more near
United. But to grant it thee unjust,
That equal over equals monarch reign:
Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,
Or all angelic nature join'd in one,
Equal to him Begotten Son? by whom,
As by his word, the mighty Father made
All things, ev'n thee; and all the spirits of heaven

815

820

825

830

835

799. The meaning, I presume, is, much 822. Shalt thou give law! Rom. ix. 20. less can he, for this, (namely, because we 835. By whom, &c. Col. i. 16, and Ps. are less in power and splenulour, v. 796,) ii. 8-12. rightly assume to be our Lord.

810

8 15

850

855

[ocr errors]

By him created in their bright degrees;
Crown'd them with glory, and to their glory named
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers,
Essential powers; nor by his reign obscured,
But more illustrious made; since he the head
One of our number thus reduced becomes;
His laws our laws; all honour to him done
Returns our own. Cease then this impious rage,
And tempt not these; but hasten to appease
The incensed Father and the incensed Son,
While pardon may be found in time besought.

So spake the fervent angel; but his zeal
None seconded, as out of season judged,
Or singular and rash: whereat rejoiced
The Apostate, and, more haughty, thus replied:

That we were form’d then, say'st thou? and the work
Of secondary hands by task transferr'd
From Father to his Son? strange point and new!
Doctrine which we would know whence learn'd: who saw
When this creation was? Remember'st thou
Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?
We know no time when we were not as now;
Know none before us; self-begot, self-raised
By our own quickening power, when fatal course
Had circled his full orb, the birth mature
Of this our native heaven, ethereal sons.
Our puissance is our own; our own right hand
Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try
Who is our equal: then thou shalt behold
Whether by supplication we intend
Address, and to begirt the almighty throne
Beseeching or besieging. This report,
These tidings carry to the anointed King;
And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.

He said; and, as the sound of waters deep,
Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause
Through the infinite host; nor less for that
The flaming seraph fearless, though alone,
Encompass'd round with foes, thus answer'd bold:

O alienate from God, O spirit accursed,
Forsaken of all good! I

ee thy fall
Determined, and thy hapless crew, involved
In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread
Both of thy crime and punishment. Henceforth
No more be troubled how to quit the yoke
Of God's Messiah; those indulgent laws
Will not be now vouchsafed; other decrees
Against thee are gone forth without recall:

265

870

875

880

885

$48. While pardon, &c. Isa. Iv. 6.

861. When fatal course. No compliment to fatalism, to put it into the mouth of the Devil.XEWTON.

864. Our mon puissance. Ps. xii. 4. 872. As the sound, &c. Rev. xix. 6.

[ocr errors][merged small]

That golden sceptre, which thou didst reject,
Is now an iron rod, to bruise and break
Thy disobedience. Well thou didst advise:
Yet not for thy advice or threats I fly
These wicked tents devoted; lest the wrath
Impendent, raging into sudden flame,
Distinguish not: for soon expect to feel
His thunder on thy head, devouring fire:
Then who created thee lamenting learn;
When, who can uncreate thee, thou shalt know.

So spake the seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal:
Nor number nor example with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single. From amidst them forth he passid,
Long way through hostile scorn; which he sustain's
Superiour, nor of violence fear'd aught;
And, with retorted scorn, his back he turn'd
On those proud towers to swift destruction doom'd.

900

905

890. Alluding, probably, to the rebel- | cates any reform, physical or moral, murt Jion of Korah, and Moses' spoech. Numb. expect bitter and malignant opposition xvi. 26.

from the mass of mankind, who dislike 896. The noble character of Abdiel may to give up their old ways of thinking be presented as a model of integrity to and acting. either from pride of opinion, all who, in a corrupt age, would stand or from the fear that, by the change, forth firm for the truth, though standing their own selfish interests may in some

lonc, regardless of the obloquy and abuse way be injuriously affected. they may receive. Every one who advo

REMARKS ON BOOK VI.

We are now entering upon the sixth book of Paradise Lost, in which the poet describes the battle of the angels; having raised his reader's expectation, and prepared him for it by several passages in the preceding books. The author's imagination was so inflamed with this great sceno of action, that wherever he speaks of it, he rises, if possible, above himself. Thus, where he mentions Satan in the beginning of his poem:

-IIim the almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms. It required great pregnancy of invention, and strength of imagination, to fill this battle with such circumstances as should raise and astonish the mind of the reader; and at the same time an exactness of judgment, to avoid every thing that might appear light or trivial. Those who look into Homer are surprised to find bis battles still rising one above another, and improving in horror to the conclusion of the Iliad. Milton's fight of angels is wrought up with the same beauty. It is ushered in with sneb signs of wrath as are suitable to Omnipotence incensed. The first engagement is carried on under a cope of fire, occasioned by the flights of innumerable burning darts and arrows which are discharged from either bost. The second onset is still more terrible, as it is filled with those artificial thunders, which seem to make the victory doubtful, and produce a kind of consternation even in the good angels. This is followed by the tearing up of mountains and promontories; till in the last place Messiah comes forth in the fulness of majesty and terror. of his appearance, amidst the roarings of his thunders, the fushes of his lightnings, and the noise of his chariot-wheels, is described with the utmost flights of human imagination.

There is nothing in the first and last day's engagement which does not appear natural, and agreeable enough to the ideas most readers would conceive of a fight between two armies of angels.

The second day's engagement is apt to startle an imagination which has not been raised and qualified for such a description, by the reading of the ancient poets, and of Homer in particular. It was certainly a very bold thought in our author, to ascribe the first use of artillery to the rebel angels. But as such a pernicious invention may be well supposed to have proceeded from such authors, so it enters very properly into the thoughts of that being, who is all along described as aspiring to the majesty of his Maker. Such engines were the only instruments he could bave made use of to imitate those thunders, that in all poetry, both sacred and profane, are represented as the arms of the Almighty. The tearing up the hills was not altogether so daring a thought as the former. We are, in some measure, prepared for such an incident by the description of the giants' war, which we meet with among the ancient poets. Milton bas taken every thing that is sublime in these several passages, and composes out of them the following great image :

From their foundations loos’ning to and fro,
They pluck'd the seated hills, with all their lond,
Rocks, waters, Woods, and by the shaggy tops
Uplifting bore them in their hands.

The pomp

« AnteriorContinuar »