Abbildungen der Seite

243-263. "Methinks I feel," &c. Through this passage Milton assumes that, by some peculiar physical sympathy, or correspondence of atoms of a like nature at whatever distances from each other, the fact of the Fall of Man had been immediately transmitted, in a kind of telegraphic shiver, down through Chaos to Hell-gate, where Sin and Death had been left sitting.

260, 261. "for intercourse or transmigration," &c. : i.e. "whether for going to and fro between Hell and the World of Man, or for permanent passage up to the World of Man, as may be their lot."

273-278. “As when a flock," &c. Newton supposes a recollection of Lucan, Phars. vii. 825 et seq. :

"Non solum Hæmonii funesta ad pabula belli
Bistonii venere lupi, tabemque cruentæ
Cædis odorati Pholoen liquere leones.
Tunc ursi latebras, obscæni tecta domosque
Deseruere canes, et quicquid nare sagaci
Aera non sanum, motumque cadavere sentit.
Jamque diu volucres, civilia castra secutæ,

Todd quotes from Beaumont and Fletcher (Beggar's Bush) :

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Milton, however, makes the birds of prey here scent the carnage before the battle. He probably follows some popular superstition.

[ocr errors]

279-281. "So scented the grim feature," &c. i.e. figure, form (It. fattura, thing shaped or made, creature, as in the last part of the word manufacture). See II. 666 et seq.—“ Sagacious of" (Lat. sagax, quick of scent). Sagire enim sentire acutè, ex quo sagaces dicti canes: Cicero, De Div. i. 4" (Hume).—" Quarry, game, prey, of the Fr. querir, to seek for, to hunt out" (Hume).-In the wording of this passage there seems certainly to be a recollection of the passage just quoted from Lucan: "quicquid nare sagaci," &c.

290-293. "Upon the Cronian sea. . . beyond Petsora eastward to the rich Cathaian coast." The "Cronian Sea" is the Polar or Arctic Sea, which ". was called the Cronian by some" (after Kronos or Saturn); "Petsora," or Petchora, is a gulf on the extreme north-east coast of the present European Russia; the "Cathaian coast" is the coast of Cathay, or China. The interval of the Arctic Sea, from Petchora eastward to the Chinese coast, is called an "imagined way," because it was a problem in Milton's time whether such a north-east passage to China, by the Polar coasts of Europe and Asia, could be effected. It is interesting to note the use made here, and in other parts of the poem, of geographical

[blocks in formation]

knowledge which Milton had acquired in compiling his Brief History of Moscovia. In this work, left in MS. and published after his death, he mentions and describes Petsora, Cathaia, and the supposed passage eastward from the one to the other.

293-303. The editors have found a good deal of difficulty in making out the exact meaning of this passage, and have varied the pointing. The pointing in the text corresponds with that of the original; and the meaning seems to be that Death firmly fixed in one hard mass the more solid parts that had been gathered together, and solidified the more liquid parts, and that then a portion of the aggregation was fastened, like a beach, to Hell-gate, while the rest was carried athwart Chaos like a mole or pier.-"Death with his mace petrific.” Todd quotes Pale Death's strong mace," from the Trag. of Dido by Marlowe and Nash (1594).—“ As Delos, floating once": a reference to the legend of the fixing of the floating island Delos by Zeus."Gorgonian rigour": a stiffness like that produced by the look of the Gorgon, which changed people into stone.

[ocr errors]

304. "from hence": i.e. henceforward.

305. "inoffensive": see note, VIII. 164. (Greenwood.)

See also Matt. vii. 13.

308. "Susa, his Memnonian palace." Susa, called Memnonia by Herodotus, was the residence of the Persian kings.

[ocr errors]

312-318. Now had they brought the work . . . to the outside bare of this round World." In the original text there is no comma or other point between "Chaos" and "to the outside bare," and accordingly it might be supposed that Milton intended the construction to be "where he (Satan) first . . . landed safe to the outside," &c. But, besides that this construction is awkward and unusual in itself, a study of the whole passage as, with this exception, it is pointed in the original, shows that Milton intended the reading to be that which we have indicated by our mode of pointing-i.e. that he meant the words "brought the work" in line 312 to be connected with "to the outside, &c." in line 317, and the intervening clauses from "a ridge" to "chaos," to be read continuously as in parenthesis. According to this reading "following the track of Satan to the self-same place, &c.," refers to the "ridge of pendent rock," and not to Sin and Death. The alternative reading, which would connect to the self-same place, &c." with " brought the work," would require a comma after "Satan ;" but there is none in the original. In short, in order to make "brought the work" refer to anything at all in the subsequent text, it is necessary to suppose a comma omitted after "Satan" in the original text or one omitted after "Chaos," and it gives far the most natural construction to suppose it omitted at the latter place. The reference in this passage is to that point of the previous narrative where Satan's alighting on the outside of the Primum Mobile is described (III. 418-422, and 498-501).


313. "Pontifical." The word means literally "bridge-making;" but it would not be inconsistent with Milton's manner to suppose that he may have intended the pun arising from the other sense of "pontifical ""of or belonging to the Papacy." The Latin word "pontifex" (pontiff) meant originally "bridge-maker"-a certain bridge in Rome having been founded and often repaired by the priests.

315. "To the self-same place," &c. It is to be remembered that the place where Satan had first landed on the outer shell of the Universe was somewhere on its upper convex. See notes, II. 1051 and III. 427. "and now in little space The confines met of empyrean Heaven And of this World, and on the left hand Hell With long reach interposed; three several ways In sight to each of these three places led."

320, 324.

The expression in this passage is somewhat obscure; but I understand it thus:-The bridge from Hell has been carried to the upper convex of the shell of the starry world and fastened to that shell somewhere near the zenith or point of intercourse between the Starry World and the overhanging Empyrean Heaven. This, already implied by previous descriptions (see immediately preceding note and references there), is distinctly asserted in the very next line (325), and again farther on (lines 389, 390), and is moreover necessary for the consistency of the story, inasmuch as the only access into the interior of the Starry Universe was by the orifice at its zenith, and it would have been bad bridgemaking not to carry the end of the bridge to a part of the outer shell near that point. Now, what were the appearances near that point, when Sin and Death had completed their work? The confines of the Empyrean Heaven and of this World met as before, in a little space, i.e. close together, or almost touching; but now Hell, on the left hand, interposed (i.e. shot in between these confines) with long reach, by means of the bridge just made, and the end of which, if represented in diagram, would actually appear as inserting itself between the external arc of the Starry World and the under-surface of Heaven. "Interposed" I take to be the past tense for "interposed itself," and not the past participle ; and this is consistent with the original pointing. (In the text I have followed preceding editors and inserted a comma after "Hell"; but, on reconsideration, I would delete it, and point as at the head of this note.) Why Milton should have inserted the explanation on the left hand" I do not know, unless it was that, in the diagram of the poem which he had before him in his mind's eye, he took the left or sinister side of the sphere of the Universe as that on which Satan first alighted upon it, and towards which consequently the bridge from Hell was thrown. Finally, what are the "three several ways" spoken of as "in sight" of Sin and Death? One is the bridge itself leading to Hell; and the second is the golden stair or passage of intercourse between

[ocr errors]

the pole of the Human Universe and Heaven; but what is the third? It is clearly the way down from the pole of the Universe to Paradise and the central Earth, already described (III. 526–539), and of the visibility of which to Sin and Death where they stood the poet proceeds to make mention in the very next line.-If the reader will refer to the diagram in Introd. p. 85, he will be able easily to insert in that diagram the "three several ways." A line shooting up from the white orifice, or point of suspension of the World from the Empyrean, will represent the way to Heaven; a continuation of the same vertically downwards will represent the way into the interior of the World; and a curved track from the orifice on the left side winding to the upper boss or convex of Hell will represent the bridge built by Sin and Death.

327-330. "Satan . . . betwixt the Centaur and the Scorpion steering his zenith, while the Sun in Aries rose"; i.e. in his ascent to the opening of the Universe at its pole or zenith, carefully keeping far from the Sun, and therefore steering between the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpio -which, if the Sun were rising in Aries, would leave a distance from him of nearly five signs of the Zodiac.

345. "with joy." In the original text there is a full stop after the previous word "time," and "With" begins a new sentence. In that case "understood" in line 344 would be the past tense. Feeling the awkwardness of this construction, Tickell proposed the present reading, which has been generally adopted, and which makes "understood” a participle" which being understood," &c.

351. "stupendious." So in the text of the original editions, and the word is spelt in the same way in the only other place where it occurs in Milton's poetry (Sams. Ag. 1627). As the analogous word “tremendous" does not once occur, we do not know whether Milton would have justified a similar vulgarism in the spelling and pronunciation of that word.

364. "consequence," in its etymological sense, "con-sequence."

368. our liberty, confined," &c. One of the many instances in which Milton adapts Latin syntax to English. "Our" being a possessive case, and equivalent to "of us," the word "confined" is supposed to agree with it.

380. "parted": i.e. "separated" or "shut off," connected grammatically not with "all things," but with "him."

381. "His quadrature." Milton has already said of the figure of the Empyrean Heaven, as seen from underneath, that it was "undetermined square or round" (II. 1048, and note); and, though in the main it is best imagined throughout the poem as forming half of what may be called the whole sphere of Infinity, yet he purposely leaves the matter vague. But here he seems (and possibly, as Hume supposed, with some reference to the description of the New Jerusalem in Rev. xxi.

16, as "four-square") to adopt for a passing purpose the idea of a distinction in shape between the Eternal Heaven and the new Universe hung underneath it-the former square or cubical, and only the latter orbicular. Hume quotes from the mathematician Gassendi (1592— 1655): "Cælum Empyreum, mentium beatarum sedes, habetur forma exterius quadrata, quod Civitas Sancta, in Apocalypsi descripta, posita in quadro dicatur."

389-391. "that so near Heaven's door," &c. The meaning is "that, so near the very gate of the Empyrean as where we now stand, have brought a triumphal act of yours to meet my triumphal act—i.e. this glorious bridge to meet my victorious return from the achievement of my scheme of the World's ruin." See preceding note, 320-324.

392. "continent," in its etymological sense, "continuous stretch of land."

394. "on your road with ease": i.e. "which I can now do with ease on your road."

397. "these numerous orbs": in the First Edition "those." "Orbs " is here used in the ordinary sense of celestial bodies, and not in that of astronomical spheres of space.

409. "No detriment," &c. A recollection, as Hume noted, of the charge given to a Roman Consul, “ut videret ne quid Respublica detrimenti caperet."-" be strong": Deut. xxxi. 7. (Newton.)

413. "planet-strook." See note, II. 165.

415. "causey": still a provincial word for "causeway," and really, as Mr. Keightley has explained, more correct; the word being from the French chaussée, and having nothing to do originally with the English word "way."

417. "the bars assailed" : i.e. dashed against the bridge.

418. "his indignation": i.e. of Chaos.

[ocr errors]

424. Pandemonium." See I. 756, and note.

426. "paragoned" i.e. compared, likened.

427. "the Grand": i.e. the chiefs, as opposed to "the legions" or general body; we should now say "the grandees." Todd quotes the phrase "I grandi" used exactly in the same connexion in Tasso.

431-436. "As when the Tartar . . . Tauris or Casbeen." Images drawn from the recent or contemporary history of the East, where wars between the Russians and Tartars and the Turks and Persians were constant. Astracan is the country north of the Caspian, over which a Tartar host, repulsed by the Russians, might retreat on their way back into Asia; and, if the Bactrian Sophi (i.e. the Shah of Persia-the ancient Bactria forming a part of Persia, and the dynasty of the Sofis or Sooffees ruling in Persia from 1502 to Milton's time and beyond) were

« ZurückWeiter »