Abbildungen der Seite

poem ; and he adds, "such a mixture of bad physics and improper imagery rarely occurs." This is as the reader may feel; but the physical theory which runs through the expression may perhaps be illustrated by a reference to Chaucer's House of Fame (ii. 221 et seq.), where Eagle, who is Aying up with the poet, entertains him during their flight with a lecture on Natural Philosophy :


· Geoffrey, thou wotest well this,
That every kindly thing that is
Hath a kindly stead there he
May best in it answered be,
Unto which place everything
Through his kindly inclining
Moveth for ever to come to
When that it is away therefro ..
Thus every thing by his reason
Hath his own proper mansion

To which he seeketh to repair,” 743. Did I request thee." Isaiah xlv.

9. 758. “ Thou didst," &c. Bishop Newton has an apt remark here : “The change of persons, sometimes speaking of himself in the first, and sometimes to himself in the second, is very remarkable in this speech, as well as the change of passions.” 760-762. "what if thy son," &c. Isaiah xlv. 10. (Stillingfleet.)

Would thunder," &c. Job xxxviii. 5. (Todd.) 783. lest all I: i.e. lest the whole of me-body soul and body. Newton quotes Horace (Od. 111. xxx. 6), “non omnis moriar.”

792. All of me, then, shall die." Observe the process of reasoning by which Adam has reached this conclusion. Thinking of the sentence Dust thou art, and shalt to dust return," he has at first been horrorstruck lest this should apply only to his corporeal part, made of dustlest the spirit, which God had breathed into him, should somehow and somewhere survive, still to hear the dreadful voice of the offended Deity. Then that absolute annihilation or sleep, to which he looked forward as his only comfort, would not be granted him. But, seeing that it was the spirit that had sinned, and it could only be on what had sinned that the sentence had been pronounced—nay, seeing that the spirit alone was the living part that could die—he concludes that the sentence of death does apply to it. The body will die by resolution into dust, but the spirit also will die.

795—798. Be it," &c. The meaning is "granted that it is so,"-.c. that God's wrath must be infinite, because He is himself infinite-yet Man, the object of this wrath, is not infinite, but mortal by doom ; and even infinite wrath must come to an end with the death of its objectunless death itself were somehow to be made deathless or everlasting.

799, 800. which to God himself impossible is held." As Milton here introduces a doctrine of the Schoolmen, it is suggested that he must be speaking in his own person, and not in Adam's. But the law of Poetry in such matters of time and place is not that of History; and it is clearly Adam who speaks.

804-808. “ That were to extend," &c. Adam here assigns two reasons why it is not to be supposed that the death threatened can be infinitely prolonged or extended-(1) that by this God's sentence would be prolonged beyond the term named in it-i.e. resolution to dust; (2) that it would be in violation of that natural law, seen operating everywhere else, which limits the action of causes to the receptivity, or receptive capacity, of the object matter affected, and does not make it coextensive with the sphere or inherent potentiality of the causes themselves. Bishop Newton quotes the exact dogma of the Schoolmen which Milton must have had in view : “ Omne efficiens agit secundum vires recipientis, non suas” (“ Every cause acts according to the powers of the recipient, and not according to its own intrinsic powers ") -a dogma in which we can find a good deal of useful and intelligible meaning still. form of it is the so-called doctrine of the Relativity of Human Knowledge; by which is meant that man's knowledge is not absolute, or a knowledge of things as they are in their own nature, but only relative, or as they can be apprehended by his limited faculties.

816. “ Am found eternal.Bentley insisted that “amis here a blunder for "are," and many editors print "are" instead of the am" of the original text. But Todd quotes an instance of the same construction from Shakespeare, As you Like it, I. ii.


“ Which teacheth thee that thou and I am one ;"

and other instances prove that the idiom was not unusual. Indeed, in the present case, ammakes the identification stronger to the mind.

824—828. But from me," &c. Here Adam catches a glimpse of the doctrine of the implication of all mankind in Adam's sin.

827. “ With me? How can they, then, acquitted stand ?In the First Edition this line is printed without the word then”-in which case the word “they ” would have to be pronounced very emphatically. The word is inserted in the Second Edition,

834. "wrath: spelt “ wrauth" in First and Second Editions. 840. "future;" accented on the second syllable.

854-859. Why comes not Death, said he," &c. Newton compares Sophocles, Philoct. 793

Θάνατε, Θάνατε, πως αεί καλούμενος Ούτω καθ' ήμαρ ου δύνη μολεϊν ποτέ;

859. her slowest pace.” Hume quotes Horace (Od. 111. ii. 32).:

“ Pede Poena claudo." 861. “With other echo late I taught,&c. See V. 202—204. Dunster quotes Virgil (Ed. i. 5) :

“ Formosam resonare doces Amaryllida sylvas." 867. Out of my sight, thou serpent." Compare Sams. Ag. 748, Out, out, hyæna," &c.

872, 873. “ pretended to hellish falsehood; i.e. stretched forward in front of hellish falsehood, so as to mask it. Hume quotes from Virgil morti prætendere muros; and Richardson quotes from one of Milton's prose writings the same usage: “Ecclesiastical is ever pretended to political."

887, 888.“ Well if thrown out,&c. A reference to the opinion that Adam ho been created with a thirteenth rib on his left side, out of which Eve was formed.

888–895. “Oh, why did God,&c. Passages with the same thought may be cited from other poets. Bishop Newton cites one in especial from Milton's favourite Euripides, Hippol. 616 :

“ & Ζεύ, τί δή κίβδηλον ανθρώποις κακόν

γυναίκας ες φώς ηλίου κατώκισας ;
εί γαρ βρότειον ήθελες σπείραι γένος,

ουκ εκ γυναικών χρήν παρασχέσθαι τόδε.” 898—908. For either he never shall," &c. In addition to the interest of this passage in itself, it has an interest arising from its evident applicability to the circumstances of Milton's own life-especially those of his unsuitable first marriage. In not a few passages where Eve is spoken of it is possible to suppose a recollection by Milton of the incidents of his own married life ; but in few passages is the personal reference so distinct as in this. Observe, however, that the words his happiest choice too late," &c., are ambiguous. They may be read as meaning that the man, when already linked and wedlock-bound to a fell adversary, may meet the woman of his real choice, and have to lament that it is too late ; and most editors do understand them in this way, and see an allusion therein to Milton's own alleged desire to take steps for his marriage with a certain Miss Davis, after his first wife, Mary Powell, had forsaken him. But it is possible to read the words as implying that the man may meet his true choice too late, inasmuch as she may be then already married, and, what is worse, married to a fell adversary--to one on the opposite side. The second would have seemed quite an acceptable reading but for the use of the word "shame," which consists better with the other.—Newton compares the well-known passage in Mids. N. Dream (I. i.), “ The course of true love,” &c.

909–913. He added not," &c. Here and in the following speeches editors have supposed a recollection by Milton of the scene of his

[ocr errors]

reconciliation with his first wife, when she returned and threw herself at his feet.

931. “ Against God only." Ps. li. 4. (Gillies.)
953. that place": i.e. the place of judgment (line 932).

978. “ As in our evils: considering our evils. It is a Latinism, of which Richardson cites this example from Cicero "Non nihil, ut in tantis malis, est profectum.”

989, 990. In the First, Second, and Third Editions these two lines are printed thus :

Childless thou art, childless remaine :

So Death shall be deceiv'd his glut, and with us two"the first line having two syllables defective of the usual measure, and the second two in excess. It is possible, but far from likely, that Milton

, intended this, to give emphasis to the first line.

1001, 1002. Let us seek Death, or, he not found,&c. Hume interprets the proposal as being first to seek death by exposure to every possible chance of it (wild beasts, &c.), and then, that failing, to commit suicide.

1066. shattering": so in Lycid. 5, "shatter your leaves.” 1069. this diurnal star: i.e. the Sun. Compare Lycid. 168.

1071. sere,” dry ; " foment,” nourish or keep alive. The allusion is to a burning-mirror, wherewith to gather the sun's beams and kindle dry leaves. 1073.

"attrite to fire: made into fire by attrition—an allusion to the process of obtaining fire by rubbing or striking bodies together.

1075. Tine": to light or kindle. (A.-S. tendan : whence“ tinder "). The word occurs in Spenser, and Todd quotes an instance from Phineas Fletcher :

"! Oh! why should earthly lamps then seem to tine

Their lamps alone at that first Sun divine ?”. 1078. “supply": be a substitute for. 1091. Frequenting : i.e. filling, in the sense of the Latin frequentare:

“ Italiam coloniis frequentavit.”

1098—1104. They forthwith," &c. This repetition of the words preceding with only the due changes of tense and mood is in imitation, as Hume noted, of Homer and Virgil.

Final Note to Book X. It may be worth noting that in the First Edition of the poem there are two errors in the numbering of the lines of this



Book. By a miscounting of fourteen lines for ten after line 810, what should be line 824 becomes 820; and this omission of four lines in the reckoning is continued to 880, where, by over-reckoning in the previous ten, the numbering becomes right again. But again it becomes wrong by four lines after line 940, which error again rectifies itself at line 1010. The errors do not affect the sum of the lines at the end, which is 1104, as in our edition,


I, 2.

6, 7.

stood praying: merely means continued praying; for their posture was not that of standing, but of prostration (see X. 1099). 4. The stony from their hearts,&c. Ezek. xi. 19. (Todd.)

which the Spirit of prayer inspired.Rom. viii. 26. (Hume.) 10-14. the ancient pair . . . Deucalion,&c. The fable was that, after the destruction of the race of mankind by a deluge, the survivors, Deucalion and Pyrrha, consulted the oracle of Themis as to the means by which the race should be restored. In Ovid's version of the fable (Met. i.), which Milton has in view, the pair are represented as prostrating themselves on the steps of the Temple and praying to Themis.

14-17. To Heaven their prayers flew up, nor missed the way,” &c. There is a distinct reference here to the passage (III. 444, et seq.), describing the Limbo of Fools. There, the vain hopes, and devotees of such, that would ascend to Heaven, never reach it, but, when they are at its door, are blown by violent cross winds (III. 487)“ ten thousand miles away” over the outside of the Physical Cosmos. Not so the sincere prayers of Adam and Eve here.

17. Dimensionless" : without length, breadth, or depth, as not being material substances.

17-20. then, clad with incense, where the golden altar fumed,&c. Rev. viii. 3, 4. (Hume.) Compare Milton's Sonnet XIV.

28. manuring" See note, IV. 628.
33, 34. "his advocate and propitiation." 1 John ii. 1. (Hume.)

38. “ The smell of peace.Gen. viii. 21 (Keightley). Levit. iii. 3-5 (Hume). 44.

Made one," &c. John xvii. 21, 22. (Hume.) 52. Eject him," &c. Levit. xviii. 25. (Stillingfleet.)

« ZurückWeiter »