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That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
no water; from whereas secret, in the whence Dr. Bentley concludes, which I have given it, is the that Horeb had no clouds or most peculiar one that can be; mists about its top; and that and therefore (to use Dr. Benttherefore secret top cannot be ley's words) if, as the best poets here meant as implying that high hare a ljudged, a proper epithet is mountains against rainy weather to be preferred to a general oue, I have their heads surrounded with have such an esteem for our poet, mists. I never thought that any thut which of the two worıls is the reader of Milton would have un. better, that I say (riz. secret) was derstood secret top in this sense. diclated by Miliun. Pearce. The words of Horeb or of Sinai We have given this excelleat imply a doubt of the poet, which note at length, as we have met name was properest to be given with several persons who bave to that mountain, on the top of approveu of Dr. Bentley's emenwhich Moses received his in- dation. It may be too that the spiration; because Horeb and poet had a farther meaning in Sinai are used for one another in the use of this epithet in this Scripture, as may be seen by place ;. for being accustomed to comparing Exod. iii. 1. with make use of words in the signiActs vii. 30. but by vaming fication that they bear in the Sinai last, he seems to incline learned languages, he may very rather to that. Now it is well well be supposed to use the known from Exod. xix. 16. word secret in the same sense as Ecclus. xlv. 5. and other places the Latin secretus, set apart or of Scripture, that when God separate, like the secretosque pios gave his laws to Moses on the in Virgil, Æn. viji. 670. and it top of Sinai, it was covered with appears from Scripture, that clouds, dark clouds, and thick while Moses was with God in smoke; it was therefore secret at the mount, the people were not that time in a peculiar sense : to come near it or touch it, till and the same thing seems in- after a signal given, and then tended by the epithet which our they were only to approach, and poet uses upon the very same not to ascend it, nor pass the occasion in xii. 227.
bounds set for them upon pain
of death, Exod. xix. So that God from the mount of Sinai, whose
upon all accounts secret is the gray top Shall tremble, he descending, &c.
mnost proper epithet, that could
have been chosen. Dr. Bentley shews that sucred 8. That shepherd, who first hill is common among the poets &c.] For Moses kept the flock in several languages; from of Jethro his father-in-law. Exod. whence I should conclude that iü. I. sacred is a general epithet : 9. In the beginning how the
Rose out of chaos : or, if Sion hill
hear’ns and earth] Alluding to mentioned, and always spelt the first words of Genesis. without an h; whereas in all the
11. and Silva's brook] Siloa editions, till Dr. Bentley's apwas a small river that flowed peared, rhime in this place of near the temple at Jerusalem. the poem was spelt with an k. It is mentioned Isa. viii. 6. So Milton probably meant a difthat in effect he invokes the ference in the thing, by making heavenly Muse, that inspired so constant a difference in the David and the Prophets on spelling; and intended that we mount Sion, and at Jerusalem, should here understand by rhime, as well as Moses on niount not the jingling sound of like endSinai.
ings, but verse in general; the 15. Above th' Aonian mount,] word being derived from rythA poetical expression for soaring mus, pv@pos. Ariosto had said to a height above other poets. The mountains of Bæotia, an
Cosa non detta jo prosa mai, ne in
rima, ciently called Aonia, were the haunt of the Muses; and thus which is word for word the same Virgil, Ecl. vi. 65.
with what Milton says here.
So in Lycidus v. 11.
Himself to sing, and build the lofty Aonio rediens deducam vertice Mu
The sense of the word rhyme ia though afterwards, I know not both places in unquestionably by what fatality, that country was famous for the dulness of It is wonderful that Bentley, its inhabitants.
with all his Grecian predilec16. Things unattenipted yet in tions, and his critical knowledge prose or rhime.] Milton appears of the precise original meaning to have meant a different thing of pubuos, should have wished to by rhime here, from rime in his substitute, in this passage of the preface, where it is six times Paradise Lost, song for rhine.
And chiefly Thou, O Spi'rit, that dost prefer
Gray, who studied and copied any of the ancient poets bestow Milton with true penetration and that recommendation upon their taste, in his inusic-ode uses rhyme works; as Lucretius, i. 925. in Milton's sense.
Avia Pieridum peragro loca, nullius
ante Meek Newton's self bends from his
Trita solo: &c. state sublime And nods his hoary head, and listens and Virgil, Georg. iii. 3. to the rhime. T. Warton.
Cætera quæ vacuas tenuissent car
mina mentes Milton probably thought it
Omnia jam vulgata
Primus ego in patriam &c. would sound too low and familiar to the ear to say in prose or
iii. 292. verse, and therefore chose rather
Juvat ire jugis, qua nulla priorum, to say in prose or rhime. When Castaliam molli divertitor orbita he says in prose or verse, he adds cliro. an epithet to take off from the
17. And chiefly Thou, O Spi'rit, commonness of the expression, &c.] Invoking the Muse is as in v. 150.
commonly a matter of mere
form, wherein the poets neither such prompt eloquence
mean, nor desire to be thought Flow'd from their lips, in prose or
to mean, any thing seriously.
But the Holy Ghost here inIt is said that Milton took the
voked is too solemn a name to first hint of this poem from an
be used insignificantly: and beItalian tragedy called Il Para- sides, our author, in the begindiso perso; and it is pretended ning of his next work, Paradise that he has borrowed largely Regained, scruples not to say to from Masenius, a German Jesuit, the same divine person, and other modern authors; but it is all a pretence; he made use
-Inspire, of all authors, such was his
As thou art wont, my prompted song, learning; but such is his genius, he is no copyer; his poem
This address therefore is no mere is plainly an original, if ever formality. Yet some may think there was one. His subject in that he incurs a worse charge of deed of the fall of Man, together enthusiasm, or even profaneness, , with the principal episodes, may in vouching inspiration for his be said to be as old as Scripture,
Scripture, performance : but the Scripbut his manner of handling them tures represent inspiration as of is entirely new, with new illus a much larger extent than is trations and new beauties of his commonly apprehended, teacbown; and he may as justly boast ing that every good gift, in naof the novelty of his poem, as turals as well as in morals, ile
Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first
assert eternal Providence,
scendeth from the great Father of in the English language, he lights, Jam. i. 17. And an ex says,
“It was not to be obtraordinary skill even in me “ tained by the invocation of chanical arts is there ascribed “ dame Memory and her Siren to the illumination of the Holy daughters, but by devout Ghost. It is said of Bezaleël prayer to that eternal Spirit who was to make the furniture « who can enrich with all utterof the tabernacle, that the Lord
19. Instruct me, for Thou know'st;] It may be observed too in justi- Theocrit. Idyll. xxii. 116. fication of our author, that other
Εισι θεα, συ γαρ οισθα. sacred poems are not without the like invocations, and parti 21. Dove-like satst brooding] cularly Spenser's Hymns of hea- Alluding to Gen. i. 2. the Spirit venly love and heavenly beauty, of God moved on the face of the as well as some modern Latin waters; for the word that we poems. But I conceive that Mil- translate moved signifies properly ton intended something more; for brooded, as a bird doth upon her I have been informed by those, eggs; and he says like a dove who had opportunities of con rather than any other bird, beversing with his widow, that she cause the descent of the Holy was wont to say that he did Ghost is compared to a dove really look upon himself as in. in Scripture, Luke iji. 22. As spired, and I think his works Milton studied the Scriptures are not without a spirit of en in the original languages, his thusiasm. In the beginning of images and expressions his 21 book of The Reason of oftener copied from them, than Church Government, speaking of from our translation. his design of writing a poem
26. And justify the ways of
Say first, for heav'n hides nothing from thy view,
God to men.) A verse, which their knowledge. Thus Homer, Mr. Pope has thought fit to bor. Iliad. ii. 485. row with some little variation, in the beginning of his Essay
"Tpus yag dias uri, rugisi ti, 51 ni on Man, But vindicate the ways of God to
And Virgil, Æn. vii. 645.
Et meministis enim, Divæ, et meIt is not easy to conceive any morare poiestis. good reason for Mr. Pope's preferring the word vindicate, but Milton's Muse, being the Holy Milton makes use of the word Spirit, must of course be omni. justify, as it is the Scripture
scient. And the mention of word, That thou mightest be jus- heaven and hell is very proper tified in thy sayings, Rom. iii. 4. in this place, as the scene of so And the ways of God to men are great a part of the poem is laid justified in the many argument- sometimes in hell, and someative discourses throughout the times in heaven. poem, and particularly in the 32. For one restraint,] For conferences between God the one thing that was restrained, Father and the Son.
every thing else being freely in27. Say first, for heav'n hides dulged to them, and only the nothing from thy view, Nor the tree of knowledge forbidden. deep tract of hell,] The poets that foul revolt? Thinfernal
33. Who first seduc'd them to attribute a kind of omniscience to the Muse, and very rightly, Serpent;] Homer, Iliad. i. 8. as it enables them to speak of
une opar flwy spido gurmui pe o things which could not other.
olas; wise be supposed to come to Aytus rei A16 vios.