صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني





Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best:
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded; wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discountenanced, and like folly shows;
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed.

To whom the angel with contracted brow:
Accuse not nature; she hath done her part,
Do thou but thine; and be not diffident
Of wisdom; she deserts thee not, if thou
Dismiss not her, when most thou need’st her nigh,
By áttributing overmuch to things
Less excellent, as thou thyself perceiv'st.
For, what admirest thou, what transports thee so?
An outside? fair, no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love;
Not thy subjection: weigh with her thyself;
Then value: oft-times nothing profits more
Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right
Well managed; of that skill the more thou know'st,
The more she will acknowledge thee her head,
And to realities yield all her shows:
Made so adorn for thy delight the more,
So awful, that with honour thou mayst love
Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise.
But if the sense of touch, whereby mankind
Is propagated, seem such dear delight
Beyond all other; think the same vouchsafed
To cattle and each beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulged, if aught
Therein enjoy'd were worthy to subdue
The soul of man, or passion in him move.
What higher in her society thou find'st
Attractive, human, rational, love still;
In loving thou dost well, in passion not,
Wherein true love consists not: love refines
The thoughts, and heart enlarges; hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious; is the scale






drawing the character of our first pa- passage is exquisitely delightful, and
rents, he has not done justice to the wo forms one of the eminent beauties of
man, but has made her, in every respect, this book; which, in this particular, is
materially inferior to her husband, only rich in beautiful passages.-DUNST! R.
read the next thirteen verses, and I have 573. That skill: Skill in self-esteem
no doubt that the author will completely 576. Adorn: For adorned.
make his peace with her. The whole

[merged small][ocr errors]





By which to heavenly love thou mayst ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure; for which cause,
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.

To whom thus, half abash'd, Adam replied:
Neither her outside form'd so fair, nor aught
In procreation common to all kinds,
(Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem,)
So much delights me, as those graceful acts,
Those thousand decencies, that daily flow
From all her words and actions, mix'd with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unfeign'd
Union of mind, or in us both one soul;
Harmony to behold in wedded pair
More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear.
Yet these subject not: I to thee disclose
What inward thence I feel, not therefore foil'd;
Who meet with various objects, from the sense
Variously representing; yet, still free,
Approve the best, and follow what I approve.
To love, thou blam’st me not; for love, thou say'st,
Leads up to heaven, is both the way and guide;
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask:
Love not the heavenly spirits, and how their love
Express they? by looks only? or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?

To whom the angel, with a smile that glow'd
Celestial rosy red, love's proper

Answer'd: Let it suffice thee that thou know'st
Us happy; and without love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy’st,
(And pure

thou wert created,) we enjoy
In eminence; and obstacle find none
of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars:
Easier than air with air, if spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring; nor restrain’d conveyance need,
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.
But I can now no more; the parting sun,
Beyond the earth's green cape and verdant isles





598, Genial bed. “Milton had before and again to me, variously, from the difapplied the epithet mysterious' to mar- ferent senses, am not on that account riage, by which he means something not.foiled, or baffled or confounded in my proper to be divulged, but to be revered judgment, but feel that I am still free to like the mysteries." -NEWTON. The word approve of the best, and to follow what “procreation" is to be supplied before the I approve. preposition “of.”

630. The conversation was now become 007. Subject not: Bring me not under of such a nature, that it was proper to subjection.

put an end to it; and he very properly 610. Representing. The difficulty of this closes his discourse with those moral inpassage vanishes when we make this a structions which should make the most compound word, te presenting, and giving lasting impression on the mind of Adam, to re its original force of “again." As and to deliver which was the principal if he had said: I who meet with the vari-end and design of the angel's coming.ous objects that present themselves again 631. Green cape, Cape de verd.



Hesperian, sets; my signal to depart.
Be strong, live happy, and love! but, first of all,
Him, whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command: take heed, lest passion sway
Thy judgment to do aught, which else free will
Would not admit: thine, and of all thy sons,
The weal or woe in thee is placed; beware!
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,
And all the blest: stand fast; to stand or fall
Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptation to transgress repel.

So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus
Follow'd with benediction:-Since to part,
Go, heavenly guest, ethereal messenger,
Sent from whose Sovran Goodness I adore!
Gentle to me and affable hath been
Thy condescension, and shall be honour'd ever
With grateful memory: thou to mankind
Be good and friendly still, and oft return!

So parted they; the angel up to heaven
From the thick shade, and Adam to his bower.



637. Admit: In the sense of the Latin admitto, "to commit."


The ninth book is raised upon that brief account in Scripture, wherein we are told that the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field; that he tempted the woman to eat of the forbidden tree; that she was overcome by this temptation; and that Adam followed her example. From these few particulars Milton has formed one of the most entertaining fables that invention ever produced: he has disposed of these several circumstances among so many agreeable and natural fictions of his own, that his whole story looks only like a comment upon Sacred Writ, or rather seems to be a full and complete relation of what the other is only an epitome. I have insisted the longer on this consideration, as I look upon the disposition and contrivance of the fable to be the principal beauty of the ninth book, which has more story in it, and is fuller of incidents than any other in the whole poem. Satan's traversing the globe, and still keeping within the shadow of the night, as fearing to be discovered by the angel of the sun, who had before detected him, is one of those beautiful imaginations with which he introduces this his second series of adventures. Having examined the nature of every creature, and found out one who was the most proper for his purpose, he again returns to Paradise; and, to avoid discovery, sinks by night with a river that ran under the garden, and rises up again through a fountain that issued from it by the Tree of Life. He is then described as gliding through the garden, under the resemblance of a mist, in order to find out that creature in which he designed to tempt our first parents. This description has something in it very poetical and surprising.

The author afterwards gives us a description of the morning, which is wonderfully suitable to a divine poem, and peculiar to that first season of nature. He represents the earth, before it was cursed, as a great altar, breathing out its incense from all parts, and sending up a pleasant savour to the nostrils of its Creator; to which he adds a noble idea of Adam and Eve, as offering their morning worship, and filling up the universal concert of praise and adoration.

The subtle wiles which are put in practice by the tempter, when he found Eve separated from her husband,- the many pleasing images of Dature which are intermixed in this part of the story, with its gradual and regular progress to the fatal catastrophe,—are so very remarkable, that it would be superfluous to point out their respective beauties.

That secret intoxication of pleasure, with all those transient flushings of guilt and joy, which the poet represents in our first parents upon their eating the forbidden fruit, to those flaggings of spirit, damps of sorrow, and mutual accusations which succeed it, are conceived with a wonderful imagination, and described in very natural sentiments. When Dido, in the fourth Æneid, yielded to that fatal temptation which ruined her, Virgil tells us, the earth trembled, the heavens were filled with flashes of lightning, and the nymphs howled upon the mountain-tops. Milton, in the same poetical spirit, bas described all nature upon Eve's eating the forbidden fruit: upon Adam's falling into the same guilt, the whole creation appears a second time in convulsions. As all nature suffered by the guilt of our first parents, these symptoms of trouble and consternation are wonderfully imagined, not only as prodigies, but as marks of her sympathizing in the fall of man.-Addison.

The ninth book is that on which the whole fate and fall of man turns; and so far is the most important. It is called the most tender. If the submission to sensual human passions be tenderness, it is so; taking the resistance to those passions to be loftiness. The serpent himself appears to have been enamoured of Eve's beauty and loveliness of mien, and for a moment to have repented of the evil he was plotting to bring upon her.

The descriptive parts glow with a uniform freshness, splendour, and nature ; with a compactness of imagery, and a simple and naked force of language, which make all pictures of other poets fade away before them. There never appears a superfluous word, or one which is not pregnant with thought and matter.

The sentiments bave a weight and a profundity of wisdom which seem like inspiration : out of every incident arise such reflections as have the spell of oracles.

All that we know from the Mosaic history is, that the serpent tempted Eve, and Eve tempted Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit; but we do not know by what wiles this sin was brought about. We may suppose that by the serpent the operation of the evil passions of contradiction, disobe. dience, rebellion, and skepticism was meant; just as we may suppose that Eve persisted in roaming alone in spite of Adam's dissuasions, merely because her pride was thwarted by her husband's fear that “somo harm should befall her” in his absence.

Critics will say, that had she been more purely virtuous, Heaven would not have decreed the loss of Paradise; and therefore that it was of the essence of the story to represent her thus guilty. It may be deemed highly presumptuous in me to suggest that Milton might have represented her equally guilty, with more probability and more spiritu. ality. He might have painted mental delusions rather than the intoxi. cating pleasures of the senses: it was open to him to follow his own course in the inventions of his overflowing imagination ; but it could never be necessary to Milton's genius to dwell on matter rather than on spirit. The luxuriance of description has made this a favourite book of the poem: it is this luxuriance which I think misplaced in so holy a work.--Sir EGERTON BRYDGES.

« السابقةمتابعة »