صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,
Command me absolutely not to go,

Going into such danger, as thou said'st?
Too facile then, thou didst not much gainsay;
Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou been firm and fix'd in thy dissent,
Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with me.

To whom, then first incensed, Adam replied:
Is this the love, is this the recompense
Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve? express'd
Immutable, when thou wert lost, not I,
Who might have lived, and joy'd immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?
And am I now upbraided as the cause
Of thy transgressing? not enough severe,
It seems, in thy restraint: what could I more?
I warn'd thee, I admonish'd thee, foretold
The danger and the lurking enemy
That lay in wait; beyond this, had been force;
And force upon free will hath here no place.
But confidence then bore thee on; secure
Either to meet no danger, or to find
Matter of glorious trial: and perhaps
I also err'd, in overmuch admiring
What seem'd in thee so perfect, that I thought
No evil durst attempt thee: but I rue
That errour now, which is become my crime,
And thou the accuser. Thus it shall befall
Him, who, to worth in women overtrusting,
Lets her will rule: restraint she will not brook;
And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.

Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,
And of their vain contest appear'd no end.









CERTAINLY Milton has in this book shown to an amazing extent all the variety of his powers in striking contrast with each other: the sublimity of the celestial persons; the gigantic wickedness of the infernal; the mingled excellence and human infirmities of Adam and Eve; and the shadowy and terrific beings of Sin and Death. Of any other poet, the imagination would have been exhausted in the preceding books: in Milton, it still gathers strength, and grows bolder and bolder, and darts with more expanded wings. When Sin and Death deserted the gates of hell, and made their way to earth, the conception and expression of all the circumstances is of a supernatural force.

It may be admitted that it requires a rich mind duly to enjoy and appreciate these grand and spiritual agencies; they therefore who have cold conceptions eagerly catch hold of any censures to justify their own insensibility: they can understand illustrations drawn from objects daily in solid forms before their eyes. But it is not only in the description of forms and actions that the bard has a strength and brilliance so wonderful: he is equally happy in the sentiments he attributes to each personage: all speak in their own distinct characters, with a justness and individuality which meet instant recognition, and waken an indescribable assent and pleasure. Thus Adam and Eve, when they know the displeasure of the Almighty, and are overwhelmed with fear and remorse, each express themselves according to their separate casts of mind, disposition, and circumstances: their moans are deeply affecting. To my taste, this book is much more lofty, and much more pathetic, than the ninth: as the subject was much more difficult, so it is executed with much more miraculous vigour and originality.

The representation of the manner in which God's judgment upon earth was executed by changing the seasons, putting the elements into contest, and deteriorating all nature, fills the imagination with wonder, and brings out new touches of poetry with a magical effect.

In others the poetical language seems a sort of cover,-a gilding; in Milton it is a part and essence of the thought. The primary image is poetical; the poetry does not depend upon the illustration; though sometimes there is a union, and it is thus to be found in both: but if the secondary has it, the first never wants it.

The characters of Milton are all compound and reflective; they are not merely intuitive, like Shakspeare's: they have therefore more of that invention which is comprehensive, and requires study to appreciate. The whole of "Paradise Lost" from beginning to end is part of one inserable web; and however beautiful detached parts may appear, not half their genius or wisdom can be felt or understood except in connection with the whole. There are congruities and allusions in every word, which are lost, unless we attend to their essential relation to the whole scheme.

It is this intensity and inseparability of the web which is among the miracles of Milton's execution. Grace, strength, splendour, depth, all depend upon its unity. As no texture was ever before produced out of particles drawn from such an extent of space, and such a variety of mines; so the amalgamation of all into one perfect whole is the more astonishing.

Such is the erudition applied to this most wonderful work, that nothing less than the conjoined attempts of a whole body of learned men for a century has been able to explain its inexhaustible allusions; and even yet the task is not completed. SIR EGERTON BRYDGES.



MAN'S transgression known, the guardian-angels forsake Paradise, and return up to heaven to approve their vigilance, and are approved; God declaring that the entrance of Satan could not be by them prevented. He sends his Son to judge the transgressors; who descends and gives sentence accordingly; then in pity clothes them both, and reascends. Sin and Death, sitting till then at the gates of hell, by wondrous sympathy feeling the success of Satan in this new world, and the sin by man there committed, resolve to sit no longer confined in hell, but to follow Satan their sire up to the place of man: to make the way easier from hell to this world to and fro, they pave a broad highway or bridge over Chaos, according to the track that Satan first made; then, preparing for earth, they meet him, proud of his success, returning to hell; their mutual gratulation. Satan arrives at Pandamonium; in full assembly relates with boasting his success against man; instead of applause is entertained with a general hiss by all his audience, transformed with himself also suddenly into serpents according to his doom given in Paradise; then, deluded with a show of the forbidden tree springing up before them, they, greedily reaching to take of the fruit, chew dust and bitter ashes. The proceedings of Sin and Death; God foretels the final victory of his Son over them, and the renewing of all things; but for the present commands his angels to make several alterations in the heavens and elements. Adam, more and more perceiving his fallen condition, heavily bewails, rejects the condolement of Eve; she persists, and at length appeases him: then, to evade the curse likely to fall on their offspring, proposes to Adam violent ways, which he approves not; but, conceiving better hope, puts her in mind of the late promise made them, that her seed should be revenged on the serpent; and exhorts her with him to seek peace of the offended Deity by repentance and supplication.

[ocr errors]

MEANWHILE the heinous and despiteful act

Of Satan done in Paradise, and how

He, in the serpent, had perverted Eve,
Her husband she, to taste the fatal fruit,

Was known in heaven; for what can 'scape the eye
Of God all-seeing, or deceive his heart
Omniscient? who, in all things wise and just,
Hinder'd not Satan to attempt the mind

Of man, with strength entire, and free-will arm'd
Complete to have discover'd and repulsed
Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend.

For still they knew, and ought to have still remember'd,
The high injunction not to taste that fruit,



12. They: Man collectively is the ante- man in our image, and let them have, cedent of they. “God said, Let us make | &c. Gen. i. 26.

Whoever tempted: which they not obeying,
Incurr'd (what could they less?) the penalty;
And, manifold in sin, deserved to fall.
Up into heaven from Paradise in haste
The angelic guards ascended, mute and sad
For man; for of his state by this they knew,
Much wondering how the subtle fiend had stolen
Entrance unseen. Soon as the unwelcome news
From earth arrived at heaven-gate, displeased
All were who heard; dim sadness did not spare
That time celestial visages, yet, mix'd
With pity, violated not their bliss.

About the new arrived in multitudes

The ethereal people ran, to hear and know
How all befell: they towards the throne supreme,
Accountable, made haste, to make appear,
With righteous plea, their utmost vigilance,
And easily approved; when the Most High
Eternal Father, from his secret cloud,
Amidst in thunder utter'd thus his voice:

Assembled angels, and ye powers return'd
From unsuccessful charge, be not dismay'd,
Nor troubled at these tidings from the earth,
Which your sincerest care could not prevent;
Foretold so lately what would come to pass,
When first this tempter cross'd the gulf from hell.
I told ye then he should prevail, and speed
On his bad errand; man should be seduced,
And flatter'd out of all, believing lies
Against his Maker; no decree of mine
Concurring to necessitate his fall,

Or touch with lightest moment of impulse
His free-will, to her own inclining left
In even scale. But fallen he is; and now
What rests, but that the mortal sentence pass
On his transgression, death denounced that day?
Which he presumes already vain and void,
Because not yet inflicted, as he fear'd,
By some immediate stroke; but soon shall find
Forbearance no acquittance, ere day end.
Justice shall not return as bounty scorn'd.
But whom send I to judge them? whom but thee,
Vicegerent Son? To thee I have transferr'd
All judgment, whether in heaven, or earth, or hell.
Easy it may be seen that I intend

Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee,
Man's friend, his Mediator, his design'd
Both ransom and Redeemer voluntary,
And destined man himself to judge man fallen.

16. Manifold in sin: That is, this sin of transgression included several, as pride, lust, disobedience, &c.

51. Not yet inflicted. Eccles. viii. 11. 56. See John v. 22.

59. Mercy, &c. See Ps. lxxxv. 10.

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

So spake the Father; and, unfolding bright
Toward the right hand his glory, on the Son
Blazed forth unclouded deity: he full
Resplendent all his Father manifest
Express'd, and thus divinely answer'd mild:

Father Eternal, thine is to decree:

Mine, both in heaven and earth, to do thy will
Supreme: that thou in me, thy Son beloved,
Mayst ever rest well pleased. I go to judge
On earth these thy transgressours; but thou know'st,
Whoever judged, the worst on me must light,
When time shall be; for so I undertook
Before thee; and, not repenting, this obtain
Of right, that I may mitigate their doom
On me derived: yet I shall temper so
Justice with mercy, as may illustrate most
Them fully satisfied, and thee appease.
Attendance none shall need, nor train,
Are to behold the judgment but the judged,
Those two; the third best absent is condemn'd,
Convict by flight, and rebel to all law:
Conviction to the serpent none belongs.

here none

Thus saying, from his radiant seat he rose
Of high collateral glory. Him thrones, and powers,
Princedoms, and dominations ministrant,
Accompanied to heaven-gate; from whence
Eden, and all the coast, in prospect lay.
Down he descended straight; the speed of gods
Time counts not, though with swiftest minutes wing'd.
Now was the sun in western cadence low

From noon; and gentle airs, due at their hour,
To fan the earth now waked, and usher in

The evening cool; when he, from wrath more cool,
Came, the mild Judge and Intercessour both,
To sentence man. The voice of God they heard
Now walking in the garden, by soft winds
Brought to their ears while day declined; they heard,
And from his presence hid themselves among
The thickest trees, both man and wife; till God
Approaching, thus to Adam call'd aloud:

Where art thou, Adam, wont with joy to meet
My coming seen far off? I miss thee here;
Not pleased, thus entertain'd with solitude,
Where obvious duty erewhile appear'd unsought:
Or come I less conspicuous, or what change
Absents thee, or what chance detains?

Come forth!

He came; and with him Eve, more loth, though first
To offend; discountenanced both and discomposed:

80 Shall need. Need used as a neuter verb, in the sense of shall be necessary.

84. Conviction, &c. That is, no proof is needful against the serpent, now mute,











as he was merely the medium through which Satan acted.

92. Now was the sun, &c. This beautiful description is founded upon Gen. iii. 8.

« السابقةمتابعة »