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Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,
Going into such danger, as thou said'st?
To whom, then first incensed, Adam replied:
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
REMARKS ON BOOK X.
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.
MEANWHILE the heinous and despiteful act
Of Satan done in Paradise, and how
He, in the serpent, had perverted Eve,
Was known in heaven; for what can 'scape the eye
Of man, with strength entire, and free-will arm'd
For still they knew, and ought to have still remember'd,
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,
About the new arrived in multitudes
The ethereal people ran, to hear and know
Assembled angels, and ye powers return'd
Or touch with lightest moment of impulse
Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee,
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.
So spake the Father; and, unfolding bright
Father Eternal, thine is to decree:
Mine, both in heaven and earth, to do thy will
Thus saying, from his radiant seat he rose
From noon; and gentle airs, due at their hour,
The evening cool; when he, from wrath more cool,
Where art thou, Adam, wont with joy to meet
He came; and with him Eve, more loth, though first
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.