صور الصفحة
PDF

The happy isle? what strength, what art can then
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict senteries and stations thick
Of angels watching round? here he had need
All circumspection; and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage: for on whom we send,
The weight of all, and our last hope, relies.

This said, he sat; and expectation held
His looks suspense, awaiting who appear'd
To second or oppose, or undertake
The perilous attempt: but all sat mute,
Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each
In other's countenance read his own dismay,
Astonish’d: none among the choice and prime
Of those heaven-warring champions could be found,
So hardy, as to proffer, or accept
Alone the dreadful voyage: till at last,
Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised
Above his fellows, with monarchal pride,
Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake:

O progeny of heaven, empyreal thrones,
With reason hath deep silence and demur
Seized us, though undismay’d. Long is the way
And hard, that out of hell leads up to light:
Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire,
Outrageous to devour, immures us round
Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant
Barr'd over us prohibit all egress.
These pass’d, if any pass, the void profound
Of unessential Night receives him next,
Wide gaping; and with utter loss of being
Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf.
If thence he 'scape into whatever world,
Or unknown region; what remains him less
Than unknown dangers and as hard escape?
But I should ill become this throne, O peers,
And this imperial sovranty, adorn'd .
With splendour, arm’d with power, if aught proposed
And judged of public moment, in the shape
Of difficulty or danger, could deter
Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume
These royalties, and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share
Of hazard as of honour, due alike
To him who reigns, and so much to him due
Of hazard more, as he above the rest

[ocr errors]

410. The happy ixle. The earth hang- darkness approaches nearest to noning in the sea of air. “He stretcheth entity. out the north over the empty place, and 415. But I should iu become, &c. “The bangeth the earth upon nothing."-Job whole speech, from this line, is wonder. Xxvi. 7.

fully beautiful in every respect."--Mox439 Unessential. Void of being, as BODDO.

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

High honour'd sits? Go, therefore, mighty powers,
Terrour of heaven, though fallen! intend at home,
While here shall be our home, what best may ease
The present misery, and render hell
More tolerable; if there be cure or charm
To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain
Of this ill mansion. Intermit no watch
Against a wakeful Foe; while I abroad
Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance for us all: this enterprize
None shall partake with me. Thus saying rose
The monarch, and prevented all reply;
Prudent, lest from his resolution raised
Others among the chief might offer now,
Certain to be refused, what erst they fear'd;
And so refused might in opinion stand
His rivals; winning cheap the high repute,
Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they
Dreaded not more the adventure, than his voice
Forbidding; and at once with him they rose:
Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend
With awful reverence prone; and as a god
Extol him equal to the Highest in heaven.
Nor fail'd they to express how much they praised,
That for the general safety he despised
His own: for neither do the spirits damn'd
Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast
Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites,
Or close ambition varnish'd o'er with zeal.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
As when from mountain tops the dusky clouds
Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread
Heaven's cheerful face; the louring element
Scowls o'er the darken'd landskip snow, or shower:
If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extend his evening beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
O shame to men! devil with devil damn'd
Firm concord holds; men only disagree
Of creatures rational, though under hope

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

457. Intend. Used in the sense of the have been a sarcasm on the bad men of Jatin intende animum, “direct the at- | Milton's time.-- BRYDGES. tention :" intend and attend had anciently 489. While the north wind sleeps. “A the same meaning, that is, “to turn simile of perfect beauty: it illustrates one's notice to."

the delightful feeling resulting from the 477. Their rising, &c. “The rising of contrast of the stormy debate with the this great assembly is described in a very light that seems subsequently to break in sublime and poetical manner."- ADDI- upon the assembly."--BRYDGES. “Per BOX, .

haps this delightful passage is one of the 482. Spirits damn'd. This seems to finest instances of picturesque poetry

which can be produced."--TODD.

Of heavenly grace; and, God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy:
As if, which might induce us to accord,
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That day and night for his destruction wait.

The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth
In order came the grand infernal peers:
Midst came their mighty paramount, and seem'd
Alone the antagonist of Heaven; nor less
Than hell's dread emperour, with pomp supreme
And God-like imitated state: him round
A globe of fiery seraphim inclosed,
With bright imblazonry and horrent arms.
Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets' regal sound the great result: .
Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchymy,
By herald's voice explain'd: the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide; and all the host of hell
With deafening shout return'd them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers
Disband; and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him perplex'd; where he may likeliest find
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great chief return.
Part, on the plain, or in the air sublime,
Upon the wing or in swift race contend,
As at the Olympian games, or Pythian fields:
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form.
As when to warn proud cities war appears
Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush
To battel in the clouds, before each van
Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears
Till thickest legions close: with feats of arms
From either end of heaven the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhoan rage more fell,
Rend up both rocks and bills, and ride the air
In whirlwind: hell scarce holds the wild uproar.
As when Alcides, from Echalia crown'd

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

612. Globe is used in the Latin sense | its rest; from the French coucher, "to of globus, “a troop," "a crowd;" and hor- place." rent in the sense of horreo, “to bristle," 512. Alcides: Hercules, the grandson " to stand erect," "to stand on end:” | of Alcæus. (Echalia: a city of Thessaly. horrentes hasta.

Lichas was the bearer of the poison robe "And each particular hair to stand on end sent to Ilercules by his wife, in a fit of Like quilis upon the fretful porcupine." jealousy. See Keightley's Mythology,

Shaks. Hamlet, Act I. Sc. v. I or Smith's Classical Dictionary. 636 To touch the spear, is to fix it in

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

With conquest, felt the envenom'd robe, and tore
Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines;
And Lichas from the top of Eta threw
Into the Euboic sea. Others more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
By doom of battel; and complain that fate
Free virtue should inthral to force or chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony,
(What could it less when spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet,
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense,)
Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
Fix'd fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute:
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame;
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy:
Yet with a pleasing sorcery could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope; or arm the obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams;
Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron, of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth; whereof who drinks,
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

500. Fir'd fate, &c. “The turn of the the names of noxious streams in their words is here admirable, and very well own country. The Styr called abhorrel, expresses the wanderings and mazes of from the Greek Orvyow, to hate) was a their discourse, "-NEWTOX. Milton might torrent in Arcadia, whose waters were here have had an eye to that large class said to be poisonous; and the Acheron, of preachers who are constantly battling (from axos grief, and pew, to flmo, fimotheological points, instead of preaching ing with gril) and the Chcytus. (from prartical righteousness.

Kurow, to lament.) were rivers of Epirus. 575. Four in fernal rivers. The Greeks Phleg, thon is from Olya, to burn; and called three of these rivers of Hell after ! Lethe, from anon, forgetfulness.

[ocr errors]

5.05

600

Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies, dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind, and dire hail which on firm land
Thaws not; but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile: all else deep snow and ice;
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire.
Thither by harpy-footed furies haled,
At certain revolutions all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes hy change more fierce:
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft ethereal warmth; and there to pine
Immovable, infix'd, and frozen round,
Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethean sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,

605
And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
All in one moment, and so near the brink:
But Fate withstands, and to oppose the attempt
Medusa with Gorgonian terrour guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confused march forlorn, the adventurous bands,
With shuddering horrour pale, and eyes aghast,
View'd first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest: through many a dark and dreary vale
They pass'd, and many a region dolorous,
O’er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,

620 Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death, A universe of death, which God by curse Created evil, for evil only good,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

592. Srbonian bog. Serbonis was a lake sisters, the Gorgons, were Stheno. Eurybetween Egypt and Palestine, near Mountale, and Medusa. They are described as Casius. "It was surrounded on all sides girded with serpents, raising their heads, by loose bills of sand, which, carried into vibrating their tongues, and gnashing the water by high winds, so thickened their teeth: some add wings and claws the lake, that it could not be distin- to them. Some say that Meclusa was at guished from the parts of the continent: first a beautiful maiden, but that for her here whole armies have been swallowed crimes, Minervs changed her hair into np."--HUME. Rend Hero lotus, book iii. serpents, which had the power of chang6; and Lucan's Pharsalia, viii. 539. ing every one who looked at it into stone.

595. Burns frore. Frore, an old word 621. “Milton's are the • Rocks, caves, for frosty. When the cold north wind fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death; bloweth, it devoureth the mountains, and the idea caused by a word, which und burneth the wilderness, and con- nothing but a word could annex to the sumeth the grass as fire."--Ecclesiasti- others, raises a very great degree of the cus xliii. 20, 21.

sublime; which is raised yet higher by 600. To starve, to kill with cold.

what follows,A UNIVERSE OF DEATH." 611. The names of the three fabulous BURKE.

« السابقةمتابعة »