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ARADISE LOST was written by John Milton, who was
born in London, Dec. 9, 1608, and died Nov. 8, 1674. After leaving college, he spent five years in study at home, during which time he wrote L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, Arcades, Comus, and Lycidas. In 1638 he travelled on the continent and in Italy, where he met Galileo. He hastened home in 1639 on account of the political disturbances in England, and espousing the Puritan cause, devoted the next twenty years of his life to the writing of pamphlets in its defence. In 1649 he was appointed Latin Secretary under Cromwell. In 1652 he lost his sight in consequence of overwork. At the age of twenty-nine, Milton had decided to make an epic poem his life work, and had noted many historical subjects. By 1641 he had decided on a Biblical subject. He had probably conceived Paradise Lost at the age of thirtytwo, although the poem was not composed until he was over fifty. It was written after his blindness and dictated in small portions to various persons, the work being collected and revised by Milton and Aubrey Phillips. It was completed, according to the authority of Phillips, in 1663, but on account of the Plague and the Great Fire, it was not published until 1667.
Paradise Lost is divided into twelve books and is written, to use Milton's own words, “In English heroic verse without rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek and of Virgil in Latin, rhyme being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse."
Paradise Lost was neglected until the time of the Whig supremacy in England. In 1688 Lord Somers, the Whig leader, published an éditiop de luxe of the poem ; Addison's papers on it, in 1712, increased its popularity, and through the influence of the Whigs a bust of the poet was placed in Westminster Abbey in 1737.
There is no better proof of the greatness of Paradise Lost than the way in which it has survived hostile criticism. It has been criticised for the lengthy conversations and “arguments " of its characters; for its materialization of the Divine Being ; because of its subject; because of Milton's vagueness of description of things awesome and terrible, in comparison with Dante's minute descriptions. But the earnest spirit in which it was conceived and written ; the subject, giving it a “higher argument" than any merely national epic, even though many of Milton's, and his age's, special beliefs are things of the past, and its lofty and poetical style, have rendered unassailable its rank among the noblest of the epics.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, PARADISE Lost. Joseph Addison's Notes upon the Twelve Books of Paradise Lost; by Albert S. Cook, 1892. (In the Spectator from Dec. 31, 1711-May 3, 1712); Samuel Austin Allibone's Dictionary of Authors, 1891, vol. ii., pp. 1301-1311; Matthew Arnold's A French Critic on Milton (see his Mixed Essays, 1880, pp. 260-273); Walter Bagehot's Literary Studies, by Richard Holt Hutton, 1879, vol. i., 202-219; Richard Bentley's Emendations on the Twelve Books of Paradise Lost, 1732 ; E. H. Bickersteth's Milton's Paradise Lost, 1876. (St. James Lectures, ad series. Another edition, 1877); Hugh Blair's Paradise Lost (see his Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, 1783, vol. ii., 471-476); Miss Christian Cann's A Scriptural and Allegorical Glossary to Paradise Lost, 1828 ; Charles Dexter Cleveland's Complete Concordance to Milton's Poetical Works, 1867; Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Lectures and Notes on Shakespeare and other English Poets collected by T. Ashe, 1893, pp. 518-529; William T. Dobson's The Classic Poets, their lives and times etc., 1879 ; Charles Eyre's Fall of Adam, from Mil
ton's Paradise Lost, 1852; George Gilfillan's Second Gallery of Literary Portraits, 1852, pp. 17-25; S. Humphreys Gurteen’s The Epic of the Fall of Man; a comparative Study of Caedmon, Dante, and Milton, 1896 ; William Hazlitt On the Character of Milton's Eve (see his Round Table ed. by W. Carew Hazlitt, 1889, pp. 150-158); William Hazlitt On Milton's Versification (see his Round Table, ed. by W. Carew Hazlitt, 1889, pp. 51-57); John A. Himes's Study of Milton's Paradise Lost, 1878; Samuel Johnson's Milton (see his Lives of the Poets; ed. by Mrs. Alexander Napier, 1890, vol. i.); Thomas Keightley's Introduction to Paradise Lost (see his An account of the Life, Opinions, and Writings of John Milton, 1855, pp. 397-484); Walter Savage Landor's Imaginary Conversations, Southey and Landor, 1853, vol. ii., 57-74, 156-159; Thomas Babington Macaulay's Milton (see his Critical and Historical Essays, ed. 10, 1360, vol. i., pp. 1-61); William Massey's Remarks upon Milton's Paradise Lost, 1761; David Masson's Introduction to Paradise Lost (see his edition of Milton's Poetical Works, 1893, vol. ii., pp. 1-57); David Masson's Life of Milton, 1880, vol. vi., 505-558, 621-636; David Masson's Three Devils (Luther's, Goethe's, and Milton's), (see his Three Devils and other Essays, 1874); James Peterson's A complete Commentary on Paradise Lost, 1744; Jonathan Richardson's Explanatory Notes and Remarks on Paradise Lost, 1734 ; Edmond Scherer's Milton and Paradise Lost (see his essays on English Literature ; Tr. by George Saintsbury, 1891, pp. 134-149 ; John Robert Seeley's Milton (see his Roman Imperialism and other Lectures and Essays), 1871, pp. 142-152; First Edition of Paradise Lost, Book Lore, 1886, iii., 72-75; J. A. Himes's Cosmology of Paradise Lost, Lutheran Quarterly, 1876, vi., 187–204 ; J. A. Himes's Plan of Paradise Lost, New Englander, 1883, xlii., 196-211; Satan of Milton and the Lucifer of Byron compared, Knickerbocker, 1847, xxx., 150-155; Satan of Paradise Lost, Dublin University Magazine, 1876, lxxxviii., 707-714; Augustine Birrell's Obiter Dicta (2d series 1887, Pp. 42-51); Isaac Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature, Bentley's Milton, 1867, pp. 138-139; Henry Hallam's Literary History of Europe, 1873, ed. 5, vol. iii., pp. 475-483 ; Mark Pattison's John Milton, n. d. (English Men of Letters Series); H. A. Taine's History of English Literature ; Tr. by H. Van Laun, 1877, vol. ii., pp. 106-124.
THE STORY OF PARADISE LOST.
WHEN that bright spirit, afterwards known as Satan, rose in rebellion against the Almighty Ruler of the Universe, presumptuously thinking himself equal to him in strength and following, he was overthrown by the Great Power and cast with his followers out of Heaven down to his future dwelling, flaming Hell.
Nine days he and his horrid crew fell through Chaos into the flaming pit yawning to receive them, and there lay for nine days, — rendered still more miserable by the thought of their immortality and the eternal bliss they had forfeited. Then Satan, rousing himself from the stupor consequent upon the fall, half rose and addressed the next in power to himself, Beelzebub.
“Thou art the same, yet not the same," said he ; " changed, lost is some of thy former brightness. Yet why repine ? While we live, while we have so large a following, all is not lost. Our hate still lives, and have we but strength enough, we may still revenge ourselves upon him who thrust us into this accursed place.”
Rising from the lake, his great shield slung over his shoulders, the unconquered archangel walked over the burning marl to the beach of that fiery sea, and there with chiding words addressed the legions strewn around him. The great army rose hastily at the voice of its chief and passed before him, spirits whose heavenly names were now forever lost, who later became the gods of the idolaters. There was mighty Moloch, Chemos, those who later went by the general names of Baalim and Ashtaroth, -Thammuz, Dagon, Rimmon, Osiris, Isis, Orus and their train, Belial, and last of all, the Ionian gods.
His despair in part dissipated by the sight of this heroic array, their prince, towering high above all, addressed them. No one had foreseen the calamity that had overtaken them. Who could have guessed the power of the Almighty? But