Page images


convalles :

Heav'n's highth, and with the centre mix the pole. 215

Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, peace, 214. Spenser has the word surg- giving the greater force and ing. Faery Queen, b. ii. c. xii. 21. emphasis to both! And how

nobly has he concluded the Sudden they see, from midst of all verse with a spondee or foot of the main,

two long syllables, which is not The surging waters like a mountain

a common measure in this place, rise.

but when it is used, it necessa

rily occasions a slower pronunAnd our author in Par. Reg. iv. ciation, and thereby fixes more 18. Dunster.

the attention of the reader! It 215. and with the centre is a beauty of the same kind as mix the pole.] It is certain that the spondee in the fifth place in in chaos was neither centre nor

Greek or Latin verses, of which pole; so neither were there any there are some memorable exmountains as in the preceding amples in Virgil, as when he line; the angel does not say speaks of low valleys, Georg. iii. there were: he tells Adam there 276. was such confusion in chaos, as if on earth the sea in moun

Saxa per et scopulos et depressas tainous waves should rise from bottom to assault hea

or when he would describe the ven, and mix the centre of the majesty of the gods, Ecl. iv. 49. globe with the extremities of it.

Cara Dellm soboles, magnum Jovis

incrementum: The aptest illustration he could possibly have thought of to Æn. viii. 679. have given Adam some idea of -Penatibus, et magnis Diis: the thing. Richardson.

or great caution and circum216. Silence, ye troubled waves, spection, Æn. ii. 68. and thou deep, peace,] How

Constitit, atque oculis Phrygia agmuch does the brevity of the mina circumspexit : command add to the sublimity and majesty of it! It is the same

or a great interval between two

. kind of beauty that Longinus men running, Æn. v. 320. admires in the Mosaic history of

Proximus huic, longo sed proximus the creation. It is of the same

intervallo. strain with the same omnific The learned and ingenious Mr. Word's calming the tempest in Upton, in his Critical Observathe Gospel, when he said to the tions, hath given us a parallel raging sea, Peace, be still, Mark instance out of Shakespeare, and iv. 39. And how elegantly has says that no poet did ever equal he turned the commanding words this beauty but Shakespeare. In silence and peace, making one

Macbeth, act II. the first and the other the last What hath quench'd them hath in the sentence, and thereby giv'n me fire. Hark, peace.

its very


Said then th’ omnific Word, your discord end :
Nor stay'd, but on the wings of Cherubim
Uplifted, in paternal glory rode
Far into Chaos, and the world unborn ;
For Chaos heard his voice: him all his train
Follow'd in bright procession to behold
Creation, and the wonders of his might.
Then stay'd the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compasses, prepar’d



[ocr errors]

224. the servid wheels,] Minerva's Ægis or buckler in Horace's epithet, Od. i. i. 4.

the fifth book, with her spear Metaque fervidis evitata rotis.

which would overturn whole Hume. squadrons, and her helmet that

was sufficient to cover an army 225. He took the golden com

drawn out of a hundred cities. passes,] Prov, viii. 27. When he

The golden compasses in the prepared the heavens I was there ;

above-mentioned when he set a compass upon


passage appear face of the deep. Dionys. Perieg. hand of him, whom Plato some

a very natural instrument in the ad finem.

where calls the divine geomeΑντοι γαρ τα πρωτα θεμειλια τορνω- trician. As poetry delights in Kes Bubur "oijcov odučav apstenroie lace clothing abstracted ideas in alle

gories and sensible images, we They round the chaos, round the

find a magnificent description world unborn

of the creation formed after the First deign'd their golden compasses same manner in one of the pro

phets, wherein he describes the They thro' the deep chalk'd out our

almighty Architect as measurample road, And broke the lawless empire of the ing the waters in the hollow of food.

his hand, meting out the heaKennet's Life of Dionysius. vens with his span, compre

Richardson. hending the dust of the earth in The thought of the golden com- a measure, weighing the moun. passes is conceived altogether in tains in scales, and the hills in a Homer's spirit, and is a very balance. Another of them denoble incident in this wonderful scribing the Supreme Being in description. Homer, when he this great work of creation respeaks of the gods, ascribes to presents him as laying the founthem several arms and instru- dations of the earth, and stretchments with the same greatness ing a line upon it: and in anof imagination. Let the reader other place as garnishing the only peruse the description of heavens, stretching out the north


to turn;


In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe, and all created things :
One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd
Round through the vast profundity obscure,
And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds,
This be thy just circumference, O world.
Thus God the heav'n created, thus the earth,
Matter unform’d and void : darkness profound
Cover'd th’ abyss : but on the wat’ry calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread, 253
And vital virtue' infus’d, and vital warmth
Throughout the fluid mass, but downward purg'd
The black tartareous cold infernal dregs
Adverse to life: then founded, then conglob’d

The poet

over the empty place, and hang- of the deep; and the Spirit of ing the earth upon nothing. God moved upon the face of the This last noble thought Milton waters. Gen. i. 1, 2. has expressed in the following says watery calm, as the Messiah verse,

had before calmed the deep, And earth self-balanc'd on her centre ver. 216. and says, oulspread his hung.

brooding wings instead of moved, Addison.

following the original rather 232. Thus God the heav'n cre- than our translation. ated, &c.] The reader will na- 239. -then founded, then turally remark how exactly Mil- conglob'd &c.] Milton had said ton copies Moses in his account that Messiah first purged downof the creation. This seventh ward the infernal dregs which book of Paradise Lost may be were adverse to life; and that called a larger sort of paraphrase then of things friendly to life he upon the first chapter of Ge- founded and conglobed like to nesis. Milton not only observes like, that is he caused them to the same series and order, but assemble and associate together: preserves the very words as the rest, that is, such things as much as he can, as we may see were not of the same nature and in this and other instances. In fit for composing the earth, went the beginning God created the off to other places, perhaps to heaven and the earth; and the form the planets and fixed stars. earth was without form and void, This seems to be Milton's meanand darkness was upon the face ing. Pearce.


Like things to like, the rest to several place
Disparted, and between spun out the air,
And earth self-balanc'd on her centre hung.

Let there be light, said God, and forthwith light
Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure


Here it will be of use to recur This is the passage that Longito the account in iii. 708. The nus particularly admires; and earthy, watery, airy, and fiery no doubt its sublimity is greatly particles, which before were owing to its conciseness; but blended promiscuously, were our poet enlarges upon it, ennow combined and fixed as a deavouring to give some account foundation; for founded does how light was created the first either signify that from fundare, day, when the sun was not or to melt from fundere; this lat- formed till the fourth day. He ter it cannot mean, it was already says, that it was sphered in a rafluid. Thus Psalm lxxxix. ii. diant cloud, and so journeyed As for the world and the fulness round the earth in a cloudy thereof, thou hast founded them. tabernacle; and herein he is So Prov. ii. 19. The Lord by justified by the authority of wisdom hath founded the earth. commentators; though The rest must be something dif- others think this light was the ferent from the now elementary light of the sun, which shone bodies, and that (iii. 716.) is de- as yet very imperfectly, and did termined to be the ethereal quint- not appear in full lustre till the essence of which the heavenly fourth day. It is most probaluminous bodies were formed. ble, that by light (as it was proRichardson.

duced the first day) we must Diffugere inde loci partes cæpere,

not understand the darting of paresque

rays from a luminous body, Cam paribus jungi res &c.

such as do now proceed from

Lucret, v. 438. the sun, but those particles of 241. —and between spun out the matter which we call fire, (whose air,

properties we know are light And earth self-balanc'd on her and heat,) which the Almighty centre hung.)

produced, as a proper instruFrom Ovid, Met. i. 12. but very

ment for the preparation and much improved;

digestion of other matter. So

Bp. Patrick upon the text. circumfuso pendebat in aëre However it be, Milton's actellus

count is certainly very poetical, Ponderibus librata suis.

though you may not allow it to 243. Let there be light, said be the most philosophical, and God, and forthwith light &c.] is agreeable to the description Gen. i. 3. And God said, Let there before quoted from Vida. See be light; and there was light. Mr. Thyer's note upon ver. 211.




Sprung from the deep, and from her native east
To journey through the aery gloom began,
Spher'd in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun
Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle
Sojourn’d the while. God saw the light was good;
And light from darkness by the hemisphere
Divided : light the day, and darkness night
He nam’d. Thus was the first day ev'n and morn:
Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung
By the celestial quires, when orient light
Exhaling first from darkness they beheld;
Birth-day of heav'n and earth ; with joy and shout



247. Spherd in radiant evening and the morning were the cloud,] So Shakespeare, Troil. first day. Gen. i. 4, 5. Cress. a. i. sc. 3.

253. Nor past uncelebrated,

&c.] The beauties of description -The glorious planet Sol Io noble eminence enthron'd, and

lie so very thick, that it is almost sphir'd

impossible to enumerate them. Amidst the ether.

The poet has employed on them

T. Warton. the whole energy of our tongue. 248. a cloudy tabernacle]

The several great scenes of the Alluding to the glory of the creation rise up to view one Lord sojourning in the taber. after another, in such a manner, nacle, before a

that the reader seems present more glorious temple was built for its fixed at this wonderful work, and to residence and habitation. Green- assist among the quires of anwood.

gels, who are the spectators of 249. -God saw the light

it. How glorious is the concluwas good ; &c.] What follows

sion of the first day! Addison. is little more than the words of

256. -with joy and shout Moses versified. And God saw

The hollow universal orb they the light that it was good, and

filled] God divided the light from the Job xxxviii. 4, 7. Where wast darkness: Milton adds how it

thou when I laid the foundations was divided, by the hemisphere.

of the earth; when the morning

stars sang together, and all the And light from darkness by the sons of God shouted for joy? And hemisphere

with this joy and shout they Divided.

filled the hollow universal orb, the And God called the light day, and great round (as it is called ver. darkness he called night ; and the 267.) of the universe.

« PreviousContinue »