Page images
PDF
EPUB

Inhumanly to men, and multiply
Ten thousandfold the sin of him who slew
His brother: for of whom such massacre
Make they but of their brethren, men of men ? 680
But who was that just man, whom had not Heaven
Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost?

To whom thus Michael. These are the product
Of those ill-mated marriages thou saw'st;
Where good with bad were match’d, who of themselves
Abhor to join ; and by imprudence mix’d, 686
Produce prodigious births of body or mind.
Such were these giants, men of high renown;
For in those days might only shall be admir'd,
And valour and heroic virtue call's;
To overcome in battle, and subdue
Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
Of human glory, and for glory done

690

cent upon

683. To whom thus Michael. others conceive them to be no These are the product] The ac- more than robbers and tyrants :

the word product is to our author includes both interbe varied product or product, ac- pretations, and leaves the choice cording as you pronounce the to the reader, prodigious births of word Michael with two or three body or mind. syllables.

691. To overcome in battle, 688. Such were these giants, &c.] This character is drawn men of high renown ;] Gen. vi. 4. more masterly in Par. Reg. iii. There were giants in the earth in 71. those days; and also after that,

They err who count it glorious &e. when the sons of God came in unto

Warburton. the daughters of men, and they bare children to them : the same 694. -and for glory done became mighty men, which were of Of triumph, to be styld great old, men of renown. Some com

conquerors] mentators understand by the Milton had said before, that it word which we translate giants, shall be held the highest pitch of men of large bulk and stature; glory, to subdue nations, and bring

Of triumph, to be styl'd great conquerors,

695 Patrons of mankind, Gods, and sons of Gods, Destroyers rightlier calld and plagues of men. Thus fame shall be achiev'd, renown on earth, And what most merits fame in silence hid. But he the sev’nth from thee, whom thou beheld'st 700 The only righteous in a world perverse, And therefore hated, therefore so beset With foes for daring single to be just, And utter odious truth, that God would come To judge them with his saints: him the Most High 705 Wrapt in a balmy cloud with winged steeds Did, as thou saw'st, receive, to walk with God

mere

home their spoils : and here he hended from a passage in Mr. adds, (for this I take to be his Pope's Essay on Criticism, that sense,) that it shall be held the all auxiliary verbs are highest pitch of triumph for that expletives, glory obtained, to be styled great

While expletives their feeble aid do conquerors. So that though I

join. approve of Dr. Bentley's chang- But this I believe Mr. Pope ing done into won,

I cannot agree to his altering Of triumph never intended to advance. Mil

ton has used them in many to Or triumph. Pearce. This is one of the most diffi- places, where he could have

avoided them if he had pleased. cult passages. I am not satisfied with the conjectures of either of I will produce one, these learned men, and see no Did, as thou saw'st, receiveother way of understanding it Milton might have said but this. To overcome, to subdue, to spoil, shall be held the

Receiv'd, as thou hast seen, highest pitch of glory, and shall But he thought the auxiliary be done for glory of triumph, verb added strength to the exshall be achieved for that end pression, as indeed it does. I and purpose, to be styled great own where the auxiliary verb is conquerors &c.

brought close to its principal, and 700. But he the sev’nth from that a thin monosyllable, as in thee,] Jude 14. And Enoch also, the line just now referred to, the the seventh from Allam, &c. verse is very rude and disagree

707. Did, as thou saw'st, re- able. But to prove that the ceive,] It is commonly appre- auxiliary verb may be employed VOL. II.

Y

High in salvation and the climes of bliss,
Exempt from death; to shew thee what reward
Awaits the good, the rest what punishment;
Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.

He look’d, and saw the face of things quite chang’d;

710

did vent.

arose.

properly, I will produce an in- would have been extremely so, stance in rimed verse, as strong if he had writ it thus, as that of Milton just mentioned,

The queen of heav'ı her fury thus Then did the roaring waves their rage compose,

From whence it appears that the When the great father of the

food auxiliary verb is not to be rePitt's first Æneid.

jected at all times; besides it is I believe it will not be disputed, a particular idiom of the English but that this line is as full, as language, and has a majesty in sonorous, and majestic, as if the it superior to the Latin or Greek auxiliary verb had been left out, tongue, and I believe to any other and the author had used com- language whatsoever. Many inposed instead of did compose. stances might be brought to supThe expression is certainly more port this assertion from great beautiful and more poetical; and authorities. I shall produce one the reason of it is, that it occa- from Shakespeare, sions suspense, which raises the

-this to me attention; or in other words, the

In dreadful secrecy impart they did. auxiliary verb gives notice of something coming, before the The auxiliary verb is here very principal thing itself appears, properly made use of; and it which is another property of would be a great loss to English majesty. Mr. Dryden's authority poetry, if it were to be wholly might likewise be added on this laid aside. See Letters concernoccasion ; even in his celebrated ing poetical translations &c. p. 8, lines on 'Milton it is to be met 9, 10. with,

711. Which now direct thine

eyes and soon behold.] The synGreece, Italy, and England did adorn. tax is remarkable. Which goIn his translation of the Æneid verned not by the verb next fol. there are many instances of the lowing, but by the last in the same, nature, one of which I sentence. will mention,

712. He look'd, and saw the

face of things quite chang'd ;] The queen of Heav'n did thus her "Milton, to keep up an agreeable fury vent.

variety in his visions, after havThe metre of this line, as the ing raised in the mind of his words are here ranged, is not reader the several ideas of terror bad, as the ear can judge; but it which are conformable to the

715

720

The brazen throat of war had ceas'd to roar ;
All now was turn’d to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance,
Marrying or prostituting, as befel,
Rape or adultery, where passing fair
Allur'd them ; thence from cups to civil broils.
At length a reverend sire among them came,
And of their doings great dislike declar'd
And testified against their ways; he oft
Frequented their assemblies, whereso met,
Triumphs or festivals, and to them preach'd
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison under judgments imminent:

725
But all in vain : which when he saw, he ceas'd
Contending, and remov'd his tents far off ;
Then from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge bulk,
Measur'd by cubit, length, and breadth, and highth, 730

description of war, passes on to the days of Noah : as what folthose softer images of triumphs lows of Noah's desisting when and festivals, in that vision of he found his preaching ineffeclewdness and luxury, which tual, and removing into another ushers in the flood. Addison. country, is taken from Josephus, 723. —preach'd

Antiq. lib. i. c. 3. Conversion and repentance, as

730. Measur'd by cubit, length, to souls

and breadth, and highth,] The In prison]

dimensions of the ark are given This account of Noah's preach. Gen. vi. 15. The length of the ing is founded chiefly upon St. ark shall be three hundred čubits, Peter, 2 Pet. ï. 5. Noah, a the breadth of it fifty cubits, and preacher of righteousness; and the highth of it thirty cubits. A 1 Pet. iii. 19, 20. By which also cubit is the measure from the he went and preached unto the elbow to the fingers' ends, and is spirits in prison, which sometime reckoned a foot and a half, or were disobedient, when once the (according to Bishop Cumberlong-suffering of God waited in land) 21 inches 888 decimals.

Smear'd round with pitch, and in the side a door
Contriv'd, and of provisions laid in large
For man and beast : when lo a wonder strange!
Of every beast, and bird, and insect small
Came sev’ns, and pairs, and enter'd in, as taught 735
Their order: last the sire, and his three sons
With their four wives; and God made fast the door.
Meanwhile the south-wind rose, and with black wings

731. Smear'd round with pitch, great catastrophe of nature. If and in the side a door &c.] Gen. our poet has imitated that verse vi. 14. Thou shalt pitch it within in which Ovid tells us that there and without with pitch; and the was nothing but sea, and that door of the ark shalt thou set in this sea had no shore to it, he the side thereof. ver. 16. And take has not set the thought in such thou unto thee of all food that is a light as to incur the censure eaten, and thou shalt gather it to which critics have passed upon thee; and it shall be for food for it. The latter part of that verse thee and for them.

in Ovid is idle and superfluous, 732. —and of provisions laid in but just and beautiful in Milton: large] He uses the adjective

Jamque mare et tellus nullum disadverbially here and elsewhere, crimen habebant, as is common in Latin. Ma

Nil nisi pontus erat, deerant quoque gnumque fluentem Nilum. Virg.

littora ponto. Georg. ii. 28. Sole recens orto.

-Sea cover'd sea, Georg. ii. 156.

Sea without shore.735. Came' sev’ns, and pairs,? In Milton the former part of the Sevens of clean creatures, and description does not forestall the pairs of unclean. For this and

latter. How much more great other particulars here mentioned, and solemn on this occasion is see Gen. vii.

that which follows in our Eng. 738. Meanwhile the south-wind rose, &c.] As it is visible that the poet had his eye upon

and in their palaces Ovid's account of the universal Where luxury late reign'd, sea-mondeluge, the reader

sters whelp'd
observe
may

And stabledwith how much judgment he has avoided every thing that is re- than that in Ovid, where we are dundant or puerile in the Latin told that the sea-calves lay in poet. We do not see here the those places where the goats wolf swimming among the sheep, were used to browse? The reader nor any of those wanton ima- may find several other parallel ginations, which Seneca found passages in the Latin and Engfault with, as unbecoming the lish description of the deluge,

lish poet,

« PreviousContinue »