Page images


Canaan he now attains; I see his tents
Pitch'd about Sechem, and the neighb'ring plain
Of Moreh ; there by promise he receives
Gift to his progeny of all that land,
From Hamath northward to the desert south,


135. -1 his tents western border, you shall even have Pitch'd about Sechem, and the the great sea for a border : this neighb'ring plain

shall be your west-border. On Of Moreh ;-)

the shore mount Carmel, a mounGen. xii. 6. And Abram passed tain famous in Scripture upon through the land unto the place of the coast of the Mediterranean. Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. Here the double founted stream Șichem or Sechem or Sychar Jordan, as it is commonly said (for it had all these names) was to arise from two sources at the a town of the province of Sama- foot of mount Libanus, the one ria, there by promise he receives called Jor, and the other Dan, &c. as it follows immediately in as Thamesis from the Thame Genesis xii. 7. And the Lord ap- and Isis; true limit eastward acpeared unto Abram, and said, cording to Numb. xxxiv. 10, 12. Unto thy seed will I give this And ye shall point out your east land : so exactly does the poet border from Hazarenan, a village copy the sacred historian.

at the fountain of Jordan,-and 139. From Hamath northward the border shall go down to Jor&c.] As so much is said of the dan &c. For the name of Capromised land, the poet very naan, though sometimes it inproperly gives us the bounds of cludes the whole land possessed it. 'Hamath was a city of Syria, by the twelve tribes, yet pecuand the entering into Hamah, so liarly belongs to no more than frequently mentioned in Scrip- the country westward of the ture, is the narrow pass leading river Jordan: and the Jews from the land of Canaan to Syria, themselves make a distinction through the valley which lies be- between the land promised to tween Libanus and Antilibanus. their fathers, and the lands of This is set down as the northern Sihon and Og which were to boundary of the land: Numb. the eastward of the river. Moxxxiv. 7, 8. To the desert south, ses plainly does the same in this the desert of Arabia, or the wil- expression, Deut. ii. 29. Until derness of Zin, as it is called, I shall pass over Jordan into the Numb. xxxiv. 3. Your south- land which the Lord our God quarter shall be from the wilder- giveth us. And the land on this ness of Zin. From Hermon east, side Jordan was esteemed more a mountain beyond Jordan, on holy than the land on the other. the north-east, to the great The one was barely called the western sea, the Mediterranean. land of your possession, the other Numb. xxxiv. 6. And as for the the land of the possession of the


(Things by their names I call, though yet unnam’d,) 140
From Hermon east to the great western sea;
Mount Hermon, yonder sea, each place behold
In prospect, as I point them ; on the shore
Mount Carmel ; here the double-founted stream

Jordan, true limit eastward ; but his sons
Shall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.
This ponder, that all nations of the earth
Shall in his seed be blessed ; by that seed
Is meant thy great Deliverer, who shall bruise
The Serpent's head; whereof to thee anon

150 Plainlier shall be reveal'd. This patriarch blest, Whom faithful Abraham due time shall call,


Lord, Joshua xxii. 19. See Uni- Hæc tum nomina erunt, nunc sunt versal History, vol. i. p. 566,

sine nomine terræ. This river was the true

Addison. limit eastward, but his sons were 147. This ponder,] As if he to extend themselves farther, had said, I mention other things shall dwell to Senir, that long for your information, but this ridge of hills. This Senir or She- you should particularly rememnir is the same as mount Hermon, ber, and meditate upon. mentioned as the eastern border 152. Whom faithful Abraham before ver. 141. as appears from due time shall call,] Dr. BentDeut. iii. 9. Which Hermon the ley observes, that every where Sidonians call Sirion, and the else Milton makes but two sylÅmorites call it Shenir. And a lables of Abraham ; and theremore exact account of the boun- fore to do the same here, he daries of the promised land we reads future instead of due. But shall hardly find in any prose- I believe that Milton intended author, than our poet has given to make the name Abraham us here in verse.

here consist of three syllables, 140. Things by their names I in allusion to God's adding a call, though yet unnam'd] As syllable to it, as we find in Gen. Virgil's vision in the sixth Æneid xvii. 5. Neither shall thy name probably gave Milton the hint any more be called Abram, but thy of this whole episode, this line name shall be Abraham. Pearce. is a translation of that verse, Abram signifies a great father, wherein Anchises mentions the but Abraham is of larger extent, names of places, which they and signifies a father of many were to bear hereafter, ver. 776. nations.

[ocr errors]

A son, and of his son a grand-child leaves,
Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown;
The grand-child with twelve sons increas’d departs 155
From Canaan, to a land hereafter call'd
Egypt, divided by the river Nile ;
See where it flows, disgorging at sev'n mouths
Into the sea : to sojourn in that land
He comes invited by a younger son

In time of dearth, a son whose worthy deeds
Raise him to be the second in that realm
Of Pharaoh : there he dies, and leaves his race
Growing into a nation, and now grown
Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks

165 To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests Too numerous ; whence of guests he makes them slaves Inhospitably', and kills their infant males : Till by two brethren (those two brethren call Moses and Aaron) sent from God to claim

170 His people from inthralment, they return With glory' and spoil back to their promis'd land. But first the lawless tyrant, who denies To know their God, or message to regard, Must be compell’d by signs and judgments dire ;


155. with twelve sons in- tion the river Nile without takcreas'd] A Latinism; as Plaut. ing notice of its seven mouths. Trucul. ii. 6. 34. Cumque es

Et septem gemini turbant trepida aucta liberis. See also Tacit.

ostia Nili. Virg. An. vi, 800. Agric. c. 6. Richardson.

Sic ubi deseruit madidos septem. 158. See where it flows, disgorging at sev'r mouths] This Nilus

Ovid, Met. i. 422. pointing to the river adds a

Ostia septem liveliness to the narration, and

Pulverulenta vacant septem sine the ancient poets seldom men

flumine valles. Met. ii. 256.

fluus agros


To blood unshed the rivers must be turn'd;
Frogs, lice, and flies must all his palace fill
With loath'd intrusion, and fill all the land ;
His cattle must of rot and murren die ;
Botches and blains must all his flesh imboss,
And all his people; thunder mix'd with hail,
Hail mix'd with fire must rend th’ Egyptian sky,
And wheel on th' earth, devouring where it rolls ;
What it devours not, herb, or fruit, or grain,
A darksome cloud of locusts swarming down
Must eat, and on the ground leave nothing green ;
Darkness must overshadow all his bounds,
Palpable darkness, and blot out three days;

[ocr errors]



176. To blood unshed &c.] the Nile, from whence Egypt The history of this part of the derives her plenty. This allupoem is so well known, as to sion is taken from that sublime need little comment or expla- passage in Ezekiel, (xxix. 3.) nation. We shall only just ob- Thus saith the Lord God, Beserve the poet's exactness in hold I am ugainst thee, Pharaoh copying of holy writ, and par- king of Egypt, the great dragon ticularly in recounting the that lieth in the midst of his plagues of Egypt in the same rivers, which hath said, My river method and order as the divine is mine own, and I have made it historian. Besides this, we will for myself. Milton hath given us only note his spelling murren another very noble and poetical after the modern Latin word image in the same description,

which is copied almost word 181.

--thunder mixed with for word out of the history of hail, &c.] The storm of hail Moses. and fire, with the darkness that overspread the land for three

All night he will pursue, &c. days, are described with great

Addison. strength. The beautiful

passage which follows, is raised 188. Palpable darkness,] Darkupon noble hints in Scripture: ness that may be felt, says our

Thus with ten wounds translation. In the vulgar Latin The river-dragon tam'd at length it is tam densæ ut palpari queant, submits &c.

from whence our author seems The river-dragon is an allusion to have fetched the word palto the crocodile, which inhabits pable. VOL. II.

A a



Last with one midnight stroke all the first-born
Of Egypt must lie dead. Thus with ten wounds
The river-dragon tam'd at length submits
To let his sojourners depart, and oft
Humbles his stubborn heart, but still as ice
More harden'd after thaw, till in his rage
Pursuing whom he late dismiss'd, the sea
Swallows him with his host, but them lets pass
As on dry land between two crystal walls,
Aw'd by the rod of Moses so to stand
Divided, till his rescued gain their shore:
Such wondrous pow'r God to his saint will lend,
Though present in his Angel, who shall go
Before them in a cloud, and pill’ar of fire,
By day a cloud, by night a pill’ar of fire,
To guide them in their journey, and remove
Behind them, while th' obdurate king pursues :
All night he will pursue, but his approach



191. The river-dragon tam'd] ders, his approach till the mornThe first edition has This river- ing watch, alluding to Exod. xiv. dragon ; but in the second it is 19, 20. And the angel of God, altered to The, whether by the which went before the camp of poet's direction, or by a mistake Israel, removed and went behind of the printer, we cannot tell. them; and the pillar of the cloud Pearce.

went from before their face, and 206. but his approach stood behind them : and it came Darkness defends between till between the camp of the Egypmorning watch ;)

tians and the camp of Israel; and To defend here has the signifi- it was a cloud and darkness to cation of to forbid, to hinder, to them, but it gave light by night keep off; as the Latin defendo is to these, so that the one came not sometimes used, and the French near the other all the night. And defendre. There is hostem de- Milton himself has used defended fendere in Ennius, solstitium pe- in the same manner, xi. 86. that cori defendite in Virgil, defendere defended fruit.

See the note frigus in Horace. Darkness be- there. And again in Par. Reg. tween defends, forbids and hin. ii. 369.

« PreviousContinue »