Page images
PDF
EPUB

545

550

Half what in thee is fair, one man except,
Who sees thee'? (and what is one?) who should'st be seen
A Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'd
By angels numberless, thy daily train.

So gloz’d the Tempter, and his proem tun'd;
Into the heart of Eve his words made way,
Though at the voice much marvelling; at length
Not unamaz'd she thus in answer spake.
What may this mean? language of man pronounc'd
By tongue of brute, and human sense express ?
The first at least of these I thought denied

555 To beasts, whom God on their creation-day Created mute to all articulate sound ; The latter I demur, for in their looks Much reag'on, and in their actions oft appears. Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field

560 I knew, but not with human voice indued ; Redouble then this miracle, and say,

556. whom God on their is to be understood in the former creation-day

sense, speakable or able to speak, Created mute]

as comfortable, delectable, passThis is mere fillings, says Dr. uble, &c. signify able to com. Bentley ; for when could they fort, to delight, to pass, &c. And be created, but on their creation- there are instances of such words day? But this is exactly in the used sometimes actively, and style of Scripture, Gen. ii. 4. sometimes passively, in the best These are the generations of the authors. Thus in Horace the heavens and of the earth when word illacrymabilis is used in its they were created; in the day passive signification. Od. iv. ix. that the Lord God made the earth 26. and the heavens. 563. How can'st thou speak

-sed omnes illacrymabiles

Urgentur ; uble of mute,] The word speak. able is used in an active as well and in its active signification, Od. as in a passive sense, and may

ii. xiv. 6. signify what can speak as well

-places illacrymabilem as what can be spoken. Here it Plutona tauris.

How cam’st thou speakable of mute, and how
To me so friendly grown above the rest
Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight;

565 Say, for such wonder claims attention due.

To whom the guileful. Tempter thus replied. Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve, Easy to me it is to tell thee all What thou command'st, and right thou should'st be' obey'd :

570 I was at first as other beasts that graze The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, As was my food ; nor ought but food discern'd Or sex, and apprehended nothing high ; Till on a day roving the field, I chanc'd

575 A goodly tree far distant to behold Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mix’d, Ruddy and gold : I nearer drew to gaze ; When from the boughs a savoury odour blown, Grateful to appetite, more pleas’d my sense Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even, Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play. To satisfy the sharp desire I had Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd

580

585

581. —sweetest fennel, or the There is no knowing for certeats] He mentions such things tain what the forbidden fruit as were reputed most agreeable was, The common notion is to serpents. Feniculum angui- that it was a sort of apple, and bus gratissimum, says Pliny, that is sufficient to justify a Nat. Hist. 1. xix. c. 9. sect. 56. poet. So Otway, They were likewise supposed to suck the teats of ewes and goats. -and for an apple damo'd man585. -Those fair apples,]

kind.

Not to defer ; hunger and thirst at once,
Pow'rful persuaders, quicken'd at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.
About the mossy trunk I wound me soon,
For high from ground the branches would require 590
Thy utmost reach or Adam's: round the tree
All other beasts that saw, with like desire
Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung
Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill

595
I spar'd not, for such pleasure till that hour
At feed or fountain never had I found.
Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
Strange alteration in me, to degree
Of reason in my inward pow’rs, and speech
Wanted not long, though to this shape retain'd.
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
I turn’d my thoughts, and with capacious mind
Consider'd all things visible in heaven,
Or earth, or middle, all things fair and good ; 605

600

601. -shape retuin'd.] 605. -all things fuir and Bentley would have it restrained. good ; But the word of exactest pro- But all that fair and good in priety is retained. For retained

thy divine signifies the being kept within Semblance, and in thy beauly's such and such bounds in a na

heav'nly ray tural state; restrained to be kept United 1 beheld ;] within them in an unnatural; This is very like what Adam but the serpent's being confined had said before to the angel, to his own shape, was being in viii. 471. his natural state. Warburton. or middle,] In the

so lovely fair, air, the element placed between,

That what seem'd fair in all the and, as our author says, spun out

world, seem'd now

Mean, or in her summ'd up, in her between, heaven and earth, vii.

contain'd 241. Hume.

And in her looks.

605.

But all that fair and good in thy divine
Semblance, and in thy beauty's heav'nly ray
United I beheld ; no fair to thine
Equivalent or second, which compelld
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come 610
And gaze, and worship thee of right declar'd
Sovran of creatures, universal dame.

So talk'd the spirited sly Snake ; and Eve
Yet more amaz’d unwary thus replied.
Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt

615 The virtue of that fruit, in thee first prov’d: But say, where

grows the tree, from hence how far ? For many are the trees of God that grow In Paradise, and various, yet unknown To us, in such abundance lies our choice,

620 As leaves a greater store of fruit untouch'd, Still hanging incorruptible, till men Grow up to their provision, and more hands Help to disburden nature of her birth.

And it is really wonderful, that and the Latin domina. Univerthe poet could express things so sal dame, Domina universi. much alike so differently, and 613. So lalk'd &c.] Milton yet both so well. The numbers has shewn more art and abitor, as well as the sentiments, lity in taking off the common are equally admirable in both objections to the Mosaic history places.

of the temptation by the addi609. Equivalent or second,] tion of some circumstances of Nec viget quicquam simile aut his own invention, than in any secundum. Hor. od. i. xii. 18. other theologic part of his poem.

612. - universal dame.] Warburton. The word dame conveys a low 618. trees of God] A Scripidea at present: but formerly it ture phrase, as in Psal. civ. 16. was an appellation of respect 624. —birth.] In Milton's and honour, and signified mis- own editions this word is spelt tress or lady, and was probably bearth in this place, but as in all derived from the French dame other places he spells it birth,

625

630

To whom the wily Adder, blithe and glad.
Empress, the way is ready, and not long,
Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat,
Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past
Of blowing myrrh and balm ; if thou accept
My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon.

Lead then, said Eve. He leading swiftly rollid
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,
To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest ; as when a wand’ring fire,
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs round,

635

the press.

we see no reason for an alter. in my notes on the first book. ation here, and possibly this There is one, however, in this may be nothing but an error of part of the poem, which I shall

here quote, as it is not only 624. Milton perhaps con- very beautiful, but the closest of ceived bearth to be the true any in the whole poem; I mean spelling of the word, as if de- that where the serpent is clerived from the verb to bear; scribed as rolling forward in all like earth from to ear. E. his pride, animated by the evil 631. —He leading swiftly spirit, and conducting Eve to rollid

her destruction, while Adam In tangles,]

was at too great a distance from This is Virgil's rapit orbes per her to give her his assistance. humum : but I think Tasso These several particulars are all much exceeds them both in of them wrought into the foldescribing the rolling of a ser- lowing similitude. pent. Cant. xv. st. 48.

-Hope elevates, and joy Hor rientra in se stesso, hor le no

Brightens his crest; as when a dose

wand'ring fire, &c. Rote distende, e se dopo se tira.

Addison. Thyer. 634. —as when a wand'ring And there is not perhaps any fire, &c.] I have avoided men- more philosophic account of the tioning any particular simili- ignis fatuus, than what is contudes in my remarks on this tained in these lines. Philosogreat work, because I have phy and poetry are here mixed given a general account of them together.

« PreviousContinue »