« PreviousContinue »
I of brute human, ye of human Gods.
shall die perhaps, by putting off
720 Warm’d by the sun, producing every kind, Them nothing: if they all things, who inclos’d Knowledge of good and evil in this tree, That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies
725 Th’offence, that Man should thus attain to know? What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree Impart against his will if all be his ? Or is it envy, and can envy dwell
714. ---to put on Gods;] The uses the singular number in the Scripture expression as in 1 Cor. very next preceding sentence, xv. 53. For this corruptible must ver, 722. put on incorruption, and this mor
who inclos'd tal must put on immortality. Knowledge of good and evil in this 727. What can your knowledge
hurt him, or this tree So that him and his here refer to Impart against his will if all him, who inclosed &c. Pearce. be his?]
He seems to use both numDr. Bentley says that Milton had bers promiscuously, sometimes said Gods in all the argument speaking of God, sometimes of before, and therefore designed Gods; and I think we may obhere.
serve that he generally speaks
of Gods, when the sentiment What can your knowledge hurt them, would be too horrid, if it was
or this tree Impart against their will, if all be spoken of God.
can envy dwell
In heav'nly breasts ?] But Milton had said God in ver. Like that in Virgil, Æn. i. 11. 692. and 700: and I think he Tantæne animis cælestibus iræ ?
In heav'nly breasts ? these, these and many more
He ended, and his words replete with guile
of his persuasive words, impregn’d
Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits,
750 Conceals not from us, naming thee the tree Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil; Forbids us then to taste, but his forbidding Commends thee more, while it infers the good
739. Mean while the hour of monstrous.
noon drew on, and wak'd 750. —he also who forbids] An eager appetite,]
As if it had not been God who This is a circumstance beauti- had forbidden; but God was fully added by our author to the not now in all her thoughts. Scripture account, in order to She afterwards professes herself make the folly and impiety of ignorant of bim, ver. 775. Eve
appear less extravagant and VOL. II.
By thee communicated, and our want:
7:55 For good unknown, sure is not had, or had And yet unknown, is as not had at all. In plain then, what forbids he but to know, Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise ? Such prohibitions bind not. But if death
760 Binds us with after-bands, what profits then Our inward freedom ? In the day we eat Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die. How dies the Serpent ? he hath eat'n and lives, And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns, 765 Irrational till then. For us alone Was death invented ? or to us denied This intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd ? For beasts it seems : yet that one beast which first Hath tasted, envies not, but brings with joy 770 The good befall’n him, author unsuspect, Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile. What fear I then, rather what know to fear Under this ignorance of good and evil, Of God or death, of law or penalty ?
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
777. Fair lo the eye inviting to tree was good for food, and that the taste,
it was pleasant to the eyes, and a Of virtue to make wise :) tree to be desired to make Gen. jii. 6. The woman saw that the wise.
Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat
792. And knew not eating death :) 793. And_highter'd as with It is a Greek phrase, used often wine, &c.] That secret intoxicaby the Latins too. Oppian Ha- tion of pleasure, with all those lieut. ii. 106.
transient flushings of guilt and coude svonour lov ozsudovris odoo joy, which the poet represents Agor.
in our first parents upon their They knew not hastening their eating the forbidden fruit, to death. Eating the fruit which those flaggings of spirit, damps brought death was eating death of sorrow, aud mutual accusaas being virtually contained in tions which succeed it, are conit. Richardson.
ceived with a wonderful inagin792. See Eurip. Hippol. 1. ation, and described in very
natural sentiments. Addison. 304. -sli modrou
794. Thus to herself &c.] As
our author had in the preceding where Valckenaer, in his edi- conference betwixt our first pation of the Hippolytus, p. 196, rents described with the greatest has ably illustrated this usage art and decency the subordinaof the participle in the nomina- tion and inferiority of the female tive case after verba quwgrotixa. character in strength of reason It is very remarkable that Mil- and understanding; so in this ton should adopt this Grecism soliloquy of Eve's after tasting in his English poetry, and neg- the forbidden fruit, one may oblect it in a Greek composition. serve the same judgment, in his See the lines Philosophus ad Re- varying and adapting it to the gem quendam, &c. 1. 2. C. Bur- condition of her faller. nature. ney.
Instead of those little defects in
O sovran, virtuous, precious of all trees
795 In Paradise, of operation blest To sapience, hitherto obscur’d, infam’d, And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end Created ; but henceforth my early care, Not without song, each morning, and due praise, 800 Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease Of thy full branches offer'd free to all ; Till dieted by thee I
her intellectual faculties before Serpent, to whom in her then the fall, which were sufficiently notion of things she must think compensated by her outward herself the most indebted ? I charms, and were rather soften- do not doubt but Milton was ings than blemishes in her cha- sensible of this, but had he racter, we see her now running made Eve mention the Serpent, into the greatest absurdities, and he could not have avoided too indulging the wildest imagina- making her observe that he was tions. It has been remarked slunk away, which might have that our poet in this work seems given her some suspicions, and to court the favour of his female would consequently have much readers very much, yet I cannot altered the scene which follows help thinking, but that in this betwixt Adam and her. Thyer. place he intended a satirical as 795. —precious of all trees) well as a moral hint to the ladies, The positive for the superlative; in making one of Eve's first the most precious of all trees; as thoughts after her fatal lapse to Virg. Æn. iv. 576. Sequimur te be, how to get the superiority Sancte Deorum; and Hom. Iliad. and mastery over her husband. v. 381. Abc diam, &c. RichardThere is, however, I think, a defect in this speech of Eve's, 799. —but henceforth my early that there is no notice taken
care, of the Serpent in it. Our author Not without song, each morning, very naturally represents her in
and due praise, the first transports of delight ex- Shall tend thee, &c.] pressing her gratitude to the I conceive the construction to fruit, which she fancied had be, not My early care and due wrought such a happy change praise shall tend thee, but My in her, and next to experience her early care shall tend thee not best guide : but how is it possi- without song and due praise; and ble that she should in these rap- therefore have added a comma turous acknowledgments forget after due praise to make the sense her guide and instructor the plainer.