Page images



Dismay'd, and thus in haste to th’ Angel cried.

O Teacher, some great mischief hath befall'n
To that meek man, who well had sacrific'd ;
Is piety thus and pure devotion paid ?

To whom Michael thus, he also mov'd, replied.
These two are brethren, Adam, and to come
Out of thy loins ; th' unjust the just hath slain,

For envy that his brother's offering found
From Heav'n acceptance; but the bloody fact
Will be aveng'd, and th’ other's faith approv’d
Lose no reward, tho' here thou see him die,
Rolling in dust and gore. To which our sire.

Alas, both for the deed and for the cause !
But have I now seen Death ? Is this the way
I must return to native dust ? O sight
Of terror, foul and ugly to behold,
Horrid to think, how horrible to feel !

To whom thus Michaël. Death thou hast seen
In his first shape on man ; but many shapes



458. —and th' other's faith ape mouth of Eve in the preceding prov'd] It was, according to the book, ver. 1001. author of the Epistle to the He

Let us seek Death, or he not found, brews, who bears this testimony

supply to it, xi. 4. By faith Abel of- With our own hands his office on fered unto God a more excellent ourselves : sacrifice than Cain, by which he Why stand we longer shivering under

fears obtained witness that he was righ

That show no end but death, and teous, God testifying of his gifts ;

have the power, and by it he being dead, yet Of many ways to die the shortest speaketh.

choosing, 462. But have I now

Destruction with destruction to deseen

stroy ? Death ? Is this the way &c.] Our

Thyer. author, in making Adam so ignorant of what death was and 467. -but many shapes the way to it, seems to have Of Death, and many are the forgot what he had put in the VOL. II.


ways that lead


Of Death, and many are the ways that lead
To his grim cave, all dismal ; yet to sense
More terrible at th’ entrance than within.
Some, as thou saw’st, by violent stroke shall die,
By fire, flood, famine, by intemp’rance more
In meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bring
Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew
Before thee shall appear; that thou may'st know
What misery th' inabstinence of Eve
Shall bring on men. Immediately a place
Before his eyes appear’d, sad, noisome, dark,
A lazar-house it seem’d, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas'd, all maladies
Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms



To his grim cave,]

δικαςαι, και τυραννοι, c. 17. DunSenec. Phænissæ, act i. 151, ster. 153.

477. Immediately a place Ubique mors est

&c.] The second vision sets mille ad hanc aditus patent. before him the image of death

467. Milton in this passage in a great variety of appearances. seems to have had in his mind The angel, to give him a general that part of the Charon, or Ex- idea of those effects which his EXOTOUITES of Lucian, in which guilt had brought upon his posMercury having noticed to Cha- terity, places before him a large ron, conqueror Denth, (Beatisos hospital or lazar-house, filled Oavatos,) putting a sudden stop with persons lying under all to the ardent hopes and vain kinds of mortal diseases. How schemes of man, proceeds to finely has the poet told us, that point out and describe the satel- the sick persons languished under lites or ministers of this great lingering and incurable distempower, in the many and various pers, by an apt and judicious modes of death. He specifies use of such imaginary beings first diseases dire; Αγγελοι δε αυτο as those I mentioned in my last rai Únnestee peado toldos, eis ogues, paper! The passion, which likeηπιαλοι, και πυρετοι, και φθοαι, και wise rises in Adam on this occaFregitsioonide to which he hu- sion, is very natural. The dismorously adds, suicide, robbers, course between the angel and public executions, and tyrants, Adam which follows, abounds ξιφη, και ληστηρια, και κωνεια, και with noble morals. Addison.


Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,
Intestine stone and ulcer, colic pangs,
Demoniac phrenzy, moping melancholy,
And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,
Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence,
Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums,
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans ; Despair


487. Marasmus,) The word By that way's side there sat infernal is Greek, and it signifies a kind Pain, &c. of consumption, accompanied

Thyer. with a fever wasting the body The breaks and pauses in this by degrees; but we should ob

verse are admirable; and this serve that these verses,

beauty is improved by each Demoniac phrenzy, moping melan- period's beginning with the choly,

same letter d. And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,

Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Marasmus, and wide-wasting pesti


Substitute any other word in were not in the first, but were the room of dire or deep, and added by the author in the se- you will perceive the difference. cond edition, to swell the hor- And then follows ror of the description. Dr. Bent- And over them triumphant death his ley is for striking them out again, but Mr. Pope says they

Shook, but delay'd to strike. are three admirable lines. As the image is wonderfully

489. Dire was the tossing, deep fine, so it is excellently expressed the groans ; Despair &c.) This with the pause upon the first is entirely in the picturesque syllable of the verse, shook. One manner of Spenser, and seems thinks one almost sees the dart to allude particularly to that shaking. How much better is beautiful passage, where describ- this than Virgil's, Æn. xi. 767. ing the way to Pluto's grisly

-et certam quatit improbus hareign, he represents Pain, Strife,

stam! Revenge, &c. as so many per- If the line was to be altered, as sons assembled, and over them sat Horror soaring with grim thus, hue, and beating his iron wings.

And o'er them death triumphant

shook his dart, Faery Queen, book ii. cant. vii. st. 21. to st. 24.

much of the fire and spirit 490



Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch;
And over them triumphant Death his dart
Shook, but delay'd to strike, though oft invok'd
With vows, as their chief good, and final hope.
Sight so deform what heart of rock could long
Dry-ey'd behold ? Adam could not, but wept,
Though not of woman born'; compassion quell’d
His best of man,


to tears

till firmer thoughts restrain’d excess ; And scarce recovering words his plaint renew'd.

O miserable mankind, to what fall
Degraded, to what wretched state reserv'd !
Better end here unborn. Why is life given
To be thus wrested from us? rather why
Obtruded on us thus ? who if we knew
What we receive, would either not accept
Life offer'd, or soon beg to lay it down,
Glad to be so dismiss'd in peace. Can thus
Th’image of God in man created once
So goodly and erect, though faulty since,
To such unsightly sufferings be debas'd
Under inhuman pains ? Why should not man,



would be lost. The reader


His best of man, and gave him see other beauties of the same

up to tears] kind in the note upon iv. 351. This thought (as Mr. Whalley And there are several examples observes) is certainly from Shakeof it in Homer, but the Latin speare, whose words Milton has language seems hardly capable preserved at the close of the senof it; at least I cannot recollect tence. an instance in Virgil, who is the great master of versification.

I had not so much of man about me, 495.

But all my mother came into my

eyes, Though not of woman born ;

And gave me up to tears. compassion quell'd

Henry V. act iv.

Adam wept



Retaining still divine similitude
In part, from such deformities be free,
And for his Maker's image sake exempt ?

Their Maker's image, answer'd Michael, then
Forsook them, when themselves they vilified
To serve ungovern'd appetite, and took
His image whom they serv'd, a brutish vice,
Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.
Therefore so abject is their punishment,
Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own,
Or if his likeness, by themselves defac’d,
While they pervert pure nature's healthful rules
To loathsome sickness, worthily, since they
God's image did not reverence in themselves. 525

I yield it just, said Adain, and submit.
But is there yet no other way, besides
These painful passages, how we may come
To death, and mix with our connatural dust?

There is, said Michael, if thou well observe
The rule of not too much, by temp'rance taught,
In what thou eat'st and drink'st, seeking from thence
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,
Till many years over thy head return :
So may'st thou live, till like ripe fruit thou drop



517. To serve ungovern'd ap- image, when (as we read in iv. petite,] Appetite here is made 291.) a person: and took his image

-in their looks divine whom they serced, that is, un

The image of their glorious Maker governed appetite's, a brutish

shone, vice, that was the principal occa- Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe sion of the sin of Eve, inductive

and pure ! mainly lo the sin of Eve. How 531. The rule of not too much,) different is this image from God's Ne quid nimis.

« PreviousContinue »