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Is the prime wisdom ; what is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence,
And renders us in things that most concern
Unpractis’d, unprepard, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful, whence haply mention may arise
Of something not unseasonable to ask
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour deign'd.
Thee I have heard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance : now hear me relate

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a verse of Homer, so much ad- relates to him the circumstances mired and recommended by So- in which he found himself upon crates,

his creation; as also his conver

sation with his Maker, and his Οττι τοι εν μεγαροισι κακον τ' αγαθοντι first meeting with Eve. There

Bentley

is no part of the poem more apt

to raise the attention of the rea. 194. Is the prime wisdom; der, than this discourse of our what is more, is fume, &c] An great ancestor; as nothing can excellent piece of satire this, and be more surprising and delighta fine reproof of those men who ful to us, thân to hear the sentihave all sense but common sense, ments that arose in the first man and whose folly is truly repre- while he was yet new and fresh sented in the story of the phi- from the hands of his Creator. losopher, who while he was gaz- The poet has interwoven every ing at the stars fell into the thing which is delivered upon ditch. Our author in these lines, this subject in holy writ with as Mr. Thyer imagines, might so many beautiful imaginations probably have in his eye the of his own, that nothing can be character of Socrates, who first conceived more just and natural attempted to divert his country. than this whole episode. As men from their airy and chi- our author knew this subject merical notions about the origin could not but be agreeable to his of things, and turn their atten- reader, he would not throw it tion to that prime wisdom, the into the relation of the six days' consideration of moral duties, works, but reserved it for a disand their conduct in social life. tinct episode, that he might have 204. -now hear me relate

an opportunity of expatiating My story,]

upon it more at large. Before Adam, to detain the angel, en- I enter on this part of the poem, ters upon his own history, and I cannot but take notice of two

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210

My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard ;
And day is not yet spent; till then thou seest
How subtly to detain thee I devise,
Inviting thee to hear while I relate,
Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply:
For while I sit with thee, I seem in heaven,
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill
Though pleasant, but thy words with grace divine 215
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety.

rest;

shining passages in the dialogue O heav'nly poet! such thy verse apbetween Adam and the angel.

pears, The first is that wherein our

So sweet, so charming to my ravish'd

ears, ancestor gives an account of the

As to the weary swain, with cares pleasure he took in conversing opprest, with him, which contains a very

Beneath the sylvan shade, refreshing noble moral.

As to the feverish traveller, when

first For while I sit with thee, I seem in heaven, &c.

He finds a crystal stream to quench his thirst.

Dryden. The other I shall mention is that in which the angel gives a rea

But the fine turn in the three son why he should be glad to last lines of Milton is entirely hear the story Adam was about his own, and gives an exquisite to relate.

beauty to this passage above

Virgil's. See An Essay upon For I that day was absent, &c. Milton's imitations of the Ancients,

Addison. 211. And sweeter thy discourse

212. --fruits of palm-tree] is to my ear &c.] The poet had The palm-tree bears a fruit called here probably in mind that pas

a date, full of sweet juice, a sage in Virgil, Ecl. v. 45. great restorative to dry and ex

hausted bodies by augmenting Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine the radical moisture. There is poeta,

one kind of it called Palma Quale sopor fessis in gramine: quale Ægyptiaca, which froin its vir,

per æstum Dulcis aquæ saliente sjtim restin. tue against drought was named guere rivo.

Adatos, sitim sedans. Hume,

p. 37.

220

To whom thus Raphael answer'd heav’nly meek.
Nor are thy lips ungraceful, sire of men,
Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee
Abundantly his gifts hath also pour'd
Inward and outward both, his image fair:
Speaking or mute all comeliness and grace
Attends thee, and each word, each motion forms ;
Nor less think we in heav'n of thee on earth
Than of our fellow-servant, and enquire
Gladly into the ways of God with man:
For God we see hath honour'd thee, and set
On man his equal love: say therefore on;
For I that day was absent, as befel,
Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,
Far on excursion tow’ard the gates of hell;
Squar'd in full legion (such command we had)
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,

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218. Nor are thy lips ungrace- of Adam's original, to be sure, ful,] Alluding to Ps. xlv. 3. he must have had by hear-say Full of grace are thy lips. or inspiration. Milton had very

221. Inward and outward both, good reason to make the angel his image fair:) One would absent now, not only to vary his think by this word outward that speaker, but because Adam Milton was of the sect of Anthro- could best, or only, tell some pomorphites, as well as Mate particulars not to be omitted. rialists. Warburton.

Richardson. 225. Than of our fellow-ser- 231. —the gates of hell ;] Horant,] So the angel says unto mer, Iliad. xxiii. 71. audas aidao. St. John, Rev. xxii. 9. I am thy 233. To see that none thence fellow-servant.

issued forth &c.] As man was to 229. For I that day was absent,] be the principal work of God in The sixth day of creation. Of this lower world, and (accordall the rest, of which he has ing to Milton's hypothesis) a given an account, he might have creature to supply the loss of the been an eye-witness, and speak fallen angels, so particular care from his own knowledge: what is taken at his creation. The he has said of this day's work, angels on that day keep watch

Or enemy, while God was in his work,
Lest he incens’d at such eruption bold,

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Destruction with creation might have mix’d.
Not that they durst without his leave attempt,
But us he sends upon his high behests
For state, as Sovran King, and to inure
Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut 240
The dismal gates, and barricado'd strong;
But long ere our approaching heard within
Noise, other than the sound of dance or song,
Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage.
Glad we return'd up to the coasts of light

245 Ere sabbath evening: so we had in charge. But thy relation now; for I attend, Pleas'd with thy words no less than thou with mine.

nare

and guard at the gates of hell, Hinc exaudiri gemitus, et sæva sothat none may issue forth to in

Verbera ; tum stridor ferri, tractæterrupt the sacred work. At the

que catenæ : same time that this was a very Constitit Æneas, strepitumque extergood reason for the angel's ab- ritus hausit. sence, it is likewise doing honour From hence are heard the groans of to the Man with whom he was ghosts, the pains conversing.

Of sounding lashes and of dragging

chains : 240. — Fast we found, fast

The Trojan stood astonished at their shut &c.] There is no question cries.

Dryden. but our poet drew the image in And in like manner Astolfo in what follows from that in Virgil's Orlando Furioso is represented sixth book, where Æneas and listening at the mouth of hell, the Sibyl stand before the ada

cant. xxxiv, st. 4. mantine gates, which are there

L'orecchie attente à lo spiraglio described as shut upon the place

tenne, of torments, and listen to the E l'aria ne senti percossa, e rotta groans, the clank of chains, and Da pianti, e d' urli, e da lamento the noise of iron whips, that

cterno, were heard in those regions of

Segno evidente, quivi esser l'inferno.

To hearken at the same he waxed pain and sorrow. Addison.

bold, The reader will not be dis

And heard most wocful mourning, pleased to see the

plaints and cries, vi, 557.

Such as from hell were likely to arise,

Harrington

passage, Æn.

250

So spake the godlike pow'r, and thus our sire. For man to tell how human life began Is hard ; for who himself beginning knew? Desire with thee still longer to converse Induc'd me. As new wak'd from soundest sleep Soft on the flow'ry herb I found me laid In balmy sweat, which with his beams the sun Soon dried, and on the reaking moisture fed. Straight toward heav'n my wond’ring eyes I turn’d, And gaz'd a while the ample sky, till rais'd

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253. -As new wak'd from falling away into nothing, can soundest sleep &c.] Adam then never be sufficiently admired. proceeds to give an account of His dream, in which he still prehis condition and sentiments serves the consciousness of his immediately after his creation. existence, together with his reHow agreeably does he repre- moval into the garden which sent the posture in which he was prepared for his reception, found himself, the beautiful land- are also circumstances finely imascape that surrounded him, and gined, and grounded upon what the gladness of heart which is delivered in sacred story. grew up in him on that occa- These and the like wonderful sion! Adam is afterwards de- incidents in this part of the work scribed as surprised at his own have in them all the beauties of existence, and taking a survey novelty, at the same time that of himself, and of all the works they have all the graces of naof nature. He likewise is re- ture. They are such as none presented as discovering by the but a great genius could have light of reason, that he and thought of, though, upon the every thing about him must have perusal of them, they seem to been the effect of some being rise of themselves from the subinfinitely good and powerful, and ject of which he treats. In a that this being had a right to word, though they are natural, his worship and adoration. His they are not obvious, which is first address to the sun and to the true character of all fine those parts of the creation which writing. Addison. made the most distinguished 256. --reaking] Or reeking figure, is

natural and amus- is the same as steaming or smoking to the imagination. His ing, from the Saxon Rec smoke, next sentiment, when upon his This idea is not the most delifirst going to sleep he fancies cate. himself losing his existence, and

very

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