« PreviousContinue »
Is the prime wisdom ; what is more, is fume,
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
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
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard ;
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,
To whom thus Raphael answer'd heav’nly meek.
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,
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.
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,
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
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