Page images

675. "brigad." So spelt in Milton's editions, and the accent on the first syllable.

676. "pioneers”: spelt “ Pioners" in Milton's editions, and perhaps pronounced so.

678. “ Mammon led them on.” The name Mammon, says Bishop Newton, is Syriac, and signifies Riches. Milton, following Scripture, personifies him, as the god of riches, as Spenser had already donebringing him forward, for special reasons, out of the promiscuous host of demons, whom he had left unnamed in the first muster. He identifies him in the sequel (738-751) with Mulciber or Vulcan of the classic mythology

686. “Ransacked the Centre.The centre or interior of the Earth, say the commentators unanimously. Not so. Centre here is the Earth itself as a whole, not its interior merely. , In old literature the Earth, as the supposed centre of the Universe, was frequently called “the centre" par excellence. Thus Shakespeare (Troil, and Cres. I. iii.):

"The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre,

Observe degree, priority, and place.'

Milton's meaning is that it was the same Mammon whom he represents as looking for gold even in Heaven, and as now beginning metallurgy in Hell, that afterwards taught mining on Earth.

688. treasures better hid.” See Horace, Od. iii. 3, 49.

703. founded the massy ore.” This is the reading in the First Edition. In the Second, and in all subsequent editions, till Bentley's in 1732, the reading is found out the massy ore.

708, 709. As in an organ,&c. Mr. Browne quotes from Professor Taylor a note on the exactness of this image. “The wind produced by the bellows [in an organ] is driven into a reservoir called the windchest, above which is placed the sound-board, and then by intricate contrivances conveyed to each row of pipes.”

710—717.“ a fabric huge rose like an exhalation, &c. . . golden architrave," &c. It has been suggested that Milton may here have had in recollection some of the gorgeous machinery used in the Masques so common in the reign of Charles I. The architectural terms used are exact. Pilasters are square pillars, generally sunk in the wall; Doric pillars are plain columns of the Doric order; architrave, frieze, and cornice are the successive parts of the entablature between the capital of the column and the roof-the frieze often bearing sculptured figures in relief.

718. "great Alcairo.Milton, as Hume noted, uses this modern name for old Memphis, the capital of Egypt.

720. Belus or Serapis.” The a of Serapis is usually long; but instances in which it is made short, as here, are quoted from the later Latin poets.

728. “ blazing cressets.A cresset was any open vessel, jar, or cage, in which tarred ropes or the like could be burnt by way of beacon-lights ; hence such lights themselves were also called cressets. Wedgwood connects the word etymologically with the English crock or cruise, a pitcher or jar (German krug, Dutch kruycke, French cruche), and so with cruet and crucible. Shakespeare, as Newton observed, has the word cressets in the sense of “ blazing lights" (Hen. IV. Part I. iii. 1); and Todd quotes it from Sylvester's Du Bartas.

739, 740. in Ausonian land men called him Mulciber," i.e. in Italy men worshipped Im as Vulcan, one of whose names was Mulciber (the Softener).

746, 747. Thus they relate, erring," i.e. the old poets who had related the fall of Vulcan from Heaven when flung out by Zeus—Homer (Iliad, i. 590), &c. In Milton's persistent identification of Mammon with Vulcan is there any secret reference to the money-making spirit as the mother of metallurgy and the engineering arts ?

752. Haralds.” In the First and Second Editions this word is spelt so (Italian Araldo); but in the Third Edition (1678) it is Heralds, as



" At Pandemonium.Here we have a name given to the palace, or range

of palaces in Hell, which Mammon had just built, and which was situated on the plain between the hill and the lake. “ Pandemonium ” means "the home or hall of all the Demons,” and is a word formed on the analogy of “ Pantheon," the hall of all the gods. Milton, if not the actual inventor of the word, was the first who gave it currency.

760.With hundreds," so spelt in the original edition ; but in the Errata of that edition there is a direction for this passage, “ For hundreds read hunderds," as if Milton preferred the second pronunciation. In the Second Edition it is hunderds”; but in the Third hundreds " is restored.

768–775. As bees," &c. See Iliad, ii. 87.

774.with baim," spelt“ baume” in the First Edition.—"expatiate," i.e. walk about.

780. that pygmean race.” See note on lines 575, 576.

789-792. Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest shapes," &c. See note 419–437. There is a quaint ingenuity in the present application of Milton's postulate as to the expansibility or compressibility of the forms of the Spirits. The committee of leaders remaining in their own gigantic dimensions far within, it is only by some such reduction of the general body as in the text that the imagination can conceive the hall holding all the vast multitude.


2, 3. " Ormus and of Ind

gorgeous East,” &c.

Ormus, more properly Hormuz, an island at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, once giving its name to an Asiatic kingdom ; Ind, India; the gorgeous East, probably the remoter lands of Asia.—" Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold: either a bold poetical expression, or an allusion to the actual Fastern custom of pouring pearls and precious stones over the heads and feet of princes on great state occasions.

9. "by success untaught." The word 'success' is here used not in the ordinary sense of good fortune,' but as equivalent merely to 'event' or issue.'

41, 42. Whether of open war," &c. Todd compares Faery Queene, vii. 6. 21.

50. thereafter," i.e. accordingly.
64–70. when,&c. Todd compares Æschyl. Prom. v. 920.

70–81. But perhaps the way seems difficult . . . sunk thus low.It is the physical reascent through the superincumbent Chaos that Moloch has here in view ; and, to persuade the Angels that this might not be so difficult, he bids them remember their sensations during their descenthow they had not fallen or sunk, as if in obedience to a natural law of gravitation, but had been driven or pushed down through a resisting medium, in which, but for this force, they would have risen by native buoyancy. Descent and fall to us is adverse” is therefore here a proposition respecting the physical nature of Angels, and not respecting their moral nature, as some have supposed.

81–85. The ascent is easy, then: the event is feared . . . destroyed.” Moloch does not here speak in his own person, but anticipates a second objection that the Angels might make, if he had satisfactorily disposed of the first. 91, 92. the torturing hour calls us to penance.

6 Milton here supposes," says Hume, “the sufferings of the damned Spirits not to be always alike intense.” The phrase "torturing hour," in a somewhat different connexion, occurs in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V. Sc. i. where Theseus says,

“ Is there no play To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?" 97. this essential,i.e. this essence, or this essential being.

100, IOI. we are at worst on this side nothing.” This is sometimes printed, “we are, at worst, on this side nothing ;” which spoils the

1 23.

meaning. Moloch means, “We are now already at the worst that is possible on this side of total annihilation."

104. "his fatal throne," i.e. upheld by fate.

113, 114. make the worse appear the better reason." A literal translation, as Bentley points out, of the Greek phrase describing the profession of the ancient Sophists, τον λόγον τον ήττω κρείττω ποιείν. The phrase occurs in Plato's Apology of Socrates.

the whole success." See note, line 9. 134-142. Or, could we . . . purge off the baser fire, victorious.Belial, who keeps replying closely, throughout his speech, to the arguments just urged by Moloch, here refers to Moloch's expectation as expressed in lines 60—70.

141. Her mischief." See note, Book I., line 254.

146—151. Sad cure !&c. Here Belial differs from Moloch, in thinking annihilation undesirable, even were it possible. Todd aptly compares the famous passage in Measure for Measure (III. i.): “Ay, but to die,” &c.

156. Belike,i.e. “as it were." ( 159.

" Wherefore cease we, then ?' say they who,&c. Here Belial begins to answer that part of Moloch's speech where he maintained that they were already at the worst on this side annihilation (100, 101). See note on the passage.

165. “strook.” So the word occurs in the original editions ; and previous editors have acted improperly in converting it into the more usual form “struck.For, though the form “struck,” both for the preterite tense and the passive participle did exist in Milton's time, and he has himself used it, he seems to have preferred “ strookfor musical reasons, and to have always used it except where some particular modification of those reasons recommended "struck.Here is one instance from his prose: "... how the bright and blissful Reformation, by Divine Power, strook through the black and settled night of Ignorance,' &c. (Of Ref. in England); and other instances might be found. Again, in his poetry there are just (if the verbal indexes have guided us properly) five passages, in addition to the present, where the word in either form occurs ; and in three of these instances, as here, we have, in the original editions, "strook": thus

“ The monstrous sight Strook them with horror backward."

Par. L. VI. 863. “ So strook with dread and anguish fell the Fiend.”

Par. Reg. IV. 576. "... by mortal finger strook."

Ode Nat. 95.

In this last instance the word rhymes to took.The other two instances are as follows :

“ Satan had not to answer, but stood struck.”

Par. Reg. III. 146. " And with blindness internal struck."

Sams. Ag. 1686.

[ocr errors]


In the former of these “ struck seems to have been chosen to avoid such a recurrence of sound as “stood strook”; and in the second “ struck," as the final word, better conveys the sense of abruptness. There is also one passage (Par. Lost, IX. 1064) where we have the form" strucken."

170. What if the breath,&c. Newton quotes Isaiah xxx. 33.

174. " His red right hand.Bentley quotes Horace, Od. i. 22 rubente dextera.

175. Her stores," i.e. Hell's; the pronoun here preceding the noun.

181—186. Each on his rock transfixed,” &c. The anticipation of some such form of increased torment in Hell had already occurred to Satan : see Book I. 325-330. 205. 'venturous :" spelt vent'rous in Milton's editions.

this darkness light.It has been doubted whether “light” is here a substantive or an adjective; but the substantive gives the stronger meaning.

227. ignoble ease." Virgil's ignobilis oti, Georg. iv. 564 (Newton).

233 Chaos judge the strife.It has been doubted whether the strife in which Chaos is here to act as judge is that just imagined between Fate and Chance, or that also imagined between the Almighty and the Fallen Angels. The former seems decidedly the true meaning. Chaos is the residence of Chance (see line 965 of this Book); and the victory of Chance over Fate would be the triumph of Chaos.

249.“ Let us not then pursue.“Pursue” means here “to seek after," and the object of the sentence is “our state of splendid vassalage.”

263—267. How oft amidst," &c. Newton and Todd quote Ps. xviii. 2, Ps. xcvii. 2, and i Kings viii. 12.

278. “ The sensible of pain," i.e. either the sensible property of pain (sensibile, as Hume puts it), or the sensibility to pain.

Of what we are and where.” Such is the reading of the First Edition ; but in the Second, Third, and subsequent editions, it is Of what we are and were.” Tickell (1720) restored “where."

282. 66

« PreviousContinue »