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glance, uno mentis ictu," grasping the truth. --The quoted phrases are from Milton's earliest commentator, Hume.
509. " the scale of Nature set," &c. : i.e. "planted that ladder (scala, a ladder), or fixed that gradation, of Nature, from its centre to its circumference, on which," &c.
514. “ Can we want obedience, then.” “We” spelt “wee” in the original edition, and therefore emphatic.
524. "perfect"; spelt "perfet," as before.
557. "Worthy of sacred silence to be heard." Literally, as Richardson noted, from Horace (Od. 11. xiii. 29)
sacro digna silentio Mirantur umbræ dicere.'
563-576. “High matter thou enjoin'st," &c. A recollection of the way in which episodic or retrospective narrations are introduced in the classic Epics; see Æneid, ii. 3. But Milton in this passage desires also to anticipate the objection that was sure to be made, and that has actually been made, to great portions of his poem—to wit that, in trying to describe things in their nature indescribable, he has had to resort to all kinds of physical and anthropomorphic shifts and suggestions. Through Raphael he hints beforehand that it must be so that, in describing the wars in Heaven, he must use such symbols and analogies as may serve to flash, not the transcendental reality, but a representative something, upon the imagination. But what, he concludes, if there is more of identity between the seen and the unseen than is thought-if Earth be but sacramental and symbolical of Heaven? This idea, characteristic as it is of Milton's mind, may be found, in various forms, in the philosophy of many thinkers--long before Berkeley, in whose system it was so essential. Newton cites a passage in illustration from the “Discourses” of Mede, and Todd another from Cicero (Frag. Timæus), ending “Ex quo efficitur ut sit necesse hunc quem cernimus mundum simulacrum esse alicujus æterni.” 568. “And perfect”: again "perfet” in the original.
more than on Earth is thought.” In these words and in the passage in which they appear, “ what if Earth,” &c., one rather sees Milton himself speaking to his contemporaries than Raphael speaking at a time when there were only two human beings on the Earth to have opinions.
577. As yet this World was not,” &c. At this point we have the true chronological beginning of the whole poem. See Introduction.
these heavens": i.e. not the great or upper Heaven of Deity and the Angels (which then existed as one half of Infinity, Chaos being the other half), but these heavens over and around the Earth. The word
“ Heaven Heavens occurs in both these senses throughout the poem.
579-583. on a day on such day as Heaven's great year brings forth.” Here, at the outset, Milton's, or Raphael's, plan of narrating the events of the eternal or transcendental world so as to make them analogically conceivable by the human mind involves him in a daring image, with a perplexing theological consequence. There are grand measures of time by motion in Heaven, as on Earth. Heaven has its
great year "--perhaps that “great year of the Heavens” imagined by Plato, which is measured by one complete revolution of all the spheres, so that all are brought back to the exact condition of mutual arrangement from which they set out, and are ready to begin a new repetition of their vast courses. Well
, on a day such as this great year brings forth —the first day of one such enormous Heavenly revolution—there was an assembling of the Heavenly hierarchies, by summons, to hear a grand new announcement of the will of the Infinite Father. It was that on that day had been begotten the only Son, and that he was constituted and anointed Head and Lord over all things. Now, as the Angelic hosts were assembled to hear this decree, it seems to be intimated that they had indefinitely pre-existed the day so splendidly marked, and that it came as a kind of interruption or new epoch in their existence. And this seems farther hinted in a subsequent speech of Satan (lines 853–863), where it is implied that, in Satan's view at least, the Angels had come into being at the beginning of a previous great year or natural cycle of the Heavens. Now, though Milton was an Arian, and though his Arianism was inferred by Voltaire and others from such passages of his Paradise Lost as these before the discovery of his posthumous Latin “ Treatise on Christian Doctrine,” yet his Arianism, as avowed in that treatise, was not of the kind that would have been content with imagining the ascendancy of the Son as subsequent to the creation of the Angels. According to Bishop Sumner's summary of the portion of the treatise referring to this subject, Milton asserted that “the Son of God existed in the beginning and was the first of the whole creation,” and that “ by his delegated power all things were made in heaven and in earth.” There would seem to be an inconsistency between this and what is suggested in the poem. But see the speech of Abdiel (lines 835–840), where the seeming inconsistency is provided for by the assertion that, albeit the Son had been begotten on that day of the assembling of the Angels, yet by Him originally had all things, including the Angels themselves, been made. It seems unavoidable to suppose that Milton drew a distinction between the absolute existence and power of the Son and “his being begotten as the Son”-dating the first as from the beginning, or at least from before all Creation and all Angels, but placing the last within the limits of created time and of the angelic history, and so denying what theologians call “the Eternal Sonship.” But, in all, he keeps a sacred reserve ; and, though his Arianism may be found in such passages of
the Paradise Lost, yet it need not; for, walking amid such difficult mysteries, the poet, as on other such occasions, thinks it best to keep close to the language of Scripture, and in every possible case to use the exact words of some Scriptural text, leaving the texts conjointly to produce the total impression. See first of all Job i. 6, 1 Kings xxii. 19, Daniel vii. 10.
589. "gonfalons." A gonfalon, as distinct from an ordinary standard, was a flag at the end of a lance. The Pope's standard was such a gonfalon. The etymology of the word is doubtful.
594—596. “ in orbs of circuit inexpressible . . . orb within orb.” Orb may
here mean “circle”; but perhaps it still may mean “solid sphere." See note, Book II. 512.
601. " Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers." dation of rank seems implied here, as if the "throned Angels” were highest, next those with “dominations," and so on.
602-609. The texts here coagulated are Psalms ii. 67, cx. 1; Eph. iv. 15; Genesis xxii. 16; Isaiah xlv. 23; Philipp. ii. 10, 11; Heb. i. 5.
612. “Me disobeys "; spelt “ mee” in the original, and therefore emphatic.
625-627. “And in their motions harmony divine," &c. There was no notion more delightful or habitual to Milton than the Pythagorean one of “the music of the spheres.” It often occurs in his writings. He must have been familiar with all the references to it among the ancients, including the interesting passage which Todd quotes from Philo Judeus : Ο δε ουρανός αεί μελωδεί, κατά τας κινήσεις των όντων εν αυτώ την πάμμουσον αρμονίαν αποτελών. .
627. "Evening now approached” The word now omitted in First Edition, inserted in Second.
628. “ For we have also our evening and our morn." The metre of this line is irregular. 636-641. “On flowers reposed
On flowers reposed . . . rejoicing in their joy.” Instead of these six lines, which appear thus in the Second Edition, the First Edition has only these three :
“They eat, they drink, and with refection sweet
Are fill'd, before th' all bounteous King, who showrd
In Pickering's eight-volume Edition of Milton's works the passage is inadvertently given in its more meagre form, the First Edition having been followed. Consequently there, as in the First Edition, Book V. of the poem contains only 904 lines, instead of 907.
642. "ambrosial Night." A Homeric expression, as Hume noted : άμβροσίην δια νύκτα (Iliad, ii. 57).
6504652. See Rev. vii. 17 (Todd), and xxii. 1 (Keightley).
658--661. “Satan—so call him now," &c. See note, Book I. 361– 375.
671. “his next subordinate": 1.e. Beelzebub. See note, I. 80–85. 673.
Sleep'st thou, companion dear ?” Compare with this the passage in Milton's Latin poem “ In Quintum Novembris," 92.
685-693. “Tell them that, by command," &c. Bishop Newton has pointed out that it is in keeping that the Father of Lies should be made to begin his revolt with a falsehood.
688, 689. “ where we possess the quarters of the North.” It is by no means necessary to suppose with some that Milton intended here reflection on Scotland, as the head-quarters of Presbyterianism and Royalist obstinacy. The notion of the north parts of Heaven as the seat of the angelic rebellion was a theologico-poetic tradition, founded perhaps on Isaiah xiv. 12, 13, “How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning . . . For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Various authorities for the tradition are quoted by Newton, Warton, and Todd—as St. Augustine, Sannazaro, Tasso, &c. Nay in Shakespeare (1 Henry VI., V. iii.) Satan is the monarch of the North."
696. “ He together calls”: i.e. His associate calls. The spelling is " Hee” in the original edition, to mark the emphasis.
710. " the third part of Heaven's host." Rev. xii. 3, 4. (Hume.) 713. " from within the golden lamps," &c. Rev. iv. 5. (Hume.)
718. "smiling": an important word here, indicating that the speech following is in a continued strain of irony.
719.“ Son, thou in whom,” &c. Heb. i. 2. (Hume.)
734. “ Lightening divine." As the word is spelt "lightning" in the original edition, we take it as a participle, meaning "gleaming," or “lightening up;" but some read it as a substantive, and quote Daniel x. 6 in illustration.
736, 737. “hast in derision ... laugh’st." Psalm ii. 4. (Hume.)
744. an host”: so in the original text, and not "a host," as in most of the editions.
753, 754. " from one entire globose stretched into longitude": i.e. conceived as extended or rolled out from its globose from into a plane continuous in one direction, like that of longitude in the maps.
766. “ The Mountain of the Congregation called." Isaiah xiv. 13.
782. “ Knee-tribute.” Todd quotes Shakespeare, Richard II., 1. iv., “the tribute of his supple knee.'
790, 791." possessed before by none." This phrase refers to “Heaven," and not to “natives and sons.” Satan makes the Angels aborigines of Heaven. See previous note, lines 578—583. 797.
“Much less for this to be our Lord.”. A difficult passage to construe. In the first place, if, as in the original text, we suppose the interrogation continued as far as to the word "serve” in line 802, the phrase “ much less " seems out of place. “ Much more” would be the natural phrase in that case. But, if we stop the interrogation at "err not," and suppose an ellipsis, this difficulty vanishes. In the second place, to what does “for this” refer? Some understand it to be a contemptuous reference to the Messiah—“for this person to be our Lord;" others understand “for this” to refer to the previous phrase, “if in power and splendour less," and the meaning consequently to be “much less assume, on account of our being less in power and splendour, to be our Lord.” Bentley, according to his bold and easy method, proposes to read “forethink ” for “for this.” The most feasible supposition seems to be Warburton's—which is that “for this ” refers to " introduce law and edict," and that the meaning is “Who can introduce law and edict on us?" &c. “Much less can any one assume, towards this end, or because of so doing, to be our Lord,” &c.
804, 805. “among the Seraphim, Abdiel.” The name Abdiel means Servant of God.”
805. “than whom.” Here, as in other cases, Milton writes "than whom” when “than who" would, in our modern syntax, be more correct. Thus, if we resolve the phrase, it becomes “Abdiel-none with more zeal adored than he."
But, whether owing to Milton's practice, or owing to a soundness in that tradition which makes the wrods me, him, &c., stand as nominatives in spite of the dictates of modern grammar, we certainly feel “than whom” to be the less awkward form.
809. “blasphemous ": to be pronounced "blasphemous." 822——825. “ Shalt thou give law to God,” &c. Rom. ix. 20. (Gillies.)
835—841. "by whom, as by his word," &c. See Colossians i. 16, 17. (Newton.)
842, 843. "since he, the head,” &c. The meaning is "since he, by becoming our head, deigns to become one of us, and we consequently participate in all that is his.”
859--863. “We know no time," &c. See previous note, 578—583. .
862. “his full orb.” A remarkable instance of “his " where we should now say “its.” It is impossible to suppose personification in the case of so neutral an entity as “fatal course;" and, indeed, seeing that it was Satan's intention to shut out the idea that living personality of any kind had been concerned in the genesis of the Angels, one is