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in the direction of the equatorial line of the Universe as distinct from distance between the poles. See III. 576. Hume cites Psalm xix. 5.
375. "Shedding sect influence." From Job xxxviii. 31: “the sweet influence of the Pleiades." (Hume.)
382. “dividual” : “divided," a word, from the Latin dividuus, used again by Milton, Book XII. 85, and already used by him in his Areopagitica : “a dividual moveable."
388. “ Reptile": here used in the sense of creeping or moving things of the waters—.e. fishes of all kinds. See Psalm civ. 25.—“living soul.” The phrase, inserted at this point, calls attention to the fact that these sea-creatures were the first of animals.
402. “sculls.” This is really the same word as "shoals ;” but, that word having been already used, Milton makes the other form do duty as a distinct word. Todd says the phrase "a scull of herrings" is used in Norfolk and Suffolk. “School” is perhaps also the same word. 409.
on smooth": i.e. on the smooth surface. 410. " bended dolphins.” Ovid, Fasti, ii. 113: "tergo delphina recurvo” (Hume). The fish meant is now called the porpoise.
415, 416, “at his gills draws in," &c. Ovid, Met. iii. 686 : “ Et acceptum patulis mare naribus efflant." (Newton.)
420. “callow . . . fledge." Callow is featherless, or covered only with soft down (A.-S. calo, Lat. calvus, bald). For fledge, see note, III. 627.
421. “summed their pens”: completed the growth of their wings. It has been pointed out that the word “summed,” in something like this sense, was a term in Falconry.
422, 423. " under a cloud in prospect”: i.e. the ground which would have appeared to anyone looking to be under a cloud—so great was the flight of the birds.
427. “ Intelligent of seasons." Jerem. viii. 7. (Newton.)
429, 430. "with mutual wing easing their flight”: i.e. facilitating the flight of the whole body by each in turn becoming the point of the wedge. Du Bartas has a longish passage on the Crane in his “ Fifth Day," including these lines
“For, when her troops of wandering cranes forsake
Frost-firmed Strymon, and in autumn take
439. "mantling proudly.” It is the wings that mantle-i.e. rise a little from the sides, outspread like a mantle. It is a term in Falconry.
440. " Her state”: i.e. her canopy as in a state-barge.
451. "soul living." In the original editions “ Fowle” stands for “ soul.” It must be a misprint.
457. “wons; "an old word for “ dwells."
466. “brinded”: i.e. striped or streaked. See Comus, 443. Another form is brindled ; " and the word is connected with “ brand," a piece of burning wood. Shakespeare (Macb. IV. i.) has “the brinded cat."
467. "libbard" : i.e. leopard. Spenser has the form.
471. “Behemoth": here used for the Elephant, as Leviathan has been used for the Whale (line 412). In Job (xl. 15, xli. 1) Behemoth means the hippopotamus and Leviathan the crocodile. Todd refers to 2 Esdras vi. 49.
476. “limber" : i.e. limp or pliant. Limp and limber are derived (Rich. Dict.) from A.-S. limpan, to belong, to appertain : whence limplic, pertinent, seasonable, fit. “With long and limber oar” occurs in the old poet Turberville.
478. “ decked," not the participle here, but the preterite active, governing “lineaments."
482. “ Minims”: i.e. minima, smallest creatures.
485-489. "the parsimonious emmet," &c. Proverbs vi. 6 ; but Hume notes that Milton has borrowed from Horace's description of the ant (Sat. 1. i. 33), “ Haud ignara ac non incauta futuri," and also from Virgil's line about the bee (Georg. iv. 83), "Ingentes animos angusto in pectore versant.” In illustration of the phrase “pattern of just equality perhaps hereafter,” Bishop Newton quotes a passage from Milton's prose pamphlet published in 1659 under the title The Ready and Easy way to Establish a Free Commonwealth. Quoting in that passage the text from Proverbs, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard,” &c., Milton adds: “which evidently shows us that they who think the nation undone without a king, though they look grave or haughty, have not so much true spirit and understanding in them as a pismire. Neither are these diligent creatures hence concluded to live in lawless anarchy, or that commended, but are set the examples to imprudent and ungoverned men of a frugal or self-governing Democraty or Commonwealth.”
490. “the female bee," &c. Milton here adopts the notion, common in his day, that the working-bees were females. 505—513
“There wanted yet the master-work,” &c. There is, as Hume noted, a distinct use by Milton here of the corresponding passage in Ovid (Met. i. 76-86) >
“ Sanctius his animal, mentisque capacius altä
Deerat adhuc, et quod dominari in cætera posset ...
Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus." 517, 518. "(for where is not He present ?).” Inasmuch as the acts of creation are being done by the Son within what had hitherto been part of the body of Chaos, and the Father might be thought of as having remained in Heaven, this parenthesis reminding the reader of the Father's omnipresence was not unnecessary. For Milton, as usual, adhering to the sacred text, is about to quote the words from Genesis i. 26, where Deity, speaking in the plural, says, “Let us make man," &c. 535–538.
“ Wherever thus created . .. he brought thee into this delicious grove, this Garden.” It is here implied that the creation of Man did not take place within Eden, but somewhere out of it; and this is in accordance with Gen. ii. 8 and 15. Todd quotes also 2 Esdras iii. 6.
563. “stations": so in First Edition, but station in Second. The former is clearly the better reading.
565. “ Open, ye everlasting gates," &c. Psalm xxiv. 7. 577
“ A broad and ample road," &c. Milton had here in view, as I believe, that gate or orifice of junction between Heaven and the newlyformed telescopic Universe of which we have already spoken ; but he makes the description vague.
581. “ Powdered with stars." This phrase occurs in Sylvester's translation of the Divine Weeks of Du Bartas, a book of extraordinary popularity in Milton's youth, and of his acquaintance with which there is ample evidence throughout his poetry. There is particular interest in comparing Milton's succinct account of the Creation in the present Book with Du Bartas's much longer account in that portion of his poem which is devoted to "the First Week, or Birth of the World.” It is divided into seven Books, or Days, entitled respectively The Chaos; The Elements; The Sea and Earth; The Heavens, Sun, Moon, &c.; The Fishes and Fowls; The Beasts and Man; The Sabbath.
The seven Books or Days together fill in the edition of 1613) 195 quarto pages, and are a most minute and elaborate Natural History in metre.
588-591. " for he also went . . . yet stayed . . . and the work ordained,” &c. The meaning is obscure. It may be, "For he also—.e. the Father—had invisibly accompanied the Son on his creative mission into Chaos (see antè, line 517), and yet had stayed in Heaven and ordained thence what was elsewhere going on.” But, as in the original text the word is “he," and not “hee,”—which it would probably have been for emphasis is the foregoing had been the meaning intended
it is likelier that “he” refers to the Son; in which case the passage might be cited as strongly orthodox in a matter in which Milton's orthodoxy has been suspected.
596. “all organs of sweet stop”: i.e. wind-instruments.
597. "all sounds on fret,” &c. “On the finger-board of a bass-viol, for instance,” says Richardson, are divisions athwart, by which the sound is regulated and varied : these divisions are called frets." The derivation of the word is doubtful-perhaps from Italian fratto, “broken” (Richardson's Dict.); perhaps from French fredon, "trill" in singing ; perhaps remotely from A.-S. fretan, "to gnaw," corrode" (whence our word fret, "to vex") which again is connected with frætwian, "to adorn" (as in “fretwork," "fretted with golden fires "). Shakespeare (T. of Shrew, II. i.) has the word in its musical sense :
“I did but tell her she mistook her frets
And bowed her hand to teach her fingering."
607. "created to destroy”: i.e. to destroy what is created.
617. “another Heaven, from Heaven-gate not far, founded in view on the clear hyaline." The song being in Heaven, the Angels are supposed looking down through Heaven's opening and beholding the new Universe as a miniature Heaven suspended from the main one. They see it founded on the “clear hyaline": i.e. on the Crystalline or Ninth Sphere which encloses it. Hyaline is Greek (vadivos) for “crystalline glassy. Και ενώπιον του θρόνου θάλασσα ναλίνη όμοία χρυστάλλω: "And before the Throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal” (Rev. iv. 6).
624. “her nether Ocean”: i.e. the waters under the firmament,” clinging round the earth itself, as distinct from “the clear hyaline,” or those above the firniament. See note, lines 261–275.
631, 632. “thrice happy if they know their happiness." Clearly, as Newton noted, from Virgil's well-known line (Georg. ii. 458)
“O sortunatos nimium, sua si bona nôrint."
640." Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.” In the original edition of the poem, in Ten Books, Book VII. does not end with this 640th line, but goes on, including the whole of the present Eighth Book.
1-4. “The Angel ended . . . replied.” In the First Edition, where the present Seventh and Eighth Books of the poem were conjoined in one as Book VII., the lines 639-642 of that Book ran as follows :
if else thou seekst Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.
To whom thus Adam gratefully repli’d.
What thanks sufficient,” &c. In the Second Edition, closing Book VII. with the second of these lines (line 640), Milton inserts, to form the opening of Book VIII., three new lines. He also modifies what had formerly been line 641 of Book VII. into the present line 4 of Book VIII.
15. “When I behold this goodly frame," &c. The discussion which begins here and is extended to line 178 is of singular interest as showing the uncertainty of Milton's astronomical creed. Although the scheme of the Universe which he has adopted throughout the poem is that known as the Ptolemaic, which supposes the Earth at rest as the centre of a series of Orbs or Spheres of Space performing vast revolutions at different rates around her, yet it is clear, from this and other passages (see Book IV. 592—597, and note), that he was not sure but the alternative or Copernican scheme might be the scientifically true one. Here, for example, he makes Adam arrive almost by intuition at the Copernican theory, or at least question the Angel whether there was not something à priori preposterous in the Ptolemaic system ; and, though the Angel, in his reply, suggests reasons why the Ptolemaic system might not be so preposterous as it appeared at first sight, and even hints that it was probably impossible to come to a conclusion on the subject, and that it was of no great practical consequence whether one could come to a conclusion or not, yet, on the whole, the balance of his remarks is in favour of the Copernican theory: See Introd. pp. 89-93.--Todd notes the similarity of expression in this line to Shakespeare's “this goodly frame, the earth” (Ham. II. ii).
19. “numbered stars”: i.e. numerous; but there may be a reference, as Hume observed, to Ps. cxlvii. 4, “He telleth the number of the stars.”
23. "punctual spot”: i.e. point-like spot, from punctum, a point.
30. "Orbs”: not the bodies of the luminaries, but the spheres, in the Ptolemaic sense, to which they respectively belong.