« PreviousContinue »
“ The pretty and sweet manner of it forced
Those waters from me which I would have stopped ;
King Henry V., IV. 6.
“ for conscience sake," where no sign of the possessive case is given, unless sometimes an apostrophe, "conscience sake.” 519.
“ Inductive”: inducing, or conducing. 531. “ The rule of Not too much"; the classic aphorism, undey ägav, or Ne quid nimis. (Keightley.)
535–537. "till like ripe fruit thou drop... mature.” Bishop Newton supposed that Milton may have had in mind a passage in Cicero's De Senectute, “Quasi poma ex arboribus, cruda si sint, avelluntur, si matura et cocta, decidunt, sic vitam adolescentibus vis aufert, senibus maturitas.”
543-546. “in thy blood will reign," &c. Todd quotes from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy a passage, where, speaking of the causes of melancholy, he says, * The first of these, which is natural to all, and which no man living can avoid, is Old Age; which, being cold and dry, and of the same quality as Melancholy is, must needs cause it, by diminution of spirits and substance, and increasing of adust humours. Milton, like Burton, followed the old physiological system, in which “ humours" of various qualities performed so important a part.
549. “cumbrous;” spelt “combrous" in the first three editions. 551-552. “Of rendering up, and patiently attend
My dissolution. Michael replied : This is an expansion, in the Second Edition, of what formed but one line in the first, thus
“ Of rendering up. Michael to him repli’d.”
Gillies compares Job xiv. 14.
554. "permit to Heaven.” Newton quotes Horace, Od. 1. 9. 9. : “ Permitte divis cætera.”
556–573. whereon were tents," &c. Gen. iv. 20—22.
561-563. "his volant touch," &c. Musicians admire much this description ; so technically exact is it to the nature of fugue-music. For a longer description of the same kind, though in a different spirit, see Mr. Browning's piece entitled “Master Hugues of Saxe-Gotha."
573. “ Fusil or graven": i.e. by casting or carving.
573-592.“ After these ... a different sort," &c. : i.e. the children of
on the hither side," or nearer to Paradise than the descendants of the banished Cain. Some of the particulars respecting the Sethites are from Josephus and Jewish tradition ; others from Gen. vi. 1—2.
582. "bevy,” a company, from the Italian beva, a covey of birds—a frequent phrase with old writers, in the same connexion as in the text.
590. “They light the nuptial torch." Milton had used this phrase in his Treatise on Divorce : “ while they haste too eagerly to light the nuptial torch."
607-608. "the tents of wickedness." Psalm lxxxiv. 10. (Todd.)
614. “ For that fair female troop thou saw'st”: i.l. "in proof of which, thou hast seen that fair female troop.”
621–627.“ To these that sober race of men," &c. Here Milton adopts that opinion which makes the sons of God who married the daughters of men (Gen. vi. 1—2) to be the Sethites ; elsewhere, however, he adopts the opinion which supposes them to have been the Angels. See Par. Lost, V. 447, and Par. Reg. II. 178—181.
627. “ The world," &c. Compare IX. 11.
632–633. “ Man's woe. from Woman.” Perhaps a play upon the words, according to the popular old etymology which derived woman
woe to man. 638–673. “He looked and saw,” &c. In the whole of this vision Milton has in view the famous description of the shield of Achilles in the Iliad (xvIII. 478 et seq.), and takes hints from it. Newton, who noted the fact, says “The description of the shield of Achilles is certainly one of the finest pieces of poetry in the whole lliad ; and Milton has plainly shown his admiration and affection for it by borrowing so many scenes and images from it: but I think we may say that they do not, like other copies, fall short of the originals, but generally exceed them.”
651. “makes.” So in the Second Edition, but in the First it was “ tacks."
661. “ To council in the city gates." Gen, xxxiv. 20, and other texts.
665. “Of middle age one rising": i.e. Enoch, 365 years old when he was translated-i.e. not half the full age attributed to the oldest patriarchs. See Gen. v. 24 and Jude 14.
669. “exploded”: execrated, hissed at, drove off the stage by hissing --the literal meaning of the Latin explodo, from ex and plando.
679. massacre;” spelt “ massacher" in the original text.
681, 682. “ But who," &c. The syntax of these two lines is very peculiar, the word whom having to be resolved, not as usual into and
him, but into who .. him—"that just man who had not Heaven rescued him, had been lost.”
688. “ these Giants." Gen. vi. 4.
693—695. “shall be held . . and, for glory done, of triumph.” There is some difficulty in the construction here, and several meanings have been proposed. The true one seems to be “to overcome in battle, &c., shall be held the highest pitch of human glory, and to be styled great conquerors, &c., shall be held the highest pitch of triumph for glory achieved."
700. " the seventh from thee.” Jude 14.
706. “ Rapt," &c. The manner of Enoch's translation is supposed to be the same as the manner of Elijah's. 2 Kings ii. 11.
723—725. “preached conversion and repentance," &c. I Peter iii. 19, 20. (Hume.)
729-753. “ Bigan to build a vessel," &c. Gen. vi. and vii. But with his description of the Flood Milton has interwrought recollections of similar descriptions in Ovid (Met. 1) and other poets.
743. “ ceiling ;” spelt cecling in the original text.
750. “ Sea without shore": from Ovid (Met. I. 292), “deerant quoque littora ponto.” (Hume.)
766. “dispensed” : distributed ; literally “ weighed out.”
773, 774.“ neither . . . and.” A peculiar construction, in which neither is not followed as usual by nor. Bentley supposed a misprint; but Bishop Newton pointed out that the construction is according to Latin precedent (thus Cicero, De Orat. “ Homo neque meo juclicio stultus, et suo valde sapiens”); and Todd quotes an example of it from Milton's prose-writings : “The Jews, who were neither won with the austerity of John the Baptist, and thought it too much license to follow," &c.
801-805. " therefore, cooled in scal," &c. Possibly there is a tacit reference here to the condition of the English Puritans after the Restoration.
824-828. "all the cataracts,” &c. Gen. vii. 11, where, as Newton observed, the word translated “windows” in our version is in the Septuagint, Vulgate, and other versions, translated “cataracts.”
829, 830. “ Then shall this Mount," &c. Adopting the opinion that Paradise was obliterated by the Flood so that its exact site cannot now be determined, Milton here disposes of it very poetically. It was pushed out of its place by the violence of the flood (called “the horned food” because a flood meeting such an obstacle would divide itself into two horns or streams in flowing-round it), and swept down “the great
river," i.e. Euphrates, to the opening of the Persian gulf, where it took root as a miserable island.
835. "ores”: whales, or other huge fishes, mentioned under this name, according to Todd, by Ariosto, Drayton, and Sylvester.
836-838. “To teach thee," &c. An undoubted expression of Milton's anti-ceremonialism in ecclesiastical matters.
840. “hull”: i.e. to drift, as a mere hull, without the use of sails or other management.
842. “ North-wind;" a particular derived from Ovid, Met. I. 328, to be added to the main description, which is from Gen. viii.
846. “ their flowing;” a liberty of syntax, seeing that “wave" in the preceding line is in the singular.
866. “three listed colours." “ Listed” is “ striped ” (A.-S. list, a hem or edge : Mid. Latin and Italian lista). The three colours meant are perhaps red, yellow, and blue-into which colours, or some similar three, and not into the seven now noted, the rainbow was usually resolved before Newton's time. Here is the description of the rainbow in Sylvester's Du Bartas :
870. “O thou, who." So in the Second Edition; improved from Othou that" in the First.
880. “ Distended as,” &c. In the original text there is a stop after “Heaven” in the preceding line, and none after “distended." This shows that the meaning is “ Are they distended as the brow," &c.
884–901. In this speech of Michael's there is a coagulation of such texts of Scripture as these : Gen. vi. 6—12, viii. 22, and ix. II
-16, and 2 Pet. iii. 12, 13.
901. This line, at which, in the Second Edition, Milton thought fit to close the Eleventh Book, stood as only line 896 in the First Edition. The discrepancy of five lines in the numbering is accounted for by the introduction of four new lines in the Second Edition (see notes to lines 485-487, and 551, 552) and by a wrong numbering in the First Edition, to the extent of a line, between lines 870 and 880.
THE ARGUMENT. —As the present Eleventh and Twelfth Books forned together the Tenth Book in the original edition, it is the latter part of the Argument of that Book in that edition that now stands for the Argument of the Twelfth Book. Some words of the original Argument are altered for the purpose. Instead of the words “The Angel Michael continues, from the Flood, to relate what shall succeed; then, in the mention of Abraham, comes by degrees to explain who that Seed,” &c., the original Argument of the Tenth Book ran on thus : “Thence from the Flood relates, and by degrees explains who that Seed,” &c. I--5
“As one who . . . new speech resumes.” These five lines were added in the Second Edition, to make a proper opening for the Twelfth Book. In the First Edition there is no such break in Michael's speech, the line
" Thus thou hast seen one world begin and end." following immediately after what is now the last line of the Eleventh Book.
“ Henceforth . I will relate." Adam's glimpses of things to come have hitherto been in visions, interpreted by the Archangel; but from this point all is to be in mere narrative by the Archangel. The reason given by Michael is that Adam's organs of sight would be fatigued by farther gazing at supernatural visions; the poet's own reason, as Mr. Keightley saw, is that, as his poem is reaching its end, it is necessary to be more summary in what remains.
13-24. “ This second source of men . . . under paternal rule. In these twelve lines Milton sketches what has been called the Silver Age of the World, or that in which the “second source of men " (source in the sense of stream or stock), Noah's descendants, lived under patriarchal or family government, in a state of peace and religiousness inferior indeed to that of the Paradisaic time before the Fall, but superior to what was to follow.
24–37. “till one shall arise," &c. This is Nimrod. See Gen. x. 8-10. It is characteristic of Milton that he understands the Scriptural account of Nimrod as an account of the origin of kingly government or individual tyranny among men. Nimrod's hunting he understands, with the Jewish and other commentators, to be of men-the oppressive