« PreviousContinue »
634. “which”: i.e. the sword.
635. “adust”: scorched, burnt : from the Latin adustus (adurere), Ital. adusto. The word is not uncommon in old English writers. Burton has it, and also the noun adustion, in his Anat. of Melancholy; and Bacon has the verb adure : “ Such a degree of heat which doth neither melt nor scorch ... doth mellow and not adure” (Nat. Hist. $ 319)
636-639. "Whercat in either hand the hastening Angel caught our lingering parents, and,” &c. Addison has pointed out that here Milton
helped his invention by reflecting on the behaviour of the Angels who, in Holy Writ, have the conduct of Lot and his family" from the doomed city. Gen. xix. 16: “And while he (Lot) lingered, the men [i.e. the angels) laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife. : . and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.” 648, 649. “ They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way." Commenting on these closing lines of the poem, Addison ventured to suggest that it would have been better, both on account of their inferiority, as he thought, to the lines immediately preceding, and in deference to the principle of the critics, that an epic poem should end happily, if they had been omitted altogether, so that the poem should have ended thus
“ The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.” This remark of Addison's set subsequent critics on a busy discussion of the point. Bentley was for retaining the two lines, but proposed, after his usual manner, to accomplish this and yet obviate objections by taking a little liberty with them. The concluding five lines of the poem, he said, ought to stand thus
“ Some natural tears they drop'd, but wip'd them soon;
The World was All before them, where to choose
Through Eden took, with Heavenly comfort cheer'd.” “Horrible ! O horrible” the reader now will exclaim ; but, though most of the critics after Bentley have declined his emendation, it shows what a power is exercised by great names, that commentators have gone on faintly differing from Addison here, instead of simply recognising Milton's ending of the poem as consummately beautiful. Adam and Eve have just been led down the steep from Paradise on its eastern side to the level Eden beneath it, around which and stretching away on all sides is all the rest of the earth ; looking back they behold the whole eastern side of the steep waved over he flaming sword, and the gate thronged
with dreadful faces and arms of fire; they shed a few natural tears at the sense of their expulsion for ever from that happy seat; then, slowly, and hand in hand, they take their way, irresolute whither, but trusting in the promised guidance, through Eden, towards the rest of a vague and unknown earth. This is our last sight of them; and, instead of wishing the final lines away, we prolong the sight to ourselves, at a distance growing greater and greater, by fondly repeating them :
“ They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."
APPENDIX: ON CALLANDER'S MS. COMMENTARY.
Having had access to Callander's MS. Notes on Paradise Lost, described at pp. 101, 102 of this volume, and having examined them with some care, I think it but justice to a laborious and too slightly remembered commentator to give some farther account of them.
The nine thin folio volumes of MS. now in the Library of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh contain Callander's Notes to Books II.—XII, of the poem. The Notes to Book I. had been detached, I suppose, to be printed anonymously with the separate edition of that Book published from the Foulis press at Glasgow in 1750. The intention probably was that, should the reception of that specimen be favourable, the Notes to the other eleven Books should follow at leisure. The whole Commentary seems to have been ready, in first draft at least, before the publication of the Foulis specimen ; for at the end of the Notes to Book XII., as now preserved in the MS. state, I find the date " Jan. 4, 1749,” with the annexed pious ejaculation by the commentator over the completion of his work,“ Tq Dey povo avtokparopı doša” (“Glory to God the sole absolute ruler”). Even after that seeming close of his labour, however, Callander went back upon it, inserting fresh notes, and extensions of his former notes, in the blank spaces of his MS. sheets (generally on the left-hand pages, which had been left blank purposely); and there is every evidence that the appearance of Newton's Variorum edition in 1749 (which may have hastened, by the spur of rivalry, the separate publication of the Notes to Book I.) furnished many new suggestions and led to enlargements and recasts. Indeed a considerable portion of the commentary in the present MS. volumes consists of duplicate or recast bound up with the first drafts; and at the end of such duplicate or recast of the Notes to Book IV. there is the date “ Jan. 1752,” verifying the assurance already given (p. 101) that
Callander hung over this, his opus ningnum, for a series of years.
He evidently bestowed fond pains upon it. The handwriting, both in the first drafts and in the portion of perfected duplicate, is clear, formal, and business-like; all the Greek, Latin, and other quotations with which the notes are loaded are transcribed in full, the Greek generally without the accents, but sometimes with them, and almost always with a Latin translation appended ; and the references to the books and editions quoted from are given punctually either in the text or at the foot of the page. Were the whole Commentary printed as it stands, without the poem, it would make, I calculate roughly, more than 600 pages of type such as the present; and it would then appear that, while all the poem is annotated very profusely, the annotation in some parts is more dense and minute than in others.
There is little chance that the Commentary ever will be printed ; nor, so far as Paradise Lost is concerned, is there much reason why it should. Perhaps, indeed, had it been published in Callander's life-time ---say between 1750 and 1760, when Newton's Variorum edition was the one in possession of the field-it would have procured some credit for the author, and taken rank as an operose, and not altogether useless, addition to the mass of commentation on Milton then already accumulated. Even then, however, its value towards any farther elucidation or criticism of Paradise Lost would not have been great. It is largely built, and with too little acknowledgment, on the early commentary of Patrick Hume, with the incorporation of hints from Addison, and of hostile references to Bentley, and also with transferences into it of a great deal from Newton and his coadjutors in the Variorum edition of 1749. The very quotations and parallel passages, from Latin, Greek, Italian, and English authors, which had appeared in Hume and in Newton, are reproduced in Callander's Notes—with additions, it is true, from his own readings, but these additions seldom very luminous or pertinent. For any essential purpose, those who had Newton's edition at hand, with its collection of matter from all previous commentators back to Hume, might have dispensed with Callander. And since that time any little interest that might have attached to what was his own in the Notes has been all but extinguished by the publication of the abundant notes of Todd, Keightley, and other subsequent commentators, some of them of superior taste and acumen, and with a far better notion of the true business of a commentator on Milton. Callander's notion of the business was less that of the elucidation of the text and meaning of his author by furnishing all necessary references and explanations with due lucidity and brevity, than that of starting off at every possible point into a little excursus of independent research, suggested by some phrase, or passage, or proper name, in the poem, so as to make his commentary a kind of Bayle's Dictionary, or repertory of information, about all things and sundry mentioned or alluded to in Paradise Lost. There had been too much of this in Hume, and even VOL. III.
in Newton, and there was to be more in Todd; but Callander outdoes them in sheer miscellaneous dissertation, or ranging on and on among particulars and quotations, under the pretext of comment. Milton's “ Limbo” (III. 495) sends him out on a note on that idea and its history which extends itself to seven folio pages of close writing ; one of Milton's invocations of his Muse sends him out on a dissertation nearly as long on the classical habits of such invocations ; on the line “ Like those Hesperian Gardens famed of old” (III. 568) there are two folio pages of geographical comment, with Latin and Greek quotations; the passage “ Eden stretched her line,” &c. (IV. 210) suggests an account of the controversy as to the site of Eden, filling six folio pages ; Milton's sentiment“ Whatever hypocrites austerely talk,” &c. (IV. 744 et seq.), is expanded and illustrated through eight folio pages of remark and quotation ; Milton's casual reference to his favourite fancy of the music of the spheres in the phrase "not without song" (V. 178) occasions three pages and a half of disquisition on the Pythagorean doctrine; and Milton's brief sketch of the rise of Episcopacy and of the secular ambition of the early Bishops, put into the mouth of the Archangel Michael in the last Book of the poem (515 et seq.), leads to a long string of extracts on these subjects from Church-historians, ending “In short, Grotius is perfectly just, P. I., Epist. 2 : Qui ecclesiasticam historiam legit, quid legit nisi Episcoporum vitia ?" Scholarship is certainly shown in these notes, and in the shorter notes amid which such long ones are interspersed; and there is ample proof independently, in Callander's other remains, published or in manuscript, that he was a laborious Scottish scholar of his time, not only familiar with the ordinary Greek and Latin classics, but also unusually conversant with the minor fragments of antiquity, and the works of scholiasts, critics, and historians. Not only, however, was his scholarship of the bygone type of the middle of last century, often concerning itself with questions and forms of questions that no longer exist; it was even of a rather dull and provincial variety of that type. With a real love of literature and research, and a good deal of plain sense, he had no high critical faculty, and little force, felicity, or radiance. Hence, though I suppose that there may lie in some parts of his commentary on Paradise Lost quaint gatherings of a feeble sort of lore, the fruits of an old scholar's readings, I do not believe it could be made to yield anything of novelty now for the real purposes of annotation, unless it might perhaps be an occasional parallel passage from a Greek or Latin writer, to be added to those collected, only too plentifully, by Hume, Newton, Todd, and the rest. I doubt whether there could be much happy addition from Callander even of this kind. In several cases where I noted a really apt illustrative quotation which I thought at the moment to be Callander's own, I found it after all in Hume or Newton.
The following is perhaps as favourable and as various a specimen as could be given of Callander's shorter notes :
II. 113, 114. “ could make the worse appear the better reason.” Gellius has described Protagoras' rhetorick much in the same way, L. 5, c. 3: “Protagoras insincerus quidem philosophus, sed acerrimus Sophistarum, fuit. Pecuniam quippe ingentem cum a discipulis acceperat annuam, pollicebatur se id docere, quanam verborum industria causa infirmior posset fieri fortior : quam rem Græce ita dicebat, tov réttw doyov κρειττω ποιειν. .' For, agreeably to what Ovid says, Trist. I. El. 1. :
“Causa patrocinio non bona pejor erit.” “ Ambrosial odours.” So Spencer in Faery Queene, Book 11. iii. 22 :
“ Like roses in a bed of lilies shed
The which ambrosial odours from them threw." Again, Book iv. xi. 46 :
“ The which ambrosial odours forth did throw." It is common for poets to apply this epithet to express anything sweet. So Theocrit. Id. 11, v. 48, devkas ek xiovos Totov außpoolov : ex candida nive potum divinum. Schol. το θειον, τουτ' έστι το γλυκυτατον. II. 409, 410. “arrive the happy Isle." Similar phrase of Shakespeare, Henry,
“those powers that the queen
Hath raised in Gallia have arrived our coast." Again, Julius Cæsar, Act I.:
“But ere we could arrive the point proposed.” Newton observes that our author in his prose works uses this word in the same
II. 642. “ Ply stemming nightly toward the pole." To understand this, we must remember that ships coming from the East Indies towards the Cape of Good Hope have the great Æthiopian sea open to the south of them, and generally, for fear of falling in with the land during the night, by reason of the great currents that run in those seas from the South Pole, they keep off to sea towards the south. Therefore, as Milton justly expresses it, they are obliged in this course to stem those currents, which set from south to north.
III. 22 et seq. “but thou revisit'st not these eyes,” &c. This digression on his own blindness has been blamed, as not according to the rules of Epick Poetry. (So] that in B. IV. 750, on Conjugal Love, and in IV. 312, on Adam and Eve naked ; in B. V. 434, Angels eating. Lucan fails often in this, when he lets drop his main subject for the sake of his diverticula, as Scaliger calls them, as when he relates the prodigies preceding the Civil War and makes long declamations on that occasion. Mr. Addison, in his observations on Milton, remarked that the longest reflection in the whole Ænei is when Turnus adorns himself with the spoils of Pallas, whom he had just slain. Æn. X. 501:
“Nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futuræ,
Et servare modum, rebus sublata secundis :
Oderit.” We must observe here that, according to critical rules, Virgil has most improperly made this reflection in the midst of a fierce engagement, while Milton's digressions come in while the reader's mind is vacant and unoccupied ; which occasions less con. fusion in his narration.
IV. 110. “ Evil, be thou my good.” The manners of an Epic Poem (says Bossu) ought to be poetically good, but it is not necessary they should be always morally so.