Page images
PDF
EPUB

le-Grand], the wife was ready in another room, and on a sudden he

was surprised to see one whom he thought to have never seen more, "making submission, and begging pardon on her knees before him. "He might probably at first make some show of aversion and rejec“tion; but partly his own generous nature, more inclinable to recon“ciliation than to perseverance in anger and revenge, and partly the

strong intercession of friends on both sides, soon brought him to an " act of oblivion and firm league of peace for the future.” The wife returned to her husband's house, and lived with him about seven years, bearing him three daughters before her death in 1652. Whether the reunion was as irksome as that described in the text can also be inferred : too probably it was.

778-789. Was it not weakness also," &c. The strain here much resembles that of Eve's speech to Adam, Par. Lost, IX. 1155 et seq. 785. "parle: treaty, negotiation. So Shakespeare, Ham. I. 1 :

“ So frowned he once, when, in an angry parle,

He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. 840. Knowing ... by thee betrayed": i.e. knowing myself to be betrayed by thee. See the same idiom, Par. Lost, IX. 792.

850, 851. “ Thou know'st," &c. Judges xvi. 5.

934.Thy fair enchanted cup, and warbling charms: with a thought of Circe and the Sirens,

936. adder's wisdom: a recollection, as Newton has pointed out, of Ps. lviii. 4, 5 : “They are like the deaf adder, that stoppeth her ear; which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely."

939. “ could,so in the original, but altered into “ couldst" in most of the editions since.

950.To thine”: compared to thine.

971–974. Fame," &c. The manner in which Fame is personified and equipped here seems due to Milton's own imagination. In Chaucer's House of Fame Fame is a goddess, attended by the wind-god Æolus, with two trumpets-one a black trumpet of foul brass, which may be called the Infamy or Slander trumpet; the other a gold trumpet, or trumpet of Praise. In the contrary blast" Milton remembers this ; but he makes Fame or Rumour a god, and gives him also wings of opposite colours, on both of which the greatest names and reputations are carried as Fame flies. There is a striking personification of Rumour or Fame as a goddess in Milton's Latin poem In Quintum Novembris. There he uses suggestions from Chaucer, but also introduces the notion of wings of different colours-variis plumis. Mr. Dunster quotes a passage from Silius Italicus, where Infamy, as one goddess, is repre

sented as black-winged, and Glory and Victory, as different goddesses both white-winged. In one of Ben Jonson's masques, Fama Bona o. Good Fame is white-winged. See also Shakespeare's personification of Rumour, Induction to 2 Henry IV.

973, 974. “On both his wings," &c. The rhyme in these lines is probably intentional.

982--984. the famousest of women," &c. : a distinct recollection, as Dunster observed, line 598 of the Heraclidæ of Euripides.

988—990. “ in Mount Ephraim, Jael,” &c. Judges, chapters iv. and v. 1003-1007

" Yet beauty," &c. See preceding note, lines 759-762. 1009. “ Love-quarrels," &c. Terence, And, iu. iii. 23, “Amantium ira amoris integratio est." (Newton.)

10104-1061. It is not,&c. Again notice, throughout this chorus, the art of the versification, and the peculiar introduction of rhymes. Again one is reminded of the metre of parts of Goethe’s Faust. See note, 300—306.

1016. thy riddle, Samson." Judges xiv. 12-18.

1020. Thy paranymph": i.e. Samson's companion who had acted as bridesman on his marriage with his first wife, and to whom she was afterwards given by her father, to Samson's disgust. See the story, Judges xiv. and xv. Paranymph is “bridesman” or “bridegroom'sman "—the piloç Toù vouplov, mentioned in John iii. 29.

1034-1045. Whati'er it be," &c. Compare with this passage, so full of reference to Milton's own experience, the following from his first pamphlet on Divorce : “ The soberest and best-governed men are “ least practised in these affairs; and who knows not that the bashful “muteness of a virgin may oft-times hide all the unliveliness and natural “sloth which is really unfit for conversation.” The same pamphlet (Doct. and Dist. of Divorce) abounds with passages describing the intolerable misery of an ill-assorted marriage.

1038, 1039. "far within defensive arms a cleaving mischief": i.e. a mischief cleaving or sticking to one far inside the armour which might defend one against ordinary mischiefs. There is an allusion to the poisoned shirt sent to Hercules by his wife Dejanira.

1046—1049. Favoured of Heaven who," &c. : i.e. is he who finds, &c. See Prov. xxxi. 10 et seg. (Newton.)

1048. “combines," agrees with him.

1053-1060. Therefore God's universal law," &c. A very decisive assertion of the doctrine, which Milton held, of the natural inferiority of woman to man. Compare Par. Lost, X. 144 et seq.

[ocr errors]

1075. " fraught,” freight, burden. The word “fraught " (pronounced fracht) is still used in the north of Scotland, e.g. a fraught of water," as much as can be carried at once from the well.

1079. “Men call me Harapha." No such giant is mentioned by name in Scripture ; but see 2 Sam. xxi. 16-22. The four Philistine giants mentioned there are said to be sons of a certain giant in Gath called “the giant ;” and the Hebrew word for “the giant” there is Rapha or Harapha. Milton has appropriated the name to his fictitious giant, whom he makes out in the sequel (1248, 1249) to be the actual father of that brood of giants. 1080, 1081. “ Og . . . Anak

Anak . . . the Emims ... Kiriathaim.See Deut. iii. 11, Deut. ii. 10, 11, and Gen. xiv. 5.

1081, 1082. “ Thou know'st me now, if,&c. The same idea as in the much-quoted line Par. Lost, IV. 830 :

“Not to know me argues yourselves unknown.” 1092. “Gyves," fetters. The etymology of the word is doubtful; but it is found in early English writers.

1095. ass's.”: printed asses in the original, the apostrophe not then customary as a mark for the possessive.

1120, 1121. "brigandine," coat of mail (supposed by etymologists to be from brigands who wore such); " habergeon," mail for the neck and shoulders (same as hauberk, and derived from hals, the neck, and beorgan, to defend); "vant-brace," mail for the arms (avant bras); " greaves," leg-armour (greve, shin); "gauntlet," glove of mail (gant), for the hands.

JI22.“ A weaver's beam,like Goliath's, whose armour Milton has had in view in the preceding lines. See 1 Sam. xvii. 5—7.

1125 me: mee in the original edition, and probably therefore emphatic.

1127 and 1129. shalt.Mr. Keightley says that in both these lines the word in the original edition is printed “shall.

This is a mistake. In the original edition the word is “shaltin both cases; it is the second edition that has shall."

1132, 1133. had not spells," &c. : a reference, as Warton noted, to the belief that arms might be made unlawfully strong by magical arts. In the mediaeval knightly combats the champions took oath that they trusted to no such arts, but to God only.

1137, 1138. “bristles . . . ruffled porcupines: possibly, as Newton thought, a recollection of Shakespeare, Ham. I. 8

“And each particular hair to stand on end

Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.”

[ocr errors]

-18.

1162. "comrades," accented on the second syllable.

1181. “Tongue-doughty," tongue-valiant ; spelt in the original edition tongue-doubtie. A.-S. dochtig, valiant; Ger. tüchtig, solid.

1183-1191. Their magistrates," &c. For the incidents referred to in this speech, see Judges xiv. 19, and xv. 10 et seq. 1195—1200. your ill-meaning politician lords," &c. Judges xiv.

Milton follows Jewish tradition in supposing the thirty bridal friends there mentioned to have been spies appointed by the Philistines.

1220. “ appellant," the challenger in a combat, as “defendant" was the challenged.

1 222. thrice," for the third time, as was the custom in challenges.

1224—1226. With thee," &c. Criminals and persons of servile condition were disqualified for “the proof of arms," or trial by combat.

1231. O Baal-sebub.Harapha fitly swears by this god," the god of Ekron” (2 Kings i. 16), and again (line 1242) by the Phoenician goddess Astaroth.

1235. “My heels are fettered," &c. Throughout the greater part of the play Samson is to be conceived, as this line informs us, chained or fettered at the ankles, though still so that he could walk slowly; but not handcuffed. See line 1092 and note.

1238. bulk without spirit rast: i.e. vast bulk without spirit; the first three words almost forming one compound noun.

1248, 1249. “Though fame," &c. See previous note, line 1079. Four of the giant-sons of whom Milton takes the liberty of making his Harapha the father, were Ishbi-benob, Saph, and two others, whose respective fates are given in 2 Sam. xxi. 16-22 ; where it is also said, in our translation, that they were brothers of Goliath, previously slain by David. As the date of the death of Samson, in the Biblical chronology, is some eighty years before the accession of David to the throne, it is only on the supposition that the giants were unusually long-lived that Milton's accuracy in making the five sons of Harapha, who were all slain in David's time, full-grown in Samson's time, can be defended.

1278. "feats . . . defeats": a play on the words.

1308. Ebrews.So spelt in the original edition, and also in the Second, but changed in all recent editions. Thinking the spelling intentional on Milton's part, I restore it. The word occurs five times in Milton's poetry-once in P. R. (IV. 336), three times in Samson (here, and in lines 1319 and 1540), and once in the translation of Ps. cxxxvi. (line 50). In the first instance and in the last the word is an adjective and is spelt “Hebrew”; in the other three it is a substantive and is spelt "Ebrew."

1309. manacles," means here fetters at the legs, not handcuffs. See line 1235.

1377—1379. " Yet that he may dispense,” &c. 2 Kings v. 18, 19. (Thyer.) 1418—1422.

Lords are lordliest," &c. In this passage may be detected a reference to England in Milton's time.

1461--1471. “Some much averse I found," &c. The different shades of feeling among the men in power in England after the Restoration may be supposed to be glanced at in this passage-obstinate and revengeful Royalism, strongest among the High Church party; and

SO on,

1481. "part," in the sense of "go" (partir). 1507. as next," i.e. next in interest or kindred.

1512. inhabitation": community or inhabitants. So Shakespeare (Macb. IV. 1.)

“ Though the yesty waves

Confound and swallow navigation up.” 1525, 1526. The sufferers," &c.

The sufferers,&c. Is the rhyme here intentional ? 1527-1535. " What if .... and tempts belief." These nine lines are omitted in their proper place in the original edition, but printed on a page at the end, with a direction where to insert them. In the Second Edition they are rightly placed.

1529. dole." The word has two meanings--a portion dealt out (as in "a beggar's dole "), and sorrow or grief (Lat. doleo). The two are combined here.

1537. " Of good or bad,&c. This line also is not in its proper place in the original edition, but comes as an omission at the end. It seems to me that it may have been an afterthought with Milton to break up what was at first a continuous speech of the Chorus, by inserting ten additional lines, distributed between the Chorus and Manoa, so as to prolong the suspense before the messenger arrives. Originally the Chorus ran on continuously thus :

Not much to fear,
A little stay will bring some notice hither,
For evil news rides sast, while good news baits.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding-

An Ebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe. The sense is here complete ; but the addition of the ten lines, and their distribution between Manoa and the Chorus, are certainly an improvement.

1540. “An Ebreu." See previous note, line 1308.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »