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Machærus, and each town or city wall’d
Where winds with reeds and osiers whispering playk, author's calling it “Salem old," unless he takes it to be the same with the Shalem mentioned Gen, xxxüi. 18, or confounds it with the Salem where Melchizedek was king. Machærus was a castle in the mountainous part of Peræa or the country beyond Jordan, which river is well known to run through the lake of Genezareth, or the sea of Tiberias, or the sea of Galileo, as it is otherwise called : so that they searched in each place on this side Jordan, or in Perara, répay 'lopodvov, beyond it.-NEWTON.
By the expression, “ on this side the broad lake Genezareth," I would understand, not on the opposite side of the river to Peræa, but below the lake of Genezareth, or to the south of it, between that and the Asphaltic Lake, or the Dead Sea ; which is exactly the bitration of the places here mentioned, none of which could be properly said to have stood on tbis side, that is, on the western side of the lake of Genezareth, though three of them stood on the western side of the river Jordan. Or in Peræa, may be only understood to mean and in Peræa, or even in Peræa : such is often the conjunctive sense of vel, and sometimes of aut in Latin, and of 5 in Greek. It is probable that Milton had the same idea of the situation of Bethabara with that noticed in the preceding note, as admitted by Babop Pearce, and before suggested by Beza and Casaubon. This he may be supposed to have acquired from Beza, whose translation of the Greek Testament with notes, we may imagine, was in no small degree of repute at the time when our author visited Geneva. Accordingly, the first place where he makes the disciples scek Jesus is Jericho, on the same aide of the river as Bethabara, and the nearest place of any consequence to it; then Ænon and Salem, both likewise on the same side, but higher up towards the lake of Genezareth ; then he seems to make them cross the river and seck him in all the places in the opposite country of Perza, down to the town and strong fortress of Machærus, which is mentioned by Josephus, “ De Bello Jud.”' l. vii. c. 6. Milton had good authority for teruning Salem, "Salem old.” St. Jerom shows that the Salem, Gen. xxxii. 18, was not Jerusalem, “sed oppndum juxta Scythopolim, quod usque hodie appellatur Salem ; ubi ostenditur palatium
Melchizedee, ex magnitudine ruinarum veteris operis ostendens magnificentiam.” See | Hieronym. Epist . cxxvi. ad Evag.-DUNSTER.
i On the bank of Jordan. Mr. Dunster observes, that Maundrell, in his “ Journey to Jerusalem,” &c. describes the river Jordan as baving its banks in some parts covered so thick with bushes and trees, sich as tamarisks, oleanders, and willows, that they prevented the water from being seen till any one had made his way through them. In this thicket, he says, several sorts of wild beasts barbour, which are frequently washed out of their covert by the sudden overflowings of the river. Hence that allusion in Jeremiah, xlix. 19 : "Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan." The same critic also notices the reference made to the reedy banks of Jordan, in Giles Fletcher's “ Christ's Triumph over Death,”. at 2:
Or whistling reeds that rutty Jordan laves. Milton, by the distinction which he here makes, had perhaps noticed Sandys's account of Jordan, in his “ Travels;" who says, “ Passing along, it maketh two lakes; the one in the Vpper Galilec, named Samachontis (now Houle), in the summer for the most part dry, quergrowne with shrubs and reeds, which afford a shelter for bores and leopards; the other in the Inferior, called the Sea of Galilee, the lake of Genezareth, and of Tyberias,” &c. p. 141, edit. 1615.-Todd.
Is Whispering play. The whispering of the wind is an image that Milton is particularly fond of, and has introduced in many beautiful passages of his “ Paradise Lost.” Thus in the opening of the fifth book, where Adam wakens Eve :
then with voice Mild as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whisper'd thus. He also applies whispering to the flowing of a stream; to the air that plays upon the Fales, or by the side of it; and to the combined sounds of the breeze and the current. In
the fourth book of this poein, he terms the river Ilyssus, a " whispering stream: " and in
See also “ Paradise Lost," b. iv. 158. viii. 516: “ The mild whisper of the refreshing breeze" be had before introduced in his Latin poem “In Adventum Veris," ver. 27, which
Plain fishermen, (no greater men them call')
Alas, from what high hope to what relapse
Thus they, out of their plaints, new hope resume
Others return'd from baptism, not her Son, “ Paradise Lost," b. iv. 325, he describes
a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft by a fresh fountain side. In his “ Lycidas,” ver. 136, likewise he addresses the
valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks. might have been originally suggested to him by Virgil's “Culex,” v. 152 :
At circa passim fessæ cubuere capellæ,
Aura susurrantis possit confundere venti.-DUNSTER.
Plain fishermen, (no greater men them call).
Nor left at Jordan, tidings of him none;
0, what avails me now that honour high
m 0, what avails me now that honour high, &c. In several parts of this speech Milton appears to have had Vida in his mind. In this opening of it, at verse 77, and from verse 87 to 92, we plainly trace him to Mary's lamentation under the cross, " Christ.” v. 870:
At non certe olim præpes demissus Olympo
Yet soon enforced to fly, &c.
And yet but newly he was infanted,
o In Nazareth
Hath been our dwelling many years. She mentions this as part of their distress; because the country of Galilee, whereof Nazareth was a city, was the most despised part of Palestine, despised by the Jews themselves : and therefore Nathaniel asketh Philip, John i. 46,—“Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?"-NEWTON.
This passage does not strike me exactly in the same light as it does Dr. Newton. All
Little suspicious to any kingP; but now,
Since understand ; much more his absence now this description of the early private life of our Saviour seems rather designed to contrast and to give more effect to the expectations of Mary, where she says,
P His life
Little suspicious to any king.
9 That to the fall and rising he should be
Os many in Israel, &c. Sce St. Luke ii. 34, 35. These are the aMictions that Mary notices : not the circumstances of dwelling in a disreputable place ; but her anxiety about her son, and what she then suffered, and was still to suffer, upon his account.—DUNSTER.
Afflicted I may be, it seems, and blest. How charmingly does Milton here verify the character he had before given of the blessed! Virgin in the lines above!
Within her breast though calm, her breast though pure,
Motherly cares and fears got head. We see at one view the piety of the saint, and the tenderness of the mother; and I think ! nothing can be conceived more beautiful and moving than the sudden start of fond impatience in the third line, “but where delays be now?" breaking in so abruptly upon the composed resignation expressed in the two preceding ones. The same beauty is continued in her suddenly checking herself, and resuining ber calm and resigned character again in these words:-“ Some great intent conceals him.”—THYER.
s He could not lose himself. A conceit and jingle unworthy of our author.—Jos. WARTON. What jingle exists between found and lose I know not; but these are the associations of language, not conceits : contrariety is one of the principles of association.
t But went about
His father's business. “ And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?” Luke üi. 49.-DUNSTER.
Thus long to some great purpose he obscures.
Thus Mary, pondering oft, and oft to mind
Princes, Heaven's ancient sons, ethereal thrones;
u My heart hath been a storehouse long of things
And sayings laid up, portending strange events. Alluding to what is said of her, Luke ii. 19. “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart : " and see also ver. 51. So consistent is the part that she acts here with her character in Scripture.- Newton.
By recurring to what passed at the river Jordan among Jesus's new disciples and followers upon his absence, and by making Mary express her maternal feelings upon it, the poet has given an extent and variety to bis subject. It might perhaps be wished that all which he has put into the mouth of the Virgin respecting the early life of her son, had been confined solely to this place, instead of a part being incorporated in our Lord's soliloquy in the first book. There it seems awkwardly introduced; but here I conceive her speech might have been extended with good effect. --Dunster.
Meekly composed awaited the fulfilling. This is beautifully expressed. There is a passage somewhat similar, in “ Paradise Lost," b. xii. 596, where Michael
, having concluded what he had to show Adam from the mountain, and what he had farther to inform him of in narration there, says they must now descend from this “ top of speculation ;” and bidding Adam “ go waken Eve,” adds,
Her also I with gentle dreams have calm'd
To meek submission.-DUNSTER.
w Into himself descended.
* There, without sign of boast, or sign of joy. In contrast to the boasting manner in which Satan had related his success against man, og bis return to Pandæmonium, “ Paradise Lost,” b. x. 460.—DUNSTER.
5 Demonian spirits now, from the element
Each of his reign allotted, righllier call'd
Powers of fire, air, water, and earth beneath! It was a notion among the ancients, especially among the Platonists, that there were