Page images
PDF
EPUB

Where he might likeliest find this new-declar'd,
This man of men, attested Son of God,
Temptation and all guile on him to try;
So to subvert whom he suspected rais'd
To end his reign on earth so long enjoy’d: :
But contrary unweeting he fulfillid
The purpos’d counsel pre-ordain’d and fix'd
Of the Most High, who in full frequence bright
Of angels, thus to Gabriel smiling spake.

125

the passages cited from the form Daniel of the famous proScriptures by Bishop Newton. phecy of the seventy weeks ; So dolis instructus, Virg. Æn. ii. Gabriel notified the conception 150. And thus also Satan is of John the Baptist to his father described in the Par. Reg. iii. 5. Zacharias, and of our blessed At length collecting all his serpent

Saviour to his virgin mother. wiles.

And the Jewish Rabbis say, that

Dunster. Michael was the minister of se122. This man of men, attested

verity, but Gabriel of inercy : Son of God,] The phrase is low,

and accordingly our poet makes and I wish the poet had rather

Gabriel the guardian angel of written

Paradise, and employs Michael

to expel our first parents out of This man, of heav'n attested Son of

Paradise : and for the same reaGod.

son this speech is directed to In the holy Scriptures God of

Gabriel in particular. And God's gods, and heaven of heavens, are

being represented as smiling may truly grand expressions : but

be justified not only by the then there is an idea of great

heathen poets, as Virg. Æn. i. ness in the words themselves to 954. support the dignity of the phrase:

Olli subridens hominum sator atque which is wanting in Milton's

deorum : man of men. Calton. → 128. -in full frequence] So but by the authority of Scripture frequent and full, Par. Lost, i. itselt. See Paradise Lost, v: 718. 797. where see the note. E.

129. Tasso speaking of Ga129. —thus to Gabriel smiling

Gabriel smiling briel, in the opening of the spake.] This speech is properly

Gerusalemme Liberata, says, addressed to Gabriel particularly E tra Dio questi e l' anime migliori among the angels, as he seems

Interprete fedel, muncio giocondo: to have been the angel particu

Giù i decreti del ciel porta, ed al cielo

Riporta dè mortali i preghi, e 'l zelo. Jarly employed in the embassies

• 'T'wixt God and souls of men that and transactions relating to the

righteous been Gospel. Gabriel was sent to in- Ambassador is he for ever blest;

[ocr errors]

Gabriel, this day by proof thou shalt behold, 130
Thou and all angels conversant on earth
With man or men's affairs, how I begin
To verify that solemn message late,
On which I sent thee to the Virgin pure
In Galilee, that she should bear a Son

135
Great in renown, and call’d the Son of God;
Then told'st her doubting how these things could be
To her a virgin, that on her should come
The Holy Ghost, and the pow'r of the Highest
O’er-shadow her: this man born and now up-grown,
To show him worthy of his birth divine

141
And high prediction, henceforth I expose
To Satan ; let him tempt and now assay
His utmost subtlety, because he boasts

The just commands of heaven's eter- contrary to the usage of our nal King

language. So ver. 221. of this 'Twixt skies and earth, he up and

book, , down doth bring. Fairfax.

,

Yet held it more humane &c. Smiling is here no casual expletive. It is particularly meant where the passage is confused to contrast the description of for want of the pronoun I. So Satan, in the preceding part of also ver. 85. the book, where his a gloomy This is my Son belov'd. In him am consistory," it is said,

pleas'd. With looks aghast and sad he thus

We may in this respect apply to bespake.

Milton what Cicero has said of

Dunster. the ancient orators; Grandes : 131. Thou and all angels con

erant verbis, crebri sententiis, versant on earth

compressione rerum breves, et ob With man or men's affairs,]

eam ipsam causam interdum subThis seems to be taken from the

obscuri. Brutus, 29. Ed. Proust.

Dunster. verses attributed to Orpheus.

137. Then told'st her doubting Αγγελοι, οίσι μεμηλι βρoτους ως παντα

how these things could be τελείται.

To her a virgin, &c.] 137. Then told'st her] The The words are from Luke i. 34, sense intended here is plainly 35. Dunster.. thou told'st her, the pronomina) 144. -because he boasts . nominative being understood. And raunts &c.]

And vaunts of his great cunning to the throng 145
Of his apostasy ; he might have learnt
Less overweening, since he fail'd in Job,
Whose constant perseverance overcame
Whate'er his cruel malice could invent.
He now shall know I can produce a man

150
Of female seed, far abler to resist
All his solicitations, and at length
All his vast force, and drive him back to hell,
Winning by conquest what the first man lost
By fallacy surpris’d. But first I mean
To exercise him in the wilderness,
There he shall first lay down the rudiments
Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth
To conquer Sin and Death, the two grand foes,
By humiliation and strong sufferance:

160 His weakness shall o'ercome Satanic strength, And all the world, and mass of sinful flesh ; That all the angels and ethereal powers,

155

This alludes to what Satan had Quod si militiæ jam te, puer inclyte, just before said to his compa

prima

Clara rudimenta. Stat. 5. Sylv. ii. 3. nions, ver. 100. 1, when no other durst, sote under 161. His weakness shall o'ertook go.

come Satanic strength,

Thyer. And all the world,] 146. Of his apostasu :) That We may compare Par. Lost, xii. is, of his apostates: the abstract 567. See also 1 Cor. i. 27. God for the concrete, as in Par. Lost,

hath chosen the weak things of xii. 131.

the world to confound the things -a cumbrous train

which are mighty. And Ps. viii. of flocks and herds, and numerous

2. compared with Matt. xxi. 16. servitude.

And John xvi. 33. I have over157. --the rudiments

come the world. Dunster. Of his great warfare,]

163. That all the angels and ethePrimitiæ juvenis miseræ, bellique pro

real powers, &c.] Not a word is pinqui

said here of the Son of God, but Dura rudimenta. Virg. Æn. xi, 156. what a Socinian would allow. ton.

They now, and men hereafter may discern,
From what consummate virtue I have chose
This perfect man, by merit call'd my Son,
To earn salvation for the sons of men.

His divine nature is artfully con- Again, the words consummate cealed under a partial and am- virtue are ambiguous, and may biguous representation, and the be referred to the divine nature angels are first to learn the of Christ as well as the human. mystery of the incarnation from Their present connexion applies that important conflict, which is them directly to the human nathe subject of this poem. They ture: but they had a secret reare seemingly invited to behold ference, I conceive, in the poet's the triumphs of the man Christ meaning to the majesty of that Jesus over the enemy of man- heavenly part of him, which kind; and these surprise them denominates Christ in the holy with the glorious discovery of Scriptures the wisdom of God the God

and the power (or virtue) of -inshrin'd

God, sou durapsy, Dei virtutem, In fleshly tabernacle, and human Lat. Vulg. 1 Cor. i. 24. Hunc form.

tamen solum primogenitum diThat Christ was perfect man is a vini nominis appellatione dignapartial truth, and serves to keep tus est, patria scilicet virtute, ac the higher perfection of his di- majestate pollentem. Esse auvide nature, for the present, out tem summi Dei filium, qui sit of sight, without denying or potestate maxima præditus, non excluding it. It is likewise very tantùm voces prophetarum, sed truly said of this perfect man, etiam Sibyllarum vaticinia de. that he is by inerit called the monstrant. Lactantius, Div. Inst. Son of God. Justin Martyr ob- lib. iv. 6. Cum igitur a prophetis serves in his second Apology, idem manus Dei, et virtus, et [p. 67. Ed. Col.] that Christ, sermo dicatur. ibid. 29. Paradise considered only as man, de- Lost, vi. 713. served for his superior wisdom

-Into thee such virtue and grace to be called the Son of God.

Immense I have transfus'd. Yίος δε Θεου ο Ιησους λεγομενος, ει και κοινως μονον ανθρωπος, δια σοφιαν

Christ shewed his heavenly wisažios vios Osov neydobar. In either dom upon every trial : but his capacity of God or Man he had divine virtue broke out, to the a claim of merit to the title. amazement of the Tempter, in The Father, speaking to his the last. Note, that the prepo. eternal Word in Paradise Lost, sition from, iii. 308. on his generous under. From what consummate virtuetakings for mankind, saith, -and hast been found

is used here as imo and præ, to By merit more than birthright Son signify for or because of. Cal. of God,

So spake th' eternal Father, and all heaven Admiring stood a space, then into hymns Burst forth, and in celestial measures mov’d, Circling the throne and singing, while the hand

190

hond

[ocr errors]

168. So spake th' eternal Father, may judge from the numerous and all heaven

plans of tragedies which he left Adniring stood a space, behind him. Indeed he has freWe cannot but take notice of quent allusions to dramatic comthe great art of the poet in set- positions in all his works. In ting forth the dignity and im- the second book of his Reason portance of his subject. He of Church Government against represents all beings as interested Prelacy he terms the Song of one way or other in the event. Solomon “ a divine Pastoral draA council of devils is summoned; ma, consisting of two persons and. an assembly of angels is held a double chorus :" and he speaks upon the occasion. Satan is the of the Apocalypse of St. John, speaker in the one, the Almighty as “ the majestic image of a in the other. Satan expresses high and stately tragedy, shuthis diffidence, but still resolves ting up and intermingling her to make trial of this Son of God; solemn scenes and acts with a the Father declares his purpose sevenfold chorus of halleluiabs of proving and illustrating his and harping symphonies.” DunSon. The infernal crew are dis- ster. tracted and surprised with deep 171. --while the hand dismay; all heaven stands à Sung with the voice,] while in admiration. The fiends We have pretty near the same are silent through fear and grief; phrase in Tibullus, iii. iy. 41. the angels burst forth into sing

Sed postquam fuerant digiti cum voce ing with joy and the assured

locuti, hopes of success. And their at Edidit hæc dulci tristia verba modo. tention is thus engaged, the bet

And the word hand is used by ter to engage the attention of

Milton once again in this poem, the reader.

and also in the Arcades, to dis169. then into hymns

tinguish instrumental harmony Burst forth, and in celestial

from vocal, iv. 254. measures mov'd,] Milton, we may suppose, had There thou shalt hear and learn the here in his mind the ancient

secret power

Of harmony in tones and numbers chorus. In his original plan of the Par. Lost, under a dramatic By voice or hand. form, he proposed to introduce

Arcades, 77. a chorus of angels. The drama seems to have been his favourite

If my inferior hand or voice could hit

Inimitable sounds. species of poetry, and that which particularly caught and occupied

Calton. his imagination: so at least we Compare also the Hymn on the

hit

« PreviousContinue »