V. 6. That on the secret top Of Horeb.] Secret Valleys, secret Caves, come frequently in Poetry; but secret top of a Mountain, visible several Leagues off, is only met with here. Our Poet dictated it thus, That on the sacred top Of Horeb: from Exod. iii. 5 Moses came to the mountain of God, Horeb. And God said, Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. So our Author, V. 619. VI. 25. Sacred Hill. And Spenser, in Fairy Queene, I. 10. 54; and as frequently in the Classic Writers, Mos Sacer, hieron oros. Some perhaps may prefer the present Reading, Secret top; because in most Countries the high Mountains have against rainy Weather their Heads surrounded with Mists. True, but yet it's questionable, whether in the wide and dry Desert of Arabia, Mount Horeb has such a cloudy Cap. I have in my Youth read several Itineraries, where the Travellers went up to the Top of Horeb; and I remember not, that they take notice of its Cloudiness. And a just Presumption lies against it from Holy Writ, Exod. xvii; where the Israelites, encamp'd a the foot of Horeb, could find no Water; which was provided miraculously, when Moses smote the Rock with this sacred Rod: for all Natural History informs us, and Reason vouches it, That a Mountain, whose Head is cloudy, has always running Springs at its Foot. But allowing all, and granting that Horeb was like the European Hill; yet not Poet hitherto has on that account said The Secret; but the Cloudy, Misty, Hazy, Grey Top. Nay, allow further, That Secret Top is a passable Epithet; yet it is common to all Mountains whatever: but Horeb, whose Ground was holy, Horeb the Mountain of God, Exod. iii. 1; I Kings xix. 8, deserved a Peculiar Epithet. If therefore (which the best Poets have adjudg'd) a Proper Epithet is always preferable to a General one; and if Secret and Sacred are of a near Sound in Pronunciation; I have such an Esteem for our Poet; that which of the two Words is the better, That, I say, was dictated by Milton.
V. 13. To my adventurous Song, &c.] Some Acquaintance of our Poet's, entrusted with his Copy, took strange Liberties with it, unknown to the blind Author, as will farther appear hereafter. 'Tis very odd, that Milton should put Rime here as equivalent to Verse, who had just before declar'd against Rime, as no true Ornament to good Verse, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to set off wretched Matter and lame Meter. I am persuaded, this Passage was given thus:
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous wing,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian Mount; while I pursue
Things unattempted yet in Prose or song.
Let's examin the Particulars: Wing, the properest here of all Metaphors, which is justified and prov'd by the following Words, Flight, and Soar. So III. 13.
Thee I revisit now with bolder Wing.
And IX. 45.
Damp my intended Wing.
Nor let it be objected; that in the IX, the Wing is intended by the Poet, but here the Wing it self intends. For that is an allow'd Figure, and frequent in the best Writers. So II. 727.
O Father, what intends thy Hand, she cried.
That my sudden Hand
Prevented spares to tell thee yet by Deeds,
What it intends.
V. 15. While it pursues.] The Author, I believe, gave it in the first Person. While I pursue; as III. 15.
While in my flight I sung of Chaos.
V. 16. In Prose or Rime] The Author gave it,
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Song.
But the 13th Verse being once chang'd into Adventurous Song, that Word could not be here repeated; and so for Song was substituted Rime. It may be said, He took Rime from Ariosto, Cant. I.
Cosa, non detta in Prosa mai, ne in Rima.
But Ariosto's Poem is in Rime, Milton's neither in Rime nor Prose: So that this Argument is even yet unattempted in either of them. But it's v. 150.
Flow'd from their lips in Prose or numerous Verse:
And in the Mask, one of his Juvenile Poems;
For I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in Tale or Song.
V. 28. Nor the deep Tract of Hell.] Tract is properly not a deep, to hide from view; but a plane expanded Surface, expos'd to view;
Terrasque tractusque maris, caelumque profundum.
Better therefore, Nor the deep Gulph of Hell. So II.12.
For since no Deep within her Gulph can hold
And often besides.
V. 33. Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt? Th'infernal Serpent.] A manifest Imitation of Homer, Iliad, I. 8.
Tis t' ar sphôe theôn eridi xuneêke machesthai
Lêtous kai Dios huios.
V. 35. Deceiv'd The Mother of Mankind.] I believe the Author spoke it thus, in address to Eve: which will raise the Sense;
Thee, Mother of Mankind.
V. 39. To set himself in Glory' above his Peers.] Our Poet had not at first so settled his whole Scheme, as to be uniform and selfconsistent in all its Parts. Satan's Crime was not, to aim above his Peers: God himself had plac'd him above them; as Abdiel the good Angel says to Satan, V. 812.
In place thy self so high above thy Peers.
His Ambition was to be above the Messiah, as it is at large shewn in the Sequel. Put it therefore thus,
To Place and Glory' above the Son of God.
So V. 662.
With Envy' against the Son of God, &c.
Aspiring to a Throne is a juster Phrase, than Aspiring to set ones self on a Throne.
V. 46. With hideous ruin and combustion down.] Having said in Verse before, Hurl'd headlong Flaming; he superfluously adds Combustion. But I doubt not, he gave it thus,
With hideous ruin and Confusion down.
So II. 995. Spoken of the same Event;
With Ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded.
V. 52. Lay vanquish'd] Vanquish'd is too low a Word for the Occasion. They were more than vanquish'd, even while in Heaven, VI. 851.
Of their vigour drain'd
Exhausted, spiritless, afflcited, fall'n.
Our Author gave it, Lay Stonish'd. Stonish'd, stonied, stounded, stunn'd; common in the elder Poets. So here, v. 266.
Lie thus astonish'd on th'oblivious Pool.
As we erewhile astounded and amaz'd.
And in the Argument: Satan with his Angels, lying on the burning Lake, thunderstruck and astonish'd.
Ibid. Rolling in the fiery Gulf.] The Poet gave it,
Rolling on the fiery Gulf.
As it has been twice quoted already. So v. 195.
His other parts behind Prone on the flood.
Chain'd on the burning Lake.
Grov'ling and prostrate on yon Lake of Fire.
V. 54. But now
Both of lost Happiness and Lasting Pain
The Thought of Happiness, and then the Thought of Pain, are not One, but Two. So that it's probable, Milton gave it in the Plural, The Thoughts torment him.
V. 63. No Light, but rather Darkness visible.] Darkness visible and Darkness palpable are in due place very good Expressions: but the next Line makes visible here a flat Contradiction. Darkness visible will not serve to discover Sights of Woe through it, but to cover and hide them. Nothing is visible to the Eye, but so far as it is Opake, and not seen through; not by transmitting the Rays, but by reflecting them back. To come up to the Author's Idea, we may say thus,
No Light, but rather A transpicuous Gloom
Gloom is equivalent to Darkness; yet so as to be in some measure transparent. So here, v. 544.
All in a moment through the Gloom were seen.
This mournful Gloom
For that celestial Light.
Into this Gloom of Tartarus profound.
Through the wide transpicuous Air.
V. 72. In utter Darkness, As far remov'd from God.] Utter Darkness is absolute Darkness, and gives no notion of Place and Remoteness. The Poet therefore gave it, outer Darkness, as in Scripture, To skotos ti exôteron. So III. 16, read,
Through outer, and through middle Darkness born.
V. 74. As from the Center thrice to th'utmost Pole] From the Center to the utmost Pole is vitious: The Distance is much too little, and might have been doubled thus with ease,
As thrice from Arctic to Antarctic Pole.
I would thus express it without any Comparison from things known to Us; which, though never so excessive, must needs fall too short:
So far remov'd from God and Light of Heav'n;
Distance, which to express all Measure fails.
V. 87. In the brightness didst outshine Myriads, tho' bright.] Imitated from Homer, Odys. z. 110, where Diana excels all her Nymphs in Beauty, though all of them be beautiful.
Reia t' arignôtê peletai, kalai de te pasai.
V. 91. Now Misery hath join'd In equal ruin.] See the Series of the whole Sentence; Whom mutual League, united Counsels, equal Hope and Hazard in our Revolt join'd with me once, viz. in close Friendship; Now Misery has join'd; in what? in closer Friendship? no, in equal Ruin. Great Sense, and great Comfort in this dire Calamity. Our Author spoke it,
Now Misery doth join
And equal Ruin.
Equal Ruin, in reddition to equal Hope, now again joins us in a stricter Friendship. He had in view that celebrated Passage of Ovid's Metam. I,
O soror, O conjux, O femina sola superstes,
Quam commune mihi genus & patruelis origo,
Deinde torus junxit; nunc ipsa pericula jugunt.
Ibid. In equal Ruin. Into what Pit thou seest.] The Measure of this Verse is wrong; unless you make Ruin a Monosyllable; which no Poet, I believe, has yet done. Milton always allows it two Syllables: as here, v. 46. With hideous Ruin and combustion down. He spoke it thus,
And equal Ruin. To what Depth thou seest
From what Highth fall'n!
Depth is the natural Opposition to Highth, and not Pit. V. 542.
To disobedience fall'n,
And so from Heaven to deepest Hell.
V. 100. Rais'd me to contend, And to the fierce Contention.] Very dry this, and jejune. Contend, and presently agian Contention, I believe our Author gave it,
And to the fierce Encounter brought along.
So II. 718.
Millions of fierce encountring Angels fought.
Spenser's Fairy Queen. I. 1. 1.
As one for Knightly Justs, and fierce Encounters fit.
V. 107. And study of Revenge, immortal Hate.] And comes not well here; when Hate, that follows, has no Conjunction; and it slackens the course of Passion, which loves Asyndeta. Besides, Study wants its Epithet. Perhaps he gave it, slow, as II. 337. Revenge, tho' Slow. And I. 604. Waiting Revenge.
V. 100. That Glory never shall his
wrath or might
Extort from me, to bow and sue for grace.]
Glory is improper here: what is extorted from Satan, should be something from within him, his own Act, his Submission to sue for Grace. But Glory, viz. of God, is extrinsical to Satan, not extorted from him, but a remote Consequence of his Submission. Better therefore in my Opinion thus,
That Homage never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me.
V. 125. Though in
Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep Despair.]
This is embarrass'd: Though in pain, But in despair, which But is Though again; and a contrary Idea coming in the middle. Besides,
Though in pain is low and vulgar. And Aloud is unnecessary, when he spake to one close by his Side. Better thus, at once:
So spake th' Apostat proud, with outward Vaunt,
But inly rack'd with Pain and deep Despair.
V. 127. And him thus answer'd soon his bold Compeer.] From the Words soon and bold, one would conceive a Character of the following Speech, as breathing Courage and Defiance. Milton, except here, always answers the Expectation he raises. But Belzebub in his following Answer is quite heartless and desponding. Who'll not believe the Author gave it thus?
And him thus answer'd sad his old Compeer.
As V. 94.
Thus Adam answer'd sad.
His old dear Companion; as Satan calls him, V. 673.
V. 129. That led; and 131, endanger'd.] If led and endanger'd, and put, be right; then the Sense is, Thrones, Powers, that led, &c. But it's better applied to Satan alone; and not make Belzebub commend himself and other Thrones for what Satan had made his own sole Glory. Therefore the Poet gave it, ledst, and endanger'dst, and put'st: as V. 737. Laugh'st; Par. Reg. IV. 156. Reflect'st; 493. Storm'st; 619. Hold'st.
V. 131. And in dreadful deeds, fearless.] If fearless be the right Reading; then the dreadful deeds must be those of Michael and the good Angels. But it's plain that they are here meant of
Satan's Crew; for so II. 549;
Their own Heroic deeds, but hapless fall.
The Author therefore gave it,
And in dreadfull deeds
Peerless, endangerd'st Heaven's perpetual King.
So here, Satan says, v. 113.
Who from the terror of this Arm so late
Doubted his Empire.
Peerless, matchless; as IV. 608.
'Till the Moon
Apparent Queen, unvail'd her peerless light.
And so II. 487. Satan is call'd, Their matchless Chief; and VI. 246, spoken of the same Battel:
Till Satan who that Day
Prodigious power had shown, and met in arms
Paradise Regain'd, I. 233.
By matchless deeds Express thy matchles Sire.
Fairfax in Tasso, III. 59.
Peerless in fight, in counsel grave and sound.
Ibid. Endanger'd Heaven's perpetual King.] The Word perpetual does not accord with the rest: for by Them who acknowledg'd him perpetual, he could not be thought endanger'd. Better thus,
Peerless, endangerd'st Heaven's original King.
King from time immemorial; none heard of before him; as here, v. 639.
Monarch in Heaven, upheld by old Repute.
V. 147. Strongly to suffer and support our Pains.] The Sense plainly requires, What, if God has left us our Strength entire, to suffer our Pains the more strongly? Therefore the Author gave it,
Stronglier to suffer and support our pains?
So he always uses to contract such Words into two Syllables; as in the following Verse,
And do him mightier service in the deep.
And VI. 731.
And gladlier shall resign.
So happier, worthier, &c.
V. 150. Whate'er his business be.] His Business? God to work in Fire, or to do his own Errands in Hell? These Businesses Belzebub supposes God would injoin the Devils. He gave it therefore,
Whate'er our business be.
As v. 159. our task.
V. 154. Or eternal being.] To feel Strength or eternal being, is an improper Expression: for if Being in general may be felt; yet they could not feel it as it is Eternal: for then they could not have feard Annihilation, as Belzebub does, II. 146. The Author spoke it,
have eternal being.
Than miserable to have eternal being.
Or it may be varied thus,
Strength unimpair'd; enjoy eternal being.
V. 157. To be weak is miserable.] The Printer here has bestowed upon our Poet absolute Nonsense. To be weak is not by consequence to be miserable. Adam was frail and weak, even while he was happy in Paradise. But it's not Answer to Belzebub's Speech. He complain'd not of Weakness; on the contrary, he own'd that Vigour was return'd, and their Strength was undiminsh'd: but he doubted what God's Design was in placing them in Hell, whether they should work for him, or merely suffer pain. To which Satan here should answer, That either way, working or suffering, 'twas miserable for them to live in Hell. The Author therefore gave it,
To be here is miserable.
Or rather thus,
Fall'n Cherub, here to dwell is miserable.
As II. 57.
And for their dwelling place
Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame.
And II. 86.
What can be worse, Than to dwell here?
And I. 47.
To bottomless Perdition, there to dwell
Enchain'd in adamant and circling Fire.
V. 159. Never will be our task.] Smoother and stronger Accent thus,
To do ought Good will never be our task.
V. 167. And disturb ---- from their destin'd aim.] To disturb from aim, instead of divert, avert, does not reach up to our Poet's usual Exactness. I persuade my self, he gave it,
His inmost counsels from their destin'd aim.
The Sense is unexceptionable, and the Word is authoris'd by our Chaucer, in Troilus and Cressid. III. 719.
---- And all this harm disturn.
In two other places, his Copies, perhaps erroneously, now have it, misturn. Distornare, a vulgar Word, Italic; as Gallic Detourner. And who knows not Milton's Inclination to revive old Words, or even coin new ones, especially with the Italian Stamp?
V. 169. Hath recall'd His Ministers of Vengeance.] That is, the Good Angels; whom our Author in his first Three Books describes, as pursuing the vanquish'd Rout with Fire and Thunderbolts, down through the Chaos, even to Hell's Gates. This is a fine Idea; but in the Sixth Book, where Raphael makes the Narrative of those Battels, the Author chang'd this Idea for another, yet better; making the Messiah alone perform all himself, Michael and all his Hosts standing still, and looking on. So that Satan's Crew leap'd down spontaneously from Heaven; Fire and Thunder pursuing them, but no Angels. As VI. 864.
Headlong themselves they threw
Down from the verge of Heav'n: eternal wrath
Burnt after then to the bottomless Pit.
So in Paradise Regain'd, I. 90.
When His fierce Thunder drove us to the Deep.
These few Passages therefore must be alter'd, to make this noble Poem consistent; and 'tis pity the blind Author had so good an Excuse for not doing it himself. This before us, may be thus adjusted,
But see the angry victor hath repress'd
His instruments of vengeance, and pursuit
That drove us down to Hell;
First Instruments in general mention'd, then specified Hail and Thunder.
V. 176. Perhaps hath spent his shafts.] Thunder here is not made a Person; so that the Author gave it, its shafts.
V. 191. If not, what resolution.] What reinforcement; to which is return'd If not: a vicious Syntax: but the Poet gave it, If none.
V. 197. As whom the Fables name.] These four Lines from the Fables I am unwilling to believe Milton's. He compares Satan here to a Whale, so big as to be mistaken for a Promontory of Land. What need then of these fabulous Monsters, vulgar and known to the lowest Schoolboys, which make the sentence to lag, and the sense to dwindle? To be in the Den of Tarsus, doth not make Typhon the bigger: and Briareos Four Syllables, for Briareus Three,
Et centugeminus Briareus & belua Lernæ,
cannot be justified. For though Hesiod has Briareôs, it's pronounc'd Briarôs, as Kronideô is Cronidô. Lastly, to call a Whale the Sea-beast, what stuff is it? I leave them therefore to the Reader, content to set a Mark upon them, as supposing them, and more hereafter of this sort, spurious; and as knowing by other Passages, that our Poet, blind, and then poor and friendless, had frequently foul Play.
V. 202. Created hugest, that swim th' Ocean stream.] This Verse as Accents very absonous. To smooth it, I take the Rise from v. 196. ejecting the four Lines intermediate;
In bulk like that
Leviathan, whom God the vastest made
Of all the Kinds, that swim the Ocean stream.
And note, that v. 201. for which God, &c. the Author must have given it whom; since in the Line following he says him.
V. 203. On the Norway foam.] We allow Foam to be sometimes put for Sea or Water by our best Poets, especially those that are forc'd to it for Rime. As Spenser in his Epithalamion says to the Sun,
Haste thee, thou fairest Planet, to thy home
Within the Western Foam.
But here it comes unhappily; for it must be very solid Foam, that can support a sleeping Whale. Better therefore with plain Simplicity, Flood or Deep.
V. 204. Night-founder'd Skiff.] Foundering in the Sea Phrase is sinking by a Leak in the Ship. So that Night alone never can founder. Besides, Night is here superfluous; for in the close of this same Comparison he has Night again, While Night invests the Sea. The Poet gave it thus,
The Pilot of some small nigh-founder'd Skiff;
Nigh-founder'd, almost founder'd. A good Excuse, why in that Extremity, and in the Dark, they took a Whale for firm Land: so II. 940. speaking of Satan caught in a sort of Bog,
Nigh-founder'd on he fares.
Our Poet in VII. 412. describes this Leviathan again, as sleeping on the Deep like a Promontory, or swiming like a moving Land: Could he have revised his whole Work, he would have avoided the Repetition.
V. 206. In his skaly rind.] Skaly rind is unlucky here; for it falls out contrary, that the Whale has no Skales; or if he had them; by Proportion with other Fish, they would be so large, thick, and solid, that no Seaman could fix his Anchor through them. But the Author gave it otherwise,
With fixed Anchor in his skinny rind.
'Tis truly a Skin, so soft and thick, as to make it not incredible, that a small Anchor may be fix'd there without the Whale's feeling the Wound. They are struck with Harping-Irons, which cannot pierce a skaly Crocodile.
V. 209. So stretch'd out huge in length the Árch-fiend lay.] Here Arch-fiend has the Tone in the first Syllable, disagreeably; better above v. 156. Th' Arch-fíend replied. Besides, so stretch'd out, that is, as the Whale lies stretch'd out. But that is improper; for the Whale cannot stretch out or contract any of his Joints: he is always of the same Length; whether his Tail be bent or straight. Better therefore thus,
So vast, stretch'd out in length, th'Arch-rebel lay.
Arch-rebel, as v. 81. Arch-enemy. See VII. 414.
V. 218. Infinite goodness.] Infinite goodness, in other Places, very proper, seems here a little too high. For Justice and rigid Satisfaction was exacted for Adam's Sin: As the Poet sets it forth in Books III. and X. Rather therefore here,
New proofs of Goodness, Grace, and Mercy shewn.
V. 224. Leave i'th' midst a horrid Vale.] When Satan rais'd himself out of the Lake; by that Motion he made the fiery Waves to mount and roll on both sides of him, and in the midst, under him made a hollow. This is describ'd from Nature. But why is that Hollow peculiarly call'd Horrid? surely, the quiet Vale between was less horrid than the surrounding and tossing Billows with their threatning Spires. I would therefore have made it thus,
In Billows, leave i'th'midst a gaping Vale.
V. 228. If it were Land that ever burn'd.] This Verb were instead of Propriety about the Name, makes a Doubt about the Thing. Rather therefore,
If Land it might be call'd, that burn'd.
Ever burn'd, without doubt; and that's inculcated on every Page. But it's needless here; 'tis enough for the Doubt what to call it, if it was burning at that time.
V. 234. Combustible And fuel'd entrails] Our Author here endeavours at a lofty Description of Mount Ætna; but as his Editor has us'd him, he expires in a swoln and empty Bombast. Who else ever said Fuel'd? or allowing it, is it not the very same with Combustible? And what is, Aid the Winds? Does the subterraneous Wind Aid it self? Nonsense. Or aid the natural Winds, that blow regularly? a desirable Aid indeed. Let's try, if we can retrieve the Author's Words:
Sulfureous Entrails, thence conceiving Fire,
Sublim'd with mineral Fury, take the wing.
A bad Writer and a blotted Copy might cause such Mistakes.
V. 238. Of únbless'd feet.] Better accent thus, the sole of feet unbléss'd.
V. 247. Farthest from Him is best.] This is express'd from the Greek Proverb, Porrhô Dios te kai keraunou: Far from Jupiter, but far too from Thunder.
V. 248. Whom Reason hath equal'd.] Both Sense and Measure are damag'd by that hath, which could not come from the Poet.
V. 251. Infernal world! and Thou, profoundest Hell.] 'Tis certain, that Infernal World here and profoundest Hell mean the very same; so that Satan addresses himself twice to One thing, as if it were Two. A Fault, neither to be forgiv'n Milton, nor suspected of him. But I am persuaded, he gave it,
Hail, Horrors! Hail eternal woe.
But this the Editor thought to be a Saying too desperate, even for the Devil himself, and therefore he chang'd it into Infernal World; not attending, that by this he made the Passage Tautology. But Satan's Character is the better kept up by his saluting and congratulating Eternal Woe. He knew well, that was his unchangeable Doom; and he was not scared with the mere Word. This paints him to the Life, his obdurate Mind, his unconquerable Will, His Courage never to submit or yield. So that to salute and welcome His own Punishment, shews a Temper and Disposition truly Satantical.
V. 252. Receive thy new Possessor.] After the preceding Words Farewell and Hail; He could scarce miss going on in the same Salutation Stile,
welcome thy new Possessor.
As in his History of Britain, p. 63. To welcome their new General, and in Christ's Nativity a Juvenile Poem.
To welcome him to this his new Abode.
V. 259. God hath not built Here for his Envy.] To raise Sense from mere Nonsense is much easier and surer of Acceptance, than to raise still Better Sense from Good or Tolerable. No doubt, God built Hell, as a Receptacle for Satan and his Crew: but to say, He built it not for his own Envy, as if he could ever wish to change Places with them, is something extravagant. Let's reduce Milton's own Words:
Th' Almight hath no butt
Here for his Envy; will not drive us hence.
No Butt, no Object, no Scope for his Envy here; He cannot think the Place too good and delightful for us.
V. 282. Fall'n such a pernicious Highth] Fall'n a highth is not common Sense: and a Pernicious Highth is not a whit better. The Poet gave it,
No wonder, fall'n from such prodigious Highth.
Fall'n from, as v. 92.
From what Highth fall'n,
and V. 542.
From what high State of Bliss into what Woe!
And here v. 173. That from the Precipice Of Heav'n receiv'd us falling. From which last Passage some perhaps will rather read it here,
No wonder fall'n from such precipitous Highth.
V. 287. Like the Moon, whose Orb, &c.] The Moon, as she appears to the naked Eye, is too small a Comparison. As it's magnified by the Telescope, it is the fittest one possible. But this Magnifying the Author quite omits here; and so the Optic Glass is brought in impertinently. It should have been thus, or something like it;
The broad Circumference
Shone spacious, like the Moon, whose Orb enlarg'd
Thro' Optic Glass.
Flung on his Soulders is already intimated in Behind him cast.
V. 290. To descry new Lands.] Rivers and Mountains are included in Lands; nor can They be descried through the best Glasses Now improv'd: much less Then by the Tuscan Artist. Would it not be better thus?
---- To descry new Sights,
Europes or Asias in her spotty Globe.
Our Author, or rather our Editor, as is there shewn, has Galileo and his Glass again, Book V. 261.
V. 306. Hath vex'd the Red-Sea Coast.] Sedge floated, because the Winds had vex'd the Coast. Why the Coast? when the Sedge could only be torn up and float by the Winds vexing the Water, where the Sedge grew. Besides, The Red-Sea Coast, whose Waves is a strange Syntax; when in due Construction it cannot be the Red-Sea's Waves, but the Coast's Waves, quite absurd. We cannot doubt, the Author gave it,
Hath vex'd the Red-Sea Gulph.
As it is commonly call'd, now and then too, The Arabian Gulph.
Ibid. Whose waves o'erthrew Busiris.] Here again, I suspect his Friend's Courtesy bestow'd six Lines upon our Poet. They are in the Whole impertinent, and in Parts vicious. What's that single event of Moses's passing that Sea, to a constant Quality of it, that in stormy Weather it is strow'd with Sedge? whence in our Bible it's call'd Jam Suph, the Sedgy Sea. Did that Passage perpetually increase the Quantity of scatter'd Sedge? And what Authority for making Pharaoh to be Busiris; their Times and Characters no ways agreeing? Again, Chivilry for Cavalry, and Cavalry for Chariotry, twice wrong. Besides, our Author, XII. 205. describes the same Passage of Moses with all its Circumstances, and much better than here.
V. 324. Rolling in the Flood.] The same Mistake of the Printer here again repeated, in for on the Flood. See above v. 52.
V. 326. His swift Pursuers.] Our Poet's first Idea, mention'd before v. 170, continues yet, That the Victor Angels pursued the others to Hell. To accommodate this Place to the Sequel, it may be alter'd thus,
His watchful legions from Heav'n Gates discern.
V. 329. Transfix us to the bottom.] To transfix is to pierce quite through the Body,
Illum exspirantem transfixo pectore flammas,
and its Signification is there bounded and closed: so that to Transfix to a thing, or on a thing cannot be justly said. I believe our Poet gave it thus,
Fast fix us to the bottom of this Gulph.
In II. 180. Shall be hurl'd Each on his Rock transfix'd, the Construction is, Hurl'd on his Rock, not Transfix'd on his Rock;
Turbine corripuit, scopuloque infixit acuto.
If perhaps even there it was not dictated,
Each on his Rock infix'd.
V. 337. To their General's voice obey'd.] It has been said, that obey to a Voice, instead of what is now legitimate, obey a Voice, was first innovated by Milton. But Chaucer and Spenser generally speak so: He as in the Legend of Women,
That as an Harp obeyeth to the Hand,
The other in Fairy Queen III. 11. 35.
Lo! now the Heav'ns obey to me alone.
V. 342. That o'er the Realm of impious Pharaoh.] Here's want of Attention, not of Judgment, in our Author: The Realm of Pharaoh, and the Land of Nile are both one and the same. To avoid this Tautology, it may be chang'd thus,
That o'er the impious head of Pharaoh hung.
V. 347. As a Signal giv'n.] The uplifted Spear was not as a Signal, but the Signal itself. The Author gave it, Till at a Signal giv'n.
V. 351. A multitude, like which.] I suspect the following five Verses to be spurious. After he had compared the Devils for number to the Cloud of Locusts that darken'd all Ægypt, as before to the Leaves that cover the Ground in Auctumn; 'tis both to clog and to lessen the Thought, to mention here the Northern Excursions, when all Human Race would be too few. Besides, the Diction is faulty: Frozen Loins are improper for Populousness: Gibraltar is a new Name, since those Inroads were made: and to spread from thence to the Libyan Sands, is to spread over the Surface of the Sea.
V. 359. Forms Excelling Human.] After God-like Shapes to add that they Excell Human Shape is to sink instead of rising. He is speaking of Arch-angels, who excell'd even among Angelic Forms. Among many ways, it may be alter'd thus,
Chief among Myriads, Princely Dignities.
V. 363. From the Books of Life.] The Author spoke it, Book of Life, according to the Scriptures, not plural.
V. 367. By Falsities and Lies.] How are Falsities distinguish'd here from Lies? From the Author it might come thus,
By Falsities and wiles.
V. 368. Corrupted to forsake.] Rather seduced.
V. 370. Glory of him that made them.] In the Verse before he had said Creator, and now adds Him that made them, which is Creator over again. All this Passage is negligently done, as if the Poet was then tired or sleepy.
V. 372. Adorn'd With gay Religions.] A Brute adorn'd with Religions, and Religions full of Gold are Expressions to me unintelligible. The whole Passage may be something mended thus,
God their Creator; His invisible
Unfigurable Glory to transform
Oft to the Image of a senseless Brute;
And Devils to adore for Deities.
Leaving out one whole Line, as not capable of Emendation.
V. 375. And various Idols thro' the Heathen World.] Why only the Heathen World? When the first and most he names Moloch, Chemos, Baal, Ashtoreth, &c. were worship'd in Israel too. The Word Idols is here used in a Sense uncommon. Better therefore,
By various Names,
And various attributes through all the World.
Attributes, Powers, Numina; as Mars for War, Venus for Love, Minerva for Arts, &c.
V. 376. Say, Muse, their Names then known.] He must needs have given it, when known. Here in Imitation of Homer and Virgil, who give Catalogues of their Captains and Forces, our Author gives a List of the principal Devils with their Characters; but 'tis not the finest Part of his Poem.
V. 377. Rouz'd from the Slumber on that fiery Couch.] Surely he gave it thus;
Rouz'd from their Slumber off that fiery Couch.
Rouz'd off rather than slumber on.
V. 393. With Blood Of human Sacrifice, and Parents Tears.] At first reading this strikes one, as if it was The Blood of Tears. To avoid which, he had better have said,
Besmear'd with Blood
Of human victims, and with Parents Tears.
V. 406. Th'óbscene Dread of Moab's Sons.] This is harsh Accent. Better thus,
Next Chemos, Dread obscene of Moab's Sons.
V. 421. That parts Ægypt from Syrian ground.] I believe, he dictated it,
Ægypt from Syrian bound.
V. 423. Those Male, These Feminine.] Feminine does not respond to Male, but to Masculine. This therefore would be better,
These female deem'd.
Deem'd, thought so, by their Worshipers: for it was nothing but Opinion.
V. 450. Adonis from his native Rock.] To prevent the Reader from mistaking Adonis for the smooth and youthful Person, which is here the River; it were better,
While smooth Adonis from its native Rock.
V. 486. Lik'ning his Maker.] These four Verses could not be Milton's, but foisted in by the Man he trusted his Copy with. Pass'd from Ægympt marching, is quite wrong, for Exod. xi. it's said, God went out into the midst of Ægypt. Likening to an Ox we have had before v. 371.
The Glory of him that made them did transform
Oft to the Image of a Brute:
And the grazed Ox is both silly and superfluous: the rebel King Jeroboam doubled the Sin of Aaron who had one Calf, Exod. xxxii. by making two Calves, I King xii. So that doubled the Sin expresses the matter fully; and better calf than Oxe. Neither did Jeroboam understand by it his Maker Jehovah; since he made two Calves, that could not represent one God. And in regular Construction Jehovah is not referable to Maker; but to the next substantive Oxe; so that it's the Oxe Jehovah, that pass'd through Ægypt. Then what's equal'd with one Stroke? does that sufficiently express, that they were slain? and lastly, All her bleating Gods is beyond all Sufferance: the Ægyptians had No bleating Gods; not worshipping Sheep, only abstaning from eating them,
Lanatis animalibus abstinet omnies Ægyptus.
If they had worship'd them, Juvenal would here have said it. And in the Text 'tis only said The First-born of Men and all Cattle: not a Word about their Gods. Add to these the Impertinence of the whole: for how has God's slaying the First-born of Ægypt any relation to Jeroboam's two Calves, any more than every other Action ascribed to God in the whole Scripture?
V. 505. Witness the Streets of Sodom, and that night In Gibeah.] Here's an Alteration made here, varying from the First Edition: which gave it in the plural number,
When the hospitable Doors
Yielded their Matrons to avoid worse rape.
Agreeable to the Scriptures, and preferable to the present Reading. Doors; both in Sodom and Gibeah: Matrons, because Two were yielded and offer'd in each place: in Sodom, Gen. xix. 8. in Gibeah, Judges xix. 24. The Editor has made three or four more Changes from the first Impression, and every one for the worse. In This, he confines the Fact to Gibeah alone: and so deserts the Streets of Sodom, that age called on to witness nothing at all. But the Author too has incurr'd some blame; who after naming the Streets of One, says the Night in the Other; when there were equally concern'd Streets of Both, and Night in Both. Give the whole thus, with a slight Amendment on the First Edition:
Witness the Streets of Sodom; witness those
Of Gibeah: when the hospitable Doors
Yielded their Matrons to avoid worse rape.
V. 543. Frighted the Reign of Chaos.] Surely he did not use Reign, as Regnum sometimes, for the Region, the Space: 'tis more credible that he gave it,
Frighted the realm of Chaos and old Night.
V. 565. Of Warriors old.] We had a little before, v. 552. Heroes old. So that it's probable, rather than admit so near a Repetition, he gave it,
Of Warriors bold with ported Spear and Shield.
Ported, as IV. 980. not order'd,
Began to hem him round with ported Spears.
V. 575. That small Infantry Warr'd on by Cranes.] To call the Pygmees small infantry has been justly censur'd, as looking like a Pun, from small Infants, as well as Foot-Soldiers. But for that Reason, and more from Milton's known Learning, I take leave to think it spurious; because the Pygmies must have been call'd not Infantry, but Cavalry; since they fought not on Foot, but riding upon Rams and Goats, Insidentes arietum caprarumque dorsis. Besides, the Pygmees come over again v. 780. I read therefore the Passage thus, that Pun ejected;
Met such imbodied force: though all the Brood
Of Phlegra, &c.
There's no need to add Giant, the Fable being universally known.
V. 580. In Fable or Romance of Uther's Son, &c.] Milton indeed in his Prose works tells us, That in his Youth he was a great Lover and Reader of Romances: but surely he had more Judgment in his old Age, than to clog and sully his Poem with such Romantic Trash, as even then when he wrote was obsolete and forgot. To stuff in here a heap of barbarous Words, without any Ornament or Poetical colouring, serving only to make his own Argument, which he takes from the Scripture, to be suppos'd equally Fabulous, would be such Pedantry, such a silly boast of useless Reading, as I will not charge Him with: let his Acquaintance and Editor take it. I connect the true Lines thus, throwing out the middle Impertinence.
Mix'd with auxiliar Gods. These far beyond
Compare of rival Prowess.
Rival, emulous Prowess; for after he had introduced Homer's Auxiliar Gods, 'twas not sufficient to place These above Mortal. And thus in v. 587. has no Sense, and shews itself and the rest to be interpolated.
V. 590. In shape and gesture proudly eminent Stood like a Tow'r.] I cannot comprehend, what's the Gesture of a Tower: but I am sure, our Poet gave it,
In Shape and Stature proudly eminent.
All of them were (v. 570.) in Visage and Stature like Gods, but Satan eminent and transcendent above them all. And yet this has been represented, as a celebrated Line.
V. 603. But under brows Of dauntless Courage.] What's Brows of Courage? No doubt the Author spoke it,
But under brow
Sat dauntless Courage and considerate Pride.
Under the Brow the Forhead, not Brows, sub fronte, in superciliis, is the Seat of Haughtiness and Pride both in Nature and all good Poetry.
V. 605. Signs of Remorse and Passion to behold.] Passion is improper here, its signification too wide, comprehending Disdain, Rage, &c. quite contrary to Remorse. But without Question, the Poet's Words were,
Signs of Remorse and pity to behold.
Remorse for Himself, Pity for Them; as by and by v. 620. Thrice Tears burst from his Eyes, before he could speak to them.
V. 606. The Fellows of his Crime, the Followers rather.] This rather, this correction of what he had said before, has something little and low in it. For if the Word wanted correcting, why was it put down here. Besides, the Correction offer'd is wrong: all were not Followers. The Arch-angels, his Compeers; were Fellows of his Crime; the lower Angels, the Vulgar of Heaven seduc'd by him, were his Followers. Better therefore without any Affectation,
The Fellows and the Followers of his Crime.
V. 610. And from eternal Splendors
flung.] Splendors must mean here the Persons of the happy Angels: as V. 249. He calls them Cælestial Ardors. But the Poet must mean here the Place, not the Company of Heaven: he gave it therefore,
Of Heav'n, and from ethereal Splendor flung.
V. 621. Words interwove with Sighs.] To interweave Words and Sighs together, passes, I presume, all human Skill, and is peculiar to Satan. But the Author gave it,
Words interrupt with Sighs found out their way.
He had Ovid in his thought, Metam. xi. 420.
Ter conata loqui, ter fletibus ora rigavit,
Singultuque pas interrumpente querelas.
Sir Philip Sidney in his Arcadia, much read by our Milton, is in love with this Expression; His Words interrupted continually with Sighs: Again, but the Breath almost form'd into Words, was again stop'd by her, and turn'd into Sighs. And again,
This said, at length he ended
His oft Sigh-broken Ditty.
Fairfax xii. 26.
Her Sighs her dire Complaints did interlace.
V. 625. And this dire change.] Dire event, and in the next Line dire change could not come from our Author, who was never barren of Words. He must have said it, And this sad change.
V. 628. Could have fear'd.] The Ideas here contradict each other, What Power of mind could have fear'd? It should have been something, that shew'd Ability and Intellect, not Fear, the defect of them. Better therefore thus,
What power of mind could conceive
How such united force, &c.
V. 635. Be witness all the Host of Heav'n.] Not the whole Host of Heaven; The two Thirds continuing in Faith and Happiness, could not be here his Witnesses: The Author gave it,
For me be witness all this Host of Heav'n,
This present Audience, once part of the Heavenly Host. So v. 136. And all This mighty Host.
V. 636. If counsels different, or danger shun'd.] Counsels different may pass with vulgar Approbation: but yet there's no hint in all the Poem, that Satan differs from all the Council, or acted without their Consent. I suspect the Author gave a better Word with a finer Notion thus,
If Counsels e'er differr'd, or Danger shun'd.
If Counsels, publickly resolv'd on, were ever delay'd by my Sloth, or Dangers shun'd by my Fear.
V. 642. Which tempted our attempt.] This Jingle, that seems studiously sought, has been censur'd deservedly. But let it lie at the Editor's Door; and let's believe Milton gave it,
that tempted our revolt, and wrought our Fall.
V. 646. By Fraud or Guile.] In II. 188. he says,
For what can force or guile with Him?
And II. 41.
Whether by open war or covert guile.
These are right: Force and open War are distinguish'd from Plot and Guile. But what difference at all betwixt Fraud and Guile? Therefore he must have given it,
Fraud and Guile, or rather, Fraud and wile.
V. 647. That he no less At length from us may find.] No less is in an unusual Sense here, if in any. I with the same Letters propose a different Word, (whether it be Restoring or Altering, let others judge) in a new Sense:
What force effected not. That lesson He
At length from us may find, Who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.
That Maxim, that Aphorism, Who overcomes, &c. is justly call'd a Lesson; as our great Poet Spenser I. 8. 44.
This Days ensample hath this Lesson dear
Deep written in my Hearth with Iron Pen,
That Bliss may not abide in state of mortal Men.
And II. 7. 4.
Need teacheth her that Lesson hard and rare,
That Fortune all in equal lance doth sway.
And perhaps for Find it was given learn, as Milton VI. 717.
There let them learn, as likes them, to despise.
V. 662. War then, War Open or understood.] Here's a nice Fault, that cheats the Reader, and passes unobserv'd. In II. 187. He has it right,
War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike
My Voice dissuades.
Yet here, designing the very same meaning, he has Open or understood. But surely what is understood, is not conceal'd, but open. Let's restore therefore the Author's own Word,
Open or underhand must be resolv'd.
V. 667. With grasped Arms Clash'd on their Shields.] The known Custom of the Roman Souldiers, when they applauded a Speech of their General, was to smite their Shields with their Swords. Arms therefore here is too general, including Shields themselves, Helmets, and all. Better thus,
And with their grasped Swords Clash'd on &c.
And in v. 664. for Swords, put it Millions of flaming Blades.
V. 669. Hurling defiance toward the Vault of Heav'n.] What is this Vault of Heaven? Hell needed a Vault, to inclose all the Damned, and hinder their Eruption; often mentioned by our Author, as I. 298.
The torrid Clime vaulted with Fire.
Hovering on wing under the Cope of Hell:
But Heaven here meant, the Habitation of God and Angels, far above the Sphere of Fixt Stars, was never describ'd as Vaulted, nor once so hinted by Milton. To what purpose a Vault there? from the imagin'd Soil, the Plain of Heaven, the Ethereal Highth extends in Infinitum. This our Spenser well imagin'd: To Our visible Heaven, he assigns the Orb of Stars for a Vault, in Hubbard's Tale,
What so the Heav'n in his wide Vault contains:
But to the Heaven where Angels reside, quite contrary: to Them
God gave the Heav'ns, illimitable Heighth;
Not this round Heav'n which we from hence behold.
So he says in his Heavenly Love; and in his Heavenly Beauty thus,
For far above these Heav'ns which here we see,
Be others far exceeding these in Light;
Not bounded, nor corrupt, as these same be;
But infinite in Largeness and in Hight.
But allowing that these Heavens were vaulted, yet if the Devils hurl'd toward that Vault, they hurl'd quite beyond the Mark: for their Enemies did not reside in the Vaults, but on the Plains of Heaven. Instead of Vault the Author must have given it,
Hurling Defiance toward the walls of Heaven.
As II. 343.
Heav'n, whose high Walls fear no Assault or Siege.
And VI. 860.
The Crystal Wall of Heav'n.
V. 685. By him, and by his Suggestion.] He assigns as Two Causes Him and His Suggestion: Is it not one and the same thing? In so beautiful a Poem this ought not to be suffer'd. It may be thus alter'd,
In Vision Beatific, on him Lost,
Men also first by His Suggestion taught.
V. 686. Ransack'd the Center.] Whatever is beyond Possibility does not elevate the Stile, but depress it and make it ridiculous. To ransack as deep as the Center had been bad enough; but it's still worse to ransack the Center it self, a single Point, whence nothing could be got. How much better, agreeably to Truth and Nature,
Ransack'd the Mountains,
the Seat of all Metals, as Milton well knew: so here v. 660.
There stood a Hill stor'd with metallic Ore;
And v. 690.
Open'd into the Hill a spacious Wound.
V. 690. And dig'd out Ribs of Gold.] They could not dig out Ribs of Gold; when presently v. 703. they melt the Ore, and scum off the Dross. Better therefore thus,
Op'ning into the Hill a spacious Wound;
Dig'd out the seeds of Gold.
V. 692. Deserve the precious Bane.] He does not design here to accuse Hell, but Riches. And yet when he says Deserve the Bane; the Accusation is turn'd from Riches to Hell. Better therefore thus,
Befit the precious Bane.
Befit, Beseen, Become. Unless you will invert the Phrase,
The precious Bane may best that Soil deserve.
V. 696. Monuments of Fame And Strength and Art.] Here are Three things distinguish'd for Monuments, Fame, Strength, and Art. But if you separate Strength, as in the Ægyptian Pyramids, and Art, as in the celebrated Tombs and Temples; what has Fame alone to support her, or how could she rise or subsist? The Author therefore gave it,
Monuments of Fame
For Strength and Art are easily outdone.
V. 698. They ----- perform.] When he had spoke of Babylon and Memphis, and their old Monuments; he forgets, and goes to the present Ages, What they perform. Better thus,
What in an Age those with incessant Toil
And Hands innumerable scarce perform'd.
V. 704. And scum'd the Bullion Dross.] A strange Blunder to pass through all the Editions. Who ever heard of Bullion Dross? Bullion is the purified Ore, Dross is the Scum and Refuse of it. The Author gave it,
Severing each kind, and scum'd from Bullion Dross.
Scum'd the Dross from the Bullion; as Spenser II. 7. 36.
Some scum'd the Dross, that from the Metal came,
Some stir'd the molten Ore with Ladles great.
Which Words Molten Ore reminds me of a vile Fault in the preceding Verse: Found out the Ore; so all the Editions except the First, instead of Founded, melted, from Fundere. Flando, fundendo, seriundo, the Money-Tribunes Motto.
V. 717. Not Babylon, Nor great Alcairo, &c.] Here again are Five Lines, under Suspicion of Spuriousness, and their Faults must lie at the Editor's Door. In this same Narration the Author had challeng'd Babylon and Memphis, v. 694. and now, as quite forgetful, he is made to reiterate it, Babylon and Alcairo. This latter the worse; because Alcairo is a Modern Name, and not fit to join with Belus and Serapis. But a worse Fault is that of Prosody, which Milton would scarce be guilty of, Sérapis for Serápis; as Martial,
Vincebat nec quæ turba Serápin amat.
Tê cheras toi,
Sarapi, tou d' oisous
And the Pieces of Verse, thus disjoin'd by the Editor, voluntarily unite themselves,
The Roof was fretted God; th'ascending Pile.
V. 725. Within her ample spaces.] Within makes an Ambiguity: design'd indeed for an Adverb, but looks like a Praeposition. Rather thus,
And high her ample Spaces.
V. 735. Whom the súpreme King.] A harsh Accent; He must have given it, The King supréme; as he does every where else.
V. 739. In ancient Greece, &c.] This is carelessly express'd. Why does not he tell his Name in Greece, as well has his Latin Name. And Mulciber was not so comman a Name as Vulcan. It may be alter'd and pointed thus:
In Greece Hephaestos, in th' Ausonian Land
Men call'd him Vulcan: and how once he fell.
V. 746. On Lemnos, th'Aégæan Isle.] A scandalous Fault; Aégæan with a wrong Accent for Ægéan, as Spenser II. 12. 13.
Amid th' Ægéan Sea long time did stray.
Perhaps it was given thus,
On Lemnos, thence his Isle.
From the time and on occasion of that Fall, the Island was sacred to him, and call'd by his Name; Vulcania Lemnos. The Ægéan Sea, common and right, because but One: but Ægéan Isle, spoke by no body; there being so many Islands in that Sea.
V. 763. Though like a cover'd Field.] Here's another Intrusion of Four spurious Lines; unworthy of admittance. The immense Hall of Pandæmonium compar'd to a Saracen's Tent; a first rate Man of War to a Skuller. Wont ride in arm'd, scurvy Accent. Put the two Ends together, But chief the spacious Hall Thick swarm'd; and they plainly shew, they were violently parted asunder by a rude Hand.
V. 769. When the Sun with Taurus rides.] With Taurus? Does Taurus then ride too; a Constellation Fix'd? But He gave it, in Taurus rides; as X. 329. While the Sun in Aries rode: though there all the Editions have it erroneously, rose.
V. 786. Wheels her pale Course.] I question not, but he gave it, Wheels her pale Carr, Her Chariot.
V. 792. Reduc'd their Shapes immense; and were at large.] By being at large, the Author means, being not crouded: as XI. 626. And now swim in Joy, Ere long to swim at large. But here it's shocking at first Reading: contrasting their Shapes to the smallest Size, and yet being at Large. To avoid the Ambiguiuty, it had better be thus,
Nor wanted Room, Though without number.
V. 797. After short silence then.] It may be rais'd by changing the order,
When after silence short.