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God, fitting on his throne, fees Satan flying towards
this world, then newly created; sows him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretels the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man: But God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice; Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and, therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless fome one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man: The Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in Heaven and Earth; commands all the Angels to adore him: They obey, and, hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the Father and the Son. Alean while Satan alights upon the bare conter of this world's outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity: IV hat persons and things fly up thither: Thence comes to the gate of Heaven, described ascending by flairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it: His paljage thence to the orb of the sun; he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb, but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner Angel; and, pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed : Alights first on mount Niphates.
Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven firft
born, Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
Ver. 1. Hail, holy Light, &c.] Our author's address to Light, and lamentation of his own blindness, may perhaps be censured as an excrescence or digression not agreeable to the rules of epick poetry; but yet this is so charming a part of the poem, that the most critical reader, I imagine, cannot wish it were omitted. One is even pleased with a fault, if it be a fault, that is the occasion of so many beauties, and acquaints us so much with the circumstances and character of the author. NEWTON,
We may compare Tafo's address to Light in his 11 Monde Creato, Giorn, 1.
“O bellissima luce, o luce amica
" Della natura, &c." Or the address to Light in Sylvefter's Du Bartas, edit. 1621,
“ All hail, pure lamp, bright, sacred, and excelling,
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light,
blame call thee, the coeternal beam of the Eternal God? The ancients were very cautious and curious by what names they addressed their deities, and Milton in imitation of them questions whether he should address the Light as the first-born of Heaven, or as the coeternal beam of the Eternal Father, or as a pure ethereal stream whose fountain is unknown : But as the second appellation seems to ascribe a proper eternity to Light, Milton very justly doubts whether he might use that without blame.
NEWTON. In his Sumfon Agonistes, he gives to Light the first of these appellations, “ O first created beam!" TODD. Ver. 3.
fince God is light, &c.] From I. John i. 5. “ God is light." And I. T'im, vi. 16. “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto.” Newton.
Ver. 6. Bright efluence of bright efence increate.) What the Wisdom of Solomon says of Wisdom, Milton applies to Light. See ch. vii. 25, 26. “ She is a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty : She is the brightness of the everlasting light.” Newton.
Ver. 7. Or hear'st thou rather.] Or dost thou rather hear this address, dost thou delight rather to be called, pure ethereal stream? An excellent Latinism, as Dr. Bentley observes, Hor. Sat. II. vi. 20.
“ Matutine pater feu Jane libentius uudis ?" And we have an expression of the same kind in Spenser, as Dr. Newton remarks, Facry Queen, i. v. 23.
“ If old Aveugle's fons fo evil hear." See also Milton's Areopagitica ; “ For which Britain hears ill abroad." And the note on ver. 25, Ad Salgillum.. TODD.
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the sun,
Ver. 8. Whofe fountain who shall tell?] As in Job xxxviii. 19. “ Where is the way where light dwelleth?" HUME. Ver. 10.
as with a mantle didst invest
The rihng world, &c.] See note, B. 1. 207. But Milton, perhaps, had the following passage of Job in view, xxxviii. 9. “I made the cloud the garment thereof and thick darkness ą swaddling-band for it." TODD.
Ver. 11. The risng world of waters dark and deep,] for the world was only in a state of fluidity, when the light was created. See Gen. i. 2, 3. The verse is plainly formed upon this of Spenser, Faer. Qu. i. i. 39.
“ And through the world of waters wide and deep.” Newton.
But Milton's exact combination occurs, as Mr. Dunster also notices, in Drayton's Polyolb. S. ix.
“ The hanging rocks, and vallies dark and deep." TODD. Ver. 12. Won from the void and formless infinite.] Void must not here be understood as emptiness, for Chaos is described full of matter; but void, as deftitute of any formed being, void as the earth was when first created. What Moses says of that, is here applied to Chaos; without form and void. A short but noble de. scription of Chaos, which is said to be infinite, as it extended underneath, as Heaven above, infinitely. RICHARDSON.
Ver. 16. Through utter and through middle darkness,] Through Hell, which is often called utter darkness; and through the great gulf between Hell and Heaven, the middle darkness. Newton.