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before the throne of God, which St. John saw in his vision, Rev. iv. 5.
716. Among the sons of morn,] The Angels are here called sons of the morning, as Lucifer is in Isa. xiv. 12, probably upon account of their early creation ; or to express the angelic beauty and gladness, the morning being the most delightful season of the day. See Job xi. 17; xxxviii. 7.
718. And smiling] Let not the pious reader be offended, because the Supreme Being is represented as smiling and speaking ironically of his foes; for such figures of speech are not unusual in the Scripture itself. This is particularly grounded upon Psal. ii. 1, &c. “ Why do the Heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?-against the Lord and against his Anointed-He that sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision.” It appears that our Author had this passage in view, by his making the Son allude so plainly to it in his answer.
746. Or stars of morning dew drops,] Innumerable as the stars is an old simile, but this of the stars of morning, dew drops, seems as new as it is beautiful: And the sun impearls them, turns them by his reflected beams to seeming pearls ;' as the morn was said before to sow the earth with orient pearl, ver. 2.
761. in the diale&t of men] The learned reader cannot but be pleased with the poet's imitation of Homer in this line. Homer mentions persons and things, which he tells us in the language of the Gods are called by different names from those they go by in the language of men. Milton has imitated him with his usual judgment in this particular place, wherein he has likewise the authority of Scripture to justify him.
Addison The scholiasts and commentators upon Homer endeavour to account for this manner of speaking several ways; but the most prohable is, that he attributes those names which are in use only among the learned to the Gods, and those which are in vulgar use to men. However that be, this manner of speaking certainly gives a dignity to the poem, and looks as if the poets had conversed with the Gods themselves.
766. The Mountain of the Congregation calld;] Alluding to
İsa. xiv. 13. “ I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.”
772. Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Porvers, ] The use of the word Virtues, in this line, clearly explains what Milton meant by th' angelic Virtue in ver. 371.
Whom thus th' angelic Virtue answer'd mild. It was an order of Angels distinguished by that name. This is the more evidently his meaning by these lines after
and all the Spirits of Heav'n
799. much less for this to be our Lord,] This passage Stems to me as inexplicable almost as any in Milton.
802. Not to serve] The whole of this speech is a striking exhibition of a factious malecontent, who considers that subordination as a violation of liberty, which is really necessary to its full enjoyment.
Mr. Warburton explains it thus. Who can in reason assume monarchy over those who are his equals? and introduce law and edict upon them, when they can conduct their actions rightly without law? much less for this introduction of law and edict claim the right of dominion. For he thought the giving of civil laws did not introduce dominion.
809. False and proud] Democratic principles are false, as they do not tend to the happiness of the whole, the object of government; and proud, as they arise from a desire in individuals to exalt themselves above their superiors.
835.--by whom, &c.] Cor. i. 16, 17. “ For by him were all things created that are in Heaven, and that are in Earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist: and the conclusion of this speech is taken from the conclusion of Psal. ii.
861.---when fatal course &c.] We may observe that our author makes Satan a sort of fatalist. We Angels (says he)
were self-begot, self-rais'd by our ozun quick’ning power; when the course of fate had completed its full round and period, then we were the birth mature, the production in due season, of this our native Heaven. No compliment to fatalism to put it into the mouth of the Devil.
864. Four own right hand
Dextra mihi Deus, et telum quod missile libro. Virg. Æn. X. 773
872.—and as the sound of waters deep] The voice of a great multitude applauding is in like manner compared, Rev. xix. 6, to the voice of many waters.
887. Is now an iron rod to bruise and break] Alluding to Psal. ii. 9. “ Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron:" or rather to the old translation, “ Thou shalt bruise them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
890. These zvicked tents devoted, lest the wrath, &c.] In allusion probably to the rebellion of Korah, &c. Numb. xvi. where Moses exhorts the congregation, saying, “ Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, lest ye be consumed in all their sins," ver. 26. But the construction without doubt is deficient.
It may be supplied by understanding but I fy before the word lest.
896. So spake the Seraph Abdiel faithful found &c.] The part of Abdiel, who was the only Spirit that in this infinite host of Angels preserved his allegiance to his Maker, exhibits to us a noble moral of religious singularity. The zeal of the Seraphim breaks forth in a becoming warmth of sentiments and expressions, as the character which is given us of him denotes that generous scorn and intrepidity which attends heroic virtue. The author doubtless designed it as a pattern to those, who live among mankind in their present state of degencracy and corruption. Addison,
WE are now entering upon the sixth book of Paradise Lost, in which the poet describes the battle of Angels; having raised his reader's expectation, and prepared him for it by several passages in the preceding books.
omitted quoting these passages in my observations upon the former books, having purposely reserved them for the opening of this, the subject of which gave occasion to them. The author's ima. gination was so inflamed with this great scene of action, that wherever he speaks of it, he rises, if possible, above himself. Thus where he mentions Satan in the beginning of his poem. i. 44, &c.
-Him the almighty Power Hurl'd headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell In adamantine chains and penal fire, Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms. The poet never mentions any thing of this battle but in such images of greatness and terror as are suitable to the subject. Among several others I cannot forbear quoting that passage, where the Power, who is described as presiding over the Chaos, speaks in the second book, ii. 988, 6c.
Thus Satan ; and him thus the Anarch old,
saw and heard, for such a numerous host
Pour'd out by millions her victorious bands
It required great pregnancy of invention and strength of imagination, to fill this battle with such circumstances as should raise and astonish the mind of the reader; and at the same time an exactness of judgment, to avoid every thing that might appear light and trivial. Those who look into Homer, are surprised to find his battles still rising one above another, and improving in horror, to the conclusion of the Iliad. Milton's fight of Angels is wrought up with the same beauty. It is ushered in with such signs of wrath as are suitable to Omnipotencc incensed. The first engagement is carried on under a cope of fire, occasioned by the flights of innumerable burning darts and arrows which are discharged from either host. The second onset is still more terrible, as it is filled with those artificial thunders, which seem to make the victory doubtful, and produce a kind of constcrnation even in the good Angels. This is followed by the tearing up of mountains and promontories : till, in the last place, the Messiah comes forth in the fulness of majesty and terror.
The pomp of his appearance amidst the rɔarings of his thurders, the flashes of his lightnings, and the noise of his chariot wheels, is described with the utmost force of human imagination.
IV.ak'd by the circling hours, with rosy hand
Heav'n's golden gates, kept by the winged hours ;
6. Where light ard darkness &c.] Tlie making darkness a positive thing is poetical. But besides that, as he thought fic to bring it into Heaven, it could not be otiierwise represented.
17 arburtor. 15. Shint through with orient beams ;] This quaint conceit of night's being shui ihoa.ugli, &c. is much below the usual digni