« AnteriorContinuar »
Just confidence, and native righteousness,
Shorn of his strength, They destitute and bare
To guilty shame; &c.] This passage has occasioned much perplexity and confusion, by its having been wrong pointed in almost all the editions. After shame there is no stop even in Milton's own editions, and there should have been a semicolon at least. And then follows he covered, for shame (as Dr. Pearce observes) is here made a person (as again in ver. 1097.) and this shame is he who covered Adam and Eve with his robe; but this robe of his uncovered them more: that is, though they were clothed with shame, yet they thereby more discovered their nakedness. Milton speaks in the same manner in Samson Agon. 841, 842.
In vain thou striv'st to cover shame with shame,
Or by evasions thy crime uncover'st
In the author's second edition after the words Uncovered more there is a full stop, and a new sentence beginning thus, So rose
the Danile strong &c. with the punctuation which we have followed; from whence it evidently appears, that this is the true construction, that As Samson waked shorn of his strength, They waked destitute and bare of all their virtue: and then begins another sentence, silent, and in face confounded long they sat. I suppose it need not be observed that Samson is called the Danite, as being of the tribe of Dan.
1067. O Eve, in evil hour &c.] As this whole transaction between Adam and Eve is manifestly copied from the episode of Jupiter and Juno on mount Ida, has many of the same circumstances, and often the very words translated, so it concludes exactly after the same manner in a quarrel. Adam awakes much in the same humour as Jupiter, and their cases are somewhat parallel; they are both overcome by their fondness for their wives, and are sensible of
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught
Our wonted ornaments now soil'd and stain'd,
Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store;
Be sure then. How shall I behold the face
their error too late, and then their love turns to resentment, and they grow angry with their wives, when they should rather have been angry with themselves for their weakness in hearkening to them.
1068. To that false worm,] That is, serpent. This is a general name for the reptile kind; as in vii. 476. And thus a serpent is called in Shakespeare the mortal worm, 2 Hen. VI. act iii.
1084. O might I here &c.Cover me ye pines, &c.] A wish more ardent and passionate than that of Virgil, Georg. ii. 488.
To star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broad
Hide me, where I may never see them more.
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sew'd, And girded on our loins, may cover round
Those middle parts, that this new comer, shame,
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.
So counsell'd he, and both together went Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose
It may be observed too, that Milton here uses the word brown, as he had before done imbrowned in imitation of the Italians. Thyer.
1092. What best may for the
present serve to hide
The parts of each from other,] These lines are misprinted in the second edition. And as to the matter of printing, it must be said, that of Milton's two editions the first is in general more correct than the second, though Mr. Richardson and others have cried up the second as the only genuine and standard edition.
1100. Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose
The fig-tree, &c.]
So Homer's Ulysses covers his nakedness in the wood, Odyss. vi. 127.
Ως ειπων θαμνων ὑπεδνσετο διος Οδυσ
Εκ πυκίνης δ' ύλης παορθον κλασε χειρι waxsin
Φυλλων, ὡς φυσαιτο περί χροί μηδια φωτός.
Then where the grove with leaves umbrageous bends,
With forceful strength a branch the hero rends;
Around his loins the verdant cincture spreads,
A wreathy foliage and concealing shades. Broome.
The sacred text says, Gen. iii. 7. that they sewed fig-leaves toge ther; and Milton adheres to the Scripture expression, which has given occasion to the sneer,
The fig-tree, not that kind for fruit renown'd,
What could they do for needles and thread? But the original signifies no more than that they twisted the young twigs of the fig-tree round about their waists, in the manner of a Roman crown, for which purpose the fig-tree of all others, especially in those eastern countries, was the most serviceable; because it hath, as Pliny says, lib. xvi. cap. 26. folium maximum umbrosissimumque, the greatest and most shady leaf of all others. And our author follows the best commentators supposing that this was the Indian fig-tree, the account of which he borrows from Pliny, lib. xii. c. 5. as Pliny had done before from Theophrastus. It was not that kind for fruit renowned, and Pliny says that the largeness of the leaves hindered the fruit from growing; hâc causâ fructum integens, crescere prohibet; rarusque est. It branches so broad and long, that in the ground the bended twigs take root, and daughters grow about the mother tree, a pillared shade high overarched: as Pliny says, Ipsa se semper serens, vastis diffunditur ramis; quorum imi adeo in terram curvantur, ut annuo spatio infigantur, novamque sibi propaginem faciant circa parentem-quodam opere topiario-fornicato am. bitu. There oft the Indian herdsman shunning heat shelters in cool &c.: Intra sepem eam æstivant pastores &c. And its leaves are broad as Amazonian targe: Fo
liorum latitudo peltæ effigiem Amazonicæ habet. Sir Walter Raleigh, upon his own knowledge, gives very much the same account of this Ficus Indica in his History of the World. B. į. c. 4. s. 2.
1100. It is not observed by the commentators that this figtree, a good article for such a romantic history, is described by Quintus Curtius, Hist. Alexandr. 1. ix. c. 1. p. 679. 1. vi. c. 5. p. 395. ed. Amstel. 1684. I must add one or two more circumstances. Milton was a student in botany. He took his description of this multifarious tree from the account of it in Gerard's Herbal, many of whose expressions he literally repeats. See Gerard, lib. iii. c. 135. p. 1513. ed. 1635. Gerard's work was first published in 1597. Jonson however had been beforehand with Milton in introducing this tree into English poetry. Neptune's Triumph, first acted 1624. vol. vi. 159.
-The goodly bole being got To certaine cubits hight, from every side
The boughs decline, which taking
Spring up new boles, and these
Or arched arbour, able to receive
1103. In Malabar or Decan] Malabar is the western coast of the peninsula of Hindostan; the
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground
Thus fenc'd, and as they thought, their shame in part
They sat them down to weep; nor only tears
Decan, that is, the south, is either
And Arcades, lxxxvii.
Under the shady roof
-such of late Columbus found th American,
Columbus, who made the first discovery of America about the
1104. Branching-] Par. Reg. year 1492, found the Americans
Whose branching arms thick intertwin'd, &c.
so girt about the waist with feathers, as Adam and Eve were with fig-leaves.