« AnteriorContinuar »
MAN'S transgression known, the guardian Angels forsake Paradise, and return up to heaven to approve their vigilance, and are approved, God declaring that the entrance of Satan could not be by them prevented. He sends his Son to judge the transgressors, who descends and gives sentence accordingly; then in pity clothes them both, and reascends. Sin and Death sitting till then at the gates of hell, by wondrous sympathy feeling the success of Satan in this new world, and the sin by Man there committed, resolve to sit no longer confined in hell, but to follow Satan their sire up to the place of Man: to make the way easier from hell to this world to and fro, they pave a broad high-way or bridge over Chaos, according to the track that Satan first made; then preparing for earth, they meet him proud of his success returning to hell; their mutual gratulation. Satan arrives at Pandemonium, in full assembly relates with boasting his success against Man; instead of applause is entertained with a general hiss by all his audience, transformed with himself also suddenly into serpents, according to his doom given in Paradise; then deluded with a shew of the forbidden tree springing up before them, they greedily reaching to take of the fruit, chew dust and bitter ashes. The proceedings of Sin and Death; God foretels the final victory of his Son over them, and the renewing of all things; but for the present commands his Angels to make several alterations in the heavens and elements. Adam more and more perceiving his fallen condition heavily bewails, rejects the condolement of Eve; she persists, and at length appeases him: then to evade the curse likely to fall on their offspring, proposes to Adam violent ways, which he approves not; but conceiving better hope, puts her in mind of the late promise made them, that her seed should be revenged on the Serpent, and exhorts her with him to seek peace of the offended Deity, by repentance and supplication.
MEAN while the hainous and despiteful act
Of Satan done in Paradise, and how
Her husband she, to taste the fatal fruit,
Was known in heav'n; for what can 'scape the eye 5Of God all-seeing, or deceive his heart
Omniscient? who in all things wise and just,
Hinder'd not Satan to attempt the mind
Of Man, with strength entire, and free will arm'd,
Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend.
For still they knew, and ought to' have still remember'd
12. For still they knew,] Man collectively (ver. 9.) is antecedent to the plural relative they, as Gen. i. 26. God said, Let us make Man in our image, and let them have dominion &c. Heylin.
16. And manifold in sin, deserv'd to fall.] Every sin is complicated in some degree: and the divines, especially those of
Milton's communion, reckon up several sins as included in this one act of eating the forbidden fruit, namely, pride, uxoriousness, wicked curiosity, infidelity, disobedience, &c. so that for such complicated guilt he deserved to fall from his happy state in Paradise.
Up into heav'n from Paradise in haste
17. Up into heav'n &c.] The tenth book of Paradise Lost has a greater variety of persons in it than any other in the whole poem. The author upon the winding up of his action introduces all those who had any concern in it, and shows with great beauty the influence which it had upon each of them. It is like the last act of a well written tragedy, in which all who had a part in it are generally drawn up before the audience, and represented under those circumstances in which the determination of the action places them. I shall therefore consider this book under four heads, in relation to the celestial, the infernal, the human, and the imaginary persons, who have their respective parts allotted in it. To begin with the celestial persons. The guardian angels of Paradise are described as returning to heaven upon the fall of man, in order to approve their vigilance; their arrival, their manner of reception, with the sorrow which appeared in themselves, and in those spirits who are said to rejoice at the conversion of a sinner, are very finely laid together in the following lines. Addison.
23. -dim sadness did not spare
That time celestial visages, yet mix'd
With pity, violated not their bliss.]
What a just and noble idea does our author here give us of the blessedness of a benevolent temper, and how proper at the same time to obviate the objection that might be made of sadness dwelling in heavenly spirits! Thyer.
Here pity is made to prevent their sadness from violating their bliss: but the latter passion is so far from alleviating the former, that it adds weight to it. If you read (mixed with pity) in a parenthesis, this cross reasoning will be avoided. Warburton.
It is plain that Milton conceived sadness mixed with pity to be more consistent with heavenly bliss than sadness without that compassionate temper. There is something pleasing, something divine even in the melancholy of a merciful mind. And this (adds Mr. Thyer) might be farther confirmed by the delight we take in tragical representations upon the stage, where the pleasure arises from sympathizing with the distresses of our fellow creatures, and indulging a pitiful commiserating temper.
That time celestial visages, yet mix'd'
With pity, violated not their bliss.
Th' ethereal people ran, to hear and know
How all befel: they tow'ards the throne supreme
With righteous plea their utmost vigilance,
Assembled angels, and ye pow'rs return'd
Or touch with lightest moment of impulse
40. I told ye then &c.] See envy &c. book iii. 86-96.
42. believing lies Against his Maker ;] Such as Satan had suggested, that all things did not proceed from God, that God kept the forbidden fruit from them out of
45. -with lightest moment of impulse] The same metaphor that he had used before in vi. 239. and we justified and explained it by Terence's paulo; momento impellitur.
On his transgression, death denounc'd that day?
Because not yet inflicted, as he fear'd,
By some immediate stroke; but soon shall find
But whom send I to judge them? whom but thee 55
All judgment, whether in heav'n, or earth, or hell.
Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee.
And destip'd Man himself to judge Man fall'n.
53. Forbearance no acquittance] These proverbial expressions are very improper any where in an epic poem, but much more when they are made to proceed from the mouth of God himself.
56. —to thee I have transferr'd All judgment,]
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. John v. 22.
58. Easy it may be seen] We have printed it thus after the first edition. In the second edition and others it is Easy it might be seen, which is not so well.
59. Mercy colleague with justice,]
According to that of the Psalm-' ist, Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Ps. lxxxv. 10.
62. And destin'd Man himself. to judge Man fall'n.] And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the son of man, John v. 27. Dr. Bentley reads thyself, but himself is full as well or better.
68. -thine is to decree, Mine-to do thy will] I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. John vi. 38. E.