Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

Agnoscitque suo sumptum de corpore corpus,
Et sic incipiens læto tandem ore profatur:

Aspicio, accipióque libens tua maxima rerum
Munera largitor, nostris ex ossibus ossa.
Formata in teneros humani corporis artus
Offers, egregiâque thori me compare donas, &c.


I must not omit to mention an English poem, relating to the state of innocence, entitled The Glasse of Time in the two first Ages, divinely handled by Thomas Peyton, of Lincolne's Inne, Gent. 4to. Lond. 1623; and to observe also that part of Du Bartas had been translated into verse, and published, before the first edition of Sylvester's, " by William Lisle of Wilburgham, Esquier for the King's body," namely, in 1596 and 1598, and again in 1625. See the note on Milton's cxivth Psalm, ver. 11. Lisle's compound epithets, in his translation, are very numerous, and sometimes extremely beautiful. Sylvester has often merit also of this kind: but it is my duty to observe, that Sylvester is not always original; his shining phrases may be frequently traced in contemporary or preceding poets. In the notes on Milton's poetical works, I have sometimes had occasion to exhibit the expressions of Sylvester in this point of view. In justice, however, to this labo rious writer, I shall here close my remarks with a detached specimen of his poetry; to which, if Milton has been indebted, the temptation of the Serpent in Paradise Lost affords such a contrast, that the reader will be at no loss how to appreciate the improvement.

Eve, second honour of this vniverse!
Is 't true (I pray) that jealous God, perverse,
Forbids (quoth he) both you, and all your race,
All the fair fruits these siluer brooks embrace;
So oft bequeath'd you, and by you possest,
And day and night by your own labour drest?

With th' air of these sweet words, the wily snake
A poysoned air inspired (as it spake)

In Eve's frail brest; who thus replies: "O! knowe
Whate'er thou be, (but thy kind care doth showe
A gentle friend) that all the fruits and flowrs
In this earth's-heav'n are in our hands and powrs,
Except alone that goodly fruit diuine,
Which in the midst of this green ground doth shine;
But all-good God (alas! I wot not why)
Forbad us touch that tree, on pain to dy."-
She ceast; already brooding in her heart
A curious wish that will her weal subvert.

"As a false louer, that thick snares hath laid
T' intrap the honour of a fair young maid,
When she (though little) listning ear affords
To his sweet, courting, deep-affected words,
Feels some asswaging of his freezing flame,
And sooths himself with hope to gain his game;
And, rapt with joy, vpon this point persists,
That parleing city never long resists:
Even so the Serpent that doth counterfet
A guilefull call t' allure vs to his net,

Perceiving Eve his flattering gloze digest
He prosecutes ; and, jocund doth not rest,
Till he haue try'd foot, hand, and head, and all,
Vpon the breach of this new-batter'd wall.

"No, fair," (quoth he) "beleeue not that the care
God hath, mankinde from spoyling death to spare,
Makes him forbid you (on so strict condition)
his purest, fairest, rarest fruit's fruition:
A double fear, an envie, and a hate,
His iealous heart for euer cruciate;
Sith the suspected vertue of this tree
Shall soon disperse the cloud of idiocy,

Which dims your eyes; and, further, make you seem
(Excelling vs) even equall Geds to him.

O World's rare glory! reach thy happy hand,

Reach, reach, I say; why dost thou stop or stand?
Begin thy bliss, and do not fear the threat
Of an vncertain God-head, onely great
Though self-aw'd zeal: put on the glistering pall

Of immortality: do not forestall

(As envious stepdames) thy posteritie
The soverain honour of Divinitie."

SYLVESTER'S DU BARTAS, Edit. 1621. pp. 192, 193.

As Milton has been supposed to have been much obliged to other poets in de scribing the unsubdued spirit of Satan, especially where he says,

Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven:

I am tempted to make an extract or two from Stafford's Niobe, a prose-work already mentioned, in which Satan speaks the following words; not dissimilar to passages in Fletcher and Crashaw, which have been cited, on the same subject.

"They say forsooth, that pride was the cause of my fall; and that I dwell where there is nothing but weeping, howling, and gnashing of teeth; of which that falsehood was the authour, I will make you plainelie perceiue. True it is, sir, that I (storming at the name of supremacie) sought to depose my Creatour; which the watchful, all-seeing eye of Prouidence finding, degraded me of my angelicall dignitie, dispossessed me of all pleasures; and the Seraphin and Cherubin, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Potestates, Principatus, Arch-angeli, Angeli, and all the celestiall Hierarchyes, with a shout of applause sung my departure out of Heauen: my Alleluia was turned into an Ehu; and too soone I found, that I was corruptibilis ab alio, though not in alio; and that he, that gaue me my being, could againe take it from mee. Now for as much as I was once an angell of light, it was the will of Wisedome to confine me to darknes and to create mee prince thereof: that so I, who could not obey in Heauen, might commaund in Hell. And, belieue mee, sir, I had rather controule within my dark diocese, than to reinhabite cœlum empyrium, and there liue in subjection, vnder check." Edit. 1611, pp. 16-18 part the second. Stafford calls Satan the "grim visag'd Goblin," ibid. p. 85. And, in the first part of the book, he describes the devil as having "committed incest with his daughter, the World." p. 3. He also attributes the gunpowder plot to the devil, “with his unhallowed senate of popes, the inuentors and fautours of this vnheard-of attempt in Hell." p. 149.

I have thus brought together opinions, delivered at different periods respecting the origin of Paradise Lost; and have humbly endeavoured to trace, in part, the reading of the great poet, subservient to his plan. More successful discoveries

See the note p. 336.



will probably arise from the pursuits of those, who are devoted to patient and liberal investigation. Videlicet hoc illud est præcipuè studiorum genus, quod vigiliis augescat; ut cui subinde ceu fluminibus ex decursu, sic accedit ex lectione minutatim quo fiat uberius. To such persons may be recommended the masterly observations of him, who was once so far imposed upon as to believe Lauder an honest man, and Milton a plagiary: but who expressed, when "Douglas and Truth appeared, "" the strongest indignation against the envious impostor": for they are observations resulting from a wish not to depreciate, but zealously to praise, the Paradise Lost. "Among the inquiries, to which this ardour of criticism has naturally given occasion, none is more obscure in itself, or more wor thy of rational curiosity, than a retrospect of the progress of this mighty genius in the construction of his work; a view of the fabric gradually rising, perhaps, from small beginnings, till its foundation rests in the center, and its turrets sparkle in the skies; to trace back the structure, through all its varieties, to the simpli city of its first plan; to find what was first projected, whence the scheme was taken, how it was improved, by what assistance it was executed, and from what stores the materials were collected; whether its founder dug them from the quar. ries of Nature, or demolished other buildings to embellish his own." I may venture to add that, in such inquiries, patience will be invigorated rather than dispirited; and every new discovery will teach us more and more to admire the genius, the erudition, and the memory of the inimitable Milton.

Politian. Miscellaneorum Præf.

7 The Progress of Envy, an excellent poem occasioned by Lauder's attack on the character of Milton. See Lloyd's Poems, last line of Progress of Envy.

So bishop Douglas told the affectionate biographer of Dr. Johnson. See Boswell's Life of Johnson, Vol. I. p. 197, Edit. 1799.

9 See Boswell's Life of Johnson, Vol. I. p. 199.

[blocks in formation]


Et sine fine Chaos, et sine fine Deus; Et sine fine magis, si quid magis est sine fine, In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor. Hæc qui speraret quis crederet esse futurum ?

Et tamen hæc hodiè terra Britanna legit. O quantos in bella duces! quæ protulit arma! Quæ canit, et quantâ prælia dira tubâ! Cœlestes acies! atque in certamine cœlum !

Et quæ cœlestes pugna deceret agros! Quantus in æthereis tollit se Lucifer armis ! Atque ipso graditur vix Michaële minor ! Quantis, et quàm funestis concurritur iris,

Dum ferus hic stellas protegit, ille rapit! Dum vulsos montes ceu tela reciproca torquent,


This poem by Dr. Barrow, and the next by Milton's friend Andrew Marvel, have been usually published in the editions of Paradise Lost, since the edition of 1674, to which they are both prefixed. TODD.

Et non mortali desuper igne pluunt:
Stat dubius cui se parti concedat Olympus,
Et metuit pugnæ non superesse suæ.

At simul in cœlis Messiæ insignia fulgent,

Et currus animes, armáque digna Deo, Horrendúmque rotæ strident, et sæva rotarum Erumpunt tervis fulgura luminibus,

Et flammæ vibrant, et vera tonitrua rauco
Admistis flammis insonuere polo :
Excidit attonitis mens omnis, et impetus omnis,
Et cassis dextris irrita tela cadunt;

Ad pœnas fugiunt; et, ceu foret Orcus asylum,
Infernis certant condere se tenebris,
Cedite, Romani scriptores; cedite, Graii;

Et quos fama recens vel celebravit annus.
Hæc quicunque leget tantùm cecinisse putabit
Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.


WHEN I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
In slender book his vast design unfold,
Messiah crown'd, God's reconcil'd decree,
Rebelling angels, the forbidden tree,
Heaven, Hell, Earth, Chaos, all; the argument
Held me a while misdoubting his intent,
That he would ruin (for I saw him strong)
The sacred truths to fable and old song;
(So Sampson grop'd the temple's posts in spight)
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his sight.

Of Dr. Samuel Barrow, the author of these verses, no account has been given by the editors of Milton. Toland only calls him a doctor of physic. Perhaps he was the physician to the army of general Monk. TODD.

Yet as I read, still growing less severe,
I lik'd his project, the success did fear;
Through that wild field how he his way should
O'er which lame Faith leads Understanding

Lest he'd perplex the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain.

Or if a work so infinite he spann'd,
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet always what is well,
And, by ill imitating, would excell)
Might hence presume the whole creation's day
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.

Pardon me, mighty poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious, surmise.
But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share.
Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be


And all that was improper dost omit :
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.

That majesty, which through thy work doth


Whence furnish such a vast expense of mind?
Just Heaven thee, like Tiresias, to requite,
Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.

Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure;
While the Town-Bays writes all the while and

And, like a pack-horse, tires without his bells:
Their fancies like our bushy points appear;
The poets tag them, we for fashion wear.
I too, transported by the mode, offend,
And, while I meant to praise thee, must com-

Draws the devout, deterring the profane.
And things divine thou treat'st of in such state BUT Milton next, with high and haughty stalks
As them preserves, and thee, inviolate.
At once delight and horrour on us seize,
Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease;
And above human flight dost soar aloft
With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft.
The bird, nam'd from that Paradise you sing,
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Where couldst thou words of such a compass

Unfetter'd, in majestic numbers, walks:
No vulgar hero can his Muse engage,
Nor Earth's wide scene confine his hallow'd rage.
See! see! he upward springs, and, towering high,
Spurns the dull province of mortality;
Shakes Heaven's eternal throne with dire alarms,
And sets the Almighty Thunderer in arms!
Whate'er his pen describes I more than see,
Whilst every verse array'd in majesty,
Bold and sublime, my whole intention draws,
And seems above the critic's nicer laws.
How are you struck with terrour and delight,
When angel with archangel copes in fight!
When great Messiah's outspread banner shines,
How does the chariot rattle in his lines!
What sound of brazen wheels, with thunder, scare
And stun the reader with the din of war!
With fear my spirits and my blood retire,
To see the seraphs sunk in clouds of fire:
But when, with eager steps, from hence I rise,
And view the first gay scene of Paradise;
What tongue, that words of rapture, can express
A vision so profuse of pleasantness!

Thy verse created, like thy theme, sublime,
In number weight,and measure, needs not rhyme.


How couldst thou hope to please this tinsel

Though blind, yet, with the penetrating eye
Of intellectual light, thou dost survey
The labyrinth perplex'd of Heaven's decrees;
And with a quill, pluck'd from an angel's wing,
Dipt in the fount that laves the eternal throne,
Trace the dark paths of Providence Divine,
"And justify the ways of God to man."

F. C. 1680.


O THOU! the wonder of the present age,
An age immers'd in luxury and vice;
A race of triflers; who can relish nought
But the gay issue of an idle brain:

THREE poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England, did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpass'd;
The next, in majesty; in both, the last.
The force of Nature could no farther go:
To make a third, she join'd the former two3.



3 These verses by F. C. are prefixed to Milton's poetical works in the edition of the English poets, 1779. They had before appeared in Fawkes and Woty's Poetical Calendar, 1763, vol. viii. 69. But we are not told who F. C. was. As I have not yet met with these verses in any other publication, I may be permitted to offer a conjec


ture that Francis Cradock,a member of the RotaClub to which Milton belonged, might be the author of them. See Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. 531. TODD.

4 The expressions, in this line, occur in one of Constable's Sonnets.

The pen wherewith thow dost so heauenly singe
Made of a quill pluckt from an angell's winge.
So, in Davies's Bien Venu, 1606.
But poet's pens pluckt from archangels' wings.

5 This celebrated epigram on Milton appears under the well-engraved head of the poet by R. White, prefixed to the folio edition of Paradise Lost in 1688. It has been thus published in many succeeding editions of the same poem. Drydes, I should add, is a subscriber to the edition of ices, TODD..

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »