Page images

His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest

Sat horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp [deeds
What seem'd both spear and shield. Now dreadful
Might have ensued, nor only Paradise

In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of Heav'n perhaps, or all the elements

At least had gone to wrack, disturb'd and torn
With violence of this conflict, had not soon
Th' Eternal to prevent such horrid fray,

Hung forth in Heav'n his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,

Wherein all things created first he weigh'd,



The pendulous round earth with balanced air 1000 In counterpoise, now ponders all events,

Battles, and realms: in these he put two weights,
The sequel each of parting and of fight;

The latter quick up flew, and kick'd the beam;
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the Fiend: 1005
Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine;
Neither our own, but giv'n. What folly then
To boast what arms can do? since thine no more
Than Heav'n permits, nor mine, though doubled now
To trample thee as mire: for proof look up,
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,
Where thou art weigh'd, and shewn how light, how
If thou resist. The Fiend look'd up, and knew
His mounted scale aloft: nor more; but fled
Murm'ring, and with him fled the shades of night.

989. A powerful personification of horror.



1002. The same allegory is employed by both Homer and Virgil, and in Scripture we find Daniel informing Belshazzar that he was weighed in the balances: for illustrations of this passage, see Job xxviii. xxxvii. Isa. xl. 1. Sam. ii. 3. Proverbs xvi. 2. and Dan. v.

1003. Bentley proposes to read signal instead of sequel, but the latter is preferable, see Hom. II. viii. 69. also Virgil, Æn. xii. 725. 1012. Milton follows Scripture and not the poets in making the scale ascend in token of victory.


Morning approached, Eve relates to Adam her troublesom dream; he likes it not, yet comforts her: They come forth to their day labours: Their morning hymn at the door of their bower. God, to render man inexcusable, sends Raphael to admonish him of his obedience, of his free estate, of his enemy near at hand, who he is, and why his enemy, and whatever else may avail Adam to know. Raphael comes down to Paradise, his appearance described, his coming discerned by Adam afar off, sitting at the door of his bower; he goes out to meet him, brings him to his lodge, entertains him with the choicest fruits of Paradise got together by Eve; their discourse at t.ble: Raphael performs his message, minds Adam of his state and of his enemy; relates, at Adam's request, who that enemy is, and how he came to be so, beginning from his first revolt in Heaven, and the occasion thereof; how he drew his legions after him to the parts of the north, and there incited them to rebel with him, persuading all but only Abdiel a Seraph; who in argument dissuades and opposes him, then forsakes him.

Now morn her rosy steps in th' eastern clie
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam waked, so custom'd, for his sleep
Was aery light from pure digestion bred,


And temp'rate vapours bland, which th' only sound 5
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,
Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song
Of birds on ev'ry bough; so much the more
His wonder was to find unwaken'd Eve
With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek,
As through unquiet rest; he on his side
Leaning, half raised, with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamour'd, and beheld
Beauty, which whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice
Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whisper'd thus: Awake,
My fairest, my espoused, my latest found,
Heav'n's last best gift, my ever new delight,
Awake; the morning shines, and the fresh field 20


1. This is a lovely description of morning, and the more beautiful because not separated from the consideration of the actors in the poem.-1 think it will be generally found that poets of great eminence seldom indulge themselves in pure description, or rather, that their descriptions are almost always mixed up with circumstance and detail.

5. Which refers to sleep, not to vapours.

[ocr errors]

Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Our tender plants, how blows the citron grove,
What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed,
How Nature paints her colours, how the bee
Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet.



Such whisp'ring waked her, but with startled eye On Adam, whom embracing, thus she spake : O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose, My glory, my perfection, glad I see Thy face, and morn return'd; for I this night (Such night till this I never pass'd) have dream'd, If dream'd, not as I oft am wont, of thee, Works of day past, or morrow's next design, But of offence and trouble, which my mind


Knew never till this irksome night. Methought, 35
Close at mine ear one call'd me forth to walk,
With gentle voice; I thought it thine: it said,
Why sleep'st thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time,
The cool, the silent, save where silence yields
To the night-warbling bird, that now awake
Tunes sweetest his love-labour'd song; now reigns
Full orb d the moon, and with more pleasing light
Shadowy sets off the face of things; in vain,
If none regard; Heav'n wakes with all his eyes,
Whom to behold but thee, Nature's desire?
In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment
Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze.

I rose as at thy call, but found thee not;
To find thee I directed then my walk;


And on, methought, alone I pass'd through ways 50
That brought me on a sudden to the tree
Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seem'd,
Much fairer to my fancy than by day:
And as I wond'ring look'd, beside it stood


24. I am inclined to think that this mention of nature is the only blemish in the passage: none of Adam's curious questionings which have been reprobated by writers, were unnatural in a being continually contemplating the universe with an undimmed eye; but it is very inconsistent to suppose he would personify the principle of things, and separate its operation from the immediate action of the divine hand.-Nature was a noble and splendid conception in the mind of the heathen poets and philosopners, but it is a puerile contradiction after the thoughts have been long fixed on a personal Deity.

41. His and her are applied by Milton to the nightingale


One shaped and wing'd, like one of those from Heav'n
By us oft seen. His dewy locks distill'd
Ambrosia on that tree he also gazed;

And O fair plant, said he, with fruit surcharged,
Deigns none to ease thy load and taste thy sweet
Nor God, nor Man? is knowledge so despised?
Or envy', or what reserve forbids to taste?
Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
Longer thy offer'd good: why else set here ?
This said, he paused not, but with vent'rous arm
He pluck'd, he tasted! Me damp horror chill'd
At such bold words vouch'd with a deed so bold:
But he thus overjoy'd, O fruit divine,
Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt,
Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit



For Gods, yet able to make Gods of Men:


And why not Gods of Men, since good, the more
Communicated, more abundant grows,

The Author not impair'd, but honour'd more?

Here, happy creature, fair angelic Eve,
Partake thou also; happy though thou art,
Happier thou may'st be, worthier canst not be:
Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods
Thyself a Goddess, not to earth confined,
But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes
Ascend to Heav'n, by merit thine, and see
What life the Gods live there, and such live thou.
So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,
Ev'n to my mouth, of that same fruit held part
Which he had pluck'd. The pleasant sav'ry smell
So quicken'd appetite, that I, methought,
Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I flew, and underneath beheld
The earth outstretch'd immense, a prospect wide
And various; wond'ring at my flight and change
To this high exaltation; suddenly





My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,
And fell asleep; but O how glad I waked
To find this but a dream! Thus Eve her night
Related; and thus Adam answer'd sad :

Best image of myself and dearer half,
The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep
Affects me equally; nor can I like


This uncouth dream, of evil sprung I fear;
Yet evil whence? In thee can harbour none,
Created pure. But know, that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief: among these Fancy next
Her office holds. Of all external things
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imaginations, aery shapes;
Which Reason joining or disjoining, frames
All what we' affirm or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private cell when Nature rests.
Oft in her absence mimic Fancy wakes
To imitate her; but misjoining shapes,
Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams,
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.
Some such resemblances methinks I find
Of our last evening's talk, in this thy dream,
But with addition strange; yet be not sad.
Evil into the mind of God or Man





May come and go, so unapproved, and leave

No spot or blame behind: Which gives me hope
That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream
Waking thou never wilt consent to do.



Be not dishearten'd then, nor cloud those looks
That wont to be more cheerful and serene
Than when fair morning first smiles on the world;
And let us to our fresh employments rise
Among the groves, the fountains, and the flowers
That open now their choicest bosom'd smells,
Reserved from night, and kept for thee in store.


So cheer'd he his fair spouse, and she was cheer'd; But silently a gentle tear let fall From either eye, and wiped them with her hair. Two other precious drops that ready stood, Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell Kiss'd, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse And pious awe, that fear'd to have offended. So all was clear'd, and to the field they haste. But first, from under shady arborous roof Soon as they forth were come to open sight


117. God in this line means angel; the word is so applied la Scripture sometimes: see also John x. 35. and refer to line 60.

« PreviousContinue »