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Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shewn,
Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,
226. Said to be borrowed from Spenser, Book i. Canto 2. 231. Winds is sometimes read instead of wind. 232. Pelorus is a Sicilian promontory now called Capo di Faro. 246. Sovran is abridged from the Italian Sovrano.
254. This sentiment is the great foundation on which the Stoles built their whole system of Ethics.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
So Satan spake ; and him Beëlzebub Thus answer'd : Leader of those armies bright, Whicb but th' Omnipotent none could have toild, If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft 275 In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge Of battle when it raged, in all assaults Their surest signal, they will soon resume New courage and revive, though now they lie Grov'ling and prostrate on yon lake of fire, 280 As we ere while, astounded and amazed, No wonder, fall'n such a pernicious height.
He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend Was moving tow're the shore; his pond'rous shield, Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round, 285 Behind him cast; the broad circumference Hung on his shoulders like tlie moon, whose orb Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views At evening from the top of Fesolé, Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
290 Rivers, or mountains, on her spotty globe. His spear, to equal which the tallest pine
263. The same sentiment is put by Æschylus into the mouth of Prometheus, and it was the well-known saying of Julius Cæsar, that he would rather be the first man in a village, than the second in Rome. 287. So Homer and Ossian compare the shields of their heroes,
289. Fesole and Valdarno, the one a city, the other a valley, in Tuscany.
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
300 His legions, Angel forms, who lay entranced Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades High over-arch'd imbow'r; or scatter'd sedge Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion arm’d 305 Hath vex'd the Red Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrow Busiris and his Memphian chivalry, While with perfidious hatred they pursued The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld From the safe shore their floating carcases 310 And broken chariot wheels : so thick bestrown, Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood, Under amazement of their hideous change. He call's so loud, that all the hollow deep Of Hell resounded. Princes, Potentates,
315 Warriors, the flow'r of heav'n, once yours, now lost, If such astonishment as this can seize Eternal spirits; or have ye chos’n this place After the toil of battle to repose Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find 320 To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven? Or in this abject posture have ye sworn T'adore the conqueror? who now beholds Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood With scatter'd arins and ensigns, till anon
293. Milton here again enlarges on the idea of the great preceding poets, who had given their heroes a pine for their wands or spears. 294. Ammiral from the German amiral or the Italian ammiraglio.
303. A famous valley in Tuscany. The name is compounded of vallis and umbra.
305. Orion is the most stormy of the constellations, and, as the Red Sea abounds with sedge, it is here represented as exercising its influence over it.
307. Pharaoh has been supposed to be the same with Busiris, which opinion Milton appears to have held. Chivalry is used in the poets to denote, not only those who fight on horses, but those who go to battle in chariots dray't. bs them.
His swift pursaers from heav'n gates discern
345 'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires; Till, as a signal giv'n, th' uplifted spear Of their great Sultan waving to direct Their course, in even balance down they light On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain; 350 A multitude, like which the populous north Pour'd never from her frozen loins, to pass Rhene or the Danaw, when her barb'rous sons Cane like a deluge on the south, and spread Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands. Forthwith from ev'ry squadron and each band The heads and leaders thither haste where stood Their great commander; Godlike shapes and forms Excelling human, princely dignities, And Pow'rs that erst in Heaven sat on thrones; 360 Though of their names in heav'nly records now Be no memorial, blotted out and rased By their rebellion from the books of life.
329. An allusion is here made to the story of Ajax Olleus, Æn. i. 44.
338. See Exodus X. 13.
363. Instead of book, to answer better to the plural records use! before, and to the immense number of angels.
Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
364 Got them new names, till wand'ring o'er the earth, Thro' God's high suff'rance for the trial of man, By falsities and lies the greatest part Of mankind they corrupted, to forsake God their Creator, and th' invisible Glory of him that made them to transform 370 Oft to the image of a brute, adorn'd With gay religions full of pomp and gold, And Devils to adore for Deities : Then were they known to men by various names, And various idols through the Heathen world. 373 Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who Roused from the slumber, on tha: fiery couch, [last At their great emp’ror's call, as next in worth Came singly where he stood on the bare strand, While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof. 380 The chief were those who from the pit of Hell Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix Their seats long after next the seat of God, Their altars by his altar, Gods adored Among the nations round, and durst abide 385 Jehovah thund'ring out of Sion, throned Between the Cherubim ; yea, often placed Within his sanctuary itself their shrines, Aboininations; and with cursed things His holy rites and solemn feasts profaned, 390 And with their darkness durst affront his light. First Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with blood Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears, Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud
366. See Rom. chap. i.
375. The catalogue of the evil spirits is a great proof both of the art and the imagination of Milton. It is far superior in description, as well as fitness, to those in Homer and Virgil, and forms a part of the poem which could not be removed without great injury to its completeness.
386. God dwelt in a visible glory between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies of the temple on Mount Sion.
392. Molnch has been supposed to be the Saturn of the heathens. The Scriptures say that parents made their children pass through the fire to him, not perhaps in sacrifice always, but as a rite of consecration to him. Rabba was the capital of the Ammonites, and Argob and Basan neighbouring countries. Gehenna, or the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, is made in the New Testament a type of hell, as it was there that a fire was kept up to consume the acrifices offered to this idol.