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With conquest, felt th' envenomed robe, and tore Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines, And Lichas from the top of Eta threw

Into th' Euboic sea.

Others, more mild,

Retreated in a silent valley, sing

With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall
By doom of battle; and complain that fate
Free virtue should enthral to force or chance.
Their song was partial, but the harmony

(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet,
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense)

mopylæ. The story of Hercules and Deïanira is told in many ways, but the above account will sufficiently illustrate the text.

546-551. Others more mild, &c.] Milton's love of music appears in all his writings, and what he says of it in his Tractate on Education may not be inappropriately quoted here: -"The interim of unsweating themselves regularly, and convenient rest before meat, may, both with profit and delight, be taken up in recreating and composing their travailed spirits with the solemn and divine harmonies of music, heard or learned; either whilst the skilful organist plies his grave and fancied descant in lofty fugues, or the whole symphony with artful and unimaginable touches adorn and grace the well-studied chords of some choice composer; sometimes the lute or soft organ-stop waiting on elegant voices, either to religious, martial, or civil ditties; which, if wise men and prophets be not extremely out, have a great power over dispositions and manners, to smooth and make them gentle from rustic harshness and distempered passions."

552-559. Their song was partial, &c.] Describing their own heroic deeds, they were, of course, partial to themselves, and besides, took a very limited view of "the truth of things," in exalting personal valour above moral




courage, and other kindred virtues. The following passage from his Familiar Letters, will throw some light on the subject: "I would not have you lavish your admiration on the triumphs of the chiefs whom you extol, and things of that nature in which force is of most avail. For why need we wonder if the wethers of our country are born with horns which may batter down cities and towns? Do you learn to estimate great characters, not by the quantity of their animal strength, but by the habitual justice and temperance of their conduct."

555-569. In discourse more sweet.] Milton in these lines seems to "cast ominous conjecture" on the study of Metaphysics, but it could not be his design to object to inquiries that he himself so vigorously pursued. If the fallen angels "reasoned high"

"Of Providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate, Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,"

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Others apart sat on a hill retired,

In thoughts more elevate; and reasoned high
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,
Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute;
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,

Passion and apathy, and glory and shame,
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy :
Yet with a pleasing sorcery could charm
Pain for awhile or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Another part, in squadrons and gross bands,
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal world, if any clime perhaps
Might, yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge

mazes lost," it may have arisen from the want of the humility necessary for all created intelligences in grappling with subjects that relate to the infinite and the eternal; but in this respect we are under little temptation to imitate them. As usual, Milton represents the fallen spirits as talking stoicism. The principles of this sect, as we have already seen, encouraged a stern and unbending virtue, and a resolute contempt for pain and suffering. The very name is sy nonymous with unyielding firmness, and insensibility to the passions of love, fear, hatred, &c. &c. The same want of success in such inquiries is still complained of, as witness the following lamentation or exultation (I know not which to hold it) by Mons. de Bonald, as given by DUGALD STEWART in his Preliminary Dissertation to the Encyclopædia Britannica. I by no means acquiesce in the truth of the extract; but, as it seems to illustrate the text, I submit it to the student. "The diversity of doctrines has increased, from age to age, with the number of masters, and with the progress of knowledge; and Europe, which at present possesses libraries filled with philosophical works,





and which reckons up almost as many philosophers as writers; poor in the midst of so much riches, and uncertain, with the aid of all its guides, which road it should follow; Europe, the centre and focus of all the lights of the world, has yet its philosophy only in expectation." Truly extremes meet. Next to a devout believer, who is willing to read his breviary taliter qualiter, as the ox or the ass eats what is put before it, asking no questions, certain parties delight in a sceptic who uproots all faith in human reason, and then sends men, in their distraction, to what calls itself an "infallible authority."

559. Of providence, foreknowledge, &c.] "The turn of the words here is admirable, and very well expresses the wanderings and mazes of their discourse; and the turn of the words is greatly improved, and rendered still more beautiful by the addition of an epithet to each of them."— NEWTON.

568. Or arm the obdured breast, fc.] Compare the following:

"Illi robur et ses triplex

Circa pectus erat, qui fragilem truci
Commisit pelago ratem
Frimus."-HORACE, Odes, i. 3.

Into the burning lake their baleful streams;
Abhorréd Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.

577. Abhorred Styx, the flood of leadly hate, &c.] Styx is connected with the word σTUyewI hate or abhor, and is, as has been said already, the principal river in the nether world. Acheron (from axos, grief) is the river of sorrow, that flows round the infernal regions. Its waters are represented as muddy and bitter, and into it both the Phlegethon and Cocytus flow. Phlegethon comes from a Greek word signifying to burn. Cocytus, from a Greek word signifying to bewail, is the river of lamentation. it was one of the streams that washed the shores of hell, and prevented the imprisoned souls from returning to the earth. Lethe, from a Greek word signifying forgetfulness, is the river of oblivion. Its waters possessed the quality of causing those who drank them to forget the whole of their former existence. Both Virgil and Dante have described this stream, but neither comes up to the magnificence of the English poef. The exquisite rythm of these five lines, and the adaptation of the sound to the sense, are well worth observing. We are every now and then reminded of the truth of Channing's remarks as to the expressiveness of Milton's numbers; but I know not that a more fitting opportunity will be presented for laying them before the reader. "We should not fulfil our duty, were we not to say one word on what has been justly celebrated, the harmony of Milton's versification. His numbers have the prime charm of expressiveness. They vary with, and answer to the depth, or tenderness, or sublimity of his conceptions, and hold intimate alliance with the soul. Like Michael Angelo, in whose hands the marble was said to be flexible, he bends our language, which foreigners reproach with



hardness, into whatever forms the subject demands. All the treasures of sweet and solemn sound are at his command. Words, harsh and discordant in the writings of less gifted men, flow through his poetry in a full stream of harmony. This power over language

is not to be ascribed to Milton's musical ear. It belongs to the soul. It is a gift or exercise of genius, which has power to impress itself on whatever it touches, and finds or frames in sounds, motions, and material forms, correspondences and harmonies, with its own fervid thoughts and feelings."

581. Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.] The words "torrent" and "inflame" may be both understood as either transitive or intransitive. They have been explained in an intransitive sense, 66 99 torrent as equivalent to "rolling rapidly," and "inflame " to "kindle into flames." That the words are susceptible of this sense, I do not dispute, and I even admit that it will suit the alleged facts of the case; but the active sense is equally admissible, and, as far as I can judge, much more graphic and to the purpose. Torrentia sidera is an expression used by Horace when he means to indicate that the stars burn up the ground and parch it, and is certainly used in an active sense, having an accusative case after it. In the same way I would interpret "inflame,” in the sense of stir up or set fire to the passions. Observe, the poet is describing what each separate river does. Styx is the flood of hate; Cocytus is the river of lamentation; and Phlegethon the stream whose waves of burning or scathing fire inflames or sets on fire the spirits who come in contact with it. Spenser, in whose footsteps Milton treads so closely, has given a descrip.

Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls

Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile; or else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old,

Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air



Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire.
Thither, by harpy-footed furies haled,


At certain revolutions, all the damned

Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change

Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,

From beds of raging fire to starve in ice


Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine

Immovable, infixed, and frozen round,

Periods of time: thence hurried back to fire.

They ferry over this Lethean sound,

Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,


And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach

The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,

All in one moment, and so near the brink;
But fate withstands, and to oppose th' attempt
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards


tion of the same rivers. The following Damietta, a town on the eastern

is part of it :

"They pas the bitter waves of Acheron,

Where many soules sit wailing woefully ;
And come to fiery flood of Phlegethon,
Whereas the damned ghosts in torments fry,
And with sharp shrilling shriekes doe boot-
less cry..

Cursing high Jove, the which them thither


The House of endless Paine is built thereby,
In which ten thousand sorts of punishment,
The cursed creatures doe eternally torment."

Faerie Queene, bk. i. cant. v. st. 33. 589. Dire hail is a phrase taken from Horace. Everything sent by the wrath of a god (dei ira) was termed dirum.

592. That Serbonian bog.] i.e. the Palus Serbonis, near Mount Casius, in Lower Egypt. Damiata, now

most branch of the Nile, six or eight miles from the Mediterranean. The Lake was surrounded on all sides by hills of loose sand, which, carried into the water by high winds, so thickened the lake that it could not be distinguished from part of the continent.

611. Medusa with Gorgonian terror.] Medusa was one of the Gorgons, who are represented as frightful beings. Their heads were covered with hissing serpents instead of hair, and they had wings, brazen claws, and enormous teeth. Medusa, who alone of the three sisters was mortal, was killed by

The ford, and of itself the water flies

All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on

In cónfused march forlorn, th' adventurous bands,
With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast
Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found

No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,



Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death, A universe of death; which God by curse

Created evil, for evil only good;

Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable, and worse

Than fables yet have feigned, or fear conceived,
Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimæras dire.

Perseus, but not without great diffi-
culty, as every one that looked on her
head was changed into stone.

614. Tantalus offended Jupiter in some way, for accounts vary as to the exact nature of the offence, and he was punished in the lower regions by being afflicted with a raging thirst, and at the same time placed in the midst of a lake, the waters of which always receded from him as soon as he attempted to drink them. Over his head, also, hung branches of fruit, which receded when he stretched out his hand to take them.

614-628. Thus roving on, &c.] The music of these lines is exquisite. The poet avails himself of the device of alliteration no fewer than four times,"lamentable lot," "dark and dreary," "frozen and fiery," "fables yet have feigned;" but to take off the sense of sameness, he has skilfully introduced strong contrasts both in the words and in the meaning," for evil only good," "life dies," "death lives," &c. The lines paint admirably the tediousness and difficulty of Satan's journey, but they require to be read again and again before they yield their full meaning. The whole passage is a fine specimen of the figure of speech called climax, and the conclusion is-like the rush of


many waters truly grand. Observe further, how the absence of the conjunction in line 621. serves to represent the horror of that world in which the damned spirits, when fallen from heaven, were doomed to wander.

Hydra was

628. Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.] The Gorgons were the three daughters of Phorcys, a marine god, and his wife Ceto. Their names are Medusa, Euryale, and Stheno. They are described as having great wings, sharp crooked claws, teeth like the tusks of the wild boar, and snakes instead of hair. Eschylus says they had but one eye and one tooth between them. So horrible were they to look on, that they turned into stone every one who gazed at them. the name of a monstrous water-snake with a hundred heads. As soon as one of these was cut off, two others grew in its place, if the wound was not stopped with fire. It was one of the labours of Hercules to destroy this dreadful monster. The Chimera was a monster which the poets feign to have had the fore parts of a lion, the body of a goat (the word itself means a goat in Greek), and the tail of a dragon. It had three heads to correspond, and out of them all it vomited flames. Altogether these crea

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