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Almighty, thine this universal frame,

Thus wondrous fair; thyself how wondrous then! 155 Unspeakable, who sitt'st above these heavens

To us invisible, or dimly seen

In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and pow'r divine.
Speak ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,
Angels; for ye behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, day without night,

dispensations of Providence, nor consequently could be acquainted with those many topics of praise, which might afford matter to the devotions of their posterity. I need not remark the beautiful spirit of poetry, which runs through this whole hymn, nor the holiness of that resolution with which it concludes. Addison.

The author has raised our expectation by commending the various style, and holy rapture, and prompt eloquence of our first parents; and indeed the hymn is truly divine, and will fully answer all that we expected. It is an imitation, or rather a sort of paraphrase of the hundred and forty-eighth Psalm, and (of what is a paraphrase upon that) the Canticle placed after Te Deum in the Liturgy, O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord, &c. which is the Song of the Three Children in the Apocrypha.

155. thyself how wondrous then!] Wisd. xiii. 3, 4, 5. With whose beauty, if they being delighted, took them to be gods; let them know how much better the


Lord of them is: for the first Author of beauty hath created them. But if they were astonished at their power and virtue, let them understand by them how much mightier he is that made them. For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures, proportionably the Maker of them is


160. Speak ye who best can tell, &c.] He is unspeakable, ver. 156. no creature can speak worthily of him as he is; but speak ye who are best able, ye angels, ye in heaven; on earth join all ye creatures, &c.

162. day without night,] According to Milton there was grateful vicissitude like day and night in heaven, vi. 8. and we presume that he took the notion from Scripture, Rev. vii. 15. They are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple. But still it was day without night, that is, without such night as ours, for the darkness there is no more than grateful twilight. Night comes not there in darker veil. See ver. 645. of this book.

Circle his throne rejoicing; ye in heaven,

On earth join all ye creatures to extol

Him first, him last, him midst, and without end. 165 Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,

If better thou belong not to the dawn,

Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn
With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,
While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,
Acknowledge him thy greater, sound his praise

163. Circle his throne rejoicing;] See note on the poem Ad Salsillum, v. 4. E.

165. Him first, him last, him midst,] Theocrit. Idyl. xvii. 3.

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the Morning Star; when she sets after the sun is called Hesperus, Vesper, and the Evening Star, but she cannot rise before him, and set after him at the same time: and yet it may be objected that our author makes her do so; for describing the last evening, he particularly mentions Hesperus that led the starry host, iv. 605. and the very next morning she is addressed as lust in the train of night. If this objection should be admitted, all we can say to it is, that with the strictness and accuracy a poet is not obliged to speak of a philosopher.

172. Acknowledge him thy greater,] It is not an improbable reading which Dr. Bentley proposes Acknowledge him Creator, or as Mr. Thyer Acknowledge thy Creator: but I suppose the author made use of greater answering to great.

Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,

Acknowledge him thy greater. So Ovid calls the sun the eye of the world, Mundi oculus, Met. iv. 228. And Pliny the soul, Nat.

In thy eternal course, both when thou climb'st,
And when high noon hast gain'd, and when thou fall'st.
Moon, that now meet'st the orient Sun, now fly'st, 175

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Eternumque adytis effert penetralibus ignem : and uses the adverb æternum in the same manner for continually. Georg. ii. 400.

-glebaque versis Eternum frangenda bidentibus.

175. Moon, that now meet'st the orient sun, now fly'st, &c.] The construction is, Thou Moon, that now meetest and now fliest the orient sun, together with the fixed stars, and ye five other wandering fires &c. He had before called upon the sun who governs the day, and now he invokes the moon and the fixed stars, and the planets who govern the night, to praise their Maker. The moon sometimes meets and sometimes flies the sun, approaches to and recedes from him in her monthly


With the fixed stars,

fixed in their orb that flies; they are fixed in their orb, but their orb flies, that is moves round with the utmost rapidity; for Adam is made to speak according to appearances, and he mentions in another place, viii. 19. and 21. their rolling spaces incomprehensible, and their swift return diurnal. And ye five other wandering fires. Dr. Bentley reads four, Venus and the Sun and Moon being mentioned before, and only four more remaining, Mercury and Mars and Jupiter and Saturn. And we must either suppose that Milton did not consider the morning star as the planet Venus; or he must be supposed to include the earth, to make up the other five besides those he had mentioned; and he calls it elsewhere viii. 129. The planet earth; though this be not agreeable to the system, according to which he is speaking at present. Wandering fires in opposition to fixed stars. That move in mystic dance not without song, alluding to the doctrine of the ancients, and particularly to Pythagoras's notion of

the music of the spheres, by which no doubt he understood the proportion, regularity, and harmony of their motions. Shakespeare speaks of it more fully in his Merchant of Venice, act v.

-Look how the floor of heaven Is thick inlaid with patterns of bright gold:

With the fix'd stars, fix'd in their orb that flies,
And ye five other wand'ring fires that move
In mystic dance not without song, resound
His praise, who out of darkness call'd up light.
Air, and ye Elements, the eldest birth

Of Nature's womb, that in quaternion run
Perpetual circle, multiform; and mix

And nourish all things; let your ceaseless change
Vary to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye Mists and Exhalations that now rise
From hill or steaming lake, dusky or gray,
Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honour to the world's great Author rise,
Whether to deck with clouds th' uncolour'd sky,
Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling still advance his praise.
His praise ye Winds, that from four quarters blow
Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye Pines,
With every plant, in sign of worship wave.
Fountains and ye, that warble, as ye flow,

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borrowed from Orpheus. Et cum quattuor sint genera corporum, vicissitudine eorum mundi continuata natura est. Nam ex terra, aqua: ex aqua, oritur aer: ex aere, æther: deinde retrorsum vicissim ex æthere, aer: inde aqua: ex aqua, terra infima. Sic naturis his, ex quibus omnia constant, sursus, deorsus, ultro, citro commeantibus, mundi partium conjunctio continetur. Cicero de Nat. Deor. ii. 33.

Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.
Join voices all ye living Souls: ye Birds,
That singing up to heaven gate ascend,

Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,

197. -ye living Souls;] Soul is used here as it sometimes is in Scripture for other creatures besides man. So Gen. i. 20. the moving creature that hath life, that is soul in the Hebrew, and in the margin of the Bible; and ver. 30. every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, that is, a living soul.

198. That singing up to heaven gate ascend,] We meet with the like hyperbole in Shakespeare, Cymbeline, act ii.

Hark, hark! the lark at heav'n's

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imitates here the ancient chorus, where sometimes the plural, and sometimes the singular number is used. The same is practised by our poet in the speeches of the chorus in Samson Agonistes, where the reader will see in every page almost that the number is thus varied. Dr. Bentley observes, that the whole hymn naturally divides itself into parts interlocutory, and that he has presumed to put it so, though not warranted by any edition. But this is not Dr. Bentley's invention; for this hymn was set to music some years ago, and in that composition the several parts of it were assigned distinctly to Adam and Eve. I think that such interlocutory parts are by no means fit for an heroic poem but if the author should be supposed to have designed them, I should choose to divide this hymn very different from the Doctor's division. [The Doctor assigns the first seven lines to Adam, those of the Angels to Eve, those of the Morning Star to Adam, those of the Sun to Eve, those of the Moon to Adam, of the Air and Elements to Eve, of the Mists and Exhalations to Adam, of the Winds and Pines to Eve, of the Fountains and Rills to Adam, of

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