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breathed the breath of life into other living beings, and blended it . . . intimately with matter. . . 19

... he infused the breath of life into other living beings also; ... every living thing receives animation from one and the same source of life and breath. . . . Nor has the word spirit any other meaning in the sacred writings, but that breath of life which we inspire, or the vital, or sensitive, or rational faculty, or some action or affection belonging to those faculties.20

For Milton knows that the Hebrews did not believe in the existence of the soul, in our sense: ". . . in the Scripture idiom, the soul is generally often put for the whole animate body. . So we have in Paradise




And God said: let the waters generate
Reptile with spawn abundant, living soul.22

Let th' Earth bring forth fowl living in her kind,
Cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth,
Each in their kind.23

What is called "soul" is propagated naturally in the course of generation:

It would seem, therefore, that the human soul is not created daily by the immediate act of God, but propagated from father to son in natural order. . . 24

If the soul be equally diffused throughout any given whole, and throughout every part of that whole, how can the human seed, the noblest and most intimate part of all the body, be imagined destitute and devoid of the soul of the parents, or at least of the father, when communicated to the son by the laws of generation?25

For matter produces life and all forms, including the soul: "It is acknowledged by the common consent of

19 Ibid., IV, 195.

20 Ibid., IV, 188.

21 Ibid., IV, 281, and the foregoing quotations. 22 P. L., VII, 387-88.

23 P. L., VII, 451-53. 24 Treatise, IV, 189. 25 Ibid., IV, 192–93.

almost all philosophers, that every form, to which class the human soul must be considered as belonging, is produced by the power of matter.” 26 All this is only the normal development of the idea contained in Milton's phrase about matter being the "productive stock of every subsequent good."



In this cosmology, there is no place for death. Immortality is a direct consequence of the way the world is built, since "no created thing can be finally annihilated." Matter is divine and indestructible, and man has no soul that can be separated from his body. Therefore, every being is naturally and normally immortal.

Milton has adopted the view that death is merely a sort of cosmological incident of no particular importance, more or less equivalent to a sleep of matter. Death was brought into the world as a punishment of and a cleansing from sin. But for sin, death would not have existed; Adam and his children would have been transformed into spirits" in the natural course of their evolution. The angel tells Adam:

And from these corporal nutriments, perhaps,
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
Improv'd by tract of time; and wing'd ascend
Ethereal, as we; or may, at choice,

Here or in heav'nly Paradises, dwell;

If ye be found obedient.27

The body is destined to become spirit; that is, a substance similar to matter but more subtle, more lasting and better. Pure spirit exists no more for Milton than 27 P. L., V, 496-501.

26 Ibid., IV, 193.

"soul." A spirit is a being superior to man in its higher faculties, but essentially made of a more subtle body than man's. It seems evident that in Milton's mind, God himself the manifest God, that is, the Creating Sonis a spirit of this kind, so that all he had to do was to "retire" his higher faculties from a part of that substance of his to create matter, made up of his lower faculties, with latent possibilities left of the higher ones. This conception of "spirit" is best illustrated by the passage on love among the angels:

To whom the angel, with a smile that glowed
Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue,

Answered, Let it suffice thee that thou know'st
Us happy, and without love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy'st
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joint or limb, exclusive bars.
Easier than air with air, if spirits embrace
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring; nor restrain'd conveyance need

As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.28

Death was then brought into the world by Sin. "The death of the body is to be considered in the light of a punishment for sin." 20 Therefore, in the allegory of the second book of Paradise Lost, Death is born of Sin, and in the tenth book Sin introduces Death into the Earth. Even Nature would have been immortal had not man sinned: "All nature is likewise subject to mortality and a curse on account of man.' That is why when Eve fell,

99 30

28 Ibid., VIII, 618-29. Milton's conception of love might be by many thought as material" as his conception of "spirit" or "soul."

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29 Treatise, IV, 269.

30 Ibid., IV, 260.

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.31

And when Adam yields,

Earth trembled from her entrails, as again

In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan.32

Disorder and death come into the whole of Nature: disorder of inanimate things, death of animate. This is one of the grandest passages in Milton. Death and Sin begin their work:

.. they both betook them several ways,

Both to destroy or unimmortal make

All kinds, and for destruction to mature
Sooner or later.3

Then God gives orders and his ministers change the natural order of things:

The sun

Had first his precept so to move, so shine,
As might affect the earth with cold and heat
Scarce tolerable; and from the north to call
Decrepit winter; from the south to bring
Solstitial summer's heat;

Of seasons to each clime;

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to bring in change

else had the spring

Perpetual smil❜d on earth with vernant flow'rs,
Equal in days and nights, except to those
Beyond the polar circles; to them day
Had unbenighted shone, while the low sun
To recompense his distance, in their sight
Had rounded still th' horizon, and not known
Or east or west; which had forbid the snow
From cold Estotiland; and south as far
Beneath Magellan. . . .

31 P. L., IX, 782-84. 32 Ibid., IX, 1000-01.

33 Ibid., X, 610-13.

. . . Thus began

Outrage from lifeless things; but Discord first
(Daughter of Sin) among th' irrational,

Death introduc'd through fierce antipathy:

Beast now with beast gan war, and fowl with fowl,
And fish with fish; to graze the herb all leaving,
Devour'd each other; nor stood much in awe

Of man, but fled him; or with count'nance grim
Glar'd on him passing.3


But once matter was submitted to the curse, man had to die wholly; he had no soul to survive.

the whole man dies. . . . For . . . what could be more absurd, than that the mind, which is the part principally offending, should escape the threatened death; and that the body alone, to which immortality was equally allotted, before death came into the world by sin, should pay the penalty of sin by undergoing death, though not implicated in the transgression?

It is evident that the saints and believers of old, the patriarchs, prophets and apostles, without exception, held this doctrine.36

the soul (whether we understand by this term the whole human composition, or whether it is to be considered as synonymous with the spirit) is subject to death, natural as well as violent.36

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The... text "the spirit shall return unto God. must be understood with considerable latitude. Euripides .. has, without being aware of it, given a far better interpretation of this passage than the commentators. . . . That is, every constituent part returns at dissolution to its elementary principle. This is confirmed by Ezek. xxxvii. 9: "come from the four winds, O breath"; it is certain therefore that the spirit of man must have previously departed thither from whence it is now summoned to return.37

Thus the soul, like the body

since there is no dif

ference- returns to the elements at death. But "no

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