Page images

Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous fons

being taken from Scripture, far furpaffes in every refpect that of the birds of paffage in Virgil and Taffo; which both poets have joined to that of leaves falling, to reprefent the numerous ghofts crowding on the banks of Styx, and the multitude of devils driven back by Michael to the infernal regions.-The object of the third comparifon is to illuftrate the number of the fallen Angels, when alighted on the firm brimftone; and, like foldiers, forming into bands under their respective leaders. In this fituation, I doubt if he could well have found any thing fo proper to compare them with, as the most numerous multitude of troops which hiftory records ever to have marched out upon any military expedition. But it must be allowed, that the comparing one band of troops to another, where though different in their nature the defcription of them when embodied is fo nearly fimilar, is rather an exemplification than a fimile. Besides, comparing the numerous infernal legions to a circumstance of real undecorated hiftory, is no very lucid or poetick illuftration; and in this refpect I much prefer the reference to the legions of romance and the fabulous ages, ver. 576, &c.


Ver. 353. Rhene or the Danaw,] He might have faid, Rhine or the Danube; but he chose Rhene of the Latin, and Danaw of the German. NEWTON.

He chofe to follow Spenfer, and our elder poets. Rhene is Spenfer's word for the Rhine, Faer. Qu. iv. xi. 21. And Lod. Bryfkett, in the Mourning Mufe of Theftylis, writes Reyne and Danow. Life, in his tranflation of Du Bartas, writes" the Donaw and the Rhine," ed. 1625. p. 129. TODD.

Ibid. when her barbarous fons] They were truly barbarous; for, befides exercifing feveral cruelties, they deftroyed all the monuments of learning and politenefs wherever they came. They were the Goths, and Huns, and Vandals, who over-ran all the Southern provinces of Europe; and croffing the Mediterranean beneath Gibraltar, landed in Africa, and spread themfelves as far as Lybia. "Beneath" Gibraltar, means more South-ward; the North being uppermoft in the globe. NEWTON.


Came like a deluge on the South, and spread Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian fands. Forthwith from every fquadron, and each band, The heads and leaders thither hafte where ftood Their great Commander; Godlike fhapes, and forms

Excelling human; princely Dignities;


And Powers that erft in Heaven fat on thrones ;
Though of their names in heavenly records now
Be no memorial; blotted out and ras'd
By their rebellion from the books of life.
Nor had they yet among the fons of Eve
Got them new names; till, wandering o'er the


earth, Through God's high fufferance for the trial of


Ver. 354. Came like a deluge] Spenfer, defcribing the fame people, has the fame fimilè, Faer. Qu. ii. x. 15, as Dr. Newton has obferved. And Petrarch has the like comparison, Canz. xvi. But we must refer to Isaiah, lix. 19. "When the enemy fhall come in like a flood." Todd.

Pfalm ix. 5, 6.
Their memo-

"I will not blot

Ver. 361. Though of their names &c.] "Thou haft put out their name for ever and ever. rial is perifhed with them." And Rev. iii. 5. his name out of the book of life." GILLIES.

Dr. Newton obferves, that Milton has written books in the plural, as well as records just before; and because the plural agrees better with the idea that he would give of the great number of the Angels. But Mr. Capel Lofft, in his edition of this Book of Paradife Loft in 1792, has admitted into the text the conjecture of Bentley, "the book of life;" which, he says, the ftyle of the facred Epick, and the analogy of Scripture, invincibly fupport. TODD.

By falfities and lies the greatest part

Of mankind they corrupted to forfake
God their Creator, and the 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. Say, Mufe, their names then known; who first, who laft,


Ver. 367. By falfities and lics] That is, as Mr. Upton obferves, by falfe idols, under a corporeal reprefentation belying the true God. The poet plainly alludes to Rom. i. 22. NEWTON.

and the invifible

Ver. 369. Glory of him that made them to transform &c.] Alluding to Rom. i. 23. NEWTON.

Ver. 372. With gay religions full of pomp and gold,] By religions Milton means religious rites, as Cicero ufes the word, when he joins" religiones et ceremonias," De Leg. lib. i. c. 15, and elsewhere. PEARCE.

Thus Milton alfo, in his Hift. of Engl. B. iii. "The Britons were taken up with religions, more than with feats of arms."



Ver. 376. Say, Mufe, their names then known ;] Their new Milton finely confidered, that the names, he was obliged to apply to these evil Angels, carry a bad fignification, and therefore could not be those they had in their state of innocence and glory; he has therefore faid their former names are now loft, rafed from amongst those of their old affociates who retain their purity and happinefs. RICHARDSON.

For the enumeration of the Syrian and Arabian deities, i may be obferved, that Milton has comprifed in one hundred and

Rous'd from the flumber, on that fiery couch,
At their great Emperour's call, as next in worth
Came fingly where he ftood on the bare ftrand,
While the promifcuous croud stood yet aloof. 380
The chief were those, who, from the pit of Hell
Roaming to feek their prey on earth, durft fix
Their feats long after next the feat of God,
Their altars by his altar; Gods ador'd
Among the nations round; and durft abide 385
Jehovah thundering out of Sion, thron'd
Between the Cherubim; yea, often plac'd
Within his fanctuary itself their shrines,
Abominations; and with curfed things
His holy rites and folemn feafts profan'd, 390
And with their darkness durst affront his light.

thirty very beautiful lines, the two learned fyntagmas, which Selden had compofed on that abftrufe fubject. Gibbon, Rom. Emp. vol. i. p. 539, note. 4°. edit. The exordium to this enumeration, "who firft, who laft," is from Homer, Il. v. 703.

Ενθα τίνα πρῶτον, τίνα δ ̓ ὕσαλον.


Ver. 382. Roaming to feck their prey] In allufion to that expreffion in Scripture, the devil "goeth about, like a roaring lion, fecking whom he may devour." CALLANDER.

Ver. 387. Between the Cherubim ;] This relates to the ark being placed between the two golden Cherubim, I. Kings vi. 23. See alfo II. Kings xix. 15. HUME.


yea, often plac'd

Within his fanctuary itself their shrines,

Abominations;] This is complained of by the pro

phet Jeremiah, vii. 30. So we read of Manafleh, II. Kings xxi. 4, 5. See alfo Ezek. vii. 20, and viii. 5, 6. NEWTON.

First, Moloch, horrid king, befmear'd with blood
Of human facrifice, and parents tears;
Though, for the noife of drums and timbrels loud,
Their childrens cries unheard, that pafs'd through


To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshipt in Rabba and her watery plain,
In Argob and in Bafan, to the stream
Of utmoft Arnon; Nor content with fuch
Audacious neighbourhood, the wifeft heart 400
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build


Ver. 392. First, &c.] Firft, after Satan and Beelzebub. Moloch fignifies king, and he is called "horrid king," becaufe of the human facrifices which were made to him. The expreffion, pafs'd through fire," is taken from Leviticus xviii. 21, or II. Kings xxiii. 10. His idol was of brafs, fitting on a throne, and wearing a crown; having the head of a calf, and his arms extended to receive the miferable victims which were to be facrificed; and therefore it is here probably ftyled "his grim idol." He was the god of the Ammonites, I. Kings xi. 7, and was wor- · fhipped in Rabba, their capital city, called the city of waters, II. Sam. xii. 27; and in the neighbouring countries as far as to the river Arnon, the boundary of their country on the fouth. NEWTON.

Dr. Newton fays that Moloch was fuppofed to be the fame as Saturn. But Milton did not fuppofe it, or at leaft did not attend to the fuppofition; as Saturn himself is afterwards mentioned, ver. 519. But Moloch has also been fuppofed to be Mars; with a view to which, Milton feems to have drawn his character in the second book. That the planet Mars was named Moloch by the Egyptians, is mentioned by Beyer in his Additamenta to Selden's Syntag. de Diis Syr. DUNSTER.

Ver. 400.

the wifeft heart

Of Solomon he led &c.] Solomon built a temple

« PreviousContinue »