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Counsell'd ignoble ease, and peaceful sloth,
We overpower? Suppofe he should relent,
Ver. 227. Counsell'd ignoble eafe,] Virgil's "ignobile otium,” Georg. iv. 764. NEWTON.
Ver. 233. and Chaos judge the ftrife:] Between the King of Heaven and Us, not between Fate and Chance, as Dr. Bentley fuppofes. PEARCE.
Ver. 234. The former, vain to hope,] That is, to unthrone the King of Heaven, " argues as vain the latter," that is, to regain our own loft right. NEWTON.
Ver. 245. Ambrofial odours and ambrofial flowers,] Dr. Bentley would read,
"Ambroual odours from ambrofial flowers;"
Our fervile offerings? This must be our task
And he asks, how an altar can breathe flowers, especially when flowers are, as here, diftinguished from odours? But, when the altar is faid to breathe, the meaning is, that it smells of, it throws out the smells of, or, as Milton expreffes it, B. iv. 265, it breathes out the smell of. In this fenfe of the word breathe, an altar may be faid to breathe flowers, and odours too as a diftin&t thing; for, by odours here, Milton means the fmells of gums and sweet spicy fhrubs: See B. viii. 517. Not unlike is what we read in Fairfax's Taffo, c. xviii. ft. 20.
"Flowers and odours fweetly fmilde and fmeld.”
Milton illuftrates himself in Samfon Agon, v. 986.
Ambrofial odours, as Mr. Callander alfo notices, is a phrase from
Ver. 254. Live to ourselves,] Horace, Epift. I. xviii. 107, (6 ut mihi vivam
"Quod fupereft ævi." NEWTON,
preferring Hard liberty before the eafy yoke
Of fervile pomp.] Such is the difdainful obfervation of Prometheus to Mercury, Prom. Vin; v. 974. edit. Schütz.
Hard liberty before the easy yoke
Choose to refide, his glory unobfcur'd,
Τῆς σῆς λατρείας τὴν ἐμὴν δυσπραξίαν,
Σαφῶς ἐπίς ασ ̓, οὐκ ἄν ἀλλάξαιμ ̓ ἐγώ. TODD.
How oft amidst
Thick clouds and dark &c.] Imitated from Pfalm xviii. 11, 13, and from Pfalm xcvii. 2. NEWTON.
Ver. 278. The fenfible of pain.] The fenfe of pain. T fenfible, the adjective used for a fubftantive, HUME.
To peaceful counfels, and the settled state
"Peace is defpair'd,
"For who can think fubmiffion? War then, War,
Open or understood, must be refolv'd."
Ver. 279. To peaceful counfels,] There are fome things wonderfully fine in thefe fpeeches of the infernal Spirits, and in the different arguments fo fuited to their different characters: but they have wandered from the point in debate, as is too common in other affemblies. Satan had declared in B. i. 660.
"Whether of open war, or covert guile,
Which was approved and confirmed by the whole hoft of Angels. And accordingly, at the opening of the council, he proposes for the fubject of their confideration, which way they would make choice of, B. ii. 41.
Moloch fpeaks to the purpose, and declares for open war, v. 51. My fentence is for open war: Of wiles, "More unexpert, I boast not," &c.
But Belial argues alike against war open or conceal'd, v. 187. "War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike
My voice diffuades; for what can force or guile, &c." Mammon carries on the fame arguments, and is for dismissing quite all thoughts of war. So that the queftion is changed in the courfe of the debate, whether through the inattention or intention of the author it is not eafy to fay. NEWTON.
Ver. 282. Of what we are, and where ;] So it is in the first edition; but in the fecond, "Of what we are and were." Tickell reftored the reading of the firft edition, which is the beft as it implies both "our condition, and the place where we are;" while the other merely means "our condition past and prefent." For this reafon Dr. Newton follows the first edition, which Dr. Bentley alfo has followed. TODD.
All thoughts of war: Ye have what I advise. He scarce had finish'd, when such murmur fill'd The affembly, as when hollow rocks retain
Ver. 285. as when hollow rocks retain &c.] Virgil compares the affent, given by the affembly of the Gods to Juno's fpeech, Æn. x. 96. to the rifing wind, which our author affimi lates to its decreasing murmurs:
"Cælicolæ affenfu vario: ceu flamina prima
"Cum deprenfa fremunt fylvis, et cæca volutant "Murmura, venturos nautis prudentia ventos." HUME. The conduct of both poets is equally juft and proper. The intent of Juno's fpeech was to rouse and inflame the affembly of the Gods, and the effect of it is therefore properly compared by Virgil to the rifing wind: but the defign of Mammon's speech is to quiet and compofe the infernal affembly, and the effect of this therefore is as properly compared by Milton to the wind falling after a tempeft. Claudian has a fimile of the fame kind in his defcription of the infernal council, In Rufinum, i. 70.
"" ceu murmurat alti
"Impacata quics pelagi, cum flamine fracto
"Durat adhuc fævítque tumor, dubiúmque per æftum "Laffa recedentes fluitant veftigia venti."
And in other particulars our author feems to have drawn his council of Devils with an eye to Claudian's council of Furies; and the reader may compare Alecto's fpeech with Moloch's, and Mcgara's with Belial's or rather with Beelzebub's. NEWTON.
Milton, in this fimile, did not forget Homer, whom he has exceeded, however, in beauty of defcription, Iliad ii. 144.
Κινήθη δ ̓ ἀγορᾷ, ὡς κύματα μακρὰ θαλάσσης
And, with refpect to his council of Devils, it fhould be remembered, that he had before exhibited, at the age of feventeen, an infernal council and confpiracy in that brilliant proof of his genius, In Quintum Novembris. Phineas Fletcher, in his Locuftæ vel