Imatges de pÓgina
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425

Not to be overpow'r'd, companions dear,
Found worthy not of liberty alone,
Too mean pretence, but what we more affect,
Honour, dominion, glory, and renown;
Who have sustain'd one day in doubtful fight
(And if one day, why not eternal days ?)
What heaven's Lord had pow'rfullest to send
Against us from about his throne, and judg'd
Sufficient to subdue us to his will,
But proves not so: then fallible, it seems,
Of future we may deem him, though till now
Omniscient thought. True is, less firmly arm’d, 430
Some disadvantage we indur'd and pain,
Till now not known, but known as soon contemn'd;
Since now we find this our empyreal form
Incapable of mortal injury,
Imperishable, and though pierc'd with wound,
Soon closing, and by native vigour heald.
Of evil then so small as easy think
The remedy ; perhaps more valid arms,
Weapons more violent, when next we meet,
May serve to better us, and worse our foes,
Or equal what between us made the odds,
In nature none: if other hidden cause
Left them superior, while we can preserve
Unhurt our minds and understanding sound,

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themselves and annoy their ene So Prometheus ip like manner mies.

comforts and confirms himself 431. and pain,

against Jupiter's threats. Æschyl. Till now not known, but known Prom. Vinct. 932. as soon contemn'd;

T. & av poboljeni, a larut av peegripor ; Since now we find &c.]

Thyer.

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450

Due search and consultation will disclose.

He sat; and in th' assembly next upstood Nisroch, of Principalities the prime; As one he stood escap'd from cruel fight, Sore toil, his riven arms to havoc hewn, And cloudy in aspect thus answ'ring spake. Deliverer from new lords, leader to free Enjoyment of our right as gods; yet hard For gods, and too unequal work we find, Against unequal arms to fight in pain, Against unpain’d, impassive; from which evil Ruin must needs ensue; for what avails Valour or strength, though matchless, quell’d with pain Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hands Of mightiest? Sense of pleasure we may Spare out of life perhaps, and not repine,

460 But live content, which is the calmest life: But pain is perfect misery, the worst Of evils, and excessive, overturns All patience. He who therefore can invent With what more forcible we may offend

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455

well

was.

447. Nisroch,] A god of the Principalities the prime. Assyrians, in whose temple at 462. the worst Nineveh, Sennacherib was killed Of evils,] by his two sons, 2 Kings xix. 37. Nisroch is made to talk agreeand Isaiah xxxvii. 37. It is not ably to the sentiments of Hieroknown who this god Nisroch nymus and those philosophers,

The Seventy call him who maintained that pain was Meserach in Kings, and Nasarach the greatest of evils; there in Isaiah ; Josephus calls him might be a possibility of living Araskes. He must have been a without pleasure, but there was principal idol, being worshipped no living in pain. A notion suitby so great a prince, and at the able enough to a deity of the capital city Nineveh; which may effeminate Assyrians. justify Milton in calling him of

Our yet unwounded enemies, or arm
Ourselves with like defence, to me deserves
No less than for deliverance what we owe.

Whereto with look compos’d Satan replied.
Not uninvented that, which thou aright

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Believ'st so main to our success, I bring.
Which of us who beholds the bright surface
Of this ethereous mould whereon we stand,
This continent of spacious heav'n, adorn'd
With plant, fruit, flow'r ambrosial, gems and gold; 475
Whose eye so superficially surveys
These things, as not to mind from whence they grow
Deep under ground, materials dark and crude,
Of spirituous and fiery spume, till touch'd
With heaven's ray, and temper'd they shoot forth 490
So beauteous, opening to the ambient light?

467. -to me deserves with the accent upon the last No less than for deliverance syllable, and not as it is comwhat we owe.]

monly pronounced, for Milton Nisroch is speaking; he had would hardly use a trochaic foot complimented Satan (ver. 451.) at the end of the verse. Dr. with the title of Deliverer ; here Bentley reads likewise this ethehe ventures to say, that whoever real mould ; and it is true Milton could invent the new engine of commonly uses the word ethereal, war would be equal to him in but that is no reason why he his estimation. Milton has taken may not say likewise ethereous, care that this deliverer should which is nearer the Latin æthealso have this merit, and be reus. The construction of this without a competitor; Satan is sentence is, Which of us who both the one and the other as it beholds &c. so superficially surveys follows immediately. Richardson. these things: but as the nomi472. Which of us who beholds native case which of us is men

the bright surfáce tioned so many lines before the Of this ethereous mould &c.] verb surveys, he throws in anDr. Bentley, for the sake of other nominative case, a better accent, reads súrface

Whosc eye so superficially surveys bright; but surface is to be read &c.

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These in their dark nativity the deep
Shall yield us pregnant with infernal flame;
Which into hollow engines long and round
Thick-ramm'd, at th’ other bore with touch of fire 485
Dilated and infuriate, shall send forth
From far with thund'ring noise among our foes
Such implements of mischief, as shall dash
To pieces, and o’erwhelm whatever stands
Adverse, that they shall fear we have disarm’d

490

482. —the deep] It is com

The bullet flies with such a furious monly useil for hell, but here is

wind,

As though from clouds a bolt of only opposed to surface, ver. 472.

thunder came : and is the same as deep under

And whatever in the way it find ground, ver. 478. which may It burns, it breaks, it tears, and likewise explain the word in spoils the same.

No doubt some fiend of hell or fernal in the next line. Not but

devilish wight infernal flame may mean flame

Devised it to do mankind a spite. like that of hell, hell having been And again, st. 84. frequently mentioned before by the angels, and the idea being

O curst devise found out by some

foul fiend, very well known.

And fram'd below by Belzebub in 484. Which into hollow &c.]

hell gc. Which, that is, the materials, And Spenser has the same ver. 478. These ver. 482. the thought, Faery Queen, b. i. cant, deep shall yield, which into hol- vii. st. 13. low engines rammed, with touch

As when that devilish iron engine of fire shall send forth &c. Hol

wrought low engines, great guns, the first In deepest hell, and fram'd by furies' invention whereof is very pro

skill,

With windy nitre and quick sulphur perly ascribed to the author of

fraught, all evil. And Ariosto has de

And ramm'd with bullet round, orscribed them in the same man

dain'd to kill &c. ner in his Orlando Furioso, cant.

But though the poets have aix. st. 28, or 24 of Harrington's

greed to attribute the invention translation; and attributes the to the devil, from a notion of its invention to the devil.

being so destructive to mankind, Un ferro bugio, fic.

yet many authors have observed, A trunk of iron hollow made within, that since the use of artillery And there he puts powder and pellet there has less slaughter been in.

made in battles than was before, 25. All closed save a little hole behind,

when the engagements were Whereat no sooner taken is the fame, closer, and lasted longer.

501

The Thund'rer of his only dreaded bolt.
Nor long shall be our labour ; yet ere dawn,
Effect shall end our wish. Mean while revive ;
Abandon fear; to strength and counsel join'd
Think nothing hard, much less to be despair’d. 495

He ended, and his words their drooping cheer
Inlighten'd, and their languish'd hope reviv'd.
Th’invention all admir'd, and each, how he
To be th' inventor miss'd; so easy' it seem'd
Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought
Impossible: yet haply of thy race
In future days, if malice should abound,
Some one intent on mischief, or inspir'd
With devilish machination, might devise
Like instrument to plague the sons of men
For sin, on war and mutual slaughter bent.
Forthwith from council to the work they flew;
None arguing stood ; innumerable hands
Were ready ; in a moment up they turn'd
Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath
Th’ originals of nature in their crude
Conception ; sulphurous and nitrous foam
They found, they mingled, and with subtle art,

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510

502. In future days --Some one from the mouth of an angel. intent &c.] This speaking in 507. Forthwith from council to the spirit of prophecy adds great the work they flew ;] This and dignity to poetry. It is in the the two following lines are adsame spirit that Dido makes mirably contrived to express the the imprecation, Virg. Æn. iv. hurry of the angels; and con625.

sist therefore of short periods, Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus without any particles to connect ultor &c.

them. This here very properly comes

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