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Thou therefore give due audience, and attend.
think that the exhibiting part turbulent ones of angelic war of the history of mankind in in heaven. This contrivance vision, and part in narrative, is of Milton's to introduce into his as if an history-painter should poem so many things posterior put in colours one half of his to the time of action fixed in his subject, and write down the first plan, by a visionary proremaining part of it. If Mil- phetic relation of them, is, it ton's poem flags any where, it must be allowed, common with is in this narration, where in our author, to Virgil and most some places the author has been epic poets since his time; but so attentive to his divinity, that there is one thing to be obhe has neglected his poetry. served singular in our English The narration however rises poet, which is, that whereas very happily on several occa they have all done it princisions, where the subject is ca- pally, if not wholly, to have an pable of poetical ornaments, as opportunity of complimenting particularly in the confusion their own country and friends, which he describes among the he has not the least mention of, the builders of Babel, and in or friendly allusion to, his. The his short sketch of the plagues Reformation of our Church from of Egypt. Addison.
the errors and tyranny of poMr. Addison observes, that if pery, which corruptions he so Milton's poem flags any where, it well describes and pathetically is in this narration ; and to be laments, afforded him occasion sure, if we have an eye only to fair enough, and no doubt his poetic decoration, his remark is not doing it must be imputed to just: but if we view it in an his mind's being so unhappily other light, and consider in how imbittered, at the time of his short a compass he has com writing, against our governprised, and with what strength ment both in Church and State; and clearness he has expressed, so that to the many other misthe various actings of God to chiefs flowing from the grand wards mankind, and the most rebellion we may add this, of sublime and deep truths both its depriving Britain of the best of the Jewish and Christian panegyric it is ever likely to theology, it must excite no less have. Thyer. admiration in the mind of an 16. With some regard to what attentive reader, than the more is just and right] This answers sprightly scenes of love and in to the silver age of the poets, nocence in Eden, or the more the Paradisiacal state is the
Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace,
golden one. That of iron be- fectly indifferent in itself, and gins soon, ver. 24. Richardson. made use of only by way of
24. -till one shall rise &c.] exaggeration : but in this place It is generally agreed, that the the greatest number of interfirst governments in the world preters take it in a bad sense, were patriarchal, by families and in the same manner as when it tribes, and that Nimrod was the is said of the men of Sodom, first who laid the foundations of that they were sinners before the kingly government among man- Lord, Gen. xiii. 13. as also of kind. Our author therefore Er the eldest son of Judah, that (who was no friend to kingly he was wicked in the sight of the government at the best) repre. Lord, Gen. xxxviii. 7. And St. sents him in a very bad light Austin in particular would have as a most wicked and insolent it translated not before the Lord, tyrant, but he has great autho- but against the Lord. Our aurities, both Jewish and Chris- thor, in conformity to this opitian, to justify him for so doing. nion, says, The Scripture says of Nimrod,
Before the Lord, as in despite of Gen. x. 9. that he was a mighty
Heaven, hunter before the Lord: and this
but then takes in the other inour author understands in the
terpretation of Vatablus and worst sense, of hunting men nd not beasts, and men not the same as under the Lord,
others, that before the Lord is beasts shall be his game.
usurping all authority to himseveral commentators under
self next under God, and claimand the Scripture applies the ing it jure divino, as was done
; word to hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and ty Or from Heav'n claming second sovranny. Jer. xvi. 16. Lam. iv.
ranty ; 18. Ezek. xiii. 18, 20. And so claming, so Milton spells the the Jerusalem Targum here ex word in this place, and so he pounds it of a sinful hunting of spells reclame in vi. 791. and so the sons of men. The phrase all of that family should be before the Lord seems to be per- spelt, declame, exclame, proclame,
Of proud ambitious heart, who not content
&c. being derived from the La 40. Marching from Eden totin clamo, and the French cla- wards the west, &c.] Gen. xi. 2.
&c. Anil it came to pass as they And from rebellion shall derive his journeyed from the east, that they
found a plain in the land of for the name Nimrod, though Shinar- And they had brick for more favourable etymologies are
stone, and slime had they for given, yet commonly is derived mortar. And they said, Ğo to, from the Hebrew word marad,
let us build us a city and a tower, which signifies to rebel; and whose top may reach unto hearen, this probably was the principal
and let us make us a nume, lest occasion of those injurious re
we be scattered abroad upon the ports which have prevailed in face of the whole earth. The the world concerning himn.
Hebrew chemar, which we trans
late slime, is what the Greeks Though of rebellion others he accuse.
call asphallus, and the Latins This was added by our author bitumen, a kind of pitch; and probably not without a view to that it abounded very much in his own time, when himself the plain near Babylon, that it and those of his own party swam upon the waters, that were stigmatized as the worst there was a cave and fountain of rebels.
continually emitting it; and that
The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurge
this famous tower at this time, probable that whose lopunto and the no less famous walls of heaven meant, whose top may Babylon afterwards, were built be sacred unto heaven, that is, with this kind of cement, is sacred to the host of heaven; and confirmed by the testimony of that this was the very tower several profane authors. This which Herodotus describes at black bituminous gurge, this Babylon with a chapel at the pitchy pool, the poet calls the top of it. Clio, 181. It is promouth of hell, not strictly speak- bable also that God confounded ing, but by the same sort of not only their languages, but figure by which the ancient still more their idolatrous creed, poets call Tænarus or Avernus rendering the universal combithe jaws and gate of hell, nation of men in this base apo
stasy impracticable and transient. Tænarias etiam fauces, alta ostia
See Graves on the Pentateuch,
part ii. lect. 1. Hutchinson's 43. — they cast-] Consi- Works, i. 28. E. der, devise means, contrive, as in 51. Comes down to see their Par. Lost, iii. 634.
city, &c.] Gen. xi. 5, &c. And
the Lord came down to see the But first he casts to change his city and the lower, which the proper shape. T. Warton. children of men builded &c. The
Scripture speaketh here after 44. —low'r whose top may the manner of men: and thus reach to heaven ;] Milton here the heathen gods are often refollows the translators of the presented as coming down to Bible, who supply the words observe the actions of men,' as may reach, which are not found in the stories of Lycaon, Baucis, in the original: but is is more and Philemon, &c.
Upon their tongues a various spi'rit to rase
53.—a various spi'rit] 2 Chron. riage of Vulcan in waiting, xviii. 22. It is said the Lord Iliad. i. 599. had put a lying spirit in the
Aobssos d' up cropro gidas paragusoo mouth of the prophets; here he puts a various spirit in the mouth Ως ιδον Ηφαιστον δια δωματα τοισοof these builders, a spirit varying the sounds by which they Vulcan with aukward grace his office would express their thoughts plies, one to another, and bringing And unextinguish'd laughter shakes
Pope. consequently confusion, whence the work is so called. Rich- But, as Mr. Thyer adds, it is ardson,
rather too comic for the grave 59. --great laughter was in character of Milton's gods to be heav'n &c.] Dr. Bentley has represented peeping down and made some alterations here, and laughing like a parcel of mere the context considered I know mortals, to see the workmen not whether they are not for puzzled and squabbling about the better;
their work: though there are -great laughter is in heaven such expressions even in ScripAU looking down
ture, Psal. ii. 4. He that sitteth - thus is the building left: in the heavens shall laugh; the but afterwards I find the author Lord shall have them in derision. varying the tense in several See too Psal. xxxvii. 13. lix. 8. places, and speaking of things Prov. i. 26. I also will laugh at future as past, future with re your calamity, I will mock when gard to the time when the an
your fear cometh. gel is speaking, but past with 62. -and the work Confu. regard to the time which he is sion nam'd.] For Babel in Hespeaking of. Great laughter was brew signifies Confusion. Therein heaven &c. And thus Homer fore is the name of it called Babel, represents the gods as laughing because the Lord did there conat the aukward limping car. found the language of all the