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The womb of nature and perhaps her grave,
Of neither fea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mix'd
Confus’dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' almighty Maker them ordain

915 His dark materials to create more worlds; Into this wild abyss the wary

Fiend Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while, Pond'ring his voyage; for no narrow frith He had to cross. Nor was his ear less peald 920 With noises loud and ruinous (to compare


tive most, that lasts but for a mo- blunder, Milton is elsewhere guilty ment: but I should think that the of it; we may rather suppose that less firm the dependence is, the he could not but see it, and therefiner image we have of such a state fore that he thought it an allowas that of Chaos is. Pearce. able liberty in writing: for thus in 911. The womb of nature and per. V. 368. he says, haps her grave,] Lucretius,

– what the garden choicest bears V. 260.

To fit and taste Omniparens, eadem rerum com- where fit and taste is usd for fitmune sepulchrum. Thyer.

ting taste; as here food and look'd 917. Into this wild abyss the wary for standing lock d.

Pearce. Fiend

Here is a remarkable transposition Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd of the words, the sense however is

awhile,] Dr. Bentley reads very clear; The wary Fiend stood Look'd from the brink of Hell ard on the brink of Hell, and look'd stood awhile ; and he calls the com- awhile into this wild abyss, pondermon reading an absurd and ridi- ing his voyage. 'Tis observable culous blunder, because into this the poet himself seems to be doing wild abyss relates not to food but what he describes, for the period to look’d, which is the verb at the begins at 910, then he goes not fartheit distance. But if this be a on directly, but lingers, giving an

Great things with small) than when Bellona storms,
With all her battering engins bent to rase
Some capital city'; or less than if this frame
Of Heav'n were falling, and these elements

In mutiny had from her axle torn
The stedfast earth. At last his fail-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league, ,
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides

930 Audacious; but that seat soon failing, meets A vast vacuity: all unawares

Fluttering idea of Chaos before he enters are often applied to the other, and into it. 'Tis very artful! If his flying is compard to sailing, and ftile is somewhat abrupt, after such failing to flying. pondering, it better paints the

Velorum pandimus alas, image he intended to give. Richardson. fays Virgil, Æn. III. 520.

And 921. (to compare

Great things with small)] An expresfion in Virg.Ecl.I.24.parvis com

- volat ille per aera magnum ponere magna.

And what an idea Remigio alarum. doth this give us of the noises of

The same manner of speaking has Chaos, that even those of a city besieged, and of Heaven and Earth prevail'd likewise among the moruining from each other are but dern poets, and in Spenser, as well small in comparison ? And tho as in the passage before us, wings

are liken'd to fails, Fairy Queen, both the fimilitudes are truly ex

B. 1. Cant. 11. St. 10. cellent and sublime, yet how surprisingly doth the latter rise above

His flaggy wings when forth he the former !

did display, 927. — bis fail-broad vans) As

Were like two fails. the air and water are both fuids, the metaphors taken from the one And afterwards, St. 18.


An. I. 300.

Fluttering his pennons vain plumb down he drops
Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour
Down had been falling, had not by ill chance 935
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him

miles aloft : that fury stay'd, Quench'd in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea,

939 Nor good dry land: nigh founder'd on he fares,

Treading he cutting way

Half Aying, and half footing in With his broad fails, about him his haste. soared round.

Our author seems to have borrow'd 933: - pennons] This word is several images from the old dragon vulgarly spelt pinions, and so Dr. describ’d by Spenser. Bentley has printed it: but the author spells it pennons after the La 942.

behoves him now both The reader will ob- oar and fail.] It behoveth him now serve the beauty of the numbers to use both his oars and his fails, here without our pointing it out as galleys do; according to the to him.

proverb Remis velisque, with might

and main. Hume. 935 had not by ill chance] An ill chance for mankind, that 943. As when a gryphon &c.] Sahe was thus speeded on his journey tan half on foot, half flying, in so far. Pearce.

quest of the new world, is here 938. — that fury fay'd, &c. ] compar'd to a gryphon with winged That fiery rebuff cealed, quenched course

. both flying and running in and put out by a soft quicksand : pursuit of the Arimaspian who had Syrtis is explain’d by neither sea nor ito?’n his gold. Gryphons are fagood dry land, exactly agreeing with bulous creatures, in the upper part Lucan. Phar. IX. 304.

like an eagle, in the lower re

sembling a lion, and are said to Syrtes --- in dubio pelagi terræque guard gold mines. The Arimalreliquit. Hume.

pians were a one-ey'd people of 941. half on foot, Scythia who adornd their hair

Half flying; ] Spenser, Fairy with gold, Lucan. III. 280. Queen, B. 1. Cant. 11. St. 8.

tin penna.

Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half fly’ing ; behoves him now both oar and fail.
As when a gryphon through the wilderness
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth 945
Had from his wakeful custody purloin'd
The guarded gold: So eagerly the Fiend
O’er bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,


Hinc et Sithoniæ gentes, auroque with frequent pauses. There is a ligatas

memorable instance of the roughSubftringens Arimafpe comas. ness of a road admirably describd Herodotus and other authors re- XXIII. 116.

by a single verse in Homer, Iliad. late, that there were continual wars

Ilonne di averle, xatarld, wdbetween the gryphons and Arimaspians about gold, the gryphons

egνα τε, δοχμια τ', ηλθον, guarding it and Arimaspians tak. which Mr. Pope has been oblig'd ing

it whenever they had oppor- to translate paraphrastically to give tunity. See Plin. Nat

. Hift

. Lib. 7. us fome idea of the beauty of the cap. 2. Arimaspi, quos diximus, numbers, and he has made use of uno oculo in fronte media insignes: several monofyllables, as Milton quibus assidue bellum esse circa me- has done. talla cum gryphis, ferarum volucri genere, quale vulgo traditur,

O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags,

o'er rocks they go; eruente ex cuniculis aurum, mira cupiditate et feris cuftodientibus, et Jumping, high o'er the shrubs of Arimafpis rapientibus, multi, fed

the rough ground, maximè illuftres Herodotus et Ari

Rattle the clatt'ring cars, and the

fhockt axles bound. fteas Proconnesius scribunt.

948. O'er bog, or fteep, &c.] And as Mr. Thyer adds, So also Dr. Bentley's reading is not amiss Spenser in the same manner repreO'er bog, o'er fleep, &c. The diffi- sents the diftrefs of his Redcrosse culty of Satan's voyage is very Knight in his encounter with the well express’d by so many mono- old dragon, Fairy Queen, B. 1. syllables as follow, which cannot Cant. 11. St. 28. be pronounced but slowly, and


With head, hands, wings, or feet pursues his

way, And swims, or finks, or wades, or creeps, or flies: At length a universal hubbub wild

951 Of stunning sounds and voices all confus’d, Borne through the hollow dark, asfaults his ear With loudest vehemence: thither he plies, Undaunted to meet there whatever Power

955 Or Spirit of the nethermost abyss

Might Faint, weary, fore, embroiled, there was no occasion for Dr. Bentgrieved, brent,

ley to read here this vast unknown With heat, toil, wounds, arms, aby/s, instead of the nethermost abyss, smart, and inward fire. nor in ver. 969. regnant o'er this

vast abyss instead of of this nether956.

- the nethermost abyss ] most abyss. Pearce. Dr. Bentley rejects nethermost here, 962. Sat sable-vested Night, ] and again in ver. 969, and charges Clothed in her fable furs; a jable is Milton's blindness as the cause of a creature whose skin is of the his forgetting himself here and be greater price, the blacker it is. ing inconsistent. But it is the Doctor Men LTETO de Nue.

Euri. that mistakes, and not the Poet : pides,

Hume. for tho' the throne of Chaos was Milton here and in what follows above Hell, and consequently a seems to have had in his view Spenpart of the abyss was so, yet a part ser's fine description of Night, of that abyss was at the same time which is very much in the taste of far below Hell; so far below, as this allegory of Milton's.

See that, when Satan went from Hell Fairy Queen, B. 1. Cant. 5. on his voyage, he fell in that abyss

Where grisly Night, &c, 10000 fathom deep, ver. 934. and the poet there adds, that if it had 964. Orcus and Adis,] Orcus is not been for an accident, he had generally by the poets taken for been falling down there to this Pluto, as Ades for any dark place. hour :

: nay it was so deep as to be These terms are of a very vague illimitable, and where highth is loft. fignification, and employ'd by the Surely then the abyss, confider'd all ancient poets accordingly. Milton together, was nethermost in respect has personiz'd them, and put them of Hell, below which it was so in the court of Chaos. endlesly extended; and therefore

Richardson. 964. — and

St. 20.

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