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Thou Spi'rit who ledd'st this glorious eremite Into the desert, his victorious field, Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence 10 By proof th' undoubted Son of God, inspire, As thou art wont, my prompted song else mute, And bear through height or depth of nature's bounds With prosp'rous wing full summ'd, to tell of deeds

was only fifteen, Milton bas is eremita, which the French, and His chosen people he did bless

we after them, contract into herIn the wasteful wilderness.

mite, hermit.

11. - inspire, Perhaps he borrowed the expres- As thou art woni, my prompted sion from his favourite Spenser,

song else mute.) Faery Queen, b. i. c. i, 32.

See the very fine opening of the Far hence (quoth he) in wasteful wile ninth book of the Paradise Lost, derness

his invocation of Urania at the His dwelling i

beginning of the seventh book, But in this place he had evidently and the notes on Par. Lost, i. 17. Isaich li. 3. in his recollection. ix. 21. Milton's invocations of “ The Lord shall comfort Zion, the Divine Spirit were not merely he will comfort all her waste erordia pro formd. Indeed his places, and he will make her wil. prose works are not without their derness like Eden, and her desert invocations. Dunster. like the gardens of the Lord, 14. With prosp'rous wing full Dunster.

summ'd,] We had the like ex8. Thou Spi'rit who ledd'st this pression in Paradise Lost, vii. glorious eremite] The invocation 421. is properly adılressed to the Holy They summ'd their pensSpirit, not only as the inspirer of and it was noted there that it is every good work, but as the

a term in falconry. A hawk is leader of our Saviour upon this

said to be full summed, when all occasion into the wilderness. For

his feathers are grown, when he it is said, Matt. iv. 1. Then was

wants nothing of the sum of his Jesus led up of the Spirit into feathers, cui nihil de summa penthe wilderness, to be tempted of the

narum deest, as Skinner says. devil. And t'rom the Greek ori.

14. to tell of deeds ginal sgnyeos the desert, and senes- Above heroic,] ins an inhabitant of the desert, is Alluding perhaps in the turn of rightly formed the word eremite,

expression to the first verse of which was used before hy Milton Lucan, in his Paradise Lost, iii. 474, and

Bella per Emathios plusquam civilia by Fairfax in his translation of

campos, Tasso, cant. xi. st. 4. and in

Jusqué datum sceleri canimus. Italian as well as in Latin there



Above heroic, though in secret done,
And unrecorded left through many an age,
Worthy have not remain’d so long unsung.

Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice
More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried
Repentance, and heav'n's kingdom nigh at hand
To all baptiz’d: to his great baptism flock'd
With awe the regions round, and with them came
From Nazareth the son of Joseph deem'd


14. Milton, in the opening of 18. with a voice book ix. of the Par. Lost, notices More awful than the sound of warlike achievements as at that trumpet] time the only subjects of heroic Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, song;

and shew my people their transWars hitherto the only argument

gressions. Isaiah Iviii. 1. Heb. xii. Heroic deem'd

18, 19. Rev. i. 10. iv. 1. Dunster. the better fortitude 19.

cried Of patience and heroic martyrdom Repentance, and heav'n's kingUnsung.

dom nigh at hand Dunster.

To all baptiz’d:] 16. And unrecorded left through I conceive the construction to be many an age,

not that he cried to all baptized Worthy i have not remain'd so repentance, &c. but heaven's kinglong unsung.]

dom nigh at hand to all baptized. Milton bad before noticed Vida's Heaven's kingdom was nigh at Christiad, and had specified the hand to all such as were baptized temptations of Christ as making with John's baptism; they were a material part of the subject. thereby disposed and prepared Vida was a native of Cremona; for the reception of the Gospel. of which he was also elected bi- 19. In those days came John the shop.

Baptist preaching in the wilderHis godlike acts, and his temptations ness of Judea, and saying, Repent fierce,

ye, for the kingdom of heaven is And foriper sufferings otherwhere are

nigh at hand. Matt. iii. 1, 2. found; Loud o'er the rest Cremora's trump

Dunster. doth sound.

21.-to his great baptism flock'd Ode on the Passion, st. 4. With awe the regions round,] Temptations indeed here only Then went out 10 him Jerusalem, mean trials; but of these the and all Judea, and all the region temptation in the wilderness made round about Jordan. Matt. iii. 5. a part. Vida's description of this Dunster. however is very short. Dunster.

To the flood Jordan, came as then obscure,
Unmark’d, unknown ; but him the Baptist soon 25
Descried, divinely warn'd, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have resign'd
To him his heav'nly office, nor was long
His witness unconfirm'd: on him baptiz'd
Heav'n open'd, and in likeness of a dove

The Spi'rit descended, while the Father's voice
From heav'n pronounc'd him his beloved Son.
That heard the Adversary, who roving still

24. To the flood Jordan, came the Holy Ghost descended upon as then obscure,] In Mr. Fenton's him. Matt. iii. 14. I have need and most other editions it is to be baptized of thee, and comest pointed thus,

thou to me? To account for which To the flood Jordan came, as then

we must admit with Milton, that obscure,

another divine revelation was but we have followed the

made to him at this very time,

punctuation of Milton's own edition; signifying that this was the perfor there is very little force in

son, of whom he had had such

notice before. the repetition, and with them came, to the flood Jordan came;

26. divinely warn'd] To combut to say that he came with them prehend the propriety of this word to the flood Jordan, and came as

divinely the reader must have his then obscure, is very good sense, heaven, since the word divinely

eye upon the Latin divinitus, from and worthy of the repetition. 25. —but him the Baptist soon

in our language scarce Descried, divinely warn'd,]

comes up to this meaning. MilJohn the Baptist had notice given

ton uses it in much the same him before, that he might cer

sense in Paradise Lost, viii. 500. tainly know the Messiah by the She heard me thus, and though diHoly Ghost descending and abid

vinely brought. ing upon him. And I knew him

Thyer. not, but he that sent me to baptize

33. -- the Adversary,] Satan, in with water, the same said unto me, Hebrew, signifies the Adversary. Upon whom thou shalt see the Hence Par. Lost, i. 81. Spirit descending and remaining -lo whom the arch-enemy, on him, the same is he which bap

And thence in heaven call'd Satan. tizeth with the Holy Ghost. John

Dunster. i. 33. But it appears from St. 33. -who roving still Matthew, that the Baptist knew About the world,] hiin and acknowledged him, be. And the Lord said unto Satan, fore he was baptized, and before Whence comest thou? Then Satan



About the world, at that assembly fam'd
Would not be last, and with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-struck, th' exalted man, to whom
Such high attest was giv’n, a while survey'd
With wonder, then with envy fraught and rage
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involv’d,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst
With looks aghast and sad he thus bespake.


answered the Lord, and said, From in imitation of Virgil, Æn. iii. going to and fro in the earth, 677. and from walking up and down

Cernimus astantes nequicquam luin it. Job i. 7. Compare i Pet. mine torvo v. 8. Dunster.

Ætneos fratres, cælo capita alta fe41. Within thick clouds &c.]

rentes, Milton in making Satan's resi

Concilium horrendum. dence to be in mid air, within By the word consistory I suppose thick clouds and dark, seems to Milton intends to glance at the have St. Austin in his eye, who meeting of the Pope and Carspeaking of the region of clouds, dinals so named, or perhaps at storms, thunder, &c. says, ad the episcopal tribunal, to all ista caliginosa, id est, ad hunc which sort of courts or assemaerem, tanquam ad carcerem, blies he was an avowed enemy. damnatus est diabolus &c. Enarr. The phrase concilium horrendum in Ps. cxlviii. s. 9. tom. v. p. 1677. Vida makes use of upon a like Edit. Bened. Thyer.

occasion of assembling the inBut Milton, in his Par. Lost, fernal powers. Christ. lib. i. places the Deity also " amidst

Protinus acciri diros ad regia fratres thick clouds and dark.”

Limina, concilium horrendum.
-How oft amidst

And Tasso also in the very same Thick clouds and dark does heaven's

Cant. iv. st. 2. all-ruling Sire Choose to reside, his glory unobscur'd, Che sia comanda il popol suo raccolto And with the majesty of darkness (Concilio horrendo) entro la regia so- • round

glia. Covers his throne !

Thyer. Par. Lost, ii. 263.

Compare Par. Lost, X. 457. taking his idea from the sublime

Forth rush'd in haste the great condescriptions in the Psalms, xviii.

sulting peers 11. xcvii. 2. Dunster.

Rais'd from their dark Divan.

Dunster. 42. A glowny consistory;] This


O ancient powers of air and this wide world, For much more willingly I mention air,


44. O ancient pow'rs of air laying open the motives and and this wide world,] So the general designs of the great anDevil is called in Scripture, the tagonist of his hero. A council, prince of the power of the air, with a debate of equal length to Eph. ii. 2. and evil spirits the that in the second book of the rulers of the darkness of this Par. Lost, would have been toworld, Eph. vi. 12. Satan here tally disproportionate to this summons a council, and opens it brief epic; which, from the naas he did in the Paradise Lost: ture of its subject, already perhaps but here is not that copiousness abounds too much in speeches. and variety which is in the In the second book of this other; here are not different poem, where this infernal counspeeches and sentiments adapted cil is again assembled, a debate to the different characters; it is is introduced, which, though a council without a debate ; short, is very beautiful. Dunster. Satan is the only speaker. And

44. O ancient powers of air, the author, as if conscious of and this wide world, this defect, has artfully endea- (For much more willingly I voured to obviate the objection

mention air, by saying, that their danger This our old conquest, than re-admits no long debate,

member hell, But must with something sudden be Our hated habitation,) well ye oppos'd:

know, &c.] and afterwards

This passage is an eminently -no time was then

striking instance of the fine For long indulgence to their fears or effect of a parenthesis, when ingrief.

troduced into a speech, and conThe true reason is, he found it taining, as Lord Monboddo says, impossible to exceed or equal“matter of weight and pathos." the speeches in his former coun- " The ancients," observes the cil, and therefore has assigned same writer, “ were fond of the the best reason he could for not parenthesis ; and particularly making any in this.

Demosthenes. Milton in this 44. The object of this council, as in other things followed their it should be recollected, is not taste and judgment, thinking he to debate, but merely for Satan could not vary his composition to communicate to his com peers sufficiently, nor sometimes conhis apprehensions of their ap- vey the sense so forcibly as he proaching danger, and to receive could wish, without the use of from them a sort of commission this figure.” (See the Origin to act, in prevention of it, as and Progress of Language, part ii. circumstances might require, and b. iv. 6. and the Dissertation on as he should judge best. This the Composition of the Ancients.) gives the poet an opportunity of Dunster.

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