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if the choice only were left us, we should be willing to retreat into the darkness and gloom of Genevan theology. Presumptuous and contrary to reason however as we think the speculations of some among the German divines, yet to these divines in general the study of theology, especially in its branches of the criticism and interpretation of the New Testament, and of ecclesiastical history, has since the middle of the last century been very greatly indebted. Of the contemners of the German theologians we can only ask, if they are ignorant of the names, or have forgotten the country of Michaelis, and Griesbach, and Schleus. ner, to say nothing of the subject of the present biography.

The life of Semler is particularly valuable, as giving a general view of the present state of theological knowledge, and of what has occupi. ed and is occupying the attention of the German divines. It is a sort of chart of what has been lately better explored, or newly discovered in the study of theology. It gives a view of the improvements that have been made in the objects of attention, and in the modes of inquiry; and furnishes us with some statement of the successful results of the investigations which have followed. Of these improvements Semler, as it respects Germany at least, seems to have been in a great degree the. author and patron. No English reader of Michaelis can have forgotten the high respect with which Semler is repeatedly mentioned by bis commentator.

Few theological students, we suppose, can fully estimate their obli. gations to the gentleman to whom we are indebted for the translation of this piece of biography. Of Eichhorn's Introduction to the Old Tesa tament Professor Marsh observes, that it “ has never been translated, and from the difficulties, both of the language and the subjects, cannot be understood by many English readers." The life of Semler is, as we have mentioned, probably by the same author, and some of its subjects must be equally difficult to make intelligible to the English reader. The remainder of this life will be given in our next number. Ed.]

• Marsh's Lectures, P. 1. pr. 60, 61. Amer. ed.

9

LITERARY DEPARTMENT.

ANNOTATIONS ON MILTON'S PARADISE LOST.

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HE practice of adding a commentary even to the poetry of our own language has been known more than a century, and within the last thirty years it has become very common. It is not only one of the most frequent, but, if done in a proper spirit, one of the most pleasant labors of eriticism. Its object, however, should not be to depreciate, but to honor the poet-not to show that he borrowed a thought, or an expression, but that he possessed the feelings as well as the mechanism of his profession, and that he understood and enjoyed the poetry of other ages and nations. Nor is this branch of criticism without its use. No man ever wrote with such a single eye to posterity, that he did not admit into his works many opinions purely personal, and many allusions to passing events and local circumstances. It is the province of the commentator, therefore, to show where the resentment or partiality of the individual triumphed over the inspiration of the poet, and to explain the circumstances under which he wrote, and the events which imparted their hue to his imagination or formed his taste. This is sometimes merely an act of justice; for who after the explanations of Warburton and Warton would search in Pope for the characters of Lady Montague, Lord Halifax, or Addison? At others the knowledge of an event in the author's life, or the discovery of a circumstance in itself trifling, gives a charm to the poetry, which it would not otherwise possess; for what part of the Paradise Lost is

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more frequently read and admired than the introduction to the third book! And is not this because we know Milton was blind? Is the description of Adam less striking, because we suspeet the poet intended to immortalize the fine proportions of his own person or is the sketch of Eve less beautiful, because we imagine it was drawn by the affectionate vanity of a husband? We also owe much to the commentator for col. lecting from other authors the passages which were probably present to the mind of the poet, and thus enabling us to enter more intimately into his character, and in some measure to enjoy his feelings, by knowing the associations which produced them.

If we except Shakspeare, editorial research has probably done more for Milton, than for any other poet in our language. From the richness of his mind, and the uparalleled extent of his learning, which he is continually anxious to exhibit, his poetry is often so obscure, that it cannot be understood by one who is ignorant of the sources from which he drew his imagery and allusions. This difficulty was felt soon after the publication of Paradise Lost, and was probably one of the causes, which so long prevented it from being general

ly read.

The first attempt to elucidate Milton, and persuade the world of his supremacy in English poetry, was made in 1695, by Patrick Hume. In 1711-12 Addison made him the subject of general curiosity, by a critique on the Paradise Lost, which he published in a series of Spectators. During the twenty years which succeeded, Milton seems to have been unnoticed by the learned, and nearly forgotten by all. His great epic was indeed enrolled in the body of English poetry; but it was read by few, and, if we may judge from the mistaken opinions of Addison and Dryden, understood by none. At last Dr. Bentley fondly imagined that he was destined to be the Varius of Milton; but unfortunately for himself, he had no Augustus to control him. Amidst the solitude of his clos. et, and in the indolence of speculation, without advice or discretion, he prepared what he amused himself with calling

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66 Emendations of Paradise Lost.**. But his fantastic conjectures and bold alterations were immediately answered by a multitude of opponents, and the contest was soon ended by the overthrow of the critic. What Bentley lost, Milton gained. The circumstances of the dispute brought him into notice with that class of men, in whose hands are placed the destinies of literature, and made them anxious not only to rescue him from the attacks of Bentley, but to give him that rank in the public estimation, of which accident and political prejudice had defrauded him. And if it had produced no other effect than that of bringing into the list of his defenders and admirers a name so respectable as that of Dr. Pearce, Milton would have gained much. Immediately after Bentley had given the world his emendations, Dr. Pearce publishedt a review of them, which has always been considered a sufficient refutation of the positions Dr. Bentley endeavoured to establish, and of his practices under them. After this followed in rapid succession “ Explanatory notes, by J. Richardson, father and son," 1734 Remarks on Spencer and Milton," by Dr. Jortin, 1734, and “ Remarks on the three first books of Paradise Lost,”? by Mr. Warburton, 1739. By selecting and combining the most valuable parts of all these publications, and adding to them his own remarks and those of his friends, Bishop Newton prepared a variorum edition of Milton in 1740, which has been the standard for text and commentary ever since.

The remarks which follow, together with many others, occurred during the frequent perusal of a copy printed from Tonson's edition of 1711, without notes. On examining Bishop Newton's admirable commentary, a large proportion of the whole was found to have been anticipated and of the remainder a part is now selected.

I.“ His spear, to equal which the tallest pine, * Published in 1732,

+ In 1732. # Perhaps an exception should be made in favour of an edition of all Milton's poetry, lately Published by Dr. Todd; but we have seen only the last volume, containing a Life and an Index verborum,

II.

Hewn on Norwegian hills to be the mast
Of some great ammiral, were but a wand;
He walked with to support uneasy steps

Over the burning marle.” B. 1. l. 292. The hint on which Milton has constructed this splendid passage may be found in Virgil's description of Polypheme's staff: “ Trunca manu pinus regit et vestigia firmat.” Æ. 3. I. 659.

Th' ascending pile Stood fixed her stately height.” B. 1. l. 723. This passage is so obscure and awkward that it is not unreasonable to suspect an error in the text. The pronoun her seems to be supernumerary, and to fill a place much better occupied by a word that could govern the succeeding noun. Would it not therefore be better to read “ in stately height?"

III. “ And wish and struggle as they pass to reach

The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and wo,
All in one moment and so near the brink;

But fate withstands" -B. 2. I. 610. The pause is here with admirable skill thrown after the fourth syllable, and gives the reader a very lively impression of the suddenness of the interruption. The same form of expression and the same artificial pause occur twice in Virgil.

" Nullis ille movetur
Fletibus aut voces ullas tractabilis audit:
Fata obstant-

Æ. 4. 1. 440.
Quam vellent æthere in alto
Nunc et pauperiem et duros perferre labores!
Fas obstat

Æ, 6. l. 438.
IV. O shame to men! devil with devil damn'd

Firm concord holds; men only disagree

Of creatures rational,” &c. B. 2. 1. 498. The whole of this passage bears a striking resemblance to the conclusion of Juvenal's fifteenth satire.

Sed jam serpentum major concordia. Parcit
Cognatis maculis similis fera. Quando leoni

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