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Our doom ; which if we can sustain and bear,
With what is punished.”—II. 201—213.
In narrow circuit straitened by a foe,
And Eden were no Eden, thus exposed.”—IX. 322—341.
Into the wood fast by, and, changing shape
Met who to meet him came, his offspring dear.”—X. 333–349. Here what have we? A use, it is true, of certain native mechanisms, so that the syntax is part English ; but these mechanisms aided, and all but supplanted, by Latin constructions. It is not only that Latin phrases and idioms are translated; it is that Milton bends, arranges, and builds up his own uninflected or scarce-inflected English on the system of the Latin syntax. Observe, generally, the fondness for those participial constructions by which the Latins saved conjunctions and connecting particles, and gave their syntax its character of brevity and strength. Such constructions abound even in the
short pieces quoted, both in the form of the case relative and in that of the case absolute. Though the case absolute had survived in native English, one can see that in such instances as " we not endued,” “ that past," " which understood,” it was really the Latin ablative absolute that was in Milton's mind.
Illustrations of the Latinism of Milton's construction and idiom might be endless; but the following may here suffice :
SPECIAL LATINISMS. “ After Eve seduced,” for “ After the seduction of Eve,” is one instance, already quoted, of a well-known special Latinism : Post urbem conditam.” Mr. Abbott produces but one example of this formation from Shakespeare, and that a doubtful one. But it recurs in Milton. Thus:- “ After the Tuscan mariners transformed ” (Com. 48); “Never since created Man (P. L., I. 573); “After summons read” (P. L., I. 798); “After Heaven seen” (P. L., III. 552); “After his charge received” (P. L., V. 248); "From his surmise proved false” (P. L., IX. 333); “At that tasted fruit" (P. L., X. 687); “In punished Man” (P. L., X. 803); “Repenting him of Man depraved” (P. L., XI. 886); “Since first her salutation heard” (P. R., II. 107). With these, as containing substantially the same idiom, may be associated such as the following :
" For me be witness all the host of Heaven
If counsels different, or danger shunned
“ This question asked
“ best witness of thy virtue tried.”—P. L., IX. 317.
" the way found prosperous once
prevented by thy eyes put out."-S. A. 1103.
Among Milton's special Latinisms we are inclined to class a good many of his case-absolute phrases ; for, though the dative absolute was an Anglo-Saxon idiom, and the nominative absolute, as a recollection of it, is frequent in early and Elizabethan English, Milton's case-absolute seems often, as we have said, imagined in the Latin, e.g:
till, the signal given,
“ The Angelic quires,
From hence—no cloud, or, to obstruct the sight,
Earth, and the Garden of God.”—P. L., V. 251–260.
With our own hands his office.”—P. L., X. 1001, 1002.
Once or twice the accusative is used absolutely instead of the nominative: e.g. "us dispossessed” (P. L., VII. 142); "me overthrown” (S. A. 463).
MISCELLANEOUS LATINISMS. -The following (some of them representative of recurring forms) may suggest the wealth of Latinisms, with sometimes a Græcism, scattered through Milton's text : Spare to interpose them oft.”—Sonnet XX.
“Peace is despaired ;
May I express thee unblamed ?”—P. L., III. 2, 3.
" I will clear their senses dark
“to change torment with (for) ease.”—P. L., IV. 892, 893.
All what we affirm, or what deny.”—P. L., V. 105-107.
Eastward among those trees what glorious shape
on all sides to his aid was run
“me higher argument remains.”—P. L., IX. 41-43.
“more wakeful than to drowse."-P. L., XI. 131. The Latinism of Milton's constructions will pursue us through a good deal of what follows; but it is best to throw the farther peculiarities of his syntax that seem most worthy of notice into an independent classification.
ELLIPSES. .“ The Elizabethan authors,” says Mr. Abbott,
"objected to scarcely any ellipsis, provided the deficiency could be easily supplied from the context”; and, as respects Shakespeare, he illustrates the remark through fifteen pages of examples and comments. The ellipses in Milton are perhaps not so numerous as in Shakespeare; but they are frequent and interesting.
Some may be called Ellipses in thought, inasmuch as what is omitted is some idea or link in the meaning which it is taken for granted the reader will supply for himself. An example is P. L., I. 587-589
“ Thus far these beyond
where, if the context is studied, it will be seen that Milton in the phrase “ Thus far,” etc., requires his readers to perform for themselves a sum in proportion with data he has furnished. Another example is Par. Lost, II. 70—73
“ But perhaps
Of what are called mere ellipses of expression, or grammatical ellipses (though, strictly considered, these resolve themselves into ellipses of thought too), there is a great variety of kinds, not a few being really Latinisms.
Omission of the Nominative to a Verb.—This, which is not uncommon in Shakespeare and the other Elizabethans, Mr. Abbott attributes, in them, partly to a lingering sense of Old English verbinflections, partly to the influence of Latin, partly to the rapidity of Elizabethan pronunciation, which slurred such nominatives as I and he. To which of these causes Milton's ellipses of the kind are most generally owing will be best judged from a few examples :
" Or wert thou that just Maid who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O tell me sooth,
And camest (thou] again to visit us once more ?”—D. F. I. 50–52. 6. His trust was with the Eternal to be deemed
Equal in strength, and rather than be less
" and know'st [thou] for whom ?”—P. L., II. 730. “ On whom the great Creator hath bestowed Worlds, and on whom [he] hath all these graces poured.”—P. L., III. 673, 674.
“ then [she] strews.”—P. L., V. 348. “ One Almighty is, from whom All things proceed, and [they] up to him return.”—P. L., V. 469, 470. “ This is my Son beloved : in him [l] am pleased."-P. R., I. 85.
Omission of the Verb “to be.”—This, also Elizabethan, is pretty frequent (sometimes as a Latinism) in Milton, e.g. :
“ Hail, foreign wonder !
“ though my soul [is] more bent
their children's cries (were] unheard."--P. L., I. 394, 395.
“ Is pain to them
“ pretending first
" and gav'st them names,
6. Death as oft accused Of tardy execution, since [it had been] denounced The day of his offence.”—P. L., X. 852–854.
though my pardon [Be] No way assured.”—S. A. 738, 739.
Omission of Antecedent.—Examples of this (generally Latinisms)
- in bulk as large As [those] whom the fables name of monstrous size.”—P. L., I. 196, 197. “ Will envy [him] whom the highest place exposes.”—P. L., II. 27. “ To find (one) who might direct his wandering flight.”—P. L., III. 631.
“ to subdue By force [those) who reason for their law refuse.”—P. L., VI. 40, 41.
“ returning [thither) whence it rolled.”—P. L., VI. 879. “ Sent from [him] whose sovran goodness I adore.”—P. L., VIII. 647.
" and soon found of whom they spake I am [he].”—P. R., I. 262, 263.
Peculiar Miltonic Ellipsis.—It is not safe to give this name to a form of which there may already be registered examples from other authors than Milton; but, as it has struck me first in Milton, and as the Miltonic examples of it are memorable, let the name stand for the present.
The ellipsis may be described as a peculiar omission of the word “of” by which a phrase compounded of an adjective and a substantive is made to do duty as an adjective. The Miltonic examples of it, though memorable, are few. I have noted the following: