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upon building, he mentions Doric Pillars, Pilasters, Cornice, Freeze, Architrave. When he talks of heavenly bodies, you meet with Ecliptic, and Eccentric, the Trepidation, Stars dropping from the Zenith, Rays culminating from the Equator. To which might be added many instances of the like kind in several other arts and sciences.
I shall in my next papers give an account of the many particular beauties in Milton, which would have been too long to insert under those general heads I have already treated of, and with which I intend to conclude this piece of criticism.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16.
volet hæc sub luce videri, Judicis argutum quæ non formidat acumen.
HOR. Ars Poet. 363
Some choose the clearest light,
I HAVE seen in the works of a modern philosopher, a map of the spots in the sun. My last paper of the faults and blemishes in Milton's Paradise Lost, may be considered as a piece of the same nature. To pursue the allusion: as it is observed, that among the bright parts of the luminous body above-mentioned, there are some which glow more intensely, and dart a stronger light than others; so, notwithstanding I have already shewn Milton's poem to be very beautiful in general, I shall now proceed to take notice of such beauties as appear to be more exquisite than the rest. Milton has proposed the subject of his poem in the following verses.
1 The folio has S instead of L, which, as the editions of 1812 read L is supposed to have been an error of print. ---G.
Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
These lines are perhaps as plain, simple, and unadorned, as any of the whole poem, in which particular the author has conformed himself to the example of Homer, and the precept of Horace.
His invocation to a work which turns in a great measure upon the creation of the world, is very properly made to the muse who inspired Moses in those books from whence ? our author drew his subject, and to the holy spirit who is therein represented as operating after a particular manner in the first production of nature. This whole exordium rises very happily into noble language and sentiment, as I think the transition to the fable is exquisitely beautiful and natural.
The nine-days astonishment, in which the angels lay entranced after their dreadful overthrow, and fall from heaven, before they could recover either the use of thought or speech, is a noble circumstance, and very finely imagined. The division of hell into seas of fire, and into firm ground impregnated with the same furious element, with that particular circumstance of the exclusion of Hope from those infernal n.gions, are instances of the same great and fruitful invention.
a From whence. From, is included in whence, and is, therefore, redundant; but is, sometimes, as here, inserted on account of the rhythm, those -books, --whence, that is, three long syllables coming together would have dragged heavily, if the short syllable from had not intervened. It may peem that he might, in this place, with equal convenience, have said, " from which ;" but he had just before said-work, which--and therefore said,-- from whence-to avoid the monotony.-H.
b Vid. Hesiod.-H.
The thoughts in the first speech and description of Satan, who is one of the principal actors in this poem, are wonderfully proper to give us a full idea of him. His pride, envy, and revenge, obstinacy, despair, and impenitence, are all of them very artfully interwoven. In short, his first speech is a complication of all those passions which discover themselves separately in several other of his speeches in the poem. The whole part of this great enemy of mankind is filled with such incidents as are very apt to raise and terrify the reader's imagination. Of this nature, in the book now before us, is his being the first that awakens out of the general trance, with his posture on the burning lake, his rising from it, and the description of his shield and spear.
Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate,
His pond'rous shield,
To which we may add his call to the faller angels, that lay plunged and stupified in the sea of fire.
He call'd so loud, that all the hollow deep
But there is no single passage in the whole poem worked up to a greater sublimity, than that wherein his person is described in those celebrated lines :
-He, above the rest,
His sentiments are every way answerable to his character, and suitable to a created being of the most exalted and depraved nature. Such is that in which he takes possession of his place of
Hail horrors, hail
Here at least
Amidst those impieties which this enraged spirit utters in other places of the poem, the author has taken care to introduce none that is not big with absurdity, and incapable of shocking a religious reader; his words, as the poet describes them, bearing only a semblance of worth, not substance.” He is likewise with great art described as owning his adversary to be almighty. Whatever perverse interpretation he puts on the justice, mercy,
and other attributes of the Supreme Being, he frequently confesses his omnipotence, that being the perfection he was forced to allow him, and the only consideration which could support his pride under the shame of his defeat.
Nor must I here omit that beautiful circumstance of his bursting out in tears, upon his survey of those innumerable spirits whom he had involved in the same guilt and ruin with himself.
He now prepar'd
The catalogue of evil spirits bas abundance of learning in it, and a very agreeable turn of poetry, which rises in a great measure from its describing the places where they were worshipped, by those beautiful marks of rivers, so frequent among the ancient poets. The author had doubtless in this place Homer's catalogue of ships, and Virgil's list of warriors in his view. The characters of Moloch and Belial prepare the reader's mind for their respective speeches and behaviour in the second and sixth book. The account of Thammuz is finely romantic, and suitable to what we read among the ancients of the worship which was paid to tha idol.
- Thammuz came next behind,