Billeder på siden

nature is darkened, that this glorious machine may appear in all its lustre and magnificence.

Why in the east

Darkness e'er day's mid-course, and morning light
More orient in yon western cloud, that draws
O'er the blue firmament a radiant white,
And slow descends, with something heav'nly fraught?
He err'd not, for by this the heav'nly bands
Down from a sky of jasper lighted now
In Paradise, and on a hill made halt,
A glorious apparition.-

I need not observe how properly this author, who always suits his parts to the actors whom he introduces, has employed Michael in the expulsion of our first parents from Paradise. The archangel on this occasion neither appears in his proper shape, nor in that familiar manner with which Raphael, the sociable spirit, entertained the father of mankind before the fall. His person, his port, and behaviour, are suitable to a spirit of the highest rank, and exquisitely described in the following passage:

-Th' archangel soon drew nigh,
Not in his shape celestial, but as man
Clad to meet man; over his lucid arms
A military vest of purple flow'd,
Livelier than Milibaan, or the grain
Of Sarra, worn by kings and heroes old
In time of truce; Iris had dipt the woof.
His starry helm unbuckled, shew'd him prime
In manhood where youth ended; by his side
As in a glist'ring zodiac hung the sword,
Satan's dire dread, and in his hand the spear.
Adam bow'd low; he kingly from his state
Inclined not, but his coming thus declar'd.

Eve's complaint, upon hearing that she was to be removed from the garden of Paradise, is wonderfully beautiful: the sentiments are not only proper to the subject, but have something in them particularly soft and womanish.


Must I thus leave thee, Paradise? thus leave
>> Thee, native soil, these happy walks and shades, 3-1
Fit haunt of godsy where I had hope to spend, is
Quiet, though sad, the respit of that day,


1. That never will in other climate
grow,ut he in supres
My early isitation, and my last 15 i dont 204
Atev'n, which I bred up with tender band, tedog
From the first opening bud, and gave ye names, 111, $
Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or rank
Your tribes, and water from th' ambrosial fount?
Thee lastly, muptial bower, by me adorn'ð 3、"
With what to sight or smell was sweet, from thee
How shall I part, and whither wander down
Into a lower world, to this obscure
And wild? how shall we breathe in other air me.
Less pure, accustom'd to immortal fruits? 142 4.


of 900

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Adam's speech abounds with thoughts which are equally moving, but of a more masculine, and elevated turn, Nothing can be conceived more sublime and poetical than the following passage in


it :




This most afflicts me, that departing hence,
As from his face I shall be hid, depriv'd
His blessed count'nance: here, I could frequent
With worship place by place where he vouchsaf'd
Presence divine, and to my sons relate,
On this mount he appear'd, under this tree
Stood visible, among these pines his voice
I heard, here with him at this fountain talk'd ;
So many grateful altars I would rear


Of grassy turf, and pile up every stone Of lustre from the brook, in memory,oq sdt and p Or monument to ages, and thereon, Offer sweet smelling gums, and fruits, and flowers, flowers In yonder nether world where shall I seek His bright appearances, or foot-steps trace For though I fled him angry, yet recall'da To life prolong'd and promis'd race, I now Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts.A Of glory, and far off his steps adorefab fod maz The angel afterwards leads, Adam to the highest mount of Paradise, and lays before him a whole hemisphere, as a proper stage for those visións which


вод за з

*3## * * #

[ocr errors]

were to be represented on it. I have before observed, how the plan of Milton's poem is in many particulars greater than that of the Iliad or Eneid. Virgil's hero, in the last of these poems, is entertained with a sight of all those who are to descend from him; but though that episode is justly admired as one of the noblest designs in the whole Eneid, every one must allow that this of Milton is of a much higher Adam's vision is not confined to any particular tribe of mankind, but extends to the whole species.


In this great review which Adam takes of all his sons and daughters, the first objects he is presented with exhibit to him the story of Cain and Abel, which is drawn together with much closeness and propriety of expression. That curiosity and natural horror which arise in Adam at the sight of the first dying man, is touched with great beauty.

But have I now seen death? is this the way
I must return to native dust? O sight

Of terror, foul and ugly to behold,
Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!

The second vision sets before him the image of death in a great variety of appearances. The angel, to give him a general idea of those effects which his guilt had brought upon his posterity, places before him a large hospital, or lazer-house, filled with persons lying under all kinds of mortal diseases. How finely has the poet told us that the sick persons languished under lingering and incurable distempers, by an apt and judicious use of such imaginary beings as those I mentioned in my last


Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Despair
Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch;
And over them triumphant Death his dart
Shook, but delay'd to strike, though oft invok'd
With vows, as their chief good, and final hope,

The passion which likewise rises in Adam on this occasion is very natural.



[ocr errors]

Sight so deform what heart of rock could long
Dry-ey'd behold? Adam could not, but wept,
Tho' not of woman born; compassion quell'd
His best of man, and gave him up to tears.,

[ocr errors]

The discourse between the angel and Adam which follows, abounds with noble morals.

As there is nothing more delightful in poetry, than a contrast and opposition of incidents, the author, after this melancholy prospect of death and sickness, raises up a scene of mirth, love, and jollity. The secret pleasure that steals into Adam's heart, as he is intent upon this vision, is imagined with great delicacy. I must not omit the description of the loose female troop, who seduced the sons of God, as they are called in scripture.

For that fair female troop thou saw'st, that seem'd
Of goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay,
Yet empty of all good, wherein consists
Woman's domestic honour and chief praise;
Bred only and completed to the taste
Of lustful appetence, to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye:
To these that sober race of men, whose lives
Religious titled them the sons of God,
Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fame
Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles i
Of these fair atheists.-

The next vision is of a quite contrary nature, and filled with the horrors of war. Adam at the sight of it melts into tears, and breaks out in that passionate speech,

O what are these,

Death's ministers, not men, who thus deal death
Inhumanly to men, and multiply

Ten thousandfold the sin of him who slew

His brother; for of whom such massacre
Make they but of their brethren, men of men?

Milton, to keep up an agreeable variety in his visions, after having raised in the mind of his reader,

[ocr errors]

the several ideas of terror which are conformable to the description of war, passes on to those softer images of triumphs and festivals, in that vision of lewdness and luxury which ushers in the flood.

As it is visible that the poet had his eye upon Ovid's account of the universal deluge, the reader may observe with how much judgment he has avoided every thing that is redundant or puerile in the Latin poet. We do not here see the wolf swimming among the sheep, nor any of those wanton imaginations, which Seneca found fault with, as unbecom

[ocr errors]

ing the great catastrophe of nature. If our poet

has imitated that verse in which Ovid tells us that there was nothing but sea, and that this sea had no shore to it, he has not set the thought in such a light as to incur the censure which critics have passed upon it. The latter part of that verse in Ovid is idle and superfluous, but just and beautiful in Milton.

Jamque mare et tellus nullum discrimen habebant,
Nil nisi pontus erat, deërant quoque littora ponto.

Sea without shore.

-Sea cover'd sea,


In Milton the former part of the description does not forestal the latter. How much more great and solemn on this occasion is that which follows in our English poet,

-And in their palaces,

Where luxury late reign'd, sea-monsters whelp'd
And stabled-

than that in Ovid, where we are told that the seacalves lay in those places where the goats were used to browse! The reader may find several other parallel passages in the Latin and English description of the deluge, wherein our poet has visibly the advantage, The sky's being over-charged with clouds, the de

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »