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381 (HERAUD (J. A.)] The Descent into Hell, a
Poem (dedicated to Robt. Southey] first edn.,
ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQ. LL.D.
POET LAUREATE, &c. &c.
IN TESTIMONY OF
ESTEEM FOR HIS GENIUS,
AND GRATITUDE FOR HIS FRIENDSHIP,
IS VERY RESPECTFULLY
The subject of this Poem is succinctly included in that article of the Apostles' Creed, adopted into the Articles of the Church of England, which states, that
“ He DESCENDED INTO HELL," on which Bishop Horsley has written so beautiful a sermon.
Authorities for the doctrine are profusely scattered over the Scriptures, for such as are capable of discerning them, especially in the Psalms and the Prophets; but the most explicit testimony occurs in 1 Peter, iï. 18. 21.
Being put to death in the flesh but quick in the spirit, in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, who onewhile had been disobedient, when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a-preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even Baptism, doth also
now save us.'
The reason for Messiah's preaching is given by the same Apostle in the following chapter, verse 6.
“For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
The word “Hell” must be understood, (and rightly,) of the place of separate spirits in general, not of any place of torment in particular.
The time of the Poem embraces the evening and night after the Crucifixion. A dramatic spirit is attempted to be preserved throughout, and each part or act concludes with a choral canto. The measure adopted is the terza-rima of Dante.