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fined beauties, are all seen in strict harmony with the progressive developement of the plan, all contributing to the necessary uniformity of impression, and all obedient to the control of the poetic mind that created them. That the name of this poem should differ so widely from its argument, and that Paradise should be regained by the temptation in the wilderness alone, I do not know, except from the peculiarity of Milton's religious opinions, how satisfactorily to explain.33 It is supposed that it was written while he was at Chalfont, though not published till five years after. Of the Samson Agonistes it must be observed, that the plot is not skilfully arranged, and that many of the lyrical measures are totally destitute of any intelligible rhythm, but it must ever be considered as one of the noblest dramas in our language. Its moral sentiment, its pathetic feeling, its noble and dignified thoughts, its wise and weighty maxims, its severe religious contemplations, clothed in rich and select language, and adorned with metaphor and figure, give a surprising elevation to the whole. Warburton considered it as a perfect piece, and as an imitation of the ancients, having, as it were, a certain gloominess intermixed with the sublime (the subject not very different, the fall of two heroes by a woman) which shows more serenely in his Paradise Lost. It is creditable to the taste and judgment of Pope that he did not adopt Atterbury's suggestion of reviewing and polishing this piece. Samson would have been twice shorn of his locks, and sunk into a modern son of Israel ; and Pope would have failed on the same ground, where his Master Dryden had fallen before him.
33 See Niceron Mém. des Hommes Ill. tom. X. p. ii. P: 110. It was the doctrine of Peter Lombard, and the old ou mes, that the immediate consequence of Christ's victory over the temptation in the wilderness, was the diminution of the spiritual power, and the previously allowed dominion of Satan on the earth.
To that multiplicity of attainments, and extent of comprehension (says Johnson), that entitled this great author to our veneration, may be added a kind of humble dignity which did not disdain the meanest service in literature. The epic poet, the controvertist, the politician, having already descended to accommodate children with a book of rudiments, now, in the last year of his life, composed a book of logic for the instruction of students in philosophy; and published Artis Logicæ plenior institutio ad Petri Rami Methodom Concinnata. Of this book there was a second edition called for in the following year: it has never been translated, and is the only production of Milton, that I confess I have never had the leisure or the curiosity to read.
In 1673 his Treatise of true Religion, Heresie, Schism, Toleration, and what best means may be used against the growth of Popery,' was published. His principle of toleration is agreement in the sufficiency of scripture: and he extends it to all who profess to derive their opinions from the sacred writings. The Papists, appealing to other testimonies, are not to be tolerated; for though they plead conscience, we have no warrant, he says, to regard conscience, which is not founded on scripture.' He considers a diligent perusal of the Bible as the best preservative against the error of the Popish church, and he warns men of all professions, the countryman, the tradesman, the lawyer, the physician, the statesman, not to excuse themselves by their much business from the studious reading of the Bible. The object of Milton in this treatise was to form a general Protestant union' against the church of Rome, which he calls the common adversary,' not by any compromise of the peculiar tenets of the Protestant sects, but by a liberal, and comprehensive toleration grounded on the principle of making the Bible the rule of faith. • Error, he says, is not heresy, and he determines nothing to be heresy, but a wilful alienation from, or addition to the scriptures. God, he says, will assuredly pardon all sincere inquiries after truth, though mistaken in some points of doctrine; and speaking of the founders, or reviewers of such opinions in past times, he adds, that God having made no man infallible, hath pardoned their involuntary errors. Such, in the closing evening of his life, were the last thoughts of a pious, a learned, and a powerful mind, on a question connected with the preservation of true religion ; a century and a half has closed, since this work was written against the worst of superstitions, and the heaviest of God's judgments, Popery,' and it has lately been republished by a most eminent and learned Prelate, to exhibit the solidity of its arguments, and to prove the unimpeachable piety of the author.
In 1673, the same year in which the abovenamed treatise appeared, Milton reprinted his juvenile poems, with additions, and some few
corrections, accompanied with the Tractate on Education. That his Latin poems were not received with greater applause by the foreign scholars, has always been matter of astonishment to me. If some mistakes in quantity shocked the learning of Salmasius, or offended the taste of Heinsius, 34 we must recollect that they are but few and unimportant, while they are well compensated by a vigour of expression, a beauty of allusion, a fertility of imagery, and a truly poetical conception. Though Milton has formed his taste on the best models, and drawn his language from the purest sources, his poems are not faded transcripts, or slavish imitations .of the ancients.35 I know not where the scholars of the continent could have gone for more beautiful specimens of modern poetry than his First Elegy, and the Address to his Father; and has Lucretius himself ever clothed the bare and meagre form of metaphysical speculations in a robe of greater brilliancy, or adorned it with more dazzling jewels of poetry than in the following lines? who, that reads the argument, could have anticipated the change it underwent as it passed through the poet's mind.
34 T. Warton says that N. Heinsius had no taste in poetry. I differ decidedly from this opinion, from an intimate acquaintance with his works. I affirm that there never was DE IDEA PLATONICA QUEMADMODUM
Dicite, sacrorum præsides nemorum deæ,
a commentator on the Latin poets of finer taste or happier skill. Bentley over and over again calls him elegantissi
Solertissimo ingenio-et critica et poetica laude nobilis.' Burman Pierson (that admirable scholar), Wakefield, and others, bear the strongest testimony to his taste and skill. De Puy, says, 'Heinsius delicatulas veneres, et lepores cum singulari virtute et doctrina conjunxit.' v. Puteani Vitam, p. 140, 4to. His Latin poems are elegant and correct, but very inferior to Milton's in fertility of invention, and poetical feeling.
35 The poets of Great Britain who have excelled in the composition of Latin verse might be thus' arranged: Buchanan, Milton, T. May, Gray; and in the second order, Addison, V. Bourne, and Anstey. Cowley possessed a facility of versification, but his poetry is neither classical in its conception, nor correct in its execution.
Colique fastos, atque ephemeridas deûm,
Natura solers finxit humanum genus,
Seu sempiternus ille siderum comes
Atlante major portitore siderum. In 1674, the last year of his laborious and honourable life, he published his familiar letters in Latin; to which he added some clever and pleasing academical exercises; and his long and splendid list of contributions to literature ended with a translation of the Latin declaration of the Poles in favour of John the Third. Some doubts, however, have been entertained as to this translation having proceeded from the pen of Milton; but as they turn entirely on the internal evidence of the style, they can admit of no perfect solution.36
Milton had long been a sufferer by the gout, which had now, with the advance of age, greatly enfeebled his constitution. Considering that his life was about to close,37 he informed his brother
36 Milton left in MS. a brief History of Moscovia, and of the other less known countries, lying eastward of Russia as far as Cathay, printed in 1688. On his tract concerning the militia, 1642, 4to. unnoticed by the biographers, see Todd's Life, (first ed.) p. 127. In a collection of poems by C. Gil. don, 1692, 12mo, p. 92, is Julii Mazarini Cardinalis epitaphium, auctore Joanne Milton. V. State Poems, i. 56. Mr. Godwin, in his Life of Philips, p. 190, has mentioned a poem attributed to Milton, in State Poems, 1697, in which is— Noah be d-d.'
37 “ He would be very cheerful even in his goute fitts, and sing: He died of the goute struck in, the 9 or 10 November, 1674, as appears by his “Apothecaries' books.''! Aubrey, Lett. iii. 449.