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ver rited speeches in the Paradise Lost. This may be " given as one proof out of many others, that if the « Paradise Regain'd is inferior, as indeed I think it 66 must be allowed to be, to the Paradise Lost, it can" not justly be imputed, as some would have it, to "any decay of Milton's genius, but to his being
cramped down by a more barren and contracted “
subject."" The description of Athens and its
learning is extremely grand and beautiful. Mil. -66 ton's muse, as was before observed, is too much
cramped down by the argumentative cast of his “ subject, but emerges upon every favourable occa* fion, and, like the sun from under a cloud, bursts * out into the fame bright vein of poetry, which « shines out more frequently, though not more “ strongly, in the Paradise Lost." Tbyer.
“ It may seem a little odd at first, that Milton « should impate the recovery of paradife to this short or scene of our Saviour's life upon earth, and not ra. o ther extend it to his agony, crucifixion, &c.; but 186 the reafon no doubt was, that Paradise Regain'd by · e our Saviour's resisting the temptations of Satan,
might be a better contrast to Paradise Loft by our « first parents too easily yielding to the same feducing « spirit. Befides, he might very probably, and in“ deed very reasonably, be apprehenfive, that a sub"ject fo extensive as well as sublime, might be too “ great a burden for his declining constitution, and
a talk too long for the short term of years he could " then hope for. Even in his Paradise Lot be ex" presses his fears, least he had begun too late, and « lest an age too late, or cold climate, or years, mould “ have damped his intended wing. And surely he had “ much greater cause to dread the fame now, and “ be very cautious of lanching out too far.” Thyer.
• It is hard to say, whether Milton's wrong no« tions in divinity led him to this defective plan, or « his fondness for the plan influenced those notions: “ That is, Whether he indeed fupposed the redemp
tion of mankind (as he here represents it) was pro“ cured by Christ's triumph over the devil in the
* wilderness; or whether he thought, that the scene “ of the desert opposed to that of paradise, and the " action of a temptation withstood to a temptation * fallen under, made Paradise Regain'd a more regu" lar fequel to Paradise Loft: Or, if neither this nor " that, whether it was his being tired out with the “ labour of composing Paradise Lost, made him a“ verfe to another work of length, (and then he " would never be at a loss for fanciful reasons to de. " termine him in the choice of his plan), is very un. " certain. All that we can be fure of is, that the “ plan is a very unhappy one, and defective even in " that narrow view of a fequel ; for it affords the
poet no opportunity of driving the devil back a.
gain to hell from his new conquests in the air. In * the mean time nothing was easier than to have in. “ vented a good one, which thould end with the re* furrection, and comprife these four books, fome“what contracted, in an episode, for which only the “ fubject of them is fit." Warburton. “. All the poems that ever were written, must yield,
even Paradise Loft muft yield to Regain’d in the “ grandeur of its close. Christ stands triumphant on " the pointed eminence. The demon falls with a
mazement and terrour, on this full proof of his be
ing that very Son of God whose thunder forced “ him out of heaven. The bleffed angels receive
new knowledge. They behold a sublime truth e“ ftablished, which was a secret to them at the be
ginning of the temptation; and the great disco
very gives a proper opening to their hymn on the “ victory of Christ, and the defeat of the Tempter." Calton.
“ Samson Agonistes is written in the very spirit of " the ancients, and equals, if not exceeds, any of " the most perfect tragedies which were ever exhibit“ed on the Athenian stage, when Greece was in its
Bishop Atterbury had an intention of getting Mr. Pope to divide the Samson Agonistes into acts and scenes, and of having it acted by the King's scholars
at Westminfter. The Bishop exprefes himself thas in a letter to Mr. Pope. “ I hope you will not ut
terly forget what paffed in the coach about Sam. for Agonistes. I shall not press you as to time ; but “ Tome time or other, I wish you would review, and
polish that piece. If, upon a new perufal of it, “ (which I desire you to make), you think as I do, so that it is written in the very spirit of the ancients ; “ it deferves your care, and is capable of being im
proved, with little trouble, into a perfect model " and standard of tragic poetry ; - always allowing " for its being a story taken out of the Bible, which “ is an objection, that, at this time of day, I know * is not to be got over."
Newton. “ L'Allegro and Il Penferoso are exquisitely beau“ tiful in themselves; but appear much more beauos tiful, when they are considered, as they were writo ten, in contrast to each other. There is a great “ variety of pleasing images in each of them; and it " is remarkable, that the poet represents several of " the fame objects as exciting both mirth and melan
choly, and affecting us differently, according to the s different dispositions and affections of the foul. * This is nature and experience.” Newton.
“ L'Allegro and Il Penseroso are certainly the best * of Milton's productions in rhyme ; for the rhymes " in Lycidas are irregular. But yet we may ob« ferve, that several things are said which would not “ have been said but only for the fake of the rhyme. " Mr. Pope, I have been informed, had remarked so several defects of the fame kind in these two poems; “ and there may be some truth and justness in the “ observation which Dryden has made in the dedica* tion of his Juvenal, that rhyme was not Milton's « talent; he had neither the ease of doing it, nor " the graces of it. But then it must be faid, that “ he had talents for greater things; and there is
more harmony in his blank verfe, than in all the
1 works ;
" works; and it was very natural for a young au" thor preparing a piece for the stage, to propose to “ himself for a pattern the most celebrated master of
English dramatic poetry.” Thyer.
“ Milton has in the Masque more profeffedly imi"* tated the manner of Shakespear in his fairy scenes, " than in any other of his works : And his poem
is “ much the better for it, not only for the beauty,
variety, and novelty of his images, but for a
brighter vein of poetry, and an ease and delicacy " of expression very superior to his natural manner, Warburton.
" In Lycidas there are more antiquated and obso. " lete words, than in any other of Milton's poems :" Which I conceive to be owing partly to his judg
for he might think them more rustic, and “ better adapted to the nature of pastoral poetry ; " and partly to his imitating of Spenser:" Neauton. “ The particular beauties of this charming pasto
ral, Lycidas, are too striking to need much descant"ing upon : But what gives the greatest grace to " the whole, is that natural and agreeable wildness " and irregularity which runs quite through it.; than " which nothing could be better suited to express the
affection which Milton had for his friend, " and the extreme grief he was in for the loss of him.
Grief,, which is eloquent, but not formal.” Thyer. As a detail of all, the encomiums on the several pieces of our author would make a large volume, we thall conclude with presenting to the reader Dr. Newton's last note on the Paradise Lost, which well de: serves a place here.
“The reader” (says he) " probably may have ob). " served, that the two last books of Paradise Lost " fall tkort of the fublimity, and majesty of the rest : " And: so likewise do the two last books of the Iliad; " and for the fame reason, because the subject is of
a different kind from that of the foregoing ones. " The subject of the two last books of the Paradise " Lost is history. rather than poetry.
However, we may still discover the faine great genius; and there
as many ornaments and graces of poetry, as the nature of the subject, and the au" thor's fidelity and strict attachment to the truth of
fcripture-history, and the reduction of so many and o such various events into so narrow a compaís, " would admit. It is the same, ocean, but not at its
highest ride; it is now ebbing and retreating. It
is the same fun, but not in its full blaze of meri. “ dian glory; it now shines with a gentler ray, as it. " is setting. Throughout the whole the author ap
pears to have been a most critical reader, and a moit. * passionate admirer of holy scripture. He is in " debted to fcripture infinitely. more than to Homer • and Virgil, and all other books whatever. Not “ only his principal fable, but all his episodes are " founded upon fcripture. The scripture hath not “ only furnished him with the noblest hints,' raised • his thoughts, and fired his imagination; but hath “ also very much enriched his language, given a cer“ tajn folemnity and majesty to his diction, and fup. “ plied him with many of his choicest, happiest ex
pressions. Let men therefore learn from this in« Itance to reverence those facred writings. If any “ man can pretend to deride or despise them, it must “ be said of him at least, that he has a taste and ge“6 nius the most different from Milton's that can be
imagined. Whoever has any true taste and genius;
modern productions, and the scriptures the best of - all ancient ones.”
“ The Life of the Author” (fays Dr. Newton) " it “ is almoit become a custom to prefix to a new edi: “ tion of his works ; for when we admire the writer,
we are curious also to know something of the man:
And the life of Milton is not barely a history of his “ works, but is so much the more interesting, as he " was more engaged in public affairs than poets u
sually are.” And after telling us that accounts of his life have been wrote by fix different persons, he adds, “ I have not only read and compared these " accounts together, and made the best extracts out