« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
THE subject proposed. Invocation of the Holy Spirit. The poem opens with John baptizing at the river Jordan. Jesus coming there is baptized; and is attested by the descent of the Holy Ghost, and by a voice from heaven, to be the Son of God. Satan, who is present, upon this immediately flies up into the regions of the air: where, summoning his Infernal Council, he acquaints them with his apprehensions that Jesus is that seed of the woman, destined to destroy all their power, and points out to them the immediate necessity of bringing the matter to proof and of attempting by snares and fraud to counteract and defeat the
person, from whom they have so much to dread. This office he offers himself to undertake, and, his offer being accepted, sets out on his enterprize. In the mean time God, in the assembly of holy angels, declares that he has given up his Son to be tempted by Satan; but foretels that the Tempter shall be completely defeated by him: upon which the angels sing a hymn of triumph. Jesus is led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, while he is meditating on the commencement of his great office of Saviour of mankind. Pursuing his meditations he narrates, in a soliloquy, what divine and philanthropic impulses he had felt from his early youth, and how his mother Mary, on perceiving these dispositions in him, had acquainted him with the circumstances of his birth, and informed him that he was no less a person than the Son of God; to which he adds what his own enquiries and reflections had supplied in confirmation of this great truth, and particularly dwells on the recent attestation of it at the river Jordan. Our Lord passes forty days, fasting, in the wilderness; where the wild beasts become mild and harmless in his presence. Satan now appears under the form of an old peasant; and enters into discourse with our Lord, wondering what could have brought him alone into so dangerous a place, and at the same time professing to recognize him for the person lately acknowledged by John, at the river Jordan, to be the Son of God. Jesus briefly replies. Satan rejoins with a description of the difficulty of supporting life in the wilderness; and entreats Jesus, if he be
really the Son of God, to manifest his divine power, by changing some of the stones into bread. Jesus reproves him, and at the same time tells him that he knows who he is. Satan instantly avows himself, and offers an artful apology for himself and his conduct. Our blessed Lord severely reprimands him, and refutes every part of his justification. Satan, with múch semblance of humility, still endeavours to justify himself; and professing his admiration of Jesus and his regard for virtue, requests to be permitted at a future time to hear more of his conversation; but is answered that this must be as he shall find permission from above. Satan then disappears, and the book closes with a short description of night coming on in the desert. Dunster.
I WHO ere while the happy garden sung,
Milton's Paradise Regained Lost could ever write without has not met with the approba- great effusions of fancy, and extion that it deserves. It has not alted precepts of wisdom. The the harmony of numbers, the basis of Paradise Regained is sublimity of thought, and the narrow; a dialogue without acbeauties of diction, which are in tion can never please like an Paradise Lost. It is composed union of the narrative and drain a lower and less striking
style, matic powers. Had this poem a style suited to the subject. Art- been written not by Milton, but ful sophistry, false reasoning, set by some imitator, it would have off in the most specious manner, claimed and received universal and refuted by the Son of God praise. Johnson. with strong unaffected eloquence, But surely this poem has is the peculiar excellence of this merits far superior to poem.
Satan there defends a sional elegance" and "general bad cause with great skill and instruction;" and indeed that subtlety, as one thoroughly this is really the case is suffiversed in that craft;
ciently implied in the succeeding Qui facere assuerat
sentence of Dr. Johnson's cri. Candida de nigris, et de candenti. tique. bus atra.
That " the basis of Paradise His character is well drawn. Regained is narrow" has been Jortin.
the remark of several of the Of Paradise Regained the ge- critics. See Bentley's note on neral judgment seems now to be Par. Lost, x. 182, who observes right, that it is in many parts upon this work, that Milton “has elegant, and every where in- amplified his scanty materials to structive. It was not to be sup- a surprising dignity; but yet, posed that the writer of Paradise being cramped down by a wrong