Page images

We see


“ of Virgil and Tasso are a dif- books, than such as naturally “ fuse, and the book of Job a occurred to a mind so thoroughly “ brief model: or whether the tinctured and seasoned, as his " rules of Aristoile herein are was, with all kinds of learning.

strictly to be kept, or nature Mr. Thyer makes the same ob" to be followed, which in them servation, particularly with re“ that know art, and use judg- gard to the Italian poets. From

ment, is no transgression, but the very few allusions, says he, “ an enriching of art.”

to the Italian poets in this poem that he looked upon the book of one may draw, I think, a pretty Job, as a brief model of an epic conclusive argument for the repoem: and the subject of Para- ality of those pointed out in the dise Regained is much the same notes upon Paradise Lost, and as that of the book of Job, shew that they are not, as some a good man triumphing over may imagine, mere accidental temptation: and the greatest part coincidences of great geniuses of it is in dialogue as well as the writing upon similar subjects. book of Job, and abounds with Admitting them to be such only, moral arguments and reflections, no tolerable reason can be aswhich were more natural to that signed why the same should not season of life, and better suited occur in the same manner in Milton's and infirmities than the Paradise Regained: whereas gay florid descriptions. For by upon the other supposition of Mr. Elwood's account, he had their being real, the difference not thought of the Paradise Re- of the two poems in this respect gained, till after he had finished is easily accounted for. It is the Paradise Lost: (see the Life very certain, that Milton formed of Milton :) the first hint of it was his first design of writing an suggested by Elwood, while Mil- epic poem very soon after his ton resided at St. Giles Chalfont return from Italy, if not before, in Buckinghamshire during the and highly probable that he then plague in London; and after- intended it after the Italian wards when Elwood visited him model, as he says, speaking of in London, he shewed him the this design in his Reason of poem finished, so that he was Church-Government, that “he not long in conceiving, or long“ applied himself to that resolu. in writing it: and this is the tion which Ariosto followed reason why in the Paradise Re- “ against the persuasions of Bemgained there are much fewer imi. “bo, to fix all the art and intations of, and allusions to, other dustry he could unite to the authors, than in the Paradise " adorning of his native tongue" Lost. The Paradise Lost he was and again that he was then long in meditating, and had laid meditating “what king or knight in a large stock of materials, “before the Conquest might be which he had collected from all “ chosen in whom to lay the authors ancient and modern: but

pattern of a Christian hero, as in the Paradise Regained he “ Tasso gave to a prince of Italy composed more from memory, “ his choice, whether he would and with no other help from « command him to write of God.

[ocr errors]

“ frey's expedition against the serves Bp. Newton, do the two “ Infidels, or Belisarius against last books of the Iliad.

“ With “the Goths, or Charlemagne “ the fall of our first parents,"

against the Lombards.” This says Dr. Blair, “ Milton's genius would naturally lead him to a seems to decline:” and, though frequent perusal of the choicest he admits the angel's shewing wits of that country; and al- Adam the fate of his posterity to though he dropt his first scheme, be happily imagined, “ the exeand was some considerable time “cution," he adds,“ is languid.” before he executed the present Mr. Addison observes, that though work, yet still the impressions the two last books of the Para. he had first received would be dise Lost were not looked upon fresh in his imagination, and he as the most shining books of the would of course be drawn to poem, they ought not to be conimitate their particular beauties, sidered as unequal parts of it. though he avoided following Perhaps they might be defended them in his general plan. The by other arguments, and justified case was far otherwise when the in a more effectual manner, than Paradise Regained was com- has been done by Mr. Addison; posed. As Mr. Elwood informs but it is certainly fortunate when us, Milton did not so much as the subject and plan of an epic think of it till he was advanced poem are such, that in the conin years, and it is not very likely, clusion it may rise in dignity considering the troubles and in- and sublimity, so as to excite to firmities he had long laboured the very last the attention and under, that his studies had been admiration of the reader. This much employed about that time last book of the Paradise Reamong the sprightly Italians, or gained is one of the finest conindeed any writers of that turn. clusions of a poem that can be Consistent with this supposition produced. The Book of Job, we find it of a quite different which has been supposed to have stamp, and instead of allusions been our author's model, mateto poets either ancient or mo- rially resembles it in this respect, dern, it is full of moral and phi- and is perhaps the only instance losophical reasonings, to which that can be put in competition sort of thoughts an afflicted old with it. It has been remarked, age must have turned our au- that there is not a single simile thor's mind.

in the First Iliad: neither do 639. It has been observed of we meet with one in the three almost all the great Epic poems,

first books of the Paradise Re. that they fall off, and become gained. In the beginning of the languid, in the conclusion. The fourth book the poet introduces six last books of the Æneid, and an Homeric cluster of similies; the twelve last of the Odyssey, which seems to mark an intenare inferior to the preceding tion of bestowing more poetical parts of those poems. In the decoration on the conclusion of Paradise Lost the two last books the

than on the preceding fall short of the majesty and sub- parts of it. They who talk of limity of the rest: and so, ob- our author's genius being on the decline when he wrote his second hero, but has also many posi poem, and who therefore turn tive précepts every where interfrom it, as from a dry prosaic spersed. It is written for the composition, are, I will venture most part in a style admirably to say, no judges of poetry. condensed, and with a studied With a fancy, such as Milton's, reserve of ornament: it is neverit must have been more difficult theless illuminated with beauties to forbear poetic decorations than of the most captivating kind. to furnish them; and a glaring Its leading feature throughout is profusion of ornament would, I that “excellence of composition" conceive, have more decidedly which, as Lord Monboddo justly betrayed the poeta senescens, than observes, so eminently distina want of it. The first book of guished the writings of the anthe Paradise Lost abounds in cients; and in which, of all mosimilies, and is, in other respects, dern authors, Milton most reas elevated and sublime as any sembles them. We may justly in the whole poem. But here apply to the whole poem an obthe poet's plan was totally dif- servation respecting our author ferent. Though it may be said from the pen of Mr. Headley, of the Paradise Regained, as (Biographical Sketches, prefixed Longinus has said of the Odyssey, to Headley's Select Beauties of that it is the Epilogue of the pre- Ancient English Poetry. Art. F. ceding poem, still the design and Quarles.) “ To mix the waters conduct of it is as different, as 6 of Jordan and Helicon in the that of the Georgics from the same cup was reserved for the Æneid. The Paradise Regained " hand of Milton; and for him, has something of the didactic “ and him only, to find the bays character; it teaches not merely of Mount Olivet equally verby the general moral, and by - dant with those of Parnassus.” the character and conduct of its Dunster.






Τραγωδια μιμησις πραξιως σπουδαιας, &c.

Aristot. Poet. cap. 6. Tragedia est imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per misericordiam

et metum perficiens talium affectuum lustrationem.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »