Page images






Reluctance against God and his just yoke
Laid on our necks. Remember with what mild
And gracious temper he both heard, and judged,
Without wrath or reviling: we expected
Immediate dissolution, which we thought
Was meant by death that day; when, lo! to thee
Pains only in child-bearing were foretold,
And bringing forth; soon recompensed with joy,
Fruit of thy womb : on me the curse aslope
Glanced on the ground; with labour I must earn
My bread; what harm ? Idleness had been worse :
My labour will sustain me; and, lest cold
Or heat should injure us, his timely care
Hath, unbesought, provided; and his hands
Clothed us, unworthy, pitying while he judged;
How much more, if we pray him, will his ear
Be open, and his heart to pity incline,
And teach us farther by what means to shun
The inclement seasons, rain, ice, hail and snow!
Which now the sky, with various face, begins
To show us in this mountain ; while the winds
Blow moist and keen, shattering the graceful locks
Of these fair-spreading trees; which bids us seek
Some better shroud, some better warmth to cherish
Our limbs benumb’d, ere this diurnal star
Leave cold the night, how we his gather'd beams
Reflected may with matter sere foment;
Or, by collision of two bodies, grind
The air attrite to fire; as late the clouds
Justling, or push'd with winds, rude in their shock,
Tine the slant lightning; whose thwart flame, driven down,
Kindles the gummy bark of fir or pine,
And sends a comfortable heat from far,
Which might supply the sun : such fire to use,
And what may else be remedy or cure
To evils which our own misdeeds have wrought,
He will instruct us praying, and of grace
Beseeching him ; so as we need not fear
To pass commodiously this life, sustain'd
By him with many comforts, till we end
In dust, our final rest and native home.
What better can we do, than, to the place
Repairing where he judged us, prostrate fall
Before him reverent; and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg; with tears
Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeign'd, and humiliation meek ?
Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn





1090 1095

From his displeasure; in whose look serene,
When angry most he seem'd and most severe,
What else but favour, grace, and mercy shone ?

So spake our father penitent; nor Eve
Felt less remorse : they, forthwith to the place
Repairing where he judged them, prostrate fell
Before him reverent; and both confess'd
Humbly their faults, and pardon begg'd; with tears
Watering the ground, and with their sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeign'd, and humiliation meek.


As Addison's remarks on this book are longer than usual, I am compelled to abridge them.

He remarks, that this tenth book contains a greater number of persons in it than any other in the whole poem; and that here are introduced all who had any concern in the action : these he divides into the celestial, the infernal, the human, and the imaginary persons. The first are very finely laid together in the beginning of this book.

Satan's first appearance in the assembly of fallen angels is worked up with circumstances which give a delightful suspense to the reader; but there is no incident in the whole poem which does this more than the transformation of the whole audience, that follows the account their leader gives them of his expedition. The unexpected hiss, which arises in this episode ; the dimensions and bulk of Satan, with the annual change which the spirits are supposed to undergo, are circumstances very striking. The beauty of the diction too is remarkable in this whole episode. Milton's skill is nowhere more shown than in conducting the parts of Adam and Eve.

The imaginary persons are Sin and Death. This allegory is one of the finest compositions of genius; but Addison deems it not agreeable to the nature of an epic poem. Homer and Virgil, he says, are full of imaginary persons, who are very beautiful when they are shown without being engaged in any series of action : but when such persons are introduced as principal actors, and engaged in a series of adventures, they take too much upon them, and are by no means proper for an heroic poem, which ought to appear credible in its principal parts. “I cannot forbear therefore thinking,” he adds, " that Sin and Death are as improper agents in a work of this nature, as Strength and Necessity in one of the tragedies of Æschylus, who represented those two persons nailing down Prometheus to a rock; for which he has been justly censured by the greatest critics."

[graphic][ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »