« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
And keep unsteady nature to her law,
In a Prolusion on the same subject, we read much
I shall conclude this digreffion with observing, that Milton's peculiar genius for describing DIVINE things, which shines with fo distinguished a luftre in the Paradise Loft, discovered itself in his most early produce tions. In his juvenile poems we read frequent descriptions of the bliss and splendor of heaven, of the
* Pag. 583. et seq. De Sphær, como
glory of celestial beings, of angelic music, and other abstracted objects, to which the fancy soars,
BEYOND THE VISIBLE DIURNAL SPHERE.
Of this the passages cited above from Lycidas, and Epitaphium Damonis, the Odes on the Nativity, Gircumcision, at a Solemn Music, &c. are convincing testimonies. Even at the age of seventeen, we find, that a disposition to conceive ideas of this kind began to dawn in his imagination.
Donec NITENTES ad FORES Ventum est Olympi, et REGIAM CHRYSTALLINAM, et
STRATUM SMARAGDIS ATRIUM.
But these are the ideas of a mind deeply tinctured with romance-reading ; to which perhaps, and to the puritanical cast of the times, which led to religious subjects, we owe the general argument, and most confessedly, many particular descriptions, of the nobleft effort of modern poetry, the Paradise Loft.
* Cervantes and Milton, who both had studied the same books with pleasure, both express the idea of a prodigious concourse of people by the same simile from Romance. Par. Reg. iii. 336.
Such forces met not, nor fo wide a camp,
The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
But to return to Spenser...... To these must be added some of his ambiguities.
B. i. c. vii. s. xlvi.
Bred in the loathly lakes of Tartary.
The poet should not have used Tartary here for Tartarus, as it might be so easily mistaken for the country of that name. He has committed the same fault in Virgil's Gnat.
Lastly the squalid lakes of TARTARIE.
B. ii. c. X. f. xv.
Did head against them make, and strong MUNIFICence.
By MUNIFICENCE our author fignifies defence, or fortification ; from munio and facio. This is a word
The fairest of her sex, Angelica
Such and so numerous was their cbivalry. Thus Cervantes, D. Quix. b. 2. ch. 2. « For before we are two “ hours in these crois-ways, we shall see armed men more numerous « than those that came to Albracca, to win Angelica the Fair.” Agrican the king of Tartary brings into the field, two millions two hundred thousand men : Sacrapante, the king of Circassia, who comes to the aslistance of Gallaphrone, three hundred and eighty two thousand. It is from Boiardo, Orl. Inam. 1. 10. Perhaps it will be thought, thar Cervantes has here by far exceeded Milton in the propriety of introducing and applying this extravagant fi&tion,
injudiciously injudiciously coined by Spenser, as the fame word in our language signifies quite another thing. Milton perhaps is more blameable for a fault of this kind.
Now had they brought the work, by wondrous art
As the ambiguous term pontifical may be so easily construed into a pun, and may be interpreted popija as well as bridge-making. Besides the quaintness of the expression.
B. iii. c. i. f. xxxvi.
And whilft he bathd with her two crafty spyes
Crafty spyes is here a periphrafis for eyes, but a very inartificial one; as it may so easily be mistaken for two persons whom she employed, with herself, to search, &c.
* Paradise Loft, 10, 313.
NOMMENTATORS of less taste than learn. ling, of less discernment than oftentation, have taken infinite pains to point out, and compare, those passages which their respective authors have imitated from others. This disquisition, if executed with a judicious moderation, and extended no further than to those passages which are distinguished with certain indubitable characters, and internal evidences of transscription or imitation, muft prove an instructive and entertaining research. It tends to regulate our ideas of the peculiar merit of any writer, by shewing what degree of genuine invention he possesses, and how far he has improved the materials of another by his own art and manner of application. In the mean time, it naturally gratifies every reader's inquisitive disposition. But where even the most apparent traces of likeness are found, how feldom can we determine with truth and justice, as the most sensible and ingenious of modern critics has finely proved, that an imitation was intended * ? How commonly in this case, to use the
* See a DiscouRSE OR POLTICAL IMITATION, by Mr. Hurd.