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Every thing that is truly great and astonishing, has a place in it. The whole system of the intellectual world; the chaos, and the creation : heaven, earth, and hell ; enter into the constitution of his poem.

Having in the first and second books represented the infernal world with all its horrors, the thrzad of his fable naturally leads him into the oppofi:e regions of bliss and glory.

If Milton's majesty forsakes him any where, it is in those parts of his poem, where the divine persons are introduced as speakers. One may, I think, observe, that the author proceeds with a kind of fear and trembling, whilit he describes the sentiments of the Almighty. He dares not give his imagination its full play, but chufes to confine himself to such thoughts as are drawn froin the books of the most orthodox divines, and to such expressions as may be inet with in fcripture. The beauties, therefore, which ve are to look for in these speeches, are not of a poetical nature, nor fo proper to fill the mind with sentiments of grandeur, as with thoughts of devoiion. The passions, which they are designed to rise, are a divine love and religious fear. The parii cular beauty of the speeches in the child took, Corfiis in that shortness and perfpicuity of style, in which the poet has couched the greatest mysteries of chritianity, and drawn together, in a regular scheme, the whole dispensation of Providence with respect to man. He has represented all the abstruse doctrines of predestin nation, free-will and grace, as also the great points of incarnation and redemption, which naturally gro: up in a poem that the its of the fall of man, with great energy, of expresiion, and in a clearer and stronger light than I ever met with in any other writer. As these points are dry in themselves to the generality of readers, the concise and clear manner in which he has treated them, is very much to be admired, as is likewise that particular art which he has made use of in the interspersing of all those graces of poetry, which the fubject was capable of receiving

The survey of the whole creation, and of every thing that is transacted in it, is a profpect worthy of omni cience; and as much above that, in which Virgil

has drawn his Jupiter, as the christian idea of the Supreme Being is more rational and sublime than that of the heathens. The particular objects on which he is described to have cast his eye, are represented in the most beautiful and lively inanner.

Now had th’ Almighty Father from above
From the pure empyrean where he sits
High thrond above all height, bent down his eye,
H's own works and their works at once to view.
About hiin all the fanctities of heav'n
Stood thick as ttars, and from his fight receiv'd
Beatitude paft utt'iance : on his right
The radiant image of his glory fat,
His only Son. On earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two
Of niankind, in the happy garden plac'd,
Reaping inmortal fruits of


and love;
Uninterrupted joy, unrival'd love,
In blissful solitude. He then survey'd
Hell and the gulph between, and Satan there
Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side night,
In the dun air sublime; and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosoin'd without firmament;
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future he beholds,

Thus to his only Son foreseeing fpake. Satan's approach to the confines of the creation is finely imaged in the beginning of the speech which immediately follows. The effects of this speech in the blessed spirits, and in the divine person to whom it was addressed, cannot but fill the mind of the reader with a lęcret pleasure and complacency.

Thus while God spake, ambrofial fragrance fill'd
All heav'n, and in the blessed spirits elect
Senfe of new joy ineffable diffus'd.
Beyond compare the Son of God was seen
Most glorious ; in him all his father thone

Subftantially express’d; and in his face
Divine compassion visibly appear'd,
Love without end, and without measure

I need not point out the beauty of that circumstance,
wherein the whole host of angels are represen'ed as
standing nute ; nor shew how proper the occation was,
to produce such a silence in hea The close in this
divine colloquy, with the hymn of angels that follows
upon it, are lo wonderfully beautiful and poetical, that.
I should not forbear inserting the whole passage, if the
bounds of my paper would give nie leave.

No sooner had th' Almighty ceased, but all
The multitude of angels v'ith a fhout
(Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices) uti’ring joy, heav'n run
With jubilee, and loud hofannas fillid

'Th'eternal regions. ; &c. &c.
Satan's walk upon the outside of the universe, which
at a distance appeared to himn of a globular form, but,
upon his nearer approach, looked like an unbound
plain, is natural and noble : as his roaring upon the
frontiers of the creation between that mass of matter,
which was wrought into a world, and that shapeless un-
formed heap of materials, which still lay in chaos and
confusion, itrikes the imagination with something afto-
nishingly great and wild. I have before fpoken of the
limbo of vanity, which the poet places upon this outer-
most surface of the universe, and shall here explain my-
felf more at large on that, and other parts of the poell),
which are of the same shadowy nature.

Aristotle obseryes, that the fable of an epic poem should abound in circunstances that are both credible and astonishing; or as the French critics' choose to phrase it, the fable should be filled with the probable and the marvellous, · This rule is as fine and juit as any in Arilto:le's whole art of poetry.

If the fable is only probable, it differs nothing from
a true hiitory ; if it is only marvellous, it is no better
than a romance.


secret therefore of heroic poetry is to relate luch circumitances as may produce in the reader at the same tiine both belief and aftonilhment. This is brought to pass in a well cholen falle, by the account of such things as have really happened, or at leat of such things as have happened according to the received opinions of mankind." Milton's fable is a master-piece of this nature ; as the war in heaven, the condition of the fallen angels, the state of innocence, the toptation of the serpent, and the fall of man, though they are very astonishing in themselves, are not only credible, but actual points of fash.

The next method of reconciling niracles with credibility, is by a happy invention of the poet; as in particular, when he introduces agents of a superior nature, who are capable of effecting what is wonderful, and vihat is not to be met with in the ordinary course of things. Ulyfles's ship being turned into a rock, and Eneas's fleet into a shoal of water-nymphs, though they are very surprising accidents, are nevertheless probable when we are told that they were the gods who chus transformed them. It is this kind of machinery which fills the poeins both of Homer and Virgil with such circumstances as are wonderful but not imposible, and fo frequently produce in the reader the most pleasing passion that can rise in the mind of man, which is admiration. If there be any instance in the Æneid liable to exception upon this account, it is in the beginning of the third book, where Æneas is represented as tearing up the myrtle that dropped blood. To qualify this wonderful circumstance, Polydorus tells a ftory from the foot of the myrtle, that the barbarous inhabitants of the country having pierced him with spears and arrows, the wood which was left in his body took root in his wounds, and gave birth to that bleeding tree, . This circumstance seems to have the marvellous without the probable, because it is represented as proceeding from natural causes, without the inter position of any god, or other supernatural power capable of producing it.

The (pears and arrows grow of themselves without so much as the modern lielp of inchantinent. If we lcok into the fiction of Milton's fable, though we find it full of surprising incidents, they are generally suited to our notions of the things and persons described, and tempered


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with a due measure of probability. I must only make
an exception to the limbo of vanity, with his episode of
Sin and Death, and some of his imaginary persons in
his chaos. These paffages are a tonishing, but not
credible; the reader cannot so far impose upo: himself
as to see a possibility in them; they are the description
of dreams and fadows, not of things or persons
know that many critics look upon the stories of Circe,
Polypheme, the Sirens, nay the whole Odyssey and Ilia ,
to be allegories; but allowing this to be true, they are
fables, which considering the opinions of mankind that
prevailed in the age of the poet, might pollibly have
been according to the letter. The persons are such
as might have acted what is ascribed to them, as the
circumstances in which they are represented, might
possibly have been truths and realities. This appearance
of probability is so absolutely requisite in the greater
kinds of poetry, that Aristotle observes the ancient
tragic writers made use of the names of such great men
as had actually lived in the world, though the tragedy
proceeded upon adventures they were never engaged in,
on purpose to make the subject more credible. In a
word, besides the hidden meaning of an epic allegory,
the plain literal sense ought to appear probable. The
story should be such as an ordinary reader may acquies e
in, whatever natural, moral, or political truth may be
discovered in it by nien of greater penetration,

Satan, after having long wandered upon the furface,
or outinost wall of the universe, discovers at last a wide
gap in it, which led into the creation, and is described
as the opening through which the angels pass to and
fro into the lower world, upon their errands lo man-
kind. His fitting upon the brink of this passage and
taking a survey of the whole face of nature that ap-
peared to him new and fresh in all its beauties, with
The fimile illustrating this circumstance, fills the mind of
the reader with as surprising and glorious an idea as
any that arises in the whole poeant. He looks down
into that valt hollow of the universe with the eye,
or, as Milton calls it in his first book, with the ken of
an angel. He surveys all the wonders in this iinmense

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