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A GENERAL INDE X.
COMPLETE IN TWO VOLUMES.
FROM THE LONDON STBREOTYPE EDITION.
PRINTED BY SAMUEL MARKS, 63 VESEY-STREET.
No. 315.] Saturday, March 1, 1711-12. man) with great energy of expression, and in Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindie nodus
a clearer and stronger light than I ever met Inciderit Hor. Ars Poet. v. 191. with in any other writer. As these points are
dry in themselves to the generality of readers, Never presume to make a gol appear But for a business worthy of a god.- Roscommon.
the concise and clear manner in which he has
treated them is very much to be admired, as is HORACE advises a poet to consider thorough-likewise that particular art which be bas made ly the nature and force of his genius. Milton use of in the interspersing of all those graces seems to have known perfectly well wherein of poetry which the subject was capable of res his strength lay, and has therefore chosen a ceiving. subject entirely conformable to those talents. The survey of the whole creation, and of of which he was master. As his gebius was every thing that is transacted in it, is a proswonderfully turned to the sublime, his subject pect worthy of Oinniscience, and as much is the noblest that could have entered into the above that in which Virgil has drawn his Juthoughts of man. Every thing that is truly piter, as the Christian idea of the Supreme Be. great and astonishing has a place in it. The ing is more rational and sublime than that whole system of the intellectual world; the of the Heathens. The particular objects on chaos, and the creation : heaven, earth, and which lic is described to have cast his eye, hell; enter into the constitution of his poem. are represented in the most beautiful and live
Having in the first and second books re-lly manne presented the infernal world with all its hor
Now had th' Almighty Father from above rors, the thread of his fable naturally leads
(From the pure empyrean where he sits him into the opposite regions of bliss and High thron'd above all height) bent down bis eye, glory.
His own works and their works at once to view.
About hin all the sanctities of heaven If Milton's majesty forsakes him any where,
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd it is in those parts of his poem where the di
Beatitude past utterance. On bus right vine persons are introduced as speakers. One! The radiant image of his glory sat, mav. I think, observe, that the author proceeds His only Son. On earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two with a kind of fear and trembling, whilst he
Of mankind, in the happy garden plac'd describes the sentiments of the Almighty. He
Reaping inimortal fruits of joy and love, dares not give his imagination its full play, but Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love, chooses to confine himself to such thoughts as
In blissful solitude. He then survey'd
Hell and the gulf betweep, and Satan there are drawn from the books of the most ortho
Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side night, dox divines, and to such expressions as may In the dun air sublime; and ready now be met with in scripture. The beauties, there To stoop with wearied wings and willing fert
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd fore, which we are to look for in these speeches,
Firm land imbosom'd without firmament; are pot of a poetical nature, nor so proper to
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air. fill the mind with sentiments of grandeur, as Him God beholding from his prospect high, with thoughts of devotion. The passions which Wherein past, present, future he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spako. they are designed to raise, are a divine love and religious fear. The particular beauty of Satan's approach to the confines of the creathe speeches in the third book, consists in that tion is finely imaged in the beginning of the shortness and perspicuity of style, in which speech which immediately follows. The etthe poet has couched the greatest mysteries of fects of this speech in the blessed spirits, and Christianity, and drawn together, in a regular in the divine person to whom it was addressed, scheme, the whole dispensation of Providence cannot but fill the mind of the reader with a with respect to man. He has represented all secret pleasure and complacency: the abstruse doctrines of predestination, freewill and grace, as also the great points of in
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance filla
All heav'n, and in the blessed spirits elect carnation and redemption, (which naturally!
Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd. grow up in a poem that treats of the fall of Beyond compare the Son of God wasgoen
Most glorious; in him all his Farber shone,
they were the gods who thus transformed them. Substantially express; and in his face
It is this kind of machinery which fills the Divine compassion visibly appeard, Love witbout end, and without measure grace.
poems both of Homer and Virgil with such
circumstances as are wonderful but not imI need not point out the beauty of that possible, and so frequently produce in the reacircumstance, wherein the whole host of angels der the most pleasing passion that can rise in are represented as standing mute; nor show the mind of man, which is admiration. If how proper the occasion was to produce such there be any instance in the neid liable to a silence in heaven. The close of this divine exception upon this account, it is in the begincolloquy, with the hymn of angels that follows ning of the third book, where Æneas is repreupon it, are so wonderfully beautiful and po- sented as tearing up the myrtle that dropped etical, that I should not forbear inserting the blood. To qualify this wonderful circumstance, whole passage, if the bounds of my paper would Polydorus tells a story from the root of the give me leave :
myrtle, that the barbarous inhabitants of the
country having pierced him with spears and No sooner had th' Almighty ceasd, but all
Tarrows, the wood which was left in his body 'The multitude of angels with a shout (Loud us from numbers without nuinber, sweet took root in his wounds, and gave birth to Afroin blest voices) ult'ring joy, heav'n rurg that bleeding tree. This circumstance seems With jubilee, and loud Hosanna fill'd
Ito have the marvellous without the probable Th' eternal regions, &c. &c.
because it is represented as proceeding from Satan's walk upon the outside of the uni- natural causes, without the interposition of verse, which at a distance appeared to him of any god, or other supernatural power capable a globular form, but upon his nearer approach of producing it. The spears and arrows grow looked like an unbounded plain, is natural and of themselves without so much as the modern noble; as his roaming upon the frontiers of help of enchantment. If we look into the ficthe creation, between that mass of matter tion of Milton's fable, thongh we find it full of which was wrought into a world, and that surprising incidents, they are generally suited shapeless unformed heap of materials which to our notions of the things and persons destill lay in chaos and confusion, strikes the scribed, and tempered with a due measure of imagination with something astonishingly great probability. I must only make an exception to and wild. I have before spoken of the Limbo the Limbo of vanity, with his episode of Sin and of Vanity, which the poet places upon this Death, and some of the imaginary persons in outermost surface of the universe, and shall his chaos. These passages are astonishing, but here explain myself more at large on that, and not credible; the reader cannot so far impose other parts of the poem, which are of the same upon himself as to see a possibility in them ; shadowy nature.
they are the description of dreams and shadows Aristotle observes, that the fable of an epic pot of things or persons. I know that many cri. poem should abound in circumstances that tics look upon the stories of Circe, Polypheme, are both credible and astonishing; or, as the the Sirens, nay the whole Odyssey and Iliad, French critics choose to phrase it, the fable to be allegories; but allowing this to be true, should be filled with the probable and the they are tables, which, considering the opi. marvellous. This rule is as fine and just as nions of mankind that prevailed in the age of any in Aristotle's whole Art of Poetry.
the poet, might possibly have been according is the fable is only probable, it differs nothing to the letter. The persons are such as might from a true history; if it is only marvellous, have acted what is ascribed to them, as the it is no better than a romance. The great circumstances in which they are represented secret, therefore, of heroic poetry is to relate might possibly have been truths and realities. such circumstances as may produce in the rea. This appearance of probability is so absolutely der at the same time both belief and astonish- requisite in the greater kinds of poetry, that ment. This is brought to pass in a well chosen Aristotle observes the ancient tragic writers fable, by the account of such things as have made use of the names of such great men as really happened, or at least of such things as had actually lived in the world, though the have happened according to the received opi- tragedy proceeded upon adventures they were pions of mankind. Milton's fable is a master-I never engaged in, on purpose to make the subpiece of this nature; as the war in heaven, the ject more credible. In a word, besides the condition of the fallen angels, the state of in-hidden meaning of an epic allegory, the plain nocence, the temptation of the serpent, and literal sense ought to appear probable. The the fall of man, though they are very astonish- story should be such as an ordinary reader ing in themselves, are not only credible, but may acquiesce in, whatever natural, moral, or actual points of faith.
political truth may be discovered in it by men The next method of reconciling miracles of greater penetration. with credibility, is by a happy invention of the Satan, after having long wandered upon the poet; as in particular, when he introduces surface or outermost wall of the universe, disagents of a superior nature, who are capable covers at last a wide gap in it, which led into of effecting what is wonderful, and what is not the creation, and is described as the opening to be met with in the ordinary course of things. through which the angels pass to and fro into Ulysses's ship being turned into a rock, and the lower world, upon their crrands to manÆneas's fleet into a shoal of water nymphs, kind. His sitting upon the brink of this pasthough they are very surprising accidents, are sage, and taking a survey of the whole face of nevertheless probable when we are told, that nature, that appeared to him new and fresh in all its beauties, with the simile illustrating plaints, this may have reason to hope for a this circumstance, fills the mind of the reader tavourable acceptance; and if time be the with as surprising and glorious an idea as any most irretrievable loss, the regrets which fol. that arises in the whole poem. He looks down low will be thought, I hope, the most justifiainto that vast hollow of the universe with the ble. The regaining of my liberty from a long eye, or (as Milton calls it in his first book) state of indolence and inactivity, and the desire with the ken of an angel. He surveys all the of resisting the farther incroachments of idle wonders in this immense amphitheatre that ness, make me apply to you; and the uneasi. lie between both the poles of heaven, and ness with which I recollect the past years, and takes in at one view the whole round of the the apprehensions with which I expect the fucreation.
ture, soon determined me to it. Idleness is His flight between the several worlds that so general a distemper, that I cannot but ima. shined on every side of him, with the particular gine a speculation on this subject will be of descriptior of the sun, are set forth in all the universal use. There is hardly any one person wantonness of a luxuriant imagination. His without some allay of it; and thousands beshape, speech, and behaviour upon his trans. sides myself spend more time in an idle uncerforming himself into an angel of light, are tainty which to begin first of two affairs, than touched with exquisite beauty. The poet's would have been sufficient to have ended them thonght of directing Satan to the Sun, which, both. The occasion of this seems to be the in the vulgar opinion of mankind, is the most want of some necessary employment, to put conspicuous part of the creation, and the plac- the spirits in motion, and awaken them out of ing in it an angel, is a circumstance very finely their lethargy. If I had less leisure, I should contrived, and the more adjusted to a poetica! have more; for I should then find my time probability, as it was a received doctrine among distinguished into portions, some for business, the most famous philosophers, that every orb and others for the indulging of pleasures; had its intelligence; and as an apostle in sa. but now one face of indolence overspreads the cred writ is said to have seen such an angel in whole, and I have no land-mark to direct inythe sun. In the answer which this angel re- self by. Were one's time a little straitened turns to the disguised evil spirit, there is such by business, like water enclosed in its banks, a becoming majesty as is altogether suitable it would have some determined course ; but to a superior being. The part of it in which unless it be put into some channel it has no he represents himself as present at the creation, current but becomes a deluge without either is very noble in itself, and not only proper use or inotion where it is introduced, but requisite to prepare When Scanderbeg, Prince of Epirus, was the reader for what follows in the seventh dead, the Turks, who had but too often felt book :
the force of his arm in the battles he had won I saw when at his word the formless mass,
from them, imagined that by wearing a piece This world's material mould, came to a heap:
of his bones near their heart, they should be Confusion heard his voice, and wild Uproar
animated with a vigour and force like to that Stood rul'd, stood vast infinitude confin'd; Till at his second bidding Darkness fled,
which inspired bim when living. As I am like Light shone, &c.
to be but of little use whilst i live, I am reIn the following part of the speech he points
solved to do what good I can after my decease; out the earth with such circumstances, that
and have accordingly ordered my bones to be the reader can scarce forbear fancying himself
disposed of in this manner for the good of my employed on the same distant view of it:
countrymen, who are troubled with too exor
bitant a degree of fire. All fox-hunters, upon Look downward on that globe, whose hither side With light from lience, though but reflected, shines;
wearing me, would in a short time be brought That place is earth, the seat of man, that light
to endure their beds in a morning, and perhaps His day, &c.
even quit them with regret at ten. Instead I must not conclude my reflections upon this of hurrying away to tease a poor animal, and third book of Paradise Lost, without taking run away from their own thoughts, a chair or notice of that celebrated complaint of Milton a chariot would be thought the most desirable with which it opens, and which certainly de- means of performing a remove from one place serves all the praises that have been given it: to another. I should be a cure for the unpathough, as I have before hinted, it may rather tural desire of John Trott for dancing, and a be looked upon as an excrescence than as an specific to lessen the inclination Mrs. Fidget essential part of the poem. The same obser-has to motion, and cause her always to give vation might be applied to that beautiful di- her approbation to the present place she is in. gression upon hypocrisy in the same book. L. In fine, no Egyptian mummy was ever half so
useful in physic, as I should be to these feverish No. 316.] Monday, March 3, 1711-12.
constitutions, to repress the violent sallies of
youth, and give each action its proper weight Libertas; quæ sera, tamen respexit inertem.
Virg. Ecl. i. 28.! "I can stifte any violent inclination, and opFreedom, which came at length, though slow to come. pose a torrent of anger, or the solicitations of
Drydeto. revenge, with success. Indolence is a stream 'MR. SPECTATOR,
which flows slowly on, but yet undermines the
ffoundation of every virtue. A vice of a inore If you ever read a letter which is sent with lively nature were a more desirable tyrant than the more pleasure for the reality of its con- this rust of the mind, which gives a tincture