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tary kind for our conduct in it, so as best to regain that happiness which our first parents had lost, and that further secured to us everlastingly and unchangeably in a blessed eternity. When we thus consider the four different regions, in which the scene of the poem is in fact laid, we can well account for what the critics have said respecting the eleventh and twelfth books falling short of the majesty, sublimity, and beauty of the rest. In censuring the poem in this respect, they in fact wish that what. ever relates to this world, and the state of mankind in it since the fall, had been omitted, and that the scene and descriptions had been confined to the delights of the “happy seat," the sublime horrors of the “dark 80journ," and the divine glories of the empyreal region and the heaven of hearens."
But, Milton, even while “rapt above the pole" he meditated his vast design, was fully aware that he was “standing upon the earth," and writing to the inhabitants of it for their instruction as well as their delight. A poem, however wonderfully pregnant with the delectare, will be want. ing in its most essential part, if it does not close with the monere, or materially involve it. This, I much incline to believe, could not have been done in the present poem, in a more judicious, momentous, dignified, and truly poetical manner, than that of our author.-DUNSTER,
Johnson's criticism, inserted in his “Life of Milton," is so universally known, that I shall not repeat it here : it shows the critic to have been a master of language, and of perspicuity and method of ideas: it has not, however, the sensibility, the grace, and the nice perceptions of Addison : it is analytical and dry. As it does not illustrate any of the abstract positions by cited instances, it requires a philosophical mind to feel its full force: it has wrapped up the praises, which were popularly expressed by Addison, in language adapted to the learned. The truth is, that John. son's head was more the parent of that panegyric than his heart: ho speaks by rule; and by rule he is forced to admire. Rules are vain, to which the beart does not assent. Many of the attractions of Milton's poem are not at all indicated by the general words of Johnson. From Addison's critique, we can learn distinctly its character and colours; we can be taught how to appreciate; and can judge by the examples produced, bow far our own sympathies go with the commentator: we cannot read therefore without being made converte, where the comment is right. It is not only in the grand outline that Milton's mighty excellence lies ; it is in filling up all the parts even to the least minutiæ : the images, the sentiments, the long arguinentative passages, are all admirable, taken separately; they form a double force as essential parts of one large and magnificent whole. The images are of two sorts; inventive and reflective; the first are, of course, of the bighest order.
If our conceptions were confined to wbat reality and experience have impressed upon us, our minds would be parrow, and our faculties without light. The power of inventive imagination approaches to something above humanity: it makes us participant of other worlds and other states of being. Still mere invention is nothing, unless its quality be high and beautiful. Shakspeare's invention was in the most eminent degree rich; but still it was mere human invention. The invention of the character of Satan, and of the good and bad angels, and of the seats of bliss, and of Pandæmonium, and of Chaos and the gates of bell, and of Sin anul Death, and other supernatural agencies, is unquestionably of a far loftier and more astonishing order.
Though the arts of composition, carried one step beyond the point which brings out the thought most clearly and forcibly, do harm rather than good; yet up to this point they are of course great aids; and all these Milton possessed in the utmost perfection : all the strength of language, all its turns, breaks, and varieties, all its flows and harmonies, and all its learned allusions, were his. In Pope there is a monotony and technical mellifluence: in Milton there is strength with harmony, and simplicity with elevation. He is never stilted, never gilded with tinsel: never more cramped than if he were writing in prose : and, while he has all the elevation, he has all the freedom of unshackled language. To render metre during a long poein unfatiguing, there must be an infinite diversity of combinations of sound and position of words, which no Englich bard but Milton has reached. Johnson, assuming that the English heroic line ought to consist of iambics, has tried it by false tests: it ad. mits as many varied feet as Horace's Odes; and so scanned, all Milton's lines are accented right.
If we consider the “ Paradise Lost" with respect to instruction, it is the deepest and the wisest of all the uninspired poems which ever were written: and what poem can be good, which does not satisfy the understanding?
Of almost all other poems it may be said, that they are intended more for delight than instruction; and instruction in poetry will not do with. out delight: yet when to the highest delight is added the most profound instruction, what fame can equal the value of the composition? Such unquestionably is the compound merit of the “ Paradise Lost." It is a duty imperious on him who has an intellect capable of receiving this instruction, not to neglect the cultivation of it: in him who understands the English language, the neglect to study this poem is the neglect of a positive duty: here is to be found in combination what can be learned no where else.
There is a mode of presenting objects to the imagination, which puri. fies, sharpens, and exalts the mind : there may be mere sports of the imagination, which may be innocent, but fruitless. Such is never Milton's produce; he never indulges in mere ornament or display; his light is fire, and nutriment, and guidance: like the dawn of returning day to the vegetation of the earth, which dispels the noxious vapours of night, and pierces the incumbent weight of the air; it withdraws the mantle of diin shadows from common minds, and irradiates then with a shining lamp. As to what are called the figures of poetry, in which Pope deals so much, they are never admitted by the solid and stern richness of Milton.
The generality even of the better classes of poetry is not the food of the mind, but its mere luxury; Milton's is its substance, its life, its essence: he introduces the gravest, the most abstruse, the most learned topics into his poetry; and by a spiritual process, which he only possesses, converts them into the very essence of poetical inspiration. I assert, in defiance of Dryden, that there are no flats in Milton : inequalities there aro; but they are not tats in Dryden's sense of the word. Dryden was a man of vigorous talent, but he was an artist in poetry: if active and powerful talent is genius, then he had genius; otherwise not: a clear perception and vigorous expression is not genius. Dryden had not a creative mind; Milton was all creation : we want new ideas, not old ones better dressed. Dryden thougbt that what was not worked up into a pointed iambic couplet was flat: he valued not the ore; he deemed that the whole merit lay in the use of the tool, and the skill of its application. Milton said, “ I am content to draw the pure golden ore from the mine, and I will not weaken it by over polish."
The merit of Milton was, that he used his gigantic imagination to bring into play his immense knowledge. Heaven, Hell, Chaos, and tho Earth, are stupendous subjects of contemplation: three of them we can nonceive only by the strength of imagination; the fourth is partly exposed to our senses, but can be only dimly and partially viewed except through the same power. Who then shall dare to say, that the genius inost fitted to delineate and illustrate these shadowy and evanescent wonwers, and who has executed this work in a manner exceeding all human hope, has not performed the most instructive, as well as the most delight. ful of tasks? and who shall dare to deny that such a production ought to be made the universal study of the nation which brought it forth?
Before such a performance all technical beauties sink to nothing. The question is,--are the ideas mighty, and just, and authorized; and are they adequately expressed? If this is admitted, then ought not every one to read this poem next to the Bible ? So thought Bishop Newton. But Johnson had the effrontery to assert, that though it may be read as a duty, it can give no pleasure : for this, Newton seems to have pronounced by anticipation the stigma due to him. Is any intellectual delight equal to that, which a high and sensitive mind derives from the perusal of innumerable passages in every book of this inimitable work of poetical fiction ?--The very story never relaxes: it is thick-wove with inci.
closes, when the archangel waves the “flaming brand" over the eastern gate of Paradise; and, on looking back, Adam and Eve saw the "dreadful faces" and "fiery arms” that “throngid" round it! In what other poem is any passage so heart-rending and so terrible as this?-Sir EGERTOX BRYDGES.
In Dante, and even more universally in Tasso, the terror of the sublimity is of the physical kind, and the impression is produced upon the imagination of the reader by the dread fidelity with which the picture is copied from some known or fancied reality: their demons have colossal
and the talons of the monkish demonology of the Middle Ages: Milton's sublimest pictures, on the contrary, have none of this material or earthly horror about them, but are terrible thoughts, grim abstractions, whose lineaments are veiled and undefined, and which are only the more irresistible in the solemn dread they inspire, as they address themselves, so to say, not to the eye, but to the imagination : they are fragments of the primeval dark, passionless, formless, terrible. Speaking of Death, he says,
The other Shape,
Distinguishable, in member, form, or limb: and again, in the same passage, which all the critics have agreed in call. ing one of the most wonderful embodiments of supernatural terror which ever was conceived by poet,
What seem'd his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on. In these and many other passages the poet seems perpetually on the point of giring way to that tendency so natural in the human mind, to describe; but his genius puts a bridle upon the realizing power, and the dread image is left in the awful vagueness of its mystery, becoming, like the veiled Isis, a thousand times more august and terrible from the cloud that shuts it from our eyes. The greatest of all poets, Homer, Æschylus, Shakspeare, not to mention the Hebrew Seriptures, are full of this kind of reti. cence, by which the grandeur of the object is rendered more terrible by the gloom and indefiniteness which surround it.
No language that we could use would be sufficiently strong to express the extent and exactness of this writer's learning; a word which we use in its largest and most comprehensive sense: no species of literature, no language, no book, no art or science seems to have escaped his curiosity, or resisted the combined ardour and patience of his industry. His works may be considered as a vast arsenal of ideas drawn from every region of human speculation, and either themselves the condensed quintessence of knowledge and wisdom, or dressing and adorning the fairest and most majestic conceptions. If Shakspeare's immortal dramas are like the rich vegetation of a primeval paradise, in which all that is sweet, healing, and beautiful springs up uncultured from a virgin soil, the productions of Mil. ton may justly be compared to one of those stately and magnificent gardens so much admired in a former age, in which the perceptible art and regularity rather sets off and adorns nature-a stately solitude perfumed by the breath of all home-born and exotic flowers, with lofty music ever and anon floating through its moonlit solitudes, decorated by the divine forms of antique sculpture-now a Grace, a Cupid, or a Nymph of Phidias; now a Propbet or a Sibyl of Michael Angelo.
In bis delineation of what was perhaps the most difficult portion of his vast picture, the beauty, purity, and innocence of our first parents, he has shown not only a fertility of invention, but a severe and Scriptural purity of taste as surprising as it is rare. His Adam and Eve, without ceasing for a moment to be human, are beings worthy of the Paradise they inhabit.-Suaw. .
Was there ever any thing so delightful as the music of the Paradiso Lost? It is like that of a fine organ: it bas the deepest tones of majesty, with all the softness and elegance of the Dorian flute; variety without end, and never equalled.---COWPER.
Among the victories gained by Milton, one of the most signal is that which he obtained over all the prejudices of Johnson, who was compelled to make a most vigorous, though evidently a reluctant effort, to do justice to the fame and genius of THE GREATEST OF ENGLISH Poets. SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH.
In Milton's mind there were purity and piety absolute : an imagination to which neither the past nor the present were interesting, except as far as they called forth and enlivened the great ideal in which and for which he lived; a keen love of truth, which, after many weary pursuits, found a harbour in a sublime listening to the still voice of his own spirit; and as keen a love of his country, which, after a disappointment still more depressive, expanded and soared into a love of man as a probationer of immortality. These were, these alone could be the conditions under which
ch a work as the Paradise Lost could be conceived and accomplished. By a life-long study, Milton had known
What was of use to know,
Contained of gooul, wise, fair, the perfect shape; and he left the imperishable total, as a bequest to the ages coming, in the PARADISE Lost. --COLERIDGE.
I wish the Paradise Lost were more carefully read and studied than I can see any ground for believing it is, especially those parts which, from the babit of always looking for a story in poetry, are scarcely read at all, --as, for example, Adam's vision of future events, in the 11th and 12th books. No one can rise from a perusal of this immortal poem, without a deep sense of the grandeur and purity of Milton's soul.--COLERIDGE.
No Poet, either ancient or modern, ever charmed me as Milton does; and frequently-pay, alınost daily as I read him, it is always with increased delight. But it would require a tongue like his own to speak his praises. He invigorates our understanding, he purifies our affections, he lifts our hearts to God. His strains have never been equalled on Earth, and can only be excelled in Heaven.- William Peter.
SUBJECTS TO PARADISE LOST.
promoting the angels' re-
Ramiel, fallen Angels...... vi
.......... xi. 4
All pations his sons by faith..
Angel Raphael ...
......... ix. 1187
on the prohibition of the
tree of knowledge............
.. iv. 610
the nightly luminaries......
dream (the subject of Sa-
............. v. 361
&c. over the creatures....... vii. 519
... viii. 332
jects about him, &c., on his
creation .......................... viii. 253
Presence, instationed in
Paradise, &c. ................... viii. 311
on his solitude there......... viii. 357
.... viii. 5:21
ing the temptation (on Sa.
means to resist it, &c.).... ix. 205-384
...... ix. 838
(the first effect of it)... ix. 1011, 1016
fall and nakedness............ ix. 1067
aggressor............... .......... ix. 1132
nates her affected self-suf-