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from the position which they occupy. So placed, their plainness is their strength and their spell: ornamented language would have weakened them. Of all styles, the uniformly florid is the most fatiguing.

That Milton could bring so much learning, as well as so much imaginative invention, to bear on every part of his infinitely-extended, yet thick-compacted fable, is truly miraculous. Were the learning superficial and loosely applied, the wonder would not be great, or not nearly so great; but it is always profound, solid, conscientious; and in its combinations original.

Bishop Atterbury has said, in opposition to the general opinion, that che allegory of Sin and Death is one of the finest inventions of the poem. I agree with him most sincerely. The portress of the gates of hell sits there in a character, and with a tremendous figure and attributes, which no imagination less gigantic than Milton's could have drawn. Is it to be objected that Sin and Death are imaginary persons, when all the persons of the poem, except Adam and Eve, are imaginary? Realities, in the strict sense, do not make the most essential parts of poetry.

Sir EGERTON BRYDGES.

The character of Satan is pride and sensual indulgence, finding in self the sole motive of action. It is the character so often seen in little on the political stage. It exhibits all the restlessness, temerity, and cunning, which have marked the mighty hunters of mankind, from Nimrod to Napoleon. The common fascination of men is, that these great men, as they are called, must act from some great motive. Milton bas carefully marked in his Satan the intense selfishness, the alcohol of egotism, which would rather reign in hell than serve in heaven. To place this lust of self in opposition to denial of self, or duty, and to show what

it would make, and what pains endure to accomplish its end, is Milton's particular object in the character of Satan. But around this character he has thrown a singularity of daring, a grandeur of sufferance, and a ruined splendour, which constitute the very height of poetio sublimity.

COLERIDGE.

BOOK II.

THE ARGUMEN T.

The consultation begun, Satan debates whether another battle be to be hazarded for the recovery of heaven: some advise it, others dissuade. A third proposal is preferred, mentioned before by Satan, to search the truth of that prophecy or tradition in heaven concerning another world, and another kind of creature, equal or not much inferiour to themselves, about this time to be created : their doubt who shall be sent on this difficult search: Satan, their chief, undertakes alone the voyage, is honoured and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake tbem several ways, and to several employments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan return. He passes on his journey to hell gates; finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them; by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulf between hell and heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the sight of this new world which he sought.

High on a throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth c Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous east with richest hand
Showers on her kings Barbaric pearl and gold,
Satan exalted sat, by merit raised
To that bad eminence: and, from despair
Thus high uplifted beyond hope, aspires
Beyond thus high; insatiate to pursue
Vain war with heaven, and, by success untaught,
His proud imaginations thus display'd:-

Powers and Dominions, Deities of heaven,
For since no deep within her gulf can hold
Immortal vigor, though oppress'd and fallen,
I give not heaven for lost: from this descent
Celestial virtues rising, will appear
More glorious and more dread than from no fall,
And trust themselves to fear no second fate.
Me though just right and the fix'd laws of heaven
Did first create your leader; next free choice,
With what besides, in council or in fight,
Hath been achieved of merit; yet this loss,
Thus far at least recover'd, hath much more
Establish'd in a safe unenvied throne,

2. The Island of Ormus, in the Persian at the coronation of their kings, to Gulf, was formerly a vast emporium of powder them with gold dust and seedIndian trade, and celebrated for its pearl. The term barbaric is from the wealth and its extended commerce all Greek barbarikos, applied by Herodotus to orer Asia. It was the eastern ceremony, the Persians.-9. Success, i. e. bad success.

Yielded with full consent. The happier state
In heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
Envy from each inferiour; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thunderer's aim,
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
Of endless pain? Where there is then no good
For which to strive, no strife can grow up there
From faction; for none sure will claim in hell
Precedence; none, whose portion is so small
Of present pain, that with ambitious mind
Will covet more. With this advantage then
To union, and firm faith, and firm accord,
More than can be in heaven, we now return
To claim our just inheritance of old;
Surer to prosper than prosperity
Could have assured us: and by what best way,
Whether of open war or covert guile,
We now debate. Who can advise, may speak.

He ceased; and next him Moloch, sceptred king,
Stood up, the strongest and the fiercest spirit
That fought in heaven, now fiercer by despair:
His trust was with the Eternal to be deem'd
Equal in strength, and rather than be less
Cared not to be at all: with that care lost
Went all his fear: of God, or hell, or worse,
He reck'd not; and these words thereafter spake.

My sentence is for open war: of wiles, More unexpert, I boast not: them let those Contrive who need, or when they need, not now. For while they sit contriving, shall the rest, Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait The signal to ascend, sit lingering here Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame, The prison of his tyranny who reigns By our delay? no; let us rather choose, Arm’d with hell flames and fury, all at once O’er heaven's high towers to force resistless way, Turning our tortures into horrid arms Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise Of his almighty engine he shall hear Infernal thunder; and for lightning see Black fire and horrour shot with equal rage Among his angels; and his throne itself Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire, His own invented torments. But perhaps The way seems difficult and steep, to scale With upright wing against a higher fve. Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench Of that forgetful lake benumm not still, That in our proper inotion we ascend

Up to our native seat: descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce Foe hung on our broken rear
Insulting, and pursued us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We sunk thus low? the ascent is easy then:
The event is fear'd; should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find
To our destruction; if there be in hell
Fear to be worse destroy'd: what can be worse
Then to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemn'd
In this abhorred deep to utter woe;
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise us without hope of end,
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Inexorable, and the torturing hour
Calls us to penance? more destroy'd than thus,
We should be quite abolish'd, and expire.
What fear we then? what doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which, to the highth enraged,
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential; happier far
Than miserable to have eternal being;
Or if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
On this side nothing: and by proof we feel
Our power sufficient to disturb his heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne:
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.

He ended frowning, and his look denounced
Desperate revenge and battel dangerous
To less than gods. On the other side up rose
Belial, in act more graceful and humane:
A fairer person lost not heaven; he seem'd
For dignity composed and high exploit:
But all was false and hollow; though his tongue
Dropp'd manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash
Maturest counsels: for his thoughts were low;
To vice industrious, but to nobler deeds
Timorous and slothful: yet he pleased the ear,
And with persuasive accent thus began:-

I should be much for open war, 0 Peers,
As not behind in hate, if what was urged,

115

120

Sy. Erercise, in the sense of the Latin metaphorical or figurative word. In what ucrcen, “to vex," "to trouble."

then does the beauty consist? In the 92. In penance, to punishment.

justness of the thouht, in the propriety 104. Fulal throne, that is, upheld by fate. of The expression, in the art of the com

106. He ended frowning, &c. * Nobody position, and in the variety of the versi. of any taste or understanding will deny fication."-LORD MONBODDO. He means the beauty of the following paragraph, the whole of Belial's speech, from the in the whole of which there is not one 119th to the 225th line.

Main reason to persuade immediate war,
Did not dissuade me most, and seem to cast
Ominous conjecture on the whole success:

125

130

135

140

145

In what he counsels and in what excels
Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair
And utter dissolution, as the scope
Of all his aim, after some dire revenge.
First, what revenge? the towers of heaven are fill'd
With armed watch, that render all access
Impregnable: oft on the bordering deep
Encamp their legions, or with obscure wing
Scout far and wide into the realm of night,
Scorning surprise. Or could we break our way
By force, and at our heels all hell should rise
With blackest insurrection, to confound
Heaven's purest light: yet our great Enemy
All incorruptible would on his throne
Sit unpolluted, and the ethereal mould,
Incapable of stain, would soon expel
IIer mischief, and purge off the baser fire,
Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope
Is flat despair: we must exasperate
The Almighty Victor to spend all his rage,
And that must end us; that must be our cure,
To be no more: sad cure! for who would lose,
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallow'd up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated night,
Devoid of sense and motion? and who knows,
Let this be good, whether our angry Foe
Can give it, or will ever? how he can,
Is doubtful; that he never will, is sure.
Will he, so wise, let loose at once his ire,
Belike through impotence, or unaware,
To give his enemies their wish, and end
Them in his anger, whom his anger saves
To punish endless? Wherefore cease we then?
Say they who counsel war;-we are decreed,
Reserved, and destined to eternal woe;
Whatever doing, what can we suffer more,
What can we suffer worse?- Is this then worst,
Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?
What! when we fled amain, pursued and struck
With heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The deep to shelter us? this hell then seem'd
A refuge from those wounds: or when we lay
Chain'd on the burning lake? that sure was worse.

150

155

100

165

138. Would on his throne, &c. “This is throne itself of God with infernal sul9 reply to that part of Moloch's speech, phur and strange fire."-NEWTON. where he had threatened to mix the 150, Ipotence, weakness of mind.

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