網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

notice in my Remarks of such as are of a Poetical Nature, and which are woven with great Beauty into the Body of this Fable. Of this kind is that Passage in the present Book, where describing Sin and Death as marching thro' the Works of Nature, he adds,

Behind her Death
Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet

On bis pale Horse --Which alludes to that Passage in Scripture so wonderfully Poetical, and terrifying to the Imagination. And I look'd and behold a pale Horse, and his Name that fat on him, was Death, and Hell followed with him: and Power was given unto them over the fourth Part of the Earth, to kill with Sword, and with Hunger, and with Sickness, and with the Beasts of the Earth. Under this first Head of Celestial Persons we must likewise take notice of the Command which the Angels receiy'd, to produce the several Changes in Nature, and fully the Beauty of the Creation. Accordingly they are represented as infecting the Stars and Planets with malignant Influences, weakning the Light of the Sun, bringing down the Winter into the milder Regions of Nature, planting Winds and Storms in several Quarters of the Sky, storing the Clouds with Thun. der, and in short, perverting the whole Frame of the Universe to the Condition of its criminal Inhabitants. As this is a noble Incident in the Poem, the following Lines, in which we see the Angels heaving up the Earth,and placing it in a different Posture to the Sun from what it had before the Fall of Man, is conceived with that sublime Imaginą. tion which was so peculiar to this great Author.

Some say he bid his Angels turn ascanfe The Poles of Earth twice ten Degrees and more From the Sun's Axle; they with Labour pusb'd Oblique the Centrick Globe W E are in the second place to consider the Infernal Agents under the view which Milton has given us of them in this Book. It is observed by those who would set forth the Greatness of Virgil's Plan, that he conducts his Reader thro' all the Parts of the Earth which were discover'd in his time. Asia, Afric, and Europe are the several

Scenes

G

3

Scenes of his Fable. The Plan of Milton's Poem is of an infinitely greater Extent, and fills the Mind with many more aftonishing Circumstances. Satan, having surrounded the Earth seven times, departs at length from Paradise. We then fee him steering his Course among the Constellations, and after having traversed the whole Creation, pursuing his Voyage thro' the Chaos, and entring into his own infernal Dominions.

HIS first Appearance in the Assembly of fallen Angels, is work'd up with Circumstances which give a delightful Surprise to the Reader; but there is no Incident in the whole Poem which does this more than the Transformation of the whole Audience, that follows the Account their Leader gives them of his Expedition. The gradual Change of Satan himself is describ'd after Ovid's manner, and may vie with any of those celebrated Transformations which are look'd upon as the most beautiful Parts in that Poet's Works. Milton never fails of improving his own Hints, and bestowing the last finishing Touches to cvery Incident which is admitted into his Poem. The unexpected Hiss which rises in this Episode, the Dimenfions and Bulk of Satan so much superior to those of the Inter. nal Spirits who lay under the fame Transformation, with the annual Change which they are supposed to suffer, are Instances of this kind. The Beauty of the Diction is very remarkable in this whole Episode, as I have observed in the fixth Paper of these Remarks the great Judgment with which it was contrived. .

THE Parts of Adam and Eve, or the human Persons, come next under our Confideration. Milton's Art is no where more shewn than in his conducting the Parts of these our first Parents. The Representation he gives of them, without falsifying the Story, is wonderfully contriv'd to influence the Reader with Pity and Compassion towards them. Tho' Adam involves the whole Species in Misery, his Crime proceeds from a Weakness which every Man is inclin'd to pardon and commiserate, as it seems rather the Frailty of human Nature, than of the Person who offended. Every one is apt to excuse a Fault which he him. self might have fallen into. It was the Excess of Love for Eve, that ruin'd Adam, and his Pofterity. I need not add, that the Author is justified in this particular by many

[ocr errors]

of the Fathers, and the most orthodox Writers. Milton has by this means fill’d a great Part of his Poem with that kind of Writing which the French Criticks call the Tender, and which is in a particular manner engaging to all sorts of Readers.

ADAM and Eve, in the Book we are now considering, are likewise drawn with such Sentiments as do not only intereft the Reader in their Afflictions, but raise in him the most melting Passions of Humanity and Commiseration. When Adam fees the several Changes in Nature produced about him, he appears in a Disorder of Mind suitable to one who had forfeited both his Innocence and his Happiness ; he is filled with Horrour, Remorse, Despair ; in the Anguish of his Heart he expoftulates with his Creator for having given him an unasked Existence.

Did I request thee, Maker, from my Clay
To mould me Man? did I folicite thee
From Darkness to promote me ? or here place
In this delicious Garden? As my Will
Concurr'd not to my Being, 'twere but right

And equal to reduce me to my Duft,
· Defirous to refign, and render back .

All I receiv'd HE immediately after recovers from his Presumption, owns his Doom to be just, and begs that the Death which is threatned him may be inflicted on him.

Why delays
His Hand to execute, what his Decree
Fix'd on this day? Why do I overlive?
Why am I mock'd with Death, and lengthen'd out
To deathless Pain? how gladly would I meet
Mortality my Sentence, and be Earth
Infenfible! how glad would lay me down,
As in my Mother's Lap? there fou'd I reft
And sleep secure ; his dreadful Voice no more
Would thunder in my Earsi no fear of worse
To me and to my Offspring, would torment me
With cruel Expectation

THIS whole Speech is full of the like Emotion, and varied with all those Sentiments which we may suppose naG4

turai

tural to a Mind so broken and disturb'd. I must not omis that generous Concern which our first Father shews in it for his Pofterity,and which is so proper to affect the Reader.

- Hide me from the Face ..
Of God, whom to behold was then my height
Of Happiness! yet well, if here would end
The Misery, I deferu'd it, and would bear
My own Deservings ; but this will not serves
All that I eat, or drink, or fall beget
Is propagated Curse. O Voice once beard
Delightfully, Increase and Multiply ;
Now Death to hear ! -

a In me all Posterity stands curft! Fair Patrimony, That I muf leave ye, Sons ! O were I able To waste it all my self, and leave you none ! So difinherited, how would you bless Me now your Curfe! Ab, why should all Mankinds For one Man's Fault, thus guiltlefs be condemn'de If guiltless? But from me what can proceed But all corrupt WHO can afterwards behold the Father of Mankind extended upon the Earth, uttering his midnight Come plaints, bewailing his Exiftence, and wishing for Death, without sympathizing with him in his Distrels?

Thus Adam to him felf lamented loud,
Thro' the fill Night ; not nou', (as ere Man fell)
Wholfom, and cool, and mild, but with black Air

Accompanied, with Damps and dreadful Gloom ;
Which to his evil Conscience represented

All things with double Terror." On the Ground
Outstretch'd he lay; on the cold Ground! and oft
Curs'd his Creation ; Death as oft accus'd
Of tardy Execution

THE Partof Eve in this book is no less passionate, and apt to sway the Reader in her Favour. She is represented with great Tenderness as approaching Adam, but is spurn'd from him with a Spirit of Upbraiding and Indignation, conformable to the Nature of Man, whose Passions had now gained the Dominion over him. The following Pas

{age, fage, wherein she is described as renewing her Addresses to him, with the whole Speech that follows it, have some. thing in them exquisitely moving and pathetick.

He added not, and from her turn'd: But Eve
Not fo repult, with Tears that ceas'd not flowing,
And Trefjes all disorder'd, at his feet
Fell humble; and embracing them, befought
His Peace, and thus proceeded in her Plaint.

Forsake me not thus, Adam! Witness Heav'n What Love fincere, and Rev'rence in my Heart ;

I bear thee, and unweeting have offended,
Unhappily deceiv'd! Thy Suppliant
I beg, and clasp thy Knees; bereave me not
(Whereon I live!) thy gentle Looks, thy Aid,
Thy Counsel in this uttermoft Distress,
My only Strength, and Stay! Forlorn of thee,
Whither fall I betake me, where fublar?
While yet we live, (scarce one fport Hour perhaps)
Between us two let there be peace, &c.

ADAM's Reconcilement to her is work'd up in the fame Spirit of Tenderness. Eve afterwards proposes to her Husband, in the Blindness of her Despair, that to prevent their Guilt from descending upon Pofterity they should resolve to live Childless; or, if that could not be done, they should seek their own Deaths by violent Methods. As those Sentiments naturally engage the Reader to regard the Mother of Mankind with more than ordinary Commiseration, they likewise contain a very fine Moral. The Resolution of dying to end our Miseries, does not fhew such a degree of Magnanimity as a Resolution to bear them, and submit to the Dispensations of Providence. Our Author' has therefore, with great Delicacy, represented Eve as entertaining this Thought, and Adama as disapproving it, .

WĖ are, in the last place, to consider the imaginary Persons, or Death and Sin, who act a large Part in this Book. Such beautiful extended Allegories are certainly fome of the finest Compositions of Genius; but, as I have before observed, are not agreeable to the Nature of an Heroick Poem. This of Sin and Death is very exquisite

GS

« 上一頁繼續 »