ePub 版

he describes among the Builders of Babel, and in his Mort Sketch of the Plagues of Ægypt. The Storm of Hail and Fire, with the Darkness that overspread the Land for three Days, are described with great Strength. The beau. tiful Passage which follows, is raised upon noble Hints in Scripture :

Thus with ten Wounds
The River-Dragon tamed at length submits
To let his Sojourners depart, and oft
Humbles his fubborn Heart ; but still as Ice
More harden'd after Thaw, till in his Rage
Pursuing whom he late dismiss'd, the Sea
Swallows him with his Hoj, but them lets pass
As on dry Land between truo crystal Walls,
Aw'd by the Rod of Moses go to Atand


THE River-Dragon is an Allufion to the Crocodile, which inhabits the Nile, from whence Egypt derives her Plenty. This Allusion is taken from that sublime Passage in Ezekiel. Thus faith the Lord God, behold I am again thee, Pharaoh King of Ægypt, the great Dragon that lieth

in the mid of his Rivers, which hath said, my River is mine · own, and I have made it for my self. Milton has given us another very noble and poetical Image in the same Description, which is copied almoft Word for Word out of the History of Moses.

All Night he will pursue, but his Approach Darkness defends between till morning Watch; Then through the fiery Pillar and the Clouds God looking forth, will trouble all his Hoft, And craze their Chariot-Wheels: when by command Moses once more his potent Rod extends Over the Sea: the Sea bis Rod obeys: On their embattelld Ranks the Waves return And overwhelm their Warm

AS the principal Design of this Episode was to give Adam an Idea of the Holy Person, who was to reinstate human Nature in that Happiness and Perfection from which it had fallen, the Poet confines himself to the Line of Abraham, from whence the Messiah was to descend. I 4

The The Angel is described as seeing the Patriarch actually travelling towards the Land of Promise, which gives 2 particular Liveliness to this part of the Narration. better with the Passage here quoted, than with the two Verses which follow :

I see him, but thou canst not, with what Faith
He leaves his Gods, bis Friends, his native Soil
Ur of Chaldea, paling now the Ford
To Haran, after him a cumbrous Train
Of Herds, and Flocks, and num'rous Servitude;
Not wand'ring poor, but trusting all his Wealth
With God, who call'd him, in a Land unknown.
Canaan be now attains, I see his Tents
Pitch'd about Shechem, and the neighbouring Plain
Of Moreh, there by Promise he receives
Gift to his Progeny of all that Land,
From Hamath Northward to the Defart South,
(Things by their Names I call; tho' yet unnamed.)

AS Virgil's Vision in the sixth Æneid probably gave Milton the Hint of this whole Episode, the last Line is a Translation of that Verse where Anchises mentions the Names of Places, which they were to bear hereafter. •

Hæc tum nomina erunt, nunc funt fize nomine terra.

THE Poet has very finely represented the Joy and Gladness of Heart which rises in Adam upon the Discovery of the Meffiah. As he sees his Day at a distance through Types and Shadows, he rejoices in it; but when he finds the Redemption of Man compleated, and Paradise again renewed, he breaks forth in Rapture and Transport ;

0. Goodness infinite, Goodness immense!
That all this Good of Evil Mall produce, &c.

I have hinted in my fixth Paper on Milton, that an Heroick Poem, according to the Opinion of the best Criticks, ought to end happily, and leave the Mind: of the Reader, after having conducted it through many Doubts and Fears, Sorrows and Disquietudes, in a State of Tranquillity and Satisfaction. Milton's Fable, which had so many other Qualifications to recommend it, was deficient in this Particular. It is here therefore, that the Poet has Mown a most exquisite Judgment, as well as the finest In


vention, by finding out a Method to supply this natural Defect in his Subject. Accordingly he leaves the Adverfary of Mankind in the last View which he gives us of him, under the lowest State of Mortification and Disappointment. We see him chewing Alhes, groveling in the Duft, and loaden with supernumerary Pains and Torments. On the contrary, our two first Parents are comforted by Dreams and Visions, cheared with Promises of Salvation, and, in a manner, raised to a greater Happiness than that which they had forfeited : In short, Satan is represented miserable in the height of his Triumphs, and Adam triumphant in the height of Misery.

MILTON's Poem ends very nobly. The last Speeches of Adam and the Archangel are full of Moral and Instructive Sentiments. The Sleep that fell upon. Eve, and the Effects it had in quieting the Disorders of her Mind, produces the same kind of Consolation in the Reader, who cannot peruse the last beautiful Speech which is ascribed to the Mother of Mankind, without a secret Pleasure and Satisfaction.

Whence thou return's, and whither went's, I know ;
For God is also in Sleep, and Dreams advise, i
Which he hath sent propitious, some great Good
Prefaging, fince with Sorrow and Heart's Distres
Wearied I fell asleep : but now lead on ;
In me is no delay: with thee to go,
Is to slay here; without thee here to play,
Is to go hence unwilling : thou to me
Art all things under Heav'n, all Places thou,
Who for my wilful Crime art banish'd hence.
This farther Confolation yet secure
I carry hence ; though all by me is loft,
Such Favour, I unworthy, am vouchsafed,
By me the promised Seed shall all reffore.

THE following Lines, which conclude the Poem, rife in a moft glorious Blaze of Poetical Images and Expressions.

HELIODORUS in his Æthiopicks acquaints' us, that the Motion of the Gods differs from that of Mortals, as the former do not stir their Feet, nor proceed Step by Step, but slide o'er the Surface of the Earth by an uniform


I 5

Swimming of the whole Body. The Reader may observe
With how Poetical a Description Milton has attributed the
fame kind of Motion to the Angels who were to take
Poffefsion of Paradise.

So spake our Mother Eve, and Adam heard
Well pleasd, but answer'd not ; for now too nigh
ThArchangel food, and from the other Hill
To their fix'd Station, all in bright Array
The Cherubim descended; on the Ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening Mift
Ris'n from a River, o'er the Marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the Laó'rer's Heel
Homeward returning. High in Front advanc'd,
The brandissid Sword of God before them blaz'd
Fierce as a Comet

THE Author helped his Invention in the following Passage, by reflecting on the Behaviour of the Angel, who, in Holy Writ, has the Conduct of Lot and his family. 'The Circumstances drawn from that Relation, are very gracefully made use of on this Occasion.

In either Hand the hasining Angel caught
Our lingring Parents, and to ? Eastern Gate
Led thein direct ; and down the Cliff as fast
To the subjected Plain ; 'then disappear'd.
They looking back, &c. .

THE Scene which our first Parents are surprised with, upon their looking back on Paradise, wonderfully strikes the Reader's Imagination, as nothing can be more natural than the Tears they shed on that Occasion.

They looking back, all thEastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy Seat,
Wav'd over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
With dreadful Faces throngd and fiery Arms:
Some natural Tears they dropp'd, but wiped them foon;
The World was all before them, where to choose
Their Place of Refi, and Providence their Guide.

IF I might presume to offer at the smallest Alteration in this divine Work, I should think the Poem would end


[ocr errors]

They hand in hand, with wand'ring Steps and Now,
Through Eden took their solitary Way.

THESE two Verses, though they have their Beauty, fall very much below the foregoing Passage, and renew in the Mind of the Reader that Anguilh which was pretty well laid by that Consideration.

The World was all before them, where to choose
Their Place of Refl, and Providence their Guide.

THE Number of Books in Paradise Lost is equal to those of the Æneid. Our Author in his firit Edition had divided his Poem into ten Books, but afterwards broke the seventh and the eleventh each of them into two diffesent Books by the help of some small Additions. This second Division was made with great Judgment, as any one may see who will be at the pains of examining it. It was not done for the sake of such a Chimerical Beauty as that of resembling Virgil in this particular, but for the more just and regular Disposition of this great Work.

THOSE who have read Bolu, and many of the Cria ticks who have written since his Time, will not pardon me if I do not find out the particular Moral which is inculcated in Paradise Loft. Though I can by no means think with the lait mentioned French Author, that an Epick Writer firit of all pitches upon a certain Moral, as the Ground-Work and Foundation of his Poem, and afterwards finds out a Story to it : I am, however, of opinion, that no just Hero:ck Poein ever was or can be made, from whence one great Moral may not be deduced. That which reigns in Milton, is the most univerfal and most useful that can be imagined : it is in short this, That Obedience to the Will of God makes Men happy, and that Disobedience makes them miserable. This is via sibly the Moral of the principal Fable, which turns upon Adam and Eve, who continued in Paradise, while they kept the Command that was given them, and were driven out of it as soon as they had transgressed. This is like. wise the Moral of the principal Episode, which shews us how an innumerable Multitude of Angels fell from their


« 上一頁繼續 »