« 上一頁繼續 »
• Wife that can save half his Revenue, and yet make a • better Figure than any of his Neighbours of the same • Estate, with finer bred Women, you shall have further • notice from,
No 333. Saturday, March 22.
- vocat in certamina Divos.
Virg. TITE are now entring upon the sixth Book of Par W radise Loft, in which the Poet describes the Battle
' of Angels; having raised his Reader's Expectation, and prepared him for it by several Passages in the preceding Books. I omitted quoting these Passages in my Observations on the former Books, having purposely reserved them for the opening of this, the Subject of which gave occasion to them. The Author's Imagination was io inflamed with this great Scene of Action, that whereever he speaks of it, he rises, if possible, above himself. Thus where he mentions Satan in the beginning of his Poem:
Him the Almighty Power
WE have likewise several noble Hints of it in the Infernal Conference.
O Prince ! O Chief of many throned Powers,
That with fad Overthrow and foul Defeat
THERE are several other very sublime Images on the
IN short, the Poet never mentions any thing of this Battle but in such Images of Greatness and Terror as are suitable to the Subject. Among several others I cannot forbear quoting that Passage, where the Power who is described as prefiding over the Chaos, speaks in the third Book.
Thus Satan; and him thus the Anarch old
IT requir'd great Pregnancy of Invention, and Strength of Imagination, to fill this Battle with such Circumítances as should raise and astonish the Mind of the Reader ; and at the same time an Exactness of Judgment, to avoid every thing that might appear light or trivial. Those who looks into Homer, are surpris'd to find his Battles still rising one above another, and improving in Horrour to the Coriclusion of the Iliad. Milton's Fight of Angels is wrought up with the fame Beauty. It is usher'd in with such Signs of Wrath as are suitable to Omnipotence incensed. The first Engagement is carried on under a Cope of Fire, occafioned by the Flights of innumerable burning Darts and Arrows which are discharged from either Hoft. The se. cond Onset is still more terrible, as it is filled with thofe artificial Thunders, which seem to make the Victory doubtful, and produce a kind of Confternation even in the good Angels. This is followed by the tearing up of Mountains and Promontories ; till in the last place, the Messiah comes forth in the Fulness of Majesty and Terror. The Pomp of his Appearance amidst the Roarings of his Thunders, the Flashes of his Lightnings, and the Noise of his Chariot-Wheels, is described with the utmost Flights of human Imagination.
THERE is nothing in the first and last Day's Engagement which does not appear natural, and agreeable enough to the Ideas moft Readers would conceive of a Fight between two Armies of Angels.
THE second Day's Engagement is apt to startle an Imagination, which has not been raised and qualify'd for such a Description, by the reading of the ancient Poets, and of Homer in particular. It was certainly a very bold Thought in our Author, to ascribe the first Use of Artillery to the Rebel-Angels. But as such a pernicious Invention may be well suppos’d to have proceeded from such Authors, so it enter'd very properly into the Thoughts of that Being, who is all along describ'd as afpiring to the Majesty of his Maker. Such Engines were the only Instruments he could have made use of to imitate those Thunders, that in all Poetry, both sacred and profane, are represented as the Arms of the Almighty. The tearing up the Hills, was not altogether fo daring a Thought as the former. We are, in some measure, prepared for such an Incident by the Description of the Giants War, which we meet with among the ancient Poets. What still made this Circumstance the more proper for the Poet's Use, is the Opinion of many learned Men, that the Fable of the Giants War, which makes so great a noise in Antiquity, and gave birth to the
sublimest Description in Hefiod's Works was an Allegory founded upon this very Tradition of a Fight between the good and bad Angels.
IT may, perhaps, be worth while to consider with what Judgment Milton, in this Narration, has avoided every thing that is mean and trivial in the Descriptions of the Latin and Greek Poets ; and at the same time improved every great Hint which he met with in their Works upon this Subject Homer in that Passage, which Longinus hascelebrated for its Sublimeness, and which Virgil and Ovid have copied after him, tells us, that the Giants threw Ora upon Olympus, and Pelion upon Ofa. He adds an Epithet to Pelion (esvoolcuador) which very much swells the Idea, by bringing up to the Reader's Imagination all the Woods that grew upon it. There is further a great Beauty in his singling out by Name these three remarkable Mountains, so well known to the Greeks. This last is such a Beauty, as the Scene of Milton's War could not possibly furnish him with. Claudian, in his Fragment upon the Giants War, has given full scope to that Wildness of Imagination which was natural to him. He tells us that the Giants tore up whole Islands by the Roots and threw them at the Gods. He describes one of them in particular taking up Lemnos in his Arms, and whirling it to the Skies, with all Vulcan's Shop in the midst of it. Another tears up Mount Ida, with the River Enipeus, which ran down the Sides of it; but the Poet, not content to describe him with this Mountain upon his Shoulders, tells us that the River flow'd down his Back, as he held it up in that Porture. It is visible to every judicious Reader, that such Ideas favour more of Burlesque, than of the Sublime. They proceed from a Wantonness of Imagination, and rather, divert the Mind than astonish it. Milton has taken every thing that is sublime” in these several Pasfages, and composes out of them the following great Image.
From their Foundations loos'ning to and fro,. .
WE have the full Majesty of Homer in this short Description, improv'd by the Imagination of Claudian, without its Puerilities.
I need not point out the Description of the fallen Angels seeing the Promontories hanging over their Heads in such a dreadful manner, with the other numberless Beauties in this Book, which are so conspicuous, that they cannot escape the Notice of the most ordinary Reader.
THERE are indeed so many wonderful Strokes of Poetry in this Book, and such a Variety of sublime Ideas, that it would have been impossible to have given them a place within the Bounds of this paper. Besides that, I find it in a great measure done to my hand at the End of my Lord Roscommon's Eflay on translated Poetry. I shall refer my Reader thither for some of the Master-strokes in the fixth Bcok of Paradise Lof, tho' at the same time there are many others which that noble Author has not taken notice of.
MILTON, notwithstanding the sublime Genius he was master of, has in this Book drawn to his Assistance all the Helps he could meet with among the ancient Poets. The Sword of Michael, which makes so great a havock among the bad Angels, was given him, we are told, out of the Armory of God.
But the Sword
THIS Pallage is a Copy of that in Virgil, wherein the Poet tells us, that the Sword of Æneas, which was given him by a Deity, broke into Pieces the Sword of Turnus, which came from a mortal Forge. As the Moral in this Place is divine, so by the way we may observe, that the bestowing on a Man who is favour'd by Heaven such an allegorical Weapon, is very conformable to the old Eastern way of thinking. Not only Homer has made use of it, but we find the 7 ewish Hero in the Book of Maccabees, who had fought the Battles of the chosen People with so much Glory and Success, receiving in his Dream a Sword from