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the 'return of the wild beasts to their Paradisiacal mildness is finely touched. The appearance of the Tempter in his assumed character; the deep art of his two first speeches, covered, but not totally concealed, by a semblance of simplicity; his bold avowal and plausible vindication of himself; the subsequent detection of his fallacies, and the pointed reproofs of his impudence and hypocrisy, on the part of our Blessed Lord ;-cannot be too much admired. Indeed, the whole conclusion of this Book abounds so much in closeness of reasoning, grandeur of sentiment, elevation of style, and harmony of numbers, that it may well be questioned whether poetry on such a subject, and especially in the form of dialogue, ever produced any thing superiour to it.
The singular beauty of the brief description of night coming on in the desart, closes the Book with such admirable effect, that it leaves us con la bocca dolce.
The opening of the Second Book is not calculated to engage attention, by any particular beauty of the picturesque or descrip tive kind; but by recurring to what passed at the river Jordan among Jesus's new disciples and followers upon his absence, and by making Mary express her maternal feelings upon it, the poet has given an extent and variety to his subject. It might perhaps be wished, that all which he has put into the mouth of the Virgin, respecting the early life of her Son, had been confined solely to this place, instead of a part being incorporated in our Lord's soliloquy in the first Book. There it seems awkwardly introduced, but here I conceive her speech might have been extended with good effect.–Our Lord, (ver. 110.) is, in a brief but appropriate description, again presented to us in the wilderness. The poet, in the mean time, makes Satan return to his infernal council, to report the bad success of his first attempt, and to demand their counsel and assistance, in an enterprise of so much difficulty. This he does in a brief and energetick speech. Hence arises a debate ; or at least a proposition on the part of Belial, and a rejection of it by Satan, of which I cannot sufficiently express my admiration. The language of Belial is exquisitely descriptive of the power of beauty, without a single word introduced, or even a thought conveyed, that is unbecoming its place in this divine Poem. Satan's reply is eminently fine : his imputing to Belial, as the most dissolute of the fallen Angels, the amours attributed by the poets and mythologists to the Heathen gods, while it is
replete with classick beauty, furnishes an excellent moral to those extravagant fictions; and his description of the little effect which the most powerful enticements can produce on the resolute mind of the virtuous, while it is heightened with many beautiful turns of language, is, in its general tenour, of the most superiour and dignified kind. Indeed all this part of his speech (from ver. 191, to ver. 225.) seems to breathe such a sincere and deep sense of the charms of real goodness, that we almost forget who is the speaker: at least we readily subscribe to what he had said of himself in the first Book ;
6 I have not lost
After such sentiments so expressed, it might have been thought difficult for the poet to return to his subject, by making the Arch-Fiend resume his attempts against the Divine Person, the commanding majesty of whose invincible virtue he had just been describing with such seemingly heart-felt admiration. This is managed with much address, by Satan's proposing to adopt such modes of temptation as are apt to prevail most, where the propensities are virtuous, and where the disposition is amiable and generous ; and, by the immediate return of the Tempter and his associates to the wilderness, the Poem advances towards the heighth of its argument.--Our Saviour's passing the night is well described. The coming on of morn is a beautiful counterpart of “night coming on in the desart,” which so finely closed the preceding Book, Our Lord's waking—his viewing the country
-and the description of the "pleasant grove,” which is to be the scene of the banquet-are all set off with every grace that poetry can give. The appearance of Satan, varied from his first disguise, as he has now quite another part to act, is perfectly well imagined ; and his speech, referring to Scripture examples of persoms miraculously fed in desart places, is truly artful and in character; as is his second sycophantick address, where, having acknowledged our Lord's right to all created things, he adds,
« Troubled that thou should'st hunger, hath purvey'd
" With honour.” The banquet (ver. 340.) comprises every thing that Roman luxury, Eastern magnificence, mythological fable, or poetick fancy can supply; and, if compared with similar descriptions in the Italian Poets, will be found much superiour to them. In the concluding part of his invitation the virulence of the Arch-Fiend breaks out, as it were involuntarily, in a sarcastick allusion to the divine prohibition respecting the tree of knowledge ; but he immediately resumes his hypocritical servility, which much resembles his language in the ninth Book of the Paradise Lost, when, in his addresses to Eve,“ persuasive rhetorick sleek'd his tongue.” The three last lines are quite in this style;
“ All these are Spirits of air, and woods, and springs,
Thy gentle ministers, who come to pay
“ Thee homage, and acknowledge thee their Lord.” Our Lord's reply is truly sublime ;
“ I can at will, doubt not, as soon as thou,
Array'd in glory, on my cup to attend." This part of the Book in particular is so highly finished, that I could wish it had concluded, as it might well have done, with the vanishing of the banquet. The present conclusion, from its subject, required another style of poetry. It has little description, no machinery, and no mythological allusions to elevate and adorn it; but it is not without a sublimity of another kind. Satan's speech, in which he assails our Lord with the temptation of riches as the means of acquiring greatness, is in a noble tone of dramatick dialogue; and the reply of our Saviour, where he rejects the offer, contains a series of the finest moral precepts expressed in that plain majestick language, which, in many parts of Didactick Poetry, is the most becoming vestitus orationis. Still it must be acknowledged, that all this is much lost and obscured by the radiance and enriched
deseriptions of the preceding three hundred lines. These had been particularly relieved, and their beauty had been rendered more eminently conspicuous, from the studied equality and scriptural plainness of the exordium of this Book; which has the effect described by Cicero to the subordinate and less shining parts of any writing, “ quò magis id, quod erit illuminatum, exţare atque eminere videatur,” De Orator. iii. 101. Ed. Proust. --But the conclusion of this Book, though excellent in its kind, unfortunately, from its loco-position, appears to considerable disadvantage. Writers of Didactick Poetry, to secure the continuance of their reader's attention, must be careful not only to diversify, but as much as possible gradually to elevate, their strain. Accordingly, they generally open their several divisions with their dryer precepts, proceed then to more pleasing illustrațions, and are particularly studious to close each Book with some description, or episode, of the most embellished and attractive kind.
Among the various beauties, which adorn this truly divine Poem, the most distinguishable and captivating feature of excellence is the character of Christ. This is so finely drawn, that we can scarcely forbear applying to it the language of Quintilian, respecting the Olympian Jupiter of the famous sculptor Phidias ;
cujus pulchritudo adjecisse aliquid etiam receptæ religioni videatur, adeò majestas operis Deum æquavit.” L. xii. C. 10. It is observed by Mr. Hayley, that as in the Paradise Lost the poet seems to emulate the sublimity of Moses and the Prophets, it appears to have been his wish in the Paradise Regained to copy the sweetness and simplicity of the Evangelists.—The great object of this second Poem seems indeed to be the exemplification of true Evangelical Virtue, in the person and sentiments of our Blessed Lord. From the beginning of the THIRD Book to ver. 363 of the next, practical Christianity, thus personified, is contrasted with the boasted pretensions of the Heathen world, in its zenith of power, splendour, civilization, and knowledge; the several claims of which are fully stated, with much ornament of language and poetick decoration. After an exordium of flattering commendation addressed to our Lord, the Tempter opens his progressive display of Heathen excellence with an eulogy on Glory (ver. 25.), which is so intrinsically
beautiful, that it may be questioned whether any Roman orator or poet ever so eloquently and concisely defended the ambition of heroism: The judgement of the Author may also be noticed (ver. 31, &c.) in the selection of his heroes, two of whom, Alexander and Scipio, he has before introduced (B. ii. 166, 199,) as examples of continency and self-denial :-In short, the first speech of Satan opens the cause, for which he pleads, with all the art becoming his character.-In our Lord's reply, the false glory of worldly fame is stated with energetick briefness, and is opposed by the true glory of obedience to the Divine commands. The usual modes of acquiring glory in the Heathen world, and the intolerable vanity and pride with which it was claimed and enjoyed, are next most forcibly depicted; and are finely contrasted with those means of acquiring honour and reputation, which are innocent and beneficial :
“ But, if there be in glory aught of good,
" By patience, temperance." These lines are marked with that peculiar species of beauty, which distinguishes Virgil's description of the amiable heroes of benevolence and peace, whom he places in Elysium, together with his blameless warriours, the virtuous defenders of their country, Æn. vi. 660—665.
In the conclusion of the speech an heroical character of another kind is opposed to the warlike heroes of antiquity ;-one who, though a Heathen, surpassed them all in true wisdom and true fortitude. Such indeed was the character of Socrates, such his reliance on Divine Providence and his resignation thereto, that he seems to have imbibed his sentiments from a source the famed Castalian spring;" and while his demeanour eminently displays the peaceable, patient, Christian-like virtues, his language often approaches nearer than could be imagined, to that of the holy penmen, “Ει ταυτηθεν φιλον,” says he, “ταυτη γενεσθω." Epictet. AIATPIB. L. i. c. 29.—The artful sophistry of the Tempter's further defence of glory, and our Lord's majestically plain confutation of his arguments in the clear explanation given of the true ground on which glory and honour are due to the