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Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
tion. But Milton varies the pause according to the sense ; and varies it through all the ten syllables, by which means he is a master of greater harmony than any other English poet: and he is continually varying the pause, and scarce ever suffers it to rest upon the same syllable in more than two, and seldom in so many as two, verses together. Here it is upon the first syllable of the verse, —others on the grass
Couch'd and now filled with pasture gazing sat. IV. 351.
—such as in their souls infix’d Plagues; they astonish'd all resistance lost. VI. 888.
Upon the second, —these to their nests were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale; IV. 602.
—Down thither prone in flight He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky V. 267.
Upon the third,
what in me is dark
Illumine, what is low raise and support; I. 23.
—as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, I and in shadiest covert hid III. 39.
Upon the fourth,
–on he led his radiant files,
Dazzling the moon ; these to the bow'r direct IV. 798. at his right hand victory
Sat eagle-wing'd ; beside him hung
his bow, VI. 763.
Upon the fifth, bears, tigers, ounces, pards, Gambol'd before them ; th' unwieldy elephant IV, 345. and in the air
Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields VI, 305.
Upon the sixth, His stature reach'd the sky, | and on his crest IV. 988. Girt with omnipotence, I with radiance crown'd. VII. 194. Upon the seventh, Majestic though in ruin: sage he stood II. 305. Birds on the branches warbling; all things smil'd VIII. 265. Upon the eighth, Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb I. 287. A fairer person lost not heav'n; | he seem'd II. 110. Upon the ninth,
Jehovah thund'ring out of Sion, I thron'd Between the Cherubim I. 386.
And bush with frizzled hair implicit; I last Rose as in dance the stately trees VII. 323. And here upon the end,
thou that day Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare I III. 898.
Attended with ten thousand thousand saints | VI. 767. And sometimes to give the greater variety to the verse, there are two or more pauses in the same line: as
—on the ground
Outstretch'd he lay, on the cold ground, and oft
Curs'd his creation X. 851.
And swims, or sinks, or wades, I or creeps, or flies: I II. 950. Exhausted, I spiritless, afflicted, I fall'n. I VI. 852. But besides this variety of the pauses, there are other excellencies in Milton's versification. The English heroic verse approaches nearest to the Iambic of the ancients, of which it wants only a foot; but then it is to be measured by the tone and accent, as well as by the time and quantity. An Iambic foot is one short and one long syllable o –, and six such feet constitute an Iambic verse : but the Ancients seldom made use of the pure Iambic, especially in works of any considerable length, but oftener of the mixed Iambic, that is, with a proper intermixture of other measures; and of these perhaps Milton has expressed as happy a variety as any poet whatever, or indeed as the nature of a verse will admit, that consists only of five feet, and ten syllables for the most part. Sometimes he gives us almost pure Iambics, as in I. 314. He call'd so loud, that all the holJ., low déép Of hell resounded. Sometimes he intermixes the Trochee or foot of one long and one short syllable - v, as in ver. 49. w Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
aros. Sometimes the Spondee or foot of two long syllables - - , as in ver. 21. Dove-like satst brooding on the vast abyss.
Sometimes the Pyrrichius or foot of two short syllables ov, as in ver. 64. Serv'd only to discover sights of woe. Sometimes the Dactyle or foot of one long and two short syllables - v U, as in ver, 45.
Hurl’d headlong flaming from th’ éthéréal sky. Sometimes the Anapaest or foot of two short and one long syllable o O - , as in ver. 87. Myriads though bright! If he whom mutual league Sometimes the Tribrachus or foot of three short syllables u ov, as in ver. 709. To many a row of pipes the soundboard breathes. And sometimes there is variety of these measures in the same verse, and seldom or never the same measures in two verses together. And these changes are not only rung for the sake of the greater variety, but are so contrived as to make the sound more expressive of the sense. And this is another great art of versification, the adapting of the very sounds, as well as words, to the subject matter, the style of sound, as Mr. Pope calls it: and in this Milton is excellent as in all the rest, and we shall give several instances of it in the course of these remarks. So that he has abundantly exemplified in his own practice the rules laid down by himself in his preface, his versification having all the requisites of true musical delight, which, as he says, consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another. 1.] Bishop Newton, although perfectly well-read in the Latin poets, appears to have paid but little attention to the very wide difference which there is between the quantity of Latin verse, and the accent, or ictus, on which the rythm of English verse entirely depends. Hence, reading with a classical eye, but laying aside his English ear, he thus marks Omnipotent. But, according to the invariable pronunciation of our language, the ictus falls so strong on the se
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
cond syllable of Omnipotent, that the first is comparatively short; and the verse, scanned accordingly, becomes a pure English Iambic.
who dirst I def; I th’ &mnipotent tö arms. Neither does he seem to have at all considered how much Milton availed himself both of elisions and contractions. Otherwise he would scarcely have cited the three following verses, as exhibiting the one a Dactyl, the other an Anapaest, the third a Tribrachus; for, in fact, the first and third are pure Iambics; and the second has no irregularity, except in the first foot, in which place much license is often taken, and the Trochee, particularly, is often introduced with the best effect. Húrl’d head | long flā ming from | th' the real sky Myriads thoogh bright; of he whom mil tuál league | Tú màn | y á row I of pipes | thú sound |-boãrd breathes. | Dunster.
The following verses may perhaps be admitted to contain in
stances of those feet which Bp. Newton desired to exhibit: Shoots in I visible I virtut I even to the deep Stream, and perpet | tiál drāw I their humid train Inhos | pitābly, I and kills their infant males. The general principles of English rythm may be found sufficiently laid down by Dr. Blair in his Lectures, vol. iii. lect. 38. Those who would examine more exactly into the merits and the faults of Milton's versification, should consult Johnson's remarks upon it in the Rambler, Nos. 86, 88, 90, 92, 94. But the subject was ill-suited to Johnson's genius; and although many of his remarks are good, many also appear fastidious or incorrect. Mr. Todd, in his notes and further remarks upon the Essay in the Rambler, has more correctly appreciated the beauties of Milton's verse. E. 1. Of Man's first disobedience,) Iliad. Avoga ao inviri.
In all these instances, as in Milton, the subject of the poem is the very first thing offered to us, and precedes the verb with which it is connected. It must be confessed, that Horace did not regard this, when he translated the firstline of the Odyssey, Dic mihi, musa, virum, &c. De Art. Poet. 141. And Lucian, if I remember right, makes a jest of this observation, where he introduces the shade of Homer as
Sing, heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
expressly declaring that he had no other reason for making the word unny the first in his poem, but that it was the first which came into his head. However the uniform practice of Homer, Virgil, and Milton in this particular, seems to prove that it was not accidental, but a thing really designed by them. 4. With loss of Eden,) But Eden was not lost, and the last that we read of our first parents is that they were still in Eden,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
With loss of Eden therefore means no more than with loss of Paradise, which was planted in Eden, which word Eden signifies delight or pleasure, and the country is supposed to be the same that was afterwards called Mesopotamia; particularly by our author in iv. 210, &c. Here the whole is put for a part, as sometimes a part for the whole, by a figure called Synecdoche.
4. – till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, As it is a greater Man, so it is a happier Paradise which our Saviour promised to the penitent thief, Luke xxiii. 43. This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. But Milton had a notion that after the conflagration and the general judgment, the whole earth would be made a Paradise, xii. 463.
— for then the earth Shall all be Paradise, far happier place
Than this of Eden, and far happier days.
6. that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai,) Dr. Bentley says that Milton dictated sacred top: his reasons are such as follow: the ground of Horeb is said to be holy, Exod. iii. 5. and Horeb is called the mountain of God, 1 Kings xix. 8. But it may be answered, that though that place of Horeb, on which Moses stood, was holy, it does not follow that the top of the mountain was then holy too: and by the mountain of God (Dr. Bentley knows) may be meant only, in the Jewish style, a very great mountain: besides, let the mountain be never so holy, yet according to the rules of good poetry, when Milton speaks of the top of the mountain, he should give us an epithet peculiar to the top only, and not to the whole mountain. Dr. Bentley says farther, that the epithet secret will not do here, because the top of this mountain is visible several leagues off. But Sinai and Horeb are the same mountain, with two several eminences, the higher of them called Sinai: and of Sinai Josephus in his Jewish Antiquit. book iii. c. 5. says that it is so high, that the top of it cannot be seen without straining the eyes. In this sense therefore (though I believe it is not Milton's sense) the top of it may be well said to be secret. In Exod. xvii. it is said that the Israelites, when encamped at the foot of Horeb, could find no water; from whence Dr. Bentley concludes, that Horeb had no clouds or mists about its top; and that therefore secret top cannot be here meant as implying that high mountains against rainy weather have their heads surrounded with mists. I never thought that any reader of Milton would have understood secret top in this sense. The words of Horeb or of Sinai imply a doubt of the poet, which name was properest to be given to that mountain, on the top of which Moses received his inspiration; because Horeb and Sinai are used for one another in Scripture, as may be seen by comparing Exod. iii. 1. with Acts vii. 30. but by naming Sinai last, he seems to incline rather to that. Now it is well known from Exod. xix. 16. Ecclus. xlv. 5. and other places of Scripture, that when God gave his laws to Moses on the top of Sinai, it was covered with clouds, dark clouds, and thick smoke; it was therefore secret at that time in a peculiar sense: and the same thing seems intended by the epithet which our poet uses upon the very same occasion in xii. 227.
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed, In the beginning how the heav'ns and earth
whereas secret, in the sense which I have given it, is the most peculiar one that can be; and therefore (to use Dr. Bentley's words) if, as the best poets have adjudged, a proper epithet is to be preferred to a general one, I have such an esteem for our poet, that which of the two words is the better, that I say (viz. secret) was dictated by Milton. Pearce. We have given this excellent note at length, as we have met with several persons who have approved of Dr. Bentley's emendation. It may be too that the poet had a farther meaning in the use of this epithet in this place; for being accustomed to make use of words in the signification that they bear in the learned languages, he may very well be supposed to use the word secret in the same sense as the Latin secretus, set apart or separate, like the secretosque pios in Virgil, AEn. viii. 670. and it appears from Scripture, that while Moses was with God in the mount, the people were not to come near it or touch it, till after a signal given, and then they were only to approach, and not to ascend it, nor pass the bounds set for them upon pain of death, Exod. xix. So that upon all accounts secret is the most proper epithet, that could have been chosen. 8. That shepherd, nho first &c.] . For Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-lan. Exod. iii. 1. 9. In the beginning how the