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inhabitants of invisible regions, is destitute of most of the gentwhich purify the eye of the moral vision, and fill the soul with ART
. I. Armageddon, a Poein in Twelve Books.-The Eight first Books.
By the Rev. G. Townsend, of Trin. Coll. Camb. 4to. pp. 350. London, Hatchard, 1815. 11. lls. 6d. Ws consider this poem as a literary phenomenon of no coma mon interest. Since the stupendous excursion of Milton into the invisible world, no English writer has followed him in his daring career—even at the humblest distance. Many of his qualities, indeed, have, in some degree, been exhibited by poets who had caught a portion of his spirit. Phillips succeeded in copying the majestic harmony of his verse ; and Wordsworth, ut our own day, has treated us with sonnets in the same artless simplicity which characterises the smaller productions of his genius. But his supernal marvels—his masterly pictures of regions unseen—and his still more venturous delineations of spiritual beings—have hitherto been peculiar to himself : « within that circle none dared walk but he.” At last, however, a writer has atisen, who has boldly entered on a similar course; and who, undismayed by the obstacles which surround him, has burst upon us with a plan more hazardous than even that of his great predecessor,--a large portion of which is actually completed, and presented to the public in the volume before us. ' If Milton proposed “ to vindicate the ways of God to man ;” Mr. Townsend endeavours, “ to reconcile His justice with His love." So numerous and appalling are the difficulties which Mr. Townsend has had to encounter, that we are rather surprised that the effort should
ever have been made, than that it should have been delayed to the present period. Milton's genius seemed suficient to deter the most ambitious from themes on which it had shed so rich an effulgence ; and his fame, to check the growth
every production that promised to florish where it had been planted. But we are inclined to regard the nature of the sublect itself, as the principal reason why he alone has hitherto endeavoured to grasp it. It bears but little relation to human feelings and sympathies; and being occupied chiefly with the ker appeals to the heart and the affections. Poetry is, no doubt, greatly exalted by the judicious employment of machipery-by glimpses of superior loveliness and grandeur—and by those ravishing prospects of heaven and celestial messengers,
ethereal perceptions. But then, to be effective, the flight must be short, for the spectator will soon be weary with gazing, and desire again to repose on that beauty which pleases without dazzling. The enchantments of magic, the ancient tales of superstition, and the obscure mysteries in which unseen agents are supposed to work, are legitimate subjects of poetry; but to render the recurrence of them pleasing, they must be mingled with objects and graces that are natural. A labored tale of the projects and exploits of demons, carried on through twelve books, wears out its own impressions, and can be rescued from dullness only by the splendor of a genius capable of shedding a radiance on every thing it touches. Nor do we think this objection completely obviated by the reference such poems may have to our religious faith, and our eternal destinies. We feel that they are fictions; and we feel too that as fictions, they are out of their place. Our ideas of spirits are not likely to be rendered clearer by representations, however sublime, of their engaging in combat-of their being bruised, cut in pieces, and at one time closing with inconceivable quickness, at another lying buried beneath their armour ; nor can our devotion be exalted by the scholastic disputations which Milton has ventured to attribute to the Deity. The profane think such things absurd, the pious regard them as profane : and it is certain that they can add nothing valuable to what we learn from the scriptures, and but little to the purest of our feelings.
In these respects, both Mr. Townsend's conceptions and his expressions are more becoming than those of Milton. He constantly guards against supposing any thing ordinary, any thing altogether human, to have proceeded from the Omniscient; and, employing fire and the thunders of heaven as the chief engines of war, he says as little as possible about the tread of the embattled host,” and “the clangor of arms." The refinement of taste, and the improvement of our language in the course of the last 150 years, entitle us, indeed, to expect that the excusable errors of former times be now avoided.—But in regard to another point just mentioned—that of the effect of natural objects being duly mixed with such as are supernatural, Milton really has much the advantage of his enterprising follower. The groundwork of his story is in Paradise ; and though both heaven and hell are soon and tremendously revealed to us, it is there that our attention is first awakened ; and thither it is that, after a series of sublime glories and more sublime terrors, we at length