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and finding the original manuscripts upon the sign-posts
of each to agree literally with my own spelling, I returned home full of satisfaction in order to despatch this epistle.'
• As you have taken most of the circumstances of human life into your consideration, we the underwritten thought it not proper for us also to represent to you our condition. We are three ladies who live in the country, and the greatest improvement we make is by reading. We have taken a small journal of our lives, and find it extremely opposite to your last Tuesday's speculation. 'We rise by seven, and pass the beginning of each day in devotion, and looking into those affairs that fall within the occurrences of a retired life; in the afternoon we sometimes enjoy the company of some friend or neighbour, or else work or read; at night we retire to our chambers, and take leave of each other for the whole night at ten o'clock. We take particular care never to be sick of a Sunday. Mr. Spectator, we are all very good maíds, but are ambitious of characters which we think more laudable, that of being very good wives. If any of your correspondents inquire for a spouse for an honest country gentleman, whose estate is not dipped, and wants a 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, sir, your courteous readers,
6 MARTHA BUSY,
6 ALICE EARLY,' STEELE,
No. 333. SATUDAY, MARCH 22.
-l'ocat in certamina divos.
He calls embattled deities to arms.
We are now entering upon the sixth book of Paradise Lost, 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 reseserved them for the opening of this, the subject of which gave occasion to them. The author's imagination was so inflamed with this great scene of action, that, wherever he speaks of it, he rises, if possible, above himself. Thus where he mentions. Satan in the beinning of his poem:
-Him the Almighty pow'r
We have likewise several noble hints of it in the infernal conference.
O prince! O Chief of many throned powers,
But see! the angry victor has recallid
There are several other very sublime images on the same subject in the first book, as also in the second.
What! when we fled amain, pursued, and struck
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 can not forbear quoting that passage, where the power who is described as presiding over the chaos, speaks in the second book.
Thus Satan: and him thus the Anarch old,
It required great pregnancy of invention, and strength of imagination to fill this battle with such circumstances 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 look into Homer are surprised to find his battles still rising one above another, and improving in horror to the conclusion of the Iliad. Milton's fight of angels is wrought up with the same beauty. It is ushered in with such signs of wrath as are suitable to Omnipotence incensed. The first engagement is carried on under a cope of fire, occasioned by the flights of innumerable burning darts and arrows, which are discharged from either host. The second onset is still more terrible, as it is filled with those artificial thunders, which seem to make the victory doubtful, and produce a kind of consternation 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
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 most 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 qualified for such a description, by the reading
pomp of his
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 supposed to have proceeded from such authors, so it enters very properly into the thoughts of that being who is all along described as aspiring 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 so daring a thought as the former. We are, in some measure, prepared for such an incident by the description of the giant's 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 giant's war, which makes so great a noise in antiquity, and gave birth to the sublimest description in Hesiod'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
this subject. Homer, in that passage which Longinus has celebrated for its sublimeness, and which Virgil and Ovid have copied after him, tells us, that the giants threw Ossa upon Olympus and Pelion upon Ossa. He adds an epithet to Pelion