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ally in its place, and testifies to the thorough reality of the Poet's
inspiration. Of its sublimity and yearning pathos, it is super-
Auous to speak

Paradise Regained, could it have possibly been intro-
duced into the Paradise Lost as an Episodical Vision, would
have been thought not inferior in power to any other part of
the

poem, except the first two books; and in exquisite sim-
plicity and gentle dignity, equal to anything in it all. But
the title suggested a large plan, which the poem did not realise.
Its name was ambitious, itself was short and unpretend-
ing, and it seemed to come to an abrupt and unartistic close.
It avoided the grand subjects of Christ's Death, Resurrection,
Ascension, and Second Advent, any or all of which the title
was broad enough to have included. It should have been
called Christ's Temptation, a Poem. It was not, in short, a
proper pendant to the Paradise Lost. The one was the huge
Orion or Great Bear, covering a half of the heavens; the
other, the small tear-twinkling Pleiades. Hence it was a dis-
appointment at first, and has never since received its due meed
of praise. And yet, if comparatively a fragment, what a true,
shapely, beautiful, fragment it is! Its power so quiet, its
elegance so unconscious, its costume of language so Grecian,
its general tone so scripturally simple, while its occasional
speeches and descriptions are so gorgeous, and so faultless !
The views from the Mountain, the storm in the Wilderness,
the dreams of Christ when he was an hungered, so exquisitely
true to his waking character-
“ Him thought, he by the brook of Cherith stood,
And saw the ravens, with their horny beaks,
Food to Elijah bringing even and morn,
Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they brought :
He saw the Prophet also, how he fled
Into the desart, and how there he slept
Under a juniper ; then how awak'd,
And found his supper on the coals prepar'd,
Sometimes that with Elijah he partook,

Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse”—
are in the Poet's very highest style, and one or two of them,
indeed, have a gloss of perfection about them, as well as an
ease and freedom of touch rarely to be found in his larger

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poem.

In the Paradise Lost, he is a giant tossing mountains to heaven with far seen struggle, and in evident trial of strength. In the Paradise Regained, he is a giant gently putting his foot on a rock, and leaving a mark inimitable, indelible, visible to all after time.

His Samson Agonistes, too, accomplishes great effects by a very small apparent expenditure of means. Even as the Hero has his limbs fettered, has Milton cramped himself with the Aristotelian unities. Samson, however, says

“ My heels are fettered, but my fist is free.” And so Milton's genius asserts itself in spite of the unities. If shaven of his giant locks, they have yet, like the Danite's, begun to grow. There is no luxuriance in this poem; it is throughout severe, sculptural, and stands up before you like a statue, bloodless and blind. A deep gloom hangs over its story, and the peevishness of its Hero is only compensated by his power. Samson is Milton in a hard Hebrew form. The fair vesture of youth and hope is for ever gone from his limbs, the hair of his head is shorn, he is clad in “filthy garments, forsaken, blind, carelessly diffused; but his courage, pride, patriotism, and devotion, are still extant, and ready to reassert themselves once more to avenge the loss of his two eyes. His hand has few flowers in it, it strains rather at the pillars, and uses them as the instruments of its terrible concentrated force. His spirit is that of Abimelech, when he cried to his armour-bearer, “Say not a woman slew me.” Samson must die, with a city of enemies dragged down to death above him, and give to suicide for once a patriotic dignity and a sacramental consecration. The scenes with Delilah and Harapah are amazingly spirited and dramatic, although coarser in style than Milton's wont. T'he choruses rise sometimes to Grecian grandeur of lyric thought, and sink more frequently into Grecian intricacy of measure. Altogether, you believe with trembling in the power of this poem. It is no Hymettus humming with bees, and blushing with flowers; it is a Sinai, bared in the wrath of Heaven, hanging over your head, and threatening to crush wonder out of you rather than to awaken warm and willing admiration.

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Time would fail us to speak, as they deserve, of Comus,
that finest compound of the pastoral and the play, with its
high moralisings and Shaksperean imagery ; of L'Allegro and
Il Penseroso, with their delicious contrast and dancing mea-
sures ; of the Hymn on Christ's Nativity, which, slow and
solemn as a charmed river, moves around the awful sanctities
of its theme; of Lycidas, wailing so melodiously over

“ That fatal and perfidious bark,
Built in the eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,

Which laid so low that sacred head of thine;”
of the Sonnets, rising in climax, from the rugged simplicity
of those of Cyriack Skinner, up to the grand swelling peal
(as of a Sonnet soaring out of itself into some higher form of
verse) of that on the late Massacre in Piemont; or of his
graceful Greek, Italian, and Latin verses and versicles. We
have not said enough to exhaust our own admiration, but we
have pointed again with however feeble a finger-to foun-
tains of song which no impurity defiles, and which are as
fresh and full this hour as when they were first opened by the
hand of the Master-spirit.

" Blessings be with him, and eternal praise !”

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