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His Eye survey'd the dark Idolatries
Of alienated Judah. The Reader will pardon me if I insert as a Note on this beautiful Passage, the Account given us by the late ingenious Mr. Maundrell of this ancient Piece of Worship,and probably the firstOccasion of such a Superstition,
We came to a fair large River - doubtless the ancient • River Adonis, so famous for the Idolatrous Rites per
formed here in Lamentation of Adonis. We had the • Fortune to see what may be supposed to be the Occasir'on of that Opinion which Lucian relates, concerning 6 this River, viz. That this Stream, at certain Seasons o of the Year, especially about the Feast of Adonis, is 6 of a bloody Colour? which the Heathens looked up« on as proceeding from a kind of Sympathy in the Ri« ver for the Death of Adonis, who was killed by a « wild Boar in the Mountains, out of which this Stream 6 rises. Something like this we saw actually come to • pafs ; for the Water was stain'd to a surprising, Red6 ness; and, as we observ'd in Travelling, had disce6 lour'd the Sea a great way into a reddish Hue, occafi« on'd doubtless by a Sort of Minium, or red Earth, " washed into the River by the Violence of the Rain, s and not by any Stain from Adonis's Blond.
The Passage in the Catalogue, explaining the manner how Spirits transform themselves by Contractions or En. largement of their Dimensions, is introduced with great Judgment, to make way for several surprising Accidents in the Sequel of the Poem. There follows one, at the very End of the first Book, which is what the French Criticks call Marvellous, but at the same Time probable by Reason of the Passage last mentioned. As foon as the Infernal Palace is finished, we are told the Multitude and Rabble of Spirits immediately shrunk themselves into a small Compass, that there might be Room for such a numberless Assembly in this capacious Hall. But it is the Poet's Refinement upon this I hought which I most ad. mire, and which is indeed very noble in itself. For he tells us, that notwithstanding the Vulgar, among the fallen Spirits, contracted their Forms, those of the first Rank and Dignity still preserved their natural Dimensi
Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest Forms
Frequent and full-
There are several other Strokes in the first Book wonderfully Poetical, and Instances of that Sublime Genius so peculiar to the Author. Such is the Description of Azazel's Stature, and of the infernal Standard, which he unfurls ; as also of that ghaftly Light, by which the Fiends appear to one another in their Place of Torments.
The Seat of Desolation, void of Light, • Save what the Glimm?ring of those livid Flames.
Casts pale and dreadful-The Shout of the whole Host of fallen Angels when drawn up in Battle Array : . The universal Hoft up fent
A Shout that tore Hell's Concave, and beyond
Frighted the Reign of Chaos and old Night.
-He throʻ the armed Files
He spake : and to confirm his Words out fler
The The sudden Production of the Pandæmonium ; :
Anon out of the Earth a Fabrick huge
Of dulcet Symphonies and Voices fweet.
From the arched Roof -
As from a Sky · There are also several noble Similes and Allusions in the first Book of Paradise Loft. And here I must observe, that when Milton alludes either to Things or Persons, he never quits his Simile till it rises to some very great-Idea, which is often foreign to the Occasion that gave Birth to it. The Resemblance does not, perhaps, · last above a Line or two, but the Poet runs on with the Hint, till he has raised out of it some glorious Image or Sentiment, proper to inflame the Mind of the Reader, and to give it that sublime kind of Entertaininent, which is suitable to the Nature of an Heroic Poem. Those, who are acquainted with Homer's and Virgil's way of Writing, cannot but be pleased with this kind of Structure in Milton's Similitudes. I am the more particular on this Head, because ignorant Readers, who have formed their Taste upon the quaint Similes, and little Turns of Wit, which are so much in Vogue among modern Poets, cannot relish these Beauties which are of a much higher Nature, and are therefore apt to censure Milton's Comparisons, in which they do not see any surprising Points of Likeness. Monsieur Perrault was a Man of this vitiated Relish, and for that very Reason has endeavoured to turn into Ridicule several of Homer's Similitudes, which he calls Comparaisons a longue queue, Long-tail'd Comparisons. I shall conclude this paper on the first Book of Milton with the Answer which Monsieur Boileau makes to Perrault on this Occasion ; Comparisons, says he, in "Odes and Epic Poems, are not introduced only to illus• trate and embelish the Discourse, but to amuse and re
lax the Mind of the Reader, by frequently disengaging
6. him from too painful an Attention to the principal 6. Subject, and by leading him into other agreeable I. & mages. Homer, says he, excelled in this particular, 6. whose Comparisons abound with such. Images of Na-: 6. ture as are proper to relieve and diversify his Subjects. 6. He continually instructs the Reader, and makes him • take Notice, even in Objects which are every Day. 6. before our Eyes, of such circumstances as we should • not otherwise have observed. To this he adds, as a Maxim universally acknowledged, “That it is not neces6 fary in Poetry for the Points of the Comparison to core 6. respond with one another exactly, but that a general
Resemblance is sufficient, and that too much Nicety. 6. in this particular, savours of the Rhetorician and Epi« grammatist.
In short, if we look into the Conduct of Homer, Vire gil, and Milton, as the great Fable is the Soul of each Poem, so to give their Works an agreeable Variety, their : Episodes are so many short Fables, and their Similes só many short Episodes ; to which you may add, if you . please, that their Metaphors are so many short Similes... If the Reader considers the Compariíons in the first Book of Milton of the Sun in an Eclipse, of the Sleeping Leviathan, of the Bees swarming about their Hive, of the Fairy Dance, in the View wherein I have here placed them, he will easily discover the great Beauties that are in each of those Passages.
No. 304: Monday, February 18,
Vulnus alit venis & cæco carpitur igni. Virg. THE Circumstances of my Correspondent, whose. 1 Letter I now insert, are so frequent, that I cannot
want Compassion so much as to forbear laying it before the Town. There is something so mean and inhuman in a direct Smithfield Bargain for Children, that if this lover carries his Point, and observes the Rules he pretends to follow, I do not only with him. Success,
but also that it may animate others to follow his Example. I know not one Motive relating to this Life which would produce so many honourable and worthy A&tions, as the Hopes of obtaining a Woman of Merit : There would ten thousand Ways of Industry and honest Ambition be pursued by young Men, who believed that the Persons admired had Value enough for their Passion to attend the Event of their good Fortune in all their Applications, in order to make their Circumitances fall in with the Duties they owe to themselves, their families, and their Country ; All these Relations a Man should think of who intends to go into the State of Marriage, and expects to make it a State of Pleasure and Satisfaction,
Mr. SPECTATOR, ! Have for some Years indulged a-Passion for a young •1 Lady of Age and Quality suitable to my own, but • very much superior in Fortune. It is the fashion with • Parents (how.justly I leave you to judge) to make all • Regards give way to the Article of Wealth. From • this one Confideration it is that I have concealed the o ardent Love I have for her ; but I am beholden to the • Force of my Love for many Adyantages which I reapo ed from it towards the better Conduct of my Life. A • certain Complacency to all the World, a strong Desire • to oblige where-ever it lay in my Power, and a circum• speet Behaviour in all my Words and Actions, have r rendered me more particularly acceptable to all my • Friends and Acquaintance. Love has had the same si good Effect upon my Fortune ; and I have encreased « in Riches in proportion to my Advancement in those • Arts which make a Man agreeable and amiable. There • is a certain Sympathy which will tell my Mistress • from these Circumstances, that it is I who write this • for her Reading, if you will please to insert it. There o is not a downright Ènmity, but a great Coldness be• tween our Parents ; so that if either of us declared any • kind Sentiments for each other, her Friends would be “ very backward to lay an Obligation upon our Family, ". and mine to receive it from hers. Under these delicate « Circumstances it is no easy Matter to act with Safety. SI have no Reason to fancy my Mistress has any Re