« السابقةمتابعة »
On princes, when their rich retinue long
Of horses led, and grooms besmeared with gold.
Dazzles the crowd, and sets them all agape."
How long we might loiter talking with angels, and winding our way through these groves of wonderful beauty.
There is, however, yet another section of observation open to us, and a wonderful and fruitful one—the Episodes of " Paradise Lost." The voyage of Satan through chaos, is such an episode, that some critics have objected to its introduction into an epic, especially Addison. But what shall we say to the terrible allegory of Sin and Death? Some have objected, that the conception of such personages is imaginary. Every personage in the poem is imaginary, except our two first parents. How fearfully has the poet preserved the portrait of Death:—
"The other shape,
And, when Sin from her side takes the fatal key, sad instrument of all our woe, and Satan looks forth into chaos—" the womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,"—as the gates roll back, but not to shut again, who does not feel in how fine a spirit of fearful truth—of poetry—this is conceived; and the allegory is concluded in a still more lofty strain. When, after the fall, Milton represents Sin and Death as building a bridge over chaos to the world, to subdue and enslave mankind—
"They with speed
The other great episode of the poem is the progress of Satan through the Limbo of Vanity: this has been extravagantly censured by some critics, as a departure from epical dignity. This limbo is represented as lying beneath chaos, beyond the outskirts of the globe—a sort of purgatory, of—
"All things vain, and all who in vain things
This place the poet styles the Paradise of Fools. —Hither they come,—
"Embryos and idiots, eremites and friars
Is this a work of supererogation, in which we have been engaged? Was there no need to point out these characteristics of this immortal poem? For the student certainly not; but as this is intended for a pocket volume, to guide the youthful reader to a more intimate acquaintance with this great man, we believe it will not have been a vain task, in thus spreading before the mind the most striking points to which the reader's attention may be directed.
Some persons have affected to think the " Paradise Regained" a superior poem to "Paradise Lost." Such a taste, if it have any reality, can only result from an utter inferiority of perception—a lack of imagination, disqualifying all its possessors for the pronouncing of a verdict upon any matters of taste. No! in the "Paradise Regained" we miss all the magnitude that oppressed us in its predecessor. We have neither Hell, Heaven, nor Eden,—with the appalling horrors of the one, and the luxuries of the others. The poem is cast in altogether another mould: it is excellent, most excellent. But if the work of a poem is to be measured by its extraordinary invention—by its longdrawn and highly-animated sublimity—by the vivid colouring in which its actions and scenery are presented, then there can be no comparison between the poems. We look in vain for the utterances of sombre grandeur in which the lost angels indulge. There is no Pandemonium to build; no Limbo of Vanity to plunge through; no bridge to be thrown over Chaos. Satan has been so long winding through the vortexes of guilt, that he appears altogether another character than that bold defiant spirit, who
"on a throne of regal state, that far Outshone the wealth of Ormus or of Ind, . . . exalted sate."
How different his first presentment to us now:—
"An aged man in rural weeds,
And the introduction of Satan is typical of the whole poem. It is a subdued, yet probably a more earnest performance, and scarcely inferior to " Paradise Lost" in instruction; but it bears a nearer relation to prose; philosophy and history are less concealed in allusion to figure. In