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OF Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
all ont woe,
1. Of Man's first disobedience, charm every reader without any &c.] Milton has proposed the sublimity of thought or pomp of subject of his poem in the fol- expression : and this variety of lowing verses. These lines are the numbers consists chiefly in perhaps as plain, simple, and the pause being so artfully vaunadorned as any of the whole ried, that it falls upon a different poem, in which particular the syllable in almost every line, as author has conformed himself to it may easily be perceived by disa the example of Homer and the tinguishing the verses thus : precept of Horace. His invoca
Of Man's first disobedience, / and the tion to a work, which turns in a
fruit great measure upon the creation Of that forbidden tree, / whose mor. of the world, is very properly made to the Muse who inspired Brought death into the world, and Moses in those books from
With loss of Eden, till one greater whence our author drew bis subject, and to the Holy Spirit who Restore ns, / and regain the blissful is therein represented as operat
seat, ing after a particular manner in
Sing, heav'nly Muse. | the first production of nature. Mr. Pope, in a letter to Mr. This whole exordium rises very Walsh containing some critical happily into noble language and observations on English versifisentiment, as I think the transi- cation, remarks, that in any tion to the fable is exquisitely smooth English verse of ten sylbeautiful and natural. Addison. lables, there is naturally a pause
Besides the plainness and sim at the fourth, fifth, or sixth sylplicity of these lines, there is a lable, and upon the judicious farther beauty in the variety of change and management of these the numbers, which of themselves depends the variety of versifica
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
His stature reach'd the sky, 1 and on and varies it through all the ten bis crest IV. 988. syllables, by which means he is a Girt with omnipotence, / with radimaster of greater harmony than ance crown'd. VII. 194. any other English poet: and he Upon the seventh,
, is continually varying the pause,
Majestic thougb in ruin: | sage he and scarce ever suffers it to rest
stood II. 305. upon the same syllable in more
Birds on the branches warbling; I than two, and seldom in so many all things smil'd VIII, 265. as two, verses together. Here
Upon the eighth, it is upon the first syllable of the
Hung on his shoulders like the verse,
moon, | whose orb I. 287. -others on the grass
A fairer person lost not hear'n; | Couch'd | and now filled with pasture
be seem'd II. 110.
Upon the ninth,
Between the Cherabim 386. Upon the second,
And bush with frizzled hair implicit;/ - these to their nests
last Were slank, | all but the wakeful
Rose as in dance the stately trees nightingale; IV. 602.
VII. 393. -Down thither prone iu flight And here upon the end, He speeds, and through the vast
-thou that day ethereal sky V. 267.
Thy Father's dreadful thaoder didst Upon the third,
not spare | III. 393. -what in me is dark
Attended with ten thousand thousand Illumine, / what is low raise and sup saints | VI. 767. port; I. 23.
And sometimes to give the -as the wakeful bird Sings darkling, | aod in shadiest co
greater variety to the verse, vert hid III. 39.
there are two or more pauses in
the same line: as Upon the fourth,
on the ground -on he led his radiant files,
Outstretch'd he lay, | on the cold Dazzling the moon ; I these to the
ground, I and oft bow's direct IV. 799.
Curs'd bis creation X. 851. -at his right baud victory
And swims, | or sinks, I or wades, | Sat eagle-wing'd; , beside bin bung
or creeps, | or flies: | II. 950. his bow, VI. 763.
Exbausted, I spiritless, afflicted, I Upon the fifth,
fall'in. VI. 852. -bears, tigers, ounces, pards, But besides this variety of the Gambol'd before them ; | th' unwieldy elephant IV. 345. pauses, there are other excellen
cies in Milton's versification. -and in the air Máde horrid circles ; | two broad sups
The English heroic verse aptheir shields VI. 305.
proaches nearest to the Jambic
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
of the ancients, of which it Hurl'd headlong daming from th'
éthéréal sky. wants only a foot; but then it is to be measured by the tone and Sometimes the Anapæst or foot accent, as well as by the time of two short and one long syllaand quantity. An lambic foot ble wo-, as in ver. 87. is one short and one long sylla Mýrlāds though bright! If he whom ble u -, and six such feet con mutual league stitute an lambic verse : but the Sonietimes the Tribrachus or Ancients seldom made use of the foot of three short syllables uuu, pure lambic, especially in works as in ver. 709. of any considerable length, but
row of pipes the soundoftener of the mixed lambic, that
board breathes. is, with a proper intermixture of And sometimes there is variety other measures; and of these of these measures in the same perhaps Milton his expressed as
verse, and seldom or never the happy a variety as any poet
same measures in two verses towhatever, or indeed as the na
gether. And these changes are ture of a verse will admit, that
not only rung for the sake of consists only of five feet, and ten syllables for the most part. contrived as to make the sound
the greater variety, but are so Sometimes he gives us almost
more expressive of the sense. pure Iambics, as in I. 314.
And this is another great art of He call'd so loud, that all tbě höl- versification, the adapting of the
low deep Of bell résounded.
very sounds, as well as words,
to the subject matter, the style of Sometimes he intermixes the Trochee or foot of one long and sound, as Mr. Pope calls it and
in this Milton is excellent as in one short syllable v, as in ver.
all the rest, and we shall give 49.
several instances of it in the Wbo durst defy th' Õmoipotent to
course of these remarks. So
that he has abundantly exempliSometimes the Spondee or fout fied in his own practice the rules of two long syllables -, laid down by himself in his prever. 21.
face, his versification having all Dove-like sätst brooding on the vast
the requisites of true musical deabyss.
light, which, as he says, consists Sometimes the Pyrrichius or foot only in apt numbers, fit quantity of two short syllables v v, as in of syllables, and the sense variously ver. 64,
drawn out from one verse into anServ'd only to discover sights of other.
1.] Bishop Newton, although Sometimes the Dactyle or foot perfectly well-read in the Latin of one long and two short sylla- poets, appears to have paid bles -vu, as in ver. 45.
but little attention to the very
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
wide difference which there is stances of those feet which Bp. between the quantity of Latin Newton desired to exhibit: verse, and the accent, or ictus, on Shoots in | visible | virtuě | erco to which the rythm of English the deep verse entirely depends. Hence, Stream, and perpet | đăl draw | their reading with a classical eye,
humid train but
Inhos | pstăbly, I and kills their inlaying aside his English ear, he fant males. thus marks Òmnipotent. But, The general principles of Eng. according to the invariable pro- lish rythm may be found suffinunciation of our language, the ciently laid down by Dr. Blair in ictus falls so strong on the se
his Lectures, vol. iii. lect. 38. cond syllable of Omnipotent, Those who would examine more that the first is comparatively exactly into the merits and the short; and the verse, scanned faults of Milton's versification, accordingly, becomes a pure should consult Johnson's remarks English lambic.
upon it in the Rambler, Nos. 86,
88, 90, 92, 94. But the subject Whỏ dūrst | défy | th' Omnipotênt | to arms.
was ill-suited to Johnson's ge
nius; and although many of his Neither does he seem to have at remarks are good, many also apall considered how much Milton pear fastidious or incorrect. Mr. availed himself both of elisions Todd, in his notes and further and contractions. Otherwise he remarks upon the Essay in the would scarcely have cited the Rambler, has more correctly apthree following verses, as exhi- preciated the beauties of Milton's biting the one a Dactyl, the
E. other an Anapæst, the third a 1. Of Man's first disobedience,) Tribrachus; for, in fact, the first
Mnyay aside. Iliad. and third are pure Iambics; and
Ανδρα μου εννεσε. Οdyss. the second has no irregularity,
Arma virumque cano. Æneid. except in the first foot, in which place much license is often taken, In all these instances, as in and the Trochee, particularly, Milton, the subject of the poem is often introduced with the best is the very first thing offered to effect.
us, and precedes the verb with
which it is connected. It must Hůrld head | lòng fla | ming from th'ěthe | reăl sky 1
be confessed, that Horace did Miriads | though bright; | if hel
not regard this, when he transwhòm mū tuăl leāgue
lated the first line of the Odyssey, Tỳ mãn ly rõw | of Pres | thẻ Dic mihi, musa, virum, &c. De sound | -boård breāthes. I Art. Poet. 141. And Lucian, if
I remember right, makes a jest The following verses may per- of this observation, where he inhaps be admitted to contain in- troduces the shade of Homer as
Sing, heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top
expressly declaring that he had Than this of Eden, and far happier no other reason for making the
days. word penyo the first in his poem,
6. that on the secret top but that it was the first which of Oreb, or of Sinai,] Dr. Bentcame into his head. However
that Milton dictated the uniform practice of Homer, sacred top: his reasons are such Virgil, and Milton in this parti- as follow: the ground of Hocular, seems to prove that it was
reb is said to be holy, Exod. not accidental, but a thing really ji 5. and Horeb is called the designed by them.
mountain of God, 1 Kings xix. 8. 4. With loss of Eden,] But But it may be answered, that Eden was not lost, and the last though that place of Horeb, on that we read of our first parents which Moses stood, was holy, it is that they were still in Éden,
does not follow that the top of Through Eden took their solitary the mountain was then holy too: way.
and by the mountain of God (Dr. With loss of Eden therefore Bentley knows) may be meant means no more than with loss of only, in the Jewish style, a very Paradise, which was planted in great mountain : besides, let the Eden, which word Eden signi- mountain be never so holy, yet fies delight or pleasure, and the according to the rules of good country is supposed to be the poetry, when Milton speaks of same that was afterwards called the top of the mountain, he should Mesopotamia; particularly by give us an epithet peculiar to the our author in iv. 210, &c. Here top only, and not to the whole the whole is put for a part, as mountain. Dr. Bentley says farsometimes a part for the whole, ther, that the epithet secret will by a figure called Synecdoche. not do here, because the top of
4. – till one greater Man Re- this mountain is visible several store us, and regain the blissful leagues off. But Sinai and Horeb seat,] As it is a greater Man, so are the same mountain, with two it is a happier Paradise which several eminences, the higher of our Saviour promised to the them called Sinai: and of Sinai penitent thief, Luke xxiii. 43. Josephus in his Jewish Antiquit. This day shalt thou be with me in book iii. c. 5. says that it is so Paradise. But Milton had a high, that the top of it cannot be notion that after the conflagra- seen without straining the eyes. In tion and the general judgment, this sense therefore (though I the wbole earth would be made believe it is not Milton's sense) a Paradise, xij. 463.
the top of it may be well said to
be secret. In Exod. xvii. it is for then the earth Shall all be Paradise, far happier said that the Israelites, when enplace
camped at the foot of Horeb,