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decline when he wrote his second poem, and who therefore turn from it, as from a dry prosaic composition, are, I will venture to say, no judges of poetry. With a fancy, such as Milton's, it must have been more difficult to forbear poetic decorations than to furnish them; and a glaring profusion of ornament would, I conceive, have more decidedly betrayed the poeta senescens, than a want of it. The first book of the Paradise Lost abounds in similies, and is, in other respects, as elevated and sublime as any in the whole poem. But here the poet's plan was totally different. Though it may be said of the Paradise Regained, as Longinus has said of the Odyssey, that it is the Epilogue of the preceding poem, still the design and conduct of it is as different, as that of the Georgics from the Eneid. The Paradise Regained has something of the didactic character; it teaches not merely by the general moral, and by the character and conduct of its

hero, but has also many positive precepts every where interspersed. It is written for the most part in a style admirably condensed, and with a studied reserve of ornament: it is nevertheless illuminated with beauties of the most captivating kind. Its leading feature throughout is that "excellence of composition" which, as Lord Monboddo justly observes, so eminently distinguished the writings of the ancients; and in which, of all modern authors, Milton most resembles them. We may justly apply to the whole poem an observation respecting our author from the pen of Mr. Headley, (Biographical Sketches, prefixed to Headley's Select Beauties of Ancient English Poetry. Art. F. Quarles.) "To mix the waters "of Jordan and Helicon in the

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same cup was reserved for the "hand of Milton; and for him, " and him only, to find the bays "of Mount Olivet equally ver"dant with those of Parnassus." Dunster.

SAMSON AGONISTES,

A DRAMATIC POEM.

THE AUTHOR

JOHN MILTON.

Τραγῳδία μίμησις πράξεως σπουδαίας, &c. Aristot. Poet. cap. 6. Tragoedia est imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per misericordiam et metum perficiens talium affectuum lustrationem.

OF THAT SORT OF DRAMATIC POEM WHICH IS CALLED TRAGEDY.

TRAGEDY, as it was anciently composed, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other poems: therefore said by Aristotle to be of power by raising pity and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirred up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion: for so in physic things of melancholic hue and quality are used against melancholy, sour against sour, salt to remove salt humours. Hence philosophers and other gravest writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their discourse. The apostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the text of holy Scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33. and Paræus commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole book as a tragedy, into acts distinguished each by a chorus of heavenly harpings and song between. Heretofore men in highest dignity have laboured not a little to be thought able to compose a tragedy. Of that honour Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious,

a a verse of Euripides] The verse here quoted is Evil communications corrupt good manners: but I am inclined to think that Milton is mistaken in calling it a verse of Euripides; for Jerome and Grotius, (who published the fragments of Menander,) and the best commentators, ancient and modern, say that it is taken from the Thais of Me

nander, and it is extant among the fragments of Menander, p. 79. Le Clerc's Edit.

Φθείρουσιν ήθη χρησθ' ὁμιλίαι κακαι. Such slips of memory may be found sometimes in the best writers. As we observed before, Diodorus Siculus cites Eupolis instead of Aristophanes.

than before of his attaining to the tyranny. Augustus Cæsar also had begun his Ajax, but unable to please his own judgment with what he had begun, left it unfinished. Seneca the philosopher is by some thought the author of those tragedies (at least the best of them) that go under that name. Gregory Nazianzen, a Father of the Church, thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to write a tragedy, which is entitled Christ suffering. This is mentioned to vindicate Tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the account of many it undergoes at this day with other common interludes; happening through the poet's error of intermixing comic stuff with tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath been counted absurd; and brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. And though ancient tragedy use no prologue, yet using sometimes, in case of self-defence, or explanation, that which Martial calls an epistle; in behalf of this tragedy coming forth after the ancient manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus much be-forehand may be epistled; that chorus is here introduced after the Greek manner, not ancient only but modern, and still in use among the Italians. In the modelling therefore of this poem, with good reason, the ancients and Italians are rather followed, as of much more authority and fame. The measure of verse used in the chorus is of all sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather Apolelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe, or Epode, which were a kind of stanzas framed only for the music, then used with the chorus that sung; not essential to the poem, and therefore not material; or being divided into stanzas or pauses, they may be called Alloostropha. Division into act and scene referring chiefly to the stage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted.

It suffices if the whole drama be found not produced beyond the fifth act. Of the style and uniformity, and that com

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