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What raised Antipater the Edomite,
To whom thus Jesus patiently replied:
465 Yet he, who reigns within himself, and rules Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king; Which every wise and virtuous man attains;
423. Antipater, Josephus speaks of An- , this book, and our Saviour's reply to Satipater as abounding with great riches: tan, with a series of thoughts as noble and his son Herod was declared King of | and just, and as worthy of the speaker, Judea by the favour of Mark Antony, as can possibly be imagined.-THYER. partly for the sake of the money which 466. Yt he who reigns, &c. Mr. Hayhe promised to give him.--NEWTON. ley, in his life of Milton very justly re453. Extol not riches, Miltou concludes marks that “The Paradise Regained is a poem that particularly deserves to be inspire that spirit of self-command, which recommended to ardent and ingenuous is, as Milton esteemed it, the truest hero youth, as it is admirably calculated to ism, and the triumph of Christianity."
And who attains not, ill aspires to rule
REMARKS ON BOOK III.
Tae third book of the “Paradise Regained" continues to be argumen tative : but Satan, having found himself hitherto foiled, begins by the most wily and flattering compliments. He now dwells upon the attractions and delights of worldly glory; and tells our Saviour how he is fitted to attain it above all other beings, both by counsel and action; and that it is his duty not to throw away his gifts, and pass his life in obscurity: he says, that men, at a more youthful age than his, have conquered the world. Our Saviour replies calmly :
Thou peither dost persuade me to seek wealth
The people's praise, if always praiso unmix’d?
Till conquerour Death discovers them scarce men,
Violent or shauneful death their due reward.
Equal in fame to proudest conquerours. I must here draw the reader's notice to Thyer's observation, who praises "the author's great art, in weaving into the body of so short a work so many grand points of the Christian theology and morality.” Jesus exclaims :
But why should man seek glory, who of his own
But condemnation, ignominy, and shame? Satan, not silenced, takes up another ground: he appeals to Christ's duty to free his country from heathen servitude. Our Saviour answers
be done in the Almighty's time, and by the Almighty's means: but demands of Satan, why he should be anxious for his rise, when it would be his own fall.
Satan's cunning reply is one of the finest of all that Milton has invented of him. Then it was that he took Christ to a high mountain, to show him the monarchies of the earth. The description of the prospect at the foot of the mountain is in the richest style of picturesque poetry; he now points out the Assyrian empire.
After going through an immense geographical view, conducted with wonderful art, skill, and learning, and everywhere discriminated by the happiest epithets;-Satan says,
All these the Parthian (now some ages past,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won. Then comes a most magnificent picture of great armies going out to battle. This is done, to show our Saviour the necessity of worldly power, and numerous military preparations, to enable him to fulfil the duties for which he supposes him to be sent on earth ;--the recovery of the throne of David. For this end he offers to secure for him the Partbian alliance. Our Saviour, in answer, speaks with scorn “of the cumbersome luggage of war;" and at the same time reproaches Satan with the insidious. ness of his pretended zeal for the welfare of Israel, or David, or his throne, when he had hitherto proved their greatest enemy.
Of the poetry of this character it is scarcely necessary to urge the exalted merits. Imagination exerts itself in various tracks, and various forms: here it executes its duty in filling up the outlines of a divine story;--that is, a story of inspired wisdom,-of holiest virtue,- of superiority to all worldly temptations,-of patient suffering, -of faith in the Supreme Being,-of examples of the punishment of the wicked, and of the inappeasable malice of Satan. It is necessarily therefore more intellectual, spiritual, and didactic, in every part, than material: apd yet it is so intermixed with a due portion of imagery, that the fertility of a rich poetical genius pervades the whole poem.
Mind is of more value than matter: it is the soul which belongs to the image, rather than the image itself, which is the gem : thought, opinion, conclusion, the impression of the heart,--these are what instruct us, and elevate our nature. Of these, what poem is so full as “ Paradise Regained ?" Its mere learning is miraculous; but that is of comparatively less interest. Yet the more enlarged is the author's experience, the wider the
he derives his deductions and convictions, the more numerous the eminent minds by whose wisdom he is aided, the richer and more sure must be the intellectual fruits at which he arrives.
Milton is so familiar with the ancient classics, that he perpetually falls, not only into a concurrence of observation and sympathy of feeling, but into their very expressions : yet not as if it was borrowed, but as if it was simultaneous : its freshness and its force prove its originality.
Our Saviour's answer to Satan, in assertion of the vanity of human glory, astonishes by its vigour of thought and blaze of eloquence. It is like the beams of the cheering sun let in upon a billowy and blinding mist: the understanding ratifies it; the conscience hails it. That no doctrine can be more pure, more noble, more sound, more useful than this, will scarcely be denied : its poetical character depends upon its loftiness, which also is of the most decisive kind.
The poetry of mere style, the artifices of language, are nothing: great thoughts and great images will support themselves. The necessity of illustration proves that the primary idea or image is dark, or weak, or trifling. Grandeur or beauty wants no dress: metaphorical phrases are often corrupt; and similes are generally superfluous and impertinent: yet these are taken to be the essence of modern poetry. I mention this, because the mere reader of the productions of our own times is apt to suppose Milton prosaic, when his strains are of the most poetical tone; because his style is simple and pure. The finest passages in our Saviour's exposition of the nothingness of human glory, are the plainest: till poets learn this, they will be but frivolous and gaudy pretenders. Whoever thinks magnificently, scorns the aid of flowers and spangles.
If we could bring back poetry, even in mere style, to what it was in the times of Spenser, and Shakspeare, and Milton, we should indeed be gaining an immense benefit to the world of English readers, and redeeming the splendour of the Muse's name and office. The unmeaning gaudiness, the gilded inanity of the greater part of modern verses, has turned the public taste for poetical composition into loathing. Let the reader study Milton's energetic thought.and chaste manner day and night; and if at first any factitious taste may render it more a duty than a pleasure, his diseased habit will soon amend itself, and be changed to simplicity and purity. Then he will find his momentary delight followed by no satiety; but the wholesome food strengthen his mind, and grow with his growth. If the “ Paradise Regained" does not please him, let him be sure that he has much to amend in his intellectual qualifications.
SIR EGERTON BRYDGES,
SATAN, in a speech of much flattering commendation, endeavours to
awaken in Jesus a passion for glory, by particularising various instances of conquests achieved, and great actions performed, by persons at an early period of life. Our Lord replies, by showing the vanity of worldly fame, and the improper means by which it is generally attained; and contrasts with it the true glory of religious patience and virtuous wisdom, as exemplified in the character of Job. Satan justifies the love of glory from the example of God himself, who requires it from all his creatures. Jesus detects the fallacy of this argument, by showing that, as goodness is the true ground on which glory is due to the great Creator of all things, sinful man can have no right whatever to it.-Satan then urges our Lord respecting his claim to the throne of David : he tells him, that the kingdom of Judea, being at that time a province of Rome, cannot be got possession of without much personal exertion on his part, and presses him to lose no time in beginning to reign. Jesus refers him to the time allotted for this, as for all other things; and, after intimating somewhat respecting his own previous sufferings, asks Satan, why he should be so solicitous for the exaltation of one, whose rising was destined to be his fall. Satan replies, that his own desperate state, by excluding all hope, leaves little room for fear; and that, as his own punishment was equally doomed, he is not interested in preventing the reign of one, from whose apparent benevolence he might rather hope for some interference in his favour.-Satan still pursues his former incitements; and supposing that the seeming reluctance of Jesus to be thus advanced might arise from his being unacquainted with the world and its glories, conveys him to the summit of a high mountain, and from thence shows him most of the kingdoms of Asia, particularly pointing out to his notice some extraordinary military preparations of the Parthians to resist tho incursions of the Scythians. He then informs our Lord, that he showed him this purposely, that he might see how necessary military exertions are to retain the possession of kingdoms, as well as to s first; and advises him to consider how impossible it was to maintain Judea against two such powerful neighbours as the Romans and Parthians, and how necessary it would be to form an alliance with one or other of them. At the same time, he recommends, and engages to secure to him, that of the Parthians; and tells him that by this means his power will be defended from any thing that Rome or Cæsar might attempt against it, and that he will be able to extend his glory wide, and especially to accomplish what was particularly necessary to make the throne of Judea really the throne of David, the deliverance and restoration of the ten tribes, still in a state of captivity. Jesus, bav. ing briefly noticed the vanity of military efforts and the weakness of the arm of flesh, says, that when the time comes for ascending his allotted throne, he shall not be slack: he remarks on Satan's extraordinary zeal for the deliverance of the Israelites, to whom he had always showed himself an enemy; and declares their servitude to be the con. sequence of their idolatry; but adds, that at a future time it may perhaps please God to recall them, and restore them to their liberty and native land.